ELFQUEST
FORUM ARCHIVE     ABOUT EQ     READ ONLINE     SHOP    
ABOUT     READ     SHOP    

August 2011 Grab-Bag

Startear

The elements are...



Forgotten

A hug

Festival

Making an ass of one's self




All works must be related to Elfquest, whether canon-based, original character, alternate universe, or whatever. Writings must contain all the above elements. Art can either contain all the elements, or illustrate one of the writings.

SailorSilvanesti

A Warrior's Heart



"You forget your place, Strongbow!" yelled Cutter, enraged at having been second-guessed in such a critical moment, "If I tell you to shoot the High-One's-Cursed Human, you shoot the High-One's-cursed Human! There is no time to query my decision!"



The archer watched his Chieften pace back and forth across the small confines of his tree-den, fists clenched and trembling with so many emotions, he feared his chieften might well burst at the seams...



He hung his head in deference, as any loyal Wolfrider should after upsetting his leader; bitter sensations welled up in his heart, for he had only been doing the right thing... Bile rose at the back of his throat as a strange realisation shocked him to his very core...had Cutter intentionally asked this of him? Had he truly believed he could force Strongbow to go against 'The Way'?



Moonshade lay on the furs by his side, her eyes shut and the body suddenly very small as she curled into his own; the moon-pale skin was near deathly white, though she lived and breathed easily now...Leetah's hands had seen to that...as they were doing now. Flinging a vague hand in his direction, Cutter stared out into the night and left him alone for the moment.



He laid his head back down on the furs below him, in nothing more than a tanned bear-skin over his lower half and lying flat on his stomach, cheek resting on his folded hands. Leetah ran her hands down his torn and bleeding back...soothing, healing...as she had done for Moonshade moments before.



*My son was in danger, our son...what was it you would have Moonshade and I do? What you asked was too much to bear...even for you Cutter. I would never have killed my own cub.*



The send hung between the two, Leetah oblivious to it all; two sets of eyes slid from their fixed points of reference to behold the tall, lithe body of Dart, his hand resting on his forehead. The outfit of red was exceptionally Sun Villager in design, but with Wolfrider practicality...close to the form and open to allow the skin to breathe; the headband helped to disguise the rough bruise on the young Elf's forehead, but still, his father could see it...



And he was sure Cutter could too...even Leetah's skilled hands could not erase the horrifying memories that were permanently etched into their minds...



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



It had all started earlier...



Great resounding noises had stirred up the sleeping elves from their new-made, temporary tree-hollows in the forest by the remains of Blue Mountain; humans, always the noisy creatures, were having some form of ceremony or some-such event...who knew?



As long as 'Demon-Sacrifice' wasn't on the entertainment schedule for the coming night, the Wolfriders could live with it; however, the Sun Villagers were more wary...fear shaded the bright array of eyes that turned to Cutter, their leader, and the Elders for advice. Many had never seen a human, those who had remembered fear and flight...



Doing her best to reassure her people, Leetah moved among them, speaking in soft tones as Cutter had stood at their tree-hollow and gazed officiously over the assembled elves...commanding an air of respect, authority and the much-needed calm to soothe the situation.

On the fringe of Desert Elves stood Dart, his contingent of 'JackWolfriders' were standing behind him, their bonds close to hand and awaiting the orders he would give; their people's safety and peace of mind were prominent issues that needed rectifying.



*We should scout the area and find out what those sun-crazed five-fingers are doing...* Strongbow had offered, looking directly to the Chief, Moonshade and Treestump both nodding alongside; Clearbrook was quietly conferring with Pike, but turned and nodded their input also. "Do you think it wise to go before the humans so armed, Strongbow? They might not understand..." Cutter had said.



The archer's head tilted forwards in agreement with the statement, but not quite giving in...eyes flickered down to the bow that matched their colour so perfectly, and then back to his Chieften. Sighing, Cutter gave in to the pressure.

"You may keep your bow and arrows, but the rest of you...leave what weapons cannot be concealed, here... We don't want the five-fingers to think we are coming to attack them." The commanding tone rang out as several of the Wolfriders and a handful of the Sun Villager warriors mounted their wolves.



Gleaming in the waning light of day as the world gave to the coming night and the faintest twinkling of stars could be seen above, a small stash of weapons fell to the ground and caught at the rays of mother and daughter moon, as they rose over the world's rim... Skywise placed a hand on the other's shoulder, sharing silent communion, the stargazer growing angrier about something, and finally turning away to call Starjumper to him.



Likewise, Moonshade was betraying no visual emotion, but the way her beautiful eyes followed their son's every movement told much more than any but a parent could have guessed...



Nightfall sat astride her wolf and seemed to think on her own actions before turning back to Redlance and holding her arms out for Suntop; Ember was already before Dart...a wide beam on her face that many of those present associated with a young Cutter... When he hadn't been destroying the Holt, pestering the Humans or sneaking pretty trinkets from the Troll's strongholds alongside Skywise, that is...



All in all, a small grouping would go; and so they set off into the coming night with their desert-born companions to find the strange, noisy creatures known as humans...



~~~~~~~~~



Baleful eyes glared up at him. *It was by your hand that my son was endangered...if you had not seen fit to run into the Human camp with open arms, he would never have been harmed...nor would your own cub.* Strongbow sent to his Chieften with acid, glancing to where a small, blonde-haired bundle had attached itself in a tiny ball -rather like a wolf pup- to the older Elf.



Unable to deny the logic, but still angered beyond belief, Cutter stood his ground. "It was not my intention to run in there looking the fool, Strongbow...what happened was mere accident and misfortune...my son is safe, and Ember too...Dart will live." The coldness in his voice was surprising...but he supposed it was more from the conflicting emotions than any true wish for harm to befall his Tribemate.



Of course, rather than simply say this, his pride glued proud lips together and ensured his glare was every bit as smug as it felt...



In an instant, Strongbow had thrown off Leetah's hands, leapt forwards and slammed Cuter into the wall with menace in his eyes; there was such a wild glance to them that he felt quite frightened for his own safety...



But his body sagged away as the Archer reached for his leathers and disappeared through the hollow's entrance; now he was only left with Leetah, whose face held a dangerous brooding pallor of misgivings...three fingers beat out the sound of discontent as she drummed them on the wall. "And what exactly did you hope to achieve with that display of bravado, Beloved?" she asked at length, giving clear indication this situation was his fault and his fault alone.



"I-...am not sure why I felt the need to say that...stay with Moonshade and Dart, I do not think you will leave Suntop at this moment, so I will not say it...I will find him." Cutter sighed, looking to them all and then turning away, slipping from the temporary tree den and scenting his tribemate.



The trail was not yet cold and clear as if there was a blood trail...he shuddered at the morbid thought. Enough blood had been spilled this night...



~~~~~~~~~~



High above the forest floor, cradled in the forked branches of a tree, the archer sat and stared at the moons; knees drawn up to his chin in a very cub-like pose...Cutter paused, not wanting to break the moment.



*I know you're there, cub...* called the Archer, not looking back at any point, his send calm. He approached with caution, sitting deftly on a thick branch close by the other...he saw the way blood pooled and dried from deep welts on the other's back and flinched as breeze stirred past sensitive skin. Strongbow did not even react.



At length, the silence stretched out until it was like a taut piece of old leather between th two, but only Cutter could feel the strain; so he did as he knew best, and gave in... "I was wrong, Strongbow...I know that now. What I asked of you was wrong but..." he lapsed into silence for the words would not come.



*Cub, I have watched you grow up...I know it was not your intention that this should happen, but you need to know, no matter how many humans out there you befriend, there will always be more who will want you dead. The fault was not all yours, I too, felt at ease around them when we entered their camp. Dart was happy, I trusted his judgment and yours...* the face darkened.



*I was wrong...*



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Guttural creatures no longer, the Hoan G'tay Sho of Nonna's past were only too happy to welcome the Elves back and en-wrap them in their festivities...that was, of course, after the 'spirits' had gotten over their initial fear of the loud pounding music and yelling. Apparently, the humans called it 'singing'...though a quick referendum through the ranks of Wolfrider and Sun Villager alike found no one had ever heard such a cacophony of sound to be referred to as thus...



But, as Cutter was smiling, so did they reciprocate.



A youth, the one so nearly dead by the late Kureel's hands, came directly to where Dart slid off his wolf, Ember more cautiously hiding behind his body; strangely quiet for once. The presence of something new, something her father had spoken of with anger and Skywise with pure hatred and confusion...was rather overwhelming; but this one was smaller. Dart spoke more with his hands and body, than with voice...much like his father.



And eventually succeeded in bringing her from his shadow and showing that Geoki, as the human child was named, was not to be feared by placing their hands together; Ember blinked large green eyes, looked down at their hands, and leapt up to strangle the human with a hug. The action was met with many cheers, human and Elven.



Blending of two races was seamless in those next few moments until even the language barrier and centuries of hatred were thought but trifles; expressive gestures could be used to tell stories and offered platters and drinks required no explanations. They had seemed fascinated by one another...humans striking up a more powerful rhythm and dancing about a blazing fire in complex patterns of men, women, children and strange garments...



In it's own way, the display had been beautiful and enthralling...a spectacle put on only for them; this was not unlike the Feast, Festival and Formalities that were show to celebrate Cutter and Leetah's Recognition and the coming cubs...well, cub, for twins had never before been heard of at the time to either tribe...



It was rather nice of them, actually...although, if Pike, Skot, Krim and Shen-Shen kept dancing like that with ever-diminishing pieces of their outfit clinging to their muscular forms, he may have to call them back... It would not do to make an embarrassing spectacle out of themselves at such a-...there we go... He resisted the urge to throttle a naked Pike and Krim as they danced about the fire with surprised humans...



With a genial tilt of the head to Clearbrook and Treestump, the two Elders took on the monumental task of ushering the mildly drunken creatures back to somewhere discreet where they would be redressed, like naughty cubs. At least it had not ruined the atmosphere, the humans taking it in stride and continuing on with the celebration...a defiant Skywise was laughing merrily on a rock by Nightfall and Suntop, just watching; every now and then when he thought the others had turned away, the stargazer's face would flicker with pain...



Cutter remembered sighing deeply with frustration, he had known the other had harmed himself during the escape, but for some reason refused to step foot inside the tree hollow for Leetah to heal him...they would deal with it later. Door, last of Blue Mountain bar Aroree [if she still lived], sat upon a throne, unknowing of his surroundings but well cared for...he could see Nonna and Adar by the Chieftain of the tribe, Nonna's deft fingers sewing a symbol into cloth.



It looked like, no...it couldn't be...he had recognised the shapes to mean a clasped human and elven hand, and smiled; it would be the symbol maker to create such beauty out of devastation...even Strongbow and Moonshade had appeared to enjoy themselves as the night wore on, though they of all of them, had the greatest cause to hate the five-fingered ones. A child murdered without mercy many, many moons before...a daughter called Crescent he had never known. Though their eyes occasionally flashed up in instinctual need to sight their son, he was always within range, as if sensing their fears.



He and the human cub, Geoki, had been getting along almost as well as brothers; delighting in each difference and similarity alike...Ember was dancing by the fire with a suddenly-sober Aunt Shen-Shen watching closely.



It only takes a moment for everything to go wrong...



~~~~~~~~~~



"I should have seen him coming...Strongbow I-...this was my error in judgment, my words were wrong..." he said, not looking to the archer, instead studying the moonlit world; Wolfriders and Sun Villagers alike had retired early to bed, thought this was technically their day. Tired, exhausted even, after all the events of the last few hours...



*It wasn't your fault...Ember was in danger, you did as any parent would do, chose your child over everyone else. I simply chose mine at the same time...* sent the archer cryptically, giving the Chieften a headache that simply would not leave...though, when he drew closer to where Strongbow sat, the other did not resist. So he came closer...



~~~~~~~



The Human burst from a tent with wild eyes and blood flowing freely from a wound at his back, obviously bandaged until the man had torn off the wrappings holding his lifeblood in and death outside his flesh. Cutter recognised his face, the man who spoke out against them at the fall of Blue Mountain, he had been speared by Kureel himself, in the back...it was a shock to find him alive...Leetah had felt no life in him. Though true, her mind had been pre-occupied on saving the lives of the human and elven cubs at the time...



Geoki had swept Dart behind him swiftly, Nightfall clasped Suntop to her breast and slipped behind the rock for protection; Shen-Shen grabbing out for Ember and missing by a hair's breadth as the huge human warrior scooped the tiny elven child up in his massive paws... Her face was full of horror as he swung hard at her, knocking the Sun Village maiden into a nearby cluster of women who were setting out the meat so freshly cooked; instantly, a shield of them formed about her.



Though it seemed they were at a loss as to how best to save the 'spirit child' with flaming hair...even as he felt more than heard Strongbow knock his bow, he knew there was but one option...should the arrow strike the man, he would topple over into the fire, taking Ember with him. Moonshade had groped for her dagger, hidden within her blouse even as Cutter felt for New Moon, though it was no longer at his side as always...



Dart sprung around his human friend and threw his body at the human, in that instant, Cutter went cold...images of the man falling and Ember screaming as she burnt, flared in his mind... Strongbow's arrow levelled at the human, gleaming with the cold light of the stars' blessing...



He turned and growled low at the other, calling in their own language lest the humans overhear and revoke their 'peaceful spirits' ideas... "Shoot him...shoot Dart or Ember will die!" the words were as thick and treacherous as Firefang's venom, though they came out with urgency...when the archer didn't move his aim and the world slowed to a point where he could almost see time...



Cutter took action...



Brash, loud and drunken men had joined in a roudy chorus of 'Kill the Demon!' though they would refute it later, now was all that mattered, the Now of Wolf Thought, the Way...he cast it aside and thought ahead as he threw his weight into the archer, forcing the aim high and into the trees. Dart collided with the man and turned their bodies away from the flames...Ember striking the ground and rolling free; Geoki grabbed her and made for Dart when the human caught him.



Nameless, identity seemingly stripped from the shuddering creature as the brash men who would not be quieted stirred him on by stamping in time to their innane chanting; he clutched the dark-toned elf about the throat and held tight, until Dart's breath was all but a tight whisper. Something flashed against the dramatic backdrop of the fire, he felt the colour bleed from his features and drain away like an emptying water-skein.



The short tip of the broken spear he had wrenched from his back as the mountain crumble earlier flashed once, then plunged home in the Elven body to the horrified cries of human and elf alike; all attempts by either to reach him were met with resistance by the flesh barricade of chanting men.Two distinctive cries rang out over them all, horrified eyes went wide and a furious, primal growl escaped both the archer and tanner...and they leapt.



One child...the humans had stolen one cub; they'd be cursed if another was to be taken...he could see it in their eyes, sense it...his voice faded to nothing as his commands to return were met with empty silence and fierce growls. Hurling over the human wall -as it were- of staff wielding warriors all geared in nothing more than war paint and tanned hides, it was an uneven contest as to who would be victorious...



~~~~~~~~~~~~



Cutter was silent with his reminiscing now, the scene playing back and forth, back and forth...the chance he might have lost not only his daughter but three tribemates was too grave...



He had seen the fire in Moonshade's eyes as she had leapt for the man and tried to tear his heart from his chest with the small knife usually sequestered in her bodice or boot...the hand strangling Dart had hit the earth beside his body...and yet, even as he had howled, Cutter was unable to feel anything but hatred for him, with grim satisfaction.



*Cutter-cub...I pray to the High Ones you will never have to lose a child, it is like having a part of yourself torn away...but there are worse things than death. 'The Way' does not have any answers for what to do when you are holding your child in your arms as their blood is seeping through your clothes...when their eyes creak open a fraction to look at you or reach for their mother with bloodied, trembling hands...* Cutter could sense Strongbow was getting more disturbed by the way his eyes seemed to be fading to blank...a worrying sign, he was desperately hoping that Leetah would come and say something at any moment.



But she did not.



He moved closer. Close enough to touch, and placed an arm about the other, desperately trying to ignore the slick, wet sensation of blood covering the other's back... Though he could still see the way the human had turned, had slashed up the front of Moonshade's torso and thrown her away like a limp carcass...



How the blade gleame and cried out for more blood as it came down upon Strongbow's back as he shielded his son from further harm; again and again, before Skywise had come forwards and jabbed his short blade through the human's heart after a moment of tussling... watching with a look of justification written on his face as the nameless man toppled back through flames and screamed as his flesh melted.



And then he was gone...



Memories melded from that point until now, a frantic rush for life...the way a human cub now stalked beneath the trees of their hidden grove in worry; how his soul's brother had gone missing with blood pooling at his side...the dead look in the tanner and archer's eyes as they thought their son was beyond help...



Dart very nearly had been. Leetah's hands were skilled enough to heal what had been broken, staunch what had been cut and bled, draw away the agony. When he slept, her hands had calmed a frantic daughter who curled close to her 'protector' in innocence and trust. Moonshade was next, half-awake and breathing with the fluttering motions of a bird, her soul was also in flight... Seeing her son renewed had brought hope, though...and the Healer's ministrations had brought life back to the battered body. It was simply unfortunate that, as it had turned to Strongbow's injuries, he had felt the writhing pit of emotions within himself burst free in a contorted mess...



"Strongbow..." he said softly, "My words were wrong, what I meant was...I can't afford to lose you, or Moonshade or Dart, I was just so angry and worried and confused..." he paused, unsure where he was going with this, when Strongbow did the most unusual thing...he laughed. The low, rarely-used voice was sharp in the night air, "I know, cub. Did your sire ever tell you what happened the day Crescent died...? My first thought was to murder each and every human I could get in my grasp...but Bearclaw stopped me, so I tried to kill him...grief and fear makes strange things happen...there is no blame."



Cutter stood and hefted the trembling archer upright, "Come on, Leetah needs to look at those wounds of yours and I think I need to find a brother...and a son..." The pair walked along the treebranch to the hollow when Strongbow stopped and peered down, before turning back and saying, "Someone will have to tell Geoki, the Human cub...Dart is alright..." Leaving his Chieften completely stunned...



~~~~~~~~~



"<They are not hurt?>" he asked tentatively, two spirits assisting him to climb the big tree; footholds were hard to find but his arms were strong. The dark one with eyes of forest spoke, "<He is well, come, you must see...>"



Slipping into the small hollow, Geoki was immediately aware that his friend lived still; and his parents were safe also...the little Flame-child slept peacefully by his side for now. All was right...



"<Would you like to stay?>" asked the golden-haired huntress, <Nightfall>; knowing his father was waiting for him, he tried to refuse, but it was difficult, for he was tired...and needed rest. Somehow, he blinked and went from standing looking in to sleeping under a large bear-skin, shared by <Dart> and this <Ember>, who cuddled close...



He fell asleep with a smile on his face...



~~~~~~~~



The crop of golden hair was more telling than any other sign, not to mention their scents; he had known both intricately from birth, one from his own and the other, the very day he arrived in a giggling, squirming bundle of magic...



Suntop was curled up and resting his head to one side of Suntop's body, favouring the left; the pair were sequestered in a leafy burrow between some large, granled tree-roots that sort of reminded him of the Father Tree in his childhood Holt. Probably why Skywise had chosen it...for it had been home to the stargazer far longer than he, himself, had been there...



"Dad...?" a sleepy voice yawned as the little boy rubbed at his eyes with a fist and looked up, hands out to be picked up; Cutter obliged and smiled. Nightfall tapped him on the shoulder and held out her arms to take Suntop, he relinquished the child with a small amount of reluctance...but she and Relance were already half-way to their tree-den before he could come up with a convincing argument to keep him here...



He turned back.



"Skywise...?" he ventured, crouching to extend a hand to the pale skin, "Skywise, where are you hurt...? You have to tell me...I can't lose you!" he began to panic at the lack of response; blue eyes flickered open tiredly.



"C-Cutter, I thought you'd...thought you'd forgotten me?" he half said, half-asked of his soul's brother; pushing upright only to wince and look forlornly away. Cutter pulled an arm over his shoulder and lifted his hand high to clasp at the other's ribs...for a sticky stain of red was spreading about the stargazer's waist...



They stumbled forwards a few paces towards Leetah, when Skywise fell, landing on the ground harshly...he held the star-maned elf in his arms as the other gasped desperately, tears pooling in his own eyes. High Ones, how could this be happening? He sent to his other Lifemate, calling with great haste...



"Oh Skywise, how could you think that?" he said, trying to distract the other and keep him with them. *Tam* a soft send called, desperate in it's urgency...he responded in the only way he knew how, *Fahr*



"I am here, Skywise. Stay with me, Soul's Brother! Please..." his voice broke on the last note and ragged sobs were wrenched from his chest as Skywise smiled and closed his eyes, chest hitching with every breath and crimson liquid staining their combined leathers...



He could already hear the jangle of of Leetah's many bangles as she ran towards them, feel her urgency...but, as the chest grew slower and slower he knew, she would not make it in time...



The End

SailorSilvanesti

Please, feel free to cry, this has taken me 5 HOURS...it is 4:30am in the morning and a little posisitve feedback would be MAGNIFICENT!



Also, didn;t see that coming, did you?



^^



~SailorSidk/f/dfln /lk ntoo freaking toired to type my name right,..

lunakat

Wow! Cutter badly mismanaged that incident!

SailorSilvanesti

I was just thinking: You know what, maybe just once...he screwed up, not intentionally, but have you noticed how people panic if someone they love is in danger?



Yeah, I was aiming for that. I didn;t actually have an ending till I got there...<.< at 6am inthe morning...3 hours sleep ftw!

lunakat

I do like the scene in which he apologizes to Strongbow- that was very nicely done!

Dewleaf

It was EPIC

SailorSilvanesti

Thank you, also...it may not be clear but Skywise is dead...<.<...>.>

SailorSilvanesti

Quote:


It was EPIC







Thank you, Dewleaf!^^



That means a lot...

WolfMoonSky

it was..epic...but....*cries* why killing skywise off!!?? *sits in the corner*
I can live with it..?

SailorSilvanesti

Thank you all for the nice reviews...it's very much appreciated...

Dewleaf

Don't worry Wolf, I'll kill Sailor off. :D

SailorSilvanesti

Quote:


Don't worry Wolf, I'll kill Sailor off. :D







Looks scared...Runs for it...Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

WolfMoonSky

Thanks Dewleaf ^^...still love you sailor....

SailorSilvanesti

No one has picked it up, so I might as well say it...to be honest, at the end, all I could picture was the heart-breaking scene when StarJumper was dying and Cutter was trying to reassure Skywise.



But even the Stargazer knew it wouldn't help, and said, "You ccan see as well as I, she isn't going to make it in time..."



I think that's the only point of the books that made me cry...at Crescent's death I was more need-to-throttle-primative-humans-angry and murderous...

Especially when Starjumper makes that one last effort to put his head up and lick Skywise's hand and...dammnit, I'm not sure if it's my cold or I'm crying...let's run with 'cold' I never cry...<.<...>.> and I'm sticking to that story...



That's where the ending came from, anyways...