When I first woke up I barely knew anything. It felt like I'd only just been born. I couldn't remember anything. I couldn't remember who I was, where I was, even what the strangeness I saw was. I was on my back, staring straight up. Trees were towering above me, but I could see the sky through a small opening in the foliage. It was beautiful, and I wished I could lie there forever. I forgot that I was lost, with no clue about anything at all. No clue about me. No clue about anyone else. Not even a clue about the world around me.
I wished I could just lie there forever, carefree.
The only reason I started thinking about anything was because I saw someone else out of the corner of my eye. At first, my eyes were still focusing, but soon I recognized the figure of a man standing above me. No, wait. A man, but different. He looked like he had pointy ears.
I didn't know why these words flashed in my mind. But my mind associated this man with the word Elf. I assumed that all people with pointy ears were called Elves.
I was about to get up when I noticed that he was pointing something at me.
Bow and arrow. Weapon.
Another set of words flashed in my mind as soon as I saw the object in his hand. I didn't know why, I didn't know how, but I knew what he was doing. He was threatening me.
"Don't move, human."
Human. That applied to me somehow. Don't move. That meant if I move, he'd kill me.
Then I realized that I understood everything he said. I was thinking in the same language as he spoke.
All the same, though, I also understood that my key priority was to escape from him alive.
I'm not sure what happened after that. All I remember is suddenly being standing, watching the now bleeding Elf in front of me fall to the ground, and suddenly having a blade in my hand.
I realized only after I had done it that I had grabbed a weapon I didn't know I had and slashed the Elf's hand, disarming him in the process.
The Elf was still conscious, though, but also shocked. While he lay dumbfounded, I knocked him out with a sharp running kick.
Then I realized my surroundings were similar to an Elf's forest. Again, I didn't know how I knew this, but I also remembered that Elves live in villages of several thousands. Every Elf is trained for combat with either knives or bows, and could walk with greater stealth than any other race.
They could have been watching me even as I remembered this.
Even so, I ran. Away from the unconscious Elf on the ground. Away from the place that I, myself, had been lying unconscious for God knows how long. I don't know how long I'd been there. I don't know how many Elves had seen me, how many were in trees watching me.
I hid behind some trees until I had almost caught my breath. Then I heard some voices around the other side of the trees. It was two Elves walking by, having a friendly conversation. One of them stopped for a second as he passed my hiding spot.
"You hear that?" he said to the other.
"Yeah," the second Elf said. "Breathing."
"Heavily breathing. Probably just ran a long distance."
"Smells like a human."
"A few feet away. Probably hearing every word we say."
"Well, if I were that human," the first elf said louder, "I would give myself up before the we have to come looking for him."
I couldn't have imagined myself in a worse situation. I could see their shadows on the ground beside me. It looked like the first one was drawing a blade while speaking. The second had a bow and arrow. They were approaching slowly.
I decided to wait for them to get close enough for me to surprise them and take care of them without a lot of noise or commotion.
"I'll take point. Cover me," the knife wielding Elf whispered.
Still, I didn't come out, even though once the first was down, the second would put an arrow in me. I didn't have a choice, though. For some reason I felt like I couldn't let them take me alive.
The Elf seemed to know where I was. He sneaked up around the side of the tree. I gripped the branch next to my hand as if it could help me. He was about to come around to my side of the tree and no doubt attack me.
Without even thinking, my hand went to my belt and pulled a knife out. My hand whipped around the side and the knife struck the tree, trapping the Elf between the tree and my arm. The Elf with the bow didn't dare to shoot because there was too much chance of hitting the other Elf. The strangest part of this, though, is that the trapped Elf was stabbing my arm and I could barely feel it at all.
Suddenly I saw the Elf with the bow turn the corner and, from almost point blank, fire an arrow directly at me.
At that moment time almost stood still.
I saw the arrow coming toward me, but it was coming much slower than it was supposed to. Arrows travel at hundreds of miles per hour, especially from Elf bows. This one, however, was travelling at barely ten.
Then I noticed that everything else was standing still. The trees, the Elves, everything around me was standing almost completely still.
I assumed this is what happens when you're about to die.
There was no way that I knew of that anyone could avoid an arrow.
But, sure enough, I continued to surprise myself with the skill I didn't know I had.
In one swift movement, I freed the trapped Elf and ducked out of the way of the arrow. I didn't even know that I'd done it. Time hadn't slowed down after all. Somehow I had sped up.
The arrow landed in the tree behind me at about the same time I stood back up. Time was back to normal, since the trees were blowing around normally again, the now free Elf fell to the ground, grasping his throat, and the Elf in front of me stood in awe of what I had done.
I decided to run without hurting them any further. If they pursued, I would retaliate.
This ended up being a mistake, because as I sneaked away from them, I heard a horn from where I left them. They were warning all the other Elves that I was there.
I heard something soon afterwards. It sounded like a bow twanging. I was being shot at again. I jumped away from where I was and hoped that whoever just shot had good aim. I was relieved when an arrow hit the spot where my head was just seconds before. Then I realized that I heard the same twanging sound coming from every direction. There were dozens of Elves shooting at me all at once.
I ran in a random direction. As I ran, the path behind me became covered in arrows. They shot out from hidden locations, sniper posts and some Elves out in the open. Somehow, though, even though hundreds of shots were fired, none of them hit me. Stranger still, I somehow recognized the path I was taking. I felt that I was heading in the right direction and that escape was just ahead.
I discovered that I was right as I reached a clearing, and up ahead was a cliff. I hesitated slightly, for less than a second, from jumping over the cliff without seeing what was waiting for me. In that moment of hesitation, an arrow skinned my already injured arm and dozens of other arrows streamed from the sky directly at me. I continued running, not daring to look back. Without any hesitation, I jumped the cliff as if I knew what I was up against.
I looked down as I hovered in the air for a split second. Seemingly endless water stretched out of sight in front of me. I fell to the surface of the water without getting hit, even though the arrows continued to shower down from above. I landed in the water with a splash, and immediately blood filled the water. I hadn't noticed how badly I was injured, and only then noticed that my arm was almost hacked completely off.
I didn't have time to think about it, though. Arrows were still falling from the cliff above. Though considerably fewer in number, the Elves still shooting were on the edge of the cliff and I was in plain sight. I couldn't swim as fast as I could run, so I was in a weak position at that time and many of the arrows came closer than I'd have liked them to. Somehow, though, I managed to escape without getting hit anymore.
As soon as the arrows stopped flying, I slowed down and tried to relax. I was too focused on the arrows beforehand to notice how exhausted I was, and that it had gotten misty all of a sudden. I was also suffering from extreme blood loss because of my arm. It occurred to me that I was probably going to die before I could get medical attention. There was no land in sight.
My sight started blurring up. My thoughts started getting unfocused.
The water was red all around me.
So, I thought.
This is what it's like to die.
With that thought, everything went black.