Author: Piroko Hatake PM
Book two, in The Guardian series. See profile for details. The Shadow isn't dead. It's smarter than they thought. The Elders are useless, and now there's another person involved. Now, the stakes are higher. Now, the Shadow has kidnapped Aelfdane.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 35 - Words: 29,976 - Favs: 3 - Updated: 01-30-12 - Published: 01-16-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2622805
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Chapter 1: Aelfdane
I couldn't believe what my captain was telling me. A Faerie and a human girl (a human!) destroyed the creature that had been plaguing our Kingdom for the past two months. He must have been kidding.
The captain looked at me expectantly. He was waiting for the Crown Prince to say something.
"You're kidding, right?" I finally choked out.
The captain shook his head, "No, Sir, I'm not."
I thought about it for a moment, and then said, "I want to see that."
The clearing they were in wasn't far from the outpost I was checking. Did this human and Faerie save my Kingdom? I furrowed my brows as I walked up on the Faerie and the human. The Faerie was sitting on the human's shoulder. The human was holding a single arrow and a sword. Both weapons had similar black stains on them.
"How long has it been since the thing spooked my horse?" the human asked the Faerie.
"About two hours… why?" the Faerie answered.
"That should be enough time…" the human muttered to herself. She brought her hand to her mouth and whistled loudly.
I heard twigs snapping and the thuds of hooves as a beast came towards us. The guards posted near the human and Faerie raised their weapons.
"Hold," I commanded, raising my hand. The guards stopped, looking bewildered.
The human turned her head to look at me, and nodded her thanks.
The horse broke through the forest into the clearing and shyly made its way up to the human. I had never seen a horse like it. It was spotted brown and white. It was a very pretty horse, even if its sides were streaked with sweat.
I walked forward slowly. I didn't want to spook the horse, human, or Faerie. The Faerie whispered something in the human's ear. She nodded in response, and started to remove the saddle from the horse.
The human sat the saddle and blanket down next to the arrow and sword before looking up at me. She blew hair out of her face and then started looking through various pockets on the saddle for something. The Faerie had moved to sit on the horse's head. She pulled out a brush and started brushing the oddly colored horse.
"So. You got questions to ask or what?" the human asked me. She didn't look away from her horse.
I am Aelfdane. I would like to know what happened here," I told her.
She stopped brushing and looked at me. "Do I have to tell you?"
I thought about it for a moment. I could always have mages o strategists come down and figure it out. "No," I answered, "You don't have to answer me."
She kept brushing her horse calmly. I didn't think she was going to say anything more, but she did.
"I got into a fight with my adopted mother, so I was away from the house, letting her cool down. I ended up at this cabin in the woods. No one knew it was there so it's a perfect place to hide."
"That's a lie! I know!" the Faerie cut in.
the human glared at him playfully. "You don't count, shortstop! Anyway, I found shortstop there, and he told me he was coming here to warn you guys about something called 'The Shadow' and to ask for your help in fighting the thing."
"But you did it yourself. You did not need our assistance to kill The Shadow." I said, confused.
"I didn't know that," the Faerie said.
"He didn't know when he left his Kingdom that he would meet me, that I would be able to get through the Barrier, that I would be just the thing he needed to kick the thing's butt," the human explained.
"How did you get through the Barrier?" I asked.
"Magic," the human said with a smile.
I stared at her. "You realize that I need a better answer than that."
"She won't tell me anything more either," the Faerie said, twiddling with a piece of grass that had been in the horse's mane.
I heard a trumpet sounding in the distance, signaling that the King was coming. The soldiers were straightening, a sign of nervousness.
I realized then, that I hadn't gotten the names of the human and the Faerie.
I stepped toward them, my body language making it clear that the soldiers weren't to listen in. I needed a level of familiarity with them if I was to save them from my father. This girl had killed The Shadow. She had gotten over the Barrier. My father would declare them threats to our society and lock them up and perhaps torture them to figure out how the human got here, over the Barrier.
"What are your names?" I whispered.
The human opened her mouth to answer, but the Faerie beat her to it. "No!" he shouted. I flinched back almost imperceptibly, but from the way the human's eyes darted to me, I know she noticed.
The human looked us both over – from my wide eyes to the Faerie's sudden standing position. She made a split second decision as the sound of hooves and trumpets got louder. She gathered the Faerie to her, placing him on her shoulder in a comforting gesture.
"Azalea and Ashtin."