Author: LadyEragon PM
Run and survive or stay and die? I know which one I'd rather. Btw, the title of this story will change at some point. Any suggestions would be useful :Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,242 - Reviews: 4 - Updated: 08-05-11 - Published: 07-14-11 - id: 2932848
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I grabbed my sword and flung myself out of the tree, sprinting as fast as I could. The man on watch shouted at the others waking them up, and all six grabbed a sword and chased me. Surprisingly it was one of the women who was the fastest, tall and slim with light blonde hair, as fast and graceful as a cat. Her green eyes shone in the moonlight giving her an other worldly appearance. A small stream bubbling over grey rocks lay ahead of me and I prepared to jump over it, but before I managed to the blonde women pounced on me, knocking me to the ground giving me a face full of dirt. The others caught up and stood around me, gasping as they caught their breaths. Escaping from this lot was not going to be easy.
The blonde woman got to her feet smiling, her teeth perfectly even and white. Her skin was as pale as snow but in the most beautiful way imaginable. I stared at her in wonder. I had heard tales of elves that were often described as how this women appeared, but no one had ever seen one in hundreds of years, it was said that they were either hiding or had been killed when our King fought his way to power. Before I could ask anything about it one of the men pulled me roughly to my feet and picked up the sword which had been knocked from my hand when I fell. I stared at him, he too had the same light blonde hair and pale skin as the woman, but his eyes were pure grey capturing the moonlight perfectly.
The feel of a cool blade pressed against my back brought me back to my senses. Turning around I saw that the hooded man had pressed a dagger to the small of my back, whilst the one who shot the arrow at me appeared at my side and grasped my wrist tightly. I contemplated withdrawing my knives from their straps on my legs but decided against it, I would still be outnumbered and knives were nothing compared to swords and arrows. "No more running for you tonight," he smiled, his tone surprisingly light.
" Even if she did she wouldn't be able to outrun me," the blonde woman said with a touch of pride. Her eyes sparkled as she said it and as she looked at me it was as if she held the knowledge of many generations.
"Walk," hood guy commanded from behind me, so I started to walk surrounded by the strange group. When we reached the campfire the man holding my arm let go, whilst the hooded one pushed down on my shoulders forcing me to sit. The small group huddled together slightly away from me, their eyes constantly fixed in my direction. Their whispers were not audible above the crackling of the flames from the fire which made the air surrounding it stuffy and in some ways hard to breath in. Sweat trickled down my face and I wiped it away with the back of my sleeve, darkened by the dirt when I fell. At least the heat was better than freezing to death, unless these people decided to kill me here right now. Yet for some reason I didn't think they would, if they were assassins the would have killed me by now.
The whispering among the group stopped, and the remaining man I had not identified yet walked towards me and placed my sword at my feet; an act of trust. I smiled at him, "Thanks." He nodded and remained silent, walking to the opposite side of the campfire to sit on a log. His hair was short and almost all of it was grey, the occasional fleck of black catching the light of the fire. The man wearing the hood sat to the side.
The rest of the group settled back down on the ground, sleep overcoming them and soft snores filled the air joining the cackle of the flames. The old man and the man with the hood remained awake, staring off into the distance keeping watch. I lay down on my back and looked up at the canopy of trees above me, the moonlight glittering on the branches. "Valora?" someone whispered. I sat up looking around, and found the man with the grey hair staring at me.
"How do you know my name?" I asked, puzzled. I did not tell them my name.
" You killed the King's son. Everyone knows your name," his reply was simple, logical. I blinked not knowing what to say and waited for him to continue. He was the one that started this conversation anyway. A few minutes of awkward silence followed before he asked what he wanted to know.
"Why did you kill the King's son?"
I stared at him, my face hardening to an impenetrable mask, the one question I was hoping not to be asked had been thrown out into the open. I hardly even knew these people and they were expecting me to reveal everything to them without a second thought. The thought of what I had done was already tearing me apart, especially the thought of what it could mean to my family. Saying it out loud would cause me to break down and I needed to be strong. I don't know why but I knew I had to be strong, I had a strange feeling that I had an important role to play. Instead of answering his question I tried a different tactic.
"What do you want me for?"
The grey haired man smiled, showing surprisingly even, white teeth. "To kill the King."
I could hardly believe what he had just said. Kill the King! That's what they wanted me for! My mind was practically screaming, in a state of fiery rage. They wanted me to go back and kill that man, back to the place where I would be recognised straight away and killed. Then another thought crossed my mind. The King could not be killed, as far as a knew, he had been King for over a century, and he never seemed to age.
"He can't be killed," I whispered.
The hooded man looked at me then, his eyes glittering in the firelight. "Yes he can. We know the way. But we can't do it without you." His gaze flitted away from my face and re-settled in the direction he was previously looking in. The grey haired man stared a little longer before following suit, and left me sitting facing the fire, their words swimming around my mind. I lay back down on the earth and closed my eyes, slipping off into a slumber.
The smell of fried meet filled my nostrils and caused my eyes to flutter open. I sat up to see the handsome man along with the red-headed female standing over the fire cooking thin strips of pork. I walked to the tree where I had stayed before being spotted yesterday, and grabbed my pack, my bow and my quiver of arrows and returned to the fire. I gently placed the bow and arrows on the floor and reached into my back for a loaf of two day old bread. It wasn't yet stale but the crusts on the outside were hard and I cut them off with one of my knives still strapped to my legs. The other two glanced at the loaf greedily, small smiles suggesting that they hadn't eaten bread recently. I cut the bread into seven even, thick slices.
"You got anything else that's edible in that pack of yours?" the handsome man asked. I smiled and withdrew a joint of ham, carrots, mushrooms and berries. The latter two I had collected in the forest the day before.
The man licked his lips. "You'd think that with one of our group being a survival expert he'd be able to find something decent to eat."
The red haired woman laughed and gazed at him dreamily, clearly she was in love with him. I rolled my eyes at her and stared back at the man.
"Mind if I go to the stream to wash?" I asked, hoping that asking for permission would give me more privacy. After yesterday I was certain that walking alone without telling anyone where I was headed would surely gain me a follower. At least they would know where I was.
The man slightly tilted his head to the side and smiled. "Sure, just don't be too long."
I picked up my sword and sheathed it, not wanted to be left with knives as my only form of protection in the likely even that I would be attacked by an assassin. I would have taken my bow but it would only be annoying when trying to wash, and would be of no use if someone grabbed my from behind.
I walked the short distance to the stream which I had run too yesterday, and noticed that it was deeper than I previously thought. The sun filtered down through the trees and sparkled on the surface of the rippling water. I stared at my reflection, holding my breath at the state of my appearance. My black hair was knotted with dirt and had a wild look to it and my usually pale skin was darkened with dirt. A layer of grime had also found it's way beneath my finger nails.
I pulled of my boots and my cloak, leaving them on the ground, and waded into the water. I knelt on my knees and began washing my face removing the two days worth of dirt that seemed more like a months worth. I tilted my head forward, dipping my hair into the water and used my hands to pour more the coolness over it. I repeated the motion until my hair was completely soaked and felt cleaner and tamer. I stood back up and walked back towards the streams edge and waited for my feet to dry before putting my boots back on. I squeezed the excess water out of my hair and secured my cloak against my neck and made my way back to the fire to dry my hair. When I got back everyone else was there.
The red haired woman served the fried pork along with slices of ham, fried mushrooms and a thick slice of bread for everyone. The berries were passed around after everyone had finished. The whole meal passed by in silence and I felt everyone's eyes glance at me more than once. When everyone had finished the red haired woman gathered the plates and carried them down to the stream to start washing. Silence still reigned the air and I decided to break it.
"What are your names?" I asked no one in particular, hoping that this would lead to a conversation. Instead it just gave them an excuse to stare at me for an elongated period of time making my mouth go dry. Finally, the handsome man smiled and answered.
"I'm Felek," he responded, 'And the red-head woman who just left to clean the plates is Sholeh."
I nodded creating a mental note of their names. I glanced up at the others. The oldest man just opened his mouth to speak when a high-pitched scream pierced the silent air accompanied with a loud splash- most likely from the wooden plates we had just eaten from. The blonde haired woman was the first to rise, running towards the river and unsheathing her sword, the thin metal glinting in the morning light. The others were behind her apart from the hooded man who put out the fire then stared straight at me.
"Stay here," he said, then turned and ran after the others. I disobeyed, grabbed my sword and followed just as he was out of view.
The sound of clashing blades rebounded off the trees and echoed across the forest. Sholeh was leaning against a willow trunk clutching her left arm and Felek knelt beside her whispering soothing words which seemed to make the difference between her being silent with wide eyes and crying hysterically. The others all stood at a slight difference from the battle going on between the hooded man and the other who must have been the one to hurt Sholeh. He wore a green tunic and brown trousers and fought exceptionally well, too well for a thief. An assassin.
The two men fighting were both breathing heavily, the assassin lunged and hood guys hood fell off revealing shoulder length auburn hair that sparkled in the light. His face was no longer half-concealed in shadow and it was only then that I realised he was just as handsome as Felek and the elfish looking man. Sweat trickled down his forehead and he continued blocking the assassins attacks and finally found an opening to slash at his sword arm hard enough to create a steady flow of blood. The injury was enough to weaken the man, and although he did not drop his weapon he was unable to lift it high enough to block hood guy's attack in time. He gasped as the metal pierced his heart and collapsed to the ground when the sword was withdrawn. His eyelids fluttered then stilled, lifeless eyes stared up at the leaves of the trees as if they might be stars, and blood trickled into the earth.
Hood guy turned around looking at Sholeh. "Are you in much pain?" he asked, his voice surprisingly soft.
She shook her head, "It was more the shock than anything else."
He turned back around and cleaned his sword, breathing deeply to calm himself. Tension was thick in the air and everyone remained silent until the blonde haired female spoke. "We should move on," she whispered. No one spoke another word and walked back towards the campsite. Felek helped Sholeh to tie a bandage around her injured arm and carried her back along with his until they reached a new campsite later that night.
The group ruled out a fire and I seemed almost forgotten, the threat of assassins fresh in the air. We dined on ham and bread, and set a double watch that night. I was to keep watch first with the blonde woman. Neither of us spoke through the course of our three hours, silently sending me a message of distrust. After our watch I lay on my bedroll feeling more lonely than I had since I left, and fell into a dreamless sleep.