Author: Lillia Jane Marshes PM
Talitha has lived in the Forest her entire life, and ever since she was old enough to understand one thing has been drilled into her head: stay away from the Elves. The Elves will kill you. And then her entire village is destroyed by them and she is left alone, with only the Elves for company.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 17 - Words: 16,792 - Reviews: 43 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 05-18-13 - Published: 11-24-12 - id: 3077225
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: I'm back! Sorry, I haven't had much time to write lately, and I was kind of absorbed with my new idea for Afraid of the Dark. But now I've finally got this chapter written, and I can wrap up the cliffhanger I left you with.
I'm really not satisfied with this chapter, so if you aren't either I'd LOVE some pointers. Honestly I've got a bit of writers block for this right now, so that's why its not the best.
"Show yourself," I said confidently, hiding my panic behind a fake aura of cockiness. Father had told me once that animals can smell fear. The only way to beat them was to be confident. And even if they couldn't understand what I was saying, they might understand my tone of voice.
The bush moved again, then something slowly emerged from behind it.
The knife dropped to the ground, my eyes nearly bugging out of my head.
"Oh my gods," I muttered.
I couldn't believe it. I was dreaming. That must have been it. This was just too good to be true. After months of wandering the woods alone, finding only death and destruction all around me, I had found someone.
My anticipation of danger from whatever was in the bush had been wrong, oh so wrong. I saw that when it stood up, because it wasn't an animal or an elf (though in my mind they were almost the same thing). It was a girl. A little human girl, no more than ten years of age, clothed in rags that looked as though they had once been fine garments. Her hair, black like mine, was matted and fell almost past her waist. It obviously hadn't been washed or brushed in ages, and every inch of her body was covered in dirt and grime. She was stick thin, her ribs showing through holes in her clothes. Her cheeks were sunken in, and if it wasn't for her eyes she would have looked dead. They were a bright blue, painfully similar to what my mother's had looked like, and they were now filled with unshed tears as she stared at me. A whimper escaped her, which brought me back to reality.
"Oh gods," I said again, moving toward her this time. "Are you all right?" She shrank back from me at fist, but when I got right next to her she just looked up at me, lower lip trembling. "I'm sorry," I said, crouching down so I was at her level. "I thought you were something else."
She nodded slowly, then suddenly threw her arms around me, squeezing me with a strength that didn't belong to someone her size. She began sobbing and for a moment I just stood there in utter shock, then gathered my wits enough to wrap my arms around her. She was even thinner than she had looked, and she felt as if she would break if I squeezed too hard.
I thought I was badly off, I thought. "Hey, its okay," I whispered, rubbing her back gently. "Its okay." her sobs slowly turned into hiccups, and eventually stopped. I don't how long we crouched there, not saying another word to each other, but finally she pulled back from me shakily. Her eyes were wide and gazed up at me, and I realized she must have been just as surprised to see me as I was her.
"Wh-who are you?" she asked. Her voice was quiet and cracking, as if she hadn't used it in ages, but I could still hear the accent that lilted along with her words. It was an Eastern accent, which meant she was probably from Ti'sok. My heart clenched at the mere thought of the once great city, but I pushed it away.
"My name's Talitha," I told her. "What's yours?"
She sniffed once, then answered. "Estelle," it was barely a whisper, but I caught it anyway.
"Estelle," I repeated. "Are you all right? Hungry?" she nodded, and sat down in front of her, crossing my legs. "Sit down," I said gently. She hesitated, then settled down next to me, leaning on my arm. She seemed desperate for human contact, even more than me.
I reached into my pack and removed some of the meat from my dinner the last night. I had cooked extra before dark thankfully, and I carefully unwrapped it then handed it to her.
She tore into it with a ferocity that surprised me, and I wondered when she had last eaten. The deer meat disappeared in under a minute, and she looked at me again with a silent question, but I shook my head.
"That's all I have thats cooked," I said.
"Okay," she whispered, her accent making it sound more like 'o-kah'. She stared at me for a minute while I tried desperately to think of something to say. Months yearning for a single conversation with someone, and now I was lost for words. Eventually it was Estelle that continued the conversation.
"Where are you from?" she asked.
I looked down at the dirt. "A little village," I said. "It was called Inucar." she nodded, as if expecting me to continue. Finally I did. "I lived there my whole life. Until one day a few months ago... it was destroyed. Burned." I sucked in a deep breath, not completely sure why I was telling a little girl this. "By the Elves,"
Estelle shrank closer to me at this, and I put my arm around her almost naturally. She was like the little sister I'd never had, and I couldn't help feeling close to her. "My home's gone too," she whispered. "Mommy said I would be okay, and not to worry. She said to be strong."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"She said I couldn't get sick," she mumbled, tracing lines in the dirt. I froze momentarily, thinking about the stacks of bodies in Ti'sok, the horrible stench coming from the rotting wood and bodies...
"Why did she say that?" I asked.
"She said I was imu...emun..."
"Immune?" I asked breathlessly, and she nodded. Immune? I thought. To the Fisherman's Plague? Is that possible?
"But then the Elves came," she whispered, and I returned my full attention to her. "I was hiding in my house, and I saw them come over the wall. They move like spiders," she said to me, a disgusted tone creeping into her voice. "All low to the ground and creepy looking. They did something to the wall and then just left. It was scary." she snuggled closer to me, and I stared down at her.
They only came in to write my name on the wall? I thought. So how did they get the plague in? A wolf howled somewhere and I felt Estelle tense.
"Estelle?" I whispered. "Do you want to stay with me?"
"Yes," she whispered. "Can I? You have food and you smell good. Like my mother."
I chose to ignore the last part of that statement, not sure whether it was cute or strange, and instead picked her up in my arms. She didn't object, and I carried her to a sturdy looking tree.
"Well then," I said, glancing at the darkening sky. "We've got to get out of sight."