Lonan considered himself to be a Proper Hero. As opposed to the thousands of other Heroes out there, he felt that he had gotten it right although some of it was luck. After his parents were killed, he was raised by a clan of Ground Trolls. It was the very same clan that has killed his parents, and the entire village, but Lonan largely let that go. Mostly because the Trolls would rip his arms off and, as Lonan discovered during one unfortunate day on Tribunal, the arms of Man do not grow back. He was in possession of a magical sword, which he found just laying on the ground after he shot the man who was carrying it in the chest with an arrow.

After he had found out that he was not, in fact, a Troll, he went East to learn how to be a person. While he was there, after carefully observing how people acted, he figured out that all the different people he encountered apparently had very different ideas of how to be Civilized, so he figured out it would be best to learn how as he went along. As he traveled, he was often mistaken for this person called the Lost King, because he had what most other people called a 'birthmark'. He called it 'pissing off the Diamond Troll and receiving a rather nasty bite in return'.

After he had failed on learning how to be a Civilized Man during his time in the East, he figured out the next best thing would be to learn how to fight like a Civilized Man. He quickly discovered what he was learning was not how to fight like a Civilized Man, he was learning how to fight like a man who wanted to stay alive. After he left the East, he killed a group of bandits and accidentally saved a Dwarven caravan. They rewarded him with a Dwarf bow, which was ages better than the one he had nicked from a shop.

He spent the time after that mostly staying in the Woods, tired of being mistaken for the Lost King. Just because he had a magical sword, Mark of the King and was raised under mysterious circumstances that happened to perfectly align with the Prophecy did not make him the King of anything. He traveled into cities when he became bored with the Wilderness, and it usually only took a few days for him to remember why he avoided the city in the first place. If people were not constantly pestering him about reclaiming the Throne, he generally found the time to be miserable about staying in a city. He could be considered roguishly handsome, in the way most Heroes were, but he did not exploit this fact.

Currently, he was trying to sneak through one of the thickest forests he had ever encountered. He knew he was in Elf territory, but he figured Elves were busy creatures, and probably had better things to be concerned with than a Hero looking for some meat. Bread was good and all, but it got very dull very quickly. The fact that he had to occasionally crunch through a maggot did not help. He had spotted a young looking deer as he rode along the road, and he was committed to venison for dinner. He had heard that Dark Elves would sometimes create illusions to pull wary travelers into their midst and do Dark Elf things to them, but this it was usually easy to identify a Dark Elf forest. Usually the trees were all dead and twisted. At one point they had hung signs, but had stopped after the lawsuits by the League of Folks Who Can't Read petitioned them to put it in a language they could understand forced them to take them all down, because the only language the LFWCR could read in did not exist*.

He had tracked the deer down and was currently lying on his stomach, deciding how far he would need to lead the deer in order to kill it. He was interrupted by feeling a rather cold piece of metal on the back of his neck, followed by an even colder voice.

"I would not do that if I were you," it was an elf accent, and it sounded pissed.

Lonan slowly let the tension off the bow string and sat it down. As soon as his hands were flat on the ground he lashed a foot backwards, at where he thought legs should be attached to the voice. They were not; they were too busy jumping in the air to avoid his kick. He used the momentum to roll on his stomach and draw his sword. He was dismayed to find there was still an arrow at his throat, but he felt better that his sword was perilously close to her throat. He was less dismayed to discover that the elf holding the bow was so incredibly beautiful that it wasn't even fair. She had the kind of body that Men had probably gone to war over in the days before the Tribunal, and probably still put serious thought into the matter. He was pretty sure he saw her face carved on urns by ancient Man and regarded as the standard of beauty.

But that was all overridden by the fact that she currently had an arrow dangerously close to this throat. But he didn't hear Death making snide comments**, so he must have been safe. During his inner monologue, the elf pulled the arrow back further.

"You carry a Dwarven weapon," she said, in a matter of fact tone, because it was "But you move as if you are a Troll, carry the blade of an Elf, but you dress and speak as Man."

"You're a Druid,"

She nodded her head slowly.

"It's only a crime if I kill it."

She didn't answer. More importantly, the arrow did not move, which truly wasn't a bad thing when one considered the alternative place for the arrow.

"Who are you?" it was the way that she asked it that sent chills down his spine. This question was generally followed by something along the lines of 'because you have a mark almost exactly like the one in the Prophecy.'

* yet.

** Ever since he had a near Death experience after his adoptive father had given him a loving club across the head, he saw Death; usually when he was about to almost die again.

"Lonan,"

"What is your father's name?"

"The unfortunate fact about my father's name is it is not possible for the Tongue of Anything to pronounce."

"Pardon?"

"Troll,"

"You are no Troll"

"Adopted family."

This seemed to confuse the Druid, who lowered the bow a fraction of an inch, but more than enough to give Lonan the mistaken impression that a Daring Escape was possible. He dropped to his knees in a flash, and struck the Druid in the stomach before rolling backwards. He was barely to his feet when the arrow hit him in the shoulder. After he had ripped the arrow out, he looked to the Druid who seemed to have not moved an inch, but she had what Lonan thought was a slight smile. But she hadn't strung another arrow yet.

"You are very talented." She was smiling at him.

"It's a Gift."

"Surely. The gravity of your crimes necessitates your presence before the Dryad. She will decide your fate."

THAT'S NO GOOD, MATE said a voice that sounded like someone banging lead trashcans inside of Dwarf mines.

He looked to his side, and Death was standing there sipping from a silver goblet. For a skeleton in a black robe, he was surprisingly present, not that Death was anything else.

"Don't I know it,"

THERE'S NO REASONING WITH A DRYAD

"I know,"

THEY VIEW THE WORLD IN VERY BLACK AND WHITE TERMS, THOSE DRYADS

"Please stop reminding me,"

WHY? YOU DIDN'T ACTUALLY KILL THE DEER.

"If I were safe, would you be here?"

…EXCELLENT POINT

Apologies for what is surely mis-formatted footnotes. When I did this all in Word, the footnotes were at the very bottoms of the pages, but I'm sure that changed. Apologies. If anyone has suggestions for how I should actually do the footnotes, it'd be much appreciated. And 'at the end' is not a valid option, as other chapters are sure to be much larger than this one.

Also, I would very much enjoy a Beta, and experienced Beta'rs can see that I very much need one.

Also also, if you read this story all the way down to here (and no one is blaming you if you have not) then could you possibly spend 30 more seconds writing something moderately nice about it?