In the half-light of the moon, the elf looked like a hunter. His clothing was close-fitted, his body coiled as if to spring. The lengthening shadows cast his visage in an eerie light; only his cat-like eyes were clearly visible, shining with the intensity of a wolf stalking its prey.

The only word Acco could find to describe his friend, was beautiful, but his beauty was the wild, alien grace of a being that is far from human. the elf's sharp features, tipped ears and light, yet compact build displayed his heritage, and the stillness of his stance and the sharp intensity in the way his eyes raked their surroundings was a sign of his warrior skills. Acco knew he would have to rely on the wood elf's predatory instincts if he was to survive the night. They had been discovered again, and that always meant that the night would be a wild race of running and danger, and the possibility of death, for either of them.

As though sensing his train of thought, Kelandi turned and offered him a small smile. "Are you worried?" He asked, cocking his head.

What kind of a question was that? "Oh no," Acco spat, hearing the venom in his own voice and not regretting it at all, "I only have insane creatures intent on brutally killing me. What's to me nervous about?"

Kelandi did not react at all to his anger. He simply regarded him, eyes bright. Acco could see his own reflection in the elf's eyes. He looked angry and childlike, not at all like the brave man he hoped he was becoming.

"Do you trust me?" Kelandi finally asked, voice soft.

Acco sighed. This was Kelandi-an immortal, orphaned elf who had seen things from nightmares. This was his friend, as reliable and as steady as a heartbeat, the one who would die for him. How could he not trust him? If he didn't believe in Kelandi, he might as well be dead. "I trust you."

The elf finished readying his quiver and swung it over his back, the white-fletched arrows gleaming over his shoulder. "Good." his friend said finally, turning and fixing Acco with a piercing gaze. "You should." He lowered his voice, his expression softening. "I won't let them catch you, Acco. I promise."

"Is that what you said to my parents?" He shouldn't have said those words-he knew the pain they would inflict-but they tumbled from his lips before he could stop them.

Kelandi's eyes flashed, and he took a long, deep breath. "No," the elf said quietly. "I told them I would protect you." He pressed the hilt of a sword into Acco's palm and wrapped his fingers around. "Now let's go."

Numbly, Acco followed his friend to their horse and swung up onto the beast's back behind his friend, wrapping his arms around Kelandi's waist. He paused to look back at the place that had been their temporary home for three months. When they had first arrived, it had seemed like this was finally it, that in this deserted wood, they would never be found, that things might be normal for once. He should have known better. Nothing was ever going to be normal, not for him. His life would always be fight and flight, escape, danger, and running until the day he died. He had come to accept that this was how his life was going to be, but that did not mean it was easy.

He closed his eyes, blocking the image of the woods from his mind. Unbidden, the only way they ever came anymore, the memories started to slip into the forefront of his mind.

The smell of burning flesh...screams...death, death, death death.



His mothers face, twisted with terror and fear, his father, sobbing with his face in his hand, and Kelandi, Kelandi, burned and bleeding, snarling like an animal while he fought, tears streaking the dirt off his face.

gentle hands touching his shoulders, a soothing voice crooning to him while the world burned around them...


Acco jumped, startled, and blinked, returning to the present. Kelandi had twisted around and was staring at him, concerned. "Are you all right?" The elf asked seriously.

Not trusting himself to speak, Acco nodded.

Kelandi sighed. "Hold on." he warned, and then crouched over the horses's neck, whispering a command in his own tongue.

The mare sprang forward, her hooves drumming silently across the forest floor. Acco rested his head against his friend's back and tried to ignore the sound of racing paws and hungry howls that came from behind them, as they ran into strange lands once again.