I shrunk down into the shrub as I heard footsteps approaching. From the sound, it was a fairly muscular man with leather boots-the man I had been following for the past week.

I dared to peek out from between the branches and saw his back as he walked in the opposite direction. His rich brown hair, which stuck out in various directions, had probably not been combed or washed in the past fortnight. I never could understand how a man could go so long without bathing or at least brushing his hair. Even I, the second most brutal assassin in the land, kept my hair conditioned and clean, washing it on a near-daily basis.I couldn't stand the thought of traveling so frequently that I couldn't squeeze a bath in edgewise.

But anyway, the man.

His name, from what information I had gathered—which was very little— was Faluin. I was unsure of his surname, which made sense considering he was an Elf. They're known for their mysterious tendencies, traveling everywhere but never leaving a trace of information behind. they're very good at it, too. It took me almost the entire time I had followed him just to figure out his name. Although I had unraveled the answer to that mystery, asking him directly hadn't given me a clue on where he was going. I had my suspiciouns, though.

There were rumors, whispered very quietly and to few people, that the Elves were keeping more than just hidden communities. Apparently, they had small grottos, underwater caves, and intricate tunnel systems all built into the land around us, some even very near to civilizations. That really should prove just how good those damn Elves are at keeping secrets. they're causing places near to where we live to become magical, then covering it with glamours, spells, uttered words of magic to keep them hidden from us, when we have the right to go there more than any Elf.

He had said he was going north when I asked, which meant that he was most likely going to some place Elf-enchanted. No one in their right mind would go that far north at this time of year, when blizzards are so frequent, unless they had something extremely rare or valuable on the line.

I was pondering what he could be after when I looked up and realized that the Elf I was supposed to be tracking had disappeared from my sight. Way to go, Callie. Way to go.

I quickly stood, pulling my hood up so that it covered my crimson locks and most of my face. I stepped out of the shrub I had been kneeling in for the past hour, and even though my joints were stiff, I broke into a jog to follow the path Faluin had gone down. Well, if you could call it a path. It wasn't really like a hiking path, worn and of soft. No, instead he had gone out into the trees, where the undergrowth and shrubs were full of thorns.

If only that stupid horse hadn't run away, I could be riding gracefully through the forest and I wouldn't be picking thorns out of my cloak every five steps. But a horse would probably be way too loud for me to still be "out of sight" and "out of mind", in the words of the Academy.

I sighed, deciding not to weigh out my chances of finding the horse again in this weather. And by 'this weather', I mean that it was cold. Really cold. Really, really cold.

I suddenly realized that I had lost sight of the elf I was supposed to be stalking. Goddammit, not again.

A/N: Jeez. I hate short chapters, I really do. But I had to publish something before everyone forgot I existed XD So here ya go. As always, reviews are love! :D