from Hunter Leath

My footsteps were silent as I leapt through the high grass. I was closing the distance between me and the barricade of wooden pikes, with the woods growing more distant with every step. The moon was bright and revealed my position to anyone lucky enough to look my way. My dark green cape flapped in the wind and my hood tugged on my head in response to the rushing air. My steel short sword clanged on my side and my arrows shifted in my quiver as I made the final steps between me and the wooden pillars.

Once I reached the wall, I crouched low to the grow and listened. I heard nothing but the wind blowing over the grass and pressing against the wood. The palisades wined in response. My mind continued to run as a response to my ever straining heart. It felt worse than that of even the sharpest blade. Tears began to well up in my eyes. I gritted my teeth and snapped out of my pitiful daze. 'Be strong. For Lorena.'

I fitted an arrow in place and muttered a few words under my breath. Feeling my energy drain as the magic released, I started to float up over the pikes. Once I had flown over the wall, I waited as the city of Aroughs laid in front of me. The city was surrounded by wooden palisades that stood twenty feet in the air. Small wooden houses, with straw as a roof, were scattered throughout the city. At the center of the city was Castle Leona, standing over two hundred feet tall like a sentinel over the town. It was surrounded by a cobblestone wall that stood fifty feet in the air and was twenty feet thick. At the top of Castle Leona was a lone tower. 'No doubt where Lord Kinnereth grows fat on the spoils of others.' I thought to myself.

I slowly lowered to the ground bellow as the Castle disappeared from sight , behind a small house. I released the flow of magic and rested from the strain on my strength. The air was cool and chilled my bones as dogs barked throughout the city. Still crouching, I snuck through alley ways until I came upon the main road that swerved all the way up to the Citadel.

I sat, hidden behind a box. Few people were out save the guards posted around the city. I put up my bow and tried to think of a way into the Castle. I had to be careful. If anyone in the city was to see my face they would immediately see that I was not human. No ideas came to me, save rushing with sword drawn. The idea made me laugh. 'What a glorious death it would be to. Worthy of a song.' With my keen hearing, I heard boots walking behind me, I had lingered for too long. If I waited any longer I would be caught. Spawning no other ideas, I sprang to my feet and embedded myself into the crowd, as small and feeble as it was. I quickly acquired a hitch in my left leg and hunched over with my head draped down behind my hood. I coughed sporadically to give the appearance of a sick old man. Luckily for me, the wind had died down and my cape hung over my entire body and hid my sword. Although my bow hung in my quiver on my back, and was of finer make than that of humans, I hoped it would go unnoticed.

As I neared the gate, I saw a line of six guards standing at the ready, checking everyone who wished entry. "Barzul" I said under my breath. My nerves began to rise as I neared and I knew I was about to be caught, but pushed on anyways.

I walked up to the gate undeterred. For a moment I felt that my luck had changed and I would go by unnoticed. Fate is rarely so kind. A tall man stepped in front of me and held his hand out. His other tugged curiously at his beard. "Stop." He said. The smell of ale was strong on his breath. "State your name and business."

Trying to sound as old and as helpless as I could, I answered. "My name is Arin Grimthson. I've come t'a see me son, Bergalnd. His dear mother, and mine own wife, has died. He is a servant 'ere and I wish to tell 'em of the sad news." For a moment it seemed he would let me pass. I stood waiting for his response as I stared at his yellow corsair with a white tree in the middle.

"Wait. Let me have a look at'cher face." I refused to move. He lowered himself to look under my hood. When he saw my face his eyes widened and his pupils dilated. He moved his lips to speak, but before the words left his mouth I pulled out my thin, curved sword and cut across his chest, ripping through the mail.

Grasping at his chest he yelled. "Elf!" With grace and speed, I slid my sword across his neck and his head rolled off of his shoulders. With Elvin speed, I wheeled to my right and plunged my blade into a guard's right side as he stammered to pull out his sword. He was too slow. I pulled out my sword, blood dripping down its sharp, curved frame.

I spun the sword to my left and caught another on his skull. His sword was halfway out of his scabbard. Turning on my heels, I saw a spear flying towards me. I flicked my wrist and parried the blow. I rushed my shoulder at the man's exposed chest and sent him flying into the cobblestone wall, gasping for air. At that moment, I felt something pierce my side, as if hot metal had been placed on my skin. I turned as he pulled out his spear. He lunged again, this time I parried the attack.

More guards rushed out of the city to surround me. soon I was in a circle of spears and swords. I made no attempt to attack, as would be folly, and they made no attempt in return. Men have heard of the quickness and cunning of elves. They had come to fear even the most unskilled of elves. Behind the line of spears the gate slammed to a close. I let out a curse and looked for another way into the Castle. An Idea came to me.

I swung my sword over my head and stepped forward, letting out a "Ya!" The men shuddered and fell back. I took the opportunity. I stepped to the right, able to move now with more ease. I jumped high in the air and flew over their heads. I landed behind the guards in a small alley way. They turned and charged, curses spitting from their mouths.

Sheathing my sword, I jumped up the building to my right and kicked off of it. Spinning in the air, I grabbed a beam on the opposite building and started to climb. The men bellow continued spewing curses at me as I disappeared over the edge of the roof.

I stood on the top of the building, looking at the wall that was still twenty to thirty feet above me. The gap of the street alone was some twenty feet. Even with my great speed and dexterity, I could not make the jump.

Despite my doubts, I braced myself, connecting to the flow of magic. I sprinted across a beam on the roof and jumped as high as I could. The men and women bellow gasped in amazement as I sailed through the air. As I felt the pull of gravity begin to take effect, I let out a word. "Calla" A force built up under me and shot me forty feet into the air. I flew over the wall and spiraled down. To break my fall, I rolled on the cobblestone.

I let out a grunt as I collided with the stone. I rolled a few feet and came to a halt. Looking up, I saw an archer, wide mouthed, staring at me in disbelief. He scrambled for an arrow. I saw my bow a few feet to my left. Dodge rolling towards it, I could feel the air give way as the arrow sailed over my head. My head fell down as I gained my footing and grabbed my bow. Pulling out an arrow, I fit it, and shot. My aim was true as it landed in the man's eye.

Bells rang ferociously in the distance as the whole of Aroughs seemed to spring to life. I put my bow in its quiver and let out a sigh. Then I heard the yells from behind me. A man, with his sword held high, charged me. He would be on me before I could pull out my sword. Panic held me and I let out a word. "Nima." The man's neck snapped and he fell before my feet.

I stood, heaving in and out from the exertion from the wall and now this. I was strong but at this pace the amount of energy that magic was taking on my strength would mean certain doom. I took out a flask and sipped on the cool mead as heat flushed through my bones. 'Talni'er' a drink made by the elves that gave men strength after a long fight or a hard spell. I buckled it back at my side, disappointed that the drink was almost gone.

I looked up at the tower, as men rushed up the stairs. "I'm coming Lorena."

I rushed to the stairs, drawing my sword. The men were halfway up the stairs, and I ran down to meet them. The first soldier swung his sword overhead, to catch my skull. I turned my sword, raising it in the air, and blocked the oncoming blow. I kicked the man. He raised his shield and blocked it, but my strength proved too much for him. He fell backwards, hitting and shoving his men down with him.

I hurried down the stairs until I was content with the distance of the drop. I leapt over the edge and landed with a roll. Ending on my feet, I sprinted towards the door into Castle Leona. Two guards, who were stationed at the door, ran to meet me. One was faster than the other and out distanced him. Taking advantage of this, I dropped to my knees and slid through the dirt and mud. My sword cut through his rib cage as I passed him. He hurled over and fell to the ground.

I lifted my sword just in time to catch the second soldiers sword that was descending upon my brow. With a kick to the leg, the soldier fell to his back. I gained my footing and stabbed him through the heart.

Continuing my trek to the door, soldiers rushed at me from behind. A shot of pain ran through my back as an arrow planted itself in my right shoulder. I gasped at the pain. Hearing the soldiers growing louder behind me, I opened the door and rushed in. The door closed behind me with a boom and I put my hand on the door. Energy flowed through me as I said an incantation as fast as I could. The metal on the edges of the door melted and connected with the stone, sealing it shut. A moment later, the door resounded with a bang as the soldiers tried to bash their way in, but to no avail.

I sheathed my sword and grasped the rod that stuck out of my shoulder. The pain was excruciating to the touch. I knew that when I pulled it out, blood would flow endlessly down my back. I had already lost enough blood from the gash on my side. I would have to be quick. Healing the cut at my side, I said "Sin'balta ven." Heat flushed my side as the skin morphed back together. I felt the reduction in my strength, but it was small at that.

With all my will power, I pulled out the arrow. My back screamed in pain. I felt like curling up into a ball and crying until the pain went away. "Sin'balta ven." The skin slid shut as it had before and the pain subsided. I looked back at the metal door as it vibrated with aggravation. From behind it I heard a man say "Curse you elf!"

I smiled and unsheathed my sword. I started towards the stairs that led to the tower, where Lord Kinnereth would be waiting. "I coming Lorena!" I growled. ***

No guards met me on my way up the tower. I knew Lord Kinnereth's honor guards would be close at hand soon, which hurried me all the same. I slammed into the door, shattering it, as I rushed into the room. It was a small room lit by torches and had an open balcony at the end. Human paintings of epic battles and majestic castles surrounded the walls. In the middle of the room sat Lord Kinnereth. He was a tall man with black hair that went down to his shoulders. He had a goatee and bushy eyebrows that hung over his dark eyes. I feared him not, for I knew I could best him.

To his left stood a man robed in purple with golden symbols lining the bottom and the cuffs. His eyes shone bright red and his face was snarled. I knew he must have been an experienced magician, for Lord Kinnereth would not choose an adept to defend him or try and break an elf.

Behind him, on her knees, was an elf woman. Her head was bowed and her mouth was gagged to keep her from using magic. Her hands were clasped in irons and her Elvin tunic held fresh blood stains. 'It's Lorena' I thought. Anger welled up inside of me, seeing her in this state.

I felt a force push on my mind as I stared at Lorena. The magician was trying to gain hold over my mind, to take over my very actions. For a human, he was very strong and very experienced. I stiffened and pushed back at him. He retreated, but then attacked anew, with greater force. I held him and we stood at a standstill. It was a battle of wills.

'The magician must have spirits helping him. That is the only way he could be this strong.' I continued to push, as did he. Lord Kinnereth sat, undeterred, as we fought the unseen battle. I could tell he was snickering which made me all the more enraged. Then I thought of Lorena. I thought of her being hurt and anger fuelled my will. My love for Lorena and my anger at her mistreatment pressed against his mind. He retreated within himself and his eyes shot with fear. I took my chance and snuck past his defenses.

I took hold of his mind. He gasped in pain as I rummaged through his memories and everything that he was. He was unable to move, unable to speak. I let out one word, knowing he could no longer defend himself or harm me with magic. "Nima." His neck snapped and he fell to the ground. I relaxed and looked to Lord Kinnereth.

Fear passed over him but he quickly hid it. His composer was replaced with one of amusement. 'Perhaps to unnerve me' I thought.

"He was my best spell caster. Holds true the rumors of the elves power I suppose." His voice was thin and remained in the air longer than it should have. He stood and pointed his sword towards me. "Lower your weapon and I give my word I will not kill the elf."

"What good is your word to me ruler of men? You cannot hope to master an elf. Especially one as skilled as I."

He let out a loud, deep laugh that echoed through the room. "Typical of an elf. Narcissistic coward, hiding in your woods. I am as strong and as fast as any elf. Come and see."

He would pay for his insults. I stepped forward. I swung my blade at his left hip, then spun it and changed its direction towards his neck on the right side. Sure to catch him off guard. I was surprised to hear the clang of metal. He pushed my sword away as if it were nothing more than a stick held by a child, and swung at my chest. I jumped back, but was too slow.

His sword cut a foot long gash across my chest. I gasped for air and slowly backed away. Lord Kinnereth laughed in triumph. 'How could a human be that powerful?'

As if he had heard me, he said "I have been magically enhanced. Difficult prospect at that but well worth it in the end."

A shot of dread ran through me. I looked to Lorena and focused on her. "I am going to kill you Kinnereth."

"Come and try little elf." he growled. I charged him again, this time aware of his strength and speed. We fought for what seemed like an eternity, scoring small hits on each other and exchanging larger ones.

Soon my strength began to wane. He showed no sign of exhaustion, and continued to fight like a bull. 'I have to end this now.' I thought to myself. With what little strength I had left, I prepared to end the fight.

Lord Kinnereth swung at my head. I blocked it with my sword and grabbed his wrist. I pulled away my sword and pointed it at his neck. It had been a long, unsuccessful fight, it was good to have the upper hand now. My sword pressed against his neck and he yelped in pain as blood droplets ran down his body. He writhed in pain as he struggled to free his hand. I pressed hard and his wrist snapped. His sword clanged on the stone cold floor.

I let his arm go and continued to point my sword at the nape of his neck. "You will not kill me elf. Not today." He said with a growl.

With a flick of his good hand, he pushed my sword to the side and rushed me. I spun to my right and he missed. I looked back at him with my sword at the ready. He snarled like a cornered dog and fled down the stairs, screaming for his guards.

My limbs grew weary as he left and my heart started to beat faster than normal. I downed the last of my Talni'eir and raced towards Lorena. I went down to my knees and cupped her face in my hands. Her eyes flickered opened and closed. She tried to say something but her words were lost in the gag. I pulled down the gag and put my hands on her chains. "Nima." The chains fell to the floor. They rang as they hit the floor. I looked into her deep blue eyes, enveloped in my love for her.

She placed her hand on my cheek. "Luthian." Her voice was labored but still rang like the morning breeze. My weariness left me.

"Lorena." Tears welled up in my eyes, they flowed down her cheeks as well.

I put my hand on her brow and pushed her hair out of her eyes. Her smile, her tears, and her ocean deep eyes pulled me into a haze. We sat there for a moment, enjoying each other's presence and the love that connected us, stronger than any bond. "You found me." She said as a new set of tears rolled down her face.

"I'll find you anywhere. You are stuck with me I'm afraid."

She let out a laugh. I helped her to her feet and healed her wounds. We stood by the balcony, the wind blowing her hair ever so gracefully. My nose filled with the smell of pine needle. Over the land, the sun was just beginning to rise. It was if I was in a dream.

Lorena looked deep into my eyes and hugged me. We stood there in our embrace for what seemed like a lifetime. I kissed her on her brow and continued to hold her. If it were up to me, I would have stayed there forever. I didn't fear all the soldiers in the land, as long as she stood at my side.

After a time, I could hear the soldiers rushing up the stairs. Their heavy armor resounded through the stairway. I ignored them and thought of Lorena's warm embrace and the curve of her hips. The soldiers walked into the room, weapons drawn. They wore all red armor and red masks to shield their faces. Kinnereth's honor guards. They stood at the ready behind their tall shields.

I separated our embrace. My hands on her shoulders and hers on my hips. I stood in awe of her as my drunken state continued. So beautiful. The woman I would fight through hell and back for. I leaned in and kissed her. Her lips soft as a pillow or the touch of a droplet of rain. I pulled back and whispered to her. It was so soft that only she could hear it. "I love you Lorena."

"And I you Luthian."

I smiled and kissed her again. Her copper hair brushed my cheeks. I started to sing an enchantment. The words were soft like feathers and seemed to ripple throughout the room. My eyes never left Lorena's. The song came to an end and Lorena disappeared.

The men gasped in awe. I fell to one knee, holding my weight with clenched fists on the ground. The spell took almost all of my energy and I had trouble keeping consciousness. I felt empty without her. I felt as if I had been torn in half. Lord Kinnereth walked up. "Kill him."

The guards rushed towards me. I looked up at the rising sun. "Lorena." Connecting to the very energy of my entire being I yelled. "Etra sen." No more. ***

Lorena stood on a small jut on a cliff. Tears rolled down her face and she led herself as she looked over the city of Aroughs, and then the tower. She sobbed uncontrollably. "I love you Luthian."

A bright light erupted from the tower. The explosion was so bright, Lorena had to shield her eyes. The tower fell to the ground in an explosion of rocks. The air rippled towards her and she heard it, carried in the wind.

"I love you..." It sang

"And I you, Luthian."


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3808 words

15 minutes