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Famine had taken a toll on the humans; this had set everyone to find what to sleep on for survival, Elrond a young orphan went on a haunt into the heart of the woods from the Charevibe where they stayed in search of a deer for venison, he heard whispers of strange folks that lured him into something he believed his eyes were tricking him. This transgression into a foreboding land had wrecked the looming darkness upon them and now the trolloc invades in search of the faeries white wolf that protected the light and magick of the Elderwood. A black hood and a masked man bear at their door as the great sweeps of the north continue. Elrond is saved by a fate so cruel or eerie that awaits him as he either perishes or takes the hand of the pointed-ear stranger, who is also an enemy of their kind and a protector of the last Elderwood– the high elves.
#1. A strange white wolf in the thicket
In the mine of Cirdanoth stood human men and women with hunched shoulders, and swollen knuckles, many who have since stopped trying to scrub the coal dust out of their broken nails, the lines of their sunken faces.
"You may take our land but not our soul." The man said, pressing his arm around the axe in his hand. "To us, a King is promised." The man screamed and the soldiers stared at him with morbid curiosity.
"A king is promised!" A roar escaped the crowd of people.
"And he will come ripping your head apart, you leeching masked." he enunciated the last word with spite. "Mongers!" The man muttered slowly to the soldier before him.
"To him, the songs of the Sky and Storm shall be sung and he will unite all of us. Until then we shall protect our land. To the north!" The roaring continued; it smelled of courage and life, the smell of hope.
"We will make our new home upon the bone of our. . ." A blade slashed through the air, the man gagged gasping for air as it. On the release, his eyes were plunged into the skull pointing at the Elven soldier that had blood splattered all over his armour and face.
They stopped speaking, they just saw a man die, they saw his decapitated head and blood flowing like a river on the floor.
"Hang his head on the spike to serve as an instance to each of them." Commander Nikolai's shoulder stiffens.
"The king of the feeble." The Elve soldiers blurted into a roar of laughter. ''Who doesn't exist? He is no match for our lord Satchel. This today will serve as an instance to any of you who sired mutiny! I won't hesitate to feed you to the worms in the pit! Or send you to the Nugs!" A warning tolled in among the slaves, and they bellowed in panic. The commander walked the cobbled street with pride emitting from him.
Only that it been years and no grass has dared sprout on the land, summer, autumn and winter hope had forebodingly gone a washed like the shore that no longer bounced with the hummingbird or the sound of mercenaries, a boundary had erupted and only a fraction of what remains is called the false North after the Elves had occupied the land called Cirdanoth.
The forest had become a labyrinth of snow. Tactfully and slowly Elrond walked along, he had been monitoring the parameter of the mass. And his view in the crook had turned useless.
The wind blew along his path, hunger had brought him farther than he could think from home but winter was a hard time. The animals had pulled in and gone into hibernation. Making him pick the stragglers one by one hoping it would last them until spring.
Elton wiped his numb fingers over his eyes, brushing away the flakes clinging to his lashes. Here there were no telltale trees stripped of bark to mark the deer’s passing.
"Half brother, I knew this idea was stupid," Elton said breathing raspily.
They would remain until the bark ran out, then travel north past the wolves' territory and perhaps into the lands of Cirdanoth where no mortals would dare go, not unless they had a death wish or wishes to be slaves digging up the stones in the mines.
"I told you Elrond this search will land us in vain, nothing still I shouldn't have come with you to freeze my leg to numb in this cold," Eton said.
Elrond sighed through his nose, digging the tip of his bow into the ground, and leaned his forehead against the crude curve of wood.
"We wouldn’t last another week without meat. We have run out of the last catch. And too many families had already started begging us to help. I’d witnessed firsthand exactly how far their charity went." He said in a deep yet young voice.
"For what I know it's dangerous out here, and should father —"
Elrond raised his hand to his mouth, shushing Eton.
He eased into a more comfortable position and calmed his breathing, straining to listen to the forest over the wind.
"My guts are not so frail, I sense something. We might catch a deer, hare, bunny, anything just trust me."
The snow fell and fell, dancing and curling like sparkling spindrifts, the white fresh and clean against the brown and grey of the world. And despite himself, despite his numb limbs, he quieted that relentless, vicious part of his mind to take in the snow-veiled woods.
"No way I'm staying here to be clumped out by snow." Eton slouched and rubbed the palm of his hand together. "I have no choice other than to join you." He shrugged and joined Elrond.
The howling wind calmed into a soft sighing.
The snow fell lazily now, in big, fat clumps that gathered along every nook and bump of the trees.
Thinking about the lethal, gentle beauty of the snow. They will soon have to return to the muddy, frozen roads of the village, to the cramped heat of their cottage. Some small, fragmented part of him cringed at the thought of going without even a bowler, but he paid no hindsight to it.
"You know what Elrond I should die from starving than to be turned into a—"
Bushes rustled across the clearing.
"Listen, there is hope for us, just stay put for now Eton."
Drawing his bow was a matter of instinct. He peered through the thorns, and his breath caught.
Less than thirty paces away stood a small doe, not yet too scrawny from winter, but desperate enough to wrench bark from a tree in the clearing. A deer like that could feed their family for a week or more their eyes lit up with a sigh,
"See." He points ahead. "This is what I was telling you about." There was a smile of hope etched across his lips.
Their mouths watered. Quiet as the wind hissed through dead leaves, he aimed.
Well, they could dry half the meat, and the rest could be used to make a rich stew to be eaten immediately. Her skin could be sold, or perhaps turned into clothing for one of them, but Grace will fight until she gets a new coat out of it. He thought and focused on his target.
"You sure that deer or doe over there didn't see us?"
The doe continued tearing off strips of bark, chewing slowly, utterly unaware that her death waited for yards away.
"Shit, keep quiet else I will use you as bait." He demanded and Eton rolled his eyes.
His fingers trembled. So much food, such salvation. Elrond took a steadying breath, double-checking his aim.
But there was a pair of golden eyes shining from the bush adjacent to his.
The forest went silent. The wind died. Even the snow paused. The mortals no longer kept gods to worship, but if they had known their lost names, a prayer would have been said to them, all of them now that he was hooked in the throat. All of them. Disguised in the thicket, the wolf inched closer, its gaze set on the oblivious deer.
He was enormous, like the size of a pony and though he'd been warned about their presence, his mouth turned bone-dry.
"We're going to be devoured," Eton muttered, grinding his teeth.
"Quite, I don't think it has seen us." He gasps. "Guess I was wrong after all but it's an opportunity."
Worse than his size was his natural stealth, even as he inched closer to the brush, he remained unheard, unspotted by the doe. No animal that massive could be so quiet. But if he was no ordinary animal, if he was of Cirdanoth origin, if he was somehow elvish then being eaten was the least of his concerns.
They should already be running. Yet maybe. . .maybe it would be a favour to the world, to his village, to himself, and his family to kill him while they were almost unnoticed. Putting an arrow through his eye would be no burden.
But despite his size, he looked like a wolf and moved like a wolf. Animal, he reassured himself.
Just an animal. He didn’t let himself consider the alternative, not when he needed his head clear, his breathing steady.
He had a hunting knife and three arrows.
The first two were ordinary arrows, simple and efficient, and likely no more than bee stings to a wolf that size.
But the third arrow, the longest and heaviest one, he had bought from a travelling peddler during a summer when he’d had enough coppers for extra luxuries, an arrow carved from the quenched flame of mountain ash, armed with an iron head the very type he had admired for such hunt.
From songs sung to them as lullabies over our cradle bed, they hated the anger of men, the anger of a hungry man like himself and the sting of his arrow will put him at greater odds.
The wolf shot from the brush in a flash of grey and white and black, his yellow fangs gleaming.
He was even bigger in the open, a marvel of muscle and speed and brute strength. The doe didn’t stand a chance. Elrond fired the ash arrow before he destroyed much else of her.
The arrow found its mark in his side, and he could have sworn the ground itself shuddered, he barked in pain, releasing the doe’s neck as his blood sprayed on the snow, so ruby bright.
He whirled toward Elrond, those yellow eyes wide,
hackles raised. His low growl reverberated in the air and empty pit of his stomach as he surged to his feet, snow churning around him, another arrow drawn.
But the wolf merely looked at him, his jaws stained with blood, his ash arrow protruding so vulgarly from his side, he ran using the wood as cover.
The snow began falling again. He looked, and with a sort of awareness and surprise that made him fire the second arrow. Just in case that intelligence was of the immortal, wicked sort.
The wolf didn’t try to dodge the arrow as it went clean through his wide yellow eyes.
He collapsed to the ground.
Colour and gloom whirled, eddying in his vision, mixing with the snow.
The wolf's legs were twitching as a low whine sliced through the wind.
Impossible—he should be dead, not dying. The arrow was through his eye almost to the goose fletching.
But wolves or any mythical creatures didn't matter. Not with that ash arrow buried in his side.
He’d be dead soon enough. Still, his hands shook as he brushed off the snow and edged closer, still keeping a good distance. Blood gushed from the wounds he had given staining the snow crimson and later bright sprinkles radiated.
"What is happening, why emit odd colours instead of blood?" The silver glitters blended as if creeping onto his skin he felt it walk through his veins assimilating with his flesh, and he groaned, his mouth held tight to prevent courting attention. He pulled away with terror turning to Eton he sighed. But the wolf clawed him. "Get the fuck off of me!"
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