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CHAPTER NINE

Hunting trip

 

A week earlier, Dale Thessidel woke up excited about the hunting trip he, his cousin, and his friends had planned on for months. It had started out all well and good and then the storm hit on the fourth day of their trip. Then their camp got raided, twice. Then after a day of no game what so ever, they excitedly and blindly followed a deer into the forest of Guardians. Where they have been wandering for three days before they realized where they were.

“This will be funny to us in several years.” Dale sighed as the sun goes down leaving them in the darkness of the elven forest once again.

“Funny?” Malik, Dale’s younger cousin scoffed. “You really think so?”

“Yes, think about it.” Dale turned on his horse, flinching a bit at how disgusting he felt. He hadn’t had a bath in days now. He could feel the layers of filth on his skin cracking and flaking off. His usually neat and tapered beard had grown like a bush about his face. It was driving him mad because it was itching like it was full of ants. “Too many bad things have happened here, but none of it is life thre---.”

Freed, Dale’s best friend, laughed feebly from behind the brothers; Borim and Deland. “Dale. Shut up.” He groaned. “The only way we could possibly find this funny is if something worse than this trip happens.”

With a sigh all Dale could do was nod in agreement. This ended the small attempt to raise their spirits and the earlier moody silence resumed. For almost another four hours they wandered through the dark forest, their minds working on maybes and what-ifs when Deland’s brother falls from his horse sound asleep until he hit the ground.

The night was interrupted by the burst of genuine laughter when Borim sat up his face showing his confused embarrassment.

“That’s our cue to camp.” Dale sniggered before dismounting.

“Should we risk a fire?” Malik asked hopeful that his cousin would say yes. Dale looked at the brothers and then at Freed, the three of them nodded.

Shrugging, Dale agreed. “Okay, not that it matters now.” Dale pulled his bedding off his horse and before it hit the ground properly he was stretched atop it.

“Why do you say that?” Freed yawned.

Dale turned over to stare up through the trees. “Well, I’m more than sure that the Ao'lean Elves know we’re here.” He yawned. “And apparently we’re too pitiful to be concerned with.”

Borim laughed. “That’s fine with me, I don’t need any excitement right ---.”

A female scream cut through the night, not far from their camp.

“---now.” Borim finished.

They were all up and remounted in seconds, riding hard in the direction of the scream.

“Ready, Malik!” Dale ordered over his shoulder before focusing his sharp eyes for the trouble ahead.

“Ready!” Malik whiped his bow out and readied an arrow for flight.

“Do you see her, Dale?” Freed yelled.

“I see our damsel in distress! Straight ahead!” Dale made a sound of surprise. “She’s Human!”

“Spotted!” Malik informed. “Down!” He fired his arrow over the backs of his cousin and Freed.

They all watch as the rider of the black horse was propelled out of his saddle and landed hard on the ground near the unconscious girl. The horse, spooked by its master’s sudden dismount, headed back to wherever it came from.

Freed started for his weapon as the Elf made for his own only to reveal that he was unarmed. His eyes darting between each of them the elven male watched them surround him and the unconscious girl.

“You were right, Dale, she is Human.” Freed laughed, still amazed at his friend’s acute sight.

The Elven male looked at the speaker, Freed’s strawberry-blonde hair pulled back revealing his scruffy face marred and cut from their lengthened visit in the forest of Guardians. He was quite sure he looked a sight. Nothing like a noble and more like a ruffian.

“He can more than likely lead us out of this forsaken forest.” Freed suggested.

The Elf watched when the brothers, apparently noting their complexion similar to the girl’s as he looked from them to her, dismount and started toward him. He retreated tripping over her.

Malik glared at him. “Can we kill’im after we’re finished with’im? For attacking the girl of course.”

Dale looked at Malik a strange grin on his face. “Why is my little cousin so blood thirsty? No, Malik, we’ll let him go, don’t want to start a war for killing an Elf who looked to be a noble of some sort.”

The Elf watched them for a moment more before he started screaming.

Aleur! Aleur, yond’lo mah! Yond’lo…ughn!” Borim hit the Elf in his stomach and then knocked him down.

“Dale, do you have rope so we can …”

The sound of more hooves coming their way caused Malik to jump down and retrieve the girl. The Elf yelled at them only to be hit across the face before the five hunters took off.

They rode straight for about ten minutes and suddenly found themselves out of the forest with no problem. They all looked at the girl who remained unconscious in Malik’s arms continuing toward the Vale.

“Something’s off about that.” Freed called ahead to Dale.

Dale shrugged, “Let’s deal with that when we are in more familiar country.” He yelled back.

 

Night brought with it a silence that made the Great Hall seem like it was frozen in time. Shining brightly through the stain glass windows, the moon painted the Great Hall with a myriad of colors. Giving it an almost ethereal feel as the glass figures were projected eerily throughout the room like colorful ghosts.

Angry voices echoed through the passageways before arriving at the main door to the Great Hall. The time stopping silence was broken when the owners of the voices entered. The moonlight images of past High Lords are chased away when light filled the ornate Hall.

Daynel crept closer to the Hall as light flared from beneath the service entrance. She had no concern for being caught because all the servants had been sent home. She listened to the heavy footsteps as the group of men made their way to the far end of the room.

“And (inaudible) her leave?” Baelor snarled.

Daynel frowned. She couldn’t hear everything and the only immediate solution was to open the door. She swallowed and grasped the doorknob taking a deep breath and then closed her eyes. Painstakingly she turned the doorknob, slowly and gently trying to reduce any sound that could possibly be made. A soft click and the inability to turn the knob anymore told her that half the job was done. Now all she had to do was open the door.

“…and after the Young Lord took off through the gate we followed procedures before chasing after him.” Rane explained, “Upon reachin’ a certain point in the forest we… uh… heard Lady Tirin scream and a few paces closer we came upon the Young Lord’s horse, riderless.”

“And then?” Baelor urged impatiently. His rage was not just with their letting her get away from them but also with himself for his behavior. He glared at Lord Deimiyon thinking on the High Lord’s son. This only made him angrier.

Rane looked at Zeph who quickly took up the report.

“We quickly backtracked the horse’s path to find the Young Lord semiconscious and wounded with the humans riding off into the distance. Dain, Merca, Lor, and Irid took chase after them, but due to their lead lost them in the darkness. The Young Lord came to enough to inform us that the Humans had taken Lady Tirin.”

“They had caught me off guard.” Darec said from behind, entering from another door.

“Son!” Lord Deimiyon exclaimed in surprise. “You should be resting.”

“I was shot in the arm not a lung, father.” Darec looked away from his father in annoyance. “I’m fine.”

“Still, You should be…”

Darec groaned irritated. “I can’t rest while Tirin is still in the hands of those brutes!”

Baelor scoffed. Curious as to why he got that reaction, Darec eyed the older Elf.

“Sire?”

“You realize you all but put her in the danger she’s in now.” Baelor kept his eyes on the boy’s face.

Darec glared. “What?”

“Excuse me?” The High Lord stood straight his confusion obvious. “What does that mean, Baelor?”

Sire Baelor sat down at the great meeting table, putting space between himself and the Young Lord. “Your boy here interfered in matters that had nothing, NOTHING, to do with him!” he growled.

Darec drew closer to the table irritated that he was still upset about that. “You weren’t going to tell her!” he yelled across.

His father covered his face and shook his head. “Darec, please don’t tell me you were eavesdropping again. Don’t tell me you did what I think you’ve done.” The High Lord turned and headed toward the Lord’s chair, his tired footsteps muffled as they reached the rich mauve carpet leading up to the dais.

“Father! He wasn’t going to tell her!”

“That wasn’t your business!” both Baelor and Deimiyon shouted back.

Daynel watched the five men become deathly quiet. Observing Darec tense as he balled his fists, the tell - tale sign of his anger.

“Darec.” Lord Deimiyon asked calmly. “What exactly is your involvement in this? Tell me what happen.”

“Unlike someone here, I was trying to show her how much she was needed.”

“Boy…” Baelor started only to shut up when the High Lord shook his head.

Darec continued, “She said that you didn’t want anything to do with her anymore.” Darec wanted to smile as the look on Baelor’s face melted into obvious shame. “I…” He paused, unsure of his next words, on whether he should keep them to himself or not. Darec took a deep breath. “I asked her to be my wife---.”

“You did what?” The other four men exclaimed in unison.

Daynel fell back from the door sure that her heart had just exploded.

“You did what, boy?”

Darec almost smirked at Baelor as the older elf stood on the other side of the table. “Stop calling me ‘Boy’. Please. Sire.”

Sire Baelor stared at Darec in disbelief. “You asked my daughter to marry you?”

Darec nodded, almost too proudly.

“And being my daughter, she turned you down.” Baelor’s mouth held a sly smirk before he sat back down watching Darec’s arrogant posture falter.

“She didn’t give herself time to consider my offer…she was too upset that her biological father told her to get out of his life.”

“I did not tell her that!” Baelor shot up out of his seat again, his fist slamming resoundingly on the hardwood table. The guards started for him only to pause in their advance as Baelor glared daringly at them.

“Darec.” High Lord Deimiyon warned. “Do not do that again.”

The arrogant look Darec gave Sire Baelor lingered just long enough to make him hate the Young Lord. With a slight smile playing on his lips, the Young Lord turned away from Baelor before starting again.

“I followed her through the city, saw her sail over the gate and chased after her once these fools got themselves together enough to open the gates for me.” He grinned regardless of the situation. “Her use of magyk was very impressive.” He looked at Tirin’s father expecting some kind of acknowledgment but received none. “I caught up with her only because she seemed to have had some type of accident, but I was unable to convince her to come back…”

Darec paused for the briefest moment and Baelor watched a strange look flutter across the boy’s face that told him that there was more to the story than he was telling. Something he didn’t want to share.

The Young Lord continued; “I was going to take her to the edge of the forest it wasn’t long after that …that the Human’s showed up.” he massaged his wounded arm absently.

“You should have brought her back—.” Sire Baelor started.

“She wouldn’t have it.” Darec insisted. “She’s too much like her father.”

Baelor does laugh genuinely this time. “That means she did say ‘no’ to your proposal.”

Daynel almost smirked but it isn’t enough to withstand the disgust she was feeling for the man she was so in love with. For years she’s been in love with Darec and for years he’s ignored her obvious attempts to show him. It wasn’t fair how life was treating her. She hated Tirin when he hated her, teased her relentlessly to appease him when he let her join in. Supported all his schemes and plots and still his eyes only saw Tirin. Then when his feelings changed for the Human, Daynel couldn’t help but to hate Tirin more. She became invisible to him totally while Tirin had the Young Lord’s heart and didn’t even know it.

“Is it interesting, brat?” a voice said behind her.

She jumped, a scream ready to tear free, but was painfully, yet successfully stifled by biting her tongue.

Daynel wiped the tears away and finally saw the three behind her. She didn’t hear a sound of their approach. Tyrus stood there more menacing than ever, joined by two others. There was a strange blonde elf whose face was awfully familiar and a tall cloaked yet obvious female who remained near the back of the room. The surprise was short lived when it finally hit that the weird blonde had called her a brat.

“Whath?” she straightened up to face them. “How dare you---!”

Tyrus stepped forward and watched the red head stumble back. “Why are you out here?”

Daynel swallowed her apprehension; Tyrus was not one she had gotten close to while they grew up. He had been Darec’s right-hand and something had always made her uneasy around him even before he was cursed. But she wasn’t going to let him intimidate her, too much.

“None of your business.” She hissed. Inside she wanted to curl up. He was so creepy! His unruly dark hair shadowing most of his face yet doing nothing to veil those intense eyes while he stared at her with that emotionless face of his.

Alce grinned to the cloaked person at the rear of the room who immediately started forward shaking her head.

“Well then, brat, let’s go in, shall we?” he grabbed Daynel’s arm and dragged her back toward the door. Alce smiled broadly while she tried to pull away from him. He shoved the door open and proudly walked in with Daynel fighting him all the way. Unconcerned with the sudden alarmed looks from the men inside the Hall.

“Greeting men of Ao'lean!” Alce called happily. “We found this one nosing about outside, so figured that there was something interesting going on in here.”

The two guards; Rane and Zeph, Sire Baelor, Darec and the High Lord turned fully to watch as the blonde elf half dragged Daynel into the room accompanied by the dark cloaked elf and –

“Tyrus! Where have you been?” Baelor exclaimed.

Tyrus watched the older elf for a moment then answered. “I had something to do.” He looked from the faces of the five men in the room before him. “There are guards at the house, Sire. What is happening?”

Baelor took a deep breath and sat down again. “Tirin’s been taken.”

“What?”

Alce pouted noisily. “And here I was ready to see her again.” He shrugged shoving Daynel away from him. “Ah well, let’s go get her.”

High Lord Deimiyon stared at him for a moment before motioning toward him. “Who are you?”

From their surprised reaction, Tyrus could only guess that Alce’s eyes did their weird trick. “This is Alce Deland.”

“Alce?” Darec laughed almost uncontrollably before realizing no one saw the joke he was seeing.

“I see you haven’t changed, still the ass you always were.” Alce gave a false smile.

High Lord Deimiyon raised a brow at him, “If you remember him then you know you are to give him the respect of his---.”

“You can’t give what you don’t have, and there’s no chance of even a little.” Alce shook his head reproachful, “I’m sorry.” He faced Baelor sporting violet eyes a shade or two darker than Tyrus’. “You are getting a group together to go and get her? Right?”

“Ahlce, ifen Bayne returned….” The cloaked figure started surprising the others, reminding them that she was there. Alce waved her quiet.

“No one’s gonna bother that place. Besides she hasn’t bothered to call on us in two years. A bit of adventure won’t hurt. Anyway this won’t take long.”

Darec’s attention was peaked at the old woman’s name. “Bayne?” He looked at Tyrus and realized that he must have gone to face the old woman again, to get her to do something about his curse. Now the only question was why now?

“You are wondering about Tyrus’ business, Darec.” The young mage smirked then faced Darec.

“What is it to you?” Darec snapped not appreciating being called out like that.

Tyrus watched Baelor and noted how suddenly he looked so much older. There was more to this situation. “We are wasting time.”

“Agreed.” Deimiyon called pulling his eyes from the cloaked woman. “The group will be those in this room, save myself.”

“What!” Daynel screeched. “I don’t want to go--!”

“Next time don’t become concerned with what does not concern you.” He gave her a withering glare. “Baelor you have free reign on whatever you think you will need.”

“Thank you Deimiyon.”  He looked at the young Lord for a moment. “You sure you weren’t hurting her in some way?”

Darec froze. “Why in the world are you asking that?” he exclaimed. “I was trying to save her!”

“Calm down.” Tyrus looked at him coldly.

The momentary look of apprehension fluttered across Darec’s face before vanishing. “You are still blaming me for this?”

“I’m just asking a question, Young Lord. Something had to make those Humans think she needed rescuing.”

“Rescuing?”

“Second Rane, how long were the Human in the forest?”

“I believe five days, Sire.” The younger guard answered immediately.

“So they didn’t know where they were for a while.”

“No, sire. Just a bunch of hapless hunters.”

“What has that to do with anything?” Darec rolled his eyes impatient.

Baelor shook his head at the Young Lord. “They shot you once---.”

“I’m quite sure they would have shot me again…”

“But if they just wanted to take her, you would be dead, something made them think she needed to be rescued, if it were otherwise, they wouldn’t have been run off by just four guards.”

Darec thought for a moment on the event. “She was hurt.”

“Hurt?” Baelor watched his face. “Hurt how?”

Evergreen nudged Alce, motioning toward Tyrus as this new information is revealed. They watch as everything about Tyrus said calm except the surprising lengthening of his black claws. Tyrus flexed his hands and realized something was wrong with them. After a quick glance he hid them beneath his cloak looking to see if anyone else noticed and locked eyes with a grinning Alce.

“Calm down, Sire.” Darec grumbled. “The spell she used to get over the gate…I think she lost control of it. Her magyk is impressive but it’s not very strong just yet. I’m guessing it gave out. When I caught up with her she was holding her side and rather dirty. She must have taken a serious tumble.”

The High Lord nodded rubbing his chin. “So…”

“She looked abused.” Baelor concluded. “And with you chasing after her they could only make one assumption.”

Darec wanted to smile.

“So you think they’ll treat her badly when they find out?”

Baelor’s tired face suddenly became even wearier. “If they are anything like Elves…yes they will.”

Tyrus gave a confused look to Sire Baelor. “Is there something I am missing?”

Darec watched as the older elf pulled Tyrus further from the rest of them. Minutes passed and the Young Lord observed the two, waiting to see the expression on the dog-boy’s face when he found out that Tirin was half elf.

Then Tyrus looked up. It wasn’t what Darec was expecting. Immediately he knew it wasn’t Tirin’s blood causing the look he was receiving.

Baelor’s sour expression held no candle to the hateful look on Tyrus’ face.

This was going to be a very interesting trip.

Wonderlost

-WARNING!-This Is  a rough draft! (That means typos and other editing issues will be found within!)


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An Epic Fantasy