chapter 2

chapter 2

A Chapter by Analae

The elf reached down and touched the traveler’s hood.  The traveler looked up at the she-elf, his dark eyes glittering.   Yellow eyes, like fire-lite amber, burned from under the cowl. They narrowed as they looked up at the hand reaching for the hood.

The elf, not use to having to speak what was known as common, was wondering what to say.
 “Who are you traveler?  What has made you enter this land?”  The elf asked this feeling odd having this unfamiliar language roll off her tongue.

The elf took a few steps back and leaned against a tree, never taking her eyes off of the stranger.  The stranger, leaning back against the tree, under which he sat, stared up at the her from the safety of his hood.  She was dressed like one of the elven hunters.  She wore a green tunic, leather bracers and thin leather boots. The leather was decorated with what appeared to be hammered leaves and trees.   Thrown over this ensemble a brownish-green cloak draped over her shoulders, her blond hair cascading over it and down her back, a braid down the center. She carried a knife at her side, a long-bow and a full quiver, containing feather-shafted arrows, graced her back, able to be glanced from under her cloak.  After having a few moments to take this in, the traveler tilted his head, never causing movement to his hood.
“I am but a weary traveler, elf.  It seems as if I was called to this place.”  He took a breath, straightened his head and took a few moments to stare at the woman before him.  “That is why I am here.”  He tried to make himself more comfortable, but to the elf it seemed like he was trying to sink deeper into the darkness of his cloak.

The traveler took another breath, sounding like a weary sigh, “I am everyone and yet I am no one, it seems.  People call me many names.”

The elf stared at him, a slight frown forming on her features.  Her green eyes shimmered like polished emeralds, flashing with the quick anger.  She moved like a stalking cat, walking around and towards the stranger, curiosity playing on her angry face.

“I am not into mortal riddles, traveler.  Is this all you will hand out?”  She let her voice carry her anger.  Leaning forward, she proceeded to stretch, trying to peer into the hood of the weary man.

“I do not wish to anger a hunter of the elves, lady-elf.” The traveler raised his hands up, palms out, to show a submissive sign.  His hands were tanned and the elf noticed calluses and wounds of swords and battle.  

“I go by the name of Balifor.  Balifor Azure III actually.  I was on a mission, for the army of the kingdom of Wisteria.  I was attacked by a band of goblins who made my horse spook. My horse, which was trained for battle, had never seen nor smelled a goblin before. I was thrown off.  The attacking band was too great for just myself so I retreated.”  He took a breath, shaking his head.  “This forest seemed to offer me protection, “he motioned with his hands, opening them in front of himself as if to pull the forest to himself.

“Lady-elf, here I am answering your questions without asking my own.  Sorry to be blunt, lady,” Balifor leaned slightly forward, resting his hands on his knee; “I should also have the chance to ask a few.”

“Just like a human.  Ungracious to even be allowed in an immortal’s presence.”  The elf shook her head staring down at the cloaked figure.  

“Why should I answer questions for a man in hiding?  In your voice,” the elf stopped for a moment, considering what to say; “I could tell that there was more to your tale.  A man that doesn’t show his face, does not tell the truth, and expects an elf to answer him is something peculiar…at least around here.”

Balifor leaned back against the tree; setting his body as it he planned on being there a while.  “My lady, you speak of me in hiding.  What do you call it that you elves do?  It surely seems like no camping trip.  I, lady, have a least revealed to you my name, if not my face.  You have not even granted me so much.”

Balifor stared up at the elf, trying to see if any emotion were going to reveal itself. Just as he prepared to avert his gaze, he caught the quickness of her eyes glinting, just that split second.  The elf took a breath moving a few more steps forward, placing herself within touching reach of the human male. She had never been so close to a human before. She was curious, scared, and fascinated. She wanted to know more. Her mind raced, questions ran through her brain. She studied his clothing, the dust and dirt attached to the metal armor that appeared here and there. She could see a small tear and smell blood on his tunic near his breast plate. The armor was worn, dented, battle-worn, that much she could tell at a quick glance. His hands were not gloved, the skin was a dark, tanned color, and wished she could see more. She leaned forward, on the tips of her toes, without falling forward, trying to peek once more, before settling back on her heels. She took a deep breath and resigned herself to wait. She had all the time in the world at least, she thought to herself.

“My name, Balifor, would seem odd to you, as it is to most mortals.”  She noticed how close she was quickly taking those steps back, forgetting how curious she had been not moments before. Wariness had taken over. Self-preservation had to come over curiosity.

“Arvalin is what my people call me.  Arvalin Nauessalu of the greywood.  I have lived here over two thousand years.  Such a trivial amount of time.  The last two hundred years have been full of my travels to other nations and parts of the world.  Now, Balifor, which should I ask first.”  She cocked her head, a smirk playing on her face, “You to remove the hood…or to reveal the truth.”

Balifor nodded his head, “ The hood, Lady Arvalin of the greywood, will be removed with time.”
 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Lady elf, you might want to sit down so you won’t become tired with my tale,” He advised, a small sigh escaping his lips.

Arvalin nodded and took a seat directly across from him under a large oak tree. There was some soft moss on the ground and she made herself comfortable quickly, crossing her arms against her chest. She had to lean slightly, her quiver and bow not letting her lean straight back, yet she was used to not sitting straight and was not usually uncomfortable in the forest, she was quick to adapt.

“I was fourteen,” Balifor began, head tilted up as if staring at the sky, “When I joined the army in Wisteria.  The Green Knights we were called.  I was a squire, working for a knight until I reached the age of seventeen.  He taught me the sword and shield. He also taught me how to track enemies through the terrain. I was hardened under his tutelage, and was thankful for having a harsh instructor. I had also been studying under a war mage the art of magic.  Magic made me feel whole, strong.  I could use sword, bow, even magic in battle. Holding a sword in one hand, being able to call out a spell with the other, I was not afraid of the battlefield. I looked forward to going to war, to prove myself, to learn more.

I was rising through the ranks, having no real trouble.  Now to say that my magic study was not looked down on would be a lie, but it was still good times.  I had many friends, comrades, though no actual family to ever actually go home to.  My comrades became my brothers, the Captain was like my father. We all looked out for each other. We all knew our place, we all knew where we needed to be and were able to fit with each other.”

Balifor took a breath, pausing for a short moment, eyes going out of focus.  The sky was beginning to fade into the darkness, black overcoming the blue, the night overcoming the dusk.  Shaking his head, he leaned back against the tree.  He closed his eyes for a moment, as if trying to gather his thoughts, or better yet, to chase away the demons in his mind. Only he would truly know the reason for the rapid breathing that followed for a few short moments.

“When I was twenty, my battalion was called to war.  Wisteria was being attacked by dark knights from the south…the city of Malico.”  His voice held clashing memories and emotions as he continued.  

“We met them in a valley, head on, away from Wisteria by a good five leagues.  We marched, two thousand strong and fought hard.  Around me my comrades, my brothers, were dying, falling around me their screams tearing through the air.  Black shafted arrows soaring towards us, swords clashing and clanging, spears and javelins piercing flesh and ground.  We fought hard and finally defeated the army of Malico, but sadly we had lost many friends and comrades.  It felt like I buried many of my brothers that day.”

He took a ragged breath and once again shook his head. The hood of his cloak shook slightly and Balifor sighed. He regained his composure before continuing. He nodded, to himself or to no one was uncertain, “This all happened four years ago. I still remember the battle, how I wish I had been stronger in my magic at that time.  Hope, then, was just the denial of reality. I was young, brash. I thought I knew what it was going to be like. We all did.

I lost heart when I lost so many comrades.  I put down my sword for almost a full year, studying my magic.  I was learning how to mix magic and steel in battle.  I swore that next time in battle not so many of my comrades would fall, even if I lost my own life in the process.  The only problem with learning magic as well as performing it was that it left my body weak.

Weakness was a price that I was willing to pay if I could protect my friends.  I studied long and hard, waiting for a chance to prove my magic and sword in battle once again.

Two years ago, I had my chance.   The dark knights had once again decided to march against my home.  The Green Knights marched out to meet them.  I was in the third battalion.  I had perfect vantage point to fire a few spells before having to use my swords, I could become a magic archer of sorts.

I cast a few simple spells into the enemy ranks before being forced into hand-to-hand combat.  We defeated the knights once again and this time we returned home with almost all our men, this was a good thing.

Life went smoothly after that.  A few months passed uneventful.  More people began joining the ranks of our Green Knights.  A year went by like it was just a summer breeze, it comes, feels wonderful then is gone and makes you wish it would return.”

Balifor shook his head glancing up at Arvalin checking if she was still paying attention.  She sat relaxed against the tree, green eyes shimmering in the darkness.  Her eyes glinted with untold curiosity. She nodded slowly, watching him. She was listening, watching his every movement. She wanted to know more. To learn about the outside world. War? This was new for her. Such a concept was unheard of. That was a human creation. She narrowed her eyes for a second then nodded once more, clearing her mind, waiting for him to continue.

“About two weeks ago, all of ethos broke loose.  My life became a struggle.  Since I had been studying magic, a higher level than what I was classified for, I was being considered a renegade mage.  I was not interested in becoming a full time mage for I did not want to put down my sword.

"Also, Wisteria was talking about extinguishing me from the ranks of the knights due to the fact of my magic becoming stronger.  My life was slowly becoming forfeit.  I was becoming a caged animal without my own life.  I did not know what to do.  I ran.  I was in exile from the only place I knew as home.  The one place I would have given my life and every last drop of blood to protect.  The one place was becoming my grave and prison.

"I fled two days ago, about dusk.  I took my horse from the stables, a few provisions and rode from the place I had lived in since I had been a child.  The place that had used ten years of my life for its protection.  I rode all night and long into the morning.  My horse was exhausted.  I reached the mountain range and entered since it seemed to be a good hiding place.

"I was attacked by goblins earlier this morning and after a short, meaningless battle I fled.  They had spooked my horse, so I had to finish my trek on foot.  I ran as long as I could when I entered the forest.  That is when you met me.”

Balifor drew in a breath that shook and rattled as if it hurt just to talk and to be here.  He held in his heart, many demons, many stories. He sighed, closed his eyes. Then total darkness fell on the forest.




© 2017 Analae


Author's Note

Analae
rough draft

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Added on November 30, 2017
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Author

Analae
Analae

Sumter, SC



About
I love to write. I have a lot of new ideas and have found a few of my ideas to have taken a darker turn. I have moved from doing poetry to doing more along the story lines. I have been updating a l.. more..

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A Chapter by Analae