Chapter 6

Chapter 6

A Chapter by Analae
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What await the pair as they work their way deeper into the forest?

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Arvalin's heart pounded in her chest, her blood rushing through her veins. Her wooden bow was held in a tight grip, her knucles white. Her feet carried her over the forest floor, jumping, twisting, and doding the branches and roots in her way. Moss was crushed under her light foot as she flittered across the ground. Balifor followed, though a little less nimbly. He was trying not to lose sight of the elf and was having to continuously detangle himself from an odd branch or avoid falling to the ground due to the a root that had threatened to trip him. A few times he had almost lost her then she would appear once again, an apparition of the forest itself.


A clearing slowly opened in front of the odd duo, Balifor catching up to his quarry. He panted slightly, adjusting his cloak and gear as they stopped. The clearing was unlike the other they had rested in earlier. A single large tree stood in the center, grass growing around it, a vibrant lush green. There was no stream or water flowing through the clearing, even the sound of the water could not be heard. All the trees on the oustide of the clearing bowed outward, as if avoiding the center at all costs. Arvalin entered the clearing, eyes darting for any sign of the ordinary. A single elf hunter paced the outskirts, blending in with the foliage around him. Balifor followed his only ally in the forest into the clearning, a shiver running down his spine.


The human watched Arvalin and could tell she was uneasy by her movements. Her grace was gone, replaced with tension and hesitation. He frowned, concentrating on his surroundings for a moment. “Why are we in this place?” He asked, breaking the silence. “We could hide and move towards the mountains without letting them deeper into your home.”


Arvalin jumped, turning instantly to face him. Her eyes went wide and she fought the urge to pull her blade. She swallowed the lump in her throat nodding for a moment before looking back out into the mass of trees before them. “This is the forest's heart. My brother will try and stop them before they can get here but if not someone must be here.” She flexed her grip on the bow,


Balifor crossed his arms across his chest for a moment then came to a conclusion in his own mind before speaking again. “I will help you, if you will allow me to do so.” He stated, cautiously. “You have allowed me respite and have allowed me to survive when I would have fallen otherwise.” He glanced around the clearing again, realizing that within a few hours it would be nightfall.


Arvalin nodded, glad to have an extra hand. She had yet to face anything other than a meal or a moving target. That she was used to, that would not kill her. She had never faced anything that could fight back before and she was unsure of herself. All of the stories her brother had told her rolled through her head, filling any space left with doubt and uncertainty and anger. She could hear the shuffle of clothing and armor behind her, Balifor pacing the clearing.


Within the breath of a second the world Arvalin knew shattered. The hunter that was patroling the cirlce fell, an arrow through the neck, a silent scream forever etched on his face. Within moments four black armored figures tore into the clearing, gutteral noises and grunts being tossed between them. Before she could even notch an arrow onto the string of her bow a hand pulled her back and towards the tree. She blinked, confused as to why she was moving backwards instead of notching that arrow or pulling her blade out. Her mind focused on the hand, realizing that Balifor had pulled her back. Her eyes traveled forward, seeing silver hair moving past her.


Balifor reached out and grabbed Arvalin by the shoulder once he reached a decision. He could not allow her to rush into something like this, nervous as she was. He took his cloak off and set it on the ground, balling it tightly. He reached for his belt, pulling the blade from the sheath he had so long kept hidden. His eyes focused on the figures entering the glade and looked at the elf. “I need you to listen to me,” he told her, voice firm. He took his blade, a long sword, and put it into her hands. “Hold this tightly, go to the tree, and do not let go, no matter what.” He ordered, giving her a gentle push after he made sure the sword was in her hands.


Arvalin nodded, confused. The weight of the blade in her hand let her know that she really was given a sword, by the human. She was moving towards the tree, watching the silver-haired man stride through the clearing. She studied Balifor as he moved, looking for another weapon, her eyes trailing over his armor. What she had thought had been dirty and dark shone in the light of the clearing, gold over the steel, horses and flowers etched into the metal. She could not force herself to focus on it for long, watching the four invaders moving in on him.


Arvalin finally made it to the large tree, turning her back to it, readying herself to fight. The long sword looked foolish in her hands, the hilt taking both of her hands just to keep hold. Leather was woven around the hilt, the crossguard dual heads of a dragon facing outwards. The blade itself was plain, nothing remarkable other than it's weight and she was flummoxed as to why he had given it to her but his words ran cirlces in her head. She released a breath she did not realize she had been holding, watching with wild eyes.


Balifor watched the four creatures move in front of him, his amber eyes shining with excitement. The call of battle ran through his veins, his blood already hot as it pulsed through his veins. He moved carefully, his hands at his sides, as if he were taking a stroll through a garden and not facing off against a foe. The four spread out in a half circle, faces pulled into wicked smiles as they moved in for the next kill. Swords and hatchets had been traded for the bows they had used to work their way to the clearing.


“Long way from home, human.” One of the invader's spoke, voice raspy. He flicked his wrist, the short sword dancing in his hand. “I will kill you quick and make the elf wench watch.” He laughed, the others chortling at his words. “She can watch you beg.”


Balifor gave a nonchalant shrug and stopped walking. He flexed his fingers, a smile on his lips. “I am almost sorry that you have to die in such a beautiful place.” He retorted, voice calm. “It will be over quickly and for that I am almost sorry.”


The leader of the band laughed and looked at his bretheren. “You hear that boys? He will kill us quickly. Make it hurt.” He commanded and like a well polished machine they all moved together, each a digit of a hand but knowing they had to work together. Like fingers on a fist drawing closed, they lunged moving as one unit.


Balifor closed his eyes and a chant started flowing between his lips, his hands tracing out symbols in front of his body. He felt the welcomed and familiar tingle rush through his finger tips, like electricity looking for an outlet. He opened his eyes, a wild look crossing his calm features as the first tresspasser fell, his body a mass of burnt flesh and smoke. The chanting grew louder as his cadence changed rhythm, the clearing sparking and smoldering as the incantation caused the power to undilate.


Arvalin felt a scream building in her throat, the unfamiliar tingle of magic caressing her essence. The sword in her hands hummed, a vibration could be felt in the core of the blade, as if responding to the words Balifor spoke. A glow overtook the blade, etchings appearing in the once bland metal. The blade grew hot, looking like it was coming fresh from the forge, and Arvalin fought to not let go. She gripped the leather harder, breathing shallow, as her eyes and mind tried to comprehend what she was witnessing.


One of the intruders balked as he watched hs comrade turn to a crystalized ash before his eyes. He fought the urge to turn and run back into the forest as he continued his advance, the leader yelling orders at him. They spread out, trying to widen their target space to make it harder for him to land an attack. The air crackled around them, dense and heavy, making it harder to breath. The plan was to form a circle around the mage and switch to long range weapons.


Balifor lowered his hands, eyes fluttering as he changed his incantion. He became more fluid as he actually took a single step forward, his hands raising above his head, fingers splayed. Arvalin panted, almost falling back against the tree as she watched lightning dance above the human's head. She shifted her grip, the blade's hum almost becoming unbearable, the vibration making her hands numb. She had to lean forward, putting the tip of the sword on the ground to try and help with the vibration but the moment the tip touched the ground flames started marking the grass. She hoisted it back up, holding it out from her body, closing her eyes as she saw the lightning running straight for her.


A silent scream froze on her face as she felt the air grow thick enough to have to struggle to draw breath. The blade flashed brightly, blinding her for a few moments. When she opened her eyes Balifor was collapsed on the ground, chest heaving. She looked around the clearing for the tresspassers and only saw pieces of armor and weapons in piles upon the ground. The acrid smell of burnt flesh rushed her as she looked at the blade in her hands. The sword looked burnt, the metal blackened and the heat gone. She dropped the sword with a clang onto the ground and bolted forward, rushing to the human's side, forgoing her earlier fear of him.


Balifor looked pale, more so than moments earlier, his forhead covered in sweat. His chest heaved as he sat on the ground, knees buckled under him. Arvalin slowly knelt bside him, looking at him in a new light. She reached out an unsteady hand to slowly touch his shoulder. The silver-haired warrior shifted lightly under the soft touch, turning his amber eyes up to the elf. Her eyes were wide as she studied his face, a confused look on her face, breaking the calm facade. “Are you okay?” She asked softly, unsure of the proper way to ask about what she had just witnessed.


Flashing a weary smile he nodded. “I will be fine.” He replied, his voice tired. “I will recover quickly but that took more out of me than I had expected.” His smile faded quickly as he struggled to control his breathing. He counted his breaths, trying to focus on pulling himself together. He had not put that much into survival, especially when there was another at stake, in a long time. “My sword.” He stated, eyes looking around. “Where is it?”


She frowned, standing up from next to him and blinked. “I put it down over there. I'll go get it.” She turned and took the few steps back to the discarded, blackened weapon and picked it up. She studied the blade for a moment, noticing that all the designs that she had seen were no longer etched on the sword and the vibration was no longer thrumming through it. She questioned herself for a brief moment wondering if she had truly seen anything on the blade. Then she realized that it had to have happened or the sword would not look so tarnsihed. She was embarrassed to take the filthy blade back to the human on the ground but knew she had to. She hefted it into her hands then onto her shoulder, flattened against her. She walked the few steps back to him her pace slowed.


She neared him and slowly brought the sword from her shoulder, turning the pommel in her hands. The shagreen was still wrapped tightly around the hilt, showing no real wear. Her eyes trailed down the blackened blade, studying the fuller and edge. The fuller was not cut deeply and the edge showed a little silver, showing that the sword had been burnt from the inside out. She blinked rapidly a few times, trying to make sure she was not seeing or missing something that should be in front of her. She ran her hand over the point up to the rain-guard and sighed deeply before kneeling down next to Balifor, offering him the blade. She cleared her throat, trying to catch the human's attention as she knelt down in front of him, blade across her lap.


Balifor lifted his head, eyes weary. He reached out and gripped the heft and slowly brought the blade to him. He ran his eyes down the tarnished metal and let a small smile play across his face before setting the point into the ground and pulling himself to a stand with a loud grunt. He slowly slipped the blade into the scabbard on his hip after he righted himself. He offered a hand to Arvalin who stared at him for a moment, confusion in her eyes, before taking the hand and allowing herself to be helped up. She brushed off her leggings and thanked him before watching him walk slowly to retrieve his cloak from the ground near the tree. Arvalin turned her attention to the grove, seeing the burned carcass of the first to fall. She swallowed hard and started towards the remains when she heard a twig snap and quickly pulled her dagger into her hands. She frowned, eyes scanning the woods, body tense.


“At ease sister,” came the voice from the woods as her brother and two hunters entered the clearing. She felt relief flow through her, slipping the small blade back into the hidden scabbard on her hip. She looked back at Balifor who was slipping his cloak back on over his armor and securing it closed around him. He left the hood down and slowly walked towards the center clearing, eyes scanning the armor and weapons littering the floor. Melko walked towards his sister before his eyes turned to the human. “You have finally decided to show yourself.” He stated, crossing his arms in front of his chest. He studied the soldier, the silver hair, the amber eyes, the worn cloak. A sneer crossed his lips before he regained his composure. “I am glad to see you alive and well.” He told Arvalin before staring at the grove's flooring. “What happened here?”


Arvalin paused, shaking her head. “I am not quite sure how to explain it. It happened so fast.” She let her eyes travel through the glade and knelt down picking up a piece of discarded armor, turning it over in her hands. “One moment they were here, in the glade, next moment only one body remains and the rest is burned beyond being useful.” She dropped the piece she held in her hands on the ground and move forward, picking up another piece. She turned it over in her hands, running her fingers along grooves and plating worked into the larger piece. It overlapped, rivets holding the plating together. She could tell it had been made from heavy metal and shook her head. She had not seen armor made like this before. It moved as she bent pieces of it, the rivets allowing the plating to slide into itself for better movement. She dropped that piece a few moments later with a loud thud as it sunk into the soft ground. “He saved me...us.” She stated, looking over at the human who was picking up a sword from the ground that had been left by it's previous user's demise.


Melko frowned again, the other two hunters coming completely into the glade. The spoke in hushed tones, eyes on the burnt ground and the armor pieces. “All clear. Looks like it was just the single party.” The tall male stated, walking to stand with Arvalin and Melko. The female followed, eyes trying to discern what had happened here.


Melko nodded and turned completely to the human who was studying the weapon he had picked up a few moments before. “I am curious as to what you did here.” He stated, his voice cold. “It has been many years since I have seen magic performed. It is a dying art but clearly you pulled something off here.” Melko had seen magic users before but it had been when he had followed his father into battles. Elves did not work magic and he was on guard, now knowing that the human was a magic user. “I do not know what you did but that it produced results.” He uncrossed his arms. “What were those...things?” He asked, a scowl forming on his face. “They did not appear human.”


Balifor did not speak for a few moments, the silence settling like a thick blanket across the glade. He finished the inspection of the sword in his hands and stuck it into the ground, the point sinking into the burnt grass. He released the hilt and turned his eyes to the elf addressing him and frowned. “I am not sure.” He answered, confusion in his voice. “The weapons are human, the armor is newer style.” He pointed at the piece Arvalin had discarded shortly before. “They did not look human but they did not move as if a creature.” He paused again, running a hand through his long hair. “I cannot tell you for I have never seen them before this time.” He motioned to the blade he had stuck in the ground. “I do not even recognize the crest carved into the metal. It is something new or has been changed to fit whatever they were.”


“Come.” Melko replied, turning. “Arvalin, bring the human.” He ordered, nodding to the other two in the glade. “We will return to our home for now. We have much to discuss.” He did not wait on a reply as he turned and started into the forest, disappearing quickly into the trees.


One of the rangers turned and stared at the human from under his hood for a moment before his eyes turned to Arvalin who nodded. Then the two turned and followed Melko into the forest, melding into the boughs as if they had never been in the glade moments before. Arvalin watched them for a moment, ears tuned into their steps as she listened for the fall of their boots. After she could no longer hear their soft foot falls she turned to Balifor. “You will be the first mortal to have ever seen our home.” She stated, eyes taking him in once more.


She studied his armor slowly this time, seeing the gold was painted on an over lay. Horses ran were the gold was, purple decorated other embossed areas, wysteria flowers twining around the hooves. She slowly trailed her eyes up the plates and met his eyes, silver hair framing his face. His amber eyes met hers questioningly, confused at the silence between them for the short moments. She blinked, bringing herself back to the present and forced a fake smile. “Your armor is beautiful.” She stated, telling him partially what was on her mind. “We do not see metal armor around here. It slows you down, it is loud and bulky.”


Balifor chuckled. “Well, I have grown up in it, I am rather fond of it, and can move fast in it.” He told her. “I can sleep in it, and if required could probably dance in it.” He told her, a twinkle in his eyes.


Arvalin felt heat creep into her cheeks and dropped her eyes for a brief moment, regaining her composure. She took a quick breath, looking up at him once again. “We need to move before night falls completely,” she looked up, purple starting to settle amoungst the pink on the sky. “If not I do not think you will be able to traverse this forest safely.” She turned away from him, pulling her hood over her head and headed into the forest at a walking pace. “I will try to keep a steady pace but we cannot take our time. Night will creep up if we are slow and the forest is not easily to treverse the deeper you get if you do not know your way.”


He nodded, pulling his hood up over his head, checked his gear and fell in behind her. He squinted against the dimming light, looking for roots or other things that would betray his footing and fell into step matching her steady pace. He noticed the trees grew closer together, the branches tighter and more gnarled, reaching lower than any others had before. The clearing was behind them a good bit before long and the light was failing quickly. Roots jutted up, rocks stuck out ready to impale the unwary tresspasser unlucky enough to fall, branches pointed sharp ready to stick, cut, or tear. He was amazed at how the forest itself was a fortress of natural weapons in all of it's beauty.

Arvalin stopped and lifted her hand signaling for him to stop as she stared out between a span of trees, breathing unsteady. She looked back at the human, nervous. She was unsure as to why her brother would allow him past this threshold and she was unsure if she would like the reason. She took a deep breath. “Beyond this border is my home. Very few speak the common tongue so do not expect to understand much of what is said and you will be under much scrunity.” She told him, sighing. “Watch your step and stay close.”


Balifor gave a quick nod and turned his gaze to the spanse of trees in front of him, curious as to what was on the other side. He had not seen an elven homestead in his lifetime and felt excitement course through his veins, hot and fast. He flexed his hands, watching the elf woman as she talked and explained to him what to expect. He could sense her unease and knew he should feel that as well but could not undo his excitement. He took a steadying breath and forced a small smile to cross his lips as he took a tentative step forward, knowing that whatever was on the otherside would change his life, but he did not know that what was set to happen here would help shape the world.



© 2018 Analae


Author's Note

Analae
Rough Draft

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Added on April 17, 2018
Last Updated on April 17, 2018
Tags: forest, elves, fight


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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