It was a cold night. Colder than the Elf riding in the night could remember. The coldness in the air made the sky clear to see all the stars shine bright enough to create a dim light that made the road visible. Not that an Elf would need this advantage, but it made the night less blue.
The Elf was a woman. Her face was wise, but there was a lot of emotion hidden behind her steady face. She concentrated on her quest, the road, the brown horse striding under her. Her deep black hair, so black it almost looked a shade of dark green made her face even more pale, like the skin of elves usually was. Her eyes, a light blue shined in the little light the stars provided. Her clothing was not what you aspect from an elf in a hurry deep in the night. She only wore a light grey tunic on a pair of woven leggings with long, brown boots. Of course the fine skill of the Elves was to find in the fabric, that didn’t make her choice of clothing strange. It was de absence of any weapon, cloak or attire an Elf would have so far away from any place an Elf would stay.
She drove off in the night. She did not give in to the horrible things she saw not long ago. The pain, if she would let herself feel that horrible pain, she would not have the strength to go on. Thus she went on. Her horse, persuaded by her Elven words, ran across the Sea of Rhûn. It was a large lake that reflected the stars in the sky. The Elf made the horse run faster, as she saw the river Celduin emerge in the dark. The sound the river made did not calm her, as it did for the horse. She only knew where she was going by memory of maps she studied. She oriented on landmarks like mountains, forests, lakes and rivers. This river, if she was right, would send her right to her destiny. There she would have shelter, she hoped. Anything but this. Anything than the horror she left behind.
At daybreak, she let the horse rest. She knew even her Elven words would not prevent the horse die of starvation or exhaustion. She let the horse drink from the cool water the river provided and warm in the sun while it graze on the bright green grass. It did her good as well to feel the warm sun on her face. Something she didn’t let herself enjoy the last few weeks. Nevertheless she never let down her guard. Her ears always listening, her eyes always searching. It wasn’t only caution, it was her defence against her feelings as well. Her Elven eyes saw in the distance what she was hoping for: a large forest. This far, everything she remembered from the maps were correct. Her destination was right in front of her. Finally. But she could not rest. Yet.
Before mid-day, the horse regained some powers. Before mounting here ride again, she stroked the horse on his flank and encouraged him in Elvish. The horse, his determination renewed, stamped his left front hoof repeatedly in the ground. It gave her hope. They went on.
Noon. The forest in front of them. The horse didn’t seem eager of entering the forest. There was something different about the forest that did not matched what the scriptures or tales told. Greenwood the Great is what it had been called. The Elf wondered if that name was still correct. The forest was dark. She felt that it held many secrets. Dark secrets. If her destination was not here, she would have never entered. She urged the horse to enter. The horse obeyed reluctant.
She dwelled in the forest. It was not a path she was looking for, but a direction. She could not navigate on the sun, for the forest was dense the moment she entered. The air was even more dense, as if it carried a dark memory. It seemed to have more effect on the horse than on her, for he became skittish. She calmed him down by stroking his neck and speak out soothing words. There was a sound behind her. A twig that broke. Silent enough to be considered to be made by the horse, but her Elven instinct knew otherwise. “Fly!” She pleaded to the horse. As a canon, the horse accelerated in speed, fed by his own angst and her persuading language. She knew she was being followed, and it followed her almost at the same speed. She kept her eyes at where she and her horse were heading. “Faster!” she pleaded, but the horse did not need her exhortation. He was in a state of panic and ran as fast as he could. The forest became more dense. It made it hard to manoeuvre in this speed. She kept the direction as long as she could heading north. That is where she had to go. Almost there. The sound of what was following her came closer. The sound of many heavy footsteps. As if she was followed by many horsemen. She took a second to look what was behind her, but only managed to see a glimpse of some large shadows. Suddenly her horse made a jump over a fallen trunk. Her face was scratched by the twigs, leafs and branches she was forced into, but she clang on to her saddle. The horse did not make a favourable land. He broke his leg, fell down and the Elf was tossed in the air. While the horse cried out of pain, the Elf hit her head against a large, dark tree, where she fell down. The shadows overwhelmed the horse and it stopped whining, after a last shriek. The Elf opened her eyes, but she saw only blur. The footsteps came closer as she tried to stand. She feared of what she thought she saw, when the blur started to fade. A large spider. Big, black, hairy and vicious, came towards her and showed his fangs. With all she had left of strength after the hit on her head she ran in speed towards the spider to kick its beak shut. It worked. But a sudden pain in her back made her fade out. She fell on the ground. It felt like her blood started to boil and went from her back spreading through her body. The pain was agonising, but she could not scream or move against it, for it stunned her completely. Soon, the spiders would overcome her as they did on her horse. She would be forgotten, as for her kin or the horror that happened to her home. She embraced the darkness as the end was near. Her quest was over. Maybe for the best.
As she tried to open her eyes one last time, she did not see what she expected. Although her vision was blurry, she expected to see spiders, fangs, death. But she saw the spiders flee as a streak of black fading from her sight. They fled from a flash of light. Just before she closed her eyes and lost consciousness, she managed to distinguish archers from her own race, with one coming closer. Silken hair, light skin, green tunic. Then, everything faded.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Contains wounding of the main character