***Again, huge thank you to Kilivin
for pushing me and helping me so much. A thank you to the rest of you for recognizing my work and for all the congratulations on the spotlight (:
For Chapter One, click here
The sun was set low in the sky. It was Cradled by two sizable hills and blanketed by a sky of woven gold. It dimly illuminated the field below. The area was wide open and seemed to stretch out for miles upon miles. Bees buzzed lazily around wild flowers that grew in luxuriant clusters wherever they pleased. Two nearby butterflies fluttered in circles around each other, vibrant flashes of color glimmering off their wings. A welcomed breeze flew past, teasing the tall grass that tickled the skin of the three bodies that sat in the center of it all, soaking up the scenery.
Raen was comfortable with the contented silence and rolled over to see her parents. They were smiling, cuddling together there on a bed of grass. They were completely enthralled with each other’s presence. They would do that often, Raen noticed, looking back at all the joyous moments she had spent with her parents. At times, they would only smile and stare at one another, as if sharing a private conversation only they could hear or understand. She envied her mother’s smile; the way it shone and brightened up the mood of whomever she chose to reveal it to. Her father said many times that her smile was what captivated him the most about the woman. With a final glance towards her parents, Raen moved to a sitting position and stared out at her surroundings. The field was familiar, as her father often brought her here on many days like today, when the breeze was gentle, and the few clouds that drifted by were the purest of white. She loved the place dearly, and the moments with her family were all the more precious to her.
After a while, she heard her mother sigh, and the woman got to her feet, standing above Raen and her father with her hands on her hips. Her head was cocked to the side so her hair fell loosely over one shoulder, and her eyes spoke in impish tones. She was framed by the sunset behind her, and her shadow fell over the two elves on the ground. “We have been lazy for far too long.” She said with a mischievous smile. “I propose… We dance!” Within an instance, Raen felt her mother’s hands on hers and they were both twirling about in the field with her father’s laughter ringing out behind them.
They spun in circles until they were both too dizzy to place their feet. They finally fell to the ground in a fit of giggles which exploded into roaring laughter when Raen’s father came toppling onto them. He cried out and pinned them both to the ground playfully, claiming that he would no longer allow such dances if the pair couldn't keep their balance. This lighthearted threat was barely heard over the copious amount of chuckling and struggle as the girls tried to wriggle free from the grasp of the man. “Let go! Let go!” Raen heard her mother say. At first it was a cheerful, joking plea. As she repeated herself, the scene faded away and her words became frantic and desperate. Eventually, it was no longer even her mother’s voice, but a new one entirely. The young elf jumped up, startled, and scanned the trees she found herself surrounded by for the voice’s owner.
“Please! Please let us go!” The voice sounded again, and Raen slowly crept towards the noise. As she drew closer, the unmistakable signs of a campfire had manifested. She could hear the familiar crackling and snapping and smell the burning of wood that used to give her comfort in more peaceful times. She used to love to watch the flames dance about. Now though, the fire only brought grim, bloody memories to the forefront of her mind. Crouching among the trees, Raen could see shadows illuminated by the brilliance of the firelight. It was the cries of an apparent captive that had the girl braving a longer look. What she saw however, she never could prepare for.
Several Nord men were seated around the flames in a clearing. All were drinking and sharpening their weaponry. Waiting with anticipation as one of the more burly looking Nords paraded towards them, towing a woman and child behind him. The prisoners had bags over their heads and bindings around their hands. The child made no noise and didn’t seem to even attempt at freeing his hands, while the woman was hysterical. She begged and bargained for hers and the child’s lives, but her pleas were unanswered. The Nords conversed among themselves instead.
“Where’d you find the little snowball? He’s tiny, ain’t he?” One said, pointing with his mug in the direction of the child.
“Hardly worth it, I’d say!” Another slurred, nodding his head overzealously.
“Yeah, throw him back, Rhok! The little pale-skin ain’t worth dulling your sword!” A third one jumped in from somewhere in the crowd.
The men laughed at their malice, and the one they called Rhok took the small child by the back of his neck and tossed him aside. He yelped, and immediately started to run blindly into the forest as the bag was still tethered to his head. The men whopped and hollered after the child, but none made any effort to chase him or stop his escape. “He’ll be an icicle by sunrise!” One said and earned more laughter. Rhok remained silent and only moved swiftly to his only remaining captive. His fluid, deliberate movements had the other’s going silent too as he brought the woman to the ground.
She began to cry and beg once more, and Raen could only watch as the brute placed a foot on the woman’s back and drew his sword high in the air. She moved and fought as best she could but it was cut short as steel pierced through the burlap bag which proceeded to stain red, leaking onto the pure snow beneath. The Nords cheered and rejoiced, clanking glasses, unaware of the young girl that was gagging a few lengths away from them. Her eyes watered uncontrollably, but their conversation had her moving back to listen again.
“There’ll be more bloodshed by Fredas morn, men! Tomorrow we make way to the mountains, but tonight, we drink!” Rhok’s voice was gruff and powerful, and his followers seemed to hang on every word.
Raen’s mind wandered. She knew of another Snow Elf settlement in the mountains they called Heirsuun, and she guessed that was where the Nords were headed. If that were true, she knew she had to make it to Heirsuun before they did. She couldn't let what had happened to her town happen again. Though all of this ran through her mind, the only prominent thought she continued to circle back to was the little boy who was still running loose in the wild.
For Chapter Three, click here