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 The Dragon War

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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:16 am

Update time! There might be a slight inconsistency in this chapter, namely Eraniel's mood switch, but I was planning to have an Eraniel POV in the next chapter so we can find out what actually happens. I present you...

Chapter 19: Seed of Discord

The two elves continued their tedious journey as the early hours of morning passed by, the density of the trees providing a slight challenge for the two while they searched for a way out of the great forest. The solitary howl of a shrrg would sometimes penetrate the serene landscape, forcing the elves to be on their guard. Out of a sudden, one of them stopped, panting heavily. Drops of sweat were visible on his brow, his ebony hair hanging loose into the wind.

“I suppose we should stop here and rest for a while. There’s no reason for us to exhaust ourselves like that considering the length of this journey. We are not going to see the plains anytime soon,” said the elf, often pausing in between his words to catch his breath. His interruption forced the other elf to stop running, his speed decreasing out of a sudden as he nearly tripped due to his speed. Turning around, the older elf threw Deleith a glance of irritation, frowning. It was almost as if his actions were an insult to him, a thorn on his side that persistently clung onto his skin. Without saying anything, Eraniel turned his head to the left and threw his knapsack on the ground with a sigh.

A great relief washed over Deleith when he saw what Eraniel did. They have been moving at a fast pace since he pointed his companion the right way, stopping only for a short while to catch their breath. The young elf was not used to be pushed to his limits, and because of that, he began to slow Eaniel down.

The elder elf realized with a bit of bitterness what the problem was and decided to show his companion a bit of kindness in exchange for his services by allowing him to rest for a longer period of time. Despite the visible signs of exhaustion, Eraniel wasn’t the type of person who would postpone his objectives, even if this meant to push himself over his own limits to reach his goals.

“Finally! I was beginning to think that you are not an ordinary elf when you kept going at that pace for so long without showing visible signs of fatigue. You know, I think we…” the elf was forced to stop when a deeper voice interrupted him.

“Spare me of your senseless rambling. Make use of this time, for this is not going to happen again until the sun is high in the sky.” The bitterness in his voice puzzled the raven-haired elf, who had hoped that he would get along with his companion in this journey. Hunger made itself noticed when Deleith’s stomach started to ask for food in its specific way. The elf groaned and extended his hand to reach for his knapsack. After he pulled it to his side, he started to rummage through it, but nothing comestible was in there. Disappointed that not even a fruit lingered on the bottom, Deleith expressed his concern with an aggravated voice.

“My friend, do you mind sharing part of your food supply with me? It seems mine had run out. Could it be…”

“Silence!” Eraniel howled. “All you seem to do is complaining, and you are wearing me more than the constant running. If food is what you wish for, then go search for it, but keep in mind one thing: If you do not return to this place quickly, I will leave without you.” Deleith tried to adopt a submissive attitude to find out why was his companion acting the way he was, but another shout reached his ears, causing him to shudder.

“Why are you still here? Can you hear what I said? Go and fetch us something to eat or you will become food for the beasts once I leave you alone in this forest.” This last comment annoyed Deleith, who barely kept his mouth shut to hide his disgust at Eraniel’s behavior. Irritation visible on his face, the raven-haired elf quickly got up and ran in a random direction, searching for different sources of food. In spite of his skills as a tracker, Deleith had no luck in finding what he was searching for, so he had been forced to return and inform his companion about his failure after a while. The bad news did not surprise Eraniel, who apparently had little faith in Deleith ever since he had met him.

“Then we will continue our search for the way out of this blasted forest, no matter the circumstances.” Eraniel got up, picked his knapsack and rested his sword at his hip before he started to move. He paid little attention to the elf who desperately wanted an answer to all of this.

Deleith’s frustration began to accumulate, his self-control being the only thing that had prevented him from starting an argument with Eraniel. All that he could do was obey Eraniel’s strict rules until they would part. He did not like his company, but at least he was a skilled hunter ready to kill a beast that might cross paths with him. Feeling the need to vent his frustration, the raven-haired elf clenched his teeth as he kicked the earth. Why have I run into this arrogant elf? Can’t he at least have the decency to address me properly?

Deleith moved his hand which was now forming a fist to his mouth, thinking about the different possibilities. There is something about this hunter, but I can’t really put my finger on it. As much as I loath this type of behavior, I can’t help but to feel helpless when it comes to face a beast of the forest. He also… the elf reached into his knapsack, his fingers making contact with the paw that represented his trophy. Because of him, I am alive and my honor will not be tarnished when I show this trophy to the others.

Deleith smiled as he tried to put his frustration aside by thinking about the future. Truth is, his age was fragile for a hunter participating in the Festival of hunt, but fate seems to take care of things in the most unusual ways sometimes. Uncertain about what was going to happen, Deleith hastened his pace to meet up with Eraniel, who now covered a significant distance.

Eraniel did not go back on his word about the resting schedule, pushing Deleith to the brink of his limits without giving a second thought to his desperate pleas. The pathetic excuses the elf found along the way have done little, least impress the hunter in any way; his unbending will remained strong as ever, and not even the king himself seemed capable to withstand such a resolute elf.

What displeased Eraniel further was his companion’s incapability of maintaining a steady pace, but in his condition, it was nigh impossible. After only a short moment, moans and cries disturbed the calm silence as Deleith began to give in again, his legs bending in pain and sweat dripping off his brow.

“Eraniel, please! My strength has reached…” his heavy panting forced him to stop and catch his breath for a moment,” I have reached my limit and you still want me to keep going? I ate nothing since yesterday and I barely have the energy to take a step, least keep going at this pace!” cried Deleith in exasperation and dropped on his knees, the hard ground feeling like the most comfortable place to stay on for him at this time.

Anger flashed in Eraniel’s eyes as he turned around and sprinted towards his companion. As soon as he reached him, he raised his hand threateningly and slapped him as hard as he could, the powerful impact with his face making him shake his hand in pain, a mere sting in comparison to the mental pain he was forced to endure due to Deleith’s weakness.

Deleith let out a loud scream and trashed on the ground, rubbing his now ruby colored cheek and temple with disbelief. Amazement, the worst kind of it together with fear was visible in his eyes.

He could barely say something coherent as he stuttered, “You…you’re so heartless. It is obvious that I cannot walk one more blasted step, yet you hit me as if I am some kind of animal. That’s it!” he spat with forcefulness, “I refuse to subjugate to your diabolical methods and lack of compassion for the weaker.” Even he couldn’t believe the words that came out of his mouth, but the momentary surge of bravery inspired him to never falter in front of the likes of elves such as his companion.

Eraniel smirked at Deleith’s pain, “If complains and faint-heartedness would provide you with a small amount of strength, then we would have been out of the forest by now.” His vile grin disappeared, a serious look on his face replacing it, “I am tired of your different complaints meant to alleviate your pain and the pathetic excuses you come up with. I feel the need to discipline you, for the lack of it in that department disgusts me. That slap was just the start of it.”

Deleith threw him a disdainful look and almost defended himself were it not for Eraniel’s louder words that completely dwarfed him, “Life IS painful, and understanding the pain will give you powers beyond your imagining. For instance, it will help you to get up, because I am not going to. We are going to make a stop soon, so I would suggest you to keep going until that. Else, I’ll let my imagination run free when I will deal with you” he added venomously, despite his desire to keep going.

The exhausted elf was well aware of the false promise of Eraniel meant to encourage him, but he had no choice in it. Either his way or the fate’s choice, he thought while he got up using both of his arms for support. As if by an invisible accord of fear installed by Eraniel’s ruthlessness, the raven-haired elf walked at a significant distance behind him. He wished for nothing more than to become invisible in Eraniel’s eyes. Only then he might cease insulting him.

The two elves kept going at a slow pace, mainly because of Deleith, and soon enough they found a clearing where the trees were not so dense. Eraniel dropped his knapsack swiftly, the small brown sack hitting the ground with a thud due to its contents. He then laid his head against it, looking at the sky blankly.

Deleith caught up with him shortly after, crashing on the ground as soon as he reached the clearing. He tried to get a much-needed rest, but his empty stomach rumbled loudly, enough to make Eraniel turned around and looked at him with an angry stare.

“If that innocent look on your face is supposed to make me hunt something for you, then you are terribly mistaken. As I said, you have to get it yourself. I am sick of providing you with what your heart yearns for. You know what else does the exact same thing? A parasite. A filthy parasite that can only survive on the other’s suffering,” he said, hate and venom latching his every word.

Deleith tried to ignore him, but his words hurt too much. “You speak like the blame is mine for not finding anything to eat in this forest. If you remember well, I’m in this situation because you ate everything I had, so you should be grateful for that!” he spat angrily.

“A good choice of words for someone as helpless as you. If words could sate your hunger, then you would be fat by now. So if you want to prove otherwise, go and fetch something to eat, else get out of my sight. I need a moment of silence, and as long as you are still here, your complains will deny me this opportunity.

Deleith threw a wave of endless insults at Eraniel in his mind and got up in an instant, running towards the forest.

What happened to Eraniel? Is arrogance finally coming up to the surface? Are these his true colors? Can the death of a dragon change someone so much? Or something else happened? If someone can answer to these questions before the next chapter, you have the chance to win a cookie!

I hoped you like this elf chapter, which was more of a dialogue between Eraniel and Deleith. The next chapter will come it two or three days hopefully, as I had to cut off a part because it did not sound good. I would love to hear your opinions about the relationship between Deleith and Eraniel as of now.
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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:17 am

It's 1:30 AM, I am tired but I have to post it! Now, I'll tell you in advance that quality might have suffered a little bit since this new idea came to me yesterday, so I had no time to edit it thoroughly. Secondly, my next chapter( it was supposed to have a Deleith part, remember?) had nothing which you will read here in it, so it was written in one and a half day( I was kinda busy yesterday).

Enough with changes that probably confuse you. The idea that came to me is the flashback about Eraniel, and I thought it is a very good opportunity to develop this character a little further and add more complexity to it since most of you discussed him a lot. Because my initial chapters were supposed to be Deleith POVs, I will add this flashback to understand more about Eraniel, and to see how certain experiences can shape someone's life. I present to you...

Chapter 20: Aftermath

Eraniel chuckled to himself after he heard Deleith moving away from him in a hastily manner, the raven-haired elf not even putting up a word in his defense. This surprised Eraniel slightly, who didn’t even bother to turn his head so he could see with his own eyes what happened. His sense of hearing alone confirmed his earlier suspicion: his companion was indeed a weakling, someone that had to rely on other’s strength to survive. Instead, he stared blankly at the grass under his feet while different thoughts traversed his conflicted mind.

Although Deleith wasn’t completely expendable due to his tracking skills, Eraniel had considered the option about abandoning him and continue his journey alone, free of any constraints. Ever since he met him, Deleith became more a nuisance, a mere hindrance to him rather than a capable companion that could fend off on his own. Out of all the bad traits that made up his companion, his constant whining singled out as being the most irritating to Eraniel.

How could someone be so weak as to complain about everything that does not work out in their favor? That incompetent fool should have learned by now that life is not fair, and the hardships life puts in our way must be conquered by ourselves, without help from the outside, thought the elf as his mind drifted towards a few fragments of his dark life and the hardships he had to endure.
One of such moments that would allow despair to take over one’s being was when he, like his companion, was forced to work for someone in order to gain something in exchange.


THUMP! Came the sound of a falling mass that made contact with the rough forest floor, the tough crusty soil cushioning the fall of the little elf only a little, due to the fallen leaves and grass that still sprouted vigorously, even if the life giving rain had yet to come.

Two days had passed since Eraniel’s world had been turned upside down by the unforgiving hand of faith; the cold, dark abyss claimed everything he had, everything he cherished, along with his purpose in life. Without a guide to lead him like his parents had, he would slowly fade into nothingness, just like the autumn leaves in a powerful storm.

With the little strength he could muster, the child used his elbows to push up his body, his legs bucking and giving in when he tried to make use of them alone. Having no power to even groan, Eraniel used his hand to straighten his position and finally got up, his body swaying and threatening to lose its stability once again the moment he was up. His drowsy eyes reflected his condition accurately, more than his dirty, wounded body that was covered in ragged, torn clothes which hanged uselessly. Saying that he looked like a beggar would put it mildly, for even life itself seemed to have been slowly drained from his being. His legs were probably in the worst shape, thin scratches accompanied by large bruises making their way up to his bloody knees that were injured during his many trips and falls. The consequences of his unnourished body were not only physical wounds, as this was only a mask of the real problem.

Ever since he left his destroyed village, Eraniel has been wandering through this vast forest in search of at least a small sign of elven lodges or cottages, but hope has all but evaporated. He now wandered like a lost sheep in search of its herd through a labyrinth, clinging onto the thin thread of life that had yet to leave his mind. One would say that he was afraid to die, because there was no joy left in this world for him.

Everything seemed a blur to him, a surreal landscape conjured by an Urgal with the purpose to torment him further. The rays of the sun that peaked through the forest, the emerald leaves hanging onto the ever-swaying boughs, the chirping of birds, everything added to the mental prison that encased him. Without any hope to find food or shelter, the child knew that he would soon meet his end in the forest he dreamed of exploring long before the fateful events that occurred recently.

Wobbling slightly as a sudden dizziness engulfed him, the elf tripped over his own feet and fell onto his back, letting out a faint yell of pain. The branches and leaves of the trees seemed to spin faster and faster, causing his eyes to move frantically in trying to maintain the focus on their target. The strange display didn’t last long, however, as small dots made from different color kept popping out of nowhere, covering the elf’s vision like a thin, dotted carped. Soon after, the elf closed his eyes and lost consciousness.

Eraniel slowly opened his eyes. The first thing he noticed were some wooden boards above him that made up the roof of a house, not much different than those of his old home.
Am I…dead? Is this how the void looks like? He thought and brushed his hand against the surface he was staying on. He tapped slightly. It felt soft and quite comfortable to the touch.
Realizing what it was, the elf suddenly lifted his body and inspected the surroundings to confirm his suspicions.

The compartment he was in wasn’t exactly what he expected. The room was small and bare, offering only the necessities of a tired person that would like nothing more than a good rest, namely the cot Eraniel was in. Excluding his resting place, there was a small table with a single chair near it that was crudely crafted. The artisan was a mediocre one at best, but Eraniel was not interested in furniture, so he moved his eyes around the room in a curious yet cautious manner. On top of the table there was a small wooden tablet that resembled some sort of square plate with crisps of bread on it, together with small fragments of bone that have been stripped off the meat that covered them.

On the right of the table was a pair of thick, worn out leggings that had spots of dirt mixed with remnants of leaves and other stuff all over them. A few scratches and small holes were visible here and there, and the child realized that they were made by the sharp, small branches that scrapped such clothing often.

Next to the leggings it was a randomly thrown tunic that was in no better state, its owner disposing of it seemingly. With spots of blood, dirt and sweat mixing randomly, they gave it an appearance of an old piece of clothing that hasn’t been used for quite a long time.

Eraniel continued to inspect the room, his eyes locking on a painting which depicted a hunt. It was painted in a dull fashion so that the hunters were in the center of it. There was nothing interesting to be seen except a window that allowed the light to enter the room and a couple of water skins that were lying on the ground near the bed.

Suddenly, a door burst open, revealing a male elf.
“It’s about time you woke up, youngling. I thought that you would die, even after I found you and brought you here. Nevertheless, that did not surprise me, given the state in which I found you earlier in those woods. Why were you alone, child?”

Eraniel looked bewildered at the elf in front of him, a slight feeling of fear creeping inside his mind. He did not like strangers, and the bulky elf whose muscles reflected an intensive physical activity unnerved him. He opened his mouth to speak, but he barely had the strength to do so. With his mouth dry and his throat parched, the elf managed to say a single word.


The elf left the room in a rush, without saying a word. Just when Eraniel thought that he wasn’t going to return, the elf came with something large in his hands, which was covered by a linen cloth, but he could still make the shape of something oval.

“I will give you these, but in exchange I expect you to tell me what happened and how you got here as soon as you recover. Understand?” He said sharply, his voice denoting something else than kindness. Eraniel looked straight at the elf, taking his eyes off the object in the elf’s hands which emanated a pleasant smell of roasted meat.

The child slowly nodded his head and the elf unveiled what he was holding. On a wooden plate, not much different from the one he had seen, there was a large hunk of bread and a hearty piece of meat that could satisfy the hunger of two kids of Eraniel’s size.

The elf placed it on the table hastily and pointed at the water skins near his bed with his finger. “Come and eat now. Recover your strength, for you will need it later,” he said in the same rushed, harsh tone, his dark eyes glancing at him with distaste. Then, he headed towards the door and exited the room, leaving Eraniel glaring at the feast presented in front of him.

Without having second thoughts about what this strange elf was up to, he quickly made his way towards the edge of the bed and used his hands to push his body up, but his legs were still too weak, and his balance was fragile. With a low thud, he fell on his knees, pain shooting through his bruised legs. Instead of screaming his discomfort as a regular child, Eraniel clenched his teeth and fought his torment while he extended one trembling hand towards a water skin. He gripped it firmly, holding it as if the dusty container was a treasure filled with gems. He then crawled his way towards the small table, and as soon as he got close, the elf scrambled to his feet with the aid of his other hand and pulled the chair closer. After he sat on it, the child unfastened the cork that prevented the water from leaking and took a long drink from the water skin, each gulp of water invigorating his weakened body.

After his thirst was quenched, he tore into the meat and the bread, his hands crazily switching from bread to meat while he munched on them like a ravenous beast. Having not put anything into his mouth for two long days, the treats he was feasting on were like the best thing that happened to him.

Everything mixed in his mouth as the elf ate like the food in front of him could be taken at any given time. Every mouthful of bread and meat was accompanied by a small gulp of water to wash down the large quantity of food that was too dry to go down smoothly.

After he finished eating with such speed that could put a dwarf to shame, the young elf sluggishly moved towards the bed due to his full stomach and crashed into it, a loud sigh escaping him. At this moment, he wanted no more than to get a good rest and recover from the ordeal fate had forced him to endure; alone among strangers, he had little options but to obey, else his life was forfeit.

No particular nightmare troubled Eraniel that day, and the child was thankful for it. More pressure on his already broken mind would probably drive him insane; he was not far from it either. A hand that firmly gripped his shoulder forced him out of his relaxation, his body jerking at the sudden contact.

“Are you feeling better youngling?” came the rough voice of the same elf that brought him food earlier.

Eraniel nodded reluctantly after he was roused from his trance-like state, not being able to discern if what was happening was real after his sudden awakening.

“That’s good, because you have some explaining to do on what you were doing alone in the forest. And I’d suggest you to do it fast,” he said on a more serious tone to make sure that the child would understand him better.

Eraniel shook his head to get a better grip of reality, but that wasn’t a wise move as a light headache started to bother him, his temples bulging heavily.

In an attempt to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling, he closed his eyes and instinctively brought a right hand to his forehead while adding something on a low voice, which seemed almost like whispering. The least he wanted was to sound disrespectful in front of such a menacing elf.

“Can’t I get more rest first? I haven’t recovered fully yet and my head-“

“No, that is not possible!” barked the other elf. “I have more important things to attend to and I won’t let you slow me down. I gave you something to eat and offered you a shelter when I could very well let you in that forest to rot, so you will do as I say!” his unsympathetic voice came out, which was on the brink of shouting. “Do not bargain for more than your condition allows.” The elf raised a big, menacing arm that threatened to come down on the child at any given time, but the child sighed in his mind when he realized that he merely stretched his probably sore arm.

His imposing attitude had taken Eraniel aback, and in conjunction with the tone of his voice, the image he briefly created about the elf that had saved him was shattered into a million pieces. For certain he was not one of those kind elves that would help anyone in need without asking for something in return, given his condition. I cannot be weak. Because of me, they are dead. If only…

After he mused for a moment, Eraniel realized that there was no way out of this except do as the elf instructed him to. He tried to comply and recount his pain to the older elf, but words seemed to have vanished from his head.

“They…darkness…death…they…” he babbled incoherently, much to the older elf’s displeasure who was now looking at him as he had some sort of mental disability. After he swallowed in grief, he continued, “They attacked during the night. I thought that our warriors will win, but…” related the elf against his will. Being forced to remember all those gruesome events was not something he wished for in a moment like this, but doing otherwise was not an option, at least not in a moment like this.

With great difficulty, Eraniel has managed to relate the aftermath of that fateful day, and what he had been trough after circumstances forced him to brave the woods on his own. With tears in his eyes and un-healable pain in his heart, the elf finally finished the story that forever changed his life. He no longer had a place to call home, he no longer had parents that would comfort him in his times of need, and he no longer had a purpose in life.

Sobbing quietly, the child crashed into the cot. The pain was too much for him to handle and his young mind had yet to recover from the dark events that would probably plague his soul forever. He then slowly curled into a fetal position, engulfed in the misery the cruel fate has provided him with.

The older elf’s eyes softened as he heard such a moving yet horrible experience. He was clearly impressed, more like shocked by the child’s story. No elf of Eraniel’s age should experience what he just did as very few would recover from a disaster like that. After he realized that the young elf was having an emotional breakdown, the elf got up from the cot and headed towards the door, the footsteps telling the child that this strange elf would not be there for him. It was not in his character, it seemed.

Eraniel looked at his form blankly as he made his way towards the wooden door, too immersed in his own feelings to care what the elder elf did.

“It seems you’ve been trough a lot recently, youngling, and lost pretty much everything except your own life. For that, I will allow you to rest for as long as you wish, but when you wake up, I will put you to work. After all, what I just gave you wasn’t exactly for free, and I need a repayment in some form of another,” said the elf on a greedy and unemotional voice and left the room, shutting the door behind him.

Eraniel couldn’t care less about what he just heard, as his young mind was too preoccupied pondering on the past events. Shifting his position so he was facing upwards, the elf tried to cast away the dark thoughts that escaped from the corners of his mind and take a much-needed rest.

And this is only the beginning. At the moment, I'm really not sure about what the next chapter is about, but I will tell you this: If I continue the flashback, we'll get the answer for Eraniel's behavior. At first, it seems that Eraniel was lucky to come across this elf, but he doesn't seem to be really compassionate about his situation. Do you think it was a good idea to add another flashback? Because I know I told you that they will finish with the death of Eraniel's parents, but it struck me while reading your comments Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:18 am

Okay, it's time for update! This was not very easy to write, but not hard either. There's a dilemma though: How long will the flashback actually last? I know I said that it will not last that long, and I'll try not to exaggerate with the details, but things are not always working the way we want them to be. This chapter will be kinda short, so I'll try to make the next chapter longer. Truth is, I had to decide: Postpone the update and make it very long, or post it now and make the next chapter be the long one. I guess I made my choice.

Chapter 21: Ghosts of the past

Usually, one would escape the misery and harshness of life in the realm of dreams, but for Eraniel it was quite the opposite. Terrible nightmares about endless battles plagued the fragile balance of his mind, forcing him to relive some of the most terrifying moments he had experienced against his will, but he had no choice in this matter. I will combat this pain, no matter what. I have to stay strong for Mother and Father, and dreams do not scare me anymore. They are nothing but a conjuration of the mind, a fictional realm meant to test my strength… he tried to comfort himself before he went to sleep, even though his mind was clouded in fear and doubt. Words were not much of a reassurance, unlike the soothing voice of his mother or the useful advice of his father.

Eraniel was in the middle of a burning village, the bristly flames consuming the structures with ease . Cries of pain and anguish were the only thing that did not add to the monotonous clatter of weapons. Urgals clashed huge axes and blunt weapons with the thin swords of the elves that defended their village valiantly. Being hopelessly outnumbered, the brave elves had no hope to compete against the beasts that slaughtered like animals. Eraniel could only look around as the numbers of the warriors around him thinned, making room to the rampaging army of urgals.

With pure terror in his heart, the elf tried to save himself, running away from the gruesome scene with swift steps. He quickly passed between the burning houses, heading to a small squad of elves that were holding their ground near the center of the village, their swords stained with the blood of the Urgals that lashed out at them. He tried to accelerate his pace, but try as he might, he couldn’t move faster for a reason that eluded him. Suddenly, a loud smashing sound came from behind. Turning his head cautiously to check if he was being followed, the elf slowed down for a bit. However, there was nothing there.

Gulping emptily, he turned his head again, facing towards the small group of elves. Horror gripped him as the sight in front of him changed completely. All the burning houses had vanished along with most of the elves. The only figures left behind were a male and a female whom Eraniel recognized as his parents.

“Mother, father!” He shouted with all the strength he could muster, causing the two elves to look towards him.

In the distance, the thick smoke shifted to reveal several massive silhouettes that were making their way towards the elven warriors. Twisted horns, blood covered weapons, there was no doubt that the enemy was here. The beasts growled ferociously as the frenzy of the battle took over their beings, their eyes sparkling with excitement at the prospect of killing. With a loud war cry, they advanced towards the two elves that assumed a defensive stance.

Eraniel ran as fast as he could to reach his parents before their inevitable demise. Tiny drops of sparkling tears made their way down the elf’s face as the urgals neared his parent’s positions. The distance between Eraniel and his parents shortened considerably, but just when he was about to reach them a wall of flame exploded in front of him, cutting him off from the two elves.

Eraniel cried in despair at the unusual phenomenon that kept him away from his parents and for a moment, he considered about jumping through the flames, but his fear was too much to bear. A moment after, a huge urgal wielding a spear impaled the male elf in the chest, releasing a river of blood. The elf coughed and fell to the ground lifeless, his vibrant eyes looking straight into Eraniel’s.

The female elf turned around from the gruesome sight and looked into the child’s eyes, a look of regret and sorrow in her eyes. Eraniel extended his hand towards her, but the strange fire in front of him burned his hand to crisps. Strangely, it didn’t hurt. Shortly after, the female elf was impaled by the same urgal that let out a sinister sound that seemed like laughing.

Eraniel’s body twitched violently as his eyes snapped open, releasing him from the terrible nightmare. It was not the first time when Eraniel dreamed about his parents’s deaths, and this would most likely last for a while. Ever since that incident, whenever he would close his eyes, he would dream about the same thing, only with small differences that would make each dream unique.

Even though the nightmare was an intense one, there were no signs of sweat on the elf’s body or fright in his eyes. Instead, he had a calm expression of acceptance on his face, as if he knew that what he had dreamed of should be kept in the past. From the looks of it, one could not even guess what Eraniel passed trough. His features acquired a more normal look compared to his expression when he arrived here. The dark, gaping holes around his eyes were almost gone and his cheeks weren’t sucked in anymore. He was well and rested.

Rubbing his eyes with his hands, the elf let out a slight yawn. He then stretched his limbs and let out a low groan at the pleasant sensation of stretching his rigid body.

The elf slowly shifted his body on the right and used his hand to push himself up. He let out another yawn as he sat on the cot, looking around the room. There wasn’t any change he could notice except for the bright, golden light that poured into the room through the window. The rays of the sun had already started to acquire a more yellowish color, a clear sign that it would get dark soon.

Eraniel sighed as his gaze turned towards the door. Remembering vaguely the words of his host about having a use for him, the young elf headed towards the door with small steps and pulled it open, expecting to find him somewhere inside the lodge.

The door gave way to a rather large place compared to the room Eraniel was in earlier. Immediately after he went inside, his nose was exposed to a powerful smell of freshly cut wood, the smell of the forest itself invigorating him. The elf inhaled deeply, enjoying the aroma of the different types of wood that ended up mixed in the same place.

Other than the pleasant smell, there wasn’t anything spectacular about this place. The room was almost as bland as the other one. There were no elements that adorned it, or items which could offer it a friendlier and better looking impression, save for a small window to his left that allowed enough light to enter the room.

On the right, large wooden containers that had small gaps in-between them so one would have no difficulties in passing through occupied almost half of the chamber. On the left, there was a shelf with three different levels, the space between them varying as to accommodate the size of the objects that were placed of them. Each level had different wooden figurines on it, probably depicting animals, but Eraniel couldn’t discern their shapes from the distance; most of the items appeared rectangular to him.

The child’s inquiring gaze switched between the two sides, but his indecision did not last long. His eyes finally fixed on the large containers, the sheer size of them winning the contest that was taking place inside his mind. Wondering what could be inside, the young elf walked cautiously towards the containers, his footsteps barely making a sound on the wooden surface that usually creaked in protest under the weight. He passed by each of the dust covered containers, inspecting their contents while his hands clenched together in worry at the though of what might happen if the older elf caught him rummaging around.

From what Eraniel could see, each one contained a single type of object, for they were carefully organized in stacks. The diversity of the objects was vast: there were wooden spears and bows that were incomplete as their bowstrings were missing; in an adjacent box, arrows, shafts and even wooden plates similar to the ones he just saw were piled up together, as their importance mattered a little. The elf gasped in astonishment at the diversity of the items, his expression lightening at the amount of objects. I wonder if he’s the one that crafted them all, the child asked himself and slowly extended his hand, picking up a bow from one of the containers.

Its simplicity was mildly surprising, making it look more like a curved, stiff piece of wood rather than a bow. Eraniel gripped it by its sides and arched it as much as he could. The wood felt sturdy enough so that it wouldn’t break, but at the same time its elasticity was just right for a bow that could make for a deadly weapon in a hunter’s hand.

This simple piece of wood could become a very efficient weapon together with some arrows and a bow string, the elf remarked before he placed the half-finished bow back into its respective container carefully

The elf passed once again by each container, glancing at the different items that resided in them. Frowning slightly as if an idea struck him, the elf scratched his head and looked around suspiciously at the many objects, as if he was trying to confirm something. If all of those items are made by him, he could make a fortune by trading them. Then, he could acquire anything he desires. If that is right, why did he insist that I should repay him for the bit of food I have eaten? the elf thought as his eyes continued to gaze at the large crates.

A low crack caused him to lessen his focus. Looking around to determine the source of the noise, the elf found himself eyeing the shelf that stored the multitude of the figurines. I almost forgot about that. What could it possibly there? The elf thought excitedly and moved towards it.

As he got closer, his eyes could finally analyze in more detail the objects that were placed on it. Eraniel let out a small gasp as his eyes fixed upon a wooden figure. Slightly amazed by what he was seeing, he slowly picked it up, cautious as not to do any damage to it.

The medium sized figurine resembled a large buck, but the wooden animal was not bigger than his torso. It was a common animal that didn’t have anything special, but the details of the wooden figure were what captured Eraniel’s interest. Its body was perfectly shaped and the proportions were just right. The ears and the tail were crafted in great detail, despite their small size. Two large, ramified antlers protruded from its head. Even the smallest ramifications were without any flaws.

How could he work on all those details without causing the wood to break? The elf asked himself as he gently rotated the figure to inspect all of its features.

After he was satisfied with what he had seen, he put it back and analyzed the other figures that were laid on the shelf. Among the different representations that resembled hunters, buildings and even trees, all executed with great detail, there was an animal figure that attracted the child’s attention.

It resembled a furry creature that Eraniel heard about only in the stories his parents told him. A “wolf” it was called, and it has been said that they lived in groups called packs.
The animal’s features were represented perfectly, save for the spiky fur that was supposed to match the appearance of its living counterpart. All of the animal’s features were detailed perfectly down to its tail where the wood was so thin and sharp to the point that it would be capable of piercing something. The animal was in a slight crouching position and facing forward, as if it could leap at you at any given time. Near the large wolf there was another one that was a bit smaller but didn’t look very different, and three cubs. Eraniel immediately realized that the figure he inspected earlier wasn’t a stand alone product, but it was part of a small pack, along with the other wolf and the cubs.

The child watched them closely, fascinated by the wooden resemblance of such an interesting animal.

“Be careful not to do anything stupid that could cause damage to those figures. That particular work took me a very long time to finish and I won’t have it go to waste because of a brash youngling like you that couldn’t keep his enthusiasm in check,” came a sharp voice from behind that could only belong to the elder elf that owned the place.

It seems that Eraniel is still plagued by nightmares regarding the death of his parents, which is nothing abnormal. Do you think he will be in trouble, now that he was caught by the older elf?
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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:08 am

This fic be having so many pages yo!
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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:25 pm

Don't talk like that, please.

Here at BZ, with try our best to use proper language and grammar.

Plus, a simple "This fic be having so many pages yo!" isn't a proper critic to the story, please change your post or let it be, your call.

Please offer constructive criticism to the writer and his story.

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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:33 am

Update time! After a lot of downtime, here is your order: Extra sized chapter, with boredom topping and a sprinkle of fun. Would you like fries with that?

Chapter 22: Horrors of the Past

Eraniel’s body jerked back at the sound of the elf’s voice. He almost lost his balance as he carelessly stumbled backwards like he was pushed by an invisible force. Panic quickly overcame his thoughts and slithered across his being like a snake, wrapping against his mind and constricting his ability to think properly. Perspiration swiftly covered his brow and the sweat that started to claim his body now moistened his dry hands.

Unlike the other elves from his village that were kind and helpful, the muscular and imposing posture of this elf indicated no traits that could make a connection between him and the elves Eraniel knew. Cold dark eyes shone with a frightening intensity, and his very stare could petrify anyone that would question his authority. The two abyssal gems were contrasting with the facial features of this steadfast elf, his bony cheeks giving him a tough yet evil appearance, though his animated temperament could prove wrong to those who tried to firmly describe him.

After he slowly distanced himself from the shelf, his eyes gazed upon the form of the woodworker that stood proud and tall like an intimidating figure towering above him. Wood dust was muddled up between his hair strings, giving his short, dark hair a dirty appearance. The same dust that mixed along with the sweat also covered the rest of his muscular body. His simple whitish tunic started to acquire a different color as multiple nuances of brown caused by dirt and dust stained it. Impressed by the woodworker’s imposing stature and unyielding gaze, Eraniel found himself stuck every time he tried to speak. Out of a sudden, a shaky voice came out, almost like pleading for forgiveness.

“I…I wasn’t… I was only looking at them. They are so beautiful and I… I mean that…SORRY!” he shouted in a high pitched voice, surprising even himself in the pathetic attempt at what should have been a proper answer. His strange reaction surprising the owner of the figurines to an extent he had not deemed possible. His dark eyes narrowed, his massive arms wrapping against his chest. By this time, Eraniel was boiling up, his red-hot cheeks reflecting the fear in his soul at what this strange elf could do to him.

“If this was the first time I would have met you, boy, I would think that you’re planning something. However, my eyes see something different. You are too much of a coward to steal anything. I do not need explanations while your body is so expressive,” he added nonchalantly, keeping the same stance, not a single finger moving. It seems that he was not done with him just yet.

Eraniel took another step back, shocked at hearing the elf’s words. He tried to calm himself down with encouraging thoughts, but this solution was not of great help because he was aware that he could not restrain his fear of him so easily. His legs were shaking slightly and his arms were placed defensively, as if he was trying to brace himself against an upcoming hit.

He won’t do anything to me. He is the one that saved me from a certain death, so he won’t hurt me! The child thought, building a little courage inside him. Trying to keep his composure in front of the other elf, he quickly brought his arms to his sides, acquiring an imposing posture that denoted no fear. A thin drop of sweat made its way down his brow, prolonging on his cheek and finally dropping on the wooden floor.

The elf smiled with half of his mouth and moved towards him with hard steps. When he was close enough to him, the child wanted to back away, but he knew that he had to appear tough in order to give no reason to the older elf to speak badly of him. The one in front of him raised a hand and brought it down on his head, the impact shaking Eraniel’s frame enough so that his eyelids fell down instinctively.

“Trying to hide your fear, I see. Luckily, you will not have to do that, because I know how weak you really are. Nevertheless, I will give you a chance to prove me otherwise,” he said with a sly, menacing voice before he slapped him on the back of his head, the pain only being surpassed by the sudden shock that seemed like a tremor to Eraniel’s head

“You were good at eating that meal. You left no scraps as your hunger allowed you to eat with such speed that even a ravenous beast would envy. Because you have taken something that belonged to me, you in turn have to give me something to make up for that loss. Follow me,” he beckoned to Eraniel, who hesitated for a moment. I have no choice but to obey. I will show this elf that I am tougher than he thinks! With renewed determination, the child walked to the older elf with unyielding steps, his body slowly regaining its self-control at knowing that what was worse has passed. The woodworker placed a hand on the child’s shoulder in a friendly manner when the he caught up with him, but Eraniel had doubts about his kindness. He only wants to gain my trust, nothing else, he thought as the elf pulled the old, monotonous door open that creaked slightly. A wave of light blinded Eraniel for a moment, his hand moving to his face to prevent the blinding light to enter his eyes.

After a brief moment that allowed his vision to get accustomed to the outside, the elf removed his arm from his shoulder and moved in front of him, crouching as to match his short stature.

“Since my supply of medicinal herbs and mushrooms is running short, your task is to collect everything I tell you, so pay attention, for your next meal is at stake.” His voice was now calm and sprinkled with satisfaction, and Eraniel could only guess why. The lumberjack then proceeded to list the names of various plants and mushrooms. He really took his time and put a lot of emphasis even on the tiniest details, which made Eraniel more and more confused, contrary to what it was supposed to be. His head felt heavy, like a sponge that was imbibed with too much water.

Of course, no search would start without directions, and this elf made sure that the child’s exploration would not be unproductive. Just when he was growing impatient, the lumberjack stopped, grabbing him by the shoulder. His hand added a little pressure to make his point clearer, and Eraniel clenched his teeth while his face acquired an expression that indicated pain.

“Gather these plants, and you will be rewarded. Fail to do so, and you will know the outcome better than anyone. I expect that your mind is just as sharp as your mouth when you eat.” The same harsh voice that Eraniel disliked returned, along with an immeasurable greed that perturbed the child, who bowed his head to the ground to avoid staring into the older elf’s eyes.

After he lifted his hand off his shoulder, the lumberjack headed towards a square pile of logs that were all about the same size. The wood was protected against the bad weather by an aslope rooflet that was made of wood boards attached together. Two larger logs placed on each side supported the makeshift roof to accommodate a bigger quantity of wood. He’s the one asking me to memorize things, yet the rain can still wet the sides of the logs, he thought with a slight antipathy at how much of a double-faced person this elf was.

“Why are you still here? I thought no doubts existed, for my task was clear enough, but it seems that you consider it otherwise.” Eraniel tensed and looked instinctively towards the sound of the voice that sounded more like a shout, only to see the same elf with an axe equipped in his hands. He wanted to say something, to confirm that he was not narrow-minded, but words seemed to have vanished from his mind, so he merely turned around and prepared to head towards the forest, but the same voice caused his walk to come to a stop, “Why don’t you bring me some berries while you are at it? My mouth yearns for the sweet, bitter taste of those little things. Bring me enough to sate my appetite and I’ll see you rewarded for your extra troubles.”

Eraniel sighed his frustration in his mind, the only sanctuary where he could be honest with himself. “Y..Yes of course,” he stuttered, his frail tone gaining a curious glance in response. Eraniel eyed the grass below, the lumberjack’s stare being too much to put up with. His arms hanged limply against his sides, and a gust of wind passed through his ruffled hair, messing it up even more. Out of a sudden, an idea struck him and he quickly proceeded to voice his concerns, “I will…I mean I need something to carry the plants you require. A basket of some sort would be great, if you would be kind enough to provide it.” The elf’s lips twisted in what seemed to be a wry smile and without a notice, he headed towards the lodge, allowing the door to slam behind him.

Relief washed through the child when the tall, scary elf disappeared from his sight. His muscular build was frightening enough, but his voice topped it off. He was an irascible, greedy person that had a hard time making its way to Eraniel’s heart. For now, his first impression about him was a negative one, due to his greed and lack of compassion for his suffering. But he’s the only one I have for now. If I leave, there will be no one there for me. Everyone is gone…GONE! I am all alone… the child snorted, the power of his dark thoughts almost bringing another wave of tears into his eyes, but he couldn’t show weakness. He was not allowed to, and the present denied him of the possibility of expressing the grief of his past.

Trying to cast his different thoughts aside, Eraniel began to inspect his surroundings, taking great interest into the lodge that was taller than it seemed. It had a neglected aspect, the wood boards that made up the exterior having started to peel off due to the weather effects. In some areas, overgrown plants claimed the roof along with a part of the lodge and the different shades of green and yellow due to the lichens, combined with the grayish nuance of wood in some areas made it look like a crude mosaic.

Not far away from the lodge, to the left side of it, there was a conspicuous structure that resembled a storeroom almost the same size as the lodge, only that its simplicity stood out from the rest. Driven by curiosity, Eraniel headed towards it with fast steps, fearing that the lumberjack may come out of the house and catch him sneaking into his own domain. He suddenly stopped dead in his tracks when the door of the lodge creaked and opened slightly, only to feel relieved when no one came out. Eraniel let out a sigh, and to avoid another unpleasant incident, he sprinted towards the storeroom and pushed the slant, old door open. A wave of cold air mixed with wood dust hit him the moment he did so, refreshing him slightly. He quickly recognized the wood odor that was vastly similar to the one present inside the cottage, only that its aroma was stronger and had a trace of old in it. Apparently, the elf hasn’t even aired this construction.

Much to Eraniel’s surprise, this structure was not a storehouse, contradicting his first thoughts. On the contrary, its simple aspect was a distinction to the inside that was organized and well kept. Three large, squared windows allowed enough light to enter the room, and their purpose was now clear to the child that glanced around the room to make up a general idea about where he was. A large wooden table was placed a bit further from a window, the light casting at a perfect angle on it. On the table, different tools were discarded randomly, along with splinters of wood and an old piece of bread. To his immediate left there was a pile of wooden boards that the child quickly recognized as the ones that are used in house roof construction. They were dusty, and some of them had yet to be stripped of the bark that gave them an unhealthy look. After he sketched a smile at the quantity of wood before his eyes, Eraniel turned his head to his right where a rack with different tools stood up, the objects leaning against it being of a wide variety. No matter the shape though, they served a single purpose: to give shape to the wood, or to procure it.

The child barely suppressed his curious nature that struggled to come to the surface, but the thought of infuriating the elf by putting his hands on the objects offered him enough reason to refrain from touching anything. As if on cue, the faint sound of a door being opened came from the lodge, along with the footsteps of the elf. Eraniel’s blood froze in his veins and his body refused to respond to his commands. Unable to do anything, he merely stood there, hoping that the older elf would not notice the open door. Much to his fortune, the door of the lodge was slammed, indicating that the lumberjack had no business somewhere else. Without second thoughts, he quickly left the workshop and closed the door behind him carefully as to not raise any suspicion.

“What are you doing there boy? Sneaking, are you?” Taken aback by the sudden shout of the lumberjack, Eraniel’s feet twisted in an unusual way, causing him to fall on the ground a moment after. Fearing the elf’s wrath, the child quickly got up and babbled quickly, “, I was looking around. This structure does not look like a house, and it is not a house, because you already have a house, and…” He stopped saying any other pitiful excuse that crossed his mind when he noticed the confused figure of the elf, along with a move of his hand that instructed him to shut up.

“Just spare me of your nonsense. I don’t believe you, and I will not even try to put up together that nonsense. We will talk about it when you return, “the lumberjack added on a slightly annoyed tone before he left a middle sized basket on the ground and went back to do whatever he was doing.

Embarrassed and humiliated, Eraniel muttered something under his breath, grabbed the basket swiftly and ran towards the forest, hoping that solitude will wash away the recent negative experience.

The trees appeared like a blur to him as he continued to run, different sized branches occasionally getting into his way, but not even these puny obstacles were able to surpass his agility as he jumped past them. As fatigue settled in, the elf’s run came to a stop, his limbs finally giving in. A violent cough followed next, the effort almost drawing the air out of him. The ground rushed to meet with him, his vision clouding for a brief moment. Without finding the power to stand up, the child crashed on the floor, his small stature barely making a sound as his body made contact with the floor.

His heavy panting slowly subsided while he blankly stared at the blue sky, the leaves that adorned the branches of the trees partially blocking his view. Normally, his mind would drift to his parents, as they often sat together in a similar forest, enjoying each other’s company, but right now, there was only one thing in his mind, a thought that plagued him ever since that elf talked to him: how to get all the necessary plants and herbs. The least he wanted was to face his wrath, or to be forced to spend the night in a forest filled with dangerous beasts. He literally had to make a choice between worse and worst, and choosing the lesser evil sounded more convenient.

I shouldn’t be alive, yet still, I am here. Through my father’s sacrifice, I escaped. Through my mother’s death, I was reborn as a solitary being. This is only a puny obstacle for me, nothing more. As Father always used to say, true power comes from the heart. His hands clenched into fists, the tight form of his left hand hitting the ground with strength. They were real heroes! Yet no one will know about them... he mused, his tense body relaxing slightly. They will not be remembered by the others, because nobody cares about a simple family from a small village, Eraniel thought as different concerns started to plague him. To ensure his survival, his parents gave their lives. They did it because they believed in him and his power to survive, fighting whatever obstacle that might get in his way. But all was not lost. After all, as their only surviving son, Eraniel would cling to the thin thread of life and strive for a better living, and even though his purpose in life was still a mystery, Eraniel made his choice.

They have given their lives for me, and in exchange, I will make sure that their noble sacrifice had not been in vain. Their bravery kept the Urgals at bay long enough for reinforcements to arrive. As their only son, it is I who has to make sure that it will not be forgotten. Only through me the others will hear about their heroic deeds. I shall not falter, for their very blood courses through my veins! With a rock-hard resolve, the child got up and began searching for the various plants that would be the bricks that would consolidate his goal.

Much to his shock, one of the plants he was looking for was just to his left; it was a bush with jagged leaves that was supposed to be used in different poultices. After he picked the knife that rested in the basket and cut several leaves, Eraniel continued his search for the others while trying to follow the lumberjack’s indications. His eagle-like eyes scrutinized each and every single detail of the various leaves of some flowers, bushes and plants that seemed to be common.

The sun started to make its descent as the day passed by, the child’s tedious search wearing him out with each second, but he was not ready to give up. His hunt for the various herbs had led him astray into the heart of the forest, but his mind was not aware of it as he focused all of his power and attention into the current task. Even if he did not want to exert himself to the point where he would collapse, he had to press on.

By the time darkness started to fall over the forest, most of the herbs and plants Eraniel had to gather resided in his basket that bulged out with leaves, different colored flowers and herbs, threatening to lose part of its contents if the child decided to run. Even if the abundance of plants was an opportunity for Eraniel to rejoice, it was not so; the important herbs were not to be found, along with the mushrooms that the elf kept babbling about like they were the most important thing in the world for him.

Because of his clumsiness, the repercussions might prove to be a real obstacle, and the child dreaded the moment when he would face the lumberjack and have nothing to defend himself with. A bitter elf like him would not accept a pity excuse, that was certain. After he crouched to check one slender plant that failed to match the description, Eraniel shouted his frustration for all the forest to hear his cry, the powerful sound shaking his lungs. His anger dissipated partially when his eyes met the contents of the basket, his face lightening at the sight of it. I am done! No more shall I search for herbs that look all the same like I am some kind of servant. At best, he should be thankful that I gathered way more than he had asked for.

Eraniel tried to find comfort in those thoughts, but failed to do so when the picture of the angry elf staring at him with his cold dark eyes entered his mind. With a firm shake of his head, the child dismissed the horrifying visage. No, he will be pleased. He has to be! Because if he is not, next time he will be the one to do this absurd work. His sore limbs threatened to give up under his weight, his only relieve coming from the cold evening air that brushed against his sweaty body, chilling him after the long hours of constant search. Eraniel placed the basket next to him as he sat down, his weary eyes looking around the surrounding area. The ground was uneven, occasional bumps provided by fallen branches and other sort of debris making for a real balance test. This part of the forest seemed to be a hill and different sized rocks were placed randomly, their smooth surface being covered in lichens, a mark that denoted their old age. Numerous trees provided the excellent cover from the elements, most of them taking roots before Eraniel’s parents were even born. Their old age was signaled by the thick rough trunks that were pierced in places by different birds in search of insects, or providing an excellent home for ants that crawled up and down.

His gaze then shifted to the thin branches above that swayed into the wind, their slender size presenting no resistance against the air currents that bended them to its will. The frail green leaves that adorned them were often detached from their sockets, the wind carrying them wherever nature dictated. Such was the fate of Eraniel, a lone leaf in an ocean of currents that bended and twisted him in a pattern only fate knew. A wave of melancholy hit him as he continued to stare at the swinging boughs with watery eyes, connecting their destiny with his. “Is this how my life will develop? The winds of fate will carry me from place to place without my agreement? Have I not a saying in what I expect from life? Because there is always something that makes the choice against my will,” he said in a low voice that threatened to turn into a cry. Without finding the power to contain his emotions, the child gave in to his sorrow and misery, crystalline tears flowing down his dust covered cheeks.

“It…it was not like this when they were by my side. I ha…I had a home, and now it’s g.gone.. along with everything I lived for,” he said between sobs, his proclamation of grief being only a window to his real feelings “How can I continue living, if there is nothing except pain and suffering to look forward to?” With trembling hands, Eraniel wiped the tears of his face and sank his head onto his palms, weeping with more intensity than before. He sat there in the middle of nowhere, without anyone to lay a hand on his shoulder and comfort him in this time of grief. His once strong emotional defenses were all but shattered, his frail mind being fully exposed to the inner torment that racked him relentlessly.

“Why…why,why is this happening to me?” he asked, his voice shaking in sorrow. “Life is.. a continuous struggle and only with the s.strength of my will shall I s.surpass the barriers… fate throws in my way… he was wrong!” the child shouted through his snivels as his hands dropped uselessly, revealing the now red and wet face due to the streams of tears. The dust on his face that mixed with his tears gave him an ugly appearance, his physic now resembling how he felt inside. “You broke your promise, Father. You said you will always be there for me when I need you.”

By now, his tone became steadier and more calm, the numerous sobs subsiding as the elf lifted his body off the floor. I can’t do this. I don’t have the strength you kept telling me about to keep going. If only there was an easy way to join you…, he said to himself, trying to find reassurance in the dark thoughts that have appeared ever since his parents died. “But I can’t! I’m too afraid…I am…am..” the ground started to spin out of a sudden and Eraniel felt like throwing up, but he fought this feeling as hard as he could, even though in his weakened state there was not much he could do. After the nightmarish sensation came to an end, Eraniel found himself shaking hardly, his arms wrapped around his body.

Strength seemed to be drained from his limbs, and the forest floor seemed like the most pleasant place to crash for him. After he crashed with a thud on the rough surface, scratching his arm in the process, the elf closed his bloodshot eyes, pondering about whatever crossed his mind. I’m so weak and useless that I can not do anything properly. I want to join my parents in the void, but I am too scared! That’s not what life meant to me. If only…if only that blasted village had more soldiers to defend us…

His justified anger and the world seemed to have finally found reasoning, but the child was too preoccupied to hate everything right now. Mother and Father were not soldiers, but they fought. They did it so I could live on. They did that for me! And how do I pay them back? By running from problems like a coward? This has to end… he mused. If I don’t do something, their deaths would have been in vain. I will not allow this to happen. Until I let the world know who I am, and through me, how brave they were, I shall not meet death! The thin figure of the elf lifted off the forest floor slowly, his legs swaying slightly until he was on his feet. His eyes had acquire a new, strange sparkle that only he could understand. Now that he has succeeded in finding an answer to some of his doubts, his life was going to get a new turn. No more shall he be the puppet of fate, no longer will he be the leaf swayed by the wind. His life was in his hands, and it was in his power to make a change that would bring peace to his soul.

His facial expression turned cold and unemotional, contrasting with his earlier display of grief. After the elf lifted the basket, he glanced at the clear dark blue sky that was soon to become black, like his past. Even in his current state, Eraniel couldn’t help but to feel slightly concerned about what might happen if he would not find his way back to the lumberjack’s home. He merely frowned at this thought that was only a fraction of his problems and started to make his way towards the lodge with a steady pace.

Normally, a child of Eraniel’s age would be terror struck at the prospect of losing its way in a forest where predators might lurk around, but for him, it was only a nudge at the back of his mind. Like any other young elf, Eraniel felt a bit apprehensive as the rustle of the leaves was the only sound he was hearing, save for some owls that cried in the night.

Edgy because of the screech of the night birds, the child’s walk turned into a run, his silhouette appearing like a ghost that walked through the still forest at night. He went at a slower speed to conserve his energy, but his senses somehow told him that he wasn’t safe in the dense forest.

Eraniel let out a high pitched shout as he caught a glimpse of two large yellow eyes that kept staring at him. In a fraction of a second, the owl left the ground with a couple of powerful wing beats and flew past the child, scaring him in the process (he had the feeling that the bird was going to attack him). Wanting to get home as soon as possible, Eraniel accelerated his pace, running as fast as his legs would allow. Dashing past the trees and jumping over the fallen branches that got in his way, Eraniel let the burst of adrenaline enhance his endurance.

Even if he felt that his strength would never deplete, Eraniel realized the stupidity of his actions as his leg muscles burned because of the effort. Panting, the child stopped in a small clearing and dropped on the ground to recover his strength. In that moment, he wanted nothing more than to lie down and rest for a brief while. The days spent in the wild after his parents’s demise took a heavy toll on his body and with his new greedy host pestering him to do his bidding, he felt like he couldn’t take it anymore.

I can’t go on like this. That cottage seems so close, and yet so far. Still, I cannot push myself over the limits in case something out of the ordinary happens. But… nothing has happened in the days I braved the forest that surrounded my village. I spent much more time and even slept, knowing that a beast might come and end my life. If so, what is this fear that makes me shudder? The child thought as he tried to close his eyes. A sudden crack caused him to jolt his head and face the direction from which the sound was coming from. His heart was pounding and his senses were all alert, but his expectations didn’t match his fantasies as nothing came out of the dark.

Sighing, the elf laid his head on his right hand. I am such a fool for worrying about such silly things. This is how it should be; different animals inhabit these forests and the sounds that I’m hearing are not something out of the ordinary. There won’t be long until I will be at that elf’s cottage and claim my well deserved reward. But first, I need to find my way there, and before that I need to recover, he thought, trying to convince himself that everything will be alright.

There wasn’t long until a louder crack could be heard in the vicinity. Eraniel immediately reacted to it and began to look around to determine the position from which the sound came. He was forced to divert his attention as an eerie, continuous rustle distracted him. Pricking up his ears, he quickly realized from the increasing intensity of the rustle that something was moving towards him.

Without thinking more about the situation, the elf gave in to his fears and scrambled on his feet. Even if his leg muscles still hurt, the child acted on his instinct and prepared to run from whatever dangers lurked in the dark. He took a big step forward and almost tripped over, but luckily he corrected himself and managed to gain more and more distance from that place. Only when he dropped on the ground in pain he realized the grave error he made when he looked at his empty hands.

In that moment, his mind went blank and all his problems were erased as the blow was harder than the cruel fate itself. The child howled like a wild animal, both in rage and hopelessness.
I..I can’t go back there. Even if my worries are unjustified, I may still be wrong, and I don’t want to die. I cannot die, not now! I will return to the lumberjack and confront him if it’s the case. If not, I will find a way to make up for my mistake, he thought while lying down on the cold ground.

After he recovered, he made his way to the cottage, where his doom awaited him. Much to his astonishment, the old building was closer to him than he realized, and by some cruel twist of fate, it seemed like he was guided to the house of the lumberjack by an unknown force, the purpose of it all being his punishment for failing the only task the elf gave him.

When he arrived at the cottage, he found the lumberjack lying in a chair in the middle of the room with the many animal figures, happily cutting a piece of wood with a small knife while humming something that resembled an elven song. The room was poorly illuminated by the two lanterns that looked rudimentary in every aspect.

Eraniel was a bit reluctant to go and speak to him, his fear holding him back with its twisted chains, but he knew that this moment couldn’t be avoided as it would come sooner or later. He emerged from the trees with his head bowed and gulped in fear as he opened the door, the elf’s gaze meeting with his right away.

The lumberjack looked at him intently for a brief period of time, and then bolted out from his chair with a deep frown on his face.
“Do you have any idea how much I had to wait for you, child? What took you so long?” barked the elf, his hand squeezing the piece of wood up to the point where it would break. Eraniel tried to answer but he was interrupted by the lumberjack’s booming voice. “I’d better hope that that basket is full or else I’m going to do something about it. If too much food is making you lazy, then I’ll be sure to lessen the quantity.”

The child’s tongue entangled in his mouth, words refusing to come out as terror settled inside him. This elf always frightened him, but his shouts were plain terrifying. It was desperation that gave Eraniel the power to answer, “No no please no! It wasn’t because of the food. I had managed to fill your basket with everything you required, but then…then there was this incident in the woods,” he stuttered, speaking as fast as he could to end the conversation as fast as possible.

The lumberjack immediately noticed that Eraniel’s claims weren’t true as his hands were empty. Filled with rage, he threw the piece of wood from his hand forward, almost hitting Eraniel in the process.

“You incompetent brat! I had a good idea about your value the moment I saved you from a fate worse than death, but I couldn’t imagine that you would be more worthless than a broken tool. Where is my basket???”

Now it was Eraniel’s turn to enrage. “It’s in the woods, not far from here. If you want to go get it, then you can go by yourself. There was a large beast with yellow eyes that attacked me and my life definitely worth more than a basket full of grass!” he shouted. The moment he said that, the lumberjack’s face turned pale, his eyes widening in disbelief at the attitude he recently displayed.

“How dare you say that to me, you insolent brat? You are staying under my roof, eating from MY food and DARE TO OPPOSE ME??? Your life is in my hands at the moment. I saved you from a certain death and you WILL behave accordingly. Now, I’d suggest you to go and pick it up, or I will be sure to starve you until you die! You think a beast is dangerous? Just wait until I’m through with you!”

Eraniel’s courage quickly diminished and was replaced by fear as the lumberjack started to move towards him, his face red like a ripe berry.

The child backed off instinctively, but the lumberjack had something else in mind. Thinking that Eraniel might try and make a run for it, he lurched forward and grabbed the small elf by his tunic with his iron grip.

“Listen to me, you coward. You may have tried to appear tough before, but I saw right through your pathetic being, and the first thing to notice was fear. Are you afraid of me? Good, because I won’t hesitate to use other methods to get my point across,” he barked and lessened his grip on Eraniel, but not before pushing him forward.

The child released a slight cry at the contact with the ground. Pain, however, was not his main concern as his horrified gaze fixed on the small dagger the lumberjack used to cut the wood. It headed straight towards him, and he instinctively shielded his face from what was about to happen.

A loud chuckle caused him to lessen his guard. Still on the verge of laugh because of the pathetic sight, the lumberjack picked up the wood he threw earlier, which was right besides Eraniel’s body.

“It’s just as I expected. Now go! Make yourself useful or I might think of shaping some other material rather than wood,” he added sarcastically and fixed Eraniel with an angry gaze.

Scared to the bone because of the lumberjack’s actions and his eventual threat, Eraniel got up and headed back into the darkness to do his master’s bidding, his mind devoid of any unjustified feelings that had previously tricked him by muddling up his senses to the point where he failed the only task the lumberjack gave to him.

Despite his early fears of the forest at night, Eraniel managed to find his way back towards the spot where he left the basket without great difficulty. When he reached into the clearing, he looked around carefully, but there was no sign of any living being nearby that could pose a threat to him.

I can’t believe I was scared of some nonexistent beast. Because of my idiotic assumptions I incurred the wrath of the one that takes care of me and I have also lost any eventual reward. Why is life so harsh to the ones that aren’t perfect? He questioned himself and headed back, thinking about his next move.

Apprehensive and concerned because of the recent events, the child unhurriedly advanced towards the lodge that started to outline in the distance, a sick feeling overwhelming him. With each step, this bothersome sensation amplified, and because of that, Eraniel felt like forsaking everything by running. Alas, it was not to be, for he had already given it a lot of thought to it, and it was by far the most irrational decision he could take. Just as he pushed the door forward, the warm light greeted the dirty child, but for Eraniel, this light held a negative connotation. It was like the lanterns were purposefully there so the lumberjack could notice every twitch of a limb, or even the slightest move of his lips. Contrary to his recent outrage, the elf’s face seemed to brighten at the sight of him, and he contently brushed his palms before he got up from the comfortable chair he was sitting in.

“Ah, Eraniel, welcome back. First of all, I have to apologize for the way I treated you earlier. I kind of lost my temper at seeing you returning empty handed after such a long while. Believe it or not, I have worried about you! Now, come over here and show me what you got.” His voice was sprinkled with honey this time, greatly confusing Eraniel, who had no idea what to expect of him. After the lumberjack beckoned him to approach with enthusiasm, Eraniel gulped sickly and cast aside every ounce of fear.

The child did as he was told, although a bit uncomfortable at having to stay so close to the one that almost hurt him. When Eraniel reached him, the lumberjack quickly snatched the basket out of his hands and sat down on his chair while he rummaged through it, his oversized hands contently searching through the plants and herbs.

“Good, good, you procured most of the things I asked you two. It seems you’re smarter than you look. Maybe I will even reward you,” he added cheerfully, poking Eraniel on the chest with his index finger.

Eraniel’s worries lessened as the lumberjack continued to inspect the contents of the basket. Maybe his greed will be an ally to me in this one, he thought while he waited for the elf to finish inspecting the bounty present in the basket.

Out of a sudden, the lumberjack stopped, his face acquiring a surprised expression, like he was shocked due to an amazing discovery. Eraniel realized in an instant that something was not right, but there was nothing he could do except coming up with an excuse for his failure.

“Where are the mushrooms, child? I told you to bring me mushrooms, have I not? Where are they?” The elf said with disbelief as he scratched his head with one hand while the other kept searching through the contents of the basket to make sure that his eyes did not deceive him.

Panic struck, the child did his best to stand up against the bulky elf, his frail voice shaking with fear, “I.. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t find any while exploring. I have brought you more of the other plants to make up for the lack of mushrooms though. I guess that would suffice since…” He suddenly stopped when the lumberjack got up from his chair and started to pace around nervously like a caged lion, his hands moving in different patterns Eraniel could not recognize, but one thing was obvious: disappointment. The elf brought his hands to his face, apparently thinking about what to do with the one who failed him. Eraniel’s left leg moved back instinctively, his intuition urging him to run, but that would be a mistake, for this elf would never forgive him for it. Just when he was about to say something, the elf’s hands dropped down, revealing a spiteful look that sent chills down Eraniel’s spine.

“NO! It will most definitely not suffice! I told you exactly what to do and you failed me!” He shouted woefully and rushed towards the basket, pushing Eraniel out of his way. The child lost his balance because of the powerful force of the push and fell on his back, a groan escaping him when he hit the floor. “And now I realize that you also failed to bring me Adder’s Tongue, Dawn’s Rose and many other plants! Tell me, child, was that too much of a challenge for you??” he asked on a mocking tone while he moved towards the collapsed elf who was staring at him with a saddened yet reproachful look.

“N…No of course not, but I couldn’t find any! It was almost night and I had no more time to search for them. I deeply apologize for that. If there is any way to…” he cried apologetically, but nothing seemed to go through the tough barriers of cruelty that the elf established since he brought Eraniel to his house. However, in the next moment, the lumberjacked sketched a forced smile and said on a most disturbing tone, “Yes, there is another way. Your next meal will substantially decrease seeing that the amount of food I gave you slowed all your processes, including the mental one. Now, off you go. Tomorrow I’ll have yet another task for you, and you need to be in the proper shape for it.”

Having no more to say in his defense, Eraniel ran towards the room where he first woke in this lodge, but this time, instead of feeling safe and secure, he felt confined in a cage with no chance to escape. After he lay his sore body on the comfortable bed, the child closed his eyes, preparing spiritually for the ordeal that he would have to endure tomorrow, the day after, for eternity while he was under the lumberjack’s roof.

But this hand of fate through which Eraniel was saved proved to hold a darker side, a tribute in exchange for the right to live of an orphaned child. In spite of his appearance as a tough yet kind elf, the lumberjack showed his true colors while he enslaved Eraniel to do his bidding. Merciless and vile as he was, he put the child to tasks that appeared seemingly impossible, yet failure was not an option. Only through sheer will power has Eraniel withstand the harsh treatment by accepting his condition as an elf whose fate was dictated by the ones who were willing to shape it. However, mere survival was never his objective, and his purpose in life has given Eraniel new strengths, powers that allowed him to get up where a normal child would give up.

As the world is bound to constant changes, so does the destiny of every elf sways in the winds of distortion. One would say that fate has a certain irony. Being overworked all day and sometimes starved due to mediocre work he did, Eraniel’s protective shell finally cracked open, his fragile mind being exposed to the tumultuous feelings that resided within him. In an act of desperation to flee from the abuses of the man who he looked up to as a savior, Eraniel had decided to embrace whatever destiny had in store for him. One dark cold night, the child ran away into the wilderness, never to return to the place that scarred his soul and being, and showed him another dimension of suffering. With a second great pain in his mind, the child feared that he would never live a normal life as he faded into the shroud of darkness, his swift yet unsure steps carrying him to a new life with the potential of bringing a big change in him. Whether this change was good or bad, it was up to him, for another choice loomed in the horizon of a new era.

This is it, folks. Its quality might not be anywhere near my previous chapter, but I had to deal with my own demons meanwhile, so I wasn't in the best condition to write. Some parts might seem ok, some might just seem so simple that it gives you the impression that a 13 years old had hacked my account and written that. If it is as bad as it sounds to me, I will edit it further.

Other than that, the flashback is over! After that, we return to the main story, for there are so many things to talk about! Please tell me what did you think about this chapter, and even if the ending seemed abrupt, it was like this because I didn't want to make it even longer than it already is. So, feedback is welcome, and comments are much appreciated.
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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:34 am

Special thanks to Damon(TreyAnastasio19) and Shaha for checking this chapter for errors, and maybe even adding something extra which I kept inside Razz.

Chapter 23: A Fright to Remember

The elf left the camp as quickly as possible, giving Eraniel no reason to complain about his uselessness and inability to do anything.
Though he was a bit angry that he didn’t get along very well with his companion, Deleith kept his mouth shut and focused on the task at hand. He took a quick look in the direction where they had established camp, apparently having something in mind. All of a sudden, he dropped his sack, leaned, and took a few branches from the forest floor. He then placed them on the ground and arranged them so they would form an arrow that would point towards the camp.

That should help me in case I get lost. Now, I only need to be careful not to take too many turns or I may have quite a bit of orientation problems in this dense forest, he thought, a bit concerned about this situation. Although he was a good tracker and tried to memorize a few landmarks to ease the return trip, it was easy to get lost in a place where everything looked the same. So he simply sat there, contemplating going back and telling Eraniel that he couldn’t find anything, but he preferred not to face the consequences of his actions. Deciding to play it safe and not lie to the elder elf, he muttered something and grabbed the sack on the ground, proceeding to accomplish the task at hand.

The sun had risen higher into the sky, the occasional cold breeze brushing against the lone traveler who moved at a relatively brisk pace, slowed down only by the different obstacles that were getting on his way: boulders that blocked the path, little creeks he had to wade through, and small holes that tripped him nearly every time he encountered one. The woods were surely meant to confuse travelers. I changed this part because I thought of a way that it sounded better, hope you like it.

Although the dense, lush forest had plenty of food to sustain its different inhabitants, Deleith had found nothing particularly appetizing or even ingestible so far. The only moment that luck seemed to shine upon him was when he came across a bush with some red, tiny dots hanging from its branches alongside the small green leaves. The elf quickly got excited and began to gather them in his sack, but all that enthusiasm was in vain when he decided to try one little fruit himself. He bit only a small portion of the fruit, but that was enough to make him clench his lips together. He spit out the remnants of the sour berries every time he had enough saliva to do so.

“Bleah! How in the world could someone eat that? I never imagined that there could be something that tastes worse than a rotten moon berry. I’m glad that I didn’t give those to Eraniel or he would definitely have my head! “

The elf quickly emptied the contents of his sack to make sure that none of the tiny, horribly sour fruits had snuck into his belongings. He then grabbed his sack, a look of disappointment and displeasure taking his face, and proceeded to search for something else.

The time went on as the lone traveler continued his search without much luck. Occasionally, a doe would appear among the trees, but as soon as the elf would raise his bow and take aim, it would disappear among the trees. Each time his quarry escaped, he was left with a bitter taste in his mouth, hardly able to bear the shame of not being able to do anything on his own. Different thoughts were roaming through Deleith’s mind, most were pathetic explanations for his inability to hunt. However, one particular thought was about his partner. Eraniel seemed to be a capable hunter, yet he acted way over his current status. Why didn’t he hunt for the both of them? Why couldn’t he spare his companion this trouble? A part of Deleith knew that it was mainly his fault for getting himself involved in this mess, but that was not enough to excuse Eraniel's behavior. As he searched for an answer to his dilemma, Eraniel started to become the center of his blame. A scapegoat for his problems. His behavior was inappropriate, worse than rude. He was unbearable, but necessity forced Deleith to stay with him.

Without paying attention to the forest floor, Deleith almost tripped over a thick branch covered by fallen leaves and moss. “Blasted branches! Always hidden from view, as if to make everything worse!” the elf spat aggravatedly, moving slowly through the forest indignantly. Displeasure was visible on his face, his eyebrows were slightly inclined, forming a half frown. How long is this going to take? I can search until dusk and still find no edible fruits or suitable prey. The elf stopped, inspecting the area around him. There was nothing unusual, save for the subtle smell of a decaying corpse. With a sigh, the elf continued on his way, paying no attention to the usual smell. This was the cycle of life, the forest made no exceptions.

Why is this happening to me? I only want to help him, yet he treats me like I’m some kind of servant. Why couldn’t I find a better companion? complained Deleith in his mind as he advanced slowly, walking at a steady pace. The pungent smell of rotting meat was starting became more prominent, causing the elf to grimace when a wind blowing from the west reached his nose. Even if this was against his wish, the elf decided to follow the source of the decaying smell until he found the source.

His anxiety built up when he noticed a dark shape in the forest ahead. Where there is dead prey, predators may lurk. I did not ask for any of this! I may very well put my life in jeopardy if I come back empty handed, and now there’s yet another thing that gets in my way, like my blasted luck wasn’t enough The elf protested in his mind as he slowed down his pace a little bit, unsure about what he was going to find. A tree in front of him was blocking the sight, and this annoyed him greatly. From what he knew, the predator might still be around. Deleith’s grip on the bow tightened as his left hand reached into his bag, withdrawing an arrow. The elf notched the arrow firmly, trying to shave away his anxiety. I came here to get this done, and I will not do it carelessly! Deleith was now right in front of the huge tree which was concealing the dead carcass. The elf sighed, and with a quick move he jumped to his right, aiming at an invisible target. It was nothing there except the ribs of what seemed to be a deer, which were almost peeled off any scrape of meat. Deleith glanced at the decaying ribs, letting out a sinister chuckle. “All this trouble was for a pile of bones? I almost fell for it! I had no reason to question my skills, yet the emotions bested me.”

The raven haired elf prepared to walk away, but a loud, high pitch squeal froze the blood in his veins. The elf instinctively ran to the nearest tree for cover, even if he could not really determine the position of the beast responsible for that sound. As anxiety turned to fear, Deleith found his hands trembling against his will. Wha.. what is that? Just what in the world was that? Sweat started to form on the elf’s brow as he pulled the bow string with reluctance. If something was going to come out of the trees, he wanted to be prepared. Alright…calm down, there is nothing to be afraid of, it’s just a beast said the elf in his mind trying to ease his nerves. But, in spite his feeble attempts to control his emotions, Deleith could simply not get his body to any move. He was frozen in place.

His legs became unsteady and a knot formed in his stomach. A sinister thought entered his mind, but he quickly pushed it away. No,no,no, that is not going to happen. I only have to…I need to… Another angry squeal penetrated the silence, causing the elf to shudder. The distance between him and the origin of the noise was shrinking. Finding no inner strength to defend himself, the bow and the arrow fell from the elf’s trembling hands. He then lowered his body to the ground, trying to make himself as small as possible. I ca…I can’t do that. What have I got myself into this time?

The elf's emotions plunged to the most horrific panic and he simply sat there, waiting for the worst to happen. He heard footsteps. It was getting ever closer to finding him.

The sound of footsteps stopped suddenly. Deleith opened his eyes, a spark of hope igniting in his soul. The wind shifted its direction and was now blowing from the beast’s direction. A slight, unrecognizable sound to the elf’s ears could be heard coming from above. A few moments later, the amplitude of the sound increased, raising Deleith’s attention. His body was still shivering and his mind drifted elsewhere. Because of that, he could not concentrate enough to locate the source of this strange sound which seemed to be getting closer and closer.

In the blink of an eye , something big passed by. Deleith could only catch a glimpse of the winged beast when it passed by his head and turned left, as if it was preparing to return. It was a deep orange, a color Deleith had never seen on an animal before. The prey of this new beast was not far from the elf, and it started to move. Out of pure instinct, Deleith picked his bow up from its place on the ground together with the arrow and clumsily tried to position the arrow in the string of the bow. He almost succeeded when a squeal of agony rippled through the forest, causing Deleith to drop the bow and close his eyes while he instinctively put his hands above his head.

An impulse which he was not aware forced him to get up from his position. As he jumped from behind the tree, the elf witnessed something that gave him the biggest fright of his life. The winged orange beast was bigger than it had first appeared, and a boar-like creature was firmly held in its hind paws. He continued to follow the winged, orange creature with his awe-struck eyes until it slowly vanished away from his sight, leaving the speechless elf standing in a puddle of his own urine.

Deleith took a few moments to recover from his recent shock and to regain his senses. A fortunate circumstance had probably just saved his life, but he could not process it just yet. He wiped the sweat off his brow with an unsteady hand and sighed. Fate has been kind to me this day. It is a sign that it is time for a change if I am to be a successful hunter from now on, Deleith thought, as the grip on his bow strengthened for a moment, only to stop a few moments later. Searching for something in his bag, the elf gestured something, as if he tried to prepare for his departure. I should return to Eraniel and inform him about what happened. It’s not my problem anymore. He can just roam around these woods as much as he likes, as I care little about his suicidal tasks. If this is his way to get rid of me, then I will show him that he is in for a surprise. Placing the bow at the side of his arm, the elf started to move, still a bit shaken from the recent events.

So, Deleith succumbs to his fear when he is face to face with a nagra. To be honest, nagras are dangerous beings, but Deleith did not even try to let an arrow loose. Maybe it was bullseye. With yet another failure adding to his previous ones, will he be able to come face to face with Eraniel?
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PostSubject: Re: The Dragon War   Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:35 am

Here is the full chapter 24, which is not that long as I have decided to split it into two chapters rather than having one huge one. You might see why I did this after I post the next chapter, which will contain the proper lecture. You will understand more after you read this one, and even more after I post the next chapter. Enjoy Smile

Chapter 24: Learning the Basics

Few weeks have passed since Sinedar has made his first, unsure steps in his first flying lessons. During this time, the golden dragon showed the early signs of yet another step towards maturity. Sinedar’s communication skills have now developed, allowing him to communicate mentally with his parents. Out of pure joy, Serkath and his mate had decided to accompany Sinedar while he was exploring his territory, an action that each hatchling had to do with the coming of age. The ability to communicate with his parents also decreased the difficulty of the flying lessons, as advices were most welcome for the young dragon. Thanks to that, Serkath could instruct his son more effectively when it came to the usage of muscles and the position needed for taking off. However, that did not work, for his son was too young and his body was not prepared for such fatiguing tasks, so Serkath approached this situation differently: he asked his son to run and build enough speed so that the strain on his wings would diminish and acquire more stamina.

After many days of failing attempts, Sinedar learned on the hard way that what is said in theory is much harder to be put into practice. Even if he grasped the concept behind a successful launch off the ground, it was hard for his poorly developed muscles to withstand the strain put on his body by a maneuver like this one. Understanding the reason of his failures was a crucial part in his training, and under the guidance of his father, the golden dragon went through rigorous training to increase his physical prowess and stamina. In the end, his efforts paid off and after days of hard work, Sinedar finally managed to take off the ground without too much trouble. The young dragon was also capable of flying in a straight line for a limited amount of time before fatigue claimed his body.

With the passing of time, the dragons focused mainly on further developing the young dragon’s flying capabilities, which came as a great asset in case of danger.

Only the landscape remained seemingly untouched by the time that seemed to have lost its forbearance.

The howling wind crept its way trough every obstacle that lied in its path, shaping wave-like patterns in the snow that covered the whole land. No matter from which direction you looked, everything was white, the nature’s white blanket covering even the taller mountains.

Only the trunks of the trees added a degree of color to the monotonous landscape, making it look like a brown dotted white chocolate. Their branches appeared to bend down under the weight of the fluffy snow that rested on the tiny, emerald needles.

Sometimes, the wind would impact with such a force on the strained branches, causing them to stir for a bit and cause the white burden to suddenly drop on the ground with a BUF.
The sun has slowly made it’s ascent in the sky announcing the start of a new day and coloring it with multiple shades of orange and pink. Its pale rays descended on the ground and touched the fresh snow, causing it to sparkle like a fine gemstone.

Silence prevailed over the land, the inhabitants of the forest remaining hidden in their burrows or hibernating to conserve their energy until the harsh winter passed. Two dragons, whose beautifully glistening hides adding a much-needed speck of color, caused the only disturbance in the whitish, monotone colored landscape.

Are you ready for yet another lesson, my son? Today, you will be put through a test of endurance. The strain your wings will be put under will certainly make you contest your decision to keep going, but you must not quit. Remember the advices I presented to you earlier and you should be able to cover a distance greater than you ever managed to achieve before, growled Serkath playfully, his eyes fixed on the golden dragon in front of him. With two powerful flaps of his wings, the sapphire dragon launched himself into the air, the gust of air sending snow flying.

A test of endurance? Does that mean that I have to fly until the last of my forces are depleted? How will I be able to put to use all what I have learned from you in practice when I probably won’t be able to come back to the ground? asked Sinedar slyly as he looked towards the vast sky, a bit reluctant of what he was about to do. This was the first time when his parents and his father especially insisted his strength to be tested this way. However, they were not the harsh type with him and, although he made quite a lot of mistakes, Sinedar always earned their forgiveness and advices. Determined to prove himself to his parents, the golden dragon shook his head and pushed his body upwards, flapping his wings with enough speed to gain altitude.

That was a sharp observation. I’m pleased to know that you paid attention to all what I told you about flying. However, you shouldn’t worry about the landing yet. If something is amiss, I will be close by and assist you if the need arises, answered his father after a short while and veered to the left with Sinedar closely following his moves, despite the distance between the two of them.

The chilling wind began to pick up speed, blowing relentlessly against the golden dragon who braved against the harsh weather. The sapphire dragon in front of him didn’t change his direction, and Sinedar realized that this must be yet another test he has to go through. Snorting in irritation, Sinedar flapped his wings slightly faster to nullify the force exerted by the elements at the cost of extra fatigue. In addition to the annoyance factor, the harsh wind was slowly draining his body temperature, causing his limbs to shiver as the muscles tried to preserve the body heat while his mind slowed down due to the biting cold. His father, on the other hand, seemed to have no problem with it as he kept flapping his wings at a steady pace as if it was a sunny day. Instead of feeling envious because of his father’s flying abilities, Sinedar growled with ambition and increased his speed in spite of his aching muscles. Pain was only his enemy who would not allow him to show how strong he is, and impressing his father was something the golden dragon looked forward to ever since he learned how to fly.

Are you trying to catch up with me despite these harsh conditions, little one? I have to admit that’s something I did not expect at this time, growled Serkath with amusement as he craned his neck to look at the trailing dragon who was desperately trying to cover distance.

Annoyed by this remark, Sinedar emitted a high-pitched roar. Aren’t you pleased because you have competition? The sapphire dragon let out a loud roar at his son’s excuse and slowed down a little, apparently rewarding Sinedar for his strong will to surpass himself. A squeak of happiness escaped Sinedar as the golden dragon flapped his wings with enthusiasm so that he was able to fly by his father’s side like an equal. Even if Sinedar knew his mediocre flying skills would never surpass his father’s, his doubts were often washed away by the sapphire dragon’s reassuring words. It was also that the blue dragon would only allow him to fly by his side when he had something of importance to add, usually a meaningful lesson.
By reading through his father’s actions, Sinedar realized that there may be more than meets the eye, and he was eager to find out if his father had something to say about him and what he thought to be the recent test he had to go through.

As soon as he reached his father’s side, Serkath eyed him, a glint of fortitude in his eyes. As if he readed his son’s thoughts, he offered Sinedar exactly what he needed, One day, you will become a great flier. Of that, I have no doubt. But every one of us has to start somewhere, my son. As hatchling, we start with nothing but our will for guidance and your will alone is enough to shape things marvelously. As your parents, we can only guide you, and because of that the decisions you make rest on your shoulders. It is important to know this, for one day, you will find great benefit in knowledge.

Sinedar was greatly impressed by the trust his father displayed when it came to his skills. There was truth in his words, yet doubt would still continue to exist in his heart until a certain point in his life. Still, a question kept scratching at the back of his mind: Could that be true? Was he truly a capable flier? His parents often told him stories about how they learned how to fly, and Sinedar was particularly interested in the ones where, through either bravery, stupidity or shear recklessness, his parents had managed to impress their tutors, one way or another. If they did it, then he could also do it, and there was no doubt about it, for the same blood ran through his body.

The feeling to prove himself to his father has thickened its roots after he heard his father’s advice, and Sinedar was now ready to continue the legacy of his parents of doing something either brave or stupid . With a shaky determination, Sinedar growled with courage, both to prepare himself for what he was about to do and with the purpose of clearing the doubts that kept assaulting him. Trying to come up with something, the golden dragon realized that this could very well prove to be the opportunity to pass the boundaries of the usual lessons where they were flying at a lower altitude. These lessons were for very small hatchlings, and he knew a lot more about flying than he did in the past. In the end, why did the altitude matter at all?

Flapping his wings with enough force to conquer the biting wind that was now blowing against them, the golden dragon slowly made his ascent as multiple forces collided with his small body. Being tired of wasting so much energy to ascend like his father taught him, Sinedar decided to involve some risk into his plan by positioning his body almost vertically, so that the drag caused by the rising currents would diminish. It became increasingly hard for him to fight the harsh winter wind as he gained more and more distance from the snow covered forest below, and panic started to settle in as the young dragon learned a lesson based on his experience about flying at higher altitudes. The air currents were different compared to the lower altitude ones: they were more powerful, more savage, and more important: unpredictable.

Not being used to flying at high altitudes, Sinedar soon found himself being pushed in indifferent directions by the erratic air currents. He tried to maintain his flying path by flapping his wings as powerful as he could, but he was barely struggling. The hatchling tried to change his direction quickly so he would reduce the drag, but it ended in failure when a powerful gust of wind buffeted him, causing him to lose his sense of direction.

Panicking, with his wings aching and his strength almost depleted, Sinedar glided downwards, attempting to get out of that chaotic area where he was at the mercy of the air currents.

The little dragon tried to pull back, but it was already too late. A rush of wind impacted with his body and completely derailed his flight path, sending him rolling towards the ground like a rag doll. Sinedar roared in despair when he realized that he had no control over his body and closed his eyes instinctively, preparing for the worst as he awaited the terrible consequences of his actions.

In the distance, a loud roar alerted Sinedar, a roar that could belong only to his father. It was the sound of safety in this moment, and the golden dragon has never been so grateful to be with his father than in this moment. Feeling more secure already, the small dragon opened his eyes, only to notice the fast approaching silhouette of his father who was rushing to his rescue. However, the forest was now even closer and the sapphire dragon was still far away. Roaring in fear, Sinedar again closed his eyes as he prepared to hit a tree any time from now on. Luckily, it was not to be, for his father’s intervention was right on time.

A yelp of surprise escaped Sinedar as his body made contact with a rough, scaly surface. He suddenly stopped for some reason. The young dragon slowly opened his eyes, feeling unusually safe. And there was a good reason for him to feel that way. The ivory claws betrayed the identity of the one who has probably saved him from what could turn out to be a fatal landing.

Sinedar's father is quite vigilant, isn't he? After all, that is his purpose as a parent. How glad must Sinedar be for his father's presence, else he would have been a pile of bones right now.

The next chapter is going to continue with this flashback and end it with a meaningful lecture from which Sinedar learns more and more about dangers, how to avoid them and if it is a way to suppress his erratic decisions.
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The Dragon War

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