Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Green Heart|
I hadn’t expected Aveline to continue to follow me and stay with me but she did. She wasn’t clinging, she was just there. She seemed to enjoy the pattern of steps I began to teach her. The dwarves adjusted and fitted one of the star silver chains shirts for her. I gave her the two moon stone hilted long knives and a set of curved short swords from the ranger armory.
She also began to practice with a smaller bow. It was winter when we started south to the Green Heart. I shifted my pack and glanced at Aveline as she took a deep breath. I smiled and turned to move off the road and head into the forest. She mostly kept her bow over a shoulder and walked with her sling out and ready.
It was a week later when we turned to the southeast. We were skirting a meadow in the early afternoon. We both had our bows ready since Aveline had already killed a few birds for our dinner. I slowed beside a tree and looked to the right across the meadow. She followed my look and I slipped my pack off and nocked an arrow after hearing guttural voices.
The pack of orcs walked out and headed towards us and I shot the leader in the chest. There was a roar as the whole pack began moving. Aveline was shooting and killing orcs beside me. We killed at least a dozen apiece before I tossed my bow into a bush. I pulled my short swords and stepped into the pattern dance as Aveline called it.
I took a wrist off and stabbed another orc before killing the first and moving on. She was fighting with her short swords and following the pattern as she slashed and cut her way through the orcs. We moved apart and came together to block and kill those facing the other. I took an orc’s head as it tried to move past me and then we were moving apart again.
I let a sword slid along mine as I deflected it and cut open the orc’s belly and kept moving. I killed the last one facing me with two strokes, one to take his arm and the other his head. I looked across at Aveline and she was looking around at all the bodies between us. I knelt to use the snow and a rag from a dead orc to clean my weapons.
We pulled our arrows out and broke any weapon we found on the orcs before leaving. I headed for the ruins of an ancient elven fortress abandoned late in the first millennium. Most of the walls were broken and the roofs had fallen in. I moved through it and towards where the practice area should be.
In one corner the roof still covered part of a walkway. We set our pack down and the bows and quivers before I moved out and began scrapping snow and debris away from the barely visible foot prints. We cleared the entire pattern before I nodded to Aveline. She smiled as she pulled her long knifes and stepped onto the first print.
We were both surprised when the ghostly image appeared and started moving through the pattern. Aveline followed it smoothly and I sighed before turning and going to explore. The armory had been broken into long ago but I was just exploring. I was in what was left of the master’s chambers when I noticed a long crack in the wall.
I had been in the room on the other side and there was no crack. I moved around the large hole in the floor and looked through the crack. I could see what looked like a chest and stepped back to look at the wall. I jumped and climbed up and looked over and down into a narrow room. I climbed over and down and moved carefully to the chest and looked it over.
I could tell it was old, the wood had turned to stone and I slowly lifted the lid. Inside was two short swords made of star silver with green enameled hilts. There was also a choker type of necklace made from star silver that sparkled with emeralds. I took the swords and the necklace before looking around, “thank you.”
I climbed out and made my way back to the practice area. Aveline had finished and laid out our sleeping furs and the light but insulated blankets. I caught her and she looked at me in surprise as I put the choker on. I turned her as she touched it and pulled the two swords out of my belt. Her eyes widened as I removed her swords and replaced them.
I smiled as I went to place her old swords on my pack and then start making dinner. I woke in the middle of the night. I shifted out of the bed before pulling Reaper as I moved to an open spot in one wall. I stood to one side as I looked out and down to see another band of orcs. They weren’t following us but were headed to the east.
When they were gone I returned to bed and slowly relaxed. The next two days were spent moving through thick falling snow. We avoided a couple of large bands of orcs and I was ready to set up camp until it stopped snowing or at least lessened enough to see. That was when we walked out of the storm and up against the wooden palisades of a town.
We moved around to the gate and banged until it was opened. There was only one tavern and it was crowded. I set our packs to one side and ordered two large bread bowls of stew. While we ate I listened to the talk of a band of rogues and brigands on the road to the east. That was the direction we were headed so I asked how large this band was.
No one seemed to know, it varied from a dozen to a hundred. We slept in the common room after warm baths. It actually felt comfortably and warm and I know Aveline slept through the night. The storm had passed by morning and we had large bowls of warm porridge before leaving.
It was noon and we were struggling through deep snow on the road when I stopped and glanced around, “men watching the road ahead from the right.”
Aveline nodded, “a few are on the other side too.”
I removed my pack and pulled an arrow out. She copied me, “think these are the bandits they talked about?”
I nodded as I continued to watch and wait. Men yelled as they charged out of the brush and ran towards us through the snow. I put an arrow in the one leading as Aveline picked off those on the other side of the road charging us. As deep as the snow was they were struggling and I killed a dozen before they decided to run away.
Of course by then it was to late and I continued to put arrows in them until the last fell. I glanced at Aveline, “get your arrows and I’ll watch.”
When she returned she gestured and I put the arrow in my bow away as I headed into the deep snow. The weapons the men had were old and rusty so it was easy to break them. When I returned to the road we put our packs on and I began breaking the trail through the snow on the road again.
It was six weeks before we walked into the thick stone walls of Saladen’s Keep. This was a town on the edge of the Green Heart. We stopped at the tavern and I paid for a room. We soaked for an hour in a tub of hot water. After we got out we had a large bowl of hot soup and slices of bread, cheese and roast venison.
We slept in a small room with a fire burning to keep us warm. We were up early and had toasted bread with thick slices of cheese before leaving. The road out of the town and through a gate was watched by a few elves in thick winter coats. As we approached the gate they moved out and blocked our way.
One looked us over, “your business?”
I pushed the hood back on my cloak, “is mine.”
He snorted, “humans are not always welcome...”
Another put his hand on his shoulder, “remove your hood woman.”
Aveline reached up and pushed it back and they hissed and one touched his sword. I growled, “pull it and you will die.”
They looked at me and another laughed suddenly, “look at the hilt of his sword.”
I glanced at him as the others frowned. He moved forward, “think. Green bow, two short swords, twin long knives with blue hilts. Blue sapphires in the two handed hilt of his sword.”
He grinned, “Gilbert’s mate will wish to... speak to him.”
They laughed and I grinned, “he made it back?”
He nodded, “and has began his campaign.”
I laughed and looked at Aveline before I sighed, “Aveline has renounced the dark path and I am taking her into the Green Heart to your people.”
They looked at her and one took a step closer before moving the edge of her cloak to see the long knife, “I recognize those.”
I smiled, “her father’s and I gave them to her after I killed him.”
They stiffened and the one next to her cleared his throat, “are you sure?”
I snorted as I started walking, “I put a long knife through his throat and into his brain before I ripped his throat out.”
Aveline followed as I walked out and headed towards the forest. The way narrowed as the trees closed in on the road. I glanced at her, “sorry.”
She glanced at me and smiled, “I wish I could have killed him.”
I reached for her hand and gave it a squeeze before letting go, “lets see if you can find a few birds for our supper.”
She laughed and glanced at me, “a challenge?”
I grinned, “you have won the last thirty.”
She looked around before shouldering her bow. It was a couple of days later and we were under thick drooping branches of an evergreen tree. I had started the fire to cook our dinner when I heard baying. I glanced around as I reached for my bow, “get your bow.”
I moved out and away from the tree as I watched the forest around us. I nocked an arrow as Aveline joined me and barely a moment later a worg howled and another burst out of a bush. I put my arrow through its chest and then orcs and worgs were pouring out and rushing towards us. Worgs surged ahead and died as our arrows met them.
Time slowed as I emptied my quiver before tossing my bow and reaching for Reaper. I brought it around and down into the neck of a leaping worg, “REAPER!”
There was a shock wave that flowed out and into the rushing orcs as I took the head of the beast. I brought the sword back and up to rip through the throat of another worg. I stepped into the pattern as Aveline pulled her two short swords and followed. I almost cut an orc in half and took the arm from another as I turned and moved to the left.
Aveline went right and killed two as she flowed like water through the orcs. I slashed under the arm of another orc and the blade came out the far shoulder in a shower of blood and gore as I spun. I stabbed into the head of a worg and twisted as I began to moving to the right. Aveline slipped behind and past me a few moments later.
She killed the last worg and the orc rider as a horn blew and arrows slashed through the air and into the orcs. I cut open one and turned to lunge and impale another attacking Aveline. She slid aside as one sword absently flicked out to cut the orc’s throat. The orcs turned to flee as more arrows slashed into them.
I looked around to see the bloody battlefield and the fleeing orcs before I knelt and began cleaning my sword. A couple of dozen of elves ran out of the trees to chase after the orcs. Another group walked out and started towards us. I checked my sword, “you okay?”
Aveline nodded as she finished cleaning her swords. I stood and rolled the sword over and around my wrist before bring it up and over my shoulder. I slipped it into the sheath and turned and moved to the closest worg. I pulled a folding knife from a slit pocket and snapped it open as I knelt.
An elf cleared his throat and I glanced at him before starting to skin the worg, “yes?”
He coughed, “we were worried you wouldn’t leave any orcs for us.”
I glanced at him as Aveline joined me and began helping, “your help was welcome.”
He gestured, “what are you doing?”
I went back to skinning the worg, “skinning it.”
I squatted, “why?”
I looked at him and raised an eyebrow and he blushed, “never mind.”
He looked at Aveline, “why have you and this... dark sister come to the Green Heart?”
I shifted and gestured to Aveline before rolling the worg onto its other side, “she renounced the dark path.”
He was quiet as we finished and rolled up the hide. I gestured to Aveline, “our supper has probably burned.”
She turned, “I will find our bows and salvage what I can.”
I watched her head towards the trees and moved to the next worg. The elf followed and began to help, “what is your name human?”
I glanced at him, “the other rangers call me Blade.”
He looked at me and then laughed, “Gilbert’s kite flyer.”
I smiled, “they were fun.”
It took an hour with the other elves helping skin the worgs. Aveline had managed to save our dinner and the elves not only returned our arrows but traveled with us. It was another week before we walked into the strange and beautiful forest city in the center of the Green Heart. The two dozen worg hides had been cleaned and tanned along the way.
I grinned when I saw Gilbert with a tall slim elf lady. I let the rope go for the sled and strode forward, “Gilbert!”
He smiled, “Blade.”
I hugged him and stepped back to look at the woman, “how is your campaign going?”
He laughed as the woman grinned, “we are still negotiating.”
I bowed and turned as Aveline approached, “I need to see the king.”
Gilbert sighed, “he and the queen are waiting.”
He slapped my shoulder, “I will take the hides home. You will stay with us.”
I nodded and he gestured, “Silver will take you to see his majesty.”
I turned and went to the sled and grabbed my pack before following. Aveline had a set look and I caught her hand, “breathe and follow the steps.”
She glanced at me before squeezing my hand. There were a hundred elves lining the walls as we walked towards the two high backed seats. I stopped a few feet away and nodded, “I am Blade, a ranger from the north. I was in the Frost fortress and heard your dark brothers speaking. They talked of their king’s daughter renouncing the dark path and attempting to escape.”
I looked at Aveline as she looked down, “she was held prisoner and given to a clan leader. I killed the clan leader when I freed her and she helped bring a dozen dwarf prisoners south to freedom.”
I waited and the queen stood and took two steps and lifted Aveline’s face to look into her eyes. She smiled, “welcome home sister.”
Aveline took a deep breath before kneeling. I nodded and looked at the king as I removed my pack. I took the sword and sheath off of the side and unwound the wrappings from the hilt. I heard the murmurs as the hilt was revealed and I slid it out of the sheath. I glanced at the king before holding it out, “he won’t need this anymore.”
He stood and walked to me and accepted the sword before putting the blade back in the sheath. I opened and reached into the pack and pulled out a wrapped cloth. I unfolded it to show the huge frost diamond choker. The king sighed and folded the cloth and took it and I hesitated. I pulled a pouch out of the pack and opened the pouch.
I poured the huge ruby into my hand and there was a gasp that was echoed. I looked at the queen when she pulled a cloth and covered the stone, “when I took it from the wall in the Frost Fortress it did something to me.”
She took the stone carefully, “this is one of the lost Elf Stones. This one is the Elf’s Heart. If you touched it with your bare hands...”
She looked at the king, “he was changed.”
The king nodded and she looked at me, “When we first came to this world we brought five ancient stones given to us at the beginning of time. They were Elf’s Heart, Elf’s mind, Elf’s Strength, Elf’s Vision and Elf’s Spirit. A ruby, sapphire, emerald, diamond and white jade.”
As she spoke I saw and felt a line going from the ruby and away in different directions.
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