Standing before us was a young elf, she was beautiful yet angry. Her intense, golden eyes darted between us with contempt. She appeared to be searching our minds for answers…if we were friends or foes. Her flowing, brunette hair flapped in the blustery winds.
I quickly commandeered her attention with arrow still raised. I needed to know why she tried to kill me…an elf like her.
“We do not harm our own kind without good reason.” I raised an eyebrow in contempt.
She shot me a horrific stare. “Nor do we leave our own to perish alone,” she spat.
I quickly lowered my arrow and released the tension on my bow. “No, we do not.” I replied.
“Who has been attacking this village?” Mecca interjected as he witnessed the devastation.
“The sorcerer.” She replied with furrowed brow. She quickly approached. “And you Commander Tallon have abandoned us. Where is your honor?” The young girl hissed.
Mecca grabbed her by the arm, and she kicked out his legs, knocking him to the snow. She removed her sword reached back and stopped mid swing. My arrow was only a few inches from her nose; once again I was ready to fire.
“Put down the sword.” I calmly commanded. “I think you are misguided young one. Your anger is just, but directed improperly at me when it should be toward the one that brought this chaos to the Outer Realm.” We stared at one another with unwavering resolve. “Tell me of this sorcerer. What is his name?”
I felt a shiver run through my body. I quickly lowered my weapon, gazing at Mecca who shared my fearful expression. Sorcerer LaCroiux had returned. That meant awful things to more than just the Outer Realm in Mistasia.
She led us into the burnt building and through the charred remains of the home it once was…her home, Delza Yorne. She was the elf that Queen Merran had asked us to find here. Delza was to take us to the Deadly Spray Forest to find the lost King and Queen of Mistasia. We never expected to find this upon our arrival.
Delza took us briskly into a narrow passage that dipped below the floor and led through
“What is this place, Delza?” I asked.
“The Outer Realm has long been the furthest Elven village away from the castle. We learned long ago that we must protect ourselves from the beasts of Mistasia. This underground shelter provided us that protection from LaCroiux when you didn’t.” Delza’s words stabbed at me.
“I had no idea that your village was under attack…that our people were in danger.”
“Communication has been cut off for some time now. I hoped that you would have noticed and sent warriors to check up on us in the very least, Commander Tallon.” Delza handed her sword to an elderly elf. “Please repair the edges, Elder Smorg.
He nodded and hobbled off to a work station nearby. Instantly, he set to work sharpening the edge of Delza’s blade along a large stone wheel.
“I am sorry, Delza.” I began when I was rudely interrupted.
“Chief Yorne,” She brashly replied looking at me intensely.
I stopped in shock.
“Chief? Who named you chief?” Mecca mocked.
“The people of the Outer Realm,” She soundly retorted. “When it became apparent that our Commander had abandoned us…they named me Chief Commanding Officer overseeing the village and its protection.” Delza left, leaving Mecca and I standing alone.
“What is going on here?” I mumbled in frustration.
“Well, it appears that you can add Chief Yorne to the “not-
“This isn’t funny, Mecca.” I watched as a group of villagers had gathered around Chief Yorne. They muttered and pointed in our direction with looks of disdain and hatred on their faces.
“She has turned them against us.”
“How are we going to get her to help us?” Mecca questioned.
“That will be simple. She may be ‘Chief’ of the Outer Realm,’ but she still is under the control of the Queen of Mistasia.”
Day broke shortly after we had descended into the world under the Outer Realm. We would have to wait for nightfall again before we could venture out for the forest. There was little cover in the light of day between this Elven realm and the horrors of the Deadly Spray Forest.
I had grown eager and impatient, which was why I stood alone in the burnt out home of Chief Yorne peering through a hole in the wall at our objective in the distance. The trees in the Deadly Spray Forest were menacingly tall with branches that hung down like the tentacles of an octopus. They swayed in the wind as though dancing on the horizon, taunting me…laughing at my fear. Horrible creatures lived in that forest; trolls, vampire bats, and now apparently a sorcerer. It would make sense that LaCroiux had made this forest his home. He once lived in Wolverine Forest, but unable to head back there, he found a new place…one with far more hideous creatures to control. From there he could easily attack this village, without even leaving the safety of the trees.
The chill of the air had set into my bones. My breath was exposed as the warm air from my lungs turned to thick white puffs in the freezing air outside. I rubbed my hands together in a vain attempt for warmth. It lasted only a few seconds.
“Grace?” Mecca’s voice called from the tunnel behind me. He wasn’t alone. Chief Yorne walked beside him. They appeared to be in the middle of a conversation…a civil conversation. Mecca did have a way with elves…especially females. His smile entered the room first. I smiled back…I just couldn’t help it. That seemed to catch Chief Yorne by surprise. She gave a forced smile in return and slightly bowed. I did as well out of courtesy, not respect.
The sun had begun to set. The sky was a brilliant array of colors; from pink to orange to purple.
“Chief Yorne, we will be leaving shortly.” I paused for a moment wondering how exactly to broach the subject of her leading us to the Deadly Spray Forest.
“Please, call me Delza. I apologize for how I behaved earlier. I should not have shown you such disrespect.”
“I understand, Delza. You and your people have been through a great deal. I am sorry.”
“I will gather my belongings and be prepared to assist you, Commander Tallon. Mecca has informed me of our mission…ah ‘quest’.” She corrected as she turned to Mecca for reassurance. “At Queen Merran’s request, I will accompany you to the forest.” The Chief nodded again and left.
Mecca and I stood alone in the cold. It was silent. Mecca’s smile was beaming brighter than the sunset.
“Come on, Grace; you can say it.”
“How good I am.”
I chuckled. “Yeah, you’re good alright. Now go get our friends.”
“What would you do without me?” Mecca joked.
“Yes, Mecca I am glad you’re here,” I regretfully replied. He most certainly didn’t need his ego stroked any further. His head might grow so large that he would fall over.
After he left the room, I returned my gaze upon the horizon. I exhaled deeply. The pit in my stomach grew heavier.
“But you, my friend, may soon not be.”
I sat tall upon Fraydorn’s back while Delza climbed up Millessa to join Mecca. Tightening the strap that held my sword, I inhaled sharply. The rush of cold air stabbed my lungs.
“Grace? Are you alright?” Mecca noticed my discomfort.
I nodded, but my chest still hurt. Shaking it off, I grabbed Fraydorn by the reigns and pulled tightly. He lurched into the air and roared. We were off into the darkness.
Just outside the village the winds began to intensify. Snow formed a wall before us, encircling us.
A tornado! Delza called out with telepathy.
She was correct. The snow whipped around us.
“Ahhhhh!” I yelled as Fraydorn charged into the vortex. I was knocked clear from his back in an instant. I heard Fraydorn’s voice call to me as I was whisked away. I landed in a large pile of snow, but the tornado continued to push more on top of my body. It was burying me alive.
Mecca! I called for my friend. There was no answer. The snow kept coming. My legs were buried deep. The wintry wind storm had me pinned down and was now attempting to finish me. I kicked my left leg free, but an angry growl echoed from the tornado as it doused me with a huge wave of white powder. Now, only my face and right arm were free.
A figure suddenly emerged from the swirling winds.
He grabbed hold of my arm in his mouth. The sharp pain from his teeth was a small price to pay for my freedom. Fraydorn yanked me loose. Blood trickled down my arm and dotted the white snow. I slung myself onto Fraydorn’s back and hunched down to avoid the wind knocking me off again.
Fraydorn burst through the vortex of snow and we were ahead of the roaring monster. Millessa rode up beside us with Mecca and Delza still on her back.
The chilling blast of wintry air kept the pain in my arm from throbbing as we raced ahead of the tornado. I turned back to see just how close it was. In the winds was the face of a monster.
“LaCroiux,” I muttered in anger.
Delza noticed too and fired an arrow into his mouth. LaCroiux swallowed it and spat it back at her, narrowly missing. The tornado cackled as it chased us down. There was nowhere to go. We were easy prey for the sorcerer out in the open fields.
Suddenly, I realized our fate. LaCroiux knew that I wouldn’t dare return to the village of innocent elves. The only choice would be to enter the Deadly Spray Forest for shelter. He was driving us right toward him. We ran directly for his trap.