Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Elf Queen

"Alex, did you hear that?"

"Hear what, Sunny?"

"I think someone was calling for help."

Alex frowned. "I think you need to get your ears checked, Sunny. There was no sound."

"No really, Alex. Someone definitely shouted. And--there it is again, from that direction." She pointed deeper into the woods. "Come on! We should check it out. It'll be fun!"

She took his hand, but Alex hesitated. They had already been walking in the woods for a while and he was getting tired of it. Sunny shrugged, dropped his hand, and began jogging in the direction she had indicated. Alex sighed loudly. There was no stopping Sunny once she got something into her head. He jogged after her. Sunny looked back at him and laughed.

After two minutes of straight jogging, Alex was sure Sunny had imagined the sound. After five, he was beginning to think she was crazy. When seven minutes had gone by, he began to worry about getting lost. And when ten minutes passed, he stopped.

"Sunny. Look, I've humored you up till now, but seriously?"

Sunny stopped and turned around. She started to say something, but just then they heard a vicious growl nearby. Sunny immediately sprinted toward the noise. She noticed several arrows on the ground, and picked one up as she was running. She saw in front of her a huge wolf clawing at a small tree. She looked up in the tree and saw a young boy in one of the top branches. The wolf turned from the tree and faced her, baring its teeth. Without stopping to think she continued running straight toward the wolf. The wolf leaped at her, and instinctively she braced her feet, leaned back and slid underneath it, then turned quickly and jumped onto its back. She drew back the arrow to strike, but the wolf threw her off, and she landed on her back in front of the wolf. Immediately she took the arrow in both hands as the wolf jumped toward her. The wolf opened its mouth to tear her throat, and she thrust the arrow in. The wolf fell limp on top of her.

Alex ran up and shoved the wolf aside. "Are you okay?" he asked frantically.

"Wow, yeah. That was...weird," she said, looking at the wolf and wondering where the instincts for fighting like that had come from. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Some sort of fire had awoken inside her, and it had not died down completely. The feeling was good, better than anything she had felt before, and she laughed aloud.

A voice spoke from up in the tree. "Yeah, great job on killing the wolf, but wouldja mind helping the guy with a sprained ankle climb down the tree?"

On hearing his voice, Sunny realized that she had been mistaken to think he was a young boy.

"Sorry," she said quickly. She turned to Alex expectantly.

"What?" he asked as her gaze burned into him. "You want me to climb up there, take him in my arms and then magically climb down without my hands?"

She rolled her eyes at him. A few minutes earlier, maybe her reaction would have been the same. But now, without even thinking twice, she sprang up into the tree and climbed to where he was clinging to the trunk.

"Here, climb onto my back." Carefully and awkwardly he put his arms around her neck. She was surprised at how light he was, and she did not find it too difficult to climb back down again.

"Thank you kindly," said the stranger when they had reached the ground, bowing slightly toward Sunny. "I am called Aidan, and I am in your debt."

He was slightly shorter than Sunny herself, who barely reached more than four and a half feet tall. He was clean-shaven, his eyes were bright green, and he was dressed in brown pants, a white t-shirt, and no shoes (Sunny was barefoot as well). His ears were pointed, and she couldn't help but reach up and feel her own ear that she had always thought was too pointy, though not as severely as his. His eyes followed her hand as she touched her ear, and suddenly they widened. Sunny froze and wondered what she had done wrong.

Alex interrupted their silent exchange. "Wow, Sunny, that was pretty cool. My girlfriend is totally insane! She can climb trees with someone riding piggyback, and she likes to kill wolves with her bare hands!"

"Yes, Sunny," Aidan said slowly, "You are particularly agile for a human. Did you get that from your parents?"

"My mom is actually kind of un-athletic," Sunny responded lightly.

"And your father? Was he big and fat too?" he pressed.

"I don't know. What? My mother is not fat. Just...un-athletic." Sunny began to feel a little excited. "Are you--what are you?"

Aidan stared at Sunny with a piercing look, then glanced at Alex suspiciously, then unexpectedly ran away.

"Wait!" called Sunny. She began to run after him, but Alex caught her hand and held it tightly.

"Alex, we've got to follow him!" Sunny pleaded. She tried to wrest herself from him gently.

"No we don't." Alex looked at her angrily. "We came out this far, we saved his life. That's it. We've done our part."

"But didn't you see him, Alex?" Sunny wrenched her hand from his. "He was my height. Did you see his ears? He was, like, an elf. And, well, he looked like me. Don't you think that could mean something?"

"Don't forget to mention he was uber-creepy!" Alex gave her a smirk. "I mean, you wanna go hang out with someone who's thanks for saving his life is to run off mid-sentence, go for it!"

Sunny gave Alex the coldest look she could muster, then turned away and ran in the direction Aidan had gone. Alex just stood there gaping at her.

After a few minutes, Sunny began to wonder if she was going the right way. She stopped to see if she could discern where Aidan had gone. There was a tall oak nearby, and she decided to climb it to see if she could spot anything. Once at the top, she looked all around. She was amazed to discover that she could see far, much farther than she could normally see. About a mile away in the direction she had been running, she spotted movement. Immediately she dropped from branch to branch to the ground and sped off.

As she neared the spot that she thought she had seen movement, she slowed, and began looking for Aidan. Suddenly an arrow sped toward her heart. Faster than the arrow, Sunny ducked backwards, snatched the arrow out of the air, and started running toward its origin, scanning the woods for sign of the attacker. Another arrow was loosed. Sunny dodged, but this time she saw the bow and its owner, already stringing another arrow. A short female with blue war paint on her face stood about a hundred feet away.

Another arrow streaked through the air, and Sunny jumped and neatly turned a somersault and kept running, pleased at this new skill. The archer looked at her with wonder and fear. Swiftly she turned and ran so quickly that Sunny had trouble keeping up with her. They raced through the forest jumping over thorns and creeks, and sliding between bushes.

Suddenly they came on a river too wide to jump. The woman sped up and leaped into the air, grabbing onto a vine and swinging over the river. Sunny slowed down to look for a way to cross. There were no other vines, and Sunny had never been too good at swimming. But suddenly the vine broke, and the woman crashed into the river near the bank.

Sunny ran up to the bank, but the woman quickly got to her feet, pulled out a knife and jumped on Sunny, forcing her to the ground and holding the knife to her throat. Her teeth were bared as she looked coldly into Sunny's eyes, but slowly the fierceness melted away and turned into surprise and astonishment. She leaped back from Sunny and bowed low.

"Your pardon, your majesty. Forgive my impudence. Do with me what you will." She held out the handle of the knife to Sunny.

Sunny took it, confused. "Do what now?"

"You may dole out your punishment to me for trying to kill you." She stuck her chest out and pulled her dress down slightly to uncover her heart.

"No! What? No! I can't do that!" Sunny shrieked in astonishment when she realized her meaning.

The woman straightened and bowed again. "Your mercy is incredible, my lady. Command me to your will."

Sunny was still reeling in shock, but she managed to stutter, "Um, please tell me your name. And why you were trying to kill me, and then suddenly decided that you wanted to die instead?"

"I am Kiera," she began, "And I shot at you, assuming you were in league with the Green Elves. I am of the Brown Elves. We have been fighting nigh on sixteen years in the absence of the true elven king. It was thought, until now, that he was without an heir. But now it is clear that you are his child."

Sunny's mouth hung open as she heard this. "I'm what? I'm the daughter of an elf king?"

"Yes, your majesty. And if your majesty permits, I have a request."

Sunny laughed at being called "majesty" so many times. "Okay, ask away, but please don't call me your majesty. It's just Sunny."

Kiera bowed. "Of course. Sunny, the elf king--or queen--is the one who keeps the magic of the land in balance. Since your father died around sixteen years ago, the kingdom has been falling into disrepair. All the elves have been fighting over who owns what little of the land is left. But only those of royal blood can heal the land, and even this petty fighting is useless. Without a king or queen, the land will die, and us with it."

Sunny thought about this. "But why should I care? I mean, up until now, I haven't known about this whole world, and I've been quite happy without it."

"Sunny, you must do something. The fighting cannot go on like this. The land must be restored. All of the factions will follow you, if you simply make yourself known to them."

Sunny frowned. "But what about my friends? I can't just leave."

"Your friends?" Kiera asked. 'Do you fit in with them?" Sunny looked at her guiltily. Even though she liked her friends and enjoyed their company, sometimes she wondered how much they really cared about her.

Kiera looked at Sunny seriously. "Sunny, you belong in here, in this world. Did you not feel it as you ran after me and dodged my arrows? This is your true home."

"But there's Alex, too."

"Your majesty. Sunny, you have responsibilities to your people--"

Sunny interrupted. "This is my life we're talking about. I never knew about this! It's not my responsibility, and you can't make it mine!"

Sunny turned and ran toward the place she had left Alex. She thought she heard Kiera following behind her, but she ignored her.

All at once arrows streaked around her from two different directions. There were two groups of elves, one on either side of her. She was running through a battlefield.

Suddenly to her right, an archer stood up and called to her. "Sunny!" It was Aidan.

She turned to look at him, and as she did, an arrow suddenly pierced his heart. Horrified, she turned and ran toward him.

She reached him and kneeled over him. He reached out and grabbed Sunny's arm, and struggled for a moment. A few words escaped his lips. "Please," he managed, "Save your people." Then his hand went limp. Sunny looked up angrily at the archers on the other side. She saw Kiera standing to one side of them, her eyes pleading with Sunny.

Sunny looked down at Aidan. This was no longer a strange people that had nothing to do with her. She slowly stood up and began to walk out into the middle of the fighting. Arrows continued to streak back and forth. One came toward her and she reached out a hand and grabbed it from the air. One by one, the archers dropped their bows and stared in amazement at this stately queen who walked out to reconcile her people.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting story. I guess I'll say the same thing to you as people said to me about the mermaid "short story": this is NOT a short story! This should be a full length one (although, haha, i know you don't want to do that!). Very intriguing and imagination inspiring. Not the best one writing-wise, but of course, I'm a total sucker for elves, so it was great! :) I'd LOVE to go into the woods and suddenly find out I was awesome like that.