Oh my goodness, I have been away from this story for a long time. I am truly sorry about the long wait for an update. I was working on my other story, while suffering from writers block on this one. This will be the final chapter of this story, but be assured, I do have other ideas just begging to be written, for those who would like to read more of my work. Please read and review.
Alfred found his old fighters armor in the cellar of the house, and put it on, after sharpening his weapons, and deciding to let Shen use his new sword. The one that he never used, favoring his old one.
Brenda had gone quickly on their horse, to alert the paladins nearby that a drow raiding party was headed toward the town.
"Shen," Alfred said as he sent the cows to the back pasture, behind the farm, up in the hills, "Any idea how many are headed for us."
"Forty, maybe fifty," Shen answered. She was now dressed in an old pair of Alfred's pants, which were tucked into her boots, and an old men's top. The sun had began to rise over the hills.
"Oh my God," Alfred said in disbelief. "You really think that many will come here to find one person."
"I sense that many of their presence nearby," She answered. "Maybe we should run."
"No," Alfred said. "I will not let anyone overthrow this farm. Besides, if we don't stay and fight, they will likely just keep chasing us."
Brenda came home, and climbed off the horse's back before tying the animal to the fence.
"The paladins are aware of the situation," she said. "I think that the man in charge over there blames Shen for this whole mess."
"Forget what he says," Alfred told her stubbornly. "None of it is her fault."
"So," Brenda asked. "What do we do now."
"We wait," Alfred told her, as Shen looked up, determination on her face.
The day passed slowly on the farm. Brenda, always practical one told her husband and her house guest to go to bed. She said that , having been up all night, they needed to sleep. Shen and Alfred looked at each other doubtfully, both unsure how a person could even hope to sleep with a battle close at hand. Nevertheless, both of them headed for their beds. Shen reasoned as she lay down, that her people must already be near enough to launch an attack, but would likely wait until sunset, because they would have trouble doing much in the bright sunlight. Shen pulled the blankets up over her head, and lay in bed for a while, almost ready to give up on the idea of sleeping.
Brenda's shriek of terror made her jump out of bed, and onto the floor, after nearly an hour. She picked up her weapon , which she had put by the bedroom door, and ran down the stairs. She found no one in the kitchen, and saw the back door open. Her sword ready in her hand, Shen walked outside to the garden.
The drow warrior looked straight at her, as she came around the side of the house. His arms held Brenda firmly, and she struggled futilely, trying to free herself from his firm grip. The male fighter eyed Shen with a triumphant, cocky look, and she took notice of the fact that the young man had not even bothered to draw a weapon. His sword was still safely strapped to his belt. She reasoned that he would not be able to reach for it now, without one arm letting go of Brenda. The drow looked right at Shen's weapon and still did not react. Shen took several steps toward him, hoping that he would let go of Brenda, to grab his sword. He just stared her down, and Brenda stood trembling in fear, still caught in his grasp. Shen advanced toward him, and suddenly, with lightening speed, he threw Brenda to the ground, and drew his weapon in a single motion. Shen, who had been anticipating, and even hoping for that move, was ready, and met his sword with hers. The weapons hit together in the air above their heads, before Shen had hers down in front of her, ready to deflect the next blow, which she knew he would make on her.
"We should have known that a strange one like you would side with surface dwellers," he said in fury, as he struggled to take her down.
"Oh, and our city sent you to find me," Shen said. "I wish you all the luck in the world."
"I look forward to seeing you killed by our mother... dear sister," the warrior growled, as he tried to make a grab for her arms. "I have wanted for many long years to see you killed. You give the drow a bad name, with your... your... kindheartedness."
"It's just to bad you were ordered brought back alive," he went on as their blades met again. "I would have liked to kill you at this moment, Shen' Meshee, renegade priestess."
"You don't know what you are saying, brother" Shen said calmly, her weapon deflecting another blow.
"You interrupted something very important to me, by the way, sister," the fighter said, as Shen lowered her weapon to listen. "You see, myself and a few of my fellow fighters decided on the way up here, that it would be fun to catch a human woman to have some fun with. The farmers wife seemed like a good one to catch. We wanted to take her with us for a ways and torture her. You see, we would all be in major trouble for beating up a drow female, but some human would not be..."
"How could you even think of that," Shen roared as her sword made contact with her brothers head, while he was off his guard.
"You even lay one hand on her and you will be sorry," she went on, as he put his hand to his bleeding head.
"She's not worth anything in the world," the drow male said in a cocky voice. "She's just the wife of some farmer. She..." his speech was cut short when Shen's sword went though his chest. Behind Shen, Brenda, who had stayed where the drow had thrown her down, gasped in shock. She had not understood the words the two had spoken in their home language. She had only seen the two arguing, before Shen had killed one of her fellow drow. Brenda let Shen pull her to her feet, and she was quick to take the advice she gave her, to run for the house. Brenda did not know how to fight, and she knew that she would be safer inside.
"Where's Alfred," she asked Shen as she ran. Shen shook her head, unknowing, as the entire drow raiding party spilled onto the lawn. Brenda gasped in shock, at their sheer numbers, and knew that she could not just run away. She guessed that at least forty angry drow raiders had come, and her hands shook as she picked up the ax by the fence. Her eyes met those of the drow cleric who walked toward Shen, intending to sneak up on her from behind.
"Shen, Look out," she shouted. The young drow turned quickly, noticed the cleric, and swung at her with her sword. The cleric cast a globe of darkness over the two of them, and Shen crashed to the ground, after falling over the roots of a tree. The cleric laughed wickedly as she grabbed Shen, and began to drag her backwards toward the group of angry drow behind her. She was stopped suddenly, when Alfred's sword knocked her to the ground, dead before she hit the grass. Shen and Alfred turned then, and went to defending themselves against the advancing raiding party. Both made several swings with their swords and took out a few of the front members of the party. More kept coming however, and soon, Alfred found himself disarmed. His weapon had been knocked from his hands, by a furious drow fighter. She stared him down, her eyes full of flaming rage. Even in the bright sun, she had still managed to disarm an experienced swordsman. Alfred suddenly felt his mind fill with fear and doubt, as he bent to pick up his sword. The drow were moving away from him, and he wondered why. Unwilling to push his luck by perusing them, he went to find Brenda, who had wisely hidden behind a wheel barrow, the old ax in her hands, just in case she was found.
"Where's Shen," she asked, letting him pull her to her feet.
"That way," Alfred pointed toward the empty field behind them.
"Oh dear," he muttered, "where is she."
"Gone," Brenda said in panic rushing forward.
"Shen," Alfred called, running into the field, Brenda fallowing.
"Where did the drow go," she asked, fearing the worst.
"They all seem to have gone, as quickly as they came," Alfred answered. "I think they took Shen with them."
"They were gone as quickly as they came," Brenda said sadly. "I would have to agree that Shen was taken with them."
"Dead or alive, I am left to wonder," Alfred said next. Brenda of course, had not been able to understand the words that Shen had had with the drow male, before killing him. She therefore could not know of the raiders' orders to bring her back alive.
"I don't know what to do," she said. "I don't think we'll ever see her again."
"I can't believe how fast they came and went," Alfred answered sadly.
"I'm going to take a look around," Brenda told him. "Maybe I can track her down still."
"I'll go the other way," Alfred answered. "You're right to want to keep looking. We can't just give up on her."
Brenda began to run one way across the farm, while her husband went another. She ran passed the old oak tree, and remembered how Shen used to try to climb to the top of it. She hoped now beyond hope, that the young drow had made it up the tree. She doubted very much that most other drow would know how to climb up after her. Brenda saw and heard nothing in the tree though. She rushed over to the farm fence and stood in dismay and despair, seeing nothing.
"Brenda," she heard Alfred shout from across the farm. She began to run in the direction of his call. Nothing could have prepared her for what she would find.
Alfred had finally found Shen lying curled up in front of the fence, separating the backyard from the field. Brenda came over to find her still on the ground, blood covering her clothing. Her eyes were closed and Brenda could barely see the raise and fall of her chest as she breathed slowly.
"I wonder why they left her like this," she said to her husband.
"They may have thought that she was dead," Alfred answered, "or they just did what they could before they were driving off, and left her to die."
"Who drove them off?" Brenda asked. "I didn't see anyone come around here."
"I think, on second thought, that they may have simply retreated on their own," Alfred replied. He looked over Shen's body, and tried to find out where all the blood was coming from. He could see it continue to soak her shirt from what seemed to be an injury to her chest. Blood came from many other places to, and the farmer looked at his wife in helplessness.
"This is awful," Brenda said, shaking with panic and shock. "I don't think we can save her."
"We can't give up, Brenda," Alfred said. He looked again at Shen. She lay, still curled up on the grass. Her back was turned partly away from him, and her head faced mostly up to the sky. Her eyes were still squeezed tightly shut, and her hands were clenched in fists. She did not make even the smallest movement, or make a sound, even though she must have heard the two of them talking, and been aware of their presence.
"Shen," Brenda said, "please look at us." She fought back tears of fright and rage.
The young drow finally opened her eyes and looked up at the setting sun. Her eyes filled with sudden panic, as she realized for the first time that she was badly hurt. Her eyes struggled to focus on Brenda and Alfred.
"I... Don't think... I," she muttered only somewhat audibly. She tried to turn toward them, and Brenda carefully moved her into her back, her head still tilting partly upward.
"I... don't think I will... see another sunrise..." Shen said, sounding not sad at the thought of dying, but instead resigned to her fate. "I only wonder... what awaits a renegade drow in the next life."
"I'm sure great things await one like you," said Brenda, "but none of that matters, because you may well see another five hundred years here. Drow live a long time, and you are still a young one yet. I think that it will all work..."
"Please don't lie to me, Brenda," Shen said with sudden forcefulness. "I am not afraid to go to the next world. Why not simply acknowledge what we all must know?" She stared up at the clouds forming in the sky overhead. Her eyes remained open but Alfred and Brenda doubted that she really saw much.
"You better run you little good for nothing trouble makers," a voice said suddenly behind them, over the loud neigh of a horse. The farmer and his wife turned to see the white horse rearing up wildly, with the paladin, Aliemina Suresong holding the reigns tightly in one hand, while the other placed her longsword back into her weapon belt. She steadied the horse and jumped to the ground.
"The last few of the drow were just driven off by me, when I caught them looting your house," she said straightening her metal helmet. "Those awful elves are terribly opportunistic most of the time. I don't think the four of them found much of value that they were able to make off with." The paladin keeled on the ground beside Brenda and Alfred.
"Oh my god," she said out loud, looking at Shen, "this young one is certainly in trouble here."
"What can we do?" Brenda asked in desperation, looking up at Aliemina.
"We must get her inside," the paladin answered. She looked at Alfred, "can you carry her?"
Alfred gave a quick nod of agreement, and tried to slide his arms under Shen's body to lift her into his arms. The badly injured drow screeched in pain and terror, and Alfred gave up his efforts to move her for a moment, and looked down at her, certain that she did not know who he was.
"Shen," he said quietly.
"Huh..." the drow muttered. "I don't..."
"Okay," Alfred said in determination, "let us try again. I am going to take you inside."
"Wh... what? Where are we..." she muttered her voice barely audible. Alfred lifted her up into his arms, and she stayed where he put her, her head resting limp against his body, and her arms hanging down toward the ground. He reached the house and ran inside, putting Shen carefully down on the floor in the living room, near the fireplace, on some bedding that his wife had quickly thrown down there. He looked around in anger at the damage done to his house by drow raiders, before catching himself, and reminding himself not to worry about that right then. Aliemina and Brenda quickly began to pull off Shen's light armor, then her footwear. Brenda panicked momentarily at the blood that was showing on the drow's white hair.
Aliemina tried her best her create enough healing energy to heal the young drow's massive injuries, and gave up after several unsuccessful tries.
"I'm just not strong enough," she said in a tone filled with regret.
"It isn't your fault," Brenda said. "I just cannot believe the heartless blood lust of her people. It seems that they came to either kill her, or to bring her home to be killed."
"Awful indeed," the paladin agreed, her hands shaking.
Shen did not speak anymore. She just lay on the bedding, warmed by the heat from the fire. Brenda wrapped her in the blankets, and sat staring down at her. She recalled her life of wanting a daughter and how she had ended up with only two sons instead. She loved her boys of course, but had always wanted a girl to teach the role of a woman to. She had come to value Shen very much, as her honorary daughter.
Looking at her now, with her eyes closed, and her hands folded tightly together by her head, she was greatly saddened to know that all they could do would never be enough to save her. She stared down at the doomed young drow as the life left her body, and knew that she would be curtain to go to some place much better than the dark world in which she had grown to womanhood.
Shen was buried the next morning beneath the oak tree in the back yard behind the farmhouse wearing Brenda's old dress, and her blue robes, which Brenda had turned into an autumn traveling cloak a week before as the surprise for her, but had never had the chance to give her.
The drow raiders must have been satisfied that their job had been done well enough, because the family, and the village were never again bothered. The elderly Swiftfoot couple was sure that Shen would have been pleased to know that her death had saved many of the surface dwellers, that she could never bring herself to hate, as her forsaken people did.
Well there you have it. The end. And a sad end it was too. I hope everyone enjoyed reading this piece. For all those who reviewed, my sincerest of thanks for the input.