Disclaimer: All rights to the Hollow kingdom trillogy belong to Claire B Dunkle. Not me. This is just a loving fan writing stories for the fun of it. ^_^

There is deeply hidden within a forest a small lake. Around this lake grows an expance of tall remarkably, healthy hardwoods. The ground is liberaly carpeted with soft emerald moss and the small splashings of the lake and it's tributaries are a constant reminder of Nature's peace and comfort. The comings and going of the wild ones go un-inhabited by mankind. The mammals, birds, fish and insects have no fear of human beings, for who can say that such a nightmare even exsists? All they knew of were the the ugly strong people who lived beneath the lake, and often scoured the land above after nightfall. The animals never worried about were also the graceful limbed dancers who never took more than they needed, and always repaid that. The animals never worried about them either. The magical beings who had inhabited this land since time unnumeral, were neatly positioned as demi-gods, half animal and half god.

It was one of these creatures that made an uncautious trip to the spring to fetch water as the sun finialy dipped completely over the horizion. With a graceful silent tread the elf stepped through the trees and came to crouch beside the bubbling rocks which poured water to the small pool below. She took a large earthenware jug from beneath her arm, and holding her long brown hair in one hand, dipped the jug with the other. She had completely submerged the jar before deciding that it was full enough and pulling it back out of the little spring. With the same graceful strength with which she had knelt she stood, keeping every drop within the briming container she spun on her heel and darted back the way she had came. Like a wraith within shadow, she blended into the forest that was so much a part of her.

Her rich black hair was the color of obsidian, remarkable among her people, and her doe brown eyes were deep and reflective. At least there's that, she mused to herself as she walked back to the elf lord's camp in which her family lived. Beside the green tent her mother, father, and two brothers waited for her to return with the water for the morning's tea. Caprina shook her head, her lazy black curls swaying in dissaproval as her brothers began to bicker childishly. Her mother scolded them lightly and sent them off to bicker somewhere else.

The Elves were nocturnal by nature and started their nights with a first meal. The jar was ripped from her grasp by her black haired mother who demanded that she put decent clothing on and get ready for the festivities. Caprina grined in excitement and making her way to the children's tent she shared with her brothers she quickly chose a new green dress and put it on. When she returned to her parent's tent she sat down in front of her father who combed her hair as her mother braided flowers into it. "How long?" she ask, pale face staring up at them. "How long will it take you to choose a fiance for me?" At fifteen years old it was past time for her to be engaged and this was the week to do it. This was the week that the elf lord held his annual engagement festival for the elvish families to showcase their elligabe children and make their bethrothals. Evish families sometimes made a circut traveling for days to attend other camps engagement festivals and marry off their children. This was the happiest day in Caprina's life so far.

The goblin king blew out a heavy breath, runnning one lobster claw through his feathery mane as he bared his fangs in anticipation. The sight had his Lieutenant General pacing back a step. Marak was due to meet that foolish prancing star-gazer tonight. It was the the appointed time to renew the peace treaty, and he had just the perfect demand. Truth be told Marak lobsterclaw didn't care if there was peace with the elves. He could feel his magic sizzling in his veins and knew that the time was right for choosing a bride, nevermind that frivolous elf king, it was an elven maiden that held the young king's attention.

"Taydor," He snapped, " Why are you hovering over the door? I doubt it's going anywhere." Taydor merely raised a single brow at his monarch's mockery, which was a feat considering how many feathers were inbedded in his fur.

"You never know Marak," he said slowly, "Last week one of the dryers in the laundry decided to quit. Left without a two week notice, and it was bolted down." The goblins stared at each other in companionable annoyance and decided to stop ribbing each other.