The moon had taken over the sky, the sun completely vanished off the horizon when Alistair returned down the lane wearing new clothes. They looked expensive, Hope had probably been overly nice and given them away for a lower price.
Silly girl, she won't keep that job for long.
He left shortly after in the gaining moonlight, going to join the gathering crowd around a wide beacon centered in the village. It was to be lit at the beginning of the celebration, which was to start soon.
"Roran, i'm telling you that they will want you to say something." My parents suddenly entered the room, debating at their usual pace.
He sighed, "I know Katrina. But what will I say?"
"Anything I guess. They just want to hear you say it. Your Roran Stronghammer, the man who lead his village to freedom." He was getting worked up, so she went to his side and clasped him in a strong, but gentle hug.
He sighed again, returned the hug to his beloved, and left. I looked at her, half expecting a weary smile but in no case found one.
'What is going on?' I told myself, 'He would never get so stressed about a speech, nor would mother be so worried for no apparent reason.' I lifted my elbow off the table and straightened up in the dinning room chair. 'She must know what this is about' I decided.
She looked up from where she was staring, "yes darling?"
"Whats going on? I'm not a child anymore, I want to know the truth. Is it something to do with the celebration, or the stragglers off to the east?"
She smiled somewhat, "Not the celebration, no. The stragglers on the other hand, have caused some trouble. Not all of Galbatorix's forces have resided, you know that."
"What sort of trouble?" I became instantly serious at the name of the old king. If I had the power I would shoot down every last one of his followers this instant.
"Thats not for me to tell." She walked over to stand behind me, put a gentle hand on my shoulder and just as quickly removed it. Leaving my side and going to the other side of the room, she reached for something atop of the bookcase by the door. I stared in amazement as she pulled down a short bow and quiver and held them out to me, "you should carry them with you." She said.
I stared blankly back at her, "what?" I replied and she once again repeated herself.
"Mother, seriously - what is going on, your worrying me."
"There might be some people around the village, or the spine. Either one, keep an eye out. I want you to have this just in case that something happens. Especially tonight."
She handed me the short bow, with its adorned oak wood that was unmistakably made from a tree in the spine nearby.
"This was Pa's wasn't it?" I said, "the one he talked about, the one he used to go hunting in the spine?" I reassured my question as I stroked the wood, there was no doubt, it was just how he described it.
This would be my first weapon.
One that I would use for a reason I didn't understand.
What would the other residents of the village think? I was just a girl, not supposed to be using such things.
I decided that I didn't care. I wasn't the type of girl to stay home and clean, cook, wash along with the other 'womanly' duties.
I was raised otherwise.
"Does father know?" She nodded again. She then stroked down her long skirt, grabbed a cloak she had been knitting and opened the front door.
"I'm going down to the village now to see how things are, stay here and come down with your father. Understood?"
I shook my head from side to side, "if it is so dangerous as I need a weapon, you shouldn't be leaving on your own. Let me go with you."
"No," She lifted up her skirt on the left side, where a dagger had been tied to her calf, "i'm suited enough." I didn't say anything nor give any response, she left with little strain. I stood and pushed the chair to the ground when the door closed, on edge.
"Father?" I called out, "Pa!"
He came running around the corner, "what is it!"
He was just as alarmed as mother had made me. I explained to him what she had said, including his short bow. All he did was nod in conclusion, "be cautious" he added as we set off down the lane to the celebration.
"I've never seen the whole of the village so happy before.." I whispered in awe, not expecting a response as I said it more to myself than to anyone else.
He put an arm around my shoulders, trying to avoid the bow tied over my cloak. I had received many stares from the people around the gathering, some with a questioning look as though they expected a response. I ignored them all, happy enough with watching everyone get onto the small stand in-front of the beacon and say what they wanted to, what they need to.
Pa grabbed my hand for a second, let go and made his way through the crowd to the front of the stand, he jumped on it and just gazed out at the crowd for a second. I can imagine just how intimidating the crowd would seem from up there.
He cleared his throat, "Well, we have finally made it. Sixteen years worth of work all payed off. Now that we are ruled by a new Queen we have freedom, and I know I can say that I am very grateful.. As grateful as a man can ever be." A short silence followed, the crowd responded the same like ripples spreading through water.
"Hopefully we will be able to enjoy this time as well as any other - more even!" He stepped down from the stand, multiple cheers of 'Stronghammer!' and whistles illuminated from the crowd. It seemed to put his mind off his troubles, good for the time being.
But I have other things on my mind, being put on edge like I had been before gives you bad chills, and paranoia.
I looked over the far left hill, the only empty space in sight that wasn't covered with a heard of people.
I swore that I saw I light somewhere in the Spine flicker, like a camp fire. I strained my eyes to try and look closer, but struggled with the distance.
The light was out now, weather or not it was there in the first place.
I turned back to the celebration, the beacon lit up in a mass of orange and yellow flames that cast shadows over the wooden houses. A circle of people held hands, dancing and skipping in a circular motion around the burning beacon.
People were being pulled into the motion and laughter cast out into the star filled night, I caught a glimpse of Alistair holding hands with two other girls and skipping in unison. I waved as he laughed and smiled.
I walked around for some while until I once again found my mother and father, talking, playing silly games like they use to and sharing stories with others. I sat with them and noticed a small flickering on the horizon.
It wasn't the sun.
It was the same light as before.
Pa saw my movement to leave, "where-re are you goin-g?" He had been drinking..
"Uh, to get you, another drink. Cause you need one." I rolled my eyes after finishing with my childish, sarcastic voice and left to follow the light.
Being curious, yet cautious, I sneaked my way out of the party, seeing that no-one noticed me leave, and quickly ran up the hill. The light began to grow brighter.
'Why is this light so enduring..?'
I stumbled down the other side of the hill, tripping over my cloak which pulled at the bow tied over my shoulders.
'The bow.' Reminding myself that I had some defense - for whatever was there - gave me some satisfaction. I pulled the bow off my back which was already strung, and grabbed an arrow from the quiver.
I stalked like I would when hunting, every step getting closer and closer to the line of the compacted forest. A slight ring echoed through my ears, one I had never heard before, delicate, soft yet strong, hypnotizing. The glow was obviously given off by a fire, it was so clear now, multiple figures sat around it on fallen logs and sang while others whispered unheard words. I guessed there were about seven.
My breathing subsided, and my footsteps became very slow with carefully placed grace. One of the figures jerked their head in my direction, I instinctively stood as still as a statue would. They must have passed it off as nothing, for I stepped close enough to touch a tree and peer from behind it at the scene.
They were elves.
Voices strong and mystical, all but two had jet black hair and all had piercing blue and green eyes. They were the happiest beings one could ever imagine. They had little rations of what it looked like, only a few bags lay on the floor and no horses were to be seen in the campsite.
'They must have walked.'
A twig snapped under my weight, the singing stopped and the elves graceful movement was so fast and precise that I was admiring their skill too much to notice one of them was approaching.
"Who goes there?"
My eyes widened and the cold air rushed into them, stinging and making them water. I winced and held my bow - still ready - against my thighs.
"I said, who goes there?" His voice made my spine tingle.
I had no idea what to do.
Display myself? They didn't look very dangerous, but I knew otherwise.
Hide? They would only find me.
Or run? Would they come after me, or let me go? I put a bet on coming after me, they were hiding in the Spine for a reason, a reason that probably doesn't want to be known.
I chose option one, 'maybe they will think I am a friend and not a foe.'
I stepped out from behind the cover of the tree, but didn't say anything in greeting.
The elf I presumed to be the one who called out rushed to my side and snatched the bow from my hands.
'Maybe I should have left that behind the tree..'
"What is your business here?" The question was not a friendly one.
"Wait. I know her from somewhere.." This was a females voice, it was more obvious with her accent that english was not her first language.
"Dröttningu. From where may I ask?"
'Dröttningu? Maybe she is of some importance to have such a title. But then - how would she know me?'
The figure walked out from behind an oak tree, her hair raven black with eyes green and bright with flickering flames from the fire reflecting them. Upon her head she wore what looked like a tiara.
I swallowed as hard as my throat would allow.
'Now I am in trouble..'
"Tell me, what is your name?" She moved with such grace and perfect proportion it was enchanting. She looked so delicate, but the green sword that hung from her belt did not look the same way.
I straightened up - not wanting to show any fear, "Ismira Garrowson." I did not have a skirt on, so instead of curtsying I bowed slightly.
I small smile lit up her face, "I have not seen you since you were born. But never the less, I knew it was you. You resemble your parents highly."
"You know my parents?" "Yes," she moved closer, "Roran Stronghammer and Katrina Ismirasdaughter, is that right?"
"Well, other than a reunion, what are you doing here, and how did you see us?" I was taken back by this question, the second one at least would have been obvious.
"I saw your campfire from the celebration being held on the other side of the hill behind me," I gestured with a hand, "I thought I would go see who or what it was, since apparently there has been trouble nearby lately."
'Why do I get myself into trouble so easily without thinking these things through?'
"What do you mean you saw the fire?"
My eyes narrowed in confusion, "I saw a light in the forest, and decided to follow it."
She turned to the others, all were wide eyed with surprise, which I did not understand. She finally turned back to me, walked closer and said "we enchanted the fire so that anyone behind the hill will not know we were here." Her eyebrows sunk into her eyes in wonderment.
An elf ran from the forest and returned in little-to-no time at all, "the spell is working for me Dröttningu."
A spark lit up in the eye of the elf in-front of me, her black hair swung back as she went and sat by the fire.
"Ismira, would you like to join us before you go back?" I looked around and the other elves seemed even more surprised than before, but friendly all the same. I walked over to her and trying not to be rude asked her for her name.
"Oh, i'm sorry. I am Arya Dröttningu, it is a pleasure to meat you, again that is." She patted the log she sat on signaling me to sit next to her, which I did.
Small talk erupted from around the campfire. A language I had never heard of was sometimes spoken, the words rolled off their tongue fluently without care.
I was oddly jealous.
An elf across the other side of the fire stared at me with what looked to be spite. I stared back and she turned away.
'This obviously does not happen everyday.'
Everyone else on the other hand, looked at me with new respect as I joined the conversation, "may I ask you something?" I directed this to Arya, she nodded slightly.
"How do you know my parents?"
"I met your father and mother in the down fall of Galbatorix," I raised my eyebrows even though I had expected as much.
"Your father was known for his leadership and fighting skill. As for you mother, I have only formally met her once, but know of her in some speaking manner." I nodded again, an elf next to me with dark brown hair and green eyes handed back my bow, "thank you."
"And one more question.." I was very interested in this one, for if they were not the people causing trouble in these areas, who were they?
"What are you doing here? In Carvahall I mean. It is the least likely place to find someone of your race. And for what ever reason you are here, why on the edge of the Spine?"
Her head inclined and her eyes seemed to bring out her smile, "that, I might - just might tell you another time. But for now I think you should get back to your celebration, no?" I agreed, I have been gone for far too long, someone might have noticed.
"Well then, why don't you came and see us tomorrow at dawn. That is, if you can find us again." She seemed to have taken a liking to me, as I had to her, she was the friendliest stranger I had ever met. And by the reactions of the over elves I had guessed as much that she was usually not as kind.
I smiled and nodded, "I would be delighted."
"Arya Dröttningu," one of the elves spoke, "we are supposed to leave tomorrow at dawn."
She looked towards him, the same elf that had given me back my bow, "on the circumstances, I think we can stay another day."
Grateful, I said my goodbyes and walked back to the celebration where Pa asked me:
"I thought you were getting me another Ale?"