The Lone Elf

Chapter 1 – Frame of the Night

Aramean dropped to the ground, his heart pounding. A group of at least 4 elves passed by, not 15 meters from where he lay. Aramean was an elf himself, 5 foot 9, extremely thin and handsome, his long dark blonde hair running down to around his mid back. Compared to other elves his age, he looked quite normal. And he had lived quite a normal life as well. Grew up in the elven village with his 3 brothers, was trained in ranged combat and had joined the night watch at quite an early age.

But now he found himself alone for the first time in his life. How? The previous night he had been on night watch duty with his partner Eoler as per usual. The night was cold, the bitter wind biting them as they patrolled the border where village met forest. Aramean and Eoler had grown up together and joined the watch together as well. Tonight was just another patrol for them, another chance to let the mind wander where feet may never get the chance to go. And it was as Aramean's mind started to wander when he heard the whistle of an arrow flying close to him. After feeling no initial crippling pain, he started to relax, until he heard the gurgling noises. Horrified, he turned to see an arrow protruding through Eomer's neck.

As a night watch pair, you are responsible for each other's safety. But as Aramean watched his friend's body crumple to the ground, he could do nothing but stare in horror and shock. His head whipped from side to side, attempting to see where the arrow had come from but his legs still could not move. It was only after 5 minutes had passed that his legs could actually obey his mind and approach the body. He did another check to make sure the coast was clear. Tears sprung to the corner of his eyes as he knelt down to his old friend's body and placed a hand on it. Croaking out the words, he started to recite an old elven song, wishing his friend a safe journey to the land beyond.

He had only sung about half the song before he heard the voices and shouts. Confused about how people would know about the death already, he slowly stood, positioning himself between the body and the approaching elves. There were 3 of them in total, led by an elf he had regularly seen in the village, but could never remember his name. They stopped 10 meters from Aramean, which was when he noticed that they were holding weapons in their hands. The lead elf and one other were holding custom elven longbows, the other holding an elven sword, extremely thin, but extremely deadly.

Aramean's mind was racing. How could they know about this already? The only people who would know about it were him and whoever had loosed the arrow. But before he could chase this idea further, the lead man stepped forward, bow still in hand.

"Aramean. You may remember me, E'lrend Idrhael?" When he realised no response was forthcoming from the bewildered man, he continued. "We have been alerted to a killing in this area. An elf, who shall not be named, stated that he was returning from a forage in the forest when he heard voices. He hid in nearby bushes, where he saw you suddenly turn on your partner and shot him. He ran, fearing that he would be discovered and came straight to us."

E'lrend's eyes dropped to behind where Aramean was standing, straight at the body. Aramean knew he had been set up. He had to come up with a plan and fast. Survival instincts would have to kick in soon. If there was one thing Aramean hated about the elves, it was their strict laws and narrow mindedness. Of course they would take the man's word for it without questioning him and now Aramean would pay for it, one way or another. E'lrend's voice broke his train of thought once more.

"I'm sorry but you must come with us now Aramean."

But that was the last thing he would do. If he gave in now and went with them, everyone in the village would think of him as a murderer. If he somehow escaped, everyone would still think that, but at least he would have a chance to prove himself otherwise. He had been one of the best archers in his class, with speed mainly being his forte. He realised he may have to use it now, even to give himself just a few seconds. Gripping his bow tight he raised his head as if to begin to speak, but instead of doing so, quickly grabbed an arrow out of the quiver on his back, brought his bow up and loosed an arrow. The arrow was not aimed directly at the elves, but slightly above them, causing them all to duck.

This was all the time he needed and within the few moments of confusion he had sprung into action. Thankfully his legs were working better now as he raced through the thick forest foliage. He knew that they wouldn't be far behind and as if to confirm this, an arrow struck the tree next to him. If he was hit, it was all over. Even if it didn't maim him, any injury would leave a trail of blood for them to follow. The shouts were growing louder and he knew they were gaining on him, no matter how many times he turned. He needed somewhere to hide and fast.

He made a few more sudden turns to try and throw his pursuers off, but to no avail. They were still following him. This was when he saw it. A bunch of trees extremely close together with some brush nearby. He knew this was his one chance to escape and if executed wrongly could mean certain death. He ran towards the trees and leaped towards the first one in a huge bound. His foot connected with the tree trunk and as soon as it did, he sprung off it once more towards the second tree. He angled his foot so he wouldn't sprain or break it and he connected successfully with the trunk. He kicked off immediately again towards the next tree and continued like this for the next 5 or so trees before he reached the last one.

Unsure about where to go after this, he forgot about the placement of his foot and heard the slight crack as bone hit the tree. He fell down to the ground, but instead of hitting the hard earth, he found himself slightly cushioned by some heavy brush underneath the tree. As his body fell through it, he could feel the tiny twigs and branches scratching and piercing his body everywhere. He finally landed on the earth. He bit his lip to keep himself from crying out in pain. His pursuers surely wouldn't be far behind and if they had seen him, would be upon him soon. His only hope was that they hadn't seen him and wouldn't be able to track his feet in the dirt as he had left none. He lay there for what felt like hours, but was really only a handful of minutes. Eventually he could hear no shouting or voices and he knew that by some miraculous stroke of luck, he had lost them. He tried moving but found it extremely painful. His face stung and as he lifted his hand to his face, he could feel the hot blood stick to his palm. He winced as he felt over his body, discovering more and more injuries. He attempted to stand, but knew immediately that he had broken his right foot. He sat back down, at least he knew he was as safe as he could be for now. He lay on his back gently and closed his eyes, darkness enveloping him.

He awoke suddenly, the face of his friend Eoler disappearing as his vision readjusted to the bright light of the sun attempting to break through the dense canopy of the forest. His face was now mixed with tears and blood. Wiping his face with the back of his hand, he knew he would have to move eventually, he was hungry and thirsty and wouldn't last long without either food or especially drink. He slowly stood, applying all the pressure on his left foot and attempted to push through the thick foliage he had landed in. He finally broke through and found himself in a thick part of the forest, where the trees were thicker and higher than the ones closer to his village. He listened for a moment, his sensitive elven ears picking up the trickling sounds of a nearby water source.

He started moving toward the source extremely slowly, being cautious of his right foot. Suddenly, some voices pierced the air and Aramean immediately dropped to the ground. And this was where he found himself now, lying on a thick layer of leaves and underbrush, hoping and praying that he would not be discovered in this wounded state. His heart was pounding, his head was throbbing. He had never been so alone and this was just the start.