Knight Takes King: Part I
“Will Mother be mad that we’ve run off?” The little girl asked.
“Of course not,” the older one answered. “Well, she will not be upset with you, although I dare say I will see the fruits of her anger.”
“Because you missed the counsel meeting?”
“Because I have taken the most precious jewel in all Middle Earth into the wilds of Mirkwood.” The older girl teased.
“I thought it was your duty to protect me?”
“It is, little one.”
“Then I shall tell Mother I took you into Mirkwood,” the young child said chipperly.
The older girl laughed softly before replying. “I do not think that shall save me. Mother shall simply say I am older and should not have brought you into unsure lands. How, I wonder, am I to act like an adult when she treats me as a child every step of the way.”
“Is Mirkwood dangerous?” inquired the child
“It can be,” was the answer.
“I thought the elves lived here.”
“They do, but it is a vast woodland, and the Sylvan elves dwell several leagues to the north,” her guardian informed.
“Do you think we’ll see any?” The little girl began looking around eagerly for any signs of movement.
“If they wish it, for I sense their eyes are already upon us,” observed the eldest of the pair
“Angor Solder says elves eat little girls. Is that true?”
Looking at the young girl, she advised, “You would do well to heed little of what any Solder tells you. What they speak that are not misgivings are outright lies. The Sylvan elves have long been allies of Heedor well before our grandmother was born.”
Legolas watched the riders passing below him from a branch high in the trees, the leaves shielding him from their sight even were they to look up. He had seen them before, or more so the older girl. She came into these woods as often as he did, but this was the first time she brought a companion. It was a game they played; albeit, she was an unsuspecting player. She would track animals, orcs or goblins, and he would track her.
Part of it was for her safety. The tracks she followed were usually days old ending by the riverbanks or caves into which she never ventured. But there was always the chance that one day, she would follow tracks that took her directly to her target. For an elf she was but a babe, yet she appeared young even for a human. And although she always carried a sword, he doubted she ever used it to defend her life, and doubted even more she’d ever fought an orc or goblin… let alone seen one.
Another reason Legolas followed her was curiosity. She always seemed to know he was there. He was positive she had never seen him, but often in her passing, she would greet him as if she knew he was there. ‘Guardian’ was what she called him; and she had introduced herself as Akasha from Indolien, the western most city of Heedor at the borders of Mirkwood. That was all he knew of her, other than her being a good rider and tracker. She was able to follow trails that were more then a couple days old, trails even some elves may have lost.
Lastly, he followed her because of duty. As one of Mirkwood’s princes, it was his responsibility to protect his kingdom, the borders, and all those that entered who were the elves’ allies.
“I want to go faster,” demanded he little girl in an eager voice.
“Your wish is my command.” The older girl replied before urging the horse on.
Legolas waited until he was sure they were beyond earshot before giving a quick, sharp whistle. A lean, muscular steed came forward and waited patiently at the base of the tree on which the elf scouted. The horse, which he proudly named GrayStar, was a present from his father on his last birthday. He was a beautiful creature: white with gray spotting around its hindquarters and snout, and running throughout his mane and tail. Legolas would spend hours brushing and talking to the horse, never tiring. Jumping from the last branch, he landed gently on the ground, then sprang effortlessly onto the animal’s back. GrayStar neighed softly and pawed the ground, eager to begin the chase.
*We must not let them see us.* He whispered to GrayStar.
The horse neighed his understanding and began at a gentle trot. Legolas let his mind wander to the upcoming events in a month’s time. The spring festival held every year in Indolien was always something he anticipated. The food, the games, the contests... for the past twenty years he had won the archery contest. No elf could best him, and certainly no man or woman.
He never recalled seeing either Akasha or the little child. The festivities were held on the outskirts of the city, just beyond its walls. Other than the pub near the gates, Legolas never ventured too far into the city itself. The fair grounds themselves were quite crowded, and there seemed to be nothing about Akasha that would make her stand apart from the others. He was deciding on which trick to add to this year’s performance when the scream of the little girl shattered the silence.
*Hurry GrayStar,* he spoke praying he wasn’t too late.
Had Akasha been alone, she would have noticed the absence of nature’s voice in the woods around them, creating an eerie silence. The continuous questions from her younger sister, Jamila, occupied her thoughts and stole her attention until it was too late: the arrow flew from the under growth and embedded itself deep into the muscle of her upper right thigh. The small child screamed as the first of five trolls scampered from the bushes. Unknowingly, Akasha had ridden them straight into an ambush. Pulling the arrow from her leg and biting back a pained scream, she plunged it deep into the eye of the closest troll. She held tightly onto the horse’s reins, trying to control the terrified animal.
“Steady on!” Akasha yelled.
She felt she was regaining control, only to watch it slip again as another troll rushed the horse, screeching and flailing its arms. Brontus neighed loudly and reared up n his hind legs, clubbing the approaching creature in the face with his hooves, dumping his riders in the process. Akasha landed hard on her back, momentarily stunned with the wind knocked out of her lungs. It was the screams of Jamila that forced her into action once again.
She rolled to her side, narrowly dodging a rock wielded for her head. Grabbing the two daggers hidden in her boots, she swept the legs of the troll. The monster barely touched the ground before she plunged the weapon deep into its chest. Its shrieks dimmed as green blood pooled at the wound. Akasha rose to her feet, only to be straddled from behind: another troll made its attack. It wrapped its wiry legs around her waist, forcing her back to the ground.
Ten feet away, another troll picked up Jamila and was making its way back to the undergrowth. Akasha rose to hurl the last remaining dagger at the monster, striking it in the back of its neck before the one on her back forced her to the ground. It wasn’t until a searing pain shot from her shoulder that she realized the creature was not only biting her, but also trying to rip the meat and muscle away from her bones. Another scream tore from her throat as the troll released its hold with its teeth only to exchange it for a better grip.
Its body, pressed against her back, was successfully preventing her from drawing the sword strapped across her back, but it would have been useless in her right hand. Numbness was spreading down her arm from the bite, immobilizing her entire right arm. Reaching with her one good hand, Akasha tried to remove the troll from her back, but he was too strong and held too fast, and she was weakening by the second.
The troll that had been accosted by Brontus had regained it footing and rolled its fallen brethren off of Jamila. Its intent had been to scoop the child up and make off with her, like the one before him…but a funny thing happened. No sooner had it gathered up the struggling child, when it dropped her and fell to the ground, she being pinned again. An arrow with white feathers protruded from its back. The troll attacking her older sister yelped next, collapsing in like-fashion.
Akasha laid there motionless, panting and listening to the sound of unshod hooves slowly approaching and then stopping. It was her sister’s crying which spurred her to attempt crawling from under the troll’s lifeless carcass. Never in her sixteen years had she felt as much pain as she did that moment. The heavy weight was pulled off of her, and she was gently rolled onto her back, only to look up into the face of an angel. Long blonde hair fell over the shoulders of a green tunic, and his brow creased into a frown as he leaned closer, inspecting the shoulder wound. Akasha blinked, trying to focus on the being’s face, but her eyes would only cooperate sporadically. For a moment, she was sure she was dead; why else would she be seeing an angel? Yet surely she would not still be in as much pain if she were no longer alive.
“Akasha!” Jamila cried.
“Jamie…” the name had been intended as a yell, but barely left her lips on a mumbled breathy sigh. She had to get to her sister, but when she tried to move the angel held her down.
*Be still.* He commanded softly.
Akasha frowned, wondering why an angel spoke in the language of elves. “My sis...”
“I will see to her, but you must lie still.” He assured her switching to the common tongue of humans.
No sooner than he left, Akasha rolled onto her left side in an effort to rise to her feet. She used her left arm to push herself into an upright position, since the other was completely numb, save the excruciating pain at the bites. She was concerned that the troll had damaged nerves when it tore deep into her flesh, but she was more worried about any harm that might have been done to Jamila. Her left arm trembled with the effort, but eventually she was able to push herself to her knees. When she tried to stand, however, her leg wound protested and her vision swam, forcing her back to her knees.
Once freed from the troll, Jamila ran over to her sister and threw her arms around her neck, sobbing. Akasha screamed as Jamila’s arms brushed against the open wound.
“You’re bleeding!” Jamila cried.
“You... hurt?” Akasha panted.
It took all the energy left in her body to keep from sagging to the ground. Jamila bit down on her lip and shook her head. She looked up through tears as the elf that had freed her knelt down next to Akasha, lowering her to the ground.
“Please don’t let me sister die,” she begged
Akasha could barely make out the words they were speaking. She was aware, only on the most basic level of the conversation they were having. Silence wrapped around as she felt herself being lifted and placed on a horse. She tried to hold onto the reigns, but her right side had no strength, and what was left in her body was fading fast. If Brontus had moved she would have fallen off. Fortunately, someone now sat behind her and took the reins. The body was warm and comforting, and oddly familiar.
“Guardian...” she muttered before her body slumped against him as her consciousness faded.
| Part II |
| Index |