“WHAT?! He want's us to go fight in some bloody war against the ELVES for no discernible reason, and he expects us to risk our lives for that same undisclosed reason, and he thinks us idiots enough to believe that the elves are “attacking key positions on the border!” At least don't fee US these lies! We were chosen for brains, not just birth! The elves, unlike him, are too smart for such idiocy and they know that a bloody war would result in too many casualties, and if he thinks we can defeat the elves without magic he's gone insane! And he's supposed to talk with almost everybody in the entire command strucure before even thining of itt...And...” I wound down my tirade, realizing that Danar was just looking at me, his thoughts clearly elsewhere. In other words, he was ignoring me.
“Look, I know you are confused. Trust me, Kia, it will be fine.”
“Fine?” My temper had flared again. “You expect me to believe that thousands of regular people just dieing on the King's whim is “fine”?!”
“I can't do anything about it. I'm sworn to the King. We must go, and if we do go, we stand a better chance of persuading King Andur that the elves are blameless. They're usually willing to negotiate a treaty afterward, or in the ca-”
“Usually willing! Yes, not if some damned idiot just attacked for no reason! No amount of willingness is going to stop them from disliking it.”
“Tanhom's Kings have attacked for no reason for centuries, Kialanri, you know that! Your going was not a question. It was an order from Andur! We. Are. Going.” He was breathing hard at this point, but a worried look had crept into his eyes. “I'm sorry..”
He walked into the small cabin that we lived in. I stormed off to the woods, walking alongside the small stream that wound its way through the forest. I meandered aimlessly, trying to calm my mind enough so I could think rationally. I hated wars, I hated death, I hated the fact that the only way for me to advance (being a woman) was thought Danar, who was willing to take me, but advancement for a woman was bought at a price. We were assassins, Vipers, dealers in deadly poisons and cures for the same. We were, also, scouts and spies, but that was a secondary role. Ai! I knew why he wanted us to go. We were to learn how they acted, and then kill them. In the other wars, I had not protested, for at least they were provoked. But why attack the elves. He had a grudge, definitely, for his great-grandfather had died assaulting their forest in the first battle, but the man had provoked them himself! Finally, my legs began rebelling against my continuous walking, so I found the tree with the special bend in it’s trunk. After climbing to the place where I could sleep, I lay down in the branches. The wind swayed the slim trunk as my mind gradually cooled, the soothing influence of the motion calming me. The leaves moved gently in the wind, the dappled, green light falling on my face... The wind blew past, whispering it's slow song into my ear... The stars moved in their endless dance above my head... far away, a nightbird sang it's slow, full melody... a small deer walked below the tree, it's feet making soft noises in the undergrowth...Gradually, I fell asleep.
A full moon shone over the forest. In a tree, a slim figure slept. Her golden hair lay loosely over her body, some of it falling down in elegant waves. If she was standing, her hair would sweep the ground behind her in a long train. Her eyes were silver, reflecting the light of the moon. She slept uneasily, turning over in her sleep. The tree seemed to lift a branch, catching her. A shadow in a neighboring tree kept watch. Her eyes caught the light for second, but they did not shine as the sleeping one's eyes did. They seemed to be filled with a deep sadness. The sleeping one awoke suddenly, scrambling to her feet, oblivious to the uncertain footing. The tree aided her, but she did not notice.
Her voice rang through the entire woods “Where are you, my little ones?Where are my children?”
The woman in the trees jumped lightly to the next tree. “Ailanliria, your children are with their father, he is protecting them...”
“No! They are not with him, I know! Help them!”
“I cannot, they are far away, safe, they- Liria!” She had collapsed, falling through the tree's branches as it struggled to catch her.
I awoke, the woman's anguished cry ringing in my ears. I looked around, as if to reassure myself that there were no others in the tree-tops. I climbed downward, slowly descending through the branches. I walked by the cabin, seeming not to notice it. My feet were leading me as my brain was elsewhere, deep in the shadow forest.
Who was the woman in the tree? She had seemed familiar, but I was certain I had never met someone so... unearthly beautiful. I felt that she had been mad, for in her eyes, despite the bright reflection of the moon, there had been something missing, they had a dull quality, the reflection had seemed to be in a mirror, not a living soul. Why had the tree seemed like it was trying to help, nay, why had the tree tried to help her? It did not go with anything I had ever known, that trees helped mortals... Mortal! Perhaps she was of the immortal races, the ones that manipulate the very fabric of reality... Ai! Regardless of her abilities, that did not stop you from being able to bump into things. Perhaps, Kia, you should really look where you are going. It hardly fits the image of the Anaki to have them bumping into trees.
I was walking to Castle Kitaran, the main castle in Kitaran, which is the third fief of Tanhom. We were currently assigned to it by the king, as it was the closest to the elven forests. I passed the gate with a nod to the guard. They recognized me, and allowed me to pass. The shorter guard, however, ventured to ask me a question, while the tall one glared at him. “Are you going to the war?” “Yes.” I answered and then, after a short pause, in the exact same tone: “No.” The shorter one half yelled, half whispered after me “But that is-” The taller one put his hand over the shorter one's mouth. I smiled, deep within the folds of my cloak. As I passed the men selling wares (today was a market day), I continued thinking, but on a different line of thought. Why was Danar so insistent I go? He would know that I would not wish to go, and would ask the king.. There must have been something else in the order, something that told him very firmly that I needed to go, and he to. “Buy these necklaces, the finest from Anar!” “Fresh milk, just out of 'e cow a 'our ago! Milk, fresh, fresh milk!” “Bows, bows from Tanik! Bows and arrows!” The sounds of the market gradually fell over me, and I shook off my thoughts for now. I would be just a common person. That was the best way to hear the news. I ran to a certain back alley in the town, into a small building Danar owned, and found the plain dress that I kept here for such occasions. I changed quickly, and when I was done, you couldn’t tell the difference between me and your average merchant's daughter. I headed of to the stalls, and since I wanted to know about the war, I went towards the weapons. Swords and knives were placed in every imaginable place in a small shop in the corner of the market. I sat inside the tent, and listened.
“I 'ear that he king wants an “able bodied man” from eve'y family.”
“No, I heard it's only by choice, and-”
“Na, that's crazy! If the king's fightin' in the damned war, he's not askin you nicely to go and get yerself kilt, he's gonna force ya to fight.”
“I don't know, some people want glory.”
“Ya, maybe you'll find a 'undered, maybe two 'hundred such nutters in ail Tanhom.”
“I heard that they are roaming the streets, just taking any man that gets in their way.”
“Well, maybe the king will offer a reasonable amount of money...”
“An' cows will grow purple spotted wings and fly to the moon. An' live there.”
“Hey! It's not that unlikely. Maybe Andur will have a kinder heart.”
“'Maybe.' Humph. I don't bailieve in maybes. 'Sides, Ail the kings haven't, why should 'e?”
Here the sword seller interrupted their conversion
“Ay, girly, what are you doing here?”
“Waiting for my father,” I said, the picture of innocence “He told me to wait here, and he's not here yet.”
“Well then wait somewhere else! This is a shop, not a meeting place.”
“Come, Don, don't be so harsh. She's just standing here.”
“It is my shop, and I choose who goes here! Not you!”
“I know you're edgy because of the conscription, but come on! They won't take you. They need someone to make weapons. And even if they would, there's no reason to-”
“I don't care! Now get out of the shop before I force you out.”
I was used to maintaining cover, and I knew it would fit the personality of the young girl I was playing to back off, but I was a proud person. “I'm waiting for my father. He told me to wait here. Not somewhere else.”
“Well I told you to get the hell out!” He started pushing me out of his shop.
Suddenly, everyone was silent. Two small knives had appeared in my hands, drawn from a special slit in the dress.
“Um, you just put those away, girly, they can hurt someone...”
“That's the point.” I flipped my sleeve, revealing the small stone that I had there, on a silver chain above my elbow. He turned paler than he already was. (Which, by the way, was a rather difficult feat considering the fact that he looked as if he had never been outside before) His voice barely rose to a whisper as he backed off. “You...”
If I made anything hard to understand/unclear/odd/unrealistic PLEASE tell me. Criticism is greatly appreciated.