At Last - Part One, Chapter One

~Chapter 1~

"Legolas! Legolas, wait up!" I don't bother stopping, rather, I speed up. But I can still hear her following.

I'm running as fast as I can go now, my breath coming in short panting bursts. Yet she follows- under trees, over streams, through a log, over another. Finally, exhausted, I stop.

"What... what could you possibly want?" I ask, trying to catch my breath. She flopped down on a mossy patch beside me, breathing just as heavily as I. For being at least four years the younger she was nearly as fast as I was- something that didn't exactly please me at the moment.

"Father... father says that," she paused to breathe, "...that you're supposed to take me with you." I groaned. Taking my little sister with me was also something that wasn't pleasing.

"I'm going to practice," I said, fumbling to find and show her my bow. "I was going to go deep into the forest where you've never been before. And there's not going to be anything for you to do while you're with me so you might as well just run back home."

"Father says that now that I'm six I should be old enough to not get scared in the woods." I frowned.

"Did mother have anything to say about it?"

"She said I could go and that you were supposed to watch me very closely," she said, standing. She put her hands on her hips and adopted a stance that made her look very much like our mother when she was cross. "So you have to let me come with you."

Her tone served only to anger me more. "Fine. I don't care. Just stay out of my way." She grinned triumphantly and followed silently as I turned and began to walk. "Oh, Vanyalosse?" I asked, attempting to smooth the anger out of my voice. "Keep up. I wouldn't want you to get lost." I then turned and (with full intentions of losing her) began to walk very rapidly, zigzagging between trees and taking paths off the main trail. But always she stayed very closely behind me, and I grew even more enraged. Why couldn't she just leave me alone?

I decided to use something my father had shown me in my training. I climbed into a tree. Unsure what to do- and not exactly an expert at tree-climbing- Vanyalosse stood on the ground next to the trunk. I then crouched, then taking a deep and nervous breath leapt into a tree nearby.

This wasn't a strong point of mine just yet, as the skill was newly-learned. But I managed to cling to a branch and pull myself up. Confused, she followed on the ground.

I began to get the hang of things as I jumped from that tree to the next, and the next, and the next. She was having problems on the ground; I had gone off the trial, so the trees were thick and hard for even her slender body to maneuver. I smiled- I had a plan.

Instead of jumping forward as I had been before, I turn to the left and took the nearest tree there. Then the next, and so forth until I couldn't see the one I had originally turned off from. I could hear her voice in the distance.

"Las... Las? Legolas... Legolas where are you?"

Her voice had a frightened note to it that cut through my annoyance at having to take her with. But it was too late now; she would eventually figure out that I had abandoned her and go back. I would go home later and tell Mother and Father that she hadn't been able to keep up, or some other story and everything would be alright.

I quickly made my way back to the main trail- I knew this part of the forest well. I found the place I liked to use for target practice, the carvings on the tree at the end of the clearing barely distinguishable for all the arrow marks.

I took my bow- specially made for me- and shot a few for practice. They hit the tree on the mark, for the most part. Despite the fact that I had been shooting since I was
seven, I still had problems.

I decided that today I would see how fast I could shoot. I counted to three, slowly, then rapidly pulled an arrow out of the quiver at my back. The familiar sound of the bow made me smile and I attempted to pull out another arrow.

Unfortunately, this movement wasn't familiar to me, as it was another skill I was just learning. I had to grope about my back until I found one, and then when I did my arm was in the wrong position to pull it out easily. I struggled with this for a moment before finally getting the arrow. But by then I was frustrated and missed the tree completely.

Sighing, I decided to go at it again. The next attempt produced the same result, as did the next, and the next. Finally gave up; as I sat down I tossed my bow off to the side.

I don't know how long I leaned against that tree, but suddenly it seemed as though I was I was waking up- if you could call coming out of a deep elvish rest waking up. I stood quickly, wondering how long I had lay there. It was nearly impossible to tell by the sun as the trees were too thick, but it couldn't have been long as a few birds still sang in the depths of the forest. I leapt to my feet, looking around for my sister.

"Vanyalosse? Losse, where are you? This isn't funny..." I then remembered that I had gone ahead without her and she should probably be home by now. Sighing, I picked up my bow and adjusted my quiver, shifting it so it was no longer rubbing on the spot where it had dug into my back while I slept. I began the trek home, taking the trail this time. I neither saw nor heard anything, and didn't think much of my sister's absence. In fact, despite a small shred of guilt, I was quite happy that she wasn't there to fill the air with her constant overly-happy chatter. As I walked I began to wonder what was going to be for dinner that night, as a small grumble came from the pit of my stomach.

Once I got home I put my things away and went in search of something to eat. I nearly ran into my father as I came out of the kitchens with a handful of various sweets. He nodded and I gave him a big smile. It was our secret- my mother would have a fit if she knew I was eating before dinner, but I knew he wouldn't tell her. The guilt immediately resurfaced as he said nothing about Vanyalosse; I expected at least to be scolded for going ahead without her.

I carefully avoided my older brother as I made my way back to my room- Quendil (who was seven years older than me) had recently taken to hitting me whenever I came near him, and he wasn't gentle. He found it hilarious how I always ran out of the room when he came in, and I had decided of late that I wouldn't give him that satisfaction and would rather avoid him altogether.

Arriving at my room I decided I would change into something more comfortable. I then ate some of the snacks I had brought with and sat on my bed with nothing to do. My mind began to wander, and I soon found it going back to when I had last seen my sister. Her lonely voice rang through my head as if she was standing next to me and calling my name. The shred of guilt grew until my stomach felt as though it was filled with a million butterflies. If she had come home surely she would have told mother or father? Then one of them would have scolded me for leaving her behind. So why hadn't they said anything yet? Were they trying to punish me with my own guilt? But that wasn't like them...

I sat on this for at lest a half an hour. Finally I decided to find Vanyalosse and ask her what was going on. I went to her room, but she wasn't there. I searched the kitchens and the halls and anywhere else I was allowed, but I couldn't find her. Instead I ran into mother.

"Mother," I said, hesitating, "where is Vanyalosse?" She looked at me with mild surprise.

"Didn't she go with you when you went out to practice?" she asked. I bit my lip and looked to the ground.

"Well... she wanted to but I ran ahead. I thought she would come back when she couldn't find me." My stomach did a flip because I expected her to punish me. Instead she took me by the shoulders and looked at me anxiously, her face white.

"You mean she didn't go with you? And she didn't go back with you?" I shook my head. She stood quickly and began pacing the room. I was becoming frightened- I couldn't quite see what she was getting at. "I haven't seen her... find you father and ask if he has. I'll go talk to Quendil." She ran out of the room with a haste that I had never seen in her before- it served only to alarm me more. I immediately found father and told him about my leaving Vanyalosse behind and not seeing her since. He frowned.

"Why are you so worried? Maybe your mother or Quendil have seen her." It then dawned on me that my mother was afraid she was lost in the woods.

"Mother hasn't seen her. She went to ask Quendil...she thinks Losse is lost in the forest." He stood up just as quickly as my mother had.

"Find your mother. Bring her here." He left the room. I went to find my mother, and my brother came with. Father came back soon- he had ordered a search of the palace, as well as a search party to assemble outside and wait for us. He, my brother, and I went outside to help look for her. I showed them to where I had last seen her, and the search commenced from there.

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