Startracer, Starchild - Tale 2--> Searching for the soul

Author's Note: Here you go! Tale 2! And well, someone has already figured out who the mystery Elf is, but in the interest of good sport, I've not told them (they will get proper credit after the third Tale, when the character is revealed ) and I am inviting you all once again to take a guess on who it is! Good luck!!

Happy reading!!!

Recap of Tale 1 . . .

And then it finally occurred to him--two months after his escape from the hospital--that he did not wish to leave this new life he had discovered. As cursing as the words were, he realized he had fallen in love with the little girl and could not simply turn his back on her and walk away. She had become strongly attached to him and he to her.

That was why, when Marie asked, he agreed to stay.

Tale 2

~The Present~

Jonathan yawned widely.

"Man," he grumbled to himself as the teacher wrote something up on the chalkboard, "I hate school."

"Hang in there, it's the last year," his friend Rob reminded him softly. "And hey, it's your birthday! Be happy!"

"How? School's so depressing I can't work up the energy."

Rob laughed quietly. "Hear hear!" Behind him, his girlfriend jabbed him in the back with the end of her newly-sharpened pencil. He instinctively arched away from it, though it seemed to act as a memory recall. "Oh yeah! We're all going out for dinner and some dancing in honor of you! Come join us for an evening of the most awesome fun possible!"

"I have a midnight curfew, Rob."

Rob elbowed him. "Momma's boy." Another nudge. "Momma's boy." A third. "Momma's boy."

"Dadda's boy," Jonathan corrected with a return elbow to punctuate each repeat. "Dadda's boy. Dadda's boy."

"Come on, Jonathan! This is New York! Everything happens here and you shouldn't miss any of it! You know we won't be out too long. Besides, you'll be eighteen! You can do whatever you want!"

"Except that if I like living at home until I can get my own place," Jonathan replied, "I have to follow the rules."

"Don't worry; we'll bring you home---"

"Densinger!" The teacher barked. "Is there perhaps something you'd like to share with the class?" His expression warned Rob to tell the room everything he'd been saying.

"Only that I can't wait until graduation," Rob answered.

The teacher frowned. "Then shut up or I promise you won't graduate!"

Rob slumped in his seat. "Yes, Coach."

Jonathan smiled over at him sympathetically as the teacher turned to the chalkboard once more and mouthed, "I'll be there."

Rob answered with a thumbs-up and a knowing smirk.

~*~

Jonathan flopped in his seat, exhausted. He was sure he'd danced with every girl in the club by now and hoped Rob wasn't trying to find more to send to him. It was late and he really should be starting home.

Rob collapsed tiredly in the seat beside him, a Cheshire cat grin on his face. Jonathan watched him warily. "Please don't tell me you've lined up twenty more girls for me to dance with."

The other boy waved his hand dismissively. "Nah! I would have, but I saw the time. We can scram if you want."

Jonathan glanced around at the crush of people, the deafening music, and the disorienting strobe lights. He actually kind of liked it here, despite how he didn't care much for too many people or really loud music, and decided that an occasional visit--like once a month--would be a great idea. He could catch up on the popular new music and meet other people.

Rising, he and Rob and those who had tagged along for the celebration headed for the doors. After a few short minutes of taunting Rob for his horrible memory, they found the car sitting a block over from where Rob had `thought' he had parked it.

Once home, Jonathan realized how tired he was and began to get ready to go to bed. But as the clock struck to the moment of his birth, midnight, something happened within him. He clutched tightly at his chest, fearing that the stabbing pain he was experiencing meant a heart attack or stroke, but could not call out for help because his voice had failed him completely.

He collapsed to the floor in harsh convulsions as some part of him he had previously not known had existed pushed to the fore and enveloped his consciousness. It was an ancient force, one that had survived the millennia and apparently been sealed within him.

But it was so painful . . .

He was prepared to die when it stopped. His eyes popped open and he rose, looking out the window at the stars that could barely be seen from in the city.

He knew what he had to do.

~Six Months Before~

[The world of Men is not now as you knew it,] the Valar warned in his sleep. [You must conceal yourselves--assimilate into their culture. Let none see your ears, for you will be captured and imprisoned. Men know nothing of the Elves in these times except in their own mythology. Be wary. We will guide you. Go west.]

[We made it! Legolas, Elrohir, Elladan! There it is! There it is! Come look!]

Legolas glanced up toward the deck and saw the stars shining above before he groaned softly and rolled to plant his face in his pillow, using his arms to curl the bedding around his ears. He knew he should not have let Dirnees be a lookout. The younger Elf was just too highly strung. They were going to have to work on that to keep him from getting them in trouble.

In answer, he called up to the deck, [We can see it in the morning. Just dock the boat, Dirnees.]

[You bet!]

Relieved, as that would certainly keep him occupied until the boat was tied off, Legolas gratefully snuggled into his pillow and went back to sleep. However, he was hardly to get the sleep he needed because what seemed a moment later, his exhausted brother crawled into bed with him and snuggled against his back. The fact that they had often done this as children did not placate him. They were both fully-grown Elves and as much as he loved his brother, there was no room.

[Dirnees, what are you doing?]

[So sleepy . . .] was the only reply.

Legolas growled at him, absolutely refusing to be forced from his own bed. Never never never. So he let out an annoyed huff and once again returned to sleep. He might have done something more, like push Dirnees onto the floor, but had just gotten off his own week-long watch before his brother and was still tired as well, so Dirnees was spared.

~*~

They set out a week later, allowing Dirnees time to rest while the others made a short investigation of the area. They determined that there were no Men nearby and relaxed to a degree, keeping their senses ready for any trespassers.

[Do you think it will be safe to leave the boat here?] Elladan questioned as they moved farther into the swampy area.

[There is nothing there that will lead Men to us,] Legolas answered. [If they do find it, it will merely be an unexplained phenomenon.]

The marsh soon gave way to firmer ground and they paused at strange sounds they heard. Dull roars that came and went, heading either north or south. Curious, they moved closer cautiously and peered through the brush. Dirnees yelped in terror and tried to run and had to be pulled back to the edge of the small forest by Legolas and Elrohir.

[Do not be such a child!] Legolas snarled. [They do not know we are here!]

[They seem to be remaining on that hard surface,] Elrohir noted. [I believe we will be safe walking near it should we need to.]

[Is it a new type of road?] Elladan queried.

[It seems so,] Legolas replied. [There is a town in the distance and the road leads to it.]

[What is that?!] Dirnees cried, pointing at the sky. Above them, with a distant roar, a huge metal bird passed overhead.

[Is it an Eagle?] Elrohir questioned.

[It seems to be steel,] Elladan answered. [But how did they make steel fly? Do they have trolls throwing them, as one would a sword?]

[We will have to find out later,] Legolas concluded. [As long as it is not evil and is not going to try to stop us, we should not yet concern ourselves.]

They moved on parallel to the strange road, heading north toward the town. They reached it by midday and paused to decide whether or not to stop for food. When they heard the language of Men and how strange and indecipherable it now was to their ears, they concluded that it might be better to see what kinds of foods they could find beyond the town. And they might meet someone later who could help them.

[We need horses,] Elrohir said frankly. [We have not traveled long, I know, but I feel we will need them.]

[How will we acquire them?] Elladan asked. [We do not know where we might find any.]

[There?] Dirnees inquired, pointing.

They all looked to the right and there, grazing peacefully within a fence, was a small herd of horses.

[I knew that,] Elladan remarked.

Elrohir snorted. [Well, if they are fenced they must be owned, though I do not see why it would be necessary to do so. The people of Rohan never fenced their herds except in the winter, when they stabled them.]

[We should not have too many dealings with Men,] Legolas decided, his thoughts elsewhere.

[Are you saying we should steal them?] Dirnees queried, wide-eyed. [But Legolas, you---]

[I never said to steal them!] Legolas snapped. [I said we should not have too many dealings with Men! The Valar warned me about them! To keep our ears hidden because they know nothing of Elves in this time and would imprison us!]

[Then how will we get them? If all Men speak the language we heard in the town, how will we communicate our wishes?]

[Maybe we will not have to,] Elrohir murmured from where he and Elladan had been watching the herd. One of the fence segment's bars suddenly snapped in half. Four of the horses lifted their heads and looked that way, then made a dash for the opening, escaping into the trees.

The four Elves gave chase, finding the horses stopped and grazing in a small clearing. They thanked the Valar and each mounted one of the smallish but sturdy horses. The creatures were certainly not similar to the horses of Rohan, but they seemed to be built for distance running and harsh weather.

And so they set out westward, leaving the sea behind them and heading for what the Men called the Appalachian Mountains. The way was not simple, for angry hounds beset them when they unknowingly crossed someone's property and the sudden changes in weather sometimes slowed their progress so that the horses did not injure themselves.

They also had to pass around many city boundaries, which often took days or weeks. They ate as they went, allowing the horses to show them which things were the best.

But in the end they made it to southern California and turned north. They did not know it, but their journey and adventure was just beginning.

~One Week Ago~

[We still have not found the soul and it has nearly been a year!] Dirnees reminded them as they traveled.

[We will find it,] Legolas assured his brother. [The Valar are still guiding us.]

[But in a year---]

[We have been delayed several time and even with the guidance of the Valar, we must consider the distance we are going,] was the annoyed interruption. [We will get there.]

Dirnees opened his mouth.

Legolas' patience snapped. His brother had hardly done more than fret the length of their journey. [And if you make one more comment I am going to tie your quiver straps around your head to quiet you.]

That silenced Dirnees for upwards of fifteen minutes. Then, as they were crossing a bridge that passed over a small creek, he lifted his head and peered into the trees. [What was that?]

The other three turned to him warningly, but then their ears picked up the sound of struggling over the bubbling water. They dismounted and snuck cautiously into the brush, surprising a young woman who had been bound to a small tree and gagged.

[She looks like the Evil!] Elrohir hissed. [I wonder if---Legolas! What are you doing?!]

[Releasing her.]

[Someone must have put her there for a reason! We do not know what she is capable of!]

[She would not be so frightened of us if she was the Evil.]

[She could be pretending!]

[I smell it. She is terrified. She is not the Evil.]

Legolas knelt before the girl, reaching his hand to her. She shrank away as much as the rope allowed and trembled, jumping when his fingers came into contact with her neck. He braced her head as he drew a knife with his free hand and moved to cut the gag. She let out a muffled cry and struggled, but he easily restrained her. She shut her eyes, quietly whimpering her panic as he slid the flat of the blade along her cheek and turned the edge to face out, slicing the fabric.

The gag fell away and he replaced the knife in its sheath, cooing softly to calm the girl. She opened her eyes slowly, gazing up at him with admiration and distrust in her eyes.

". . . Thank you."

[What did she say?] Elladan asked immediately.

[How am I supposed to know?] Legolas replied, watching the girl's eyes widen in disbelief.

Obviously, things were about to get a great deal more complicated.


So yes, even though this chapter has absolutely nothing to do with the mystery Elf, I encourage you to keep guessing. The possibilities are narrowing, as I am quite sure most of the Elves have been guessed already. I just want to see if anyone else can guess it.

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