The two rode with haste and in silence. At about noon they reached Crystal Lake, it was about twenty miles from Rinion. The lake was clear through to the bottom. Many fish and other things could be seen swimming around. Troen got out his canteen to take a drink.
“Save your water while we are here. Drink from the lake. It’s much cooler.” said Sarine lowering his canteen from his mouth.
“I’ve been through here many times. The water was too clear, I was suspicious.” Troen answered.
“Are all the wonders as worrisome as you?” Sarine asked smiling.
“I’m sorry. These lands aren’t as peaceful as you might think. I will take your word.” Troen replied and walked to the lakeside.
He drank all he could and brought the horses over as well. Later while Troen was cooking some food, Sarine went to the lake and filled up a few extra canteens. They might not find water in the days to come. They ate their meal and then continued they’re journey.
Meanwhile back in Rinion, Kenolen sat on his balcony looking to the west at the Shadows Mountains. As he looked he wondered if it just seemed to be getting darker or if it was actually that dark. He had been looking for so long he could not tell the difference. Suddenly a young elf came running ot the balcony.
“My lord!” he yelled. Kenolen turned and knelt down to his hight.
“What is it my child?What have you seen?” “Look to the east! To the Woodlen Forest. A shadow has covered it just as the Shadow’s Mountains!” The boy answered pointing.
Kenolen quickly turned and strained his eyes at the far off horizon. He saw it. A dark shadow that had once been the bright Forests.
“Sarine…Troen…” he said under his breath. He knew they must first pass through the Woodlen Forests to get to the wizard. “I don’t want to know the evil that awaits them there, my lord.” said the boy shaking.
“Only since the time of my childhood has the Shadow gone far from their mountains. How could they make such a long distance in one night?” Kenolen asked aloud.
He turned to the boy and said,” Summon the council!”
The boy ran to gather them as Kenolen made his way to the Great Hall of Rinion, where the Council of Knowledge met. The council consisted of the elders possing the greatest knowledge in the land of Rinion. The knowledge of these elves was passed from generation to generation. Kenolen stood before the members as they were seated. As Kenolen opened his mouth to speak, the wisest member, Korus asked, “Where now does the Shadow dwell? How far have they gotten?”
Kenolen answered, “They now invade the Woodlen Forests, the home of the Wood Elves. How can this be? In the past the Shadows disappeared at daybreak and returned to their mountains. The sunlight used to harm them, why does it no longer affect?”
Then another member Belis said,” The dark lord knows the planets will soon aline and his day of darkness will come. It is as we all feared those centeries ago when that wizard cursed them. His curse has ended.”
Kenolen then asked,” What will the dark lord do when he finally gets his chance to leave the mountains?”
“The dark one will still be weak…” answered Belis.
“Good then. That will give us some time to get a plan.” said Kenolen quickly. “Let me finish! since he will be weak he will send out his armies to all the lands and they will begin to take over the kingdoms. I see this has already begun with the Woodlen Forests.”
Kenolen sat for a moment confused on what to say. Finally he said,” We really must speak to the wizard.”
“That is where you sent Sarine and Troen is it not? They must be swift.” said Korus.
Kenolen then rememberd the forests. “They must go through the forests to get to him.” The council looked at him in dismay.
“We can only hope then.” said Belis saddly. “There’s a way to keep the Shadows in the mountain, the lost king of Aromon returning.” Korus said looking around.
“There is no lost king, there were no descendents from the Great king of old those ages ago.” replied Kenolen.
” Yes, Kenolen, there was and there is. Did you forget the wizard curse? He cursed the dark lord to the mountains until such a heir of the king was born that could defeat him. The heir is alive. Our challenge now is to find him.” Korus said with a stern tone towards Kenolen.
“Troen!” Kenolen suddenly said. “Yes, we all believe it is Troen, but we have to be sure.” answered Belis.
“How?” asked Kenolen. “The wizard will know.” replied Korus smiling. ” Then we must hope Troen and Sarine reach him safely.” Kenolen said and he looked again to the dark forests.
As the sun set that day Sarine spoke to Troen with worry. “We won’t be able to reach the forest by night.”
“I think that might be a good thing. The Woodlen looks as though the sun never rose. It must be the Shadow, I hope we can help.” replied Troen.
“That’s not possible, they can’t leave their mountains. The dark lord must be planning something. I only wish we knew what.”
Sarine stared ahead of them. She could see the many trees that made up the forests. They were black and dead looking, Sarine was now wanting to turn back though she knew she should not.
“We won’t know anything until we see Larous, the wizard will know, he always does.” said Troen trying to comfort her. Sarine smiled a little.
“Despite the looks of the forests, I am now thinking we might be safer to go there, than to stay out. In the forest we can atleast hind if the enemy attacks. The Woodlen elfs will help us with supplies. If they are there.” said Troen. Sarine nodded in agreement. Their horses ran as fast as they could and they finally reached the forest in the early night.
There was an uncomfortable silence as they rode on a dark path. The only sound heard was the sound of the horses hoofs on the ground. Sarine looked around, the were just entering the first forest city, Malien. It was home to the riverwood elves. The city lay right on a river, every building had the river running through it. The water was always fresh and clear, but now it had taken the apperance of clouds. The two travelers saw something approaching…it was an elf. A young woman dressed in long, white robes with long light hair and brown beautiful eyes that had orange specks. She came to their horses and said, “My name is Hadrine, you are most fortunate to arrive safly now. The Shadows have taken my people to the northern parts of the forests.”
“Then the beasts have gone from the city?” asked Sarine.
“No, there are two in the tower just there,but we are hidden by the trees. They cannot see us.” replied Hadrine looking up at the tower.
“Do you have a horse? You had better come with us, you will be safe.” asked Troen. “Yes.” she replied turning and waving at something. A magnificent white horse came to her.
“Where are you going?” Hadrine asked.
“We are going to the land of the dwarfes. We seek Larous the wizard he is an old friend of mine.” answered Troen.
“I supose I have no other choice. My people are prisoners and I am the only one left. I want to think there is someway I can help. Hadrine stopped and looked into the gateway of the city.
“I’m sorry my lady, but we can do nothing. Not now atleast. We must be going.” said Troen as his horse walked ot her side. She turned sadly and got on her horse.
“We must be silent, they musn’t hear us or we will end up with my people or worse.” Hadrine then led the way down the winding path. They were successful in getting past Malien unnoticed. They waited until they were far off to stop for rest.
When dawn came Larous the wizard looked to the Woodlen Forests standing at the gate of dwarf city. His old face gave a worried look. He had long white hair and a long strait mustache that framed his mouth down to his chin. He had no beard which was unexpected for a wizard. A young man with deep black curley hair in baggy wizard attire came up behind him. His name was Valen.
“The time has come my apprentice.” the wizard said to him.
“The time for what?” asked Valen confused.
“You need not know now, all will be reviled at the right time.” Larous answered grabbing his wooden staff that was leaning up against the stone gate. “Come!” He said turning and waving for Valen to follow.
At that same time, Troen and the two elfs were just leaving the borders of the Woodlen Forests. “It’s another day and nights journey to get to the Green Forests. I fear that will not be fast enough. We must be swift. Ride hard now, as fast as you can, no stopping for any reason.” ordered Troen and their horses followed his in a race to the dwarf city of Dalin.
Late the next night Troen caught site of the Green Forest in the distance. “We should arrive at the city just before dawn.” said Troen to the two.
” I wonder if Larous will know we are coming.” Sarine said.
“There is no way to tell. That wizard if full of surprizes.” said Troen recalling memories he had had with the wizard.
One that stuck with him was their great adventure with the wizards staff and how he had managed somehow to misplace it. Letting it fall into unsafe hands,but that is a story for another time. They saw the dwarfen gate close ahead which was of course made of stone. Before they could reach it a bright green light blinded them. Troen tried to look through it but, all he could see was the outline of two figures. The green light finally died away and there he saw Larous the wizard standing by his friend Valen.
“Troen! Thank heavens your safe. Sorry for the blinding light. I was told to guard the gate. The dwarfs are quite frighted of the Shadow although…” Larous stopped as he heard Troen laugh a bit.
“What is funny?” asked the wizard looking at him with anger.
“Dwarfs scared of Shadows? They live in caves, they’re surrounded by them.” Larous stared at him with an angry gleam.
“They are right to be frighted,Troen. Since they live where they do they will be a very easy victims of these enemys when they reach their lands.”
Troen straightend his face and sat quitely on his horse. Larous looked away from him to Sarine and then to Hadrine.
“From where do you dwell?” he asked her.
“The Woodlen Forests, from the city of Malien. My people have been taken to the northern parts of the forests. I do not know what or who awaits them there. My name is Hadrine.” She replied.
“Larous feared to think that she would be the last of the Malien elves. “I’m sorry to hear of that, but I must ask, how did you alone manage to escape?” asked Larous.
“I was out riding my horse in the early morning before the sun. It seemed unusally quiet and still, but I did not pay any attintion to that. When I returned after the sunrise, the city was still dark..and..I saw them. They were pulling my people out of their houses and throwing them around like animals. They lined them up and began marching them north. I saw my father and brothers near the end of the line. They saw me from my hiding place in a tree. I was about to run to them, but something in my fathers eyes told me to stay. So I did. I hid there in fear for hours until I saw Troen and Sarine. I did not want the same to happen to them, so I went warn them. If they would have gone further the two Shadow guards in our Watch Tower would have seen them.”
Hadrine’s eyes where filled with fear and sorrow as she told her story.
“So Malien has been taken. So it has begun.” said Larous.
“What has?!” asked Valen who was completly unaware of what was going on. “Merlous’s plan to cover the lands in eternal darkness and evil.” Larous answered looking around them.
“Who?” asked Troen, for he had never heard the name.
“Merlous is the dark lord, many forgot the terrible name,but I remember it well. Come let us get rest with the dwarves. We leave tomorow.” answered the wizard and he led the way through the gate and to the many great caverns and caves that made up Dalin, the oldest dwarf city.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.