So this is what its like to be on an adventure, Alak thought as he marched along a hunter’s trail through the forest. He was certainly dressed for the part wearing a sleeveless green tunic, black boots, and his wild dark hair pulled back with a rubberband. A black bow was strapped to his back along with a quiver of arrows that magically replaced themselves.
The woods of Gondor were peaceful, the giant trees spreading their elegant branches above him, the emerald leaves sparkling in the sunlight. The birds sang their chorus among the leaves, a talent of which they needed no practice.
Alak traveled very light, carrying only his weapons and blanket with him. Elves believed the lightest travel made the fastest travel. Whatever Alak needed, he found in the forest.
As he walked, Alak began to feel something in the air, a strange oppression on his mind. Something bothered him, but he didn’t know what.
He sensed something behind him. But when Alak turned around, there was nothing there. And yet the strange presense still lingered in the back of his mind. Chills slithered up his spine as he turned forward, his ears alert as he listened for anything amiss.
The birds had stopped their singing and a dead silence descended upon him. Something was out there, something that couldn’t be heard, smelt, or seen. Only felt.
The silence was broken by the sound of distant thunder. A storm was moving in and fast. Dark clouds were gathering quickly, blocking out all sunlight. It was only a few minutes before lightning flashed blindly overhead, thunder shook the earth, and rain drops plummented to the ground by the trillions creating icy curtains.
Some say that the moment you truly embark on your adventure, your first task is to overcome your worst fear. For Alakolas Greenleaf, his worst fear was storms.
Ever since he was old enough to walk (around age 2), whenever it stormed he would waddle as fast as his little legs could carry him to his mother’s room and crawl under the blankets with her. There he would shake with fright, huddled against her breast, and Aurora would sing him a gentle lullaby to calm his fear while lightning illuminated the bedroom and thunder shook the walls.
They say that because Alak was born during the worst storm of the West was the reason he feared them so. Alak himself couldn’t explain why he was so afraid of storms. He just was even now as he shot down the path in terror.
The wind blew harshly against him as if trying to push him back, but Alak’s fear was stronger and shoved him forward. Thunder crashed almost right on top of him, so loudly that Alak screamed, covering his ears with his hands.
“GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, the sound a tiny squeak compared to the fury of the storm. He always imagined the lightning as a living, breathing monster, reaching out to grab him with icy fingers, to trap him and freeze him until his bones shattered. To Alak, lightning was not made of white-heat that burned like fire, but was made of luminous ice colder than the frozen North bent on destroying everything, especially him.
In his panic, Alak did not see the ravine until he nearly ran right off it. He tried to avoid it, but it was too late. He turned so sharply, that he lost his balance and fell down the ravine. Colors exploded in his brain as he slammed his head onto a rock. He was unconscious before he even hit the ground.
The last thing Alak remembered was seeing a creature emerge from the lightning, a creature that very much resembled a horse or a stag with a long spiral horn on its forehead.
* * *
“Damn this storm!” Thalor raged, slamming his fists on the table, glowering at his crystal ball as if it had insulted him. “I had that *** kid in my sights! Now I lost him!”
“What’s wrong? Bad connection?” Elrypso sneered from across the room.
“Something like that,” Thalor snapped. “I had that kid’s precise location. Now thanks to this storm, he could be anywhere!”
“He is still in Gondor, sir,” the third ex-Elder, Raul, pointed out.
“I know that!!” Thalor yelled. “Do you have any idea how big Gondor is!? Or how fast that kid can run!?! Once this storm passes, its gonna be like looking for a needle in a haystack!”
There was a brief pause.
“You do know this storm has been magically conjured, right?” Elrypso spoke up.
“By whom?” Thalor challanged.
The other elf shrugged. “Oh, could be any number of people. But this could be used to our advantage. If there is one thing Alakolas Greenleaf fears above anything else, it is the power of thunder and lightning.”
“And how do you know this?” Raul demanded.
Elrypso grinned at the other two elves, a grin so cold it seemed to freeze the air around them. “Trust me. I know.”
* * *
“Holy Gap of Rohan!” Theo shouted as he and his younger brother raced down a hunter’s trail. “Did this storm hit like a sonuva*** or what?”
“Must you use such coarse language?” Kalyn demanded. “I can understand you just fine without it.”
The two half-elves had been out hunting since earlier that afternoon. The sky had been clear, the birds were singing, and the wind blew gently, giving no sign of hostility. Now Nature seemed to want to blast Gondor right off the face of the earth.
Both Theo and Kalyn were brothers, princes of Gondor, sons of King Aragorn. This must be clearly understood for though both of them had dark hair and blue eyes (Theo’s was sky-blue and Kalyn’s was dark blue), their differences in personalities were so extreme, one could be forgiven thinking they weren’t related at all. Theo tended to take after his human side more and more everyday, and Kalyn acted as if he were a full-blooded elf.
Which was way Kalyn saw the body, and Theo ran passed it without so much as a thought.
“Theo, wait!” Kalyn called, skidding to a halt. “There’s something over here! I think its a person!”
Theo jogged over to his younger brother’s side by the wall of a ravine. “You’re right. It is a person,” he declared. “Looks like he fell from up there,” he added noting the skidmarks on the ravine’s side.
Kalyn knelt down beside the body to check and see if he were still alive, and gasped with disbelief. “More than a person! He’s an elf!”
Theo’s jaw dropped and he bent down to take a closer look. “Are you serious? Elves hadn’t been seen in these parts for twenty years. Plus, he’d be going in the wrong direction. West is that way.” He pointed westward.
Kalyn rolled his eyes. “Look closely at the pointed-ears, bro. He’s an elf. And he must’ve had quite a fall for he’s out like a light. Come on! We can’t leave him here!”
Theo knelt down and help Kalyn lift up the elf’s body. “Damn!” Theo grunted as they began carrying the stranger home. “For a little guy, he sure is heavy!”