A few days before Winter Festival ...
"I hate this duty."
"Yeah, well you know Tomar is only covering our rears, Sisly."
The younger elf sighed heavily. It was never fun. While the other youths were playing festival games, she was out her on top of a rock. According to her chief, she was at the age that she was to take on responsibility. "Still not fair." She muttered to herself.
"Tsk." The rust haired male shook his head, though deep green eyes shown with humor. "You know we are having problems with the priests and if we do not take our turn as look out we may not get an advanced warning."
"But Raftek ..."
** Shush Kitling ...**
The urgency, in which he sent that, caused Sisly to snap her mouth shut. ** What is it? **
** Company has come a callin' **
However, before the sound got any closer the shifting of rock was the only warning they had. Raftek went down before he knew what hit him. His head smashed in by a blunt weapon, he fell dead in front of a shocked Sisly. Slowly, she lifted her light brown eyes, round from horror and fear, up to focus on the assailant. She had enough time for one last sending, before her soul was free to seek the palace.
The Great Oasis
"Onsha!" Secca trotted over to the golden haired chief's daughter.
"What is it Secca?"
"Ame said you were looking for me."
Onsha nodded. "I was. I wanted to show you the present I made for mother." The younger elf held up a hair comb. It wasn't too fancy, but it was the best Onsha's unskilled hands could do. "Well, I had some help, but most of it was my work."
The dark elf took the comb and studied it. "Hey, it's not half bad." She exclaimed after a moment.
"You think she'll like it?" Onsha said half hopeful.
"Of course she will." Secca smirked as she continued. "Of course, you could give her something half digested by a Sand Snake and she'd still think it was beautiful."
"Your no help," grumbled Onsha.
This was rewarded with a chuckle from Secca. "Seriously though. It's really good." She gives her soul sister a slap on the shoulder, when she noticed the other was still pouting. "Lighten up ... it was joke."
Before Onsha could reply Tomar appeared next to his daughter. "Onsha, I need you to go watch the kitlings." The young she-elf groaned. "Now don't start that. Everyone is busy with preparations for the festival and so you too can do your part."
"But the kitlings, father?!?!" There had to be something more worth while she could do.
"No buts." He said calmly and pointed towards the kitlings play area.
Onsha sighs heavily and lets her shoulders slump in defeat. "Yes, Father." She moved off toward her fate.
When Secca moved to follow, Tomar stopped her with a strong hand on the shoulder. Tomar explained in a quick sending meant only for her. ** No, Secca. Onsha needs to learn some of the lesser things to being a Chieftess. **
Tomar left the dark-aired elf to her own devices and walked through the throng of tents. A couple of soft giggles caught his attention and he stepped around the side of a tent. Uh-Oh. He found himself looking at a large congregation of DesertWinds women. He tried to back up, but his Lifemate, Zerah, was too fast for him.
"Tomar! Join us!" She said that a bit too cheerily for his taste.
"But love, I have to go talk to Kaze." Oh it was a lame excuse and Zerah knew it.
"Nonsense ... sit." The way she said that brought giggles from Vindra, Menanie and Ame.
Sharana was the one who spoke up for the poor chief. "Now ... now ... he doesn't have to sit here and listen to us ladies tell Menanie birthing stories."
This definitely brought a groan from Tomar. "Please... I need to go." This was not the type of thing that made him feel comfortable. Woman explaining in detail, how it felt, looked, and what not. He had to get away. He kind of felt a twinge of sympathy for the very pregnant Menanie; but then again she might actually be enjoying herself. Oh the mysteries of females, he thought to himself.
However, before anything more could be said by both parties, Menanie lets out a blood-curdling scream. "Raftek!" The blonde elf collapsed in a sobbing heap.
Tomar and most of the others around him grabbed their heads as Sisly's sending pierced their minds and blocked out any amount of screaming from Menanie. Surprisingly, the sending was silenced just as quickly as it begun. The warning was given, and must be acted on. Tomar left the women to tend to the crying Lifemate of his Second, Raftek.
Human Army- Outside of the Great Oasis
"Seems a bit excessive."
"What my Lord?"
"Nothing, Advisor Fed." The young man waved a hand in dismissal. "Just me speaking before I think. " Though his eyes stayed on the columns of soldiers and mercenaries that trudged along.
The rotund priest shook his hairless head. "I would watch your tongue more closely, High Lord Evenstall." He motioned toward the group of black robed men, the Brotherhood of the Just. The Lord knew that this meant it must be an important battle. "Certain ears might hear and they do not see rank, only blasphemy."
"I know Fed ... I know." The Lord watched the Brothers, for a long time before one of them looked back. Of course, Evenstall knew he wouldn't see a face and that unnerved him most of all.
The rushed sound of horses' hooves warned Evenstall of the page's approach. His own beloved horse threw his head up and flared his nostrils at the smell of a female. A young cadet drew the reins up stopping his panting horse. The boy saluted before speaking, sounding almost as winded as the horse. "Scouts are back, High Lord." The speaker face becomes awed. "And they brought back two of the demons. They said they were lookouts."
Advisor Fed hemmed softly in thought. "So there is a very good chance they know we are coming." He kicked his horse into a trot and called to the boy. "Take me too the bodies."
"Yes, Advisor." The messenger turned his mount around and urged it into a gallop so he could catch up to the priest.
Evenstall relaxed. He always felt uncomfortable around the priests. Why he even agreed on this venture he still wasn't sure. No, that's not right. It was his duty to Mesardee. The young man let out a large sigh and ran his fingers through his short-cropped black hair. "Best go have a look myself." And he urged his own horse after the retreating pair. He could hear the mutters as he got closer to the place where the demon bodies were.
"Fangs, this big..."
"Large evil eyes like a vicious animal ..."
"Animal ears, too hear you better with ..."
However, as the crowd parted before him, he got a good look at the demons. "Just children!" He winced internally for such a mess up, because now everyone had stopped talking and were staring. Evenstall cleared his throat and spoke again. "I mean they have a child's size." He swung his leg over and stepped down to the ground. A page near by took the reins for him.
"They assume the form of a child to throw us off, to make us feel guilty. " Advisor Fed offered as an explanation. "Who would want to hurt an innocent child?" With fierceness he reached down and took a hand full of the female's hair and yanked her up a bit. "Who would hurt something so innocent?" The priest ran a finger down the face of the demon, before letting it fall in a heap on the ground.
Evenstall shivered internally. The male did not look like a youth, he obviously had some years, but the girl could not be that old. Her cheeks still had the rounded look of a child of about 13 years. But he couldn't think about that now, he had to get this army moving again. He spoke up so that he could be heard. "We now know what evil power we are up against. Do not be fooled, by their trickery." He didn't like the words coming from his mouth, but it was his duty. "Death to the Demons!" He shouted.
"Death to the Demons." The sound of the army's cry mingled into one large roar. A roar that could be heard all the way at the Holt.
The Great Oasis
The roar of the humans drifted into the camp, causing frightened children to whimper and cry. Onsha shushed the children gently. "It's all right. Everything will be all right." Though she didn't sound sure herself. "Right father?" She turned a frightened eye to Tomar, but the look that he had filled her with dread.
"Yes, kitling. It will be fine." Though that look was one of pure fear.
Onsha looked about at all gathered and could see that same look of dread in all their eyes. The whole tribe knew it was going to be disastrous. Tomar took a deep breath. "It's time. All those I called out are to gather in the Garden." When they hesitated Tomar shouted. "Now!"
The camp turned to chaos as they prepared for the army of humans. Sharana, Ame and Vindra worked to gather all the tribe's children and get them into the Garden of the Dead. Onsha was to one of those to be sealed away into the garden and she didn't like that. She decided to talk to her father about it. She was more then old enough to defend her tribe. As she approached him she noticed, that she wasn't the only one feeling that way. Kaze was arguing that he could help, injured arm or not. Not wanting to disturb them, she hid behind a tent.
The chief locked his eyes on Kaze. "Don't argue with me, Kaze. You know we won't win." When the other elf started to protest, Tomar laid a hand on the elf's shoulder. "My daughter will need you more, then me." There was something in his voice that chilled Onsha spine. "We need to save as many able bodied hunters for afterwards."
Onsha moved away from the two, maybe talking to her father wasn't a very good idea. As she looked back over her shoulder, she bumped into Sharana. Blinking she looked up at the elder. "Oh! Revered Mother, I'm sorry."
Sharana fixed the smaller elf with a gentle smile. "No harm done, but I can tell by your eyes that you do not feel the same." She places an arm around Onsha's shoulders and guided her toward the Garden. "Your heart quivers with fear like the rest of us."
"It doesn't seem right." Onsha blurted. "We didn't do anything to them."
"Ah, but they fear us. And so they feel that crushing us will make them feel safer."
Onsha shook her head. "Still doesn't make any sense."
"Nothing ever does Kitling."
Suddenly shouts came from the elves at the entrance. ** Here they come. ** At the same time the roar of the human drifted toward them.
Ame shouted. "Quick! All into the cavern. Now!"
Elven children screamed as they hurried in, fear taking its hold.
But suddenly, a small voice shouted. "Dolly! I forgot dolly!" And faster then any of the grown ups could stop her, little SunJoy raced off into the tents.
Vindra started after her but Onsha put up a restraining hand. "I'll get her." And before any could protest Onsha ran off after the little girl. "SunJoy! Come back."
Beyond the retreating form of Onsha, the other elves gathered at the entrance of the Holt just in time for the first humans to plow into them. Ame moved to stand next to Vindra.
"We better go in ... Onsha will be fine."
"Besides, I will be standing guard outside." Both turned to look at Soran. "Go, inside ... hurry."
Once all were inside he drew the rock together until the whole cavern was enclosed. Once done he turned to survey what was happening. So far the elves were holding their own, but it was early in the battle. He then drew his golden eyes over the deserted camp. "Hurry Onsha."
At the Front Line
Tomar pulled his spear out of a human's gut. He was starting to tire and so were the others. Unaware, a human came at him with a sword raised to plunge into his back. However, Hana's fast thinking stopped the human. The ugly man went down holding his innards in his hands. Tomar spun around and looked surprised to see the dead human.
** Your getting slow Chief ** Only Windcry, Chieftess to the EastWinds, could make such taunts during a fight.
** Thank you Hana, ** Tomar sent as he engaged another human, blocking a sword swing with the metal laced wooded spear. He thanked the High Ones for Frula's ingenuity; having metal mixed with wood.
A mental scream filled Tomar's mind. **Father! Help! ** It was Onsha. She was supposed to be in the cavern. The distraction was all his adversary needed to slip his sword between the elven chief's ribs.
Tomar coughed and could taste blood in his mouth. Desperately, Tomar sent to the first elf he could think of ** Yaramon! Help her. **
** Yes, Chief. ** Yaramon broke off his position and raced off into the camp.
With what strength he had left Tomar with a cry of "High Ones!" plunged his spear into the human's skull, right through the eye.