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The Elf Raiders

Please note that this is merely an excerpt from a novel in progress - as such this is also a first draft, please check back for updates as this novel undergoes the horrendous editing stage :) Thank you!

Also, the date is not wrong. This is an older piece that I have pulled from my own slush pile to re-work and hopefully publish.

The Elf Raiders

            The dying day’s breeze blew steadily, as the frothy sea waves crashed to the shore at the toes of Luethan’s leather boots.  The elf watched the Viking ship, carrying all the gold, silver, and jewels, sail into the sunset.  For a fleeting moment, she thought she could see the ship’s captain raise his hand in farewell.  Turning her eyes from the white sails that pierced the quickly darkening night, she sat down on a nearby tree stump to wait.  The Dragonians wouldn’t be pleased with her last raid on the fearsome Eregon’s lair, they would come for revenge.  She and her friends could sleep easier now that their people treasures were headed back to the forest where they belong.  The thought of her friends caused her to wonder of their whereabouts.  They had been separated during the last battle and she hadn’t seen them since, and that had been nearly four nights ago. 

            Luethan heard the crashing of falling timber and knew her opponents were nearing rapidly.  She would have to fight them again, and do it alone; at least she would have the starless night as her ally.  She could hide if she was made to, but still a fight was eminent.  The last thing one would want to do is fight a warring clan of Dragonians alone.  A single warrior that was hell bent on revenge could kill a good number of his resistance in a very short time.  Skilled with bows and swords the Dragonians were deadly enemies.  The reptilian fire-breathing creatures were relentless in their battles, and no one ever tried to start a fight with them, no one except Luethan and her two friends. 

            As these thoughts continued to whirl in her mind, she heard the distinct sounds of the Dragonians marching.  They would be at the shoreline in a few minutes.  As the underbrush started to move, Luethan stood grabbing her bow as she retreated closer to the sea’s edge.  As she ready her first arrow on her bowstring, the first wave of warriors leered at her from the shadows.  A few ambitious warriors came out form the shadows and let their beady red eyes roam along the shore looking for any help that their enemy might have.  Pulling her bowstring back, Luethan stood ready for their attack.  Willing herself not to release her arrow to soon, she returned their stare stubbornly, forbidding herself from showing fear.

            The leader stepped from the pack and strolled almost nonchalantly toward the elf, stopping merely a few feet in front of her.  As he allowed his gaze to roam freely over the girl he raised his crooked sword high above his head and brought it down again in one swift movement, ordering his troops on into battle.  As the first arrow whizzed by her head, Luethan released her arrow, piercing a Dragonian’s unarmored neck, killing him instantly.  The other’s watched their mate fall to the sandy ground, then turned an unholy attack on the girl.

Luethan fought valiantly, but her quiver was close to empty and her small knife would be of little help against their weapons and armor.  As she loosed her last arrow, an unnerving fear began squirming in the pit of her stomach.  She was running out of time.  She was going to die at the hands of these savages.  Now completely unarmed, Luethan dropped her bow to her side and faced her opponents with every ounce of bravery and courage she could muster, refusing to let them see her frightened.  The Dragonians could smell her defeat, and began jeering and laughing.  The leader waved for silence and walked over to the girl, reaching out with one scaly hand he rubbed her cheek, in an almost loving fashion.  Smirking at her disgust at his touch, he pulled his flint knife and touched it to her throat.   Luethan closed her eyes as she waited for the blade’s plunge. 

Gasps issued from the lizard men, caused her to open her eyes again.  An enormous tidal wave was swooshing toward the shore.  The Dragonians all hurried to their retreat, thinking they would be safer in the trees, but something told Luethan to stand steady.  As the water crashed down over her head an air bubble encased her.  Looking around in confusion Luethan heard a small soft voice speaking to her.

“Follow me Luethan.  Come with me.  We will protect you.”

Looking behind her in disbelief, she gazed at the speaker in utter surprise, a sea elf stood there dressed in a slinking green gown that matched her hair.  The sea elf stretched out her wet blue hands and grasped Luethan’s hands in her own.

“We were once considered kindred and trusted one another.  Please trust me now; we do not have much time.”

Unable to speak Luethan followed the sea elf.  Reaching the water’s edge, Luethan pulled away, “I won’t be able to breathe!”

Smiling gently the sea elf replied, “Trust me, Luethan, I do not wish to cause harm to you.”

Turning away, she jumped into the foaming waves, and after a moment’s hesitation Luethan followed, and she realized that the air bubble followed, keeping her surrounded.  The sea elf led her to a giant underwater city built into the coral reefs.  The orange coral seemed to radiate safety as they swam closer. 

Once inside the city’s protective bubble the sea elf spoke again, “Hello, Luethan my name is Tortania.  My friends call me Tort.  I have been watching you for a while, and even followed you most of your journey along the shore.  I am sorry to have intervened in your battle, but I fear for all elven-kind.  You had friends helping you, so I did not worry for a time.  Then, they left I became frightened.  What happened to them?”

Luethan stared dumbfounded at Tort, but answered slowly, “I don’t know what happened to them.  We were separated, and they went one way and I another.  If you have watched me then you know of my raids.  Last night was the fourth and I wish to return to my people to check on the Viking’s trustworthiness.  I am curious if the returns from my raids made it back to my village.  Will you help me, please?” 

Nodding her head, Tort motioned for Luethan to follow her again.  Leaving the coral city far behind, they swam for the opposite shore from whence she came.  Surfacing Tort pointed to the eastern sky, which was already showing the golden hint of sunrise, then ducked back underwater and disappeared.  Tort had led her to the opposite shore from where the battle had originated and seemed to have disappeared, but Luethan knew that Tort was still with her, but she was hiding under the water.  Shaking her head in wonder Luethan turned and squinted into the increasing light, and could see the Dragonian warriors moving about their camp.  Thankful for her savior, Luethan turned in the direction Tort had pointed and began walking slowly. 

Three days passed before Luethan could even see the village boundaries of Lormur.  Unable to hold her eyes open any longer Luethan lay down on a bed of soft moss and fell into a dreamless sleep.  Sleep didn’t last long for the Elf, as her friends arrived.  Gorgu shook Luethan’s shoulder to wake her. 

“Sorry to wake you, but news has reached my ears that Eregon has another lair farther North.  We should make this fifth raid, too! Our people deserve those treasures too,” Gorgu informed the waking Luethan, with a strong sense of urgency in his voice. 

“It’s good to see you too!  I hope you are well met.  Me, you ask, I’m great.  I was attacked three days ago by a troop of Dragonian warriors.  It’s all right though, because a Sea Elf saved me.  Tort was most helpful; I should like to thank her someday.”

“Okay, I get the point, but what of the other lair,” persisted Gorgu.

“The other lair, eh?  How many damn lairs does one dragon need anyway?  Ten? Twenty?  Maybe thirty.  I suppose your right though.  Let’s make this one last raid, but could I eat first?  I am absolutely starving,” returned the lighthearted Luethan with a smile for her friend.

Gorgu tried to look at Luethan with a Father’s sternness, but soon smiled in return.  As they continued to catch up on the gossip of their journeys, Gorgu rummaged in his pack trying to find food.  His time was ill spent though, as a third Elf came barreling out of the nearby scrub bushes, carrying a large portion of elven bread and a waterskin filled with good elven ale.  Luethan’s stomach rumbled with hunger at the sight.

Gorgu shook his head, as Tormer grinned broadly, obviously proud of himself, “Food anyone, I have plenty.”

Luethan lurched forward and grabbed a handful of bread, and began ravenously shoveling it in her mouth with both hands.  Gorgu and Tormer merely sat back and allowed her to enjoy her breakfast. 

When satisfied she stood and they gathered their weapons and things, then headed north deeper into the shadows and farther from home.

The trio made good time for most of the first day, stopping only thrice for food and drink.  They continued trekking though night had fallen, each hoping to make it back to Lormur soon.  The next two days were much the same for them, as they drew steadily nearer to Eregon’s lair. 

As the third day grew warmer, they came across a small clearing in the forest.  The cove was filled with hundreds of dead Faeries.  Stricken, Luethan walked over to one of the dead Faeries, flinching over the bloody mess that was once a beautiful Faerie, and pulled an arrow from the dead’s chest.  Only the cruelest of creatures would ever kill a Faery. 

Studying the arrow intently, she muttered, more to herself than her comrades, “Dragonian.”

Standing she tossed it aside, then remembering her empty quiver bent and picked it up again.  Walking through the mounds of dead bodies, she gathered many more arrows.  Turning to look for her friends, once she had a full quiver, she saw them huddled over one of the only three dead Dragonians.  Quickly closing the distance, she waited for them to give her their thoughts on the dead. 

Fingering the neckline of their armor, Gorgu muttered, only two weak places, the neck and under that breastplate.” 

After his assessment, Gorgu stood and started walking toward the lair.  Luethan and Tormer followed, each lost in their own thoughts.  The wooded area suddenly cleared, and they found themselves looking at the entrance to Eregon’s lair.  The ground around the cave was dry, cracked and littered with bits and pieces of former prey.  Bones and blood stretched to the bushes where they hid.  The air reeked of blood and rotting flesh. 

As they watched, a Dragonian dragged the body of a Faery across the ground toward the caves entrance.  Luethan slapped her hands quickly over her mouth to stifle the scream that threatened to escape, as she realized that the Faery he was dragging was still alive.  As the warrior reached the cave, he mercilessly dropped his luggage to the ground, beside a wooden stake that was hammered into the filthy ground.  Swiftly tying the prey to the stake, he left.  The Faery started to wake up, and scream in fear.  As the screams, continued, tiny pebbles began to fly from the cave as the great purple snout of Eregon emerged.  Snorting Eregon crawled from his lair.  Completely free of the cave, the dragon was a magnificent sight.  Stretching his large veined wings, and snorting tiny bursts of flames, he gazed at his dinner.  With one quick snap, the Faery’s screams ended.  Now satisfied the dragon took to the air, and the trio of elves advanced on the lair not wasting a moment. 

The three exchanged thumbs up signals, that told of their readiness, and Luethan bent and picked up a large stone and flung it into the cave.  Their ploy worked soon they were rewarded with warriors, that streamed from the cave.  Tormer loosed the first arrow killing a Dragonian instantly, watching his fall the others advanced and a full scale battled roared. 

The battle continued for most of the night and again the friends were separated.  Luethan kept fighting with everything she had but the Dragonians surrounded her.  Not wasting time now, the leader put an arrow through her chest.  Gorgu watched her fall and ran to her side, but time wasn’t a friend to them.        Luethan managed a smile, and said, “Remember me!  Fight, keep fighting, our people need you.  Tell Tormer.”  She died and it only heightened Gorgu’s rage.  Seeing Tormer, he waved for him to follow him.  Tormer saw Luethan’s body, but left it lying as he followed.  The two charged into the cave and found their treasures.  As they stuffed bags hurriedly, they heard war horns in the distance.  The Vikings had come back, they must have heard of this place while in Lormur delivering the other treasures.

When the two elves emerged from the cave, they were greeted with the sight of thousands of Dragonians retreating into the trees.  The Viking Captain Leif Everson held Luethan’s body, as he carried it onto his ship.  On his orders, his crew assisted Gorgu and Tormer gather the jewels. 

Once everyone was safe in the tiny riverboats that had carried them ashore, Leif turned to the elves, “I think it would be only fitting to take Luethan home.  Let her rest with the people she died to protect.  Do you not think so?”

“Absolutely,” intoned Tormer and Gorgu in unison. 

With that, the boats sailed toward the sea and the large ship that was home to the Vikings.  Then it traveled on to Lormur, at last the Elves were home.  Their people had all their treasures back, and Luethan was final able to make to journey home.  She was laid to rest eternally under the ash tree, that tree was the first one she ever climbed, and the one that the three friends always had their clubhouse.  Luethan’s funeral was massive as Elves from everywhere attended, as well as the Vikings and Humans that were always supportive of Gorgu, Tormer and her mission.