tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Solitary Arrow Ch. 17

The Solitary Arrow Ch. 17


Hyandai guided Harlen through the woods, leading him around features she knew to be somewhat treacherous. There was little in the Windir forest that would offer direct threat to a fully-grown human man, or even an elven woman. But that did not mean there was no reason for caution. There were places of spiritual power and locations where other fey creatures lived. Mischievous beings that would trick and betray Harlen, and some, even, Hyandai.

Deep under the canopy provided by the massive ornthalion trees, they moved quietly, disturbing the land as little as may be. Hyandai cautioned against leaving more mark of their passage than necessary, as there would be rangers about, forest wise elven men who, like Harlen did in Morrovale, patrolled these woods, seeking game and watching out for interlopers.

Most rangers were loyal to the crown and the people of the Windir, but there may be some who were subverted. A ranger, in his own wood, was not something to be trifled with, she warned.

Harlen was amazed at how close many of the local animals would allow them to come before they fled from the couple. They would watch warily, it is true, up until a person would walk near enough to touch them. Only then would the animals unhurriedly move away, stepping just far enough to be out of easy reach. Hyandai assured him that they would eat from one's hand, if one had food to offer that appealed to them.

"Why do they not fear us?" Harlen asked quietly as they stood not four paces from a doe and her foal.

Hyandai looked at him. "We hunt very little, beloved." She said. "They have not evolved to fear us. In your lands, they have many times been hunted to the verge of being wiped out. Only the ones who feared man instinctively survived. Today, all that live are descendants of those that lived, and were afraid."

Harlen considered this for a while, and understood her point, but people had to hunt, he figured. "They would not live long outside Windir, would they?" He asked.

She shook her head. "They do not know to avoid man." She said.

They walked on a ways, breaking for a quick lunch after several hours of travel. It was hard for Harlen to gauge their progress, as he knew none of the landmarks, and it was hard to judge speed in this world of oversized trees and little direct sun. It was beautiful, however, in a majestic and mysterious way. Almost like the cathedrals to the One he had heard tales of in the great cities. This was a cathedral to the One, he realized, simply a temple the One had allowed to construct itself, with the help of the firstborn.

"We are nearly halfway there, we will be able to arrive come the morning." Hyandai assured him, using her own memory of landmarks in the woods around them. Harlen noted her newfound confidence of stride. They were in her lands now, and she knew them as Harlen had known Morrovale.

She graced him with a broad smile. "There is a place we can camp tonight, in relative safety." She said. "It is my turn to provide the shelter. I often went there as a child, and it always seemed safe and I was never discovered by others."

Harlen nodded. "Sounds like a good spot, this close to Embalis, there may be patrols from the town itself to contend with." He said. "Especially if they suspect trouble is brooding."

A look of worry and deep thought crossed Hyandai's face as they continued walking. "I fear for my people, Harlen." She said. "The Ehladrel will not help that much in a fight of armies."

He commiserated with her, stroking her long auburn hair. "I fear for them, as well, angel." He said softly.

The walk continued in silence, the two of them lost in their individual thoughts.

Hyandai's mind was consumed with the worry, and fear that her people would be slaughtered by the traitors and her whole culture doomed to being extinguished.

Harlen, as is humanity's wont, was trying to think of ways to avoid those fates. This, more than fecundity or viciousness was the human advantage in situations of competition, be it a race, a game of poker, or a war.

"The Windy Islanders are occupied?" He asked, breaking the hours of silence.

She had to think for a few heartbeats as she digested his question. "Yes." She finally said. "They are still trying to mop up rogue Ghantian regiments and individuals who continue to harass their towns and outlying farmsteads. Besides, we fear bringing men into the deep wood to do battle, those who are untrained in such environs. They would be cut down like wheat."

Harlen nodded, still following Hyandai's back through the rolling terrain of the woodland's floor.

Harlen suddenly realized he was hearing water splashing. A waterfall, he thought. As he noted they were entering a clearing. It was like a larger-scale version of the grotto in Morrovale. Or, perhaps, the grotto was a miniature replica of this spot. It was wide and deep, and the trees held back from encroaching upon the shoreline of the little lake. On one side, a large waterfall fell over a sharp formation of rocks, tumbling down and spreading mist at the base of the column of flowing water. The water was unbelievably clear, and the scent of the entire glade was of orchids. A rainbow formed in the mist, spreading wide over the glade and fading toward the edges with the mist.

As Harlen blinked at the sheer beauty of the scene and the assault of lovely scent upon his nose, Hyandai grabbed his shoulder and pushed him down. They were now crouching behind a thick bush, with white flowers covering its surface. Peering over the edge of the bush, Hyandai smiled like a child, pointing with her thumb, then looking back over.

Harlen joined her in peering over the edge of the bush. Near the waterfall, just emerging from it, apparently, was a woman. She looked human, tall and lean, with long, powerful legs and strong-looking arms. She was fully nude, her lithe body gleaming with refracting beads of water. She moved with the grace of a skilled dancer, or warrior, or both. The only thing that made him know she was not a human was her hair. It was thick and wavy; a massive mane of hair, and it was green. However, it was not all green, parts of it were turning brown and red, and parts yellow and orange.

She walked along the bank of the little lake for some feet before turning and walking toward the trees, then disappearing into the foliage.

"What was that?" Harlen asked, his voice a whisper.

Hyandai giggled. "A nymph." She said. "Another fey of the wood."

"Are all fey so beautiful as you and she?" Harlen asked, peering back over, in case the nymph returned.

Hyandai stood up. "I'm afraid not." She said. "As a matter of fact, some are quite repulsive."

A low chuckle emitted from Harlen's chest. "I see." He said.

Onward they traveled, time seemed to have little meaning as they went on. The sun changed position, but without any real indicator of its present location and where it was an hour ago, it did not register as important.

"I see now why people say time does not pass in elven lands." Harlen commented idly, looking up at the few tiny pinpricks of sunlight piercing the canopy overhead. "If it does, it does so in hiding."

Hyandai took his hand. "Fret not, lover, we are in lands now that I know well." She said. "Or well enough."

The light was once again fading when Hyandai walked them up to an Ornathalion tree. She moved about the base, seeking something, until she found it. There was a soft, wooden click and a door opened into the tree.

She grinned back at his rather startled expression. "Come." She said, ducking into the doorway and entering the tree's trunk.

Harlen had to duck but could stand upright inside. It was a small chamber, only two paces wide and one deep. A narrow tunnel led from the left wall into the tree, like huge termites had bored into it.

Hyandai carefully closed the door and said. "Use your calyondo, beloved."

Digging for a moment, Harlen produced the calyondo and held it before him. She crawled into the tunnel and he followed. He could not at all complain of the view for this portion of their trek, he thought while looking ahead. Hyandai seemed to now never wear a loincloth, and the view was quite, frankly, stimulating, if he had to say so.

After what seemed like a long while of steady crawling, and moving upward, they emerged onto a platform that was very high up in the trees. Harlen looked over the edge, stretching muscles unused to such crawling. He saw nothing but darkening woods and mist.

"How high are we?" He asked.

Hyandai peered over the side. "About two hundred paces." She said. "As near as I could ever tell, I never measured it."

"What is it?" He asked, looking around the platform, which seemed to go all the way around the tree at this level.

She shrugged. "I know not, perhaps a disused watch post." She said. "But I have never found others here. We should be safe here for the night."

Harlen pocketed the light orb and sat upon the wooden deck of the platform. "Tell me about your father." Harlen asked, maintaining his random thought patterns.

Hyandai sat opposite him, cross-legged and leaned her elbows onto her knees and her chin onto her hands.

"He is a strong elf." She said. "And a good man. He is a smith, as I've told you, and makes many a useful items for the clan and the village." Her eyes were growing misty with time's passage as she spoke. "He was the head of the clan for a short while, before my mother's death. You see, we elves are matrilineal, though we usually have male rulers."

"When an elven man marries an elven woman, he takes on her position. As my mother was the senior woman in the clan, she was the matriarch, when my father married her, he became the patriarch." She explained further. "He headed the clan. But, when the woman that ties a man to his position dies, he loses it."

Harlen nodded. "What is he like?" He probed. He had never known his mother or father, so this was very interesting to him.

"As I said, strong and good." She repeated. "But also stern and stubborn, at turns." Her eyes were now glittering. "I remember him trying to make me quit carrying my mother's hyandai all the time and me being just as stubborn and headstrong as he was."

She was smiling a wide toothy grin. "I have told you, I am considered plain by elven folk, if for my golden eyes alone." She said. "One boy who had been sent by his parents to visit me said something about it, in a most discourteous tone. I thought my father would flatten him like a sheet of steel. He grabbed the rascal by his collar and bodily hauled him out the door, and to the edge of the platform, and dangled him over it, saying: 'More civility next time you have the honor of speaking to my daughter, else you may become my first experiment in the effects of gravity upon a piece of dung'." She paused a long moment. "He was my hero, and still is, I suppose, though now I have another, as well."

She moved her slender hand onto Harlen's her tiny fingers like a child's next to his thick digits. "You reminded me of him when we first met, from your smell of hard work." She said. "And while certain of our activities have disabused me of that assessment, others have reinforced it."

"Will he like me?" Harlen asked. "Or, more importantly, approve of me, and you." His eyes held some measure of concern for this matter.

Hyandai shrugged. "I know not, these days." She said. "It is a dark time, Harlen, you must bear that in mind. We face foes from the south, powerful ones. And now, from within as well. We elves do not face war as humans do, the very act of making it, even without a single death, is anathema to us. It is not our way."

Harlen turned his hand over under hers and clasped her fingers, gently, but firmly. "It makes you beautiful." He said.

"It makes us weak." Hyandai said, nearly spitting the words. Her expression had changed to one of disdain. "We avoid fights, we appease, and we parley. What we do not do, however, is win. In each transaction we loose something, a part of ourselves. Soon, we will have nothing to give, except our lives. Which, by then, will be meaningless."

"You believe pacifism won't work?" Harlen asked.

She smiled bitterly. "Why else was I, untrained in such things, seeking the Ehladrel?" She murmured. "Pacifism won't work, we have tried it for over two thousand years. Oh, certainly, some humans and others will abide by a non-aggression agreement, but just as often, as soon as it is convenient, or inconvenient, they push again, or openly attack."

Harlen nodded to that, but said nothing, simply stroked her shoulder and hair.

Hyandai smiled at him. "I doubt you wish to speak of my people's politics." She said. "It is something that will either happen or no without you or I taking part in it."

"Your concerns are my concerns." Harlen said gently. "If it bothers you, you should talk about it, though I am not very conversant in the matter."

"Another time, then." Hyandai replied. "I have other matters of import on my mind."

She reached up and stroked his stubbly cheek and kissed him. "We are in my lands now, Harlen." She said, once again speaking elven. "Let us enjoy one another this night as folk of the wood."

He only understood about two-thirds of what she said, but it was enough to deduce the rest.

Returning her kiss, he began to disrobe her, untying the knots that held her tunic covering her shoulders and breasts. It came free and he sat it upon the platform before bringing his hand back to palm the soft curve of her breast.

The nipple hardened almost instantly and she sighed as he squeezed the soft flesh. She ended the kiss and started kissing his neck and ear while he continued kneading first one then the other mound.

Hyandai turned to face him again, but this time opening her legs to straddle his as she pressed to him, her legs folded at the knee beneath her and he propped against the tree's massive trunk. He leaned forward from the trunk while she lifted his tunic off his upper body and ran her cool hands over his chest and arms, enjoying the feel of muscles under her fingertips while biting and kissing his neck and shoulders. Her hair tickled his chin as she moved from one side to the other, and then back.

His own hands did not remain idle, though, and he had untied her skirt and laid it atop her short top. Now she was nude, save her soft boots, which she soon kicked off her feet.

Finally, she scooted back and came up onto her feet in a low squat, unclasping his belt and tugging at his pants while he kicked his own boots off. Once she had removed his trousers, she squatted back down up against him, feeling his swollen cock against her pubic mound and stomach.

She looked down at it, squeezed between their stomachs, and one of her hands followed her gaze.

As she stood up, Harlen followed, not that he had much choice, she had his manhood firmly in her grasp. She kissed and tugged him as she backed to the railing that edged the platform around. She moved to it and felt the smoothly sanded wood on her backside.

Harlen was breathing short now, and thought he knew her intent. He touched her smooth-skinned shoulders and turned her about gently.

Hyandai grasped the railing with both hands, her knuckles white even in the dim moonlight that filtered through the trees. Her chest lowered to the rail as well, presenting herself to him with her legs apart.

With a slight adjustment of his position, Harlen stood behind her and pushed his organ down toward her entrance, she looked back over her shoulder with a wide smile, her own breathing was also coming in short gasps.

Pushing himself smoothly into her, he enjoyed the feeling her soft insides accommodating him again, smooth and slick, and warm and welcoming.

Hyandai groaned as he entered her, and he felt the muscles contract slightly in protest to the intrusion. Or was it an embrace of welcome?

Soon, though she was moaning with pleasure as her body learned what was expected of it. Would it always be thus? Harlen wondered. Though he did not really seek an answer. They both were enjoying it, so why bother with such a small detail?

Her moans became slowly more insistent and she was pushing back against him as he went into her.

Harlen was also feeling the sensation of need, of a desire to be with her more thoroughly. He took hold of the curves of her hips and lifted, straightening his legs. Her feet now dangled in the air by several inches, so different were their heights.

He began to enter her more enthusiastically, slamming himself against her backside. Her whole body quivered with each impact and she groaned in time with them. A few moments of this rough and forceful action and she was groaning with a agonizing climax, only moments before Harlen's. She was facing into the darkened woods and she cried out her joy while he took his turn to groan as he spent into her, sending his seed deep into her body.

They stayed like that a long moment, he holding her up by her waist and hips, while she laid her body upon the wooden railing. His organ throbbed as she squeezed it, milking every drop of his seed into herself.

Harlen was, frankly, amazed that he had managed to keep his knees straight through that and had not fallen, as they were now quite shaky under him. He lowered Hyandai to the deck and she moved off his impaling cock's shaft, turning about again.

"Will we make love every day?" She asked, smiling at him, pulling herself to him with her arms and leaning onto his chest.

"I don't know for certain." Harlen said. "I don't think I would mind, though."

Hyandai yawned mightily, stretching her long arms and legs while arching her back sharply. "I fear I am too tired for a second attempt tonight, though, lover, unless you are very eager for one?" She asked, her expression quizzical.

Harlen shook his head. "Only if you truly want." He replied. "We have walked hard and far today and should rest for the morrow."

Folding herself into his arms, Hyandai sighed. "We should rest, then, beloved, the morrow shall likely prove itself trying." She said.

They spread out their blankets and then laid within the soft folds, Harlen pressing to her back and enwrapping her protectively with his powerful arms. They laid for a while, lost in their own thoughts, then, eventually, slept.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Awaken, human!" A voice ordered.

It had the clipped cadence that Hyandai had when she had first met Harlen. Oddly, he thought about that for a moment, noticing for the first time that her accent with Westron had become much better than when they had met. strange thing to think about when someone has told you to wake up, he thought. The voice commanding his wakefulness, however, was masculine, and lacked any form of kindness.

He attempted to move only slowly, turning over from Hyandai's back and leaving both his arms quite visible. Instinctively, he knew that moving suddenly would get him in very severe trouble.

Harlen opened one eye slowly, seeing four young elven males. They stood some paces from the slumbering couple; bows ready, but not aimed, much to his relief.

Hyandai gasped and clutched the blanket to her chest as she sat up, facing them. "A bit of modesty." She bit out in elven, glaring at the four elves in what appeared to be uniforms.

She had been mostly covered, and sheltered by Harlen's bulk from their eyes where they had approached from the hidden crawlway. They had not seen her until she sat up.

"Lady Hyandai!" The one who had spoken said, his voice higher than even its normal soprano with shock and surprise.

At that utterance, the other three registered their surprise with widened eyes. In unison, they bowed low, touching their chest to an extended knee. The arrows were back in their quivers a second later, and the four were turning about to face the opposite direction, away from the couple.

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