“Wow!” Timorean exclaimed as the group came to a halt at the edge of the forest.
Gabriel and Eden had expected that reaction and they exchanged a smile in response. It was a perfect location for what they had come for and they knew it. The weather was also cooperating with the wind being a little brisk, yet not so much that it made it too cold to enjoy the outing. There was a warning nip to the North wind that told them that there was a storm coming their way, hopefully after the celebrations held later in the day.
If the blizzard hit before the event, Daroth would shield them from the forces of nature and the festival would go on, but it wouldn’t be quite the same. There was nothing like seeing the full effect of Daroth’s lighting of the forest while the stars shone upon them to bring home the feeling of the celebration.
Eden laughed at the rapt expressions that crossed the faces of the Elven children who had come along with them. The families had been growing and they couldn’t blame Gabriel and Eden for the population explosion anymore. More and more babies were being born into the communities and they hadn’t repeated the fertility spell that had created their own family since their visit with the Grey Elves. The population in the High Elven Kingdom was growing as well and their newly crowned King, Elrohir, was due to arrive with a small entourage to join them later.
What had captured everyone’s attention for the moment was the pristine white snow that was covering the hill they had chosen for an afternoon of sledding delight. It was perfect. The slope was made for fast trips to the bottom, and not one mark on the surface meant that no one had stepped foot on it. That was for them to do.
“I almost feel guilty about messing that up,” Branith admitted in an uncharacteristic statement.
“Well I certainly don’t.” Eden answered with a chuckle as she shouted a challenge to everyone in hearing distance. “Last Elf to the top is a rotten egg.”
As quickly as she spoke the words, Eden sprinted off towards the top of the hill with most of the rest of their group in hot pursuit. About half way up the hill, she did a quick check over her shoulder to see how everyone was doing and noted Gabriel and Marious standing at the bottom. Lifting her face to the sky as she continued to lead the pack Eden yelled.
“That includes both you and Marious, Gabriel. Remember, rotten eggs sleep where no one can smell them.”
Marious and Gabriel could not only hear Eden’s taunt, but Tamarak’s laughter. They exchanged a grin and sprung into action. They wouldn’t be left in the cold and Gabriel knew that if he didn’t move fast enough, Eden wouldn’t only hold to her threat, but the Sentinel would reinforce her declaration.
“Ha. Ha.” Gabriel crowed as he started to pass Eden close to the top.
A moment later Gabriel went down, taking Eden with him as they slid down the hill in a tangle of arms and legs, much to the amusement of everyone around them. Within moments they were both back up on their feet and racing towards the top, only this time they were doing it while dodging half grown Elven bodies. No one had reached the top yet.
Tamarak tripped Marious as one of her snow owls distracted him and was tackled by their sons in retaliation as Marious spurred them on amidst peels of laughter. Their daughters went on the attack to show their brothers that they couldn’t get away with picking on their mother. They all went rolling and sliding back down the hill together, and as they did, they plowed down friends and family alike.
Serenity went down with the help of her daughters, while Torrent found himself being used as a sled by their sons as they piled on top of him when they noticed him begin to slide on his stomach. They laughed and whooped as he skidded down the slope and knocked down more Elves. They were having a great time.
Daroth almost made it to the top when his boys flew at him from a double-sided tackle and as they slipped down the slope they took C’Liandra with them amidst sounds of squeals and giggles.
Haylo and Larek weren’t faring as well as the rest. Neither made it any further than halfway up the side of the hill, as the race became a free for all with each Elf trying to keep the other from reaching their objective. Snowball fights, sneak attacks, planned battles, snow face washes and more than one instance where a screech meant that snow had been shoved down the back of someone’s coat was the normal state of events.
Eventually Gabriel finally managed to break away from the pack as he took off running for the top of the hill. He had almost reached his goal when he went down from a flying tackle by Eden. He pressed on despite her hold on his legs as he pulled himself and her forward with his elbows in the snow covered ground. He knew he had reached his goal when he ran into a small set of boots in front of his face and heard a young voice greet him.
“Hello Uncle Gabriel. Welcome to the top of the hill.” It was S’Larea.
Gabriel and Eden looked at S’Larea in surprise, then bust into laughter. S’Larea had been sitting at the top of the hill waiting for someone to join her while they fought their way up. She had obviously been there for a while and she looked as if she had enjoyed the show because her face was lit with joy. It didn’t take long for more Elves to join them. Shortly after, everyone realized all the sleds but one were still at the bottom of the hill. No one cared. They had been having too much fun for it to matter.
Jerrol and Gildren threw themselves onto the snow and body surfed to the bottom of the hill to collect some of the sleds. They weren’t down there long before others joined them. This was going to be lots of fun for the slope was long, and steep enough to be fast. They each grabbed sleds and headed back for the top with one thought in mind. Let the contests commence. It was time to see who could go the furthest and the fastest.