“Hello,” Sevil continued to yell, as he swung in mid-air. He elongated his vowels as he looked for something besides air to give him more security. The vine he had caught, when he had fallen earlier, was only long enough to give him a few feet longer than a handhold. His grip was slipping, and he tossed his partner, Marious, nasty, desperate looks.
Marious had been luckier. The vine he had latched on to was sturdier and longer but also closer to the face of the cliff. He was able to brace his feet against the rock as he climbed up the vine onto the ledge. He hung there as Sevil continued to yell.
“I know you are up there, I can hear you. Surely you don’t wish us to fall and die. Helloooooooo.”
For once, Marious didn’t mind the noise Sevil made. It would distract whoever was above and perhaps he could get a fix on their enemy. Doing surveillance, however, was ticklish work, especially in this case. If their assailant was another Elf, as he suspected, he or she was being very careless about announcing their presence. If whatever was above them was an animal, they could get hurt facing it, because whatever it was, it sounded huge.
Waiting for as long as he considered wise Marious, decided it was time to take a cautious peek at what was up there. With slow, stealthy movements, he climbed up to the edge of the cliff and inched his head up until he had a decent view of the area above. He was much quicker ducking back out of sight when he saw what was causing all the noise, not that he was in any immediate danger where he was.
There was a bear in their campsite, and it looked as if it had been busy trashing the whole area from what Marious could see, and he couldn’t understand why. The few supplies they had brought had been properly stashed and should never have attracted wildlife. Either way, he was not about to tempt fate and go back above, in case the bear felt challenged by his presence. He would rather just wait him out and let Sevil grouch. The food could always be replaced, though it would not be up to the quality of the supplies they had lost. It was a lamentable fact but they would just have to grin and bare it, though he doubted if Sevil would do much of that in silence.
Marious waited for a while, even after the area quieted, before he looked over the ledge, to find it empty. He climbed back up, then pulled Sevil onto solid ground. Sevil was neither happy nor grateful, especially when he noted the amount of damage done by the bear.
Tamarak had checked the campsite of the two Elves after she had set Elsa to drive them over the cliff. She had thought, by the amount of noise they were making, that they were perfectly fine. No noise at all would have meant one of two things. One, that they had fallen into the river below, which on its own was harmless enough if you could swim, as the river was deep enough to cushion the fall. She had not heard any splashes or screams to indicate a fall, so she had dismissed that possibility. The second was that they were safely hanging on the vines, waiting for her to show herself. She was willing to bet that this was exactly what was going on, and as far as she was concerned, they could wait forever. She was not about to give her position and perhaps her very presence away for no good reason. She was safe where she was and had her doubts if they even knew that she existed. Then again, it would not have been the first time she had been hunted by some male.
In Tamarak’s experience, she had little to worry about when it came to the Light Elf. They were known to go their own way and leave Elven females like her alone. Dark Elves; however, they were another matter. As far back as she could remember, she had been warned about Dark Elf males and their penchant for kidnapping females. She wanted nothing to do with any of them. She had more than enough reasons not to trust Dark Elven males, for when she had been no more than eight, she had learned just how serious the warnings about them could be. It had left her with memories and fears she was still dealing with.
At eight, Tamarak had lost her father in the wars. That had left her mother alone to raise her in the wilds. It had not been long after they had learned of his demise when a Dark Elf had come and taken her mother away. She had sent Tamarak away to hide as soon as she had sensed the danger. Tamarak had waited for word telling her that it was safe to return until she had grown hungry and had to come out of hiding. The words indicating safety had never come. She found her mother gone, their home deserted, and she never saw her mother again. She had been left alone to learn life’s lessons. There had been no guidance, only the memories of lessons taught to her at her mother’s knee. Those lessons had been precious few. She had learned more from her father and her uncle Tory then she had from her mother. She knew her father was gone, but often she wondered if she would ever see her uncle again. He had never been to their new home, nor did she know if he even knew about it, so she had worried about ever being found. Eventually she had given up on the idea, she was alone, and it was up to her to find a way to take care of her needs.
To be fair, Tamarak had never considered herself totally alone. There had been others all around her and she had learned to interact with many different species and inhabitants of the world about her. The creatures she had the greatest connection with were the birds. Like the people around her, she found the birds varied in degrees of intelligence and companionship. Her bird of choice was the owl, for the owl seemed to understand best what she wanted, expected, and even needed. Often she would use the great eagles to provide for her needs, but, all in all, they were not very sociable birds.
For general gossip, she found that the smaller birds were always eager to supply any and all types of information. It was through the smaller birds that she had found out about the two Elves who were now busy surveying the damage that the bear had done to their campsite. They didn’t yet know the half of it. With her help, the bear had disturbed every anthill in the vicinity. Now the ants were out for revenge and they were looking for those who had disturbed their peace and their homes. Some of the insects were busy rebuilding their homes, but a good percentage were out hunting. The hunters would cease their search long before the building was done and none would venture anywhere close to where Tamarak was now hiding in relative safety.
Tamarak was perched deep in the foliage of an ancient Oak, her back against the trunk, her legs stretched out in front of her. She was seated on a sturdy branch, munching on a cooked piece of chicken and a slice of bread, courtesy of her visitors. It was a rare treat, especially the bread. She had never been taught how to bake so she had no idea what would be needed to make these things. Cooking meat was a different matter, everyone knew what that was about, though for the most part she lived on fruits, nuts and berries that she collected in the forest. She was not about to complain about it, as she never went hungry.
Secure in the knowledge that she was well camouflaged by her clothing and an assortment of leaves, Tamarak considered her next purchase, as she was not worried at all about the two Elves below. It was probably past time she thought about replacing her current attire, although it was still serviceable. She had traded a couple of ducks that her owl had brought down for the clothing she wore, from a sprite. This, however, was not the right time to repeat the experience. Dealing with a sprite took time, as well as a degree of caution, unless you wanted to be cheated. She wondered if there was anything of value to be gotten from the campsite below. She had noted some interesting lengths of rope earlier. She tossed the bone aside and finished off her piece of bread, then moved, stretching out on her stomach against the limb to check out the action below.
With her green eyes sparkling in amusement, Tamarak watched as the two Elves walked around, inspecting the damage. Their supplies were ruined, not only by the carnage done by the bear, but by the infestation of ants. Tonight they would go to bed hungry, although that would only be if they didn’t think to collect the fruits and nuts that were available in great abundance everywhere. That was the one thing she loved the most about the wild lands. It seldom mattered what season it was, there was enough magic in the air to make sure no one starved. In fact, there was enough magic in the air that it could, and did, make your skin tingle.
Crossing her arms before her to rest her chin on as she further blended into the branch, she rested her jaw against her forearms and grinned, as she continued her surveillance. The light Elf checked out the ruins of their makeshift shelter before he tossed the shredded remains down as he cursed. She silently chuckled as the Dark Elf thrust his hand into a pack that probably held no more than crumbs of their food, and quickly removed it, covered with red ants. He immediately began to jump, yelling and yelping. He was slapping wildly at the insects that were crawling all over him and biting at him in defense. The sight almost made her forget that she was hiding while she laughed.
Marious raised his head as he surveyed the area, he could have sworn he had heard someone laugh. It had been muffled, and it could have come from anywhere, but he was sure it was a laugh from someone who was thoroughly enjoying their plight. There was enough of a wind that the rustling of the leaves and the sounds of the nearby birds almost succeeded in covering most of the sounds. He had suspicions that there was one wild Elven female that was having a lot of fun with all of this. Worse, he could see the humor in a roundabout way, even if the laugh was on them. It was not as if there had been anything destroyed that they were unable to replace.
Let her laugh, he thought to himself. Let her have the best time of her life, because, he who was going to laugh last, was going to laugh best.
Tamarak was laughing so hard at the Dark Elf’s plight that she came close to falling off of her perch. It was the wobble that sobered her up, and she began to wonder about the next step to her problem, how to chase them from her territory permanently. She could think of no reason why they had come in the first place. Most Elves usually avoided the wild lands, unless they were just traveling through, and they did this very quickly. These Elves had not only made a point of seeking out the place she called home, but they were also prepared to stay for some reason unknown to her.
It was her job to find a way to persuade them that they needed to find a new place to search in order to do whatever it was that they wanted to do. If their plans had anything to do with her, she needed to convince them that they were looking in the wrong place, or that it would be in their best interest to reconsider their options. A secret part of her wondered if they were connected with her uncle, but she dismissed the thought. The uncle that she remembered would never have involved others in a search for her, he would have come on his own.
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