Ezthrame

The kingdom of Ezthrame. Elves, dragons, fairies and humans are only myths to the humans that live there. But when the truth is discovered in the Forest of Ultanak, west of the King's Palace, the fates of these five peoples will become entwined. And what of the elvish enchantress that has appeared seemingly out of nowhere?

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1. Chapter 1

Mihril ran through the trees, her light footfalls racing along the mossy floor. Her dark hair blew with the slight breezes that blew through the forest and her hazel eyes searched desperately for any sign of her brothers. This was a called a dangerous place to be for even a highly-trained Captain of Ezthrame with twenty men behind him, but for a lone maiden it was perilous. The shadows moved of their own accord and to her it seemed as if they were talking to one another.

“Lanor! Durasi!” she cried “My brothers, where are you?

She heard leaves crunching underfoot towards her left and ran thankfully towards the sound. However, she hadn’t got far when she was thrown to the ground by something that wasn’t there. Looking up, she saw she wasn’t alone after all.

But it wasn’t Lanor or Durasi. It wasn’t even one of their men. The figure in front of her was a woman.

Her pale skin held little colour other than white. It was hard to see the colour of her hair, being under a black hood but if you peered closely it appeared to be some sort of reddish colour. She was wearing a grey-green dress of an odd make- the skirt was split in two, revealing a pair of green trousers and brown knee-high boots. A bow and arrow was slung at her back, and she held a long sword with two hands. It was thin but razor sharp, meant for slicing through bone, flesh and the armour of her enemies rather than heavy blows of impact. The dark blue of her eyes pierced Mihril, making her shiver.

A loud shout made her turn as Lanor came sprinting through the trees, broadsword in hand. He saw his sister lying on the ground, helpless in front of an armed stranger.

“Get away from her!” he cried, as he raised his sword to attack.

Immediately the woman moved. She swept her sword up to block his, then jumped lightly back to avoid his blade as it came crashing down, only just missing her. She laughed as he tried an upward thrust, easily dodging it and slashing at his chest. A thin line of red bloomed out from where her sword had hit him.

He tried a diagonal slash but she moved aside and his sword hit the forest floor heavily. Her blade moved towards his head, and he brought his up to block it, but she had hit him again in the stomach before he could realise her feint. Stumbling back, he tried to hit her again, but she ducked his sword and slit his arm.

“Your sword is too heavy for you, child of men” she hissed at him “Give up while I still will allow you to leave this place”.

To Mihril’s surprise, he stopped and slowly lowered his sword. She lowered hers. Satisfied, she turned to go but he lifted his sword once more and struck at her back.

Clang.

It hit hidden armour and bounced back off, nearly hitting him in the face. She swung back round with a snarl and sliced at the hand that held Lanor’s sword. Her own cut through it easily and he cried out in pain as his hand, still clutching his sword fell to the forest floor. Mihril screamed as she saw her brother collapse to his knees and nearly ran to his side.

But even now, shouts were heard in answer followed by the rushing footsteps of many men. Durasi’s yell echoed those of his men as they saw Mihril lying on the ground a few metres away from a wounded Lanor and a furious woman. She took one look at them, then sliced her blade one last time.

Right through Lanor’s neck.

Dropping it, the woman grabbed her bow with surprising swiftness and fitted an arrow to the string as Lanor’s headless body dropped to the floor gushing blood. She shot towards the now-charging men behind Mihril, hitting the first right in the neck. Two more fell to her arrows, but once they reached her, there would be too many left for her to fight at once however good her skill or fast her moves were. Durasi knew this.

A fourth man reached her just as she had taken another arrow from her quiver. She stabbed the arrow through his heart, then shot it into the chest of another. Slinging her bow onto her back, she picked up her sword and only just managed to block Durasi’s sword as it had swung down upon her. Stronger than Lanor, and hardened with the death of his brother, his blow was dealt with surprising force. But he had also underestimated her. Her sword slashed at his armour, slicing through the metal with ease and just missing the skin beneath as he tried to dodge. The other soldiers stood with gaping mouths. His iron clad fist slammed into her cheek, and in return she stabbed her weapon into his arm. Mihril opened her mouth and cried to the watching men.

“Soldiers of Ezthrame! Do not stand there, help my brother!”

Startled back into action, they pressed forward, eager to kill the attacking woman they deemed weak. She would tire quickly, they thought. Women never have as much stamina as men do, and Durasi is a skilled swordsman.

Seeing this, she stepped back. Her hood fell down, revealing long, pointed ears and blood-red hair tied up behind her head. Inside his veins, Durasi’s blood ran cold.

She wasn’t a mere woman. She was an elf.

His hands gripped his sword even tighter, but he didn’t get the chance to attack. Her irises turned from a deep blue to an even deeper purple and filled the whites of her eyes. A white glow formed around her hands as wisps of smoke curled off from them. The blood-red masses of her hair whipped around her head as with a harsh cry she let her magic loose. It streamed from her fingers and surrounded Durasi and his men in a mist so that Mihril, watching from the other side, could not see them. The yells of Durasi and his men slowly quietened, as if one by one they dropped dead. When silence finally came she opened her mouth and screamed. Inside the mist, Durasi heard amidst the growing agony inside of him caused by whatever spell this elf had cast upon him and his men. He wondered what she was doing to his sister, but that was his last thought before he dropped dead.

Sensing that there wasn’t a single soul left alive inside of her mist, the elf let the magic dissipate into the air. She pondered whether to kill the maiden too, but let her go. There was no need for further bloodshed. Closing her eyes, she let herself change back into her normal form and lifted her black hood onto her head. Now she had to get as far from this place as she could. Enchantresses amongst the elves are rare, and if another of her kind saw the dead while she was still there she would have no choice but to kill them too. Humans didn’t matter.

But she never saw what letting Mihril go would mean.

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