Come. Sit down my children. Don't you want to hear the tale I have? It is one of my ... my favorite stories. I know that you'll enjoy it. It all started 600 years ago ...
"Come on!" Aaron managed to yell as they ran. His lungs burned from this running. He knew that if they stopped, they would be caught. Because of his acute elfin sense, he could hear the knights close by. Then he thought he saw something. Seconds later he heard a voice saying strange words close to him. But when he turned he saw only the trees as they flew by his eyes. "Get moving!"
"I ... am running ... as fast as ... I can ..." Thorin had a harder time running. Not only because of his short legs, but he insisted on wearing that bulky armor and stupid helmet all the time. "Look! There is a small cave. Come on, Aaron, we can stay in there."
"No! If we stay there, we will be found. Stop!" Aaron had no other choice but to follow his friend. "Now what do we do?"
"We wait. And you answer some questions!"
"I know what you are going to say. AWhy are we running? Why did you drag me into this? What have you gotten this old dwarven body into?' Right?" Aaron knew what to expect.
"I was not going to ask those questions! However since you brought them up ..."
"It is all a misunderstanding. I was simply talking to this woman ...
"This is all over a woman!" Thorin exploded.
"Well, not exactly. You see, we were talking about the rise of the dragons on Solaria and the rise of the mages, you know how I hate those magicians, when her husband saw us talking. He thought that we were talking about other things."
"Great. You are telling me that a jealous man made me run all this way and hide in a cave!"
"No. It turned out that he was a knight. He took his wife and left. Then I assume that he informed his friends of me. So it is not him that we are running from, it is his twenty friends."
"I see," Thorin was starting to calm down a bit.
"Now, as for why I took you with me, I sort of told her about you ...
"You what?!?! How could you!" Thorin exploded again. "Now Thorin, calm down. As I was running I heard them yelling AGet the elf and see if you find the dwarf, too!' So you see, none of this was really my fault."
"Ah. I see. So you are saying that we have twenty, maybe thirty knights in armor with big swords chasing you, because of a misunderstanding and me, because I know you. Right?"
"Why I ... ! You are the most irresponsible person I know!"
"Thorin, if you would only calm down ..."
"Shut up and get moving. We have to find a place to hide in this cave. Or do you want the sword-wielding knights to find you?"
"What ... what!?! Ohh, it's you, Aaron. Why are you up so early?"
"I believe it was because of that god-awful noise you were making. Come on. We'd better get moving so we can find Filch."
"I'm a-gettin', I'm a-gettin'. Do you think that the knights have stopped their search?"
"Probably. We will have to go back into the city in our cloaks. We do not want to be spotted."
"Aaron, I can't find him anywhere." Thorin grumbled as he looked down the alleys of the city. "We've been at this for nearly an hour. Let's take a break and stop into the tavern for a bite?"
"All right. We will start looking for the kender after a meal."
"I'll have some ale and your finest cheese with some bread. Maybe a little fruit, and what is that, stew? Give me a bowl of that. Do you have any eggs? Ohh, well, how 'bout mutton? Good, I'll have a slice of that. And for you, Aaron?"
"Some goat's milk and fruit, please."
"Can you pay for all this, sir?" asked the barmaid, thrown off by such an order.
"Yes! Are you saying that we would order food and not pay?" Thorin was upset at such a comment. "Here," he reached for his money sack, "where in the name of Coatse is my money?!?!" Thorin looked up just in time to see a man, about his height, running into the crowd with a tattered bag in his hand. "Stop him!"
Aaron got up and caught him just in time. "Hey you! Come back here. You little thief ... Filch is that you?"
"Ohh, hi, Aaron, Thorin, here you go. It is so good to see you. I didn't recognize you in those cloaks. So, where did you disappear to last night?"
"Give me that! Why I don't turn you over to the knights I'll never know. Well, for your infor-"
Thorin was cut off by the town crier. "I have sad news. The king is dead." A hush fell over the crowd. "He was murdered last night by a group of bandits. Be looking for an elf, a dwarf, and a kender. They were seen fleeing the city last night. If you see them, kill them on sight." He left. The crowd was silent.
One of the men in the crowd rose and stood on a table. "I say we hunt down these killers! Who is with me?"
Nearly all the men rose and started cheering. All of a sudden Aaron saw Filch rise on a stool. "I saw them in a ... a ... a cave outside the city! It was a cave far outside the city."
"Keep quiet, Filch." Aaron whispered.
The three of them waited until the bar cleared. "So, Aaron, what do we do now?" Thorin asked in an unpleasant tone.
"I think that we have to find who killed the king and get them to confess. This will clear our names."
Filch looked happy. "I think I know where we can find them."
"Great!" Thorin remarked. "Let's take advice from a kender, the most childish, untrusted, untrustworthy thieves in the world."
"So, Filch, where are they?"
"Well, I thought of where I would go if I killed the king. Finally I figured it out. If you killed someone, you would go to the most abandoned, most forgotten, most feared ..."
"Filch! Where is it?" Aaron was getting tired of his rambling.
"It is the old wizard's tower. No one goes there anymore. That would be the perfect place to hide!"
"Well, what do you think, Thorin?" Aaron asked, in need of advice.
"Our lives are as good as over anyway; might as well trust a kender."
"There! There it is. I told you my maps were right, Thorin. You never trust me!" Filch said in an arrogant tone.
They were nearing the tower. All Aaron needed to think of was how to get in. His plan had been to scale the walls and tread through the moat, but at the first mention of water, Thorin froze. Aaron had forgotten about his fear.
"Ahh, here we are. As soon as I find my lock picks, we can get in there." Filch said as he rummaged through his many sacks. "There we are. Now just a little to the left, no right, twist it just a bit, not that much, there. All set." The doors swung open, much to the delight of Filch.
"All right, Thorin," Aaron said, "So, how do we get across?"
"Well, I think I figured it out. If you and Filch were to get in the water and link hands, I could get a rope and hook it onto the window. Then if I were to ... "
As Thorin unraveled his elaborate plan, Filch decided to find his own way across.
After a few minutes of searching, Filch found a small bridge leading to a side door.
Relieved they did not have to go through with Thorin's plan, they crossed the bridge. Once inside, they searched the ground floor. Nothing. There had been only one way up, so they continued their search for many hours. Filch was merry because he found exploring exciting. Aaron was upset because he was tired and making no progress to find the killers. Thorin was just unhappy in general. He hated the cold, damp weather, and the happiness of the kender. Eventually there was only one floor left.
As they approached, they felt a cool breeze blow in their faces. There was only one door. Thorin went to open it, but as soon as he touched the handle, he yelled in pain.
"Are you okay?" Aaron asked, concerned for his friend's welfare.
"Fine! Just fine!" Thorin, in a fit of pain, kicked the door open.
There hanging in the center of a bare room, was the head of their king. They rushed in, not knowing what else to do, and cut it down. While Thorin and Filch were discussing what to do, Aaron started to hear strange words. Aaron thought he remembered these words. He started to remember a magic show when he was a child. The words - these are the same words - the words of magic!
"Shhh!" Aaron said, looking around the room trying to locate the voice.
Then everyone heard a horrible voice, "You have found us. Yes, we killed the king. He never was nice to us ..."
From that day until now, no one has ever found the three young adventurers who were framed that day. It is rumored that they were cursed to wander this world for eternity, looking for the ones who killed their beloved king. It is said that these three young fellows were marked with a glowing mark on their chests to remind them of their fate. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a couple of friends to meet. You all hurry off to bed now." Just then the door opened. The wind blew open the old man's red cloak and dimmed the fire. One of the boys who was watching the man go thought he saw a shimmer of green beneath the man's shirt. 1
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.