Corricaye

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   The trees. They whisper to me.
   They call me friend.
   I whisper back.
   I tell them that I will protect them and their home.
   They told me that as long as the forest shall live, I will also.

   I live in Middle Earth. The trees say that the Lurkwood lies beyond the Edge of the Wild, settled deep into the Western Lands. That's just about all I know.
   I have lived through many summers. Many winters. I do not age. The trees say that I will have the immortality of an elf. Personally I do not want to be compared to an elf. Elves are proud, they don't care for the goodwill of any but their own kind. I have seen them take greedily from the bountiful vegetation of Lurkwood. We wouldn't have minded if they took peacefully. But they did not. They hacked down trees mercilessly. They uprooted the brush without hesitation. They slaughtered any animals in their path. Over time, Lurkwood's borders shrunk half their original vastness. The filthy elves only cared about their Mirkwood.
   That's when the trees called for my help.
   I was merely thirteen years old. I was the only human living there. My mother had raised me, only her, but she died suddenly from a bear attack. Fortunately, that is a story for another time.
   The trees, they use the wind to shape their words. As their leaves gently sway, I can understand them. I will never be sure what gave me the ability. Maybe it was a gift from them. Maybe it was time. Time alone, without my mother or another human being. I may never know, because the trees will only answer to an important question. Otherwise they talk when they wish. But nevertheless, they called to me. They cried for help.
   And I answered. I did not know what to do. But this is what they responded.
   "Corricaye, we are rooted to the ground. We are peaceful. We cannot defend ourselves. You can jump off the earth on which you stand. We will tell you what to do, and you will be our hands and feet."
   Astounded, I asked, "how could I ever defeat those elves myself? I am one person. One mortal person, and the elves are not. The elves are superhuman, and I am only a thirteen year old girl with no weapon."
   "You need not do this by yourself. We will hand over to you the language of the wild beasts. We do not have the lively speed to tell them anything. They live, they breathe, they think too fast, unlike you. Will you gather the animals to protect this place? Will you fulfill this duty as long as we live?"
   "Yes, my elders," I replied. "You are all I have."
   "Thank you, good Corricaye. In return, we give you this bow," a graceful wooden bow nodded from the rocking branches. "And an immortal life as long as we exist to provide it."
   I bowed, and thanked the ancient beings. I gripped the weapon in my hand. A new feeling rushed through my veins. It was determination, purpose, and passion for my home. I would protect it until the end of my days.

   Over those next few months, I rallied the wild creatures. They were eager to follow the human that could speak their tongue. I led the beasts into an attack against the elves that occupied the east side of Lurkwood.
   The elves there were outnumbered by many, and fled, even though they were supreme fighters.
   Many died that day, both elf and beast. It was heartbreaking, but finally there was peace. Elves hardly dared venture into Mirkwood. In fact, all intelligent beings with weapons I drove out of the wood. If it was a small number of elves, dwarves, or humans, I sometimes spooked them out myself.
   Although I never became a very good shot with my bow, and hardly used it, it still came in handy.
   Over uncountable years, elves, dwarves, and humans lost interest in Lurkwood. The trees whispered that the world outside was at war with an unspeakable evil. But years after that, still no elf tread the ground of Lurkwood.

   Until one curious day.

 

 

 

   I woke up early, as usual. I opened my eyes to see the gnarled inside of the giant tree I lived in. It was not hollowed at the base by force of steel, but rather, the tree had given me the space for shelter, since they knew I needed it. It was not much space, but I was grateful for it anyway.
   I stood up slowly. I smoothed out the garments that I had worn for years. That my seem strange, but believe me, they were given to me by the trees, and they stay clean. Although I do wash myself in the creek, I don't need to wash my clothes. They are made of woven moss, a magical kind. You wouldn't be able to tell if you looked at it though. My long flexible blouse and tights look like casual elvish attire. But if you look closer, you can see graceful, growing brownish vines lining the edges of my sleeves and neck.
   I patted gently on the wooden trunk in front of me. It split open, and I walked outside and stretched. Meanwhile, the hole immediately closed, leaving a quite large, but normal looking tree in its place.

   Dawn broke, and a fresh, golden light filled the forest. It was my favorite moment of the day. Some squirrels, of course, came and ruined it.
   "Say, Corricaye, have any spare pecans in that store of yours?" Asked a beady eyed squirrel that I had named Squirk.
   "No." I said annoyedly.
   "Well, do you have any-"
   "No, Squirk. We've been through this before. You have to collect your own nuts. No cheating."
   The little animal scurried away.

   The rest of the day I sought some peace and quiet to reflect. On a lot of things.
   I could have very well spent more than five hundred years in this forest. With no human friends. This usually never struck me as sad, for it seemed as if all intelligent beings were corrupted by greed, anger, and revenge. But I hoped that one day I would find someone... Maybe one who would understand.
    I was centuries old, but I have never aged. If I met a human friend, I would most certainly outlive them. That would just bring more grief. I could befriend an elf, maybe. Unlikely though. Elves had brought too much pain to my life as a child.

   I perched in the boughs of my favorite tree. A wise, graceful oak. The one I talked to the most, even if that was not much talking at all. You might even say she is my best friend.
   I decided to ask her a question. She answered my questions more than any other tree.
   I blew out the words softly.
   "Areyl, how old am I?"
   The tree's leaves swayed, and my heart soared delightedly. She was going to answer.
   "You are nigh a thousand, my dear Corricaye..."
   I was speechless. But the tree continued slowly.
   "In just a few days, your one thousandth birthday will pass..."
   "I am old, Areyl."
   "Yes... And I am older."
   I grinned. The old tree's leaves rustled in quiet laughter, and were the  silent once more.
   And the silence continued. It was almost painful.
   It was too quiet...
   A bird suddenly alighted on a branch near me.
   "Dear, dear, Corricaye, there is an elf intruding the eastern borders!" It chirped.
   Surprising.
   "Just one elf?" I asked, surprised. Never had an intruder come alone. They knew the woods were dangerous. I guess I would investigate by myself first. He, or she, could be dangerous.
  I leaped from tree to tree soundlessly, with centuries of experience. I hardly ever ran on foot while tracking an enemy. Height kept me concealed, and helped me to spy.
   I arrived at the borders. Assortments of animals lifted their heads at my superior presence. I asked around quietly where the elf was. The creatures all reported him to be ahead of me, moving deeper into the forest.
   I caught a glimpse of wheat blonde hair. A dead giveaway for elves.
   It was an elvish man. He carried a bow and knives. Dangerous. I should have probably shot him right on the spot. I wouldn't have killed him, just injured his arm to convince him to go.
   But I didn't.
   Something was different... I decided to follow him. To see what he was up to.

   I had tracked him all day long. The elf looked like he was searching for something, and he seemed to be always on his guard (as he should be). I won't lie, I was becoming weary of the whole ordeal. I had to shoo animals away from me constantly so my presence was not revealed to the lone elf. My experienced muscles were not tired, but I was impatient for the elf to show his secrets. To show some sign of hostility.
   It was late in the afternoon. The elf had not stopped to either drink nor eat. He was strong, which concerned me. I concluded to ask him myself just  what he was doing. It it would be dangerous (reckless), but I whispered to some of my bear friends to back me up if anything went wrong.

   I waited until the elf had slowed his rigorous pace. Without another thought, I vaulted myself out if the tree.
   I had not even hit the ground, when the elf man drew an arrow with deadly speed and aimed it at me. I stood, quickly, and backed away, starting to reach for my bow resting on my back. Before I could say anything, the elf spoke.
   "You have been tracking me all day."
   Oh. I wasn't sure how to react. I switched to my elvish tongue, another gift from the trees.
   "What brings you, alone, to these parts?"
   The elf talked smoothly, putting aside his bow, even as I aimed an arrow at him.
   "I am merely a wanderer. I have no inclination to do anything but travel peacefully through this wood."
   "No one comes here alone. In fact, no on has come here the past ten years. Surely you must know that this forest is no place for the likes of you. It's dangerous. The animals that lurk here are savage. They turn on all intruders."
   The elf's gaze didn't falter. I didn't like him. He seemed c***y.
   "Then why are you here, my lady?"
   I chose this moment to stay silent, and I put on a nonchalant, but intimidating expression on my face.
   "Ah. But you are the legendary Evergreen Maiden. The most terrifying tales are told of you, you know. How you can command the beasts of the wood."
   "I know naught of the outside world. My duty is to protect Lurkwood."
   "What about your family?"
   "I have none." I lowered my bow.
   "Who gave you this duty?" The elf was getting too curious.
   "Why do you ask these questions? You are a wanderer. Go. Travel 'peacefully' through these trees and begone!"
   The elf looked away, thinking. I couldn't help but notice that he seemed a bit different than most. His face was broader. No one could ever deny that he was quite handsome still, like most elves. His composure was cool and collected, like any other elf, but he seemed different somehow. He sounded like he cared about more than himself, unlike most elves. Yes, this elf had gone through great trials. Being immortal, he was probably older than I was.
   "Well, if I am to go safely, why is there a group of hungry bears waiting just fifty feet behind me?"
   I was stunned, and impressed once again.
   "You seem to now your way around pretty well, wanderer."
   "Well, my viscous lady, not all who wander are lost." The elf lifted his chin at those words. 
   "If I tell my bears to go, will you promise to not harm anything in this forest?"
   "Yes, my viscous lady." The playful way he said it annoyed me greatly.
   "Will you stop calling me that?"
   "Calling you what?"
   "Viscous." I said, exasperated.
   "Very well." He said. "My folk back in Mirkwood will find great humor in discovering that you are quite tame indeed." At this point, I knew the elf had come for something.
   "What did you come here for?"
   "I told you-"
   "I can change your idea of me being benevolent upside down if you don't tell me anything else." I shouted a few loud words in the bear language, telling them to make noise. And they did. They bellowed with all the breath they had, and started to walk closer to us.
   The elf just raised his eyebrows. "Fine."
   I shouted for the bears to stop.
   "I came here to see what the mythical forest of Lurkwood looked like. I'm an... Explorer you might say, also. I have gone on many... Adventures."
   "Does this mean you meant to come and encounter the - viscousness - of me and my animals?"
   "Perhaps."
   "Did you mean to take back something to your kin?"
   "Yes..."
   "Speaking of which, what is your rank among them?"
   "I am the rightful prince of the Mirkwood realm!" The elf said these words deliberately, but not with conviction or anger.
   I needed no more persuasion then that. Even though this elf was strange, being a prince it was likely that legions of elf armies were behind him. I called on the bears to drive him out. And to also give him a few reasons to regret coming. And by al I knew, my faithful bears did. I heard nothing from him the rest of the day.

   That night, I returned to my perch on Areyl instead of my tree hollow. It was a clear and gentle summer night, and I climbed up to her highest branches to see the stars. The stars seemed more brilliant to me in the summer than any other time. I often enjoyed nights like this, quiet ones, because I was too high up to hear the nighttime animals on the ground below.
   I was weary from the whole day of stalking. But bathed in cool starlight, I could not feel my aches. I stretched out and made myself comfortable, and turned my head up to watch the sky.
   Suddenly, a falling star shot across the glowing expanse. Even though I knew it was childish, I made a wish.
  
   I wish that I would find a true friend.

 


   The next day I had all planned out. I was to make more arrows. If the elves got any more curious, I might need them. You might say that it would be a bit drastic to commit your whole day to crafting weapons, but arrows are not easy to make. At least, the skill did not come naturally to me.
   I gathered twigs and fallen branches, and worked on smoothing then with a makeshift knife I made out of a broken rock. Speaking of broken rocks, that was also how I made my arrowheads. You might say my handiwork was extremely unskilled and primitive for a person who has been alive for nearly a thousand years; but you see, we rarely got any visitors, and when there were visitors that I scared away myself, I used few arrows, a good bit of sneaking, and a lot of speaking to the trees to make them move. Also, most of the few arrows that I possessed I had stolen from previous visitors.
  
   It was late morning, when I happened to look up from my work. What I saw nearly gave me a heart attack.
   There was the elf that should have been long gone, sitting on a stump, just watching silently.
   "How did you get here?!" I shouted, making some nearby birds tweet in alarm.
   "Bears can't daunt me. I've faced off more than just wild animals you know."
   "Did you-"
   The elf raised his palms up. "No, I did not kill them. I shook them off at the borders of Lurkwood."
   "What will it take to make you leave?" I asked, angered. "None of your kind are wanted here. Do you not know what the elves did to Lurkwood nearly a thousand years ago?"
   "My king regrets his actions."
   "So are you saying you represent him at this moment?"
   "No. I came by my own free will. I have journeyed over many lands in my lifetime, and I feel as if I could never go completely back. I may be the true heir to my father, but my heart belongs over the horizon, seeking new lands, new challenges."
   "I hope you speak the truth." I said. Something felt odd... Why was I letting this elf free to roam? I continued. "For if you are deceiving me, you will pay a deadly price." I made that as intimidating as I could.
   The elf smiled, not smugly, but purely happily. This elf was very strange.
   "Thank you, oh deadly Evergreen Maiden."
   "My name is Corricaye" I said smoothly, even though I was surprised at myself for revealing that.
   "And I am Legolas Greenleaf." The elf bowed politely, and then stood up,his crystal blue eyes meeting my twilight blue ones "I am glad to have met you, Corricaye."
  Something twisted in my gut, but I ignored it, and set back to my ugly arrows. I didn't even hear the nimble elf walking away.

   The next day, I jumped down from Areyl's limbs. I looked up from the ground, and I was not nearly as surprised to see the elf, Legolas, sitting on the boulder nearby. It took me a moment to realize what he was doing.
   He was fiddling with my arrows.
   "I thought you were traveling." I said, keeping my annoyance balanced.
   "Depends on your image of traveling I guess. It just so happens that there is a pack of defensive wolves that I don't want to slaughter."
   He was speaking truthfully. But this time the wolves were not of my doing.
   "Yes. The wolves stay there during the last few weeks of summer. It's a tradition for them to stay near the pond..."
   "Then I guess I have no choice but to stay here for now." Who did this elf think he was?
   "I could simply tell the wolves to leave you be as you continue your journey." I said.
   "Okay okay, I will stop making excuses." Legolas looked at me, almost nervously, maybe wondering how I would react. "I came here to solve the mystery of the Evergreen Maiden. There are so many myths... So many opposing stories... I have wondered about them for years. Not my whole life, but nearly half. And here you are. I cannot go now. I must know your story."
   "So if I tell you my story, you will leave."
   "Yes, and I plan on traveling around the dwarfish mountains. People say that goblin numbers have been growing..." Legolas fingered the tip arrow of mine he had been working on. Under his breath he said "not for long."
   "Very well then." This was quite a strange situation, but I believed that the elf had given his word. Mostly because I had sent hawks to fly all over the wood to check for any sign of elves, and there were none. "What would you like to hear?"
   "How, and when did you come to this forest?" It sounded like Legolas had prepared these words, dreamed of saying them. For the most part, I found myself feeling flattered.
   "Well, Legolas, I know not how my mother came to live here," I said, seating myself on the stump that Legolas had sat on the day before. "My first memories are in this wood. I can recall no place else, although my mother told me that I was born in Rivondale."
   "So you are descended from elves?"
   "No. My mother was... A wanderer, a guess."
   "So she never told you anything about her past?" He asked, more curious than ever.
   "I'm afraid not." I didn't go into details about her death.
   "Do you know how old you are? The tales have been around for nearly a thousand years."
   "My best friend, Areyl says I will be turning a thousand years old this month."
   "Astonishing, for a human. But who is Areyl?" Legolas asked.
   "A tree."
   "Ah... The legends say you can speak to the trees, and give them commands to move."
   "Indeed. Though the trees command me more than vice versa."
   "This makes me believe that the trees gave you your duty."
   "Yes." I felt bitterness seep into my voice again. "When I was just thirteen, the elves destroyed half of Lurkwood. They could have cut down the whole forest, but the trees told me to stop them."
   "My kin tell me that wild animals attacked them. Not a girl. They said that it was a violent day." Legolas had no judgement in his voice. He just merely stated those facts.
   "The trees gave me the language of the animals, and I told them what to do. There was no other solution." I couldn't help but feel regret for the elvish deaths that had happened...
   The elf held up a newly perfected arrow to his eyes.
   "I see." He looked back at me, and his eyes revealed nothing but forgiveness. "One last question... How, Corricaye, did you become immortal?"
   "The trees gave immortality to me. They said that as long as Lurkwood survived, I would stay young."
   The elf nodded absentmindedly, considering all he had heard. At one point, he laughed softly.
   "You are nothing like the legends, Corricaye. You are not nearly as foreboding as what gossip says. Not nearly as talented with the bow either..."
   "Your people must fear me." For the most part, I was glad I made an impression on the elves.
   "Not just the elves. Throughout Middle Earth parents use the Evergreen Maiden to keep their children from straying too far into the wilderness."
   "Wow." I didn't mind. At least I told myself I didn't. My rumors would keep people from coming to Lurkwood.
   "I guess I must go," the elf said. "Too bad, isn't it? I suppose you don't get much real company here."
   "Well, I wouldn't consider the company I get here any stranger than you." I was curious to see the elf's answer.
   He sort of grinned, and cast his gaze down at his feet. He started to walk away, but then he stopped, and looked over his shoulder for the last time.
   "Do you... Do you know what detail all of the legends missed?"
   I shook my head. Of course I didn't.
   "They talked about your bow, your clothes, and your abilities, but they never mentioned your beauty." And with that, the lone elf disappeared swiftly into the greenery. And I was left, stunned, under the golden light of the new day.
   And even in the immense beauty of nature, I realized how much of the world I was missing.

***

   A lone elf walked through the pines, showing no sign of haste or curiosity. The sun had already set, and the remaining twilight made the misty woods glow eerily.
   Legolas wasn't sure what made his spirits sink at this point. After all, he had quite easily solved the mystery of the Evergreen Maiden. What else had he been expecting? To befriend her? Maybe so.
   After Mordor fell, Legolas had stayed in Gondor with his friend, King Aragorn. He had enjoyed those peaceful days, with the royal feasts and and the wedding of Arwen and Aragorn. But after awhile, he grew restless, just as he had always become back at his home with the wood elves. He needed to be on mission, he needed to be doing something, working his muscles and testing his archery skills. After all, he had just spent the adventure of his life, helping Frodo destroy the ring, and aiding Aragorn in the battle against Sauron. Legolas said his farewells, and decided to wander, and find adventure somewhere else.
   So after weeks of traveling on foot, he had reached the supposedly haunted Lurkwood. He has assumed he would have had some sort of skirmish at one point with the Evergreen Maiden. He had imagined her as a cruel, ugly hag of an old woman, covered in grime from years with animals, and heartless. He had thought of using force to make her speak.
   But no, instead he found a fair human lady, even at a thousand years old. Legolas himself was over two thousand, but he was an elf. It was natural. This woman had reason, he could see far more then just intelligence in her eyes. He saw fear, anger, regret, and purpose tossing violently like waves in her storm cloud-grey eyes. All that she had done she had done to protect her home. Legolas knew that when, or if, he came back to his home, he would see into protecting Lurkwood.

   As he walked, the forest quieted. Even without amazing elvish senses, Legolas could tell something was amiss. He stopped in his tracks. He strained his ears. In the distance, crows fled into the air, with loud caws.
   Legolas heard noise in the distance. But he could see nothing. He had to get to higher ground to see what was happening.
   He could see no hills or cliffs anywhere. But he did see a large tree.
   As Legolas leaped up the trunk, he smiled, thinking back two thousand years ago when he was child, climbing the towering trees of Mirkwood with his friends.
   Legolas balanced on the highest branches, and peered into the horizon where the sounds came from. It was night now, but he could still see as clear as day. Legolas saw mangled shapes, the dull shine of moonlight reflecting off metal. He heard inhuman grunts. His spirits sank even deeper. Goblins. But that was not what scared him. They were much, much farther ahead of him, and heading directly in Corricaye's direction.

***

   It was still in the wee hours of night when I woke up. I knocked on the tree trunk, and it opened.
   Something was disturbing the woods. I could hear the trees sigh in fear. It was silent, no animals scurried about like usual.
   I assured myself it was nothing of my concern when the trees wouldn't answer my questions. But I could not go back to sleep. So to find something to keep my mid off trouble, I walked over to my bow and arrows, which still sat in the same position that Legolas had left them. Now that I had compared them to Legolas's bow that had rested on his back, they were much different. Like I said, it was a gift from the trees, so I guess it would have been odd of it had not looked unordinary. It was wooden, but it looked like it was, itself, a branch. It's midsection was curved, like all bows are, but complex gnarls and swirls traveled all along it's length like old tree roots. At the opposite ends of the bow, twigs twirled out smoothly and naturally here and there, making it look more like a tree than ever. Despite how strange it was, I believed there was never a more elegant bow. Too bad I never used it. But then again, I guess it is great that I hardly ever have to defend myself from evil.
   My homemade arrows though, looked less than elegant. The ones that Legolas had fixed the previous morning looked quite professional though, of course.
   Some thing rustled loudly in the bushes behind me. I jumped and turned around, my reflexes bringing my bow into an immediate drawn position in my hands. Before I realized it was just a squirrel, the arrow head fell off the shaft in my hand.
   "What did you do that for, squirrel? You could have gotten shot. There is something amiss this night." I said in the strange high pitched squirrel language.
   "That is why I came, my lady." The small animal was shaking. "Madam, they are com-"
   Drowning out the squeaks of the rodent, an unearthly cry came from nearby. And there were hundreds more that followed.
   I had never heard anything like it. The screeches of more crows and other loud birds followed in alarm. I hastily snatched up my quiver, which if you didn't know, looked similar to my bow. I gathered my arrows, and scrambled up the nearest tree with catlike precision. After all, I couldn't take down more than four enemies down on foot.
   I whispered quietly and repeatedly to the tree I was on. I used their ancient language, which was different from their normal one. I said, "wake up, defend us. Wake up, defend us."
   Hiding behind a branch, I saw the first of my enemies. My blood curdled.
   It was like a dwarf, but grey, and repulsing. It was nearly covered in armor, but the parts that were not covered in metal were covered in dirt, sweat, and slime. As the creature ran closer, she could it's vile face, with twisted features and teeth so dirty they were almost rotted black. To top it all off, a yellowish-brownish spittle dribbled around its black lips.
   That on Middle Earth was this?
   More of them emerged from the wood.
   I whispered to my tree. "Strike your enemies." Then I lifted my face to the sky, and howled for the wolves to assemble and attack.
   Of course my place was given away to the grey vermin, and the first group of about ten individuals hurdled my way without hesitation.
   "Lash out at your enemies, wake up! Wake up!"
   The trunk groaned. But for the meantime, it was too late. I even heard wolf howls from the distance, but the creatures were nearly upon me. I drew my arrow, and shot the closest one perfectly in the head with accuracy that only came with a mixture of luck and adrenaline. The nightmarish beasts began to climb. I shot at several more without success.
   Suddenly, the tree swung violently, shaking the vermin from its branches. Thankfully I was used to this, and I casually stood on the strongest bough, watching the tree swipe at my attackers.
   The creatures that had come behind the first ten saw what was happening, and abruptly ran the other direction.
   Most of the ten monsters were brutally beaten. Others just seemed unconscious. I could hear my wolf pack in the distance, so I didn't bother doing the dirty work when I leaped down from the tree.
   I would regret that. I had not walked a long way off, when I felt an excruciating pain just above my ankle.
   Yelling, I turned around and looked at it. One of the horrible monsters had shot me with an arrow. I couldn't see the creature that did it, because soon the wolves were on top of them anyway, ending whatever resilience they had acquired.
   I have experienced arrows before. Still groaning, I knew what I had to do. I reached down, and pulled it out as quickly and carefully as I could. My breath hissed loudly through my teeth, which were grinding with the pain.
   I knew I would have to clean the wound, so I limped painfully to the nearest creek.
   Sitting on a boulder by the edge, I lowered my leg into the dark water, inch by inch. The pain was more intense than any arrow I had felt before. I bit my lip very hard to keep from screaming.
   Minutes later, I was finished washing my leg. And it still bled extensively.
   I lifted myself up from the rock and continued back into the wood, barefoot, like usual. By now, I could see the first hints of dawn streak the horizon. Since there was now some light, I cringed at the obvious trail of blood the unusual wound left. As I walked, I summoned the various predators of the wood to demolish our invaders, which were still out there. I talked to the trees in the ancient language, but not for long, because the words will take a little energy from your body to help the tree move. And at this point, I needed to conserve the little energy that I had.
   The wound still bled. What was this? There must have been some sort of curse on the arrow. My head began to spin with the blood loss. If this went any farther... I dared not think. I... I could not think straight anyway... I was nearly to my tree, at least I thought I was, when one of those horrid, slimy invaders emerged from the brush and charged at me. He had a violently jagged spear poised right at me. I was too shaky to draw my bow; and speaking of which, I didn't even know where it was anymore. Where was I? Maybe the creature was actually friendly... Maybe it just wanted to help... My vision swirled, and I could feel the wind of the incoming enemy. I barely heard the gurgled cry of the creature as it came, and I barely saw anything as a swift arm plunged a knife into it's bare neck, because I had just slipped away into blackness.

   I woke up. I didn't open my eyes, because everything that had happened before I fainted had flooded back to me. I was afraid what I would see. I felt succulent grass on my toes. I could feel that I was propped up on a large smooth stone.  And I also felt the same pain in my leg. Although it was not quite as sharp as before, I still wanted to screech in agony. I could tell it was daytime, because of the soft light through my eyelids.
   I slowly opened my eyes, cringing even more as the daylight blinded me momentarily. As everything focused, I could see my forest. Birds fluttered around the trees, and a gentle winds blew through my long, tangled blondish hair. It looked as if nothing had happened.
   I scanned my surroundings a little bit more by turning me head, and was more than startled to see Legolas, who las leaning against a tree, look back at me.
   His eyes widened, and sighed with relief.
   Not sure my body could withstand the adrenaline from the scare, I asked slowly, "why... What happened? What's going on?" I realized just then that I had spoke in the human language.
   To my surprise, the elf responded in the exact same tongue. "As I was leaving, I saw the goblins headed to where you were. There was a lot of them, heavily armed. I figured you could use some assistance." The elf nodded his blonde head to my leg.
   I gasped quietly when I saw that it was wrapped neatly in soft fabric, and the bleeding had stopped.
   "You saved me. Didn't you?"
   "I suppose so." The elf averted his eyes, smiling a bit.
   I took this in for a few seconds. Then I looked back at him. "Thank you." I said as sincerely as I could.
   "You're welcome, Corricaye."
    I paused, then asked another question.
   "Did you know what the... Goblins shot me with?"
   "It was a blood taking arrow. A wicked steel thing coated in the most devilish poison the goblins, and the orcs, could make with their twisted minds." Legolas's eyes went dark, as if he was remembering something he wished he could have forgotten.
   I shook my head. "There is so much I do not know of the world..."
   "Indeed, Corricaye." The elf gazed at me with a sympathy that I had never seen before, a love... The elf strode over with an elvish grace, and crouched down near my feet. "And the world is ever changing. That is why I am offering to stay with you, maybe teach you how to defend yourself if necessary."
   Gaping slightly, I looked up at him, searching his face for answers.
   "But... How? Why? I am not an elf. Under my command, wild animals have injured, even killed your kind. By what you say, I am a monster to the woodland realm!" I maybe it was the physical pain that tears to my eyes, or maybe it was the reality of being hated.
   The elf's face churned with even more sympathy; it almost made me feel bad.
   "Because I came to solve the Lurkwood mystery. And I also came to help make peace between the lands. Even though Sauron was beaten, there is still evil and anger remaining in middle earth." The elf paused. "There is good in you, Corricaye, I can see it plainly. These woods are wonderful. I wish to see both the forest and you safe. Will you allow me to serve you?" The elf looked at me carefully, waiting for my response.
   I thought briefly, and then I answered.
   "I am in debt to you already... I would love to have you by my side, and I wish to help you in return one day." I finished, feeling slightly awkward for the first time.
   "You need not help me. I don't own anything but my clothes, my bow, and my honor, for now." The elf then stopped stood up, and adjusted the quiver on his back. "I wish the world could stay still, and we could talk, but there are goblins currently battling the valiant wolves of your forest. Lurkwood is now on the losing side. I assume that it would be best to aid them."
   I gasped, and nodded. Before I could say anything, Legolas interrupted.
   "You will be able to follow me, because you have recovered your blood, and the wound will not be infected. I used some elvish cures my mother taught me when I was young." I started to stand, he put a hand on my shoulder to stop me for a moment, to stop me. "Corricaye, before you do anything, realize that my medicine cannot take away the pain from the poison arrow. It will still hurt, but it's fine." The elf looked me full in the eyes, and reached out his hand, hesitatingly, to cup the side of my face. That unfamiliar feeling surged through my stomach again. "Some people would think me cruel to let you come," Legolas said,  "but I believe you are strong. Are you?"
   I stood up, and even though I nearly collapsed with the sudden pain that started to rack the bones of my leg, and met his gaze.
   "No need to 'let' me come, I would have followed anyway." I never thought to bring my normal scowl back to my mouth.
   Legolas's mouth formed a small sort of smile, and his crystal blue eyes filled with a distant memory that I wished I could have seen. He adjusted his knives and bow, and handed me a small dagger.
   "Let's hunt some goblin."






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