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For a competition.
Branches twisted together, entwined, stretching far, the sturdy wood’s rough bark a chestnut brown color from the deep midnight sky, the shimmering moon’s light shining on it. Moss covered the branches, the deep green the same colour as the trees’ veined leaves. The vast branches stretched and they left shadows on the dusty dirt floor. Amethyst and emerald green bushes beneath the three trees had miniscule multicolored lights, which looked like they were moving, as if they were tiny glowing insects. Particles of light floated through the air, petals too drifting through the breezy night air. Dew drops from the rain of the previous day were on the blades of grass, covering the forest floor, the shade of green like rolling hills in a bright summer. Birds twitter quietly, and nocturnal animals feasted, owls hooted loudly, their large glassy eyes the only part of them visible. Trees stretched far into the sky, almost as if they were reaching for the stars, their shining bright lights twinkling and dancing joyfully in the dark sky, as if they were alive. But even higher than the trees of this ancient forest, were the three huge oak trees that stood together in the center of a clearing, their great height reflecting their humongous age. Strange symbols were carved into each of the oaks, initials signed around them in an unusual rune. They had always been a sign of great wisdom, being thousands of years old they knew everything, the clan would come to the three trees if they needed any advice. That was before-
Footsteps. About ten of them. Running through the forest, leaping from one tree to another, climbing at an uncanny speed, sprinting across the trees’ branches, all heading to the clearing with the oaks. Small whispers accompanied the light footfall, barely audible over the forest’s sounds, how they were able to run so swiftly was a secret only the elders could know. The clan had returned early, perhaps their hunt was not successful, or they had caught something unsuspected.
Suddenly, ten or so figures dropped down from the trees into the clearing. They were all clothed in dark colors, a black mask with a hood pulled up over their faces, and black gloves left only a small strip of skin next to their eyes showing. What looked like the leader, a dark-skinned man with piercing emerald eyes, glanced around the clearing and pulled out a silver bow from his back, and an arrow from his quiver. He aimed it at a rustling in the bushes behind him, and the figures around him mirrored him movements.
“Come out or I shall shoot” he called in a quiet, accented, husky voice, his eyes staring intently at the shrubs.
A young woman appeared from the bushes, and pulled her identical mask down, revealing her tattooed light skinned face, with her gold eyes and her grin bringing out the dimples in her cheeks. When she spoke, it was in a strange accent, similar to the man’s “Aw come now Alwin, you wouldn’t shoot me, would you?”
Also pulling down his mask, he did not smile. “I would not be too overconfident if I were you, Sylvar,” he had a strong chiseled face, the same rune like patterns tattooed around his eyes, “Sneaking around in bushes is a sure way to be shot, and next time it may not be me who finds you.”
“If you must know, I am on a mission.” She empathized the last word proudly.
Alwin raised an eyebrow “Assigned by whom?”
A few figures snorted and too pulled down their masks. A freckled young man cackled “Yeah right, Sylvar, keep on dreaming.”
Angrily, Sylvar declared “You are just mad that the elders trusted me and not you to inspect the ancients!”
Frowning, Alwin said “They were last probed only last week, whatever would make it necessary to check them again?”
“I do not know really, the elders said it was ‘confidential’ and that I did not need to know, why?” Alwin muttered to himself, too quiet for Slyvar to hear. “So why are you back early? Nothing happened, did it?”
Looking her up and down, Alwin seemed to decide to trust her “A few trees from the north and east sides of the forest seem extremely... wrong.”
“That is all you need to know about the matter, now, shall we begin the probe?” Slyvar nodded and showed the clan towards the three oaks, pulling off her inky black cloak and folding it neatly, setting it down next to her and she sat between the tree trees. She lit several candles -brushing her white hair behind her pointed ears- and arranged them in a circle. Drawing a circle in white chalk, she scattered deep red petals around the clearing’s floor. As she began to chant, the runes on the trees started to glow green, as did the tattoos on everyone’s foreheads. Wind rushed around Slyvar, as the chanting grew louder, the wind growing stronger, petals flying everywhere, the green light turning too bright to look at.
Suddenly, the wind dropped, the blinding green lights faded. Slyvar smiled “See, the trees are completely fine-”
The lights turned blood red.
The conference hall was too loud to bear, the clan of elves shouting and screaming at each over, some even throwing things at the elders. It was a vast hall, roof stretching high above them all, the room itself was longer than a football pitch, the whole thing made from wood, carvings of war covered the walls. The floor was just dirt, and it was where most of the pews were, all lined up in a similar fashion to at a church, this was where the lesser members sat. Galleries were too made from wood, and were for the nobility, few however were ever occupied.
The hall fell into silence, as the wrinkled old elf who had yelled sat back into his seat. The elders were the oldest of the elves, therefore the wisest, their platform was raised above everyone else’s. There were only three of them, yet they were more intimidating than the elves' most skilled archers.
“Thank you.” The elder who sat in the middle of the three said. Daehorn did not show any expression as he said “I regret to inform you all that we are all in grave danger-”
The racket returned, everyone again screaming at the elders. Words like ‘all your fault’ and ‘we trusted you!’ could be heard.
“I SAID SILENCE!!!” Daehorn’s voice seemed somehow amplified to echo around the grand hall. “The ancients are angry at us, and if we do not find the reason behind this, we shall all surely perish.”
Slyvar, sat in the bottom pews, directly under the elders. She fumbled with her hands, wanting to say something, but finding herself unable to.
“We do not yet know exactly the reason as to why the ancients are angry at us, but we are curtain that we shall soon find out why, in the meantime, feel free to submit your ideas to as why they believe we have wronged them,” he said with a weak smile “Thank you for your time.”
Elves began to flock out of the hall, with their multicolored cloaks and pointy ears, they were quite almost like the stereotypical version of elves, if you discounted the fact that they were not short like humans depicted them to be.
Only the elders remained in the hall, and only when all of the clan had left, did they wipe the calm and collected looks from their faces, and start panicking.
“Who are we kidding? We have no idea what’s upsetting the ancients!”
“We’re all doomed!”
Their fighting grew louder, so loud, they did not notice Slyvar appearing suddenly behind them until she said “I know how we can save everyone.”
The elders jumped and turned around to face her “Miss Slyvar? Hmm, what do you suggest?”
“Well, what if we ask the ancients?”
Looking surprised, Daehorn gasped. “Oh my! Of course,” he said, rising from his seat and heading for the door “I believe you performed the probe today, yes? You’ll be perfect to communicate with the ancients.”
After they had reached the clearing, Slyvar rearranged the ritual she had set up before, and lit the candles again. She started to chant once more, this time in a different language, ancient sounding.
Wind started to rush around the clearing once more, and the trees’ lights grew blindingly red.
Slyvar opened her eyes and she was no longer in the clearing, she was now in an empty void of whiteness, her breath leaving steam in the air.
She started to walk, in no particular direction, just anywhere from the fog surrounding her. The quiet was so loud, deafening even. Holding her hands over her ears, she sank to a heap on the floor.
It was so loud. So white. Too much. It would be better just to sleep …to be gone….
As her eyes fluttered closed, she saw something familiar above her. It was too hard to make it out properly, but she could of saw as the world turned black, she could see the three oaks.
Standing there as the world turned black.