The last elf of lanis, p.1
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       The Last Elf of Lanis, p.1

           K. J. Hargan
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The Last Elf of Lanis

  The Last Elf of Lanis


  K. J. Hargan

  * * * * *


  The Last Elf of Lanis

  Copyright 2010 by K. J. Hargan

  All right reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may

  be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means

  (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the

  copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the

  author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark

  owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The

  publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other

  people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each

  person you share it with. If you’re reading this ebook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your

  the author’s work.

  Cover illustration by Damian Hawes. Copyright Kurt J. Hargan. Used with permission.

  * * * * *

  The author would like to thank Annette and Roy for their support and love, and Zack who enjoyed this work, as it was written chapter by chapter and read to him by his mother Koral, who I thank as sister, editor, and most ardent fan.

  * * * *

  The Last Elf of Lanis

  Chapter One


  Iounelle Treelaughter Wendralorn Awaruaine knelt to check the signs in the dry autumn grass. Nearby, the bodies of five garonds lay dead.

  Treelaughter was her elvish lifename. Wendralorn was her family name. And, Awaruaine was the name given by the priests at her birth, a secret name, only to be told to her betrothed on her first night of marriage. Now that name was irrelevant. There were no other elves to be her husband.

  The garonds were part of a larger platoon she had been tracking for several weeks. They were headed westward from the Holmwy River. These five had doubled back. It didn’t matter why to the elf. She would have killed them in any case.

  Iounelle plucked a handful of the meadow grass and wiped the garond blood from her long, silver, crescent shaped sword. It resembled the moon in its last phase. Along the inner edge ran old elvish runes in a dialect of elvish so ancient the words made little sense to her. She could pick out the words ‘glory’ and ‘key’, but the phrasing was too old to be readily understood.

  The elf looked up at the cold, blue sky. The memory of the slaughter of the last elves in all of Wealdland constantly played before her eyes. She clutched her breast with the heartbreak. When the garonds, their age old friends, suddenly attacked, she had been knocked unconscious by her brother, and hidden in the trees near the walls of the ancient city of the elves, called Lanis Rhyl Landemiriam.

  When she awoke, the last four elves were fighting against thousands of garonds. Her brother was in the group. From her hiding place, she saw his desperate eyes flash to her to flee. She felt the numbing shock of horror as the garonds, like angry black ants, overwhelmed her brother and the other elves. She often thought she should have died with them then, a year ago. But, she ran and hid in the trees, crying for days after.

  Over the days since the attack, she quietly killed as many of the invading, vile garonds as she could, secretly ranging all across the Lanis peninsula, into the Madrun Hills, and across the Eastern Meadowland.

  The elf rose. The trail led to a small, neglected village called Bittel.

  The small stand of trees was cool, and the green and yellow leaves of the massive elms swayed and danced with the sweet breezes of the last days of autumn. The Archer from Kipleth drew back on his long, yew bow. The arrow he had nocked had a black metal, strangely barbed head.

  The Archer swung his bow around to a group of people on the ground. From his vantage point in the elm, the Archer had an unobstructed target range of the whole, open meadow and the trail that ran along the edge of the tree line.

  A permanent sorrow was etched on the Archer’s face, reflected in his dark brown eyes.

  There was no cover from this point. Anyone on the ground would have been helpless before him. He had only to point and release.

  On the ground, three garonds had three human families in shackles. The garonds were a squat, dark, muscular and vicious race, sporting long, dark, red hair. They had wide mouths with sharp teeth, small upturned noses and ape like faces.

  All three of the garond soldiers had thick leather armor with copper plates on shoulders, thighs, and chest. None of these precautions would protect the soldiers from the Archer.

  The Archer sighted the foremost garond and pulled his arrow tight to his right cheek. The image of his slaughtered wife and children was always foremost in his mind, but his wife’s face was becoming distant, a memory harder to recall. His fingers trembled.

  Silent, as a leaf falling, a shape dropped to the branch just in the Archer’s line of sight. A small, hooded figure dressed in forest green crouched on the outstretched arm of an elm.

  The Archer watched as the hooded figure drew a crescent shaped, silver sword. The Archer instantly knew the shape crouching on the branch before him was an elf. His hand wavered for an imperceptible instant.

  The elf tensed, ready to leap down to the garonds below. In a moment, the elf would be fighting for its life, and it would be a close match. Garonds were quick and well organized, strong and merciless. The Archer had never seen an elf fight, but he made up his mind.

  The Archer checked his target and released the arrow. It flew silent and true, a sharp, feathered bolt, and pinned the cloak of the elf to the branch on which it crouched.

  The elf whirled around to pierce the Archer with sea green eyes. The elf was a young woman, but a bonfire of hatred blazed in her stare. The Archer locked eyes with the elf, and lifted a single finger to his lips to be silent.

  The elf instantly knew the Archer could have killed her then and there, and reluctantly nodded with understanding.

  The Archer nocked another of his unique black arrows.

  On the ground, a blonde, human boy had fallen to the dry, autumn grass. One of the garonds snarled loud and dangerous. It lifted its blackened, oak club for the death stroke.

  As in a dream, a polished arrow sprouted from the neck of the garond. Dark blood squirted from the wound. The other two garonds roared in anger.

  The elf watched in astonishment as the Archer renocked, and fired twice more in a perfect blur. It seemed as if the arrows sprang from the other two garonds like evil, fletched flowers grown mad in some deadly spring.

  The middle garond clutched the arrow imbedded in his right eye. The third garond could only bring his hands up to the arrow protruding from his opened mouth before it crumpled to its death.

  All three garonds fell to the ground in pools of inky blood as the humans clutched each other in happy astonishment.

  The elf turned to fix the Archer with a look of satisfied blood lust. Then, she ripped the arrow from her tunic, and leapt from the tree. The elf disappeared into the woods with the speed of a startled deer.

  The Archer paused for any other movement in the woods, and then slowly climbed from the elm tree. Then, he walked carefully to the tree that the elf ha
d fled. There was no sign of his black arrow, or the elf.

  Carefully, the Archer walked through the edge of the woods to where the humans were freeing themselves of the shackles of the garonds.

  A tall, blonde man with dark brown eyes turned to the Archer, and his face broke into a broad smile. “Like the sun breaking through the clouds, our savior!” He exclaimed.

  The Archer ignored him and strode to the first garond, and pulled the black arrow from its neck.

  “I am Kellabald, these are the people of Bittel,” the blonde man quietly said.

  The Archer briefly took in Kellabald, his dark haired wife, and their blonde son, the boy who was nearly killed. There was also an elderly couple, and a red haired man, with a woman and their girl. The red haired man seemed vaguely familiar.

  The Archer stepped to the second garond and with effort, pulled at the thick, barbed arrow buried in its eye socket.

  The two human children now clutched their mothers and whimpered in happy sobs. The Archer acknowledged their relief. For an instant, the pain of a bereaved parent played across his face. Then, the black cloud, which perpetually shadowed the Archer’s face, covered his countenance again.

  Kellabald stepped up to the second garond and held its head to help the Archer extract the arrow.

  “They are nasty things, these garonds, like rabid animals. You made short work of them, though,” Kellabald humbly said.

  As the arrow came free, the Archer examined Kellabald for a moment. “You had best get your clan to safety fast. The mounted patrols will be here soon.”

  “Mounted...?’ Kellabald stared at the Archer.

  “They ride on the backs of horses,” the Archer plainly said.

  Kellabald stopped as if the Archer had told a joke, and then realized the seriousness of the situation. “They ride on the backs...”

  “... Of horses. They are relentless and unmerciful,” the Archer said as he scanned the trees.

  Kellabald seemed to understand, and an air of gratefulness settled on him. “You have our undying thanks, friend. But where is your elf companion? We should thank her, too.”

  The Archer stopped before the third garond. “You saw her?”

  Kellabald shifted nervously. “Was she... Did I not...?” his voice broke in embarrassment.

  “She has my arrow,” was all the Archer said. Then, he pulled the arrow from the third garond’s mouth with a sucking, popping sound.

  “There’s a village, Rion Ta, across the Eastern Meadowland, at the edge of the Weald. We would be honored if you would escort us,” Kellabald asked, hope quietly shining in his averted brown eyes.

  “The women and children should know that we must travel quickly,” was all the Archer said. With that, he strode away through the brown, dry grass.

  Kellabald gathered his clan as they scuttled after the determined strides of the Archer from Kipleth.

  From the edge of the woods, from the unfolding green, as if emerging from nature itself, Iounelle, the elf, stood and looked after the fleeing humans. The elf paused to examine the destruction of the garonds, crumpled black shapes of evil, given their due by the dark eyed, dark haired Archer. The human stirred a strange feeling in her breast. In her hand, she turned the unusual, black arrow that had pinned her cloak to the tree. Then, with the hint of a smile, the elf quietly followed the trekking humans through the crisp, autumn grass.

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