Scene 2 : The Forest
The grey stallion was at a full gallop, gasping for breathe as Denzred leaned close and whispered in its ear as he continued to urge it on. With a loud crashing of branches the horse broke through into the thick undergrowth of the ancient forest that encircled the now decimated elven village. And that crashing and clattering was the last loud noise either of them heard, the sounds now as muffled as they were when he gazed upon the bonfire. But this felt different, this felt far more real than it had any right to be. He had heeded the warning of the Duke to stay out of the woods when he was following orders. He had simply assumed that the Duke was just trying to put a scare into his own men and keep the rabble from poaching his favourite deer and grouse. Now he wasn’t so sure as he drew his sword from his scabbard once more and look around with trepidation.
He racked his brain trying to remember what the Duke had blathered about this damned forest, something about Faerie and their Court. He had heard stories in the past about them, that the elves were merely a shadow of the true Evil …the Sidhe. They were said to be the ancient progenitors, predating Man and possibly the World, possibly Fallen or Demons of the Void. Rare was the Man that could survive an encounter with them and rarer still was the one that did not come back home aged almost to death. Denzred looked around again, thinking he had heard the rustling of leaves which surprised him since the Sidhe were supposed to move without sound. A smirk escaped his battle-shocked face as he remembered one more detail of this ancient enemy. Looking down at his sword and smiling, he brought it up to and kissed the blade with relief. In his haste this morning to engage in battle he had taken one of his older blades. The forging of cold steel having only just crossed the Channel to England he had chosen a sturdy blade of iron. He reflected that it was anathema to the Sidhe but not much help against their dweomers..
“If I am damned and condemned thus, it can’t hurt to draw more blood on my way to the Gates of Hell.”
“Who said anything about sending you to Hell?”
Denzred shifted swiftly in his saddle as he peered into the gloom of the trees and tall grass at the edge of the clearing the stallion had made with its constant stamping. All he could make out was a pair of glimmering amber eyes, and then it stepped forth…a being like nothing he had ever beheld. She was dressed in shimmering ebon armour (leather of some magical beast he suspected), her silvered locks entwined with strands of gold and her eyes a matching golden amber hue. Her skin had a pale grey cast and she easily stood at his height of six feet. Her alien beauty had almost distracted him long enough to not notice the pair of golden bronze blades gripped in each gloved hand. They almost seemed to be barely there as he watched her idly swing them lightly back and forth with controlled grace. She moved them so quickly that he could barely discern them but they seem to be a bit shorter than his bastard sword and as thin as an estoc. He was as mesmerized by their delicacy as much as her unearthly beauty.
“Does the cat have your tongue knight, or is it still available for the taking? Or maybe you would prefer to survive for a little longer?” she even furnished him with a slight smirk as her skin darkened subtly.
“Keep your distance, Spawn of Satan! I mean to swiftly and peacefully leave this place and this vile realm. I only took this route knowing that those oafs back there wouldn’t be foolish enough to follow…” He trailed off as a slight breeze caressed his cheek and he found his helm resting on the pommel of his saddle rather than on his head.
“Keep my distance? Foolish mortal! If I wanted you dead we wouldn’t have even engaged in this little chat. I saw what you did at the bonfire, that gained a small degree of mercy from Us. If you continue with your threatening tones I shall make sure that is the last heroic act you ever perform.” And he found her standing on the neck of his horse (which did not flinch as if the weight was no more than a feather) as he felt one of her blades under his chin lifting his head to look up at her flashing amber eyes.
“So why let me live this long? Amusement for Satan? Is he really that bored?”
And then he heard the most beautiful sound he had ever experienced in his short mortal existence, her laughter.
“Man, you have no idea what We really are. You are foolish and young, as are all of your kind. But you did something I wish I had the opportunity, you killed that vile bastard the Duke. He had tortured Us…violated Us. For this We are grateful and thus We give you safe passage through this place.”
Then she was standing next to his horse staring up at him with that constant glittering amber gaze, the tip of her blade having never left his throat. He looked down at her with all the courage he had ever mustered.
“I shall remember this, Spawn…or whatever you truly are. I shall repay this debt, the only one I have, now that I have left those cretins behind.”
And with those words she simply vanished on the breeze, though he swore he heard words in that wind,” We truly doubt that, Man.”
His journey thenceforth was uneventful. Denzred even noted the continued complete lack of birdsong until he reached the outskirts of the forest opposite his entry point. After that he rode hard, like the very Devil Himself was at his heels. When night fell so did he, from his horse to the ground in a small vale filled with blooming clover. He slept…he dreamt…