Two Kingdoms

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Quatre Winner, Jun 29, 2014.

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  1. The city of Kenar, in the kingdom of Ogenta, rumbled with preparations for war. Swords were sharpened, spears re-shafted, shields strengthened. All across the land, walls were being shored up, but in Kenar the Lords of the Mountain were called in to give extra strength to the defenses. They were well-paid, but also eager to act in the coming conflict, for they hated the White City and its surrounding kingdom. Ancient hatreds between elves and the ancestors of the mountain lords still ran deeply.

    For the humans in Kenar and elsewhere, the wounds were shallower but no less felt. Always, the elf kings and their people were prosperous, yet always they jealously guarded the secrets to their success, leaving those outside their prosperous lands to fend for themselves. Only a war against them could distract the kingdoms of men from the famine that had lasted five years. In war, they found new energy, and the bitter hope of taking the spoils home to feed their families. To the more enterprising, elf treasure would not be amiss in their coffers. The elves deserved to suffer for their isolationism, for this grave insult to all neighborly feeling.

    At least, that was how the race of men saw things. They may or may not have been correct about the elves' prosperity and motives- talks between the races had inevitably broken down, and suffering made men less willing to see both sides of the argument. They saw their cause as absolutely just, when reality, as is usually the case, lay somewhere in the middle. At this point, it mattered little; there would be war, and old hatreds meant the men would not be alone in their struggle.

    Yet, even as other races joined them, looking for revenge or plunder, not all raced to the battlefield to take arms. Many who wanted nothing to do with the war, or had little reason to fight, went to the Wilds where neither man nor elf truly ruled. Other laws applied there, and many who went in never came out again, even if they did not venture farther than the outskirts. Yet, as local conflicts became more severe, more men and their families found the Wild a tempting option. Most of these were small laborers or farmers, too tired to fight, but not all.

    By a small wooded lake one such wanderer had taken refuge. In the distance, he could hear the engines of war creaking, and smoke rising on the horizon where Kenar lay, but he had distanced himself long ago. He knew enough woodcraft to sustain himself, and sought out no company, living in a small hut by himself.

    What he had been before coming here would not have been obvious from looking at him, for though he was young, barely close to manhood, he had the sharp eye of a seasoned campaigner. His build was slender, his limbs muscular, and his hands rough from unknown work. He didn't have the hardened, weathered skin of one who spent all his time in the sun, nor was he soft and unblemished, like the high-borns of Bram or Whalan. His clothing was plain and serviceable and weather-stained, but well-made nonetheless. It hid him well in the undergrowth of the forest where he had learned to make a living.

    At the moment, he crouched by the lake in the early morning light, his deep blue eyes clear and intent on a clearing several feet in front of him where a deer stood, half-hidden. He had his bow drawn, but was waiting for a clearer shot, and could not afford to miss. As a soft breeze picked up before him, a few strands of raven hair slid into his eyes, looking like black feathers. He didn't so much as flinch, knowing he could not afford any errant movement at this point. The young buck was hesitant, but looked like it might come out in a few more moments...
  2. War. It was a foul taste in the elves mouths but being that it was on their doorstep they had no choice but to retaliate. It wasn't in elven nature to fight unless given no other alternative; they weren't about to leave their home and the humans and even the races that had joined them seemed to want to do nothing more than fight.

    It was far more rare, however, for any of the Elves to leave their kin in hopes of avoiding combat. Now Myrin was sort of this rare case, but it hadn't been exactly his choice. He was quite opinionated on the topic of war and it often got him in trouble with his kin. This caused him to be scrutinized often and eventually he was posed with three options: shut up and act at least somewhat normal, leave and never come back, or spend his time alone and have little interaction with his kin until he understood why things were the way they had always been.

    So living around the wilds had become Myrin's way of life only recently, but it didn't mean he didn't know how to survive. Camouflaged in some branches, the elfling had his sight set on a buck... Breathing in and then letting it out slowly, Myrin released the arrow he had drawn, and watched it as if it had flown slow motion and knocked the animal down. With a satisfied grin he made his way down the tree, staying low as he did, unsure of what else could be around.
  3. The strange arrow had come out of nowhere, and from a different direction, so Keinan didn't see it. he hadn't heard it, either. He had loosed his own arrow just as the buck stepped into the dappled light under the leaves, and the timing must have been a once in a lifetime shot, or perhaps their arrows were fated to hit the same buck. Whatever the case, the human being remained unaware of the elf's presence as the buck went down, and he stepped out of the screen of low branches to claim his prize. He could see the animal's motionless form lying a few yards away, his arrow stuck in its neck. There would be meat and jerky and numble soup for the next month if he was careful.

    However, almost as soon as he stepped into the open, movement in the trees to his left caught his eye. Just a slight dip in the branches, something only a bunter like himself would know to look for as being other than a small animal or the wind. Immediately, he slid behind the bole of a massive oak, fitting another arrow to his bow. Though other two-legged beings were rare here, or like nymphs, too elusive to make much appearance, it was not impossible that someone else was nearby. But from his vantage point, Keinan couldn't get a good view of what it was.

    Pressing his back against the trunk of the tree, he held his bow down, arrow resting on his forefinger and ready to be loosed. If it was a wildcat, he would have to kill it outright, since letting any remain alive near his camp would be a death sentence for him, or at the least competition for food. With winter coming on, he was not going to let a prize buck be taken so easily. Keinan would have to fight.

    Whatever the thing was, it was stealthy. He waited, a breath puffing through his nose, eyes narrowed. The underbrush was too thick…

    (He may try to shoot Myrin if he thinks he's a predator…. Unless Myrin catches him first. It could turn into a human/elf standoff. XD)
  4. Something felt off about the situation as soon as Myrin's feet hit the ground. He looked around carefully without making too much movement, not wanting to draw any attention to himself at all; it was more likely that there was someone rather than something nearby, and personally another person was worse than an animal - and possibly far more dangerous.

    Silently as he could, the elfling crept as close to the bucm as he dared... then he saw it. Two arrows. It was now confirmed that there was someone else out here who'd been hunting the same buck. He was going to have to be both careful and patient now, at least more so than usual. However there was easily going to be a problem. Myrin wasn't at his full game; hungry and exhausted from not eating in what was prprobably a week or more, and he'd been previously attacked by a wildcat he'd failed to kill in time.
  5. The elf would hear behind him, and to the right, the unmistakeable sound of a bow flexing as it was drawn. From the trees came a voice, low and rough and a little wild.

    "Hands where I can see them, or you're dead." Keinan remained partly screened by the trees, but the elf was now in his sights. If the newcomer was any judge, he would have been wise to surrender, rather than try to run. Keinan's shot on the deer had been clean and precise; he knew what he was doing. If Keinan was surprised to see an elf in his neck of the woods, it didn't cause him to falter. His blue eyes scanned the elf, looking for weapons, weak-points. He wouldn't kill unless he had to.
  6. Myrin had hoped that he'd been at a better vantage point than whoever else it was that was out here... He knew he shouldn't have left the tree he'd been in. It was a bad move. However despite being caught, he didn't feel like putting up a fight, even if he was starving and by the looks of it both of their arrows were killing shots.

    Lowering his head in pathetic defeat, Myrin put his hands where the other could see them though he remained crouched on the ground.
    "Whatever human, take it." He cursed quietly, able to smell the fact that it was not another elf. It disgusted him that he'd been caught out by a human but at least no one else was around to find out.
  7. Keinan had seen the elf's arrow as soon as Myrin shifted a little. That did catch him by surprise, but he recovered quickly, not willing to let a meal go so easily. He was glad, though, not to have to shoot the elf. Not that he knew what he'd do with him, exactly; probably send him packing. Keinan didn't care to kill if he didn't have to. Anyway, this one looked, on a second glance, to not be in much of a position to fight for the dead buck. It could be a trick, so Keinan kept whatever pity he felt in check for now.

    "Spare me the petulant tone- the kill is mine." Keinan didn't particularly like defeatism in anyone's tone, even if he'd won the point. After glancing around, pausing to listen and confirm, he half-stepped out from the trees, but not entirely. He'd never heard of an elf traveling alone.

    "Look up and let me see your eyes. Are you alone?" The tension in his bowstring never wavered, nor did his gaze. Lying to this particular human would be very difficult.
  8. Never caring if he insulted another race, Myrin felt a low growl rumble in the back of his throat, prepared to snap back if needed; that was of course had his growling stomach not distracted him. He also chose to ignore the request of looking up at the human, and instead made sure his fingers were wrapped around the blade in his boot, ready for a swift attack if needed.

    "An Elf is never alone." The words were technically true, considering their close connections with the environment, and he felt no shame in lying to the human if it helped protect his skin.
    "Take the stupid animal. " he hissed, taking that moment to roll sideways, drawing the dagger out as he went and landed in a perfect crouched defense pose where he eyed the human carefully. He didn't look like the normal ones he'd seen in the Wilds or the knes preparing for war.
  9. The elf's refusal to cooperate, and the hand clearly reaching for some weapon in his boot, just made Keinan angry. He had expected the elf to be insolent and faithless, since all their race were, but it still irked him to have to deal with one. It was lucky that he had such control over himself that he didn't end up sending a stray shot over Myrin's head as he moved. Keinan had seen the way he tensed up and more or less expected him to try something. At least he hadn't attacked.

    This left him in a bit of a quandary, though. If there were other elves around, he'd be shot as soon as he stepped into the clearing. They could be surrounding him right then. If this little one was lying, and it was possible, then he was too dangerous to leave behind. Keinan cursed this turn of events, wanting nothing more than to 'take the stupid animal' and leave, knowing it wouldn't end there. It looked like he'd have to just shoot the elf and make a dash for it, little as he liked the prospect.

    In the end, however, it was Myrin's rumbling stomach that told him what he needed to know. Elves always took care of their kind, unless they were outcasts. No elf still with his own kind would have been that hungry, or wounded and allowed to take down a deer himself. No, this one had to be alone. What was more, he looked much teh worse for wear, not svelte and sleek like other elves Keinan had seen. That meant he'd been taking care of himself, and binding his own wounds.

    Given the evidence, the human decided he'd risk coming out. Stepping slowly into the clearing, arrow still aimed at the elf's head, he was relieved when no return volley of fire took him down. His guess had been correct.

    "I don't appreciate being lied to, elf." he growled. "I should probably kill you for that alone, but I'd rather not bother if I don't have to and get my arrows dirty." His eyes raked the elf's body cooly, assessing him. "On the other hand, you're a liability."

    After a slight pause, he continued, his gaze never leaving the elf. "Here are your choices- either you hand over your weapons and lie down where I can see you and take care of this buck, or we tussle and I end up killing you because you're in no condition to defend yourself." A tiny smirk curled at his lips, without any real humor. Kei just wanted to get back and get the deer skinned. Why he was even allowing the elf to live was a mystery.
  10. "I care little for what you think, if anything at all." Myrin snarled in response to the human's statement of distaste towards the lie. Like the man wouldn't have done the same thing in his situation anyway. And he also scoffed at the options he had to chose from.
    "Only in your wildest dreams do you think I would satisfy any demand from a human."

    Despite his stomach begging for the meat of the buck, his sense of self preservation in regards to his life was far stronger when he knew he couldn't fight for what he wanted. Myrin was an elf lile few others; he would fight if he had to just like his kin, but he found that these days fighting for other reasons was often neeeed too... But for the moment it didn't matter, he couldn't fight for what he wanted alone.

    "Take it. I wont follow. I wouldn't want to be caught dead near you." Myrin's attitude was only a defense mechanism really; under more fair circumstances he was quiet but calm and friendly, even if it did involve a human - some afrerall were bearable.
  11. Myrin's words were not exactly calculated to win favor, or make Keinan lower his arrow. He only half-believed the insulting notion that the elf didn't want to be near him; the feeling was mutual. He was far more concerned with treachery.

    "And I'm supposed to believe the word of an elf?" he replied, cool next to Myrin's anger. But then, he'd eaten in the last two days, and rested, too. "What I think is the only think keeping you alive right now. Your kind aren't so merciful."

    Keinan was close enough now to nudge the buck with his toe, but he still kept his sights on the elf. It would be hard shifting the carcass while keeping his eye on the interloper. At present, they'd reached an ill-tempered stalemate, which did no one any good. He'd have to think of a better tactic. That meant…diplomacy.

    "Listen, elf, we don't have to like one another, but there are other enemies than myself in these woods who wouldn't think twice about killing us off-hand. You probably know that, being what you are. The Great Bear likes to drink here, and I would rather be gone before he comes. It would be best for you as well, and standing here arguing will not make it easier for either of us."

    His eyes were hard, but there was something else in them now, closer to seriousness. What he had just said about the Bear was true. "If you go twenty paces back and keep both hands in the air, I won't shoot your foot out from under you. I'll even put down my bow, though be warned, I have other weapons if you make them necessary. If you're smart, we can both get out of this alive and go our separate ways."
  12. "And you expect me to leave firsr, because you're frightened of an arrow or knife in the back?" There was almost a laugh in Myrin's voice despite the snarl on his face. However he let out a sigh after a moment and lowered his guard. They would get no where if one of them didn't back down first and despite the fact it hurt his pride as an elf, he would rather spend the rest of the time hunting for something else to eat.

    "And like your own kind are any more merciful. " Myrin scoffed with a shake of his head, almost like an animal that had eaten something foul and had a disgusted taste in its mouth, before he steadily got to his feet. Golden hair flopped over his face as he did so and hid his eyes, though a bit of the light that filtered through the leaves showed his darker-than-usual-Elf skin. It wasn't a strange thing really, but it was an indication that he was one of the families that were closer to the royal family than most others, but it also meant he'd spent a lot more time worrying about finding food than caring for himself any other way. Myrin needed to leave but just how the Human didn't trust him not to attack, he didn't trust the other either.
  13. "I'm merciful enough to let you go, rather than kill you." Keinan growled, eyeing the elf's injuries. "Though it may be a death sentence anyway. The Wild isn't kind to the wounded." Neither was the Great Bear, who would be lumbering to the lake any time now. Keinan sighed and lowered his bow as the elf did as he had asked, with obvious reluctance.

    A shaky truce hung in the air for the moment, and he seized on it, strapping his bow to his back and quickly heaving the dead buck over one shoulder. For someone of his slim build, it almost seemed ludicrous that he could even get it up there, much less start to walk away with it, but hard living in these woods had made him strong. He may have been slender, but he was wiry, and knew how to use his weight. Anyway, he'd done it before countless times.

    In spite of appearances, however, Keinan had no actual intention of just leaving the elf there on his own. At least, that would be the result of his currently silent arguing with himself. He didn't know about elf royalty, so the part of him that argued in favor of helping this one was entirely disinterested. The elf was clearly hurt and starving, and probably wouldn't last more than another day or two out here. Predators in this wood cared nothing about what kind of meat they ate so long as they got it. If the elf's wounds got gangrenous….

    That was his own problem, wasn't it? The other part of Keinan, the practical part, would not give way to pity. This elf had been rude and condescending, and clearly had no love for humans. Keinan was pretty sure he would try to stab him in the back as he walked, since he looked like he would have attacked earlier, had Keinan's arrow not been aimed at his heart. For all the human hunter knew, this one would follow him to his home and kill him in his sleep, taking everything Keinan had worked so hard to produce for himself. The human wouldn't have put it past him, since he knew nothing about him but his obvious racism.

    Racism you share…. the other side reminded him, and he gritted his teeth. He had more than the usual reason… But maybe this elf did, too. Keinan was too intelligent not to know that there were always two sides to every argument. He also knew that both sides didn't always have equal weight. Still, if he left this elf on his own to die, what was the point of sparing him?

    In the end, it was the distant rumble of the Great Bear's approach that decided the inner battle for him. Keinan had learned to listen for and locate the sounds that massive animal made in the undergrowth. The elf could get away, but where would he go without encountering another of the beasts in this wilderness?

    Keinan halted in his tracks, letting out a long, low breath of irritation. "Follow me if you want to live." He growled, without turning. "Unless you'd like a chat with the Great Bear." Once the beast got within range, he'd sniff the elf's wounds and hunt him down just out of curiosity.

    Without waiting for an answer, Keinan hefted his catch and continued down the path only he knew, feeling his way home as he always did, wondering at his own stupidity. If he ended up with a knife in the back, he deserved it.
  14. Like he needed this Human to help him. So far he'd done perfectly fine on his own, despite one little slip up, the current situation not included. It irked Myrin that the other would even dare to think that he would follow him, let alone to do so to stay alive; did this idiot think he couldn't escape the bear? And, on that note, wouldn't it be better for the Human for the bear to chase after Myrin? Scrunching his nose up in disgust at his trail of thought, the elfling shook his head as if to clear it of the infuriating discussion before it gave him a headache.

    Now despite being able to hear the bear getting closer, Myrin remained where he was for a moment more. There was no way he could really trust the Human, and he didn't actually feel like giving the other the pleasure of his company that, to the elfling, would prove that he needed help to survive. Growling under his breath, he tucked the dagger back into his boot and adjusted his bow on his back properly before he quietly clambered up the nearest tree. He was not only safer from most animals in the trees, but he felt more comfortable moving about in them than on the ground; he understood the trees and knew which branches to stand on, and what ones not to - he hated all the hidden rocks, holes, and all the other things that hid in the undergrowth that could make him trip far more easily.

    However now he had to decide which way to go. The thought of following the Human made him sick, though that could have also been the fact that he was angry the man could have thought the kill was his and taken the whole thing - logically a double kill could have resulted in them splitting it, but of course Humans were too selfish for that.
    Come now Myrin, don't think that, because you know you would never have shared it with him if you'd had the upper hand...
    A deep frown of angry disgust graced his face as his inner voice chirped up.
    Shut up. I'm not that selfish. It's no wonder our kind don't get along when they think they're so entitled. I know we don't help the situation sometimes either but still, if they weren't so greedy and understood the ways of nature, then we'd get along better!
    It wasn't a rare occurance, Myrin talking to himself within his mind - it wasn't like there was anyone else to talk to apart from the trees and the less menacing animals.

    Deciding it was time to move before the bear got any closer, the elfling began to swing and jump carefully through the treetops, for the moment not giving any notice to the direction he had chosen as he focused his attention on landing on or grabbing the right branch. He was fast, though slower than he would have been had the wildcat not attacked him; there was no serious damage though, a few scratches, but mostly just a lot of heavy bruising from rolling around in the struggle to kill the angry beast. He did need to find some food soon though, even if it wasn't meat, but he hadn't seen any berries or fruits around that weren't poisonous - or that he wasn't allergic to.
  15. If Myrin stopped to think more about it, that very idea that Keinan should leave him behind to distract the bear, but wasn't doing so, would have told him what he needed to know about the human himself. Keinan was giving him a choice, and if the fle decided not to take it, that was up to him. Merely suggesting it came from a deeper place inside the human's heart, beneath his gruff and practical exterior. By rights, he should have shot the elf when he had the chance. Yet, he hadn't. It could be looked at as generosity, or stupidity. Even Keinan wasn't sure, himself. Had there been time, and the elf less nasty, he might have split the meat with him right there. If nothing else, that would have been a stupid move in terms of survival…but he would still probably have done it.

    The human moved with surprising agility and silence with such a burden on his back, and though not as nimble as an elf, he threaded through the trees with obvious skill. He avoided rocks and holes and roots and branches with ease, barely leaving any trace behind him. He could just hear the telltale swish and creak of branches as the elf moved through the trees, though only because he knew to look for it. At the moment, the sound wasn't moving in his direction, and he just sighed and shouldered his burden, moving on into the woods toward his home. That was the elf's choice, and he was welcome to it. Keinan didn't exactly have time to chase after him and make him see reason. Anyway, maybe the Bear would like him? Animals were said to respond to elves…

    Shaking his head, the human trod the well-worn path, believing he wouldn't see the elf again, and wondering why he should give a care. He sort of did, but only in a general sense. It wasn't like Myrin had done anything to endear himself to Keinan.
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