She walked, and the shadows strode alongside, murmuring their reassurance. She had her wits about her, but even she was unsure of how this came to be.
"Your Highness, your worry shakes the mountains. We still have hope."
She began to cry.
"But with the Keeper imprisoned, the people of the Dark Lands will surely become slaves."
A silence followed, but suddenly a deafening screech erupted from the depths of Stohn Woods. Figures in bright white apparel leaped from the the darkness of the trees and tossed a tightly-woven net over the Dark Queen's head. She squirmed, and the worm-like bag uttered muffled screams. The shadows hissed at the men as the queen was dragged away.
The now lonely shadows panicked. They zipped in and out of the thorny bushes and trees, and much of the land surrounding the forest trembled in sadness and anger.
He moved north, alert for any sign of the men in white. He could not let himself be discovered. Not again. He needed to be back at the border before the full moon, but being sixty-seven years old, his joints were weary. He lay in the bright, cold grass and watched the sky grow progressively darker. The moon, it shall be full in only three days' time. he thought to himself. He worried that his old, frail bones wouldn't get to the river before the Light Ones brought down the final blow on the Dark.
His duty was to keep balance between the people of Somaile, to make sure neither side took the other. He had never anticipated the difficulty of being the Keeper; the Somaili people nearly never fought. But unfortunately for him, he happened to be the one hope for those of the Dark Lands.
It seemed only a moment later when the sun reflected off of the magenta sky. His legs trembled as he arose, not only because of the crisp dawn air, but also of the fear he now felt each waking moment.
He wondered how far he was from the Light Palace, and when he would turn east toward the Fort. Thoughts of his family clouded his head, but he kept moving north, farther and farther still, until he saw large mounds in the distance.
The Hills of the Orks. He knew instantly that he had gone too far. With only little more than two days before the full moon arrived, he would have to get going back south, and soon.
But his ever thin stomach growled with urgency; first he needed to eat.
His previous visits to these hills had been friendly and pleasant, but after a year of war, the orks might not be so hospitable. The Keeper cautiously edged through the hedges, leading to the valley where the orks would be eating at this time. He heard a loud crack, looking down on a broken twig. Multiple heads turned, and after a brief silence, a larger head emerged and spoke.
"Ah, Fyran. The Keeper," a sly voice said, "What brings you to our hills?"
"Well, Vernar, I am traveling, you see, and I am in great need of something to eat." Fyran replied, unsure of the orks' reaction.
"Fyran, being as we're old friends, usually, I would give you more than you need." Vernar chuckled, "However, as you are the one hindrance to our increase in land, I'm afraid that I cannot help you."
He yelled something in a strange dialect, and the throng of orks instantly ran toward the Keeper at their usually slow pace. Although their legs moved like snails, it seemed like Fyran had just begun running when he felt large hands close around each of his limbs, and with another command from Vernar, they were stretched to their maximum and beyond.
The Keeper's cries of pain echoed through hills and were heard throughout the island, and after hours of of various beatings and torturings, the trees grew deaf. The shrill sound reached the Light Palace, beckoning the guards toward the hills. The guards, darned in white, came crashing through the undergrowth with a large sack. Looking over his shoulder with strain, Fyran knew what was coming next.
But the orks would not let the Keeper be captured again. He would only escape as he did last time. Vernar let out a roar, and the light slowly faded from Fyran's eyes as he felt a sudden yank and his limbs became numb.
The evil in the air rang with excitement, and, though some were surprised, so did the people standing in the valley as they watched the grass turn crimson.
To be continued.....