They ran away from the chasing shadows. Sharp springs of the diseased forest smacking against their faces, and cutting their skin full of bleeding wounds like invisible claws. Terror of getting caught pumped adrenaline into their bodies, driving them to push on, while growls and shouts of those at their tail followed right behind from all around the surrounding wild. Mixing in with the rustle of the dry, dead vegetation and the rush of their own blood, which surged through their veins hot and quick. They were hunted, chased by those who not long before were their allies. And now not even the darkness they were part of could hide them, as the night was not their friend. But it revealed them, its dominating silence allowing their chasers to hear their racing feet when they dashed through the rambling forest, trying to escape. But no avail they ran, to have known from the start their attempt of flee would most probably be wasted. Enemies were everywhere, foretelling each of their escape routes, their skulking, deformed figures appearing among the trees ceaselessly and forcing them to chance direction. The head start of the four fleeing people wasn't but few short feet, the loud, raspy voices of the ugly creatures in their ears which barked at others of their location. Always finding them. And what set their hearts at distressed race were the several flickers of torches peeking through the trunks. The glint of curved blades of their enemies in the few rays of moonlight revealing their actual numbers to the four escapees when they repeatedly kept on glancing behind themselves. Seeing the all the time approaching danger. They would not be saved. They could not escape.
The man and the woman pulled their children forward on the lost forest path with them. Turning their attention away from the death which followed at their heels closer every second, urging them forward while blasted the thicket out of their way. All four pushing past the almost impenetrable bushes and rhizome, everything in that accursed woods trying to extend their enchanted fingers toward them and seize them. Aiding their enemies and trying to trap them into its endless maze. But they still ran, never stopping, knowing what would be the fate of them if they were captured. By the long years of captivity the longing for freedom had become overpowering, and that moment the strongest of strength which infused hope in the hearts of these parents was the need to save their children. To get them safe, for the remaining days of this world, and their lives. Were them to be as long as the lifespan of this Earth itself.
"The rats ran this way!"
Alarmed the man came to a sudden halt due this exclaim. His mate stopping right beside him in a heartbeat, them both bringing their offspring against their chests and into the safety of their embraces. The woods was no more quiet, but full of crude bellows and crackle of the stomping feet of heavy iron boots, the warm glow of the fired torches and the glimmer of deadly steel closing in on them from all sides. The moving, black forms whisked past the tree trunks with such speed that it set the blood of the hounded family into another agitated rush. Them next being able but to follow how the servants of their masters approached them wherever they looked, growling, though the closer they came their speed slowed down bit by bit. Their foul exteriors starting to actually express fear, their movements turning careful when they eventually had managed to surround the escapees into a small clearing.
The children watched from their parents' arms as the chasers came. Trapping them like animals, their hearts starting to canter for fear as then without a hesitation their father stepped forth. The creatures soon taking a frightened step back as they faced the stare of his opened eyes, which had turned glowing red in a blink. The dangerous threat of his gaze caused a terrible tremble to shake the cruel beings' limbs when he lifted his palm, the older of the children instantly then drawing a weapon for himself. Taking their father's side, together both of their lips forming words of might and calling out the grandeur of old. Channeling it for their purpose and eventually releasing it upon their adversaries, who at the same moment attacked them after small hesitation. Only to be thrown back by a power they had learnt to fear since the birth of this race, and which against their distorted weapons stood no chance. Powerful magic of ancient origin proving to be too imposing for them to conquer with swords. And so as the battle occurred, the creatures meeting their ruthless end by the male conjurers, the mother turned her attention to the youngest child. Serious expression taken over her harsh features when she removed her belt of weapons with hasty fingers, next shoving it into the hands of the juvenile, before then squeezed them with hers.
Her eyes looked deep into the child's, now their usual harsh granite softened by actual spark of gentleness, when new flood of enemies charged into the clearing. Not but a short moment later starting to gain power from their superior numbers, the daunting resistance of the escapees weakening by the passing seconds as more and more creatures came at them as a endless stream. And so their powerful blows, which sent the beings flying dead on the ground with blinding flashes of light, after all revealed not to give enough protection for the four pent people. And so the mother grabbed her youngest child in even more dire urgency, shared a stare with them and touched their cheeks. Cupping their face, smiling.
"You must survive", she insisted, looking down at the weapons in her child's possession remarkably, before then cast a peek at her husband and older child. Witnessing how regardless of furious fight both of them started to fall back before the cluster of creatures, their resistance failing. In the following moment a few bravest beings managing to run past the pair when their defense got an opening, numerous hostile weapons immediately rising to slaughter the woman and the child at the background.
The male turned around in a heartbeat to defend his family. But it took but one flash of red eyes and a lift of a wrist when the creatures met their death, gust of power hurling them many meters away and causing them to crash into the trees. But now evident that their chance to escape had reduced to nothing, all four now realizing there was no other way out of this situation but death, the woman once again turned toward the younger child after exchanging a keen stare with her mate. And now releasing a deep sigh she took out a knife, cut her finger and quickly used the welled up drops of blood to draw a symbol on the forehead of the confused, scared child.
"You are all that will be left of us", the mother told them, serious again, till the symbol was finished and she once again spent a beat of moment to examine the child. The pained snarls of the creatures and the sparks of the magic used to ward them off turning the dark, quiet forest eerie.
"You have something inside you, child. Something that cannot be restrained by anyone… A grand might, your true self. So live for all of us and carry on the legacy which is branded into your blood as a great power. You must not die, but live. Live!"
Bypassing her husband's cautionary cry the woman frowned, now quickly placing her palm over the bloody symbol on the child's forehead, just as the man was stricken down by yet another enemy assault. The older child not long after sharing his fate and fell wounded on the ground. But the woman was pronouncing a spell, a powerful one and of frightening words, her focusing all her energy to do what was to be done for them to be free. The startled gaze of the child meeting their mother's through the extended fingers resting on their face.
"Mor gnashishi tubulizub mog!
Izg gurûk lat rak krimp lab burzum ishi kuru nash,
kara lû burû sa darnug zor rashung rak sul!
Izg gurûk hi ramishi azgor!
Tubul izish rak nug izish!"
Colossal flash of bright light exploded in middle of the pitch black heart of the Great Greenwood. Some unfathomable force shaking the foundations of the Earth as if Aulë himself would've shifted the locations of the mountains once molded by Ainur. The risen wind so powerful as if it came directly from Manwë's servants, now grasping the foliage and almost tearing the trunks from their roots. The ample sea of trees churned like stormy waves by this bizarre incident which broke the deep slumber of the forest, but after the short moment it took for this strange happening to take place, once again everything which had been filled with pandemonium went silent. Not a single sound anymore emanating in the silence, in an instant everything turning back dead in every meaning of the words.
Not far away, all this was witnessed by a Elven King and his hunting party, them coming to a perplexed halt when they out of the blue saw a blinding shine appear on the sky a mile away from their location. This baffling light reaching the dark skies, just as the Elven entourage saw how trees started to sway in the fitful, but usually nonexistence breeze. The animals which carried them turning restless as the ground grumbled under their feet, cracking. Them taking a few nervous steps on the forest path until their riders restrained them, calming them down with a couple of Elvish words, all then returning back to normal in a few seconds. And when that odd glow and the wind had vanished, the unbroken silence descending over the forest once again, King Oropher wrinkled his brows for confusion. What could've that peculiar incident been to have unexpectedly disturbed the serenity of his Realm?
"My lord?" Captain of his guards called, as well staring cautiously to the direction of the strange illuminance. "What was that?"
"I do not know, Calahdros", King Oropher replied, in deep ponders of many kind, till he nodded. Guiding his hart toward the forest trail which led straight toward the part of the forest where the light had occurred.
"The Orcs, my King? Could it be their doing?"
"No. Light of that kind could not possibly be for the Orcs to create, as creatures of dark they are. Come, let us see what has caused this disturbance in my forest!"
The Elven King and his guards rode in quick speed toward the Northwest corner of the woods. Not taking long on their journey when they arrived to the clearing the shimmer had occupied not that long time ago. But even long before the mounts of the Elves arrived near the said location, they could feel a hideous stench of blood hit against them long distance away. Each Elf's senses sharpening and they eyed at their surroundings for signs of an ambush, loosening their weapons in case of a need to draw them to defend themselves and their King.
Their hunt had been interrupted by the trails of numerous Orcs found from the hunting grounds. By the looks of this cluster's tracks to have passed the Greenwood in clear hurry, so their King had ordered them to change their direction and trace the creatures before they could perform any form of evil in his Lands. And now it was very likely they'd found the whereabouts of their guarry after half a day's chase. But the smell of fresh gore filling the still air was what awakened their suspicions, and soon when their King was the first to ride into the near clearing his sword revealed, they came to a new halt when Oropher lifted his hand as a sign to stop. And pure astonishment filled the Elven Lord when he behold the scene now opening before his eyes in the dark.
King Oropher ordered his men to bring light into the clearing. And when he among the rest of his guards dismounted the elks to scout the area, all eyes were widened by the sight of several burnt, mangled bodies of late Orcs lying on top of each other and scattered all around the as well burnt soil. The majestic trees surrounding the open space had also suffered serious damages by the unknown force, which had caused these creatures to meet their creator. The dominant devastation confusing the Elves, who indeed hadn't expected to catch up with the Orcs they'd trailed and find them breathless. And so violently killed, by a perpetrator which clearly possessed mighty powers to have wiped out such large number of Orcs. Yet it was not work of any army, as they would've been aware of any armed troupes to have entered Greenwood, not to mention that there were no others tracks besides the messy footprints of the Orcs. And lastly, the Elves could feel traces of great ancient magic in the air, and simply the extend of the done destruction told the King the way these Orcs had died hadn't been any way ordinary.
"What happened here?" one of the guards questioned in amazement, sheathing his blade as knelt by an Orc body. Examining its scorched form his eyebrows wrinkled, before then turned up his nose for distaste due the pungent odor of burnt flesh. King Oropher as well returned his weapon to its scabbard, starting to walk forward while received a torch from Caladhros. He scoured the rest of the clearing with his men, some of them advancing forward into the forest. But they found not a single alive Orc nearby. Everything was dead.
"I sense some powerful magic to have been used here", Caladhros stated, jabbing one of the bodies with his bow. "The condition of these carcasses make it seem as if a dragon would've been here and killed these creatures. But there has not been a single dragon seen in Middle-Earth since the War of Wrath."
"It was no dragon", one answered, directing his eyes to stare at the burnt branches. "But something as terrifying. This is work of as dangerous being."
King Oropher's uncaring gaze rounded the space one more time. Not feeling any kind of pity toward the deceased Orcs which his people hated with cold ire, him then letting out a sigh and handed the torch back to Caladhros. He was then about to order his men to gather the bodies to the disposed of, until his attentive Elvish eyes found something among the murky figures of the dead which woke his interest. Differing from others in size and form, clearly not Orcs he decided, even to many it would've been impossible to tell otherwise by the same burnt, charred state of these three figures he concerned different.
King Oropher walked closer, once again drawing his weapon as soon stopped by the thinnest of the bodies. His light irises of shy blue falling to first examine a sword of rather peculiar forging by its side, him kneeling and taking it into his hand. He could not go guessing about its origin, as it was nothing like any race of his knowledge crafted, as well proven by the rather remarkable weight he took notice of which was rather unusual itself. Even by Dwarvish standards. But nor it was a weapon of any Orc making, he knew. Oropher spent the following moment to measure the former wielder of this weapon, seeing them to have pointy ears as had the two others some distance away. And out of the three this one was a woman no doubt, he inferred, by the soft curves which still were visible in the body. But his confusion was now increased by the as odd looking weapons found from the possession of the corpse of what it seemed an Elvish man and a Ellon by the woman's side, the Elven King's men sharing his bewilderment.
"The Orcs were chasing someone when they entered the forest", one of them mused, stopping by his King's side who stood up. Oropher's eyes still scanning the presumed Elven figures. "Maybe it is these three who they were chasing."
"Or they were prisoners", Caladhros suggested. "But what interests me most is to know what happened to them, among these creatures."
"Search the bodies!" Oropher ordered. Tint of anger appearing in his voice when he turned around, as his intention to return to his hart. "By the looks of their ears, it seems they were of our race. I as well want it to be brought into my knowledge who were they, and why they were chased by these Orcs inside my kingdom. And furthermore, why they died."
The guards started to fill his orders, searching the speared belongings of the three proven to be Elves. But in middle of King Oropher's journey over the clearing back to his awaiting elk, he came across yet another form which laid at the sidelines. Separate from the others. And it was not only the pair of as strange looking weapons by its side which now managed to grasp his attention, but the fact that this figure looked nothing like the corpses of the clearing. And when in new wonder he quickly told his men to approach and once again bring light to the edge of the space, he found that the form was not indeed a burnt Orc. He was eyeing at a dark cloth figure of a young boy, his short, raven black hair covering his bloody face. King Oropher taking notice of the numerous bruises and cuts covering his skin. But as he knelt again and placed his sword before the boy's mouth, witnessing the vapor erupting though the parted lips on top of the delicate steel, for his surprise he discovered him to be alive.
"Caladhros!" he called. The Captain of his guards arriving by his side in an instant while Oropher lifted the boy higher, now sweeping the tangled, short hair out of his face and revealing another pair of pointy ears. Him seeing that the chest of the wounded was indeed rising as a sign for shallow breathing. And after short observation Oropher deemed this lad to be at the verge of adulthood, around his son's age of 100 years.
"This one is alive."
"Alive? How in Eru's name can there be someone found in this place who survived the calamity which occurred here?" Caladhros said in great wonder, his eyes once again wide for astonishment while they were cast upon the unconscious Ellon in his lord's arms. And King Oropher did the same, not being able to describe the feelings which this unknown, discovered Elven youth awoke in him. He felt restless, more confused he'd ever found himself in any situation. He frowned while his eyes were stuck upon the odd pair of weapons.
"That remains to be learnt", he replied thoughtfully, lifting the young Elf from the ground. "We'll take him back with us. And maybe will gain the answers we thirst when he wakes."