Protecting the light
I grew comfortable in seeing her and all my nervousness faded away, I should have known it wouldn't last.
The Captain concealed himself behind the building of the human village. He was on the outskirts of the village, but he had to be careful. The tension was boiling over and elves had declared the forest their own, which basically meant they were going to shoot you if you dared to step a foot inside.
Lorien suddenly seemed to appear out of thin air and she wrapped her arms around the Captain. He hugged back and momentary forgot that he was in a war, all he knew was that he was with her, and she was all that mattered. A noise broke their embrace and they peeked out to see what was going on
A crowd of humans walked out of the village with a basket of food and they walked towards the woodlands with determined steps. They placed the food basket down near the trees and then backed away walking back to the village.
That was the sound of an arrow flying out of the trees and striking the food basket. Elves leapt down from the trees and they didn't look so good. They were obviously hungry and their clothes were little more than rags hanging off their bones, but the leader stood firm with his hand on his sword hilt, and a fire in his eyes.
One human walked forward slightly and nodded "We brought you some food."
"And what makes you think that we need any help from you?" snapped the elven leader.
The human backed away slightly "We meant no harm sir, but we just noticed you look hungry, it's pretty hard to hunt for tomorrow's meal when your belly is aching from nothing tonight, eh?"
If he was expecting a smile from the elf, he didn't get it. The food basket had fallen open from the impact of the arrow, and exposed steaming hot rolls, meat literally falling off the bone, and sweet, frosting covered cakes.
These three items were commonplace to the humans, but to the starving elves it was heaven in a basket. The smells aroused them, and several mouths began to water at the sight of the food. Several elves stomachs growled audibly and they could suddenly taste the warm soft bread stuffed around chunks of tender meat, while juices dripped down their chins, and oh the cakes! Most elves could already feel the sweetness on their tongues and the frosting on their faces as they tried so hard to swallow the cakes in one bite, but then they were snapped back to reality by the harsh voice of their leader, and the hunger remained.
"We require no help human."
Several elves looked at their leader with expressions of shock and awe, but they were powerless to act as he continued "Hunting is well in the forest, and this primitive food is not part of our diet."
Several humans were visibly hurt by this and one spoke up "When you are starving, you don't have a choice my friend. So can you please just take our gift, your people look like they need it."
"Don't you ever call us "friends" human, we are nothing of the sort and we elves have no need to lower ourselves to your standards of living! We don't need your help!" The leader growled.
"What do you mean our standards of living "elf" We don't hide out in the forest, starving so we can maintain our pride! Let us help you!"
The leader faced this human with anger in his eyes and saw the anger reflected in his own. "Our pride is what keeps us above people like you! You pollute the world with your machines, and your palaces chopping down forests and burning the wood! You don't even care about the gifts our earth has given you; you see everything as a profit."
"Well as least we have enough food, and a warm place to call home every night, unlike you tree hugging freaks."
The leader stepped forward in outrage, gripping his sword hilt in a tight fist "We elves are the superior race! You humans are nothing compared to us!"
The humans didn't back away but several of their number returned from the village holding tools and stones, as the weapons were passed out. In response the elves gripped swords and placed arrows on their bows.
Lorien watched the exchange and could feel the tension in the air rise a few degrees. She stood and turned to the Captain, taking in everything about him, she loved him and he loved her. Lorien squeezed his shoulder tightly "I'm going to go calm things down, elves can be stubborn sometimes, maybe I can make the elves agree to accept help."
The Captain nodded and moved to walk out, but she held him back "It'll be easier if just I did this, okay."
Worry was evident on his face as he slowly nodded "Alright, but come back."
Lorien straightened her dress and kissed the Captain, and this one was different, and the Captain could feel it. He held her closer and felt love for her fill his whole being. Lorien had turned him into a risk taker, and he couldn't imagine life without her.
They held each other until a need for air separated them, and Lorien smiled "I love you, and I'll be back soon."
"I love you too."
And with that Lorien was off.
The humans and elves were staring one another down, with the insults having done their damage, weapons were drawn and both sides tensed each unwilling to make the first move, but both willing to see the others die for their words.
Lorien ran in between the groups and held up her hands "Wait! We can solve this another way."
"Out of the way elven girl!" screamed a human.
"Move aside." from an elf.
"No!" Lorien planted her feet "We don't need all this violence, we can talk about this, but first both sides need to apologize."
She stared both groups down like they were children, until a human lowered the club he was armed with a walked forward extending a shaking hand.
"There, there" Lorien soothed "He won't bite you."
The elven leader sheathed his sword reached for the hand "I'll try not to."
The hands were inches apart, when another sound pierced the ears of the crowd.
An arrow flew out from somewhere and slammed into Lorien's chest. She stiffened and backed up as hopes for a peaceful resolution unraveled before her eyes.
Lorien fell backward with a weak whimper, which was barely noticed as both sides leapt towards each other.
Both sides clashed and farm tools and thrown rocks met swords and arrows. The humans charged towards the elves, all peaceful intentions forgotten, and the elves defended themselves with hunger now a distant memory. The humans swarmed around the elves smashing stones into faces and bludgeoning downed elves with pickaxes and clubs, the elves shot arrows through human hearts sometimes piercing two or three at a time. Their swords weaved around the clumsy strokes of the humans, and sliced off heads and limbs. Any warrior unlucky enough to fall in the melee was trampled and killed, sometimes by their own side.
Lorien was one of those few. She had been in the middle of the charge and several pairs of human and elven boots had stomped on her. She was an elf, but it seemed that even her kin had forsaken their honor and left her to die. She lay still, barely conscious with her skin covered in bruises and blood. She tried to haul herself up, scream for the Captain, anything, but she couldn't do much other than simply watch the carnage around her, and pray for it to be a nightmare.
The thunk of arrows hitting flesh, the thwack of stones ramming into their targets, the clash of weapons, and the screams of the dying and wounded echoed in the Captain's ears as he stood. Blood pounded in his ears as he gave vent to a scream that chilled the bones of everyone in earshot.
"NOOOOOOO!" He howled like a wolf and drew his sword rushing into the fray.
I've got to save her! I need to save her! There's so much blood, Lorien!
He tried to push his way through the fighting, and he caught glimpses of her body through the legs of the humans and elves. Each time he saw her he saw more blood pooling around her, and the sight of his love in pain, combined with the noise and chaos of battle, and the pounding of the blood in his ears drove him into a deep rage.
He tried one more time to shove his way through the crowd and got nowhere, finally the rage spilled over and everything became a deep shade of red. Everything but Lorien, she was suddenly shining in a gold light which was becoming dimmer by the second.
The Captain roared like a pride of lions and hacked down the first thing that got in his way which was an elf. He parried another elven sword and the sight of it only made him madder. He slashed downward and the owner of the blade tumbled away. He advanced through the battling mob of humans and elves swinging his blade like a windmill of death. The humans were too slow and the elves too malnourished to even think about stopping him, and they were already too busy fighting each other. The Captain walked through the torrent, fighting his way towards the elf he loved.
The elven leader was fighting a crowd of humans, and he simply fought letting the bodies pile up as his feet. He backed away slightly as the man who had first offered the elves the food came forward, armed with a club.
"You stupid elves! If you had just taken the food and left that poor girl alone we'd be fine!"
"Stupid humans! We don't need your help!" Each word was punctuated by a sword swing, and the leader hooked one end of the food basket with his blade and hurled it into the face of his opponent.
"Take your food back!" He screamed as he kicked the man away.
The Captain was making good progress when some of the contents of the food basket splattered against him and broke the windmill that he had created. A stone from somewhere smacked into his head and he clapped a hand to the wound. The pain fed him, and made him want to see everyone on the battlefield pay for what they had done.
He swung the blade again sending bodies of both sides in every direction, until there was only one obstacle between him and the woman he loved.
The elven leader looked down at Lorien's face and knelt slightly to see it better, there was something familiar about that face, what was it?
"DON"T YOU TOUCH HER!"
The elven leader was barely able to parry the wrath filled stroke that headed his way, and he stood firm against the onslaught of swings that battered him, but he wouldn't break. The human captain was an unstoppable force, but he was the immovable object.
They remained locked in a deadly dance, with each one of his wild swings deflected, and it was merely a matter of who gave out first, the captain's muscles or the leader's defenses.
Lorien's light was fading, and the beacon that guided him through the sea of blood faded with it.
I don't have much time left He thought through his rage die you bleeping elf!
He could only see two colors, red and gold, and one was fading. The elven leader struck out at him and slashed his shoulder, but the pain only heightened his resolve to cause the same pain to the leader and anyone who got in his way.
"Knights of the Tempest!"
The sound of hoof beats echoed in the Captain's ears as the elven leader broke away from the fighting and screamed a command in elvish.
The few elves that were living broke away from the fighting and ran back to the safety of the trees, when the mob moved to pursue, a storm of arrows hissed downward slaying and wounding several members.
The Captain finally dropped his sword and rushed to Lorien. He could barely see the gold anymore as he cradled her broken body in his arms. Lorien's mouth opened and she whispered three words, so quietly that the Captain had to lean down to hear them clearly.
"Make them stop."
She shuddered and curled up in the Captain's arms. Safe was the one word that she could use to describe the way she felt when her Captain held her like this, and she was so happy that this feeling was the last one she would feel on this world.
The Captain didn't speak because he knew that she was dying, and beyond help. He simply held her knowing that's what she needed. She looked up at him and saw all the love he had for her, and she projected the same look back at him. He leaned down and silently kissed her broken lips masking all of the bruises and pain with his warmth. He held the kiss for as long as he could, hoping to show her all of the feelings he couldn't tell her, hoping she knew how much he loved her.
When he pulled away Lorien was gone, but a ghost of a smile graced her beautiful face as her eyes closed forever.
The Captain closed his eyes and stood as several human knights walked over to him.
"Step away from the elf!"
The Captain kept a lid on his rage, she is no mere "elf", and stood slowly turning to face the human crowd who were still riled up from the fight.
One human pointed at him "That human killed us and just kissed that elf! He's a traitor, arrest him!"
More calls for the Captain to be arrested came from the crowd as the Captain stared at the bodies of the humans and elves he had killed. He knew that his blade would be identified as the weapon that had killed them, and he wasn't ready to be questioned about Lorien. The humans were just as much to blame for her death as the elves were.
He turned and quickly shoved the nearest knight into two of his fellows as he ran for the woods.
"He's a spy for the elves! Kill him!" screamed a crowd member.
Paranoia and bloodlust had taken over the crowd and they surged forward, ready to tear the Captain apart.
The Captain kept running with common sense overwhelming the grief induced rage that was pumping through him. He could defeat the mob easily even in his wounded condition, but defeating the mob and a group of human knights while wounded was questionable, so he ran.
He ran until the bloodthirsty cries faded behind him, ran until the pain from his wounds forced him to stop, and ran until he collapsed with tears streaming down his face. The girl he loved was gone, stolen from him by the hatred of humans and elves; they killed her just because she wanted them to stop. He knelt down in the clearing, and wept for a long while.
His head rose up at the sound of a cart rolling through the woodlands and the harsh cry of a human voice "Alright, move out!"
The crack of a whip roused him from his angry stupor, and he moved forward to investigate. He started to walk forward and slipped behind a tree, and what he saw chilled his boiling blood.
A massive Minotaur was pulling a cart and he was prodded forward by two humans with spears and one sitting on the cart top with a whip, raining blows down on the Minotaur's head and neck. The cart was a massive cage on wheels, and around twenty orcs were crowded into it. Each one of them looked malnourished and weak, and the fire that was normally in their eyes was gone.
Just like Lorien's…
The Captain was suddenly filled with rage at the death of Lorien; they had killed her, and seeing the Orcs being led to their deaths made him mad. He listened as the human screamed curses and insults at the Minotaur while lashing him with the whip.
"Come on you freak! Get moving, the Knights need slaves to build their war machines, and these orcs are prime specimens!"
Slaves! The very word made his blood run cold with shock, and the orcs cringed with fear. They had been stripped of their will to fight, and were little more than lambs being led to the slaughterhouse.
"Make them stop."
Lorien's final words flashed into his head, and the Captain drew his sword, slavery was one of the things that fueled this war, and if he wanted to end the war he had to start there.
The Captain was about to spring from his hiding place, when the Minotaur collapsed, flanks heaving from exhaustion. The human with the whip stood and swung the weapon, ignoring the cries of pain.
The other two humans slammed their spear butts into the Minotaur's body without mercy, obviously enjoying the beast's cries of pain.
Red once again clouded the Captain's mind, and he suddenly saw Lorien writhing under the humans' cruel weapons. She had cried out too, but the humans and elves didn't stop, no they had just beat her and stamped on her like she was a rug, not a living being.
The Captain rushed out of hiding with that yell and seized the whip as it was drawn back. He pulled backward yanking the holder down.
The other two men raised their spears, but their weapons were shattered by the captain's sword. He slashed downward cutting one's chest open, and then brought his blade up piercing the heart of the second.
The third man moved to rise when a boot rammed into his hand, and he screamed in pain as bones snapped. The Captain raised his blade high and then stabbed downward.
The Captain shook the blood off his blade and walked over to the cart; he swung his blade and chopped through the wooden frame of the cage. The orcs exited the cage and helped the Minotaur stand, and already the fire was back in their eyes.
One orc female was already yanking on the Captain's arm saying something he barely understood, but the action spoke for itself. He was to follow her, and the destination would change his life forever.