The sun lazily woke up from its deep sleep as the rays slowly penetrated the forest canopy. Slowly, the children of the forester village woke up, eager for the events coming up. Avalel woke up earliest of all, out his little bed when the first light dimly lit the sky. Yawning, he exited his small, simple hut and out to the streams of the forest. The hut actually had just replaced the old appliances with new technology, but Avalel still yearned for the stream. Jogging happily, he weaved through the neighboring trees until he reached the stream. He quickly washed his pale face, cooled by the soft breeze. Disregarding the fact that he had not done any chores of the morning nor had eaten anything since he woke up, after he washed his face he rushed quickly to his little practicing spot. There he picked up his “sword” and “shield”(it was more of a carved stick and a decorated wooden board, really) and started practicing his melee fighting skills. It wasn’t a necessity for foresters to practice some kind of fighting skill, but most did anyway because as children, unlike the children outside, foresters played war games and duels and as adults, they used their skills to hunt or participate in competitions.
Avalel’s skills are quite exceptional, even for foresters. His stick whirled around and rapidly hit the trees. A response of leaves fell with every blow, and the tree shuddered from the blows. Soon, the yellow leaves of autumn surrounded Avalel while they slowly drift to the ground. Some unlucky leaves were chosen as targets and fell to the ground in cut pieces, even when the weapon was just a blunt stick. A face of an innocent kid, determination like an adult; a child in the age of learning basic math, a brain that housed immense thoughts; a body seemingly undernourished, stamina and agility of a skilled warrior - that was Avalel.
After many minutes, perspiring, Avalel lowered his stick. A ring of leaves surrounded him and the trees are now bare with brown but a few surviving green leaves. Exhausted, he began to sit. Just then, an arrow whizzed past, disrupting the perfect ring with a rustle of leaves. Avalel whirled behind, expecting an assault, but instead found his close friend Kavlina, sitting on a branch, legs dangling. She was holding a little wooden bow with a small quiver full of blunt arrows. Next to her was Faresoenn.
“Hey, Kavlina! Hi dad!” Avalel cried, “Kavlina, stop shooting me with arrows every time! Who knows when you’ll kill me?”
“Hey, Lel, the last time I shot you was way back then!”
“Way back then? The last time was only two days ago!”
“Still is ages ago!”
“You wanna shoot me? Why don’t we get our friends together for a mini-battle? I win, I get your arrows and bow for one month. You win, I will be your servant for seven days. You better not chicken out of this”
“Oh yeah? You think I will chicken out? I’m in! You better be a good servant or I’ll...” her mouth was quickly clamped shut by Faresoenn.
“Now, now,” Faresoenn calmly said, “Can’t you two stop arguing for once? Avalel, have you done your chores yet?”
“No, dad,” Avalel gloomily replied.
“You better do it fast, because today’s the 12th day of the 8th month!”
“Oh yeah! Today’s my 8th birthday!” Avalel rejoiced, “Dad, could I invite all my friends and Kavlina’s friends over?”
“I already have,” Faresoenn said, and made a slight gesture. Then, a crowd of children emerged from nearby bushes and clamored towards Avalel, offering gifts. Even Kavlina jumped down and joined in.
“Lel! I brought you a new tunic!”
“Lel! Look what I’ve got! A bracelet carved by myself!”
“Lel! Here’s a little lamp that you always wanted!”
Avalel was soon drowned in gifts of every kind, from the natural to the manufactured. However, it was Kavlina’s gift that he and others were most surprised about.
“Hey, Lel, I personally made a hunting dagger for you,” she brightly announced, “Made from the hardest metal that I bought from the blacksmith with skills I learned from him. Careful not to cut yourself!” A shining gleam emulated from the cool surface of the metal. The word “Avalel” was carved on the wooden handle.
“Wow,” was all that Avalel and the others could say. No one their age could even make something close to it, and it was clearly a valuable item.
“Thanks, guys!” Avalel was delighted, “Dad, can we play a war game? I wanna try out the dagger!”
“Sure,” Faresoenn replied, “So long as you remain 10 P.M from this house. Also, don’t cut off any fingers!” The children laughed.
Quickly dividing into teams, the children each chose a starting point with watches on their wrists to track movement, goggles to protect the eyes and enhanced vision, a little camera on the goggles for records, and a vest for protection. Each holding their own “weapon”, when one cried out and charged, others followed and each gave a puny cry of battle. It would be hilarious to watch, actually, with their innocent faces and weapons that looked more like toys. However, when the combat began, the grit and determination make most doubt if this was really a game. The sticks and shields clashed, and every now and then, a participant would surrender, and the ones who brought him/her to surrender happily marched back to Avalel’s hut, where the captured ones would watch as a spectator.
Of the three teams that they divided into of the small group of 24 children, Avalel’s team was quickly reduced by the alliance of the other two teams. The clashing so far had cost Avalel most his team and only a small number of the other teams. As Avalel analyzed the situation, he figured it was the best idea to each flee on their own to split the numbers, and so he did.
“He’s fleeing!” one cried.
“I’ll take him on myself, you all finish off the fight!” Kavlina shouted as she took off. She quickly leaped and pursued Avalel. However, Avalel was a master of escape and he twisted and turned in the forest and tired Kavlina out.
“I knew you can’t catch me!” Avalel taunted.
“Oh yeah? What about this!” She quickly picked up a stone and threw it at Avalel. It soared way above him and was obviously off-target.
“That’s all you have? Come on, this isn’t fun!” Just then, a vine swung forward and caught his arm. The rock the Kavlina threw had made the vine swing from the tree it rested at and now Avalel was trapped, his arm completely secured by the vine. Why is it that the vine to hold on to Avalel’s arm? The vine had thorns, and now a trickle of blood escaped from Avalel’s arm, and he was getting desperate as Kavlina now rushed up. Just then, he remembered: my dagger! Using his free arm, he grabbed his dagger from a pouch in his vest and began cutting the vine. The dagger was truly sharp and the vine quickly gave way. Kavlina managed to grab onto Avalel’s shirt, but the only prize she got was a torn shred of the shirt’s collar. She looked around the dense forest. Avalel was nowhere to be seen.
I lost her, a panting Avalel thought. He wandered around, ears pricked for any sound. Eventually, he saw an overgrown bush, perfect for a short time of hiding. He carefully entered the bush to not make any sound and slowly walked to the center. Just then, the ground below him gave way, and the dirt and vegetation fell along with Avalel into the hole. The light was getting further and further away. Even as he tried to grasp anything to hold onto, he failed and started sliding downwards. He screamed, but then realized it was probably futile, so he took one last, good look at the light above, and closed his eyes. His watch, having been loosened and released in the fall, now hangs weakly on the edge of the hole, awaiting for help.