A Flame in the Light
Two soldiers were running through the close cluster of trees that winded in every direction. Despite the fact that it was midday, the thick canopy of trees would leave you thinking otherwise. The darkness of the forest, coupled with the barrage of branches, seemed to be greatly hindering their progress. Finally, they arrived at a small clearing. The last of the two to arrive, he had clearly been having a tougher time navigating, stepped forward.
“Captain Akmr!” he exclaimed. “Relshac reporting, sir.”
The three soldiers in the clearing hadn’t appeared to notice the others when they arrived. The shouting from Relshac hadn’t changed that. A large man in pitch-black armor was leaning against a tree with his back turned to Relshac and his companion. He turned around slowly and looked quite surprised when he noticed them.
“Oh! You’re back?” the knight answered sarcastically. “I figured you were someone else. MY men know to keep their damn voices down when they’re on a mission.”
“I-“ Relshac started to reply, but was immediately cutoff.
“I understand that you’re a new recruit,” Akmr was slowly walking towards Relshac and the other soldier, who was now smirking and staring at the ground. “However, if I want a report, then I’ll ask someone who knows what he’s talking about. Understood?”
Akmr stopped just a few inches short of Relshac. His dark brown hair dangled in front of his eyes as he peered down at the young soldier, who was almost a foot shorter than him. Relshac muttered a ‘yes, sir’ and stepped sheepishly to the side. The thief, who had been accompanying him on his scouting mission, finally looked up from the ground. He was still smirking.
“They know we’re here,” he stated in a soft whisper. His eyes were flickering around the clearing nervously.
“How could you even know that, Eikm?” Relshac interrupted. “We saw nothing. No animals, creatures, elves. Nothing. Heard birds chirping… that’s all.”
Eikm returned to looking at the ground, but his smirk began to fade into a smile as Akmr shot a silencing glare towards the young soldier. Eikm continued,
“We went about two thousand meters East, roughly a hundred meters from the main path. If we continue on, we should keep to the brush. The birds he talked about weren’t birds. Unless Eastern swallows have started venturing a few hundred miles West that is. Those were signals.”
Akmr turned away from the two scouts and began slowly walking towards the others. They were now standing and listening closely, having found their interest in the situation. Akmr started to speak, partially to the others, mostly to himself.
“Six months,” he muttered. “Over six months, I’ve lost countless men in this forest. If these filthy elves and their allies are good at anything, then it’s ambushes. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re watching us as we speak.”
“They aren’t,” Eikm chuckled. His eyes were now closed and he looked quite relaxed.
“Good,” replied Akmr. He slowly turned back towards the direction the scouts had just returned from. “Because this time is different. This time I have permission to do things… my way…”
About a mile to the East there was a young elf sitting in the branches of a tall tree. His pointed ears were twitching as he listened intently for any changes around him. Then it happened. It wasn’t his ears that noticed it, but his eyes. He saw the faint signs of smoke rising through the trees to the West. The darkness of the forest made it hard to imagine that the smoke could be seen, even though the light of the fire causing it was nowhere to be found.
After focusing his eyes, the elf made a startling discovery: a knight in charred armor was standing among a newly created clearing in the trees. He had one hand raised as black flames erupted from it. The flames, rather than emitting light, seemed to be absorbing it from the air. It was almost as if they were breathing darkness; the young elf could barely see through it.
Akmr, the Midnight Flame. He would make his own path this time.