Lenna burst into the large hut she called home where her father and mother sat around the fire pit in the middle of the room. “Mama! Papa!” she exclaimed happily.
“Mïe deo-chal!” her mother replied with a broad smile. My darling! “Did you go and watch the horses?”
She nodded. “The carriages were really pretty, too.”
Her father chuckled deeply as he whittled away at a long branch.
“What are you making, Papa?” Lenna asked, sitting next to the large man.
His blue eyes glittered as he smiled down at her. “I am making a new spear. My old one probably won’t last much longer, so I have need of a new one.”
“Are you going to decorate it like your bow?”
“Possibly, one it is finished. Do you think this hunting device needs such detail?”
Lenna nodded her head excitedly. “Yes!”
“Very well, then!” He embraced her with one arm.
“When can I go hunting?”
“Oh not until you are older.”
“Kay and Serena get to go with you.”
“That is because Kay is fifteen and Serena is fourteen. You are only just seven years old, Taëlenna,” he replied. He always used her full name. “You still have a few years before you are ready.”
“So when I’m as old as them, then I can hunt with you?” She looked up at her father with hopeful eyes.
He nodded. “Yes, then you can hunt.”
“Did you hear that, Mama?”
“Yes, Taëlenna. I heard.”
A leïfaen man entered the hut. He bowed his head in respect to his chief and chieftess. “Aerandir, Inwë,” he said with a low smooth voice.
Aerandir straightened. “Yes, Ioëbe, what is it?”
“There is something I need your council in,” Ioëbe replied.
Inwë turned to Lenna. “Why don’t you go find your friends and play for a little while,” she said softly. “This will not take long.”
Lenna nodded. “Yes, Mama.” She spotted Renefaire almost immediately as she stepped outside of the hut.
Her friend bounced up to her and tugged at her sleeve. “Hey! There’s a group of us going to the river to catch some fish. Want to come with us?”
Lenna’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “Yes!” she replied. Fishing was one of her favorite activities to do with her friends.
The two girls ran off towards the river. Just as Renefaire said, there was already a group of five other children, all with their own fishing rods. A few extra roads lay next to the three buckets on the ground. Lenna spotted two fish already in one of the buckets.
Five feet away, Kay nudged Ciaran’s arm with his elbow. “Did you catch anything yet?”
His friend shook his head. “Nothing yet.” He brushed aside his long blond strands of hair out of his eyes. He would probably need a haircut soon. “I think they know we’re trying to catch them for our next meal.”
“Or perhaps you just do not know how to fish properly,” Serena teased.
Ciaran rolled his eyes. “Ha-ha, very funny.”
Continuing their fun by the river, the children eventually caught more fish, filling the first two buckets and reaching a count of up to eight more fish in the third. They decided to wait a little longer to catch some more fish before heading back—that way they could split their catch evenly—before heading back to their village.
Lenna hadn’t caught any fish past the first one she hooked earlier and decided to move a few feet down the riverbank. She hoped she would be able to catch at least one more fish before leaving.
She was about to cast her line into the water when the once solid ground crumbled beneath her feet. A shock of surprisingly cold water engulfed her, everything falling into sudden darkness. Lenna managed to reach the surface to find she was already twenty feet away from the others. She flailed her arms, trying to swim to the side of the river and climb her way out. Something sharp hit her, cutting deep into her forearm. The pain didn’t register at first before she cried out for someone to help her. The water was much deeper than it looked. Her feet didn’t even skim the soil below her. How far away was the river bottom from her feet? She thought she could hear the distant sound of the others calling out to her, but she was too far away for them to do anything to help her.
A rush of panic shot through her as she struggled to keep her head above the water. Her head dipped under the surface for a moment before she found the air again, coughing and spurting water out of her lungs. Once again, she attempted to swim to the riverbank, but the current was too strong for her tiny body to fight against it, keeping her in the middle of the river.
Rain began to pour down on her by the time she was completely worn out. She could barely keep her head above the water now and began to slip close to unconsciousness, wondering if she would ever make it out of this predicament.
The next thing she knew, a towering wall passed over her. She had no idea where she was. The land around her was strange with hedges and oddly shaped bushes. She then found herself resting on the small slope of the riverbank. She didn’t know how long she had been there. Everything went by so fast.
Two voices sounded from a small distance away. Unfamiliar voices.
Lenna wanted to call out for help, but the only sound she could make was a small squeak, her throat sore from coughing out water. She was too tired from her ordeal and everything fell into darkness just as two pairs of feet came into view.