Keldon stared at the arrows pointing at him. As he took a small step to look around him all the arrows were pulled back in their bows. Keldon raised his hands gesturing his surrender to their will. “I’m not looking for a fight.”
“Why are you here?” Asked one of the creatures holding the bows.
Keldon tried to take a step to face where the voice came from. And as his leg twitched an arrow embedded itself into the ground next to his leg. Keldon reached down and felt the torn fabric as he heard another voice echo in the dark forest. “You will not be warned again, do not move at all.“
Keldon wished that Tarian sent him off to contact the Dwarves. As Keldon studied the seven glinting arrows that he could see, he almost wished he was still on the walls staring down at the bestial horde. “I’m not an enemy,” Keldon cried out into the woods. “I came looking for an ally to help defend my people. A great horde of creatures is massing and threatens to overwhelm my friends. Please help us!”
The closest arrow in front of Keldon vanished from view. But Keldon could swear that he heard the bow being drawn. “You were told that we wanted nothing to do with your enemies.”
Keldon closed his eyes, “Yes, you told us that.”
“Then why did you forfeit your life by returning to our territory?”
Keldon took a deep breath through his nose, holding his breath for a moment. As he held that breath he thought about the question. Seconds later Keldon exhaled and opened his eyes to stare at the gleaming points in front of him. “With the force massed to attack our home, if we don’t get the help we need, we’ll die. So I was sent to try and find a potential friend. We hoped you would be willing to help us stave off annihilation. But I guess we were wrong.”
“So you risked your life because you were dead either way?” Asked a new voice.
Keldon shook his head, as he bellowed. “No, I risked my life on the chance that I might be able to survive this onslaught.”
“You said, you feared that your people are going to die.” Asked another elf.
“Without help, we will die,” Keldon confirmed as his shoulders sank an inch.
The same elf retorted, “As we asked, you risked your life because you were dead either way?”
Keldon’s eyes narrowed at their arrogance. “I might die, but my friends might live on.”
“We will not help you.” A fourth elf said with a sneer evident in his words. “How can your people still survive?”
Keldon thought about their arrogant attitude. And an idea formed in Keldon’s mind. Keldon ignored the burning in his arms as he rose his hands a little higher. “Well, I told Tarian that talking with you was a bad idea. But I would go as long as someone went to the other group of people who live in these words.”
“You seek the stout ones?” The most familiar voice asked.
Keldon snorted, “Tarian agreed, knowing that they would assist us. After all, they might be stout, but they were honorable. Not like you all.”
“You dare insult us?” Another new voice asked.
Keldon shrugged his shoulders as he spread his fingers wide. “You’re the ones who’ve surrounded me with arrows and shot at me after you took my weapons. You’re actions speak louder than any of your words.”
“You’ve defiled our territory!” Another voice shouted.
“Silence!” That all too familiar voice shouted. The word echoed around the limbs of the forest, and Keldon wondered if this stunt would pan out. As he stared at the forest in front of him, Keldon saw a lean and graceful figure walk from the trees. “You judge us on our actions?”
“Then what of yours?” The elf asked as he walked carrying Keldon’s weapon. “You invade our territory with a weapon drawn.”
“I’m a soldier, I had a weapon to defend myself.”
The elf lifted a hand to his chest as he inquired. “From a potential ally?”
“From the dangers in the woods.” Keldon said as he let his eyes lock with the elf’s. “You know perfectly well that there are dangers in these woods.”
The elf took several steps closer to Keldon as he rebutted the man’s comment. “Such as us?”
“No, such as the wild predators or the trolls and goblins,” Keldon said as he stood his ground.
“He forfeited his life when he entered here.” One of the elves called out as the elf in front of Keldon put his nose next to Keldon’s.
The elf stood there for what felt like hours staring into Keldon’s eyes without blinking. “You truly wish us no harm?”
A chorus erupted from the woods, “You can’t trust them!”
But the elf spread his arms out wide and shouted. “Enough! We will not act like trolls or goblins. Or whatever else has come to be on this land.” The elf took a step away from Keldon and addressed his brethren. “We will not prove ourselves to be cowards when the stout ones are already marching off to battle.”
“It would seem that your friends managed to claim the help from the stout ones.” The elf said to Keldon. He looked at Keldon for a moment and added, “And it would seem you managed to collect an ally for the moment as well.”
“Thank you.” Keldon said as he lowered his arms.
The elf leaned over and whispered, “But if your people betray us you will all regret it.”
“We won’t,” promised Keldon.
“Good,” the elf said as returned Keldon’s weapons.
“Who are you?”
“You can call me Variel.” The elf said as he started walking toward the settlement.
“Thank you, Variel.” Keldon said as he followed the elf to defend the city.