He had been following me all day. Of course I didn't turn around to see. I could sense him: hear the incessant crunching of his footsteps through the leaves, the labored breathing (I had been walking very quickly for quite some time), and an occasional sniff. I didn't know exactly why he was stalking me, but I had a pretty good idea.
Most of the few pedestrians had gone home and the forest road was practically empty. There was a chill in the air and a biting wind howled through the bare trees, shaking the remaining leaves to the ground. I pulled my cloak tighter around me and turned the curve in the road. I quickened my pace, hoping to tire the man. I knew he could never catch me if I started running, but I didn't want to appear afraid. Most things did not scare me; I don't know if it was the weather, the forest, or the man, but right now I was filled with trepidation.
The figure rounded the corner. I looked up and saw another bend in the road, just ahead. That would be my chance. I hastened my stride even more. Just a few more steps. I peered into the dark forest on my right and left. No one. The turn was approaching, fast. I stole a glimpse behind me. The man looked up, seemingly absorbed in the sky. I smirked and rounded the corner, taking off at high speed.
I flew down the dirt road, clutching my cloak. Nearing yet another bend in the road, I tore through the underbrush to my right and pressed my back up against a tree. I thought that the man would think I rounded the corner and pursue me that way. Meanwhile, I would escape back the way we had come.
Soon, I heard scuffling feet. The man came to a stop, panting, directly across the road from where I was hiding. Suddenly he yelled. "Terrowin!" Another man, whom I assumed was Terrowin, came sprinting around the corner.
"What?" the new-comer asked.
"You didn't see her?"
"No, I thought you were following her."
"She started running," my pursuer said. "Are you sure she didn't round the corner?"
"Aye, I was keeping a close eye on the road and in the woods. She couldn't have gotten past me."
"Then she must be nearby. You search over there." He pointed on my side of the road. Terrowin nodded, pulled out a dagger, and stalked over to the woods. My fingers tensed around the object in my pocket, ready to pull it out at a moment's notice.
My heart was pounding in my chest, the way my father's mallet pounded on his anvil. I crouched down in the underbrush and pulled my hood up over my face. At least I blend in with my surroundings, I thought. My cloak is dark green and my shirt and trousers are brown. As I lay down under a bush, my sword rattled against my leg. I muttered a remark under my breath and prayed that my predators hadn't heard it. I started crawling, my legs dragging behind me, through the undergrowth.
"Where is that blasted girl?" a voice very near me complained. I stopped, watching and listening. When I heard him walk away, I started inching my way again.
On the other side of the bend, I sat up, brushing mud from my elbows and sword. I peered over the bushes. Nobody was on the road. I glanced behind me. My pursuers were still searching through the vegetation. I sprang up and jumped onto the road. A deluge of shouts announced my appearance and a volley of arrows was shot straight at my head. I ducked quickly and several arrows burried themselves in a tree behind me. I grabbed a bunch and took off.
Stealing a glance behind me, I saw a large group of men chasing me. I slowed my pace to let them catch up, slightly. When they were near enough, I hurled the arrows at them. Many hit their mark. I raced off again. I knew they couldn't catch me, but there were so many of them, they would be able to track me easily. I had to get rid of them. For good.
I stopped in my tracks and thrust my hand into my pocket. I wrapped my fingers around the cold glass object. The men hesitated, apparently unsure whether to keep running. With my other hand, I drew my sword. A breeze whipped by, blowing off my hood. I was sure the men could all see the wicked scar stretching down my face. I had dealt with them before, and paid for it. As they advanced, I gripped the object harder. I would never let them confiscate it. It belonged to my people, and I had already rescued it once before. They were approaching quickly, swords drawn.
They were twenty yards away. Fifteen. I pulled my hand out of my pocket and lifted it high above my head. The swirling blue Orb tucked under my fingers became warm. I grinned shakily. Oh, I hope this works. Ten yards away. I yanked my arm down and smashed the Orb on the ground. It resulted in a blue explosion, sending men flying through the air. I ran. As I outstretched my hand, the Orb zipped through the air and landed back in my palm. I smiled. It had worked!
I dashed along the road, barely feeling the ground beneath my feet. The trees to my sides were only a blur. I was headed for my hidden city; the city of the elves. About a quarter mile away from the explosion, I halted. Someone was still following. I couldn't risk letting him go free and endangering my people. I leaned against a tree on the edge of the road waiting. The man, whom I recognized as my original pursuer, soon came into view. He had survived the explosion, but left with a terrible limp.
When he saw me, he spit. "Who are you and what do you want?" I asked.
He laughed maliciously. "My name is Rowan and I want that!" He pointed a gnarled finger at the Orb.
"You stole it from my people. It is rightfully ours. You cannot requisition it without a conflict." I pointed my sword at him.
"I don't care about keeping peace! I just want power, no matter how many lives I must take to get it!" he screamed.
"Then the people you rule will revolt against you. This power cannot quench the might of the people. You will be overthrown."
He sneered. "You don't know what it's like. You've always been high and mighty in your people. You don't know what it's like to live without."
"Aye. But since I am 'high and mighty' as you say, I know how to properly rule a people. All you are asking for is tyranny."
A dark scowl crossed his face. "I... Don't... CARE!" He lunged forward. I quickly pulled out the Orb and thrust it toward him. In a tornado of color, Rowan was sucked in, leaving behind only ashes. I sighed, and dropped the Orb back in my pocket. Then I spun around and ran home.
"Leyleandi!" my father cried as I strutted into our hidden city. He embraced me and escorted me into the heart of the city. "Welcome home."
"Thank you, father."
"I assume your journey went well?"
"Ah, there were a few complications, but I managed." I smiled.
"And did you retrieve the Orb of Glandias?"
"Well, let's have a look, shall we?" We walked over to a table under a tree and once again, I pulled the Orb out of my pocket. Then, I recounted my tale.
"The Orb has served me well." I smiled.
My father stroked the swirling blue globe reverently. "Aye, It really has."