by Yvod Schteud
|The distant lights of the Capital city diminished as he ran through the trees, deep into the forest. His heart was racing, and not because he was running. He had done it. He had escaped, and now he was free. Ami looked behind him. The sun was rising in the east, over the Capital. Soon the Overlord will notice his absence. Sure, his friends had covered for his absence that night, but they wouldn’t be able to hide it for long. They said that Overlord Vexler could read minds, and Ami didn’t doubt it for a second.
By the time the sun rose, Ami was too deep under the forest trees to notice. There was a clear, shallow stream flowing through the forest, and the dragonflies were fluttering around it. Ami was thirsty, and the water was cool and fresh. He knew he would have to go into the elven lands, but not like the servants of the Overlord, which will be terrorizing the enemy, painting His mark on their houses and animals, and torching their houses. No, he would need their protection, he would need the protection of the enemy, or at least of their land.
He’d taken this route through the forest many times before, together with the other children, with buckets of black paint and burning torches. But the other children did not think the way he thought. They thought the elves were the enemy. They attacked the peaceful elven towns with determination on their minds and hate in their hearts. But Ami knew better. The elves were not the enemy; that was just what the Overlord wanted them to think. Overlord Vexler was the real enemy.
He heard the splashing sound of the small waterfall which dropped down into a small clearing in the forest. He was getting close, and he was getting nervous. How would he get the elves to trust him? He was white-skinned and black-haired, like all the people of the Capital. But his eyes were green-blue, like the elves. Most of the people of the Capital thought he was half-elf, but he knew the truth. He was the son of Kings. His father had been king, before the Overlord had taken over the land, and when the Overlord grew too powerful, his father had dressed him in plain clothes and sent him to the fields, and that had saved his life. Overlord would never have dreamed that Ami, the fastest and most loyal child in his service, was secretly the son of his vanquished enemy. And he wasn’t planning to tell him, either.
The trees were thinning out already, and the ground was gradually getting steeper, and when he was finally out of the forest, he was already halfway to the top of the first elven-hill, Viewpoint. His legs were throbbing, and his chest was aching, but he pushed hard and several minutes later he was atop the tall, grassy hill of Viewpoint. In the western horizon he could clearly make out the tall, silver-roofed towers of the elven city Nilven. To the North the ocean spread out like a giant blue carpet, but there were no ships, since the Overlord had locked the shores of the Capital. No one besides for the people of the Capital even knew that Overlord Vexler existed. The elven-ships were all docked at Nilven. The elves didn’t send their ships out anymore either; they were afraid that they would be sabotaged by the Overlord’s forces. Ami remembered the days when the bright elven ships would venture out to sea; Vexler entrusted his group of soldiers to take care of those, and he was the leader, though he was only nine at the time. He commanded twenty-five children, all fast-runners, dressed in black, and they would wait for the elven ships to pass by the shores of the Capital, hiding out for hours in Hartberry bushes and tall cypress trees. They would divide into four groups, as Vexler provided them with four bows, and they would shoot flaming arrows at the ships. He remembered the feeling of joy and satisfaction when one of the powerful silver bows would strike the wooden ship, and ten minutes later all that remained above water was the mast.
But Ami’s line of thought was cut off by the sound of horses running. He quickly looked towards the sound, which was coming from the forest, and he saw about twenty-five black horses, which were clad in dull silver armor, heading towards him. But looking towards Nilven, he had the horrible realization that he would not be able to make it there on time.
If he wanted to have a chance of survival, he would have to run anyway; so, he did. The ground was flat now and scattered with wide leafy trees, and he could see the elven-city clearer than ever now. He had only seen it at night, and this was the first time he saw the whole silver city in full daylight, and it was magnificent.