Aelvir strode briskly through the wood. He had no idea where the flower rested, but he knew he had better find it before the moon’s second passing. He smoothed back his bright locks of wispy hair to reveal shining green eyes. They darted back and forth, noticing every notch of each pathway present within the trees surrounding his journey. Nights like this were awful for scavenging. The moon became a queasy purple when beasts began their hunt. They favored his blood. He knew this from experience, and wished no more lessons upon his flesh.
Aelvir stopped. He crouched, and rolled behind a large oak to his left. His back against it, he listened. He drew the silver dagger from his belt, holding the curved blade against his chest. Footsteps. One at a time, for a total of two legs. The spacing and quiet tone alerted him; anything trying to hide itself was worth hiding from. He peeked around the tree, ever so slightly. It looked to be another elf, but not of his tribe. That was bad. A scout, perhaps. Sent to see how weak he and his own were, sent to find out whether or not pillaging would lead to more reward than loss. He steeled himself, bracing his weight against a heel. Not this day.
The figure came forward up to a point just before Aelvir’s hiding spot. It stopped. This worried him, and he felt the notice of the figure, creeping along the bark. He lifted himself away from the wood soundlessly. The notice curled around, feeling out for any force of life stronger than a woodland rodent. He calmed himself, becoming but a leaf in the night breeze. he was nothing more than a part of the wood, the soil, and the sticks between. His bright eyes closed, and his breathing only came as the wind saw fit.
The figure began to move again. Two steps. Three more….Now!
Aelvir leapt from his spot of hiding, unsheathing his being from the shroud of bark and bane of wolf. He landed upon the figure, and they toppled, leaving Aelvir atop with the silver blade pressed against the pulsing neck of the intruder.
“From where do you hail and why,” he breathed. His words were sharp and cordial. Live or die, they said. Truth and lie matter not. If truth would lead to your death, you may well have been better off never treading where you knew no safety.
“Dammit,” the voice came out weighted, afflicted by the edge of both the dagger and of Aelvir’s body. “Knew I felt something…”
Aelvir pressed the blade into the neck. It beat against the sharpness, the blood fighting uselessly against its assailant. “Speak your answer. Fate awaits.”
The throat cleared as it was able. “I come searching for secrets.”
“You’ll find none who wish themselves known in this wood.”
“Precisely.” The body of the figure attempted to reposition itself, but to no avail. “Is all this really necessary?”
“You have a handful of words left between yourself and sweet demise.” Aelvir cocked his head to one side, challenging the voice. “So?”
“I search for the Petals of the Faenling.”
A loosening. A small, calculated lessening of tension. “As do I.” A deep stare. “What purpose would you give the petal?”
“I seek to use them in my curing,” the voice rasped. “I am but a healer of the mainland. They told me to bring protection,” it seemed to attempt a laugh. “I said it would be better to appear unassuming.”
“You do not seek to harm?”
“Is that really not clear at this point?”
Aelvir, quickly as he had attacked, came off of the body and helped it to its feet. “I see.” He could hear the truth laden in the voice. No reason to lie. No true fear of death. Feet worth the walking. “You are not bloodkin then?”
The figure let out a real laugh this time. “Certainly not! I daresay one such as yourself would fare better under current circumstances.” It cleared its throat, rubbing at the red line of skin. “I am one of the Ru. Lesser.” It brushed at its robes. “I seek no power beyond healing. It is my gift and my curse. I give, and hope to live in return.” It looked at its hand, lifted eyebrows and lowered the corners of its lips. “Seems to have worked out so far.”
Aelvir nodded. “You are strong in spirit for what you lack in arms. This wood, however, is not kind to any, strong or weak.” He sheathed his dagger. “Do you bring your healing with you?”
The Ru affirmed. “I have what comes from within, as well as a few poultices of my own devising.”
“It would be beneficial then, to travel together.”
Unease. Uncertainty. “I…am more suited to travelling alone.”
“I live don’t I?”
“You are lucky it is I who pounced. Creatures of shadow and breeze come out to hunt when the moon of red meets that of blue.” Aelvir motioned to the entire forest to accentuate his shared knowledge. “They will not wait for words, for they have none of their own to give.” One of his brows raised, almost of its own accord. “Did you really not know this upon setting out?”
The Ru scratched its head, embarrassed but determined. “I was not told of the moons and their effect on the creatures of which you speak.” A sigh. “Should have consulted an Elf. Damn Gnur’s know shit of danger. Nothing but coin on their minds. So confident, that lot. One can never be sure…” The voice trailed off, then reawakened. “In any case. Mmm…perhaps you are right.” A nod. “I’m not one for company, but I’m less one for death.”
“This suits your trade.”
A small grin. “Indeed it does.”
Aelvir looked around a moment, quiet as kindling. The Ru followed suit.
Nothing stood out to his attention. He returned to speaking. “Do you know where the petals reside?”
“Ah! That I might,” said the Ru, drawing forth a scroll from a pocket. “Could I use your eyes a moment? Dark as pitch out here.”