The queen came out and I bowed deeply.
"Your highness," I breathed. "It's my wife, Camila! She was found but then kidnapped again!"
The queen stared at me. "Is that so? Who was her abductor?"
"An elf," I spat. "She was badly beaten and I was caring for her. He must have jumped from the window."
"And what do you propose I do about it?"
"You've held back long enough! Declare war! They have stolen her once again!"
"Do you have proof?"
I hesitated. They had taken the necklace with them.
"Well, not exactly."
She sighed. "Go home, Theodore. I'm sure Camila is just fine."
"You're making a mistake," I snapped. I stormed to the doors and turned. "The village people won't stand for this."
I woke up in terrible pain. Two arms were around me and I sighed.
"Let me go, Theodore," I mumbled. "I'm not in the mood."
"It's me, sweetheart," someone whispered.
I opened my eyes. Elwin was lying on his side facing me. It was his arms around me. I remembered the late night rescue and I cried, putting my head in his chest. He was in a night shirt but I was naked.
"Why am I unclothed?" I mumbled when I calmed down.
He looked sad. "You're badly injured, Camila. They are caring for you but you cannot stand to have clothing on your skin yet."
I rolled on my back, despite Elwin's warnings I wouldn't like it. He was right. I put a hand over my mouth. My breasts were still raw; some places still missing skin. My stomach had cuts on it from when he slapped me with his family ring on. My thighs and chest were bruised terribly and, when I touched my face, I could tell it was bruised as well.
The door opened and a young woman came in with a bowl of water. Another woman followed with a few jars.
"Don't worry," Elwin said when I shrank away from them. "Do you know where you are?" I shook my head no. "We took you to the palace. They are caring for you. I've been watching them. Your injures are much better than they used to be. Let them help you."
Reluctantly, I lay on my back and let them work. I hissed in pain when they cleaned my breasts.
"This cream will help heal the skin rapidly," one of the women said and rubbed some on my left breast where the skin was missing.
At first it hut but it cooled the hot pain and I sighed in relief. When they were done, they put a silk sheet on me carefully and left again.
"Where's my papa?" I asked.
"He's safe. He's in a room that's connected to ours." He pointed to a door. "He's sleeping right now. Apparently, that beast has been making him search for the realm day and night."
There was sadness in his voice.
"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I wish we could find-"
We gripped our heads at the same time with a groan. I shut my eyes as images flashed through my mind.
I stood by the tree, staring at the arrow that barely hit me. A handsome man approached me carefully. He saw the bruise. I met with him again and returned his arrow. We met a few more nights, speaking about our different races. One night, we kissed and I agreed to leave with him. Theodore watched from the trees. He broke into my home and raped me.
Elwin was carrying me through the forest. We were going south and I felt groggy when we passed through into-
"The realm," we said in unison, our eyes shooting open.
"I've done all I can," Orist sighed. "I have communed with them for 12 hours."
"How will we know if it worked?" I asked.
He shook his head. "We won't until one of two things happen: they arrive or they don't."
I sighed sadly and he put an arm around me.
"She reminded me so much of her."
"I know, my love."
"They will not take me to find her," I announced to the inn where people were gathered. They made noises of anger. "My poor wife has been stolen again!"
"What do you plan on doing, Theodore?" a man asked.
"I'm going to find her myself!"
"That's a death sentence!"
I pounded my fist on the bar. "This is war now, men! The elves have stolen one of our kind!"
"But how could they if they're little people?"
I glared. "How should I know?"
"Then why are you so certain it's the elves?"
"I saw her with them," I snarled.
"Believe me or not, I don't care! We can't stand here while elves sneak out in the dead of night and abduct people! What if the next person is your spouse? What if they take our children!?"
"They wouldn't," someone said but they sounded unsure.
"Are you positive? They didn't bother to hold back when they attacked us the first time! What makes you think they will do so again?"
"What are you proposing?"
"We go to the palace as one!" I said. "If they refuse to help, we take matters into our hands! We will find this precious realm and we will overthrow them! Do you want your wives and daughters to be sold to slavery? Do you want them to be sold to elven men for their pleasures?"
"No!" they cried.
"Then stand with me! We march on the palace now!"