"Look! There she is!"
The whisper and the sniggers that accompanied it cut sharply through Asha's ears. She gripped her yew bow tighter, her knuckle's turning white."Look at her hair!"
Asha resisted the urge to run a hand through her shortened dark hair. It was once long and flowing, reaching the middle of her back . Elves kept their hair long. She had always hated it. She held back the smile that accompanied the memory off hacking it off. What was left formed layers of uneven and differing lenghts. Asha had liked how it looked, wild, framing her eyes and staying mostly out of the way. Long hair took too much effort. The benefits of her new hair would be reaped as soon as she could leave the shadow of Serendale, the town she lived in, and escape into the forest...

She kept walking, passing stony faced by the cluster of elves where the comments had come from. They made no effort to hide their stares, their facial expressions mocking. She kept her eyes straight and moved on. The whispers took up as soon as she had passed.

Being a daughter of an Aoelod, a member of the Cyngor O Henuriaid, the Council Of Elders, left Asha under much scrutiny. It had done for all of her 183 years of life. It was worse being astutely different to anyone she had ever met. Along with the scrutiny, came the taunts. The stares. The whispers.

The tension in her shoulders drained away as she rounded a corner, following a well used path to the outskirts of the town. The buildings on either side of her had decreased in size, now cozy and modest homes, formed by the very trees of the woodland the elves had come to settle in. Noise from the center of town barely reached here.

Passing the very last house, her mood lifted. Out of sight, she moved smoothly into a relaxed run, leather boot clad feet moving swiftly and quietly.

Cresting a hill, Asha eased to a stop.
"Storm," she called softly. "Storm, are you there? Here boy!"
A lithe silvery grey-brown shape emerged from the undergrowth. The wolf padded softly towards Asha, his unusual stormy blue-grey eyes fixed on her. Growling softly, it settled low into a crouch, ready to spring at her throat.

In a flash of movement and a blur of grey-brown fur, the wolf leaped.

And for the first time that day, the elf girl grinned.

The End

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