I suddenly lunged upward, in a sitting position, and looked around. Trees. Green. More trees. More green. Then as my vision grew a little better I saw Thawl, then Syth. Then questions came flowing out of me.
“Where are we? What’s going on? What happened? Did the Drans catch us?” I would have gone on and on but Syth stopped me, “Woah kid! One thing at a time. The Drans walked right by us and we almost got caught but we got lucky. We’re still in the same forest we were in. You passed out for a few hours.” Thawl nodded, “You okay? You still a little drowsy?” Thawl looked at me with concern in his eyes.
“Yeah. I’m fine. Just a little thirsty.” I pushed some of my dark hair out of my face and rubbed my eyes. Syth sat on the ground, knees up by his face, and he was pulling at his hair. “Darn! Arg! What to do now? Urg! We’re surrounded by Drans! To the south, where Randoln lives, must have many Drans on the look out! Same with the villages to the east and west! And ahead? Well that’s where the search team of Drans are! We’re trapped! Arg!” He glared at the ground. Thawl was blank of any ideas, and I? Well I was worried. Worried sick! Oh what a horrible feeling! My vision started racing. I started getting dizzy. But suddenly Thawl shook me, “Come on Falc! You need some water or something. You can’t keep passing out on us!”
“Yes,” I started, taking deep breaths, “Let’s find some water.”
I dunk my head in the cool stream which we had found. I drank deeply, not even stopping to breathe. I was thirsty, so thirsty. The water slid down my throat, the feel of it on my tongue even calmed myself. I drew my head from the water and dropped low on the grass. I was so tired, after a long days walk of who knows where… I was worn out. Syth said we should be heading North East. He had said that as long as we’re not heading to any villages nearby or the search team of the Drans then we’d be fine. I remember asking him, “Why not go South East or South West then?” And he had replied, “The further from Village Labrieth we get the better.” I knew that was true, but didn’t want it to be. The further from Randoln I got the more unprotected I felt.
I rolled over, face down in the grass, and breathed in the grass’ wonderful scent. Smelling this I though of food. Our supplies of bread was gone, so was the wonderful fruit that we had found in the leather satchel Randoln had given me. I sat up and looked toward Syth and Thawl. They were exchanging stories to one another.
“Ummm… guys? We don’t have any food left,” I held up our empty satchel. They both looked at me and frowned, but then Syth smiled, “There’s plenty of food, Falc!” he reached down and pulled up a mushroom, “these are edible.” He put it in his mouth and chewed and swallowed. Then he threw one toward me, and Thawl helped himself.
I examined the purple of the stem and the red of the top. It didn’t look very enjoyful but I forced myself to eat it. As I bit into its strong skin I was surprised with the wonderful flavor. The surprisingly good taste of it consisted of some sort of sweet taste, then you could taste a burst of all different flavors!
Syth smiled, amused, “So, I guess you like the fruitroom.”
I looked at him in confuzzlement. He smiled at me, “The fruitroom… ah, it may look like a mushroom, but its taste consists of many different fruity flavors.” He frowned, “Sadly, they are only found here. They used to grow in many other places but when Dran Drako built his fortress, they could no longer grow there or any where near there. Same goes with many other living things. Like the dwarves and elves and skymaids and skymen.” I stared at him, with a blank expression on my face, “I’ve never heard of such creatures.” Thawl looked confused too.
“Oh yes… you’ve lived on the Northern side of the island your whole life. Oh yes… you should see the wonders of the Southern side. Though half the Southern side is practically dead. Ah, you should see it. The people of the sky soar through the air, as high as the highest flying bird! The elves live in their fascinating tree-homes! And the dwarves… they dig under ground and create the most wonderous underground houses you have ever seen! Not to mention the deer that swiftly gallop across the plains! Oh yes it is a place of many wonders, but also of many terrors.” I looked at him, anxious to go there, “How do you know all of this?” I gazed at him in amazement,
“I have been there…” he frowned and stared at the ground.
“Why does that sound so bad?” I asked confused.
“I was forced there. I wasn’t brought there by good. I was brought there by evil,” his eyes looked as if they were far away… full with terror.
“By who could that be?” I asked curiously.
“The Drans…” he started, “brought me there… I was imprisoned and I was lucky to escape alive.” He shuddered, causing me to do the same.
Everything was quiet, even the merry songs of the birds could not be heard. Then Thawl spoke, breaking the horrible silence, “Where’d you go after you escaped?”
“Here, of course… the Northern side… I didn’t think they’d follow me here,” he examined his surroundings thoughtfully.
“But they did,” I finished for him, “And they brought twice as many Drans because of me.”
He examined me, “You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, beating yourself up like this.” Thawl snickered, amused.
I stared at him, “What’s so funny?” He lookd at me and smiled and frowned at the same time, “It’s just that your usually blaming other people and now your suddenly blaming yourself.”
I glared at him, however I did realize that, in fact, he was right, but I had no intension to admit it.
He shrugged and looked away, toward the swirling blues of the stream. It almost looked beautiful, glowing in the sunlight of which the trees let in, but at a time like this it looked nothing more than a dull stream which would eventually lead to a swamp, somewhere in the depths of the forest.
I stared at the ground in deep thought while Syth was silent, obviously realizing that I was in a bad mood.
I stood and walked over to some bushes which were about 100 feet away from Thawl, the river, and Syth. It felt good to get away from the commotion, the sounds of people. I like to listen to the music of nature. The birds singing. The branches of trees swiftly swaying to the rhythm of the wind. The calm, distant trickling of the stream. All the sounds of the forest were put together like a puzzle, and it all created one song, one masterpiece.
I pressed my face against the bush and took in its wonderful aroma. Breathing deeply, I noticed the scent consisted of many different wonderful smells. I smelled mint and pine, roots and herbs, and even a tinge of some sort of tangy flower.
Suddenly, I was intercepted by something wiggling in the bushes, or maybe the bush itself! I backed away from the bush, startled, and gave out a small cry of alarm, however I kept as quiet as possible, for I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself.
Then, to my astonishment, a small head popped out from the bush. Brown hair covered its head, like a raggy old mane. The eyes shone with stubbornness and annoyance.
“I is been tryings to sleeps ands you justs comes and wakeses mes up!” The little man glared angrily at me.
“I am sorry, I didn’t know you were there.” I examined the little fellow and watched as he stepped out of the bushes. He was short, shorter than me, and not to mention, very muscular. He wore an old worn white shirt with a brown vest over it. He also wore some old pants with rips in some places.
“Whats yous be lookings at?” He walked up to me and looked at me. His brown eyes stared, annoyed, at mine.
“Nothing. Just… umm… what are you?”
“I’m a dwarf!” He smiled proudly then he quietly said, “But don’t bes telling no ones! Dwarves aren’t supposed tos bes around this heres island no mores. But tis a very large island. Bunlar Island, sures a bigs ones.” I nodded in agreement. Now that I knew there was a Northern and Southern side, it was double of what I used to thought it to be.
“It bes sos bigs that theys don’t finds mes.” His big eyes stared brightly into mine.
I swallowed, “That who don’t find you?”
“The Dranses of course!”
I shivered, just hearing that word, Drans, made my heart skip a beat.
“Hahs! You think the dwarveses thes only ones they after? No, no, no! Elveses and Peoples of the sky ares supposeds to bes gone from Bunlar toos. Ands many many mores that have run the coasts of Bunlar too!”
I looked over at Thawl and Syth who had obviously not noticed the little dwarf yet. I couldn’t see though, for our voices were pretty loud.
“Who shalls theys be?” The little man asked, pointing toward my companions.
“The one my age is Thawl and the man is Syth. And I’m… I’m Falcon, and what is your name?” I looked the little dwarf in the eyes.
“I am Ghounlin the Strong, of the Slan Clan.” He stood as straight and tall as possible, “But you may call me Ghoun.”
I smiled, amused, “That’s quite a… big name for such a…” I stoppedin my sentence, not wanting to make Ghoun offended.
He glared at me, “I knows whats yous was gonna says. Yous was gonna says that that’s is a bigs name for such a small person,” his brown eyes stared angrily into mine.
“No… I didn’t mean that!” I frowned, trying to apologize the Ghoun.
“You dids too! But it don’t matter, it not bes the first time peoples be rudes. The Drans liked to tortures us bys putting us in really bigs placeses or by really bigs things. Its bes verys frustratings!” I nodded in agreement. I now felt very small compared to this huge island I was on. Now it was just me against the world… and Drans.
I sighed and sat on the grass, becoming the same size as the dwarf.
His brow bunched up in curiosity and fear as he looked toward Syth and Thawl.
“Theys seems very unfriendlies,” he nodded toward my companions.
“Nah, not really,” I shrugged, looking over at them, “Would you like to meet the,?”
“No. But okay, as longs as theys don’t sits on me,” Ghoun stared at them as I laughed quietly in amusement,
We walked over toward the,.
“Guys, this is Ghoun. Ghoun, Syth and Thawl,” I introduced everyone.
“Good day Ghoun,” Syth smiled slightly and looked at the small dwarf.
Ghoun examined him suspiciously, “Yous plotting ans attacks ons mes?”
“No. Why say that?” Syth answered.
“He gets suspicious easily,” I cut in the conversation.
“Can’t trusts much of anyones no mores,” Ghoun looked toward Thawl who was paying no attention and gazing strangely into the stream. I noticed the way Thawl was looking oddly into the stream… it just didn’t seem right…
I gently pulled him, but still, he wouldn’t break the gaze.
“Syth…” I called Thawl to his attention, “Syth…”
Syth looked toward Thawl, breaking his conversation with the dwarf.
“Oh no…” he said, noticing Thawl’s dark, blank eyes.
He jumped and charged toward Thawl, tackling him with as great of force as a stag.
Noticing Thawl coming back to his senses, I walked cautiously toward the water, wondering what could have been the source that made Thawl so… out of it.
“NO!” Syth exclaimed, grabbing my arm and pulling me back away from the water, “There’s a Darklar in there! They’re shadows of the dead of whom had died from another shadow of the dead. They pull you into a trance and will eventually take over your body. After that, most of them become Dranlors. Dranlors make up most of the Dran population.”
“So that’s why they have those deep, dark, blank eyes,” I said, in deep thought.
“Even the human Drans have those deep, dark eyes. After being so cruel… so evil… so heartless, does there eyes change in such an awful way.”
“Uhn,” Thawl grunted, recovering from how much was drained out of him.