Yori’s ears twitched and his eyes flickered open. It was early morning, and the sunlight was falling across his face. Had he imagined…
“Yori…” He stayed very still. Perhaps whoever was calling him hadn’t seen him.
“The patrols are gone. You can come down.” Yori realized that he recognized the voice and looked down. Reis was standing at the base of the tree. Surprised, he clambered down and walked up to him. He was pleased to find that the pain in his side was gone. The juice’s effects had worn off.
“Reis, what are you doing here?”
“Looking for you.” His friend looked over his shoulder, his dark hair shifting as he did so.
“How did you find me?”
“Mostly chance, though I figured you would be somewhere around here. Listen, you do not have much time. You have to leave as soon as possible.”
“King Balthir’zeziel has taken over. That is why the rebels are not looking for you right now.”
Yori’s brow furrowed. “That makes no sense. My father-“
“Your father is dead.”
Yori’s eyes widened in disbelief. “That is impossible.”
“The Orator killed him, along with all the other delegates. I am sorry.”
Yori felt like a lead weight had settled into his stomach. The old king was all the family that he had.
“You have to leave the forest,” Reis continued. “It is your only hope of surviving.”
“I could gather some troops,” Yori said numbly.
“Everyone that was loyal to the house of Loirn is either dead or on the other side.” Reis grabbed Yori by the shoulders. “You have to run.”
Yori nodded and began to walk away. His pace quickened with each step and soon he was running almost blindly through the forest, only taking just enough initiative to find the fastest path to get himself out. Several different thoughts kept going through his head:
His father was dead. The Orator was evil. He had lost his kingdom. And now he was an outlaw with no idea what to do or where he was going…
A noise from his left stopped him. He turned and was surprised to see Maya surrounded by three elves. As he watched, one of them brought out a dagger. Yori was unsure what to do. If he attacked, he would give himself away. But if not…
“Leave her,” Yori said stepping out. One of the elves turned to him and sneered.
“These are elfin lands. The old king might have been lenient, but King Balthir’zeziel will not be.” Then his eyes widened. “Wait, you are the prince…”
Another elf stepped forward. “There is a great bounty on your head.”
“Is that so? Try and collect it then.” Yori pulled out his sword and it blazed with energy. Frightened, the elves turned and fled.
Maya scowled. “I was fine.”
“You were not going to be ‘fine’ for long. Admit it, I just saved your life.”
“Why? We’ve only just met.”
Yori shrugged. “I just did not want your life on my head.”
“Is it true, all those things they said about Balfir taking over?”
“Yes,” Yori said, with a grimace.
“Then these woods aren’t safe anymore.” Maya began walking away.
“Where are you going?” Yori called after her.
“To the dark elves. Unless you want to stick around and get caught, you should come with me.”
“But,” said Yori, falling in step with her, “The relationship between dark elves and wood elves has been shaky for centuries.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll vouch for you.” Maya smiled, but for Yori, it wasn’t very reassuring.