When we came back to camp, it was a disaster! There were tents laying upside-down and clothes were thrown all over the place. It kind of looked as if a herd of wild horses had stampeded through it. Suddenly Destiny and I were pulled behind some bushes.
“What’s going on?” I questioned Dusty.
He ran his hand through his hair. “I don’t know. There are only a few of us left from the raid though,” he replied quietly.
“What raid?” I demanded.
“Where’s Shane?” Destiny asked.
“We don’t know. The last time we saw her was right after you two left,” Rob answered.
“She might ha---“
“Shhh!” I growled and put my hand over Jeremy’s mouth. Quietly, I whispered, “Don’t say anything.”
“What are you talking about?” Dusty whispered.
“Look over there,” I replied, pointing to the far corner of the campsite, “I’ll be right back.” I slipped through the woods between where we were hiding and where the movement was. Behind a bush, I found a large bag. It appeared to be Jesse’s clothes bag. When I was just behind the creature, I counted to ten and jumped on its back. I pulled the bag over its head and tied the end of the bag with a piece of rope I had also found.
“Come on out,” I called, “We need to see what this creature is.”
“All right. We’ll come out,” Destiny grumbled, “If we get attacked, it will be your fault!”
“Quit your bitching,” Dusty mumbled.
“I heard that!”
“Quit fighting,” I sighed.
“If you insist,” he said.
“Anyway!” Rob exclaimed, “What is that thing you’ve captured?” Rob and Destiny glared at each other. It amazed me how they could still be dating after three years.
“I don’t know,” I answered. The creature in the bag began to cut through with something sharp.
“Quick! Grab it before it can get out!” Jeremy cried. Rob, Dusty, and Leif jumped on the creature as it lifted out of the bag.
“Let go of me! What are you people? CRAZY?” the creature screamed at us.
“Who? Shane, don’t sneak up on us like that!” I snapped at her when the guys let go.
“Sorry. I didn’t know I was going to get ambushed when I came back.” She studied the camp. “Um, was there a party while I was gone?”
“We were attacked by the forest spirits. They don’t want us here,” Dusty said, running a hand through his tousled blonde hair.
Shane stared at him as if he had flipped out. “Forest spirits attacked us?”
“Yeah, they had these long pointed ears,” Leif explained, “They came crashing out at us from all sides and grabbed as many people as they could get their hands on. We were lucky we didn’t get captured.”
“Whose left?” she asked.
“All who stand before you,” Jeremy replied.
“Let’s go try to get our friends back,” Leif said.
“That’s a good idea,” Dusty agreed.
“Let’s wait until its dark before we go get them,” I suggested.
“That’s a better idea. It’ll be easier to sneak up on them in the dark,” Shane laughed wickedly.
“Before you three let, I overheard Lance talking to himself. He said ‘tonight’ and smiled. Do you suppose he had something to do with this?” Leif asked.
“Lance must be the leader of this whole charade. I knew there was something odd about him,” Shane replied.
“He is not odd!” I snapped.
“Let’s talk about that later. Right now we should get our camp area settled. There we can make plans for our retaliation,” Rob explained.
“Good idea,” Destiny said. As we were putting the tents back up and replacing the stuff inside them, I thought about what Leif had said. Was Lance really involved? Why would he have his tribe attack us? It didn’t make sense.
It was almost midnight when we finished. The sound of drums could be heard echoing through the forest around us. I glanced up at the sky and saw the full moon bright overhead. There were so many stars out that I almost couldn’t find my favorite constellation, the dragon constellation Draco. The others finished their tasks and we met in a circle in the middle of the camp.
“Sounds like they’ve started the party without us. Let’s go crash it,” Shane suggested.
“All right. We’ll split up into pairs,” I said, “Destiny and Rob, Leif and Jeremy. Shane and Dusty. I’ll go by myself.”
“Stay close to each other and remember your calls if you should need help,” Destiny explained.
“Good plan. Now let’s kick some forest spirit butt!” Leif said with joy.
I wonder why he wants to go so bad. Does it have to do with the fact that the elves took his girlfriend? I pondered. We all went in different directions and started practicing our animal calls.
As I turned around an oak tree, I noticed a shimmering light coming out of the bushes ahead of me. As I got closer, I realized that the bushes surrounded a clearing and the light was coming from a large bonfire.
Who would have a fire at this time of night? I asked myself as I climbed up a nearby tree. I found a sturdy branch and made myself at home, making sure that I have a perfect view of the whole clearing. Lucky for me, I had been smart enough to wear dark colored clothing when I had left for the camping trip and blended in nicely with the shadows around me. Once situated, I turned my attention to what was happening inside the clearing. What I saw almost sent me reeling out of the tree!
The clearing was large and there were elves in various positions all around it. Some of them were playing the drums we had heard while some females danced around the fire. Others were lying in half-naked piles and all were drinking some liquid out of wooden cups. I figured they were getting themselves pretty intoxicated and a surprise attack on them would be perfect. After this thought, I looked more closely at the elves who were dancing around the fire. A few males had joined in and one of them was Lance. He seemed to be enjoying himself immensely. As he danced, he took a sip from his wooden cup and collapsed next to a pretty, dark haired elf. It hurt to see him so happy.
Did he use me to get to the others? Why would he want to attack my friends? They have never done anything to him or his tribe before. Is he trying to make the stories true so other humans will stay out of the forest? Or is he trying to use them to get to me? I pondered these questions as I scanned the clearing once more. My attention was drawn to a small group seated on the ground in a corner away from the fire. I realized that it was the captives from our camp. Most of them seemed pretty comfortable except for my brother, Jesse. He was tied hand and foot plus had a gag in his mouth. I wondered why he was tied up more forcefully than the others were. As I thought about this, I climbed down from my tree and called for the others. Hopefully they had seen the same things I had.
Soon I received an answer to my call. Unfortunately, it was not an answer I was used to. Someone was near me that I did not know. Slowly I took out the dagger my grandmother had given me and glanced around for a sign, any sign, of where the stranger was hiding. There was a thud behind me. Before I could turn around, my arms were restricted as someone grabbed me around the waist. I couldn’t go for my dagger, which had fallen to the ground. I was about to call for help when something was placed over my mouth. This made it so the only person I would have been able to get in contact with would have been Jesse and there was no way he was going to be able to help me.
“I don’t want to hurt you. Lance wants me to bring you into camp,” my assailant explained, “Don’t run when I let you go.”
I nodded my head.
“Don’t try to kill me either. I don’t wish to die tonight,” he said as he let go and stepped away from me, “I am Catcher. Don’t ask about the name. It’s a long story. Who are you?”
“Aleena Yellow Hawk,” I replied, “I thought I was dating Lance. Why did you attack us?”
“Oh, so you’re Aleena, eh?” Catcher asked, “We hear about you all the time. Lance will explain everything later. As a matter of fact, you do look a lot like Raven Thoughtseeker.”
“Why is my brother tied up more than the other?” I demanded.
“He tried to attack Lance and Brightwing,” he answered.
“Shhh!” I whispered. I had heard footsteps coming in our direction.
“Quick! Get into a tree so I can go find out who it is,” Catcher whispered. He helped me climb into the nearest tree and headed off to the right. I watched him go and then saw the outline of an elf coming toward my tree. I moved into a tree that was directly in line with the mystery elf and waited for my chance to strike. He moved just below me and I took the shot, landing on top of the stranger.
As we hit the ground, he rolled out from under me and sprang back to his feet. He went for his dagger and we began to circle each other. I took a slash at him and found that he had quick reflexes. He took a swipe at me and hit me in the arm. That didn’t bother me any as I kicked him in the chest. He flew backward but swiftly got back on his feet. So fast that I didn’t even see him coming at me. His dagger sank into my right side and I fell to the ground, blood coating my hand as I tried to stop it. After he had figured I had enough, he leaned down to see if I was still alive. I could tell that he was definitely one of Lance’s people because I had seen him standing by Jesse as some sort of guard. Lance was going to be rather pissed.
“Hey are you still alive?” His voice was deep and hoarse.
“Yes,” I growled and spat in his face. He slapped me across the face with the back of his hand. Catcher came up behind him then and grabbed his arm.
“Don’t do any more damage. Lance is going to be mad enough as it is,” he explained.
“She spit in my face. No one does that to me,” the other male growled, glaring at me.
I leaned up and said, “Truce?” When I stuck out my hand, he took it and I dug my nails in as far into his hand as they would go.
“You little---!” he hissed, raising his hand again.
“Don’t hit her again,” Catcher commanded. The other elf gave him a dirty look. Catcher ignored him as he helped me to my feet. They left me into the clearing. The elves stopped dancing when they saw us and Lance rushed to my side to help me walk.
As I glanced up to study the elves a little closer, a warrior that was standing off to the left drew my attention. He was tall and thin but muscular, with long blonde hair to the middle of his back and the bluest eyes I had ever seen on a man. All of my attention went to his eyes and I felt my world shift as our gaze met. Everything that I knew went flying out the window and I felt a whole new sensation. I broke the connection as I glanced up at Lance. As he led the way into a large oak tree, I could still feel the warrior’s gaze burning into my back.