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Survival Against the Odds - Twice Watchful Eyes
'How astute, did she realize the risks associated with a twilight patrol?' Daerundros watched the brown-crowned head that was Ruihel's hair sway slightly in the breeze as their mounts trotted at an amble pace through the eaves of the Trollshaws. The sun was setting just over the horizon, a perfect fiery sphere, which cast a golden light over the already-autumned leaves of the forests. Behind them, the crystal clear splashing of the Bruinen was to be heard and sent a weary shiver through her spine: Beyond the Bruinen the sanctuary ended and the danger began. Wild animals of all sorts all too close to the main path, brambles and brushes made for an unsteady hike through the wilderness, and worst of all, if you were foolish enough to stray off the Great East Road; Stone-trolls, whose footsteps were like falling timber from a woodsman's axe. This was the time of day where they would usually creep out of their caves and go out looking for an unsuspecting victim to manslaughter. If they did not find a victim before the sunrise, they would scamper back into their caves or those heavily wooded areas with little to no light, fearing the brightness that would turn them to stone. If they found a victim to manhandle though... the outcomes weren't the brightest.
Of course, Daerundros, being that usual stone-faced warrior, was perfectly in control of herself with not the slightest bit of anxiety as she contemplated the possible outcomes of tonights patrol. With the young Silvan Elf by her side, just as equally silent as her, things might come to take a rather interesting turn. So young and eager she was, and she smiled at the back of Ruihel's head, reminded of the young twists and turns her childhood had. Though somewhere tucked deep into her mind, she felt weary and slightly concerned for the young Elf, not sure if she could not come out unscathed. Sometimes the danger was so high that Daerundros would return from her patrols rather bruised and roughed up. And she hated the aftermath of every dangerous fight, no matter how much of a thrill it gave her to be hearing her bowstring singing along with the soft pew of her exquisitive silver arrows.
Her thoughts wandered absent-mindedly for a few moments as they rode on, bareback on horses as all Elves were. Ornaments and saddles and all those... unnatural things the Secondborn created seemed so strange and alien to the Eldar. It was that connection to Nature. That deep, instinctual appreciation of raw and unmarred beauty. Elves were spiritually bound with nature, more connected to the world than other races. While the Elves remained unmoving in time, as Eru's "Perfect" children, the pure untainted race that naturally gravitates and feels obliged to fighting against Evil, the Secondborn could just swerve and change their path as fast as a hammer-stroke, which made them more prone to lose their connection with the natural world.
When that happened, the Secondborn would often try to regain their hold on nature in a not-so-favorable way; In a more dominating, more forcible way. Putting saddles on horses, was one thing Daerundros was absolutely appaled of. It only made her more weary of Mankind. The DĂșnedain were the only ones of this stock she could actually trust. The rest repulsed her slightly. Bree-men were innacceptable. Especially their thieving ruffians and brigands.
A sudden scream broke Daerundros out of her trance. The terrible wail shattering the silence of the night, she whipped her head around with a quirked brow and an alarmed expression, her short choppy hair swinging with her motions. She lurched to a stop, rapidly pulling an arrow from her quiver, trying to spot something. Eventually, a hasty, clunky motion caught her eye, as Ruihel, having heard the scream as well and looking curiously at Daerundros, halted her progress, trotted back to her friend, and asked, "Do you see anything over there, friend?"
"I see something... grey. Moving beneath the trees." Daerundros murmured, trying to get a closer look at the object.
"Hmm, let me see what I can make from the tracks that have been made throughout the day." Ruihel stated. There was no need a stalk a creature so close, but she had a point. If they were going to find out what sort of creature they would face, they would have the look at the footprints.
The screaming magnified only more as Daerundros' grip on her bow tightened. Deciding there was little time left to ponder, she dashed off in a mad gallop with her horse, ignoring Ruihel's calls and the branches that caught on her leather armour.
Daerundros was not mentally prepared for what would await her. Standing at nine feet (ten?) tall, she beheld the great, grey stone-troll with it's massive stature. It's humongous and grotesquely bloated face seemed to be alligned in perfect, yet slow-witted, satisfaction, it's over-sized hand clutching what appeared to be the corpse of the screaming traveller who had let off those noises before. Horrified, Daerundros was taken completely aback by what would happen next.
The troll, oblivious to her presence, raised the corpse to his mouth, and with a single, large bite, bit the chest of the dead man off.
'Disgusting!' Immediately ran through her mind. She had seen mutilated corpses and cut off body parts, but nothing had quite prepared her to deal with something so truely unthinkable. A half-devoured body being eaten before her eyes. She stood rooted to the spot, watching in true horror and disgust, as with another, single, large bite, the body of the man was completely ingested. She watched a half-chewn foot tumble to the floor, disregarded, until Ruihel came riding up to her.
She had seen enough of this gruesome scene. Acting quickly, she rapidly sprinted forward, ready to aim at the Troll's head, until a shape darted in front of her, as if protectively shielding her.
"Have you covered." Ruihel stated.
'What is she doing?!' "Ai! Ruihel--! How am I supposed to shoot?!" She whispered angrily.
"Well, you get it's attention by shooting it in the knee, or head." Daerundros took this statement as a blunt affront to her status. Ruihel was acting as though Daerundros had no experience at all in this matter! "Get down so it doesn't see us!"
"Here? in this open space with no bushes? My dear, I should tr--"
Unfortunately, for the bickering Elven-pair, the Troll had finally began to notice them. Maddened by this incursion of privacy by the two Elves, he began charging towards them with a stony arm outstretched.
Daerundros barely had a second to react before she dived out of the way, catching out of the corner of her eye, Ruihel safely spinning out of the way, the swat harmlessly catching the air and bringing the stone-troll out of balance slightly, so that Daerundros was now directly under the troll. Coughing warily, she rolled out of the way with a gasp as a fist came slamming down the exact place where she would have been had she not swerved away. As she composed herself quickly, there were repeated twangs ringing in the air as she stood up and ran to the side of the troll: Ruihel was shooting at the troll with her arrows.
Unfortunately, this only drove the troll madder. Fixing it's gaze upon Ruihel, it started to run towards her with a murderous gaze. Ruihel responded by releasing more arrows, yelling "I think I have it's attention!", before realizing how bad that actually was.
Oh, such a young enthusiastic girl. Daerundros thought to herself bluntly as she fired two arrows simulateously towards the back. The delicate Elven silver, skewering their tips where Ruihel's arrows could not, shot straight forward in a neat, clean, and precise aim. Arrows enchanted to give pain to dark and twisted creatures, Daerundros could not surpress a smirk of satisfaction as she watched the troll roar in pain and turn it's gaze to her. Perfect. She thought. Ruihel, now clear to perform attacks, drew her sword rapidly, sprinting up to the troll. Two deep cuts she made, as the steel bit deeply and sliced itself into the Thighs of the Troll. Daerundros could see black blood squirting from the Troll's cut.
Another roar of pain, this time more pronounced and louder. The troll charged at her like an overgrown boar, obviously trying to run her down and flatten her like a copper coin, but the Noldo prevailed and ducked just in time as a palm slammed down hard on the ground, missing her by a few feet. Shockwaves pulsed through the ground through the thunderous clap, as the Troll resigned itself into a mad frenzy and began to rampage aimlessly. Ruihel was nowhere to be seen and for a moment Daerundros thought for worse, until she saw the delicate-looking figure ducking for cover against the blows being made to the environment.
And all this time, Daerundros was in a completely neutral mood. Emotions locked away, feelings hidden. Face perfectly calm and neutral. Just a cold, hard shell. It was always like this when she was in battle. Her gaze was always cold and calculating, with that mild hint of amusement. She was always in a rigid stance, and her head was always clear. She almost never took to panic, except those rare moments where you just had the most random and unexpected things thrown in your face.
Professionalism at it's height.
There was still surprise though. An emotion hard to control, that just came at the quickest moments when something happened so quickly...
Meanwhile, it seemed the troll had actually come back to it's senses. Daerundros was mildly amused as she watched the Troll's eyes widen in fear. Scurrying like a rat driven out of the kitchen it made a mad dash towards the forest, apparently realizing it's own death was yet to come, and there was a continuous boom and crash noise as the troll collided with various objects in it's haste to get away.
"Quick! Let us follow!" Daerundros ran back to where their mounts were stationed, fidgeting restlessly. It took a few tries to actually calm down their steeds, which left Daerundros mildly wondering why they had not even run away yet. However, at a quick grunt, Daerundros was off speeding in the fastest way possible, watching as the surroundings became blurred and disorted from the speed of her horse. Following the tracks made by the troll in the mud, the pair left an uneasy feeling behind as their trail lead to a rather gradual ascent into a rocky mountain path...
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