Hawthorn & Ash #3

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Welcome to the third of many micro stories, ranging in length from 100 words to 500 words.

With each story we hope to deliver a little whimsy into the lives of our readers.

The story below is 489 word fantasy piece about dark elves. Set in a forest, it hits the ground running and the ending doesn’t disappoint. Elves and archery, who can say no?

Misdirection

A dark elf materialized out of the forest, emerging onto the deer trail Aaryn followed. The elf hissed, seeming equally as startled by the unexpected confrontation. In the time it took for the creature to raise its bow and reach for an arrow, Aaryn bolted from the path into the cover of the surrounding trees.

A soft rush of air tickled at his left ear and a black-feathered arrow buried itself in the trunk of a nearby tree. Low hanging branches slapped and scratched at his face, tore at his clothing, as Aaryn continued his wild flight through the forest. He did not slow his pace. The elf would follow.

A second arrow whistled past, glancing off a sturdy sapling before sailing harmlessly into the distance.

Aaryn knew his luck wouldn’t last. Eventually one of the dark elf’s arrows would bring him down unless he found a way to lose his pursuer. He couldn’t simply outrun the elf, either. The hateful creatures were faster and had more endurance than most humans. His only hope was to mislead the elf; send it running after a distraction while he slipped away safely in the opposite direction.

As he fled, Aaryn reached the edge of a sudden downslope in the terrain. Too steep to risk traversing at the speed he was running, he veered to his left and continued along the rim of the incline. Although the ridge impeded his attempts at escape, it also gave him an idea. Slowing long enough to scoop up a rounded rock the size of a large melon, he stumbled forward searching for a place to hide.

A downed oak tree provided him the opportunity he sought.

Aaryn dropped the rock he carried, sending it careening wildly down the incline before he dove behind the trunk of the fallen tree. The rock tore noisily through brush and scrub on its way into the gulley below. Trying to slow his ragged breathing, Aaryn lay motionless. The sound of the elf’s footfalls reached the edge of the incline seconds later; mere feet from where its quarry lay hidden. The dark elf hesitated a moment, then continued into the ravine along the path the rolling stone had travelled.

When he could no longer hear the elf’s progress, Aaryn emerged from behind the tree and slunk away; moving as quickly and quietly as possible. Taking a circuitous route to be certain he was no longer being pursued, he returned to his campsite and to his three companions, who had become quite worried at his prolonged absence.

“You say the elf shot at you twice?” asked one man in disbelief after Aaryn had relayed his harrowing tale. “And missed both times?”

Aaryn nodded.

“Since when does a dark elf ever miss a target?”

As if in answer, the surrounding brush rustled, and five shadowy figures stepped into the small clearing.

The lead elf grinned with amusement.

“Who said that I missed?”

G. Allen Wilbanks is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and has published over 60 short stories in Daily Science Fiction, Deep Magic, The Talisman, and other venues. He has released two short story collections, and the novel, When Darkness Comes. For more information about his writing, please visit his website at http://www.gallenwilbanks.com, or check out his weekly blog at http://www.DeepDarkThoughts.com.

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