She was running, running. Never stopping She couldn’t stop. She could never stop. The forest flashed by her eyes, leaves and bark melting together in a blur of greens and browns.
There was no time to stop and pay homage to its beauty, a beauty that was slowly dying, taken over by darkness.
She felt her heart pounding in her chest, each beat reminding her why she was running, running, running for her life.
A roar behind her of anger and hatred, deep within the trees, frightened her, urging her to push herself further, begging her body to move with more speed.
Her legs ached, the muscles long gone numb from the constant pressure. But she could not afford to stop. Her breath came in short gasps, her lungs desperately reaching out for the air she could not provide.
The wind lashed at her face, stinging her cold cheeks and making her eyes water, causing her vision to blur. She swiped her arm across her face, trying to clear her eyes.
She cursed as she stumbled over a fallen branch, falling hard on her knees on the cold, unforgiving ground. For a split second she paused, feeling a dreadful pounding vibrating beneath her fingers.
They were getting closer.
Scrambling frantically to her feet, ignoring the stabbing pain in her arm as a broken tree branch ripped the sleeve of her tunic and cut a long jagged wound down her arm, she pushed on. She couldn’t stop now, she just couldn’t.
She was getting tired. She felt her body’s refusal to be pushed anymore. But she ignored it and continued to run and run and run.
She couldn’t breathe. Every muscle in her body seized up and screamed at her in agony as she crashed through the trees into the clearing.
She couldn’t run anymore. She collapsed to her knees, gulping in air. Faintly she heard the harsh sound of metal on metal as weapons were drawn.
She closed her eyes. It was over. The clearing was silent; the only sound to be heard was her ragged breathing.
A command was shouted and then footsteps approached her. This was it. This was the end.
She jolted in shock when a gentle hand touched her shoulder instead of the expected cold steel. She opened her eyes and saw a pair of soft, leather boots standing in front of her.
“It is all right. You are safe now,” a soft voice, an elven voice whispered in her ears as a blanket was draped around her shoulders.
“Easy, young one, easy. You are safe. Nothing will harm you now.”
She looked up into the face of the speaker and was met with stands of pale golden hair and brilliant blue eyes. “Prince Legolas,” she whispered, her voice cracked and hoarse.
The prince smile kindly and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Rest now. You have done extremely well,” he said gently as he guided her down onto the litter that had been prepared. “Just rest.”