The woman eased from the large growth of ferns, peering out into the dark of the forest. The full moons cast their light at either end of the wood, setting the place afire to her sharp eyes. Her pointed ears perked higher as she listened, barely breathing. All she could hear aside from her thumping heart, were the night birds and little mammal scurrying in the underbrush looking to avoid the claws that would have them for supper. She felt like a little mouse, tucked close to the tree as she waited for her coming demise. They had to be here, somewhere…waiting for her to emerge.
Caelana ducked back in and hugged her back to the tree, letting the large fern rest above her head. She would not stir till early morning. By then their guard would have dropped and she could risk movement once more.
Early morning came and went. Caelana had fallen fast asleep just as the sun was touching the edges of the forest’s top. She awoke to an acorn striking the crown of her head. Jumping up with a gasp, she looked around, dagger in her hand and eyes darting. Up in the tree above sat a little brown creature, scritching it’s way around the branch of acorns.
“Pah!” She fussed at it. “You scared the life from my chest, rat.”
The little beast scrunched it’s nose and threw one of the nuts right at her chest. “I’m not a rat, silly fairy thing.”
“And I’m not a fairy!” Caelana spat back.
“True enough, you’re not nearly as pretty as they.”
Caelana furrowed her own nose and tucked the dagger away. “Well, what are you then?”
“I? I! Well I am a uh…” It hoped from one foot to the other. “I don’t rightly know what I am, thanks for asking. What are you?”
“An elf, of course. Of the woodland variety.”
“Course you are! And I’m a rat. No, I’m not! I’m a squirrel, I think.”
“Mmm.” He looked like no squirrel she’d ever seen. It had long ears that went to his knees when he put them down. And his eyes were quite large and green. Not to mention, his tail was too thin.
“Well, squirrel, have you seen others like me around here?”
“Recently? Sure, last night. They’ve all gone now though. Hurried off when the wolfy came to play.”
Caelana felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, and she grew tense once more. “Wolf you say? Where?”
“Oh, it’s gone, too. Came sniffing around, but didn’t do much. She went over by the mountains. You know, to that lake place.”
Bristling with anger, Caelana tried to breathe slowly. “Show me?”
“Well now, what do I get out of it all?”
Looking around and then at herself, Caelana snatched a piece of bright jewel from her wrist. “How about this?”
The self proclaimed squirrel took it from her and bit it. His teeth screeched on it and the thing laughed,if you could call it that. Caelana wasn’t sure what else you would call it. “Yes, that’s just fine. I’ll show you, but you gotta keep up. I’ve lots to do you know.”
“Oh, I’m certain you do.”