The Elven Princess Chapter Three The forest was dark even though the light was shining outside. Jonathan wasn’t scared though. He had been through this forest before. He could feel Lior’s nervousness, and as he leaned down to pat his neck, he heard cries. He stiffened, and stopped the horse so he could hear better. Yes, they were Elvish. They didn’t sound like cries of battle, but celebration. He grimaced. He had been hoping that not too many would be out. He rode Lior forward, deeper into the climbing oaks and bright green vines. “Haepashta `ekaelo hantei! Teirkea `ekaelo hanti Arianwyn!” called a raspy woman’s voice. Jonathan understood some, even though it took him a minute to process it. She was announcing the coronation of the third Elven Princess. The last word he did not know. There was loud jeers and applause “Sesca hanti Mori!” More applause “Olaeka hanti Riywan!” Even more. “Haepashta oppeakta Satya et Rahs!” Those were the king and queen, Jonathan sensed from the loud screams and cries of joy that filled that side of the forest. Jonathan urged Lior on into a canter, and swiftly they ran. Darting through trees and ducking below vines, they hurried to the left. The Elf village was closer than he had anticipated, and he had to stop suddenly to stay concealed. There was a sort of stage, fashioned from oak branches and leaves that were sewn together. The queen was speaking rapidly in Elvish, always keeping the same smile on her face. She had articulately curled black hair that fell to her waist and wore a white dress that dragged the ground. The also wore an elaborate golden crown on her head. The stopped speaking and bowed her head to the audience. Then the king stepped forward. But he did not care for the king. He looked for a moment and found her, the third Elven Princess, sitting closest to him. Even Jonathan couldn’t deny that she was breath taking. She had ebony hair that, while sitting, nearly touched the ground. Her face was slightly tan and her eyes green, with an exotic, Asian looking face and unusually long fingers, like all Elves had. She was thin and willowy, and her white gown elegantly draped of her dainty limbs. She tucked her hair behind her ear, showing the pointed tip. Jonathan shook his head vigorously. He had no time to goggle over an Elf, for of course she was stunning! He waited impatiently while the king spoke, still mostly watching Princesses. The third was more beautiful than the other two, he observed. As he continued to wait, his stomach grew queasy. He may have stolen from the Elves before, but he had never stolen their Princess. The king finished speaking. It was time. He waited for a few minutes as the Elves bowed to their rulers. It was much too quick when the third Princess rose, smiling and waving, to leave. Jonathan, his gut queasy and his teeth clenched so hard it hurt, galloped the horse on. He scarcely heard the Elves’ screams of terror, nor did he feel himself grab the Princess, swing her onto the back of the saddle and gallop back off. He just knew that he had kidnapped the Elves’ most sacred treasure without being killed. As he ran down the trail, the Princess screaming and crying in his ear, Jonathan heard arrows being shot into trees. He urged the horse faster. “Aye, kasta eyu! Kasta eyu!” the Princess sobbed. Jonathan ignored her for now. Soon, he found himself far away from the forest and the flaming arrows. And far away from where he wanted to be. He was in the middle of a large, vast field and there were mountain peaks high in the sky. He eased Lior to a stop and stroked his neck, which was soaked in sweat and foam. “Good horse,” he said. Then he turned to the shaken Princess. “Eyu deda freyt?” Jonathan asked. He was asking if she was in good health. She glared at him fiercely. “Kasta eyu! Petata ambtu evashta t`kyae! Naboe ey deda freyt!” she yelled. She tried to pick up her skirts and leave, but Jonathan caught her around the waist before she dismounted. “I apologize for this, you will be returned. But you have an unfortunate duty, Princess. I know you speak English, so if you would please….” “Haela! Mepashta!” the Princess howled. She struggled and pulled against his grip, trying desperately to untangle herself from her skirts and dismount. “Princess! Princess!” Jonathan cried in vain, but the princess had already fallen of the horse and gotten back up. She then proceeded to run back in the direction she came, tripping over her skirts. Jonathan, pitying Lior, spun him around and chased after her at a swift canter. Within minutes he was back up beside her. He slowed to a trot, and she surged ahead, panting; sweat dripping off her chin and brow. Jonathan clucked Lior back into a slower canter. The Princess was tiring, despite her athleticism. There were trees far in the distance, but Jonathan could tell that the Princess would tire far before then. She stepped on her skirt again, but this time it ripped and she fell face first into the wheat grass. Jonathan pulled Lior to a stop and flew off to fetch her. She was breathing heavily, and when she lifted her head there was dust and dirt covering her white dress. Her white-lily wreath crown had fallen about two feet away from her. “Stay…..Back…..” the Princess whispered fiercely when Jonathan came closer. Her green eyes were shining with angry, shameful tears and her black hair spilled, tangled, all over the ground and in front of her face. Jonathan stopped, raising his hands. “What is your name?” he asked. “Ehaika arvania……No saying.” Jonathan came closer to her and seized her wrist quickly. She struggled and pulled, cursing in Elvish. “You are coming with me. I will get you back to the Elves after your duty is done,” Jonathan lied. He held her gaze, and he could see the boiling hatred in her eyes. He had seen it directed at him many times before. But never had it impacted him. Till now. “Arianwyn,” said the Elf. “What was that?” Jonathan asked, startled. “Name is Arianwyn,” she said. She cast a glance to the side, where her crown lay. Jonathan reached for it, but she heftily slapped his hand. “No! No filthy human touches a Princess’s Heisha,” she hissed, her eyes narrowed viciously. Deciding at the last moment to respect her wishes, Jonathan withdrew his hand. Arianwyn leaned and grasped it with the hand that Jonathan wasn’t gripping. She placed it delicately upon her head. “You will not harm my people,” it wasn’t so much a question, but a statement. She glared at him. “You are Jonathan Collins. You steal the peoples’ treasures. You sell them for profit. You are hated in the ElfKingdom. But you will not harm my people. Will not let you.” Jonathan stared at her, stunned. He did not know how she knew his name, or how they had seen him in the dark of night stealing jewelry and sacred fruits. But they knew who he was. He would have to take more caution. Jonathan stood, still silent. He pulled Arianwyn up with him. This time, she willingly walked with him. Why, he did not know. Perhaps because she believed that it was the only way she would be returned to her home. But the only real way she would be returned home, Jonathan mused as he assisted Arianwyn into the saddle, was when the Queen was done with her. Which may as well have been never.