A Long and Lonely Day

Softness beneath his hand. As he gratefully stretched his body face down across the massive stone, he allowed his fingers to wander its mossy surface. He had managed to climb the rock formation, and was glad to find the summit so flat and inviting, yet still well below the tree tops to offer him shade. There was a cool and subtle moisture to the moss. It was cleansing for him to feel something so pure and innocent after such a long and lonely day. He relaxed his chest as he turned his head and lay his cheek on the stone and exhaled. He lay still for a moment and watched a lazy beetle casually crawl across the farther end of the stone. Rolling onto his back, he folded his hands across his chest and smiled as he was greeted by the warm rays of the evening sun penetrating the forest ceiling at random intervals. A gentle breeze moved the limbs of the trees in a slow and swaying dance, breaking the beams of light and causing the subtle shadows and bolts of sun to swirl and shift about. A constantly changing, chaotic pattern across the forest floor was the result. Eldriande took a moment to drink in the scene, to clear his mind, and to allow himself to be washed over by the serenity of it all.

He sat up slowly, knowing he couldn’t stay there forever, however much he might wish he could. In one swift motion he rose to his feet and stood on the stone. Pulling his cowl over his head to shadow his smooth face and long ears, he walked casually to the edge of the stone and hopped down. He landed silently on the ground, and at his feet was the body, right where he had left it. Protruding from the chest of its motionless frame was the handle and hilt of a simple dagger. He knelt next to the man and gripped the dagger tightly. With a forceful yank, he pulled the blade from the body, hearing it scrape against a rib as it exited the fatal wound. He used a bit of burlap to wipe it clean, before returning it to a leather scabbard which was strapped across his doublet.

He didn’t look back as he walked away. If he had, he would have seen thirteen bodies with similar wounds scattered about that rock formation, all bleeding out and lifeless in the broken rays of that evening sun. He knew they were there, of course. He had put them there. Each and every one. Yes, what a long and lonely day it had been.

~j.d.schofield

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