Chapter Three

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As she considered what to do, she realized that one of the archers kept turning and staring at her strangely with every arrow he loosed. After a few moments he turned to another figure nearby him and took him aside. She watched as they spoke in low tones for a moment, glancing toward her every so often. Suddenly, the second of the two turned away and began shouting orders to the other tall warriors that she could not understand. With a gasp, she jumped to her feet as the first figure began coming toward her. He was a tall man with long blond hair that streamed out behind him. He wore no armor, but was clad in a dark green tunic and cloak with tall tight-fitting brown boots, and was armed only with two long knives, a quiver of arrows strapped on his back, and a magnificent bow which he held in his hand. He spoke urgently.

"Come with me. We must hurry."

"Wait! Who are you? What's happening?" Estela replied fearfully.

"I'm sorry, I can't explain everything here. There is no time. You must come!"

"But—" Before she could protest any further, he suddenly grabbed her hand and started running away from the car toward the line of archers. As he did so, the rest of the warriors broke their formation and grouped around Estela and the fair-haired warrior, who seemed to be their leader, running and fighting their way through the mob of dark warriors. She found herself running as hard as she could in the midst of them.

As she ran she had time to notice the warriors around her. They included both men and women, similarly clad and armed to their leader. They all had long flowing hair ranging from gold to varying hues of brown, and their faces were all so...pure, as she later thought to herself. With surprised she noticed the strange elegant point-shape of their ears.

Suddenly she realized that the group of warriors had swept beyond the ranks of their opponents and they were now racing through a field of tall grass toward a dark tree line ahead, with the dark warriors in hot pursuit. She began gasping for breath as she struggled to keep up with the pace of the rest of the group. As they reached the forest, the fair-haired leader gave a command and most of the warriors turned and dispersed among the trees at the edge of the forest. He beckoned for her to keep on running with him and two other warriors, though, noticing that her strength was almost spent, slowed the pace slightly. Looking over her shoulder she saw the other warriors leaping up into trees and positioning themselves in the undergrowth with bent bows waiting for the dark warriors to reach them.

The fair-haired warrior led Estela and the remaining two on through the woods until they came out upon open rolling hills. There he stopped and gave a piercing whistle, glancing worriedly at Estela, who was almost collapsing with exhaustion. They stood waiting a few moments before the shapes of many horses appeared over the rise of a nearby hill, silhouetted against the moonlight. They were soon trotting up to the fair-haired leader with greeting nickers and whinnies. The other two warriors quickly mounted two of the animals while he led the tallest most majestic of them toward Estela.

"Get on," he said firmly but not harshly.

"I—I ..." Estela stammered. Without a word he dropped on one knee for her to climb up on, glancing anxiously into the trees. She pulled herself up onto the animal's back with little difficulty, and he sprang lightly on in front of her.

"Hold on," he warned, and with low strange command, the remaining horses dispersed and the first three with their four riders rapidly disappeared into the night.  

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