This part is. . . long. For some reason, I am completely incapable of writing short conversations. I think dialogue is the funnest thing ever to write! I’m pretty much just ignoring how long some of the parts in this story are. 🙂
Catania’s Forest: The Little Drummer-boy in Narnia ~ Part Nine
Catania stepped back, away from the trench, as quietly as only an elf could. She laid her strawberries on a tree-root, and crept back, trying to stay hidden. He was dangerously close to her tree, but he obviously did not know what exactly he was looking for. She stood for a moment, peering between the two trunks of a river birch, watching him search under tree-roots and along the muddy creek banks for any sign of her. Her long fingers inched as they clutched her bow, but her stomach revolted at the thought. She had never shot a rational creature before—not even a human.
“I found her, Moth.”
Catania all but jumped out of her skin as the stale voice called out inches from her ear. She whirled, heart pounding till her chest throbbed. The tall man stood right before her, as she stood with her back pressed against the ruffled bark of the birch. He was nowhere as large as Tyre, but that did not keep the elf from realizing that he towered over her.
Had he been standing there watching her since she came back? He was dressed just as Moth was, and his thick hair was the perfect brown to hide him in the trees, his skin the perfect golden-tan. Why must elves have the misfortune of being born with fair hair and skin? She showed up in this forest like one of the gaudy northern lilies would! Ever since he and his companion had first found her, Catania had envied Horbrid.
The human’s mocking expression hardened as she faced him.
“Keep your pretty fingers off your dagger-haft, Cat, and I’ll leave mine sheathed,” he snapped dryly.
Catania let her hands fall to her sides, but clenched her fists; trying to decide which direction she should lunge if the conversation turned ugly. She knew the forest better than they, but she was not certain she could get past him, especially with her back to the tree-boles like this.
Moth scrambled out of the ditch, his red-brown hair making more of a contrast with the earth and trees. He scrambled awkwardly to his feet, unable swing himself up easily like Catania could. He was a good woodsmen, but he would never rival an elf.
“’Bout time,” he said bitterly, brushing the dirt from his hands.
Catania ignored him.
“What do you want, Horbrid?” she asked the man closer to her. “I thought we agreed you should let me alone and I should not cause trouble.”
“So did I,” Horbrid answered sourly.
The elf felt her racing heart skip a beat. “What are you talking about?” she burst out. “What have I done?”
She heard Moth snort beside her. “Ha! How touchingly innocent!” he scoffed.
Horbrid smiled bitterly, and thrust his hand into the sack that hung at his belt. He drew it out and held it open to Catania. A small dark object lay there. The elf took it cautiously and looked it over: it was now black, but she suddenly realized it had once been silver—it was a ring. How had they found it? She felt every muscle in her body grow tense—crouching for a spring. Can I hide before they’re able to draw their bows? Will I need to? I guess Moth would shoot me, but I don’t know about Horbrid. He let me stay this long simply out of pity, but I cannot wager on the harsh forester’s sympathies going any further!
“What have you done?” Moth growled. “You’ve shot Lord Daniel’s prize stag, Cat! Had it slipped your memory, or where you too blind to notice?”
“Leastways,” Horbrid muttered. “If you didn’t, then you’re not the only ghost haunting this woods.”
“How was I to tell at thirty yards?” Catania blurted out. “Look, I tried to hide it! You can. . . Where did you find this?”
“In a raccoon’s nest, in a hollow tree,” Horbrid answered dryly.
“You picked it, find another,” Catania stammered, closing her fist over the trinket. “I’ll bury this again. I’ll take it out in the forest – I’ll throw it in a lake – I’ll get rid of it.”
“No!” Moth shouted. “I want that thing destroyed. We can spend the rest of our lives burying and finding and exchanging the stupid thing – there’s always some creeper to dig it up.”
Horbrid scowled at the outburst.
“Fine,” Catania said, seeing sudden hope of dissolving the situation without having to run for her life. “I have a friend that will melt it for me.”
Horbrid looked bemused.
“A friend?” he asked suspiciously. “Cat! Who’s out here with you?”
“That’s none of your business,” Catania answered hurriedly.
Horbrid sighed, but shrugged helplessly.
What would it hurt to give Tyre away? she thought, as soon as the words left her lips. She did not like him, did she?
The young elf didn’t relax until the grumbling men had disappeared completely into the trees. Left alone again, she felt her heartbeat slowly calm. She drew a deep breath. It was midday, and the sun was warm, but she was shivering.