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The Harbinger of Doom

   He opened his eyes. A misty gray sky met his gaze. Clouds

swirled, showing red, orange and pink. The color of dawn. He lay

there, disoriented, the world around him pulsing with each pound

of his throbbing head. The right side of his face was stiff,

sticky with blood.  Memories swirled through his mind,

pictures, a young girl, images he could not grasp. He laid

still, an unexplainable sense of danger present. Then it came to

him with a jolt. He scrambled to his feet, stars swirling

through his vision. 
 

   The scene that lay before him was gruesome. Bodies lay

everywhere.  Men, women, children; young and old. Every structure

that had once stood in the small clearing now lay scattered,

charred and burning. A young child lay at his feet. He staggered

forward, searching for life, somewhere, anywhere. His vision

dimmed and he stumbled. Darkness took him once again. 

 The next time he awoke it was dawn again. A brilliant blue sky stretched over head,

cheerful, unwelcome. He had no idea how long he had been out. He sat up and surveyed the

carnage with dull, feverish eyes. A movement to the left startled him. He jerked his head

around; blinking back the pain it caused him, and stared intently at the bodies. Nothing

moved. After a moment he crawled over to where he had seen the movement. Still nothing;

nothing but death. 

      He lay back a while, random thoughts drifted through his mind like the clouds in the sky.

Soon he began to feel a sense of urgency, once again a feeling unexplained. He stood slowly,

began walking toward the woods not far away. A small stream gurgled and ran around the

base of a large tree. Even here, in this peaceful place, death lay everywhere. He bent down

and drank long of the cold, clear water, then gently washed some of the blood from his face.

The pain relented some and he was able to look about him for the first time without the

world throbbing to the rhythm of his heart. Somewhere a raven cawed; the sound sent

memories swirling through his mind once again. 

    He had been standing guard a little ways beyond this very tree; watching for any sign of

danger. The noise of the village as it went about its evening chores was calming, safe. 

“Rand!” someone had called to him. He turned. Roth, his best friend came strolling towards

him a wide grin on his face. 

“What is it?” he asked him, when it became evident his friend wasn't going to say more. 

“You missed out, man.” He said, slapping him on the back. The smell of beer filled the air

and Rand sighed. 

“I don’t want to hear it, Roth. Go home and go to bed.” 

The smile on his friends face grew wider. “Oh, you’ll wish you had heard it from me, Rand.”

He pressed something into Rand’s hand then turned and began making his way towards the

village. “I’m not drunk,” he called over his shoulder. “Just a bit fermented.” He chortled at

his own joke and waved to Rand before disappearing into the woods. 

Rand looked at the sliver spile his friend had left him and shook his head. He was on guard

duty, what need did he have of a spile? 

   Something fluttered in a tree above Rand and he looked up. A raven, something silvery in

its beak, sat perched on a tree limb. As he looked at it the bird took the thing from its

mouth, dropped it on the ground, cawed three times, and then flew away. He remembered

the time he had wasted, starring after the bird, all the while a strange feeling building in his 

    He saw them when he had bent to pick up the small silvery, odd shaped horn the bird had

dropped . The army seemed to materialize out of nowhere.

Rank upon rank they stood silently beneath the trees, their silver armor glinting in the

setting sun. Their leader sat upon a white stag, his black hair blowing slightly in the wind. 

The eyes of the entire army were fixed on Rand, on the small silver horn in his hand. Their

leader came forward slowly, dismounting from his stag not far from where Rand stood. He

held out his hand to Rand. 

“Child of the Morning, bring me the Horn.” he said commandingly. The sound of his voice,

soft and sickly sweet, sent chills of fear racing down Rand’s spine. He remembered the tales

of the Dark Elves, old legends told by few these days. He wished now he had paid closer

attention to them. 

   Rand clutched the horn tighter. “If I give you the horn will you leave in peace?” he asked,  

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The Dark Elf laughed. “It would spare your life, Child of the Morning. Yours alone.” 

Rand shivered involuntarily at the Elf’s voice. He had to somehow warn the village,

somehow stall their doom. Everything in his being told him not to give the Dark Elves the

horn, yet he knew not why. He took a step towards the Elf intending to act as if he was

going to hand the horn over when his hand brushed against something in his pocket. The

silver spile! A plan formed in his mind in an instant. 

“I will give the horn, but please, spare my friends and family.” He said, stalling.

The Dark Elf moved closer, eyes narrowing. “You will give me the horn.” He said quietly.  “I

have no need to bargain with you.”

Rand could feel the power behind the Elf’s words. An unnatural fear gripped him, his mind

fighting the paralysis it brought.  He took a deep breath, the air now thick and humid.  

“Please,” he croaked. “They know nothing of this.”  The Dark Elf laughed, clearly amused. 
 

“It seems what was said about the Child of the Morning has been greatly exaggerated.” He

mocked.. “Hear him whine and beg as a squalling babe.” 

 The words pulled Rand out of his lethargy, jolting him back into reality.  He snatched the

spile from his pocket, replacing it with the horn, and  in one fluid motion threw straight

into the midst of the army.  In an instant the air was filled with a mob of ravens cawing  

madly as they searched franticly for it.

    Before any of the Dark Elves could react, Rand turned and ran. He ran will all his

strength, shouting warning after warning to his countrymen. 

He heard the Dark Elf shriek something in his black language and the words rang clearly

inside Rand’s head. “You will curse the day you were born, Mortal!” 

Rand reached the edge of the village, his own army already surrounding it. He turned, drew

his sword and faced the advancing Elves. They advanced in slow motion, hatred burning in

every eye. Rand knew this would be his last stand, then end of everything he had fought for

his entire life. The temptation to simply give the Elf the horn and keep his life filled him.

He reached into his pocket and took out the horn. If it was to be his end, he would go down

with honor. 

   The Elf leader was only feet from him, running before his army, his sword inches from

Rand’s face. Rand put the horn to his lips and blew. The piercing call of the horn sounded

loud, a cry of defiance, of loss. The horn shattered into a thousand tiny fragments, falling to

the ground all around Rand. The Elf leader shrieked in pain, the anguish in his voice

causing Rand to look up. The Elf seemed to be burning from the inside, silver flames licking

his face. He swung his sword one last time and Rand felt the burning sting of the blade as it

sliced into the side of his face. He crumpled to the ground, the sounds of battle around him,

of friend and foe crying out in pain, but the darkness was too much for him and he knew no

    Rand shook his head, trying to clear the memories from it. He knelt unaware of the tears

streaming down his face. Child of the Morning, the Dark Elf had called him. But he found

Child of Doom more fitting. 

A twig snapped behind him but he did not move. He no longer cared whether he lived or died.

“I have come.” The soft voice rang eerily in the silence. An Elf, a naked blade in his hand,

stepped in to his view. 

Rand held up his hand. “Before you kill me, tell me why.” The Elf looked at him silently “You killed my father.” He said simply, then plunged the blade deep into Rand’s chest. 

 

Rand fell onto his back, the numbing pain in his chest slowly erasing the pain in his mind.

The Elf crouched over him. 

“And know this, Mortal. I will find the child. The one you gave the Powers of the Horn. And

when I find her, we shall once again rule the world.”

 The Elf slowly rose, but where he went Rand neither knew nor cared. Hope once again

filled his body. Somewhere out there, there was a child who would carry on, who would

pave a path for the Light. Peace filled his mind as his life’s blood drained slowly away.

 

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