Chapter 3: The Canyon of Ahimoth
As the group of knights travelled closer to the canyon of Ahimoth, horses started to get uneasy. Rulf had difficulties with keeping his horse under control. It looked hilarious. Marcus stayed peaceful and maintained a steady breathing which kept his horse steady. For Elyanna, it was different; she was linked spiritually with her horse. When she was anxious, her horse got anxious. So she had to keep her own feelings under control. But how closer they went, how more difficult it got. “I still think it is a horrible idea to go through the canyon. Its name means not for nothing the canyon of the brother of death.” Said Marcus agitated. Rulf ignored what Marcus said, he was too busy trying to keep his horse under control. “I thought this canyon was the home of the earth elves? Or am I wrong?” Asked Elyanna, staring in the distance at the opening of the canyon.
Marcus said as a ghostly mist came slowly towards them. “Yes, it used to be. But after the purge that king Beor the third ordered. The elves who lived there were slaughtered and mostly captured. That king was a nasty fat, black-haired king, with a greasy black beard and he always wore clothes which were way too small for him. Well, that is what I’ve heard, of course.” “What do you mean? Our scholar never taught us this part of the history, like it was too painful to talk about.” She said. As the mist grew thicker and thicker, till no one was able to see more than two meters in front of them, Elyanna listened to Marcus, his magical storytelling voice. “I can believe that he didn’t want to teach you. Scholars have a link to the history of these lands. So when they tell a story, they can feel the emotions of the people who were there, and this is a harrowing one. This story began when the purge had reached its highest point. King Beor the third had killed and captured over more than a thousand magical creatures, dwarves and elves. He and the two kings before him believed that the blood end essence of these magical beings possessed a power that humans could use for healing and conquering kingdoms. So The king ordered his men to go and capture the earth elves who lived within this canyon. When the word had reached the lord of the earth elves, commanded Lord Zaellon his troops to stand ready for war. But his troops were nothing in comparison with the king’s troops. It was not a war, it was an ambush. King’s men came from everywhere like they had infiltrated the canyon without anyone noticing. The elves that tried to fight back got slaughtered, and the ones who surrendered were captured and taken in small wagons to a camp close to the capital. No-one was able to help the earth elves. When word reached the other elvish lords, it was already too late. They said that scholars of the king did many experiments with the magical beings in the camp. And that Lord Zaellon was the first one of the earth elves to die from those experiments. No-one knows what they did in that camp and if there were even more camps like that. The only thing that is known is if you drink the silver blood of an elf that you grow in physical power, but if you drink too much that your body will turn inside out and die. That is what happened to King Beor the third. He wanted to keep getting stronger and stronger. After his death, the experiments and the camp got deserted, well, that is what we think. Since then the canyon is known as the canyon of Ahimoth. Most people take a different route to avoid the canyon because strange things are happening, and unexplained screams and noises are heard from within.”
A sudden silence fell over the whole group as they arrived at the beginning of the canyon. The mist faded away, and you could see clearly inside the canyon. “The Canyon of Ahimoth!” said Rulf loud and clear, so his voice echoed between the steep walls. The sound of his echo made Rulf feel proud and powerful until a deadly screech echoed back at him. By that sound, most of the horses reared up from fear throwing most of the men from their backs. The horses that got loose started galloping back to where they came from leaving their knights and soldiers behind. The men stood back up, trying to catch their horses and calming them down. Elyanna and Marcus were able to stay on their horse. But Rulf got thrown off. He tried to keep hold of the reins so his horse couldn’t run away. Cursing and swearing.” How the hell, do I get thrown off while that elf can stay put on her horse? Auw that did hurt.” Elyana answered smirky” Because she knows how to stay seated on a horse that rears up.” Marcus and the men behind them couldn’t help to let a small laugh out. Rulf looked behind him with a bloodred face in anger. “LET’S KEEP MOVING!” Rulf yelled. “The men that lost their horses will keep going on foot. Stay aware at all times and keep a sword or any weapon drawn.” Whispering cursing men in the back followed Rulf’s commands. Marcus drew his sword, and Elyanna pulled her bow tight and prepared an arrow. Luckily she knew how to ride a horse without holding the reins.
On both sides of the steep walls from the canyon were two beautiful giant earth elves carved in full armour with swords drawn in front of their faces. They kept guard over the canyon. The men travelled in complete silence further. Everyone was on his sharpest and kept watch everywhere. Elyana couldn’t help to admire the architecture of the carved out houses, palaces and stairs in the steep walls. How deeper they went how more magnificent and sophisticated the structures of the houses and palaces became. Everywhere you could see how large pillars supported the walls so that nothing could collapse. Beautiful statues made of stones decorated the exteriors of the houses. Graceful arches and curtains flowed down.
When they reached the centre of the canyon, they arrived at a large carved circular central market place. In the centre of the market place stood a statue of a mighty elf. The elf wore a cloak that covered almost his entire body. His face looked as if it was made of one of the most elegant gemstones in existence. His long hair laid straight over his shoulders and back. The group stopped at the statue, and Rulf broke the silence. “Men here we camp for the night. Make different fires and spread around the statue. In small groups, make a plan of whom will keep watch tonight.”
Marcus jumped off his horse and tied it to one of the statue’s feet. He walked to Elyanna, who was still on her horse, staring at the mighty figure of the elf. A voice shook her out of her daydream. “That’s Lord Zaellon, and he was the most powerful earth elf and a real narcissist too.” She looked down, and there was Marcus. He pointed his right hand at her to help her down from her horse. On the ground, she thanked Marcus with a polite nod and smile and took the reins from Silmerána and tied them to the other feet of the statue. A sudden screech sounded through the canyon again, this time it seemed closer and scarier. Men drew their weapons immediately, but there was only an empty canyon. A few hours went by, and the night had fallen in full silence, no-one had said a word. The only light in the canyon were the few fires surrounding the statue.
Sitting by the fire, staring at the face of the elf sat Elyanna. The face looked terrifying in the light of the fire. It wasn’t majestic anymore it looked like the face of death’ brother himself. On the other side from the statue at the rim of the marketplace, where the darkness began came strange whispering noises closer and closer. The men became uneasy, picked up and lit torches. A knight with caramel-coloured hair threw his torch into the darkness. The torch fell three-foot further on the ground and gave some sight to what laid ahead. “Nothing!” He yelled. Elyanna stood up, looked at the knight from behind the statue. His voice sounded like a magical siren calling to her, soft and gentle. The knight looked behind him and saw her staring. A smile appeared on his face. Elyanna smiled back, mesmerized by his stunning features. The torch went out, and the whispering noises stopped. The men went back to their place around a fire and tried to sleep. But Elyanna was still looking at the caramel-haired knight. He turned around and came towards her. His eyes were a colour blue-green with a black ring around the iris. She had seen these eyes before, but she was too much in a trance, that she couldn’t remember. “You must be Elyanna? My name is James.” He said when he came closer. Before he could say another word, stood Marcus in front of him. Sufficiently tense and with a stern look. Marcus looked straight into James’s eyes. As fast as James could, he turned his gaze downward and bowed. Walked backwards to his sleeping place by the fire on the other side of the marketplace. Yet he looked up again and stared straight into Elyanna’s eyes. Marcus grabbed her by the shoulders and shook back on Earth. She immediately responded and pushed Marcus away. “What was that necessary for? He just came to have a conversation. I can still talk to whoever I want!” Elyanna said indignantly, turned around and put her down to sleep. Marcus said nothing. He sat next to her and kept guard. Across the fire, Rulf was laughing at the situation Marcus had dived into. “Come on; man was that necessary now?” Rulf teased his best friend. Marcus looked seriously back at Rulf, but was silent. Rulf understood the response and said, “okay man, I got it.” Marcus had grown fond of Elyanna, feelings possessed him he taught he would have for her. Yes, he had been crushing on Agnes Hasslic for a year, but this was different. Marcus couldn’t put his finger on it. He felt the urge to protect her at all cost, to be always at her side. His mind drifted off as he was watching Elyanna sleep. He thought she was a mystery disguised as a suddenly wonderful elvish woman. Her bravery and humour he was most attracted to. He thought of stories he could tell her and how she would listen to him.
Everyone was asleep except Rulf; he wasn’t able to sleep. Since he met Maerwynn, he never got used to sleeping alone again. His love for her was impenetrable, and nothing could break their bond. He missed her so much that he was annoyed at others’ behaviour. For the smallest thing that bothered him, he became furious. He didn’t mean all the things he said about Elyanna. He just didn’t think it was fair that she was on a mission and Mearwynn wasn’t. He was jealous of the way Marcus and Elyanna went through everything together while he had no one to share all the adventures with.
A sudden noise of rumbling brought back his awareness and made him forget his misery for a moment. He sat up, looked around, but there was to see and lay back down with his eyes closed.
Elyanna was dreaming. A tall muscled, handsome man with caramel brown hair was humming a song. It was knight James; he was humming the song that the ginger-haired knight sang at the campfire in the weeping forest. He was looking straight at her. His beautiful blue-green eyes with a black ring around the iris were glowing. He stopped humming and started whispering her name. A sharp sound of a sword drawn came through her dream, and knight James disappeared into thin air. She woke up; her forehead was sweaty. The light of the rising sun blinded her for a moment until her eyes adjusted to the light. She couldn’t lie down and immediately started to look for James. She stepped between everyone, who were also slowly waking up to the sunlight. She hurried to where James slept, but he wasn’t there. She started asking around if anyone had seen him, but to no avail. When Elyanna was giving up her quest, because she got hungry, a voice called, “I found him.” everyone rushed to where the voice came from. Before Elyanna could see, she had to squeeze her through the wall of knights and soldiers to get to it. She was startled. There laid James’s body on the floor and his severed head impaled on a spear next to him. This could not be a coincidence; James was killed in precisely the same way as soldier Gareth.
Meanwhile, Rulf and Marcus had squeezed through the group and saw what was going on. Marcus shouted, “Lloyd, Christian, Rupert and Sam bury the body. And everyone else get your things, we’ll leave this place right away!”
Marcus pulled Rulf by his cape and dragged him to a secluded place where no one could hear them. “I told you we had to take a different route, too many strange things happened! Five men disappeared into thin air. Not just men, three dwarves, one half-breed and an elf, are gone. We heard strange noises throughout the whole night. This canyon is not named after Death’s brother for a reason. But oh no, sir here had to do his own thing.” Said Marcus in whispering rage. Rulf pushed Marcus away from him, but said in a surprisingly calm tone, “You were right, I should have listened to you. But the men are also beginning to realize that there is more going on here. Two deaths in two nights, in the same way, everyone knows this is no coincidence mate. We need to tell her. She needs to know! “Marcus’s face turned pale by the thought that Elyanna would know what happened. He reacted short but forcefully, “No! She must not know the truth. Let’s keep quiet about this and just keep going. “Marcus walked away from Rulf.
Elyanna was still on her knees. Questions were running through her mind. Too much she couldn’t keep up with it. A hand touched her shoulder gently, she was startled. It was Marcus, he helped her stand. “Your head, you’re bleeding?” She said in surprise. Marcus assured her, “it’s not so bad, I was startled awake at night by the whispers and banged my head against the statue.” Elyanna tore a ribbon from her white knee-length dress and tied it around Marcus’s head so that no filth could get into the wound. Their eyes met and for a moment all Marcus his worries seemed to disappear. “I’m going to pack my stuff,” She said and ran to her horse, Silmerana. Marcus stared after her.

Everyone was ready to go and leave this place for good. In the distance, you could already see the exit of the canyon and even further the gargantuan sacred black oak where the capital was located.
They left the marketplace and saw skeletons were scattered on each side of the last miles through the canyon. Old armour of elvish warriors rusted along the road. The last few miles were lurid; once again, there was complete silence over the group of knights. Everyone looked around at the old remains of a slaughter. No one dared to say a word so they wouldn’t seem disrespectful.

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