The End of Yesterday
Earth is new and as close to perfect as ever. Those who once hid have shown their faces and are living alongside the humans that are so set on destroying the planet. Now with a war threatening the perfect peace a new kind of army is here to stop it.
This is a group story with some of the most epic people around! Please enjoy!
Fifty seconds now. Exhaled breath. The heavy stench of apples and rain. Forty-seven seconds. A hand was extended; its fingers long and weathered. Forty-five seconds left. I extended my own â€“ bitten-nails and all â€“ and wrapped hers in a loose, sweaty grip.
â€œI really am sorry, Mr Remlee, but your behaviour has been, frankly, completely unacceptable.â€ She sighed again, pulling out of the handshake. â€œI hope you are aware that you have left us no choice.â€
It was a fairly small room, dark and uncomfortable. The walls carved around the narrow trunks of a few soft-barked trees and two large windows that would have let in streams of warm light had been covered by some make-shift blinds.
â€œOf course,â€ I said vaguely, eyes still fixed on the swaying curtains.
Thirty seconds. A door swung open. I was gestured towards it. Another screech, this time it was me that stood. Twenty-six. I hesitantly approached the doorway; still stubbornly believing that this was all a dream. Twenty-four. I barely heard her next words, but they burnt themselves onto my memory. Twenty-three.
â€œYou have one hundred days, Riffkin. That is a sufficient amount of time; it was what was agreed on by the senate. You have one hundred days to prove to us that you are worthy of the Aldersyrian name . . . or you will be banished from our Kingdom. Permanently,â€
She paused, her thin back shuddering as she closed the splintered door behind us, â€œWe are a noble people, Riffkin, and it is expected of every one of us to uphold the standards which have been passed down through the centuries.â€
Just sixteen seconds now. I could almost hear them ticking down. My blood started to pump faster. I knew what was coming.
â€œPlease,â€ I begged, â€œJust give me one more chance. I â€“â€
â€œMr Remlee,â€ She replied, in a tone that instantly silenced my plea, â€œWe have given you more chances than can be counted, and you have discarded every one of them.â€
Ten seconds and counting down. Shuffling feet, the setting sun â€“ momentarily blinding. Nine.
â€œYou seem like such a nice young man, Riffkin â€“ faults aside.â€ A small nudge in my lower back sent me stumbling towards the edge of the tree-top walkway, â€œBut you are also our biggest disappointment.â€
I spun around to face the woman; my heels at the edge of the gangway.
â€œNo. Please. You really donâ€™t have to do this.â€ I was at an almost panic.
She placed her palm onto my chest; it was glowing. I felt a sudden coolness spread throughout my upper body. Three seconds.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, Mr Remlee. I really do.â€
With her glowing arm, she pushed me, hard.
The backpack was the first thing I saw when my eyes opened. There wasnâ€™t anything particularly special about it â€“ green casing, slightly worn â€“ but I was instantly curious as to what was inside. The next thing I noticed was the sky, and how far away it seemed from down here. I couldnâ€™t make out much of it through the swaying leaves above me, but what I could see held the red tinge of sunset.
Sitting up, I took in my surroundings. Trees, trees and more trees â€“ as far as the eye could see. How was I supposed to prove myself noble and sensible when landed in the middle of a wood? What was I expected to do?
I rolled onto my knees and half-crawled over to the green pack; there might be a clue inside. Flipping open the satchel lid, I spilled its contents unceremoniously onto the forest floor. There was a small dagger, a slingshot, an empty canteen and a set of clothes that looked to be four sizes too large for me.
Thatâ€™s the trouble with being stick-thin and tall at the same time; when you are banished from your home kingdom theyâ€™re never sure what size clothes to pack you.
I was extremely disappointed not to find any money within the bag, nor anything else that I would consider remotely useful. Like, perhaps a horn â€“ to call for help â€“ or even some fire-rocks to start a blaze and scare off any creatures of the night.
â€œAs unlucky as a footless rabbit,â€ I muttered grumpily, stuffing the items back into the bag with about as much grace as they had left it.
As I stood and slung one strap of it over my shoulder, I noticed how eerily quiet the area was this evening. Wondering briefly what would be troubling the creatures; I puffed a few renegade locks of dark auburn hair out of my eyes and considered my options.
I wasnâ€™t exactly sure where I should go now. I had only the vague idea that it would be in the direction of the home territory of the elves. Iâ€™d never been there before, but it was fairly close by â€“ I hoped â€“ and I did not especially favour the idea of being on the ground of the woods at night. I felt light-headed just at the thought of it.
Being alone in the dark was one thing I could never stand.
A twig cracked somewhere behind me. My back stiffened, and I swallowed a hard lump.
I had known for a while now that I would possibly face this punishment. A hundred days was a very long time, so I'd been planning on how to spend it. None of my plans had involved being eaten alive on my first night by wild . . . things.
Something moved again in the shadows over my left shoulder, and I thought of the knife resting at the bottom of my pack. Slipping my hand in for it, my fingers fumbled around for a moment before coming to rest on the slingshot instead. I drew the contraption out carefully, and examined it in the fading light.
It was a strange choice of weapon, but, then again, at least it would keep me a bit further from harm once I'd learned how to use it.
Without another glance at my home above, I turned, took a deep breath, and grinned into the coming night.
The grin turned into an anxious laugh, which then escalated into a cry of desperation. I cut it off and bit onto my bottom lip, trying to bring back the smile. Tears burnt at the rims of my eyes, a few spilled over, I closed my eyelids and bit harder into my lip.
â€œPut a brave face on it, Riff,â€ I sniffed quietly, plastering a watery smirk to my face. â€œJust grin and bear it. Just, grin and . . . Bear it.â€
I guessed the Elven kingdom was a few hours walk away. Another glimpse of the fast sinking sun confirmed that I didn't have hours. Agility was one of the strong points of my people, and I planned to use that to my advantage. Hiking the pack further up on my shoulders, I ran.
A race against the deepening gloom.