(( The prompt word was ‘clip’. I thought of many ways that clip could be used in a story, but in the end, I went with this one.))
Malwen could hear a horse crossing the small bridge over the stream a small ways from where she sat waiting next to the road. Her tiny hand picked up the blanket she had been sitting on and she moved back around one of the bushes that lined the path.
Never go to the road. Stig’s words echoed in her mind. She had heard them enough, that was for sure. There are people who wish to harm you and to take you away from Oma and me. Malwen frowned. How could she tell? They couldn’t all be bad. Why would anyone want to take her away from her home anyway? She was happy here, but now…
The horse was moving slow, slow enough that it hadn’t come into view around the turn at the top of the bank yet. Malwen held her breath. She wanted to run back to the safety of the cabin in the woods that she called home. Oma was gone. She had died just the past winter after being sick. Stig had explained how she was going to sleep a long time and come back as someone new. Malwen didn’t quite understand why it was taking her so long. She needed Oma more now than ever.
Stig didn’t know Malwen was by the road, but she was there because of him. He had been chopping firewood when the tree he had been chopping fell upon him. He wasn’t moving when Malwen found him after doing most of her own chores, but he was still breathing. She knew to check for that. She also knew he needed help, and she couldn’t get the tree off him by herself. She had taken him a flask of water and a blanket before leaving him. She took her own blanket to sit on while waiting for help to pass.
The horse and rider came into view. The horse was large and dark brown with a white diamond on its forehead. The rider wore armor and had long black hair. Did he look like someone who would help? Malwen frowned. How could she tell? She supposed she couldn’t, not just by looking anyway. Would it be safe to talk to him?
The horse was almost to where she hid now. Stig may have told her to stay away from the road, but he wasn’t hurt when he said that. She stepped out into view.
*Clip, clop, clop, clop*
The horse stopped. Malwen looked up at the man riding the horse, and he looked back at her. He was an elf. That was a good sign, right? Malwen was an elf too. Stig and Oma said that the Gods had blessed them with her, even though they were human.
The elf dismounted. Malwen stepped back. The elf didn’t try to approach her anymore, kneeling instead on one knee so that he was face to face with her. “Hello, my name is Terellion. Are you lost? I don’t know of any houses in this area.”
Terellion seemed nice. “I’m not lost.”
“What is your name?”
“Malwen, and I’ve had seven and a half name days.” Name days had been much more celebrated when Oma was still alive.
“If you’re not lost, what are you doing out here alone, Malwen?”
“I need help. You’re not a bad person, right?”
“I’m not bad. I can try to help you. What do you need help with?”
“It’s Stig. He was cutting a tree and it fell on him. He was still breathing, but he wouldn’t wake up.”
Terellion frowned slightly. “Can you take me to Stig? I’ll see if I can get the tree off him, and get him moved to shelter. You do have a home here?”
Malwen nodded. She showed the way to Terellion, who led his horse off the road and to the trail to the house which was hidden by the bushes near the road. She tried not to run ahead, but found that Terellion could easily keep up with her. Stig and Oma never had been that fast.
Terellion left his horse near the house after they reached it, then told her to run to where Stig was. He would keep up, and he did.
Malwen frowned upon reaching Stig. He looked too pale, and hadn’t woken up to take his water. She sat next to his head. “Stig, wake up! I brought help. He says he’s not bad.”
Terellion knelt next to where Stig lie, and held his wrist. Frowning, he put his hand on Stig’s chest. Malwen watched, fearful of the words he said next.
“I’m sorry, Malwen. We’re too late. Stig is dead.”
“Will he come back as someone else like Oma? I don’t know why, but she hasn’t shown up yet.”
“Some people believe that they come back, yes. I think anything is possible, but the people who believe they’ll come back do not remember who they used to be when the do come back. That’s why Oma hasn’t shown up, and I doubt Stig would know to come back here either. Plus, he’d be a baby. He wouldn’t be able to take care of you like that.”
Malwen started crying.
“Malwen, shh,” Terellion moved closer to hug her. She let him. “I won’t leave you alone to fend for yourself. You know you can’t stay here alone, right?”
Malwen nodded, still crying.
“I’ll work on freeing his body so we can bury him. I want you to go to the house and get the things you want to take with you, okay?”
Malwen nodded again. Terellion wiped away her tears with his shirt. He really wasn’t a bad guy.
“Go on now. I’ll come get you when I’m done. You’ll be able to say goodbye before we go.”
She got up and started shuffling towards the house. She looked back once when she heard the ax hitting the tree. Terellion was using Stig’s ax to cut the tree off of him. Why hadn’t she thought of that? Even if she had, she doubted she’d have the strength to swing it hard enough to cut the tree. Stig would still be dead whether she found help or not.
She turned back around and headed towards the house to get her things.