Short Story Contest Entry by Hannah
Why Elves Don’t Carry Guns
Elves don’t carry guns. It is a well-established, accepted, and applauded fact.
Arenden Silverwing cared not a whit.
The young elf strode gracefully from tree to tree, as comfortable on the swaying branches as on firm ground. Though only a youth, he carried himself with the air of a king, careless of any reproof towards him, including that pelting after him.
“But Arenden,” his friend wailed, for the seventieth time. “It simply isn’t done!”
At last, as if hearing him for the first time, Arenden halted and swung around to face his friend, neatly balanced upon two twigs. The long musket rested upright on his shoulder like a battle standard. “Why?” Arenden asked, his beautiful little nose tipping into the air. “Why isn’t it done?”
Most children his age would have blanched at his tone, a tone he’d learned from any number of proud elves who had lived enough thousands of years to have actually earned their pride. But Braisel Leaftwin had been his constant cohort since before walking, and was not easily cowed. This fine young fellow, righteous in the eyes of his elders, set his hands on his hips, and glared Arenden down.
“You know perfectly well why not,” Braisel said. “They are loud, inelegant, inefficient, vulgar, and furthermore, they scare birds!”
This last statement might have been the deciding force for many an elf, but Arenden rolled his eyes and continued on his way. Braisel hurried after him as he always did, even when in complete opposition to the quest. Eventually, they descended to the ground and flitted through the foliage until they reached the top of a hillock.
“There they are,” Arenden whispered, his voice husky with excitement.
Some distance below them, as raucous and unpleasant as a murder of crows, huddled several goblins. They snarled and slavered over a meal, if a few dead hares could be called a meal. Goblins, as everyone knows, are a despicable lot and have a long running feud with the fair elves. These certain goblins were rather foolish to have come this close to the dwelling of the elves, but goblins have never been remembered for wisdom.
Arenden’s eyes glimmered in glee, resembling a woodland puck far more than a stately elf. He sat back against a tree and tore open his cartridges. “They’ll never know what hit them,” he snickered. “Just wait till you see them jump and yell.”
Curiosity dampened Braisel’s disapproval, but he still stared ominously at the unusual weapon. “Do you even know how to use this?”
“Fah! The mortal hunter showed me everything I needed to know,” the daring young rebel scoffed. Indeed, he primed and loaded his weapon with as much grace and confidence as everything else in his elven perfection. When at last he finished, he held the musket up to his shoulder and pointed it down to the unfortunate gaggle of goblins.
“How are you supposed to aim?” Braisel asked, overwhelmed by everything wrong with this situation. “Will it deafen us? What if it explodes in your face?”
Ignoring him, Arenden pulled the trigger.
A terrific flash and bang burst from the muzzle, and the recoil of the gun sent Arenden tumbling backwards. The goblins quite forgotten, Braisel leapt to his friend’s aid. “Oh! Oh, are you dead?” he shrieked.
Arenden shakily tossed the musket aside. “No,” he murmured, dazed. “Oh, but my shoulder hurts. Ah!” Grimacing, he scooted himself up against a tree trunk and massaged his shoulder. Pale with pain and surprise, he stared reproachfully at the gun. “The hunter should have warned me.”
“It’s a wicked weapon,” Braisel declared. “Vile.”
“I just didn’t know how what to expect,” Arenden argued. “We had to be taught to be aware of the bow string’s snap. This isn’t much different.” He wondered how he’d explain the bruise to his mother without seeming the clumsiest elf in the kingdom. “I’ll do it better next time.”
“It’s horrible,” his friend said, shuddering. “And look—it did scare the birds!”
“It scared the goblins too,” Arenden remarked in satisfaction. “Listen, you can’t hear them at all. They must have run for their lives.”
Scarcely had the words left his mouth than the goblins, all unharmed and all in very bad temper, sprang out of the bushes. The young elves yelped in alarm and scrambled for the trees, but they were caught fast by the gangly hands of the monsters. The youths twisted and fought, but they were soon pinned and trussed like hunted game.
Cheek pressed into the ground, Arenden had a fine view of his discarded musket. Forlornly, he realized it would do no good even if he reached it, for it took a terrible long time to prepare it.
Braisel sputtered in outrage beside him. “That’s another thing! The sound and smoke gives away your positon!”
The goblins congratulated themselves with much slapping and slobbering. They’d expected to find a hunter, not two juicy young elves. One picked up the musket, greatly perplexed. It squinted an eye down at Arenden. “Elves don’t carry guns,” it growled.
“See?” Braisel snapped. “Even the goblin knows it!”
“Can’t you face death in dignity?” Arenden snapped back, though he really just wanted his friend to stop proving himself right.
The goblins gathered around the one holding the gun, poking the weapon like naughty children. In a matter of moments, each one was tugging it back and forth, and soon there erupted another burst of fire, as apparently the first one hadn’t emptied all the powder. The goblins jumped and yelled just as Arenden hoped they would. Of course, the boys jumped and yelled too, so it spoiled the fun.
The goblins were only startled and slightly burnt, and they turned on the elflings with a vengeance.
This might have turned into a very sad story, the sort of awful story told to children by merciless adults seeking to impress upon them importance of virtue. This could have been turned into a poem called, “Arenden Who Played With Guns and Was Eaten.”
Instead, all the goblins were pierced by arrows in a matter of seconds, and we can now call it, “Goblins Who Tried To Eat Little Elves and Were Shot To Death.”
Arenden and Braisel blinked at this unforeseen turn of events, and twisted upwards to look into the trees.
There upon a high branch stood a terrible figure, terrible because it was Arenden’s father and he was frowning. He dropped lightly to the ground, and severed the boy’s bonds without a word. He didn’t even look at the musket. He didn’t say anything as they climbed back into the trees and headed for home. But when they reached their front porch, he turned and looked into each of the boy’s shamed faces.
“Elves don’t carry guns,” he said, and that was all.
Arenden sighed. Clearly, he’d been born in the wrong age of the world.
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