King Novalcaz gripped his goblet with a shaking fist. Rising from his seat he allowed his cape to fall from his shoulders and flutter to the floor. He glanced to the door, making sure it was firmly closed before walking over to the window and looking down at the streets. Night was falling and the elves were returning to their homes, chatting quietly in the dark as they passed by one another. Shaking his head, Novalcaz gazed further out, his fingers tightening on the windowsill until his knuckles turned white. The Gravtsky huts were scattered at the edge of the Elven District.
“Bloody traitors, and bigger fools to boot!” He muttered, finishing the fine drink in his glass and setting it back on the table next to his unfinished dinner. The smell of steak still wafted through the room and down the hall to where the cooks had prepared the meal. Novalcaz tore his gaze from the small Gravtsky settlement and back to the respectable elves, the Naskiny elves. He slowly opened the window, sticking his head out into the crisp autumn wind.
King Novalcaz peered down the street, gazing at the library on the east side of the district. The lights were shutting off one by one, the windows going dark. The younger elves, although elven immortality prevented elves from showing signs of age, were exiting from their magic lessons talking rapidly amongst each other. Two or three of them hung back, their heads moving side to side as they glanced almost fearfully at the other elves before heading off toward the Gravtsky settlement.
Novalcaz leaned back inside, shutting the window with a definite slam. Rubbing a palm over his tired face he sat back down at the head of the long oak table.
“Jourdner!” The King called wearily, reaching for the crown on his head and gently pulling it from his silver hair. Examining the small thorn crown, adorned with everlasting flowers he narrowed his eyes with apprehension. “A great time to take the throne. Absolutely splendid, war looming on the horizon”
The door opened slowly, an elf with the leafy green eyes of the Naskiny poking his head in. “You called sir?” He asked, stepping into the Kings dorm and closing the door behind him. His midnight blue hair reflected the candle light flickering in the corner, casting a pale glow across his godly face.
“Yes,” Novalcaz replied, tossing his crown onto the table but misjudged the toss, the crown falling to the floor. Jourdner stooped to pick it up respectfully. The King watched his advisor with a weary smile “Don’t bother, the crown doesn’t mean a thing.” He laughed, gesturing for Jourdner to take a seat opposite him at the table.
Jourdner sat down after bowing politely to Novalcaz, fidgeting nervously with his hands. Finally he looked up at the King questionly. “Sir, what did you call me for?”
The King raised an eyebrow, reaching back and pulling his hair from the intricate braid that currently rippled down his back. He was ready for bed, and not delighted with the prospect off doing anymore thinking but knew this matter couldn’t wait. “Tensions are rising once again. I sent one of the court messengers down to the Gravtsky settlement earlier today and he’s yet to return. It’s hard to admit such but I’m worried. There’s been rumors that the Gravtsky are upset they haven’t gotten a chance at the throne ever since the Sanguinum War some odd hundred years ago” Novalcaz sighed, holding his head in the palm of his hands. “Even the younger elves that have been training down in the library are distancing themselves. What happened to forgiving? The elves must move on or we can never again be fully cohesive. The trade has been going down, the Mortals don’t trust us. They will only trade with the Gravtsky because of the alliance during that bloody war, and they aren’t sharing for the common good. If things keep going this way the Naskiny will be the minority!” He exclaimed, rising from his chair, banging his fist on the table.
Jourdner nodded, reaching into the pocket of his tunic. “Yes sir, it sure is a problem. But how do we control it without waging a war? That would only hurt us further.” Rummaging through his breast pocket he finally came up with a letter, tossing it across the table to the King. Novalcaz raised his eyebrow.
“What’s this?” He asked skeptically, slowly unfolding it.
Jourdner looked down, tucking his long hair behind his pointed ear, gazing at the table to avoid the King’s eyes. “A letter from the Mortal King sir. It’s a trade proposal but don’t be fooled.”
Novalcaz waved off the advice, his eyes trailing down the page as he quickly skimmed through it. A red heat began to creep up his defined cheek bones, an unmistakable flash of anger in his green eyes before he tossed the letter onto the table. “Who do they think I am!” he grumbled, shaking his head. “Offering to restart the trade route in return for our army’s help. Absolutely not.” Novalcaz looked up to see Jourdner wanting to speak.
“But sir,” He said cautiously, looking up at the King. “It’s only a small group of wandering Kra’ergs from the southern marsh. You could take no more than two hundred of us and wipe them out with minimal casualties. You must do what’s best for the common good, and the common good needs the Mortal’s trade.” Jourdner finished, walking over to the window, his head bowed. He glanced out at the now starry sky. “We cannot continue on this way. The nights here are no longer silent as they were in the peaceful days. There is a difference between sleeping sir, and resting. You may close your eyes but that doesn’t mean you’re relaxing. Every breath this district takes is drawn out and held, hoping for perhaps one more day without bloodshed. Sign the contract with the Mortal King sir and support at least our economy. The Gravtsky become a problem in the background if we are starting to fail, our people becoming poor.”
Novalcaz was impressed with his advisor, nodding slightly. “I suppose your right. I’ll send someone down there to see how the situation stands, just how many Kra’ergs we’re looking at. You should go rest as should I. Good night.” The King said, leading Jourdner to the door.
“Goodnight sir” he responded, closing the door upon his departure.
The King took one more glance at the letter before picking it up and placing it with the other documents on his bedside stand. Opening the wardrobe, Novalcaz donned a black robe, trading it for the royal scarlet one he wore now. Putting up the hood he tied it tightly around his slender frame, glancing in the mirror hung above the bed posts. Pleased with his disguise he muttered a quick spell under his breath in the binding language, locking the window and the door as he left, glancing up and down the hall way.
For extra measure he snuffed out each torch hung upon the stone walls as he passed it, not eager to answer any question as to where he might be headed at this hour. Rounding the last corner of the spiraled staircase leading down to the first floor of the castle he bumped into one of the castle guards coming in to switch shifts. Stumbling backwards, he did his best to imitate Jourdner, knowing Jourdner often checked on the night shift guards before going to his bed chamber. “Sorry, just checking to make sure there are no problem.”
The tired guard sensed nothing was wrong and with a sleepy nod he headed into the guard keep, sending another guard out to take the next shift. The smell of smoke and the sound of laughter soon came from behind the door, and Novalcaz decided it was safe to leave.
Stepping out into the cool night’s air he shivered, pulling his cloak tighter.
“Lumen” Novalcaz whispered in the Binding Language, a small, pale, glowing orb of light appearing in front of him. No matter where he moved the orb stayed slightly ahead, illuminating his path.
The King slowly made his way down to the stables, pulling the ring of keys he kept on him out of his breech pocket. With a quiet and guile push the door creaked open. Cringing at the loud noise it made, Novalcaz tried to quiet the horses that started to whine and bay. Heading over to his own steed, the King undone to reins and led it from the stable, closing back up the doors just as the windows of the stable keepers house began to flicker with light.
“That stupid new coal with all his whining, now he’ll think there was an intruder” Novalcaz grumbled, keeping a tight grip on his own steed’s reins as he led it to the end of the street. He couldn’t risk riding, for it would be loud and surely the clop of the horse’s hooves on the pavement would wake someone up.
Once he had reached northern gate behind his castle and successfully made it past the sleeping guards men he dared to mount the steed. “Come on boy, we’ve got us a few fair miles to make it ‘ere morning.
Adjusting the saddle straps around his ankles and leaning low on the horses back to go without notice and go quick as possible, Novalcaz gently nudged the horse with the spurs. “Let’s go Torch.” He whispered
Torch snorted softly, the steed’s breath misting in the chilled air before taking off at a gallop. Novalcaz took the old trade route, knowing he was bound to run into merchant along the path, but was confident that in the dark with his hood drawn he would look as any other Mortal upon a horse.
The King set out for the nine miles to the Mortal District, and the castle of Sir Glandol.
Authors Note- Please let me know what you think of the story so far, and don't be afraid to give me feedback! :)