Time had a knack for making King Novalcaz’s life harder than that of a king had to be.
The Elven King had wrote to the Dwarf Master the following morning after his meeting with the Mortal Sir. He sent out his quickest and most trusted messenger, and then he waited.
The messenger came back four days later with a letter clutched in his sweaty palm.
“Sir! King! Big…news….” He panted, pulling the reins until the horse skidded to a stop. Snorting in protest, the steed gasped for breath. “We hurried back, but we had to veer off the old road. Camp of Kra’ergs sir.”
The Elven King took the letter from him, shaking his head in contempt. “Those foul creatures, they’ve no business being anywhere near a civilized settlement.” He unfolded the letter, scanning through it. His features contorted into a scowl as he finished reading. Turning to the messenger he waved his hand with a sigh. “Thank you, off you go.”
King Novalcaz turned around, heading back into the warmth of the castle. Slamming the large wooden door closed behind him he turned to the nearest servant. “Find one of the messengers and send him down to the east library, and tell him to bring The Elder back with him. Oh, and bring out a fine bottle of wine.” He sighed, heading into the common room. Some of the nobles, relatives of his were wandering around and chatting amongst themselves. Sitting down in the armchair next to the fire, he reread the letter.
The Dwarven Master Boros has falling ill. His replacement at the moment was his advisor, a rather foul creature. He seemed to think he was above everyone, of a higher ranking or importance. The advisor wrote back, explaining Boros’s illness, and also being clear to say he refused to cut trade off to the South of the district.
As Novalcaz awaited the return of the messenger with The Elder, he idly turned over the burning logs in the fireplace with poker to keep the fire lit. Resting back in the chair he allowed his eyes to close for a moment.
Moments later there was a soft mumble of voices outside and the door opened. The Elder’s frame entered the light. There were soft wrinkles lining his eyes and along his lips, the scars from countless smiles. His hair fell in loose locks of fire down his back, a stark crimson red.
Elves are immortal. To become an Elder is a great feat. In fact, there was rarely ever an Elder, an elf older than everyone else, before The Sangiunum War in which many of the older elves were killed despite their speed.
“Sit down my dear, do have a seat.” King Novalcaz said, standing up politely, and with a flourish produced two fine glasses of spirits. The Elder did just that, taking up a glass in his hands and pulling his chair further towards the fire. Shivering, he pulled his cloak tighter around him.
“Thank you, thank you. I understand you’ve called me here on business?” The Elder questioned, leaning forward towards the King, his elbows propped onto his knees, wrinkling the fine silk of his royal violet cape.
Novalcaz nodded, absently swirling the drink in his glass, his foot drumming the ground with the sole of his worn leather boots. “How many elves that you’ve been training down at the Library are showing potential? Not enough potential to make a living for themselves. Enough potential to…” The King trailed off, taking a swig from his glass and setting it down on the round wooden table, his hand coming back wet with the sweating glass’s perspiration. “Enough potential to perhaps fight a war.”
The Elder closed his eyes, leaning back in his chair. “I would ask you if you were serious, but I’ve no doubt that you are. I would say we have nine sir. No more no less. Galania being the best.” The Elder cracked one eye open to gauge the King’s reaction. “And even with these skilled elves by your side what do you hope to accomplish? For they are young, nigh on only a century of age. All of the truly skilled warriors under your command were killed in that awful war. Even I didn’t come out unscathed. But at least I did come out.” There was a hint of remorse in his voice, and The Elder’s eyes flickered over to the fire. It reminded him of something.
“Who did you lose in those bloody months?” The King asked quietly, leaning forward in case he should miss his answer.
And that’s what it was. The fire, the screams. The final battle of the war. The burning of the Ever Forest. “My brother. He almost made it to the end. A shame to die in the last battle is it not?”
“It is, for certain,” The King said quietly, drumming his fingers along the arm of his chair. “The Fire wasn’t it? That awful thing.”
The Elder nodded. “The fire sir.” With trembling fingers he grasped his own goblet, bringing the drink to his lips and taking a small sip. “But business is business and the past the past. I could have those nine elves trained up to be fine warriors. They are young naïve souls, they’ll fight to the last breath.”
The King nodded and stood up, handing off his empty goblet to a servant that had been standing outside the door. “Well, as always it was a pleasure.”
The Elder stood also, straightening out his cloak along his shoulders. “The pleasure was mine.” He said respectfully before slipping out of the door silently, with such smoothness that had the King not been conversing with him merely seconds before he wouldn’t have known anyone else was in the room at all.
Taking one more look at the open door, King Novalcaz shook his head with a wry grin. “He could kill us all. No one would even know he had been there.””
And, with these thoughts as well as receiving a strange look from the servant as he walked away, both of the empty glasses in his hand, Novalcaz went up to bed.