Skylark: Chapters 1 - 4

Queen Talila is the new reigning Queen of the Elven kingdom, Skylark. Obstacles get in her way such as tries to find her place in the middle of a political takeover.


4. Reasons and Survival

The day was turning into night that seems to be quicker than a blink of an eye but for others, it was a very long wait.  Waldyr, Ivon, and Elred remain in the cabin during that time as the paladin shaves his best friend’s face with a small razor.  The elf prince sits on his bed with his feet on the floor and his eyes shut, enjoying every moment.  The sound of Ivon sharpening his sword can be heard while he sits near the fireplace.  He glances over at the two and smirks.

“You also need a haircut,” he suggested.

“That will be next,” his half-brother replies while performing the finishing touches on their friend’s face.

The paladin wipes the blade on a towel and places it back on the table in a metal case.  In his grasp he hands Elred a mirror for a look and passes the soapy piece of fabric.  His Highness sees what a mess he still is but sighs as he is free from the ratty beard that plagued his face for years. 

“Like your brother had said, cut away,” he says to him smiling.  He sees the sun in the window behind Waldyr; he knows that it was a sign for sundown.

“Where is Emory?” Elred asks them, wiping the soap from his face with the same towel.

“Why, what do you mean?” Ivon asks him.

“The sun is behind your brother and it’s going down.  What’s keeping him?”

Waldyr glances out the window to see for himself.  He sighs as he signals for Ivon to get more water from the river by pointing to the bucket.  The human knight puts his sword down and does so.

“Should I leave the door open?”

“Yes please,” Elred replies. 

“Ivon, take your sword,” Waldyr reminds him.  Ivon rushes to get his sword in his other bulky hand.  His half-brother shakes his head as he watches him go out of the cabin.

“Don’t get mad at him, he’s just as nervous as we are,” Elred assures to him.

“I know.  Your sister-in-law might be the leader of our homeland.  She might have Emory tonight so he may not come until tomorrow my dear friend.  But try to understand that we can’t leave this cabin at all except for my brother.  Emory is the connection to Skylark and Maggie is just the messenger so be patient your grace.  You will get that crown.”

“You know it’s funny that you had mentioned Sir Emroy La Blank,” the elf prince adds. “I was wondering who side he’s really on, you know?  We all knew him since we were very young.  My brother considered him the best knight ever next to your father may he rest his Elven soul.  My brother and I accepted him like a brother besides you and Ivon.  But once I come back to Skylark, I will get to the bottom of Remy’s death.”

“From what Emory had told me once when he saw the body, Remy was on the floor by his bed with a shattered wine glass next to him.  The pitcher of wine was on the rug.  The physician claimed that they couldn’t get any evidence from the stains on the floor because it was tainted with the glass and previous stains on the rug.  Unfortunately Sir Emory had no idea who gave the wine to the king.”

Elred lowers his eyes, day-dreaming of his older brother dead on the floor.  He can see the body with its vacant eyes staring in oblivion, shattered glass everywhere.  Then his eyes widen with the idea that his brother was drinking wine.  He looks up to watch his friend take off his shirt.

“I need a real bath,” the paladin says to him.

“Waldyr, I just thought of something.”

“What is it my lord?”

Before he could tell, they can hear a horse riding towards their way.  It was already too late to put on his armor so Waldyr seizes his sword from the wall.  He readies himself for anything by shielding Elred.  They can hear someone getting off their horse.

“Withdraw your blade Norhorn, it’s me.”

Emory emerges from the outside.  The paladin takes a deep breath as he lowers his sword.  The knight takes off his gloves and flaps them on the table.  He sits himself down on Waldyr’s seat, glancing up at him for approval.  Elred joyfully sits on the edge of the mattress and gives him a grin. 

“What took you so long, an early celebration with the new queen?”

“Your highness,” Emory addresses the elf, “I’m so sorry to take a long time to get here but I can assure you that I haven’t had anything with the new queen.  But I had a discussion with her, along with Lady Maggie and Father Joardan, that Waldyr and Ivon have been reinstated.”

Ivon comes back just in time for the news, he nearly plops the bucket on the threshold. 

“Sir Emory, is this true?”

“True indeed big man,” he replies taking a quick look over his shoulder.

But this was not good with Elred as he has not heard about his reinstatement to his kingdom.  The paladin watches his friend’s eyes fill with tears so Waldyr softly wipes them away as they start to flow. 

“Don’t worry your highness; we’re still working on getting you back.”

The elf prince runs his fingers in his dirty hair.  He looks over to Waldyr for an answer, looking into his wide eyes.  He gets up and sticks out his right hand to Emory.  Ivon looks on as he sits on his brother’s bed with a raised eyebrow, trying to understand as well.

“What are you doing?” Emory questions Waldyr.

“Give me your dagger.’

“What do you want with it?”

“I want to show the newly crowned queen at her coronation ceremony that her brother-in-law is still alive.  I want her to see what a few years in a cold damp prison cell can do to someone.  It will be a constant reminder of her husband’s brother.”


The paladin stops, still looking into Emory skeptical eyes. 

“I still don’t understand you holy knights.  First you pray then kill later.  Treating diseases with magic but you have certain limits for that as well.  They sometimes call you yourselves paladins to kill evil in the name of the White Gods.  Even your brother, who was a knight, is still a warrior but has a trust issue with magic.  Either one thing or the other, kill or just pray over dying people.”

“Why don’t you ask the queen yourself that question, Sir Emory?” Elred asks.

“What question?”

“Men or women?”

“Myself or Lady Maggie?”

Emory and Waldyr exchange stares without flinching.  He gives in and hands the dagger over to him.

“Make sure you do a good job,” jokes Emory.

“Make sure you send her the message,” Waldyr answers back as he cut a chunk of Elred’s knotted locks.

“Now, now gentlemen behave,” Elred softly warns them.  “So what is that Maggie up to?”

“She was made Talila’s assistant and her lover,” Emory admits to them.

“Really?” The siblings ask in unison.

“Does this mean she’s on my sister-in-law’s side?” Elred inquires after another lock is gone.

“I think the poor woman needs some type of protection.  She agreed to treat and possibly cure Sir Dante Tower of poisonous snake disease with what she was taught years ago.  Talila has Father Joardan at her side so far.  Tonight Maggie goes to work on taking care of the queen’s bodyguard.  Maggie is one strange person.  I will most likely not understand her motives.”

“Pardon me my lord,” Ivon adds to the conversation, “is this Sir Dante Tower a knight like us?

“I think he came to Father Joardan for treatment.  I have no idea what those two want from Talila.  All I know is that they came at her request and the witch went from being a maid to a royal assistant.”

Waldyr continues to cut off the nasty masses of tangled hair from his lord’s head.  Ivon rises from the bed and makes his way to put his sword behind the bed.

“Now if you excuse me, I’m going back to the river for a quick bath,” he says to them as he grabs half a bar of soap from the dish on the table. 

“If I don’t see you when you get back, be safe,” Emory says as Ivon walks out the door.

“What about that bastard Father Horace?” Elred asks him, nearly hissing as he was speaking.

“He can’t hurt you anymore,” assures Emory.

Waldyr stops cutting once he heard this revelation about the evil priest.  His eyes widen as he places another piece of hair on the table his fellow knight.  He turns to see Elred heavy sobbing into his hands.  Emory watches with a poker face, no emotion, just taking it all in.

“There, there Elred, it’s going to be all right.  No one can harm you now.  We fought our way out and you’re healing.  These things take time but deep inside we need to repair as well.  My brother and I have accepted you and we knew what type of person you were and still are – a brave warrior.”

Waldyr says this to his friend as he holds him in his arms.  Slowly rocking him like a caring parent to a wounded child.  Emory looks out the window from where he’s sitting.  The time is almost nightfall as the sun is almost near the horizon of the tree filled lands.

“Are you done?” He asks the paladin.

“Yes I am.  I have to wash when Ivon gets back so take the hair and your dagger.  The hair is a souvenir of the pain that bitter old man had done to our friend and others like him.”

Emory gets up from his seat and sees at the gross pile of chestnut colored tresses next to his dagger.  He takes out his handkerchief with one hand and scoops up the mangled locks.  The warrior wipes the dagger on his pant leg. 

“I will come back to get all three of you so I suggest you keep the dagger to finish his hair for his return,” he says as he places the dagger back on the table.

Elred and Waldyr were pleased that he did this gesture that they smiled at each other.  The other knight takes it back and finishes his friend’s hair.  Emory looks around to see what needs to be updated in the cabin.

“The coronation is tomorrow and I don’t know when the trial of Father Horace will take place but I will let you know as soon as possible,” Emory promises to the two.

“I pray every day for that moment,” Elred says as a tear rolls down his bare cheek. 

He looks up at helpless Emory, who is still standing by the table.  He wipes his face with the back of his hand.  His breath grows heavy.

“Then I will make sure that man and anyone involved will get theirs.”

“Let’s make sure that queen of ours promises to have you back my lord,” Waldyr reminds his friend.

“I must be going, it’s almost getting dark and I have to attend to Talila’s needs later tonight.  Have a good night and I will see you maybe in two days.  I can’t promise you the exact date, but I will be back.  Tell Sir Ivon that I will see him soon.”

Emory gives them a wink and heads outside.  Ivon comes back just in time with a rag wrapped around his waist and his dirty clothes in one hand.  The knights exchange bows at the doorway.

“Leaving so soon Sir Emory?”

“Your brother will tell you everything.”

Ivon sees that Waldyr is preparing Elred to wash his hair and body.

“Both of you look dirty,’ he says.  “Why don’t you go to the river while it’s still some light out?”

“Can we go to the river Wally?”

“Can you walk without leaning on me?”

“I’ll watch the cabin Wally, take him to the river so you can both get washed,” Ivon suggests.

“Fine,” Waldyr reluctantly says as he grabs his sword from the table.  “Take the dagger my lord.  I’ll get a couple of linen rags from the shelf.”

He places the dagger in Elred’s hands.  The elf prince rises from the bed, nearly falling hallway up as soon as Waldyr’s back was turned but Ivon stops himself from helping him.

“Can you walk?” The paladin asks him with white rags and soap in the other hand.  Elred nods as he takes one of the rags.  He wraps it around his waist like a diaper with Waldyr wearing the same pants.

“Then let’s go.”

Ivon takes the same white cloth from his waist and rubs his head with it.  His half-brother and Elred slowly walk out and into the crisp open dusk air.  They make their way down a narrow homemade dirt path that leads straight to the river.  Blades of grass brush against their sides as they go past tall trees with the leaves changing already. 

“I see the winds have calmed down since the storm,” says Elred trying hard not to fall on the way down the slope to the river.

“It will grow colder soon my lord,” Waldyr replies.

“You mean we are already in autumn?”

 “Hopefully we can all go back to Skylark before the first snowflake hits the ground.”

They made it down the tranquil stream of the large body of water that flows within the Ohr Woods.  Waldyr checks the water to determine if it’s cold or not.  His foot jerks away and then he looks for anyone that might have a price on their heads.

“Is it too cold?”

“I guess we have no choice since its getting dark soon.”

They take off the cloths from their waists and step into the cold water.  The two shivered as they wet each other down.  Waldyr takes the soap and washes Elred’s recently cut hair, making a dark muddy foam on his head.  Once the prince dips himself deep in the river, the filthy froth floated away from them.  The half-elf sees his friend watch it go further away from them.

“I never thought I would be washing in a river while hiding from my own kingdom.  Then again, I never thought I would get out alive from that rotten cell.  I’ll never know if Talila will ever let us back into Skylark now that she’s going to be crowned tomorrow.  And my nephew Bryce, I have no idea what’s going on with him at all.”

Waldyr glances at the sky.  The sun is about to go and the winds are getting colder.  He shivers as he finishes his own hair.

“It going dark, we should run back into the cabin and get dried off,” says Waldyr as he climbs out of the water.

Elred watches him, trying not to get aroused by his friend’s bubble shaped ass.  Luckily for the elf prince, the water is so cold that it was safe to get out of the river.  They wrapped their cloths around their waists and travel back through the grassy path to the cabin where Ivon awaits them. 

“I wonder what Ivon caught for dinner,” Waldyr starts the conversation.

“What do you mean?  I didn’t see him with anything,” says Elred.

“If my brother was smart, he would try to find something from the cabin.”

“Like a rabbit?”

“I’ve been trying to teach Ivon how to use a bow and arrow ever since we were banned from Skylark.  So far he’s got the hang of it. But for food, I had to do all of the hunting and the cooking while I was training him.  Sir Emory came once in a while to check on us ever since.  He also brought us women from the brothel until--.”

“Don’t tell me I don’t want to know,” Elred says to him as they reached the cabin.

Waldyr raises his sword as the soap drops by his foot, his mouth ajar with fear.  He outstretches his free arm against the prince.  Elred sees the blood on the porch by the threshold.  He tightens the dagger in the palm of his hand.  Ivon comes out with blood on his hands. 

“Ivon!  By the Gods!  What happened while we we’re gone?” Screams his half-brother as he rushes to his aid with the prince running behind him.

“I’m fine you bloody fool,” Ivon replies as he rips the cloth off Waldyr, leaving him naked.  Elred peeks over the knight’s shoulder.  A nearly plucked bloody pheasant lies dead on the table.  He covers a giggle with his other hand and walks away to check for intruders by the wooden pillar.

“I see you were in the middle of something,” Waldyr says as he glances inside the cabin.

“I used the string on the arrow trick and it put up a fight.”

“Good idea little brother and you get to clean up the porch while I cook.  I hate your pheasant.”

Waldyr rushes inside and grabs a clean pair of white pants from a basket of clothes by the corner near his own bed.  Elred doesn’t see anything and follows suit.  Ivon sees the mess that the bird had made.




Prince Bryce stomps his feet inside his bed under his quilted bedspread.  Someone’s head is slowly bopping up and down between them.  Her hand creeps out from the covers and rubs his bare chest.  His eyes roll all over as he lets out passionate grunts.  Lady Arryn’s head peeps out from the sheets.

“Is there anything else that I can do for you your highness?” She asks him as she gasps for air.

A knock on the door made them both jump up from under the covers.

“Your highness, your mother wants you in the dining room in a half hour,” yelled out Sir Emory from the other side of the door.

“I’m going to have dinner in my room, thank you my lord,” the young elf replies.

Lady Arryn’s eyes expand as she sits quietly in her master’s bed.  Then the lock on the door clicked.  She rushes towards a curtain and hides behind it.  The half-elf knight storms in the room with two guards causing Bryce to stand into a corner by the curtains.  They stop at the bed with Emory looking around the room.

“Where is she your highness?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“You know what, the nurse that you see all the time!”

“Why?  What did she do?”

“Your mother has orders for her to be confined to her room!”

The sounds of shrieking were coming from where the young prince is standing.  Emory pulls back the curtain to see the naked woman shivering while trying to cover herself with her arms and hands.

“Put your clothes on the both of you,” he ordered them as he threw some garments that were on the floor in a messy pile by the bed on Lady Arryn.

The prince takes her robe and assists her with it on.  Tears flow from her eyes as she rushes out of her lord’s room.

“Follow her,” he demands his guards.

They bow and quickly try to catch up with her as her sobs echoes throughout the halls.

Sir Emory slams the door and locks it.  He turns to see his lord giving him a frown along with an evil eye. 

“Do you want a bath?”

“I don’t want anything from you!  I want nothing from you!  I will get my servants to get me dressed and I will meet my mother for dinner but I refuse to do anything you ask me to!”

Emory smacks the young elf across his face, causing him to bounce off the bed and land on the floor with a loud thud on his side.  The knight’s hand begins to sting and turn red.  He couldn’t believe that he assaulted a royal so little by little took a few steps back to give Bryce some space.

“I should have you arrested for what you did!”

“You should your highness.  Please forgive me for hitting you.  You’re the prince and you should do so.  Then you must arrest Lady Maggie and your mother for sexual assault, just like your father did to your dear uncle.  If I were you, I would get my shit together and forget about Father Horace’s agenda to put you on that throne.”

Bryce sits up on the floor, covering himself with the sheet from the bed.  He glances at the three books that rest on his desk across from him.

“Father Horace uses people for his own sick agenda to hurt people like your mother and kill those who were lower than us.  I mean beggars and ladies from the brothel that were burned to the ground.  And then there’s the Moonshire tragedy, which was collaboration between your father and Father Horace.  Remy had spent his energies killing all those magic users and banning good people like Uncle Elred’s friends.  You know them, don’t you your highness?”

The young elf prince wraps himself and rises from the floor.  The room was still as Bryce rubs his cheek.  Emory unlocks the door and opens to gesture to a pair of guards waiting outside the door.

“I want one of you to get some servants here to assist the prince for dinner.  Have them here at once and escort him to the dining room within the hour.”

Emory keeps his eyes on Bryce as he closes the door.  He watches the boy sit by his desk, leafing through one of the Three Holy Books.  No words came between them as the elf threw them across the room ending the moment with tears rolling from his eyes.

“I don’t know who to believe anymore,” Bryce whispers under his sobs.

“Then go to the dining room and congratulate her on her coronation.  Ask for her forgiveness and you would forgive her as well.  Let her be, your highness.  Let her rule Skylark.  I will make sure that no harm comes toward your mother and yourself.”

There’s a knock on the door.  Bryce rushes to wipe his face with the sheet.  Emory unlocks the door and lets three servants in with fresh clothes.

“I will see you at dinner then,” the knight says as he makes his exit.

The door closes and the lock clicked.  Emory spins around to see Lady Maggie standing in the hallway in her best evening gown of brown and gold.

“Is this an old dress or did our beloved queen had that made for you?”

“That’s between the queen and myself.”

“Why are you here?”

“I want to let you know that I’ll be treating Sir Dante starting tonight after dinner.”

“You mean--?”

“I don’t want any quarrel between us.  I had severed ties to a lot of important people in my life and it caused me nothing but trouble down that road.  I’ve been to some parts of the East Coast before I was sent to the convent by my mother’s side of the family.  I was personally chosen by the queen herself to be her assistant because she knew me while we were there.  She needs the both of us in her life right now.”

“What about Sir Ivon Renhart and Sir Waldyr Norhorn?”

“What about Prince Elred?  Does he even have a chance to come back to Skylark or are you planning to take the throne for yourself?  The only person that I care about is I.  I don’t want to go back to the Northeast and I sure don’t want to go back to the convent.  I just want a roof over my head, clean clothes on my body, food in my belly, and a place in my life.”

Lady Maggie tries to hide her face by turning her back against Emory.  He hears the wet sniffs of a sad woman.  The knight touches her lightly on her bare shoulder.  But it made her walk away and down another part of the hall, facing the stairs downward to the first floor.  He watches her go down the steps, the sounds of her shoes shuffling fades.  He hears someone walk behind him.

“What did you say to her?”

“I’m sorry your majesty,” he confesses, “your assistant and I had a disagreement about you and—“

“I heard everything,” Talila coldly says as her head nods at the door to her chambers.

The color of her dining gown shines a shimmery gold as the torches flicker from the wall.  But it couldn’t hide the anger in her eyes that reflects the light from the fire.  Emory closes his mouth and kneels before her, closing his hands together, his eyes never leaving her.

“Forgive me your majesty, I didn’t mean to be so rude to her.  If I had known what she went through, I would’ve understood her situation.  Lady Maggie is a good choice for you and she will fit well here in the castle.  Please hear my plea for forgiveness from you.”

The grimace on Talila’s face didn’t change.

“Emory, what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?”  He asks as he quickly rises from the hard marble floor on to his feet.

“My brother-in-law escaped without knowing of my husband’s death and here you are talking to Lady Maggie about the exiled knights.  You know something about Elred and where he is.  He’s with them, isn’t he?”

“Yes your majesty.”

Talila’s pouty mouth moves to the side as her eyes still fixed on Emory.  Her mouth moves back as she lets out a slow sigh with her shoulder slightly slouching.  His small rough hand caresses her sharp chin, leaning over for a small kiss.  Then he moves away slowly, looking lovingly into her eyes.

“As long as Prince Elred lets me rule Skylark my way, he can come back with those hideous charges dropped.  If not, then let him continue to live as a poor man.  The next time you see him and the other two that were thrown out, remind the other elf prince that he and I are in the similar lifestyle together.”

Hearing this from Talila was good news to both off Emory’s small elf ears.  Her smile and sticking her hand out is the sign of a happy gesture for them to join hands for the deal.  Bryce’s door flings open, her son rushes out into the hallway panting. 

“He’s not coming back here,” the elf boy shrieks out.

“Yes he is and his friends as well and if you don’t like it, you can have dinner in your room with the guards outside your door!”

“And as a reminder, Lady Arryn is being guarded at all times so you can’t see her ever again.”

Bryce’s heavy breathing became slower to the news.  He realizes that his mother has control now so he’s not throwing another tantrum.  The young elf composes himself by standing straight and his nose in the air.

“All right mother, you may take the title of ruler for our land’s capitol.  You may do whatever you please for I shall not get in your way.  I will continue to read The Three Holy Books though if it that is fine with you.”

“Yes, that’s fine with me my son.”

He quickly turns to Emory to give him a stiff bow before he faces his mother again.  Talila steps away and shows the way with her dainty hand for her son.  Bryce nods to her as he passes by with two guards at his sides.  She watches him with her hands clasping together. 

“I also wanted to tell you something,” Emory says to her.

“Whatever it is, I have no time for bullshit,” she replies without looking at him.

“With Father Horace, that nurse and the others under house arrest, you have Skylark back.  Your son, on the other hand, needs some work.  Even if he still continues to read those books—“

“And even if he reads those books, he has to find himself as a future leader and not a faith healer.  That’s why I have Father Joardan to open my son’s mind about other lifestyles and customs.  I want my advisor to give him the right education about different religions and histories and such, not to just study three books over and over again.”

“And where does that leave me?”

“He’s going to need a father figure in his life so you can teach him how to be more understanding and loving towards other people.  I want Bryce to be more like you than his father ever was.”

“What about his uncle?  He can teach your son about that than me.  After all, he will come back to live under your rule if he agrees under those conditions.  And then there are Prince Elred’s two best friends and they can teach him about swords and all that.  Maybe Sir Waldyr can teach your son the art of holy magic.”

“I just want the best for my only child,” she says after her shoulders drop.

There was a strong silence in the room.  Emory tilts his head, watching the elf queen’s eyes fill with tears.  She looks up at the marble ceiling for some type of answer.  He takes her and wraps his arms for a tight squeeze, kissing her on the tip of her ear.  Deep inside, he wanted to make everything that had happened to her gone from her body with every touch. 

“I will escort you to your chambers after dinner,” he whispers gently.

She faces him and nods, taking her lover by his hands.  Talila looks into his eyes and sees only determination, not love.  Another moment of silence fills the halls as Emory struggles to say something.

“Whatever you do, you wait until I’m crowned queen and then I will make the necessary duty to release Prince Elred and the others from hiding.  And I will punish those who had hurt my family like that pig Father Horace, Lady Arryn, and a few others that will perish!” 

Emory’s lips pucker as he grabs Talila for a deep kiss.  She looks into his eyes again and gives her lover another long kiss.  They hold each other tightly, embracing their new future lives together. 

“Do you want to marry me?”

This question he quietly whispers in her ear.  Her blue eyes promptly open to the very thought of walking down the aisle again.  She sees inside his gray eyes again has changed from cold to dreamy in the matter of a beautiful moment together.

“Let’s wait until everything is smoothed out,” she replies as she playfully backs away from him.

He sticks out his arm, she willingly takes it and he leads her away to the dining area downstairs with their faithful guards at their sides.  While walking down the stone stairs that lead to the ground floor, Talila watches the starry sky from one of the windows.  They may be stars but to her it will always be full of diamonds.

He escorted her through the guarded halls of the castle where all of her men and servants bow to her as she passes them.  She acknowledges them by nodding her head while glancing at their eyes.  Some of them, the lady servants, seem either nervous or emotionless as they curtsy to her.  This observance was from Emory’s own mind.

They reached the dining room where Father Joardan, Bryce and Maggie rose from their seats at her presence.  Talila notices one person missing from the table until she spots Sir Dante at her side of her chair.  She approaches the big armored gentleman and tries to look into the eyes through his helmet.  She only sees nothing but darkness.

 “Tell me Father Joardan,” she finally says, “can he talk or eat or anything besides kill whoever tries to do me harm?”

“The disease causes skin lesions,” he explains, “and swollen throat that only liquids can enter, body odor, and eye infections.”

“He can’t speak due to the swollen throat your majesty,” Maggie adds to the conversation.

Talila looks back at the tall knight.  She can hear him wheezing though his helmet as well.  She takes a step back without looking at anyone. 

“Sir Dante Tower,” she addresses him, “I want you to take your armor off once you go to your assigned room.  Lady Maggie will take good care of you.  She has teas and ointments to help you get back to who you once were.  Guards, please escort Sir Dante Towers to the quarantine room please.  And I want a servant to bring him something to drink for now.  Only Lady Maggie is allowed to visit him until he heals.  You may go now Dante.”

The towering knight nods and leaves with the guards.  The elf queen’s head follows him, watching him make his exit.  The double wooden doors close with a soft slam, making Maggie flinch a little.  Two servants pull out the chair for Talila as she takes her place at the table.  All remain standing with Emory and her only child at her sides.  She gestures with her head for them to pull in the chair, making everyone else at the table sit at their places.

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