Twenty Four

Twenty Four

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
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Gevin and Applemint open the coffer of the Elven Queen.

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24.

 

“Journeys end in lovers meeting.”

― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

 

They headed back to The Wood Chip, where Gevin still had a room, though there were plans to move him into the fort, which would be more fitting for a ‘Duke’.   They took the back stairs up to the second floor so as to not draw attention to the large alabaster coffer that Gevin carried on his shoulders.    Downstairs in the tavern, another evening of dining, drinking and entertainment was underway.   Thankfully, no one saw them as they slipped into Gevin’s room.

He gently sat the coffer down on the floor and then glanced at Applemint, who had spoken little during the journey back and was just standing close to the window, looking more than a little pensive.

“Well, there it is,”  he said to her and she smiled somewhat weakly.

“What if it is a trap?”

“You’re still worried about the whole thing as some sort of trick?”

“Well…yes…doesn’t it seem a bit…convenient…that just when we were riding along, we see the ghost - or apparition- I don’t know what the difference is, really- standing out there waiting for us?”

“She was using magic, Apple; seeking us out across time.”  He sat down on the edge of the bed.

“Doesn’t that scare you, lord?   Someone looking for you across time and somehow finding you?   And those things she said about…” She broke off her sentence and looked down at the alabaster chest.

“Don’t worry about all of that; don’t let it scare you, don’t even think about it right now.”

“I can’t help it.”

“Well…maybe she wasn’t so much of a prophet as she was just someone hoping to set things in motion by her suggestions.”

Applemint just looked at him with her eyebrows arched, “Oh come on, sir!”

Gevin shrugged, remembering how wonderful it had been the previous evening when she’d simply addressed him by his name.   Of course she’d been drunk then and didn’t recall any of it now.

“What are you smiling about?” She asked, seeing his unconscious smile as he remembered.

“Oh, nothing,” he shook his head and gestured to the alabaster chest, “So are you going to open it?   I’d think you’d be dying to see what she has in there for you.”

“I am, but…”

“But?  But what, Apple?”

Applemint began pacing nervously, “It scares me, lord.”

“The chest?”

“No; everything she said.   She seemed to know everything that was going to happen to me…to us.   Is it all predetermined?”

“I don’t think we’re puppets; Yesh gave everyone free will.”

“Then how would she know all that about us?”

“I don’t know; perhaps God gave her a sneak peek.’

“But then it is predetermined!”

“No, not necessarily.   Yesh is all-knowing, so he’d know the choices we would make, though He didn’t force us or manipulate us to make those choices.   He never stopped me from doing bad things, and God knows I’ve done plenty of them in my life.   Look at this poor village - it once sat on the edge of a forest, now, thanks to an army I commanded, the land is desolated.   If Yesh didn’t stop me from doing terrible things like that, it still doesn’t mean that He couldn’t, only that we have free will.   But clearly He knew what bad choices I would make before I did and even showed Queen Ylvelia long before I was born.  Knowledge of what someone is going to do is different from actually manipulating them to do something, Apple.”

“Yeah, I know, lord, but when you hear prophesies about you specifically, it is different.”

Gevin nodded, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, Apple.   You follow your heart and your mind and don’t let a ghost, or your family, or even me, make you do something about which you feel uncomfortable.   You do what you want to do.”

Applemint stood with her back to him, staring out the window, “What if what you want to do makes you feel uncomfortable?”

“There is a reason for the uncomfortable feeling; examine that.   If it is because you are going against something you know is right, or against something you know God says is right, then it is best to heed it.    If you are uncomfortable because you fear of what someone will think about your choices, or because it might hurt someone who doesn’t understand your decision, then you should follow your heart.”

“What if I disappoint you with my decision, lord?”

Gevin felt his heart sink and coldness creep into his limbs.

“Apple, you do what you must do, regardless.   I’ll understand.”

“No, you won’t.   You think you will, but you don’t really understand at all, lord.”  She turned around to face him and he was surprised to see tears running down her face.   He felt his heart preparing to break as she came over to stand in front of him, but he looked her in the eyes as she spoke.

“Lord, my whole life I was taught to serve; it’s what Pondertort children are told is our purpose in life.    That means we serve our master, which has been you for several generations.   We are taught that our servanthood is the most important part of our life, the thing we can feel pride in and that our relationship to you as servant to lord is the most important relationship outside of our family ties.    Father told me that I should never forget that and always keep a servant’s heart.”

She paused to swallow away some tears and Gevin sensed that the worst part was about to be revealed.   Applemint sighed, wiped her eyes and continued. 

“I can’t do it anymore, lord.   I’ve tried for a few days but something has changed and I don’t feel like I’m supposed to feel toward you anymore.   I feel horrible and terribly guilty confessing it and I’m sure my father would be ashamed of me for my weakness and selfishness.”  She paused to sniff away more tears.

“It’s alright, Apple,” he said gently, his voice almost a whisper.   His heart ached as he realized what was happening, as if his whole world had abruptly shifted suddenly, leaving his head spinning, “I understand.”

“No you don’t!” She snapped with frustration in her voice, looking up at him with fire in her eyes, “See?   You still don’t understand at all!”

“You can’t serve me anymore and you want to be free of your responsibility to me.”

“Yes!” She replied, still upset, “But you don’t know what the implications are!”

“I’ll work it out with your parents, Apple, they won’t ostracize you.   They’ll understand in time - you have a right to make your own decisions.”

“Yesh, have mercy, you still don’t get it, do you?!”  She was nearly yelling at him, trembling in frustration, “They won’t understand it!”

“Apple, surely there have been members of your family who have went out on their own.”

“Went out on their own?   Dear God, you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

Gevin sighed wearily, “I know I’m frustrating you with my ignorance.”

“Yes, you are!”  She snapped, then, softening, she took his hands in hers,  blinking in surprise at how cold they were.  

“Your hands are like ice!  Lord…look at me, please,” She said to him as he had his gaze focused on his feet.  He didn’t respond to her request.

“Lord, look at me…damnit…Gevin, LOOK AT ME!”

He looked up, compelled by her intensity.   His eyes met hers and he was lost in their lovely green seas.   Pain and loneliness stomped through his chest as he met her gaze.  He saw her eyes widen slightly as she beheld the pain on his face, which he was trying desperately to hide.

“Lord, I can’t be your servant anymore.   I have no desire to be, though I have tried to force myself to believe that I can.   That probably disappoints you and I’m sorry.  But I don’t want to leave and I’m upset because what I do want is going against everything that I’ve been brought up to believe.   I don’t want to be your servant…I don’t know how that ghost lady knew, but more than anything I want to be…”  She hesitated, perhaps it was too hard to verbalize it, but she surprised him by suddenly exploding into action.    Leaning in, she let go of his hands only to cup them around his neck, a moment before she passionately began to kiss him.   Gevin was caught completely by surprise.  

Pressing with her body, she pushed him back down on the bed and followed him, lying against his chest as her lips hungrily devoured his.

Confused, but thrilled, he returned her affection for a wonderfully long time until finally she broke free.   The flushed look on her face revealed a strong desire, but, slightly out of breath, she explained.

“I love you, Gevin, oh my God, how I love you and I know it’s not proper and I’ll probably cause a terrible scandal because I’m a Halfling and you’re a Half-Elf and my lord, but I don’t care!   I know I’m from a family of servants and I’m not a proper lady like those women in royal courts, but a lot of knights have serving maid mistresses and I guess that would be alright, if-“

“Apple!” he interrupted, “You crazy girl, I have no intention of making you my mistress.”

“Oh,” She replied, looking crestfallen and ashamed.

“If what Queen Ylvelia said is true and we are supposed to have a daughter together, you will do so as my wife.”

Her eyes were as big as saucers and she turned as pale as a sheet, but she kissed him happily for a few seconds before bursting into tears.   He held her against his chest as she wept.

“Oh, how will I tell father,”  She said through the tears.

“I don’t think he’ll be nearly as surprised as you think,” Gevin replied, stroking her long red hair, “He has sensed something between us.   I promised him that I would treat you as a proper lady and with respect and I intend to do that.   That means following proper etiquette.   So before I formally ask you to marry me, I’ll need to get his permission.”

“Oh great, now I’m just going to have to be your mistress!”

“He’ll give his blessing.”

“He’ll try to talk you out of it.   He’ll say that you deserve a noble lady instead of a serving girl, lord.”

“I think I deserve you.   No more ‘lord’, Apple.  My name is Gevin.   G-E-V-I-N, and I’m not going to marry someone who doesn’t call me by name.”

“But lord-“

“Apple!”

“But it’s not official yet!”

“Apple…”

“It sounds weird to me, lord!   How about Sir Gevin?”

“Lord is a title of superiority, and to be honest, I’m not really that fond of anyone calling me that.    ‘Sir’ is a title also.   I’m not going to call you ‘Lady Applemint’ and you need to just call me by my name.”

“It won’t be easy to get used to lord…um… I mean Gevin.”

“Practice makes perfect.”

“Then you’re not mad at my confession to you?”

Gevin lifted her chin and pressed his lips to hers.   They kissed for a short time and then he replied, “I’m thrilled and relieved.   I was afraid I’d have to do something wicked like demand that you become my lover.   That wouldn’t go over well with everyone, I imagine and it’s certainly no way to govern people.”

Applemint grinned, “Would you have done that?”

“Probably, I am quite obsessed with you.”

“Really?   You never acted like it.  I mean, I thought you were attracted to me, but never obsessed!”

“After several bad experiences, I firmly believe in treating women with respect.”

“What do you think everyone will say when they find out?”

“I don’t think too many will be too surprised.   Troem and Zaeya saw the attraction between us.”

“They’re romantically involved too, you know.”

“Everyone knows that now; they’re not hiding it.”

“They make a good couple - she seems to be growing more civil as a result.”

“I’m happy for them.”

“So what now, lo-…Gevin?”

“Well, since we are going to go through this relationship formally, we had best get back to looking at the alabaster coffer and see what is inside of it.    I’ll talk to your father tomorrow and we’ll take everything one step at a time.   For now though, let’s see what Queen Ylvelia has for you.”  He kissed her briefly and she slid off of him, straightened her hair and clothes and they resumed examining the magic chest.

“Okay; here goes,” Applemint said when she was ready to open the lid of the coffer.   Cautiously, she lifted it up and it opened without even a creaking sound from the hinges.

The chest was neatly and tightly packed and they examined it for a few moments before touching anything within.

Linen covered items underneath and at first they wondered if the chest simply contained the Elven queen’s clothing.   But Applemint cautiously began rummaging around and looked up in surprise, “The linen is wrapped around something metal.”

“A weapon?”  Gevin asked.

“I don’t know… there are separate items wrapped…this one…I think it might be a piece of armor.   Shall I take it out?”

“Go ahead,” He leaned over her shoulder as she slowly pulled a cylinder shape neatly packed with linen out of the coffer and began unwrapping it.

“Armor?’  Applemint asked after the metal was free.

“It’s a greave; plate armor for the lower leg.”

“The ghost queen wore armor?”

“She wasn’t always a ghost.”

Applemint began unwrapping the other packages, revealing other pieces, each made of a strange white metal that was almost entirely weightless and all of them packed so that they took up surprisingly little space.

“It should be as light as my enchanted suit.   In fact, I’ll wager this one is enchanted as well.”

Applemint held up the breastplate, “Well, if she expects me to wear it, I hope so; I seem to be a bit fuller in the chest than she was.”

“You’ll have to try it on.   Is there any arming doublet in there?”

“Yes, and a helmet …hmm…”

“What?”

Applemint was leaning far into the chest to get to something at the very bottom.  

“It’s a smaller chest - it looks like some sort of jewelry box.”

She brought the box out and carried it over to the bed, where she sat down beside him after moving some pieces of the armor to the side with her foot.

“I’m going to open it,” She announced and then lifted the lid.    A small piece of parchment fell out onto her lap.   She ignored it for a moment and instead pulled out a narrow glass vial with a cork in it, the container did not hold any fluid but a lock of fiery red hair.”

“Is that her hair?   It’s the color of mine!”

“I don’t know; the ghostly image was completely pale.” He nodded to the piece of parchment, “See what the parchment has on it.”

She picked it up to glance at and blinked in surprise, for on it was scribbled in an Elven script, the name ‘Applemint Pondertort’.

“She wrote my name down and put it in the box!”

“She said she’d forget meeting us after her spell faded, so perhaps she wrote down your name first so she would know the name of the one she was leaving her stuff for.   Whoever prepared her tomb followed the instructions precisely.”

“But why did she leave a lock of her hair?”

“I don’t know, but I suspect there is a good reason, we just don’t know it yet.”

“Her armor is a bit large for me, except for the breastplate which is too small.   Do you want me to try it on?”

“Yes, the sooner we know, the better.”

Without hesitation, Applemint began slipping out of her clothes much as she had the night before at the millpond, but this time she was not intoxicated.

“Perhaps I should leave,”  Gevin suggested.

“You stay right there, lor- um, I mean Gevin.   Remember, we’re engaged now.”

“Well, not exactly we’re not; your father will have to give his blessing, and even then, engaged couples usually don’t undress in front of each other.”

“My Mom’s sister had a baby with her man in the time between their engagement and their marriage date.”

“Yes, but they kept their clothes on while they were fooling around,”  Gevin joked, and she tossed a rolled up piece of linen at his head, then continued to strip down.

He tried to not look at her as she wiggled into the arming doublet, which was made out of the finest mesh of mail that he’d ever seen, but her gyrations were too distracting.   Halfway over her head, the doublet began shifting in size and by the time she had slipped it on, it fit her perfectly.

“Yes, it’s magical too.” He told her.

“Now we both have magic armor!”  She said happily, “But you’ll have to show me how to attach the pieces of plate, because I don’t know how all of that goes.   Don’t they usually have straps and laces to secure them?”

“Usually…don’t those have them attached to the pieces?”

“Um…no, there aren’t any.”

“What about metal hooks and hinges?”

“I don’t see those either.   How will I keep them on?”

“I don’t know; I guess we’ll see.   Those greaves have calf sections for the back, put on the front and back of one and let’s see what it does.”

“Okay,” She complied, slipping the greave across her left shin and then holding the back piece to the calf of her leg.    As soon as the two separate pieces got close enough, they were drawn to each other, but not so tight that she couldn’t pull them apart after exerting some effort.

“They’re magnetic!”  Gevin exclaimed, “What a brilliant design!”

“Yes and did you see them change shape slightly to match the contour to my leg?   Hopefully each piece of armor will be like that.”

Gevin had her stand in front of him and told her what each piece was called as he fit them into place with a corresponding back piece.    They attached to each other perfectly, each section changing in size and shape to conform to Applemint’s proportions.   Even the breastplate shifted to allow for the girl’s amble bosom and soon she was standing there fully attired in the white armor except for the helmet.

“I’ll wager that it is as light as clothing, isn’t it?”

“Yes; it almost feels like I’m not wearing anything!” She giggled.

“It’s extremely fine armor and I’d guess it is of the same type as the suit I wear now.”

“I wonder if it can be ordered to drop off or assemble on me like your suit of armor does.   Shall I try?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Well…armor…um…drop off.”   They waited but nothing changed.

“It could have Elven commands.   Let’s see…try…’armachd air falbh’ that means ‘Armor remove’.” He had studied the Elven language from books in the royal library in Whiteberry as most knights liked to boast of at least limited knowledge of the tongue.   He had easily mastered it, yet had never used it, even around the few Elves that he’d encountered while at the royal court, for most Elves spoke the common tongue around humans.

“Armachd air falbh!” Applemint said with firm authority and immediately all the armor pieces fell neatly to the floor, leaving her standing there only in the arming doublet.

“Wow, it worked!   What is the command for it to come back on me?”

“That would be…’cruinneachadh armachd’; ‘armor assemble.’

“Cruinneachadh armachd!” Applemint shouted and the armor instantly pieced itself together to the girl’s delight, this time including the helmet.

As soon as all the pieces were in place, the armor began to shine brilliantly like polished metal in a bright sunlight.  

“It’s radiating light!” Gevin exclaimed.

“You should see it from inside this helmet!  I can see as if I wasn’t wearing anything on my head and everything seems crystal clear.   The air is cool and I think sounds are amplified!   Does yours do that?”

“No.   Your voice seems different too; you sound like someone else.”

“Maybe the ghost queen?”

“That might be it!   Your voice seems to be projecting too - you’re not shouting in there are you?”

“No, I’m just talking normally.”

“It’s powerful magic, Apple.    Now if you only had a sword.”

“What is Elven for ‘armor, fetch me my sword’?”

“That would be…um…’armachd a ’faighinn claidheamh dhomh’

Applemint struck a dramatic pose, one hand on her hip, her chest thrust out like a statue and her other arm extended and with her hand open, “ARMACHD A ‘FAIGHINN CLAIDHEAMH DHOMH!”

Her voice boomed so loudly that the room shook and immediately into the palm of her hand appeared a graceful longsword shining brighter than the armor.  It could not have been in the chest, for it was too long to have fit, instead it seemed to appear from out of thin air.

“Yesh have mercy!” She exclaimed and again her altered voice shook the windows.

“Look at that sword, Apple, it’s beautiful.”

“It’s as light as a feather.”

At that moment, though it had been locked by Gevin, the door was flung open and Troem, Zaeya and several of the garrison guards rushed into the room.   Zaeya hissed in pain, shielding her eyes from the white light.

But it was Troem’s reaction that stunned them most, for when he saw Applemint standing there holding the sword, adorned in the armor, he gasped and immediately fell prostrate onto the floor before her,  shouting in Elven, “Ylvelia A ’bhanrigh!  Tha a ’bhanrigh gheal air tighinn!”

The guards fell back in fear and even Zaeya looked terrified.

“Hey, what’s wrong with everyone?   It’s just me!   I’m Applemint!   Armachd air falbh!” At her command, the armor fell into a neat pile onto the floor in front of her, though the glowing sword remained in her hand.

“Applemint?!” Troem looked up in utter astonishment, “That armor!  That sword!  Do you know what they are?   Who they belong to?!”

“Queen Ylvelia,”  Applemint replied as Troem arose, still pale and trembling.   

“You know of her?” Troem asked in disbelief.

“We met her a few hours ago.”

“You met her?!   She’d been dead over a thousand years!”

“We know that,” Gevin told him, “Let me explain; all of you come in and sit down.   Apple, dispel your sword so poor Zaeya can see.    The command will be something like…’ claidheamh aig fois’.”

Applemint repeated the words and the sword vanished completely to the guards and Troem’s amazement and Zaeya’s relief.

“That was quite impressive!”  the Drow lady told Applemint as she rubbed her eyes, “Why haven’t we seen that trick before?”

“Have a seat, Zaeya, and we’ll tell you how we came upon this stuff.   By the way, how did you guys burst in here like that?    The door was locked but it swung open like it was unlocked.”

“A simple opening spell,” Zaeya replied, slipping down onto the bed next to the still shaken Troem, “We heard the commotion while we were having dinner downstairs and so we came up to see.”

The two garrison guards pulled up chairs from across the room and joined the two Elves in front of Gevin and Applemint.

“Sorry that we scared you, but Apple and I have had quite an interesting evening.    Here’s what happened.”  He told them the story of their encounter with the ghostly lady and Troem listened intently, growing very excited when his great grand nephew told them of their conversation with the Elven queen.   When Gevin told them about the alabaster coffer, Troem jumped up and went over to examine it.  

“Gevin, Applemint, do you realize that you just fulfilled an ancient Elven prophesy?”  He  asked them the moment that Gevin finished his tale.

“We did?”

“Yes!  Queen Ylvelia - the white queen, the great lady, she who shall return, who’s tomb is said to exist hidden outside of time and space!   Since I was a little boy I have heard stories of her; she was murdered with poison while she was queen, but before she died she prophesized that she would return at the time of her people’s greatest need.    She wore the sun for armor and a sword of pure light for a blade!”

“Well that isn’t fulfilled prophesy, exactly - she only gave Apple her armor and sword.”

“Yes, but sometimes prophesy is best understood after it has occurred.   Clearly this is what the prophesy meant, for her armor and sword are said to only be useable by Ylvelia herself.   Her tomb was unknown to everyone and the legend stated that even if someone found it, it would not open except at the appropriate time.   That means today!”

“But why Applemint?”

“It’s obvious, Gevin; she must be a descendant of Queen Ylvelia.”

“Did she have any children?”  Applemint asked and Troem looked up in surprise, for to his knowledge, Ylvelia had died a virgin maiden.

“Um…well, that could be a problem…” he admitted, crestfallen.

“Wouldn’t there have been something that mentioned children?”  Gevin asked Troem who just nodded, for he was going through all the information about the famous queen in his mind.

“I don’t remember ever hearing any story about a wedding or anything like that.   That doesn’t mean she wasn’t married, only that no name was recorded.   She died quite young though and the stories speak of her purity of heart and body.”

“Well maybe that isn’t her armor at all - it could just be magic armor that was purposely meant to look like something legendary,” Zaeya suggested.

“Perhaps, but it is certainly magic and would still be expensive to construct and it certainly doesn’t look like anything crafted to fool someone.”

“What Apple and I encountered was real enough, and the parchment with Apple’s name on it was proof enough for me.   She even had a lock of her hair in the coffer and it was the same color as Apple’s.   But I guess there is no way to find out the truth.”

“You said that this Elven queen left a sample of her hair in the coffer?’  Zaeya asked.

“Well, we assume it was her hair.”

“Then I have a way to answer your question with assurance,” The Drow lady said proudly.

“How?”  Applemint asked her.

“It’s a Drow spell that is used frequently in the Underdark - you see, Drow matrons frequently share their…ah…favors…on any male that they fancy and they rule over their noble house as men do here on the surface.   As a result, there is frequently some…confusion…who the father of a Drow child is, so a spell was developed that can show the blood relationship between two people.    You need a drop of blood or a snip of a few hairs as spell components and the spell will show the blood connection between the two samples.   The voices of each ancestor will be heard reciting their name and it will go back until the voice of  the owner of the oldest sample of hair or blood is heard.   I know how to cast it.”

“What if there is no connection between the two people?” Applemint asked Zaeya.

“Then there will be no voices speaking.   Oh, another thing it does is that if two people are related, but not through a direct connection - for example, if Gevin and Troem gave samples for the spell to use, Gevin is not a direct descendant of Troem, but they are related and share a common ancestor.   So in this case, the voice of their latest common ancestor will be heard.   It works back to about 50 generations.”

“But Queen Ylvelia lived over a thousand years ago - that might be too many generations between her time and mine,”  Applemint replied.

“Maybe not,” Troem said, “Elven generations are much longer than human generations and most Elves only have a few children and frequently wait until they are several hundred years old to start parenthood, so I’d suspect there has not been fifty generations between her time and today.”

“So what do we need to do?”  Gevin asked, and the Drow lady explained.   They decided to cast the spell in the guardhouse audience room and invited a number of people to witness it, either way.   Applemint’s parents, siblings and grandparents were there, as well as Nevon Lute and most of the garrison guards.    Gevin wanted them to see so there could be no talk of making everything up.

 

About nine O’clock everyone was assembled and Gevin explained briefly what they were going to do and why, then Zaeya explained the parameters of the spell.   They also brought Ylvelia’s armor and spread it out on a table so everyone could see it firsthand.  

She then took a few strands of the Elven queen’s hair in one hand and pricked Applemint’s pinky for a few drops of her blood which she dabbed on a linen cloth in her other hand.   Then she began chanting the spell; it took nearly ten minutes, but everyone waited patiently.   When she finished, the blood on the cloth and the strands of hair in her hand began glowing with a pink light.

“Here we go,” She told everyone, “It will begin currently and will go backwards in time, speaking the name of each ancestor between them, or if they are indirectly related, the name of the common relative.   If she is not related to the queen or the hair sample is not from her, there will be silence until the glow leaves the hair and cloth.”

There was a few moments pause, then, out of thin air, but very distinct and clearly, came Applemint’s voice.

“Applemint Pondertort”

“Mangle Pondertort”, followed the voice of her father, and each voice that spoke would wait five seconds before speaking.

“Tori Finklecrux” 

“Aelentorrli Thorinfle” said the voice of Tori’s mother.

“Lanel Thoerinfle” spoke the voice of the Elven lover of Brandy Mintlepipe.

“Brandso Thoerinfle”  Another male voice spoke.

“Tarbel Thoerinfle,”  Said another male Elven voice.

Gevin glanced at Troem to see if any of the names seemed familiar, but he shook his head.

“Micaleous Thoerinfle,” Another Elven male recited his name.

“Geelia Lyllian,” A female voice this time, as was the one that followed.

“Trae Suedorrstoc”

“Miles Suedorrstoc,”  A male voice again, but a female voice spoke afterwards.

“Illytrae Valleric”

Troem’s head jerked up at that name, “That is a surname I’ve heard before!”

“Viel Valleric”   Troem looked excited, “That was the name of a man who was a claimant to the Elven throne!”

“Noess Valleric”   Another male name.

“Penrick Valleric”  Yet another name, but Troem didn’t seem to know who they were.   Then Gevin and Applemint heard the voice of the ghost.

“Ylvelia  Donnruadh” 

There was silence and the hair and cloth’s glow began to fade.

“Ylvelia Donnruadh - Ylvelia ‘red brow’ in the common tongue,”  Troem said to Gevin and Applemint, “That’s Queen Ylvelia.”

“Does that mean that she had a child?”  Applemint asked.

“Penrick Valleric - Valleric was a surname of a powerful noble family.   But Queen Ylvelia was said to have died by poisoning.”

“Maybe she died in childbirth, out of wedlock, carrying this ‘Penrick Valleric’ who was the son of a Valleric youth who ‘poisoned her womb’ with his seed.”  Gevin suggested and Troem shrugged.

“I guess it is possible - strange though that there was no mention of him in our legends, only Viel Valleric who I guess would have been his grandson.   Apparently the Valleric family knew of this child by the great queen.   How could they have kept her pregnancy hidden?”

“Perhaps magic and long flowing robes that concealed her belly,”  Zaeya answered as the last of the spell faded.

 

Applemint was excited about the revelation, but determined to learn about how Queen Ylvelia could have had a child without any of the Elven people knowing.   Her grandmother Tori was amazed at the news and Applemint asked her about any family legends or stories that she might have heard as a girl about it.

“Well, no, nothing really, but Lanel Thoerinfle wasn’t around my mother at all.”

“He was a merchant, wasn’t he grandma?”

“Yes, and really that is about all we know, though he was a redhead, which apparently comes down from Queen Ylvelia.”

“How will the Elves react to this news?   Will they believe it, or do we even tell them?”  Nevon Lute asked.

“I was pondering that,” Gevin replied, “It could go several ways with them.   They could simply reject it as a desperate charade that we’ve perpetrated to win them over, they could say that the armor and sword are not really Queen Ylvelia’s or they could accept it, though I’m not sure what exactly that would mean to them.”

“That would mean that they’d be very likely to help you,” one of the guardsmen spoke up, slowly standing as he did.   Everyone looked at him and few knew who he was.

“Zete , you seem to have something to say,”  Nevon (who knew all of his guardsmen) said.

“Yes, but before I do, I ask that everyone here listen and let me explain before you react.  First, I am not who - or what- I seem to be.   I’ll show you,” he reached in under his tunic and brought out a simple necklace with a turquoise stone, which he grasped in the palm of his hand for several seconds.   Slowly his facial features began to change slightly, revealing pointed ears and a somewhat more angular jaw.

“You’re an Elf!”  Troem exclaimed and Zete nodded.

“I’m a spy, put here by my people to the west to monitor the garrison.   I’m the informant who has helped the bandits raid the abandoned farms around the area.   I didn’t want anyone hurt and I’ve been uneasy since those Elven youths have been showing aggression, but I wasn’t able to leave.”

“You’ve been with us for nearly two years, Zete; how’d you fake it so long?”  Nevon asked, his hand on the hilt of his sword.

“I used the name of a human family that lived to the west of here some years ago that were sympathetic to my people.   They only had four sons, I simply took the family surname of Barbos and posed as a fifth, younger son, born late in his parents’ lives that did not want to leave when his parents fled the area, so joined the garrison.   I was amazed at how easily I was able to slip into the role.   There is really not that much difference between our races.”

“So you gave information to the Elves to the west of here what was going on?”

“Yes, I imagine you’ll want to know how.   I have a trained falcon that I would attach messages to, rolled on paper in a special pouch around his leg.   Then I’d release him once a week and he’d be sent back the next morning by my people.”

“Well, why reveal your true self now?”  Zaeya asked.

“None of you knew who I was, so none of what I’ve seen tonight was done to try to fool me.    What I have seen and heard is very convincing to me as an Elf and I see that there is no trickery here.   All of you are as mystified as I am.   Perhaps I can help give credibility to your case when Terib and his men arrive in a few days.”

“You know when they’re returning?”  Troem demanded.

“I know that they are discussing everything with my people and that they’ll make a decision quickly and return soon.    I was sent a message to expect their return in ‘less than a week’.”

“Well, what is your opinion on all of this?   Applemint and I saw the apparition and she gave us the magic coffer and prophesized about us.   We learned a lot of…amazing…things,” He glanced at the girl, for they had not told the assembly the prophesy about their daughter.

“I’d say one form of proof that might convince my people would be to see if anyone else can wear the armor or use…or even summon…the sword.   If only Lady Applemint can do it, that would be very convincing.”

Gevin grinned at the girl, “Well, Lady Applemint, do you have any objections?”

“None at all - the first logical candidate, I’d think, would be my grandma, Tori, who would be nearer to the Queen in blood than I was and if the armor only responds to someone of  Queen Ylvelia’s blood, rather than to me specifically, then we’ll know.”

Gevin glanced at the revealed spy, who nodded in agreement, “That sounds very logical to me.”

“Tori, are you game?”  Gevin asked the Halfling lady, but she was already coming forward, toward the table where the armor had been placed.    Applemint told her the activation words and Tori stood in front of everyone and said them with as much authority and confidence as possible, her arms and legs spread apart to give the armor room if it worked.   But after a dozen seconds, it was apparent that it wouldn’t.

“Let me try, I’m a full-blood Elf,”  Zaeya said eagerly and the assembly murmured slightly, for she had shared stories in the tavern with many of them of the ruthlessness of her people.

She snorted at their fear, “Oh, really; if I wanted to kill all of you I’d just cast a fireball in this room and in this enclosed space, you all wouldn’t have a chance.   But you all are perfectly safe and believe it or not, I actually like some of you!” She glanced at Troem who grinned.

In her usual dramatic manner, Zaeya stood in the center of the room, her arms spread open wide and she chanted the activation words in the practiced tongue of someone used to magic, but nothing happened.

“Phooey!” She laughed, playfully sticking her tongue out at Applemint in faked disappointment, “I didn’t want your stupid shiny armor anyway!”

Everyone laughed at her humor and she returned and plopped down on Troem’s lap, wrapping her arms around him.   He returned the gesture.

“Well, Zete?” Gevin asked the spy.

“Clearly none of the other ladies with Elven or dark Elven blood could activate the armor.”

“And Tori is two generations closer in time to the Queen,”  Troem added.

“Lady Applemint, would you show us how the armor responds to you?”   Zete politely asked her and the Halfling girl nodded.

Walking to the center of the room, she spoke the activation words in a soft voice.

Immediately she was encased in brilliant white glowing armor.  Zaeya hid her eyes against Troem’s chest and everyone in the room gasped.

“Shall I summon the sword?”  Applemint’s voice boomed with regal power, though she was actually speaking softly.   

“Show them,”  Gevin replied and she held her hand out and summoned the sword, which appeared in her hand at once, to the awe of the people.

She stood there before them in the gleaming armor, her long red hair flowing from beneath the helmet, and it shimmered like molten copper.   The sword in her hand seemed to radiate energy as well as light.

Squinting in the bright light, Gevin glanced at Zete, surprised to find him on his knees in homage, his hands held out palms up as a sign of submission.

“Zete?”  Gevin asked.

“My Lord, she is the Great Queen’s regal heiress; I know this in my mind and my heart and I pledge my loyalty to her…and to you.”

Gevin stood up and went over to the Elf and took his hand to raise him to his feet, “Thank you, Zete, all I ask from you is that you explain everything you saw to your people.   I am not trying to ‘lord it over’ anyone, nor does Applemint want that either.  We just want to restore Albsidhe and establish it as a safe place for Elves as well as peaceful humans and Halflings, to live in harmony with each other as Yesh intended.”

“I will do all I can, my lord, to convince my people of the intentions of you and your lady.”

“We thank you for that, Zete,” Gevin turned to Applemint, “Apple, turn off the magic before Zaeya is blinded for life.”

Applemint said the deactivation words and the armor returned to the table where it had been and the sword disappeared.

“The light is gone,”  Troem said to Zaeya and the Drow lady looked up cautiously.

“She could terrorize the Underdark in that suit,”  She said, rubbing her watering eyes, “It was bright to me even with my eyes covered and turned away.”

“It was more intense inside a building,” Troem assured her, “Out in open battle it wouldn’t be so bad.”

“ I certainly couldn’t hide in it,” Applemint commented as she walked over to Gevin and in front of everyone, especially her parents and grandparents, put her arm around him.   Gevin was surprised for a moment, but slipped his arm around her shoulder in support of her statement, though neither one dared look at her family.

“I doubt you’d have anything to worry about in battle, my lady,” Zete said to her with a respectful bow, “The Great Queen’s armor was impervious to weapons, the legends go.”

“Zete, can you send a message to Terib and your people telling them about what you saw and asking them to come for a demonstration?”

“Yes, but I should tell you that Terib will not have much to do with the decision, that would fall onto the Council of Elders.   I could send a message directly to them, but it might be better if I told them in person, my Lord, as there is too much to share for a simple note put on the leg harness of a falcon.”

“It’s alright by me if it is fine with Captain Lute,” Gevin turned to Nevon, who gave his leave.

“They won’t think that we tricked you, will they?”  Applemint asked the Elven spy.

“Oh, they’ll be dubious at first, but I just want them to see for themselves.   Once they see you in the Great Queen’s white armor, they will fall down and pledge themselves to you as I did, my Lady.”

“Invite them to see for themselves, and tell them that Apple and I will meet with them where they would prefer.”

“It could take me several days to return with a reply, lord; probably a week would be a better estimate, unless they’ve already sent a delegation to you, but I doubt that.”

“We’re not going anywhere.”

“With your permission, I will leave at once.”

“Yes, but wait until morning - it would be safer.”

Zete bowed and after a few more minutes of discussion, the meeting came to an end.   Gevin wasn’t surprised to find Mangle and Andrie hanging back waiting for everyone to disperse so they could speak to their daughter and him alone.    Applemint noticed them too but acted as if she didn’t.    Finally the room was empty except for the four of them and the Halfling couple approached a bit reservedly.

“Um…lord?”  Mangle spoke first, anxiousness on his face.

“Yes, Mangle?   I was hoping Andrie and you would wait around because I’d wanted to speak to both of you.”

Mangle glanced at his wife, and Andrie swallowed hard, blinked back some tears and nodded, “We know, lord.”

“You know?”

“We know what you wanted to talk to us about,”  Mangle replied.

“You do?”  Gevin felt Apple slip her hand in his beside him.

“Yes, and we know it is probably difficult to ask us because of many things.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Lord, we know,”  Andrie repeated herself, adding, “it was clear tonight and we wanted you to know that we didn’t mean to be so hesitant or for you to think we are resistant to the whole thing.   Everything has just happened so fast, and I…that is Mangle and I thought that a slow, cautious approach would be best, but we now realize that this might not be the right way.   We’re old-fashioned, lord, and it’s just so surprising, but we are humbled and honored of course and we unhesitantly give our full blessing.”

“You do?”  Gevin glanced at Applemint, who was pale as a sheet with surprise.  

“Yes; don’t we, Mangle?”   She glanced over to her husband.

“Yes, lord, you have my blessing as well.”  The Halfling father replied, looking Gevin in the eyes and smiling weakly.

“Well, okay, that was simple enough; I wasn’t sure you’d agree to let Apple ride alone with me to meet with the Elves if they give Zete that demand, but-“

“What?”  Andrie and Mangle interrupted in unison.

“You’re blessing - I was going to ask the two of you for permission for Applemint to ride with me to meet the Elves, if necessary.”

“You were?”  Mangle stammered, “But w-we thought you were going… that is that you were wanting…um…”

He glanced at his wife helplessly.

“Lord, we may have spoken of something in error; we weren’t giving permission for Applemint to ride with you, though I’m sure that is alright by Mangle - we thought…well…we thought we were giving our permission for you to…um…”

“Too marry her,” Mangle finished her sentence for his wife and both looked very embarrassed.

“Oh, that!”  Gevin grinned, glancing down at Applemint, who though she was still pale, returned his smile, “What do you think, Apple?   Are you game?”

“Sure,” She replied with a casual shrug, understanding the jest he was playing, even if there was complete seriousness beneath it.

“Okay, Mangle, Andrie; we’ll get married, but we’d better wait until after we’ve met with the Elves first.”

The two Halflings were dumbfounded at the casualness of both their daughter and Gevin about such a serious step and looked at them, perplexed.

“Um…we…uh…d-don’t feel compelled because of us, lord!”  Mangle exclaimed.

Gevin put his arm around Applemint’s waist, “Actually, Mangle, we had discussed it, so your intuition is not off.   But before I formally asked her; I wanted to get your permission.   I still do; it’s very important to me that you both approve.   I know it is unorthodox.   Though I am half-Elven, I also am half human and I don’t want both of you unhappy.   I know you’d both agree to it, out of loyalty to me, but I honestly want both of you to agree to it because you fully believe that I love your daughter and that she loves me.”

Mangle took his wife’s hand and with his other one, patted Gevin on the forearm, “We know that, lord; we’ve seen the two of you looking at each other.   Love isn’t always orthodox.   My family is testimony to that.   Lord, with Yesh as my witness, I give you my blessing to marry my daughter, and I know Andrie does as well.”

Gevin turned to the Halfling lady and she nodded with a nervous, but sincere smile.

“Thank you, both of you,”  He turned around to face Applemint, took both of her hands in his and before she really understood what he was doing, dropped down on one knee, “Applemint, Pondertort, having secured your parents’ consent, I will now formally ask you.   I don’t have a ring right now as this is rather spontaneous, but here it goes.   Apple; you recently saved me from a very dark time and filled my world with brightness and hope.   It was extremely easy falling in love with you and regardless of crazy prophesies or such things, I could think of no woman more wonderful than you are to share my life with.   You are radiantly beautiful, not only on the outside, but deep within your kind and gentle heart.   Though I have had noble titles thrown upon me, truly I would feel like a king if you were to be my queen.   I promise you my everlasting devotion and eternal love.   Apple…will you marry me?”

She looked at him, her eyes welling up with tears and taking her voice away, but she nodded passionately and they embraced, both her and her mother weeping for the moment.   Even Mangle fought to keep a tear from falling.

Gevin smiled at the Halfling, “You should have kept her out of that barn, Mangle, and then all of this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Then you’d be dead, sir, and all of us would be either dead or in great peril after the coup.   Yesh works in mysterious ways, but always for the good.”

“Amen to that,” Gevin replied, leaning down to kiss his fiancée.




© 2020 Eddie Davis


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Added on December 3, 2020
Last Updated on December 3, 2020
Tags: Synomenia, Nihility_Gate, fantasy, elf, sword_and_sorcery, magic, knights, Halflings, Drow


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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