The Bald Tattooist of Maskerville

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City of Eclair and The Moon Castle (Part II)

Since Catherine and Marty lost their horses, Sebastian was forced to ride with Demelov. Ink was originally the one who gave up his horse but then Rebecca offered Ink to ride with her which he was very glad to agree to. But obviously, Sebastian and Demelov protested. So, instead of riding with Rebecca, Sebastian gave him his horse while he rode with Demelov who grumbled all the way, until they reached the Elf City of Eclair.

It’s a city that mirrored nature’s beauty in it’s simplicity and sophistication. It was in an islet of a very huge lake, the same lake that had a hill island where the Moon Castle was built.

The lake water was shimmering with the sun high above the sky. The mountains were reflected in its serene surface where water lilies and other strange plants drift. Some had a head that bobbed as an exaltation of larks passed by, their songs carried by the wind.

On the other side of the shore was the group led by Prince Hanariel. They could see white buildings on the city. It had tall spires in the backdrop of taller trees. The trees aren’t the same as the greeneries on the surrounding mountains though, they bore silver leaves and their branches aren’t sturdy but soft like a bunch of vines tied on a huge trunk. It softly swayed to the cold breeze. It is surrounded by rocks on all sides made of crystalline limestone, some bigger than others. The port was also visible all the way from the shore and the group wondered how they will be able to get there.

“Do you have some kind of boat here that we could use to get to the other side, High Prince?” Rebecca asked.

“No, we wont be needing a boat,” Prince Hanariel replied. He stretched his left hand unto the lake water and said, “Encovo Miche.”

A road that was hidden underwater rose into the surface. The water splashed as it cascaded down the sides of the route. A tiny crab hurried and jumped out of the way as Prince Hanariel’s klosus went to cross followed by Rebecca and the rest of the guys.

They passed through the road that could only be summoned by elvish magic. Not that the elves used the road much since they have the klosus for travelling. Seriously, the number of defenses they had for the place made it very inaccessible for humans.

The Moon Castle hovered beyond the isle as they grew closer to the City of Eclair. There were a lot of elves who had gathered and welcomed Prince Hanariel. Most of them were women who gushed and blushed at the sight of the handsome Prince. Rebecca was glad to notice that women elves are not that much different when it comes to fawning over men. A lot of them glanced as well at the unusual company the Prince had brought, but none of them said anything or paid them any attention. Rebecca thought that maybe they just weren’t gossipy like humans were. But in fact, a lot of them were having telepathic communications in their head. A lot of speculations rose amongst the elf-kind as to what business the masked men had to do with their kind. The accursed men of the undead were dangerous people, as far as they knew.

They passed through the center of the city. And wherever they went, elves stopped what they were doing to greet and bow to the Prince. It was the first time Rebecca saw so many elves in one place. They were all worker elves. Elves who had shops that sold items Rebecca had no idea of. It seemed like there were ropes and blades too. They have beetles kept inside jars and Rebecca wondered what use they could be. When one elf child opened the jar, the beetle grew to a meter and he rode it.

Sebastian was busy looking at the stalls that sold musical instruments. There was one that caught his attention and he wondered whether it was simply misplaced and kept in the wrong shop. It was a huge mallet that had a hole in the middle. He had no idea whether it was a tool or whether it was used to play music. If it was, then he’d definitely want to learn how to. He was after all musically inclined and gifted with a beautfiul voice much to the annoyance of Demelov.

Bubbles of different shapes scattered all over the street as they passed by. There was a flying eagle, a swan, a dimetrodon and many other creatures. A little girl was blowing the bubbles from her hands. Ink watched curiously as she dipped her hand in a clear solution, opened her palms and blew right above it. He watched fascinated as a figure of a man with mask flew towards him. The little girl giggled and ran away.

Frank and Claus glimpsed of an arrow almost the same as their height and wondered what kind of weapon it was. They couldn’t even begin to imagine how one could wield such a gigantic arrow. But even more so, theu wondered what kind of creature it killed.

Catherine and Marty, well, they were on their love bubble. It’s as if they were on their honeymoon strolling along the shops like tourists other than on an important mission.

Ink tagged behind them not minding that he was being a third wheel and all. The three looked outside the store that sold different kind of concoctions. They were all stored in vials of different colors and very briefly, Ink wondered if one of them was a love potion. Not that he had any intentions of getting one or using it at that. Catherine glanced at him, as if knowing the exact thoughts that was running on his mind.

Eris was also enjoying himself. He wore a big grin underneath his mask. He has never felt better than he was right now. He passed by a shop that sold necklaces and amulets, each necklace had an inscription written on it that he didn’t understand. There was also an elvish writing written on a parchment to explain what it was but he didn’t understand that either. But at the very bottom of the parchment, there was a drawing: a symbol of a man with big biceps carrying a rock and a smiling heart inside his chest. Eris thought it could mean strength and good health. He made sure to take note of the shop he just passed by and promised to buy the item. Not for himself but for his brother Faris. Eris smiled at the thought.

They had been so preoccupied sight seeing that they didn’t realize Prince Hanariel turning to a less crowded road and into an alley. The klosus growled and halted in its track. He petted the creature once again. It turned around and he saw that he was alone walking down the road. He sighed and thanked the klosus.

The Prince hurried back to the main street and saw the group continuing to walk forward unaware that he was no longer with them. He whistled to get their attention but they didn’t notice. The Prince had been very patient with them through the entire journey from the bridge. He, of all people, accompanied them to make sure they get to the castle safely. But what he didn’t know was that they were a handful to handle. He stretched his left hand once again and uttered another incantation, “Serviret.”

The mortals stopped moving and was frozen on their spot. Ink watched horrified as he tried to move his body but no response came. He looked at the others. Even when he tried to open his mouth, no sound came. There rest of the guys were the same. They freaked out even more when their bodies started to vanish. What is happening?

When they all opened their eyes, they were no longer standing in the middle of a crowded street filled with elves but they were standing in an alley beside the Prince.

“What the hell was that?!” Demelov shouted enraged.

“Watch your tone, child,” Prince Hanariel warned. “You do not raise your voice in front of a Prince.”

Demelov grumbled. Rebecca kicked his legs indicating that he should say sorry. But he only grunted.

“I deeply apologize, on his behalf Prince,” Rebecca said instead.

“But if you wouldn’t mind High Prince, could you tell us what that was all about?”

“Oh, it’s just a bit of magic. I summoned you to appear beside me,” the Prince said.

“That is awesome,” Catherine said amazed. “Imagine if I had that kind of ability, you wouldn’t have stayed underground in the prison cells for three months Marty,” she said.

“Oh, child. It doesn’t work that way. You need to have a direct vision of your target before you can summon them. You can not simply imagine or think of the person you want to appear,” Hanariel added.

They were now on the edge of the city isle and before them a hundred meters away, separated by water, was the Moon Castle. They were quiet as they took it all in. The towering columns made of glass with moon runes etched on its surface. The grand entrance with it’s massive double doors. Beneath it, the stairs that is flowing with water emptying to the lake.

“Are you going to do another one of your magic tricks to get us there, High Prince?” Demelov asked.

“You’ll see,” he said mysteriously. “For now, you should leave your horses tied here.”

They did as the Prince said and dismounted their horses tying them on poles on the edge of the stone port. Then the Prince whistled, and Rebecca thought that he might be calling some klosus to finally take them to the castle. However, it wasn’t the klosus that appeared. Instead, an immense saucer-shaped beast appeared in the water. It had yellowish scales that borders on being gold-like and it had four flippers used for swimming. The top of its body is flat with spines situated at the lower portion of it’s back. It had eyes all the way to the front, bulging out of it’s flat body like two lumps of head.

“This is your ride,” the Prince said.

They gazed at the creature before them not entirely sure whether it was safe to ride such a thing. Ink wondered if the Prince was trying to kill them. But he trashed the thought. After all, it would be pointless to save their lives all this time if he was just going to fed them to a giant fish, that didn’t look like a fish at all.

“What are you waiting for?” the Prince asked.

“Our ride? You are not going to come with us?” Sebastian asked.

“No, I’ll be riding my klosus to get to the castle,” he answered.

“Hell no. If you think I’m riding that fish without you then you’re clearly mistaken. What if it eats us?” Demelov objected.

The Prince grinned. “Don’t worry. It has no appetite for humans.”

None of the guys took the first step. So, Rebecca took the leap of faith and jumped into the edge of its back careful not to touch the spiny projections. She safely stood on the edge and smiled at them.

“I did it. Come on,” she said.

Ink followed her, then the rest of the guys lined up and took turns boarding the animal. When they were all standing on its back, the prince whistled once again and the creature moved forward using the front pair of it’s flippers for propulsion. They wobbled a little as it gained speed and accidentally clutched unto it’s spine to steady themselves. Much to their surprise, the spine didn’t feel scaly. It was actually smooth and hard to the touch like ivory.

Prince Hanariel, on the other hand, flew ahead of them to the Castle. He was leading them for a few meters while the creature took its time to swim in the water. Rebecca was glad it did, for it allowed them to marvel at the immensity of the castle and to take in all the nature that surrounded them.

There were elves on the staircases with flowing water doing some kind of hand dance while singing a weird song. As they continued to repeat the movement, the water in the lake rose alarming Rebecca and the company.

“What is going on?” asked Sebastian tightly gripping Demelov’s hand which he quickly retrieved.

The water was now taller than they are. The path that they were taking was the only lake water that didn’t rise. It was like a waterfall pouring down on the sides. When Ink reached out his hand to touch the cascading water, it abruptly fell back to it’s normal level, splashing them and the creature. As it receded, they looked up to see the fish hanging suspended in the air. The elves that were on the edge of the castle extended their hand as if collecting each piece into a basket placed in front of them. Once they were done, they simply picked up the basket and went away.

“Well, that was eventful,” Frank commented.

Marty wiped the sleeves of his tunic. “What was that?”

“I think they were fishing,” Eris answered.

“That was a fancy way to fish,” Ink added.

Sebastian shook his red hair at Demelov, sprinkling him some of the water. He pushed Sebastian a bit, careful not to accidentally send him flying to the lake. “I think they were putting on a show for us.”

“Let’s just say it’s a welcoming gift, shall we?” Claus finished.

The creature stopped a foot away from the stairway leading to the silver and gold entrance of the castle. Prince Hanariel was already waiting by the grand door, his klosus nowhere to be seen.

The Prince looked at the group of masked men approaching him, climbing the stairs. They were led by Rebecca and they followed behind her in a triangle formation. By the time they reach the top of the steps, the grand door opened leading into the throne room. The ceiling was very high and there were huge open windows where birds were perched singing a song they couldn’t understand. It filled the hall with melodious chirping which seemed pleasing to the elves.

On the center of the room was a dais where an elf sat on a silver chair. It had a golden baldachin carved with a symbol of the crescent moon. The elf wore a silver diadem on his head much like the one Prince Hanariel had. His golden robes were ankle-deep, smooth and free flowing. The sleeves opening for the arms were flaring while the opening for the neck was v-lined. He wore a serious expression but his eyes looked like it was dancing with mirth, gazing at the peculiar masks of his guests. It rapidly changed color from violet, to black, to green until it settled for silver. He stood from his throne, arms extending sideways, his long blonde hair almost touching the floor. He was the High King of the Elves, Vienuriel.

“Welcome, Descendants of the Diseased, Bearers of the Mark of the Undead… to the Kingdom of Valhalla and to the Moon Castle, the holiest of all Elven Lands,” Vienuriel greeted.

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