Chapter 17: Elven Council
The sun was bright in the sky as it tried to find its way amongst the tall trees of Ellesmera, the capital of the elves. A beautiful voice could be heard as an Elven Maid was singing, her beautiful voice rising and falling according to the rhythm of the song, in perfect harmony. The song was sad and slow at times, but it became faster as time progressed. It was a song about an ancient elven hero from the age of the war against the Dragons. Finally as the last note escaped the lips of the elven maid, a silence fell over the forrest as every being in the area was lost in the magic of the song.
"What a beautiful song! I wish I could hear her voice all day" Firnen commented
"It truly is a nice song. What do you mean hear her voice all day? Now you're making me jealous!" Arya said jokingly.
"There's no need little one. My heart belongs to you" Firnen said.
Arya, the queen of the elves let a sigh escape her as the song finished. She liked this particular song as it always made her heart flutter and her eyes water at the tragic end of the song. She looked once again at the trees searching for the elven maid but she couldn't see her. The trees were huge, as they were a few of the most ancient trees of the forrest of Du Weldenvarden. The leaves were green but at times, because of the cold winter, they had started to turn yellow and brown and fall on the grass. The city of Ellesmera was once again full of life as there were elves everywhere, going on their daily routine. Some elves were practicing their singing skills, some others their archery and sword fighting skills, to reach the ultimate goal of perfection in the particular art. A goal that sounded easy but it was very hard to achieve without daily practice.
Arya entered one of the large building that had been sung into a giant tree and that led to Tialdari Hall, the throne room of the elves. She wished she could join the other elves on their sword fighting and archery practice and even the singing practice but that was not possible. The matters of the state needed her daily attention and the other elven lords would disapprove of her not being there to solve them. As she walked, she passed groups of humans and dwarves that had come to Ellesmera since the end of the war against Galbatorix.
The elves were still very skeptical about outsiders, not trusting them, especially without searching the peoples minds, but with the help of Arya, a few humans and dwarves had been able to live in Ellesmera. As an ambassador for the humans for twenty years, she was more accustomed to the human traditions and suffering and was able to convince the other elven lords that it was a necessary step to heal the elven society and help it grow. She had gained many enemies by this action but she hoped that her decision was for the best.
As she entered Tialdari Hall, she saw the elven lords already waiting for her in the table as each and every one sat at a chair, looking like perfect statues of kings of old with their ancient beautiful faces. They all looked at her hiding their emotions although a few lords smiled as she entered and others looked at her with disappointment.
Her eyes unconsciously fell on the beautifully decorated throne. It was made of the most perfectly polished wood, and its base had roots inside the ground, as if it was a living tree. The back was made to be as comfortable as possible with the use of a soft pillow and on the side of the chair one could see perfectly carved flowers that had been drawn in a multitude of magnificent colors. Arya knew that they would all prefer if her mother was still alive and that she would never be the same as her mother at ruling the elves. Still she would try her best to be a wise queen.
"Your Highness, I am glad you have arrived!" Lord Dathedr said with a polite smile.
He was a relatively young elf, at the age of her mother who was a wise advisor, in all matters. His height was normal and he wasn't particularly muscular, but his silver hair and blue bright eyes gave him an image of wisdom and respect that other elves lacked. At the moment he was holding a piece of parchment in his hands.
"Thank you Lord Dathedr, please sit!" Arya replied as the lords all sat again back at their chairs.
The Elven council was usually summoned to discuss important matters of the state. This included the recent war and the attacks of King Orrin on cities of the empire such as Belatona and Dras Leona.
"I am afraid we have disturbing news from Teirm. Our scouts mentioned that the city was burned to the ground and that there were thousand of people dead on the streets." Lord Dathedr explained.
"How is that possible? King Orrin's army is near Dras Leona which is miles away and the city of Teirm was not besieged or we would know it and we would have helped." Arya asked her brows lifting.
"That is exactly what we thought your Highness. Only a creature of incredible power could have done it in one night. "
"Perhaps it was a wild dragon." Lord Redwin commented.
He was an old elf that had white hair. He was tall and wore richly decorated clothes that showed his status. He was an enemy of Dathedr and thus of Arya as he was one of the elves that feared outsiders and did not want to have any contact with them.
"The dragons have all left the Empire along with Eragon." Arya reminded him.
"Our scouts examined the destruction closely but they are certain it was not a dragon. In fact, our scouts claim to have seen a being in the area. A being of darkness. A shade." Lord Dathedr said.
"A shade in Teirm? That is disturbing news indeed." Arya commented with a thoughtful expression.
"An incredibly powerful shade that wiped out a whole city. A shade that is out for blood." Lord Redwin interrupted her.
"We will double the guards in the entrance of the forrest. No one enters or leaves without permission. Our plan to help the humans has not changed. We will march to Illeria as fast as possible." Arya said with a loud and certain voice.
"Arya Drottning, you would have us leave the forrest of Du Weldenvarden with such a powerful enemy close by? This will leave us open to attack. Our homes will be in danger. For what? To save the human Queen from King Orrin and then what? A few decades later the same thing will happen again and again. That is the nature of humans" Lord Redwin said with a silent voice. Half the council members talked against Lord Redwin and the other half supported him.
Arya looked at Lord Redwin and the lords that supported him with disappointment. She refused to believe that her race had grown so fearful of interaction with the other races, so heartless.
The lords kept fighting amongst themselves until they noticed Arya's expression. Slowly, the arguments stopped and everyone looked at her. Arya tried to find a way to convince the elven lords of the need to help the humans.
"The Forrest of Du Weldenvarden is still protected by our magic. We will leave a part of the elven army behind, to secure the cities, with the strongest here at Ellesmera." she said with a loud voice. Redwin and the other council members seemed unconvinced.
"It is necessary to help in the war against King Orrin. He is slowly but surely becoming a new Galbatorix and if we are to prevent him from taking the throne, all races need to unite against this enemy. Things have been prosperous the past ten years, since the end of the war. Our forrest is growing, our homes are full of joy and our lands are prospering. We have new riders from our race, and we even have more children being born from our race. You have to ask a question to yourselves. Are we willing to sacrifice all this and allow another Galbatorix to rise? Are you willing to sacrifice the future of our race for a petty reason like the one you are offering? Are we to hide in our forrest while our friends fight and die and we silently watch?" she asked, fury in her eyes.
The dark eyes of Redwin looked at her with hate as he offered his reply.
"It is in the best interest of our race to let the humans settle their differences. After it is over, we will send a diplomatic envoy to keep friendly relations with the other races. We will not risk elven lives for a war that is not ours." he said with a loud voice looking at the council, seeing a few positive glances from some of the lords.
"Be careful or we might lose all the pack. Talk some sense into them or it might be too late." Firnen said and Arya was glad for his advice. She was glad that he was here with her.
"We defeated Galbatorix because of the friendship that existed between the races, which helped us overcome even the strongest of challenges, removing the mad king from his throne. We united against him with a single goal, and this communion of mind helped us and led us to victory. This is what we need to have again. A single goal. The humans and the dwarves have already decided what they want and are already fighting against King Orrin. We must join them in this war, so that we can still enjoy the benefits we have today." Arya said, her voice flowing as she looked at each and every one of the lords in the room with her bright green determined eyes, finally stopping at Lord Redwin.
The resistance of some of the elven Lords decreased and she could see she had managed to persuade a few of them to her cause.
She had the advantage for now and she did not let Lord Redwin retort as she immediately called for a vote in the matter. The voting process took a long time but finally the results were ready. Each of the Lords voted and there were nine votes to help and five to remain in Ellesmera. Arya smiled and thanked the Elven Lords for their support and faith in her decision. She looked at Lord Redwin but his face was blank, as was the face of the Lords that had lost the vote. One of them was the previous owner of Tamerlein, her sword.
The Elven Lords, each one a representative of a great Family dynasty, excused themselves and left the room, others with grim expressions and others with a smile. Arya was left in the room alone and sighed.
The vote had been closer than she had expected. She would need to watch Lord Redwin closely, no doubt he was up to something. Her thoughts instantly turned to Eragon. She had learned from King Orik that the dwarves were on their way to Illeria and so was Eragon along with the dragons and riders.
A memory came to her mind of the last time she had seen Eragon. She shivered again as she remembered his voice saying her true name and his reaction to her saying his. She remembered the promise she had given him that if his feelings did not change in the next years then perhaps they could be together. She still was not sure how she felt about Eragon. She bit her lip as she tried not to think that she had been too harsh to him. He was leaving Alagaesia and he didn't know if he would ever return and she had refused his advances against everything that told her not to, and everyone she thought with a smile as she remembered Firnen's words when they parted. She valued Eragon as a friend, or even more perhaps, but she also needed to remain queen of the Elves and devote herself to her duty. She only hoped that Eragon had forgiven her for her refusal.
Unconsciously without stopping to think of the consequences she said a few words, attempting to scry Eragon. She immediately regretted it as she didn't know what they would talk about, but the words had escaped her and the spell was already taking place.
"Arya!" Eragon's happy cry broke her reverie.
He looked at her with his brown eyes as he registered every detail of her. She remembered the new green dress she was wearing,made by the Elves and hoped she looked presentable. She saw Eragon's smile, the smile she remembered so well as she observed the small beard that was beginning to grow on his face. She smiled back, unable to help herself and Eragon's face brightened as he saw the smile.
"Eragon, it is good to see you well." Arya said. "Send my regards to Saphira. And Firnen's" she added with an afterthought.
"I will. It's been a long time since we talked." Eragon said seriously with a sad tone and Arya felt bad for not contacting him more often.
"I understand. You must have been busy ruling the Elves." Eragon added and Arya sighed with relief. He had forgiven her.
"Indeed, it has been very hard. I sometimes wonder if I will be able to do it, even with the help of Firnen." she surprised herself telling him this as she would never admit it to anyone.
"Is something wrong? You look a bit distracted." Eragon said concerned.
"Teirm has been attacked by a very powerful shade. The population has been killed and only a few people escaped." Arya said with a sad voice.
An expression of rage passed over Eragon's face as he listened to this news, a destruction he could not have stopped. His expression was thoughtful as he reassessed the situation of the war and his next move.
"I see. That is grave news." Eragon said. "We will definitely have to examine this further with a few of my students." he continued.
"The Elven council had objections about the elves helping in the war against King Orrin. I managed to persuade them but I do not know for how long." Arya said with a worried expression.
"You are their Queen. They must obey you. What were they thinking?" Eragon asked.
Arya smiled in response. "It is a bit more complicated than that."
"You can't just let Firnen have his way with the Council until they agree to your every demand?" Eragon said jokingly, laughing.
Arya laughed "As stubborn as the council can be, that would be disastrous, for both us and the Dragons."
Eragon looked at Arya again, his eyes piercing her but he did not say anything.
"What?" She asked with a smile.
"Nothing. I just missed you. A lot." Eragon said "I'm glad you contacted me." he added.
"I'm glad I see you too." Arya said with a smile. Eragon smiled too and after a while he said.
"I must go, my students are watching." Eragon said with a wink.
"Of course. I will see you soon in Illeria Eragon." Arya said loudly laughing embarassed.
"Yes, we will see each other soon and we will talk more privately. Be careful Arya!" Eragon said loudly and then the mirror turned blank.
Arya looked at her features, a smile still in her lips. She wondered at the smile and at the happiness she had felt at seeing Eragon again, even for just a few minutes He had changed since the last time she saw him. She felt her heart beat faster at the thought of seeing him again and being able to be with him again, to talk about the thoughts in her mind and to be comforted by him, a feeling she had not felt since Faolin.
"I just missed you. A lot" Eragon's voice sounded again in her mind.
She still wasn't sure how she felt about Eragon, but she was sure for one thing. She missed being with him and she had missed him too, a lot. She watched the vast blue sky for a few minutes, as she watched Firnen flying in the sky, her thoughts wondering to distant lands, as she hummed the melody of the song she had heard a few hours ago.
Finally, she turned and exited the Throne room of Tialdari Hall. It was time.