Chapter fourteen: The Warning
Drell woke to something warm and fuzzy lying on his chest. Opening his eyes he looked down to see a small black kitten all curled up and fast asleep. Then, sensing that its bed had woken up, the kitten opened its eyes, stretched and mewed. Drell winced as the kitten’s claws dug into his chest
“Hey watch it” he laughed, sitting up and sending the kitten tumbling down into his lap where it mewed again and looked up at him with its bright yellow eyes. Drell smiled, “How exactly did you get in here anyway?” the kitten looked to the door that now stood a jar.
“That’s strange I could have sworn I closed it” he looked back at the kitten and shrugged,
“Well I guess that answers one question. But where did you come from? I don’t recall seeing you around here yesterday and noone around here seems like the cat type” while saying this Drell lifted the kitten from the bed and held him so that he and the kit where eye to eye.
“Well? Where did you come from? Hum?” the kitten mewed and placed a paw on the elf’s nose. Drell smiled, “By the Shade you`re cute. Tell you what. Let me get dressed and then lets see if we cant get you back where you belong okay?” the kitten placed its other paw on Drells nose. Drell nodded, “Ok” and set the little creature down on the bed. He cast off the covers, swung his legs out over the bed and went to the table where he had set his cloths, freshly cleaned and pressed by Zorn’s servants.
Now Drell was not a self-conscious man but for some reason, standing nude before this little creature, he suddenly felt vary self-conscious. And for the life of him he couldn’t understand why. In the barracks back in Neroedell there was no such thing as privacy. Come the morn there would be about forty or more men all changing in the same room, same as in the showers, and he had never felt self conscious then. Perhaps it was the fact that the little creatures eyes never blinked or even fluttered they just starred. That stare was piercing, almost apprising. Drell smiled at him self for being so ridiculous and continued dressing.
“Alright I’m ready are you?” asked Drell, grabbing his sword belt and tying it tightly about his waist. The kitten mewed and leaped off the bed. Drell smiled and lifted his bow and quiver onto his shoulder “Alright then come along Cinders” Drell watched as the kitted hurried out the door and then Drell scanned the room before following after the kitten making sure to close the door.
As Drell had suspected none of the servants or guards had ever seen the little animal before and could not imagine how he may have gotten in. After asking the last of the castles personnel Drell turned to Cinders
“Well my little friend you don’t belong here that’s for sure so what do say we try the market square?” Cinders mewed and rubbed up against Drells leg, “Alright then” laughed Drell, scooping up Cinders and making his way toward the grand hall.
It was early yet but the crowds had already begun to gather. After about two hours of milling about the crowd Drell realized he had struck another dead end. It was the same story as at the castle. No one had ever seen him before or knew whom he belonged to. Drell sighed and leaned up against a railing.
“Well it looks like you don’t belong anywhere Cinders. So you’re stuck with me I suppose” he turned to look at the kitten that sat on the floor beside him,“The thing is I wanted to go to the battlements and I’m not sure that’s a good place for a kitten. But then again where else are you going to go?” Cinders cocked his head to one side. Drell smiled and knelt in front of him.
“You think you can keep up?” Cinders mewed and ran over to the southern bridge that lead to the inner keep, “Guess that answers my question. Okay wait up” laughed Drell as he followed Cinders across the bridge.
Arriving at the inner keep Drell was slightly surprised to find it fully manned. Seeing how high the steps were he picked Cinders up with one hand and made his way up. At the top he set the kitten down and made his way to the head of the battlement where Gorlon was standing.
“Good morning my good Prince, feeling better?” Gorlon turned; at first he didn’t know why Drell asked him if he felt better. Then he remembered last night and nodded.
“Yes I feel quite well thank you. All quiet”
“I’m glad to here that” Gorlon snorted and looked down at Cinders who was rubbing up against his leg.
“What is that kitten doing here?”
“He’s a friend of mine. Didn’t have anywhere else to go so I brought him with me”
“Now why does that not surprise me? Just keep him out of the way” Gorlon turned back to gazing out the arrow slit. There was nothing more to say so Drell did the same. Indeed it was quiet, a little too quiet. In Narisden, Drell knew, that the birds and crickets would be wide-awake filling the deep woods with their music. Admittedly Drell did not know much about Jarleime or its creatures but from what he had seen it was abundant with birds and he found it strange that they should be voiceless now. Drell scanned the trees hoping to find what the problem might be but the tangled branches and large leaves of the strange trees revealed nothing. A lone sound broke the silence, a whistling that Drell knew to be,
“Arrow fire get down!” cried Drell knocking Gorlon flat as a black arrow with green fletching sped through the arrow slit, thudding into the place where the dwarf prince had been standing.
“Thanks” muttered Gorlon staring at the arrow as it shivered from the impact. The dwarfs were returning fire with their cross bows into the empty trees but soon ceased when they realized they were not receiving any back.
“Goblins” hissed Drell as he got to his feet. He looked about for Cinders who was standing beside the arrow sniffing at something tied to the shaft.
“What would those cowards be doing here?” grunted Gorlon as he pushed himself to his feet. Drell didn’t answer as he retrieved the piece of parchment from the arrow and began to read it. Drells eyes widened, with the parchment still in his hand he leaped over the edge of the battlement to the main floor, Cinders held tight in his other hand.
“Are you mad? What do you think you`re doing? What’s going on?” Drell didn’t answer and made a mad dash for the tunnel, “Are you deaf? Elf get back here! Do you hear me? Elf!” Gorlons cries echoed in the tunnel but Drell paid no heed to them, he had to get back to the castle quickly.
Loroedor had just woken up. He had dressed and was now wandering the castle in search of Drell who had not been in his room when he had gone to find him.
“Lost something sir elf?” Loroedor turned to find Zorn standing behind him with a grin on his face.
“Yes my brother your highness. He wasn’t in his room this morning”
“Your brother is a might old for you to be checking up on him isn’t he?” asked Zorn as he walked past Loroedor on his way to the throne room. Loroedor walked with him.
“Yes I suppose so but old habits die hard. There are times when I forget that he’s not a little boy anymore” Loroedor smiled, “There are also times when I forget that I’m his brother not his father”
“Where is you father lad? I can’t imagine he let you two go out on your own and you hardly ever mention him” Loroedor bowed his head.
“Our father’s dead your highness”
“Oh I’m sorry” Loroedor shook his head.
“Don’t be it was a long time ago. Drell and I were still children. The elder of our people Neldaroe took us in. We’ve lived with him ever since”
“And he just let you up and leave?” Loroedor nodded
“He knows what Mina means to Drell and he’s not one to stand in his way” by this time they had made it to the throne room. And no sooner had they entered the shimmering hall than Drell burst through the doors.
“Your highness, brother” he took a step then fell breathing hard.
“Drell!” cried Loroedor who hurried to his side, Zorn followed.
“Here” Drell lifted the parchment and placed it in Zorns hand.
“A goblin arrow carried this into the battlements read it” Zorn unfolded the letter and began to read aloud.
To Zorn King of the Mountain
This is a warning. Hand over the Red Dragon Eye Stone and those who carried it or face annihilation. You stand no chance against us so if you are smart you will comply. You have till sunrise tomorrow to decide, we will be waiting.
Signed Commander of the Dark Elite, servant of Lord Dracus.
Zorn crumpled the letter angrily
“Guards! Guards!” three armed dwarfs rushed into the chamber.
“You called my lord?”
“You two go fetch my sons and you find Redtree and his Knights. Go!” the three guardsmen bowed and rushed out, “Give the stone to them indeed. Ha! Over my dead body” he began to pace, “Do either of you know who this Lord Dracus is?” asked Zorn as he continued to pace. Loroedor shook his head
“No neither of us has heard the name before. But when we went searching for Mina we were attacked twice by goblins, its possible that they are the same that threaten you now” moments later Gorlon marched in and the first guard followed him. Valorn arrived just behind his brother with the second guardsman.
“You sent for us father?” asked Gorlon casting Valorn and icy glare.
“Yes I sent for you, read this” he tossed the crumpled letter to Gorlon who unfolded it and read slowly.
“How dare they!” he thundered.
“Calm down Gorlon”
“Calm down? They dare to”
“Be silent I cant think!” snapped Zorn who resumed his pacing. A few moments later the third guard returned with Redtree and the others, including Mina who went to stand beside Drell. Zorn passed the letter to Redtree and watched vigilantly as the knights passed it around, taking note of their shocked and dismayed expressions. The last knight handed it back to Zorn.
“Right come sunrise we will face these bastards on the field. I ask that you and your men ride with mine Redtree” the red bearded knight nodded. Zorn turned to the elves, “And I want you and your brother to ride at the front line with my sons and I”
“It would be an honor,” replied Loroedor, Drell gave a firm nod.
“What about me?” asked Mina. Drell turned to her.
“You stay here”
“But Drell I”
“Mina please. This is a battle we’re talking about, its too dangerous” Mina scowled, Drell placed a hand on her shoulder. “I know you can fight but I don’t want you involved in this. There are more then enough soldiers to defend this place” Mina sighed.
“Vary well I’ll stay” Drell smiled and kissed her cheek.
“Now that that’s settled come there is much to be done” with this Zorn turned and headed out a large iron door in the right wall. The others were quick to follow leaving Mina alone with her thoughts.