Chapter sixteen: Death on the Field
The call of the horns roused Drell from his sleep. It called again and Drell leaped from his bed. He threw on his pants and boots, tied his leather armor up in a bundle with his tunic, grabbed his sword and dashed out of the room. The horn called again and he whistled for Nerohain, who was with him in an instant. A running leap brought him up onto the nightmares back. He pressed the bundle and his sword close to him as Nerohain charged onward to the keep where the dwarfen army had once again assembled. Loroedor was at the front line. He scowled when he saw Drell approach.
“What are you doing here? You should be in bed your not strong enough”
“I’m strong enough for this” Drell untied the bundle and began placing his armor on.
“If there’s a battle I want to fight”
“Its not a battle, it’s a messenger” said Loroedor. Drell stopped for a moment to see if his brother was jesting, he wasn’t.
“Then what are they here for?” Drell looked over his shoulder at the army.
“Precautionary measure” replied Loroedor simply as the horn called again. Drell finished with his armor, pulled his tunic on over his head, and buckled his sword to his waist.
“So what’s going to happen then?”
“Zorn and his sons are going out to meet the messenger, what will happen after that I cant say” Drell sat silently for a moment then dismounted and went to the battlements. There he took a spare bow and a quiver from a dwarfen archer and waited.
“What do you see elf?” called Zorn.
“There are three horse men at the head of the enemy front line, two hobs and a man. They are heavily armored but they carry no weapons. The enemy force is small if the situation escalates it wont take much to disperse them” Zorn nodded.
“Open the gate. Lets see what these slime have to say” slowly the gate began to shift. Seeing this the messenger and his guard advanced. Drell fit an arrow to his bow and watched the three closely as they approached. The two parties met just with in firing range. All raised their hands to show they carried no weapons.
“Alright say what you’ve come to say and have done with it. Are you the Commander of this rabble?” asked Zorn. The man bristled a bit.
“No, I am Captain Erin our Commander was wounded in yesterdays battle”
“And even if he were well he would not bandy words with the likes of you” hissed one of the hobs, Erin cuffed him and turned back to Zorn.
“Our offer is the same as before. Hand over the stone and those who brought it to you and there will be no further blood shed. If you refuse we will take them by force along with your mountain, and your lives. What say you?” there were a few moments of silence.
“I say you are an idiotic fool if you think you will ever breach this mountain. So you can take your offer and shove it up your ass” Erin shook with rage and began to reach for a dagger concealed in his boot.
“Don’t even try it you bastard!” Drell pulled his bow tight and trained an arrow on the Captains chest. Erin looked to see who had spoken. Seeing no one he reached for the dagger again. An arrow grazed his hand; he hissed and snatched it back.
“The next one goes strait to your hart. And I wont miss, I can promise you that” Erin scowled and turned his horse about, the hobs slowly followed. Drell kept his bow trained on Erin until he and his comrades were out of range. One of the hobs caught a bow and quiver tossed to him by one of his comrades, spun in his saddle and fired.
“Your highness!” cried Drell as he leaned out over the battlement and fired. The two arrows collided, Drells driving the hobs into the ground. Before Drell could knock another arrow the second hob spun about with bow in hand. The two hobs fired in tandem. The two arrows sped for Zorn. With a vicious growl Gorlon ran in front of his father receiving both arrows himself. Zorn’s anguished cry rang into the jungle brush as he went forward to catch his falling son. As the three returned to the safety of the keep Drell cast a scathing glance at Erin and the two hobs. He ground his teeth and snapped the borrowed bow, tossing the useless debris aside without care. Zorn rushed passed his men, clutching his son tightly as he raced toward the castle with Valorn following closely behind. As the dwarfen army dispersed Drell remained gazing out at the jungle canopy and loathing it.
By the time Zorn reached the castle Gorlon was already dead. As the priests prepared Gorlons body for the burial services Zorn confined him self in his chambers refusing food and accepting only drink. Drell did the same, spurning all company except for Cinders. As he starred at the ceiling he absently stroked the kitten that lay curled up asleep in his lap. A knock on the door broke the silence.
“Drell? Drell it’s me, open the door”
“Go away Loroedor”
“No I will not go away. Open this damn door!” Loroedor banged the door furiously. Drell made no reply. “Drell you can’t stay shut up in here forever”
“Want to bet?” snapped Drell.
“No one blames you for what happened Drell. Gorlon went deliberately into the path of those arrows and everyone saw it. The only one blaming you is yourself” again Drell did not reply. Loroedor sighed, what else could he say? Resting a hand briefly upon the door he turned and walked away.
It was evening before another knock came to Drell’s chamber door.
“Go away Loroedor”
“Its me sir Drell, Valorn. My father wants everyone down in the grand hall. If you would be so kind as to come with me” Drell sighed and rose from where he sat, wakening Cinders, who mewed.
“Sorry little friend” Drell muttered as he went slowly to the door and unlocked it. The prince’s young face was etched with grief and concern. Drell bowed slightly and followed him to the grand hall. Zorn stood at the head of the room with his back turned and his head bowed. The Knights, Loroedor and Mina stood silently in wait for the old king to speak. Drell went to stand between Loroedor and Mina as Valorn went to his father’s side. Slowly Zorn turned to face them. He looked much older. His eyes were red from tears he dared not shed in the presents of others. Seeing him Drell felt the pain of guilt hit him full force and he cast his eyes down to the floor. Seeing this Zorn sighed.
“I do not blame you young elf. My son’s death was his own fault. He could have let me die instead but what is done is done. I did not bring you here to call blame or guilt down upon you” his old eyes scanned the group. “My sons burial shall be held just before dawn. I have sent heralds throughout Barlendure and Vandrazmarn to alert my people. I have called you here because I have a favor to ask of you” there was silence for a few moments then Loroedor nodded.
“Ask,” he said simply.
“I would like you all to be a part of the procession that will follow my son to Kings Rest. Will you do this for me?” again Loroedor answered for them all.
“We will your highness, and proud to” Zorn smiled faintly and nodded.
“Thank you. You may go now. I will send for you when it`s time” all bowed and departed to prepare.