Four days went by as Aravoen and Leonora wandered the city and fields. Once, they got on their horses and rode to fields near the city, much to the annoyance of the council.
In between the time with Leonora, Aravoen combed the great library for any history of his people. He even added time to visit his mother’s house and meet his cousin and aunt for a while, but he spent most of his time with Leonora.
* * *
On the fifth day of this happy moment, Aravoen was woken from a deep dreamless sleep, by Leo.
“What is wrong?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.
“Dress up,” came Leo’s voice. “Father and some of the council wish to speak to you now.”
“Oh.” Aravoen sighed; he had managed to rub out the sleep from his eyes. He got up and dressed.
When he opened the door, he found Leo standing outside waiting for him. Together they walked in the direction of the leaf hall, only to turn off a few paces from the door. They went down a flight of stairs and came into a maze with two-foot high walls. Aravoen could see the council members present: Stareonor, Mendrek, Cidarcorin, Riya, Akasha, Corical, Hamilicar and Methendercel. They all sat around a blazing fire. This surprised Aravoen, and he looked up to see the moon was still up, shining its grey beams on the earth.
As they approached the council, the dew off the grass wet their boots. Soon they were in the middle of the maze standing outside the council ring.
“Come sit, Aravoen,” Mendrek said.
Aravoen sat in a stool next to Hamilicar. Leo sat next to his father. The stools, in which they sat, were low three-legged stools. The design and craftsmanship was such that Aravoen had never seen before. Reeds ran around a small cushion, covering it up by inches, and a small arm of reeds ran from the circling reeds to form a small stool arm. But at the small of the back Aravoen noticed a small hump that raised midway up his back. It was hard and soft at once.
Aravoen tried to get comfortable. All eyes turned to him and Aravoen settled in the stool, looking only at Mendrek.
“Sleep is sweet,” Mendrek announced, “but Elasia needs you very soon.”
“What do you mean, My Lord?”
“War is on the doorsteps of Earose and its armies are cut off from them. Small trinkets of the horse lords ride into the city,” Mendrek said.
“There are tales of demons entering the ringed hall of Hauma. Caerso Uden will soon be besieged, My Lord!” Hamilicar cried.
“The Earoseian peoples should be well prepared for the onslaught.”
“They would be, but it is not uruks and orcs that they fight. These hordes of Novorgord are under the black wizardry of a blood mage,” Mendrek whispered.
“Blood mage.” Aravoen was stunned. “They were destroyed many years ago, Mendrek; surely you know that to be true yourself.”
“Yes,” Mendrek said, resigned, “but the blood mage left alive was once a good wizard. He is Mia Moldrin, my brother. The one whose capture you prevented.”
“Earoseians have it that at night every full moon,” Cidarcorin said, “he enters the Aruni hall and kills the best men of the army. Hauma is helpless at the moment.”
“Aremur was a good king,” Aravoen said. “His son proved better. I left before Hauma took the throne. How do we help them?”
“Half of the Earoseian army is in Caerso Uden now,” Stareonor said. “The other half is in Guardon. Small ranks lie in wait at the Dunslaw Hills and South Weald. Battalions of orcs march from the Grendels Voir through Belforst and into North Weald. They are doomed.”
“No, My Lords,” Aravoen said, “they are not. Bring me a map and I show you hope for the horse lords.”
Akasha waved her hand in the air and a large parchment lay on the ground. Aravoen got up and picked it up. It was the map of Elasia. He looked over it in the north of Earose.
“Here,” he said, putting the map down and pointing to a forest. All came closer to him to see. “In the north of Earose lie the woods of Brithon and the Dwarven city deep within the mountains. I will get their aid for the king of Earose.”
“Dwarves and elves together!” cried Riya. “Unheard of, but if you can try, do so. Earose is important for the oncoming tide.”
“I will leave tomorrow for Caerso Uden.”
“Father, the elves of Brithor will help, I am sure of it.” Leo spoke. “I will go with Aravoen to Caerso Uden to see the damage and will return by the fastest road to lead a small elf party of a thousand to the ring hills.”
“I must come,” Mendrek said in a hollow voice. “I will face my brother and hold the city with the King Hauma.”
“This council is closed then.”
“No, My Lords,” Aravoen said. “When we return, hopefully victorious, we must find how the Novorgord armies pass those cursed trees of the Grendels Voir.”
“It is no secret that they are in league with the dark city,” Methendercel cried. “The grendels have always been in league with Sarzgat against Ebrithia.”
“Very well, My Lords and Ladies.” Aravoen stood and bowed. “My sleep I must catch up on.”
“Before you go Aravoen,” Riya walked up to him. “Read whatever is in that tube. Leonora can explain some of it, if you get lost.”
“If I manage to open it, general.”
“Just give it to Leonora,” Riya was smiling. “She will show you how.”
Aravoen moved back to his rooms and lay awake on the bed for a long time. Sleep was hard to come by now. He was on the brink of yet another adventure and another war. But far more importantly, he needed to see Leonora.