As Aravoen stood in the shadows, his eyes sought the two elves that he saw seated in the shadows. Focussing a bit more on their expressions, he could see the shock on their faces turn to anger. He watched the man, Miaren, yes that was his name, come into the light followed by the woman, Leonora. Aravoen took his place upon the throne which he had occupied many days ago.
“We asked for the hidden prince,” Miaren snarled at Rithin, who had taken up his seat around the table.
“Not a mere man,” Leonora added harshly, looking at Aravoen. Aravoen smiled back at her.
“I did just…” Rithin began.
“Rithin, do not dishonour our fair guests,” Aravoen said calmly. He turned to the elves and looked at them sternly. “For fair folk you are pretty rash. If you had asked me my name, you would have saved your time, our precious time. I am Aravoen son of Amroth III, which makes me the hidden prince.” With a bit of finality in his voice, he added, “Now what do you wish to discuss?”
The elves were taken aback. “Forgive us,” Miaren said.
Leonora said more loudly, “Well in that case, will the rest of you do us the honour and get out.” The Eluncil was taken aback.
“Surely,” Sedranor said, hiding his anger and despair at being ordered out. “You can tell our lord all you want with us here.”
“My Lords and Ladies, please,” Miaren said, trying to calm the situation. Aravoen remained calm as the members of the Eluncil bickered, trying to convince the elves of their use in the meeting. Aravoen exchanged a glance with Rithin before he cleared his throat loudly.
“Rithin, take your fellow council members out,” Aravoen said. “Do as I requested you in particular.”
“The rest of you…” He raised his voice a little higher. “Surely no disrespect is meant from the elves, so go about your business. Thank you.”
“What?” Sedranor, who had been quiet for too long, beseeched.
“Yes, you heard me, out ; what we have to say is for his ears alone,” Leonora replied, unconcerned. The Eluncil members looked at Aravoen, hoping that he would speak in their support. However, Aravoen remained silent, having given his words already.
“Surely,” Sedranor raved, “you cannot do as they say. We have to hear, we must hear. You Aravoen are lord of these lands and can not be ordered around by the elves.”
“Sedranor.” It was not Aravoen who spoke. For what seemed like the hundredth time, Rithin rose in opposition to Sedranor. “I suggest we leave, there is no point in trying to argue. Our lord has given us his orders. We must do as our lord says.” The last part was added as a pure mockery to Sedranor.
Rithin stood up, went to the door, turned around, and looked expectantly at the rest. The rest of the council stood up and walked out reluctantly, except Sedranor. Aravoen looked at him, waiting, but Sedranor looked back stony faced. The tension was on the rise and Sedranor was not helping by doing this. Aravoen’s eyes were narrowing into slits as seconds stretched to minutes.
Leonora looked from him to Aravoen. She could see the growing anger in his eyes; she looked warily back to Sedranor who had a look of determination on his face. She turned to Miaren, and the look on his face gave away the fact that he too realised the mounting tension in the hall.
“Aravoen,” she said calmly, “why don’t we go to your chambers?”
“Yes,” Aravoen replied, not looking at her. She gently glided towards Aravoen and firmly forced him up, unused to trying to calm those who were not elven. Aravoen responded to her pressure and led them to his chambers.
He was still seething when all three were settled in his room.
We better not push him just yet, Miaren said to her through his mind.
Patience, well, what more can we do, she replied. It took Aravoen some time to get back to normal. He turned and faced the two elves.
“Thank you,” he said to Leonora.
“Well, we must talk now,” she replied smugly.
“Yes, but could you put a spell to stop people eavesdropping?” Aravoen asked.
“I agree,” Miaren said. “Should I or you…?”
Leonora raised her hand to stop him. She then turned her palm to the door and muttered something inaudible. A white light engulfed the room before disappearing.
“Now we can talk,” she said loudly.
Aravoen went and sat by the window with his back to the outside; Leonora settled herself in his chair scattering some of the parchments as she placed her hands whilst Miaren felt more comfortable standing.
“You do know why we have come?” Miaren asked.
“Yes, I think I do.”
“In that case,” Leonora began, “we should explain a bit more. Your mother, the Lady Eleonor, and Mendrek are in Elvhelm now. They still try to persuade King Stareonor to allow you through the Guardes Wesselren. However, I doubt he will accept. We all know of your past insubordination, My Lord.”
“Then why have you come?” Aravoen asked, confused. “If I am not yet accepted, why have you come?”
It was Miaren who answered. “Mendrek is quite confident that by the time we reach the guarded forest, our noble and great king will have given you leave to enter the sacred lands.”
“But the possibility that we might reach them when he has not still looms,” Aravoen said.
“We know that,” Leonora said quickly.
“Please explain something to me.”
“Why, we move very quickly,” Miaren said, with a grin on his face.
“Whilst you seek to explain a lot to this boy,” Leonora snapped, “the bloodthirsty hordes of Novorgord ruled by the laws of blood feud fill the inner walls of the black city; the grendels rally together; the trolls are running to the south; the pirates are pledging allegiance to Sarzgat;, and worse, the uruks and orcs are pillaging the Earoseian villages.”
“Do not bite your tongue,” Aravoen said.
Leonora raised her hands in the air, as if worshipping something, and let out a heavy and angry sigh.
“Aravoen, well, we must tell you what is going on,” Miaren said
“I now see why the Eluncil distastes you,” Leonora cried. “You are so patient, you do not see the importance of things; you are too calm for your own good and by the looks of it you must be weak and unable to handle a battle or even the war that knocks on the door down south. All in all you are a mighty fool!”
Aravoen could not take this lying down; he was hurt, angry and hateful. “Do not say such things, Lady. You do not know me that well to judge me.”
“I can say what I want wherever I wish,” Leonora replied, looking straight into Aravoen’s clear blue eyes. “I, unlike your weak women, am frank and honest.”
Aravoen stood up to his full height. Miaren, seeing the danger arising, saw a thing that few of the elders left in Elasia had seen many years ago. He saw the might and majesty in this man, one last seen when Eldon landed in Elasia from Ebillon. He had spent countless nights staring at the walls where the whole moment in history was captured. He saw the resemblance between this boy and his ancestor.
“Do you lady of Loscennlonn, know what i have been doing the past eighty eight years?” Aravoen’s voice was full of majesty. “I doubt, you do. I have seen things you and your king have never dreamed of seeing. I have fought beasts that you elves cower from. I have gone as far as the Dark waters in the south. I destroyed the citadel of Scar. You have no right to come into my lands and call me a coward.”
“So what,” Leonora laughed. “We are supposed to feel sorry for you. Sorry to break it to you I will not. Do not forget your mishap with the blood mage.”
“Elves always fast to sacrifice others for their gains,” Aravoen snapped. “Only difference between you and Sarzgat is your guarded forest and blood line.”
“What!” Leonora roared. At least no one would hear this uproar. “You dare compare us to that beast. Do you forget you and your people are more related to him.”
“But we have heart unlike you heartless and cold race.”
“Lord Aravoen, calm yourself,” Miaren soothed. “As for you Leonora,” he added bitterly, “hold your peace and do not be too fast to judge. You may yet find Aravoen by far surpasses the standards of most elves.”
Aravoen saw the wisdom in Miaren’s words. “Forgive me, lady of might and wonder; I did not mean to be rude and almost barbaric.”
Leonora was taken back again, but she did not easily forgive or forget. This boy was still a fool as when she had first glimpsed him facing the council many years ago. But for Miaren’s sake she nodded her head and sat cool-faced again.
“Aravoen,” Miaren interjected, “we must leave by the second cock crow tomorrow.”
“Why so soon, Lord Elf?”
“Because things move at a pace we must catch up to,” Leonora answered him.
“Well, explain things to me in a more gentle way,” Aravoen said.
“That means you will leave with us tomorrow?” Miaren asked
“Yes,” Aravoen answered. “A schori Majuro et si le eta bairink do or.”
“You know our language then,” Leonora said, mockingly.
“Yes, I do.”
“Now, you two,” Miaren cried, “save that for the journey. I believe in all the haste we must undertake, you two will be a welcome entertainment.” Miaren was trying to lighten the moment, but he failed miserably.
Stop it, Miaren, Leonora snapped inside his head. We do not have the luxury of humour anymore. Maybe once Sarzgat lies defeated and away from Elasia.
Leonora, Miaren reasoned, calm down. He is not the same boy that let Mia Moldrin go all those years back. He has changed. If you try to breach the mental wall he has, maybe you will see it in him.
I will waste no such time, he has to prove it - to all of us. He disappointed my father too much. He still talks of it even up to now. Therefore, my judgement sticks. Now let us be done with it already.
Miaren gave up and turned his full attention back to Aravoen.
“Well, who of you will explain to me things that are taking place?”
“I will, Aravoen,” Leonora answered
“Because I understand it more and Miaren is a bit tired,” came the quick response. “But first we would like to have some chambers to ourselves.”
Aravoen nodded. “Well, you will have those.”
“Leonora, start talking,” Miaren snapped. “He has many a thing to do from here in preparation for the morning.”
Leonora began explaining all events occurring in Elasia - talking quickly, explaining everything she had said some moments ago; her expressions changing with every tale of the creatures on the move.
“Now all but the other two houses of the Easel agree that the time has come for the return of the kings,” she finished.
Aravoen had a lot to absorb. Nevertheless, one thing was sure: he would be leaving with the elves. He knew it was time to break the bonds of old and restore new bonds. He rose from the window, looked at the two, and knew they needed rest.
“Can I show you to your chambers?”
“No,” Miaren said. “First call Rithin and tell him what to do in your absence, then we go to see the Eluncil and you put in effect everything to remove Sedranor from his position.”
“To be honest,” Leonora volunteered, “I do not think you should leave him in charge.”
“I have a lot to think about,” Aravoen said, suddenly sullen. “The path you all want me to follow is…”
“Hush, someone comes to the door,” Miaren warned.
“Take your spell off, Leonora,” Aravoen said, back to his usual self, pushing aside the feeling of despair. Leonora flicked her hand lazily and nodded. She then turned to Miaren.
I sense his fear, she said, in their secret way of communicating. He must be ready. We must give him council.
I agree, Miaren said. But you, young lady, stop being too wise and temperamental. You are a bit too fast in your judgement. With your position you should know better than that.
Miaren, do not speak of anything here, Leonora snapped in Miaren’s head. Yes, speak of how I am behaving, but not of my position, thank you.
Yes, My Lady.
“Excuse me, My Lord,” Bedrich said. “The Eluncil wish to see you and the fair people.”
“We will be there shortly,” he answered. “We are just about done here.” He turned and looked back at Miaren and Leonora who both looked back at him. They stood up, approached him, and together walked back to the tree hall. Just as the film of weeds was drawing back for them, a force tight and great seized Aravoen’s mind, but this time it was not as painful as the first times with the green witch.
Do not dare tell those people anything that we told you, Leonora’s voice said firmly in his head. Maybe about your leaving and the necessary, but none of what we said. You hear me? Aravoen found himself nodding to thin air as the pressure left his mind. Out of the corner of his eye he looked at Leonora who looked as calm as death.
As they entered, there was a hurried hushing of many voices; the council members were in a bitter argument, one not meant for their ears. Aravoen sat on the throne whilst the elves took up the positions they had left a while back.
“Aravoen,” began Sedranor, “we have come to a conclusion: you must tell us everything you discussed with the elves.”
“And why is that?” was the mock reply.
“Because we demand it!” was the uniform cry.
“Not me,” Rithin said loudly
“Yes, of course not you,” said Astrilia.
“In that case it is not a general vote,” said Aravoen.
“But it…” began Sedranor
“Do not give me that excuse of majority,” Aravoen snarled. “As to what you want to know, I will tell you what I see fit.”
“It is enough, now listen,” Aravoen snapped. “I leave tomorrow, for more pressing things draw me away. Sedranor, you will not be taking command in my absence.”
“What?” Sedranor asked, alarmed. “You cannot do that… You just cannot.”
“I just did,” Aravoen said standing, exerting authority. “Rithin takes command of the army and the headship of this Eluncil and whilst he is away, Teymr will be the head. Sedranor you will just be a mere member. My decision is final and that will be all. Rithin, come to my chambers or come to us right away.”
Aravoen stood up and bade the elves follow him. He walked out with the elves flitting behind him. Rithin stood up too and followed them out. They left the room with an air of shock and disbelief. Sedranor sat there fuming and not believing.
“In that case my friends,” he said suddenly, “I will seek my fortunes somewhere my services and counsel will be most welcome. Do not mourn me, for I already have somewhere to go.” With those words, he stood up with one thing on his mind and left the hall, bent on never seeing the hall again until it burnt on his glorious return soon, if things went as planned. I have to warn my lord of this.