I hurried to the tunnel, ignoring the Dwarves looking at me strangely. It had been eleven days since we had arrived, and I was sick of being underground. I missed the sunlight, the weather, and knowing whether it was night or day. It was day I discovered as I was nearly blinded when I burst from the entrance to the tunnel. When I had waited for my eyes to adjust, I found Gabrithon staring at me, looking surprised. Jaiden was beside him, tying up the horse. Several large rocks were around us, and I snorted.
"You're surrounded," I said blandly.
"We are?" Gabrithon asked.
"Yes," I said and pushed against one of the rocks. It unfolded to reveal Firbrawn.
"You are annoying," he spat.
"I don't care," I said sweetly then turned back to Gabrithon. "I know you are going to say no to me, but I need you to give me your weapons. The king is coming, and he will not take too kindly to you having them."
Gabrithon looked at me. "If you know the answer, why even ask?" he asked flatly.
"Please, Gabrithon," I begged. "They will never trust you otherwise!"
"They won't trust me anyway," the Centaur said, crossing his arms. "So why should I give them a chance to hurt me?"
I placed my hand on the hilt of my sword. "I might disarm you, but nobody is going to hurt you. I won't let them," I said fiercely.
He lowered his arms and studied me. "I'm not going down into those caves…But I will let you take my weapons. Honestly? If I were them, I'd be more afraid of you than me."
He took off his belt with his sheathed sword attached (somehow, he had gotten the weapon off my father, though I had no idea where Elyosius had gotten it) and handed it to me. It was much heavier than my own sword, and I was surprised—thought I shouldn't have been, as it was longer than any Human or Elven sword—but I turned and set it down behind me. He handed me his bow and quiver of arrows, which were rather new, and I did the same. He stared at his weapons for a moment, a flash of fear filling his eyes, then looked away.
"So how has your stay in the Dwarf halls been?" he asked.
"It's been nice," I replied. "Korvict is most hospitable."
"Why do you get to call him by such a personal name?" Firbrawn demanded.
"That's his name. You usually call people by their names," I said dryly.
"Not if they're a king," Firbrawn spat.
"He doesn't seem to mind. Only you do."
Firbrawn moved to grab me, but I leaped away, shooting behind Gabrithon, who reared with a squeal and slammed down in front of the Dwarf, shielding me with his body. The Dwarf drew an axe, and I ducked under Gabrithon's belly and spread my arms out protectively. It looked like no matter what we did, one of us would be in trouble. A spark of anger flared in Firbrawn's eyes, and he raised the axe. The other Dwarves did nothing to stop him as he began to swing it. I struggled to get my sword out of its sheath, but just before I was hit, another axe flashed in front of it and Valtrak was there, wrenching the axe out of his uncle's hand. The king stood there behind him with six guards around him. He looked livid.
"Firbrawn! How dare you try to kill my guest!"
"She disrespects you, my king," Firbrawn said, looking abashed at being caught.
"How has she disrespected me?" Korvict demanded.
"She calls you by your name!"
"That does not disrespect me. Nor does it offend me. Besides, it is my business whether or not I let somebody call me by my name. Do you think she would be calling me that if it bothered me? Don't I have enough power to stop her?"
"No," Gabrithon said under his breath. Valtrak and I both snickered.
The king looked briefly up at him then back at Firbrawn. "You are to go to the jail until I can think of something better for you to do."
"Why not send him to the coal mine?" Valtrak asked coldly. "That's where he planned to send me and Filynora if we didn't meet his set quota of crystals."
Korvict glanced at him. "That's a good idea. How about I send you down there for the rest of Filynora's stay here? Mayhap that will teach you some manners. And to mind your own business as well."
"What?" Firbrawn exclaimed then his shoulders slumped. "Yes, your majesty."
"Good," Korvict said then gestured two of the guards. They each grabbed an arm, leading him back into the tunnels.
"Are you all right, Filynora?" Valtrak asked, handing his uncle's axe to one of the remaining guards.
"I'm fine," I said, leaning back against the front of Gabrithon's body; he put his hands on my shoulders.
"I cannot believe he took a swing at you!" Valtrak exclaimed.
"Neither can I," said Jaiden, who had been quiet and, from the look on his pale face, too scared to move.
"Dwarves cannot be trusted," Gabrithon growled.
"What about me? " Valtrak said, raising his eyebrow.
Gabrithon stared at him thoughtfully. "Well, I suppose not every Dwarf is bad. But for now, it's just you, stonehead, that isn't completely untrustworthy."
"Thank you, mule," Valtrak said with a smile. "But the king is not bad either."
"He brought guards."
"Wouldn't you if you were king?"
"If I were king, I would not be on this journey."
There was a lull in the conversation as we thought of somebody else in Gabrithon's place. That did not sit well with me. I rather liked Gabrithon. He was a good traveling companion and an even better friend. Korvict suddenly shifted and cleared his throat.
"So you are the Centaur prince. I did not know that she was referring to the youngest."
"How did you know I am the youngest?" Gabrithon questioned.
"The older princes are all chestnut colored. You've got your mother's golden coloring."
Gabrithon stared at him incredulously. "How do you know that?"
"Do you honestly think we don't have spies watching you Centaurs? In fact, we have some spying on Cyrene now. They are from the city of Oidynhall. We have runners who come and tell us if anything important happens."
My Centaurian friend looked angry. "It is not fair! We cannot spy on you at all! You would know immediately!"
The king chuckled. "That's the whole point of living underground. Can you blame us when our war has raged for so long?"
Gabrithon hummed, and the anger drained away. "I suppose I cannot blame you. If my father had his way, the entire Dwarven population would be decimated."
"I know. What is your opinion?" Korvict asked, staring intently at Gabrithon's face.
"I have learned that Dwarves are not all that bad. Some of them at least. As much as it would anger my father, I would have to say that you have just as much a right to live as we do. You're an interesting race with a culture as rich as ours. Valtrak has told me of your way of life. I am intrigued by it. He has also told me of your religious beliefs. They are quite unique. That you worship the great stonemaker through the heart of the earth is, well, different."
"And what do you worship?"
"Masculinity through the great stallion who created us. Though I have never really worshipped it. I've only gone through the motions."
"You can't settle on anything, can you?" I asked seriously.
"Not really. Though I am more drawn to your beliefs than my people's beliefs."
"So you believe we should live?" Korvict said before I could respond.
"Yes, your majesty," Gabrithon said, sounding, to my surprise, completely respectful.
The Dwarf king looked surprised as well. "Well, my young prince, I will certainly keep this conversation in mind when I talk to the council tomorrow."
"I hope you will join us. This means a lot to Fily. We need that final scroll. The story is too interesting to remain unfinished. Maybe it will even convince me that this God she speaks of is real. And this man in white, too."
Valtrak nodded in agreement. "I do actually believe the story, but my faith is much weaker than hers. Perhaps that scroll will solidify it."
"Why else are you doing this, Filynora?" Korvict asked.
"We need to get rid of the Dark Master, the Dark Ones, and all their minions. Humanity is under their yoke in fear and ignorance. We need to change that. Besides, they will soon move to the other races now that they know some are willing to rise up against them."
The king nodded. "I see. Well this is more serious than I thought. I must assemble the council at once and share this new information with them. If you'll excuse me."
Korvict turned and rushed down the tunnel. The guards were surprised by his abrupt departure and quickly followed him. I was left with Gabrithon, Jaiden, and Valtrak. I sighed, rubbing my temples.
"I hope it helps," I murmured.
Valtrak put his hand on my arm. "It'll be all right. If you really believe in God and his sovereignty, do you really need to worry about anything?"
I smiled. "I suppose you're right. Thank you. Now you and Jaiden had better get to the council room, or they will start without you. I shall get some food for me and Gabrithon then come up here to sit with him."
They both bid us goodbye then headed down the tunnel. I smiled and moved towards the entrance of the tunnel.
"I'll go get the food. Will you be fine alone?"
"Give me my quiver and bow at least, and I will be."
I grabbed the requested objects, handing them to him, then turned to go down the tunnel to find a servant to get us food.