The Hidden City
The three soldiers looked out across the Hidden City in complete amazement. The buildings were made entirely out of pure white stones, with a larger white castle in the distance. The pathways were also made out of white cobblestones. Bright green vines grew over the paths and up the sides of the buildings wildly.
"Wow..." Cas breathed, taking all of it in.
The city itself was completely covered by the inside of the stone cliff, except for a hole at the top that allowed the sun's light to shine through.
Aero turned back around and smiled at them. "Come. Lord Erion and Lady Vera will want to meet you."
The band of Rebel soldiers continued to move forward, gazing up all around them. Moon jumped up onto the back of Weston's pack again, seeming more relaxed.
The Elves that were outside their homes all stared as they passed. Each of them, even the children, had long silver hair and the same blue eyes that Weston knew as his own.
A few of them nodded at Aero as they passed, eyeing the girl strapped to the pony.
They walked on, the tree Shifting Cats exploring freely, but also keeping close. Kane seemed on edge, snapping his head towards any movement that an Elven citizen made.
Eventually the path ended in front of the large white castle. Two Elves dressed in silver and gray garments nodded at Aero as they approached. They opened the large wooden doors for them, the band of Rebels still rendered speechless.
Inside, the castle was also white, with marble floors and white stone walls. There were several silver and blue rugs were laid out across the floors, and silver chandeliers that hung from the ceilings.
In all his life Weston had never experienced something so immaculate; so grand. He stood completely in awe, but could only wonder about his father. This place, this city, is where his father once called home.
Aero led them up a slightly sloped staircase to another set of doors. Before knocking, their Elven friend turned to them.
"Lord Erion and Lady Vera Damir are the leaders of our realm. If they choose to, they will be able to help you and your friend," he told them, gesturing to the girl strapped to the pony.
"And if not?" Cas asked nervously, his large brown eyes widened.
Aero smiled and said nothing, just turned around and knocked three times.
After a pause, the large wooden doors opened slowly.
Weston glanced around observantly as they entered a room with large windows on all sides, revealing the rest of the Hidden City below them. The band of soldiers followed Aero along another blue rug with silver trim. Bright green vines were wrapped all around the window panes and high white ceilings.
At the end of the room and in front of two large windows sat two Elves. They both bore identical silver crowns and were dressed in silver robes and garments that seemed to shimmer at each movement.
"Lord Erion, Lady Vera," Aero said, bowing slightly at the waist.
Weston watched as the Lord and Lady nodded slightly.
"Aero," greeted Lord Erion. "I see your scouting ended early."
"Yes," said Lady Vera, her crystal blue eyes shifting over to the band of Rebels. "It seems that you have found some friends."
"Yes, Lady Vera."
"Bringing humans into the Elven Realm," Lord Erion observed aloud. He didn't seem pleased. The Lady Elf didn't seem pleased either, though she appeared to take their presence in stride.
"I truly apologize for the surprise, your Graces."
Lady Vera smiled and looked at her husband. "Aero is not ignorant of our ways. I'm sure that it is for good reason. After all, it is common knowledge that this has only happened once before."
"Yes," said Erion, taking in a large breath. "And the time before the outcome did not fair so well."
His eyes seemed pained, and Lady Vera reached across to squeeze his hand.
Aero shifted his weight as Lady Vera looked back to him. "Aero. Why did you bring these humans to the Hidden City?"
Weston felt his heart begin to beat loudly in his chest. He squeezed tightly onto the reigns of the pony, the girl still lying there with her eyes closed.
He desperately hoped that the Elves would agree to help them.
"I encountered one of them in the forest. Upon speaking with them, they told me of their struggles."
Lord Erion nodded slowly as Aero continued. "They are all Rebel soldiers, separated from their band on the shores of Greenthorne Lake. The soldier strapped to the pony is wounded and is in need of medicine and care."
Lady Vera stood and looked down at the girl. She then turned her pointed chin downwards, fixing her eyes on the rest of the Rebel soldiers. "What are your names?"
Cas stepped forward first. "My name is Caspar, my Lady. Caspar Lark."
Weston watched as she tilted her head down as a response. "Welcome Caspar Lark. Where do you hail from?"
He seemed surprised that the Lady Elf spoke back to him. "Uh... West, my Lady. In the city Mesa, just above The Highlands."
She nodded thoughtfully. "And you?"
Kane blinked and then stepped forward as well, bowing twice. "I am Kane Torry. I hail from the city of Therone."
"Therone is a large Rebel city, is it not?" Lord Erion chimed in.
Kane nodded extensively. "Ah, yes. It is."
"Welcome," the Lord Elf said, running a hand over the arm of his chair.
Weston took in a breath as the Lord and Lady Elf set their eyes on him. Lady Vera opened her mouth to speak, but seemed to stop. Instead, she looked over at Aero, and then back at him.
"Erion," she half-whispered, reaching for his hand again.
The Lord stood, locking his identical blue eyes with Weston's.
The young Rebel soldier stepped forward, unsure of what to do. "I am Weston Greyson," he said, glancing over at Lady Vera and then back at Lord Erion. "I hail from the small village of Vali, along the southern shores of Calaria, I--"
"Aero," Lord Erion interrupted, looking over at their Elven friend.
"My Lord and Lady, he is a half-blood."
Weson felt the eyes of Kane and Caspar on him as the three Elves were talking.
Lord Erion looked back on Weston and blinked twice. By this time, Lady Vera was also standing.
"Aero," Lord Erion said. "Take them to the Western corridor and fetch Andrusia. She will know how to take care of their comrade."
Aero bowed slightly. "Of course, my Lord."
Weston watched as the Lord and Lady sat back down, their eyes fixed on one another for a moment. But he turned, nonetheless, ready to follow Aero and the others out of the room.
"Weston," came a voice from behind him, one that seemed to echo all throughout the empty room. "You may stay."
Weston looked back at the Lord and Lady who gazed strangely upon him.
Lord Erion motioned him forward, and Weston took each step slowly, unsure of what to expect.
Once up close, he could see their faces more clearly. Both of them had perfect skin and slender bodies. They appeared not that old, but Weston could tell from their eyes that they had seen many years.
For a moment, they said nothing. But then Lady Vera broke into a small smile. "Weston," she said affectionately. "That is a wonderful name."
"Thank you, my Lady."
"You said that you hail from Vali?" she questioned, the curiosity evident in her expression. "With your family?"
"Just my mother," he replied, taking in a breath.
"Your mother," Lord Erion began. "Does she speak of your father?"
The young Rebel shook his head. "No. I only know that he was Elven, and that my mother has always seemed to miss him very much."
Lady Vera smiled again, though her eyes seemed pained. "How long have you known?"
"Since I was very young," he told them. "She made it clear that I was always to hide who I am; that it was dangerous because of the ancient law that--"
"I know of the ancient law," Lord Erion said boldly, his gaze cutting through the air like a knife.
While neither Lord Erion or Lady Vera said nothing more, Weston took another step towards them. "My mother never told me his name," Weston revealed. "Please. Do you know of my father?"
Lord Erion stood and looked away, facing the back windows. "I think it would be best to continue this conversation tomorrow. You may join your friends. Aero will show you to your room for the night."
Weston opened his mouth to protest, but stopped. Lady Vera winked at him and smiled as he bowed slightly and turned away.
For almost his entire life he had dreamed about what it would be like to find out who he was. There was something uneasy about the way the Lord and Lady Elves reacted to him. Being a half-blood was a rarity, as it was so heavily condemned, so Weston knew it was probably a shock. But beyond that, the young Rebel soldier now felt that he was filled with more questions than answers.