Answers & Planning
Weston woke up the next morning to moon crawling onto his stomach. She stood just inches away from his face, her bright yellow eyes studying him intensely.
He sighed, rubbing between the feline's ears.
It was early, he could tell. Kane and Cas were gone from their beds, leaving Weston to the empty Elven room alone.
Yesterday after his personal meeting with Lord Erion and Lady Vera, Weston went to meet up with the others. By the time he made it back to the group the girl was gone, taken away to receive treatment.
The Elves had laid out a grand feast for them, one of which they all scarfed down immediately. Aero stayed with them, speaking of the city and most of their customs. Weston had stayed quiet, not wanting to cause anymore attention. There were so many questions that he had.
After that they were able to bathe; something they had all been looking forward to. Lying in bed after, trying to catch some sleep, Weston found that though his body was tired, his mind was wide awake. He played over and over again his interaction with the Lord and Lady Elves.
He thought about his mother.
Being drafted by the Rebellion was something that he had always been neutral towards. He believed in it wholeheartedly, as did his mother. She often spoke of the time she used to spend up north. She had lived under the Dominion's reign and only spoke of its vile nature. She had finally escaped right before she had him.
But still, the urge to fight, though he knew he had an aptitude for it, did not take an overwhelming role in his life. In many ways, he would be content to being a fisherman in Valli; far away from the Dominion's hand. He could be close to his mother, with a wife and children of his own. He scratched behind Moon's ear, smiling at the thought of it.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door and Weston sat up, his thoughts and dreams fading away into the background. Aero entered the room without a sound, his mouth pulled into a pleasant smile.
"I'm sorry if I disturbed you," he greeting, stepping closer to him.
Weston pushed the lightly colored blankets off of him, slinging his feet over the edge of the bed. The white marble floor felt cool on the bottom of his feet. "No, I was awake."
Aero sat down on one of the beds across from him almost without a sound. "Did you rest well?"
Weston took in a breath, making a face. "As well as I could have, I guess."
Weston's Elven friend nodded slowly, his long silver hair shimmering as it moved. "I'm sorry that I cannot be of more help to you. This situation is... temperamental."
"Can Lord Erion and Lady Vera help me?" he asked, wringing his hands together. "I just have so many questions. I want to know who my father was."
Aero smiled, though his eyes seemed convicted. "The Lord and Lady Elves requested that you meet them this morning, as soon as you get ready. They have many things to discuss with you, and perhaps more of your questions will be answered."
Weston jumped up in surprise and Moon complained with a low growl, leaping off the bed onto the floor. "Really?" he asked, searching Aero's eyes.
"Yes," the Elf assured him. "Your friend is doing well, by the way. You may be able to see her awake before you leave."
Weston felt something stir inside of him at the thought of her again. A great wave of relief washed over him.
"As I said," Aero interrupted politely. "Lord Erion and Lady Vera will be able to tell you more than I can. I am not trusted with every bit of information that passes through these walls."
The young Rebel nodded, feeling anxious. He hoped that they might be able to tell him about his father. "When will they see me?"
Aero stood, smoothing down his sleek purple robes. "The Lord and Lady have just finished up their family breakfast. They are waiting for you in the throne room."
West grabbed his shirt and pulled it on, smoothing down his dark hair. "Where are Kane and Cas?"
Aero smiled, leading him towards the doorway. "They woke early this morning and are receiving a tour of the city. They didn't want to wake you."
Weston thought about the two of them guiltily. He wondered if by now they'd figured out what he was. Last night he was too tired to talk, pretending to be asleep.
After he dressed, Aero led him down the corridors of the white castle, Weston becoming more and more observant of its structure. The grand moldings of the ceilings were intricate, with small figures carved into the white stone. He could smell something cooking down the hallway when they arrived back at the throne room doors.
He looked up at Aero expectantly.
"I won't be accompanying you inside."
Aero shook his head with a small smile, a look of disappointment in his eyes. "No. I will be waiting out here."
The young Rebel sighed and nodded curtly. Two Elves standing outside of the doors then pulled them open and Weston stepped inside.
The scene was all too familiar, as the Lord and Lady looked exactly the same as yesterday. But this time Weston was alone.
He stepped towards them nervously, finally stopping a few lengths away from them.
Lady Vera smiled at him genuinely. "Good morning Weston. Did you sleep well?"
"Yes," he replied, bowing slightly. "I want to thank you for everything that you've done."
"There's no need for that," Lord Erion interjected.
Lady Vera nodded in agreement, placing a hand beneath her chin. "I'm sure that you have many questions."
"Yes. I was hoping that you could help me." He squeezed his hands into fists, wanting to remain calm, not so eager. "I just want to know who my father was."
Lord Erion and Lady Vera locked eyes with one another and then turned their attention back to Weston.
"Your father was a soldier," Lady Vera said, folding her hands in her lap. "One of the best."
Weston took in her words, holding onto that smallest bit of information. He could almost picture it: A tall Elf with long silver hair. Maybe they had the same sharp chin, the same nose.
"We knew of his relations with your mother," Lord Erion confessed. "We urged him not to continue with them, but it is hard to convince a heart to stop beating for someone else." The Lord stopped like it was difficult for him to continue. But after a moment he pressed on. "He was with her when he died. Somehow, someone found out about he and your mother. Because of the ancient law he was killed."
Weston absorbed his words organically, the scene playing out in his imagination. "But, my mother--"
"We were unaware that she survived until your arrival."
This was something that Weston had suspected for a very long time. Hearing it out loud was strange to him, as though before it was only something he'd made up in his mind. Now it was real.
"What was his name?" He asked, searching the eyes of the Lord and Lady Elves.
Lord Erion lifted his chin. "Elias," he half-whispered, like it pained him to say it out loud.
The name of his father echoed in his mind. "Elias," he repeated. He liked the sound of it. It sounded brave, important. Two things that Weston did not always feel.
"I'm sorry that your mother was not able to tell you as much about your father. But it must have been painful for her to talk about."
Weston nodded in agreement. "Yes. Thank you." There was a slight pause before he went on. "Um, how old will I get?" This was something he'd wondered for a long time. Little was known about it, and his mother was unsure as well when it came to how he would age.
Lady Vera smiled kindly. "How old are you, Weston?"
"Then you are not of age yet. When an Elf, even a half-blood turns eighteen, the aging process begins to slow. Elves age 5 times slower than a human."
Weston listened diligently as she went on.
"We had a few half-bloods with us when we first went into hiding. They would not have been permitted to live in Calaria, even in the south. There has always been a sort of prejudice on our kind, even from the Rebellion." Lady Vera spoke strongly, though Weston detected a small amount of disappointment in her voice.
"So you have half-bloods here with you?" he asked, a small amount of hope in his voice.
The Lady Elf looked sad. "No. I'm afraid that they are all gone. A half-blood ages almost half as slow as a full Elf, about the same rate as a Mystic would."
Weston nodded, taking in the answers of those questions.
Lord Erion stood, his silver robes now grazing the floor. "Now, onto more pressing matters."
The Rebel soldier watched him step down from his throne, walking slowly over to one of the windows.
"The road through Greenthorne Forest to the other side of the lake will take you far too long. The Forest grows thick the deeper you go."
"Then which road should we take?"
Lord Erion glanced back at him, his expression unchanging. "There is a path beyond this cliff, if you continued to follow it, that leads you through a large gorge."
"Large gorge?" Weston inquired, furrowing his eyebrows.
"Yes," Lord Erion replied easily. "Dragon Gorge."
The young Rebel's eyes widened. "Dragon Gorge?" he asked in disbelief. "I've never heard of--"
"One of the Dominion's best kept secrets," mused Lady Vera with a coy smile. Her long silver hair was pulled up into a tight bun today, with loose strands of hair framing her soft face. "There are no wild Dragons, of course."
She shook her head kindly. "No. The Dragon Riders are the ones that live in Dragon Gorge."
Weston's mouth dropped open. "Dragon Riders?"
"Of course," she replied, smiling at him. "Who do you think keeps the Raygorians out of Calaria?"
Weston looked down and pondered this for a moment. The Eastern border was the only place that Calaria met with the Shadow Lands. "After we make it through the gorge-- er, Dragon Gorge, where will that take us?"
"It should lead you out of the forest completely, but on the other side of the divide."
Weston nodded slowly. The divide was the name for what split the north form the south. There were always a slew of Dominion guards that patrolled this invisible line.
The Rebel bit his lip, trying to take in all of the information that he could. "The other side of the divide," he repeated. "So, the north. The Dominion."
Lady Vera nodded slowly. "Yes."
"But won't that be... dangerous?"
"Extremely," answered Lord Erion, his voice gruff. "Which is why you three will not be going alone."
"Will Aero be--"
"No," Lady Vera interrupted, standing from the throne. "Someone else will be accompanying you and leading you back to your regiment."
Weston found himself surprised by this. "Who?"
"Prince Solo," the Lady Elf replied, signaling to one of the Elven soldiers.
Weston stood in his bewilderment, awaiting whatever Lady Vera had signaled for. Of course he assumed that the Lord and Lady Elves had children. Elves live notoriously long lives, even longer than Mystics did. But the idea of one of those children accompanying them on their journey never entered his mind. Aero seemed like the obvious choice.
After a few moments the back door of the room opened and young looking Elf entered. He was tall and shared the familiar features of all Elves; the blue eyes, slender figure, long silver hair. Weston noted the ease and confidence with which he walked.
Prince Solo walked closer to them, a crooked smile playing on his lips. He bowed slightly to the Lord and Lady, raising a playful eyebrow.
"Prince Solo," the young Elf finished, taking Weston's hand in a firm grip, the same wicked smile still on his face. "So, I hear you're a half-blood."
Weston grinned in admiration at the Prince. "Yeah, I'm Weston, nice to meet you."
Weston watched as the Elven Prince nodded curtly and then turned his attention back to the Lord and Lady, folding his hands behind his back.
"Now," Lord Erion started, his tone seemingly more serious. "I want to reiterate exactly how dangerous--"
"Oh, come on, father," Prince Solo complained, rolling his eyes and interrupting him. "I've been through Dragon Gorge plenty of times."
Lord Erion lifted his chin. "Yes, you are correct. But you have never been on the other side of the Divide before, a territory where it is especially encouraged to kill our kind on sight."
Weston watched as Prince Solo's confidence never faltered. "I can handle it." His chest rose proudly.
"We know you can," Lady Vera said, the pride for her son not easily hidden. "But that doesn't mean we won't worry."
The Prince sighed heavily, scanning his eyes between his two parents. "I know."
Lady Vera placed her hands gently on Lord Erion's shoulders. "Once you cross the Divide, the road to the northern shore of Greenthorne Lake will be swift. But it will be crucial that you stay hidden."
Weston nodded, as did Prince Solo.
"Once the three of you are safe, Prince Solo will come home."
Lord Erion's face was pinched, as if he was still hesitant.
"We will keep each other safe," Solo assured them, taking a slight step forward. "I promise." He swore it with such conviction that Weston believed him.
The Lord and Lady looked at one another, Lady Vera revealing a slight smile. They both turned back to Weston and Prince Solo together.
"You may depart as soon as the supplies and horses are ready. Prince Solo will see that it is all taken care of."
The Prince turned his head back to Weston giving him a wink. After that he departed with a swish of dark blue robes and was gone from the throne room.
"Your friend is resting in the hall to the right, all the way down at the end," Lord Erion informed him, gesturing towards the doors.
Weston's eyes lit up, his heart skipping a beat. "She's alright, then? You could save her?"
Lady Vera smiled. "Our medicine here is very advanced compared to the rest of Calaria. Andrusia was able to heal her perfectly."
The young Rebel sighed in great relief.
"She should be ready for visitors after you eat breakfast."
Weston nodded. "Will I be able to see you before I leave?"
Lord Erion smiled fondly, his cool blue eyes were more softened now. "We will see you off before departing. But now you must go eat."
Weston thanked the Lord and Lady and walked back towards the doors. His mind was entertaining so many ideas.
He wondered what Dragon Gorge would be like. How many Dragon Riders were there? Which side of the Divide were they technically on?
Making his way through the brightly lit corridors he thought about what Kane and Cas were going to think of the plans. He liked Prince Solo and was happy that he was joining them. Even though he wished Aero would be accompanying them as well, he was excited about the Prince's presence. They'd been traveling in uncharted territory for too long already. It would be nice to finally have someone that knew the terrain.
Rounding a corner, the young Rebel lamented that he wanted to eat breakfast as quickly as he could and go see the girl. He still wished that he knew her name. He thought about her often enough, he wanted to put a name to the face he now knew so well. Despite dealing with many complications since their arrival at The Hidden City, and despite his attempts to protest it, she was always in the back of his mind.