And There Were Three: Chapter Fifteen

Fiction By Clare Marie // 5/7/2009

Chapter Fifteen


The door opened slowly inwards, and Ropsy guided the children and Tortei into the room. The whole dwarf kingdom they had just passed through seemed crude and insignificant compared with the riches of the throne room. Lustrous jewels lay in huge mounds on the floor, looking like glowing tongues of many-colored fire in the light of hundreds of torches. Pieces of gold were indifferently scattered on the red carpet leading to the throne. Were the dwarves so wealthy they wouldn't care if one snatched a jewel here or a brooch there? Elinor wondered, for it appeared so by the lack of guards and abundance of treasure. (Not that she stole anything herself.) The floor was also covered in mays woven with strands of gold and silver. The walls were of solid gold, sparkling in the torchlight; and many hangings adorned them. Along the middle of the walls ran a border encrusted with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, topazes, and diamonds, clustered together as one long shining rainbow.
The throne itself was beyond description. I shall try my best to tell of its beauties here, though it will be a poor comparison. It sat on a marble dais, under a graceful canopy like stars. The body of the chair was of gold, twisted intricately and highlighted in a bright copper. Embedded in the gold were thousands of jewels-colorful, magnificent; familiar jewels, like to those on the wall. But there were others besides, jewels found in the mountains' roots and given names known only to the dwarves. About the arms and legs of the throne were wrought flowers of silver. The seat of the throne held a plump red cushion, embroided with more gold and silver, threaded. The golden back of the chair was elaborately carved, and near the top, centered, sat a single white gem shaped as an eight-pointed star and giving forth a luminous light.
The Master Carver and the twins walked slowly up the red carpet, following Ropsy; and throaty horns announced the arrival of the visitors. Eltar and Elinor were awestruck in the midst of all that beauty, and were silent. Upon reaching the throne, they were surprised to see no one sitting in it; only a gemmed crown lay on the cushion. Clearing his throat, Ropsy told the children to wait. He disappeared behind the canopy, but soon returned.
"His majesty," he said, "is-ahem!-rather unavailable at the moment; but he shall greet you very soon, if you will kindly wait." Tortei rolled his eyes knowingly. So they waited, wandering aimlessly through the room, examining the great wealth of the Dwarf King.
At length, the starry curtain parted, and with much ceremony, a stout dwarf soldier passed through. He was the king's Royal Bodyguard. (Dwarves, by the way, are infatuated with titles; introduce them to anybody you wish, be he a hero or a goat, add a title to his name, and he will be treated with great honor. However, an introduction with no title is usually ignored.) He stepped up to the throne and announced in a loud voice:
"HIS ROYAL MAJESTY, KING BETTLE, MASTER OF THE BLACK HILLS, CHIEFTAIN OF THE GREAT DWARVES AND LORD OF THE MOUNTAIN KINGDOM OF THE EAST!" The twins held their breath. To meet a lord of such importance, an emperor really, overwhelmed them, and they hardly knew what to expect. The curtain parted again. King Bettle entered the room.


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Bettle was an extraordinary person. He was distinct, not only among kings, but among dwarves in general. He joked and laughed, played and clowned with his people. They loved his generous, benevolent, fun-loving heart. Primarily, dwarves (and some kings even) are stern, strange, dark, serious, sometimes haughty folk, as we have seen. There are a few, like Ropsy, who take a brighter look on life. But there has been only one lighthearted jokester in the whole grimly forbidding history of dwarves, and he is Bettle.


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The children immediately dropped on one knee and bowed their heads as the curtain parted, and before the king appeared. A rough, cheery voice bade them rise. They stood and almost dropped their mouths in amazement. In front of them, perched on the arm of the throne, swinging his legs, was a tiny dwarf. His brown eyes were sparkling, twinkling in the light of merriment. Black was his hair and beard, much like Ropsy's, and his smiling face was surprisingly suntanned. They expected his garb to be at least as magnificent as his throne room, or his throne; but he wore a simple outfit of a green cloth, with no adornment save a tooled black belt on his waist. Instead of the tall rigid boots of Ropsy and Tortei he wore a small pair made out of soft leather, almost like shoes. In his hands, rather than a golden scepter, he held three juggling balls, colored blue, green, and yellow. He laughed and set the balls carelessly on the throne.
"Welcome, welcome," he said, waving his arms, "welcome to my merry kingdom. I am Bettle. Do excuse me for causing you to wait, but I was teaching a young dwarf how to juggle; he was having a rather hard time of it. Please, won't you sit down?" He ran behind the throne and brought out three chairs and two cushions (the latter for the dogs, of course). The Royal Bodyguard looked shocked and was going to snatch the things from His Majesty, when Ropsy stayed him with his hand. The twins were surprised at this too, but Tortei merely took a chair from Bettle's outstretched hands, sitting on it, motioning them to do the same.
Once they had all settled down, Bettle looked at the children long and piercingly.
“What can such young folk as yourselves be doing in this part of the land?” he asked kindly, but curiously, patting Mym's shaggy head.
“We're travelers, sir,” replied Eltar. “My name is Eltar and this is my sister Elinor. We are from the North.” Bettle stroked his beard, thinking to himself.
“I received word from the North,” he mused presently, “a few weeks ago. It was from a queen, a very good friend of mine. She bade me watch for an acquaintance of hers who was journeying South and in need of help. Have you seen any traveler other than yourselves on the road? He is going alone, I believe.” The twins reflected for a moment, then answered in the negative.
“We have seen only a few people,” said Elinor, “and some were traveling alone. But these were all from the South and had strange, dark looks about them.” Eltar nodded in agreement.
Bettle suddenly jumped off his seat and smacked his head. “Bettle, you old fool! Here are guests tired and hungry and dusty, and you haven't even offered a morsel of food! Where is your head? Come, come, weary folk,” he cried, laughing, beckoning to the children, “allow me to refresh you! I shall lead you to where you can wash the dirt and grime off yourselves and eat and drink to your heart's content. Then you can rest and sleep. Follow me!” He trotted in front of them briskly. It was really quite amusing to watch this dwarf who was barely two feet high bounce around the room and laugh and shout; then lead them with short, quick legs and wave them on with a stumpy arm.
Eltar and Elinor laughed a little at this performance, then fell in line with Ropsy and Tortei. The Royal Bodyguard tried in vain to march in front of the king-as, naturally, was proper-but Bettle was too fast, and the poor fellow ran puffing behind. The twins began to giggle some more when they saw this, yet courtesy made them cover their laughter with coughing. Ropsy, grinning, smacked them each on the back.
Elinor cleared her throat. “Does the king always act this way?” she asked, a little breathlessly.
“In what way?” replied Ropsy, his black eyes twinkling.
Elinor gestured helplessly. “So, well...bouncy. And cheerful. He is not like other dwarves; and neither are you.”
“I am not surprised you noticed,” returned Ropsy. “It is in Bettle's nature to be always merry. I too often find reasons to smile; how can one be gloomy all the time? But it is no wonder that Bettle and I are alike: for we are brothers.”


+++


First Bettle showed them the guest rooms, where they each had a separate chamber with a roaring fire, soft feather beds, tubs of steaming hot water; then after bathing and changing their clothes, Bettle took them to the Main Dining Hall. (There were five halls, one for each level; this was the topmost floor, or First Floor.) There they were seated in comfortable chairs and royally served a huge feast. This consisted of roast chicken, bull, and goat, served with gravy and applesauce; salads and other green vegetables (of these there were few); potatoes, breads, jams, apple dumplings, pies, cakes, and custards. To drink there was mead, beer (neither of which the children drank), and spring water. Iced tea- affectionately known as Chilled Foliage by the dwarves-was also available, being a popular choice among the mountain folk. There seemed no end of delicious food, and the children did indeed “eat and drink to their heart's content”.
While they were at table, the twins gazed about them, watching the different dwarves. At least seven hundred were gathered in that hall, and judging by the muffled sounds of singing and excavating, at least as many more were working in the Lower Halls. Most of the dwarves at table were perpetually solemn, grim-much like Tortei. But there were a few like Ropsy who smiled and even laughed occasionally. Sometimes one or two of the dwarves would begin singing and others would join in. They sang mysterious, sorrowful songs in the tongue of their ancient race, filling the hall with waves of haunting music. Somehow the songs richly spiced the food with a flavor the children could not discern; but it was preferable to hear the tunes while eating.
Elinor was talking pleasantly with Ropsy and Tortei, when across the hall she spied the Dwarf King prancing around his seat while Eltar's face looked amusingly puzzled. She thought at first that Bettle was merely showing Eltar a dance he had made up, but then she saw Bettle clapping Eltar on the back and calling for wine. She excused herself and went over to her brother.
“What's going on?” she asked him as Bettle dashed away.
Eltar scratched his head.
“I don't know.”

Comments

Funny chapter! I loved

Funny chapter! I loved it!
I'm not sure who's my favorite... I love the dwarves, and I really like Anomien, and Elinor... and Hogo is still the best name ever....
I'm conflicted.
BTW, I love your quote!
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"I for one am getting bored, and boredom is something up with which I will not put!" ~Phineas and Ferb

Anna | Thu, 05/07/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Hmmmm...

Seems that Bettle somehow found out that Eltar was the "lone traveler" that he was supposed to look for . . . am I right?
As for favorite character, I'm holding out on that one. Bettle is definitely a finalist, though.

James | Thu, 05/07/2009

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"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

I like it! Bettle is my

I like it! Bettle is my favorite.....so far. I like the discription you did too.

"Borrowed, borrowed without permission. But with every intension of returning?" Jack Sparrow

Alecia | Thu, 05/07/2009

It awoke with a shrill shreak that can be trnaslated "How dare you leave me in this bed, when I am asleep and helpless?" My sister

Very Amusing:)

Bettle the king -- more like Bettle the town clown (hehe that ryhmed) Anyway, I like him very much:) I do have to say that my favorite is still Ficum..that is, Eltar:):)
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"Yes, words are useless! Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble! Too much of it, darling, too much! That is why I show you my work! That is why you are here!" --Edna Mode (the Incredibles)

Ariel | Thu, 05/07/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

I'm not sure who my favorite

I'm not sure who my favorite is; probably Ropsy and Eltar. I love this chapter! It seems many kings are rather solemn (weight of the kingdom on their shoulders, I suppose), but Bettle is quite, ahem, different! Please keep writing!!

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This is my true country! This is what I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it until now!-Jewell the Unicorn

Laura Elizabeth | Thu, 05/07/2009

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The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

A big thank you

Anna: Glad you liked it. :) And I totally understand character-conflicts; happens all the time! :D Thank you.
James: Perhaps, perhaps. Even if you were right, would I tell? :D
Alecia: Thanks! I love Bettle too. :)
OFG: Heh heh heh, he is a town clown. ;)
Laura: Oh yes, Bettle is rather...unique! Thanks. :)
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
If I disappear, and you cannot find me, please don't worry.
Just be sure to check all the wardrobes.

Clare Marie | Fri, 05/08/2009

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"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Bettle. Definitely Bettle.

Bettle. Definitely Bettle. Bettle is the best. Bettle is funny. Bettle is bright and merry and happy. I don't know if you've noticed, but I love the name Bettle.

"Life is a series of idiots all trying to be more profound than the last idiot. And in a moment someone will come along and try to say something more profound than what I have just said." - unknown, to me anyway.

Bridget | Sun, 05/10/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

:D Glad you like Bettle.

:D Glad you like Bettle. The name and the character. :)
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
If I disappear, and you cannot find me, please don't worry.
Just be sure to check all the wardrobes.

Clare Marie | Mon, 05/11/2009

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"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

I like this chapter, very

I like this chapter, very merry, and fun. Hmmmm, I don't exactly know who my favorite character is... yet. I will have to keep reading and find out! Post more soon!
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"Their most active years are the first six months"--Old Fashioned Girl, referring to cats.

Kendra | Mon, 05/11/2009

<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\
"Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me! But what about bacteria?"--Tantor the elephant from Tarzan.

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