And There Were Three: Chapter Seventeen

Fiction By Clare Marie // 7/21/2009

"Wouldst thou but listen to me, lord, I believe thou shalt be convinced in this matter."  These words were addressed by a dignified, silver-haired elf to an equally dignified elf-lord, with hair of midnight and eyes of grey.  The elf-lord frowned slightly and stopped his troubled pacing.

"Speak then, Deyn," he ordered the other.  Deyn, who was obviously a counselor, spoke earnestly.

"My High Lord Armir, the question I wouldst ask thee: how canst thou even consider allowing humans to stay in thy royal hall?  And not merely one human; yea, two humans.  'Tis a ridiculous thought, and I beg my liege to answer 'nay' to that, that insufferable dwarf-king Bettle.  Thyself knows--"  Lord Armir drew himself up tall and commandingly.

"Deyn," he cried fiercely, "thou art my counselor and friend, and thou knowest I love thee.  But I swear on my royal father's throne that if thou shouldst again speak ill of my dear ally, I must wring thy neck."  Deyn cleared his throat uncomfortably.

"Sincerely doth I beg thy royal pardon, lord," apologized Deyn as he bowed his head.  Emperor Armir leaned forward and kissed him on the brow.

"As sincerely doth I forgive thee," he said.  "Now tell on."  Deyn relaxed and straightened; he awkwardly rubbed his nose.

"My Leige," he continued, "permit thy servant to say more of his discomfort at the idea of two human guests."  Armir patiently nodded his head in acquiesce.  "Dost thou remember the day--let me think--two summers nigh, I trow; a band of humans who were traveling South would visit thee.  My Lord, being the gracious host he is," (Armir smiled) "agreed to lodge them for the night.  Dost thou remember how loud and uncouth they were?  How they took freely from thy larder and disrespected thy most Royal Hall?  Savages we rightly called them, my lord.  And their black faces, mean and cruel, with blood on their swords and in their eyes; dost remember?"

"Verily," said the Emperor thoughtfully.  He sat down on his throne with easy grace.  "And yet, 'twas not King Bettle who sent the men to our palace."

"Aye; but what does he, or any of the High Folk know of the Small Folk?"  (Here it must be pointed out that elves and brownies think of themselves and fairies as 'High Folk', and look upon humans as 'Small Folk'; which is rather ironic, considering, for instance, the Brownies' size compared to that of humans.  Yet the term is not meant to be taken literally.)  "Who can look into the depths of men's hearts?  As far as we may know, my lord, the humans King Bettle means to put in our care are as bad as the Southern travelers."  Armir bent his gaze upon Deyn with an amused twinkle in his eyes.

"Deyn," he smilingly questioned, "why dost thou dislike the Small Folk so?"  Deyn stiffened.

"I distrust them, lord," he replied shortly.

 *~*~*

There was a deep silence.  The Emperor rested his head on his hand, thinking hard, while Deyn stood straight before him, waiting.  The beauty of the elf-lord's face--masculine in its outline and its sternness--and his still pose made one think of a statue, crafted in the image of the mighty Lords of the Sky, whom the elves name in song.  At last he cleared his throat.

"Deyn," he said firmly, "I trust thee much; but in this matter my heart bids me trust Bettle more.  Send a messenger to the King at once with the promise to lodge and aid the human travelers.  Go, swiftly," he added as Deyn seemed about to speak.  Deyn showed no signs of frustration, except that his brow furrowed; and he bowed and left the room.

Lord Armir, now looking quite relieved because he had made up his mind, rose from his chair and began to sing softly to himself.  His voice was low, but not raspy or weak.  Strong flowed out the melody, intensely filling the room with visions of High Elf-Lords and great kingdoms now hailed ancient.  He sang in the tongue of his forefathers, which the elves still remember yet rarely use.  It may be translated thus to our speech:

I sing strongly now of brave Kings of Old,

Of deeds renowned and tales told.

Commend do I their courage, those bold,

Their hearts of gold,

And adversaries harrowing.

 

Dragons in great numbers they hunted and slew,

Goblins and trolls, their bodies they hewed,

Till enemies stout their actions rue.

Alive were few,

Those adversaries harrowing.

 

Alas, as with all that is good and fair,

Those Kings passed, no burdens to bear.

In the Star-Sky to stay, with luscious fare,

No stress nor care,

Nor adversaries harrowing.

 Another voice took up his song, clear and sweet, running as smooth as a horse at gallop or the course of the Moon.  Not as strong as Armir's, yet it was profoundly meaningful, and sang with warmth a touching duet:

Sing do I of maidens fair,

Their golden hair,

Their tender care,

Their faces strong with troubles bear'ed

And bright eyes oh so lovely.

 

While husbands fought, wives did coo

With faces dewed,

To babes born new;

Hearts watchful hoped for days of few,

Those bright eyes oh so lovely.

 

Ladies of grace, hearts of gold,

Burdens to hold,

Till days grew cold;

Back to their loved, husbands bold,

And bright eyes oh so lovely.

 "Thy song is more sorrowful than mine, my Lord; but then, thou wert always one for solemnity."  A tender, happy voice fell on Armir's ear and he turned swiftly, face joyful.  In the doorway, as if she stepped out of the song, stood a fair elf-maiden, with mellow brown eyes and hair of dark gold, shining in the sunlight streaming through the windows.  Her face was indescribable, lovely beyond compare, glowing with warmth and beauty and health.  Tall she was, slender, graceful.  One finely shaped hand rested on the door: a golden flower-ring was on her finger.  She smiled, and her face lit up all the more with contentment, peace, and love.  With springing step she walked into the middle of the room, her head held high, but not proud; her back straight, but not stiff.  Her robe was concise, white, airy.  It hung elegantly on her shoulders, showing modestly a neck and chest sculpted as of pearl, leaving her creamy arms bare.  The garment floated about her like a cloud as she moved.

Armir hastened to her, and after the manner of his kin, gently took her hand and kissed it.  Stars twinkled in her eyes as she bowed her head slightly.

"Though a sad song, 'tis a noble one, Lady Arlawyn," answered Armir.  Her laugh rippled from smooth lips as she thrust her hand in the crook of his arm.

"What, and is mine not?" inquired she.  "In my opinion, my Lord Armir, the elf-maidens who stay valiantly at home and fulfill well their everyday tasks, are the ones who are stronger than their sword-wielding husbands."  Armir laughed too.

"Then, my Lady, I beg to differ; thou hast never seen a battle, much less fought in one."

"True, my Lord Armir, very true.  Thou hast spoken cleverly.  Perhaps it is well thou spend so much time in thought."  They shared a chuckle, and strode around the room in companionable silence for a time.  Presently Armir spoke again.

"Arlawyn, hast Deyn spoken to thou of late?"

"Nay," she replied.

"It is well.  'Tis best that I tell thee myself.  Dost thou remember King Bettle?"

"How couldst I forget?  He is so kind, so merry, so courteous.  I love good King Bettle," said Arlawyn impulsively.  Armir nodded.

"He hast asked me if we would lodge two human travelers for a time.  According to Bettle, they are traveling on an important quest and are in need of help." 

"Not, I hope, humans like those horrid Southern men."

"I know not.  Bettle gave no details."  Arlawyn gazed up into Armir's eyes.

"Hast thou given him an answer?"

"Yea; scarce ten minutes past I bade Deyn send a messenger to Bettle.  I could not say nay to an ally."  Arlawyn smiled gently, dimples showing.

"Oh, I knew thou wouldst say yea," said she happily. 

"Art glad then?"

"Verily.  I trust Bettle, perhaps more than thou.  I believe," her eyes narrowed wisely, "that Bettle hast good judgment; if he were suspicious of the humans, he would not dare to send them here."

"Thou art an observant maid," Armir declared, satisfied; and he kissed her soft hair.

 

*~*~*

 

"Why Deyn, what is the matter with thee?  Thy face is long and melancholy.  Hast the Lord Emperor sent thee to be nurse-maid to the babes again?"  So laughed a young elf named Ewen, addressing the Emperor's counselor as he came down the hall.  Deyn shot a look of despair at Ewen and his friend, who was also standing there enjoying the joke.

"Nay, friends," he replied sadly, "worse.  The Emperor Armir hast given his consent to allow two human travelers to stay awhile."  Ewen chuckled again.

"What, and is that so bad?"

"Nay, but it is," said Ewen's friend urgently.  "Dost thou not remember the Southern travelers who lodged here for a time?  Stay, I forgot; thou were on a hunting trip."

"Aye," broke in Deyn.  "They are most ill-mannered, those folk.  Rude and mean are the only words to describe them.  Thank the Lords of the Sky thou missed them."  Ewen snorted mockingly.

"Deyn, thou hast always been one for exaggeration, and I believe thee not," he cried.

"Go ahead then, thou rash one, and disbelieve me.  But mark the words of my tongue, there will be trouble in this hall ere the month is out."  Deyn bowed coldly, but with pity in his eyes for such naivete; and he hastened on his errand. 

*~*~*~*~*~*

Comments

This is a very good chapter.

This is a very good chapter. I really like the song. And the way the elves are. The way the speak and act. Very, very, good job.

Alecia | Wed, 07/22/2009

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

Elves. are. the bomb. :)

Elves. are. the bomb. :)

Anna | Thu, 07/23/2009

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

Although I don't share Anna's

Although I don't share Anna's intense enthusiasm for elves, I still like them, and this is a good chapter. I like how they talk. I'm looking forward to future chapters!

Laura Elizabeth | Fri, 07/24/2009

*************************************************
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

Hmm.  I like the songs; those

Hmm.  I like the songs; those are very good.  I'm not sure I like the way they talk.  It's too stiff.  Other than that, I like it.  I like the way you describe Arlawyn though.  And I'm sorry I didn't read this earlier!

Bridget | Fri, 07/24/2009

"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

Alecia: Thank you.  I tried

Alecia: Thank you.  I tried my best to convey the dignity and pride of the Elves.  They were very particular about the details. ;)

Anna: Elves in general, or my Elves? (or both?) :D

Laura: Thanks!  More will be coming shortly.

Bridget: It is kinda stiff...to us humans.  Elves are a rather stiff people.  Except Arlawyn (glad you like her, btw).  But Elves think it very dignified. ;D

Clare Marie | Sat, 07/25/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"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, and I

I like this chapter, and I also like Arlawyn. Nice work!

Btw, I noticed from reading your bio that we both were born on exactly the same day--December 2, 1993. I thought that was a rather interesting coincidence.

Annabel | Thu, 07/30/2009

All elves- I can't seem to

All elves- I can't seem to stay away from them!

Anna | Mon, 08/17/2009

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