Triumvir: Chapter Twenty-Three

Fiction By Clare Marie // 4/24/2010

 

      Tortei banged on the king’s door, a frown etched deep on his face.
     “Enter!”
      The Master Carver strode into the hall, down the rich carpet, and right past the throne. As he expected, Bettle was behind the starry curtain, fiddling with three puzzle rings.
      “Tortei!” Bettle cast a concerned look at his friend. “You are back early from your mother’s burial. The journey into the mountains is long.”
      Tortei grunted. “I had hurried to return,” he replied. “I had hoped to get here before our guests left.”
      “Nay, they are long gone.” The Dwarf King smiled wistfully. “Elves, you know. Always in a hurry.” He looked curiously at Tortei’s face, but there was no change in expression.
      “Tortei,” Bettle went on, “did you have anything to do with the Zarwin ring?”
      The Master Carver bit his lip but made no answer.
      “Your mother had such a ring, did she not,” continued Bettle, shrewdly.
      “Ye-es,” grumbled Tortei, avoiding Bettle’s eyes.
      “Perhaps, then, the ring is hers – misplaced by some accident, maybe?”
      Tortei looked relieved and opened his mouth to speak, but Bettle went on.
      “Although, I have to say, how such things can get misplaced is a rather ridiculous idea to my mind.” He held something out to Tortei.
      “Is this the ring?” he demanded.
      Slowly Tortei lifted his eyes. He gave a tremendous start when he saw the Zarwin ring in Bettle’s hand.
      “How did you get it?” he cried angrily. He knew the game was up and surrendered trying to pretend he didn’t recognize the ring.
      Bettle gazed at him sadly. “Don’t blame me, dear fellow. Elinor gave it to me just before they left. She said she didn’t feel comfortable keeping it. I thought it might be yours, so here.” He set it in Tortei’s hand.
      The Master Carver gave a long sigh. Then, clenching the ring and gritting his teeth, he turned to go. But the King’s voice stopped him.
      “Tortei, was it our idea or your father’s?”
      “Well, you know the custom is to give a dying lady’s possessions to another lady, and – ” Tortei shuffled.  “It was mine. But my father approved. He likes Elinor.”
      Bettle shook his head. “I was a dangerous thing to do, Tortei.”
      “I know,” he answered quietly. “But there are other things far more evil.” His eyes glinted. His hand rose to part the curtain.
      “How is fat old Toby, anyway?” asked Bettle, with the loving insults only close friends use.
      Tortei shrugged. “My father is as well as can be expected.”
      With that, he was gone.
 
 
~~
 
 
      “Look, my Lady! ‘Tis Tothy’ta, our Elven kingdom!”
      Elinor looked up.  “Oh, Raam!” she breathed, lips parted and eyes sparkling. “It’s beautiful!” 
      The dark-haired elf watched her. “Aye, so ‘tis,” he smiled. “ ‘Tis every day beauty for us, but we see it as new through a guest’s eyes.” Behind them, Mikelo warbled:
 
“Oh, fair is this great city
But it can be a bore
Compared with the sweet beauty
Of Lady Elinor!”
 
      Elinor shook with laughter, blushing a little. “Don’t tell me you actually mean it! You probably sing a version of that song to every lady who visits here.”
      Mikelo merely grinned and winked at her.
      “Verily, dost the lad mean it truly?” shouted Raam in mock horror. “Why, fie for shame, thou ninnyhead! ‘Tis shameless thou art.” He rapped his friend smartly on the head with his bow.
      “Wisht, now!” whined Mikelo, rubbing his head tenderly. “Fie thyself!” He laughed and, before Raam could stop him, whispered something in the ear of Raam’s horse. The creature took off at a gleeful gallop, with Raam obliged to use all his skill to turn the horse back.
      “See there,” drawled Mikelo to a giggling Elinor, “he is having trouble convincing his horse that ‘tis not time for dinner!”
 
      It was a fine sight that now lay before them. About was a rolling country, colored in grassy greens and autumn golds and forest greys. These hills were called moors, a name Elinor had never heard before. The setting sun kissed the moors with a gentle light, and glowed through the leaves of the trees which surrounded them, setting their trunks a-sparkle. A dirt path lay at their feet, leaping streams as bridges and turning into white stone near the fortress entrance. This fortress could hardly be seen through the tall trees surrounding it, but Elinor had a glimpse of something silvery-white, like the dubious peep of the first evening star. Ahead of her, at the front of the elven column, she saw Deyn riding. Eltar was at his side. The elf approached the first stream and halted.
      Elinor maneuvered to her brother.
      “What now?” she asked him softly.
      Eltar smiled at her. He had spent much of the trip asking about the customs and traditions of the elves, and had a fairly good idea of what was going on. “I think he’s going to summon the Guardian. Watch.”
      An elf brought forward a staff covered in tiny, merry bells. Deyn took it and struck the water three times. The musical tinkling of the bells mingled sweetly with the gurgling water. He straightened and began to sing in a strange tongue.
      “Elvish language, I should think,” replied Eltar to his sister’s questions. “Wonder what it’s all about though. Too bad they don’t sing in a language we can understand.”
      “ ‘Tis an old custom of the Elven folk. Shalt I tell thee about it?”
      Elinor gave a startled jerk.  “Raam!” she exploded, whispering furiously while Eltar indulged in helpless laughter. “Do you always have to sneak up on us like that?”
      Raam grinned but put a finger to his lips. “Hush, there is more,” he said.
      From out of the trees came a lone elf. She was clad in a simple grey-green dress, covered with a brown cloak. Two watchful eyes shone underneath the hood. Pausing a foot from the riverbank she called out across the water to Deyn. But the twins did not know what she said, for she spoke in the ancient Elven tongue. Deyn answered likewise, and there passed between them a lengthy conversation, always the Guardian challenging and Deyn answering. The twins knew they were being talked about, for they heard their own names in Elvish (Raam had told them what they were already): Ely’nora and Elvarmaë. 
      Raam nudged Eltar and nodded to the surrounding trees.  “If thou shouldst look closely, thou wilt see our folk armed and with arrows notched.”
      Eltar followed the elf’s nod, and he could just make out the threateningly aimed arrows and keen hands that held them. Of the elves he could see nothing, so clever was their camouflage.   
      At last, the Guardian cast back her hood, held up her arms, and burst into song. The elves in the trees raised their bows, joining in the singing. Deyn’s company sang also, and crossed the river. Raam translated the song for the twins later:
 
(The Guardian)  Sing! Sing to these travelers!
 
(The tree elves) Sing! The Guardian commands it!
 
(Deyn’s company) Sing! We thank thee for thy welcome!
 
(The whole company) Sing! Sing! Raise your songs to the sky! Sing welcome and laugh and dance all the night!
Sing! Sing with your hearts!
Ho-ee-an-ey!
Ho-ee-an-ey!
 
     The elves sang the song over and over again, singing back and forth to each other as they marched. Elinor hummed, singing with them when they sang ho-ee-an-ey, for it was rather simple and repeated often.
      “What does it mean?” she asked Raam. “Ho-ee-an-ey?”
      Raam was thoughtful. “It is hard to translate,” he said. “ ‘Tis a word we use in singing the ancient Elvish to express great joy…to be joyful, to laugh to sang. Csan the Ancient, he who founded this kingdom of ours, used that word much. When he and his weary company came in sight of this river and the land surrounding, Csan lifted up his arms and cried out in a loud voice ‘Ho’yan’ey!’ Since then, his name has been ‘He-who-is-joyful’. Csan Ho’yan’ey he is sometimes called.”
      They rode slowly along the road with the smell of flowers in the fresh air about them. The company of elves still sang, now in harmony, but softer. It was a lengthy yet delightful ride, passing into the heart of Tothy’ta. The land surrounding them was quiet, save for the trilling of birds and the rushing of the wind. But other than their own company, the twins could perceive no elves in the trees about them. Eltar wondered this aloud to Raam.
      “War hast made us wary,” he answered sadly. “In days past, we used to dwell in these outlying lands. But now, to keep our folk safe in these dark days, we have moved our homes deeper within our borders, nearer to the fortress. ‘Tis a pity. As a child, I walked these woods without fear.”
      The dirt path ceased, and the white stone road now lay before them. Here the Guardian and her band took their leave, bowing. Softly and quietly they melted away into the trees. Watching them go, Elinor suddenly saw that she and the company were in a meadow. It dipped down and up again to form a small valley. Behind and before were trees; but all about were small blue flowers that waved and nodded in the wind – forget-me-nots they were, only of such a blue that they seemed to be pieces of autumn sky. Filü elves called them. The light of the evening stars made them glow softly, and set the road sparkling like diamonds.
      “This is the valley of Ryluyana,” said Raam. “Here is one of the elves’ most honored places in the whole earth.”
      “Who – or what – is Ryluyana?” asked Elinor, enchanted by the valley. 
      “She was an elf maiden who lived long, long ago,” said Raam, as they began to cross the valley. “Her lover Yoshi died in the Great War. The filü was their flower – their pledge of fidelity, maybe. ‘Tis said that she still walks the misted moors, ever bearing, as a crown on her dark hair, a chain of filü. Someday thou shalt hear the whole tale.”
      “Ryluyana,” murmured Elinor, tasting the richness of the word. She could see in her imagination (or was it a vision?) how the elf must have looked: shadowy hair, skin as fair as moonlight, and cool, cool blue eyes, cool as the cold water that runs in the shadows of overhanging trees.  She savored the sound and feel of the word. “What a beautiful story. Sad…but beautiful.”
      Raam smiled. “The Lady Arlawyn could tell it better than I. She hast a love of old tales and ancient heroes. Thou shouldst ask her to tell it to thee in full.” 
      “Tell me about the Empress,” said Elinor eagerly. “I’ve heard only a little.”
      “Where to begin?” laughed Raam. “She is, verily, one of the loveliest ladies thou shalt ever behold. But she hast a disposition to match it. Never was there any lady as sweet as she. They say she doth love her Lord Armir greatly, as he loves her. And ‘twas decreed only lately that Arlawyn is with child.”
      “Really?” cried Elinor. “My mother – ” She stopped suddenly and looked down. She had been going to say that her mother was also expecting, but she remembered that Anya was not her mother; and she realized with a pang that by now, Anya’s baby was probably born. She would not be there to share in the tremendous event. A sob caught in her throat.
      Raam glanced at her, but it was too dark to see her face; and the sob was so smothered it made not a sound.
      “Lady Elinor?” he said questioningly.
      She cleared her throat and offered a light explanation; but for the rest of the ride, she rode very close to her brother, and kept silence. 

 

Comments

The part when Mikelo made

The part when Mikelo made Raam's horse run off made me laugh! :0) and I love love love the idea of the Guardian's song!! That was so cool!

And the ring...hmm? What will continue to happen there, I wonder?

I'm so glad you posted a new chapter! I was just wondering when you would!

Heather | Sat, 04/24/2010

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

...

“Well, you know the custom is to give a dying lady’s possessions to another lady,

What is that supposed to mean?  Is Elinor dying?

Bridget | Sun, 04/25/2010

"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

Heather: Thank

Heather: Thank you!! :D

Bridget: Actually, it was Tortei's mum who was dying...the dwarf custom is to "give a dying lady's possessions to another lady" and since his mum was dying, Tortei and his dad decided to give her possession (the Zarwin ring) to another lady: Elinor.  Sorry I didn't make that clear. :)

Clare Marie | Mon, 04/26/2010

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"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]

...

*sighs with relief*  Oh, good.

Bridget | Mon, 04/26/2010

"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

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