Guest of the Wood Elves.
“Wait. What happened?” Dameon asked.
“The town was an illusion, The entire town was just a vision.” Star explained. She held up a hand to stop Dameon’s next question, “These types of charm can be used to make those who are affected by them believe what they see is real.”
“So…the fight was just another illusion?” Dameon asked.
I nodded, studying my bloodless sword blade. “Guess so.”
“So where are we now?” Cassius directed his question at Star.
She shook her head, “I’m not sure, I don’t recognize any of it.”
“It could be we’ve passed into Wood Elf land,” Brandon suggested.
“We have,” Hawkeye confirmed, “Just where?”
As she finished speaking a dozen Elven Hunters appeared out of thin air before us, bows half drawn. They were all clad in long cloaks of various dark colours, with half of their faces covered with strange shaped plates that left the eye and right corner of the mouth free. One of the Elves approached us, his face plate extended across his forehead holding back the long golden red hair. He was dressed in a light grey cloak and as he approached I caught sight of a long sword handle at his belt. He stopped before us and bowed, “Greetings Hawkeye of the Kelpsy, we have awaited your return.”
“Kelpsy?” Cassius hissed in confusion. Star shrugged, Alex and I were equally confused.
Hawkeye stepped forward and returned the bow, “Greeting Orion of the Wood Elves, I bring tiding’s of change.”
Orion nodded and then gestured for us to follow. He led the way through the trees, heading deeper and deeper into Thistlewood Forest. He finally stopped before an oak of immense proportions. The trunk was easily a thousand meters across. Orion stopped and rapped the trunk three times, paused then quickly rapped in again, twice. After a few moments of silence the wood rippled and split in half before being pulled to each side. As the wood swung to each side Orion stood aside and gestured for us to enter
“Welcome to the Wood Elf fortress of Kaldorei.”
We entered looking around us wonder. The entire Elven fortress was built inside the tree, on six different terraces each connected to the ground level by a magical portal. The ground level was mainly clear containing only a small guard house and warehouse for storing trade goods before delivery. The second level was where the garrison and main barracks were positioned. The Archery range was also on this level along with the training field for the Monks and the Magical range were mages, warlocks, and priests in training could tests there skills. The third level was were all the shops were. This was the only level apart from the ground level to have another portal that led to the level above. The trades people and workers used this portal as they travelled between work and home each day. Level four was were all the houses apart from those belonging to Wood Elf court were. The fifth level was The Wood Elf Queen’s court and meeting room. The sixth level was the private quarters of the Queen and the members of her court.
We drew a few curious glances from the workers on the lower levels but upon seeing our escort they quickly returned to their work. As we approached the doors to the main meeting room a young Elf stepped in front of us, barring our way. “The Queen is in a meeting right now. I can’t allow you in.”
Orion stepped forward a held a short whispered argument with the young Elf. After and few minutes of heated argument the young Elf hurried away, disappearing through the double doors at the far end of the platform. A second later he reappeared and waved us over, “The Queen will see you now.”
We entered the throne room and immediately saw the other delegations. Standing in front of the throne were the Tauren’s, off to the left were a group of cloaked Mind-Benders. Orion led us to a position on the right of the throne. The leader of the Tauren’s glanced over nodded a friendly greeting which, to my surprise Dameon returned. The Mind-Bender leader simply glowered at us.
The Queen studied us for a moment before speaking, “Greetings Hawkeye of the Kelpsy, your return has long been foretold.” Hawkeye bowed and the Queens eyes flicked to Dameon. A slight smile played upon her lips. “Child of Prophecy, you have arrived. The time is here at last.”
She rose suddenly and moved down the steps to walk around the Tauren’s. “The Tauren’s have come to seek an Alliance with Elves like in ancient times,” She moved in front of the Mind-Benders, “You come to ask for the aid of my people in a time of war you feel approaching.” She moved again walking around our group, “and the child of Prophecy comes to ask my aid as had has been foretold.” She stopped beside Dameon and glanced quickly at his bare forearm before returning to her throne. She was silent for a moment, staring into space before her eye’s refocused and she addressed the Tauren’s.
“Bane Thunderhorn, step forward.” The leader of the Tauren’s stepped forward and dropped to one knee, “My Lady.” He was tall for a Tauren easily over eight feet, his shaggy mane was pure black and he had a line of the same coloured fur running down his back. His long lion like tail was saying back and forward slightly. He was dressed in a long red tunic, gathered at the waist and long cloth leggings. Black metal braces protected his muscular forearms and an immense nine-foot long broadsword was slung over one shoulder opposite a huge triangular shield about eight feet in length.
“The Wood Elves would be honoured the enter an alliance with the Tauren’s. The other Elven Races will also accept your offer.”
Bane bowed his great head, “The honour is ours, My Lady. If I may ask, how can you speak for the other Elf races?”
The Queen smiled slightly, “Despite what the other races think the Wood Elves has always keep in touch with the other Elven races.” She leaned back. “We expected a High Elf delegation yesterday but they must have been delayed somehow. The Blood Elves have already sworn alliance to Prince Dameon and I assume that you are going to seek an alliance with the Tauren’s as well?” She added looking at Dameon.
Dameon nodded, “It is true.”
Glancing up I noticed Bane Thunderhorn was watching with interest and stroking his chin with one three fingered hand.
The Queen nodded then motioned for everyone to move, “Out” she ordered, “I wish to speak to Dameon alone.”
We all bowed and filed out. The Mind-Benders went straight to the portal, crossed the ground floor and exited the fortress.
We seated ourselves on the benches outside the throne while the Tauren’s seated themselves on the ground across from us. Alex and I started a mini-version of Divide and Conquer 2, with Cassius and Star watching. Brandon and Hawkeye were quietly talking with one of the Wood Elf guards. Playing with Alex I slowly became aware that someone was watching me. I looked up using my long fringe to hide the movement of my eyes. I saw Bane seated across the room watching us, his head bowed. His mane wasn’t quite as long as he thought and I could see his eyes moving. He was studying us, analysing us.
Meanwhile inside the Queen and Dameon were discussing recent developments within the Twelve Kingdoms.
“…I have heard reports that the Troll’s, Satyr’s and Minotaur’s have formed an alliance.” The Queen asked. “Do you know anything about this?”
Dameon’s face clouded for a moment. “Yes, that was true.”
“The army was routed a few days ago by the Blood Elf army. They had kidnapped the Blood Elf King and one of my friends. I led Brandon, Hawkeye and a female mage by the name of Catarina in an attack, we were aided by Carris and Star who brought the rest of the Blood Elf army in behind us. We were able to free both the King and Cassius.”
Their conversation was interrupted as the double doors opened. A small group of five Wood Elves entered, a great marsupial tiger padding beside them. The Elf in the front was a tall female with long golden-blond hair that was threaded though with eagle feathers. She was dressed in a red midriff top and a long red, pleated skirt. She had two stiffened, backward sloping eagle wings attached to her belt. The curved upper limb of a long bow showed over one shoulder opposite the eagle wing fletching’s of two-dozen arrows. As she came closer Dameon made out the glint of chain mail at her throat. She gave Dameon a cold look before dismissing him.
“The High Elf delegation is merely three leagues away, Mother.”
Dameon’s eyebrows shot up at the word but luckily he had his face under control before the Queen noticed. Her daughter did however and shot Dameon another icy look. The younger Elf behind her turned around and spoke to the other three Elves in the group. They nodded and left the room as she came forward to stand on the other side of the Queen. The Queen motioned and both of the young Elven girls sat down one on either side.
“May I introduce my daughter’s?” She asked, indicating the Elf on her right. “My eldest daughter, Briseis,” Briseis barely glanced at Dameon before carefully removing the collar of chain mail around neck and stowing it in a hidden pocket. “…and my younger daughter, her twin sister Lara.” Lara gave Dameon a friendly nod. She was as tall as her sister but her hair was black gold and tied up in a bun with dark eagle feathers pins. She was wearing a red sleeveless vest and long darker red leggings. The hilts of twin knives showed at her belt and the long sword swung over her shoulder was in an eagle wing sheath. Her eyes in contrast to her sister’s ice blue were a bright green, like grass under the midday sun. “Girls,” The Queen continued, “This is Dameon, Prince of Valhall and heir to the throne of Ezona.” Dameon bowed to them both. Briseis gave him a curt nod in response but Lara grinned and returned his bow. The great marsupial tiger padded around Dameon once before moving away to stretch out beside Briseis. She reached down to smooth patch of ruffled fur.
The Queen turned back to Dameon, “Would you be kind enough to call your friends back inside? Tell the Tauren’s I also wish to see them.”
Meanwhile outside Alex and I were engaged in a pitched battle. Star and Cassius had taken sides acting as strategy consultants. With Star’s help I was gaining the upper hand until Cassius drew upon a tactic he called Spear Wolf. Luckily for me Star also knew this tactic and was quick to counter.
Our game was interrupted as the doors that led to the Throne room opened. We looked up as Dameon appeared. He caught sight of us and beckoned. The Tauren’s seeing us move also rose to their feet, Bane glanced questioningly at Dameon who nodded and followed us in. I raised an eyebrow at Dameon who nodded and closed the door behind us.
The Queen raised her head as we entered and knelt in front of her. After surveying us in silence for a few minutes she rose and, asking us to follow her led the way towards one of her smaller conference rooms.
“The Blood Elves have already aligned themselves with Daemon. The Wood Elves will join this Alliance too.” She seated herself and turned to look at Bane. “Will you also join in this Alliance?”
Bane bowed his great head, “Before the death of my father we always talked about siding with Dameon. However…there is a problem. In the period of mourning Marga Darkrune, leader of the Shadow Tauren’s attacked. They took control of the Army.”
Alex stepped forward impulsively, “Then we take it back!”
Bane bowed his head again and sighed, “It is not that easy my young friend. My tribe and the other older tribes, those that make up the Sunwalkers are now exiled from our homeland of Nagrasand.”
Our conversation was interrupted as a commotion occurred outside the doors. After a minute one door opened and an Elven hunter poked his head through. “Your Highness, The High Elf delegation is waiting.”
The Queen nodded, “Show them in.”
The doors were opened and a group of five High Elves strode in, three men and two females. The male in front was dressed in a quartered blue and gold tabard over a shirt of silver chain mail that covered the upper arms leaving the forearms bare. The legs were covered mail leggings down to mid-thigh. High boots of dark leather fronted in the same mail coved the feet and lower legs. A long, slightly curved sword hung at his side. He held a silver, gold plumed helmet under one arm. His face was framed by dark brown hair swept backward, away from the face and tied in a short, rushed ponytail. The other Elves all wore there helmets and were dressed in the same mail and leather. They all held the same weapons apart from the females, one of them had a bow and arrows while the other had some kind of pole arm slung across her back. The male in the front knelt the before the Queen, “My lady, I am Lysander, Prince and heir to the Throne of Lor’sLarnel. I was told the Blood Elves and Wood Elves have aligned them selves with Prince Dameon, The Child of Prophecy.” His eyes flicked over to Daemon briefly.
“It is true, Lysander, The Tauren’s have also sworn Alliance to Dameon once they have somehow recovered their army. They also wish to form an Alliance with the other Elven races.”
Lysander nodded, “I speak for the my father, the King who is gravely ill.” He turned first to Dameon and dropped to one knee. “My Prince, speak the word and we will have war, the High Elves are with you. Our Farseers have given much consul on this matter. We always intended to side with you.”
“This is good,” I hissed in his ear, “all three Elven races have sided with us and the Tauren’s as well.”
“That’s only four out of ten.” Dameon said a touch of sarcasm.
“Five,” Alex corrected him, “Don’t forget the Ki’miri.”
Lysander turned next to Bane. “The High Elves will accept a alliance with the Tauren’s. It will profit both races, I think.”
Bane bowed his head in thanks. “I will return to The Sunwalker Camp and inform my father.” He bowed to The Queen, “With your leave, My Lady.”
The Queen bowed back from her seated position, “Go with honour, Prince Thunderhorn.”
Bane turned towards Dameon. “We will await your arrival, My Prince.” Dameon nodded and bowed. Bane returned it and gathering his men left the Fortress. The Queen leaned back, “Now it is late. May I suggest that we meet again tomorrow morning? Lara, please show them to the guest apartment?”
Lara stood and bowed slightly, “Of course, Mother.” Gesturing for us to follow she led the way out of the room.