As Lara led the way to the guest rooms on the sixth level of the fortress I darted ahead to walk beside her.
“Your name’s Lara, right?” I asked.
“I’m Serah Kreiss, nice to meet you.”
Lara nodded again, “The pleasure is all mine.”
I grinned, “Your sister doesn’t seem to like us very much.”
Lara shrugged, “That’s just her way. She’s cold to everyone to begin with, she’ll thaw eventually.” She paused. “Although there is someone she immediately liked. The High Elf Prince.”
“Yes. Ah, here we are.” She opened the door and led us inside. “This is the royal guest house. It hasn’t been used for a few years so it could do with a good clean.” Lara ran a finger along the wall. “Or not.” She inspected her dustless fingertip. “The room on the right is set aside for a Dameon and Cassius. Serah and Alex, your room’s on the left. Star, you’ll share a room with Briseis and I across from the boy’s.” I saw a brief expression cross Star’s face before she nodded. “…and Brandon and Hawkeye your room is on the next floor across the hall from our Mother’s.” She turned around and led us trough another door. “This is the Main Common room. My guess is this is where we’ll meet tomorrow. A small kitchen is through there and there are bathrooms connected to all the bedrooms. I suggest we all retire and meet here again tomorrow morning. If Mother is holding our meeting elsewhere I will tell you.” Beckoning Star to follow she left the room. We bid each other goodnight and retired to our respective rooms.
“Dameon, can I ask you a few questions?” Cassius asked as he sat down on the edge of his bed.
“Sure,” Dameon nodded, sitting down across from him, “I’ll answer as best I can.”
“ First, this may seem stupid but where and what is Lor’sLarnel?”
“Lor’sLarnel is the biggest port city in Ezona, run by the High Elves. It isn’t there capital city but it is where they hold their court and all important meetings and ceremonies. Weddings, Coronations and the like.” Dameon explained, unclipping his weapons and tossing them onto the bed behind them.
Cassius nodded then asked his second question, “What or who are the Kelpsy?”
“No one knows exactly who or what they are but most of the sources agree that they are a race of water people.” Dameon shrugged, “I haven’t meet anyone who’s actually seen one alive.”
“The stories say that they’re savage and warlike,” Cassius said beginning to remove his own weapons.
Dameon nodded in agreement. “I heard the other Street Kids talking about one time my brother led a campaign to drive them from Ezona.” He thought about something for a minute then grinned. “That would be about the time Serah and I snuck into the treasure vault and got caught when he came back early.”
Cassius chuckled and leaned back on his bed, kicking off his boots “Where are we headed next?”
Dameon shrugged, unlacing his boots “Not sure, Nagrasand probably.”
Cassius sat upright and looked at him, “Nagrasand?”
Dameon nodded, “We need to aid the Tauren’s in recovering their army.”
“I understand that,” Cassius nodded, “But wouldn’t it be a better idea to do so with more races behind us?”
“I would think so too but Serah said she has in idea.” Dameon stood and began removing his amour. “If you’ll excuse me I’m going to wash.” He moved off towards the small bathroom at the far end of the room.
Across the hall Alex and I were having a similar conversation.
“Have you even been to Lor’sLarnel?” I asked, unbuckling my swords and leaning them against the wall.
Alex nodded, “Only once, Mother sent me and a small group of warrior’s there to meet with the High Elf leaders and propose an alliance.” He pulled both sword and scabbard out of his belt and leant it against the wall next to mine.
“They accepted I take it?” I pulled off my tunic and began unlacing my boots.
Alex nodded, “Almost immediately.” He began unbuckling his amour, “I’m slightly surprised Lysander didn’t recognize me but…” He shrugged and left the sentence hanging.
I pulled off both my boots and laid back on my bed, wings spread out behind me. “Do you know anything about the Kelpsy?”
Alex pulled off his amour and removed his own boots, “No, I think Mother mentioned them once but other than that I known nothing else about them.” He pulled off his shirt and began smoothing out his right wing feathers. “Where are we headed next?”
“Dameon’s going to Nagrasand to help the Tauren’s take back their army.” I sat up, “at least I think that’s his latest plan.”
“Assuming it is,” Alex asked, pushing his wing behind, “do we have any plan on how to do that?”
I shrugged. “Sort of, let me sleep on it. I’ll let you know tomorrow morning.” I moved off towards the bathroom to wash.
Lara led Star into the room that she shared with her sister and closed the door behind them.
“I thought you said you shared this room with your sister?” Star asked.
“I do,” Lara gestured to a dividing wall, “That’s her room through there.”
Star nodded then turned around to face Lara, “I have a few questions to ask?”
Lara gestured for her to continue, “Fire away.”
“First who are the Kelpsy?”
Star pulled a chair out and sat down at the table, Lara settled her self, cross-legged on her bed. “I’ll probably not the best one ask, Briseis knows more about them than I do, having been in contact with them.”
“Briseis has seen them?” Star asked.
Lara nodded, “She knows more about them than Mother and me combined. I know this much though; they were once Elves, a splinter race of High Elves who were able to harness the power of the waves. They are the only race that hasn’t converted to travel by airship. It is rumoured that they are a female only race.” She leaned back and shrugged, “Apart from the fact they live mainly on the water that’s all I know. As I said Briseis is probably the person to talk to about them.”
Star nodded, “Your probably right. Next question,” She thought for a minute on how to phrase it then said, “The High Elves were very ready to accept both alliances?”
Lara cocked her head to one side, “and we weren’t?”
“Well yeah,” Star agreed, “But they agreed without any talk or anything.
Lara nodded, “True.”
At that moment the door leading to Briseis’s room opened and Briseis herself walked in.
“Talking about me?”
“No,” Lara answered honesty.
Briseis relaxed slightly and then turned to Star, “Do you know what Dameon’s next plan is?”
Star shrugged, “No, but I think he’s planning in going to Nagrasand and help the Tauren’s reclaim their army.”
Briseis nodded, “Do you know how to get there?”
Star shook her, “No, but I assume we have to go through High Elf land.”
“Not quite,” Briseis corrected, “The South-western corner of our kingdom and overlaps with the North-eastern corner of Nagrasand.”
“Can you lead us there?” Star asked.
Briseis nodded, “Of course, but let’s see what Dameon’s plan is first.”
Star nodded in her turn, “Right. I’m going to clean up.”
“The bathroom’s through there,” Lara said nodding towards a door at the far side of her room.
Star nodded, picked up her back and disappeared through the door.
I awoke early next morning to see Alex was already up. He was sitting at the table eating. He glanced up and caught my eye, “Sleep well?” He asked.
I nodded and threw back the covers sitting up, “Any word from the Queen?” Alex shook his head, “Nothing as yet.” I shrugged and moved off towards the small bathroom. After showering and splashing water on my face I dressed in a light white singlet and pair long light grey, track pants. I re-entered the main room, tying my white-blond hair back in a short ponytail. Alex stood wearing a black T-shirt and darker grey pants, bucking his sword around his waist and thrusting the flute through his belt. I picked up both my swords and slung them over the one shoulder.
“What’s the plan for the day?” I asked.
Alex went to answer but before he could the door opened to admit Dameon and Cassius.
“You know its good manners to knock before barging in?” I demanded.
Dameon shrugged, “Sorry. Have you guys heard from the Queen yet?”
Alex shook his head, “No.”
A knock sounded at the door. A second later it opened to admit Star, Lara and Briseis.
“The Queen sent word that the meeting is to be postponed.” Lara explained.
“Why,” Cassius asked.
“A Dark Elf invasion,” Briseis said, “Lynx told me.”
Dameon nodded as if that explained everything. “Why would the Dark Elves invade here?”
“Not here as in this fortress,” Briseis said, “But the forest outside.”
“Shouldn’t we help?” Alex asked, one hand resting on his sword hilt.
Lara shook her head, “Mother believes they are looking for you Dameon, and your friends. She believes that they are trying to figure our how far you’ve made it and how many races you’ve contacted.”
“How can they tell that we didn’t zigzag across Ezona?” Cassias asked.
“The Kingdom the Ki’miri takes up almost the entire eastern side of Ezona.” Alex explained, “the rest is the territory of the elusive LightningCats. Their territory reaches the northern end of Ezona and to the south to overlaps with the Human/Ki’miri Port City of Vershi.”
“The Ki’miri and the LightningCats have combined their territory in order to cement an age-old alliance.” I informed everyone, “The city of Vershi is were the Ki’miri and the LightningCats meet. During the year they still keep to their own cites so they have to meet once year to discuss changes and stuff.
“Vershi doesn’t sound human,” Cassius remarked.
Briseis snorted, “That’s because it not.”
“But…?” Dameon began, Briseis silenced him with an upraised hand before speaking, “The Port City of Vershi is occupied by the humans at present but before that it was one of the seven known ports where the Kelpsy landed and traded with the other races.”
Cassius scratched the back of his head, “That must be the fourth time in half as many days that I’ve heard that name but who are they?”
Alex, Dameon, Star and I shrugged. Lara looked at Briseis.
“The Kelpsy,” Briseis began, “are a race of female only water people. Where they come from is as much a mystery as they are. Under the rule of Alex the First they enjoyed good relationships with the humans and many other races. They traded with all races having had no side the conflicts of the past.” She paused to see if we had any questions, when none were forthcoming she continued, “It is due to your grandfather that they have not been seen in Ezona there past years, Dameon. Tricked by Mind-benders he led a fleet to exterminate them and almost succeeded. He would have done had the Kelpsy not turned the power of the waves upon him, destroying his fleet. Before they were a peaceful people but now there have been reports of Warrior Women preying upon human, elf, dwarf and other trading vessels. They appear in the midst of a storm and fade away like smoke. I do not know how accurate these report are it seems due a misjudged attack they have become a race of pirates and raiders.” She sat down near the door, “It’s a shame really.”
Suddenly, without warning the door sprung open. A wild-haired Dark Elf stood in the doorway, crazed blood red eyes roaming the room. They fastened on Dameon and the Dark Elf lunged toward him, we all moved fast but none faster then Cassius. With a blur of movement three knives were in the air, the third one leaving his belt before the first struck. The Dark Elf staggered backwards, the three knives embedded in its chest. It growled in pain and lunged forward again but this time I acted. I withdrew one sword, flipped in over and flung it sidearm. The Dark Elf was thrown backwards and pinned to the wall.
“If they got this far they may be inside the fortress itself!” Briseis exclaimed. She grabbed Lara by the arm and literally dragged her from the room, “we had better go help.”