Ch.I - Arrival
Written by Daniel Ortiz
The trip from Erevander to Citadel Femmbarr had been long and tiresome for the young elf and by the time she had finally arrived at the doorstep of the Last Dragon Inn, she was incredibly hungry and terribly exhausted. “At least the spring scenery of the plains was, rewarding..,” she thought, before letting out a loud sigh in an attempt to reassure herself after realizing the true weight that crossing the threshold into the building’s interior had over her.
She had planned on arriving at least a week before the registry even started but, since she felt she had the time to tarry, she “allowed” herself to take more than a few unnecessary stops along the way. After all, she had always enjoyed her solitude. But immediately regretted that decision after taking a quick glance at the Inn’s interior. The place was bustling with what seemed to her like a horde of other youngsters who were there, presumably, for the same reason that she was; to undertake their mandatory military service.
Even when there hadn’t been any “real” wars during the last 1200 years, every two years since the end of the last great dragonwar, the nation of Velthara had drafted its youngest citizens to temporarily serve in its military. Both of her parents served during their youth, as did her older brother a couple of decades ago, and now it was her turn.
“For an elf, two years shouldn’t be too much of a hassle” she thought unconvinced as she finally decided to enter the inn.
She knew she lacked that perspective a lifespan of a couple hundred years gave to other elves. She was 25 at that time; an age that in most other cultures qualified for full adulthood but, for her elven peers she was still no more than a child. Even her own brother, who was only a couple of decades older than her, treated her as such, and that bothered her greatly. But this, this was her rite of passage. She would come back home as an equal to Gaillarael.
The young elf carefully examined the place until she found an open seat near the bar counter and gracefully made her way through what resembled to her, an ocean of crowded tables. Upon arriving, she was greeted by a stocky gold dwarf sporting a thick brown beard and a heavily stained cloth apron.
“Hoi youngun’!.” Despite his gruff appearance, the dwarf’s attitude was warm and welcoming. “Not many moon elfs around this year!, name’s Bybor. Can I get ya’ somethin’?.”
“A meal and a room please,” she answered softly, so much that the dwarf had to lean forward on the tip of his toes to be able to decipher the answer over the general noise of the room.
“Oh boi! Fer that ye should have arrived earlier, my lass… The meal I can surely get ya’, but... unless ye’r a Keilryn Varivender, ye’ll have to find somewhere else to sleep tonight. This year there’s a lot of ya’,” said the dwarf, gesturing at the bustling establishment.
“I’m sorry, but. What do you mean by that? Why’s my name important? And, how would you know of it?” she replied, visibly confused and raising her voice after taking the cue offered by the leaning dwarf.
“Well. A letter arrived, ‘bout a week ago, requesting lodging fer a young moon elf goin’ by that name. And since no other of yer kind arrived with this generation, I only assumed —
“Ye were expected to arrive a couple of days ago. Ya’ see, the letter included payment for the whole week. —
“Ye do understand I cannot offer ye a refund, right?” the dwarf said as a manner of closing statement.
“Right...“ she said absentmindedly.
“Did the letter say who the sender was?” the young elf asked, still trying to process the information.
“It arrived by hawk and was signed by some Gail... Maybe yer Da’. Or Ma’?. I never know, elven names have always eluded me, can’t tell if —
“No offense, of course. ‘Ere, take a look! There’s a bunch of stuff written in elven inside. Guess that part’s intended fer ye’...”
The dwarf handed her a letter written over a coarse parchment. As she read through its contents, her pale purple skin started to turn violet with both anger and embarrassment. She was undoubtedly grateful for her brother’s foresight; but there he was, treating her like a child again.
Watching the colorful display of emotions over the moon elf’s face, the dwarf handed a room key and excused himself off with a softened “I’ll get your meal, youngun’.’” And even when only a few moments ago she was starving, she ended up finishing the meal offered by the dwarf halfheartedly. She then settled on spending the afternoon exploring the area surrounding the inn.
With the exception of the small hamlet of farmers and traders where the Last Dragon Inn stood, most of Femmbarr’s extension was occupied by the walled citadel that served as training grounds for the new recruits, as well as a staging area for other Veltharan troops heading down south to Blackgate, and since she hadn’t registered as a cadet yet, her little exploration trip was confined to the civilian area. She decided to spend some time by the Fem river before heading back to the inn.
Before long, dusk started to creep in, and almost immediately she felt some of that weariness that had been burdening her wash away with the fading light. She was a moon elf, after all, and she had always enjoyed the cold solace of night. She noted how early it happened here in Fembarr in comparison to Erevander’s long hours of daylight. She wondered why the biggest community of moon elves in all of Velthara had formed so far north, so close to the everlight?.
She stood by the riverbank for a while, soaking in the atmosphere. She noticed a thick woodland area to the east of the settlement that she thought would be nice to explore on a later day and watched a couple of human kids throw fishing lines for a while. “They’re still too young to be concerned about anything else I guess. How nice,” she thought before making her trip back to the Last Dragon much to her discomfort. But tomorrow was a big day, so she shouldn’t ‘stay up’ late.
When she arrived though, the dining hall was in total disarray. From what she could quickly gather, there had been a scuffle between a group of peasant enlistees and some pompous “sons of someone” from the big city. Apparently, punches were tossed, and now all sorts of food and drink laid splattered around the floor. The few patrons that remained inside the inn rushed to finish their meals, while the staff worked diligently to clean up the littered remains of food off the floor.
Keilryn tried her best to navigate the mess without disturbing the cleaning efforts and was halfway across the hall when she was stopped short by a voice calling out. “Hey you, moon girl! Care to come and tend to my wounds?. You seem to have a delicate touch, and that’s just what I need right now…”
Distraught by such a statement, she turned around only to see a young male wood elf reclined over a seat, surrounded by a bunch of other pampered-looking boys. His handsome features were only accentuated by a long, golden mane; he wore expensive silk robes over his slim body and a cynical smirk on his face. He looked a bit tattered, yes, but he certainly wasn’t injured. Despite that fact; a pair of human girls, villagers judging by their appearance, tenderly caressed the pretty elf as if he really was.
“Seems to me that you have all the tending cares you need, milord.—
“Or deserve, for all I care.” That last part she spoke to herself as she turned back to face the stairs that would lead her to her room.
“Do not turn your back on me, moon girl! Don’t you know who I am?” the elf raised his voice.
“Not know, nor care. Good night to you, milord.” She continued without glancing back.
“It’s true what they say about your kind…—
“Heartless bitch that one, huh?” the male elf said as he looked back at the group, which immediately burst into laughter. They were all turning to mind their own business again when a piece of what seemed to be a half-eaten sandwich landed right into one of the wood elf’s smooth cheeks.
“Oh, now you’re gonna get it!” he screamed and got up from his seat reaching for the fine rapier that hung on his belt. Keilryn stood frozen at this gesture, she was unarmed and had never before participated in a fight.
“Methinks one fight’s too many fer tonight boi!” Bybor’s commanding voice resounded all over the hall. “Ye are exceeding the boundaries of my hospitality and I’m not in the mood of summoning the guard once again.—
“I’ll kindly ask ye bullies to take yer leave, lest ye grant me the honor of kicking yer shiny butts myself!.” There was a slight pause in the dwarf’s scolding.
“And for fuck’s sake! unhand that weapon ye fool!. Ye wouldn’t know what to do with it even if ye were in front of a troll-shaped rock.”
The elf glared at Keilryn with fury before spatting. “You purple scum should have stayed on the other side of the rift. In the dark where you belong!.”
“Enough!” shouted the dwarf while smacking at a table.
“See you in the training course then, moon girl...” Added the wood elf before leaving.
The dwarf let a long, calming sigh out. “I’m sorry, that was foolish,” Keilryn added, ashamed, but also frightened.
“Don’t be. Every two years we have ‘em. Damn Righlor braggarts.” Bybor turned to Keilryn and motioned towards the bar counter, “I’m bound to have something fer yer nerves. If ye care to have some.”
“I… I think I’ll be fine without it. Thanks,” Keilryn stuttered.
“Have to admit, that was a solid throw back there. Ye’ll do well at the trials tomorrow. Ye’ll see.—
“For now. Get some rest.”
The young moon elf looked gratefully at Bybor and halfheartedly exclaimed, “Yeah, rest…”
She entered the small rented room and attempted to follow through with what the dwarf had suggested, but her nerves were wrecked. In the end, the best she could achieve was staring at the moon through the window while sitting motionless in bed for long hours until she finally succeeded in falling ‘asleep’.