"Druid, listen very carefully before I slit out your tongue." - This item has chapters!
“Dead. They’ll all be dead,” Lord Ailus whispered quietly, examining a fire wisp that danced across his hand. “And we don’t want that, do we?” He smiled, with a flicker of anger in his eyes.
“Who will all be dead?” Klaern, Volodar’s son asked as he walked through a door to the right.. Lord Ailus seemed startled and fixed eyes with Klaern from his throne. He paused briefly before he spoke.
“All the fire wisps will be dead, young dwarf. You only find fire wisps deep in elven country and it’d be a shame if we were to... lose these fantastic little creatures wouldn’t it?” Lord Ailus sat perched on the edge of his golden throne, which stood at a vantage point to the banquet table. His long silver hair was straight, and flowed down his back like the waterfalls seen in his city, Kheissa. His face was perfect; not one blemish marked his skin, and his blue eyes pierced into Klaern. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, boy, but I think you should know from someone who truly cares. Your Father Volodar has doomed these precious, vulnerable little creatures. You’d better get an explanation from him, I wouldn’t want to... muddle in family affairs.”
The great hall was giant; at least twice the height of the wall Lord Ailus was building, with columns that twirled upwards supporting the marble ceiling. There was a large skylight in the roof with swarms of fire wisps flying from pillar to pillar, dancing in the moonlight that shone through. The throne where Lord Ailus sat was at one end, and behind him there was a giant map of the region. Plates of food littered the one long banquet table, and red wine was held in silver goblets. The fire wisps lit up the room, and many were placed into lanterns that hung from the pillars. The atmosphere was warming.
“Is it true, Father? I don’t care for the pesky little creatures myself, but have you heard what’s happening to the fire wisps in the war against my uncle, what he’s going to do to them?” Klaern hobbled over to Volodar, who had already drunk three goblets all filled to the brim. Luckily, dwarves can handle their drink.
“My boy, I know Lord Ailus is in a long term war with my brother across seas to the East, and quite frankly, Lord Ailus has not done anything wrong he simply--”
“No! Your brother is going to kill all the fire wisps. Lord Ailus is struggling for weapons; well, his army has no weapons, Father. Their weapons are forged from moonborg ore, and we mine that daily, can’t we trade? At the end of the day, we’ll have more gold in our pockets.”
Volodar sighed heavily, and put his newly filled chalice down. The large, silver tinted chair screeched as he pushed away from the table, and jumping down from the chair he strode towards Lord Ailus.
“I’m very grateful for what you have given us tonight, Ailus; I’ve heard legends of the grand banquets that elves can offer. And I know you think of me as greedy for not trading you our moonborg ore, and perhaps this is what tonight was actually about, aye? Another chance for you to persuade me to trade my mined goods. But I am already in trades with the elves far in the South. I cannot help you.”
“That’s not a problem, Volodar. I’ll find a way to save an entire species, and my own people by myself... with no weapons," he tutted. We'll be slaughtered by your foolish brother.” Lord Ailus sat back on his throne still admiring the little fire wisp that floated around his hand.
“When my idiot brother lays siege to your kingdom, I can assure you he will not harm the fire wisps. And we have already supplied you with the materials you need for the wall you are building,” Volodar mused, “can I be so bold as to ask what the wall is for?”
“My dear Volodar,” Lord Ailus began. “A plague has begun to fester in the darkest reaches of our lands. It breeds by touch, but does not necessarily kill. The plague spreads though our body and attacks our soul until eventually we are nothing more than an empty cocoon, where we lose sight of our lives and our bodies are no longer under our control. The victim becomes infected; either spreading the disease or killing all that is near. The attacks started in Kraog grove, and became slowly more frequent.” His sentences were long and he did not stop to take many breaths. “The wall will serve as protection from these foul beasts.”
“What do they look like?” Volodar took a step up towards the golden throne, “How many are infected so far, aye?” The atmosphere in the large hall had not died down, elves and dwarves socialised between themselves, enjoying the fresh mead and wine.
“Well, they look similar to us... the plague takes over us, our minds. Our bodies. Our very existence. We rot with dying skin and live with one intention, infecting others,” Lord Ailus smiled. “We’ve quarantined it mind, there’s no need to panic, or startle the rest of the region. There’d be uproar wouldn’t there? Yes indeed there would. So let’s just keep this between us, shall we?”
King Volodar didn’t like the idea, but understood the uproar a new plague could bring. Klaern, who had joined them could sense his Father's thoughts and nodded in agreement. There’d be riots, fighting, and death. No, they did not like the sound of that. At least Lord Ailus has it quarantined Klaern thought to himself. “Did you evacuate Kraog Grove?”
“Of course,” Lord Ailus muttered while flicking his hair back over his shoulder. “They are living in temporary shelter. Many men, women and children have also been attacked by the infected, and have been seeking refuge, which of course we offer with warm welcome.”
“I did see them on the roadside earlier as a matter of fact, lad? Didn’t seem in great shape. We heard an explosion to the West of the wall too.” Volodar said.
“Ah yes, Cleawood tunnel . An explosion was used to barricade the entrance; there have been quite a few night goblin raids recently.”
Klaern had many more questions he wanted answered about Lord Ailus’ changes to his province, but he could sense Ailus’ short temper. Why should he have a right to know all the Elf Lord's plans anyway? He figured he shouldn’t worry about the new plague; it could only be passed on by touch and all who were infected were quarantined. Well, according to Lord Ailus. He was also protecting the men, women and children of Calenrock just south of Kheissa. Klaern returned to his seat.
Turning to revisit his filled chalice, Volodar moved down a few steps before he stopped. Screaming could be heard from outside. The large oak doors to the throne room were bashed open. Everyone stopped moving. Three infected creatures darted inside. The skin of the first dwarf was soft and easy to puncture, as the teeth of the infected ripped through his neck. His jugular artery pumped thick, red blood like the wine that filled their goblets, leaving one elf girl scrambling around hopelessly on the slippery marble floor. The infected rampaged through the hall, attacking the closest dwarf or elf it could find. Klaern sprung into action. Leaping onto the banquet table, he sprinted down the length of it towards the oak door where the infected harassed the little elf girl. Kicking chalices of wine and food off the table like an ox, he approached. He jumped. Snapping the infected man's neck as he landed, he rolled and was ready for his next target. But he regained balance too late. He was buffeted across the floor by the second infected who approached hastily, ready to infect another victim.