"Druid, listen very carefully before I slit out your tongue." - This item has chapters!
Blood trickled from the infected mans rotting mouth, and his eyes lit with excitement over his next kill. Volodar, in a last ditch effort ran to the banquet table and picked up a knife. He launched it. Hitting the infected man in the arm, Volodar realised it would not be enough as the creature let out a wail of pain but did not fall. It was too late.
Two silver arrows pierced through the warm air. Loud squelches echoed the great hall as the arrows punctured the remaining infected heads, and they collapsed to the floor dead.
“Thought I was a gonna there,” Klaern relaxed. Pulling himself to his feet he took a few steps and started skidding on the blood once again.
“Bloody hell boy, stand still,” Volodar murmured to himself. But he couldn’t help feeling relieved at the narrow escape, where did the arrows fly from?
“I’d like you to meet Ciolia and Carlia,” Lord Ailus said. He’d not moved during the attack on the banquet, and still he sat there. From behind him through the map on the wall, Volodar could now see a door through leading to some stairs, and out came two tall girls. “They are my daughters.”
Volodar held back a yelp. He’d wondered why he’d never seen lady Ailus, but now it was clear. Lord Ailus was pale with a long chiselled face, but his daughters were quite the opposite. Both stood rigidly upright like soldiers, and they were tanned with dark, green eyes. They both had oval faces and wore black leather outfits. Twins, Volodar thought. The only difference was their hair. Ciolia had straight blonde hair reaching down to her shoulders, and Carlia had brown hair neatly woven into a bun, with a single braid flowing down her back.
With stern expressions on their faces, they stared at Klaern and nodded, and then looked at the dead corpses of the infected. “Filthy animals,” Ciolia spat. “Just filthy,” Carlia added while marching towards them. Everyone was silent watching the girl in leather. She ripped the arrows from the corpses skulls, and replaced them back into her quiver. “This mess will need to be cleaned,” Carlia smiled, “but I love a good clean kill.” She laughed and returned back to her sister, “call if you need us again, Father.” With that said they exited back into the hidden door in the map and started their ascent up the stairs.
“I need a bloody shower, like now, aye?” Klaern broke the silence from the crowd, but they all still seemed to be in awe of the infected, as well as Lord Ailus’ daughters.
From another archway to the left of the hall a brown door swung open and out came several older elves dressed in grey outfits with mops in their hands. “Step back! Step back!” they began as they threw buckets of water onto the blood and began to scrub the floor. A handful of guards ran into the throne room and took stationary positions by each exit.
The surrounding elves began to discuss the night’s shortcoming and a few huddled around the body of the dwarf who had been bitten. A female broke down in tears, closely followed by a young man who must have been his son. Before Volodar could comfort the family, Lord Ailus beckoned him. “Please... follow me,” Lord Ailus said.
Leaving the chaos of the throne room was hard for Volodar; he cared for his people and now one lay dead. But he didn’t want to disobey Lord Ailus in his home. Especially now that Lord Ailus knew that the plague wasn’t fully quarantined in the vicinity behind the wall. But what did he want with Volodar now? Surely he’d prefer to comfort his own people too, and ensure them their safety.
Following Lord Ailus, Volodar picked up another knife from the dinner table and slipped it into his back pocket. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust lord Ailus, but he realised he couldn’t be too careful; something was going on. Before he left the room, he signalled Klaern to come with him who was still stained with blood. Escaping the grasp of one of the cleaners who was desperately trying to pat and scrub him, clearly enthralled by his short height, Klaern nodded.
They walked through what seemed like miles of corridors. Each hall was wide and beautifully decorated, with pictures and fire wisps fluttering back and forth. Along each wall there was a pillar every few metres with small holes drilled into them, with water trickling out into a small pool at the base. The water was crystal blue like Lord Ailus’ eyes, and stone hanging baskets hung from the ceiling which radiated an affectionate orange glow; the fire wisps were attracted to it.
Lord Ailus stopped and withdrew a key from the insides of his white cloak. He opened a large oak door and gestured the dwarves to enter with a smile on his face.
Volodar could see a warm fireplace in the corner as well as a four post golden bed at the back of the rectangular room. Different weaponry layered the walls and a couple of dozen arrows sat in a quiver at his bedside. Chests and cupboards were arranged around the walls of the room and a silver vanity was in the corner, with quills and ink pots sitting neatly on one shelf. But the largest spectacle stood in the center of the room covered by a golden sheet. One end was crumpled and allowed Volodar to see that it was a battle map and draped over one of the cupboards there was a white gown stained with blood.
There was a click behind Volodar and Klaern as the door shut, and Lord Ailus hung the key on the handle.
“This is my chamber,” Lord Ailus began. “Ignore that white gown over there; I was dealing with some pretty pesky goblins a few days back. It was quite messy; got blood... everywhere. That's why I closed the entrance to Cleawood cave in that explosion; I'm sure we'll be thankful for it. Now then, I don’t want to keep you long, I know you must be dying to comfort that poor family of dwarves out there. I understand. But first, I need to discuss with you my plans.” Lord Ailus walked around to the other side of the battle map so that he was facing Volodar.
“I just want to say Ailus before we start, I’m grateful to your daughters for saving my young lad by ‘ere,” Volodar looked at Klaern. “Could you pass on the message to ‘em?”
“That’s quite aright dwarf. But you can do it yourself.” A click came from the largest cupboard on the left wall and the two daughters reappeared. They were still wearing their leather outfits, and held their bows in hand. They stood either side of their Father facing Volodar.
“You’re welcome,” Carlia murmured examining the notch on her bow.
“But there’s no reason to thank us. We just like the feel of a fresh kill,” Ciolia added.
“Right... girls you can relax. There’ll be no killing here tonight,” Ailus said. They seemed disappointed, but went and sat upon the vanity. “So,” Ailus started. “With a war waging on with your brother to the East, with spies saying he’s almost ready to attack; my people will die in this war. Surely you understand that your foolish brother has no right to hold the Elven stronghold. I know it is made from dwarven minerals, but as my Father said, he mined those minerals himself. He built this keep himself. With limited weapons Volodar, and this new plague breaking all hell lose, what am I to do? I thought I’d quarantined those infected bastards behind the wall, but clearly I haven’t done as I’d have hoped. I understand you cannot trade your moonborg ore for me to make refined moonstone weaponry, and I shan’t beg. All I ask is that you spare a few soldiers to watch over Calenrock. The men, women and children there are suffering and more come to me every day. I am running out of space to keep them, please lend some men to protect Calenrock pass. If I haven’t persuaded you still, your dwarves there will protect entry into yours lands. I don’t wish the infected nightmare upon anyone.”
Volodar examined Lord Ailus carefully for trickery, but all he could see was a desperate King trying to protect his people. “For saving my son,” Volodar stroked his beard with his grubby hand, “of course I will lend you some men to protect Calenrock. After all, thank you for inviting us to this wonderful banquet, even if it did turn a little sour,” Volodar looked at Klaern and shook his head. “I’ll help protect your lands from the plague. But I cannot fight against my own brother; it’s not in a dwarf’s blood to fight against his kin, even if he is the biggest idiot that ever ruled a kingdom. When I travel back to Laeroth, I will send men to Calenrock pass.”
“Dwarf, I can’t express my gratitude. You have given my people a fighting chance and for that I will forever be in your debt.” Pointing at the key, he smiled at Volodar, “please feel free to explore the gardens or return to your room. Thallan, my head guard will stay with you if you please, be vigilant of infected. But Carlia and Ciolia have sent guards to their stations already.” smiling, Ailus waved as the dwarves left.
There was silence.
Ciolia and Carlia both clapped slowly and sarcastically.
“Father,” Ciolia murmured. “Why didn’t we just kill them and take the moonborg ore ourselves? What, you wanted a little bit of protection in Calenrock? That was your almighty plan? We could’ve done that ourselves. I thought you wanted the dwarves of Laeroth and those to the East to be crushed?”
Lord Ailus did not take his eyes from the door for a moment. But after a few seconds past he felt the golden trimmed cloth over the battle map and pulled it away unveiling his true plan. The map was incredibly detailed with the snowy mountains of Laeroth and the rich elven trees in his Kingdom. The landscape was beautiful with hilly mountains and rivers running through Calenrock, and a warmer, harsh climate over the sea to the East.
“That wasn’t my plan you fools. My plan’s only just beginning. By the time I’m done with those dwarves, Volodar will be fighting our battle against his brother for us,” Lord Ailus smirked wickedly. “Look here girls, I’ll show you my... real plan to kill those dwarves.”