The Royal One rubbed his eyes. “Slow down Lang, what does the draconian want?”
Lang saluted. “He’s asking for a glass of lemon juice and a mug of mead. He refuses to eat without them.”
The Royal One considered it. “What could he possibly want with those?”
Lan looked up from his book. “Maybe he wants to drink them.”
“Be quiet fool,” the Royal One paced. “Draconians are notoriously cunning. He wouldn’t ask for something without a reason, but how could lemon juice and mead serve him?”
“You’re being paranoid,” Lan observed. “All of the guards have testified that his behaviour is erratic. He might be mad.”
“The term used when describing draconians is ‘over-loaded’. And I told you to be silent,” the Royal One turned to Lang. “Give him what he wants, but pay close attention to what he does with it. I want everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem, reported to me.”
Lang nodded, bowed and walked briskly away.
“You let her wander off?” Luc was incredulous. How could her sister be so stupid?
“She promised that she would just attend the meeting in the garden.”
“Lais, you’re far too trusting. What if she runs away again?”
“I know Lynai. She wouldn’t lie to me. No matter how much she might want to flee.”
Luc scratched her head. “When people are desperate they do things that they wouldn’t normally do. Lynai has already escaped once.”
“That’s true, but this time she gave her word.”
“I’m worried about you, Lais. You’re overly attached to that girl. I worry that it’s clouded your judgement or that you may be looking for an excuse to let her go because of it. If she runs away …”
“I know what’ll happen if she’s able to flee because of me,” Lais said. “She knows it full well too. You don’t have to worry. She’ll be back.”
Liys looked over Lofu’s report. “More trolls in our territory?”
Lyon looked over his shoulder. “Maybe these are the same trolls?”
Liys frowned. “That isn’t possible. The tracks we saw extended into the forest a short way and then back-tracked. Besides, the tracks we saw were made by more than three trolls.”
A pixie flew into the conference room, he was carrying a rolled up scroll. Sweat covered his face from the exertion.
Liys took the scroll. “Thank you, go rest for a while.”
The pixie nodded and flew away. Liys opened the scroll and read the message. He slammed it onto the table.
Lyon put a hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
“The trolls are apologizing for the ‘renegades’ who attacked our farming settlement.”
Lyon crossed his arms. “And you don’t believe that the attackers were renegades?”
“Not for a moment, but we can’t call them liars so we have to pretend that we’re gullible enough to believe them. I hate this diplomatic nonsense!”
“Calm down, Liys. Diplomacy could stop a war.”
“Not at this point.”
Do you really believe that?” Lyon asked.
“Our relations with the trolls are already broken, it’s not a matter of if there will be war, but when. I just hope that the one they sent to ‘court’ my sister is being watched suitably.”
My guard returned, carrying a mug of mead and a glass of lemon juice. He opened my cell while a pair of armed pikemen stood at the ready. The beverages were dropped and the door was swiftly closed.
I carefully poured out exactly half of the mead and replaced it with lemon juice. I used a celery stalk from my uneaten breakfast to mix the concoction.
I crushed the minerals I had extracted into the mixture and carefully stirred them in. I gently placed the mixture into the corner of my cell to allow it to settle properly and began consuming my meagre meal.
My guard observed my actions, carefully writing them down in small journal, shaking his head as he did so.
I wondered if they would be able to discern the purpose behind my little concoction before it was ready to use. It was a calculated risk. I was gambling on the elves lacking the proper understanding of chemistry.
I knew they were not as knowledgeable as my people, of course. However, our last encounter with elves had been some time ago and I was uncertain of how far they had progressed.
I was surprised when I noticed the sun beginning to rise. Had I really been talking with Callie all night? It didn’t feel like it had been that long. I stood. “I have to go. I promised Lais.” Why was I giving her an excuse? I didn’t need to explain myself.
Callie stood beside me and brushed some stray strands of hair out of my eyes. “I understand. I’ll see you later today.” She smiled. I could see her fangs just poking out over her lower lip. I quickly looked away from her lips, feeling like a complete fool for letting her affect me like that.
I considered saying more, I don’t know why I wanted to talk to her more than that, or even what I wanted to say exactly. I ran from the garden. I could almost feel Callie’s gaze burning into my back. I glanced back. Her red hair looked bright and radiant with the sun shining behind her. She smiled and waved farewell to me. I turned back on my path back to my chamber and hurried off, without looking back again.