Coral tried to fall asleep, but she was worried about Tahlmus. Urytemil had been more cheerful than normal as he had spoken about the palace and how they were to take up residence there. Thalixen however had been quiet. Coral saw the smile she wore, but when she looked into Thalixen’s eyes, she had seen the pain and the sadness. Ardeszeld had stayed quiet too. From watching her, Coral had been able to tell that Ardeszeld didn’t believe Urytemil’s words either. “Please just come back to me soon,” she whispered as she held onto the ring Tahlmus had enchanted for her. Coral hoped that if he knew, she was thinking about him, it would help him do whatever task he was supposed to fulfill.
Ardeszeld approached her parent’s tent in the early morning hours. She hadn’t been able to sleep. Her father’s words bothered her, and there was an anger inside her that she could not get rid of. She approached the tent, determined to make her father reveal the truth, when her mother walked out. “Why are you in your elven form?” Ardeszeld asked after she had transformed into her human form. She was bewildered because her parents never stayed in a form that wasn’t their dragon one for very long.
Thalixen sighed and bowed her head, before motioning for her daughter to follow her. Ardeszeld followed her mother’s silent instructions, walking with her into the trees away from camp. After a few minutes, Thalixen stopped walking, taking a seat under a large cedar tree. Ardeszeld sat down facing her mother. “Yesterday when I walked into the Throne Room, in my elven form, two guards grabbed me. They put these bracelets on me. I… I can’t use my magic. I can’t even feel it.” Ardeszeld gasped. “Your father started to refuse King Altair’s order, when two guards grabbed him, putting bracelets on him too. We couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t help him.” Tears started streaming down Thalixen’s face.
Ardeszeld waited patiently for her mother’s tears to subside before she spoke. “What about Tahlmus?” she asked in a whisper. “Is he ok?”
Thalixen felt the tears starting to fall again as she shook her head. “I don’t know.” Thalixen then described what had happened; how every time the King demanded to be given the draconic magic, Tahlmus refused and the consequence of his refusal. “The King was furious come late afternoon, early evening. He had them turn the machine all the way up. The pain… on my boy’s face… the way his body jerked around… when the machine was finally shut off, his body was still twitching, but he was unresponsive.” Thalixen said softly as fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. “The guards said he was still breathing, so King Altair had them carry Tahlmus back to the dungeon. He then sent us here, saying since we fulfilled our end of the deal he’d fulfill his and our family could move into the palace.
“Your end of the deal?”
Thalixen nodded. “Giving the King our first born as he wanted.”
“Wait… but Tahlmus isn’t…” Ardeszeld couldn’t finish her sentence.
“King Altair thought our first born had been a son. Bahamut had told us this the first night. So when Altair made the deal with us a few nights later, we agreed knowing we’d be handing over Tahlmus.”
Ardeszeld stared, gaping at Thalixen. Many thoughts had entered her mind; flooding it with so many questions that she wasn’t sure what to say, or what to ask. Her and Thalixen sat in silence as the sun continued to climb higher in the sky.
As Tahlmus started to regain his senses, he could feel the presence of two others nearby. His face felt cool which meant he was lying on his stomach. He tried moving but his muscles were still tense, and pain radiated through his body. “Not so fast,” a female voice reached his ears.
Getting his head turned and his eyes open he found himself surprised to find a set of brown eyes looking at him. He blinked a few times to refocus. The brown eyes, he finally saw, belonged to an elven female with medium length wavy brown hair. She had soft red lips, and her skin was pale; much paler than most elves he’d met. “Just like when I first saw Winky,” he thought as an image of Winky sitting at the Hahren’s table before breakfast popped into his head.
“Mom,” an irritated young voice sounded just outside of Tahlmus’s vision. “Just bandage him up so we can go. I’m hungry.”
“Well, Felazair,” The female elf said turning to look towards the cell bars. “If you wouldn’t have gotten into trouble this morning, I wouldn’t have had to bring you with me.” As she spoke, Tahlmus tried to roll over onto his back. He had only just started when he felt a magic force levitate him off the ground and turn him over before the magic was removed. He had only been suspended a few inches off the ground, but landing on the cement floor sent a wave of pain through his entire body. He had clenched his teeth and grunted in pain.
“Felazair,” the female elf scolded. “We are supposed to be helping him.”
“You’re supposed to be helping him. I’m only here because you used your mom voice to make me come with you.”
Tahlmus found he couldn’t help but smile despite the pain it caused. He managed to get a hand up on his chest while the two went back and forth; quietly healing his ribs. He wasn’t sure of the true intentions of the female elf that was in the cell beside him, so he did not wish for her to know that he could still use his magic. Once his ribs were healed he tried to sit up. The movement made the female elf turn her attention back to him.
“Hey, you need to be careful,” she said as she reached out to him.
As the female elf reached out to him, Tahlmus felt the magic again around his body. He could tell it was elven magic, but it wasn’t hers. Being elven magic also explained why it could be used near this cell. His body was lifted to a sitting position. Remembering how it had worked before, Tahlmus used a little of his own magic. To the two onlookers it would have looked like his back would have been slammed up against the wall, when really his magic had made it so it was a gentle touch.
“Felazair, what did I tell you?” The female elf scolded looking away from Tahlmus, who followed her gaze. On the other side of the bars stood a young boy. Tahlmus placed his age around seven or eight; nine at the oldest. He looked elven, which explained the magic but, even in the dim light, Tahlmus could see that pale electric blue scales covered his body.
“Part elf, part dragon,” Tahlmus thought. “Haven’t really seen that before,” his thought finished as he watched the boy roll his eyes.
“Just bandage him already, I’m hungry.”
“You keep that attitude up, I’ll send you to bed without supper.” Tahlmus watched as the boy rolled his eyes again, then he turned his attention to the female. She was pulling items out of a small hand bag, muttering to herself.
“What’s that?” he asked softly as he saw her pull a book out of her bag. The cover looked familiar.
“Oh this,” she said as she blushed. “It’s a book I found from the King’s library. I love to read so he lets me peruse through his books. Sometimes I actually read to him.”
Tahlmus smiled. “What’s the book about?”
He watched as the female elf smiled. “It’s… uh… it’s called The Last of the Golden Dragons. The King said it was a book based on a myth, written by an old Shaman close to a hundred years ago or so.”
Tahlmus had a lot of thoughts running through his head, but maintained his smile. “Sounds like a good book. Maybe I can read it sometime.”
The female elf smiled, as she pulled out the bandages. “Maybe I can read it to you,” she said as she carefully removed Tahlmus’s tattered and burned shirt, so she could bandage all the blisters and burns that laid underneath.
“Is this all from last night?” she asked noticing all the scars on his body.
Tahlmus shook his head. “The scars are from a while ago… a different lifetime almost.”
She nodded, pushing aside the feelings that had overwhelmed her. The King had told her that the elven prisoner was a bad person. That he had stolen much from the Kingdom. As much as the King hated torture, he had to get the wretched elf to reveal his hide away. The elf the King described, and the elf she was interacting with seemed to contrast too drastically to be the same person. Then there was the spark as she had touched his skin, tracing the scar. It felt warm to her touch; made her feel warm. She hadn’t felt that before.
As she bandaged him up a kitchen servant came down. The servant had been told to provide food for Felazair, and the female elf as they waited on the prisoner to wake. The servant gave Felazair his plate, and placed the other just inside the jail cell.
“I didn’t even realize the cell wasn’t locked,” Tahlmus thought as the servant walked away. The female elf had gotten her food and was settling down next to him. The smell made his mouth water and he could feel the pang of hunger hit him. “Do you think you can read to me while you eat?” Tahlmus asked as he watched her consume her food, desperately wishing for a taste. The female elf smiled, and opened the book. She started to read as she finished her meal.
King Altair waited patiently in the Throne Room. The kitchen servant had reported back to him, telling him the prison was awake and being bandaged up. This had pleased the King. He wouldn’t have to wait long now for Karia to report back to him. Almost forty-five minutes passed before he heard Karia enter the Throne room, dragging an unhappy Felazair behind her. “The King told you to get him to talk, not read him a story,” the boy was saying.
Karia shushed the boy as they approached the throne. Both kneeled before the King, heads bowed. King Altair greeted them and then motioned for them to stand. Karia took a couple steps closer. “My King,” she started with a slight bow of her head. “I have bandaged and cared for the prisoner as you have asked.” She paused; unsure of how much more she should tell him. “He did not speak much, but I do believe if I can continue to see him, that I can gain his trust.”
The King scowled. It sounded like a much longer process than he’d prefer. The young elf had proven to be stubborn; with a great source of fortitude. He was going to need more personal information on Tahlmus if he was going to get the draconic magic he lustfully desired. “You have until he heals.” Karia nodded in understanding. “I will make sure you have unlimited access to him. Just get what I need.”
“Yes, your majesty, thank you,” Karia said with a bow of her head.
“And take that orphan brat with you. Maybe seeing one that looks like a dragon will help him feel more at ease. Especially if he thinks the boy has draconic magic.”
“Of course,” Karia replied, taking hold of Felazair before he could come up with any retorts. She did not need him angering the King. Not now. Not when she was so close to being out of the King’s debt.
They were dismissed and went off to their room. She tucked Felazair in, reading a chapter of his favorite book to him to help him fall asleep. After bathing, and relaxing herself Karia fell into a very restless sleep.