Featuring…Alrune The Elf Maiden, Lady of Embervale, mage
Evrart A soldier, newly recruited in Embervale
Grog A goblin, castle guard in Embervale
Elgwi A shopkeeper
Villagers, sellers, visitors, passers-by and various onlookers
“Can I have a pony?”
“No, Grog, it’s not lunchtime yet,” Evrart replied absently.
“Not a pony for eating, sir! A pony for riding. Like the Boss’ white horse but smaller and less freaky? Please?”
Alrune turned her head to glance at the goblin with tender amusement, and Evrart had to hastily pull her aside to avoid a collision with a pot-bellied dwarf carrying a barrel.
She awkwardly thanked him while struggling to regain her balance – and her dignity.
The natural grace of elf maidens, what a hoax!
It was the third day of the summer fair in Embervale, and a colourful and boisterous mob had stormed the otherwise quiet village.
Trying to work her way through the erratic crowd, Alrune was feeling like a cockleshell trying to navigate through a sea of freighters.
She was contemplating the idea of casting a shockwave spell to clear a way when, much to her relief, they soon reached calmer waters and their destination.
Nestled in a cosy nook behind the inn, it was a huge stall kept by a tiny halfling.
The stall was full of strange minerals, colourful vials and odd trinkets, everything thoughtfully displayed and impeccably polished. It certainly was the most dapper spellcraft shop Evrart had ever seen – even the stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling looked fresh as a fiddle.
“Hi there, your Ladyship!” the halfling cheerfully shouted when they reached the stall. “Geez, what a gloomy face you make!”
“Good morning Elgwi. The crowd is horrific today,” Alrune replied with a sigh.
“You may hate it, but it’s good for business, your Grace! Anyways, I have everything you requested. Just wait a moment, I’ll be right back.”
The halfling vanished into the depths of the stall, and she soon reappeared with a bag and a heavy-looking grimoire. Alrune’s face brightened.
“There you are,” she whispered, lovingly leafing through the pages of the book.
“Hundreds of illustrations drawn in the author’s hand, reviewed and annotated by Archimage Willibert himself,” Elgwi said with a little self-satisfied smile.
The two girls went on cooing over the book for a while, and a small but full purse changed ownership.
A few moments later, as Evrart was holding the bag and ready to escort Alrune back to the castle, Elgwi handed her a thick envelope. The elf frowned at the mere sight of the blood red wax seal that closed it.
“I almost forgot,” the halfling said. “That’s a message from your mother.”
“Seriously. She has dozens of servile minions, and everyone at the court considers her wish as their command. Yet she uses you as a messenger.”
“She did not give any explanation, your Highness. She just said it’s private and personal, and she’d rip my eyes out to feed them to her crow if I don’t convince you to read it – and do what’s written.”
Elgwi had spoken lightheartedly, but Evrart realised that Alrune was taking the threat very seriously.
“Fine, I’ll read it,” she hissed.
On their way back to the castle, no one dared to shove her. She was so obviously seething that everyone moved out of her way.
To be continued…