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The Realms of War
By Jenna Powers
The Realms of War 4: A House of Glass
The Realms of War 5: The Call of Krakenos
The Realms of War 6: The Lich King Rises
Meriel sat quietly on her throne, watching two Elven commanders arguing with one another. She looked to the right to see her father Amdor shake his head. Her father was the King of Erun, an Elven kingdom located right on the edge of the high shores, right after long, green, rolling hills of Pharos.
“Enough!” Amdor shouted.
The two Elven commanders quieted down. Meriel never understood why she had to sit in on these meetings. She sunk back and rested her head on her hand. She looked over past her father’s throne to see her mother, Arwen, staring off.
She had noted that her mother had been acting strangely lately but she couldn’t quite figure out why. It seemed as though she was out in her own world. There were times where it seemed as though her mother’s mind wandered, right in the middle of a conversation.
“We cannot trust in the dwarves at this stage,” one of the captains said.
“Captain Oronar, we have to learn to trust one another or else we will fall back to the same cycle of hate and mistrust,” Amdor replied.
“I understand my liege, but can’t this convoy come by during the day? The forests are still not safe,” Oronar replied.
“This... is an important convoy,” Arwen interjected.
Meriel sat upright, surprised to hear her mother speak. It was rare for her mother to speak during these meetings.
“My queen, as important as this convoy may be, we will be straining our resources. Captain Lucuder is taking a large force out to the sea,” Oronar replied.
“That’s because we were notified that Orcs and goblins have been spotted across the seas,” the other captain replied.
“And since when do we pursue them? Let them come to us. We have the defensive advantage here!” Oronar exclaimed.
“He leaves on my orders,” Amdor said.
“My liege?” Oronar questioned, his eyes widening in confusion.
Captain Lucuder sighed and nodded. “We wished not to inform you.”
“Why?” Oronar asked.
Amdor adjusted his position, looking slightly uneasy. After a few moments of silence he cleared his throat.
“I have full faith in the walls we reside in. My brother sent a sparrow, asking for help. I couldn’t just ignore it. But if I had informed you, then you would’ve requested to go as well. I can’t have both of my best captains leave,” Amdor explained.
“If I had known earlier... I would not have come to question Lucuder,” Oronar replied.
“These are the choices that must be made captain. Now, can we put this behind us? Lucuder has a long trip ahead of him,” Amdor said.
Oronar nodded and turned to Lucuder. He extended a hand.
“My apologies,” Oronar said.
“No harm was done,” Lucuder replied, shaking his hand.
“Thank you, Oronar.”
Lucuder turned and headed out of the halls. Oronar remained, staring up at the throne. Meriel could tell that something was still on his mind.
“My queen, if I may, what is inside this convoy?” Oronar asked.
“I cannot tell you. It is just very important for me,” Arwen answered.
“You can’t trust me?”
“No, it is not a question of trust. It is highly sensitive in nature. Letting information leak would put many lives in danger,” Arwen said.
Oronar’s face scrunched. Meriel could tell there was anger underneath it. She hadn’t met Captain Oronar personally but from the stories she had heard, he was quite the soldier. Willing to risk his life for the King and Queen, ever loyal but also very suspicious.
“I can’t say that I like this, but if that is your order, then so be it,” Oronar replied with a nod.
“Thank you Captain. This means the world to me,” Arwen said.
Oronar bowed and turned, heading out towards the large hall. Meriel looked back at her mother, sensing a strange feeling but not being able to quite understand why. Even while her mother spoke, her expressions seemed emotionless, as if she weren’t truly speaking.
“My love, I need to attend to some other matters. I will see you later tonight,” Arwen said as she stood.
Amdor nodded and waved his hand. “Of course, most of the other upcoming matters are minor.”
“Father, may I leave as well?” Meriel asked.
Amdor turned his head and nodded with a smile. “Of course princess.”
Meriel shook her head and stood up. She hated when he called her that. Even though she was a princess, she was not the type to enjoy having the title.
Meriel quickly followed behind her mother, trying to catch up. It had been quite some time since the two had a steady, regular conversation. Her mother had once been talkative, gleaming with happiness, but for some reason or another, she began returning simple answers.
“Mother,” Meriel called out.
Arwen paused and slowly turned to her. She gave a smile, a forced smile by all standards. Meriel stood beside her and smiled back.
“You seem out of touch lately. Is everything okay?”
“Yes. Everything is fine,” her mother responded.
The two stared at each other in awkward silence.
“Is that all?” Arwen asked.
“Are there any plans for tonight?” Meriel asked.
“Not that I know of,” Arwen replied.
For a moment, Meriel thought she saw a grin sneak on her mother’s lips. Almost as if she was hiding something, a surprise of sorts. Meriel shook off the idea and watched as her mother continued walking through the hall.
Meriel sighed and stared at the ground. She couldn’t help shake the feeling that something was wrong. She contemplated speaking with her father, to see if her parents had possibly gotten into a fight.
“Princess Meriel,” a high priestess greeted.
“Ariel, how nice to see you,” Meriel greeted back.
“You seem... concerned.”
Meriel shook her head. “It’s nothing.”
“Are you sure? Is there anything I can help you with?” Ariel asked.
Meriel stared at the high priestess, admiring her long flowing red hair and beautiful face. She hesitated, wondering if her request would cause suspicion. The order of the high priestesses all seemed to have an aura of confidence, subtle beauty and mystery.
“I... Is there... Well, this may sound weird, but is there some kind of... um...” Meriel paused, trying to get the words in her mouth to form a sentence.
“What is it?”
“Is there a way to... become invisible? I mean, even temporarily?” Meriel asked.
Ariel raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. Just as Meriel had thought, the high priestess was suspicious.
“And may I ask why?”
“I just wanted to do some digging around,” Meriel replied.
“Digging around of what?”
“It’s personal,” Meriel responded.
“There may be a way, but for personal use... I can’t say that it exists.”
Ariel stared down Meriel, as silence filled the halls. Meriel debated on whether not to tell the truth. She wanted to follow her mother and see exactly what was on her mind.
“I want to leave the castle at times. Go beyond the walls,” Meriel lied.
“That’s too dangerous.”
“I wouldn’t go far. Just to the plains, to watch the sun rise.”
Ariel continued staring at Meriel, trying to read her. After a few more beats, Ariel nodded and dug inside her cloak. Meriel held her breath, surprised that Ariel believed her. Ariel pulled out a vial of green liquid.
“An invisibility potion. Drink this and you will be invisible temporarily,” Ariel said, handing her the vial.
“How long?” Meriel asked.
“For as long as the sun rise,” Ariel said with a smirk.
Meriel took the vile. “Many thanks.”
“That should be enough for one visit. I can’t be known as the high priestess that allowed the Princess of Erun to get lost watching a... sun rise,” Ariel said.
Meriel knew that the high priestess didn’t believe her whole story, but at least she received a small amount of potion. Ariel bowed and continued on her way, heading out towards the hall to the outer gates. Meriel quickly began following in her mother’s footsteps again.
It didn’t take long for Meriel to spot her mother. For some strange reason she was heading to a side region of the castle, one that really had no reason for her mother to visit. Meriel had to be careful with her steps, knowing that any noise would echo through the halls.
Her mother turned the corner and stopped. Meriel slowly peaked past the corner and watched. There were guards at the end of the hall ran up to her.
“My queen! Is something the matter?” One of the guards asked.
“Nothing is wrong. I just wish to see the outside for a moment,” her mother replied.
The guards looked at one another, confused. The side gate did not have much of a view in any way shape or form. It was just a rocky gorge of sorts, with a river running past.
“My queen? The front gate would probably offer a much more beautiful view,” the guard responded.
“I’m not going outside for the view.”
“Just open the gate,” Arwen ordered, a slight edge to her voice.
“Yes my queen,” the guard replied.
Meriel was surprised at the forcefulness of her mother. She had never exhibited that type of behavior before, not even with her when she was younger.
“And you may leave the premises,” Arwen continued.
“My queen, we would prefer that we-”
“That was an order,” Arwen cut him off sharply.
The two guards glanced at each other, unsure of what to do. Arwen crossed her arms impatiently, waiting for them to follow her commands. Finally, one of the guards unlocked the gate and headed out. Meriel quickly turned and ran into a crevice in the wall.
She watched the two guards walk by her, confusion on their faces.
“What do you think the deal is with her?” One guard asked.
“It’s not our place to question the queen,” the other replied.
Meriel waited for the two to continue onward and out of sight. Meriel snuck out and made her way back around the corner. The gate was wide open and her mother was gone.
Meriel took a deep breath and headed down the hall. It was already slightly dark and Meriel wondered where all the time had gone. She had lost track of time when she was following her mother through the halls.
She reached the gate and slowly peaked out, making sure to hold her hair back. The cold wind howled past her, instantly chilling her warm face. Her mother was not in view, surprising her. She contemplated on drinking the invisible potion but decided against it.
Meriel slowly stepped out onto the rocky ground and looked around. She saw her mother off in the distance, heading to the other side of the castle, right alongside the river. Meriel carefully crept behind her, making sure to hide behind the jutting areas of the walls whenever possible.
Her mother stopped at the end of the rocky coast. Meriel squinted, trying to see why her mom had stopped. Far off into the water, Meriel spotted something.
"What is that?" Meriel whispered to herself.
The small speck in the ocean grew larger and to the sides, more specks appeared. Meriel moved in slightly closer, carefully taking each step. Her eyes widened as she realized that they were ships.
She wondered if they were ships coming for Captain Lucuder. As the ships grew closer, she was able to see the flags of the ships. Tattered, black, with strange, bones as part of the banners. Meriel wasn’t certain, but they could not have been Elven banners.
Her mother turned and Meriel quickly hid far into the crevice she was hiding from. Her heart raced as she wondered if her mother had seen her. After a few silent beats, Meriel peeked her head back out to see that her mother was staring back at the seas.
She turned back around, silently making her way back into the castle. She had to inform her father of the approaching ships. Meriel took one last look at the back of her mother before heading back in. A group of soldiers ran across the hall and Meriel quickly followed behind.
“Princess Meriel?” One of the soldiers said in surprise as he jogged lightly.
“Where is everyone rushing to?” Meriel asked.
“The king collapsed briefly, he is being attended to by a high priestess but we needed to check,” the soldier replied.
“My father?” Meriel asked worriedly.
“It will be okay my lady, the best priestesses are in the room,” the soldier consoled.
Meriel rushed, keeping pace with the soldiers. She forgot about her mother’s strange behavior and decided to not talk about the ships while her father was in a weakened state. She turned the corners of the castle and was soon headed to the main court.
The room was full of concerned Elves, watching as the priestesses helped their king to his feet. He smiled and waved, reassuring the masses. He saw Meriel and waved her over, nodding and smiling as she approached.
“Father, are you okay?”
“Of course, just a small ache. Nothing major,” Amdor replied.
“You should rest,” Meriel said, concerned.
Amdor shook his head. “Nonsense.”
The crowd let out a sigh of relief, watching as King Amdor sat back on his throne. He waved the priestesses away and took a deep breath.
“Now... everyone back to your business. Nothing to see here,” Amdor grunted.
Meriel eyed her father worriedly. She had all but forgotten about her mother and the incoming ships. Captain Lucuder strolled in and knelt down in front of the king.
“My liege, if you require us to stay, I will,” he said.
Amdor shook his head. “No, go on. You must leave before it gets too dark.”
Captain Lucuder stood, nodded and turned out. Meriel chased after him, waiting to get out of her father’s vision. She quickly stepped beside Lucuder and tapped his arm.
“Are the ships you’re taking here?” Meriel asked.
“Yes, our fleet is here.”
“Did they recently arrive?”
Captain Lucuder looked down towards her with a look of confusion. “The fleet has been here since yesterday.”