‘‘That is Nigardheim.’’ Rhae explained.
‘‘That is Nigardheim.’’ Rhae explained.
As if he’d touched a snake, the king moved his hand aside, and stared at the island with a emotionless gaze. ”I see.”
‘‘Do you keep maps of your lands as well?’’ Rhae asked, ‘‘May i see them?’’
”We keep a few. Not many, but a few. Malvor?” Leaping to his feet, the young elf vanished out the door. ”He will return presently with a few. In the meantime, shall we discuss your time here? How long do you wish to remain in Helcar?” asked Macil, crossing one leg over the other.
‘‘I began wishing to leave the moment you told me about Verel’s deception.’’ Rhae sighed, ‘‘I don’t fairly know.’’
”I cannot tell you to stay, but I would advise against leaving at the moment. There is room and more to spare here and you and your companions are quite welcome to stay, but if you desire to leave I will not hinder you.” said Macil. ”Though I do not know how you would reach home. I have no ships to give and no men to sail them, and there are no roads from north to south.”
‘‘Then it seems i am stuck here…’’ she grimaced, ‘‘At least until Xia sends a search and rescue party, and realises what happened.’’
At that moment, Malvor return, breathless but with a bundle of maps under one arm. He spread them out in front of Macil and Rhae, display certain areas around Helcar, a extremely weather map of all Helegeron, and a detailed depiction of the Narmani coasts.”It is a pity you did not ask this question of Verel. The Narmani are great seafarers, and as such make great use of charts on their voyages, though they cannot sail far south for fear of death.” said Macil with a grim smile. ”This was taken from a Narmani port.” he continued, pointing at the map of the bay where the Niirai ships had been driven.
‘‘May i produce a copy?’’ Rhae asked.
”By all means, though my supply of parchement is limited.” Macil stood. ”Much as I have enjoyed our conversation, I must now go. The maps I will leave with you. If you require anything, or desire to leave these rooms Malvor will be close at hand.” Bowing his head, the King departed, his squire trotting in his wake. They disappeared down the hall outside, the heavy footsteps of the monarch fading away.
Rhae then took the map and proceeded to copy it on to the back side of her map of the world, making the most out of what they had, so they did not need to waste more of Helcar’s rarer resources. It was a rather simple copy, scribbled only with chalk, and making her best attempt to put down as many minor details as she could with her clumsy lump of charcoal. She then carefully wrapped it up and put it back in to her satchel her comrades have been looking after thus far. Then the Niirai would slowly disperse to retire to their beds for some well earned sleep. Que-Yu however, would not sleep so easily, napping on and off, quietly getting up to stoke the fire, and to check the surroundings for any changes or anything suspicious, as if on guard.
Sometime the next day, in the mid morning as far as they could tell, Malvor arrived outside the door, wearing armor once again and with an expression of doom on his young face. He knocked on the oaken door, and waited for the Niirai to let him in.
The door remained still for a minute, and the abruptly opened for only enough to let Que-Yu peek through. He sized up the elf standing in front of him, ‘‘Good morning.’’
”Suilad. Tera-Macil ordered new to tell you he must depart, and will return in some days time. Till he returns, you are to have freedom of the city, and I am to be your guide.” The lad spoke in a exceedingly serious manner, though his voice had only just begun to deepen. ”If you need anything, I will be within earshot.”
Que-Yu cocked an eyebrow, ‘‘I see. Another battle to be fought?’’
”Yes. If you wish to see him depart, he is preparing to leave now.” The youngster was clearly troubled, a worrisome frown on his face.
The door opened further, and Rhae appeared behind it.
’‘Oh, hello.’’ she greeted Malvor with a smile, standing at the door.
’‘Tera-Macil is heading to the field again.’’ Que-Yu explained to her, '‘Says he would be away for a few days.’'
Rhae’s expression darkened as she remembered the last battle she witnessed, ‘‘Oh…’’
’‘This one is asking if you wished to say your farewell to him, he is preparing to leave as we speak.’’ Que-Yu continued.
Rhae thought for a moment, and after concluding that this is indeed war, he may not return, '‘It is only proper.’'
She turned towards Malvor, ‘‘Can you take me to see him?’’
“By all means miss. If you will follow me, we will arrive before he departs.” Malvor moved a few steps down the hall, almost hopping from one foot to the other in his eagerness to move.
Rhae stepped up behind him, and Que-Yu followed, closing the door behind them as they left.
With quick, rushing steps, the youthful elf headed down the hallway, Rhae and Que-Yu on his heels. The hallway moved in a relatively straight line that sloped downwards, deeper into the mountain, and ended on a balcony that overlooked a massive shaft that ran directly down. Peering over the edge, Rhae could see an apparently bottomless series of bridges that criss-crossed over on another, lit by torches and positively crammed with elves. Chains hoisted by some unknown power hauled wooden platforms rimmed with rails up and down, allowing transport up and down the shaft. Motioning for the Niirai to follow, Malvor stepped onto one such platform, waited till his passangers had joined him, and nudged a lever.
The wooden elevator dropped down so fast that the elves hearts seemed to leap to their heads as they swung down for nigh on two hundred feet. Then with a lurch, the platform stopped, a small ramp was extended from the wall to them, and all three elves exited the vehicle, which vanished again, moving upward.
From the landing pad on which they stood, Malvor hurried off down yet another passage, that suddenly appeared in the stable where Magor had first brought the Niirai, about six feet in the air with stairs leading to the floor.
The long hall was full of elves, and a tramping sound of many feet was echoing from the direction of the main gate, just a short distance away. Horsemen were mounting up, and searching for Macil amongst the crowd, the Niirai spotted not their talking companion from last night, but the High King of the Helcelen.
He was astride a white horse, clad entirely in silver armor that shimmered with a blue hue. His face was pale as death itself, and his long white hair was bound with a circlet of silver.