This is based on a Chuck Wendig prompt. FLAMBOYANT ELF DRUID FROM THE FREELANDS WHO IS QUICK TO TAKE CREDIT AND ASSIGN BLAME. Let’s see what I can do in 1000 words or less.
Picture: Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via www.deviantart.com http://www.deviantart.com/art/Skeleton-Keys-130788426
Elanda pulled her cornflower-blue robe around her against the cold winter night. It had been too hot and smoky in the pub for her, especially filled with the stench of dwarf and man. The robe sparkled in the quarter moon’s light, enough to mark her as elf to any passer-by. Not an easy target.
She headed to her room. It was obvious no messenger would reach her this night. She’d watched the guards lock the city gates hours ago after she’d sat there all day waiting, watching the endless line of humans, dwarves and the occasional elf, pay their duty and enter. A complete waste of her time. The pub’s wine and stew sat heavy on her stomach. Not the fine food and drink of her queen’s castle, certainly. Elanda wished briefly to be back with the Queen, her twice removed aunt, but shoved the thought away.
That double damned Marowal had goaded her until she’d lost her temper and the Queen sent her on this mission. She pulled a glamor over herself to further discourage any would be thieves. The tall elf with black hair braided down his back had deliberately angered her. There was nothing she could do about it now, but wait until she returned. Thoughts of revenge filled her mind as she entered the miserable inn. The owner never woke as she passed. In her room she barred the door and the window and set a fire in the tiny stove. It was enough to take the chill out of the air, at least. Not much else could be said for the room, barely wide enough to hold the cot she’d sleep in.
An elf sat on the bed. She started, why hadn’t she seen him? It was Marowal.
“Marowal.” Her tone with the young prince was cold. “I waited all day.”
He stood and stepped to the stove, holding his hands above it for the little heat it generated. “I was delayed.”
“I waited at the gate all day.” She swished the skirt of her robe in frustration. “Drinking wine near to spoiling and eating the human’s dried out fruit. Where were you?”
He smiled. A grin that made her want to slap him. “As I said, delayed.”
“Did you find the key?” Would the prince never get to the point?
“I did. And information. I’ll need your help.”
“I was sent to get the key. Nothing else.” Elanda held out her hand.
Marowal shook his head. “It won’t be that easy. The key is worthless. Unless we also get the chest it unlocks.”
“The queen sent me for the key. Just that.” She tucked her hands into the sleeves of her robe. It was obvious the prince would not give her the key.
“We’ll ride to Timate and get the chest.”
“Timate! That’s five days west.”
“We’ll leave at first light.”
Elanda was on horseback, gloves doing little to keep her fingers warm, an hour before the winter sun rose over the city walls. Marowal had paid the night guard who’d let them out early and they were on their way. Elven horses went fast and silent and the pair covered many miles by the end of the day. They camped in the woods. Marowal brought back a rabbit as Elanda started a fire. She grumbled as she cleaned the rabbit and set it on the spit. “I had no plan to winter camp, Marowal.”
“I beg your pardon.” He bowed from his lounge on his sleeping bag. “You wouldn’t want to go back to the queen with just half the prize, would you?”
“I don’t have the key. You do. I can’t go back at all.” She detested the smirk on his face.
“We’ll go back together, then. Victorious.”
For a cousin he was less than helpful or friendly. “Why drag me along?”
She fumed but there was little she could do about it.
They arrived at Timate mid-day and entered the city. He dragged her back and forth across the town, talking to men and dwarves in whispers. At nightfall, she’d had enough. “What are we doing?”
He pointed at the clock tower in the town square. “you’ll enter the tower, climb to the top, and at the stroke of nine, create a flash in the window. That’s a signal to the owner of the chest to go to a stable at the edge of town. I’ll pay him for the chest and we’ll be away through the gate before the soldiers close it for the night.”
“You trust this owner?”
Marowal shrugged. “We’ll see.”
She was in the window right on time. Fury flowed through her at the childish cloak and dagger antics of the prince. The bell, when it struck, was painful but she made the flash, child’s play, really, then hurried back down the tower to the stable where this mysterious chest would be delivered.
Once there, Marowal was nowhere to be found. She created a finding, but the magic didn’t find him.
She spent months combing the countryside in search until giving up, she went back to the queen.
The court was in full attendance when she was presented, no chance to rest or bathe. She stopped halfway across the hall and gasped. Marowal was sitting at his mother’s feet playing with a kitten. Rage propelled her across the floor. Her bow was perfunctory.
“Majesty. I beg forgiveness for my delay. I’ve been searching for the Prince.” She glared at him, getting a grin in return.
“I do understand, Elanda. But as you can see, he’s returned.”
Elanda could hear twitters of laughter behind her. She bowed her head. “Of course, Majesty. I hope you obtained the key.”
“Oh yes,” the Queen pulled it from her dress, as a necklace. “It makes a nice ornament, doesn’t it?”
She blushed as the court laughed. A punishment, she realized, at her expense. Let them laugh. She smiled at Marowal. He’d get his in time.
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