Delia woke in her tent with a headache that hurt even more when she opened her eyes. Her hand drifted to her head where she found a bandage. The back of her head was very tender and she winced as she gently probed the spot.
“Ah. You’re awake!” Master Kaepli entered the tent. Sisruo followed with a tray holding a pitcher and a horn cup. “I’ve brewed you some medicine for the pain.”
Sisruo put the tray on a small table and poured from the pitcher into the mug. “This should ease the headache.”
Kaepli bent over Delia and looked into her eyes. “How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been hit in the head.”
He chuckled. “A sense of humor is a good sign.” He checked the bandage.
Sisruo handed her the mug. “Drink.”
Delia did as he bid. The liquid tasted like dirt and mold. Her face scrunched up and she handed back the mug. “Can I have water?”
“Certainly.” Kaepli nodded at Sisruo, who hurried off.
“So what happened?”
“An enemy was wounded and playing dead. When you stopped near him he took advantage of your back to him and threw a rock.”
“He did a good job. What happened to him?”
“Your father’s guard killed him.”
Delia was surprised at a welling of sadness. She hadn’t felt that way while the battle was raging. “That’s a shame.”
Kaepli nodded. “It is. And all for jealousy and envy. Brother against brother.”
Sisruo returned with another pitcher. He poured some into the horn mug, rinsed it and tossed the water out of the door then poured a mug full. He handed it to her. “Something a little more palatable.”
Delia drank it all, enjoying the taste of the clean water. “Thank you. I was very thirsty.”
“I told the King you’re awake. He sends his regards.”
“Thank you, Sisruo. He’s alright?”
“Yes. The battle was over when you were hit. He’s questioning prisoners or he’d come to see you.”
“Are they telling us anything useful?”
“No. Well, yes,” Kaepli said. He pulled the stool over to the bed and sat down. “As we suspected, most of the elves were misled. They joined Iyuno because of falsehoods. Many have re-sworn to your father.” He stroked his beard. “They’re telling us everything they know about his forces and locations. There are some that hate your father and are loyal to Iyuno. Those we will have to keep prisoner.”
“What about the humans?”
“They’re being woken one at a time. The first one we woke pointed out their leader. He confirmed that they were paid by Iyono. He agreed to take his forces back to his own land. They’re no longer a threat. They’ll leave in the morning.”
“Poor Father. He must be exhausted.”
Kaepli chuckled. “He is determined. I’ll make sure he rests and gets some food into him.” The mage stood up. “And you must rest as well. Try to sleep through the headache. I’ll leave the medicine here. If you still have a headache after we bring you supper, take another mug full.”
“Thank you. I appreciate the help.”
Sisruo held open the tent flap for the mage. “Sleep well, Princess.”
“Thank you, Sisruo.”
He stepped outside and dropped the flap. Delia sighed. Much had happened while she was unconscious but nothing that she could have helped with anyway. She turned onto her side so she wasn’t lying on her wound and drifted off to sleep.
She was woken by her father’s voice. “May I come in?”
Deila struggled to sit. “Yes. Of course.”
The king entered, followed by an elf she didn’t know carrying a tray with bowls. “I’ve brought you dinner. I thought I’d have my dinner with you.”
The elf put the pitchers of water and medicine on his tray then his tray on the one on the table. He pulled the stool around for the King to sit.
“Thank you. We’ll be fine here.”
The elf bowed and left.
Ucheni handed her a bowl and a spoon. “Stew.” He grinned. “Just like every other night.”
Delia smiled back. “Indeed.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Master Kaepli’s medicine worked. I don’t have a headache any more. And I find that I’m hungry.” She stirred the stew. Steam rose and brought her a savory scent. “Do I smell rosemary?”
“Yes. I heard one of the cooks found a patch and added some to the stew. It makes it a little different, at least.”
Delia took a spoonful. It was tasty. “I was told you spent the afternoon questioning prisoners.”
The king nodded as he chewed. “Yes. A weary afternoon as I heard the stories they related about Iyono’s lies.” He stirred the stew in his bowl. “Unfortunate. More so those that joined Iyuno because they believe in him. I don’t understand it at all.”
Delia nodded. “A shame.”
“It is.” The king sighed and ate some more. When he swallowed, he said, “I’m sorry you were hurt.”
She shrugged. “It was a battle, father. No one should expect to come out unscathed.”
“Still. I regret your injury.”
“Master Kaepli has treated me well. I suspect I’ll be up and about tomorrow.” She stirred her stew around in the bowl. “When do we leave?”
“Soon. Perhaps tomorrow. We’ve learned all we can from the elves who’ve rejoined me. Later I’ll meet with my council and we’ll make a plan. I don’t want to chase Iyuno’s forces all over the countryside. If the information is correct, we’ll go straight to my uncle and finish this.”
“That would be good.”
His face was grim. “We lost too many good elves today. On both sides.”
Delia reached out and patted his hand. “It’s not your fault, Father.”
He sighed. “True. But it doesn’t make me like it.”
She nodded. They sat quietly after that and ate. He put the empty bowls on the tray when they finished. “Can I get you anything?”
“No, Father. I’m fine. I’ll probably go back to sleep.”
“Good. You rest.” He kissed her on the head and left.
Not long after, the same elf came and picked up the tray. “Shall I get you more water, Princess?”
“No thank you. The pitcher has enough.”
He bowed and left.
Delia settled into her cot and drifted off to sleep thinking about her father’s grief.
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 24.
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