Find Part 1 here.
Alia called for help and two elves Delia didn’t know took her back to the king’s tent. “No.” She pushed away from the tent. “My tent.”
“But Your Majesty,” Alia began.
“No!” Delia shook her head. “My tent.”
Alia directed them to Delia’s tent. “Get the mage,” Alia directed one of them. To the other she said, “Get hot water and cloths.”
Alia got Delia’s breastplate off and her boots. By then water arrived in a basin with cloths. She washed Delia and put her clean shirt and trousers on her then let her lie down and sleep.
When Delia woke the table had a single candle and Alia was dozing, head propped on her fist at the table. She sat up. The small noise waking Alia.
“Princess.” She leapt from the chair. What do you need?
“I need to know what’s happening.”
Alia ducked her head. Everyone is at Master Kaepli’s tent.”
Delia put on socks and boots, having to shoo Alia away. “I’ve been dressing my own feet for years, Alia. Leave me be.”
Alia complied but fidgeted in the corner of the tent while she waited.
“Is there anything to eat?” Delia asked.
“I’ll bring it to the mage’s tent.”
Alia insisted on walking her there before going to get the food. When she entered, everyone, including Master Kaepli, stood. Delia sighed to herself. So this is what is was going to be like from now on? “Reports?”
“We’re glad to see you recovered, Prin, excuse me, Majesty.” Kaepli bowed.
“Thank you. How are our forces from the passes?”
He motioned for her to come to the map table. Juner stepped aside. Kaya nodded her greeting and Delia gave her a smile. Mystesto and Neoni weren’t in the tent but Lord Enaur was. “Tell me.”
Kaepli took a deep breath. “Orcs, Majesty. We had no idea any were left.”
“There are fewer now,” Delia said. The very thought of the ugly creatures she’d had to fight made her skin crawl. “My uncle apparently made a pact with them.” She shook her head. “I’ll never understand it.”
“And Captain Catari? Neoni? Mystesto?”
“Catari took heavy losses at the south pass, Majesty. He was severely injured and lost all but one of his men and many of ours.”
A quick thought of Gallett flashed through her mind. She’d find out later. “And the north pass?”
Neoni took a wound, but not too bad.” He sighed. “Mystesto was killed. They had orcs there as well.”
She hadn’t known either of them long but still a pang of grief, sharp as a blade went through her heart. Delia swallowed back tears. She was a queen now, tears were for private times. Still, it took a moment for her to find her voice. “My uncle’s forces were stopped, though?”
“He took the brunt of the orc attack at the field, Majesty.”
Delia stared at him. “And?”
“He, Couran and Palen were all injured. They’re in the sick tent.”
Alive, she thought. Still alive. “I’ll have to go visit them.”
Alia came in with a plate of roast meat and vegetables. “Majesty. Your dinner.”
The aroma made Delia’s stomach growl. Apparently power from fire didn’t satisfy that need. She sat down, the plate on top of the maps and ate as though she’d not eaten in days. “Go on.”
“We’ve lost nearly a thousand elves, Majesty.”
“And where are Nethene and Ceinno?”
Delia nodded. Painfully, she thought but kept that to herself. “Has word been sent to my mother?”
“Not yet, Majesty.” Kaepli licked his lips. “We await your order.”
Of course, she thought as she ate the last bite of the roast. “Send word that father has died but that I have survived.”
“Where is father’s body?” She stood up.
“In his tent, Majesty.”
“I’ll go see him.”
Delia left the tent, Alia behind her. After her trailed two elven guards. I’ll have to get used to that, too, I suppose.
There were two guards outside of the king’s tent door, one on each side. They saluted as she passed and she saluted back. Alia stayed outside.
Inside she found her father, washed and dressed in the best robes he had with him, lying in state on a makeshift table, draped in long, cotton cloth. His cloak was wrapped around him and four large candles stood at the corners of the makeshift byre. Gold coins weighted his eyes and a makeshift crown of flowers was on his head.
Delia rested her fingertips on the cloth, not touching the body. It’s too soon. I didn’t get to know you. Why? Why? Tears fell as the pain in her chest grew. So much time, wasted. Damn Iyuno. Damn Nethene and Ceinno. Why? The tears fell and fell but quietly, so the elves outside couldn’t hear. She didn’t know how long she’d stood there but finally the tears stopped and she wiped her eyes with her sleeve. Delia sniffed and left.
“Sick tent,” she said when she got outside. Alia raced ahead as her two guards followed.
Once there she made the round of cots, greeting each one in turn. Finally, she reached Sisruo, Couran and Relan. “I see you survived.”
“And you, Princess.” Couran said.
Relan reached over and smacked his brother. “Majesty, you dolt.” He looked at Delia. “Exuse my brother, Majesty. He’s had the sense knocked out of him.”
“I understand. I had the sense knocked out of me today too. “I’m glad you three are all right,” she said, looking at Sisruo. “May you all heal quickly.”
She spoke to Kaya. “I’m glad you are here to help them.”
“Rest, Majesty. You’ve had a bit of a day as well.”
All of a sudden, Delia felt like an old, used up rag. “Perhaps you’re right.” She took Kaya’s hand and kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you.”
Delia went back to her tent. “Alia. I need to sleep. Unless we’re under attack, let me rest.”
“Yes, Majesty.” She bowed and backed out of the tent.
Delia sat down and pulled off her boots. That didn’t mean she was alone. There’d be someone outside the tent all the time, listening for her least command. She pulled the blanket over herself and turned on her side, asleep in a moment.
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 51.
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