Read The Elf King Online

Authors: Sean McKenzie

Tags: #adventure, #fantasy, #magic, #epic, #evil, #elves, #battles, #sword, #sorcerery

The Elf King

 

 

The Elf King

 

by

Sean McKenzie

 

1S
mashwords Edition

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for
your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or
given away to other people. If you would like to share this book
with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of this author.

The Elf King
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents
either are products of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously.

Cover, map, and interior
illustrations by Manthos Lappas at
http://www.incartstudios.com

Cover design by Lighthouse
24

Copyright © Sean McKenzie
2010

 

 

 

For my parents

John and Joan

 

Two of the best

 

 

 

Chapter
1

 

 

 

I
n
the desolate midnight hour, two weary forms cleared a thicket of
woods and entered the Shyl Plains. Free from the foliage shrouding
them for the past few hours, the two paused to gaze at the blanket
of stars overhead. Breathing hard and sweating even more-so, they
looked away from the lights and down to the horizon. Far across the
grassy plains, the yellow lights of their village appeared to be
nothing more than faded pinpricks. Anxious to be on their way,
their footfalls began once again.

Walking side by side
through the high grass, they kept a steady pace. Aching muscles
cried for a day’s rest, but to no avail. They were close to the
village now and rest would be found soon thereafter. Adjusting
their traveling packs and loosening their cloaks, the two figures
passed through the darkness like swift shadows.


This is earlier than I
expected,” Tane Ellantri exhaled. His voice was firm like iron, as
rugged as his profile. “Mother will be expecting us in another day.
She’ll be surprised.”


As long as we don’t scare
her to death sneaking in,” Qenn mused.

The two brothers were
making their way home to the small village of Meadow from a two
week fishing trip at the eastern edge of Lower Krune Lake.
Traveling afoot, they stayed away from the small towns along the
way, keeping to the grassy fields of the Shyl and the forests that
resided. It was a three day walk at best, but the brothers had
decided to make the last day without rest, eager to be home away
from the troubles they had encountered.


With a night as dark as it
is...” Qenn sighed.


Are you thinking about
them still?” Tane asked, not bothering to look at his brother to
find the answer.


I’ll have better things to
think of when we get home.”

While fishing, they had
come across a few merchants and shared campfire. The merchants were
fleeing Skadar Port, the largest city around Lower Krune. Worked in
a panic, they quickly told the brothers their first-hand tales of
the dark things taking place in the city. Demons cloaked in black,
dubbed
Takers,
roamed the night in search of anyone with magic, taking them,
disappearing without a trace. Seers were vanishing everywhere,
rumored to be herded off by
Takers
. Bodies were being found at
dawn, dead and broken carcasses that were still smoking from
whatever had destroyed them. The merchants cast their tales all
night, and when morning broke, they were gone. The impression left
on the brothers was enough for them to head home a day sooner than
they had planned.

Tane slowed pace, peering
over to his brother. “They were just stories, Qenn. You can see
that better than I.”


I know.” Qenn lied. He was
too tired to get into an argument, and Tane was right anyhow. In
the light of a new day he would see things clearer. But for
now,
Takers
were
his worst fear, and they were all he could think of.


Smile, brother. We’re
almost home.” Tane nudged Qenn’s side before restoring the
pace.

Keeping stride, Qenn stole
quick glances at Tane. He found it remarkable how different they
were. Qenn was pure Elven and it was quite evident. His eyes were
green, his skin pale and smooth, and his nose was almost as pointed
as his ears. His short blonde hair seemed to shine as if it were
silk. His tall frame was narrow, but he was swift and didn’t tire
easily. Across his back rested his bow and arrows, and under his
belt were two short daggers. Though he shied away from
confrontations, he was ready if the need arose.

Tane on the other hand was
rugged and had a well-built physique. He seldom joked and had not
been in a playful mood since childhood. Being part Man and part
Elf, his features shined on the former as his senses did the
latter. He wore a thick patch of brown hair upon his chin that was
as wild as his shoulder length mane. Strapped to his left thigh was
his broadsword as usual, though he had rarely a use for
it.

Qenn watched his brother
for a moment more, then turned to the glowing lights in the
distance. Home. He sighed deeply. He decided that it would be a
good time more before he was to leave it again.

The trip to the Lower Krune
had been a troubling one for the most part. Aside from the tales of
the
Takers
, other
news came to the brothers that was upsetting. It seems that a war
was on the rise between Elves and Men. Peace between the two Races
had been absent for quite some time, but things had taken a turn
for the worse. King Andelline’s son, Prince Pal Rae, had become
missing several weeks ago and the Elven house of Lord Terill
Estrial is being blamed.

King Andelline pleaded for
his son’s safe return several times before offering a reward for
any news of Pal Rae’s whereabouts. News returned immediately,
confirming his suspicions. Terill Estrial however, denies any
involvement. Since then, skirmishes have erupted along the border
of the Lyyn Forest, where the Forest Elves live, and the northern
Shyl.

King Andelline had sent
several messengers to bring news of peace talks. None of his
messengers returned. Before calling an all-out war, he decided to
make the trip himself, taking with him nearly three dozen of his
skilled guards. Capturing an elf from a look out post, the King
made his demands quite clear and sent the elf to relay the message.
The elf returned a day later. A time was set and a day announced
where the two sides would speak face to face. That day would be
tomorrow.


Do you believe the peace
talks will be a success?” Qenn asked curiously.


To tell the truth, no.”
Tane kept his iron chin pointed east toward their village. “I don’t
believe that the King will find the answers he’s hoping
for.”


You think the Prince is
elsewhere.” Qenn stated. He shifted his pack to a more comfortable
position across his back and looked to his brother, watching him
nod.


I can see no reason the
Elves would capture him. What have they to gain? They do not want a
war.” Tane swiped a blade of grass and began to chew on it as he
walked. When he began again, his choice was soft, sympathetic. “I
think that the King is heartbroken and is not thinking clearly. His
advisors would do better to rethink the whole mess and turn their
search elsewhere. The Forest Elves have magic; it would be a battle
that the King would not win.”

Qenn had been thinking
pretty much the same thing. Being an elf, he saw no reason for the
kidnaping of the Prince. If Terill Estrial wanted to hurt King
Andelline, he would use more of a direct approach. Seeing how his
brother was part Man and part Elf, Qenn wondered what side he would
take and was glad that they agreed on the issue.


I imagine it would be hard
to lose a son,” Qenn finished solemnly.

Tane gripped Qenn’s
shoulder firmly. “Let’s not let mother find out.”

Scaling a short hill, the
two brothers looked across the valley beyond. Somewhere in the
midst of the few burning lights awaited their home. Fresh food and
water, a change of clothes and a warm bed, were only a few miles
away. A gentle breeze came and went, drying the beads of sweat
across their damp skin. The warm night air was cooling and more
clouds began masking the stars. The night was growing old and soon
dawn would break. The brothers hoped to be home in time to salvage
what sleep they could before then.

It was nearly two hours
later before they reached Meadow. Shops were hours from opening and
the streets were silent. A few lamps lit the corners of
intersections, but for the most part Meadow was a shadow. There
were no ale houses in the village, no drunkards lying abandoned.
There were no crimes, no violent acts worth conversing. Meadow was
made up of farmers and the like, craftsmen whose nights were better
spent asleep with family.

Rounding a corner, the two
Ellantri brothers moved towards a house sitting at the outskirts.
Domed by trees and surrounded by bushes and flowers, the old house
appeared well hidden in the night.


A sight for sore eyes,”
yawned Qenn.

He unstrapped his pack and
left it dangling from his right hand as they passed through the
front gate. He walked a few more paces before he realized that Tane
had stopped. He peered back to the wooden fence.


What is it?”

Tane was bent close to the
latch on the gate, his fingers running slowly over the lock. He
straightened, walked into the yard, and shut the gate behind him.
Standing next to his younger brother, he replied, “The lock is
busted.”

Qenn followed his brother
to the porch and smirked. “How you could manage to see that in the
dark, and yet catch no fish in the day, is beyond me.”

Tane paused before opening
the door. “The gate was fine when we left.” He allowed a smile.
“But you are only an elf, how would you see that?”

Watching the other smile,
Tane reached for the door and brushed the handle. The door creaked
open. The brothers paused unexpectedly, before seeing what they had
missed. The door frame was shattered. Broken wood lay scattered in
splinters.

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