The Hateful Wars: Chapter Ten
For ten days the elves of Enstad sang mournful chants and recited ancient lays over the tomb of Triserron. On the eleventh day, the Perfect Flower shed her mourner’s garments, immersed herself in the pool of Hanali Celanil, donned a shirt of mithril, and took her seat on the Blossoming Throne. For a full day and a night, she sat silent, staring unseeing, cold-eyed, terrible, and fearsome to behold, and none dared speak nor enter her presence nor take leave of her.
The Crown of Triserron
While Enstad mourned the loss, brave deeds transpired beneath the mountains. A warrior called Dothmar, wielder of the great sword Concluder, rose up to avenge the Prince Triserron who was, in fact, his mother’s brother. He considered himself a defender of the balance, but he hated orcs, and he refused to countenance such insult to olven dignity. “Who will follow me into the holes under the mountains?” he asked.
Before the prince’s body had yet arrived in Enstad and before the ten days of mourning had commenced, Dothmar and a small company of Celenese rangers and warriors undertook the quest.
Tracking the marauders back to their deep lair, Dothmar and his warriors descended into the mountains, prowling along the Low Road where olven feet had rarely walked before. The trail of the marauders led them deep beneath the Lortmils through a dark maze of intersecting tunnels, ancient roads, yawning chasms, underground streams, and abandoned mines. At length they came upon the Karrak Bowl, a long-abandoned outpost of Balnorhak, built in a great hollow inside the mountain, where now dwelt the euroz vermin of the Red Fang clan.
Within the citadel stood a low tower, now partially collapsed. The watch fires of the orcs cast red flickering light and long shadows on stonework walls and ramparts. Upon the spikes of its battlements the orcs had impaled the heads of those elves slain in Druid’s Defile, and from that same vantage the unseeing clouded eyes of the Prince Consort Triserron gazed out into the darkness.
Dothmar and his warriors burst upon the lair with blinding wrath and ferocious blows such that their fury struck panic and terror among the orcs on the walls. A dozen elves routed one-hundred and twenty warriors. Any who dared stand to strike a blow at the warrior received a conclusive answer from his vicious sword. The elves fought their way into the inner palace. Dothmar scaled the tower and retrieved the severed head of the Prince Consort while arrows, barbed and poisoned, clattered all about him and pierced his flesh.
Then the orcs took courage and each one strengthened his fellow. They turned back to face the intruders, and they gave chase to the heroes over many long leagues under the earth. The fleeing elves quickly lost their path among the winding ways, slopes, turns, and tunnels of the Low Road. Wandering for days beneath the mountains, Dothmar’s heroes fought and fled, suffering battles and ambushes, one after after another, until none of their company survived to reach the sunlight save three. Dothmar himself and two others emerged from the tunnels under the bright light of a noonday sun. Their pursuers turned back. All that way beneath the mountains, and all the way back to Enstad, Dothmar carried with him his sorry trophy.
On the twelfth day after the elves laid Prince Triserron to rest, Dothmar and his companions arrived in Enstad and entered the Grand Court to present themselves before her Fey Majesty. The hero knelt before the queen and delivered the parcel into her hands. Yolande took it into her lap, combed the matted blood from her lover’s hair and washed the grime away from his once handsome face. Breaking her twelve days of silence, the queen turned to her maidservant Almerayne, who stood ready at her side, and commanded her, “Summon to my presence the dwur ambassador.”
Kristryd scarcely recognized the queen. So hot smoldered the spirit of rage beneath the queen’s skin that it shone through her pale flesh as a dull red glow. Her gentle lilac eyes now flamed with the light of devilshine. The queen’s countenance, which previously appeared so comely as to sway all flesh, now flashed awful to behold, inspiring as much terror as ordinarily it inspired desire. In her hands she clutched the severed head.
Kristryd prostrated herself before the queen as if before a goddess of war, but Yolande set the decollated remnant aside and dropped to her knees. Her long slender arms pulled the dwarfess into an embrace, and she implored, “Forgive me my friend. I did not understand. Now I too have shared the loss of a husband.”
Kristryd winced at the comparison. She had scarcely mourned the news of Grallwen’s death when it came.
“Rise now and rally our alliance. I am at war, and I will lead the charge. From this day, Olinsdotter, be my ambassador, my apostle, and my voice.”
Kristryd stood to her feet and tried to blink back the tears that came unbidden to her eyes, but she could not staunch the flow. They streaked down her face not for her own grief but for the sorrow of her friend.
“I have taken a solemn vow and a binding oath, one which should not be taken,” the Perfect Flower said. Her delicate fingers wiped away the tears from Kristryd’s eyes. “I have made sacrifices. I have invoked the names of all the Seldarine. I have sworn by my spirit: I shall not taste the green wine nor partake of the mysteries nor dance beneath the stars nor midsummer moons until I have purged the Lortmils of kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls, and all their kin, above the ground or below it, from the Jewel to the Ulek States, from Veluna to the Azure Sea.”
“Your majesty,” Kristryd spake with trembling voice, “Let me be the agent of your wrath. I swear by Moradin, by Berronar, by Ulaa, by Clangeddin and by all the gods of my fathers, that I shall not rest nor sheathe the sword nor lower the axe until your vow has been fulfilled.”
“Then we are bound together by our oaths my sister,” the queen said, returning to her perfect poise upon the Blossoming Throne. “May the gods seal us to them.”