Rylek and Mei were escorted out of their cells and through a series of winding corridors. Even though they were now to be treated as guests, the guards left their shackles on. This displeased Rylek. Is this really how the highly elves treat their guests, he thought. The Llidians, as what most of the continent referred to them as, were of the most intelligent beings to walk the planet. The most well-mannered as well, they adored a good honest fight. Rarely were there cases where a Llidian was seen killing another.
The guards led the two to two large wooden doors reinforced with a gold plating outline. One guard knocked on the door and the doors creaked open louder than anything Rylek had ever heard. Inside laid a long narrow table stuffed to the brink with an assortment of food. Turkey, potatoes, carrots, bottles of wine and even the rare but delicious Loarn meat. Jamin and Hugo sat further down the table, close to the center, devouring every scrap of food possible. Mei sighed and looked at Rylek with her usual dissappointed expression.
A guard took the cuffs off of the two and vanished with the other behind the large door. The room was suddenly quiet with the exception of Jamin and Hugo gorging themselves. “Free food!” Jamin exclaimed with his mouth half full. He glanced over at the two momentarily before returning to the banquet before him. “I have no idea why they’re nice all of a sudden, but I like it!”
Rylek took a seat a few down from Jamin and Mei a few down from him. The table appeared longer when he actually sat at it. It had to be at least as long as three fulling grown Nagas. There was so much food he didn’t know where to begin. Does he dig in? Does he wait to see if someone comes in and then eat? Or is this some sort of test?
A sharp trumpet screech sounded through the thick wall of a door. The group looked over as the doors swung open once again. An elf with a rough scruffy grey beard accompanied by several gaurds and Desmond walked in. The grey beared elf appeared strikingly old. Elves were among the oldest living beings as well. Some living to be over several hundred years old.
The grey beard walked back Rylek down to the end of the table and sat down. Desmon stood to his left. He picked up his glass and a utensil and gave it a few rings. “Welcome, guests!” the man greeted. “I am Delvin Fergus al Monvark. The King of Argania.” Jamin dropped his food and stared blankly at the man. Rylek could tell he was quite surprised. He was as well. A king appearing before guests, especially foreigners, was unheard of in Aitheria. “I hope the banquet is to your liking.”
Jamin nodded and went back to stuffing his mouth with more food than he could handle. Mei took a few scraps from a pig and some other vegetables and dug in as well. Rylek thought something was up. This whole situation seemed a bit out of the ordinary. “Your Majesty,” he calmly addressed the king. Delvin stopped halfway from taking another bite and looked at Rylek. “If it’s not imposing, may I ask why we’re here and not locked up in one of your filthy cells?”
Delvin set down his fork and knife, picked up a napkin and sophisticatedly wiped his mouth. It was then Rylek realized the errors of his words and turned from the king. “I understand you’re curiousity, young man.” He stood up and walked along the chairs to Rylek. “All will be explained momentarily.”
Rylek didn’t want to wait momentarily. He wanted answers now and he wanted to know everything. What was with Yuno’s secret about being a princess? Was this the secret Alzar was referring to when he said she held a secret that would split them apart? No, it couldn’t be. How would that change anything?
Once again the sharp tone of the trumpets resounded through the doors and once again they swung open. Yuno stood outside, dressed in a white gown with yellow ribbons. Elvish gibberish was etched along the ribbons. Her hair had been cut shorter and she had gold hair bands neatly keeping her loose strands together. She was escorted in closely by two guards, their armor was on a completely different league from that of the typical apparel. Rylek had to assume they were apart of the Royal Guard.
Delvin approached Yuno and hugged her. No one bothered to pay attention, but Rylek. The king then faced back to the table leading Yuno to sit by him.
Rylek pushed his chair back and stood up. “Yuno, what the hell is all this?” He demanded answers. He reached for her arm, but was blocked by the two guards. They held onto his wrists tightly and restrained him against the ground.
“How dare you use such rude language against the princess!” Desmond hovered over Rylek, dagger drawn. “I should kill you right here and end your miserable life, human.”
The king placed his hand on Desmond and pulled him back shaking his head. Desmond sheathed his weapon and returned to his position snickering back at Rylek. “I apologize for my Major’s actions. You are guests here and will be treated as such. Please, take a seat.” Rylek grumbled returning to his seat. “If it is answers you seek, feel free to ask me or my niece anything you desire to know.”
“That’s the first thing,” Rylek crossed his arms, “I wanted to know if Yuno was your daughter or what her relationship is to you.” Delvin took a sip of some of the wine he had previously poured himself nodding. “Next, is why did you hide this from us Yuno. You of all people.”
Yuno sat silently twiddling her thumbs. Her face was flushed and she was extremely embarressed. Rylek was the last person she wanted to know. “W-well, I didn’t want you or the others treating me differently. I had fun with you guys and I didn’t want that to change.”
“Perhaps I can help aid your confusion,” Desmond chirped in. “Yuno is the rightful heir to the throne of Argarnia and has been since the disappearance of her elder Sister, Deliria seven years ago. Currently, her uncle has assumed throne also since the capture and murder of her parents also seven years ago. On the night of her tenth birthday, she fled the castle for an unknown reason after recieving news of our engagement.”
Rylek stood up again slamming his hands to the table. “Hold up! Engagement?” Rylek kept switching glances between Yuno and Desmond even more confused than before.
“You act as though you have feelings for her Highness. If you do, I swear I would gut you like a fish and feed your organs to the wolves!” Desmond motioned to grab his dagger again. Delvin saw this and waved him to desist.
Next, Delvin raised his glass. “A cheers is in proper order! To the return of the princess, and my beautiful niece!” The guards on duty in the room cheered in unison. The room was filled with glee, even Jamin, Mei and Hugo seemed to be happy. Everyone but Rylek.
“One more question,” Rylek rose his voice. Delvin stopped the crowd and looked back at Rylek with the same face he had had all day, a look of confusion. “I count four of us, plus Yuno makes five. If I remember correctly there are six of us. Where is Marian?”
Desmond took a bite into an apple. He spit out the few seeds and turned to Rylek. “If you mean the mage, she politely asked for access to our magical archives saying food came after knowledge.” Rylek facepalmed inside his mind. That did sound like something Marian would do.
“Now then, please remain in your seat and enjoy the banquet. I had my finest culinary creators work on this.” Delvin rasied his glass again and the cheers began again. Rylek grumbled slumping back into his chair. He couldn’t take his eyes off Yuno who sat next to her uncle quietly. She still clumsily twiddled her thumbs, a pale red tint in her cheeks showed she was uncomfortable with the situation. The Yuno Rylek saw here was a completely different person from the one he had known for the past six months.
The celebration continued for the next several hours until the sun began to set once again. Jokes were cracked, games were played, food and drinks were spilled. The place had turned from a civil celebration to a barbaric party. More than half of the gaurds were drunk off the wine and wobbling to stay up. Jamin and Hugo still had room after eating for hours, still gorging themselves. Rylek swore the two had the stomach of an Eastern Sea Devourer.
Rylek shoved his chair back and turned to the door. He had had about enough of this partying. There were more important things on his mind than fun and games. It was time for him to prepare for his journey into Archea and the heart of the war.
The two guards at the door thrust their spears out in front of Rylek blocking him. He tried to manuever his way around them, but they kept him far from the exit. Desmond grabbed Rylek by his shoulder and spun him around. “What’s with the sudden hurry, human?” There were drips of wine coming from his mouth, but he didn’t seem to be drunk at all.
“Getting ready for my leave, but your damn guards are blocking my way.” Rylek turned back and raised an eyebrow angrily at the guards. Both flinched slightly in fear of what they heard he had done to their comrades outside the gates.
“You may be out guests thanks to the Princess’s fondness of you, but you are still a prisoner. You will remain here until his Highness decides what to do with you.”
“What?” Rylek jumped back a bit surprised at Desmond’s statement. They were still prisoners and yet they partied like nothing was wrong. “You can’t be serious, Desmond?”
“Major Desmond...” he corrected. “You are still under suspicion of being Archaen spies, even if you traveled with the princess. You will be treated as guests, but you are to remain here until Argarnia resolves it’s conflict with Archea.”
Rylek blew a fuse at the Elves words. He snapped and grabbed Desmond by the collar pushing him against a wall. His next actions were completely uncontrolled as he punched Desmond again and again and again until the elf began to bleed severely. The gaurds had no trouble restraining Rylek, shocking him with magic to tense his muscles and weaken him. He quickly fell in a dead heap breathing heavily. “Fool,” Desmond wiped the blood from his mouth. “Take him back to his cell. And no food for three days.”