"It's gone! Baculum is gone! Sound the alarm!"
The guard went running down the wide entrance of the Royal Tower, desperately screaming so that the entire city could hear him. He continued through the front hall of the castle, looking for his commander, the leader of the city's security watch. He then realized how early in the morning it was. The commander and most of his companions would be at their own houses, waking up to the smell of a delicious breakfast prepared by their own wives. The only guards out on the streets would be the ones who took the night shift that day, and since the kingdom was usually peaceful, they wouldn't be many.
He had now reached the center of the town, where a high watch tower was built. At the very top a huge bell was put, which was used as an alarm in periods of necessity. This was one of them.
The guard that had spent the night at the watch tower must have been sleeping, because when the elf finished climbing the stairs and reached the top, he got up from his chair with a jump, seeming a little dizzy. The other instantly rang the bell, and waited for the chaos that was to come.
"What are you doing, Leon? What happened?" asked the sleepy elf, screaming over the deafening sound of the ringing bell while protecting his ears with his palms.
"Someone stole Baculum, Kamir! The staff is gone!"
The guard's eyes widened, and he started panicking, not sure on what to do. Looking down, both elves now saw entire families stepping out of the comfort of their houses, asking their neighbours and the other guards what had happened, although no one knew the answer. They now all looked up, as if expecting for the guards up top to guide them.
"The staff was stolen!" Leon screamed at the top of his lungs so that everyone could hear. He thought of what he was doing and realized how wrong he was by letting everyone know of this problem. Back in his training days, it was taught to him that whenever a moment of crisis showed up, he was to report to his commander immediately, and let him handle the situation. Chaos was to be avoided at all costs. It was too late for that now, and he expected that his superior would understand what he did before the situation.
Mayhem now took over the streets. There were women and children screaming, guards running towards the Royal Tower, whose residents seemed to still not have noticed the commotion outside, and men trying to calm down their families and take them back inside their houses for their own safety.
Leon raised his head from the turmoil downstairs and looked ahead from the tower, at the land outside of the walls of the city. He squeezed his eyes, looking for something different, or any movement at all. He knew it was a long shot, he had no idea how or when the weapon was stolen that night, but it was worth trying. He found nothing. Everything was just the same and there was no one the field.
The sound of the bell was lower now, and he could hear someone calling for him downstairs. It was the commander of the troops. He climbed down the tower, Kamir after him, and met the officer a few meters away from it.
"Leonel, what is this? The entire city is in panic! You know you should have come to me first." the man looked a bit disappointed, but the horror in his voice let Leon know that he didn't care much about his mistake as of now. "Are you sure the staff is gone? Tell me what you saw."
"Yes, sir! I woke up today early, had my breakfast and stepped out of my house to open the gates to the tower before everyone woke up, as I always do. I climbed up the entrance hall and looked up at the glass container above the throne, as I do it everyday. But then, instead of saying my morning prayers, my jaw dropped as I looked at the empty box. Nothing was there!"
"And are you positive that it was there last night?"
"Positive, captain Moriel. I'm always the last one to look at that weapon at night, right before I lock up the gates of the castle. I still remember the moonlight touching the jeweled point of the staff last night. It was a beautiful vision."
Leon had always loved that weapon. He had always been very proud to have been assigned to be the one that got to see Baculum everyday before and every night after anyone. Today, he felt ashamed, as he had failed at his only job, and sad, as he had lost his own son or daughter. But, most of all, scared of what this represented, and of what was to come.
"Someone must have took it over the night. Let's go talk to the queen and the other residents of the castle, ask them if they saw anything. Both of you, come with me."
Kamir and Leon both accompanied their captain. While walking past the people on the streets, Leon immediately regretted his decision to let everyone know of the robbery. The majority of the residents of the city were still outside, and seeing him now on the ground they would run towards him, asking as many questions as they could before Leon would disappear in the crowd again. He now felt sick and dizzy himself.
They now reached the entrance to the Royal Tower. There, the majority of people were trying to enter the building, probably so they could look at the empty glass box with their own eyes. Their commander had obviously sent the guards running to the castle after the news reached his ears, ordering them to barricade the building. No one would go in, and no would go out.
After forcing passage through the crowd and talking to the guards so they could continue their walk, the two elves followed their leader up the hall, accompanied by a couple more guards who had been covering the captain this whole time.
Now reaching the throne room, the men stopped and looked up at the empty container. Leon felt worse now, looking at it a second time. He kind of expected that it had all been a mistake of his and that when he came back to check, the staff would still be there. The other men had a stunned expression on their faces, now being sure of the imminent danger they were all in.
The residents of the castle were now all obviously woken up. It must have been impossible keep on sleeping after the screaming started at the entrance of the tower. Leon looked ahead and his eyes met the queen's. She looked different that morning.
Leon always thought Karna Ailill to be the most beautiful woman of their race. He enjoyed seeing her soft features every morning, when she would wake up and meet him for their morning prayers before the throne. She would come inside the room and face him with her amazing green eyes, brighter than the jewels of Baculum, her smile brightening up the place. Her long golden hair would already be braided, as if she would wake up earlier to do it herself. She would wear a different outfit every day, those lovely dresses completing her unique look. He loved seeing the sunlight that came through the windows illuminate that gorgeous vision. It made her look like a floating angel. She really was a true queen of the elves.
That morning however he didn't recognize any angelique features in her. She still looked naturally beautiful, but the look of horror and weariness in her face made her suddenly look very real. Her hair was messy, she was still in her sleeping gown, and her eyes seemed to not sparkle as usual. She ran towards her best friend, hugging him deeply, tears now flowing through her rosy cheeks.
"Oh, Leon! How could such a horrible thing happen? You always take such good care of Baculum. You must be devastated!" she sounded genuinely concerned with him, which made him wonder if she was more worried about him or the weapon. "What horrible soul could have done this?" she now fitted his eyes again, looking for answers. They were filled with tears.
"I have no idea, my queen. But I'm sure we'll find the robber. We have to." He couldn't bare to tell her that he didn't have much hope on finding Baculum once again before something terrible happened to their people. Captain Moriel now approached the queen, politely interrupting their moment of sadness.
"My queen, I know this is a difficult time, but I need to ask you some questions that could help our investigation."
"I understand. Go ahead, me and the other residents of the castle will be more than happy to help." she let go of Leon's embrace slowly, clearly having been comforted by the hug and now recomposing herself.
"Did any of you notice anything different or strange happen yesterday or during the last few days?" he was asking both the queen and the soldier. Both shook their heads.
"Nothing, sir. The entire week I've been doing the same as ever, and nothing caught my eye, not even the sound of the birds outside." he noticed that Karna had nothing to add, and just stood there quietly waiting for next question.
"What about last night, my lady? Any noises? Any… strange feelings?" he didn't seem very confident on what to ask.
"Nothing. I went to sleep the same time as ever, after everyone else in the castle. I locked the door between the throne room and the insides of the tower, went into my bedroom and that was it. I keep the keys to the door in this chain around my neck, and when I woke up startled it was still here, intact. Same as always." The captain looked very disappointed with the answers. Nothing they said could help the investigation.
"Alright. I'm gonna go talk to the others. You two stay here, I may still need you." as he approached the queen's maids and the others who took care of the castle, Karna turned to face Leon again.
"I am so worried about all this. What will happen to us? What will the other leaders say? I have to talk to my people, calm them down somehow." she ran towards the ramp that led to the entrance of the tower, but Leon held her arm tightly but softly before she could escape.
"Karna, I know you have your duties as a queen, but this is not the time. Not before we have an idea of what's going on. They will have questions! And then, what will you tell them? That we don't know who did it? That we don't even know where to start? Or are you gonna lie to them?" he was trying to make her see reason, but his words ended up sounding a little more harsh than he wanted to. She was startled by the tone in his voice, but didn't fight to release herself from his grip.
"I know. You are right, as you always are." she faced the entrance of the castle while talking, and now looked back into his eyes, imploring him. "I can't go through this by myself. Will you be there for me?"
"I always will, my queen." her rosy cheeks blushed, as did his. They'd always had that tension between them, but this time it felt stronger. They were surprised by the sound of footsteps running, and some guards now entered the throne room, coming from the private parts of the castle.
"We searched the entire place, sir, and found nothing. The staff isn't here."
Leon thought that is must have been hard for the captain to make the decision of having his men search the tower after the weapon. After all, it was like he was suspecting the most trustworthy people in the kingdom. Karna had been queen for two thousand years now, since the Creation, and all of the elves who lived in the castle with her had been there for at least fifteen hundred years. If anyone would not be guilty, it was them. But in a time like this, there was no measure that should not be taken in order to find Baculum. Their future was in line. They walked up to captain Moriel in order to hear what he had to say.
"Well, the other elves of the castle had no information for me as well. Since no one saw anything, there are no signs of anyone having entered the castle last night and the weapon isn't inside the building, there is only one last conclusion I can reach. Whoever stole this weapon used magic to do so."
"But that is impossible! The tower is protected with the most powerful defense spells we have. There is no way some other elf could go in and out without none of us having been alarmed!" the queen looked confused.
"Precisely, my lady. No other elf could have done this. But unfortunately we do not have only elves in this world. If the tower had been invaded by, let's say, a human, would you have felt it? What about more mysterious magic, like the djinns'?"
"That… I can't rule out that possibility. But what would another one of the races want with our Baculum? They would be throwing their own futures away as well. You were there yourself when the prophecy was made by Lugus Grid, the god of peace, captain. Should any of the weapons ever be used to purposely hurt another being, the world of Gwenderan shall see its darkest days. All the races take this saying very seriously, there is no reason they could have to possibly do this… is there?"
As queen Ailill said the last word, Leon had a strange feeling go through his body, like a faint shiver. He noticed that the queen had felt it too, and also the people around him. For a moment, all the sound of the elven city stopped, and one could only hear the birds singing outside. He recomposed himself, but didn't have a lot of time to do it. He felt it again, and so did everyone feel too. Leon saw the queen's knees weaken, and rushed to hold her before she could fall, while he felt himself get weaker as well.
It all happened very fast. He was able to hold her before she collapsed, and then dropped to his knees, everyone around him doing the same. He felt pain now together with the fainting sensation, a ripping feeling, as if his soul was being taken out from his body. He could hear screams all around, inside and outside of the throne room. He looked into Karna's eyes one last time, who were open wide in a sign of horror. They had a different tone to him, like a bright yellow. Another flash of pain went through his body and everyone else's, this one being a lot stronger than the last. He saw everyone around him start to fall to the ground, passing out, and soon after the same happened to him. Little did he know that the entire elven population now fell to the ground, as in a deep sleep.
In another kingdom, somewhat near the elven city of Ailill, a man woke up in his house. He stretched his right arm towards the other side of the bed, only to find it empty. He sat up, still feeling sleepy, and rubbed his eyes with his fingers so he could see better.
"Lira? Are you there?" He now got up and got out of the bedroom, looking for the elf. She was nowhere to be found. The human opened the front door to his house in a last attempt to find her, and looked outside. The street was empty. Did she go home this early? Why didn't she wake me up?
Suddenly, he had a strange feeling. The outside turned a little darker, as if the clouds had covered the entire sky, and a strange gust of wind blew through the entire city, making his entire body shiver. But, instead of being cold, he was now scared. He went back inside of his house, hoping that everything would be alright with his loved one, and that nothing but a simple storm was coming.