Meddling in Foreign Affairs

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Meeting the Mountain King

Submitted: July 10, 2019

Reads: 10

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Submitted: July 10, 2019

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Dismas was unsure of how much time had passed since he was locked up, but it was at least a few days until Stryel returned. Dismas didn’t bother moving when he came to stand outside of his cell. He was sort of miffed with the dwarves in general, seeing as none of them had given him any food, his arm felt infected, they had taken all of his belongings, and his hair was probably a horror to look upon. Any sleep that he got was restless and uncomfortable at best. On a more positive note, however, his beard had started to grow back.

“Good morning, elf. How has your stay here in Dragstyenost been so far?”

Dismas was hungry and exhausted, but that didn’t prevent him from responding. “Not gonna lie, I would not recommend it. If it were up to me, you would never have any visitors. It’s grand enough, but all the stone is cold, especially without food to warm my belly. But, you know, the wound in my shoulder has provided some heat, so thanks for that.”

“I must say, you are one of the more interesting elves that I have captured. Usually they refuse to speak at all,” Stryel commented as the dwarf guard unlocked the door to Dismas’ cell and roughly made him get to his feet.

Trying not to whimper as his right shoulder was jostled, Dismas grudgingly started following Stryel. “That’s because I’m not a bloody elf, idiot.”

Stryel led Dismas out of the prison and down the stairs. Dismas couldn’t help but smile a bit when he saw the sunlight through the entrance to the large cavern, and he stopped a moment to take it in. He sighed as he was pulled past the market to a staircase going down deeper into the mountain. Just five minutes outside would have improved his mood significantly. Humans weren’t made to be underground forever, or at least Dismas wasn’t. Although he preferred to live in cities and didn’t like the wilderness, the sun was still a beautiful thing. And he missed it.

As they walked down a seemingly unending set of stairs, Dismas got bored. “So, you’re taking me to see that Otetsu Gora fellow, right?”

Stryel looked back with a condescending smirk. “Yes. I am taking you to the King’s Hall where you will be condemned and properly punished for your crimes.”

“Okaaaay, and what crimes are those, exactly?”

“Is elven society so deranged that kidnapping is not considered a crime?”

Dismas swore to himself. Apparently the stupid elf had kidnapped someone. But he didn’t appear to have anyone with him when he scammed Dismas, so he must have had accomplices or was being wrongly accused. “I have not a barking clue what the ins and outs of elvish society are like because I am a human. I have met a total of one elf, and am beginning to acquire a dislike for the entire race because of this experience. Dwarves don’t seem too great right now, either.”

“I am most looking forward to never having to speak with you again, after this. You must be stupid or incredibly arrogant to continue trying to convince us that you are a human, when everyone with any experience with elves knows that they do not follow the normal rules of nature.”

Sighing to himself, Dismas cursed the stubbornness of dwarves.

Stryel walked up to one of the largest doors Dismas had ever seen. They were almost as large as the entrance to the cavern, which had been made to fit boats through it. Something about dwarves seemed to make them find it necessary to make normal things huge. It was all very impressive, but made them look even shorter than they were. There were the geometric designs the dwarves appeared very fond of carved into the metal. As Stryel and Dismas drew closer, four dwarves pulled open the grand doors.

“See, that's just silly. Why make doors that need more than one person to open them?” Dismas asked.

Ignoring him, Stryel marched through the doors confidently while Dismas reluctantly followed. The King's Hall was large. That's an understatement. There were huge pillars lining a straight walk to the throne, at least a quarter of a mile away from the door. The entire room was made of dark stone that was polished to reflect the light from the torches, making it almost as bright as being outside. It must have taken a ton of work to build such a place, and Dismas had a hard time wrapping his head around all of this being under the mountain. It was the largest mountain known to intelligent beings, but surely it wasn't big enough for all this. 

The king was sitting in his throne, of course. It was stone and patterned and didn't look very comfortable at all. He wore fancy clothing that was colored gold and also didn't look very comfortable, and had a long white beard. A beautiful crown was perched on his head, holding down the impressive braids in his white hair. There were three chairs on either side of him filled by important looking dwarves all wearing different colors and patterns. Dismas assumed that they were the clan leaders. There were guards stationed in line with pillars running through the hall. Close to the walls to the left and right of the king were two groups of dwarves that appeared to be spectators. Most of them were wearing red. 

Dismas found himself standing in front of the king and surrounded by armed dwarves. “Hi everyone,” he said with an awkward wave from his bound hands. “I must admit, I am not in top condition at this moment, so my performance may not be as expected.”

The king looked down from his tall throne with a raised eyebrow. “I have heard many reports of your strange behavior, elf, but I am interested in hearing your opinion on what has happened. Tell us your story, complete and unaltered, so that I may judge you fairly considering all evidence.”

After making eye contact with a few of the dwarves in front of him, Dismas took a deep breath before beginning his tale. “Well, to start, I'm a human, not an elf. My name is Dismas Rowell, and I was born just north of these mountains. I was in Sdelki, just going about my business, as per usual, when I encountered an elf. I'm sure you all know, elves don't usually come into dwarven lands, so I was pretty surprised to see ‘im. Anyways, the elf told me he'd pay me if I walked about in his cloak. He was offering gold, and lots of it. Must say, that is a weakness I've got. I'd do mostly anything for the right price. And I saw nothing wrong with wearing a new cloak, so I took the money. And then Stryel and company found me and shot me up with a poisonous arrow and brought me here. So, yeah.” Dismas gave a little bow, a bit proud of himself. 

The king looked less impressed, and gestured to a dwarf in one of the chairs by his,who was wearing red. “You may now question the prisoner, Oruziye, I know that has been your wish since he was captured.”

The dwarf stood up and walked over to where Dismas was standing. “What proof do you have that you are not an elf?”

“Seriously? Did ya even look at me? I have facial hair! It may not be much cause that stupid elf made me shave, but it grew back some while I was in prison. And I may be short, but I’m thicker than an elf gets and my ears are rounded. Also, elves may not need food often as long as they have water, but I haven’t eaten since before I was captured, and am dying slowly from hunger and the poisoned hole in my shoulder, that I’m almost positive is infected!”

“I still cannot find it in me to believe you. Your attitude towards Otetsu Gora has also been atrocious. Only an elf would treat the king of the dwarves with such blatant disrespect,” Oruziye said stubbornly.

The dwarf at the king’s right hand who was wearing green spoke before Dismas could respond. “If I may interrupt, Otetsu Gora, I believe my medical knowledge could be of use.”

“Of course, Dyomahai. Oruziye, return to your seat until further notice.” Oruziye looked angry, but obeyed.

“Thank you, my king,” the dwarf in green said with a bow. Dismas glared at him as he approached until he noticed the friendly smile on the dwarf’s face. He hadn’t been treated kindly by anyone since his capture, and didn’t realize how much he missed it. “Hello, Dismas. My name is Otetsu Dyomahai. I have some experience with infection and would like to take a look at your arm, if that is acceptable.”

Dismas shrugged with a grimace. “Go for it. I’ve got nothing to lose at this point.”

“I fail to see how this will clarify this liar’s race,” Oruziye commented angrily. 

“Elven blood looks different from human blood. Human blood is very red, though not as dark as ours. Elven blood is more golden colored, almost like the color of tree sap. The color of one's blood is impossible to fake, even with strange talents like those of elves. If I treat this young man's wound, I will easily be able to determine his race, but I have my suspicions that he has not yet lied to us. Now, will someone please bring me my medicine bag, a chair, and some food?” Dyomahai asked the crowd. A dwarf also wearing green came forward with a large bag and set it down gently before retreating and returning with a chair. A second dwarf handed Dyomahai some bread. “Now Dismas, please sit and eat. If you are a human, you must be starving.”

Dismas took the bread and ate it quickly, struggling a bit with his bound hands. After he had eaten it, he sat down. “Thanks very much. You may just be my favorite dwarf at this particular moment in time.”

“I must say, with the way my kind have treated you recently, it was not difficult to rise in the ranks for that. Now, if it is no trouble, I shall take a look at that arrow wound.”

After managing to partially undo his shirt, Dismas pulled on his right sleeve to give the dwarven doctor better access to his shoulder. Dyomahai went to work immediately, spreading a green paste on the exposed flesh before wrapping it up with cloth bandages. The paste made his arm feel strangely numb, but also significantly reduced the pain. 

“That should do for now, young man. I can give you instructions for care later, so that we do not waste Otetsu Gora’s precious time.” Dyomahai returned to his seat. “I testify that Dismas is in fact human, and the way that he has been treated has left him weaker than he usually would be. He should remain sitting. He must have incredible pain tolerance to have been standing and joking as he was earlier.”

“It's not pain tolerance so much as stubbornness and a need to poke fun at idiots, Dyomahai. But thanks anyways.”

Oruziye stood up angrily at Dismas’ comment. “How dare you call the council of Otetsus idiots!”

“Well, you kinda are. I mean, you fell right into the elf’s trap, despite my best efforts to help you. In refusing to believe me, you've only given him more time to escape and for his trail to go cold.”

“We have to use all caution when dealing with elves! How are we to know that you are not some hired spy?”

The king stood up. “That will be enough, Oruziye. Even though you are not an elf, young man, it cannot be denied that you worked with the elf that kidnapped one of our own, and therefore must be punished. Do you have anything to say for yourself before I give you your sentence? Keep in mind that the punishment for kidnapping is traditionally death.”

“Yeah,” Dismas said, trying to buy himself some time to think. He had to come up with something fast to get out of this. “I will help find whoever it is that got kidnapped. And bring him to safety. That'll be enough to prove that I'm not in league with the elves, right? I just made a mistake, I honestly didn't intend to meddle with the tensions between two countries and two races.” Dismas swore to himself. Even if they agreed to his plan, he would have to go through with it, or have to look over his shoulder for dwarves his entire life. But if he bothered the elves, they would be mad at him too. He really was an idiot sometimes. 

Otetsu Gora thought about Dismas’ offer for a few moments, before a wide smile split across his face. “That seems to me to be an excellent idea. I accept your offer of assistance.”

Oruziye turned to the king. “My lord, you cannot be serious. We have no reason to trust this scum! He will run to the elves for protection and will never return to us!”

“He has not lied to us yet. His help could be most useful, considering that we do not often allow other races to be involved in our internal affairs. They will not suspect him so easily of trying to recover your son.”

“Still, we have no way to guarantee his allegiance to us. In addition to that, he does not know what Zlato looks like, so the elves could easily fool him.” Oruziye looked desperate. Understandably so, considering his son was the one who was missing. “He will also require time to recover, and we have wasted too much time already.”

Dyomahai interrupted before the king could speak. “He is in relatively good condition, considering the circumstances we have put him through. He will be fit to travel the day after tomorrow, and that will give us time to gather supplies and send word to Tselzo so that they may prepare a small boat to go down the Escatar River.”

“Wonderful. And as for him not recognizing your son, we will send one of our own to accompany him. More than that would make the elves suspicious.” The king looked proud of himself for that idea, but Dismas didn’t like it much. With a dwarf going on his adventure, it would be harder for him to find a way to slip away and head north. After his experience with the dwarves he was quite ready to take a break and go home for a bit. “The only problem to address now is who should go with him.”

“I will go,” said a voice from the crowd. A dwarf wearing red stepped forward. “It was my failing that lead to Zlato’s kidnapping, so I should be the one to help retrieve him.”

“Very well. We will begin the preparations at once. Dyomahai, Dismas will be your responsibility until his departure. Be sure that he is healthy so that he will not impede Byulat in any way.” Standing up dramatically, the king addressed the entire hall. “I now conclude this meeting.”

 
 
 
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