I shifted uncomfortably, under the watch of so many, their wise, ancient eyes gazing at both Alaina and I. We stood in the center of the Great Hall. It truly a magnificent piece of living art, the eldest of all the trees of Grya arched their long bodies toward each other to meet in the center. Some were silvery-grey and others were pure white, their branches housing bird's nests and strange silver laterns made of captured pieces of fallen starlight. The laterns were made only once every two hundred years, when enough pieces were collected to make one, blessed by the King or Queen with a healing spell which mend the pieces together as one.
All the Elders paused-they still gasped as my sword, Aegoyoanye, shimmering like silvery water in the dim light, as it belonged to my passed father, the warrior of his age, made out of the same unique starlight. It had always done so in the light of the star laterns, as well as a full moon, but it always managed to amaze anyone around. In the old language, it meant Fallen Star, given to him as a gift from my mother before they took on the human custom of "marriage". When I had grown old enough, it had become my own.
Our Mother's eyes deep eyes glossed over as she watched the sword. I blushed as murmurs still echoed through the room. I had overheard their gossip before. Though I was young-very young for our race-many said they saw no promise in me. I did not speak much at all, that I wasn't as handsome as I should be, they said. That I was a shame to my family, and that Alaina-a spitting image of her father they said in both mind and body-should have inheirted the sword. And sometimes I thought so too.
"Enough," Mother commanded. She had never heard their bitter words of me, and I did not bother to tell her. She had much more to worry about. "Let us continue." She ran her hand over her elegant face. It was so flawless, but you could see her age in the shadows of her eyes. "All this news you tell me, my Daughters.....troubles me, certainly. As we left Aerthina, some of us knew that it would not be long before the Humans would follow us here. But....somehow I never believed it."
Her face was blank as some thought seemed to cross her, her eyes hardening. There was so much of her past that she never told Alaina and I, sometimes what she said was a mystery to me. She blinked, shaking away whatever memory haunted her, before continuing, "In this period of time, there is not much we can do. It sounds to me the Humans carry some....power with them...which when you sensed a presense of something you have never felt before."
"How?" demanded Elgor's harsh voice, ringing through the silence. He was even older than my mother, and had stood on the Council of Elders for unnumbered years. Mother had always expressed distaste for him in private, but could not do anything about him. He had always given me ugly looks ever since Mother had given me Father's sword, and his son, Eglen, was always sneering at how I did not deserve do not be of royal blood. "How ever could you have sensed Humans? And Human power? It is all nonsense." He walked out towards us, his grey eyes especially sharp on me. I stood up taller as he neared us, holding his stare with my own. I was not frightened of him. Or his wicked son.
"You believe my daughters are lying?" declared Queen Thera, her voice thundering across the hall. A few Elders shuddered, but Elgor froze, raising his eyebrow casually at our Mother.
"Of course not," he said smoothly, the slyness in his voice making Mother's lips into a firm, straight line, fire in her eyes. I watched her, frightened of what she may unleash on him. "I am simply suggesting that their inexperience and youth may lead them to conclusions, and to feel things that are plainly....not there. All youths make such mistakes."
His words infuritated me, and he knew it as he glanced at me from the corner of his eye with the most smug expression on his face. I understood Mother could not toss him out of the council. Each Elder represented a small clan of Elves, a ruler of their small clan. But they all reported to Queen Thera, who had ultimate authority over them all. She could indeed exclude Elgor from the council, she could've done it years ago, yet politically it would cost her. Especially in these turbulent times. Elgor had his allies, and so did she, and it would lead to the breaking of Gyra and battles between one another-not needed presently at all. She would do whatever she had to to keep the clans together underneath her.
Queen Thera averted her eyes, playing with a silver ring on her finger. "We shall take your claim into consideration," she said coldly. "Please step back to your seat, Elgor. Thank you."
"Thank you, my Queen," He touched his finger to his brow, as if mocking the respectful gesture.