The two elves led us to our rooms. All of the rooms were in a hut right next to the tower. Angel and I settled on the bed to sleep. Even though we had rested on the way here, it definitely was more comfortable on a mattress with fluffy pillows and a heavy blanket. We were asleep in seconds.
When we woke, it was to the smell of food. It was food unlike I had ever smelled, though. We followed our noses. Tiberius and Adam were already in the small dining area. We sat with them and observed the strange food placed in front of us. An elf came in to explain everything to us.
"Most of what we eat are vegetables," she explained. "Some here you will recognize such as broccoli, sweet peas, and cauliflower. These are my favorite." She lifted a plate of a red vegetable that had some cooked and some raw. "It is called rădăcină. In your language, it translates to a kind of root. It is edible both raw and cooked but, personally, I enjoyed it boiled."
We put some on our plates as she went back to the platter.
"Of course, we enjoy fruits. Once more, You will recognize strawberries, grapes, and melons. What you may not recognize, though, is what we call dulce which is sweet in your language." It was a purple shaped fruit much like a plum. "It is very sweet and filled with many nutrients."
"It looks like a plum," Angel said, voicing my thoughts.
The elf nodded. "We have tasted this plum you speak of. You will find that dulce is sweeter and does not have that tang you find with the plum."
"This all looks wonderful," I said. "Thank you very much for going through all this trouble."
She folded her hands and bowed her head. "The Queen Mother has ordered you be given a tour when you have finished your meal."
I hesitated. I really wanted to go home but, at the same time, I wanted to give them time to find out what to do about Rosebud.
"We gladly accept," I said finally.
The fruits and vegetables were delicious. The fruits were sweet with just a little tang from the strawberries and some of the grapes. The vegetables, particularly the rădăcină, were delicious. I hadn't expected it to be so good.
After we had our fill - aside from Adam who said he would wait for meat - the elf took us on a tour of their realm. I hadn't been in such a beautiful place before. There were many rivers that fed the waterfalls.
"But where does the water come from?" I asked. "I don't see a source."
She pointed over the edge and I leaned over as far as I dared. My jaw dropped. The water would fall then curve up, going back up through the center of the island. She took us by the farms where they grew all the food we had eaten. Elves waved to us cheerfully and we returned their greetings. The only one who seemed uncomfortable was Adam. I wondered if there were conflicts between the two races.
"Where does the music originate from?" Tiberius asked. "It is very beautiful."
The lady elf led us to a large ladder. I hesitated.
"I cannot climb," I began but Adam held me by the waist and climbed up one handed.
Talk about humiliating! I avoided his eyes and, when we got up, I stood straight. I cleared my throat, pulling the wrinkles from my shirt, and mumbling my thanks. He merely did the salute and fell to the back of our group. Angel smiled gently at me and I gripped the head of my cane. The elf was watching with sad eyes.
"How were you injured?" she asked.
"I was attacked," I said.
"It cannot be healed?"
"We've done all we can," I mumbled. "So, about this music."
She opened a heavy oak door and we followed her in.
"Wow," Angel breathed, letting go of my hand and walking into the middle of the tower we were in.
The tower was much like the Queen Mother's except this was made from wood. There was a spiraling staircase that was built into the walls. Every five feet there was a window. And, in every window, was an elf playing a different instrument. Unlike the ones in our world, the instruments emitted glow with each note.
A young elf saw Angel gaping at his harp and smiled, beckoning to her. I narrowed my eyes, keeping a close watch on him. She took it and he stood, gesturing for her to take his seat. He was smiling sweetly at her and I cleared my throat. He looked over and I held up my left hand. He bowed his head and put more space between the two of them. I nodded at him.
I listened to her playing and smiled at her. She looked beautiful. She sat with her back against the side of the window. She stretched her legs out and strummed the strings of the harp with her eyes closed. Gold covered her body and our guide gasped. I looked at her. She was beaming at Angel and began to dance to the music. It was a strange sight. Every elf that wasn't playing an instrument danced to Angel's music.
Angel hadn't realized it yet and I climbed the stairs with difficulty. I sat beside her.
"Keep playing but open your eyes," I whispered in her ear.
She did so and blushed when she saw the assembled elves spinning gracefully.
"You play like a goddess," the elf that had let her play his harp said. "Where did you lear to play so beautifully?"
She turned a darker shade of red as I helped her to her feet.
"Just lessons over time," she said modestly.
"You glowed," our guide said with a large grin on her face. "We have never seen a human glow before!"
"What does the glow mean?" I asked.
"It means she has some of us in her," one of the elves said, circling Angel.
She put her arm around mine, looking uncomfortable at the sudden attention.
"You mean she's part elf?" Tiberius asked.
"No," our guide said, leading us back to the ladder. Once again, Adam carried me down. "It could be anything. If I were to guess, I would say that your teacher was an elf."
"Wouldn't I know?" Angel asked.
"Not necessarily. We can hide among humans well. What was your teacher's name?"
Angel frowned. "You know, I can't remember."
Our guide nodded, leading us back to the Queen Mother's tower.
"She must have left shortly after teaching you all you know. Can you play any other instruments?"
"The piano," she confirmed. "It was my mother who taught me that, though."
We climbed the stairs again. By now, I was sweating though the weather was neutral. Our guide brought me a chair to rest and I did so gratefully.
Rosebud was still where we had left her the day before only she was staring at her mother with a mixed expression on her face. The Queen Mother stood before her bed, her hands folded in front of her.
"Did you enjoy your tour?" she asked and we nodded. "I heard the harp. Which of you played?"
"Angel," I said, smiling at her proudly.
"It was very beautiful," the Queen Mother complimented and Angel blushed. "Even dear Rosebud was moved by it."
"No I wasn't," Rosebud said haughtily.
The Queen Mother continued as if she hadn't heard her.
"We have discussed the... situation we are facing."
I sat up straight. "Have you found a way to let Rosebud free and keep the magic in the sword?"
The Queen Mother stared at her daughter. Rosebud avoided her eyes, though.
"You will tell them," the Queen Mother said in a quiet yet stern voice. "It was your idea after all."
For the first time since I had met her, Rosebud cried.