Astelbania: An Ol' Friend

The Harbinger came into port, battered, but whole. Her sails were torn. Her bowels creaked and groaned. The bailer-pumps were still manned, despite a full day's sunshine. Her crew was exhausted, sore and hungry.

"Lohah, Captain!" shouted the dock master - a portly, rat-faced man - with gaps in his teeth wide enough to fit a block of cheese.

"And to you, Master Gilan," replied Tiberus Karok, "Lohah and good tidings from Devensheer..."
"How fares your ship? The storms of late have made piece-meal of our shores..."
"Aye... Better than her crew. We are tired, hungry - and THIRSTY! " laughed the captain.
"We have all in abundance, methinx, captain.. for how long shall I reserve a port-dock for your fine vessel."
"A week furlough should be all we need. The Harbinger will require repairs and her crew some much needed R&R!"
"I will let the Keeper of the Harbormasters Inn know of your needs..."
"Any word of an elf coming to the harbor, Master Gilan?"
"No sight of elves here, Captain... There's been little sight of ANY travelers brave enough to trek through the deluge of late!!"
Captain Karok bowed, "I see.. Make our Furlough two week's then, my friend. We will require rooms for 30 men and women - double-bunked if needs be!"
The Dock master bowed, and turned towards the dockhands, barking orders to secure the Harbinger's mooring lines.

Alyssa Stormcloud, first mate to the captain, looked up from the main deck,

"Two weeks?! "
"IF the storm was as bad on land as it was at sea, Danoa Jaxa may have been forestalled. We will wait for him. The missive from the Prince suggested that delivering the elf in Tajye was of upmost importance .. and I will see my duty done!"

The captain's eyes oversaw the mooring of his ship.  Alyssa shouted ordered to abandon the sails - and the lieutenants got their crews to secure line & tethers and to ready for repairs.

Danoa rode upon an exhausted steed near the Marrokville border, cold and hungry. It was times like these that he needed to remind himself of the threat to his people. Already, there have been rumors of raids on Elvish caravans and ships... with the bodies of elvish-kind completely exsanguinated; harvested for their blood. At first, Danoa had not believed these stories; he prayed to Fasdeus that they were human tales of false conquest; lies and anti-elvish propaganda. Until the day he manage to secure himself a vial of elvish blood in the back-streets of Dirkshire, some 3 years ago.. for a healthy price of 3 platinum pieces and a scarf of kezian silk.. the one vial, with a conjuring of great evil could empower a blade to be forever sharp, perfectly balanced - and infuse the blade with an ability of the wielder’s choosing; flaming blade, animal control, invisibility, sure-footing on bad terrain .. all the abilities bred in the elvish people.
It sickened him.
The Queen of Qualerin, a city he had once called home, had told him that the Gods had a plan for him.  That he was to be the savior of their people; a leader among the elves - even the humans.The Elves called this, Conthaldaesa: A Destined Soul. Though, Danoa put little stock in myth and mystics. He could not bring himself to believe that his life was pre-destined. He was a free elf - more free than most of his brethren. He's seen more of Astelbania than most of the elders in all of Qualerin. He did not share the High-Elf's prejudice against these...humans and other sub-races. In fact, he quite enjoyed their company, their zeal for the 'right-now'! This love of the immediate was what made Danoa Jaxa the Queen's obvious choice to undertake ambassadorship of Qualerin, in seeking aid from the cities of Men.

The Queen's voice had been adamant that he take on this great responsibility..

"YOU MUST do this, Danoa," she had cried.
"I do not see that i am in any way qualified to be an ambassador, Your Highness. I have little in the way of title, save the good graces of my mother, who has served you for hundreds of years...."
"And she is my cousin .. and as such - you are an heir to this throne!" The Queen tried.
Danoa had laughed, "I would say i am far down the line. You yourself have a daughter, a fair fair, young lady, i might add, that has both your grace and beauty,"

"Oh stop it, with your pish posh!" the queen had turned from him, and it was all Danoa could do to stifle a grin. Not many could get away with frustrating the Queen of the Elven Nation. The Queen had a soft heart for Danoa, and he knew this. "You see?!" She had said, "It is this smug, arrogant charm that the humans will like in you.. your bravado and confidence.. you do not share the elves petty disagreement with Men, and you have always expressed a need to travel beyond the borders of Elven Nation.. and besides this, my true ambassador know little of men - and more of The Drow - and trust men even less, and they do not believe that this Human Wizard could actually conjure a spell that infuses elvish blood in the human-wrought metal to endweomer their weapons..... " the thought had clearly shaken the Queen, for her hand had trembled slightly as she had wiped her brow. "Where as you..." she had paused, and Danoa remembered the thought that had crossed him mind...

"I am curious enough that it does not matter if i believe it or not... and I'm expendable..."

The Queen had smiled sadly down upon him, had touched his cheek, "I love you, Danoa .. And you are the only elf in all of Qualerin that I can trust to see this through."

It had been later on that week that Danoa Jaxa first met the jolly, barrel chest human sailor, Tiberius Karok. He was an honest man, an honest tradesman and an altogether exceptional player of Crealneen; an elvish card game which Danoa, himself, has seen many windfalls of gold coin playing.

Danoa Jaxa looked at the sad grey sky. A crack in the clouds finally let through a single beam of sunlight as shun upon the gates of Marrokville. He was 4 days overdue for his meeting with the good captain. He could only hope that The Harbinger had waited!

The End

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