Everyone went silent. The only sounds now came from the woman who was being held by her wrists and ankles. She swore when she saw King Vallinor, and spat as far as she could towards his feet. He looked down at the liquid on the floor and chuckled. But this chuckle was not a happy sound that one would hear from a child. Every syllable of the chuckle was harsh, dangerous. Mikael and his fellows shrunk back from the noise, and several of the Lords, Ladies and other members of court barely concealed their terror.
“So, this is how you repay my hospitality? By causing disruption amongst my friends,” he gestured around him, “and my servants.” His eyes bored in to Mikael’s briefly, and then he returned his gaze to the woman. “You would think the elves would have more manners than that.” With one twitch of his finger he signalled that the guards were to let the woman go, and she fell to the floor, landing in a heap. Almost immediately she darted to her feet; crouching like a cat and facing the King.
“We were taught manners for people who deserve them.” She mocked in that smooth, rich voice.
“Surely I, as your King, should therefore deserve the best of your manners?” He voice became delicate; something which Mikael could tell meant he was only more dangerous.
“A King is true and good. He rules over his subjects with fairness and equality; with compassion and dignity. You only rule because people are too terrified to fight against you; you rule with fear and cruelty. You are no more a King than the rats in your cellars.” She emphasised her speech by standing with her hands on her hips; she made an imposing figure, and was in fact slightly taller than the King.
“You are in a very dangerous position my lady. You are surrounded by people willing to do my bidding, and yet you speak as though you were invincible. Not even the immortal elves can boast that claim.”
“Your guards are no match for me, despite my lack of weapons. Wherever you have taken them I will have them returned, whether I have to destroy your entire army first or no.”
“They may be weak and pitiful,” he glared round at his guard, “but they are not the only ones willing to fight for me. And defying Vashnor is what brought you here in the first place, is it not?” A man appeared at the King’s side from nowhere. His irises were blood red, and black veins ran like streams across his face, all finishing at the edges of his eyes. Everyone in the hall shrank from him, and even the elf stepped back a pace.
“Master...” Vashnor, for this was he, spoke in a dry, rough voice which imitated the sound one would make if they were dying of dehydration. The raspy tones frightened Mikael more so than had the silky smooth ones of the King, but he stood his ground and watched on.
“Take our guest back to her room Vashnor.”
The creepy man gave a sinister grin to the elf and disappeared. There was a sharp crack and the elf woman flew across the floor, landing at the feet of one of the guards. He grappled her and was thrown across the room as she stood once again. This time Mikael could see her face. Her blue eyes were cat shaped, and high cheekbones framed her face. She was extremely beautiful, despite the trail of blood running down from her head. Vashnor stood facing her, and fire flew from his fingers. The elf was trapped in a circle of fire. She looked round, almost in desperation, and then caught Mikael’s eyes. In that one glance she seemed to find some form of answer. She glared at her attacker but put her hands on her hips and gave up. The guards rushed forward and put her in chains, taking her back to the room she had escaped from. Mikael followed the rest of the servants back to the kitchen, shocked over what he had seen. The man, Vashnor, seemed barely human, and his fire trick that stopped the elf woman was terrifying. Just imagining being unable to move because fire was surrounding his body put Mikael in a sweat. He could tell it would be his new nightmare.