Hello hello! I am back with another tale from the realm of Lunnoor. Not terribly much happens this story. But, well, I guess you will have to read it for yourself.
He turned the helmet over and over in his hands. The one oil lamp in the tent gave everything in the tent a golden glow, just barely keeping out the dark of the night.
Beldon touched the helm to his forehead. Two days of searching with a grumbling Lannie at his side, and this was all they had to show for it. One small bit of proof that Belissa had vanished into the fairy realms. His stout hearted sister, the one who faced every danger with a sword in her hand, coerced away by pixies. He should have been there, his aching heart cried. But he knew better. Someone had to stay to make sense of the chaos his father had left behind him. The elder took on the parents burdens, while the younger went off to war.
Beldon gently put the helmet back on his bedside table. This was all that was left of his family. The once illustrious family of Beldon reduced to a half rusted helmet and one son. And it would end with him. Some glorious battle he would find himself on the front lines, and on that day, he wouldn’t look back. Was else was there to do with a son who had lost everything?
- * * *
“So what was I supposed to say?” Lannie paced back and forth in front of the kings throne. The lamp light pooled around her feet, she was walking through golden water. “He held the helmet like it was a lifeline, and sorry was not going to be enough!” She grabbed the hair on each side of her head and pulled. “I just stared at him like a loon, and hoped that a faerie didn’t come right at that moment.”
She spun on her heel to face the king, “What would you have done?”
“Some grief is too deep for words,” the king said with a sad smile. An opened letter lay on his lap, momentarily forgotten when his daughter stormed into the room.
Lannie released her hair, but she sighed and nodded. There should have been something she could have done. Hadn’t she seen family after family get the news that there loved one had died in battle? “How was this different?” She muttered and frowned at the king without realizing it.
Again and again she had found the words to say to grieving families. The ones who crowded at the door with smiles to receive a letter, only for their hopes to be killed by a single piece of paper. And then, when faced with one man in the forest, everything left her.
“Did you find the faerie gate?” The king asked. Lannie jolted from her reverie, and in her confusion answered before she thought.
“We did.” She winced and looked down at her toes. The one subject she had been hoping he would not bring up. “Though it doesn’t matter now, tomorrow we will be too far to send scouts, and we can’t spare an expedition.”
The one she and Beldon had been on was only sanctioned because the army needed a rest, and because he petitioned the king every day. Every, single, day. The only person who went to the king more was Lannie. Would that all change now that he had what he wanted?
“So it wasn’t destroyed?” The kings voice was gentle, which made it worse.
“We were close,” Lannie looked down at her dusty boots. “I could hear the whispers. I would bet my sword it was just around the bend in the stream.”
She trailed off. She loved her father, she would do anything for him, say anything for him. She took a deep breath and plunged on. “I drew my sword, ready to destroy the accursed thing. We were so, so close. Except I didn’t dare go alone, and Lord Beldon refused.” Lannie scowled as she pictured his grief stricken face, shaking his head no matter what she said.
“Why did he refuse?”
“He said he wasn’t ready,” Lannie growled. Her anger burned away all her earlier sympathy. “That now was not the time. And he wouldn’t move.”
Despite all her cajoling and convincing, she even yelled, and he stayed rooted to the ground, staring at his sisters helmet.
“Did you command him?”
Lannie squeezed her eyes shut, she didn’t want to see her fathers disapproving face. “I shouldn’t have. I was angry, and afraid that any moment the whispers would take him too.” She took a deep, shuddering breath. “I commanded, and he walked the other way.”
In the space of a moment, her angry words had cost her an ally. As soon as they had left her mouth, the words had tasted of ash, a taste that filled her mouth all the way back to camp. Beldon would never word with her again.
“Royalty is not a right to leadership,” the king began.
“It is an opportunity to serve,” Lannie muttered and slowly cracked open her eyes.
The king was not angry, though his eyes were sad, and that was worse.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I will go apologize.” Though it would nothing but appease her own conscience. Her and Beldon’s alliance was beyond any repair.
“Stay a moment and look over this map with me,” the kings rose from his throne and gestured to the large parchment map on the table. “Where is the faerie portal, do you think? And do the scouts need to be warned?”
- * * *
Beldon unstrapped his sword and laid it on his cot. Then he paused, staring at it yet not seeing it. Lannie had wished for it to spill faerie blood. She did it every day, marching through the forest as if she could not hear the whispers. Could she not hear the voices that dragged down his geet and made his efforts seem useless?
He could hardly speak because of them in the forest, and she wanted to go farther. Beldon shook himself and began to unbuckle his leg braces. Their alliance was over. She would never consent to work with a man who heard every whisper. Who may someday follow in the footsteps of his father and sister.