“We never should have come here.” Serilyn turned away from the door, knowing a pair of armed and armored elves would never be let through. She tapped the hand-and-a-half hilt of her ancestral blade and steered Pili’quais away before the nearby guards could take real interest in them.
Pili’quais sighed and set his large hand on the small of her back. “We had to come here.”
“The humans don’t want us here. I don’t want to be around them either. They stink worse than goats.”
As they walked down the street speaking their native tongue, a pair of well-dressed lovers edged around them, the young man squeezing the girl’s hand and keeping her away from the elves.
He shrugged. “You know why we came and why we have to see this through. Let’s try the other side. Maybe it’ll seem less imposing.”
Running her thumb over the etched message tube from the Elven Council, Serilyn grimaced. “They should have sent word ahead so we’d be expected.”
Arching an eyebrow, Pili’quais gestured at the town with his thick, muscular arm. “When should that word have been sent?”
Her grimace fell into a scowl. They’d been dispatched only this morning, sent as far as the mages could manage on short notice to deliver an urgent message to the King of Keryth. A precious treasure had been stolen from the Council Court, and the Elders believed Keryth sponsored the thieves. Were it worth starting a war over, Serilyn and Pili’quais would be leading a raiding party instead of fomenting diplomacy. She would have preferred the former.
“I don’t like this duty any more than you do, Beloved.” Pili’quais stopped in the middle of the road and crossed his arms over his barrel chest. “We should walk in through the front gate and demand an audience. I prefer sneaking around at least as much as you do, but this isn’t the time or place.” His hand twitched, and she knew he longed to reach up and grab his bow from his quiver for the comfort of having it ready to fire.
Still scowling, Serilyn glared at him. “We should wait until nightfall, skulk over the walls, and deliver the message as a warning and a threat. They’ve already fired the first arrow.”
“We think they have.”
She’d seen the evidence and thought it proved the Crown’s complicity. “You give them too much benefit of the doubt.”
He chuckled. “You’d rather kill them all and let Mysariel sort things out. But once I shoot a man in the neck, he’s remarkably difficult to question. The dead won’t lead us to the thieves.”
“Fine,” she snapped. “The front door.”
He pulled her close before she could storm away and kissed her. As always, his passion and care calmed her temper. “Let’s not start a war, Beloved. We’re the messengers this time, and you know what can happen to messengers.”
She sighed and led the way to the front doors, ready to throw them open and demand all the privilege of ambassadors.
Lee French has published several fantasy and superhero novels, and is a member of the Edgewise Words Inn staff.