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Runaway

by Kelson Hayes 2 months ago in Fantasy
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A Plea To Act

GIESSEN, GILAN

Autumn, 1E193

“Father!” Princess Eaïnne exclaimed, storming into her father’s throne room in a clamorous uproar. Snapping out of his reverie, the king stared upon his daughter to find her wrathfully approaching him at his throne, though he smiled grimly after seeing that she was pursued by his men who’d attempted to stop her. “The people of Eden and Graenor beg for your aid and support, yet our halls remain silent. The heartlands are oblivious to it all as if encapsulated within a dome and the west flourishes under our ignorance! Even the elves of the Aush Wood content themselves to bury the dead whilst these eastern pleas fall upon deaf ears!”

“Oh?” King Hässan stirred irritably as he stared upon his majestic daughter in the midst of her furious approach. She was attired in a brilliant blue dress that complemented her flowing golden locks, though he did not have time to appreciate her beauty as she fought back valiantly against the royal guards who attempted to restrain and remove her from the throne-room.

“And what would you have me do? You are young, foolish, and naïve— yet you would claim that I am the ignorant one? Do you truly believe our kingdom is unaware of the balance by which we prosper?” King Hässan snapped back after a moment, having lifted himself out of his golden seat to stare down upon his daughter below where she stumbled at the foot of his dias— finally grappled into a restraint by the guards who surrounded her. Smiling bitterly, he continued, “Oblivious—? No, never… We are all grateful and aware of the sacrifice that allows us to thrive, but what more can be done about it? The elves of the east are not the only ones to experience loss by the hands of our neighbours— their sacrifices are not in vain, though perhaps they’re deserved… Our thriving business in the west is what funds the soldiers of the east to defend our flourishing kingdom despite the foul orcs of the Gorgon lands that beset us. I cannot make more warriors materialise out of thin air and we simply can’t afford to hire mercenaries to aid us. Our neighbours are our problem, and more specifically, the are the problem of East Gilan— not us. Rather than complain, they should take it as motivation to work harder and be more vigilant!”

“How can you be so callous and cold-hearted? Have you no soul, or did you sell that to the Romans like your forefathers before you?” the princess snapped back harshly even as the guards began to drag her away despite her protests and futile resistance.

“How dare you! If you weren’t my daughter, I would rip out your tongue and feed it to you for such insolence! My soul died the day the east failed to protect your mother on one of her eastern trips to rally them and muster their morale! She was like you— optimistic, naïve, and foolish! They kidnapped her in an attempt to ransom her for reinforcements and it ended up being the death of her— even then, they still had the audacity to use it as an excuse to plead with me for more aid! They have one simple job and they couldn’t even perform it to protect the one person who actually cared— the one who kept their own interests close to her heart! They asked for aid I couldn’t afford to give and she went of her own accord to explain our own situation here in the west— those people deserve everything they get! After all, what could they possibly expect— a reward for their failure, incompetence, and mutiny? These are the ones with whom you would side? It’s their fault that your own mother is dead, so don’t you dare speak to me of callousness— you don’t even know the pain of having a cold heart!” King Hässan shouted furiously before calling out to his guards, “What are you lot standing around waiting for? Take her away this instant before I send the lot of you to the eastern front! Lock her in her room and have her meals sent twice daily until I say otherwise. She is not to leave her quarters under any circumstances.”

“Father— how can you be so cruel?” Eaïnne exclaimed as she fought back against her captors before turning her attention to the soldiers themselves, “And what about you— how can you idly stand by as your own people beg you to aid them in their dying breaths? How can you so blindly serve such a cruel king without the slightest hint of shame? You hide behind this façade of elegance and grandeur while brushing off the wretched monstrosities that ail our people to the east like a cancer! Just look at history— what became of Aenor in the north? When is enough finally enough? You’ll be the death of us all!”

“How can I be so cruel? Now I have had enough! Silence yourself about the things which you know nothing of!” the king boomed in a raging fury as he descended the steps of his dias to follow after the withdrawing gaggle of men. Although they had been late to follow through, they desperately dragged his daughter away as per his commandeven as he shouted after them, “You would speak of my cruelty and of the elves of Aenor, but what do you know of its fall? It wasn’t the abominations of the East that wiped out their people, but the neighbouring kingdom of men who exiled them to their deaths! You would say that my forefathers have idly stood by at the expense of our people, but you neglect to mention the wealth they’ve managed to secure for our people! Funds have consistently been set aside to secure our borders once and for all— it isn’t the inadequacy of the west that enable this eastern plague as you would call it! You can’t begin to fathom how arduous or expensive a task it is to construct a feasible wall in the midst of the war they wage to build it, but I can assure you— we have not been ignorant or idle within the bliss of this sanctuary that we established for ourselves. You might not see how hard my forefathers have fought or how thin I stretch myself to find a means of accomplishing this great undertaking, but perhaps the wall might be finished within your lifetime so that you can see for yourself the devotion and dedication of our lineage to the people whom we serve… In the meantime, however, if you can’t respect my rule as king as least have the respect for me as your father to be silent!”

“You think you’re so noble—?” the princess spat, biting the hand of a guard who attempted to stifle her before continuing with finality as they removed her from the throne room before turning the corner, “This kingdom flourishes by profiting off the backs of its people while you send our labourers to their deaths— all so you can justify your cowardice, selfishness, and apathy!”

“Remember— she’s not to leave her room for any reason! She can relieve herself in her own garments since she wants to act like such an unruly and childish brat.” The king called down the hall before slamming shut the doors to his chambers once again.

“And what are you looking at?” Hässan snapped at the guards nearest to the throne rooms entrance as he turned to make his way back towards his seat where it rested atop the dias on the other end of that vast marble room.

“Nothing sire.” The pair of elves rebutted to their liege from where they stood on either side of the massive Itanian olivewood doors that served as the room’s main entrance. The doors were inscribed with beautiful and intricate carvings surrounded by ornate borders that depicted the history of their people— starting with the birth of their kingdom following the construction of Castle Giessen in 1E42 and concluding at the birth of King Hässan, the current reigning king of Gilan and grandson of its founder, the trader-turned-king; Hämass*.

“Nothing—” King Hässan muttered, half to himself before continuing, “Nothing. I can’t even begin to express how that word irks me. What does that brat know? Nothing. What do you know? Nothing. What can be done? Nothing. What is the problem—?”

Falling silent the king closed the remaining distance between himself and his throne before staring down upon it in disdain. What more can be done about it though— really? The king contemplated as he lost himself in thought. The orcs beset us to the east despite all our efforts to repel them, yet if I were to send our armies to war it would spell the ruin of our kingdom. Rome is a greedy nation that would seek to profit from our struggles and they would see it as an opportunity to seize our lands at our most vulnerable… No! But then the Nardic Tribesmen are equally as bad, though I know their chieftain fancies my daughter…

“One of you— go check on Eaïnne. Make sure that she isn’t plotting anything that would cause me displeasure in her solitude.” King Hässan spoke up after a moment, addressing the guards at their post without turning away from where he stood glowering over his throne. She speaks heavily about serving our people, but soon enough it will be her turn to be put to the test…

*King Hämass was the founder of Gilan, reigning from 1E42-116. He was succeeded by his only son, Hasäd, who reigned from 1E116 following his father’s death until his own death in 1E178. It should be noted that the majority of Gilan elves did not have surnames where there were so few few repeating names, though they differentiated themselves by title, rank, or place of birth in such instances.

“Your wish is our command, sire!” the pair of soldiers piped up in unison as they both attempted to take the opportunity to free themselves of their king’s foul mood. This led the king to reprimand them, however, and so he sent his advisor in their stead to check up on her, telling his underling to relay to the guards that she was to be kept under constant supervision and at no times left unattended. Sighing to themselves, the pair settled back into their post at the throne room’s entrance. Under normal circumstances, they usually stood at the ready alongside a dozen of their fellows in rank and file alongside the pillars that lined the hall on either side of the majestic red carpet leading from the entrance to the foot of the throne’s dias. As it was, their fellows had abandoned them following Princess Eaïnne’s sudden outburst in an attempt to enact the king’s command. So it was that Hässan’s advisor departed as quickly as he could to follow his orders, leaving the pair of sentries alone with the king to watch over him where he sulked grumpily upon his throne following his daughter’s rude intrusion. Not wanting to disturb him for fear of the consequence, the pair distanced themselves as far from their leige as they could, standing silently beside the throne room’s entrance in the hopes of passing the rest of their shift by as quickly and uneventfully as possible.

EDEN, GILAN

Autumn, 1E193

“People of Eden; for too long my father has sat upon his throne ignoring the eastern plight that besets you! I have told my father that I will not stand for this injustice a second longer in my own efforts to bring about the change you have demanded for so long! No longer shall you hide in fear of the East! Together we can rise up and unite— it starts with us!” Princess Eaïnne cried out as she announced herself to the people of the eastern outpost who surrounded her. She’d nimbly weaved her way through the busy soldiers who populated the militant settlement in her efforts to make her way into the heart of the town where she presently found herself, surrounded on all sides by the elvish troops who’d stopped in the midst of what they were doing to stare upon the princess— dumbfounded in shock and awe by her presence there. The settlement was liken to a shantytown, comprised of the most basic improvised structures built out of whatever materials they could spare. Some of the houses were constructed out of brick and mortal in the town centre, though the majority were built out of wood and sheet metal. The settlement was liken to a fortress where it was surrounded on all sides by a wooden wall, reinforced with the same sheet metal plating that comprised the rooftops of their houses within. The metal, ironically enough, had been supplied by the king himself, though it was cheap tin acquired at a bargain price from the dwarves of Arken and sold to them third-party through the merchants of Rome.

This was the extent of the king’s assistance— his predecessors had given them brick and mortar to construct the wall along with their houses, though in the modern times they found themselves in, King Hässan sought to cut the expenditures of his kingdom by becoming more stringent in its spending. Brick and mortar was more expensive to transport from Arken to Gilan via the Roman merchants whom they were forced to conduct their business through, whereas sheet metal was not only cheaper, but also more practical to transport in bulk. In addition to this, Eden’s coast had been covered in dense woods prior to the deforestation that provided its inhabitants the protective wall and housing that Princess Eaïnne presently stared upon. The princess was unaware of these facts, however, the same way that she was ignorant to the politics of her father’s reign over the kingdom. All she saw was the same thing that every elf surrounding her saw of his efforts, which was nothing. He had nothing to show for despite all the effort he put into helping his kingdom to flourish, the same way that his people had nothing to show for despite countless decades of tirelessly toiling away at the construction of the Gorgilan border wall that would allegedly make all of their problems disappear.

“So the king has finally decided to send aid?” someone spoke up hopefully in response to the princess’ opening statement.

“Well… no, but—” She stammered as one of the settlement’s soldiers quickly cut her off mid-sentence to interject rudely with his own sentiments.

“So you ran away from home to throw us a royal pity party? If you only came here to offer sympathy and condolences, you can go back from whence you came. You have no idea the struggles we have endured while you spent your days drinking fancy wine and eating lavishly, sitting comfortably without fear or heartache— all while we’ve had to sacrifice our people and our lives to build that damned wall! You and your family have no idea what it’s like to live here in the east at the edge of the civilised world, yet your father has the audacity to complain that we aren’t working fast enough for his liking and treat us like half-breeds!” The soldier called out harshly, to which the princess stepped down from the crate she had clambered atop to address them.

“I haven’t come to offer my pity,” she rebutted slowly in a much lower tone from her initial greeting as she address the elf individually, “I came to respond to your issues as the Princess of this Kingdom where my father has failed you, his people, and the kingdom which he serves. Unlike my father, I do not look down upon any of you— I am no better than the rest of you and I will be the first to admit that you are the backbone of this kingdom. Without you, Gilan would have fallen over a century ago, sharing the fate of the Aenoreans. Instead, we have you to thank, so please allow me to help you as best I can. Just give me this chance— please.”

“So what is your plan and how shall you enact it?” another elf piped up as several others voiced their shared interest in the question.

“What?” Eaïnne was suddenly stricken shy with embarrassment as she stood speechless before her father’s subjects. Why are they so hostile—? I came here to answer their pleas for help! the princess thought to herself indignantly as she felt her cheeks burning bright red in the midst of her humiliation.

“Your plan! Your plan! What’s your plan?” several of the soldiers chimed together in unison even as the distraught princess attempted to recollect her wits about her.

“I’ve come to propose that we launch a campaign against our Gorgon neighbours and deal with them once and for all! What good has our people’s devotion to this wall brought us— what will it bring our children when we are wiped out and eradicated by our own inaction? They won’t exist because there won’t be a kingdom for them to exist within— these will become orc-lands, divvied up between them and the Romans once our people are no more. Perhaps if my father sees how readily you will defend yourselves and your kingdom, then he will have no choice but to send aid. After all, if you fail, then it will only spell out the demise of all of Gilan; he will have no choice but to meet your demands if you make the first move!” Princess Eaïnne stirred, pausing momentarily to catch her breath before continuing passionately, “We can fight them, for we have the superiority in arms and organisation. The orcs are divided and they fight for dominance amongst their own people whilst we allow them to gradually pick away at ours in our own preoccupation. Now is the time to proclaim that enough is enough— so what say you, people of Gilan?”

“So now it’s our fault then— that’s what the nobility thinks of the lowly barbarians who defend their border?” the surrounding inhabitants of Eden had turned against the princess despite her best efforts to muster them to her cause. “Why don’t you people solve you own problems— that’s all she has to say! We might as well just rise up against the royalty ourselves and offer them to the orcs as a peace offering!”

“No— that’s not what I’m trying to say at all!” Princess Eaïnne exclaimed desperately to no avail as the surrounding troops and labourers clamoured uproariously.

“Why don’t you go and see the efforts of our people for yourself before you speak on them!” the townsfolk shouted over one another in an attempt to be heard, “That’s right— how can you even speak of our troubles as if you know them when you’ve never even stepped foot in these lands?”

“It was my intention to rally you to join me in my travels to Graenor, though not for a simple pilgrimage as you would suggest. If you are unwilling to fight for your own liberation, how can you expect others to assist you? You have to be the change that you want to see— that is why I fled from my own father’s court to deliver this message without his knowledge, consent, or approval!” Eaïnne proclaimed, rising up to her full stature proudly as she regained her former air of authority and nobility once again, “So what say you, people of Eden? Will you join your princess in her noble crusade against the forces of darkness, or will you content yourselves to simply watch after me as I depart on my way?”

“Well, I suppose we should appreciate the magnificent view for what it is; after all, this is likely the first and last time that any of us will ever stare upon your ass unsullied while you are still in the world of the living.” a labourer laughed callously as he spat upon the ground following his remark. Many of their wives and children had fallen victim to the orcish raiders and slavers who beset them from the north, numbing and desensitising them to the harshness of life as opposed to the aristocrats of the east who were unaccustomed to such living conditions and hardships. Taking offense at the vulgarity of his inappropriate statement, as well as at the majority’s uproarious support of it, Eaïnne pushed her way through the surrounding crowd to break free of Eden’s bustling town centre.

“There she goes— off to tell the people of Graenor to save themselves!” one of the soldiers jeered as a handful of his fellows laughed whilst others chimed in with their own jokes and sarcasm. Watching after the princess as she fled from the town centre and towards the northern gate in the distance, none of them thought any deeper into her sudden arrival and departure.

Instead, they returned their attention back towards their own daily routines and duties. The town of Eden was one of eastern Gilan’s two permanent military outposts that served as the main hubs of the region for soldiers and labourers alike. There were other smaller settlements scattered across the fertile eastern plains, however, they were often more temporary in nature as they were prone to orcish raids and ransackings. Eden’s general population was predominantly comprised of labourers with an estimated third of the town’s inhabitants serving as their warrior protectors. It should be noted that the majority of Eden’s populace was male with roughly three hundred women amongst a total population of nearly 7,000. The outlying villages and settlements around Eden were home to another couple thousand elves, the majority of whom were farmers, labourers, and warriors themselves. So it was that Princess Eaïnne departed from that misogynistic place where she was valued for little more than her figure, making her way towards Graenor; the second-largest city in all of Gilan after the capitol. It was the main line of defense that kept watch over the labourers who toiled away tirelessly at the construction of the Gorgilan wall where it sat proudly upon the kingdom’s border.

GIESSEN, GILAN

Autumn, 1E193

“What do you mean, “Princess Eaïnne is missing from her chambers?” Where is her attendant!?! I want the head of the elf responsible for this absurdity!” King Hässan shouted vehemently at the royal guards whom he’d placed under a rotating watch outside of his daughter’s quarters. In light of the tidings they delivered, he lashed out at all of those unfortunate enough to find themselves in his presence at that dire hour.

“Sire—” one of the guards spoke up before quickly being silenced by his neighbour with a swift and well-timed elbow to the ribs.

“What is it?” the King snapped back irritably, glaring towards the trembling man with all the ravenous animosity of a hawk staring down its prey in the brief moment before swooping in for the kill.

“Nothing, my liege.” The soldier rebutted, speaking to his feet as he stared downwards to avoid the king’s wrathful and penetrative gaze.

“Do you think that this is a game— does it bring you amusement?” King Hässan exploded before turning to face the rest of his men, “I should send the lot of you off to the Gorgilan border! And why not? You let my daughter sneak off right beneath your very noses— it’s a fitting punishment for your incompetence, and perhaps it might even help you to hone the situational awareness that you obviously lack! You had one simple task— how could you botch it up so terribly!?!”

“My lord, please forgive us—” the elf who had silenced his neighbour interjected desperately, though in his wrath King Hässan would near nothing of it.

“Forgive you?!? How could I possibly forgive a band of fools such as yourselves?!? Are you really going to allow Eaïnne to follow in her mother’s footsteps and expect my sympathy!?! I should have the lot of you executed, but even that would be a better fate than any of you deserve! When I finally do figure out a fitting punishment for the lot of you, you have my personal guarantee that it will make you curse the unlucky day that you were brought into this world!” the king shrieked violently in his fury, wringing his hands as he paced back and forth in his best attempt to contain himself to think clearly in the heat of the moment.

“I don’t know of any other way to inform you of this, sire, but it would seem that it was no less than your daughter’s warden himself who conspired with her to deliver the princess from here to the Gorgilan border. Her room was ransacked of all its gold and jewelry that she surely must have bribed him with as payment for the deed… We’ve searched the entirety of the castle only to find that his absence further confirms our suspicions, but in light of this I can think of nowhere else that she would currently be heading…” The soldier spoke hesitantly, looking towards his fellows for some sort of cue to no avail before continuing reluctantly as he delivered his tidings to the king without so much as glancing in Hässan’s general direction.

“Excuse me?” King Hässan’s explosive rage had subsided for a deadly calm silence that followed in the wake of his question as his subjects looked between themselves expectantly awaiting someone to step forth and answer the question, “Surely my ears have deceived me— for it almost sounded as if you were unable to locate my daughter, but how could that be so, when her guards only had one simple command to follow?”

“Well it isn’t our fault that your daughter managed to successfully bribe one of your men… I think that what Finæl meant to say, my lord, is that—” the soldier’s companion had barely managed to utter his first few words when the king cut him off abruptly.

“Shut up— shut up! This is your fault and I will NOT be subjected to your pathetic excuses! You had one job and you failed miserably— it doesn’t matter how, when or why; the facts are plain to be seen! I’m not deaf and I’m most certainly not as dimwitted as the lot of you! Now make yourselves useful and round up the rest of your company— and while you’re at it, round up the idiots whose incompetence allowed her to escape on her fool’s errand! I don’t want to see any of your faces again until Eaïnne is in your custody and her bastard warden is dead! Don’t even dare to think of shirking away from your duty or I’ll behead each of you myself and have your corpses tossed to the orcs!*” King Hässan’s booming voice reverberated throughout the throne room as he relayed his demands to the elves he deemed responsible for his daughter’s disappearance.

“Have I not made myself clear, or were you simply standing around waiting to be dismissed like the useless band of idiots that you are?” King Hässan snapped angrily in closing before violently waving them away, “Go on— hurry up and begone!”

“Well, you heard him lads; let’s get going while we still have the autonomy to do so…” Finæl muttered to his companions as the rest of the guards proceeded to follow suite in departing from the king’s palace as quickly as they could.

“You bastard— this is all your fault!” a fellow soldier replied irritably as they made their way out of the palace and into the castle’s surrounding city.

“How do you reckon that? I’d say it’s Princess Eaïnne’s fault if anyone is to blame at all.” Finæl rebutted before continuing, “Come on Andolfin— at least try to enjoy the present… things are only likely to get worse from here on out.”

“What’s there to enjoy about the present?” Andolfin snapped back in response as one of their fellows scoffed bitterly, “You say things are about to get worse as if they weren’t already worse than the worst case scenario from the start. Things are about to get worse— ha! It’s going from bad to miserable to awful; as soon as we pass through the first gate we’ll be stumbling headfirst through the impoverished masses to race towards our deaths in the wastes.”

Fantasy

About the author

Kelson Hayes

Kelson Hayes is a British-American author and philosopher, born on 19 October 1994 in Bedford, England. His books include Can You Hear The Awful Singing, The Art of Not Thinking, and The Aerbon Series.

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