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Hard Priorities

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“Draconarch”, the guard bowed, “an agent of the Lucid respectfully requests your excellency.”

 

“Have him proceed”, replied a deep, smooth voice.

 

A lithe, older looking moon elf stepped smartly around the guard, fell onto his left knee and bowed his head without once glancing at the other person in the room.

 

He was dressed in his green armor, still dirty from days spent in the field. The tips of his ears and the top side of his arms were sunburnt.


An ornately gloved hand motioned the guard to leave.

 

“We had not expected to see you alone, Legate Helmond.”

 

“Excellency...”, he started, but the hand cut him off, gently.

 

“We do not insist on formality, you appear to be pressed for time. Report what you must.”

 

“The traitor and the intruder are still at large with the prince.”

 

The elf caught the disappointed, questioning glance of a matte, golden eye.

 

“Then why are you here?”

 

“I must request the assistance of the Auxilia. Following the fugitives, my band has encountered a human party, marching east.”

 

“How did they pass through our border guard?”

 

“I do not know. It is a small party, no larger than a double strength Octuria. Armed heavily. I believe they may be looking for the dragon prince as well. During our best chance at capturing Runaan’s charge and the human, they interfered and we had to retreat. The band is led by Kel Ortis of Del Bar.”

 

“The Predator is known to us. She has carried out many attacks in Xadia. We understand you did not challenge them?”

 

“We were not equipped to do battle with a force this well-supplied. Any attempt would have yielded nothing but our own bloodshed.”

 

There was pensive silence. Helmond looked up. In front of him stood the interpreter of the male moon dragon’s will. Dressed in ornate white robes, he was staring off into the middle distance, his lightless eyes darting in his pale, furrowing face. “This is concerning news, once more. They are getting bolder.”

 

Turning towards Helmond, the Draconarch clasped his hands, his expression now warm and accepting.

“Thank you, Legate. The Predators Ortis are a problem on which we shall deliberate further within the Auxilia Senate. You are dismissed - unless you have something to add to your report?”

 

The elf studied the ground.

 

“May I address the interpreter privately, your excellency?”

 

“You may - for but a moment, Legate. We have other commitments.”, The Draconarch lowered his head in assent.

 

When she looked up again, her expression had hardened and her eyes had a fiery sheen. “He has departed. Speak.”, her voice sharp and determined.

 

“Interpreter Chalise, I feel it is necessary to mention that the fugitives seem to have a…”, his eyes darted for a moment. He then spat, “A `relationship` that exceeds mere companionship”

 

The ruler’s eyes narrowed slightly.

“Elaborate on that for me.”

 

“I’ve heard the traitor revealing her inner world”, he lowered his voice to a forceful, incredulous whisper, “Under. The open. Sky! Talking to the human as though he was... a desirable equal!”

 

Chalise seemed shocked. While she paced for a moment, Helmonds gaze followed her.

“Should they be seen fraternizing by the commons… Legate, I have always swayed the vote against sending envoy on the premise that our people would not be capable of finding common ground with the Abusers. It would challenge our leadership at a time where we cannot afford any dissent.”

 

“If not that, it would at the very least raise old, uncomfortable questions we believed ourselves beyond”, Helmond sighed, “Humans are evil and any closeness with them is an affront to our way of life. There can be no doubting this, not even for the commons! I also want to stress that Legate Runaan’s charge is fully educated in all our traditions. She understands what she is doing!”

 

“Who knows?”

 

“No-one but myself. I had my band trail me by several minutes for this exact reason.”

 

“You will relinquish command of your unit to Legate Astilliar.”

 

“Interpreter...”, Helmond pleaded but was once again silenced as she strode across the hall and bode him to stand. She placed a hand on his shoulder and leaned in to whisper quickly in his ear.

 

“I place my innermost in you. In you alone, Helmond. Erase Runaan’s failure. Return to me no-one alive but the princeling Azmondias. Go now. I must not make him wait.”

 

After the Legate had left, Chalise breathed evenly. Her regent’s paternal presence flooded her mind once more. She felt her expression become welcoming and her posture straighten.

 

“If I may inquire what cultural matter has taken your time, Interpreter?”, came the bemused inquiry.

 

“Merely the protection of good family values, my lord.”