“Gentlemen,” Aldrynte said as she arrived, taking a seat at the spot Alice had owned just a few mere moments ago. “I saw Alice leaving. Is she okay?”
“Yes?” Aldrynte said, turning her gaze towards her father.
I coughed. “Yeah, she left. Everything is over, after all. I stayed so I could thank you, and talk to you about a different matter.”
Aldrynte gave me a sweet smile. “Well. Let’s handle the first part then?” There was a moment of silence. “Well?”
I remembered. “Thank you!”
“You’re very welcome. It took a lot of effort because someone came to me without long notice. But yey, we did it!”
I nodded. “But I do have to admit, your voice is… beautiful.”
“Oh, thank you,” Aldrynte said, giving me yet another smile.
“You wanted to talk about something else?” Elbert finally asked, looking at me.
“Yes! Do you still have the chest I gave you and asked to safeguard very closely?”
“Yes, of course,” Elbert said, nodding.
“Well. I need it now. Maybe we should move to your cabinet or something? Somewhere safer, that is,” I said, looking at Elbert.
“We can move to the top floor to reduce the risks? Be assured, I can hide anything you show me with magic. It’s probably a lot more comfortable either way.”
“Very well.” We all stood up. “I’ll go to the top with Aldrynte, then.”
“I’ll catch you in a few,” Elbert said.
And we all walked to the stairs, except Elbert went down, while I and Aldrynte went up. Compared to all the other balconies, the top one was most private. It’s usually meant for important people or meetings. Even during the concert, nobody was allowed to go there. And it was the place I could find Elbert most of the time. It felt like he lived there.
Of course, the top-level had one problem or perhaps a good thing - depending on perspective; the music from the stage didn’t reach the top balcony that well, which was designed to be like that. The idea was that the stage needed to be more of a noise, not a distraction.
As we got ourselves seated, we looked at each other for a moment. We couldn’t help but smile.
“You disappeared very suddenly. Nobody knew where you went. And then you appear a day later with all those news and requests,” Aldrynte murmured, looking away from me. “I was.. worried.”
I gazed at her, slightly blushing. I hadn’t expected that. “I didn’t expect any of this either. It was supposed to be a low-level adventure. I didn’t think that I would end up… like this. But maybe it’s good that it did.”
“And that is why you surprise me. I feel nothing from you, yet you... Wait a minute. Oh.” She genuinely looked surprised.
“What?” I asked.
“I feel something from you. This new aura. You have either grown, or you can’t hide your aura that well,” she said, smiling.
It was a surprising moment. Even I didn’t expect to hear that. And then I realized what was going on, or what exactly she was picking up.
“Oh, yeah.” I pushed my hand into my pocket and removing my hero’s emblem. “I assume that’s what you’re feeling.” I placed the emblem on the table. It was still lit up, slight light reaching around the table. But it was no longer anything strong. At least compared to the time when I had it in the tunnel.
Aldrynte picked it up and examined it. “I didn’t know that they-”
“It’s not magical. I did this,” I said, ever so proudly.
Aldrynte’s eyebrows rose slightly. “I’ve never heard of anyone who has power like this.”
“Well, if there’s a power of darkness, there should be light, right?”
“That’s the theory,” she responded, nodding. “But yet history has recorded not even a single case.”
“Well, I did try to keep it as a secret, but you caught me. I poured too much magic essence into it during the quest. The light still hasn’t disappeared. Might as well let it burn itself out,” I said, looking at the emblem, and her hand. I reached out my hand, placing it slowly on top of Aldrynte’s hand, slowly taking the emblem. Her hand was soft, as expected.
“You’re a mysterious man. Maybe this is why I like you,” she said as I took the emblem.
“You like me?” I muttered.
For the first time, Aldrynte seemed flustered. “Eh, you know, mysterious way and all?”
“I’m just teasing you,” I said, smirking.
Aldrynte frowned. She wasn’t happy by my tease, or perhaps the way she responded to my tease.
But before she could say anything, Elbert returned, a chest between his hands. It wasn’t a fancy looking chest. Quite the other way around. It looked quite simple. The idea was to keep attention away from it, after all.
He carefully placed it at the center of the table in front of us and got himself seated at the opposite side. “So, love-birds. Ready to get down to the other business?” Elbert asked, smirking.
“Father!” Aldrynte almost hissed.
He laughed once more. “I couldn’t resist. So, what’s that thing?”
I nodded, taking my emblem and pushing it inside the keyhole which one side was shaped like one side of my emblem.
“That’s interesting,” Elbert muttered.
“The keyhole, or the light?” Aldrynte asked.
I turned the key. Sounds of clicks began to sound from inside the chest. It was a special chest that could be only opened by my hero’s badge. It was a thing that was made a long time ago, and many heroes had used it before me.
Click. And then there was silence.
“Before I open it, I wanted to ask about it first. Have you ever heard of an object named Elder Heart?”
Both Aldrynte and Elbert looked at me, seriously. “This is a name I haven’t heard for a long time,” Elbert whispered. Aldrynte kept staring at the box.
“I told it to nobody, but this was the true villain’s purpose. He wanted to get his hands on this object. And this is what Bill sacrificed himself for. I managed to get it just before Thomas, the villain, could.”
“Hin told of it to the First Dragon, but never to any of kings. He said it’s an object of greed, and none of the kings could handle it. We were told not to tell of it to any other heroes unless they brought it up themselves. If they did, it would mean it was time. But none of the heroes have. So, we have only told of it from one observer generation to another,” Elbert said, leaning back.
I finally got my hand on top of the chest, pulling it open, I could feel how our surrounding turned darker by Elbert’s magic. He was casting some kind of magic to make sure nobody could see or hear what was happening here. A large seed became visible, carefully paced between some other soft material.
“The name doesn’t describe the object though. If anything, it’s an abstract name; like a code name. It’s really the Elder Seed. But I would name it even better. The Seed of the Fallen God.”
Both Aldrynte and Elbert looked at the seed, thinking.
“So I’m aware,” Aldrynte said, nodding and gazing at me. “Then the fact that Bill sacrificed his life was no exaggeration. It would’ve been a catastrophe if it had fallen to the wrong hands.”
I stood up, walking to the nearby table, taking hold of a bottle of wine. “May I?”
“They are there for that reason,” Elbert responded. “And while you’re at it, be dear, and pour us some too,” Elbert's voice echoed to me. I nodded. I opened the bottle of wine and poured it into three different glasses. I returned with them, placing them on the table, taking a sip from one immediately.
“There are many questions I want to ask about this seed, and about Hin as well.”
“And we might have some answers,” Aldrynte said, taking a sip herself.
Her hand reached out towards the chest. It almost felt like she was about to take hold of the seed. But instead, she closed the chest. The moment it was closed again, we could hear how clicks began to echo inside, as the chest closed itself. The slight darkness around began to disappear as well. “But we don't know everything. Hin did give us some information, while some other comes from the first dragon himself. But neither did tell us everything. But I’ll try my best to help you.”
“But the fact that it’s now on this table is a huge problem,” Elbert said, looking inside his wineglass. “A lot bigger than you can expect.”
I nodded. “And this is why I am here. I need to talk about it to someone. And I could only think of you two.”
“A wise choice,” Elbert said.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
You can read my stuff and shorts at reddit.com/r/Elven
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