Corvin had edged his way unto the table of the common room. It had fresh fruit, meat and mead a plenty. The Lord was wealthy, he could see that.
He grabbed a plate, and filled it with fruits and a bit of bacon. He'd still take glances at the beautiful elven girl every few minutes though.
He couldn't get her to leave his mind. He was lovestruck. That smile was all it took for him.
He shuffled towards a vacant table on the corner of the room. It wasn't far from the double doors Arikin went in, so he could see immediately if they were about to leave. Sipping a goblet of wine, he gazed at the beautiful elven girl.
Her hair waved through the air gracefully, as she started to show it off to her companions. They were talking cheerfully.
A few wealthy looking men, about his age, approached the elven girl. The other elves left, he didn't see where they were going, but for some reason, they only left the girl behind. The men were wearing doublets laid with jewels and apparel with shiny stones embedded in them. If they were in the sun, they would shimmer like glass, or so Corvin thought.
She smiled at the men, and after a few nods and bows, they talked and laughed. Cheerful jeers and jabbers filled the common room, while at Corvin's seat, there was only silence. His thoughts.
He noticed that some of the men gave the elf some flirty looks and comments. He looked away before he could see her response. His chest began to tighten. He felt stupid. He didn't even know the girl. She just smiled at him before, and that was all it took. He was smitten.
He smacked himself on the head.
"Don't be stupid Corvin.", he said to himself. He wished he was there. Talking to her, flirting with her.
He sighed. He can only imagine. He was an orphan with no family name. He didn't know who his parents were, just that he was raised by the orphanage in Galbrand, then tossed away when he reached his teens. The head of the orphanage brought him to the Rackety rachet, where he was abused daily. He grimaced, and took a huge gulp of wine in hopes he would bury the thought.
He stopped glancing at the group. Alone with his thoughts, the next few minutes were silent. Like the whole world just disappeared, and only him remained.
He took a couple of bites, and enjoyed the meal.
"Hey.", A feminine voice called.
Corvin looked up, wild eyed. He was sudenly plunged back into the world before him. "uh. Who?", He stammered. He didn't speak out loud, afraid he might scare the guest with his rough voice.
The voice giggled. "You silly..",
Corvin looked up to see the elven girl he was eyeing earlier. His heart skipped a beat. He was this close to her. She was eyeing him head to toe, although his toes were covered under the table.
"May I sit?", She asked, gesturing at the empty chair in front of him.
Corvin nodded, drops of sweat forming under his brows and forehead. He felt his cheeks glow red.
The girl took a seat.
Corvin glanced to where the girl and her companions were talking, but they were gone now. Only she remained.
He pointed at his throat.
"Disease?", She asked, curiously.
Corvin shook his head, and said in a low voice, trying hard not sound as bad. "It's damaged.",
"Ah.. Does it hurt?",
He shook his head again. "No.. Just afraid it might scare some people off.",
The girl giggled, her elven ears perked up in response. "Some people might.. But I don't mind..", she said, with soft smile.
Corvin's heart rate increased. Droplets of sweat now dripped behind his back. "Uh.. Okay then.. What is it you need from me, milady?",
"Well, well. He's polite too!", she said, as she grabbed a fan and started to use it on Corvin. "It's quite hot today don't you think?",
Corvin didn't think that at all. He was so caught up glancing towards the beautiful girl that he wouldn't notice if the world was ending.
He stammered. "Yeah.. I guess so..",
She held out her hand. "I'm Rania. Rania Aelana.",
Corvin scratched the back of his head, and stammered. "C-Corvin..",
"Corvin?", she said, waiting for more.
"Just Corvin.. I don't have a family name..", Corvin replied, blushing.
"Oh.. I don't understand human customs well yet.. Is it normal to have no family name?", She asked curiously, her ears twitching excitedly.
He wanted to touch those soft ears... Carress them, kiss them. He gulped, and shoved the thought in the back of his mind.
"Well.. I'm not sure.. I have a family name, maybe.. It's probably in the registers, but I myself, don't know.", he replied, shifting uncomfortably.
Rania nodded in understanding. She took an apple from Corvin's plate, and took a bite. Corvin shrugged, and the girl grinned.
Corvin scratched the back of his neck again. "You need something from me milady?",
The elf giggled again, the sound of it made Corvin's blood run faster. "I noticed you looking my way.. I thought you wanted to get to know me better?",
Corvin gulped. "I-I don't mean any disrespect!",
"None taken.. I don't have many human friends.. Ingrid says I have to make some here.. Whatever that means.. All I've seen are incompetent nobles that think they're the best at everything.", she murmured. "Oh, I don't mean you of course.. You are a noble correct?",
Corvin laughed. "I am no noble, milady.. As I've said, I have no family name.. I have no family..",
Rania's eyes widened, her ears perked up again excitedly. "Really? You are an orphan then? What are you doing in the Lord's estate? Do you work for him? ", she asked, in one breath.
"No, no nothing of the sort.. I was accompanying my employer.. The lord has summoned him. He's in there now.", Corivn replied, pointing at the double doors.
Rania gasped. "The Ranger?!",
Corvin nodded, and shifted uncomfortably.
"Are you his apprentice?", She asked, curiously.
Corvin was lost in thought again. He would want that. Apprenticing under his Arikin. Swordfights, fighting monsters, magic. He wanted all of that. He wants the excitement.
"Yeah, I'm his apprentice! I'm training with the sword!", Corvin said, wanting to impress the elf.
"Wow!", she exclaimed.
"uh.. Where are your companions? Lady Ingrid and the other elves?", Corvin asked.
"Oh.. They went somewhere to discuss some stuff. Politics, I guess. They didn't want me hearing the conversation..", She replied, looking down.
"Uhm.. the nobles?",
Time passed by fast. Corvin had forgotten the nervous tension he felt when she first approached him. Now, he talked as if he knew the girl long. Their talks were fluid, and the laughs weren't forced. Although, he told a few lies during those talks. He told Rania that he saved Arikin a few times from monster attacks, and that they fought a demon under the sewers side by side with the Ranger. Rania's astonished looks of amazement made Corvin lie a few more times.
He would feel it bite him in the ass later.
Lady Ingrid, slammed the table. She glared at Lord Rathkor with a snarl. "You think I would accompany this.. Rogue?! A demon?!",
It was only her, Lord Rathkor, Arikin, and the Seneschal in the room. The other elven warriors were outside the double doors, as they were asked not to disturb the meeting.
Rathkor had asked Ingrid to accompany Arikin to investigate the general's death.
Arikin breathed deep.
Rathkor stood up and glared at the elven woman. "I know the demons decimated your homes, your cities before. But Arikin, and all the other Rangers had no part in that. They are just humans with demon blood implanted in them! ", he hissed.
Arikin laughed. "Hold your horses ladies..", he said, glancing to Ingrid, and then Rahkor. "If the pretty elven woman won't come with me, it makes little difference. Sure, she may be a mage, but I am a demon, as she said. I don't need help Rathkor, but I appreciate the concern.",
"But the search may be quicker with her-", Rathkor stammered.
"She will only slow me down. Mundane tracking and magical tracking will not go so well..",
Ingrid nodded. "Well.. At least we agree on something, demon.",
"If you say so elf bitch.", Arikin said under his breath.
The seneschal chukled, covering his mouth. The elf heard it too, but ignored it. Rathkor's mouth twitched, grinning.
Arikin strode outside, Bennett, the Seneschal, followed after him.
The people inside the room were silent for a bit. Contemplating what would happen. If Arikin found the monster that assassinated the officers, what then? Can he make it in time before the Blood moon? Can the Ranger extract information from it? It is a beast after all. A beast serving an unknown master.
Just the thought of thousands of monsters wielding steel weapons marching on their gates sent shivers down Rathkor's spine.
He sighed deep. "I am done entertaining requests for today.. Where is Rania?",
"I saw her talking to the Ranger's subordinate.. The boy looks good enough, although I fear that he is a demon as well.", Ingrid said.
"The boy is not a demon. Nor is Arikin. I told you they are humans with demon blood. You can't blame them for what happened to your homeland. ",
"If you say so, Lord.", Ingrid replied with a bow,
"Well. I am quite interested in this boy. I think I'll have a friendly chat with him.. Coming with?",
Ingrid nodded, she was curious as well.
Corvin and Rania was still holding conversation, occasionally laughing and joking. The sounds of cheerful pats and laughs filled the common room. Rathkor approached them.
All of the room's occupants stared in awe as the lord went outside the meeting chambers. A bunch of whispers and mutters now replaced the cheerful aura that was once in place before. But the pair did not stop talking still, they didn't even notice that the Lord was at their table, grinning and laughing with them.
"Y'see, and then my cat ran away when he saw Arikin going up the stairs. You should've seen his face!", Corvin said, laughing.
Rania laughed as well.
Rathkor laughed too.
Then, it stopped. Both of them exchanged glances, then looked toward the new visitor.
"Lord Rathkor!", Rania stood up and bowed.
Corvin's face grew pale. He staggered upwards and bowed as low as he could. "uhh- My lord! ",
Rathkor raised his hands. "No need to be so formal with me, Corvin. I am Arikin's friend.. Come, Let's head in my private study. I have something I wish to speak to you about. You can join as well Rania. ", he said.
"Of course my lord! ", Corvin replied, his head still bowed. It almost hit the table.
Rathkor smiled at him. Rania nodded in return. She saw Lady Ingrid at the corner of her eye, but the elven woman just shrugged.
Corvin followed the group to a door leading up to a stairway above. It circled up, it was laid with red adorned carpets, and the handholds were smooth to the touch. He didn't expect his trip to be like this. Now he knew that Arikin was friends with the ruler of Galbrand? It felt like he was dreaming.
Rathkor lead the way, with Lady Ingrid walking beside him. Rania and he were walking a few feet behind them, but they were at each other's side as well, but the gaggle of elven and human guards surrounding them made contact a little bit uncomfortable. He felt like the guards would jump out on him if he attempted contact with Rania.
She tugged on Corvin's doublet. "How old do you think Lady Ingrid is?", she whispered.
"She's 156.", she answered in a low whisper.
Rania pinched Corvin's arm. She held out a hand over her red lips. A guard snickered, beside Rania. It was an elven guard.
Corvin now had second thoughts about the girl he's talking with. Was she older than him? To his eyes though, she didn't look older than he was. He risked a question.
"How old are you?", Corvin asked in a hush whisper.
She pinched his arm again, this time even harder. Corvin jerked his arm away, scowling at her. She just winked.
When they arrived upstairs, Corvin's breath was taken. Sparkling decorations were painted at the ceilings, expensive carpets were laid on the floor, and colored frosted glass were in the windows surrounding the halls. On the end were a large set of double doors, almost 3 times Corvin's length. It had beautiful oak planks with intricate carvins, and it was framed with sparkling steel.
The Lord then turned to them, smiling widely. He waved his hand to the guards. "Leave us..",
The guards exchanged glances. "Sire.. We must protect you-",
"Leave. Us.", Rathkor glared at them.
The guards nodded and slowly left the hall.
"Now.. Why don't we go in?", Rathkor said, grinning.
The interior was even more breathtaking. The study was huge. It had a dome shaped ceiling, with paintings of beautiful women, gods, and stars dotted the concrete. On the center, was a shiny crystal ball.
When Rathkor pulled a lever, the crystal burst into light, illuminating the room.
Shelves over shelves of books were all Corvin could see. The walls were adorned with expensive looking paintings, and monster trophies.
Corvin just stood at the entrance, his mouth agape, while the others went further and sat near a table in the center of the room, just below the glowing crystal ball.
Rania chuckled. Ingrid rolled her eyes.
Rathkor coughed and called out. "Mister Corvin.. Please have a seat.",
All of them sat, and Rathkor grabbed a bottle of wine from his robe. It was like magic. He just pulled the thing from under his chest.
The women poured themselves a glass.
Rathkor gestured to Corvin. "Wine?",
Corvin shook his head. He had enough back in the common area. "No thanks.. I get drunk easily. I just drank in the common area.",
Rathkor nodded in understanding. "Very well then..",
A couple of minutes passed by. A comfortable silence gripped the room. The ladies sipped their wine, and occasionally giving small talk to each other. Corvin was entranced with Rania's beauty again. Her blond hair waved down listlessly as she spoke. Her skin almost shined under the crystal ball's glow.
Rathkor noticed the young man's expression, and cleared his throat.
"ehm.. Corvin.. How long do you know Arikin?", Rathkor asked, out of the blue.
Corvin almost jumped out of his seat when the lord spoke. He didn't answer right away. He thought about what would be the best way to address the ruler of the city he's living in. He wondered if he would get drawn and quartered if he failed to show respect.
He swallowed a lump in his throat, and with a raspy voice he answered. "I haven't known him long, My lord. Although I know that he is a Ranger.", he then stood up and bowed before the lord.
Rathkor's eyes widened. He was surprised. The young man's voice, didn't sound like a young man's at all.
Corvin flushed, and pointed at his throat.
A look of realization filled the Lord's gaze. He nodded in understanding.
Rathkor waved it off. "No need for formalities young man. I told you, A friend of Arikin's is a friend of mine. ",
Corvin sat back down. Lady Ingrid, was stone faced. Rania giggled cutely.
His heart almost leapt out of his mouth when he heard that.
"On that note.", Rathkor added. "What are you opinions of rangers?", he asked, leaning forward, eyeing Corvin immensely.
Lady Ingrid perked up as well. She wanted to know too. Rania glanced at the Lord, then to Ingrid. Then, to Corvin.
Corvin can feel sweat forming on his back, and on his forehead. He gulped.
"Well.. For most of my childhood, they were my heroes. Fighting monsters, saving villages? What more could a young boy dream about? They are the best trained fighters in all of the Continent, trained to fight with almost all weapons, taught about how to kill monsters and demons-",
Rathkor chuckled. "That's what they do young man.. I asked about how you feel towards them..",
"Well, I idolize them of course!", Corvin replied immediately, his raspy voice echoed throughout the room.
He cringed, hearing his voice so loud, and in front of the Lord no less.
He stood up, and bowed. "I didn't mean any disrespect my lord.",
Rathkor chuckled. "No need young man.. But, do you really mean all of that? You haven't seen Arikin in action haven't you?",
Rania spoke up. "I'm sure Corvin's seen him in action uncle Rathkor. He is training him after all.",
Corvin cringed again. It wasn't true. He was so caught up in trying to impress her, he kept on spewing stories from out of his ass. He flushed furiously.
"Really now?", Rathkor said, rasing a brow. A sly smile, crept up on his face. "I see...", he muttered.
Rathkor then stood up, still clasping the glass with wine. He turned his back, gazing at the monster trophy. Corvin didn't see it quite well, but it had a wide jaw, teeth the size of his arms, and it was huge.
"You told him that you wouldn't leave him, correct? What do you think about the man himself? Do you want to run away from him? Are you repulsed by him? Just like the others?", Rathkor asked. "He's a demon Corvin. You know that right?",
Corvin's blood boiled. He didn't know why, but whenever someone speaks about his friend that way, he loses his temper.
Corvin stood up, a hand smacked at the wooden table. "I would never leave him!", he hissed. "He has done nothing but help me. Help other people. He kills monsters, saves people. Or saves whoever he can.. ", he paused, suddenly remembering the Bakers. He shook his head, trying to shove the thought away. "If you speak about him like that again, I myself will-",
He stammered, now remembering who he was talking to. His face turned pale, and his thoughts were now filled with images with him getting tied to a noose in the city square.
"Good.", Rathkor replied. "If you really mean what you say, then it is good you are with him. He has lost many friends. Many, betrayed him, left him. I think it damaged him.. Hard.", he sighed. "One look at how Arikin does his work, and they thought him as a bloodthirsty demon.. I myself, was one of these people.. I was young, and foolish. My ideals got the best of me.. The way Arikin fights, and kills.. It sent chills down my whole body. He was ruthless, unflinching..", Rathkor paused, then turned to the guests. "And above all, he enjoyed it. All of it. The killing, the bloodshed.",
Rania shifted nervously, so did Lady Ingrid. Corvin scratched his head, listening.
Ingrid coughed and asked. "But if that's what you think, why are you kind to him now? What made you understand?",
Rathkor scoffed. "If you only knew what the man's past was like, you'd understand Ingrid. The things he's seen, what he's been through.. He told me before, back when the Demon lord was still rampant, this world is like a game. .. But now, I think he's changed.. I can see conscience in him now.. ",
"What do you mean like a game? Like chess?", Ingrid asked curiously.
Rathkor shook his head. "Much, much different.", He sighed and raised his hand. "But never mind that...Young man,", he turned to Corvin. "If you really think that way about him, then stay with him. Care for him.. I did not mean any disrespect to Arikin, but I needed to know if you were really his friend.. Many he called friend had left, after they knew who he really was.. He needs it. I failed him in that regard, and I don't want to see him get hurt again.",
Those words echoed throughout Corvin's mind. Just what was Arikin? He hadn't seen the fight with the changeling since it was so dark.. But from the Lord's descriptions, it seemed that he himself was a nightmare.
He shook his head. He stood up, and cleared his throat.
"Arikin saved me.. Half dead.. In an alleyway.. I did not see clearly the fight that happened, but I did notice that he was joking after he killed the monster that was attacking me.. ", he paused, then glanced at the people in the room. They were all focused at him, Rania included. He blushed, and continued. "Then after that he took care of me.. Dressed my wounds, making sure I was fed.. The man you described Lord, was not Arikin.. But a past version of him. I think.", the last comment he said in a hush whisper. He shook his head and continued again. "That does not sound like the hero I know.. But if he did have a side like that, I'll still not leave him. I owe him a debt, one I intended to pay.",
Rathkor smiled. "Good..",
The other people in the room were silent. Rania, grinning at Corvin, ears perked up in interest.
Ingrid, on the other hand was staring blankly at the ceiling at scowling. It seems she didn't share the males' view on the Ranger. Nevertheless, she could not speak in disrespect if the Lord is right in front of her.
Corvin wondered if Arikin did have a side he did not know of. One with bloodlust and rage. He would soon see it though, as the blood moon was fast approaching.