John W Partington
suspend disbelief - have an adventure

An Elven Tale: Balance of Power (Vol. 1)

The Great Hall was silent. The King sat upon his throne while lords and ladies were ranked in pews before the dais. Beside the King was a smaller, more delicate throne meant for his Queen, covered by a thick layer of dust. Unused for almost a century, the King had decreed it would remain untouched until rightfully claimed by a spouse. The King had no prospects he chose to pursue. Nevertheless, the palace servants dusted the throne every few decades. After all, a point is reached when a tribute to a lost love becomes an unsightly mess.

Leaf looked about him with great apprehension. He was seated in the centre pew of the first row. He was seated on the bench reserved for the highest nobles, bravest knights, and the First Prince.

Leaf looked at his half-brother seated on his right. Regent was the son of the King and the first Queen. Regent was also the heir to the Elvish realms, and the King’s Knight Defender. The title of Knight Defender, having been recently granted, placed Regent as the highest-ranking warrior in the court. While not as powerful as some high lords, Regent still held considerable clout.

Regent was tall, as all elves were, but had such a drawn frame that it seemed that if a wind blew the skin would be whisked from his bones. His face was gaunt in appearance, with drawn cheeks and deep brown eyes that reminded Leaf of bottomless pools filled with murky water. Regent’s ears were also a little blunt for most elves’ liking. It looked as if Regent were constantly on the verge of an illness. Despite the fact that he was whole and capable, he appeared weak and sickly with a waxen pallor and slightly too greasy hair.

Regent, of course, knew he was despised by most of the court for both his appearance and his political aspirations. Instead of trying to conceal his defects, Regent chose to flaunt them. His hair flowed in thick strands to his shoulders with the sides and bangs tapered away so as not to block his vision in battle. A large top knot was bound at the back of his scalp so a heavy mane, like that of a horse, flowed to the centre of his shoulders. Regent kept his mustache in a thick handle-bar which he waxed daily to raise the ends into sharp barbs instead of drooping ferns.

Leaf suspected that most human females would find Regent attractive, even desirable. Indeed, Regent had bedded more than a few of the slaves without the use of too much compulsion. It caused Leaf some worries when he had first discovered his brother’s sexual appetites, but as Regent pointed out: they were slaves; he had every right to use them as he saw fit, and if there were complications an unfortunate accident was not unheard of. Regent had also pointed out that it was no concern of Leaf’s what the First-Prince did.

By all accounts, Regent was a truly despicable person. Not necessarily evil, but definitely not nice. Most suspected Regent’s disagreeable personality was the result of his mother’s early death. The first Queen had died when Regent was fifteen years old, considered by elves to be barely out of swaddling. For some reason the King blamed Regent for her death. Regent was forced to grow up fast, and grow up hard. While skilled in both sword and sorcery, Regent’s greatest talent lay in the manipulation of the political strings attached to the various lords. Too late the King realized he had raised a son that he could not love or trust.

The King's admission of his failure with Regent also explained his indulgence of Leaf. A decade after the Queen's death the King had been touring the outskirts of his kingdom. When passing through a village he spotted a nubile Wood nymph that for one lustful night brought him out of mourning. Leaf was the result of that passionate night.

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