Hello!! I went though and I redid the beginning of this particular piece of writing and I wanted to know if it reads well, so I am going to go ahead and ask my friends and readers how it reads. See anything amiss, let me know!! Thank you so much!!
Jerrick wondered where Kerrick was. While Jerrick had had to stay behind at the palace at a meeting of the High Laudriss, the leading council of their people, the Driss, Kerrick had gone off on a hunt. Jerrick had to admit, he was a bit jealous. As his father’s eldest son, he was obligated to care for his people as the man who was now their king, but he wished he had the freedom that Kerrick had. The current meeting was about the Trow, dark elves, and the Tresser who were their henchmen who had always hunted the Driss.
“Our scouts have informed the council that the Tresser have been seen Camping in the valleys just South of here. If they should come any closer to Lunaris…” Reger was one of the oldest Driss on the council of the High Laudriss. He was one of King Merrick’s most trusted advisers, and Jerrick had continued to trust him. “Our king led us to this safe haven in the North, away from the horrors of the Trow who have always made war against us. We would all be gone, if not for him.”
“And our good princes built his palace for him.” Said Wulfnoth. A younger Driss who was closer to Jerrick’s age. “We will not be driven from this place as well. If the Trow and the Tresser find us here, we will be done for.”
The other ten members of the High Laudriss agreed by nodding. “we must strike them first.” Reger said. “We must keep better watch and destroy any Trow or Tresser that come into the valley. This is our home!! It may not have the magic that once protected us in the Crystal Fortress, but it is strong, and we will not be driven out again!!”
“I will give the order to the guards and the scouts.” Jerrick said. Any Trow or Tresser seen coming into our domain must be destroyed. All must be killed. We cannot afford to lose what Kerrick and I have built here.”
“Of course.” Regen said. “Our king is young, but he is wise.”
Young? Jerrick did not think himself young. He was fifty-five, just had come of age five years earlier. He had two years on his brother Kerrick who was fifty-three. I suppose that is what young means, Jerrick thought. We are still young among our people.
“Now to our second order of business.” Wulfnoth said. “We have decided to gather the rest of our people. I would ask that our king choose an ambassador to send out into the lands in order to gather our people back to us. We have been scattered by misfortune for too long. We must consolidate our kingdom and people. Who do you choose, your Majesty?”
Jerrick thought about it for a moment. Whoever he sent might be gone for a long time, as the Trow and the Tresser had spread their people thin. Who could he trust with such an important mission?
The door burst open and Fanna, the head of the guard came into the war room. He was dressed in his armor and had a grave look on his face. “Fanna, what is it?” Jerrick asked him.
Fanna bowed. “Your Majesty. We have received news that there is a band of Tresser camping up in the mountains, near to where your brother and his friends are hunting.”
“What?! How did this happen? How did they get past our defenses? I suppose that doesn’t matter now. Now we must go and save my brother. Bring my armor!!” Jerrick cried.
“Your Majesty, you cannot go with them.” Regen said. “You are king. We cannot risk our king on something such as this.”
“He is my brother. I must go to him.”
“Yes, he is your brother, but the risk is too great to our King.” Wulfnoth said urgently.
Jerrick decided that Wulfnoth was right. He looked over to where Fanna stood, still in the doorway. “Go. Bring my brother back to me.” He said and he sat down dejectedly in his seat at the head of the war room.
“I will, your Majesty.” Fanna said as he bowed once more and left the room.
“Carry on” Jerrick said to the councilors, thought he really didn’t care anymore what they had to say.
Kerrick loved his friends and, in all truth, he wasn’t much of a hunter, but he enjoyed being outdoors having a good time. He knew his brother Jerrick was a bit jealous that He had so much freedom, but Jerrick was king now, and his responsibilities were great. Plus Kerrick did not do this kind of thing very often. He wouldn’t pass up an opportunity though. He and Jerrick had spent so much or their youth wandering at first, and then when they had settled, they built their father a palace from which to rule. It wasn’t extravagant or anything. A simple building of stone and wood. Still, it was home, and they called it a palace because it was home.
Then, a few years ago, soon after Kerrick had turned fifty, their father had died. After that, he felt as though he was almost alone, as Jerrick was busy taking care of the palace and kingdom, and he was just…there. So the best thing to do was to get out, even if it were just for a little while.
The game seemed to be sparse that day, which was odd, because these woods always seemed to have something to offer. They had managed a few quail, a deer and a fox, but everything else seemed to have gone into hiding, as if they had disappeared. As they camped that night and cooked their quail over a fire, Kerrick couldn’t help but wonder why. “The game was sparse today,” he said to his friends. “That is unusual, don’t you think?”
“I suppose,” said Gen. “Then again, the season is changing and it will be Winter soon. They may have gone into their Winter hiding places?” Gen was slightly younger than Kerrick, and wasn’t much for hunting either.
“No.” Said Riin. “The forest seems to have emptied itself. Tat is very unusual. Not many things can have such an effect. As if they have been driven out.”
“Driven out?” Kerrick said. “But what could do that?”
“Evil.” Riin said. “They sense things that we don’t. Evil can have such an effect on them.”
“Evil…” Kerrick said. “You do not suppose that it is Trow?” He asked worriedly. If it were Trow, they would be in great danger out here in the open, as Trow could see and move easily in the dark, and the Driss could not. That was how the Trow used to conduct their massacres, Coming in the night and killing all they could while taking some and leaving only the grieving and wounded behind. A memory came to him, but he pushed it away. He did not wish to remember that right now.
“If it is, we are definitely in danger.” Riin said. He was an older Driss who came with the two younger Driss as chaperone. He knew all about the Trow and the Tresser. A scar down the left side of his face told an ugly tale of a dark encounter with them. “I think it would be wise to put out the fire.”
“Agreed.” Kerrick said. “If they do come, at least they can see us less clearly and we can see them more, if our eyes adjust.”
“Keep your swords at the ready.” Riin said. We cannot leave this place tonight, it would be too dangerous to travel at night. But we might be able to defend ourselves if we stay here and keep our backs to each other.”
“Right.” Kerrick said worriedly.
The fire was put out, and all the three Driss could do in the dark was wait. Every sound, every snapping twig, or rustling leaf put Kerrick on edge. He stayed close to Riin, but knew that if they did come, it would be hopeless. And come they did, and hopeless it was. All he saw when they did was shadows, and the flashing of knives in the moonlight. Kerrick heard Gen scream, and knew he was dead. Then he himself was grabbed, and he was thrown against a nearby tree. The air was knocked out of him, and he had to regain it before he could do anything.
Soon he knew that Riin was gone too, and they came over to where he lay, and lifted him off the ground. His energy had not returned, and he was sure that a few ribs might be broken. When they lifted him, he just hung there, waiting for them to kill him. Instead, one of them ripped the brooch off his cloak. That brooch had on it their family crest. The Trow would probably know it. Apparently they did because, instead of killing him, they bound him and took him away into the night.
Kerrick woke to find himself in a cave that was lit by a fire. He was bound hand and foot, and his broken ribs made sitting upon the hard floor very uncomfortable. Still he had to do something, so he sat up and looked around the cave. There were about ten Tresser in there, and at least one Trow. Man, he assumed. It was sometimes difficult to tell due to the fact that both men and women had the same pale skin and ragged teeth, as well as the black hair. Trow lived in the earth, for the most part. They lived in great cities under the ground in almost complete darkness. Still that didn’t stop them from hating just about all of the other races, especially Driss.
When the Trow saw that Kerrick was awake, it came over to him. They all wore similar white robes and walked elegantly like normal elves, or so Kerrick was told, as he had never seen elves before. Still, this creature was elegant. It came and knelt down in front of him. It reached out its hand and ran it through Kerrick hair. “Light hair.” A distinctly male voice said. “That is unusual for Driss, isn’t it?”
“I guess.” Kerrick said. “I don’t really think about it, as it’s only hair.”
“You are a lovely thing.” The Trow said. “But I have only seen women with such a hair color.”
“Yes, well if you were looking for a woman, you’re out of luck.” Kerrick said defiantly. “Why haven’t you killed me?”
The Trow continued to play with Kerrick’s hair. “You’re not dead because I don’t want you to be dead yet.” It said. “Your brother is king, isn’t he? And I have no doubt that he’ll come for you.”
“What does it matter?” Kerrick asked, becoming annoyed at the handling.
“Well, If he comes for you, I can kill him and you and be done with the entire royal Driss line, now can’t I?”
“My brother is not that stupid. Someone may come for me, but it won’t be him. Now get your filthy hands off me, you piece of shite!!”
The Trow knotted his fingers in the blond hair and pulled at it savagely, causing the Driss to cry out. “He may not be stupid, but you are. So very, very stupid.” The Trow yanked at Kerrick’s hair viciously. “If I were you, I would shut my mouth.”
“You’re filth! Let me go!!”
The Trow gave Kerrick a hard back-handed slap to the face, causing the Driss to fall over sideways. The Trow then ripped a long strip from Kerrick’s cloak and wound it around his head, gagging him with it. It wound a bit of hair in it’s fingers and yanked it out, roots an all, causing Kerrick to cry out again. “Stupid Driss. I will rip it all out before you die.” The Trow then walked away and left Kerrick to his misery.
Jerrick had said he would not go, but he could not leave his brother’s rescue to anyone else. He had to rescue Kerrick, and he would. He had already found the bodies of Riin and Gen. Following the trail of the Tresser in the early morning light would not be hard, as the creatures had not even tried to hide their trail as they made their way through the forest. In some ways, they did not have to. They were holding a prince now and assumed that they would have no need to hide for long. When he rescued Kerrick, he would prove them wrong.
The trail led up into the hills, which was not surprising since there were caves in those hills, and it would be the most likely hiding place for the Trow and Tresser. The Trow spent their days living underground. While they could walk under the sun, the preferred not to, since the sun hurt their eyes. That meant that they would probably be in a resting state at this point since they had been busy during the night and the sun was bright that day. He just had to find the cave they were hiding in. He crept up the hillside, watching for any sign of movement. He had not brought his armor as he had intended. He knew if he was going to do this he had to be as stealthy as possible, and armor did not make for stealth.
Jerrick thought he was being very quiet as he made his way. He was just about to check out another cave when suddenly, he was grabbed from behind, a hand covering his mouth. He was pulled into the shadows behind a rock. He was turned to look upon the face of his captor and when he saw who had taken him, he was both annoyed and relieved. The hand was removed from his mouth. “Fanna.” He said. “I am glad to see you.”
“I’m sure you are. And I am unhappy to see you. What are you doing out here, my King?”
Jerrick was embarrassed and still somewhat annoyed as he straightened himself up. “I had to come. Kerrick is my brother, my responsibility.”
“No.” Fanna said. “Your Majesty, you brother is our responsibility. You know I would have taken care of this. Do you not trust me? Do you think so little of my abilities?”
Jerrick shook his head dejectedly. “No, I do not doubt you, Fanna. However, Kerrick and I have always taken care of each other. I could not leave him out here.”
“I understand, your Majesty.” Fanna said. “Anyway, it’s too late for you to turn back now. We are almost upon them. There is a crack in the hillside some way above us. I believe that is where they are. I will scout it out. When I return, we will formulate a plan, and we will go in and get him.”
“That sounds good to me.” Jerrick said.
“I will be back soon.” Fanna said as he made ready to leave. “It shouldn’t take long. Wait here for me.”
Jerrick nodded and Fanna was off.
Fanna returned a short time later with news. He sat down behind the rock beside Jerrick. Jerrick was anxious to hear what the older Driss had to say.
“They have your brother and he still lives. He seems to have suffered some pain, but not so much as to incapacitate. Still, getting him out of there will not be easy. The cave houses about ten Tresser, and at least one Trow. It is well guarded so devising a plan may be difficult.”
“What are your thoughts then?” Jerrick asked worriedly.
“I have thought of a plan, but it poses much risk to you.”
“What is it?” Jerrick asked.
“That I lure them all out somehow, and while they are out of the cave, you sneak in and free your brother.”
“You’re right, that’s a slightly insane plan. However, it could work. Would it be better if I did the luring?”
“The purpose of luring is to get the majority of those you lure to follow you. It would be too dangerous for you. But if I can get most of them out of the cave, that would leave fewer of them to fight when you get in there. Also the chances that my men will catch up to me as I lead them on are good. It is safer for you to sneak in. Do you have anything bearing your royal insignia?” Fanna asked.
“There is a crest on my waist-coat I do believe.”
“Really? That’s an odd place for it.”
“My mother made this waist-coat for me for my fortieth birthday. She was very proud of me. She died not long after that. And my father died. Driss can barely stand to lose their mates sometimes. Their mates cling too closely to their hearts and when one goes, the other feels as though they must follow.”
“Yes.” Fanna said. “I know this. We Driss are very…” He searched for a word. “Romantic?”
Jerrick lifted an eyebrow in surprise. “Romantic?” He said as he began to take his jacket off. “I never would have thought that we were romantic. Still, I suppose it fits.” He took off the waist-coat and handed it to Fanna. The other Driss put it on.
“It is almost mid-day.” Fanna said. “This would be the best time to put our plan into action. Are you ready?”
“Yes.” Jerrick said. He didn’t know if he meant to say that or if he was merely trying to appear brave. Still, he had no other choice. “Let’s go.”
Fanna made his way up the hill, and Jerrick was not far behind. Jerrick satyed hidden in the shadows as Fanna stepped in front of the cave opening and shouted. “I am Jerrick, son of Merrick!! Come and get me!!” Thankfully, it worked, and the Tresser took off after the Driss as he ran back down off the hillside. Jerrick went to the cave opening and peeked inside.
At first, he saw nothing. He did see where Kerrick lay tied up, but he did not see any Trow or Tresser. Jerrick tip toed into the cave, hoping that he was right and he would not find his enemy in there. He made his way over to where Kerrick lay, and tried to untie him, but he was grabbed from behind and thrown aside. Jerrick hit the wall hard as he was tossed across the room. It too a bit for him to regain his air. When he had, he looked up to see a Trow towering over him with his brother Kerrick in its arms and and a knife to the Driss’s throat. Jerrick tried to get to his feet, but the Trow kicked him in the gut.
“I suggest you stay down, my small friend. You will not be rescuing anyone.” Jerrick lay still as the Trow took a step back, holding his brother tightly, and the knife close to his skin. So close that a bead of blood was escaping from a small cut. “As you see, I have your prince. I just wait for my Tresser to come back with your king. Or maybe they were mistaken. Maybe this rat at my feet is a king and the other Driss was merely a decoy? Thinking is not something the Tresser do especially well. However I can see in you what I need to. The elegance, regality.”
Once again, Jerrick tried to get to his feet. He was able to, but he could make no move against this creature, not while it held Kerrick. Plus the creature stood about three heads taller than Jerrick. Driss were small people. Not as small as gnomes or halflings, but small, nonetheless. Kerrick’s feet were held high off the ground.
“Why are you doing this? Why have you even come here?” Jerrick asked.
“You know the answers to these questions.” The Trow said. “The Driss are an abomination that must be wiped from this world. We will do this.”
“We’ve done nothing to you, Trow. Please, just let my brother go and I will let you pass from these lands unharmed.”
“You and I both know that you can’t make that promise. I am sure you have already put in place laws that would see all of my people destroyed.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, really I don’t, but if you don’t put my brother down…”
“Your brother…He is a stupid Driss, but I have grown rather fond of him. I think maybe when I kill you I will take him with me and keep him as a pet.”
The Trow tossed Kerrick aside, the Driss landed with a thud on the hard rock below. The Trow lifted its knife and attacked Jerrick. Jerrick was just able to fend it off with a sword hastily drawn. But the Trow was strong than him and incredibly fast. He would not hold out for long against this creature. He dodged blow after blow, attempting to stay out of the way of the Trow’s blade, but he was finally struck in the left shoulder, and fell to the ground with a cry. With a triumphant look on its face, the Trow lifted his sword, ready for the death-blow. And then it stopped, mid-swing. The bloody tip of a sword protruded from its chest. The Trow dropped the knife and fell forward. its was dead.
Kerrick was the one who had struck the blow. He walked up behind the Trow and pulled the sword out of its back. “It’s so very wise of them to just leave weapons lying about.” Kerrick said with a smile. He helped Jerrick up.
Jerrick was pained, but he knew that they had to move. “We have to get out of here.” He said to his brother. Kerrick nodded and they ran from that place and waited for Fanna’s return. Fanna arrived soon after with reinforcements, and the knowledge that all the Tresser in the band had been killed. It was over.
Back at the palace, Kerrick sat with Jerrick in the kitchen. The two of them liked the kitchen because it seemed that it was so much more private than the banquet hall. They sat and ate together and drank and talked about everything. And then the conversation got serious.
“Kerrick.” Jerrick said. “The council of the High Laudriss wish to re-assemble our people.”
“Splendid!!” Kerrick said. “And how do they propose we do that?”
“They wish to send an ambassador out into the world to gather them. They asked me to choose someone to send.”
“And have you made a decision?” Kerrick asked.
“Yes.” Jerrick replied. He looked into his brothers dark eyes and said, “I have chosen you, brother.”
“What?!” Kerrick said, astounded. “You want to send me?”
“Yes I want to send you. I think it would be good for you to go out into the world.”
“Did you ever think for one moment that I wouldn’t want to?” Kerrick asked.
Jerrick thought about it. Then he realized that he hadn’t really thought about it. He just assumed that Kerrick would accept the assignment. “No, I didn’t think of that. Are you saying you do not wish to go?”
Kerrick gave a nervous laugh and said, “I don’t know. It’s a heavy decision to make. And you’re just kind of springing it on me. Have you told anyone else?”
“Have you considered anyone else?”
Jerrick took a swig off his mug of ale. “No.”
“And you think I’m the best man for the job?”
“I think you’re the only man for the job. You’re a Driss prince, one of the last of the royal line! They will trust you, Kerrick.”
“Is this what you want?” Kerrick said.
“Yes. Will you do this for me, Kerrick?”
It was a bit unfair, Jerrick knew. He had given Kerrick basically no other choice. His brother nodded. “If this is what you want, then I will go.”
“You have my thanks, brother.” Jerrick said. “You have my thanks.”