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Archives: Trials of the Half-Elven

Chapter 7: Arrival in Shinning Hill

    After stopping to stay the night in Meale the night before, Olula and her companions were now nearing the gates of Shinning Hill. It took a good part of the day to get there, but the sun hadn’t set yet. Before leaving Meale, they had sold some of their horses, since they no longer needed the speed. They were able to get plenty of gold for the four horses they sold; Trent, Kiran, Olula, and Thangroth’s. Krisatris still rode Dara, but she insisted that she didn’t want a horse once she had recovered from her wounds and that Olula could keep Dara. That money, along with what they already had and what they looted, was enough to afford them inn rooms and equipment for quite awhile.

    As they approached the city, Kiran paused. “I don’t want to risk the guards, so I will be invisible,” he informed the party, before summoning invisibility spirits and disappearing. Olula took heed of his caution and threw up her hood again; just enough to cover her ears, but not hide her face. With the dark elf concerns covered, they continued.

    “I want to try and gain an audience with King Reona. I don’t know if I can, but I have to try,” Olula spoke aloud.

    “Understood,” Thangroth replied to her. “But first, we need to get some lodgings and dinner. Kris still needs to get her wounds healed too.”

    Olula nodded. “Of course.”

    As they came up to the gates, Olula’s heart started pounding her chest. What if they decided to check her ears? Or if they somehow checked to see if they were being followed by Kiran? All her fears were relieved, however, when the guards barely gave them a second glance.

    Thangroth followed Olula and the dwarf fell in stride beside her as he noticed her movements become stiff and unsure. She was nervous, so the dwarf took the initiative and spoke, “Easy, there’s no need to worry. There’s no fop here...least there better not be.” He was still furious at the Lord of the land for having put them through so much. But the dwarf kept his temper and didn’t pay the guards a glance as they strode on.

    “I hate it when they do that,” Trent grumbled as Kiran summoned invisibility spirits to make himself disappear. He tried to use his other senses to pinpoint the dark elf was but lost track in less then a minute. He then noticed Olula was visibly agitated, most likely at the prospect of getting run out of town again, or worse.

    Olula exhaled deeply when the guards didn’t change their minds. The tension that her party members notice dropped as well. “Let’s find a temple to take Kris to first. I still need to find a courier for Derrick’s letter,” she said, then paused curiously. “If we take her to a temple, would they be hesitant to heal her wounds if they were punishment? Or would they be sympathetic to our story?”

    Thangroth nodded. “Aye that’s sound thinking. I’m thinking a temple would be apt to heal her even if they do have questions. They’re usually willing to help an injured soul even if the circumstances of the injury seems a bit questionable. We need to get her treatment for those wounds more than we can give. And if we need to leave and travel a bit it might be better for her to be healed.”

    Olula nodded to Thangroth’s advice. “Then let’s find the nearest Falis or Marfa temple,” she said. As they continued walking down the main street, Olula was too shy to ask for directions, afraid of what would happen if someone were to find out that she was half-dark elf. “Thangroth, could you ask someone where a temple is?”

    Thangroth nodded and they walked along, passed the entrance to the large city. The dwarf walked over to rather stout looking fellow who was busy loading the back of a wagon with several bags of grain. The dwarf spoke in as hearty a voice he could manage, “Would you know where we could find a Temple of Marfa or Falis?”

    The man stopped and turned to look down at the dwarf as he wiped his brow. He spoke in a rather deep voice as he gestured passed them just up the street, “Aye that I can. If ye go just past me ’ere to the east, straight up there just past Iron Shield Square, ye’ll pass a temple of Rada and it’ll be on the far upper left side of the square ’tis a Shrine to Falis. If ye wish the temple of Marfa...” He turned and gestured down the street just passed him and said, “Just go passed me down to the north here and turn east at the last street. Make sure not to take the first two and turn right as ye head eastward. As ye do, ye’ll see the temple to Marfa to yer left.”

    The dwarf tried to take it all in and nodded as he replied to the man, “Thank you.”

    He turned back to his companions and explained the directions to them to the best of his ability. “Well which one? Marfa or Falis? There’s a temple to Rada here too, but I didn’t ask him where exactly.”

    “Falis. It sounds easier to find,” Olula replied. “Kris?”

    Krisatris just shrugged, then winced at the soreness on her back. Hopefully it would be gone soon. “Either is fine by me.”

    Olula nodded. “To the Falis temple then,” she said. With their destination decided, the party moved on, deeper into the city. The Iron Shield Square was a massive market place, filled with carts, stands, and pens for livestock. However, once they entered the square, they could see the spires of the Falis temple across the city. Olula tugged her hood down a little lower and fell back into the center of the group, hiding amongst her friends. No one disturbed them though, aside from some hawkers trying to sell their wares.

    Once they reached the temple steps, Olula looked up at the shinning marble building and said a prayer; “Falis, please allow your followers to see beyond my skin and ears...”

    Flora stopped behind the group and watched Olula pray, then looked at the group. She looked around and then noticed that Kiran was missing. “Kiran?” she asked softly.

    “He’s disappeared to avoid trouble,” Trent silently told Flora. “Skilled elves can call upon spirits to make themselves invisible. Most don’t use it irresponsibly as far as I know. Then again...” he added out of jest. “There might be shamans all over the place, watching your every move.”

    Flora listened to Trent. “I see,” she said.

    Olula helped Krisatris off Dara after she said her prayer. “Will someone stay with the horses?” Olula asked as she began to led Kris up the steps.

    Thangroth scratched his beard, then spoke up in a deep, hearty voice, “I’ll stay with them. I’d prefer to do so. Mayhap I can ask around for a good deal on some supplies.” He looked at his other companions to see if anyone had any objections.

    Olula glanced over her shoulder and nodded to Thangroth. She left Dara standing at the base of the stairs, knowing the mare wouldn’t wander. Even if both horses stayed put, they didn’t need to risk some pickpocket rifling through their saddlebags. Olula and Krisatris continued to the temple entrance. If Trent or Flora wanted to follow, it was up to them.

    As Olula stepped into the temple, she paused, took a deep breath, then slipped her hood off her head. It was disrespectful to go into a temple with a hood or hat, and Olula hoped that at least priests of Falis would give her a chance. There were two priests in the chapel, waiting for visitors. The temple mass wasn’t to be held for a few more hours yet, so there were no parishioners. When the two priests saw the half-elves enter, they quickly went to meet them. Olula held her breath and held on tightly to Krisatris’s arm for support.

    “How may we be of service?” the elder priest asked, sounding apprehensive as he looked at Olula.

    “My friend needs healing,” Olula replied quickly. “She has been traveling wounded since yesterday afternoon.”

    The priests seemed to relax a bit, but not entirely. “Show us your wounds, dear,” the priest spoke to Kris.

    Krisatris nodded, then unclasped her cloak. Olula took the cloak off Kris’s shoulders to keep her from straining too much. Krisatris then reached to remove her hauberk with some difficulty. Gritting her teeth, she pulled up the leather armor and slipped it off over her head—with a little more help from Olula. She turned around, revealing the lashes on her back that showed from beneath her shirt.

    “Oh my...These are from a whip! Have you committed a crime?” the priest said, sounding rather indignant. “If you are a criminal, we cannot heal you.”

    “Please Father,” Olula pleaded. “She is the victim of an unjust crime. Yesterday, I was banished from my village by a cruel lord, merely because I am half-dark elf. I am nothing more than a simple barmaid, yet I was punished for being something I cannot change. Krisatris stood up for me, and because of that, she was lashed.”

    The priests both listened intently to Olula, weighing her words carefully. The younger priest turned to the elder, and confided in him; “I believe she is honest.”

    “I do as well,” the elder replied. “Many children such as her were born after the war, and some only see the evil of their Falaris cursed parent. This girl is no more evil than you or I, only the victim of a tragic misjudgment.”

    Olula bit her lip as she felt tears well up in her eyes. “Will...will you heal her?” she asked softly.

    “Yes,” the elder priest replied. He held his hands over Krisatris’s back, and spoke a prayer. A holy aura emanated from his hands and Krisatris’s wounds began to slowly heal.

* * *

    “I wonder...” Flora said softly as she looked at Trent and Thangroth. She got off her horse and stared at the temple. “Now Keyo, stay here alright,” she said, walking up to the temple. When she entered the temple, she saw Olula and Krisatris. She step to the side and listened to what they were saying.

    Trent decided to follow the others into the temple, having never been to a house of Falis, or any stone hall for that matter. Plus, it might have helped to have one more person plea for aid. The temple was large and drafty, yet it had a heavy smell of incense that burned in Trent’s nostrils. Fortunately it was quieter than the rest of the town, which he found much too populated for his taste. The young ranger breathed a near audible sigh of relief when the priests agreed to help them, he figured that Kris was in danger of an infection with all the traveling they had been doing. “Thank you,” he said to the priests with a nod of respect.

* * *

    Thangroth waited outside with the horses. The sights and sounds of the city were like music to him, at least the sounds of an anvil were. It made him think of his brothers and family and the dwarf smiled for a moment, but only for a moment. The dwarf let all such thoughts melt away and kept his mind about his business. Placing his large hammer beside him, he watched their gear and horses and keep an eye on passing pilgrims.

* * *

    Olula glanced back to see Flora and Trent had joined them in the temple. “Thank you,” she echoed Trent, bowing her head to the priests.

    Krisatris straightened once her healing was finished and turned a few times at the waist. It was good to be flexible again! Turning around, the half-elf bowed to the priests and thanked them as well. She took her hauberk back from Olula and pulled it back on, then took her cloak.

    “You are all quite welcome,” the priest said with a warm smile. Turning to Olula, he regarded her sympathetically. “I will pray for you my dear. What is your name?”

    “Olula Remel, sir,” she replied.

    “Take care of this girl,” the priest addressed her three companions. “She will face many hardships, as will you all while you are in her company. As you have all learned, much of Kanon is not very accepting of half-dark elves.”

    “I will,” Krisatris assured the priest after she fastened the broach of her cloak. “She’s taken good care of me after all,” she grinned at Olula.

    Flora looked up at Trent, then she sighed and looked at Olula and Krisatris.

    The priest frowned at Flora when the girl simply sighed and looked about, ignoring what he said to her.

    Flora watched the priest frown. She slowly walked over to him then bowed. “I am sorry,” she said, looking up at him. “Excuse my behavior,” she said, looking back at her group. She smiled as she turned back to the priest. “I too will take care of her,” she then paused and got a little excited. “I will try to take care of all of them.” Flora blushed after she spoke, and she stepped back and looked at the ground. She had so much more to say, but her shyness caught her before she could say it. Flora held her lavender hair as she blushed a little more.

    “I’ll try,” Trent said with a trace of doubt in his voice. “I’m not a soldier or a bodyguard, I don’t know how to fight or defend something. I’m a hunter, I just kill things. But I’ll try.”

    The priest seemed pleased by the responses. “All I ask is that you try. Do all in your power to help those who cannot help themselves,” he advised Trent.

    Olula was blushing with the attention being paid to her. “Thank you,” she said meekly to the priests and began to back away.

    “Farewell and Falis’ blessings upon you,” the priest spoke to the group, then turned away and began to lead his younger counterpart back to the altar.

    Olula turned to Trent and smiled. “Don’t worry, I believe in you,” she assured him. The half-dark elf started toward the entrance to the temple, offering another smile to Flora in thanks. Krisatris followed along with a bounce to her step. Obviously, she was feeling much better.

    Flora turned around and followed Krisatris and Olula. She was happy for what she said and was glad that she gained a little courage. She spoke a silent prayer to Falis as she followed the two girls. “Thank you,” Flora said as she looked up and smiled. “Where are we going now?” she asked toward Krisatris.

    Krisatris looked up and pressed her finger to her chin as she thought. “ find a messenger, I think,” Krisatris replied. “We still have to send that letter to Derrick’s parents.”

* * *

    After leaving the temple, the group continued on. With a little more help from locals, they were able to locate a courier service. Olula felt a little more confident after her visit with the priests, so she was willing to speak to the courier. Upon arriving at the small shop, Olula fished the letter, map, and jewelry out of her saddle bags. “I’ll be right back,” she said to the group, then entered the building.

    The half-elf tossed back her hood, revealing her long elven ears. Immediately, she was afraid she made the wrong decision; the man behind the counter obviously tensed. “Can I help you?” he offered, though he sounded hesitant to speak with her.

    “I need to send a letter to Alania,” Olula said, sounding as meek as she possibly could. She laid everything she needed to send on the counter, but he stared suspiciously at the jewelry.

    “Fifty gold,” he said coldly.

    Olula’s spirits dropped. She didn’t have that much! It seemed like an outrageous price as well. She had never sent a letter by courier before, but it certainly couldn’t be that expensive! “That’s...more than I have...” she protested weakly.

    Thangroth cleared his throat and stepped to the counter. “Fifty gold? Have ye no discounts for a lad slain? We did loose a valued companion and wish to inform his kin of his passing.” He glanced up at Olula then fished out his coin purse and put down the remaining difference. “That should cover the rest of the expense.” It was coin he’d been saving for other things, but money could be replaced. This was far more important.

    The clerk barely concealed a sneer as he quickly scanned over the coins on his counter. The dwarf met his exorbitant price, and there was little he could say to change the price. He quickly scooped up the coins and poured them into his apron’s pockets. Obviously still displeased with having the half-dark elf to deal with, he scooped up the jewelry she had set down. “These go with yer letter too, eh?” he asked. He turned the ring to examine it, and suddenly the stone in it flashed, though there was no light source behind him. His bushy eyebrows raised in surprise. “I bet you stole these. Maybe yer sending them to yer fence!”

    Olula’s hand shot out and she plucked the ring and necklace out of his hand, then held them close to her chest. “How dare you! These belonged to my fallen friend! I only want to send them back to his family, in case they’re precious heirlooms!” Olula accused the clerk. She couldn’t send them through a man like this, he would probably steal them and sell them.

    “That’s not nice little lady,” the clerk growled. “You can take yer business elsewhere if yer gonna snatch things right outta my hand.”

    Olula held her tongue, though she wanted to accuse him of discriminating against her. “I want my money back!” she insisted.

    “Ain’t yer money now. Get out of my shop before I call the guards!” he warned.

    Trent was sickened to the core by the clerks greed, it seemed that everywhere he went there were more dishonorable humans. He wanted to do something, but he didn’t want to get Olula into trouble. The only thing that brought about any measure of justice so far was the point of his arrow, but this was a crowded city and he knew that any violence would only mean the noose for him and probably the rest as well.

    “Cha Za curse your greed!” he spat out with venom in his eyes. He knew that words wouldn’t make any difference but he needed to strike out in some way. “You’ve no more honor than whatever is rotting in your breath!”

    Thangroth kept his temper, arguing with the man wouldn’t work. The dwarf was shrewd when he needed to be and he said, “You should give her her money back good fellow. You could call the guard, yes, but how well would your business fare if word got around to the temples and outside of a certain money changer who is dishonest and would take advantage of a young girl who merely wishes to do a favor for a fallen comrade.” The dwarf met the man’s eyes and he waited on his reply.

    Flora walked in then saw Trent and Thangroth looking mad. “What’s wrong?” she asked as she walked to Olula. “Is something the matter?”

    Staring ahead at the clerk, Olula replied to Flora, “First, he overcharged me, then when Thangroth paid, he accused me of stealing Derrick’s jewelry. When I tried to take it back, he told me to get out and now he won’t give us our money back!”

    The clerk snorted. “Feh, what temple would believe some dark elf half-breed over me?” he argued back. “Now git! All of ye!” He grabbed a broom from the corner behind the counter, then stepped out and began to prod at Thangroth’s belly with the end.

    Flora looked at the man. “You have no right speaking about her like that,” she said, getting really mad. “We will leave after we get back our money,” she said, slowly walking over to the man.

    Thangroth grabbed the end of the broom and held it securely then spoke with a growl. “Mayhap we’ll see about that! I say call the guard, she’s paid good money and we demand service! Ye’ll do what she asked or give her her money back…or I’ve half a mind to make you eat this broom.” He was barely holding his temper in check and the dwarf’s grip on the broom didn’t lessen one bit as he gave the man a cold stare.

    The clerk growled and tried to yank the broom handle out of Thangroth’s hand. Finally, common sense was taking over. These people were armed, he wasn’t. It was best to just comply. However, he had no intention of letting go of that fifty gold. “Fine! I’ll mail yer damn letter,” he grumbled. He pulled his broom free of Thangroth’s grip and tossed it aside.

    “I don’t trust him,” Olula said loudly, so the clerk could hear. “I bet he’ll throw it out when we leave! I think we should find the city guard anyway.”

    “You steal from a girl, insult us, and now you expect us to trust your honor?!” Trent snarled. “Return what is not yours and spare yourself the world of grievance that you now face!”

    Flora nodded her head in agreement.“You’re right Olula,” she said, walking closer to the clerk. As she came closer, she giggled evilly. “You should listen to the man,” she said, stopping in front of the clerk. “I think you should return the money. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the safest thing too,“ she said getting ready to attack him. Flora reached for her bow and arrows. She don’t want to kill the man nor hurt him, she just want to scare him a little She slowly took out her bow and arrow and waited for him to do the right thing.

    Thangroth’s hand shot out and he held it against Flora’s bow. The dwarf spoke sharply to the young woman in a commanding tone, “No! Don’t you dare do that. We just want him to mail the letter, and he’s going to do it isn’t he?” He glared at the clerk and said, “Or I’ll just call the guard and they can sort this mess out. And it’s going to kill your business with all the scandal if you don’t do as we ask. With all the time you’re wasting, you could mail our letter and be done with it, and see to other customers. I call in the guard and it’ll cause more problems. I’m not the man with the business here.”

    The dwarf looked back at Flora and spoke in a lower tone, “Look girl if you’re going to travel with us, know when to fight and when not to fight. You don’t draw a weapon on a person unless you mean it. That sort of thing you’re doing could get us all arrested. Put it away, now.” He looked at Olula and the dwarf’s tone was audibly softer as he spoke, “Don’t worry, the clerk will mail it. Were going to stand and watch him write it out before we go. If he doesn’t, I’m going to get the guard. Foul business practices aren’t very well accepted in a city like this I’ll gather.”

    Flora blinked and stopped. Her bow and arrow were barely out when Thangroth stopped her. She drop them back into their place and went to the entrance, sighing as she watched what was going on.

    Olula watched Flora walk away after Thangroth’s reprimand. A couple days ago, a foolish action like that got Krisatris lashed. The half-elf turned her attention back to Thangroth. “No, I don’t trust him.” Olula shook her head. “Even if he does write it out, we’ll never know if he sent it! And if I try to send Derrick’s jewelry, he might steal those too. We should just get the guard if he doesn’t give us our money back. Then we can find another courier tomorrow.”

    The clerk didn’t want to let go of his gold, but things were getting out of hand. He wasn’t so sure he could convince the guards of his innocence, especially since there was no telling which guards may sympathize with the girl, and which would sympathize with him. Reluctantly, he scooped the coins out of his apron pocket and dumped them on the counter. “Fine! Keep yer damn gold! But I warn ye, girl, ye’ll be hard pressed te find someone willin’ te work with ye.”

    Thangroth was proud of Olula, the events she’d undergone since her banishment had hardened her. She was learning, and learning quickly. But he wasn’t surprised, the half-dark elf was a clever and brave young woman and she had a good head on her shoulders. The dwarf nodded at her comment and said, “Aye Lass. Ye be right about that. I doubt he’d be honest in sending the message anyway.”

    When the man returned the gold, Thangroth waited so she could gather her coins and gave her nod. He replied to the man about his remark about someone working with them. “Let that be our problem. We’ll find someone to work with us. Of that I have no doubt.”

    Olula paused a little awkwardly as Thangroth didn’t retrieve his money. The dwarf nodded to her and stood there staring at her. Was he giving her the money? She wasn’t one to just take it, but she wasn’t going to spend another second in here. Taking out her coin purse, she scooped up the gold from the counter and packed it into the little leather pouch. Her purse had never been so full in her life! Thangroth had no complaints, and perhaps it wouldn’t be such a big deal to keep it if it was going to be shared with the party anyway.

    “Let’s go,” she said. With her nose in the air, she marched out of the shop proudly.

* * *

    Krisatris had been left with the horses outside. Dara and Keyo both eyed her warily and stood as far back from the half-elf as they could. Kris never dealt much with horses, and at first she had been confused by their behavior. By now, however, she realized that they probably sensed that she was a were-wolf. The full moon was about a week away, and it seemed like she would be with Olula and the others until then. She didn’t want to abandon them, but she didn’t want to tell them either. Maybe, if she told them, they would help her on that night...

    Olula emerged from the courier’s shop looking very displeased. Kris heard shouting in there, and Olula still had the letter in hand. “What happened?” she asked.

    “ was a disaster. All in all, he refused to serve us because I’m a dark elf! We’ll find another courier tomorrow. It’s getting late, so we better find a place to stay for the night. Hopefully that won’t be another problem,” Olula explained.

    Flora walked outside after Olula. She was a bit sad from what had happened. She walked over to Keyo and petted him. “It’s alright Keyo,” she said, then looked at Krisatris. “Excuse me, Krisatris? Did Kiran came back?” she asked as she noticed he wasn’t back. She climbed up on Keyo’s back and waited to go.

    “Nope,” Krisatris replied and shrugged. She didn’t expect him to be back any time soon.

    “I don’t think Kiran wants to be seen in the city,” Olula interjected, then took Dara’s reins from Krisatris.

    “Alright then, lets go,” Flora said, looking back at the group, then she noticed that some of them were still inside. “Oh,” she said in a low tone. She placed her hands around Keyo’s neck. I’m a little tired, my throat is a little dry and my chest is hurting, she thought as she placed her hand on her chest. A little water will help that, and some rest too.

    Flora looked at Olula. “How come Kiran doesn’t want to be seen?” she asked, a little worried. “Is it because he is a dark elf?” she asked, then paused. As she paused, she looked up at the sky. “Or is it because he did something wrong?” she asked again. “Also, sorry if I am asking to many questions or being annoying.”

    “Yes, it’s because he’s a dark elf,” Olula replied. And you do ask too many questions, she thought, but she wouldn’t speak something so rude. “If you haven’t noticed, it’s not exactly easy to get respect here for being one.” She was obviously still upset by the courier clerk’s rudeness. Trent and Thangroth returned outside, and the group walked on. Hopefully finding an inn would not be as hard as finding courier.

    Thangroth didn’t say a word after coming out of the shop. It was getting late and they’d need shelter soon. The dwarf glanced along likely places and dives. They needed lodging, but nothing so expensive that it would break them. At least a place relatively clean and not infested with cut throats. He eyed likely places until one caught his eye. “Hey...what about that place? The Roost, strange name, but it looks decent from the outside. I’ll go inquire about prices and what’s offered.”

    “I’ll go in with you to see if they will accept me,” Olula said. It was no use to put down money for something first if it turned out they would get kicked out and have to deal with another person like the courier clerk.

    Flora watched them go in. She could feel in her heart that this wasn’t the place, but she keep her mouth shut. She looked at Keyo and petted him. It seems that I am a bit annoying, I can sense it in the air, she thought as she sighed. Maybe I should keep my mouth closed and hold back my actions. I think it’s the best way. I will just stay behind, she said to herself. Yep, thats what I will do.

    Moments after Thangroth and Olula entered The Roost, they returned. Olula’s shoulders drooped a little and she sighed as she reached her companions. “They’re full,” she said, though she wasn’t entirely sure the innkeeper was being honest. He seemed eager to get her out, and he didn’t give any suggestions of where else to look. Olula took him at his word, however, and didn’t press the issue. “Let’s keep looking,” she added, then took Dara’s reins and led the horse onwards.

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