Sleep eluded me that night. It was almost as if I was afraid to sleep deeply — and dream. Perhaps a cold glass of water would help. As I poured the glass the light of the fridge illuminated the floor and onto the face of Peter who looked as though he could pass for one of the undead.
“Any interest in General Tso?” He asked as he tossed the white Styrofoam carton on the table.
“No, not at this hour, what’s wrong? You’re home early.”
“Not feeling well, Luce.”
He grabbed my wrist as I felt the heat of his forehead.
“I would guess about 99°.” I said as he tried to seduce me with his laser vision.
“Come on Peter, you need to sleep, you’re coming down with something.”
As we made our way to his room, Karin poked her head into the narrow hallway and surmised that the game of cat and mouse, between Peter and myself, had come to a conclusion.
“Nothing to see here, Karin, I’m only putting our wayward room mate to bed.”
Looking down at my attire, a faded blue terry robe, covering up grey flannel pajamas finished off at the bottom with battered Rudolph slippers that lost the red noses long ago; I thought Karin had to stretch her imagination to make this situation add up to a lurid affair.
I was glad Peter and i were ships that passed in the night, this living arrangement was too convenient for a serious relationship, we had a lot in common. I wished I could have run my big mystery of the day by him, but again his reliability fell short.
When my head hit the pillow I reached for my phone and touched it to see the time. Two and a half hours before the alarm went off and work ensued,
You must sleep or run the risk of getting sucked into the film processor — or any number of the dangers that awaited me at the print shop. Luckily sleep commenced.
The Broktori were a race of dark elves whose existence was solely to rule the people and the treasure of the realm. They had been defeated and attempted to live peacefully amongst the others that inhabited our world. The Dark Elf Lord Reisert had three sons, but left no apparent heir, he wanted them to prove themselves and he wouldn’t be forced by the order of their birth to make that determination.
Instead he started the backward slide to the warring nature of his kind. His death and the deaths of his two younger sons propelled Ulmer’s murderous reign to the days of old. His sole rule and the complete subjugation of his people bored him and forced his attentions elsewhere. He was determined to make every being in the realm yield to his power.
I woke to the sounds of the warrior whom Peter named Arthur, he was struggling to put his weight on his elbow, but reclined back because of his broken ribs and wound that had bled through the bandages. Recalling the horrific smell and torn flesh, I had to put my mind elsewhere to deal with this properly. Arthur looked as though he was going to make it, despite Peter’s doubts last night.
Arthur was definitely human, I have only seen a handful of them, my mother being one. That is where I get my determination, height and curious glances from inlanders. I was able to communicate with him as soon as he was able to speak.
“Mirro is an excellent horse, he’s the reason we were able to get the care you needed so quickly. His magnificence saved your life.”
“I have to return to the Ballowlands, I have a message for the Varnum who awaits me at the Estate.”
“You no longer have a horse, how do you expect to … ”
I was being selfish and answered my own question, the clever Arthur gave me his horse when he realized he couldn’t make the journey himself.
“Make haste, the realm depends upon your arriving before the Baktori War Lord completes the merge. Ulmer’s vengeance will be swift, he killed his brothers and perhaps his father as well.”
Arthur grimaced as the exertion to sit up became too much to bear.
“It’s a two day journey, one and a half on Mirro, I’ll help Peter and his army of woodland creatures prepare.”
He smiled with the mocking attitude any human would have, not knowing the true character of all the animals of the realm.
“Don’t underestimate those that would be by your side when the war has begun.” I said as I shook his hand.
I took the sack containing food enough for the journey and little else, I needed to travel lite.
Passing the training field, I stopped to hug Peter goodbye, the tightness in his muscles was evident after a full morning of training. He kissed my cheek, the pleasure lingured.
“Watch after Arthur, I will return in four days.”
That first night I slept under the Banyon tree and thought of my friend Peter.
The morning was a blur, I was not as tired as I had expected, my dreams ebbed in and out of my memory. I don’t ride horses, yet I was dreaming of one and man I was flying.
Lunchtime loomed and the plate maker was telling the story of a job that went awry, stopping the presses and sending several people to the emergency room. Not really — it’s how you feel when the presses stop, a pall fills the plant and the ticking clock can be heard counting the minutes until the profitable hum of the presses return, and if you were a doctor your patient flat lined until the peaks and valleys of life returned on the ekg.
I dumped the contents of my lunch bag onto the table carelessly and noticed a paper drift from inside the bag laying face up on the surface.
Lucid and Peter sitting in a tree … k i s s i n g