“… Their mastery of fire was considered superfluous. Through worship of Unos, and invention, the Leiriad, better known as Fire Elves, could control every aspect of Flame.’
Their capital Fleeraurin (Fleeran) was said to be perilous for even the most wary army or adventurer. A misstep could see billowing arcs, burning tornados, or lava flows, bearing down on…”
Taver blinked repeatedly then rubbed his eyes. He had read the paragraph five times already but fatigue addled his brain, and barely a scrap of information had been retained. His eyes moved to the candle at his left. Encased in a thin glass, tear drop shaped, cover, it barely shuddered in spite of the ship’s gentle sway. His little cabin, below deck of the Elvebat, was by no means what he was accustomed to. But more than enough when considering the alternative means of travel, north.
Congestion had settled in Taver’s chest, and he wiped his nose repeatedly. After three weeks sailing up the River Woge, he learnt he was not meant for travel. No, he was better suited to the quiet study halls of Mes Leonir’s universities. But, his research had reached an impasse. After reading every text concerning the Leiriad, at least twice, he had concluded that nobody had any solid information about them. The accounts of the extinct race were as solid as a wine-fuelled rumour.
With old-money at his back, he knew the only way forward was into the unknown. To, himself, go to Fleeran and find out exactly what, if anything, was there. Near a thousand leagues to the north of Mes Leonir, the once proud elven city was located in the firelands. Believe to be empty, the volcanic region’s only known denizens were the Dreadhammer Orcs… and even their inhabitance was somewhat of a mystery.
There came a loud rap on the door. Taver knuckled his lower back as he stood up from the broad lectern. Wiping his nose, he opened the pine-wood door. The historian’s eyes dropped to meet Melisande Flamestouch’s; a young sell-sword, barely five and a half feet tall. Melisande had appeared only two days before they were to set sail, eager to head north.
A pretty young thing, her bright brown eyes caught reflections when others did not, and her hair, although brown and tied back with a fine blue scarf that covered her forehead, would slyly hint at purple. A trait Taver had never seen in a person. “We approach Midrun, and will dock before sun up. Will you sleep aboard, or shall we wake you?” Melisande’s said, her voice smooth and almost a whisper. She carried an air of maturity which conflicted with her apparent age. A sort threatening sternness that made the young man uncomfortable.
“I think… I think, I shall stay aboard,” Taver said as he stifled a yawn. Though he was not sure of propriety in the Fords, from which Melisande hailed, he aired on the side of caution. Yawning in another’s presence, whatever the hour, was very bad form.
“Indeed,” Melisande said with a smile so quick Taver wondered if he had seen it all. “There are six inns in Midrun. We shall be quartered at The Lion’s Howl. The crew will be aboard, but the rest of the expedition will be resting there. Join us when you awake.”
“Thank you, yes I will,” Taver half stuttered.
The brown eyed girl gave a quick bow before turning on her heals. She walked down the corridor with a strong heel to toe stride. In spite of her size, the young woman had so much confidence the historian had to wonder how much was bravado. Taver, not one for adventures, had worried about taking women on his venture.
Melisande had join them along with one other woman, Lorena, a tall girl whom the young historian suspected had more than a drop of Wood Elf blood running in her veins. It was her startling green eyes that rose the suspicion. Bright like emeralds in the midday sun. Incredibly rare in a human, let alone a Leonirian.
The only women amongst a crew of some forty men. Twenty eight sailors and twelve of Taver’s own people. Aside from his colleagues from the university, all were rough, travel worn sorts. Their oaths could make the toughest Mes Leonir cutthroat blush. But, they had been only three days into the journey when the women asserted themselves…
Throwing two men over board and slitting a third’s throat, Lorena made sure that no one aboard so much as considered taking to their quarters after hours. The green eyed woman acted, for lack of a better term, as Melisande’s bodyguard. Her pleasant emeralds would turn fiery should she catch a crewman looking to long.
Taver blew a long sigh as the woman’s boots’ disappeared at the top of the stairs. He shut the door turning the handle as he eased it closed so the latch would not click. Closing doors quietly was considered etiquette when using one of the study rooms within a university library.
He dropped into the straw mattress and stretched out. What would they find in Fleeran? Anything? Probably a lot, if it were true nobody had been within its walls in a millennia. Fear harassed his tired mind mind because in a world where gung-ho adventurers were many, it was just as likely a lot had visited, and none returned.
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