Part III: The King’s Guard
I’d been assigned to the King’s Elvin Guard when I was ten. Only one in ten thousand elves possess the power of the Limbert stone. A stone that determines the true King or Queen and enables those in charge to protect them.
Despite that, members of the current King’s Guard must be strong and resilient. Of the few that can actually be in the King’s Guard, only a small number survive training.
Since I was recruited, I’ve been beaten, rolled, punched, and put through every exercise my teammates could put me through.
Was it strange how much I loved this job? Yeah, I was a glutton for punishment, and I knew it.
The year I was born, there’d been a civil war, the King and Queen had been deposed, and the King’s brother, Lord Atticon, had taken the throne. When the Elvin kingdom was at war, the King’s Guard split into factions, each aligned with different claims to the throne. Usually, the wars were short-lived, and one royal would defeat another, and be crowned with approval of the Limbert stone.
Most Elves didn’t bother with such wars as they didn’t impact them very much… even with Lord Atticon being a total… well I’ll just say he’s not the easiest ruler we’ve ever had, our lives were seldom impacted… much.
Old man Allocious, Allo, as we called him, sat around the fire as usual, spouting his doomsday prophecies. The fact we’d been assigned to the dead King’s son, the next in line for the crown, meant it was quite unlikely any of us would live long.
Those who stood to inherit the throne had no powers beyond their third year of life. Theoretically, royals needed this incubation phase so their powers were strong enough to defend the elvin kingdoms as an adult. During that incubation phase, which ends sometime around their twenty-first year, they would be virtually human. That, of course, meant that’s when they were most susceptible to murder.
Usually, the unseasoned princes and princesses, what we called them when they were without power, were defended by their parents. The Kings and Queens of the Elvin kingdom had vicious magic. So, usually, they weren’t defeated. Usually.
Allo continued his speech. “The Limbert stone recognizes the most recent member of the lineage. So, as Lord Atticon did, there is only one way to become King in a civil war, kill the next in line.”
Most of us knew the speech word for word, but we did have a new warrior who’d joined us. Eight-year-old Lacitacious. She had just been given the nickname of Laci. All Elvin tribes lived among the humans now, and since we were in the North American countries, we learned quickly that our long elven names were too long to use on a daily basis.
Laci listened raptly to the story. “Of course, with the death of the King, so there must also be the death of their guards. Unlike the human world, the world of the elves is very rigid. The Limbert stone itself will act upon those who have been assigned. If their leader dies, they too will die. If not in battle, then by ill health. Trust me, battles are easier deaths. The Limbert stone is very creative in killing a dead King’s guards.”
I rolled my eyes. There was, of course, no evidence that the Limbert stone would take out any of us. The truth was, even with more than one claim to the throne, the stone only recognized the legitimate ruler. Yes, the King’s Guard tended to die of natural causes after the King’s death, but I doubted Lord Atticon’s guards were in immediate mortal danger from the Limbert stone if he died.
That didn’t mean we were off the hook. Our charge was Repratian Milonium Debotious, unseasoned King of the realm. A man who should be around eighteen years old and someone none of us have ever met.
“When Atticon strikes down the youth, we will all die protecting the lad, or we will all die a miserable death,” Allo finished his story with relish.
Our poor young recruit drew in a deep, hesitant breath and let it out slowly. “If Atticon is going to kill him, why are we being assigned to him?”
“Because Allo is a traitor to his calling for saying such blasphemous things,” I said, causing the old man to look at me through squinted eyes. He and I had been at each other’s throats since I was young.
I continued, “The young King hasn’t been seen in ages, but the Limbert stone confirms he is still alive. If he survives until his twenty-first birthday, he will be a powerful man. We have no reason to believe wherever his mother hid him will be jeopardized before that time. So, young apprentice, while you are here, you will learn to be a fierce warrior. You will learn the ways of the King’s court, and you will learn to protect our King with your life. That is what the Limbert stone has chosen you to do. Don’t let other people’s fancy stories dissuade you from your duties.”
I turned to go. Allo and I had plenty of scuffles over the years. I was in my prime now, and although he beat me miserably while growing up, I no longer had to fear him or any elf in King Repratian’s Guard. That being said, without the King’s presence, most of the men and women in our Guard felt like Allo. They no longer believed he would win the war that was coming.
I returned to my dwelling, a small stone hut built on the side of the great mountain. We lived most of our lives in the Rockies. Elves preferred higher, colder elevations. The fact that humans didn’t, made the Rocky Mountains our best option for living. Most of the year, we lived in solitude, never disturbed by humans. It was a perfect part of the world for elves to exist without the worry of human interference.
My stone hut was built directly into the mountain giving me three large chambers. The cave-like structure was nicely adorned with tiles made from semi-precious stones mined by the dwarves that also dwelled in the mountains. My favorite place in the hut was the bathing facility, where natural hot springs fed a continuously moving stream.
It truly was a beautiful place, even though I missed the northern lands of my youth. At least the highlands were comfortable and peaceful.
I was just about to bathe when the new young guard knocked at my door.
“Lord Clack, I wondered if you would tell me more about the King we are to protect.”
I smiled at the young woman. She was beautiful with her rich dark African hair. She belonged to the tribe of Kilimanjaro. Her tribe was ancient and respected among all the Elvin people. So few of the great African tribes remained. Most moved away as the glaciers disappeared and joined other tribes with more favorable living conditions.
Laci’s family were diehard tribal members and refused to move. The fact that Laci was a Limbert Stone warrior must’ve cost them. “Hello, Lacitacious. Sit upon the hearth, and I will tell you what I can.”
Next Week: Follow the story as Milo discovers who and what he really is.