Milo and Clack: An Elvin Love Story
Part XI: Learning to Fight
I spent well over an hour explaining what it meant to be an elf. I was careful not to include anything that might point to his obvious, non-elflike features. When I was done, the king stared off into the distance. “So, I won’t be able to go back to my old life?” he asked wistfully.
Empathy flowed through me, I hadn’t considered the king of the elves would have a life outside our world that he would have preferred. “No, now that Atticon has found you, if you go back your life will be at risk. You will have to remain in our care and when you get your powers, you will have to do away with your uncle.”
“What? Like kill him?” he asked surprised
I nodded. “Yes, it’s either him or you, I’m afraid."
“I’m not a murderer. I… I don’t kill people.”
“Even people who are trying to kill you?” I asked, and waited to see what kind of answer he’d give.
The king sat silent, then sighed. “I don’t like killing, and there has to be a different way. I… you said I’m the king, right?”
I nodded, causing him to do the same. “Then as king, I want to figure out a different way. I don’t approve of murder, and if I’m the king, I won’t be tolerating it in my realm either. Murder is wrong.”
I didn’t argue. He was green, fresh as a new layer of snow. His life would change now, and he’d be forced to make hard decisions. Far be it for me, though, to tell the king what would or wouldn’t happen in his life. That was for someone with a lot more authority and breeding than a lowly soldier.
He stared at me as I sat silently, then shook his head. “Okay, well can I at least go see my friends? They will wonder what happened to me. I should explain.”
“No, you can never tell a human who or what you are. That’s a hard and fast law even the royal family must adhere to. The elves are a strong and proud breed of people, but we are not immune to the pressures caused by the sheer number of humans that now occupy the planet. Our safety depends on humans never knowing, absolutely never knowing that we exist.”
He looked down, “but, my best friend…”
“Is better off never knowing what happened to you, I’m sorry, Your Majesty, Atticon will use anyone against you, even a human if he has to. Your friends wouldn’t be safe if you went back… even if it was allowed.”
The young king seemed to withdraw into himself with that revelation. I kicked myself for having to be the one to tell him that. Damn, the Limbert stone was never wrong, but I wondered why it had stuck me with him. Not only did I find him attractive, which was a huge issue with us being alone, but also, I was no advisor. I was a nobody, an elf trained for combat and not worth much more than that.
Although that was worth a lot, I didn’t have self esteem issues or anything. There were few soldiers better than me. I was strong, and had trained hard to make myself who and what I was. But, emissary to the king was certainly not one of them.
I looked around the landscape, knowing the king was safe here in the Erime, the Elvin word for the desert that lay in between the folds of time. Only the King's Guard had access to it. And only through the Limbert stone. I needed a moment to think, so I told him I’d return after doing some surveillance. In reality, I should’ve already done that. Even in the Erime one must not let their guard down. But the king was so innocent, so vulnerable when we arrived, I felt it only made sense to help him feel better before traipsing off.
No, that was completely against the playbook, but hey, it wasn’t like any of my superiors were here to yell at me, and I’d never been that hung up on convention. The king would no doubt be trained in the ways of being a royal… he’d become a jerk, probably not unlike his uncle. But for now, he wasn’t that way, and his vulnerability caused my soft side to kick in.
He didn’t complain when I told him I was leaving. Instead, he sat on the boulder staring off into space. I felt bad, I really did, but how many young kids had been pulled away from their families by the Limbert stone to train as warriors.
Even Lily, a high ranking noble herself, in a tribe of people almost lost to history, had heard the call and had come to obey. I knew he was the king, but no matter how much I tried to wrap my mind around it, we had all sacrificed in one way or another.
Did I empathize, yeah, I did… He was going to be emotionally adrift for a bit. Nothing could be done about that, except…”
I almost thought training, but damn. The king wasn’t a soldier, he didn’t train. Or did he? All elves had power, something I’m sure the king with his human ideas would call magic, but soldiers learned to use their brawn and intellect to keep their charges and themselves safe.
I had walked at least a mile and there was nothing here, nothing but barren moonscape. I knew we wouldn't go hungry or need basic things in this pocket dimension, we’d been forced to learn about those when studying the Limbert stone as new recruits. I had no idea how long it would keep us here, but since Atticon was actively seeking the king now, I assumed it could be some time.
I had no sword to give him, so fencing and sword play was out, but I could teach him some hand to hand combat. When our young recruits come in feeling forlorn and homesick, we work them hard; pulling on their athletics to help keep their minds out of the dark reality of their circumstances. Would it work on the king as well?
I figured, why not? He was an elf, just like the rest of us… Maybe a high ranking elf, but who knew, if it comes to hand to hand combat, a few lessons in self defense might keep him alive, at least until a soldier could make it to him.
I walked back to where he was still sitting on the boulder and once I reached him, I held out my hand. “Come on, we’re stuck here for the foreseeable future, I might as well teach you some self-defense.”
This is the end of part 1 of Milo and Clack. The next time you will meet Olcarlamon Nactabastian, Head of the Elvin Guard under King Repratian Milonium Debotious, the only elf who has the power to keep Milo alive.
Next week we will take a break from Milo and Clack so we can give you the first chapter of Discovering Home!