Milo and Clack: An Elvin Love Story
Part XIV The Price of Magic
Embarrassment crept through me. “I’m sorry, sire. I forgot to introduce myself properly. I’m Lieutenant Claciticus Riparian of the Riparian Sect.” I said and bowed like I should’ve the first time I met him… or well, okay, the quickest time I could while not being chased by the enemy.
“Doesn’t Riparian mean water?” he asked, getting a smile from me.
“It does indeed, Riparian is an old Elvin word for water. The English began using the word when they encountered the last of our people still living on the River Nith in today’s Scotland.”
“The last of your people?” he asked and my smile broadened.
It excited me too much that he asked. Not only because I love to tell the story of my people, but also because... the king was... I wiped the thoughts from my mind. It's just completely unacceptable that I had these feelings for my sovereign. No, I tried to convince myself, it wasn't attraction, it was because he was king, and one who may be in power eventually.
I set my thoughts aside and continued, “The River Nith flows through Scotland and to the sea. We were a powerful clan of elves and over the years most of the men were recruited by the Limbert stone to work as King’s guards. No elves live along the River Nith any longer, our clan has all but disappeared…”
“Oh, your people must be well regarded among the elves, though,” he said and my smile faded.
“We are basically extinct in both reality and in the minds of the Elvin people. I am the last of my line, my grandfather was the last to live upon the River. One day, maybe the king will see fit to recognize the sacrifices we have made.”
He sighed, “If you are asking me to do some ceremonial thing, I have no power, as you well know.”
“I apologize your majesty, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
“You didn’t make me anything,” the young king said as he leaned back against the extravagant couch that now adorned the royal tent. I tried not to notice how attractive he was as he laid back. I forced the thought from my mind and considered how much magical power it must’ve taken to create the size and scope of this tent. Not to mention the food.
“I should take my leave…” I said and started to walk out.
“Um, you aren’t going to eat with me? The girl, what’s her name? Lily? She said we could order food anytime we wanted it. I just wasn’t hungry before…”
I recognized his rambling as someone who wasn’t wanting to be alone. As lieutenant, I’d been in charge of more than a few of the kids that came through. No new recruits wanted to be alone.
“It would be improper…”
The king leaned back and laughed, “Improper for who? I was a foster child with nothing, and no social status until just a couple days ago. If I’m the king, then I say if you want to stay, you should stay.”
“You’re ordering it then?” I asked with a smirk.
He looked at me with a frown. “I do not order people to do anything, I…” he stopped when he saw my smile. “Okay, you’re giving me shit… if you want to stay, I say stay. If you don’t, that’s fine too… maybe I can get Lily to hang out with me.”
I laughed, “Lily would get in more trouble than it’s worth, even if you asked her to. No, for her sake, I will stay.”
His frown never left his face, “Don’t do me any favors… soldier!” he said, and went to the table. “I want a hamburger,” he yelled like he was talking to someone a mile away.
I watched as the pale blue light grew from an empty spot on the table, then a human hamburger formed. I didn’t want to mention that Elves were vegetarian. Most of us even vegan. One of the curses of using our powers was that ingesting meat caused your stomach to cramp at the worst possible times.
I was one of the few who could have the occasional dairy, but I never dared to push the envelope. I also knew the power it took to bring meat from the human world to this one was intense. I debated whether or not I was brave enough to mention this to him. I thought of Little Bay and the hours of boring lectures on royal protocol.
Of course, none of us thought we’d ever have to use it in real life, but damn, here I was and I had forgotten. Okay, maybe never actually forgotten, as much as having never learned how I was supposed to act in the presence of the King or Queen.
Oh well, it’s not like I hadn’t beaten the poor guys arse all morning. And it wasn’t like I was going to stop doing it until he bulked up a bit and could at least deflect another elf’s sword.
I didn’t order anything that wasn’t already on the table. The grapes were beautiful, and I recognized them from the Plearth region of the Alps. Again, I was shocked at such opulence. I knew a lot of elves thought we should do away with our monarchy. I had never really considered it one way or another, except to think that without them, there would be no more need for families to be split apart.
Our clan would still be living alongside the river, Lily would be on her volcanic home in Africa… So many kids pulled away from families. I shook my head before plopping the grape into my mouth, then moaned with pleasure. Despite what it took from my fellow guardsmen, and the magic wielders who accompanied us, I would never turn down such a remarkable opportunity. The Plearth grapes were the best in the world.
“So, you don’t want to order?” he asked as I perused the table taking only a few things. Enough to sustain me.
“No, your majesty, it’s best for the warriors to reserve their strength, and the food on this table should sustain me for a while.”
“Energy?” he asked.
I sighed, okay maybe I’d walked into that one intentionally. “Yes sire, elves posses what you call magic, and that magic is what makes all this possible,” I said and waved around the room. “But, everything created or even called forth by magic comes at a price.”
He paused before taking another bite. “What kind of price?”
I thought for a moment, then nodded. “Do you remember yesterday when I created the swords for us to use?”
He nodded, “Do you remember for a moment I had to sit down and rest?”
He shook his head, “No, I was afraid you were going to kill me, and you came at me pretty quick.”
I laughed. “Well, I had to pause or I would’ve come at you sooner. I had to exchange some of my body’s energy to manifest the swords.”
He looked around the tent then at his burger. “So, someone had to sacrifice for all of this?” he asked.
I nodded, “yes of course, something can only come from something. The law of magic is that you give and take. If you want a sword, you give some energy. If you want a grape,” I said and picked up another grape from the table, “You give a drop of blood.”
His face went pale. “Someone did a human sacrifice for this?”
I laughed in spite of myself. “No, there are no human sacrifices in Elvin magic. But yes, the guards did make this possible through the laws of magic.”
He sighed. “Okay, no more hamburgers then. Maybe this food will last a while?”
“Whatever you say, majesty.” I said and noticed he looked a little sick. Atticon didn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. He wouldn’t hesitate to resort to human sacrifice if he thought it would lead to getting what he wanted.
This guy… well, he was different. Whether he stayed that way or not… that remained to be seen. For now though, I was liking who I was discovering. And maybe that was a bad idea. Oh well, the life of a soldier was never guaranteed, might as well enjoy it while it lasted.
Join us next week as the adventure continues...