Chapter 2: The King
The gates opened slowly, creaking the whole way open. Two large animals, which he could only describe as giant horses with Ram horns and manes that covered their entire backs, heaved the large doors open.
The immediate interior of the city was not as he expected. Behind the walls a large trench lain with spikes followed the entire length of the wall. Then behind the trench, another, shorter but wider wall also spanned the entire distance of the outer wall. This wall however, unlike the first, had far more guards on it. Unlike the outer wall which only had a few guards patrolling its length, this wall had hundreds of soldiers armed with bows, burning oil pots, catapults, and various items he could only assume were magical in nature.
"I wonder why there are so many guards on that wall." his female friend whispered to him, as if reading his mind. However, before he could respond, the guard captain interrupted.
"The outer wall is merely a ruse for the giant Stone Ogres, Fire Titans, and Grass Trolls that inhabit the Ent Forest and Walk of the God King. They smash through it, then fall into the trench, then we hail them with arrows, spears, burning oil, rocks, magic, and anything we can hurl at them until they die. It is the only way we can defend ourselves from monsters ranging up to 40 feet tall." the guard captain said casually as if it was daily occurrence.
The area between the gates was a wooden bridge that looked as if it could be collapsed at any time. Above there were stone arches that acted like bridges that the soldiers crossed. Some of the guards had stopped to see what was being brought into the city, but they were quickly pushed along by other guards.
"How did we get so lucky not to see any of those when we were near the forest?" he asked, looking at his female companion who only shot him and confused look and shrugged.
"Well, the Grass Trolls are the only ones that inhabit the area surrounding the Ent Forest. They sleep during the day and look like large, grassy hills. Even if you walk over them, they will not wake up. However, if you watch at night, the hills move, as far as we can tell the only thing they eat is grass, though sometimes at night they will wander close to our fields and we have to scare them off with fire or they will eat the crops." the captain said as he waved for the second gate to be opened.
"You mean we were running over trolls on our way here..." she said with a shiver in her voice as she turned to her male friend.
He only shrugged and shrugged before the captain began to talk again. For a moment he thought maybe the captain simply liked to hear himself talk.
"Its the Stone Ogres and Fire Titans you really have to worry about. They come from the Walk of the God King, those smokey mountains you must have passed on your way from the forest. They live in the mountains most of the time, but they are really stupid. Stone Ogres will sometimes roll over in their sleep and fall off the mountain. Once they hit the ground, they will wake up and stir into a rage destroying everything around them. Usually we have the Hunting Corp take care of them before the reach the walls, but sometimes we don't get so lucky." the captain groaned as the second gate slowly creaked open.
"What are the Fire Titans then?" she asked, clearly more intrigued with the conversation than her male counterpart.
"Well, we aren't sure what causes them to attack, but occasionally they will burst from the mountains and start setting everything they touch on fire. They normally live in the lava underneath the mountains as far as we can tell, and they are so hot they incinerate everything around them before they even touch it. They seem to attack light sources, so we have to turn out our lights at night and hope they return to the mountain... otherwise it isn't pretty." the captain groaned as if he had some bad past experiences with them.
They passed through the second set of gates and it lead them to a large white street. The path seemed to be laid in white marble and ascended all the way up the mountainside. Along the street large wooden houses lined the road as far as the eye could see, at least, that his eyes could see.
The houses were very ornate in their designs. Some with leafy patterns and stars cut into the wood. Others with large wooden columns that had been cut into various shapes like warriors and wizards. And everywhere he looked, over every door and hanging from every window was a banner. Some were for shops and stalls. Others were just random pictures that looked much like medieval heraldry. But in any case, the town was lined with vibrant colors, and brilliant designs.
As they made their way up the hill, Elves all around stopped to stare, while he felt extremely embarrassed in his Elven made bikini, his female friend however, did not, and seemed to be enjoying the attention.
As far as he could see, the elves had many craftsmen of various professions. Some he knew just by looking at them like tailors, blacksmiths, and leather workers. However there were others which he could not describe. Some of them were selling glass bottles with strange colored liquids. Others were selling books, which seemed like a strange thing to peddle on a street corner. Some were tending to various strange plants and animals.
The instruments they used in their practice was also something of which he had never seen. He could see people in windows writing books through some form of magic, and brewing strange colored liquids using various tubes of random shapes and sizes. Large animals were in pens, some of them eating and drinking for troughs, others were chained down by all their limbs.
The most interesting of which was a creature that resembled a boar. It had the body of a very large boar, but their bodies were covered in sharp spines that looked to be made of metal. They were tied down in rows by their legs and the short Elves were climbing on their back and yanking the spines out of their backs. It didn't seem to hurt the creatures, but they would twist and shake as if in a furious rage.
"What are those creatures?" he asked the guard, tapping him on the shoulder and pointing towards the boars.
"What, the Iron Boars?" the guard asked as if it were a stupid question. "They live out on the plains, angry critters, but we use the spines they grow on their backs to make pretty much everything." he said smacking his shiny metal armor. "Even this armor was made from Iron Boar Spines." he chuckled, clearly amused with himself. "Though it's very expensive, and it's also the only metal that can be harvested in all of Elleria outside of the Red Rock Mountains, but the Dwarves control all of that..." he said begrudgingly. "What I wouldn't do to get my hands on a suit of Dwarven steel armor..." the guard mumbled.
He was glad to be out of the center of town as they kept going upwards down the white path that lead up the mountainside. Fewer and fewer Elves seemed to be moving about the higher they got. They went through a few, minor gates that wouldn't have protected much but looked very ornately crafted. The houses also started to get larger and fancier as they continued. Some having gardens and fountains with gates. White walls and elegantly crafted statues were commonplace amongst the other rich decorations.
"This place is beautiful..." she said, turning her head all around as she took in the scenery. However the more she looked, the more he noticed she was having trouble with her eyes.
He could almost swear he saw her eyes glow for a moment, but he couldn't be sure.
It felt like they had been walking for hours. The stairs they were now on were at such an incline it was more like rock climbing. They could however look down upon the city and see it in all its shimmering glory.
He let out a soft smile as he looked down at the shining city, sparkling in the night. For some reason it felt familiar, like... something he knew at one time... his head began to hurt the more he tried to recollect why he felt this way. After a moment he gave up, and had to clear his head.
While the stairway may have been steep, the higher they got the more elegantly adorned the path became. Starting from no railing, then a small one, then gradually it became more and more elegant until the railing was made of gold and shaped like the body of a Chinese dragon. The golden railing followed the path all the way up the mountain, the body of the dragon getting larger and larger until they came to a massive golden gate, of which the border was the mouth of the dragon.
They were so high now that they couldn't even see the city as it was covered in a thick fog, or clouds, he couldn't be sure but he knew they were very high up.
Outside of the giant golden doors were large wooden towers on each side with guards on the lookout. Guards patrolled back and forth between the towers, though they were all in white plate armor, similar to the guard who was escorting them but more ornate and flashy. Their helms had various plumes of different colors of red, blue and purple. Over their armor they had tabards much like the ones that he had seen in town draped over their chests.
As they came closer the guards formed a line in front of the door and waited for them to approach. "Halt!" one of the guards said as they moved in as a group.
"What are... these... things?" the guard asked curiously, the plume above his helmet was red, and he was the only red plume he could see. He assumed the plumes were some way of identifying rank.
The guard that brought them moved forward ahead of the rest and saluted. "Commander, we found these two outside. When they arrived they were naked and unarmed, but they managed to single handedly overpower two guards. When we captured them, they said the guards had panicked and attacked them on sight, and that they were only looking for shelter." he explained.
The commander turned his head to the side and looked them both up and down. "Well... thats very interesting captain, but what ARE they?" the commander asked, looking back to their escort.
"I dont know, I have a hunch, but I would rather the King decide things for himself." the captain spoke plainly. "I have a feeling he will know more."
The commander paused for a moment, looking at the captain, then back to his captives. "Alright Captain, you may enter." the commander said turning around. He raised his hand in the air and made a circular motion, and the guards began to open the gate.
The gate was massive, it was adorned by two giant dragons, one with 3 heads that resembled more of a western dragon. On the opposite side was a traditional Chinese dragon. The two dragons claws made the handles for the door, as if some giant were meant to open it. The body of the three headed dragon covered most of the door while the Chinese Dragon spun its body around it. The sections between the dragons formed three massive locking mechanisms.
Slowly the door began to unlock, he could hear huge tumblers and weights falling as each of the three massive locks was undone. When the last set of weights slammed down and the third lock twisted open, the door creaked and a heavy wind burst forth. Inside was something like he had never seen before...
What he expected to be a cave ended up being a massive interior palace. The floors were made of pure white marble, while the ceilings were painted to look like the sky. There was even what appeared to be a sun that appeared as if it were very far away but made light for the entire interior city. Massive stone columns lined the cavern which went farther than his eyes could see. The walls were filled with houses built straight into the walls of the cave, made of the same white marble as the floor. The houses in the cave were unlike any he had ever seen. They reminded him of very fancy apartments, with ornately crafted black iron gates and fencing, beautifully maintained topiary, and waterfalls that seemed to come from every hole in the wall and forming into a man-made river which flowed down the course of the entire hallway. Along the river trees had been evenly placed along with bushes, flowers, and patches of grass which made it look like a field.
Between the walls and the river was a white path on each side which lead farther than he could see. Elven children ran happily back and forth while massive carts slowly pulled by the same giant horses they had seen open the gates, were going back and forth in the cross sections of the road. Guards wearing fancy armor were patrolling everywhere, all of them wearing different tabards across their chest.
He also noticed the elves here were clothed much different than the ones from the city. While the ones in the city had worn practical clothing which he assumed supported their professions, these elves wore high ornate clothing that resembled much of ancient royalty, but with a more modern flare. Suits for men with large collars, most of them white, some with swords and other armaments attached to the belt. While women wore a variety of dresses, long skirts, corsets, and various handcrafted crafted outfits he could only assume were made for each individual woman, as they fit tightly to their body without giving an inch.
He also noticed one other distinct difference about them, they all had blue eyes and blue hair. Some light blue, some dark blue, but unlike the Elves in town, who only had brown or black hair. This feature was probably why they were separated from the rest of the Elves.
Though all in all, the Elves themselves simply looked like smaller versions of... themselves? He didn't yet have a word to describe exactly 'what' he was, so until he knew, that's the best he could do as a reference. The women looked like his female companion, only scaled down. The men looked similar to himself but also scaled down. This however, made them stand out horribly as they were paraded down the streets by an escort of guards. Though regardless of this fact, only a few of them stopped to stare.
"Life seems so perfect here..." his female companion said as she smiled in awe of this little world they had created for themselves.
"It does have its charm doesn't it..." he said. He had a smile on his face as he looked around, admiring every detail the Elves had put into this place. Golden dragon statues, fountains, waterfalls, a painted sky, elegantly crafted houses. Everything seemed just so... perfect. Until he heard the gates closing in behind him and he turned to look.
Children were staring out into the distance while the gate was open, but as it closed, they let out a heavy sigh. Parents came to comfort them and take them back home or push them along. Though they all had a look of sadness about them.
"Whats different about the Elves in here, than the Elves out there?" he asked to the captain escorting them.
The captain took a moment to laugh and the rest of the guards joined in. He however had a very confused look on his face, and the captain noticed. "Oh you're serious... " the captain coughed and took off his helm, revealing that he had short blue hair. "The Elves in here are called the Starborn. Unlike the other Elves, we posses the ability to create much more powerful magic." he laughed rubbing his fingers through his hair. He had a very childlike face, though had the eyes of someone who had seen much in his life. "However, Starborn who breed with Elves who are not Starborn, will only breed lesser Elves. Starborn children can only come from two Starborn parents, they are the Star Elves most valuable resource!" he said cheerily.
"Is that why they are locked in here? So they can be harvested as a "resource"?" he replied coldly and the captain shot him a death glare.
"Yes, it is true. We are not allowed to see the outside world unless we join the military. This is so that we won't fall in love with lesser Elves, and thus, lose our line. However, life in here is much nicer than it is out there, and much less dangerous too." he said, trying to sound reassuring as he put his helmet back on. "I wouldn't expect you to understand." he spat as they continued onward.
This "cave" seemed to go on forever as they walked. He also got the feeling that they were moving downhill, even though the cave appeared to be straight. Though as they continued farther, the buildings became less... cheerful... They went from white walls and waterfalls to stone columns and walls. The Elves here also looked like they had a lot more to do and were rushing from one building to the other. He could only assume this was where they worked... but what did they do here? What was there to be done in a place like this? He had no idea.
After they had passed this section it looked like they had lost all interest in detailing as the walls were just plain stone, though the white marble path continued, ever downward. It wasn't until after what seemed like hours of walking that they reached a huge room that the sense of awe returned to him.
They had entered a giant pentagonal room the size of which he almost couldn't comprehend. It was so large he could barely even see the other side. It must have been 25 football fields across. It had five massive statues, each of which had a massive door underneath it. They entered into this room from one of these massive doors. The door they entered from had a giant white marble statue of a star. To their right, was a giant black iron statue of an anvil. Past that on the right was a giant golden statue of what he could only assume was the sun. On the immediate left was a giant statue that looked like a burning flame, it was made of some kind of red rock which glistened like rubies. On the far left was a giant silver statue of the crescent moon.
The road made of white marble that they had walked on all the way here converged in the center of a massive pentagonal amphitheater. It converged with 4 paths leading out each of the doors. The anvils path was made of black iron, the suns path was made of gold, the moons path was made of silver, and the fires path was made of the ruby red stone.
At the center of these five paths was a massive pentagonal amphitheater with thousands of stone seats beyond counting. And at the very center of the amphitheater, where each road ended, was a throne, each made of the same material as the roads. However, no elves were filling any of the seats in the amphitheater except on the side they came from.
As they descended the staircase into the amphitheater, he noticed what appeared to be a bunch of old men wearing long white robes crowded around the white throne and up the stairs a ways. They were all arguing about something but as soon as they approached, they all turned and stared. They looked the two of them up and down thoroughly before standing aside to let them pass.
The room was dead silent and It was at that moment he heard a voice coming from on the other side of the throne. "Whats this? A bit of peace and quiet for once?" the voice echoed, its bored tone filling the room. "What is it? Have all of you seen a gho...." the voice suddenly stopped as its head poked around the corner of the throne.
It was clearly a younger elf staring at them with a perplexed look on his face. He had long blue hair and brightly glowing blue eyes. Slowly he stood out of his chair, his head leading his body as he got a closer look at the two captive. He was wearing what appeared to be a white uniform with a large cape that covered most of his body and dragged on the floor. He was wearing a white crown around his head that he wore like a circlet. He also seemed to be a bit shorter than the rest of the elves.
Moving closer, the Elven king gently pushed the captain aside, who had been removing his helmet and almost feel over, and then walked right up to the male captive, his gaze never leaving for a moment. The Elven king said nothing, but ran his fingers across his skin. Lifting his arms and legs as if inspecting them. Grasping his fingers and moving them between his own. Pulling him down by the armor on his chest he looked into his eyes. moving the lids aside with his thumb. Then the king turned his head to the side looking into his ear, then up his nose. Then he did the same to his female companion and for a moment, the king stood back, almost as if admiring them. "How did you get here... Humans..." His voice was soft but held a great deal of confusion within it.
He looked around as if he wasn't sure who the king was talking to, then he looked to his female companion who shrugged and said "I think he means you."
He looked back to the Elven king who had his arms crossed behind his back as he looked up at him. "We... really don't know... we can't remember anything..." he shrugged, rubbing the back of his head.
The Elven king tilted his head as if that simply wasn't enough.
"Well... you see..." he started with a long sigh, he really didn't want to tell this story again. However before he could finish his sentence the king interrupted.
"You woke up in some random place and don't remember anything. You can't remember your names, you can't remember anything about yourselves, and you have special abilities that you cannot remember having before, right?" he said, his voice echoing across the room. And the rest of the elves in the room turned to him with equal surprise.
His eyes opened wide in shock "How... how did you know?" he stuttered in confusion.
However the king merely paced back and forth in front of him. "But why... why is the question... why is in the needing of the answer... why why why..." the king muttered under his breath.
Grabbing the captain by the shoulder he looked him straight in the eyes. "Captain, did you or any of your guards by chance see anything falling from the sky earlier in the day before the humans arrived? Fiery rocks or comets or meteors..." he asked, looking him straight in the eyes and bobbing his head side to side in a strange manner as if he were trying to look deeper into his eyes but couldn't get the right angle.
The captain tilted his head to the side "Well... yes, now that you mention it, we did. We thought they were merely Fire Titans throwing rocks down from the God Kings Walk but... now that I think about it there were 4 or 5 of them." the captain said with a confused look on his face.
"Only 4 or 5... we must find the other 2 to 3 then... it is essential." he said, still pacing. "Captain, run... run as fast as you can back to the outer walls. If they haven't found the other 2 to 3 you and your men need to form search parties. I want every man you have looking for the other humans is that understood?" the King said with a fierce look. His eyes were so bright, it was almost hard to look right into them.
The captain saluted with the rest of his men. "Yes, your highness!!!" they roared before turning 180 degrees and running back up the stairs and out of sight.
"The rest of you, leave me with these two, we shall continue this debate at a later time." the Kings voice echoed throughout the room and the old elves in white robes all scurried out the same door they came in from.
There was a moment of silence as the King sat back down on his throne. "Come here already, quit standing around back there." he echoed again.
Looking to each other they shrugged and rounded the corner of the throne to see the King looking across the room as if completely disinterested.
"Aren't you afraid we will hurt you? We did take out two of your guards before we got here..." he said looking to his female companion who looked as confused as he did.
"No. Why would I, King of the Star Elves, be afraid of you two?" the King said raising an eyebrow.
They both looked confused as they tried to understand if that was supposed to mean anything significant other than status.
The King saw their obvious confusion and stepped in. "I have been King of the Star Elves for... lets see..." he thought for a moment. "About 4713 years now." he said tapping his chin. "Yup, 4713 years." he stood up pacing in a circle around the five thrones. "In that time I have seen generations of elves come and go, I have seen great wars, seen great times of peace and splendor." his voice echoed as he ran his fingers over each throne. "And do you know how I have survived so long? Against countless assassinations, wars, and defying death itself over all this time?" he asked, stopping to raise an eyebrow at them.
When they clearly had no answer he continued. "Because I am the most powerful individual on this entire island continent." he said without a single hint of sarcasm in his voice. "Do you think I am worried about you?" he asked in a slightly arrogant tone.
When it was clear that his point had been made, the King moved back towards them. "Now then, do you have names?" the King asked looking to the both of them.
He merely stood there, staring at his female companion before turning back to the King. "We didn't really spare the time to come up with any, and if we had any before, we cannot remember them." he said with an almost battered look on his face.
"Right, then I will give you names..." the King said pacing around in front of them.
Their eyes shot open as they looked to each other. "Don't you think we should name ourselves?" she said, looking to her male companion for support.
The King chuckled lightly. "No I certainly do not, you would probably come up with something stupid like Wind or Strawberry... no no no I will give you proper names." he mocked openly, continuing to pace in front of them.
"You will be Alexandros, you are tall and stout. It is a fitting name for one so strong." the King said pointing at him. "You... you will be Marianne." the King said looking her up and down. "For it is a name fitting of a woman of such beauty."
The two of them looked at each other and shrugged. It really didn't matter to him all that much, and they were pretty good names it seemed.
The King plopped down back in his throne looking quite satisfied with himself.
"How do you know so much about us?" Marianne asked the King, but looked to Alexandros as if he would have the answers.
The Kings satisfied face left him as he gave them a look that pained him. "Do you know what this place is called? Did anyone tell you on your way here?" he asked, and the two of them just shrugged in confusion.
The King stood and walked to the center of the 5 thrones where all the pathways converged. "This is the Hall of Five Kings. It has been empty for over 3000 years, but it used to be the greatest achievement of the five great societies." the King spoke with a bit of pain in his voice. "The Star Elves provided the food, our vast fields and fertile land helped us grow 10 times more than the others combined. The Dwarves provided Black Iron which can only be mined deep beneath the red rock mountains. The Sun Elves lived in the golden valley, a fertile plain surrounded on all sides with mountains, isolating it from the world. They provided mountains of gold which each nation minted into coin for the use of trade. The Moon Elves provided silver which flowed from the mines under the Fist of the God King, the largest mountain on the island. And the Fire Elves provided many rare and exotic animals as well as jewels from under the sands of the Black Forest. Together, we prospered for many hundreds of years." the King sighed heavily.
"However, A bit over 3000 years ago, a prophet came to us from the God Kings Tower, with powers we had never seen before. He stood before the council of five kings and unveiled a cryptic prophecy of the futures of all our societies and the coming of the children of the sky. It was said that a time would come when humanity will fall, and with their downfall they shall bring about a new age to the land and all its peoples." he paused for a moment in the very center of the room and looked up at the ceiling.
"In great detail he described you, Humans..." he said with a bit of contempt in his voice. "...and what you would be able to do. That you would be stronger, faster, and wield greater magical powers than any who lived, and that your conflicts would change the very landscape of the world." his voice echoed through the empty chamber.
"What did the prophet say we were here for? Just to fight? Just to destroy everything?" Alexandros said, looking to Marianne with a guilty expression.
"No actually, quite the opposite." the King spoke with a slight smile on his face. "You are said to bring us back to those times... though I am not sure how...." he bowed his head slightly with a smile that said he almost didn't believe it. He began pacing again, sighing heavily before he started.
"Each race had its own prophecy. The star elves were told, that the humans would bring us the justice of the gods, and that we would know salvation before the end. To the Dwarves, he said war is a cycle, you either live until you win, or lose until you die. But victory is not the only option, do what has never been done before, break your bonds to violence and you shall know greater glory than you have ever known. To the Moon Elves he said, those who cling to their shackles will fall with them, remember that all that is old is not inherently bad, and all that is new is not inherently good. To the Fire Elves, you will become slaves in your own kingdom, your people will fall, and your society will burn with the coming of the humans. You are the Phoenix, you are the flame, you must rise from the ashes and to victory lay claim. However to the last of us, the Sun Elves..." the King said, walking over to the Golden path and staring at the golden sun.
"You think you are safe, you think you are free, you think that the worlds problems will never come to thee. The sun which you worship shall burn you away, your arrogance and pride will bring you great shame. There's no hope for you now, so look to your people, for your hour has come, an end to the deceitful." the Kings voice shuddered as he spoke the last bit, and for a moment it seemed like someone had stabbed him, his face was in so much pain.
After a moment he took a deep breath and sighed. "Then he left and never returned." the King said looking back up at the ceiling. Like the cave they had entered in, it had a painted sky, with a fake sun producing light for the whole room at the very center. "Since then the council slowly decayed. It was the Moon Elves who believe the prophecy meant that they should seclude themselves from the rest of society and stick to their ancient traditions. Then the Fire Elves who believed that outsiders would destroy them. Then the Dwarves felt like the council was losing power by the day, and that they had a war to win against the Kobold hordes. But the Sun Elves, the Sun Elven massacre was what started it all..." he sighed heavily, sitting down in the middle of the room.
"That was something we never saw coming..." the King swallowed heavily and took a deep breath. "A great dragon from the Tower of the God King came forth and seemingly without reason, incinerated the entire Golden Valley and everyone in it. The Dragons flame was said to be so hot, that if you were even within viewing distance, you could feel its heat..." the King said, as if trying to remember it. "After that, the Kobolds invaded from the mountains and killed any survivors who had taken refuge under ground. To this day, the Golden Haired Sun Elves are all but extinct, nobody is sure how many of them are left, or IF any of them are left."
The Gamers King