The Fey Bride of Elfland
The Distance of Desires
The little man wished us a good day as he left early in the morning. The ground at the bottom of the gorge was rocky and I guess near the water table, as my bedroll began to get damp from my weight pressing it into the soil next to the stream. I thus was awake softly complaining about the lack of comfort when I heard the little man tell me that he wished us well as he strode down the gorge.
I hung up my bedroll thinking to wear it around me during the day in order to dry it out. Turning to look for Chamorrick, I saw our pot over the fire with a strange smell coming from it. Checking out the contents I found myself surprised to discover a mixture of fish and vegetables. While it tasted good, very good, I did not remember us bringing fish or all those vegetables with us. Wondering if the little man had fixed the entrée, or if my half-brother had gained some special ingredients along with a recipe from Queen Titania, I sat down to eat thinking it would be a good start to the day.
I noticed Chamorrick came wearing his cloak, but before I could ask about the food he asked a question of me. “Kevin, who did you speak to last night?”
“Uh? Oh, I believe some pure elves. Didn’t face them directly, but only suspected they were present. I asked that they would at least give us an audience.”
“Well, the nymph of this stream says that she can speak to Lasotherral for me. This stream seems to have a source within the volcano where Lasotherral bathes with other nymphs.”
Thinking back over my study of folklore, I said, “I hope that she is not mad at us for not giving her proper respect. We did call out, but having the troll reply slightly spoiled our manners.”
“No, she is quite pleased that we killed the troll. We also did things to help remove the presence of the troll from her domain. While she could not speak at the time, as the troll had removed her voice, she could hear. She told me that she would repay our kindness by speaking for us to Lasotherral.”
“Well, I will make a note to clean up our presence before we leave and speak a thanks.”
He brought out his bowl and filled it while saying, “That is definitely one thing that you do for me that I need. My father is king, and brought me up to be king, so there is an arrogance in my behavior. There however is a level of respect in you that I believe would help me.”
Actually, I felt my half-brother and I were getting along rather well, so stressed the differences between us. “You still need to be king, Cham. Yes, listen to my advice, but in the end you are the one that needs to rule the land.”
“No, you don’t understand. I believe you do a better job of not being our father.”
“I believe that your father is a good king. Maybe not a good man, but a good king. Yes, in times like this you need to be more of a man, when we return to Florinew you will more often need to be more of a king.”
He started eating, although in the way he then spoke I felt that he was spending time more planning his words than just filling his belly. “It is in my life with my wife and children that I do not want to be like our father. You have that alternate style of behavior around your wife and others that I want in my life when I am not king. In my times with Lasotherral, or whoever my wife ends up being, I want to be you, and not king.”
“On a number of levels I have to agree with you, but you still have the obligation of being king. I also will have to say that your life with Lasotherral, or really any other woman, will be quite different than me with Rabbit. Thus, learn all you can about whatever lady you gain, and work to be her husband in all aspects of your life.” Curious, I then asked, “Did the nymph cook this?”
“Yes, and she tried to make your rest peaceful, but apologized for getting your bedroll wet.”
I looked at my bedroll and decided that it would not hurt to give it more time to dry. “Let’s do what more we can to clean up this place before we leave.”
Even wearing his cloak, Chamorrick worked with me to do what we could to remove evidence of the troll having lived in this area. As the sun rose in the sky, we saw more filth than we thought could be present. We however stayed at the task until we finished the pot of food the nymph had prepared for us. Finally packing away our cooking equipment, we thanked the lady for her kindness and wished her a pleasant future before leaving the area.
Coming up, Queanay demanded, "What were you two doing down there?"
Chamorrick answered, "Getting some rest."
"Streams with pure flows will be home to nymphs."
I replied, "Not if a troll disrupts her home. The place down there was filthy even for us men."
Chamorrick said, "It is not good to see that you conveniently arrived after we did all that work."
She fumed, "I have been looking for you two!"
"Yes, Retallard would say that as well. Just like him, I will try to ignore you, although will at least wish you a good day."
He began to move off. I did act to follow, although also looked back wondering about the lady. She saw our movements, and ran up to begin matching our pace.
She stayed silent for a period, but seeing me continue to look at her she finally mumbled, "One piece of advice mother did give me was to never argue with a successful man. Something tells me that the two of you are having success."
I had to ask, "So, you are waiting for us to fail?"
"Not much else to wait for."
"That's a very discouraging attitude, Queanay. I almost want to demand that you leave us."
Chamorrick spun to say, "Yes, Queanay, as it seems that you are without the support of your mother as well. Admit it – you went to her about stopping us, and that is when she gave you those words."
Without showing any fear, she replied, "Yes, it was. Still, if you two are being successful, I want to know why. I want to know what about this stunt you two are doing is so noteworthy. None of my checks of the future shows any good coming from this. I actually expected not to hear from the two of you, but my needing to risk my own life in order to find your torn, twisted, and probably eaten bodies."
"Sorry that you found us rugged, whole, and presently sated."
I replied "Yes, as we killed a troll and cleaned up a good bit of its mess all by ourselves. That proves that we are capable of making it on our own, thus – rugged."
Chamorrick returned to walking as he said, "Thank you, Kevin. Yes, we are rugged."
Queanay continued to walk next to me while mumbling, "I am not challenging either of you, but I am tagging alone."
I could not help but reply, "I don't know if that is good, as it could make us appear less rugged."
"Maybe I can however let Chamorrick see that I am not such a bad option for a wife."
My half-brother commanded, "Figure out a way to send her away, Kevin."
"No," I crisply replied.
"Listen, we were discussing you having to crawl to this woman and beg her to accept you should this little excursion turn sour. Well, her being with you should make that not necessary. She will see what you refused her for, so should understand the greatness of your scheme. She is claiming that she wants you, and with direct evidence of why you turned her down she should be more than willing to accept that you are still worthy of her affection."
I was interested in Chamorrick's reply. Queanay turned to him with an expression of wondering what he would say in return. While he did look to the lady, his response was slightly inappropriate.
"Yes, what he said. You good with that, Queanay?"
She calmly answered, "No, but at the moment I have no choice. Mother told me not to argue with a successful man. I definitely see the wisdom in that, and must confess that at the moment you both are doing a lot better, and are a lot more confident, than my investigations say you should be. Thus, I am still committed to staying with you, although I am predicting that you will still need to kiss my feet while apologizing heavily before our courtship begins."
I felt a need to speak before my half-brother did. "He is painting himself into a corner, but both he and I heard it said that we would be bettered by making this journey. Thus, I believe that you, Queanay, will be bettered as well. Come on."
As I said the latter statement, I moved out my hand to indicate for her to again start walking. She however shot out her hands to grab my arm. She then stepped beside me as if I was to escort her through a castle corridor. I looked at the lady and appraised her appearance. For someone with the Ice Queen as a mother, and I assume in line to become the next Ice Queen one day, she appeared as a warm person. The hair was the black of rich, healthy soil. Her red eyes actually gave her a strong appearance, although strangely comforting as well. She had much more on her chest than my wife. Considering the rather abusive and forceful previous encounters with this lady, I found myself rather pleased to have her at my side. I thus started walking while making a statement hoping to start a more pleasant conversation.
"I cannot imagine you looking anything like your mother."
She asked, "You have never seen my mother?"
"I cannot say that I have. I have seen pictures, but I cannot say they were from those that actually knew what they were illustrating." I thought about the many images of the Ice Queen, then said, "The red eyes really take me by surprise."
"Yes. I hear most suitors try to glorify me by speaking of them displaying an inner warmth, and I am tired of it. Mother's eyes are black, black, blacker than my hair. Father's, so I am told, were brown. Mother says that her eyes are a combination of her ancestry, and something in her make-up along with those of my father caused my red eyes. I just have red eyes, and would rather it be left to that."
"I am sorry, Queanay, but it cannot be. Us men must praise the ladies we meet in some fashion. I am sure that my wife has heard my statements of pleasure in her form many times, but she might as well get used to hearing them over the expanse of our time together. I believe the same is with you." Attempting to lighten the conversation, I added, "I however could advise Chamorrick to direct his comments toward other of your assets lower on your body and not have people focus on your face."
Things went quiet with me actually wondering if she was thinking my words over, or had simply decided to end the conversation. My experience with women had both as a distinct possibility. Her words when she finally spoke however let me know that she was pondering questions I had not considered.
"Kevin, you have not met my mother, have you?"
"No, Queanay. I felt there was a possibility when we were escaping from your home, but that was honestly the only opportunity I felt it possible for me to have met your mother." Curious, I had to ask, "Does that then put me in a bad light with you?"
Her other hand came up and patted my arm near where the other had a hold as she answered, "I really do not know at the moment, but I have lived with my mother all my life, so I guess that I can tolerate being with you. Keep enabling Chamorrick to be successful, and I might learn to listen to you as well."
And so the three begin traveling together.