THE ELF THAT MET HIS EQUAL AND MORE Part II: The Book in the Library

[Copyright Michael Llenos 2008]

Kuwer Troddleblog walked by the docks and anchored ships of the small town he arrived in early that morning, or what he believed was called South Market Town, as written on the sign-placard he saw hanging up at the land-way entrance to its harbor. Kuwer breathed in the salty sea air; it smelled just like the ocean air of Zanzabar. And although he knew that the saltiness of that ocean meant death to anyone who drank from it, its smell also refreshed his soul and revitalized his body in a way that no freshwater lake (or stream) could ever do for him in the past.
“Do you want to buy some dates?” asked a shop vendor, who looked up to Kuwer from one of the dock’s red, bricked-covered stalls, who also took Kuwer for a total stranger in these parts, based on his foreign apparel and tourist like demeanor.
Kuwer scanned the delicious variety of dried dates the merchant was selling. “No thank you, sir,” replied Kuwer with a little hesitation. “However, if you give me any information concerning a certain person that I am looking for, I’ll give you a gift you may find useful. His name is Governor Dundlebraak. Do you know anything about him? He was wearing a governor’s garb, or suit and tie, the last time I saw him?” At this point Kuwer would be glad for any information that this quay side merchant would be able to give him concerning the whereabouts of his new mentor, who helped him flee from an army of Amazon warriors serving under the nation of Grundaar.
The date seller stroked his beardless chin, and he was hesitant at first but then spoke up: “Now that you mention it, I think I know something about the man you have just described.” He paused then went on. “I believe this fellow of yours went to the ‘Boars Inn’ that is just several blocks east of here. That’s usually the first stop where visitors go these days. He was wearing glasses wasn’t he? And was he also wearing a sharp-looking governor’s suit and tie? He was obviously in a great hurry, and he only spoke a few words as he went by me yesterday morning. He did hand me several copper pence, however, because I guess he was being kind to me after I directed him to the ‘Boars Inn’. I hope that helps your situation.”
“Thank you so much for the information, it more than helps me,” replied Kuwer. “And now I believe I have something of yours that is in my possession.” Kuwer reached into his left pant’s pocket and took out a shiny, half-moon coin and handed it to the date vendor.
The date vendor smiled back at Kuwer. “Thanks so much that was very nice of you. I wish you the best of luck on your journey.”
“I’m going to need it,” chuckled Kuwer Troddleblog, “after everything as odd and life threatening as I have just experienced these last few days!”
Curiously, the date vendor had no idea as to what Kuwer specifically meant by that, but he also knew that the elf walking east along the docks needed all the luck he could get if he wanted to survive the cold-harsh reality of South Market Town.

* * * * * * * *

When Kuwer Troddleblog opened the Boars Inn’s twin doors he smelled the unmistakable aroma of bacon and sausages being fried on a griddle. “Hello, newcomer!” greeted a man behind the inn’s bar table, whom Kuwer believed was the innkeeper, a man who looked past his prime. “What can I do for you?”
Kuwer hesitated then spoke up: “I’m looking for a certain governor that is most likely staying here. His name is Governor Dundlebraak. Do you know of him?”
“Are you here on business friend?” asked the innkeeper curiously. “Or are you trying to spy on someone here?”
“I am in a way his friend,” answered Kuwer dismissively. “My name is Kuwer Troddleblog, an elf from Zanzabar, and my friend is from Tyrinia.”
“Zanzabar you say,” reflected the innkeeper, “I’ve never heard of that place before, unless you mean “Old Grynhall Port”, and I know that Tyrinia is over thirty miles away to the northwest. However, I’ve never been to either....”
Kuwer was about to ask the innkeeper if any gentleman with glasses came to the inn in the last day or two when, suddenly, Governor Dundlebraak came walking down the inn’s rickety staircase. Noticing Kuwer from the bottom of the staircase Dundlebraak greeted him. “Hello Kuwer! I’m glad you were able to find this inn. I thought you might have lost your way.”
“Lost my way!” bellowed Kuwer. “I thought maybe you lost your way! So what has happened to you since our escape from those hoplites. Remember those infantry-soldiers who wanted to kill us? Or did you forget about those blood thirsty women?”
“Well I apologize if you haven’t been able to recover from that incident lately, Kuwer,” replied the governor. ”And that, I'm sorry to say, I have been in a more comfortable spot these last twenty four hours than you have been yourself. I’m just glad to see you safe and sound, however, that’s all... Come, let’s sit together at that table over there. Don’t worry breakfast is on me.” Dundlebraak pointed at a table that was sitting in the middle of the room, which was weighed down with mugs of coffee, pork chops and cow steaks, breakfast pastries, and hot-iced buttered rolls.
“Don’t mind if I do,” replied Kuwer, who liked his fair share of well-cooked meat whenever he could get it. Kuwer walked over and sat down at the table after Dundlebraak. “Now you are truly my hero of Zanzabar, Governor Dundlebraak!” commented the elf. “At least, that is, for right now. All kidding aside, what shall we do after breakfast?”
Dundlebraak picked up a hot-iced buttered roll and used a knife to spread some extra butter over its top. He began to eat and talk at the same time: “Well Kuwer my friend, as I see it, we have several options to consider because of our present circumstances. We can either, one, go back to Tyrinia the way we are, where we will most likely be captured and killed by Amazon warriors. Or, two, go and do nothing, except try to make a life here. Or, three, we can go to the Duke of South Market Town and ask him to lend us troops for a crusade against those Amazon women we ran from at my former place of governorship. Well, what do you think about that?”
After a few extra bites of his pork chop, Kuwer wiped the grease from his chin before responding. “I believe, my dear Governor Dundlebraak, we have no further options available to us, of any worth whatsoever, than to go to the Duke and petition him for some troops to oust out those enemies from that town of yours!”
With a smile Governor Dundlebraak took a sip of his coffee before saying: “Anything else would be boring, wouldn’t it, my dear friend Troddleblog?”
The elf smiled back, and added, “It would indeed be boring, my dear governor... it would indeed!”

* * * * * * * *

The Duke of South Market Town (or Duke Hatter, as he was more formally called) was a plump, cynical man who always had at tendency to act very curtly. He was rude to the point of obsession. It was also well said by his serfs that you either obeyed the Duke or had to endure the consequences, and those consequences could end up ruining your life forever. Duke Hatter looked menacing whenever he sat on his throne. Today he looked more menacing than ever before. The Duke spoke up. “The next one, I assume!” he said as he waved his left hand and pinky, in a semi-circular motion, towards the audience chamber, a chamber connected to its large main hall. He hummed a tune to his own words. “Bye, bye my friends! What can the land grant me now?”
The next two suppliants to enter his chamber, after the last two persons exited, were obviously strangers to Duke Hatter; he never before seen them in his entire life. The Duke’s announcer yelled out. “The High Duke of South Market Town, Duke Hatter, will now see two more citizens of his realm!”
What looked like a young elf and an older man walked into the Duke’s audience chamber. The Duke leaned forwards and beamed into both suppliants faces. “Who are thou... humph?” asked the Duke.
The older individual, wearing glasses, decided to be the first one to answer the question. “My name is Governor Dundlebraak and this is my assistant, and friend, Kuwer Troddleblog—an elf and hero from Zanzabar. Your majesty, we are on a mission from Tyrinia. It seems that a bunch of Amazon war—“
Duke Hatter instantly cut off Dundlebraak’s speech with the wave of his left hand and a stomp of his right foot. “I think I have heard nothing wrong with my lands up there!” The Duke commented angrily. “And as far as Tyrinia is concerned, it was always one of my lesser vassals. You have had your say, now who should I speak to next?” cried the Duke loudly, as he scanned the entrance of the room for his next bunch of denizen victims.
This very short audience with the Duke, however, didn’t go as both Dundlebraak and Kuwer planned. After Governor Dundlebraak gave Kuwer a sigh of puzzlement, the elf decided that before he left he had to say something. “Your majesty,” Kuwer spoke quite loudly, “your realm and all of Ruundra are in grave danger from an advancing army of Amazon mercenary troops! Why they just attacked Tyrinia over a day ago. Clearly your majesty would be so kind as to grant us troops to—“
Before Kuwer could continue there came a loud thump on the floor. “How many times do I have to say it?!” The Duke yelled. “There is nothing wrong with Tyrinia, elf! And as far as both of you wishing to have troops from South Market Town, your request I deny. Besides, I believe, you two to be the spies that my dear allies, the Amazon people, who have forewarned me about several hours ago....” The Duke suddenly blurted out: “Get them!”
Before man and elf could figure out what next to do, two very strong individuals came behind them and braced Kuwer and Dundlebraak's hands behind their backs. Both Dundlebraak and Kuwer looked to see who grabbed them and realized that they were Amazon women. “This is treason, unhand me you soldiers of Grundaar!” yelled Dundlebraak.
“Shut up!” spit out one of the two women. "You two make any more noise and you'll be knocked on your heads!"
Both man and elf looked at the Duke in utter shock. “What was I supposed to do?” said the Duke defensively. “Not only did they show me a great deal of respect, but they also offered me a great deal of coin to help me in my troubles. You wouldn’t happen to have several gold bars on you, now would you?”
“Everyone’s realm is in danger!” yelled Dundlebraak. “We’re all in this together!”
The Duke guffawed out loud. “Yes, of course, now both of you are in this together! Now nighty, night to you all.” The Duke waved his right hand at both of them.
And before Kuwer and Governor Dundlebraak could make any further protests, black hoods were fastened over their heads, they were knocked on their noggins, their hands and feet were tied up, and they were carried away hand and foot out of the Duke’s keep, and carelessly thrown into a wagon, where both of them fell unconscious and were driven away.

* * * * * * * *

About several hours later, after a long spell of unconsciousness, Governor Dundlebraak and Kuwer Troddleblog woke up and realized that the Amazon women, who carried them into the back of a wagon they were now riding in, where no where to be found. “What the heck is going on!” moaned Kuwer. “Where are we going? Are you awake Dundlebraak?”
The governor responded softly to Kuwer: “It’s my guess, my dear elven friend, that we are traveling towards Grundaar....”
Kuwer felt he got the wind knocked out of him when he heard the words: traveling and Grundaar. “How do you know that?” Kuwer asked deeply puzzled.
“I know that, my dear elf, because we are in a wagon traveling on a dirt road. There would be no dirt roads if we were traveling westwards or northwards. Besides, I cannot smell the sea air anymore.”
Makes sense, the elf thought. Although, he thought it somewhat vexing that he wasn’t able to figure that out himself since it now seemed so very obvious.
The governor was himself not that easy of mind either. “I don’t hear the driver, do you my friend?” asked Dundlebraak.
The elf replied very annoyed. “I don’t think so…shhhh…the wagon is stopped and I hear someone coming!”
In the next few minutes both man and elf heard quite a bit of marching and stamping of feet; as Kuwer Troddleblog and Governor Dundlebraak were carried out of the wagon, pushed forward on their knees, and their hoods were taken off their heads.
A woman on a large palfrey pointed her sword at the two hostages. “Yes, those are the two spies we have orders to take to Tyrinia—”
“Are you sure about this?” replied a man, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of the horse pulled wagon.
“As a mercenary of the Grundaar army, and as an Amazon warrior, I am more than sure,” replied the woman.
The man stroked his beard a few times. “Okay, if that’s what you say, they are your prisoners now... Good bye!” The man then gingerly slapped the reigns of his horse drawn carriage and traveled on a dirt road eastwards until he disappeared behind one of its hilly bends.
Kuwer and Dundlebraak had their hands and feet untied and they were presented before the Amazon woman that negotiated the prisoner exchange.
“So are both of you okay?” she asked. Man and elf were too puzzled at the sincerity in the young woman's voice to really say anything in response. “Don’t be scared gentlemen, I may be an Amazon warrior, but I’m on your side.”
Like a fire spark Kuwer made the connection more quickly than Dundlebraak. “You’re that Amazon warrior that fled with us away from Tyrinia when those hoplites came marching after us!” replied Kuwer, with a more optimistic tone of voice.
“Yes, that was me,” replied the woman as her fellow Amazon riders began to snicker. “My name is Captain Tiliya, of the Amazon people, and I was sent by my people to put an end to one of the greatest betrayals our country has faced. One of our Amazonian monarchs, a princess of Eastern Ruundra--named Bythia the Bold--has been offered a secret alliance by a certain Grundaarian King Polemeth, in which they were to put to the sword every citizen of Western Ruundra, from Tyrinia to Grynhall Forest. In exchange for the alliance the Princess has made with King Polemeth, she has been given the right to raid Grynhall Town by the king. Somewhere in that town’s library is said to be a special codex hidden away that King Polemeth does not know about, and in that codex a map showing a secret site located in the midst of Grynhall Forest. This site is said to have a magical drum, which gives great power to anyone who plays on it.”
The Amazon warrior then turned to Governor Dundlebraak in apology. “I’m sorry for lying to you in the beginning Dundlebraak. I’m sorry for lying about everything, about the distance of the Grundaarian army, since I did not know how soon it would be coming to Tyrinia, and what we were really doing there at Tyrinia instead of being true mercenaries in your service.”
“Don’t worry about that Captain Tiliya,” replied Dundlebraak. “You’ve just rescued me and Kuwer from a harsh Grundaarian prison and the possibility of a Grundaarian execution…. Thank you for the rescue! I am in your service madam; as everyone in Tyrinia should also be since you did after all rescue the people of Tyrinia with your warning to flee silently to the Western Woods—”
“And I too am in your service Captain Tiliya,” spoke Kuwer in an overly dramatic sort of way.
“Good!” voiced Tiliya. “It is settled then. It is a great honor to serve with you both and with no regrets from now on!” Then all of Captain Tiliya’s remaining ten cavalry riders raised a shout and salute to both man and elf. Tiliya and her companions were obviously pleased with both former hostages' attitudes on how lightly they took their recent hardships.
Tiliya smiled at both of them. “Now at this time I suggest we start heading for the Western Woods and Grynhall Forest, so we can devise a plan with the means to defeat the realm of Grundaar and its mercenary army. I have sent the rest of my surviving cavalry riders to Eastern Ruundra so they can relay information to the Queen of the Amazons. We must get as far away from the borders of Grundaar as possible, at least now since our enemies lie everywhere in this country.”
With that said two Amazon warriors came forward on black mounts and helped lift both Kuwer and Dundlebraak onto their horses behind them. Then in an instant all of the riders rode off into the setting western sun of Ruundra.

* * * * * * * *

Mayor Bluemon, of the modestly populated Grynhall Town, was not your average type of politician. He rose to the rank of mayor, not because he was a skilled politician, or because he was adept at the exchange of commerce between Grynhall Town and the outside world. But rather he came to be town mayor because he saved the town from a raid of mountain men from the northwest while he was acting sheriff’s deputy of Grynhall Town’s military defenses. This raid happened during the fall harvest of the previous year. The motives of the mountain men being that they wanted to steal the food resources of Grynhall Town for themselves before the winter season began.
Since then all of the townspeople, however, felt that Mayor Bluemon was, so far, doing an adequate job as the town’s head politician. They never experienced any real misfortune or misgivings under his leadership. This situation did suit Bluemon because he didn’t believe in his heart that he was capable of being a real politician under normal circumstances.
Bluemon residence was located inside a tower of the town’s main fortress. Centered in the middle of town, the fortress and tower allowed Bluemon to keep tabs on all of the residence and visitors to Grynhall Town. He used to joke that the people had more eyes than him, but because of his elevated residence, his eyes were bigger than all of theirs combined. Living in the tower was a great asset and privilege that Bluemon loved and which he didn’t really want to give up.
“Mayor Bluemon!” shouted a young elf, who could only have been the youthful town watch runner Daren.
Mayor Bluemon looked outside his window and into the keep below. “What is it Daren?” he asked.
“Mayor Bluemon, there seems to be a group of mounted Amazons at the town gate. They’re asking for permission to enter our town and to have an audience with you—“
The mayor couldn’t think up any reason why a group of Amazon women would want to speak to him personally, especially this early in the morning. Did it have anything to do with those mountain men from the northwest? He hoped not. Defending his town from any group of murderers was something he didn’t want to have to do twice. Or could it be worse like what the recent traveling rumors hinted at? Bluemon had to ask. “These Amazon warriors, are they soldiers of Grundaar? Like the rumors talk about?”
“I don’t think so, sir!” replied Daren. “They even have an elf with them—”
A bunch of mounted Amazon warriors with an elf? That was quite unusual thought Mayor Bluemon. He didn’t feel like missing this opportunity today to talk with such strange traveling companions. Bluemon pointed down at the town crier. “Daren, tell Sheriff Toolly to open the gates and to escort them in front of the keep. Make sure the murder holes are manned, their weapons are confiscated and the town gate is locked once they are inside. I don’t want any of them escaping if it is an assassination attempt they are trying to accomplish!”
Daren saluted Mayor Bluemon, said a ‘yes sir’, then turned around and ran towards the town gate as fast as he could.
Looking up at the foreboding sky, which signaled the coming rain, Mayor Bluemon wondered what new things he would see and hear from such strange travelers.

* * * * * * * *

Rain started falling over Grynhall Town. As it fell in front of the Keep, it could mean only one thing: a heavy inundation followed by wet grass and slippery mud. Mayor Bluemon swiftly walked up to what looked like the dismounted officials in charge of a cavalry group behind them. There were before him an Amazon warrior, a man and an elf. “What could I do for you travelers?” asked the Mayor.
It was the dismounted Amazon woman who spoke up first. “You must be Mayor Bluemon?” asked the lady.
Bluemon nodded his head. “I am he. And who might you be?”
“My name is Captain Tiliya of the Amazon people. We are messengers from the east of Ruundra who regret to inform you that a Grundaarian army is most likely heading this way with the destruction of your town as one of their missions.”
Bluemon frowned when he heard this. “Are you sure about this?”
“Of course, we are sure,” Governor Dundlebraak explained. “I am the Governor of Tyrinia and my town fell to the Grundaarian army less than four days ago. As refugees we need your help in stopping their further advances.”
The Mayor of Grynhall Town became automatically skeptical. “What can this meager town of ours provide you with that can stop a Grundaarian army?”
Kuwer interjected: “It’s not what is in this town but what is outside of it—“
“Enough elf!” shouted Tiliya as she put her hand over Kuwer’s mouth.
Governor Dundbraak tried to stifle the flames of curiosity from this strange outburst. “What my elven friend meant to say was that this army of Grundaar wants to gain power in all of Ruundra, and it will try to do so through the acquisition of your town’s riches of gold (and other precious metals) that you keep within your treasury; this force also has a corrupted contingent of Amazon warriors that they are using as hoplites.”
At this moment, the rain soon began to fall down even harder. Captain Tiliya decided to change the subject. “Mayor Bluemon, we know that you are busy and all, but we were wondering if you would be so kind as to direct us to some place warm. We don’t need lodgings or such. We and our mounts just need a place out of this wet weather,” Tiliya stoically paused then continued, “I have heard reports about this town of yours and that it has a library somewhere in its northwestern corner. Can we go there to dry off and to do a bit of reading?”
Mayor Bluemon was not detecting any kind of wrongdoing on the part of Tiliya or her companions. “I guess that would be okay,” he voiced. “Daren, escort these Tyrinians and Amazons to the Library. There they will be allowed to dry off and to rest inside its premises. Tell your fellows to bring their horses to the stables. The Amazon women can have their weapons back when they leave town.”
“Yes, sir!” replied Daren the elf. “I’ll escort them to the library and put their horses in the stable.” After the rest of the Amazons dismounted, they followed Daren in the direction of the library.

* * * * * * * *

The one and only library of Grynhall Town was an amazing sight to see. It was amazing to behold because it was probably the most expensive and articulately constructed building in that entire town. The building’s facade was made almost entirely out of cut stone. About twelve steps led up to the entrance of the building. The entrance was supported by eight heavy, ionic columns stretching thirty feet to its roof, and its seventeen foot high entrance doors were made out of well constructed solid oak. Once inside the library, Tiliya and her Amazon subordinates immediately spread out in search of the hidden codex.
Not unlike the libraries he was used to in Zanzabar, Kuwer Troddleblog noticed--on the entrance sign--a banner hanging up that said the library was open five days a week. Kuwer used his right elbow to nudge Dundlebraak in his side. He mused. “This is just like one of the libraries back home in Zanzabar, Governor Dundlebraak.”
The governor responded curiously. “What a fascinating place this is, my young elf! How fascinating! Why there are so many books and scrolls all neatly arranged in little cubbyholes or on shelves that I can’t believe I have seen anything like this in all of Ruundra… or at least in all of Eastern Ruundra!”
Kuwer laughed at his amazed companion. “You really need to get out and see more of Western Ruundra, Dundlebraak!”
“I suppose I should,” replied Dundlebraak, with his eyes wide open at all of the books neatly placed on the library’s shelves.
Captain Tiliya was coming down from one of the ladders of the library's middle aisle with a large leather bound book in her hands. “I have it! Now gather round…” she cried for all to hear. Tiliya, Dundlebraak and Kuwer and the rest of the Amazon women came to a round table in the middle of the library’s main hall.
Tiliya opened the book on the table as her companions gazed in wonder at the inside contents of the book. She looked at the table of contents and read out loud: “The Magic Drum, Chapter Four, Page 144….” Tiliya quickly turned to where Chapter Four of the book was located and scanned the pages for the said map. With everyone taking in her every word, the Amazon warrior breathed out under her breath the minute details she was trying to complete. “Let me see. The Magic Drum. For map, see below. Magic Drum map, index page 701.” She flipped the book to page number 701. There was a white envelope glued to the page with nothing in it.
Captain Tiliya, cried out loud: “It’s empty! Someone took the map!”
“Shhhh…” hushed someone from across the room and who looked to be like one of the building’s librarians.
“I can’t believe it,” replied one of the Amazon women (not Tiliya), “someone stole a map from out of a library book?”
Governor Dundlebraak was also amazed. “But who would do such a thing?”
“Well if you want my advice,” said Kuwer, “you should look at the first few pages of the book and see who was the last person to borrow it. It’s called a due-date-roster back home.”
Tiliya flipped the pages as fast as she could until she came to the first couple of sheets of parchment at the front end of the book. When the due-date list was examined they scanned to the bottom last name which read: Bythia the Bold.
“I knew it!” echoed Tiliya. “My worst fears are realized… Bythia has come here alone and has stolen the map!”
Kuwer had no idea what course of action to take next. He looked into Captain Tiliya’s depressed eyes, looking for answers. “What does that mean for the rest of us?”
She stared straight back into the elves' eyes. “What it means elf, is that Bythia probably already has the drum… What that means is you must run… And when I say run elf, you run! Head towards Zanzabar with Dundlebraak as fast as you can. War is coming to Zanazabar, and it will be here in Grynhall Forest in a very short time.”
“And what will you do?” queried a concerned Governor Dundlebraak.
“What do you think?” countered Tiliya. “I am going to fight against King Polemeth and his evil army of Grundaar, or die trying… I am going to make my stand here in Grynhall Town with Mayor Bluemon… I believe he is an honest man… I believe he needs to hear the truth.”
At that point, both Kuwer Troddleblog and Governor Dundlebraak looked at each other and decided to do one thing that they knew they were excellent at. The one thing that they knew they could do well, or at least thought they could do well. They exited the library and they ran into the rain….and they ran as fast as their feet could carry them.

The End.


[Copyright Michael Llenos 2010]