Willin, steward to the King of the Enchanted Forest, was in a fine mood, although you'd have to know him very well to know this from the way he flitted from table to table like a chickadee. Telemain, however, did not know Willin very well, and thought that this fussy little elf had something like a superiority complex, bossing about people whose only crime was to show up.
He didn't DO balls. They were awkward and stuffy in huge, fragile rooms that were laced with far more interesting magic, and you had to wear clothes that did not include pockets. Telemain liked having his instruments close by, and pockets had the added benefit of having a place to put your hands when you didn't know what to do with them. The Darkmorning elven princes whirling by could always manage to look so COOL, a term that Telemain disliked because it was inaccurate.
But it was true.
The King of the Enchanted Forest threw quite a few balls every year. Using some sort of magic, he'd erected this room as a collapsible addition to his castle. and everyone who knew anyone who had an invitation would show up to the Mayday Gala, where princes and princesses circled each other like cats as their parents looked on and argued over dowries and the exchange of territories, and everyone else mobbed the food tables when they weren't shrieking and dancing until their feet dropped off.
Telemain had got an invite due to being on the Headmaster's honor list at the Magician's Academy on the other side of the Mountains of Morning, and he'd gone mostly because he'd wanted to understand the King's style of magic, which he'd heard was like no other brand in any of the other kingdoms. Specifically, right now he was interested in how to better bend space like the King had done here. So far, he'd had to conclude that a spell of this magnitude was probably a bit beyond him, as the room ran seamlessly from heavy, sensible stonework to a kind of circular architecture that was so showy and overdone it may have well been icing, for all the sense it made, complete with arches and flying buttresses. When you walked out the balcony at the far end, there wasn't a sign of the grand ballroom at all, as the wall went back to being made of stone and flat, though you could see the dancers inside wheeling about. If you weren't careful, the sight could give you a headache.
He might have gone after the King of the Enchanted Forest to get a better explanation, possibly even a live demonstration of how it was, if it weren't obvious that the
A tiny face, with hair as flyaway and put-together as a swallow's nest, scowled out from behind the raised curtain. "Lemme alone," it whined, trying to tug the table skirts down again. "Or Willy or Daddy's going to find me and make me dance with the stupid giggly princesses, and they're ICKY."
"Daddy?" said Telemain, glancing at Morwen, who looked like she was about to have a giggle fit herself.
"Oh dear," sniffed Morwen, trying to iron out her grin, with little success. "Telemain. It's the PRINCE of the Enchanted Forest. You see?"
Across the magical ballroom, Willin was starting to eye them suspiciously.
dressed in rather impractical and stuffy robes
The three of them sat there, watching the inch or so of gap between the floor and the tablecloth where feet pattered back and forth in expensive boots and delicate filigree'd shoes filled their glasses from the Cauldron of Plenty, which seemed to be running low on the exciting sorts of drinks and was making do with a diluted sort of fruit punch.
"I was about done with balls, anyway," said Morwen.
"Yuck," said Prince Mendenbar, clapping small hands over his eyes and pulling a face. "If you're gonna ruin MY perfect hideout with KISSING, you gotta leave."
Telemain blushed, but Morwen just shot the little prince a haughty look, planting an arm against her hip and cocking her head. On anyone else hiding under a party table with a punch bowl above their heads, refugees among royal personages, and sitting crosslegged in a dress not designed to be sat on at all, getting defensively prickly would have looked silly. On Morwen, it was unreasonably attractive.
"Oh? And how are you going to make us, Mr. Prince?"
"My Daddy-" started the child, and fell silent.
"If you go GET your daddy," reasoned Morwen, "you're going to ruin your own perfect hideout, aren't you?"
Mendenbar stayed silent, apparently running this piece of logic through his young mind.
"No kissing," he muttered. "S'final."
"I wouldn't suppose you'd like to try flying by broomstick?" offered Morwen. "It's a long way back to the Mountains of Morning from here, and you haven't quite got that teleportation spell worked out, after all. I don't like to think of you ending up embedded halfway into a rock because you got the co-ordinates wrong."
"I don't suppose that's a bad idea," mused Telemain, eying the broom. "I could work out the features of the thrust spell that counteracts the air resistance-"
Morwen raised an eyebrow.
"Yes," said Telemain, rather too quickly.
It turned out that the way to deeply impress a young witch was precisely the opposite route to the one Telemain had taken, which had been: A, cling with both knees like a ninny to the end of the broomstick as it whipped through chilly night air at a terrifying height, B, make undigified squeaking noises whenever the broomhandle dug in uncomfortably in a sudden gust or slipstream, C, stagger off it at his dormitory, lower regions entirely numb, and D, heave up all the punch and hors d' ourvres onto her shoes as he turned to her to thank her for a lovely evening and the ride home.
Make that both balls AND broomsticks that he couldn't do.
Oh. And women.
(This is very very unfinished as you can tell, i will edit it and fill in the gaps VERY SOON.)