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Right to the Peace

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Sarai couldn't come to terms with what happened. It was impossible. After all, who could have assumed that Callum would hide between the packages and travel with them to the Xadian side of the border. The moment she discovered Callum was between them came when she returned for Viren. Without him, the entire trip would have been unsuccessful. It was close for Thunder to finish them all off. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Callum appeared. She herself did not believe what she was seeing.



The little boy screamed, begged, and called the dragon to let her go. The dragon hesitated- but not for long.


He grabbed the boy in his claws and demanded an explanation. After a short and stormy conversation, the Dragon looked at them and said that Xadia would give them both the peace and the food they needed. The condition was that Callum will spend 10 years in Xadia as a hostage. In case of refusal, the boy will die. Sarai had no intention of leaving her son in their hands, Harrow either. However, refusing the deal would cost his life. They had to agree. Then something broke inside her. After returning to the castle, she locked herself in their bedroom. She hadn't eaten, drank or slept in two days. Harrow tried to help her, though he was in a similar condition himself.



-Your Highness… -Sarai heard Opeli's voice, her childhood friend, behind her.


-Please, Opeli. Leave me alone. - she said. She was trembling all the time. What have she done? She had failed her son as a mother. Opeli, however, came up to her and put a hand on her shoulder.


-I cannot imagine what you are going through now, but Your Majesty, you must live on. Callum is alive,but is just a hostage for the next 10 years in Xadia. He will come back, and it will be in your best interest to make sure the Elves will not feel threatened by humans in any way. If there will be no incident at the border, they will let him go and it'll be all right. They're going to send food for our people and to Duren, and everyone will  live like none of it happened.


-But what if ... What if someone will provoke the elves on purpose to ... kill him? He is at mercy of the enemy, Opeli. I ... I let him down ...


-You speak exactly like Harrow. I talked with him. He sees it as his failure. People are starting to worry. Viren, Amaya, the whole council, the garrison of soldiers and even the people are with you. They are ready to save your son, and even in a gesture of solidarity to make a contribution for the redemption of the prince.


-I doubt it would work, but thank you. It's good to know that people are not deaf to the suffering of a child. Food shipments from Xadia are expected in a week's time. Then I will try to at least convince them to let me write letters to him.- Sarai said.


-We are with you. By the way, your younger son misses you too. Harrow is trying to calm him down, although I think only you can do it.- Opeli patted her on the shoulder.






-No, no, no, and no again!- Runaan protested. - We can't do it. It's a human! You know what they are doing. Their Dark Magic ... Even if we accepted him, other children in his age would tease him, at best.


-Runaan, this is the order. He'll be safe only here. We can also put an Illusion on him. Anyway, he is only 10 years old and is harmless. We can say that it is a child of one of the members of the Dragon Guard. Lain argued.


-It's a political game. He is a hostage that can provide us with peace for years. His parents took the remnants of one of Avizandum's subjects for a test of the Dark Magic ritual. There would have been a massacre if not him. People will not risk the life of one of the Monarchs children. In addition, Avizandum was charmed by his courage. He stood up for his mother. And for her is the greatest fear. I know from my own experience what it feels like when you can't be close to your child. -Tiadrin looked at the door to Rayla's room. -She will definitely search for him, gather information.


-And here even other Elves have trouble to find us. If we weren't  sometimes go out to trade with other elves, they would see us as a myth.


-It doesn't change the fact that ...-Runaan continued to protest.


-Runnan, please. You know Rayla would love to have somebody in the house to play with. We have one spare room. If we can persuade the boy to walk all the time in the necklace with Moon Opal, the illusion will endure.- Ethari interrupted. Runaan looked at his husband. Of course he was trying to convince him, only he was capable of it.


-... Fine. We'll try to ... Preserve him...- Runnan said.









Rayla opened her eyes. She looked around the room.It was still hard getting used to living with Runaan and Ethari. She didn't understand why her parents couldn't take her with them. Maybe she did something wrong and that was supposed to be punishment? Ethari said that when she will get older she would understand it.


Rayla got out of bed and left the room. She thought it would be better to let Ethari know she was up.


Ethari was nice and friendly, Rayla really liked this blacksmith. However, his husband, Runaan, terrified her. He was always quiet, talked little and never actually smiled. Rayla felt strange around him.


As she entered the kitchen, she found both men talking about something. She didn't want to interrupt them so she went to the cupboard to get some fruit and bread. From what Runaan said, breakfast was the basis of healthy life.


-It's a nice morning today, isn't it Rayla?-Runnan asked her. It surprised her so much that Rayla jumped.


-Yes ... I guess.- she said hesitantly.


-I think so too. Your new friend probably thinks so too. Right? - Runaan replied.


Only now Rayla noticed that a little elf was sitting at the table. He was about her age. The boy had brown hair, green eyes, and cream-colored skin. Oddly enough, he had no facial marks or horns. Even his hands had five fingers. He was wearing a blue tunic, black pants, and brown shoes. He also seemed strangely frightened by the presence of adults.


She sat down in front of him. She couldn't take her eyes off him, and after few minutes the curiosity was stronger making her finally spoke up.


-What's your name?


The boy looked at her scared.


-What kind of elf are you?- Rayla asked the question again.


The boy again didn't answer. He looked at Ethari, but older elf just smiled.


-You can speak? -Rayla asked again.


-He knows ... I heard he persuaded our King to a ceasefire with the humans.- Runaan smiled.


-You must be very clever. I'm Rayla, what's your name?- Rayla countered.


-C ... Callum ...- replied the Boy.


- Nice to meet you, Callum. This is Ethari and Runaan. I've lived with them since my parents… -Rayla paused for a moment. Ever since my parents had been summoned to the Dragon Guard. She only lived here for three months. -... they had to leave on an important matter. And your parents? Where are they?


-My mom ... and my brother live in a castle across the red river.- the boy said uncertainly.


-Callum is human Rayla. He will stay with us for some time. Maybe you can show him your room?- Ethari said. At these words, Rayla turned pale.


-But ... Runaan said that ...-Rayla said unsure.


-I know what I was saying about humans. But this one is nice. Right, Callum?- Runaan asked the boy. He smiled gently. The boy nodded nervously.


-Alright. Come on, I'll show you my room!- Rayla grabbed the boy's hand and pulled him inside her room. Ethari watched the children disappear around the corner. He smiled.


-I swear she fell asleep about three hours ago. Where does she get so much energy from?- Ethari laughed.


-It's from her parents. You know, those two were a pretty troublemakers when they were in her age. They could argue one day and get along three times, and at the end of the day they could sneak into the forge and pour into the blacksmith's shoes sand in such quantity that it was impossible to put them on.- Runaan laughed.


-I remember that. We were watching if nobody was coming, and they were pouring ... Those were great times ... - Ethari said looking through the window.

Rayla opened the door and walked in, dragging Callum behind her. She closed the door behind him. The room was small, walls were purple and the floor was white. The room had a wardrobe, a desk and a bed. Plush toys, wooden blocks, a bow and a few arrows were scattered around the floor.


-So I sleep here. Nice room, right? Runaan said it was his room when he was my age. Rayla looked at her folding swords on the desk. These miracles of blacksmithing were forged by Ethari when she was 7 years old. A bit too heavy a gift for a child, but according to Runaan it is future-proof. -Ethari gave them to me for my seventh birthday, cool right? - Rayla said, picking up and unlocking one of the swords. The blade came out in a flash.


Callum suddenly stepped back and fell. Surprised Rayla tried to approach him but he crawled backwards. She saw the terror on his face. Finally boy stopped at the wall. In an act of helplessness, he cried and closed his eyes.


- Please, don't drink my blood!- Callum squealed.


Suprised Rayla looked at him as if he had gone mad.


-But why ... It's gross. I don't want to drink your blood.- Rayla said putting the sword back.- Why would I drink your blood?


-Because friend said ... That ...- Callum felt stupid. He was blushing all over. - ...That you .... I mean elves ... she said you drink blood.


-What? No. It would be disgusting. We eat normal things, like as fruit, vegetables, bread ... - Rayla began to count.


- So ... You're not gonna hurt me?- Callum asked.


-No. Why should I?


-Because my mother recently came to Xadia. And we met a dragon. It ... It wanted to hurt her. Then I ran out ... to ask him not to hurt her. But he caught me and told my mother that if she did not agree to his terms, he ... - the boy started to cry. Rayli felt sad about him. She walked over to the boy and hugged him.


-Hey ... I know it doesn't look like that, but it will be fine. Your mom probably misses you, but she knows you'll be okay. Runaan will not allow anything to happen to you.- Rayla said. In reality, she repeated what Ethari had told after first week living with them when she was unable to sleep.


The boy hugged her too. They sat like that for a long time. Finally Rayla released him and sat down next to him.


-See. Everything will be fine.- Rayla said.


-I miss my mom ...-Callum said.


- I miss my mom too. And Dad. But they are there and everything is fine with them.- Rayla said.-Well ... And what also do humans say about elves?

-That you are fast ... And deadly ... And that you are very unfriendly. - Callum mentioned.


-Not at all! Most Elves are friendly. Well, maybe Runaan is scary ... but I think it is his job.- Rayla replied.


-What do the elves say about humans?- Callum asked. Slowly, he grew calmer in the conversation.


-That you have unloved thirst of power, that you are greedy and lying. And that you like to hurt animals in order to be able to gain power to the Dark Magic from some of them.- Rayla replied.


-My mom says Dark Magic is bad. And even though Lord Viren seems nice, she told me to not approach him or talk to him for too long.- Callum said.


-Your mom must be very smart.- Rayla said.


-And she is!- Callum confirmed.


-Okey. Since you are no longer afraid of me what you want to do?- Rayla asked.


-We can ... I don't know. Draw something?- Callum suggested.

Ethari visited the children every few minutes. It seemed that despite the fact that Rayla was taught from an early age that humans were monsters, she seemed to be having fun with Callum. At first, the children tried to draw.


Ethari noticed then how well the boy draws. He had to admit that his drawings were very accurate for his age. He saw mainly four people on them. A little boy, him, a grown woman and a man. Ethari frowned. They took him from his family at that young age, and the boy was supposed to live here for next 10 years. A cruel but probably necessary solution.


In the evening he entered the room to check how the children were doing. Seeing what he found would melt any heart.


The boy was asleep and Rayla was sitting next to him, with her hand on his head. The girl showed adult to be quiet. She covered the boy with a blanket and left the room.


-How is your new friend doing?- asked Ethari.


-I think he's good. Runaan was wrong about humans, because Callum is not a bad. He's really nice.- Rayla said.


-I'm glad about it.- Ethari smiled


-But, Ethari, there's something I don't understand.


-What do you not understand?- Ethari asked.


-If King Avizandum is good and wise, why did he threaten that he ... would kill Callum." Rayla asked uncertainly.


Ethari didn't know how to answer on that. Finally, the child asked a question from the politics category. It was hard to explain.


-Well ... The king probably lied to get the best deal for Xadia. Callum's presence here and not in a dungeon is proof that our King does not want anything bad to happen to him.


-Ah ... And why humans say we drink their blood?- Rayla asked again.


-Em .... I don't know. They probably haven't seen the Elf for a long time and they are guessing how he might look and act. Callum told you about this?


-Not really. I showed him my swords and he got scared and begged me not to drink his blood. Later he said that his friend told him that.- Rayla replied.


-I understand. Okay. Brush your teeth and go to sleep. The day after tomorrow you will show Callum the area, right?- Ethari said.


The girl headed for the bathroom. At the same time, Ethari put Callum in his new bed in the boy's new room. He felt sorry for the boy, but could not help him.