Carrie-sama: Typoes?! You didn't see any typoes, nosiree. You must've read the wrong fic... yeah, that's it. ^_^;; And three cheers for being in bed with a male elf and he's kissing you. Yay~! Lookin' forward to rockin' the night away with ya at A-Kon.
Amilie: *Sings* It's beginnin' to look a lot like Christmas~... You're absolutely right. Kieran's just too good. Hmm... maybe if I'm a good little boy this year, I can get him under my tree, too. ^_^
NOTE: Waahaa~! The second half to what was originally a super-sized Chapter Twenty-One. It continues in carrying forward some of the most important happenings in the story. Sorry for the delay (especially on this one), but I was tinkering away with my latest (soon to be unveiled) creation, UAoG. Keep an eye out for that one. I think everyone would like it. I hope everyone likes this one as well and of course, any and all comments/criticisms will be gratefully accepted.
URK! I just noticed a glaring flaw in my html coding. Gah, I can't believe I missed that. I've gone through and edited it out now though, so it's all better.
"So this…," Gareth growled in a dangerously quiet voice. "This is what you have brought upon my house."
"Father, I can -"
"Be silent, boy!" the man bellowed. "I do not care to listen to your lies."
The prince recoiled as if the words have slapped him in the face. "But… but Father, I -"
"Enough! You are a traitor to the crown. Captain Teren, take these two into custody immediately."
"You have been found guilty of high treason. Do you have anything to say before I declare your punishment?"
The words rang hollowly in the vast silence of the Great Hall. Not even a full day had passed since the beginning, and end, of the "trial" Gareth had arranged. Accounts from various "witnesses" had issued forth. And the king had made his ruling. Now the two stood before the throne in chains.
Kieran gave a sidelong glace to his "co-conspirator." Miserable was not a word he would've used to describe Adrien at that moment: it lacked far too much strength to accurately convey the young man's position. He sighed. "Will it matter?" he asked rhetorically.
Gareth sneered at him. "Probably not."
"Then why bother?"
The man turned his attention toward Adrien. "Do you intend to let this elf speak for you, or is there perhaps some backbone left in you?" He got no answer. "So be it. It is not our custom to spill the blood of our nobles. And as much as I wish it were not the case, you are noble-born." He paused dramatically, allowing the words to reverberate through the hall. "I sentence you to exile. You, and those of your line, will never set foot upon these lands. Not so long as this crown stands shall you be welcome."
The silence that followed the king's edict was harsh. Its voiceless scream filled the air, choking away the life from the great room. Banished, Kieran thought. Again. Seems like I'm going to get to know this sort of thing intimately well, he mused darkly.
A muffled sob came from Adrien. The elf's head swiveled to face him only to find that the young man's head was bowed. Even so, Kieran noticed a stream of tears running down his cheeks. "How…," he moaned, "how can you be so harsh… Father, I-"
"No!" Gareth interrupted. "No. I am not your father, just as you are not my son. I shall have nothing to do with you. I find the very thought of what you have done to be offensive. My only consolation is that your mother was not here to see this. Surely, though, the thought of you consorting with this… this… elvish catamite would have pushed her to her limits."
An intense rage arose within Kieran from depths he thought he had forgotten. A remembered phrase pushed his mind deep into the past; a past he'd much rather forget. "A catamite?! You say I am a catamite, Gareth?! How dare you! You have no right to speak to me like that! "
"I have every right to do as I please in these lands, elf," was the harsh retort. "You are nothing in these lands. I suggest you remember that."
"Tread carefully, old man," he roared. "Despite the legends of my kind, I've never had much use of patience… especially when it concerns those who dare to insult me."
"Spare me your idle threats, elf. I have chosen to merely have you banished from my kingdom. Do not make me reconsider that decision."
The elf bared his teeth dangerously and was about to voice another harsh diatribe when a soft hand moved to his arm. He whirled about, fully prepared to lash out but was halted short. Beside him, Adrien stood. His eyes were tinged red and his face was wet.
"Don't," the former prince whispered to him. "Just… don't."
Kieran breathed raggedly as his anger burned out. He looked away and growled in impotent rage. At last, his shoulders slumped and he nodded as he acquiesced to Adrien's plea.
"Now that this is settled," Gareth intoned, "I want you, Captain Teren, to escort this traitor and his elven pet to our northern border."
The captain of the guard, who had until now remained silent, spoke at last. "… As you wish, Your Majesty."
The journey north took five days.
Five long, harsh, and silent days.
"hey passed through woods and meadows, over hills and through babbling streams along their journey north. They didn't say a word to each other, nor did the guards speak to them. For all that was said of this being, "merely," a banishment, it seemed as it someone had certainly died.
On the evening of the fifth day, they reached their destination.
The two dismounted from the horses they had ridden. A pair of guards took the reins and began leading the mounts away; back to the capital. They guided their own steeds away from them at an almost gentle pace. They didn't look back.
Captain Teren did.
He looked down at the young man he had served for years, a young man whom he would now never see again. He hadn't spoken a word during their trek, but now he paused. He looked at the two. A look of wanting to say something, but at a loss for words crossed his face. Without speaking still, he reached to his belt and untied his coin bag. He tossed it to their feet then turned his steed about and set off.
Adrien looked down at the small purse. It looks just like my old one, he reflected on inwardly. Slowly, he stooped to pick up the small pouch. Inside, he found a small fortune in gold and silver coins. Thank you, Captain. He tied the bag shut again and strapped it to his own belt.
He jumped at the word. It seemed like a lifetime since anyone had said anything. Calming himself down, he turned to the elf. "Yes?"
"That man… standing near the throne. The one in all black. Who was he?"
He thought back to that fateful day. "It must've been Hassad, Argus' personal assistant."
What he said had an unexpected effect on his companion.
The elf tensed as if expecting a large army to come charging over the nearby hill. He looked around frantically, desperately. "Oh Gods… oh Gods Above, no," he mumbled to himself.
"Kieran? Hey… what's wrong? Kieran!"
The elf stopped and turned to the former prince. A strange gleam was in his eyes. "We have to get to Riversend. Now."