The Winds of War

Chapter One: The Porcelain Slave and the Scent of War

Prince Jared Mythos walked down the extensive halls of his castle home, watching as alabaster and granite walls passed him by. The solitude was broken only by the absent-minded ramblings of the lady Saiedan who clung to his elbow like a limpet. The prince didn't even bother to make sense of her chatter as another hallway passed by them and soft strains of music wafted by his ear. At first he dismissed them as being the court minstrel's attempts at pleasing his father, but they were far too pleasing and gentle to come from the crow-like man. Curiosity gripping his heart, the prince turned down the hall to chase the lovely sounds to their source, taking the lady with him.

He paid no mind to her complaints as he quickened his pace towards the enchanting music, eventually finding himself in the palace gardens. The youth came slowly to a halt in front of a patch of blue roses and listened intently for a moment, unable to distinguish the gender of the singer immediately, but slowly noticing male undertones. What male in his kingdom could sing so beautifully? His music had even silenced Saiedan (a great feat in itself!)

Jared leaned around the rose bushes and found the musician sitting placidly on a marble bench, a wooden lute perched on his lap, and a slender pointed ear cocked slightly to the drifting music. His voice flowed like water with a slight accent like winding smoke. The common tongue was obviously not his native tongue judging by this and the words he sang spoke of a land far away. Prince Mythos leaned into the music,

To shores of green,

These waters fall.

The rain is soft and lovely,

Perfume of earth,

Through window cold,

The woven wood beckons.

I cannot go for many days,

For this house holds such blessings.

In dreams I sang like the nightingale.

The woven wood beckons.

The music ended on that note and the spell was broken, it's fragments hanging in the air like a long-lost dream or midmorning mist. The singer turned his eyes up to the prince, he had known the youth was there the whole time, "May I help you master?" The prince took a step back. Master? Only the slaves called the royal family that and this one's voice was far too pretty to be a lowly slave, as was his body.

The other youth put down his lute and knelt before the prince, his eyes averted, "Forgive me if I have disturbed anyone Master." Shaken out of his trance the Prince was finally able to speak, "Who are you? I don't recognize you as one of our slaves." The other's soft voice captured his fancy again, "I am a gift to the royal family from the Lord Eishrom. I have only been here for two days."

Jared looked the slave's form over, "Stand and let me see you." The slave complied and stood his full height, allowing the prince to look him over. He stood only about 5'8 and he was very slender, his hair hung down to his thighs almost and shone a dark raven, his clothing was all whites and golds and not to mention a little revealing, but what caught the prince's attention the most were the slender pointed ears and luminescent eyes that shone with the light of the moon. The beings ethereal beauty overwhelmed Jared, but moreso he was a little disgusted by the outfit the boy was forced to wear, it was obviously designed to appear as a harem outfit and did not fit the creature's noble stance.

Prince Mythos tried to look the slave in the eyes, but each time he tried, the slave would avert his own. Jared grew more frustrated by the second. Reaching out, he grabbed the slave's chin and admired his eyes for a moment, "What is your name and what manner of slave are you?" The slave kept his eyes locked with Jared's, "My name is Ellriand." His melodic voice grew slightly bitter, "I am a family heirloom."

Lady Saiedan chose this moment to speak up, "As all slaves are meant to be. Come now Jared, let us not dawdle about in the company of filth." Jared turned to reprimand her, but her eyes brooked no argument and when he turned back to Ellriand, his eyes were averted and his head was bowed again. Sighing in defeat, Prince Mythos left with the aloof lady in order not to hear her complaints any further. In his heart, he regretted leaving the curious creature behind.

(*****)

The months passed and slowly became a year, Prince Mythos often saw the beautiful slave in the company of his father, either walking by his side or knelt beside the throne. The prince often felt sickened by this, for some odd reason he felt that this creature was far to noble and elegant to be treated like a porcelain doll. He kept such thoughts to himself however, barely cringing when the King reached to caress Ellriand's cheek or stared at him for hours. Jared neither interacted nor spoke to the slave for this duration until the day his father had called him in to his Thronechamber for an important message.

The Prince entered the chamber wearily, anticipating a boring, stuffy, mediocre meeting. All was in place for such, the Prime Minister stood to the right of the throne, The King sat like an old man upon it, and there was Ellriand sitting like a little child's doll to the left. Jared groaned inwardly. What would his father subject him to this time?

Jared Mythos was quite surprised when his father stood and walked over to him, putting a hand on his shoulder, "Jared my son, I have an important errand for you. I would desire you to take this letter into the land past the Emerald Mountains and deliver it into the hands of our ally, King Farn. The tides of war are finally upon us." The old king sighed deeply and clasped his son's hand, "I will allow you to take but one servant with you to protect you and to fight with you. You may choose now, I want you to leave before the sun sets this day."

The Prince was unsure of who to take, there was no questioning he was going, but there was question on who was going with him. He though of Garret, his closest friend, but he didn't want to put such a loyal slave in such danger. Suddenly, another option presented itself and the Prince knew his father would not like it, "I choose to take Ellriand." The king did NOT like it, "My son, are you sure you would take him? He is but a glass sculpture, meant for display but not for use. I think you might reconsider."

Jared shook his head, "He is the one I shall take with me." The King sighed in defeat, "Then you shall take him. I will send him down to the stables to await your arrival." Jared nodded quickly and left before the king could change his mind, sending a quick smile to the fey being who watched him with wary curiosity.

(*****)

Jared raced down to the stables with a slight spring to his step, he had a surprise for Ellriand that he was sure the slave would like. The Prince waved a blonde curl from his face as he entered the well-kept stables to find Ellriand throwing saddlebags onto Emilleigh, Jared's favorite horse. Prince Mythos whistled to get the youth's attention, drawing the other's gaze quickly. Ellriand looked at the prince curiously as Jared held out a pile of leathers to him, "What is this Master?" Jared smiled slyly, "Traveling leathers. Those things you're wearing now aren't fit for the road we are to travel."

He pushed them into the radiant youth's hands and shoved him towards an empty stall, "Well? Put them on!" Ellriand squeaked in surprise and complied quickly, ducking into the nearest stall and changed as quickly as he could. When he stepped out, Jared was forced to take several deep breaths to clear his head and free his tongue. He finally spoke when he noticed the self-conscious blush creeping slowly onto the slave's pale cheeks, "I-it looks like I did choose the right colors for you then."

The slave looked over the clothes quickly. The undershirt was a leaf green with a dark green leather jerkin over it, the pants he wore were a dark brown, his boots and fingerless gloves were the same color as his hair. Jared nodded to himself, he had used good taste, but one thing bothered him. Ellriand had left on his silver collar.

Jared snorted, "Why did you leave that silly thing on?" Ellriand placed a hand on it, "I cannot remove it. Only your father can do that." The prince rolled his eyes and moved to get his traveling companion a horse, choosing out a black gelding for him. He smiled when the horse, Aran, nosed at the slave and nickered happily.

Then Ellriand chose to surprise him again by leaping up on the horse bareback and smiling down at the prince, "Are you coming master?" Jared shook his head, "But what about-" the slave cut in, "a saddle? My people don't ride with either saddle or bridle." He pushed the horse forward slightly and Jared stepped into his own saddle, riding after the youth, "You grow more fascinating by the day." Ellriand turned back to Jared, his face sly and his tone cryptic, "There is much one can learn from another when they pay attention." With that the two spurred their horses and rode off into the failing daylight.

Author Ramblings:

Well that's chapter one for you. Yes, for all those of you who have guessed, Ellriand is an elf. That in itself will play a major role in the story in a couple of chapters. If you people want to find out how it will, then REVIEW! Please?