Prince Vorclaf Visits The Mountain Queen
(349 Dolefaren 379)
Without even his trusted Captain of the Guard, Prince Vorclaf slipped quietly out of the Keep alone. He headed to the Court of the Mountain Queen, Morganae, to speak to her directly.
A week ago or so, the Lady Natashya met with Queen Morganae and the Queen requested her to take a message to the Prince and the Baron. The message was that the Queen asked both rulers not to interfere with King Raenilar’s retreat back to the desert with his people. We know this message was delivered to the Prince, but it is unknown whether Natashya delivered it to the Baron. To some, it appeared that the Queen was not making a suggestion, but a really emphatic request, shall we say.
The Queen was in her garden with her Captain Herrick when she received Prince Vorclaf.
Vorclaf said to Morganae, “After Natashya delivered your message to me, I felt it necessary to speak to you directly.”There was some banter and posturing as the Prince questioned her motives in interfering in the affairs of Shard and Ilithi — and she parried each one.
Vorclaf finally told her, “But I am not making deals with outcasts and them trying to force them upon the other rulers.”
Morganae asked him, “And you think, I, have done as much? If I have made bargains, they’ve only been to ensure a more peaceful solution to the troubles that have plagued Shard so long now.”
Vorclaf asked, “You would allow Raenilar to leave after what he has done?”
She said, “He seemed sincere in his wish to leave these lands.”
Vorclaf said, “I have no desire for anymore bloodshed, but there are crimes to answer for. Surely you can see this.”
She responded, “The people of Shard have been oppressed for so long now. It behooved me at the time to do what I could to secure a less violent end to all of this.”
Vorclaf asked, “And what else have you to gain? Your deal with Kulainik, in particular is of interest.”
She said, “I made bargains with Corik long ago. Though it may have been interesting for a short time to see what this upstart from the desert would do, he’s not shown the promise he first insisted upon.”
Vorclaf raised an eyebrow.
She continued, “I felt it time to come to the aid of the Elotheans, why shouldn’t I aid Kulainik.”
Vorclaf asked her, “And what promise is that? What goals were you hoping him to achieve?”
She asked him, “I personally?” and chuckled. “None. Surely you remember my aid, my son lead many of our troops
to fight along side you against these desert dwellers.”
Vorclaf said, “Aye, but after such a loss of life that came from their march to Shard – not only on the side of Illithi, but Zoluren and Therengia. Even those that died for his cause. What is to become of them, that they should have fallen in vane.”
“Lives are always lost in wars,” she was quick to reply.
Vorclaf gazed at Morganae, saying nothing.
Morganae said, “Those of us that remain, must carry on. As well as do what we must to ensure we carry on for the future.”
Vorclaf asked, “But what future is that you are carrying on. What interest do you have in the future of Shard, beyond the return of the Elotheans.”
Morganae told him, “And much as this banter is fascinating. For what reason have you approached me exactly?”
Morganae said, “And what interest do You have in Shard? It seems to me your eye is focused often to the South these days. Perhaps I should be asking you the same.”
Vorclaf told her, “I came here for answers. As for my interests in Shard… My interests are in seeing the Elotheans returned to it, same as you claim. Beyond that, I wish justice for someone who died.”
Morganae asked, “Have I not been diligent in working towards the return of the Elotheans?”
Vorclaf replied quickly, “Diligent. That would be one word.”
Morganae directed a frosty glare at Vorclaf. The air abruptly dropped in temperature. A cold wind whipped around Vorclaf, who shivered violently.
Morganae chortled softly at some secret joke, “If you say so. What exactly are your concerns then? Will it harm Zoluren, to allow the Outcasts to return to the desert, especially if it saves lives?”
Vorclaf asked, “Do you have no sense of justice? Or is it always to be whatever is your whim?”
Morganae scoffed at him, “Just because the feeble minds of others cannot see with my vision, does not mean I am controlled by mere whims.”
Morganae asked, “While I can understand that many may feel a need for revenge, for his “crimes”, doesn’t it seem more expedient to allow him to retreat and leave Shard in peace?”
This exchange between the rulers continued on with verbal parlays for a while more, some of them less regal than others.
Morganae asks, “I Have however, made certain bargains, merely to ensure that Shard is safely returned to Elothean rule. You disagree with this?”
Vorclaf says, “I do not disagree with that, if that is truly your reason.”
Morganae asks, “What other reason could I have?”
Vorclaf said, “I will speak to Raenilar myself. Any bargains that are struck will be between myself and him, and he will need to convince me of the sincerity. I do not trust the bargains you have made, and you admit to there being more here in reference to your vision. If you will not be honest with me, then I have no further dealings here.”
Morganae laughed, asking, “And I am to believe that You, have been honest with me? Though by all means, speak to Raenilar. I have nothing to hide.”
Vorclaf said, “I have more to lose by not being honest with you, nor have I have need to do otherwise. Time comes for us all, your majesty, even the elves, and then we will all have to face the truths of our actions.”
Morganae asked, “I’ve assured Kulainik of aid to return Shard to his people, I have bargained with Raenilar to ensure he leaves with the smallest amount of bloodshed. Why do you seem so unsure of my methods and motives?”
Vorclaf asked, “It is what you gain from those bargains. Why would having your son married to Aemmin be of any interest for you?”
Morganae asked, “One does not strike a bargain without securing something, however small, in return. Does one?”
Vorclaf asked, “So it is nothing but a trivial matter to you then?”
Morganae replied, “Many things are trivial to me. However, no, my son is not a trivial matter. And I’m certain you wouldn’t understand my reasons, were I to feel it worthy of explaination.”
Vorclaf said, “Of course not.”
Morganae asked, “It is telling though, when striking a bargain, to see how dear a goal is to the person you are striking said bargain With, is it not?”
Vorclaf said, “Aye, indeed it is, on both sides of the bargaining table. I would suspect you had an inkling of Raenilar’s desire to leave before Kulainik spoke to you – for you were able to seal the bargain with doing nothing more than hearing what Raenilar offered.”
Morganae asked, “I grow weary of this conversation. What do you seek?”
Vorclaf says, “And if you accept Natashya’s offer, you save your son and yourself from the horrors of having married him to someone you deem beneath you.”
Morganae chortled softly at some secret joke, “So you are concerned with the woman.”
Vorclaf said, “I do not agree with the bargain, no. I understand Kulainik’s desire to aid his people in striking it, but not the price of such a deal.”
Morganae said, “Well, I hadn’t expected him to agree so readily to such a thing. But it proved his intent and sincerity.”
Vorclaf asked, “So the deal was a test then?”
Morganae asked, “Again I ask, what do you seek here?”
Vorclaf replied, “Nothing more. I have the answers I sought, and now know what I needed to know.”
Morganae asked, “Which is?”
Vorclaf grinned, “Something only someone as short-lived as myself could ever understand, your highness. I would not waste your time with the explanation.”
Morganae said, “Oh please do, allow me what was it you called it? Ah yes, a whim.”
Vorclaf responded, “No… It would be wearing upon you, and as you already stated, you grow weary of our conversation. Besides, I would think in your vision what my thoughts are would matter not to you or your machinations.”
Morganae laughed, “True enough.”
Vorclaf said, “I shall take my leave now, unless you have something further.”
Morganae said, “Captain, have him escorted out.”
Vorclaf said, “I’m certain your highness, that the future will be very entertaining for you.”
Vorclaf bowed to Morganae.
Vorclaf nodded to Herrick.
A group of Elven Warriors quickly appeared and took Vorclaf by the arms, leading him away.
Herrick chuckled, “Rude little human.”
Morganae said, “Quite.”
Herrick said, “I will go and make sure all is prepared for you.”
Morganae replied, “Thank you, my Captain.”
Herrick walked up the steps and through the doors.
Morganae gazed down the mountainside briefly, then climbed the steps and slipped through the doors.