This is a bit of a republished post. I started out wanting to redo the Great Table Page as a series of individual posts and immediately realized I also needed to do some editing and revisions.
Clang, clang, clang, the two small cylinders that hung from Terik’s neck began to rattle. Both cylinders were fashioned in iron and etched long ago in a language now dead. They were battered and ugly and looked more like the discarded vials of a cheap apothecary than the vessels in which lay the hopes of an entire people.
Clang, clang, clang, the cylinders sang.
“They rattle more of late my lord”, said Terik’s man, Jekin. “Yes” answered Terik, “they sense their freedom. They long to be released.” Jekin was wise in all things soldierly but little else. The subtly of magic confounded him. “How so my lord? They are but garments.”
“Stronger than any shield, yet lighter than silk. ‘Garment’ is such a small word for something so big , old friend”, retorted Jekin’s liege lord.
“Powerful, aye, but not alive. My platelets are just as strong.”
“I think yours stronger than most Mahnikee. But even your platelets cannot bid one soul to another.”
“It takes more than magic to make a king, and much more to make a goodly king, begging your pardon my lord.” Not even Jekin’s platelets could protect his heart from cracking open at the loss of his nephew, his charge.
I am sorry I could not have chosen you old friend. “You have the right of kingship. Magic is not enough to make a goodly king. A mistake the humans make all too often. But you are wrong about these garments as you call them. They are the key which shall open the door for our people. It is time we have a seat at the great table.”
“Hmmpf” answered Jekin, “I won’t pretend I understand my lord. But my sword is yours as ever. As for the rest. I would rather a tent than a table, great or no.”
A smile crept across Terik’s face. “A tent?” That is rather soft old friend. Have we been around the humans too long that you should need a tent?”
The comment was as silly as saying the sun is cold. “No need to be cruel my lord”, answered Jekin. “It is bad enough we serve the pig lords on this campaign, but the rain is worse. Nonstop for seven days. The Breede has overflowed and washed out the latrine lines. Now we walk in cold mud and shit. Begging your pardon again, my lord.”
Terik looked over the camp at the soft skinned humans, the luckiest of whom were sheltered from the rain under heavy canvas tents. But those were for lords and landed knights. The larger part of the human host sat pruning in the rain, their resolve softening like bread in stew.
Terik and his fellow Mahnikee were not quartered from the rain either. But the Mahnikke were protected.
The platelets that grew hard over their skin in adolescence, the very same bark like armor that earned them the hated name of Wood Elves, protected them from rain and blade alike.
Wood Elf. A derogatory term shackled to the Mahnikee by the supposed High Elves to frighten children. “Behave or the Wood Elves will steal you away and eat your heart. Be kind or your heart and skin will grow as hard as a Wood Elf.”
Clang, clang, clang, the cylinders stirred.
Anything that was wanton or craven or other than good and pure had been ascribed to the Wood Elves, and all the lies made up and whispered through the thin lips of the soft, pasty skinned High Elves. High Elves indeed.
Clang, clang, clang.
Soon the truth would be laid bare and the Mahnikee would take their place at the Great Table. But to bring low the High Elves Castle Ferin must fall.
Jekin stood just off his lord’s shoulder, both looking on the human camp. “The Pig lords have little regard for their rank and file. It makes them weak. Most will run before scaling the walls.”, said Jekin.
Terik pitiedThe Pig lords small folk. Conscripts. Unworthy adversaries. “They shall have no need to storm the walls. We shall let them in. All will have what they want, and with little blood.”
“All but those within the castle, my lord.”, said Jekin. Terik, still looking on the human camp answered his man, “The Pigs will not have the slaughter they desire, and Castle Ferin shall not lose as much as it fears.”
“Unless the Pig lords should learn of our intentions, my lord.”, warned Jekin.
There is advantage in being discovered thought Terik. “If so this land will be littered with dead Pigs. Either way I think this will be a happy day for the Mahnikee.”
For the first time in a long while Jekin smiled.
A quarter league off the lords of House Martin were rutting about in the Campaign Tent planning the final siege of the castle. The Martins were a gross lot, their sigil a pig, and never had a sigil been so truly matched to a house. Most Martins were squat, round of belly and short of legs, and just in case the imagery were not blunt enough the gods had seen fit to give them flat, turned up noses.
Clang, clang, clang, clang, the cylinders flew into a rage. Jerin must be near. Terik turned to find his son’s head bowed in deference. Terik bowed in return. Jerin then paid the same courtesy to Jekin.
“I am no lord that you should bow your head to me” said Jekin. His tone suggesting he was offended. His eyes betraying his affection for the young lord.
With a broad smile Jerin replied, “Soon enough I shall no longer be a lord”. A sore subject with Jekin, he brushed it aside with a hmpf. Neither Jerin or his lord father pressed the issue. Instead Jerin addressed his lord father, “It is just as the soothsayer said it would be. We must act quickly, my lord.”
Terik turned back to look on the pigs of House Martin and said, “Tonight we wrap our hands around the throat of the High Elves and reclaim our birthright”.