“They’ve invited me?!” Dawn fairly shouted.
“You needn’t shout,” said her sister, Heather. “And yes, you’ve been invited. Since Mother and Father are away, and since Kethis can’t come, it’s your responsibility to represent the Solwinter family at the annual Rawfall feast. You’re the next eldest.”
Dawn sat, staring at the letter than was her invitation. She was elated. “Do they know?” She asked, breathless.
“Of course they do.” Said Heather. “And stop your breathless staring and shouting. You’re acting like a fifty-fear-old, you are. Just calm down.”
“Three days!” She breathed, collecting herself. “Heather, this is what I’ve dreamed of! People of all races and kingdoms will be there. This is my chance to prove to myself that I can excel at diplomacy!”
“What you need to do,” Admonished Heather, “Is to calm down. You may be my elder by thirty years, but I daresay I have more sense than you by a long shot.”
“Okay, okay…” Said Dawn, appearing more humbled and quieted, but losing none of her bubbling happiness within. She decided it would just be better to remain quiet about the matter until Heather had left the room.
“Anyway, how did the trade dispute go?” Asked Heather.
“It went fine.” Dawn answered. “We ended up distributing the goods fairly among the injured parties. I bet you wish you were there,” She finished, throwing a coy smile at Heather.
Heather smirked loftily and returned: “Ah, I wouldn’t want to be in some boring old diplomacy meeting anyway. I’d much prefer to be practicing my magic. Did you hear I beat Kethis in a duel yesterday?”
“Uh huh. Only because he let you.” Said Dawn sarcastically. “Kethis is my elder by one hundred and fifty years. His magic skills far exceed either yours OR mine. Are you done boasting?”
“Hey, whatever you say, languishing-in-boring-meetings diplomat,” Said Heather, getting up and giving Dawn a mock salute. “I still think international and interracial affairs are frightfully boring.” With that, Heather left the room.
Dawn rolled her eyes. Heather had always been pessimistic from the moment she could talk. No matter. This would be her hour.
Artagan sat in the coach that was taking him to the Greatwoods, where the feast was to be held. He was in formal attire, not steel-clad as he usually went about. He had chosen a black suit with a tie to match. He could have chosen a robe with a hood, but he thought better of it. He was a warrior, not a thinker or a magician.
As he sat where he was, his thoughts drifted back to his childhood, more than twenty-five years ago. Before his mom had died, she used to read him tales and legends of the old past and the Old Elf Wars. He enjoyed every word of it, and when he was older he had made the study into old legends a favorite pastime of his. Unlike the archeologists, he pored over every page, still delighting in the old tales of legend and battles.
And yet…they were more than just legends. A great many people still believed that the old tales of the Archaic Elves’ war with the Draconians and the rule of Arthros with his sword Arcandiel was just a fairytale. After all, it had been so long ago that not even the Young Elves could remember it. It was hotly debated that maybe a few of the oldest Archaic Elves remembered their old war, but they were reclusive and hostile, so no one had gotten good authority on whether or not they knew. A few of the well-educated scholars and old families, however, still insisted that The Old Elf Wars were really a historical event, and archeologists often agreed, having unearthed numerous historical artifacts of the past that may have boosted their claim.
Now, was Artagan a believer? He was, indeed. In fact, he was so immersed in lore that he became somewhat of an idealist, wishing that the great times of old might return. Even after Artagan’s service in the army, he still believed that the peoples of all races could square their differences and unite once more.
“So what’s your business at the Rawfall feast?” Asked the Dwarf cab driver from up front, breaking into Artagan’s thoughts.
“I don’t really know.” He said. “I was actually surprised to have been chosen. You see, I may have captured the interest of the king, who’s allowed to invite those who he chooses to the feast, regardless of the reason.”
“Ah.” Said the dwarf. “Well, good luck to ya. We’re coming up on the falls now.”
Artagan didn’t say anything but peered out of the window. A gorgeous sight met his eyes: He beheld two huge waterfalls with a large tower-like platform, suspended by wooden beams with intricate carvings on them. The tower was white with several different terraces and balconies attached to it, like large mushrooms on a tree. The whole thing was very splendorous, and there was a crystal bridge that led from the main road onto the platform that held the tower. Already, the place was riddled by individuals of all races: Draconians, Humans, Dwarves, even native Young Elves. The night sky accentuated the tower’s many glowing candles and torches, giving it a celestial tint. A delicious smell reached Artagan’s nostrils as he drew nearer. A great feast was being prepared, after all.
The cab drew up and stopped at the tower. The platform was as large as a town square, and people in very formal attire walked the premises. Artagan got out, and he turned to pay the driver. But the cab driver held up his hand.
“Don’t even worry about it, sir!” He said. “It’s on the house, it is. Have a happy feast!” With that, he flicked his whip, and the horses were off.
Artagan was left semi-alone on the premises, not counting the people on the square. He didn’t know exactly what to do, so he strolled over to the railing that bordered the square and leaned over. The salty brine blew on his face as he admired the great twin waterfalls that were on either side of the great tower. There was no wonder that they called it the Rawfall Feast: these waterfalls were full of primal splendor. The view was just like home. He closed his eyes, basking in the delicious coolness of the breeze.