“Stupid elves, always thinking that they’re the best.”
“What was that?”
“Nothing big sis. How’s the new ship working out?”
Aurel gazed longingly through her laptop screen to one of the newly acquired spaceships orbiting earth. Or a room of the spaceship anyways. In a few years that was where she was going to be. Right alongside one of her big sis’ and some of her other siblings.
Letting out a sigh she tried to catch what was being said by the many crew members milling about behind her sister Il’s back.
Unfortunately, there were too many voices speaking in too many languages and dialects for her to latch on to just one thread of conversation. Her ears twitched in aggravation at the attempt so she stopped before giving herself a headache.
From the screen, she saw her sister studying her and knew that her lame attempt at diverting the reason for the call hadn’t worked. She had to try at least.
Aurel watched as her sister leaned back and twisted around a bit towards the room.
“Oy!” the voices all stopped at the loud snap of Il’s voice, “I am trying to have a conversation here ya’ll. Pipe it down!”
Aurel heard some people snort in amusement and a few others chuckled. Those were the people who knew Il and her quirks. The muttered insults came from the people who either thought they were above it all or wouldn’t get called out. They would soon find themselves cleaning out the bathrooms or running laps. Or both.
Her sister turned back around and Aurel sighed at the sight of the Commanders insignia on the uniform jacket.
Eyebrows raised, Il asked, “You having trouble breathing kit? ‘Cause you keep sighing at me.”
Before she could explain where her thoughts had wandered, she heard a familiar voice pipe up and felt herself begin to blush.
“Is that my favorite Drow?”
A gorgeous face suddenly filled the screen and she finger waved at Daxrin.
Captain of his own fleet, Daxrin answered directly, and only, to her sister Il. Had Aurel joined the family just a few days earlier she and Dax would have been siblings. Thankfully that hadn’t happened because she was head over heels for the goblin and that would have been weird and wrong.
“Yo! My sister. You go away and stop flirting. She isn’t’ eighteen yet which means this conversation is wrong for several legal reasons.” Il playfully tried to push him away from the screen with little success. Dax just threw his arms around her shoulders and glommed, letting his whole weight rest on her.
He then winked at Aurel and began to recite a recipe for chocolate lava cake in a very obscure dialect. It was one of a very few that Il didn’t know so she couldn’t understand the words only the tone. And his voice was low and seductive now.
Aurel wanted to play along, but the fury that was slowly creeping up her sister’s face was just too funny so she kept her mouth shut and her eyes away from her sisters for fear of giving the game away.
With a sudden surge of strength Il leapt out of her chair, spun, and grabbed Dax by his collar she leaned in, having to pull him down to her five foot seven and a little height before she could snarl, “We may have been family before you chose to change your name and tribe, but if you so much as think another word towards my sixteen year old sister I will tear you apart and shove you out an airlock. Got it?”
By now, those in the room who could understand the dialect were doubled over in laughter and Aurel was right there with them.
A beat passed where Il took stock of the room then looked at Dax again.
“You were reciting another list weren’t you.”
It wasn’t actually a question and so no one answered. Aurel heard her sister sigh and watched as she ordered Dax to run twenty laps around the ship. He winked once more at Aurel before whistling a merry tune and heading out to run those laps.
Il sat again, folded her arms across her chest and waited for Aurel to get a hold of herself.
It took some time.
“You going to tell me what’s going on at school now?”
Il’s query drained Aurel of all happy feelings and she looked away from the screen. Silence stretched for long minutes until Il spoke again.
“Kit. I will drop everything and move heaven and earth for my family. You know this. But it still doesn’t mean that you can call me up and not say anything. A vid call is time-consuming and I’ve already let you take up a good twenty minutes.”
Wincing, Aurel met her sister’s eyes again and felt hers start to fill with tears.
“I know it shouldn’t bother me, but those damn elves just won’t leave me alone and I’ve told teachers and they keep saying to just ignore them. And I’ve tried to let it go but it’s like they intentionally find reasons to be where I am just so they can harass me.”
“What exactly are they doing?”
Her mumbled ‘not much really just some shoving and name calling’, was met with a disbelieving snort that had her head popping up again.
Il cocked an eyebrow, “Not much? Last time I checked ‘not much’ didn’t include broken bones and calls to Police.”
“I should have known you’d investigate.” Finally giving up on holding things back, Il would find them out anyways, Aurel spilled the whole tale.
She told about how it had started small, name-calling and tripping in the halls, and had then escalated to spell casting outside of school. Since the most severe bullying happened outside of school the teachers wouldn’t do anything and the elves in question were from Seelie High Houses, meaning that Aurel and Il’s mother couldn’t do anything either because her social standing wasn’t high enough to warrant an audience.
Elf politics made human ones seem like a game of tic-tac-toe.
When she was done confessing all of what had been happening, Aurel felt a little better. Being able to tell someone everything without sugar-coating things was a God send.
She waited patiently for Il to process her ramblings. It was a lot to deal with and she felt kind of bad about adding to her sister’s already overflowing plate of responsibility, but sometimes she just needed her sister’s advice.
It made no sense why Il’s opinion was more valuable than her other brothers’ and sisters’ and mothers was. Maybe it was because Il wasn’t a day-to-day presence so she wasn’t aware of the consensus from the house inhabitants in Montana. Whatever the reason, eventually all the kids contacted Il for advice or help.
“It sounds to me like you’ve been letting them beat you up without even trying to fight back. Or at least defend yourself.”
Aurel’s head snapped back. That had not been what she had expected to hear. She had contacted her sister for advice, not to be blamed for the bullying.
“What the hell do you expect me to do?! I can’t do anything at school or I’ll be suspended and I can’t do anything outside of school because it’s illegal!” She was shouting now and didn’t even care. How dare Il even suggest she was at fault. She hadn’t done anything wrong and didn’t’ deserve the recriminations.
“Exactly.” Her sisters calm voice broke through darkening thoughts and stopped her dead.
“Wait. What?” Aurel scratched her ear, confused suddenly with what they were talking about. “If you agree with me then how is it my fault?”
Il let out a breath, “Because sweetie, you haven’t done anything illegal or deserving of suspension but they have.” She gave Aurel a pointed look then as if expecting her to know what she was supposed to get from the vague sentence.
Il finally shook her head and explained. “I don’t blame you for the bullying, however, I don’t think it’s right that you’ve allowed it to continue instead of reporting them to the Oath Keepers.”
“Oh.” A beat passed. “Oh!” Her eyes got wide as she caught on to what Il was suggesting and she started to get excited.
“You mean because I’m from a Royal House, even if it is a Dark one, then I can demand an investigation be started because of their activities. The Oath Keepers won’t care if they’re from High Houses and I’m Drow because they only care about the laws!”
Aurel was literally jumping up and down in her seat in excitement, “Thank you big sis!” she kissed the screen, said goodbye, and logged off, leaving Il looking at the ‘Connection Terminated. Would you like to re-engage?’ message.
She rolled her eyes at her little sister’s enthusiasm. She never tired of helping the hundreds of kids that her family fostered, adopted and mentored, but sometimes it was hard to believe that they were doing a good job when the kids got themselves into easily extricated trouble.
Maybe it only seemed easy to her because she was used to commanding thousands of troops and having to think fast on her feet or risk people dying.
Something to ponder later.
Il stood, stretching her sore back as she did, and turned to leave the South Comm Room, but stopped abruptly as she caught a fellow Commanders eye.
Commander Trixelon Asak was an Seelie Elven Lord who had signed up for the new military out of boredom. He was old and carried many of the old prejudices with him, including the belief that his Dark brethren, the Drow, were despicable creatures unfit for life.
This had caused several issues between them as Il had countless Drow siblings who had joined the military, but who had to serve under an Elven or Drow CO due to the agreements signed by their respective leading entities. Il had stepped in a few times on her siblings’ behalf when Asak had singled them out and not advanced them when they had better scores than everyone else.
She made herself relax. Whatever he had to say he would say and she could choose to ignore him if she didn’t like what he said. Unfortunately, just walking away at this point would be too many kinds of rude for even her to do, so she lifted a brow in invitation.
He didn’t bother moving closer so their conversation could be private. In fact, he raised his voice so that everyone in the room could hear.
“Commander. Did I just hear you counsel a Royal Drow Princess to call upon the Oath Keepers?”
“Yah.” Her tone had a very small shade of ‘the ef is it to you?’ in it. She really didn’t like him.
His sudden smile made her take a step back. She had seen him smile before, usually in anticipation of a kill, or mockingly, but never ever in genuine amusement and it concerned her greatly.
“You council, and condone, such an action right before the Amana takes place?” There was laughter lacing his words now and she suddenly understood why.
“Well, fu- “
Her curse was lost under Asak’s guffaws.
She wanted to tell him to stop. To act professional, or at least his age, but even she had to admit to some amusement at the colossal ‘oops’ she had just unintentionally engineered.
She had completely forgotten that the Amana had been called for this year. The Seelie Courts had reigned, by right of blood, for millennia. Which meant that the Unseelie and Drow Courts, who had their own royal houses, had not had one of their own on the throne for far too long.
To keep the balance and prevent all-out war, the ancient, and obviously magical, ceremony to verify and legitimize a bloodline was slated for next month.
The Seelie Courts swore that they were the rightful, and only, rulers because they were honorable and all things good. While the Unseelie and Drow Courts were everything but.
The Amana was the only thing that could silence the Dark Courts as the Amana Relics were made from the blood of the Royal Houses of each Court. They literally could not go against the ruling once the Relics had decided the next ruler. It was how the Seelie were going to keep their brethren Courts from being represented.
The problem now was that when Aurel called for the Oath Keepers to look into the Seelie High Court teen elves, they would find corruption and misuse of power, which would cast doubt on the Light Courts honesty and integrity.
Which would give the Dark Courts the right to call for the Amana Trials where the Relics would be used in quests to decide who was worthy of the crown and throne.
Which meant that Il had just given two courts a way to take down a third, before fighting over who got to participate in the trials because technically the Dark Courts were one entity, but the Drow and Unseelie were different races.
To be fair, if the stupid elves hadn’t been bullying her little sister she wouldn’t have suggested anything so drastic, so technically speaking this was all the elves’ fault. They would just have to deal with it then and so long as they didn’t try to hurt any of her family she wouldn’t have to step in.
She really couldn’t deal with this right now. Not when she had a campaign to plan and troop movements to organize. She’s deal with whatever fallout came from her advice later.
Decision made, Il left the room, Asak’s laughter following her down the hall. She really couldn’t stand that elf.
©2016, Illeana Nexry.