Ast'alon Starsunder had never been an impatient elf, but standing at the eastern gate of Ebongrove, looking down into the stubborn face of one of its resident soldiers, he began to feel a semblance of irritation. It had been only a day after his arrival that the humans of the town had given the announcement that no one would be permitted to leave or enter the gates until the matter of the threat on the Ambassador's life was settled and in their perceived authority, the humans had refused every request he had made for special pardon. Even gold had failed to sway them and humans were usually quite susceptible to monetary gain as a method of convincing them.
Turning away with a final resigned dip of the head, the elven sorcerer made his way back towards the village marketplace, still in full drive following the amount of trapped travellers currently in their walled off piece of would-be paradise. For Ast'alon, it was especially trying to remain cooped up in Ebongrove, considering the purpose of his journey - to discover the location of an artefact he was sure had been lost a little over a thousand years ago - and the value it held to the throne. Pulling his cloak a little tighter around himself, he entered the market district with a mild amount of trepidation. Almost immediately, the smell of sawed cedar filled his nostrils, combined with the smog of burning coal and the purposed clang of hammer to anvil as blacksmiths worked their craft. To him, it was possibly the most fascinating thing about humans: Their knack for adaptability and flourishing survival despite the near-total lack of magical talent their race possessed. They had tenacity, that much was true. The smell of food and the cawing of birds soon joined the prior smells, added to by the shouting voices of hawkers attempting to sucker in anyone they could to buy 'top of the line wares' they had no doubt swindled off someone else.
He was once again glad for the elven-weave cloak he wore, as the streets here were rife with cut-purses and quick-fingered thieves and without a good cloak, one was oft susceptible to sudden loss of funds and valuables. Perusing the first few stalls he encountered with only a polite interest, he made it a point to ignore the slight jerks given by shop owners when they gave him more than cursory glance. With pointed ears, magically enhanced features and his height, it was easy to identify him as an elf - but it was the green irises ringing a pair of blue pupils that often aroused the most stunned reactions. Many of these people would have never met a true elf in their short lives, let alone one without the common black pupils.
Coming to a more lavishly decorated cart, he noticed a large, securely bolted wagon nearby and could find only one person nearby - a rather generously sized man with several gold teeth that added a discomforting effect to his smile.
If Ast'alon had to choose a word for the wheezing shopkeeper, it would be slimy
, repulsive from the start. Lowering his eyes the haphazardly displayed items in barely-there lines upon the stall mat, Ast'alon attempted to look interested enough that the shopkeeper wouldn't offer him anything and would allow the elf a swift escape, when he suddenly caught sight of something that gave him pause. Placed without care amidst an entire line up of cheap, useless merchandise was an elegantly carved phoenix idol, its feathers ending in small flames in an aura of fire that flowed over the entire sculpture with a kind of intricate detail only an elven craftsman could achieve.
Careful to keep his expression only vaguely intrigued, Ast'alon lifted the idol from its resting place and ran his fingers experimentally over the finely cut edges, marvelling at the level of detail. In a burst of inspiration, he funnelled the slightest spark of magic into it and what he received in response nearly sent him reeling. Maintaining his composure only through force of will, the elven magi turned to the shop owner and with a warm smile, inquired the price of the piece in a musical lilt.
"Seventy gold coins," said the shopkeeper with a nauseating smile, "special offer just for you."
"That's very generous," Ast'alon responded warmly and looked back to the idol. Seventy gold coins for this was more than a bargain, it was a downright steal - not that he'd tell this sickening man anything of the sort.
Reaching into his cloak, he withdrew a coin purse and dumped it on the stall surface, giving the owner only a moment to examine the coins within and marvel at them before he opted for a hasty exit. Melting into the crowd at the first opportunity, Ast'alon breathed a sigh of relief - it was doubtless the shop keeper had expected to be haggling down from seventy, but the elf had simply wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. Whether or not the greasy man realised he had been cheated at his own game, Ast'alon cared not.
Striding swiftly down the next street, the mage spotted the sign for the town's main tavern and ducked inside at his first opportunity, relieved to find the establishment packed with revellers and customers, which would only aid him in hiding from prying eyes. Glancing at the door over his shoulder to make sure he hadn't been followed - that was all he needed! - he picked a seat near the staircase for a fast retreat, not shadowed enough to arouse suspicion, but out of the way to such a degree that no one would be able to disturb or spy on him without him knowing.
Smiling to the barmaid who greeted him and ordering a light ale, he retrieved the idol from its secure place in his cloak and lifted it up to the light of the flickering fireplace. It truly was a wonder, the flames seeming to bend around its exterior in a living aura, as if to highlight what it was if none had already guessed.
Excitement rushing through him, Ast'alon summoned up the magic within him and wove arcane strands into a small probe, thumbs the conduit as he explored every surface of the artefact, delving it for resonance to a particular school of magic. Almost immediately, he found a very powerful affinity for fire - no doubt it would have that, it was only to be expected. However, that seemed only half of the equation and he was determined to find the rest.
For several minutes he probed at it, delving each portion of its sleek, metallic surface with methodical precision until he found something, and jerked back because of it. His eyes nearly popped and his racing heart caused him to breathe heavily. This was it, he had found it, the artefact he'd been searching for - the key to it all, to the truth of the ancient King. He had found his treasure, a treasure to rock the foundations of the Elves' world. With the discovery of the second element, everything changed - he needed to find someone to help him tap this idol's tremendous power. It was a gateway, a link to a far more important discovery. But first, he needed to find a person who could weave the second element.
Shadow. It had always been shadow, that was the missing link - it had made perfect sense, a kind of clarity that had been missing. The King's return, the change in demeanour and the one lost, the brother that had fallen, the guardian whom was felled - of course the idol would be this, of course the artefact would be crafted so, the King had never been as dedicated to anyone save he with whom he had travelled. As Ast'alon placed the idol onto the table and stared at it, cupped in his hands, he began to realise the gravity of this undertaking and the monumental task that lay before him. He had to seek one out, to find those that never wished to be found. To complete his quest, to finish what was started and bring truth where none existed, he had to do that which no Illarian would dare.
He had to seek the aid of Dark Elves.
Yes, I wrote that. Anyway, you don't have to make the greatest post of the milennium, but basic grammar and english are a must. You should also know how to set the scene and be able to tell a story, mould a character and cause the reader to like and dislike characters you want them to like and dislike. Be broad, be descriptive; but don't make one paragraph of awesome and then the rest of total crap. No one wants flowery writing to cover total bullshit.