As soon as I step into the throne room, I realize I am definitely not mentally prepared for this. Half of me never actually expected to get this far, so I never prepared myself to talk to the Royals of the country I’ve been fighting against for thirteen long years. But, despite my sudden anxiety –I really didn’t think this through– we still enter the throne room. I am unsurprised at the decor that the elves had chosen for this room- golden leaves and whatnot- I am surprised though, at the fact that there were three thrones in this room. I thought throne rooms only had one throne, for the king. But there are three thrones here, and each of them is occupied.
Briareth starts his introduction eagerly. “Your Majesties, may I introduce Balderk Ungart, a dwarf who recently took flight into elven territory with intelligence that he labels of significant importance in relation to the unfortunately ongoing enmity between our two nations.”
The oldest looking elf on one of the three thrones– who doesn’t look very old at all –has long auburn hair with a singular golden streak, a crown of course, a jolly smile, and deep blue robes that pool around his sandaled feet. “Took flight?” He asks jovially, “Seriously Briareth? Did he actually fly? Because I would have loved to see that. Watching a chubby dwarf trying to fly would be so funny. They would probably flap their stumpy little arms like a bird.” I personally don’t appreciate the mental image, but the female elf smiles and tries to disguise her chuckle with a fake cough. She has long blond hair, a silver crown, and is wearing a dress as green as the forest.
“Dad, try to stay on track, please? This might be important. Also you’re freaking the dwarf out more than a little. You too Mom.” Says the youngest elf with an obvious sigh. He isn’t wearing a crown, but he does have a strange design painted on his forehead. It looks a little like a tree, with a lot of branches. He also has long hair, which is the color of dusty gold and he wears part of it in a braid which hangs just in front of his right ear. I almost want to cringe at how girly it makes him look. But I don’t, mainly because this elf scares me, just a little bit. I’m not a coward, but this guy’s eyes are creepy. They are narrow and golden, and when he looks at me, it’s almost like he’s staring into my soul with them, and he is displeased by what he finds. Seriously. Creepy.
“Sorry Faladel, trying to lighten up the mood. These meetings are so boring. I’ve had to sit through three of them already and they lasted hours. You just got started. I’ve had to sit through the Merchants from the South, the North, and the East, and they all want something different. Also the merchants from the West are coming this evening after supper.” The eldest elf says with a sigh.
“Point conceded.” The younger elf allows, “But mom, do you have to encourage him like that?”
“Sorry dearie,” the female elf, whose probably the queen, says. “just imagining a dwarf trying to fly. Your father has a point. It would honestly be really funny. But you’re right we should get back on track. Please ignore my husband’s tired joking and tell us your message, Mr. Ungart.”
I’m startled by her usage of my last name, and hesitate for half a second before diving in. “The Dwarven High Command are in the process of creating a weapon of mass destruction that they have named the Scourger. It’s an explosive that, once set off, will release a gas that is odorless, tasteless, invisible, self-replicating, and also extremely flammable. It can’t go above fifty yards in the air, so it won’t get passed the mountain range and into dwarven territories, but if you even start a spark here in elven territory, you’ll all die from the flames.
“Before they release this gas, High Command is planning to recruit more dwarves for the war and move nearly all of their forces to the northern front to make sure that all of you die. They want to drive all elves extinct.”
“Why do you tell us this?” Interrupts the younger male elf, who I think might be Prince Faladel, “Shouldn’t you rejoice at our extinction?” He looks suspicious of me. Which is only natural. But I was prepared for this sort of question.
“Although my leaders are willing to sacrifice countless dwarven lives to eliminate a species that they have been killing for ages, I am not. I wouldn’t mind the extermination of elves. Perhaps it is a bit much, but in my mind it’s going to happen sometime. But once dwarves who are fighting for those idiots become sacrifices in a giant extermination plan, I disagree. I don’t want all those dwarves to die, not having a choice because chance put them in the wrong battalion. They have families waiting for them at home. It is cowardly to sacrifice their lives and not even try to save them.” I finish.
“So basically,” The eldest elf, probably the king, confirms “you don’t mind us dying, but you do mind your kin dying of a weapon that is meant to kill elves. So you’re coming to us to have us help stop your weapon from blowing up in both of our faces.”
“Basically yes.” I reply, and fiddle my hands. It doesn’t sound great when he says it like that, but it’s true.
“If we were to help out, how would we go about doing it? What do you have in mind?” Asks Prince Faladel curiously.
“Well I don’t really know what to do about it. If I did, I would have done it myself instead of coming here to you.” I respond.
“So that is what you really want us to do, figure out a plan to solve a problem that will harm us both otherwise and then execute it.”
“Yep.” I shift my weight a little and glance at Briareth, what am I supposed to do now? I had told my tale, asked for their help, now it was up to the elves. Will they help me? Will they figure out a plan and then kill me for trespassing? That’s what dwarves would do in this sort of case. Briareth smiles at me reassuringly, and then gives me a wink. I guess that means I won’t be executed just yet. The King of elves seems to be lost in thought.
“Dad” Prince Faladel prompts, “Your decision?”
“This requires much thought. Too much thought to give you an answer now. However, by tomorrow I should have your answer, young dwarf.” The King says solemnly “In the meantime, please rest and enjoy our hospitality. Briareth, show Balderk to one of our guest rooms please, and then escort him down to the great hall for dinner.”
“Yes Your Majesty.” Says Briareth and bows to the three figures on the thrones. “Come along Balderk, You’re falling behind.” I hurriedly bow to the royal family as well and scuttle on out behind him. The doors close behind us with a loud bam causing me to jump and Briareth to laugh.
“You looked so nervous in there!” He exclaimed, “Like you thought that you would be arrested at any minute. It was hilarious!”
“Well I did think I might be killed. And if you had been in my shoes, in the court of a kingdom you’ve fought against for thirteen years, you wouldn’t be laughing either! Well, actually you might have because you’re you. But that wouldn’t matter because you would be dead!” I exclaim as we continue down long corridors that twist and turn. On our right is a railing. Probably to stop elves from accidentally walking off the edge I suppose. On the left is a strange patterned wall. It has ridges and bumps in a curious design. I stop for a little while, staring at it, trying to figure it out. Where have I seen that pattern before?
“Why are you fascinated with the tree bark?” Briareth peers over my shoulder at it. “I mean I know you guys don’t like the forest, but this can’t be your first time seeing it up close.”
Wait, that was tree bark? I feel like an idiot. “I actually didn’t recognize it” I admit, to Briareth “I knew I had seen it somewhere but I couldn’t identify it.”
“Yeah, the trees grow really big around here. The castle clings as close to this big guy as vine would. Saves on the building costs.” Briareth explains.
“Don’t you get, oh I don’t know, hordes of woodlice infections to take care of?” I ask.
“Nope. The tree takes care of itself for us. Handy right?” Briareth starts walking again, probably bored by the bark.
“I’ll bet.” I say, hurting to catch up. “But how do you build rooms on this thing?”
“You’ll see.” Briareth says, and I get the feeling he’s trying to be mysterious. “I’m taking you to one of our guest rooms now.”
“Is a guest room a code for dungeon?” I ask guardedly.
“No, of course not!” Briareth exclaims, and turns around so he’s facing me while walking backwards. “Why would you think that?”
“Well, if someone brought the dwarven king unwelcome news, he often locked them up or even executed them if the news was of a defeat.”
“But that’s wrong!” Briareth looks shocked. “It’s not the messenger’s fault that they lost a battle.”
“He still takes the brunt of the king’s wrath though.” I shrug. “That’s why being a messenger is normally a punishment. No one knows how the king will react to a certain piece of news.”
“That is totally unfair.” Briareth claims, nearly tripping as the back of his foot hits stairs.
“Perhaps,” I say, grinning as he scrambles to right himself and turn back towards the front. “but there’s nothing we can do about it. Some people just end up getting the short end of the stick. After all, do you think I’ll be allowed to go home now that I’ve delivered my warning? I’ve been to your secret capital city, I know some of your weaknesses. I wouldn’t be too surprised if your King keeps me here locked up.”
“He’d never do that!” Briareth protests, waiting for me on a landing.
“Well he can’t just let me go either.” I explain as I arrive next to him. “What if this was all a trick? What if I go back to dwarven territory and tell my superiors all your secrets?” Briareth’s face falls, recognising my point. I reach up and pat his shoulder. “Don’t fret, elf. It’s not like I wasn’t already prepared to meet my fate.” Briareth suddenly brightens again. “You didn’t have to get over it that fast.”I mutter.
“No, no, I’ve just thought of a solution to your problem!” Excitement gleams in his eyes as he begins climbing more stairs, and it sparks my curiosity. There is no way that he’s solved this problem, but he certainly is acting like he has.
“Okay, spit it out, elf.” I say, impatient to hear his solution.
“If there is, oh I don’t know, a hidden cure for this Scourger, then the King would probably send a retrieval team, that includes you, to go get it!” Briareth exclaims. “Then you’d be under elven supervision, and wouldn’t be able to sneak away to reveal our secrets!”
“So, I might have to continue traveling. Well, I suppose that’s better than being imprisoned until this crisis ends.” I say mildly.
“Yep, and I might get to go with you!” Briareth exclaims happily.
“Yay.” I mutter sarcastically. I’m slowly growing to consider Briareth a friend, but being with him 24 hours a day, for who knows how long, sounds very tiring.
“We’re here!” Briareth announces, stopping right next to a section of the bark that looks exactly like the bark we’ve been walking past, but Briareth seems confident that this is the right place. Grabbing a small protrusion in the bark, he drags it sideways, sliding a whole section of the bark back, and suddenly it looks like an actual doorway. Beyond the newly created doorway is a small room that feels simple and yet regal at the same time. Dust motes swirl and sparkle in the air as a light flickers on overhead at our entrance. There is a wooden four poster bed carved with flower designs and covered with muted red pillows and blankets. Next to the bed, there is a simple chest of drawers, a chair, and a mirror. On the floor is a large circular rug that looks handwoven. I glance up, searching for the source of the light. The room isn’t that tall, maybe twice my height, and hanging from a small chain right over the doorway is a glowing orb.
Briareth notices my curiosity. “It’s a Rune light,” he elaborates. “They’re rather expensive to commission, especially ones like this guy that are motion sensing, but much safer than a fire would be.” He walks into the room and plops down on the bed, but I study the device a bit longer. The technology these elves have really is strange. Lights with no fire, plants that can talk to each other, elevators run by children, I wonder what other odd creations I’ll learn about while here. “All you have to do is be almost motionless for five minutes and it will turn itself off.” Briareth says, noticing my continued scrutiny of the orb dangling above my head. “Better hope you don’t toss and turn in your sleep though, or you might be waking up every thirty minutes.” He warns seriously.
“How did you know that the door was there?” I ask, finally going to sit beside him on the bedspread. The blanket is soft, and rather fuzzy beneath my fingers.
“I didn’t, I just guessed.” Briareth says blandly. I turn to stare at him, shocked. He chuckles. “Kidding! It was the little door knob in the bark that clued me in to where it was exactly, but I knew roughly where the guest rooms are located. This is where I and Raegel come to stay whenever we need to check in after all.
”I would tell you to unpack your stuff,” He continues, “but you really didn’t bring much. If you need help for any reason during the night, my room is the one on your right when you walk out. Any questions?” Just as I’m about to shake my head, a bell tolls from somewhere deeper in the castle, and Briareth interrupts my thoughts eagerly.
“The dinner bell! Come on Balderk, it’s supper time!” He bounds out of the room like a puppy who just heard food rattling in its bowl.
“Oh drat that overly-energetic elf.” I mutter and follow him through all those long hallways again. By the time we reached the dining hall, I’ve worked up quite an appetite.
Briareth tells me where to sit and sits next to me. Strange things about these elven tables, they are all circular. Where does the King sit? Perhaps the royals eat separately from the commoners. That would make sense. Suddenly though, a young man enters the dining hall who throws that idea entirely out the window.
“I’m sorry my father couldn’t join us, he is still working on your dilemma.” Prince Faladel says, stopping at our table. “I think he is close to a breakthrough though. Mind if I sit with you?”
“Course you can Faladel!” Chimes in Briareth merrily. “I’m waiting to see this young dwarf’s face when he sees the meal plan. It’s going to be hilarious!”
“Oh?” Faladel asks, and then his eyes widen “Oh! You didn’t tell him?” Faladel’s face turns into a grin that I can’t really decipher. It is only mildly terrifying. “Now I’m definitely going to stay.”
I glance between the two of them. “You guys have me worried now. What is wrong with the menu?”
“Nothing is wrong with it, it’s just going to be different from what you’re used to.” Faladel says carefully.
“Don’t spoil it Faladel! I want to see his face when he figures it out.” Briareth interjects eagerly.
“Fine,” Faladel sighs, “I won’t speak another word.”
“Faladel, please?” I ask hopefully. He seems to be the nicer one. Scary, but nicer.
“Not one word Faladel.” Briareth says warningly, Prince Faladel shrugs at me, siding with his friend. Just then an elf arrives wearing what looks like rolling shoes on his feet. Each shoe has four wheels, and a break at the front. The Elf carefully glides to a stop and sets down a huge folded piece of paper in front of us. He raises an eyebrow at me, and then at Briareth who is now giggling gleefully. Then he silently shrugs, as if deciding that it is none of his business, and glides off on his wheeled shoes.
“Whenever I see those waiters I always am reminded of how much I want to try out their roller skates.” Comments Briareth after catching his breath. “Now Balderk, come on, look at the menu.”
I hesitantly pick it up, glancing over at Briareth suspiciously. I’m pretty sure nothing else can surprise me at this point, I mean elves have ‘roller skates’ and so many other weird things, like cities in trees, and royalty and peasants sitting together and joking. How could anything be more shocking than what I’ve already seen? But Faladel and Briareth are staring at me so intently it’s unnerving. Honestly the real surprise would be if there was nothing wrong at all, if this entire conversation was a setup for an elaborate prank. I slowly open the menu, and am shocked speechless yet again. I desperately scan the menu to see if it is hidden somewhere, maybe in a corner.
“Annnnnnd…” Says Briareth. He and Faladel grin at me as I gape in shock.
“That face, I’m going to cherish the memory of that face forever.” Says Briareth grinning from ear to pointy ear. I sputter trying to regain my cool.
“Where is all the meat!?” I finally exclaim.
“There isn’t any.” Faladel’s smile isn’t as wide as Briareth’s, but it is still wider than any I’ve seen the prince wear before. “Elves are mostly vegetarians when we have the choice to be. I felt sure that Briareth had mentioned it, and when I realized that he hadn’t I knew that your reaction would be hilarious.”
“But no one can live without meat!” I answer, still unconvinced. “It must be hiding here somewhere.” I scan the corners of the paper, and even try turning it upside down, but I can’t see any meat or steak anywhere. But then I notice something. “Don’t burritos have meat? You can’t possibly make a burrito without using meat!”
“Of course you can, just use a protein supplement like beans.” Says Briareth.
“You can’t use beans in a burrito, that’s just not-not right! Not done!” I protest.
“Just to prove you wrong, I’ll order one.” announces Briareth
“Actually,” Says Faladel. “I think I’ll take one as well. Although it’s not just to prove you wrong. What do you want to eat, Balderk?”
“Uhhh…” I stall, glancing over the dozen of other items on the menu, then quickly decide to follow suit. “I guess I’ll take a burrito as well. If you both are eating it, it can’t be too bad. Do you elves have any beer? Or is that also not on the menu?” I quickly examine the menu again, trying to find the drinks section.
“No beer,” Briareth confirms. “It’s not against our morals, just unappetizing. Although, we do have wine. Only, Faladel and I can’t drink it yet, we’re too young. We can’t order it either, and since we’re ordering for you as well…”
“Oh let up on the dwarf.” Faladel says, noting my horrified reaction. “We can’t order wine but Balderk can because the cooks don’t know what the drinking age is for dwarfs.”
“What is the age limit for elves?” I ask.
“One-fifty, What is it for dwarves?” Answers Briareth chirpily.
“Ten, for the strong stuff, two for the weak. Wait, did you say one-hundred fifty? You must mean days, right?”
“No, of course not, we use years.” Faladel stares at me. “Why would you think that?”
“How long do you elves live? On average?” I ask.
“With or without the war?” Faladel clarifies
“Without.” I respond. “You know, just dying of old age.”
“Death of old age? What? How could anyone die of old age?” Briareth chirps in.
“You’re kidding right? No elves have died of old age?” I glance at Faladel. Briareth might joke about such things, but Faladel appears to be more serious minded.
“Well not that I know of.” Faladel looks intrigued “My father might know more.”
“How old is the oldest Elf?” I ask, more than a little scared to hear the response.
“I don’t actually know.” He replies, frowning slightly. “Father might, but most of us don’t talk about our age. It’s not really important after 150.” I am left sputtering again.
“Hey” Comments Briareth. “How long do dwarfs live? Why is 150 so shocking?”
“We live to about 100 years and then our body stops working and we get sick easier and eventually die. But because of the war, living past 50 is rare.”
“Geez that’s early. I’m 84 and Faladel is- how old are you now?”
“Well I spent 22 years in prison.” I open my mouth to question this statement, but Faladel just continues on without noticing. “So I’d be around 146. Yeah my birthday was in May, so I’m 146.” I shut my mouth, realizing that my question– why exactly he was in jail so long– could be seen as extremely rude. “Just four more years till I get to try out wine.” Faladel continues with surprise. “My how time does fly when you’re enjoying yourself. Or when you’re in prison and can’t keep an accurate record.” Before I can find a tactic way to ask my question, the waiter arrives again on his roller skates.
“Three burritos, two glasses of fresh spring water, and one glass of wine for the dwarf.” Faladel answers promptly when he requests our orders.
“What type of wine would you like?” The waiter directs his question at me. I freeze
“Wait, there are types?” I hesitate, befuddled. “What would you suggest Briareth?”
“Try some of everything then tell us how it tastes!” Briareth answers eagerly
Faladel raises an eyebrow and cuts in. “Small servings of wine please we don’t want the dwarf to pass out and get a hangover so bad he can’t move tomorrow.”
“I can hold my alcohol” I grumble.
“Through all fifty types? Wow, you’re good!” Briareth exclaims.
“He can’t, but I’d like to see him try.” States Faladel blandly.
“Depends how large your glasses are.” I say proudly, ignoring Faladel’s skepticism.
“So three burritos, two fresh spring waters, and a taste testing serving of all the wines. Would you like the wines to be labeled?” confirms the waiter.
“Yes please.” Says Faladel. “Thank you.”
The waiter glides off again on his roller skates, and Faladel smiles, “He’ll be back soon with our dinner. So Briareth, Balderk, how did you two meet up?”
“I found him playing with string in the forest.” Briareth chirrups.
“You did not! Don’t make it sound weird, elf!” I shoot a stern look at Briareth, who chuckles. “I was hiding from some dwarves who were tracking me and I accidentally got caught in his net-trap. I convinced him not to kill me, he got permission to take me to the capital, and here we are now. That’s the quickest way of putting it.” I fiddle with the table cloth and then ask, “So what about the two of you, how did you meet?”
“I rescued him.” Briareth claims, grinning.
“More like I rescued myself and you tagged along.” Faladel replies, smiling at Briareth, who laughs. He glances at me, notices my confused expression, and elaborates. “I was stuck in dwarven territories for a while, Briareth was there undercover. I escaped, and Briareth escorted me back while still undercover. I had to confront him about his obviously fake backstory to make him admit to me that he was actually an elf.”
“But wait, aren’t you his prince? Couldn’t he just tell you?”
“It’s not that easy.” Briareth buts in. “Technically-” He suddenly cuts himself off as the waiter arrives on his roller skates, precariously balancing three glass plates, one on each of his hands and one on his head. He glides to a stop without dropping one. It must have taken a lot of practice and broken plates before he figured out how to do that right.
“Here are the three burritos you requested, and the two fresh spring waters. The wine shall take a while I’m afraid, we’re still labeling all the glasses. Please enjoy the burritos while you wait. Here are some packets of spices and cheese that you can add to them if you wish.” He glides off to a new couple that had just sat down and takes their orders.
“I claim the cheese!” Exclaims Briareth eagerly reaching for the packets, “And the hot sauce!”
I grab a burrito and pick up the conversation where we left off. “So technically what? What’s the problem with just telling him outright?”
Briareth is too busy dumping hot sauce and cheese onto his burrito to respond, so Faladel picks up his question. “Under normal circumstances because I’m a prince he would have been able to reveal himself to me, you’re correct. However, I had been in dwarven territory so long that everyone thought I was dead. I was in fact legally dead, and thus I wasn’t the prince anymore, so I wasn’t supposed to know confidential information like Briareth’s identity. So when Briareth found me, he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to tell me, and decided to err on the side of caution.” Suddenly Briareth starts sputtering loudly.
“Hot! Hot! I tink I burnt mah tongue!”
Faladel chuckles and continues “Not something he normally does, as I’m sure you know.”
“Yep.” I grin. “I don’t understand one thing though. How does being dead mean you’re not a prince? Don’t you keep nobility after death?”
Faladel blinks at me. “I’m not quite sure I understand the question. Being a prince is a position, obviously I can’t fill the position if I’m dead.”
“Wait, so the King and Queen aren’t your real parents. They just picked you off the street to fill in the position of prince?”
“No.” Faladel looks even more confused. “I am their real son. Where did you get the idea that I wasn’t?”
Briareth cuts in. “Wait, I think I can solve this one. So Faladel, royalty definitions are a little different for dwarves. Being a prince isn’t a position, it’s just a thing you are. Like being a brother, or a father, it continues on after death. It’s because their monarchy is hereditary.”
“Exactly.” I cut in.
“But Balderk, elvish monarchies aren’t necessarily hereditary. A King or Queen is elected, and they don’t have to be the son or daughter of a previous monarch. Faladel- since he’s the son of an elected king, was born into the position of prince. However, if he dies, his position as prince is revoked. It isn’t given out to anyone on the street. It just disappears.”
“I think you mentioned these election things earlier. You said everybody votes yes or no for the successor right?” Briareth and Faladel both nod. “And if it’s a no, then you vote for the next successor and so on and so forth.”
“Yes, and then if none of the successors are confirmed, we go to a general election where anybody can nominate themselves at the local election offices.” Faladel confirms.
“That sounds terribly slow.” I frown. “Couldn’t you be without a ruler for months then, since it takes time to count up the votes?”
“Yeah, but it nothing like that has happened for centuries, and Faladel has a pretty high approval rating, so it probably won’t go nearly that far when his parents die.”
“Wait, approval ratings?” I ask. “You grade your monarchs?”
“Thank you for the vote of confidence, Briareth.” Faladel says, smiling. Briareth takes a big bite of his burrito in response, and Faladel turns to me to answer my question. “Yes, Balderk, elves grade their monarchs and their immediate family. All of my actions are noted down, any words that might be used for me or against me are recorded somewhere and released to the public. Surveys are sent out periodically, where people consider my recent actions and tell me how well they think I’m doing. All of my actions are on display, so that if my father suddenly dies one day, people can easily decide if I’m worthy of taking his crown.”
“That sounds super stressful. You have zero time to yourself?”
“Practically, and It is stressful, but if it means people can trust me and feel like they know me, I believe it is worth it. Honestly,” Faladel chuckles softly “I’ve lived so long like this, that after coming back from dwarven territories, the first time I noticed someone spying on me was the point that it began to feel like home again.” Faladel points over my shoulder and smiles, “Ahh, here is your wine.”
The waiter arrives with three more plates precariously balanced, each plate holding over fifteen glasses of wine. He places all three on our table and then bows and leaves. Faladel’s explanation rings in my mind. That sort of life sounds terrifying. People watching you every moment of the day judging every move. Never being able to speak without considering how the public might react. I shiver, casting the dark thoughts from my mind and instead turn to the wines.
“You elves have a lot of choices.” I mutter, surveying all the carefully labeled glasses in front of me.
“Drink up, Balderk!” says Briareth.
I taste wine after wine after wine. Some are sweet and honeyed, others are dry, a few are bitter, and some are just plain sour. After the twenty-seventh glass, I’m ready to be done, but Briareth’s cheers and Faladel’s expectant expression, as if he’s waiting for me to give up, drives me onwards.
When I finally put down the last glass Briareth immediately accosts me. “So, what is your verdict? What is your favorite and least favorite?” He asks, excitedly.
“I really don’t think you should drink anymore.” States Faladel. “You look a little unsteady over there.”
“I’m only a little dizzy, I think my favorite was the honeyed pink one. My least favorite was the dusty grey one, it tasted like horse urine.”
“How do you know what horse urine tastes like?” Briareth asks interestedly.
“Older cousin. Lemon snow.” I release a hiccup. “ ‘Nuff said.”
“I think I’ll call it a night. You should too Briareth, and you Balderk, I don’t envy the headache that you will have come morning.” Faladel cuts in.
“I think we should first stop by the bathrooms so you won’t have to go in the night.” Briareth says to me.
“Did you have to bring that up?” I moan at him, my bladder suddenly feeling uncomfortably full. I just know I’ll have to go in the middle of the night now.