pps- For those who are wondering, the greying of Drugane's skin and the redness of his eyes slowly disappates over time. It was really strong in Evelest, but as he continues to get stronger and recover from the attack, he gets more normal. By the end of the book he will only have the eyes to remind him, which will have switched from brown to a orangy color, and there's loads of those little red veins. (sort of like this.) It makes him look eternally tired, and that's kind of how he feels too.
EDIT: Lengthened (1/20/05)
"I hope the supper was to your liking," said the king. Drugane burped his approval, eliciting a wrinkling of the king's nose and the muttering of certain words that sounded strangely like the phrase "savages."
"It was wonderful, thank you," Elenya said formally, trying to make up for Drugane. Emor hadn't touched anything on his plate. He caught the king's eye.
"How much longer until you can muster your men?" He asked.
The king took a seat at the table, his heavily lined face contorting into a frown. "I've got a whole courtyard of men ready to go as we speak. But if you want more than those whom I could arouse from the city, it could take another day at least for them to arrive."
"We don't have that kind of time," said Drugane matter of factly. The king gave him a dissapproving look.
"Whether the time is ours or not, my men cannot sprout wings. Unless the hearty commonfolk of the South have found some brand of magic by which my men could fly."
"So will we wait for them or not?" asked Elenya, who took another sip of thin wine.
The king sighed. "That will be up to prince Emor."
Drugane snuck a look at Emor. If Drugane should have guessed, he'd say that Emor hadn't heard the question asked at all. He was too busy already contemplating the answer.
Drugane shoved another forkful of meat into his mouth, the crunch of his teeth echoing lightly in the hall while everyone waited for Emor to speak.
Slowly, Emor stirred, as a statue coming to life; first a twitch of a hand, then the rise of his chest, and finally a sigh. He reached out his hand to grasp his half empty glass and wet his tongue wiht the last of his water. He swallowed, and still his eyes remained on the cup, his fingertips tracing the engraven images of ancient Northern Kings in gilded gold.
"We'll leave tommorrow morning." he said finally. When he lifted his eyes they went not to the king but to Drugane, a dark shadow enlarging the lines that now crept across the prince's youthful face. "If we wait any longer we may not get there in time. But if we leave now we'd have to travel by night and risk either the death of our horses or ourselves in the dark. That, and I think..." he paused, shifting his gaze from Drugane to the king," I think that we should send a scout out to see if the road is clear. That way if the goblin army is still in transit we will know ahead of time."
The king smiled, running his fingers through his beard. " I was actually contemplating that myself. The moon is scarcly visible tonight. And you may have your scout as well. In fact, I'll send my finest rider out immediatly. Excuse me."
Emor, who for the breifist of seconds had been looking eye to eye with the king with his back straight and his chin up sank deep into his chair, his eyes returning to the goblet as the king rose and exited.
"Hey, good job 'Smore," said Drugane, smiling. Emor said nothing. He'd turned to stone again.
Elenya caught Drugan'es eye. She looked worried. Her beautiful dress - the same one she'd been wearing when they'd been in the jail cell - was now grey with dirt, and her hair was beginning to thin.
"What's the matter Emor?" she asked, "Is the food dissagreeing with you?"
The prince made no responce. Drugane leaned across the table - his shirt dipping into the soup in front of him - and waved a hand infront of the prince's pale green eyes. Emor didn't even blink. Drugane wondered if the boy had finally lost his mind. He slid off the table, trying to brush off some of the soup that had sloshed onto his grey-blue shirt, and dipped under the table. He reappeared on the other side to the right of Emor. Without pretense, he shook Emor violently, nearly flinging the prince to the floor. The chair in which he sat - which was slightly off center - teetered fearfully on its back two legs.
"What in Arnor are you doing!?" cried Emor. Snapping of of his trance, he flung himself out of his chair and to his feet just in time to watch his chair tumble to the floor.
"You went stiff on us man. I thought you'd lost it or something."
"What are you getting on about?" snapped Emor, although the crease in his brow aluded otherwise. "I'm just tired, alright?" he added, "No need to scare me half dead to make sure I'm still living."
"Sorry Emor, " replied Elenya, "we were just..."
"Not thinking." finished Drugane. He knew what Elenya was going to say, and somehow he didn't think Emor wanted anyone worrying over him right now. "Come to think of it, I'm tired too. Why don't we try to find a bedroom in this monster. I'd love to sleep in a real bed for one night."
Emor ran his hand over his face, the emerald eagle on his ring catching the light of the candles. "I can't," he mumbled from behind his palm, "I've got to meet with the generals."
"Do you want us to stay with you?" Elenya asked carefully. Emor shook his head.
"No, you two go on. I'll be fine."
"Okay, sure 'Smore." Drugane clasped his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You did good you know." Emor peered up at him, his eyes so sharp and piercing that it startled the tracker.
"Just go Drugane." he said curtly, a tinge of anger in his voice.
Startled, Drugane pulled his hand away. "Okay man." Rather surprised, he turned and walked out of the door. Elenya looked as though she wanted to say something, but merely followed Drugane into the hall. She had to jog to catch up to him.
"What was that about?" she asked softly.
They passed through a new archway and into a stairwell. Marbel staircases climbed both upward and downward, both right and left. Drugane went down, heading left. "I don't know, but he'll get over it once he's slept."
"Do you think he's scared?" she asked, "Maybe he's worried about the responcibility of all of this."
Drugane shrugged, his footsteps echoing in the bare hallway. They were coming to a dark part of the hall, where the torches ended. Drugane yanked a torch from the wall and bounded on. "Honestly, I don't care. I'm too tired to care." Abrubtly he ceased walking. Peering around his shoulder, Elenya saw the light of his torch bouncing off the wall ahead: a dead end. "Where the hell are the bedrooms in this castle!" Elenya giggled, forcing the tracker to smile. "Come help me find a bedroom before I collapse," he said wearily, "And stop worrying about prince-finiky. He'll be fine."
Elenya nodded, though not quiet convinced, and turned back toward the stairs thinking sadly of poor Emor half asleep in the dining hall, facing the council all alone. She said a silent prayer that he'd be all right, then headed up the stairs to find some rest. They'd all be needing it.
Elenya awoke to the light of dawn floating through her window, a pale but warm light that held just a touch of springtime. She lay in bed, taking in the warmth and comfort that she had been living without for nearly a month. Her head nuzzled deep into her pillow, she could just pick out the calls of birds outside in the city and the soft patter of far off hourses. Her dreamy bliss was interrupted by a resounding snore, which pulled her fully awake. She and Drugane had finally located a room with two beds the night before. One was a simple bed with a mattress of heather, but the other was an ornately carved four-poster canopy with a mattress of feathers. Drugane, too tired to cross the entirty of the large room, had plopped into the closer and simpler bed, leaving Elenya to enjoy the comforts of northern hospitality. Although with Drugane snoring as loudly as he was, Elenya wasn't getting much time to enjoy it. She shoved her head even further into the feather pillow.
The room they had found appeared to be one of the many guest bedrooms, complete with a bathing bowl and a strange pump that appeared to draw water from a well below the castle. The ceiling was covered in a huge mural stretching from wall to wall in a beautiful imitation of a sunny day sky. Elenya wondered if all the other guestrooms were this ornate. Across the room, Drugane rolled over again, muttering an unaudible string of words before returning to snores. It reminded her of that night on the boat, back when Emor was still... normal. He'd been falling further and further into some sort of theoretical hole of depression.
It took a long time for Elenya to convince herself that she needed to get out of bed. She wanted to find something to change in to. Her dress was itching terribly and smelled like the jail, a smell that she desperately wanted to put behind her.
In the back of the room was a large wardrobe, standing nearly a head taller than Drugane would have stood. Pulling at the handle, she swung the doors apart and peered inside. She hadn't really expected to find anything, and was surprised to find two sets of clothing hanging inside. One was a soft white shirt, embroidered with golden thread, hanging with a set of brown trowsers. The second was a smaller version of the same shirt and pants, but the shirt was a light purple. She tugged the shirt from the hanger, running her fingers over the exquisit designs that weaved along the collar and sleeves.
"I hope it fits you." Startled, Elenya spun around. Instinctivly she'd grabbed the hanger, brandishing it before her. She knew a hanger afforded little protection, but she didn't want to be caught defenseless. But of course, it was only the king. He smiled indulgently.
"I'm sorry to frighten you. We found yourself and Drugane last night, and I thought you might appreciate a fresh change of clothing. I hope you will consider it a gift, one expressing my sorrow over yesterday's misunderstanding."
Elenya nodded quickly. A few other men stood with the king in the doorway, peering at her with interest. She looked down at herself, noticing only now that her dress had shifted, reveiling quite a lot of skin that she wouldn't normally wish to show. She turned a deep crimson, but continued to stand where she was and how she was. The king turned to glance at his company, realizing suddenly why they were smiling so.
"Trunks!" he said curtly, knocking the scabbard of his sword against the man's shins. "Sorry madam, I'll take my leave." He walked away, pulling the big man by his sleeve. The others followed, all except for one.
This man was shorter than the others, and kept his head in a respectful bow. He wore a long shirt of mail made from tiny ringlets of dark and light, forming the shimmering symbol of an eagle that thrust out from his chest. His hair, pure black, was pulled back from his face in a small clip, exposing his chiseled jaw with its thin stubble, and about his head was wrapped a sash of rich, noble yellow. With one hand he fingered the hilt of his sword, and with the other he hailed her, palm against his heart.
Quickly Elenya pulled the fabric of her dress back into place, stepping forward to see the man better. He raised his chin, revealing a huge grin.
"Emor!" she cried, "You look wonderful!" Drugane started out of his sleep at her cry, eyeing Emor wearily.
"What do you think Dru?" he asked, raising his head to bask the whole room in a glitter of sundrops as the sun shimmered off his mail.
"I think you're daft waking me up so early," he murmered, thoroughly unimpressed. He rolled back onto his side, his back to the two youngsters.
Emor continued to smile. "The king gave me a whole new set of mail. And I thought David's sash gave it a nice touch."
Elenya couldn't take her eyes of of him. He looked so much older. "You look..." she searched for a word, landing on the only one that would come to mind. "Kingly."
Emor grinned. "I've got to go. You'd better get dressed. Can you get him up by yourself, or do I need to poke him with my sword?"
Drugane flung his hand in the air, waving off the threat. Elenya assured Emor she could handle it.
"Okay, I'll see you then." Emor turned and walked down the hall, his boots echoing down the corridor. Elenya stared after him, unable to remove the giddy knots from her stomache. Only after his footsteps had fallen away did she turn from the doorway. She forced Drugane to swear he wouldn't look, then changed into the new outfit. It was a little loose, but the fabric was soft and felt wonderful compared to the second-hand dress.
"There's a new outfit in here for you Drugane," she said once she was changed. She threw the dress into the bottom of the wardrobe, making a mental note to forget about it.
Drugane stirred, peeking over the covers. "What kind?"
Elenya shrugged. "It's pretty fancy, the king gave it to you as a gift."
"Finally, some respect," he mumbled, more to himself than to Elenya. "You dressed yet?"
"Yes," she said, "You'd better change too. I think Emor wanted us to come down for something."
"Why don't you go on ahead? I'll follow you down."
Elenya laughed. "Yeah, so you can go back to sleep. Besides, I wanted to wash my face. Did you know there's a pump in here?"
"Yes, I saw," he said, not looking up. "Look, I'm not getting up while you're in here."
"Why not?" she asked. He said nothing. Then Elenya spotted the pile of clothing that lay at the foot of his bed.
"You're naked aren't you." she said quickly. Despite the blanket covering from his nose down, she could tell he was smiling. "You couldn't even close the door, but you had enough energy to take your clothes off?"
"Do you think I'd sleep in those dirt things? I'd get mud everywhere."
Elenya sighed. "Okay. I'll just wait in the hall. But hurry up, I really wanted to wash my face."
"No, don't do that," he answered, ashamed to be robbing her of such a little luxury, " just toss me the trousers. I'll put them on under the covers."
She returned to the wardrobe and retrieved his new pants, throwing them onto Drugane's bed. Then she hurried over to the waterbasin. Drugane disappeared under the blanket. She was just getting the pump to work when he emerged.
Once more Elenya found herself unable to take her eyes off of someone, but this time in a different way. Where with Emor she'd been mesmerized by his new stance and strength of image, it was a raw power that Elenya saw in Drugane. As a tracker and swordsman his muscles were etched and thick, tightened by training and battle. Scars trickled down his torso, tracing the bend of his arms and his left collar bone. A thick white scar, similar to the one on his nose, slid over four of his upper ribs, as if someone had attempted to divide him in half in his youth.
She stared until Drugane had slipped on the shirt, a perfect fit that enhanced his features. He'd always worn such baggy clothing, Elenya hadn't seen his muscles before. She pretended not to have noticed, embarrassed at her lack of self-control. But a little piece of her retained his image in her head, storing it away for dreams to come.
"How's the water?" he asked. Obviously he hadn't noticed her gaze.
"A little cold."
He grinned. "Perfect. That'll wake me up. We're going to have a big day, so I'll need it." He leaned over and splashed some of the chilly water onto his face, letting it run down his chin. "'Hope Emor got some sleep. He sounded like his bad mood cleared up."
Elenya nodded, her subconcious torn between two fantasys: Emor in his shimmering mail, and Drugane in... she blushed, forcing the idea out of her head.
"Come on, lets get down and see if there's any food. I'm famished." He plucked his shoes from the pile of dirty clothing and shoved his feet into the boots. Carefully he pulled his belt and scabbard from the loops of his other pants and placed the scabbard on the new belt, which actually had a working clasp. Now ready, he led the way down the stairwell and toward the banquet hall, hoping against hope that someone had graciously left out some food for him to eat. The thin wine had left a bitter taste in his mouth that had become even more unbearable in the night, and the good food had tempted his stomache into the hopes that perhaps he would be eating well for once in his life. He wondered how his body could be so naive.