“He is too powerful!” These words were spoken by an elf, who accompanied them by slamming his fist onto the wooden table before him. If this had been any ordinary table, it doubtless would have swayed under the force of the blow, but it did not. It was a marvelous thing, connected to the floor by a flowing stalk of wood which grew seamlessly into it.
“We are well aware of that fact,” said an elderly elf, placidly surveying the one who had spoken over the tips of his fingers, which were placed together. This elf’s hair was streaked with gray, leaving the rest white, but very few lines were to be seen on his skin. By human standards, he looked no older than forty. “However,” he said, his expression changing not at all, “that is no reason for what you suggest. It is how Dilmir would use his power that should be questioned.
“Many of the council you see here before you have had ample opportunity to observe Dilmir. We all agree that he is powerful, and yet he does not use his power. What would you suggest, Eldin? Are we to act on assumptions?”
Eldin mouthed silently at the old elf, as if not able to believe his reasoning, and then turned and walked the length of the room. The room was as marvelously crafted as the table. The walls and ceiling flowed perfectly into each other, giving the room the shape of an overly stretched egg, though from the inside. Windows were set into the walls at regular intervals, though no glass could be seen in them. Instead, enchantments hovered within their frames, invisible save for the edges, which glowed a faint hue of blue.
Eldin placed his palms on one of these window frames and looked out, his mind not seeing what lay before him. At last, he turned, and faced the council. “How many of you remember the dark days?” he said, his voice back to its normal volume.
None of the thirteen elves that made up the council answered. They sat in their chairs – which were also grown from the floor – and watched him as he began to pace around the table.
“Doubtless, all of you do,” said Eldin, answering his own question. “I, for one, remember them most vividly. Families were torn apart, sons and daughters left the homes of their parents, and anger was everywhere. Bloodshed was inevitable, and brother was pitched against brother in the battles that came. Sorrow swept all of Feylund, and all of it due to the actions of one elf: Eltuthar the Black.” Eldin spoke this name with such venomous hatred that the elf nearest him actually shifted away from him in his chair, his eyes fixed on the elf’s face. Eldin did not notice, but continued.
“Eltuthar, as I am sure you know, first showed signs of his unnatural power when he was but twelve. We did nothing, and war and misery followed. Dilmir has shown his power at the age of ten, and yet you say you still will do nothing?”
“Are you saying Dilmir will follow in the steps of Eltuthar?” asked one of the council sharply.
“I do not know,” replied Eldin, leaning on the table and looking at the elf. “Likely not, but his power cannot bode well for the elves.”
“You come before us,” said the elderly elf, “and ask us to take action with no reason.”
“Would you rather wait for a reason to act?” asked Eldin, rising from the table, “or act now, and prevent such a reason ever arising?”
“The fact remains,” said the old elf, “Dilmir has not shown his power since that night before he came here. He was attacked by wolves, the whole party was. Many young elves can show power that they do not know they have when something of that nature occurs.”
“Yes, but during that night,” hissed Eldin, “he was said to have killed three wolves without even trying. No other elf has ever done that at the age of ten, not even Eltuthar.”
“What would you have us do?” asked another elf, nearer Eldin, “defend the wolves? Dilmir has done nothing, and until he gives us sufficient reason, we can take no action.”
“He is hiding his power, hoping that you will forget. You must see this!” When the other elves did not reply, Eldin continued, a note of pleading entering his voice. “You cannot just sit here and do nothing,” he said, quietly.
“Indeed, Eldin, that is precisely what we must do.” The old elf leaned forward, his long hair falling forward to frame his face. He glanced up. “We have heard your concerns, Eldin,” he said, “and we have made our decision. Unless you have another topic to bring before us, the council is dismissed.”
“I have but the one topic,” said Eldin, “but you must see that —”
“Then the council is dismissed,” said the elderly elf, speaking over Eldin.
Eldin stared at the elf for a moment, and then, muttering beneath his breath, turned, and left the room. The other members of the council filed out slowly after him, until only the old elf and one other was left. This other sat at the opposite end of the table, a hood drawn over his head so that his face was cast in shadow. He, unlike the other elves that had just left, wore several pieces of leather armor, all black or dark green. A mottled cloak was clasped at his throat, its folds flowing over his shoulders and down his back, to land on the floor in dark folds.
The old elf, once all the others had gone, rested his elbows on the table and lowered his head into his hands, his eyes closed. After a moment of silence, he said, speaking to the table, “You know he’s right.” His voice was no longer strong as it had been when he had spoken to Eldin, but tired, defeated.
The hooded elf nodded, not moving from his chair. His hood rustled faintly as it moved, and then was still. “Why did you not take his side?” he asked. His voice barely warmed the room; cold and powerfully calculating, and with a hint of smoothness that could not quite escape it, though at the moment it was curious.
The elf raised his head. “I said why, Alfimir. We have nothing against him. It would not do for Eldin to know, but I, too, believe Dilmir is hiding his power, trying to make us forget. Unfortunately, he’s doing a very good job. We cannot act without a reason.”
Alfimir nodded, and lowered his head, as if considering. “If I were to, perhaps, provide a reason,” he said, slowly, not raising his head. He left the sentence hanging.
“That would be all we would need,” replied the elf, watching the dark form of Alfimir. “But there would have to be witnesses. We’ve never sentenced anyone without a witness before, and if we were to start now, some may grow suspicious.” Alfimir nodded. “I will be sure there are witnesses,” he said softly, raising his head, though his eyes looked past the elf. Silently, he rose from his chair and swept from the room, leaving in his wake a sense of sinister foreboding.