“Now is not the time to place blame. Now is the time to fight. To take back what the HORDE stole from us. To avenge the thousands that perished in California last week.”
Joreikal Sunfalcon glowered into the waiting room from the flatscreen television mounted on the wall of the clinic. His molten gold eyes narrowed, probably because of the flashes of light from cameras out of view, but it transformed his fine-boned, hawkish features into the face of the Elven Court’s army. A heartbeat later, his hair changed from navy blue to blond, and his white dress uniform morphed into dragon scale armor.
All the same, Solseir thought. Everyone in the army is all the same.
The sound of elven boots marching filled his ears and consumed his thoughts. All the same, the boots pounded out in the dust of his memory. All the same, all the same, all the same….
The back office door opened with a creak, silencing Solseir’s memory. He sat up straight and tried to pull in his sizable gut with an effort, expecting a military officer to walk through and berate him for drinking too much and letting himself go.
The frog-faced lady from the front desk leaned out the door and croaked a name. Solseir stared at her blankly, unable to comprehend what she had said, but a young male elf stood up and followed her back. The door shut behind him with a sudden boom.
Solseir winced and shifted in his hard plastic chair, trying to stay grounded in the here and now. He let out a breath and ran through one of Dr. Keller’s calming exercises in his mind. This new therapist seemed to know what he was talking about, because he relaxed after a few minutes, unclenching the seat of his chair. He hadn’t even realized he was holding onto it, much less so tightly his fingers ached. He shook them out, glad to see the tremors weren’t bad today.
He glanced back at the television, pleased to see that the Sunfalcon general’s clothing and hair had gone back to normal. He breathed easier now, but he wished Frog Face had changed the channel before she took the previous patient back to see the doctor. Then again, from the silent and rapt way the other elves and the humans in the waiting room watched the screen, she might have been lynched if she had tried.
The waiting room had the usual magazines scattered over the small wooden side tables, but nothing captured his eye. The beige walls remained empty of paintings or posters or anything else that might be of interest. He scanned the occupants of the waiting room next, running his eyes over a female elf and three humans before the rest of the elves started to look like they were wearing dragon scale armor. He sucked in a breath and jerked his eyes back to the television, squinting as much to read the news ticker flicking across the screen as to block out everything in the waiting room.
Skirmish reported on the border of California and Nevada. Alliance troops have engaged the enemy outside of Carson City and are expected to push the HORDE back to California by tomorrow at the latest. Orcs sighted in The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon. The small group was determined to be a scouting mission interrupted by Alliance Troops….
An orc war cry rose from the depths of his memory, so loud he could have sworn it was real. Solseir tore his eyes from the news crawl and glanced around wildly, but no one else had reacted. Embarrassed, he leaned back in his chair and let his shoulders slump.
He just had to endure this for a few more minutes to convince Frog-Face (with or without glamour) that he was unfit to return to service. Then he would be free to run to the nearest bar and liquor up to his heart’s content. Beer worked better than any drug Dr. Keller had ever prescribed for Solseir’s nightmares. It also gave him heartburn and a paunch, but he would take those over not sleeping until he put a gun in his mouth.
And his armor didn’t fit him anymore, so that was a plus. He cut his hair short on purpose even though it was unfashionable and made his ears stick out more. He embraced almost anything that would help him look different, stopping short at tattoos and piercings due to a fear of needles.
The Sunfalcon general glared at Solseir when he looked back up at the screen. He took a deep breath, imagining the sensation of flying a glider over snowy mountains, untouched by humans, elves, or the HORDE. It almost worked. An off-screen reporter asked a question muffled by the sound of orc war cries in Solseir’s head. He jerked his eyes open in time to hear Joreikal’s response.
“We have partnered with the United States government to institute a draft to fill our ranks. We have many non-combatant positions for those that object to violence, and steps have already been taken to ensure that all beliefs are respected. The fact of the matter is we need your help to quell this uprising of the HORDE. The tragedy in California will be repeated if we do not act now.”
“My baby sister Emmie’s one of their healers now,” said a young man sitting on Solseir’s right.
Solseir turned to him, grateful for the distraction he provided. “You don’t say,” he replied politely.
The young man’s brown eyes crinkled when he smiled. His draft papers stuck out of the fist he rested in his lap. “Yeah. One of the younger Sunfalcons came out and tested her with one of them crystals. She’s a nurse, a little bitty thing, but it lit right up when she touched it.” He shook his head with wonder. “Who knew she had that much magic in ‘er?”
You mean, who knew the Elven army would be so desperate for healers that they would comb through the general human population for them?
The thought made him sick. Just how desperate were they? Neither their silence nor what they could be bothered to admit to boded well for anyone.
“It’s amazing,” he agreed aloud.
The young man smiled again and stuck out his free hand. “Joseph Mallozzi. Friends call me Joe.”
“Nice to meet you, Joe. I’m Solseir Rainblade. Call me Sole,” the elf replied, shaking the human’s hand.
“Rainblade. Are you in the court?”
“No, my family is far too small and unimportant for that,” Solseir said with a forced laugh. He didn’t mention he was the only one left. “I’m a plumber by trade.”
“Ah, I’ve got friends that’re plumbers. You got your own business?”
“No, I work for The Pipe Doc. It’s easier to let my supervisor handle the paperwork.”
“Sounds about right.” Joe nodded. “I was gonna start with Digital Metro as a software engineer, but, you know.” He gestured at the draft papers and smiled, shrugging. “Gotta protect my baby sis, don’t I?”
A dark-haired human woman opened the door to the back of the clinic. She smiled professionally, but her dark eyes were red and distant, distracted. It made her look young and fragile like she needed someone to lean on to make it all better. Solseir hadn’t seen her before; he had thought that the frog-faced lady was the only clinic employee taking patients back.
This girl was much prettier than Frog-Face, with pale skin and a heart-shaped face with high cheekbones and a cupid’s bow mouth. She was slender and average height, maybe five foot seven at most. Her eyes had an Asian slant to them that he found attractive as well. He hoped that she would call his name. She would be easier to glamour than Frog-Face; the younger the human, the more susceptible they were to elven magic.
“Mr. Rainblade?” she called, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Soon, he’d be home free.
Solseir scrambled to his feet. “Here, miss. See you around, Joe.”
Joe smiled. “Nice meeting ya.”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Part two coming soon. ^_^