What would he want with our names? I soon found out as the door opened.
“Lady Kali and Sir Nathan Colm.” He bellowed within the great depths of the dining hall.
I couldn’t help the blush from deepening even more, the man had made it sound as if Nate was married to me, and I knew it shouldn’t have embarrassed me so much, but it did. Together we walked in, and as we moved heads turned. Soft whispers followed us, and I fought off the urge to itch at my neck, this is too unnatural for me. Nate squeezed my hand tighter and smiled down at me making my heart swell.
And then we stood before the King and his Queen, who where seated in their thrones at the center of the room. I smiled at both of them and curtsied as best as I could manage watching them nod approvingly. Straightening up we moved off to the side.
Out of the side of my mouth I spoke to Nate, “What is going on?”
He moved his head only slightly so that he could look at me, “We are waiting for them to get up and greet everyone, then we can sit, eat, and you can talk about why you have come to them.”
“Them? I thought it would just be us and the royals?”
“No, they have their counsel that will be listening to you, in hopes that they can figure out if you are lying to them or not. A safety precaution that the royals established years ago.”
I decided not to respond to his comment and was immediately glad that I kept my mouth shut because it was then that the royals rose up from their thrones and the King raised a hand for silence. The hall echoed with everyone’s breathing, but otherwise it was silent. I stood tense waiting, how long did it take one person to talk and break the tension in the room?
The Queen smiled and made a motion with her arms as a welcome to all of us, “We are glad that all of you could attend this council on such a short notice. I have been told that we are going to be hearing and seeing things that will greatly impact not only our kingdom, but the rest of the world. With that said please, sit and eat.”
Nate moved forward taking me with him, and pulled out a seat near the end of the long dining table. I sat down and put my hands in my lap, what was I suppose to do? Knowing that I had no experience in these customs, I settled on just sitting there and glancing slyly around at what others were doing. A man two seats from mine was moving around his collar on his dress shirt, his plump cheeks turning into a beet red color, surely no one else would want to be so uncomfortable at a dinner? Before I could stop myself a chuckle escaped my throat and immediately heads turned towards me. Heat rose to my own cheeks and I ducked my head.
The man looked at me and huffed, “What do you find so musing Lady? You are the one from the barbaric Mirkwood are you not?”
I had to hold my tongue back at his comments and spoke as reasonably as I could, “I thought that it did not make sense that someone would wear uncomfortable clothes in a dinner if they were expecting to stay long. I am from Mirkwood, but it is far from barbaric, and you should think twice and insulting my home in the future sir.”
His face purpled even more and he cleared his throat to speak again but Nate interrupted quickly, “Sir, could you pass the ham to me I am rather starving and think that we will all feel better with food in our stomachs.”
“Wisely said young man, you are Nathan yes? I am Sir Chancellor of the far North borders of the forests.”
Nate nodded and smiled, “I am Nathan, and it is nice to meet your acquaintance Chancellor.”
I lowered my head again and passed the ham to Nate who piled two thick slabs on his plate before putting one on mine and sending it off down the table. By now the King and Queen had sat and had also begun to gather food on their plates. The Queen was tall, thin, and regal beyond measure. Long and sleek, her brown hair fell well past her waist and her pale skin made her black eyes seem to pop out at you. She moved smoothly, her hands long and thin as was the rest of her build. The King was tall also, but his shoulders were wide and muscled from hours of training with weapons and keeping his army ready for any attack if it ever came. His fair hair and blue eyes were scanning around him a small barely noticeable smile played on his lips.
Somehow he managed to find me all the way down the table and he nodded at me, was it a sign to get up and talk? Was he waiting for me to begin eating? Suddenly my stomach was no longer craving food, how could I possibly speak and tell these people, who had no idea what it was like to live in Mirkwood that the city needed help desperately? Swallowing I looked around at me, everyone was eating by now and Nate was looking at me his eyes shining with encouragement. I looked back down at my food and woodenly moved the fork to shove some potatoes into my mouth; they tasted extremely divine with barely a hint of butter my hunger came back with a vengeance. Next I tried the ham, and had to stop myself from groaning out loud, it melted on my tongue, honey-smoked and warm it glided down my throat.
“Kali, they want you to speak now.” Nate whispered to me out of the corner of his mouth. How long had I been eating without paying attention to what else was going on? Apparently too long for people were shifting in their seats looking at me, waiting.
I spoke loud enough so that my voice carried, but soft enough that I wouldn’t hurt anyone’s ears that were sitting near me.
“Most of you have heard rumors, even if they were only flitting pieces of the downfall of Mirkwood’s people, but let me tell you right now, it is not a lost cause. There are people who are starving, children who are left homeless because the leader of Mirkwood feels that he needs more people to work in his home. The light is going out in their eyes, they are close to giving up hope, but surely Gondor would be willing to help these people? For every person in Mirkwood that puts up with what is happening, there are three ready to fight back, but they lack the knowledge on how to do so without destroying their families chances of some kind of life.
I paused to take a drink, “I did not come here to talk about how poorly my people are doing. I came here to ask if you and your people would be willing to help us out. I have some influence with some of the people, but I will not lie to you, most of them are afraid of me, because of what I am.”
With that said I watched as many of the people squirmed in their chairs and some even had the nerve to whisper to their neighbor. Looking down the table I noticed with a start that Pertin, one of the rangers was nestled among with others. With a quick and polished movement he stood and smiled innocently at me before he spoke. Nate yanked me back down into my chair.
Pertin spoke to everyone around, his voice understanding and calm, “My King, surely this is just a plan to get attention? I have just returned from Mirkwood myself, and everything seems in order to me. Truly there are some people that fight against Halede, but he deals with them quickly, and they stop. Clearly, Kali is just calling out for attention, not for her ‘people’ as she put it but for herself.”
I saw up before anyone could blink, “Liar, you twist lies with that tongue. I would not come all this way for a hoax, push your luck and you will find yourself in an uncomfortable spot Pertin.”
He laughed loudly, “Oh, so you think you can make threats to me do you? Go ahead and try something on me, I will block anything you throw at me.”
It was my turn to grin, so he thinks that he knows about everything I can do? I will show him a thing or two. Standing I walked up to him and focused on the heat of the room, everyone’s hearts beating, the heat from their bodies, the fireplace burning down slowly and clenched my fist tightly. The beats intensified and swelled in my ears, I couldn’t hear anything else, but the steady drumming. Opening my eyes I smiled at Pertin and unclenched my fist, a flame burst from it and engulfed Pertin, who screamed in fear.
His clothes began to burn at the edges and I quickly thought about the coolness of water to put it out before he got seriously hurt. He looked around him eyes wide in fear like a cornered rat.
“S-she attacked me! You saw, she came after me!” He whined.