limp, Zerafin gestured toward his right foot. “May I? I am not quite a master, but I am skilled in the art of healing.”
Confused, Argath glanced at his own foot, then to Talon, who shrugged, and back to Zerafin once more. “It has been treated and stitched. There is no longer an infection,” he said slowly.
“I have confused you,” said Zerafin. “I mean that I can restore your foot to its full function.”
Eaglewind leaned in and whispered, “That be feikin elf sorcery.”
Talon glanced around, noticing that Zerafin and Argath’s exchange had gotten the attention of many nearby. They looked to him for guidance, and seeing this, Argath straightened and addressed Zerafin.
“I will accept your healing on one condition.”
“Condition being?” Zerafin asked, intrigued.
“That not I, nor my people are indebted to you in any capacity other than that of a gift given in good faith. To be repaid or not, as fate dictates.”
“It is a gift,” said Zerafin with a warm smile. “Given freely and without anticipation of reward. Let it be a symbol of the sincerity of our promise of friendship.”
The Skomm watched on, as did Talon, waiting to see what Argath might say. The elven healers waited as well, for the captain’s reaction would set a precedent for the rest of the people.
“Then I accept your offer of friendship,” said Argath.
Zerafin smiled and laid a hand on the captain’s shoulder. “Please, do not be alarmed,” he said. “This will feel…strange.”
Blue tendrils of healing energy passed from Zerafin’s palm and into Argath. The swirling and shimmering specs of light danced around the captain and settled on his right foot.
Talon remembered the council hearing, and wondered what they might think about this “intervention.”
Argath looked at first puzzled, but then intrigued and startled. Finally, amazement washed over his face.
Zerafin let him go, and Argath looked to him with an infectious grin. He tore off his boot and ripped off his bandages to gawk at his newly grown toes. He seemed to be ready to burst with joy, but then he found his calm and offered a respectful nod toward Zerafin.
“I thank you, prince of elves. Your generosity shall not soon be forgot.”
Talon grinned from ear to ear. This was a day that he would not soon forget.
The Skomm were healed of their sicknesses and ailments, and were given as much food and drink as they could get into their starved stomachs. The day was spent by the beach, basking in the warm glow of the sun.
Never had Talon seen his people smiling so. He shared in their joy, though he could not help but yearn for Akerri to be there beside him, or Jahsin for that matter. He imagined a different world, one in which Akerri, Jahsin, Tyson, Windy, Thorg, and Marcus were celebrating with their people on the beach, free from the worries of the wider world, and oblivious to what lay ahead.
When nightfall began to threaten the horizon, the Skomm were led by Talon to the lodging that had been prepared for them. Zerafin told him of it, saying that they would all find a good night’s sleep just outside of the city. As they crested the hill from the beach, Talon saw what he meant; a crystal palace had suddenly appeared where Talon did not remember seeing one before, and he stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of it. Murmured whispers swept through the crowd of Skomm, and they followed him to the palace once he found his feet.
Zerafin had gone before them on a white stallion and now waited by the entrance to the shimmering crystal palace.
“You will find peaceful rest here among the swaying vines. Sleep with the knowledge that the elves of Elladrindellia watch over this land where no darkness dwells,” he said.
Talon was the first to enter, and soon the others followed.
Inside they found an elaborate structure that seemed to have been constructed with the sole purpose of rest in mind. Built into every curved wall was a half-circle inlet with both a