“You are all well-met, gentlemen,” Tonklyn said. He sat at a square wooden table in a darkly lit inn, a foaming tankard of ale in front of him. Three high elves sat around the other sides of the table. Two were wearing ornate formal military jackets, even though the way they currently slouched in their chairs looked far more casual. One of them had unclasped his jacket and was leaning back in his chair. His shirt showed a thin line of ale drizzle. The third was a younger man, maybe an adolescent. He was dressed in a worker’s tunic and looked more than a little anxious to be there.
The more casual elf spoke first, with a confidence that seemed to come from authority, “Yes, we are. But who are you? We were told by the priest we should meet you, but he gave us few details. And we were told there would be two of you.”
Tonklyn smiled. “Yes, my companion will be here momentarily. I am Tonklyn, and I will verify my identity with this.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a document, then slid it toward them. The leader leaned forward in his chair to retrieve it. While he looked at the seal, addressed from the Church of the Dragon’s Flame in Twynne Rivers, the other two elves leaned over to inspect it as well. The small lamp burning on the table didn’t give them much light, but it was enough for them to recognize the emblem, a circle around a flying dragon breathing flame.
The leader cracked the seal and the three began to read. The dark figure of the dragonbonded assassin stepped into the inn and moved to stand behind Tonklyn’s left shoulder. “That’s right, gentlemen, I am the Chancellor of King Kirraxal the First, who even is now preparing to assert his full authority as the successor to Maxinn III, of the great Dragon Kings of Wynne. This man behind me is one of his dragonbonded soldiers, who serves us without question.”
The men looked up from the paper with confused brows. “The Dragon Kings?” the leader asked. Tonklyn nodded, before the elf continued, “But that was hundreds of years ago! The dragons were all but gone! If the elvish Mage Kings hadn’t begun hatching them, they’d be extinct!”
Tonklyn fought back his anger. “Well, they obviously weren’t all gone, then, weren’t they? I have come here to you directly from his palace in the western mountains, where he sits on his throne and wears the great crown! I have hefted it myself, and it is far too heavy for any hominid to wear, believe me!” Tonklyn shook his cloak with annoyance. The dark and silent figure behind him inched closer to the table. “Are the three of you really faithful to the Dragon’s Flame and you don’t know this basic history? Show me your marks!”
The two elves wearing the military uniforms hesitated, sharing a worried glance. The younger third looked at the two of them, not knowing what to do.
Tonklyn sat back and drank from his tankard. “Oh, come on, gentlemen, I’ve been open with my identity, so you can, too!”
The elf to his left sighed, and began to unbuckle the top of his jacket. He reached under and pulled his shirt collar down, away from his neck, revealing a tattoo of a dragon breathing flame, similar to the seal on the letter. The leader did the same, after another moment of thought.
The third elf offered, “I beg your pardon, good Sir Chancellor, but I haven’t yet sworn my oaths. I plan to, when I have advanced.”
“Advanced how?” Tonklyn scowled.
“I’m not yet a full dragonrider. I’m not yet worthy of the mark.”
Worthy? The petty rules of this ‘church’ are a constant irritation. “Well, perhaps soon. What do you do?”
“I work in the stables. I care for the beasts. Sometimes I help with their training.” The elf stammered, trying to show humility to the Chancellor.
Stables? Beasts? TRAINING? These people think that dragons are like draft horses? For a moment his breath froze as he imagined Kirraxal’s furious reaction to this news. For the moment, however, Tonklyn calmed himself and resumed breathing.
“Yes. Well. Very good.” Tonklyn choked out. “You can take me to see your dragons, then, right?”
“Oh, well, begging pardon, sir,” the man stammered, “I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that, but…”
“What is your name?”
The poor man hesitated again, glancing back and forth between the two dragonriders, as if asking their permission. He saw none, but no restriction, either. “I’m, ah…Lathin, m’Lord. Lathin Dragonkeeper.” He sat a bit taller as he said his full name.
“Well, Dragonkeeper, considering my status as the Lord Chancellor to the next king of Wynne, I’m sure we can work out something.” His eyes narrowed as he glanced at the other two. “Isn’t that right, gentlemen?” The dragonbonded soldier behind him crossed his arms quietly.
The two looked nervously at each other, then each took a drink.
Author’s Note: What do you think Tonklyn’s goal is? What do you think it should be? Comment below!