The first light of a new day was just starting to shine through the cracks between the curtains in Tyrune’s royal bedchamber, where the king was in his great big bed. Normally he would sleep like a dead log, but this morning he was stirring almost anxiously. His gargantuan muscles flexed and rippled as he tossed and turned, ripping the blanket that covered his naked body. He was muttering to himself, his face scrunched up in pain.
Then Tyrune suddenly shot upright, screaming "Nooooo!" as he tore off what was left of the covers as he gasped for air.He sat there in bed, his muscles flexing and unflexing at a fast rate, the sweat droplets traveling along the crevices and curves of his body before being absorbed into the sheets. After a few minutes of heavy breathing and the cold to settle into his sweat, he began to relax.
“It was just a dream.” Tyrune groaned as he settled into bed, his head once again spinning wildly from another nightmare. Quietly he rubbed the ring on his finger, a habit he did to calm himself down or to take his mind off of things. He dreamt about casting a spell that went wild that ended up blowing up the whole country. Personally he blamed Alron for that dream, after having to listen to another one of those ‘you’ve got to learn control’ speeches. God, he hated him! Another day, another grueling lesson with the magic teacher from hell, and even his dreams were plagued by that bastard. Not only were the lessons hard, but it was more difficult for him to sneak out and do the things he wanted to do. He couldn’t believe he’d actually had gone a whole ten days without any meat or alcohol! Just when was this nightmare going to end?
Thinking about the number of days suddenly reminded Tyrune of something. Counting off his fingers, he saw that he two days away. Though he was excited, he also groaned as he buried himself under the covers and tried to avoid thinking about it.
* * *
“Ow!” Tyrune swore as Alron rapped his head with his staff.
“Wrong! Do it again!” Alron barked for the fiftieth time that evening.
“I'm doing the best I can!” He rubbed the top of his head. He regretted that action when Alron smacked his hand smartly.
“Your best isn't good enough!” Alron yelled. “Come on boy, I fully intend to turn you into the full-fledged master wizard you were born to be, so I would greatly appreciate it if you cooperate!”
A knock on the door drew their attention away from one another.
“Hope I’m not interrupting anything.” Jasper apologized as he entered. “But I’m afraid we have to cut today's lesson short. His Majesty needs to be measured and fitted into his new suit.”
“Jasper, this is more important than meaningless clothing,” Alron insisted.
Instead of jumping for a chance to get out of magic lessons early, Tyrune agreed with Alron. “Yes Jasper, you can go ahead and cancel that appointment. In fact, go ahead and cancel tomorrow night! I’m really busy here, and I need to concentrate.”
Alron stared at him. “Who are you, and what have you done with Tyrune?”
“Don’t let him deceive you master,” Jasper sighed. “It’s still the same boy we all know and love. He just doesn't wish to attend tomorrow night’s ball.”
“A ball?” He looked over in Tyrune’s direction.
“I don’t want to go to some stupid ball!” he whined like the spoiled kid he was. “It’s long and boring. The suits are always too small, stuffy, and they choke me, and all night long I have to listen to old men talk about politics and girls chat nonstop at me.”
“Ah...” Alron nodded, finally understanding. "Well then, I wouldn’t want to disrupt such an important social event. Go ahead and take Tyrune, Jasper, and make sure he looks dashing for tomorrow evening."
“Hey, I thought you said this was more important!” Tyrune cried.
“This is just as important for a different reason,” Alron told him. “After all, we can’t have the next king be a social recluse now, can we?” He winked at Jasper, who winked back.
“I don’t care if people think I’m a loner or rude or whatever.” Tyrune stated so plainly it was almost painful to hear. “Can’t they just drop off their presents and go back home?”
“Many of your guests have traveled a long way to pay their respects to you.” Jasper reminded him. “If you don’t put up with it, there’s a good chance they won’t give you a present next year.”
“What exactly is the ball for, Jasper?” Alron asked.
“It’s for Tyrune’s seventeenth birthday tomorrow” Jasper told him.
“Seventeen?” Alron looked over at Tyrune. “Are you sure it’s not his seventh?” He and Jasper both laughed.
“Oh yeah? Well why don’t you two take your stupid ball and- ” Tyrune let out a string of very descriptive and colorful oaths. Before he got to the climax, Alron simply sighed as he waved his hand. Abruptly Tyrune’s lips smacked shut, and try as he might they were stuck together.
“The spell should wear off on its own in about an hour or so.” Alron told Jasper. In the meantime, perhaps it’s best you have him fitted before it does.”
“Good idea,” Jasper smiled.
Still making sounds of protest, Tyrune reluctantly stood up, and both he and Jasper started to leave.
“Oh, you’re invited to attend as well, Master Alron,” Jasper added when they reached the door.
“A ball? Me?” Alron blinked in surprise. “I don’t know. It’s been many years since my last formal party. I do not even have anything to wear except for a dress robe that is older than I am!”
“Well, if that’s the case, why don’t you come with us to get fitted as well.” Jasper’s voice seemed more like an order than a request. “After all, we can’t have His Majesty’s tutor looking shabby now, can we?”
Alron looked at Jasper suspiciously. “Why do I have the distinct feeling you’ve been planning this from the start?”
“Would I do that Master Alron?” Jasper grinned broadly.
Tyrune rolled his eyes.
Jasper lead them to a brightly lit room in the southern wing. Inside there were over a hundred bolts of cloth stacked almost to the ceiling in many different colors patterns and texture, with an equal number and variety of spools of threads. Moveable mirrors, mannequins, and coat racks were scattered somewhat randomly across the floor with no real organization.
“Well, I would love to stay and watch, but I have preparations to make.” Jasper told them. “The tailor should be here shortly.”
“Alright, thank you Jasper.” Alron said, then Jasper left. Barely three minutes passed by before the door opened again.
The tailor was a small, fussy man who moved almost nonstop, his hands forever fiddling with whatever he was holding. “So, you need a fitting as well, huh?” He looked up at Alron, taking in his height. “Well lady, I don’t know if I can find any dresses that’ll fit yah.”
If Tyrune hadn’t had his lips sealed, he would have been rolling around the floor with laughter. Even so, the big man’s eyes watered up as he tried to make do with his suppressed laugh.
“No need to go through the trouble for a dress,” Alron said coolly. “Although they are nice on young ladies, as a man I prefer a suit.”
“Wait, yer a man!? With those looks?” The tailor’s eyes bugged out.
“Have you never seen an Eladrin elf before?”
“Not that I can remember.” He shrugged. “Alright then ‘sir’, strip down so I can get working already.”
The tailor went on, measuring a dozen different things. Alron’s fitting went rather quickly, the tailor selecting rather nice looking attire for him with some minor adjustments to fit him well. Tyrune’s took much longer due to his... unique frame and shape.
“I swear you’re growing faster than a weed,” he said as he wrapped the tape around Tyrune’s huge arm. Tyrune was stripped down, almost naked, and from the look of things he was impatient to get things over with. “27 ¼ inches hmm? That’s almost a half inch more than last month. Your chest is several inches larger as well, but your waist hasn’t changed at all. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to make a suit in just a day to fit your kind of framework? And don’t get me started on that pouch of yours!”
“Mmmph mm mrrrm,” Tyrune mumbled through his closed lips.
The tailor glanced over at Alron. “Is there any way to make this permanent?”
Chuckling, Alron shook his head. “Sadly no, it should wear off soon.”
The tailor sighed. “He’d be much nobler looking in my suit if he would keep his mouth shut. He’s turning 17 tomorrow, but he still acts like the same kid who used to pick his nose. Oh well, I suppose we can’t help it. Stay there for a moment while I make some final adjustments.”
Alron had to cover his mouth to hide his smirk even as Tyrune was glaring at him.
I’m glad you’re enjoying this. Tyrune sent the thought out, knowing Alron could read it.
“Not everyone gets to see such a great king being fussed about clothing.” Alron smiled lightly as he sat down onto a chair. The moment he settled down on it, it suddenly broke, and he fell down in a sprawl. Tyrune laughed out loud, the spell keeping his lips stuck wearing off just in time for him to witness Alron making a fool of himself.
“Oh dear…” Alron sat up and inspected a detached leg of the chair. “I suppose this chair is so old that it was unable to withstand my weight.”
“That chair is probably as old as you are.” Tyrune remarked.
Alron didn’t seem to be offended by this. “Since I am an Eladrin, age strengthens me more than compared to that chair.”
“Doesn’t change the fact that you’re as old as dirt,” Tyrune joked.
“Alright, here we go,” the tailor said as he came back in, then saw Alron sitting on the ground surrounded by chair pieces. “What happened here?”
“Just a small accident, nothing serious,.” Alron said as he stood up. Passing his staff over the pile of wood, the chair magically repaired itself. “There, good as new. Now then, let’s get back to Tyrune, shall we?”
I’ll get you for this. Tyrune swore as the tailor brought forth the suit.
The next day the entire castle was abuzz, rushing to finish the preparations for the ball that night. After some thought, Alron decided to allow Tyrune skip that day’s lesson. There was no way he would be able to concentrate with all the excitement…or should he say dread?
When Alron saw Tyrune at the breakfast table that morning, he had a perpetual sullen look. He obviously was not looking forward to the evening’s festivities and spent all his free time moping. Jasper, on the other hand, was running around ecstatically, seeing to it that everything was perfect. Though Jasper did not say it out loud, Alron knew that this was the kind of big social event that the workaholic needed to unwind.
“You seem to be taking a large amount of workload on yourself, Jasper,” Alron noted as he watched his former protégé give orders to the staff.
“It’s better than handling stacks of paperwork in a tiny office,” he grinned back. “And also this gives you a chance to catch up with the current world by speaking with other high ranking mages, wizards and leaders.”
“I’ve only been out of circulation for a few short years.”
“A quarter of a century isn’t exactly ‘a few’ in human standards,” Jasper remarked.
“Not in elven time,”Alron pointed out.
The both of them laughed from the exchange. “Have I told you how much I’ve missed you, Master?”
“I’m surprised you were willing to talk to me at all, considering our big argument all those years ago,” Alron said, his face suddenly growing grim.
“I was a rebellious child back then,” Jasper reassured him. “Not only that, but I was woefully inadequate with magic. I’m afraid I would have been a much bigger disaster than Tyrune is if I had learned all of your spells.”
“I don’t know, the boy has a way of taking things to the extremes…” Alron sighed. “It would seem that it would take much work for me to be able to turn him into a competent mage.”
“If anyone can do it, it’s you, Master Alron,” Jasper said. “His Majesty needs a very firm and strict teacher, and you are the best at both.”
“Is that really a compliment?” Alron asked skeptically.
Jasper just grinned.
* * *
Almost as soon as the preparations were completed the guests began to arrive, quickly filling in the grand ballroom. As soon as the guests walked in, there were greeted by the sight of dozens of lights, pretty decorations and beautifully arranged flowers everywhere. Next their weariness of a long travel would soothe away as a full orchestra to perform music while people danced across the floor. And when the guests became hungry, they could walk over to the long, long, long buffet table where the chefs had labored for days to prepare a meal that would satisfy the hunger of every single last person there. The crowning piece of the night was the huge 6 foot tall 12 layered cake decorated with sugar spun roses, candies that shone like pearls and edible gold flakes. Since Elterra was such a grand kingdom and one of the great centers of trade and market, people from all over the continent traveled for days to attend. There were kings, barons, dukes, lords and rulers of all different sorts. There was also an alarming amount of single young women, and all of whom had their eyes set on one man.
“He appears to be having fun,” Alron said to Jasper as they watched Tyrune deal with the long line of girls waiting to formally present their birthday gifts and try to charm the king in less than a minute, though from the looks on his face the boy was far from having any fun.
“There are plenty of eligible young ladies who would jump at the chance to marry him,” Jasper noted. “It is a rather large kingdom after all, and Tyrune does look rather handsome as long as he keeps his mouth shut.”
“Yes… he is.” Alron looked Tyrune over again. Although he had had a preview during the fitting, Tyrune looked rather splendid in his crimson suit. The many hours with the tailor paid off because the suit fitted him perfectly. It was simpler than one would expect for a king to wear, but Tyrune made it look regal with his red hair, golden eyes and strong powerful body. The sleeves hugged around those biceps whenever he bent his arms, and with every breath Tyrune’s massive chest would bulge outwards to the point where Alron thought the front vest button would pop off before he exhaled. The pants Tyrune wore was a marvel, hugging the tiny waist and yet still having room to wrap around the tree trunk thighs. He noted how the front of the pants somehow hid Tyrune’s crotch size as well, further demonstrating the tailor’s talents. Everything about Tyrune exuded power and dominance. Truly, he looked every bit of a noble king.
When Tyrune curtly brushed off the ladies fawning over him, however, it was obvious his attitude was far from noble. “I think I’d better go and see to him,” Alron said. Jasper nodded understandingly, and Alron weaved through the crowd before reaching Tyrune. “Trouble with the ladies?”
“If I hear another busty blonde try to talk about the weather with me, I swear I’m going to imprison the whole lot of them,” Tyrune muttered under his breath as he tugged uncomfortably at his collar.
“Be nice,” Alron told him. “The weather is classic conversation starter, and it has become rather chilly as of late.”
“Not you too!” Tyrune groaned and tugged at his collar harder.
“You should stop doing that, you know,” Alron suggested. “You’ll only give your neck a rash.”
“I can’t help it. This thing is always tight, and it itches like mad,” he growled as he continued to tug at it. “Stupid tailor, I asked him a thousand times to make it looser, and he still doesn’t listen.”
“A loose collar doesn’t give off the best presentation, Your Majesty.”
“Forget presentation!” He undid his necktie and unbuttoned the collar.
“I thought you preffered your clothes to be tight?” Alron asked with a short laugh.
“Not when it’s choking me,” he said bitterly. “I just want this damn thing to be over with,” he said impatiently. “I’m bored out of my mind here.”
“Why don’t you try taking one of these lovely ladies for a dance?” Alron waved towards the dance floor.
“I don’t dance,” Tyrune said through clenched teeth.
“I’m sure one of them would be more than happy to teach you.”
“Geez, you’re just like Jasper!” He shook his head. “What is up with you two trying to put me together with some girl all the time? It’s not like they do anything useful except talk about their hair and show off those lousy dresses.”
“Oh who knows, maybe you’ll find one suitable for some company.”
“The only company I need is my sword and an opponent to fight,” he said gruffly. “Forget this, I’m going to grab something to eat.”
“Remember, no meat.” Alron reminded his student, though privately he smiled. Even if Tyrune tried to cheat on his diet, Jasper had made sure that only fruit, vegetable and fish hors-d’oeuvres were served. If there weren’t so many people around, Tyrune would probably have screamed in anguish.
The ball proceeded rather splendidly. The music was excellent, the food was top notch, and the diverse range of people was all so interesting. Besides humans, there were orcs, dwarves, halflings, dragon-born, even fellow elves. Although they were all nice enough to speak civilly, however, Alron got the impression that not many of them were there for the birthday boy and more for the social gathering itself.
“-last time he’ll be able to attend a ball like this.”
A chill ran up Alron’s spine when he heard that voice. Turning around, he looked for the owner until he found him speaking with the ambassador of Reeva.
The man was of average height and build, but the way he held himself announced his rank better than a fanfare. The man’s hair was now almost completely grey, and his large sharp nose only served to make his features even fiercer. In his hand was a staff which signaled his class as a wizard.
Quickly Alron attempted to leave to avoid him, but his movement only attracted the man’s attention.
“Alron Eldwood, the Enlightened One.” He did his best to look down his nose at him but failed due to the elf’s taller frame. “The last I had heard, you were living in a shack somewhere and dining on insects and fungus.”
“I see you haven’t lost your usual charm, Nirvan the Fussy.” Alron smirked.
“That’s Fastidious.” Nirvan’s left eye twitched. “Now, what is a Master Arcane Wizard doing here?”
“I was about to ask you the same question.” Alron told him.
“Attending an event thrown by the Kingdom of Elterra is rather ordinary for a member of the High Mage Council. Now tell me, why are you here?”
“Well then, as a fellow member of the Council, than I have as much right to attend this party as you do.” Alron told him.
“You didn’t answer my question.” Nirvan pointed out.
“Neither did you, so why don’t we leave it at that?” The corner of Alron’s mouth lifted.
“Hmph, I see you haven’t changed a bit.” He sneered.
A non-descript man dressed in cheap formal wear walked up to Nirvan holding a glass of fine wine and a small plate of food. His long hair tied in a rough ponytail and a pair of spectacles that kept on slipping down his nose. “I’ve brought the food you ordered, s-sir.” He said in a high pitched voice.
“Yes, thank you Silas.” Nirvan reached for the glass. As it was being passed off, however, Silas released a bit too early and caused the glass to fall. Before it could break, the glass stopped in midair by Alron’s magic. With a smile, he levitated up and took the glass.
“For me? You shouldn’t have.” Alron chuckled and he took a sip.
“Yes Silas, you shouldn’t have.” Nirvan looked over at Silas, irked.
“Well it’s been nice to catch up with you, old friend.” Alron bowed his head slightly more for appearance than for respect. By the time NIrvan recovered for a retort, Alron was already gone.
Meanwhile, Tyrune had spent the ball dodging every young girl he saw. Unfortunetely the whole ballroom was infested with them, each one sniffing him out like wolves.
He hated these birthday balls. Sure, he liked the gifts and everything, but no one there really meant anything to him. They were mostly all politicians, wives or their children who used his day as an excuse to get together. It would only be a matter of time before they find him and talk his ear off unless he could figure out a way out of this.
Tyrune blinked at looked down. A little ten year old girl wearing a cute dress smiled up at him.
“Happy birthday Tyrune!” She congratulated him.
“Why thank you.” He nodded. Then inspiration struck him. “Would you like to dance?”
“Okay!” The girl smiled brightly.
Lending his arm, he lead her out to the dance floor. It was absolutely brilliant. As long as he was entertaining the kids, the ladies wouldn’t be able to get to him. And at least little girls didn’t try to make light, random conversations and bat their eyelashes at rapid speeds.
“Just what are you doing Tyrune!?”
Tyrune paused in midstep as he watched Jasper marched up to him.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m dancing.” Tyrune told him.
Jasper did not look amused. “Tyrune, there is a whole ballroom full of ladies who would gladly be your dance partner, so why are you with a child?” He demanded.
“Hey, I can dance with whoever I chose,” Tyrune said hotly, “you can’t decide for me.”
“Oh yes I can.” Jasper said firmly. “As your Advisor, I’m advising you to interact with the other female guests in this ball right this instant. Now, in another half hour you’ll need to perform the cake cutting ceremony, give your speech and then I’ll introduce you to King Perigor’s eight daughters.”
Tyrune clutched his fists as he glared at Jasper. “No, I won’t do it! Just..just stop trying to control my life, dammit!” Finally fed up with everything, he turned around and marched away from Jasper.
“Tyrune! Hey wait, Tyrune!” Jasper tried to catch up with him, but somehow managed to lose him in the crowd. “How does someone so big disappear so fast?” He muttered to himself.
Alron was having a lot of fun attending the ball. It had been many years, after all, and the news the people brought were all so very interesting. However, there was a slight buzz about the people. The orchastra began to slow and falter as the buss grew louder and louder until before Alron knew it-
“Good evening everybody!” Tyrune’s voice boomed across the whole ballroom. He was standing at table that the great cake was on, holding his big sword in one hand which caused quite some confusion to the people. Alron would have peered into Tyrune’s mind to see exactly what that boy was up to, but there were too many people and stray thoughts interfering. For now Alron stood where he was and watched the scene unfold.
“Glad you all could make it to my birthday ball.” Tyrune said to everybody. “I hope you all are enjoying yourselves because I certainly am. Now then, how about I cut everybody some cake?” With that, he drew his sword, held it above the head then brought it roughly down on the cake. The sword smashed right through, struck the table and smashed it in half, causing all the plates on it to fall off and shatter. The cake itself toppled over and smashed right into the ground, splattering all those nearby with crumbs and icing.
“Happy freakin’ Birthday to you all.” Tyrune said spitefully, then ran through the crowd to escape.
“That boy…” Alron shook his head. The crowd was thick but eventually Alron made his way across the ballroom and to the exit Tyrune had used. Closing his eyes, he zeroed in on Tyrune’s distinct aura. As usual, Tyrune was as easy to find as a beacon on a dark, moonless night. Tyrune had left the ballroom and was somewhere along the west wing. Letting out a deep sight, he set out to bring him back.
It only took Alron a few minutes to figure out which path to use. He was finally becoming familiar with the layout of the castle so he managed to reach where Tyrune was quickly. When he rounded the bend, his eyebrows lifted. Out in the dark hall, with his arms wrapped around an imaginary figure, was Tyrune. And he was dancing.
Tyrune's movements were somewhat clumsy and a bit awkward, but there was a kind of gentleness in his step and movements that completely offset his rough, tough image. As Alron got closer, he could hear that Tyrune was actually talking.
“-so long without a moment to be alone. Everyone keeps on going on and on about me becoming this great wizard when all I want to do is be with-” Suddenly he noticed Alron and jumped in surprise, his hands shooting up into the air. “You! What are you doing here!?”
“I was about to ask you the same question,” Alron replied suspiciously. Throwing out his mind, he tried to find something out of the ordinary, but all he could feel was Tyrune's overwhelming aura.”That was probably the most…direct way of cutting such a large cake I’ve ever seen.”
He glanced at his sword leaning against the wall, the blade still covered with white frosting and crumbs. “Yea, well, this ball sucked anyways.”
Alron didn’t know how to respond to that comment, so he moved to a different subject. “Do you make it a habit to talk with yourself?”
“And what if I do?” Tyrune took a step forward and put on his best intimidating face. “You going to make fun of me?”
“Oh no, not at all.” Alron shook his head calmly. “I know many people who speak out loud in order to clear and focus their thoughts. However, I’ve never heard of anyone dancing by themselves before, especially when there is an entire ballroom full of people willing to take the place as your partner.”
“So what?” He turned his head away, though his cheeks were blushing. “None of the people in there are tall enough to be my dance partner anyhow.”
“If that’s the problem, then I’ll be happy to fill that role for you.”
He blinked. “…I’m sorry, for a moment there I thought you just suggested becoming my dance partner.”
“You heard correctly,” Alron informed him.
“Whoa, hold it for one moment.” Tyrune held up his hand. “Did you drink too much wine tonight or something?”
“I am roughly the correct height to be your dance partner, and it gives me the chance to help correct your form and steps,” he pointed out. “Now come on, let us dance.”
Instead of jumping for the chance, Tyrune backed away. “You’re crazy! I don’t want anything to do with you, you…you elf bastard!” Before Alron could say anything else, Tyrune turned around and ran off, moving surprisingly fast for someone his size.
“Oh Tyrune…” Alron shook his head. What did he need to do to get him to open up?