Also from Clean Reads
James sighs as he sits at his table in the Pink Dragon Inn, located in the northern human nation of Galamine. The inn is a venerable establishment that has been around for generations and was where James had decided to stop to avoid the threatening storm that James had witnessed rolling in a few hours earlier. James had already ordered and paid for his dinner, a plate of spiced potatoes with pork sausage, and now he had several hours before his usual bedtime. What James could choose to do with his free time, however, was fairly limited. While the inn is venerable it lacks a permanent bard or any other sort of musical entertainment.
James sits there, contemplating possibly returning to his room to retire early, when the door opens up and in steps a rare sight of a shabby-looking elf. Gray cascading hair flows to the traveler’s stooped shoulders in tangled knots and he walks with an oak walking staff in his hand. The elf’s feet are bare and blackened from what was likely years’ worth of travel dust, and his traveling cloak looks to be in much the same heavily worn condition. At the stranger’s hip is a semi-bulky bag. What makes the stranger stand out are the pointed ears and slightly pointed chin that give him away as being Elven. Elves are extremely rare this far north, and to see one definitely piques James’s interest.
The elf stands in the open doorway for a few moments before closing it and looking about the inn. The majority of his face is covered by his long grizzled hair but it is obvious he is looking for something. After a moment he turns his head toward James and grins widely. His steps are slightly halting, likely from old age, as he makes his way to James’s table and takes a seat opposite James and takes his bag off and sets it next to him. “Galoric ettin foron yung,” the elf says in the Elven language, still smiling.
For a moment James remains silent before responding in the common language, “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak Elven.”
“Oh, my apologies. I said, ‘Good morning, young child,’” the Elf says as if he had spoken it in the common language in the first place. James blinks for a moment as the elf simply stares at James through his grizzled mass of hair, though James cannot see the face hidden by the locks.
“Do I know you, Elf?” James asks as the elf leans his stick against the wall and seems to relax into the chair.
“Not yet, but you will soon enough. I’ve traveled a long distance to meet you here tonight,” the elf says as James’s eyebrows rise, unsure what he means. James had made no plans to meet with anyone, least of all an elf, along his journeys. With a gentle wave the elf waves over the bartender and orders a bottle of Elven wine and two glasses. The drink is normally very expensive, but when the elf pays with a gold sovereign James cannot help but wonder about him.
“You say you’ve traveled a long way to meet me. What is it you’ve come to meet me for?” James says to the elf as he takes a sip of the fine berry wine that is soon placed before him. The elf simply grins for a few moments before digging into his bag and pulling out a rough leather-bound tome. The text is bound in brown leather and looks to have been burned partially at some point. The elf places the book upon the table and says, “I have traveled a long way to tell a story, one that has been left untold for far too long.”
James blinks for a moment, wondering if this is some kind of joke, but he suddenly realizes by the elf’s tone that he was being completely serious. “Why are you telling this story to me? I’m no one special, just a simple traveler,” James says as he looks at the tome, wondering what the elf has planned.
“You might be just a simple traveler now, but the fates led me to you for a reason.” James doesn't have much of a clue what this elf is talking about, but he figures he will hear this story at the very least as a way to pass the time.
“Well, if you’re going to tell a story, then I suppose you’d best begin with it,” James says, folding his arms and leaning back in the chair.
The old elf, however, simply smiles a bit more before opening the book and sliding it gently over to James. “It’s a story that must be read from this grimoire. It’s all in your human language, so you should have no problem reading it, unlike me.”
James raises a brow in wonder, looking at the book before him. He then turns the book around before he flips open the first page. He is urged to ask, “What’s a grimoire?”
“A grimoire,” the elf says, before sipping a bit of his own glass of wine, “is a forgotten way of storing one’s memories in book format. It was often the rich and powerful that had access to grimoires. In the old days there were entire libraries devoted to a family’s collected memories.” He smiles at James and gestures for him to begin reading.
With the crisp feeling of the page in hand James turns the page.