Gathering Troops

This is a continuation of Belen’s saga. You can read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4, if you haven’t already!

Belen’s greatest challenge in organizing the revolution was convincing the humans.

She approached the human king, a fat, sweaty man who surrounded himself with supplicants and scantily-clad women. Getting an audience with him was a challenge, and the mockery she received as she walked into the chamber, her miniscule form barely one sixth of a man’s, was intense.

By now, though, Belen was hardened. Convincing the elves had seemed easy, until they found out about her upbringing. A child without a father would hardly be a reasonable child, they argued, but her long, slow, patient rationality won them over, elf by elf.

Humans were not so singular. Despite their claims of individuality, the vast majority followed whatever dictates their leader commanded them to. Thus, she stood before the king, whose laughter caused his distended belly to jiggle like a jellyfish stranded on the beach.

“What do you wish, elf?” he asked when his giggles subsided.

“I want you to join with us in fighting the giants,” Belen said.

“Why would we? They do not bother us.”

“So long as you pay them half your harvest each month.”

“And? As you can see, we still eat well.”

“You do, my lord. Your people do not. Even your jester is starving.”

The jester, a spindly little man, opened his eyes wide and tried to signal to her not to involve him.

“My jester eats what a person should eat. You overreach yourself, elf.”

“Good king, your people are unhappy. I have spoken with them on my way here. They tell me they cannot do anything, cannot survive, on what little they keep after paying tribute to the giants and taxes to you. They are ready to rebel, and once we elves fight the giants, it will take only a sneeze to send your people revolting against you. And you will be easier to kill than a giant.”

“Are you threatening me, elf?” The king attempted to stand but, lacking the energy, merely sat forward.

“No, king. I only inform you of something for which you must prepare. Your people are on edge. Direct their anger away from you, and toward the giants.”

The king sat back, all mirth gone. He was quiet a moment, the two women on either side stroking his rolls in an attempt to ease his mind. Finally, he nodded. “Very well, elf. I will send people to join you. But if you lose, you will be the first to hang.”

“If I lose, king, the giants will kill me before you can rise from your chair.”

Belen turned and walked away while the king sputtered at her impudence. She had taken a risk, and hoped it would pay off; the king would now either withdraw his support, or join them in battle himself. She hoped the latter.


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