Master and Disciple
On the other hand, Leguna couldn't be sure whether Linq was telling the truth.
"This is your final chance, Gurdir," Linq said as he took a sip of clear spring water. Water was a rare and precious resource in the dark zone, so spring water was a luxury few dark elves would be able to enjoy.
Gurdir was the guard leader of the guards at the mithril mines. Being a high-order warrior, he used to be a mercenary with Linq before he joined House Elvin. But their relationship was different from that of Kurdak and Leguna. They used each other for their personal benefit and had a good sense of the lines they shouldn't cross.
Gurdir and Linq both eventually received an invitation from House Andalir, so they parted ways. Who knew they would meet again under such circumstances.
"I believe news from Darklight has spread," Linq said as he gazed at the silent elven warrior. "Andalir is no more. I have to admit your 100 elven warriors are quite a force. They need the backing of a bigger power, however. Your house's collapse doesn't mean you'll be free, because…"
Linq paused for a moment and smiled in a self-defeating manner. "Because we're male…"
The word 'male' which had neutral connotations in the human tongue was used as an insult among dark elves. Their matriarchal society and the gender of their deity had shaped their norms to view the other gender to be inherently negative.
Female dark elves could become Ross's priestesses, but not males. Thanks to Ross's blessing, the women were also naturally more talented than men. Apart from priestesses, even female dark elf warriors could easily surpass their male counterparts. Even the elves who turned their backs on Ross to worship the goddess of magic, Mithra, were mostly female.
That was why male elves were considered inferior. They could only be pets. They could not monopolize one. In contrast, female dark elves were free to start harems and bed a different male every night as they pleased.
Apart from their sex, males also had a low status in society. Most high-ranking dark elves were women, after all. Males could only serve in labor-intensive, grunt roles like playing guard.
Needless to say, Linq's words moved Gurdir. He looked at Linq and asked, "Then, Linq, what can you do for me?"
"I'll let you keep everything you have now," he said with a shrug, "I gave you two choices. EIther you pledge allegiance to House Elvin or me. Oh, don't look at me like this, Gurdir. You know that I'm not a fool that'll risk my life for profit. I'm not counting on being able to take all 100 plus elves here away. There's no way House Elvin will permit that."
"Then what do you really want?" Gurdir asked in a low voice.
"I want a few like-minded partners, that's all--" Linq glanced at the dark elves outside the tent. "--Look, the ones sent here are all men. In other races, men are the rulers, but thanks to Ross, all we can do is be women's playthings. I've had enough."
"You're trying to start a rev--"
"No, I'm not!" Linq cut him off, "Ross will always be in control. I don't have the power or the courage to face a true goddess. All I can do is run."
"Then why take me along?"
Linq thought for a moment.
"I want to experience the feelings other races have. You know… friendship and whatnot. It'd be great to have a partner like you."
"A partner, eh?" Gurdir fell silent.
Linq finished his spring water and waited patiently.
"I'm sorry, Linq. I can't understand your thoughts. I can't join you."
"That so? How disappointing--" Linq shook his head, but kept smiling. "So you're pledging allegiance to House Elvin?"
"Yes. I cannot change our way of life, but I cannot run away either. I have no choice but to accept it."
"Fine," Linq sighed, "I wish you the best. I will leave Elvin soon. I just have a few things to wrap up first."
Gurdir nodded and sent Linq off as he considered whether he should sell Linq out to his new matriarch. He knew Linq was no fool, however, he wouldn't have told him if he weren't certain he could leave even if he were ratted out. He had too good a head on his shoulder for his own good.
Linq had wanted to see Jayla to report on his progress in absorbing Andalir's assets once he left, but a figure stepped in front of him as he leapt over a boulder nearby.
Linq bowed respectfully to the person in the shadows.
"You did well," his teacher said.
"I was only acting on your instructions," Linq answered with the etiquette of a human. "Teacher has put everything in order. I was only executing your grand plan."
"Is this humility, or flattery?"
"Humility, Teacher. I do not have many of the values the dark elves do, and I have ambitions and principles many of them lack."
"Very good--" The figure handed Linq a vial. "--This is the antidote for the larva Leguna planted in you. Drink it. It'll kill the bug."
"Thank you, Teacher."
Linq's eyes glowed as he received the antidote. He quickly gobbled it down.
"I don't guide the child much, but he's learned a lot from my plots. Come to think of it, I'm a rather good teacher," the figure laughed.
"I don't understand why Teacher would do this," Linq carefully probed, "You're more than capable of dealing with this, so why must you get Leguna involved?"
"No--" The figure shook its head, "I'm not just trying to secure House Elvin's trust. I have other plans."
Linq didn't understand, but he knew better than to ask. The wise knew when to stop.
"Good. I've come to see you only to get rid of Leguna's pesky interference with you."
The figure gradually stepped out from the shadows of the rock. He had a head of long, blonde hair and on his handsome face was a garish scar.
Linq looked at him and bowed.
"Thank you for your help, Teacher Wayerliss."
Linq had met Wayerliss many years earlier. Wayerliss had spun around in the Dusk Zone like an idiot and Linq had wanted to capture one of their sworn enemies to trade for gold.
But he had underestimated his opponent. He tried all sorts of methods but Wayerliss beat him easily. The elf could easily have killed him, but, being still naive at the time, had let him live. Linq later tricked him into trusting him and followed him to the base plane. He lived there for two years and met many different races. Wayerliss' ways slowly rubbed off on him and he slowly lost his blind obedience to the dark elven ways.
Linq was forced to return to the Dusk Zone when Wayerliss had to leave suddenly, and that had been when he'd met Gurdir.
He didn't hear from Wayerliss again for many years thereafter and had seen him even less. He did not expect the man to appear before him on this day bearing such a scar, and devoid of the aloofness Linq knew all too well.
In its place was a cold scheming mind opaque to Linq. It shook him deeply, but only made his desire to leave and explore the world that could change the elf so much burn even brighter.Previous Chapter Next Chapter