“So, my Prince, I have a question if I may,” she said with a sly grin.
Daarés face sobered. He suddenly remembered with whom he was speaking and chose to be more guarded. “Princess Yarlil, as genuine as you appear, I have to remind myself who you are.”
“Well, thank you, my observant one. It is good you appreciate my dark charm. But to my question, what do you think of this talk of racial intermixing?”
He considered her for a moment. Daarés himself was quarter Dark Elf on his mother’s side, but except for his slightly angular face had none of Yarlil’s elven features. In addressing Yarlil’s question, he remembered that her father, King Nefren was quarter human. Yarlil was tall and slim but shapely for a female Dark Elf. He didn’t mind her deep olive skin but found her “black-pool” eyes disquieting. Not only did Yarlil have the Dark Elf sclera or black “eye-whites” but her irises were also black. This made her eyes completely dark or “black-pool”. Also in keeping with her kind, Yarlil had the prominent cheekbones, sharp facial features and extended pointed ears. Apart from her figure, it was Yarlil’s vivaciousness that Daarés regarded as her most human quality.
Daarés treated her question respectfully. “If you ask if we should be cautious of choosing those with whom we share our secret lineage, I don’t see much choice. If you ask whether I am proud of my lineage and believe we should pursue acceptance in our wider communities, I believe that too.”
“Egordia!” she expressed in elfish. “You have a good head and a courageous heart, my Prince,” she stated for his benefit. Yarlil then held him in a long meaningful stare that was very Dark Elf. Finally, she chose to share her mystery. “I have been having dreams of faraway places, and I see you in them. It disturbs me that despite your wolf cabal, you don’t have a pack to protect you.”
The animal spirits are strong in this one, Daarés reminded himself. Yarlil’s backless leather tunic showed off her cabal tattoos. On her left shoulder was the wolf emblem which matched his own. On her right shoulder arm was the rearing bear, and on her back was the tattoo he admired most; the head of a white unicorn. Unlike her Dark Elf peers, she didn't have the matching claws, talons or hoof tattoos on her forearms.
“You honour me with such concerns, Princess,” he said, starting to believe she wasn’t playing with him. “Why do you raise this matter?”
“I would like you to sleep with a she-wolf tonight,” she announced, looking at him intently while searching his emotions.
Daarés was dumbstruck at first, and then tried to find her meaning. He knew the Ell Avon practised weird animal lore. As Yarlil was the Wolverine Warleader, he was genuinely unsure what she was alluding to. But then, she was clever with double meanings, and the dark ones loved to play tricks with one’s emotions.
Watching him struggle with her question, she started to smile and then began to laugh.
Daarés took umbrage. “The only she-wolf I see here tonight is the one in front of me,” he retaliated in frustration.
Yarlil stared back wide-eyed and made a provocative face. “The Prince makes a suggestion?” She asked moving in closer to create sexual tension between them. She was taller than him and skilled with a knife. Close-up, he found her “black-pool” gaze unnerving.
Yep, this doesn’t bode well, he thought. “Yarlil, I thought you were sincere about something, and now I’m at a loss to understand what we’re talking about.”
“True, my Prince,” she said, turning away and smiling at him in her devilish manner. Her face again turned serious as if to signify she was back on task.
“My concern tonight is about what Woden the Wise had to say earlier.” Noticing Daarés was listening, Yarlil continued with her proposition. “This is about protecting our human-elf bloodlines. To this end, I wish to make a gift to you in recognition of what the handsome Daarés has accomplished for the Ell Avon.”
Daarés remained intrigued but was still puzzled.
“I want you to den with Arlia, my she-wolf. She has young pups, and I want you to bond with them and become their pack leader. First, you will need to win Arlia’s trust.”
Yarlil realised he missed the significance. “Arlia is a Dare Wolf. Your namesake, Daarés,” she said for emphasis. “We believe nothing happens by coincidence. Your name and your choice of the Wolf Cabal are significant. Purebred Dare Wolves are rare and very special. Under the right circumstances, they will bond-link with you and become a powerful ally. As I said earlier about my dreams, I believe your destiny will take you far away from the fellowship and protection of Atlans Deep.”
“I'm honoured, I think,” he said, still trying to absorb the significance of her offer.
Yarlil regarded Daarés fondly as he struggled with her intent. I like this Prince, she mused. “Good, I will meet you at your quarters later tonight with Arlia and her pups. I will, of course, need to stay and give Arlia comfort and assist with your instruction.”
Noticing his reaction, Yarlil quickly qualified her remark. “That is unless you would prefer my mother to stay with you? After all, she was the one who taught me how to perform these duties.”
“No,” Daarés quickly replied, alarmed by the prospect. As far as he was concerned, her mother, the Queen of Dark Lore was to be avoided at all costs. “I think we should keep this between ourselves,” he requested.
Yarlil returned a shrewd smile. “Very well, until later then,” she replied, promptly turned and left.
Daarés breathed a sigh of relief. It was never straightforward dealing with the dark ones, and Yarlil was trickier than most. He started to wonder what he’d just gotten himself into when he was distracted by the tattoo on Yarlil’s retreating back; the magnificent head of a white unicorn. It faced square-on, so the beast’s head stared back. He particularly liked the visual effect of how its horn tapered up her backbone. He watched enjoying the moment as Yarlil walked away. The way her back muscles flexed gave it realism. It almost seemed as if the beast was watching him, the effect was so lifelike.
To his disbelief, the unicorn winked at him.
Surely not, he thought, suddenly spooked.
Just when Daarés convinced himself it was his mind playing tricks, Yarlil looked over her shoulder. Wearing a wry grin, she winked at him with her left eye; just as the unicorn had done.
Definitely something edgy about this one, he considered.
This is going to be a restless night, Daarés further realised.