It was a solid two-day ride to the city of Linvin’s birth. At
sundown on the second day, he led his horse up the red-brick road
on the most affluent hill in the great city of Fraylic. The bricks
ended at the top where Grithinshield Manor resided.
Residents gleefully greeted him. Linvin could not help but
wonder if they respected his power, money, prestige or simply
him. His many attributes made choosing the sincere people from
the insincere ones a challenge. In the end, the answer was of no
consequence. The neighbors were happy to see him return as he
did every month or two, and their happiness was contagious.
Linvin had issues with allowing anyone to become close to him.
He yearned to simply be Linvin and not Linvin of the House of
Grithinshield. Too many fake smiles and hushed tones abounded
his appearances. His loneness made him yearn for a companion
who was oblivious to his position.
At the end of the road, Grithinshield Manor covered the entire
hilltop. The mansion was purchased by his father and expanded by
his mother to become the center for society. Such trappings were
lost on Linvin. Public displays of affluence garnered no love from
him. Parties and receptions were more like political and business
meetings with finer accommodations. Staying in character, Linvin
had turned society on its ear during his last visit by hosting a lavish
feast for the homeless and hungry that were often overlooked by
the vast majority of the affluent city.
The great bronze gate Dirk Grithinshield had acquired long
before the manor was built still stood in all its glory where the side
fences connected. A young boy in formal attire rushed to take the
reins of Linvin’s horse.
“Lord Grithinshield,” the boy said with excitement, “it’s
wonderful to have you back.”
“Thank you,” Linvin acknowledged as he stepped down from
his steed. He removed his riding gloves and handed them to the
boy. “See that my bags are taken to my room and the horse is
properly housed.” Then he swung the gate open with the
unmistakable sound of metal on metal. Walking up the stone path,
he reached the double doors which opened just before he could
step up to them.
An elderly gentleman wearing the finest servant’s attire ever
seen was there to greet him. “Master Linvin. I trust your journey
was a safe one?”
Linvin smiled like a little boy as he viewed the master of his
house and the man who practically raised him as a child. He
attempted to shake the man’s hand but found himself changing in
mid-motion into a full-fledged hug. “It is good to see you, Theisen.
There is something about seeing you that makes me think Home.”
Theisen patted Linvin formally on the back and politely moved
him away. “Thank you, Master Linvin. And may I say there is
something about you that makes me think Bath. Shall I have one
drawn for you? The road has left you in need of a good scrubbing.”
“My bones ache from the journey,” Linvin responded. “A warm
bath would be splendid. While I wait, I had hoped to see my uncle.
Has he arrived?”
“Lord Greenlith is on the back porch enjoying the sunset with a
full pipe and pot of tea,” Theisen said as he led his master inside
the marble floored palace.
Linvin removed his cloak and handed it to Theisen. “Fine. Have
my pipe brought to the porch.” Linvin walked through the house
and stepped onto the wraparound porch adorned by pairs of
rockers every few paces with serving tables between.
In a rocker near the door sat an old elf of unremarkable size
puffing a long pipe. His hair was that cross of silver and gray,
which proved to be so difficult to determine. A slowly sloping
beard extended from his face past his stomach. His stature was
small even by elf standards. The elf’s grand blue eyes were
captivated by the sunset over the city as seen through the orchards
in the back yard and did not notice Linvin’s entrance.