The great half-elf patted down his hair and entered. Before him was a hall of golden floors, polished to reflect frescos painted on the dome-shaped ceiling and walls. A red crushed-velvet carpet led from the doors across the hall to the steps, leading to a mighty throne of gold accented with silver and encrusted pearls. Numerous advisers crowded the steps and were laughing in a celebratory tone. At the sight of Linvin, they became overjoyed and raised goblets of wine in toasts to the victorious general. “Our brave knight returns,” cried an adviser. “The greatest general in our great nation’s history!” called another. Linvin smiled harshly and with some frustration as he attempted to work through the drunken crowd. “You are too kind,” he repeatedly said.
“Make way!” called a voice from the back of their gathering. The men became silent and parted to fully reveal the grandeur of the throne and its occupant. They knelt on one knee and bowed. Rising to his feet from the seat of power was an aged king wearing fine silks and a proud smile.
His silver hair was fine and still covered his head. The wrinkles in his face each seemed to have a story to explain its origin. That face and its owner had deliberated many a trouble, but ittook on a glow at the sight of Linvin. A sense of great pride welled forth and transformed his appearance from a worried king to an admirer.
Linvin approached with his head held high and knelt most eagerly before the King.
“I have returned, Your Highness,” Linvin said as he lowered his head.
King Hardurian put his quaking hand gently under Linvin’s chin and raised it so that the two could look one another in the eye. “This is one day that I should be bowing to you, my young friend.
Arise, Linvin, defender of Valia, and be recognized.”
Deep in his soul, Linvin relished in the praise, but his heart was heavy and he could not enjoy the fruits of his labors.
“We had not expected you so soon,” King Hardurian said. “Word only just reached us of your victory.”
“There will be a celebration in your honor this evening,” an adviser said, while slapping Linvin on the shoulder.
“We are commissioning a statue of you to be chiseled of marble and set in the town square,” another said with a laugh.
“An etching in the Triumphal Arch will be carved.”
“Of course, there will be a victory parade once your men arrive, to celebrate your amazing wins.”
Such adoration would make many men feel pride and happiness, but for Linvin, each statement made him feel worse and worse. He had resigned to hold his tongue until he was alone with the king. However, at the utterance of the last sentence, rage welled within him and he could be quiet no longer.