The Kings of Sorhenn and Palissé, Otmark and Frende respectively, met for the first time in their older years, when they sat to negotiate the release of the Fairy. Frende personally carried the Fairy in an orb that had been commissioned unto the Chief Orbfastener, Laverfoir. The refracted glass made the Fairy’s eyes look uncommonly large.
Otmark’s eyes looked almost as large when he desperately ogled at the orb. His hands grew fidgety, and his aide Hemdella had to calm him by his shoulders. Seats were prepared at the table, and retinues took up most of the seats. Then they rose again, but only for their respective kings.
“Ransom. And out with it,” Otmark croaked.
“This won’t do,” Frende smiled a smile akin to a snake’s visage. “We have to first go over the history of this fairy, and its capture, and its subsequent imprisonment, and…”
“How much? You’re wasting my time, Frende.” The use of the plain name, without any honorifics or royal niceties, made Frende’s retinue somewhat taken aback and even irate.
“Your Majesty, I trust you will understand the sheer generosity we are exhibiting by bringing the Fairy to the bargaining table. Indeed, if you impress upon me such an importance, which you are not currently engaged in, mind you, then…”
Otmark banged the table, and immediately started coughing and wheezing. Hemdella touched him again and only let go her hand when Otmark had stopped coughing.
“The Fairy is our property,” Otmark said. “There is no other stake here. You have stolen her, and now you will state your ransom.”
Frende shook his head slowly and turned to the Fairy, as if she were a co-conspirator of his. “And you?” he asked. “Do you agree with this assessment on the part of His Majesty the king of Sorhenn?”
The Fairy’s grand big eyes rolled on the surface of the orb, from one direction, to another. A member of Frende’s retinue immediately placed his ear to the orb, with little care or grace.
“I do believe she says she wishes to stay in our land of Palissé, Your Majesty,” the man said. He nodded quietly to himself as he drew away from the orb.
“This is nonsense!” Otmark slammed the table again and struggled to stand up. “You are playing us for fools. Like you always do!”
Frende shook his head again, smiling at his enraged counterpart. “One of your retinue is free to inspect the Fairy, if you so wish, Your Majesty.”
Otmark turned to Hemdella without delay, and she nodded at him before striding to the orb. Frende’s retinue gave her no trouble, and Frende himself slid the orb towards the edge of the table.
“By all means, ask and listen,” Frende said.
Hemdella cleared her throat. “Fairy of Sorhenn fair, do you agree that your home lies in the Sorhenn air?”
There were a few groans from Frende’s retinue. Hemdella ignored these and placed her ear to the orb. Her expression changed as she listened, growing troubled as time passed.
“Well?” Otmark asked impatiently, slapping the table with his right hand.
Hemdella’s closed her eyes and shuddered, ear still on the orb, and then she stood up straight and straightened her dress. “The Fairy has agreed to come with us to Sorhenn. She seeks the Sorhenn air.”
Frende’s retinue gasped and groaned, but Frende himself never lost his smile. “By all means, if the Fairy has changed her mind, then she has changed her mind. None of my banner will stop her exodus.”
Otmark stood up and grunted, which his retinue took as a sign to pick up the orb and leave.
“You know, when all is said, and all is done, you are not as awful a lout as I’d expected,” Otmark said.
“The pleasure is most sincerely mine,” Frende replied.
Otmark and his retinue left, and just before it did, the woman who looked like Hemdella looked back and smiled at Frende. “Until another time,” she said.
The real Hemdella, of course, could not be heard unless you put an ear to the orb.