Duran sat in the western plain of the kingdom, next to a large forest where a small elvish community was located. The two worked together and traded so much that race issues were a rare problem, and usually came from outsiders. The ranger group was led by Sir Kenneth, third son of the ruler of Duran and one of the ranger commanders. The elf was named Leo and was a guard under the Elf elders. The two had worked together before, and were good friends with each other.
The group rode through the gates of Duran and down the center street to the castle. Ken was in a hurry to report to his father and the elf representatives so his men could rest. They had returned from a scouting mission in the plains that had taken several weeks to be told to investigate the noise, and he cared for his men enough to know they were exhausted.
Normally they were veteran men of many battles, but the stress and fatigue had reared up in the dungeon, and they had lost one of their own. Even as they rode their horses down the street, Ken could see their weariness and depression.
Leo rode up beside him, "Ken, I am sorry about Perkins."
Ken sighed, shaking his head, "Don't bother, you tried to stop us from going in the first place. I just wanted to give my men a little reward for their troubles, but I guess that was too greedy."
Leo patted Ken's back, a human gesture he wasn't quite comfortable with, and brought a smile to Ken's face. "Yeah, you're right. All that is left to do is report back to the king."
Leo sighed and shook his head, patting his horse, "You know he wants to be called "Father" right? You break his heart every time you call him "King."
Ken laughed, "He's a sly one to fool you elves. True it bothers him, but he just exaggerates it for the sake of appearance. I'll call father when those petty nobles aren't around. The third son has no chance to inherit you know, so why make a scene out of family right?"
Leo sighed, "I'll never understand you humans, but whatever makes you happy."
They rode on in silence up to the castle gates. Duran was a round city, a common shape in the plains. A large wall surrounded the city, and another wall surrounded the castle that was located in the middle. It served as a second siege wall in case of attack, and was just as impressive. The castle itself was more of a large manor house than a fancy stone castle, mostly due to the lack of material in the area used for the walls.
The rangers dismounted inside the gate and gave their horses to the stable master, who nodded at them.
"Ye father awaits in his throne room with ye Elvin folk. They be knowin ye coming."
Thanking him, Ken and Leo led the rangers up the stairs to the large ornate oak doors. Nodding at the guards, Ken opened the door and walked in. The throne room was like the castle itself; practical and connective to the common people. A large fireplace sat in the center of the room, used for cold nights and great feasts. Rooms and corridors ran out from every wall, and a simple wooden throne sat in the back with fancy chairs beside it.
King Duran sat in the throne with a smile on his face as the rangers approached. As king, he inherited the name of Duran on the day of his ascension, to show the connection of king to city. His beautiful wife Queen Nia sat in a smaller throne beside him, also smiling at the return of her son.
To their left, the elvish representatives sat in chairs grown from wood. Ken recognized them as elders, but knew nothing of their names or their views. To the King's right sat the minister of the church and head of the noble table: Father Tobias and Lord Mannis. Father Tobias, while not a leader in the church of light, was an honest man who represented the church in Duran. He was a kind faced man who had lived for many years and was well known for his teachings in the chapel. Lord Mannis was, to Ken, a perfect example of a typical noble: he was selfish, arrogant, cunning, wise, and loyal. The man was known to never let others do work for him, yet somehow always knew things he wasn't privy too. Ken always felt a strange mix of fear and admiration whenever he looked at the man.
While the other men kneeled, Ken and Leo bowed to the authority. Kind Duran arose.
"Welcome Ranger Commander Kenneth and Master Elf Leo. You are welcome in theses halls"
At that, the two straightened up and relaxed. The king smiled and called for chairs for the two. Once the servants brought two simple chairs, the other men were dismissed and left the throne room.
King Duran stretched and nodded to the two of them, "Well, now that the boring items are done, why don't you report what you encountered Sir Ken. I couldn't help but notice you were one man short."
Sir Ken nodded, "Reporting sire: after a day's ride we came across a hill near the forest. From the surrounding stone and dirt, the explosion came from a cave entrance in the hill. Judging by the amount of refuse, the entrance had been much smaller when the explosion occurred."
He explained how they entered the suspected dungeon and the battle that had followed, finishing with the death of Perkins and their subsequent return. The king frowned and looked thoughtful at the news.
"I know losing one of your men was hard, so accept my condolences. Was he with family?"
Ken shook his head, "No sir, he was alone and lived in the ranger house."
Duran sighed, "Well, at least you won't have to deliver the news. Master Leo, do you agree with Sir Ken's report?"
Leo nodded, "Indeed King Duran, what Ken was reported was all true. If I may add, we were listened to at the entrance and I heard a quiet giggle."
Lord Mannis leaned forward with a small smile, "Would you say it was a dungeon fairy?"
"Possibly sir, but my eyes saw nothing my ears could hear."
Lord Mannis nodded and leaned back, turning his head toward the king. "My king, if this is indeed a new dungeon, it could be a profitable venture for us; especially with these slime cores." He gestured at the 15 slime cores Sir Ken had displayed while giving his report, "These cores can be made into healing potions that would create a new enterprise for our city. I see great wealth if we play this right."
King Duran nodded and turned to Father Tobias, "Father, what is the church's view on this new dungeon."
Father Tobias leaned back into his chair looked thoughtful. "Well, the church is neutral on the matter of slimes unless they become too destructive. If the dungeon held undead or demons, I believe our gods of light would have sent us a sign to purify it. As it stands, the church could make use with healing potions to assist our healing efforts. Clerics are hard pressed to cure all the problems and few are choosing a life in the church."
"How about your feelings Master Elves?" King Duran asked the representatives.
One of the elders stood and regarded the humans. "We live with nature, and as long as the dungeon does not harm the area, we are okay allowing it to exist. However, we should deliberate over the rights to it."
Lord Mannis raised an eyebrow and grinned, "My dear elder, I would be happy to accept the responsibilities of the dungeon.
The king coughed and nodded to the two in front of him, "You two are dismissed, no need to listen to politics."
Grateful, Ken and Leo bowed and quickly exited the room while voices had begun to rise. Ken closed the door and sighed. "Well, looks like we'll have some work to do once they hash it out in there."
Leo was faintly amused, "I'm sure. If you need me, I'll be at the Elvin embassy." They bowed to each other, and Ken watched Leo's disappearing form. He was startled from his thoughts by a tackle that almost knocked him over. He turned to find his younger sister hugging him tightly.
"Welcome back Ken!" Princess Diana cried out. The princess and her younger sister Hilda had recently come of age and were well regarded as the beautiful twins of the city. While Hilda preferred court matters and politics, Diana found her calling with the sword. She had trained with most branches of the army and guard, and would soon join Ken as a temporary ranger.
Ken sighed and rubbed her head affectionately, "Dear sister, what would mother say if she saw you jump random men?"
She stuck her tongue out at him, "Mother has long since given up on me and dotes on Hilda now. Her hope is that I'll meet a dashing general and settle down with him and bare his offspring. Load of rubbish in my opinion anyway." She smiled up at him.
Ken chuckled and tickled her, "Good luck with that plan; any officer knows they'd have to fight through me for your hand."
Diana giggled and escaped his clutches. She was dressed in full ranger gear, with her black hair wrapped into a braid down the side of her head. A pair of daggers lined belt and a bow hung off her back. "When can I ride with you to the ranger house brother?"
Ken waved her off, "Come off it girl, I've just returned from battle and need a warm bath and soft bed. Ask me later."
Diana stared up with wide, excited eyes, "Is it true what they say, that new dungeon was come to being? Was it as cool as they say?"
Ken shrugged, "I've never heard of a dungeon described as "cool" before, unless it's a northern dungeon. It was a simple dungeon with slimes, and it cost me the life of one my men."
She drooped at the news, "I'm sorry Ken."
He smiled and hugged her, "The cost of command little one; someday you'll understand it for yourself. Now, off with you. I need my rest."
She nodded and ran off, pausing before a corner to ask, "Do you think we'll be assigned to look at it again?"
"Most likely father will send us to secure the area once the politics are completed. If you're good, I may consider bringing you along."
She winked, and disappeared around the corner. Ken sighed and scratched his head. He really wanted that bath now.
I'll most likely make another chapter later today. How do guys feel about the flow so far?