The Melancholy of a Whimsical Half-Elph
200 Hundred years ago…
Heavy Rainfall had set the scene for the past few nights. The streets were still bustling with party goers. Alejandro hid in an enclave, observing, accounting, and scheming. Though his overcoat kept him dry, his wet wavy hair curled, and water dripped from his stubbled chin. From the darkness, his amber eyes reflected from the neon lights. His body trembled, not from the cold but from what he was expected to do.
Tonight he would set history in motion.
“Al, you there?” Janus spoke through an earpiece.
“I’m about to head in,” he replied. He cocked his pistol before holstering it in his jacket. He fixated on the upper floor of the manor.
“I hear it’s a beautiful sight up there. Isn’t it?
“How many guards are we expecting?”
“Tch. Governor Allende shoulda stayed quiet about harboring the rebels here. That little freedom fighter schtick is his doing. Don’t be so antsy about this, Al. We’re protecting the natural order of things.”
“Natural order? That would mean allowing them to fail.”
“Give them an inch, they take a whole fucking yard. They’ll blow this shit outta proportion. And we can’t have that. Besides, the deal?”
“Is there really no other way? Can’t we just haul him away quietly?”
There was brief radio silence.
“We cannot afford to goof this up. Your guardian angels counted about a dozen, including his wife and kids. We were hoping for fireworks to cover up the… ruckus.”
Alejandro gulped, absorbing the circumstance. Guests were still entering the building in preparation for the event. He thought long and hard about what he had to do.
“Al?” Janus called.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Ugh, you’d be less conspicuous if you were augmented. You wouldn’t need an earpiece. Good thing your hair is long enough to cover it.”
“That’s an entirely different discussion.”
“You should consider it. I got a few people that can help you back in Neo-T’Rach.”
“No need. Heading in. The kids and wife… should be downstairs, right?”
The wanderer proceeded into the crowd. He sifted through, reaching the grand double door entrance. While passing through security, Alejandro thought about what he was about to do. He was a sorcerer and a scholar, not an assassin. The bond he forged with Frederick’s mayor. The lobby was well-lit and packed full of people. He recognized most of the local council and their benefactors. Then by the elevator, he saw the rebel leader, Mikhail Volkan. His friendliness betrayed the sternness he expressed. His chiseled body hid beneath the freshly cleaned woodland-color battle fatigues. Alejandro approached, clamming up with anxiety.
“Al!” Mikhail shook hands with the wanderer and gave him a brotherly hug. He quickly introduced him to the council members beside him. “I didn’t think you’d make it! You know, the social anxiety and all.”
“I couldn’t miss this opportunity,” Alejandro replied. “We’ll have a base. We don’t have to be in the damned forest.”
“Ah, I mean. It’s not all that bad. We don’t have to worry about disease dwindling our numbers.”
“Right. Um, where’s Raq—”
“What a surprise,” a sultry voice spoke from Alejandro’s side.
He found a dark-skinned woman beside him, holding two drinks. Their amber eyes met with a peculiar intimacy. On the rare occasion, she traded her battle attire for a sleek red dress that fit her toned body. Her hair was tied into long braids, framing her slender face. His heart stopped.
“Um, how do I—” she prompted his response.
“You look… gorgeous, Raquel,” he stammered quickly. Raquel flashed a smile. “As you always do.”
“Yea, it’s definitely a change of pace.”
She raised the slit of her dress to reveal a gun holstered at her lower thigh.
“Gotta pack a little heat even at a dress-up event.”
“R—right. I think Mr. Allende was looking for you.”
“Yeah, I was wrapping up a few things.”
“Hey guys,” Mikhail interjected. “I found a nice place we can stay by the edge of the city.”
“Mikhail, we can’t take it easy yet,” Raquel reminded. Their leader frowned. “Not until everything goes through. We’re gonna have the rest of the region looking at us.”
“For hope?” Alejandro asked. Raquel raised an eyebrow as she took a sip from her glass.
“If we’re talking symbolically, this is a big fucking deal. If Frederick stands up to the Ethoxian overlords, it shows there’s a fighting chance against a goliath.”
“And we’re David?”
“Tonight, we make history,” Mikhail raised his glass. “To peace.”
Everyone raised their glass in unison. While the room celebrated, Alejandro remained indifferent. Raquel noticed immediately but said nothing. He excused himself when a hostess summoned him to the top floor, where Allende resided. The wanderer took the stairs, unbeknownst that Raquel went ahead. Halfway up, his fellow wanderer had awaited him.
“Al,” she asked, approaching him as he ascended. “Is everything all right? You’re kinda quiet today.”
“Like most days,” he replied. Raquel gently pressed him against the wall. She softened her gaze as she leaned in for a kiss. “Hey—Isn’t the time, Raq. We still have things to wrap up.”
Raquel leaned away to face him, but she kept her body close. Almost instantly, she returned to her usual composure. She licked her lips before finally letting go. Pacing toward the wall, Raquel turned to him.
“It’s been so long since we’ve really been able to try to be ourselves,” she frowned.
“Be ourselves?” he repeated. “I haven’t hidden a thing from you. No need to.”
“Is that so? I thought about you when I picked this dress out. I knew you looked forward to this day as much as we did. Without you, none of this would’ve been possible.”
“There’s always another way. I just so happened to land the opportunity… As luck would have it.”
“That’s strange coming from you. Luck? You always said it didn’t exist. And chance wasn’t luck…But that’s not why I wanted to see you. I know you’ll still be busy after this, but let’s get away for a little bit when we can. Just you and me.”
“You’re going to say no again, aren’t you?”
Alejandro paused. Once he ascended the stairs, there was no turning back. The outcome wouldn’t be any different if he descended. He made a deal with Janus, which granted temporary protection from what would come the next night. Alejandro couldn’t speak on the matter. His eyes trailed up the stairwell, letting out a sigh. Raquel watched him ascend the stairs, withholding her scolding tongue.
“We’ll talk once the event is over,” he said. “I promise.”
Once on the top floor, he was greeted by lightly armed security, all of them being soldiers in the Frederick militia. No one batted an eye as he walked to the end of the hall with an expansive view of the city. Despite the serene setting of modern furnishing, a downbeat tune played in the background. Allende seemed to have one too many drinks before he was ready to make his speech. He was a heavy-set man who commanded the respect of those in his inner circle. Friendly but often too intoxicated, had it not been for Mikhail’s insurgency, Frederick wouldn’t be in the position it was. It was thanks to the revolution they could celebrate a step forward. Alejandro heard the laughter of children in the next room over.
“Alejandro Gaitan!” Allende greeted. Beads of sweat rolled down the side of his head.
“Drinking before the speech?” the wanderer replied politely. The governor walked over, poking him.
“Come on, man! We’re making history tonight. Who would’ve thought we could stand up to those Elves? And it was thanks to your efforts. Here’s to you.”
“Can we talk by the balcony? There’s something I need to tell you.”
“It’ll be only a moment of your time.”
Allende tiredly agreed as he led the way. The spacious balcony wrapped around the building with granite railing. Alejandro glimpsed the snipers in place: A pair in each direction. Janus wanted to ensure the deed was done. The governor watched the parting clouds. The rain had ended minutes ago. Alejandro slowly took out his pistol after hearing Janus speak in his ear.
“That song,” Allende spoke fondly. “It’s for those who got us here, man. The moment is yours… Heck, I never thought I’d see the day. Our supporters will be waiting for us downstairs. So, what did you need to—”
Allende turned to find a pistol pointed at him. He froze, perplexed, and his eyes began to water.
“What’s going on? You had a drink or two, eh? Put the thing away.”
“Allende, I didn’t have a choice,” he replied coldly.
“Al? What the fuck is this? You’re joking, right?”
The governor didn’t get a response. Rage and sadness filled his eyes at once. To him, Alejandro was an indispensable ally and friend.
“I trusted you. We trusted you. Who’s putting you up to this? We can—We can talk this over. Anything they want! Just—Leave my kids outta this.”
“Lower your voice.”
The governor complied, but Alejandro was hesitant to pull the trigger. The governor was a good man, doing little to deserve the execution he’d receive. The wanderer raised his pistol. Allende’s youngest son entered onto the balcony. Alejandro remained still, unsure of how to handle it. However, the governor couldn’t stand by as he tried to reach over to the wanderer.
“Fuck, we’re compromised. Take down all witnesses!” Alejandro heard the order through his earbud.
“Dad?” the child seemed confused when he looked him in the eye. Allende charged at the wanderer, fighting over the pistol. The altercation lasted a few seconds. The governor’s face was torn off by a large caliber round. Alejandro’s ears rang under the drones of gunfire from all directions. He felt warm blood against his face. Allende’s son was too rattled to move after seeing his father’s body lying in a bloody pool. The snipers kept firing upon the top floor, taking out everyone within the minute.
“S—stop,” he pleaded. “The kids. They’ve got nothing to do with this.”
“Sorry, Al… It’s a dirty business,” Janus said once the gunfire died down.
The boy was gunned down. The massive bullet nearly took off his arm as it was twisted at an unnatural angle. Alejandro panted, looking around. When he looked into the next room, the wife and daughter lay in a pool of blood.
“Why, Janus?” he asked.
“Can’t have those little bastards grow up to become symbols of hope,” he replied.
“They’re fucking kids.”
“Indeed… They were. Now get the hell outta there! Security’ll be swarming that floor in no time.”
“Alejandro?” a familiar voice spoke from the hall. Raquel emerged with her pistol drawn. She glimpsed the horrified expression on his face. “What happened?”
“I didn’t want to do this,” he stammered. He couldn’t raise his gun back.
“You did this?”
“I had to.”
“You were playing us? This whole time?”
“I had no choice….”
Alejandro remembered the way Raquel glared at him. No explanation could justify the atrocities he was part of. His memories faded once he felt sudden movement at his bedside when he came to. His hands touched the rolling tears. He lived with the thought every day. This sentiment amongst many made him far beyond redemption. Despite his attempts to block it out, a lingering melancholy overcame his being. For the sins he bore, there was no escaping the past. More the reason why he wanted to leave.
A mellow voice brought him back to his senses amidst the gentle rainfall. He couldn’t remember how long he sat at the edge of the bed when he stared out the window. When he turned over, Enne had slowly awakened. The light green bedsheets barely clung to her body, though it snuggly framed her silhouette. He couldn’t take his eyes off her as she played along. She stretched her body, revealing her sleeve tattoo. Her wavy hair cascaded over her shoulders. Letting out a yawn, her eyes slowly trailed toward him, finding a mesmerized wanderer. Their eyes met; Alejandro admired each detail as her lips pursed.
“Are you—okay?” she asked. Her fingers swept her wavy locks away from her face.
“I—” he stammered. He shifted his position to look at Enne. “There’s no reason for the phrase, by the way.”
“Seeing that look on your face, it feels kinda obligatory.”
Enne shook her head.
“But how about you? I’m… surprised to see you awake. You’ve been sleeping a little more these days.”
Enne reached over toward Alejandro, pressing her warm body against him. He smiled gently when he saw her from the glass reflection. He reached for his waist from where her hands rested on his old scars. She rested her chin on her shoulder, embracing him with her warmth. Enne sighed lowly, feeling as he gradually loosened his posture.
“You know you can always talk to me,” she reminded.
“I just want to leave from here as soon as possible,” he replied. “I know you wanted to investigate more, but….”
“Allie? I…This is important to me. You don’t even have to go out with—”
“It’s too risky.”
“Risky? You’d need a whole battalion to knock me unconscious.”
“Do you think they don’t have some sort of deterrence against you?”
“Deterrence? But, why?”
“You aren’t like the usual elves, En. Those markings, the eye… We thought it was a warning sign this whole time, but you’ve changed through strength and appearance.”
“Don’t forget the wavy hair. It looks sooo good on me!”
Alejandro chuckled, gently stroking her hand. At that moment, everything he thought about manifested. Her breathing grew sharp, but she held her smile. Glimpses of his thoughts trickled through her, but she remained silent. She wanted to forget it but couldn’t. The pain was too great for him to handle alone, but he would never speak about it. Then the wanderer leaned against her, finding something was amiss. He smiled weakly.
“Yeah. Yeah, it does,” Alejandro finally replied.
“I’ll…We don’t need to do a thing,” Enne whispered. She nuzzled herself next to his face before pulling him back. “Let’s just—keep each other company.”
The past is a prevalent theme in the story as one way or another, these events connect with Alejandro and Enne. Anyway, hope you enjoyed! Leave a like and comment. Feedback is always appreciated!