Chapter two

Atticus stared intently at the thin glass vial held between his thumb and index finger. The light filtering through the window behind his desk caused the glass to shimmer with a spectrum of colours. He sighed irritated; the colours were distracting him from concentrating on what was actually in the vial – a strange smoky, silvery liquid.

A large bang that could have been a bookcase collapsing sounded from across the room making Atticus jump. His hold on the vial tightened, causing him to grip the vial a little too harshly. It smashed coating his fingers and the wooden desk in front of him with the moonlight shade of liquid. Tiny shards of glass were now embedded in his bleeding hand.

"Damn it Erzharel I told you not to touch anything!" Atticus screamed.

Erzharel peered at him sheepishly, behind a veil of red hair. He was staring at something on the floor.

"Sorry, I just noticed this mouse on the floor…" Erzharel mumbled, offering a small smile.

Atticus sighed again, removing his aqua tinted glasses from his tired eyes. He rubbed the bridge of his nose thoughtfully. When Erzharel had told him of his apparently great need to get into a castle in the upper city, the kings castle no less, he'd laughed at him. Erzharel often played pranks and jokes on people. When he'd realised that he was being serious he'd been horrified.

The protection that castle had, he couldn't even comprehend it. It was likely that there were enchantments there, old magic put in place centuries ago to keep out intruders. It was probable that the king himself didn't even know of the enchantments. It was also probable that he knew but kept that fact hidden. After all, magic was considered by him and most of the rich inhabitants of Raen, to be evil.

He'd been working hard on trying to find a potion or spell that could help Erzharel, but so far nothing had seemed useful. Usually he would have told him how ridiculous his desire to get into the castle was, but as it happened he owed him a favour. He did work hard to get him some runes he'd needed from the upper town area. He was good at working magic to influence people to do things for him, mind control and the like. It was something that Atticus had never been very good at, and so he'd always found it easy to get into the off limit areas of Raen. Unfortunately the castle guards were trained to avoid mind control and the like so Erzharels talents would be useless.

"Would you pass me the cloth over there on the table?" Atticus asked attempting to remove shards of glass from his hands.

Erzharel moved over to the table in question. A small clutter of objects including a pot of purple ink, a quill, a pile of notes and a cloth littered the table. Erzharel quickly picked up the cloth and handed it to his friend who laughed softly when he almost tripped over on his way over to his desk.

"Thank you. You know, it's lucky that potion is only effective when drunk. Others like it would take effect immediately when entering the blood stream by any means. I wouldn't be much use to you than would I?"

"I'll try not to make you jump again, but you should really try and stop the mice from coming into your house. I'm sure a great alchemist like you could think up some spell to stop them from coming in."

"They're not usually a problem." Atticus mumbled wincing slightly as he swiped the cloth over a piece of skin with glass buried in it.

"So… have you found anything useful yet?" Erzharel asked hopefully.

"No, the vial in my hand might have been of some use, but I suppose now we shall never know. This castle is going to be well protected Erzharel. I don't think I need to tell you that there were once great sorcerers and sorceresses living there. Ancient magic surrounds that castle, and it's not to be taken lightly. I'm going to need some time to get this right."

Erzharel picked up his friends discarded aqua glasses from the table. He stared curiously at them for a moment, fingering the smooth silver metal work that made up the glasses frame. It was elven metal, his farther had a ring made of it. It was supposed to hold magical properties.

"I didn't know you used glasses." Erzharel commented.

"I don't. Sometimes it's good to see things in another light though. Colour is important in magic you know?" Atticus replied looking up for a moment from the piles of paper he'd been making notes on earlier.

"Oh, I see." Erzharel responded, although really he didn't.

"As I said, this is going to take some time. Perhaps the rest of the evening. I should have it done by tomorrow morning though, or at least something that should allow you to enter the palace. To get passed the guards and to stay there unnoticed among other things you will need to be disguised as a human. I'm not sure what you'll end up looking like though. You may look very different. Anyway, why don't you go off and leave me to think?" Atticus knew he was about to argue so he added hastily "It will be fine, I'll call you the second It's finished ok?"

"Yeah sure, but about the appearance… I need the prince to see my real appearance. So he can recognize me. Do you think you can do that?" Erzharel asked.

"The prince… Erzharel I don't know what you're planning on doing but please don't do anything stupid ok? Atticus said shocked.

"Don't worry; I know exactly what I'm doing, more or less…" He laughed smirking slightly.

Atticus shook his head with a sigh.

"I know how stubborn you are and that nothing I can do can change your mind. This is going to complicate things though you realise? For everyone to see you as something different is one thing, but for everyone but one person? It's going to make things a lot harder. I think… Yes… I'm sorry but there's only one way that will work. You're going to need something from that person." Atticus explained as calmly as he could, using the word person instead of prince. He still couldn't believe that Erzharel was planning something that involved the youngest descendant of the royal family.

"What like a lock of hair?" Erzharel asked smiling jokingly.

"No not a lock of hair, really Erzharel you read to many story books. I think that we will need… Something from their eye like a tear... Yes, it must be connected to vision. A pair of glasses perhaps? Although how you are going to get it I don't know. How likely is it that you will run into the prince?"

"I ran into him earlier today." Erzharel laughed with a far away look in his eyes.

Atticus looked up at him for a moment. It suddenly fell into place, what Erzharel was planning.

"You're planning on seducing him aren't you? That will never work, especially if he knows you are an elf." Atticus said shaking his head, the whole thing sounded absurd to him.

"Oh I don't know about seducing him, maybe. I'll wait and see. I just want to have a little talk with his royal highness."

Atticus stared at him shocked, if it wasn't the prince his friend was talking about, and there wasn't the prospect of something serious happening like lifetime imprisonment, he would have been laughing. Erzharel had always been fond of males. Especially ones like their prince, beautiful men, but not quite feminine.

"I'll find a way to get the item. I'll be back by…"He gazed at the clock hanging slanted off of the wall like it had been shaken slightly, possibly by the falling bookcase from earlier. "About six o'clock? That's three hours. I think that should suffice…"

Erzharel walked slowly towards the door, pausing for a moment when he heard his friend call his name.

"Take this." Atticus said chucking Erzharel a small purple velvet bag. Tied shut with a piece of silver string.

"If something should go wrong, sprinkle the contents of this bag onto the prince or whoever and they will forget they've seen you. It should work on the prince if you've only seen him in person once before." He explained.

"Thanks…" Erzharel whispered smiling.

"Be careful ok?"

Erzharel nodded and left his friends house. He made his way quickly along the street. He thought about what his friend, Atticus had told him. He was pretty sure the prince didn't wear glasses and getting something like a tear would be near impossible. He sighed softly.

He knew in his heart that he didn't stand a hope of getting something related to the prince's eye.

He was beginning to realise how absurd and difficult the whole situation was. He'd made out to Atticus that he knew what he was doing but honestly he didn't. Was it even worth it? He thought about the prince, lying in his bed. How beautiful he'd looked just lying there among his dark silken sheets and the dark wood of the four poster bed. Yes, it was defiantly worth it.

However the sudden feeling of despair that was growing inside of him, spreading through him like a dark disease, disappeared as quickly as it had come, like the flicking of a switch. He had an idea! He cursed himself for not thinking of it before. If there was one person that could help, it was Laurence. He knew the castle well, he worked there, or at least he did the last time Erzharel checked. One of the few elves that were employed as a servant at the castle, Erzharel sneered at the thought. Laurence had been so proud, Erzharel had been disgusted. He was nothing more than a slave to the castle, paid nothing for his labour. He would ask the prince about that, when he saw him.

He practically ran up the hill to the gate which separated the lower town area from the upper town. The houses were all small many of them had peeling paint and most of them had moss and ivy decorating the outer walls. The odd smashed window or two not really sticking out among the decay and squalor most of the lower town's inhabitants lived in.

Finally he reached the gate that separated it. A tall guard dressed in silver chain mail, covered by a deep purple fabric with the royal family's mark, and matching silver plate legs stood there.

"I'm afraid you can't come through here. This area is off limits to-"

Erzharel stood very near to the guard cutting him off, his pale fingers stroking gingerly across his face. He looked deeply into his eyes.

"Oh but I think I can, don't you?" He whispered softly.

"Yes, yes of course." The guard mumbled breathlessly.

Erzharel smirked and walked through the silver gate the guard had just opened for him. The gate was made out of Elven silver, Erzharel could tell. The majority of the people that lived in below were elves. He found if bitterly ironic that their own material was one cause of their imprisonment.

The houses on the other side of the gate were much nicer. The contrast was apparent and startling the second he walked through. Buildings had large white towers with purple or light blue spiral roofs that melted into the sky. The doors to the buildings themselves were about the width of an average home in the lower region.

He continued his break pace of walking through the town. He pulled the emerald green hood of his cloak over his head as he reached the town centre. He didn't want any confrontation, not now. He had important things to do.

He passed through the bustle of the market, pausing for a moment to gaze longingly at a stall containing delicious looking apples. Small drops of water lay on their surface. They were freshly picked. He could tell. Erzharel sighed and quickened his pace, he loved apples but he seldom got the chance to eat them. They were expensive.

Finally he reached his destination, a small shack like house next to the castle. He took a moment to admire what he could see of the castle, what wasn't hidden behind a collection of tall tree's. It looked huge. He wondered if he would even be able to find the prince when he went in. He'd have to find the perfect opportunity, perhaps when they were holding a party. He could pretend to be one of the guests than. He had to plan his entrance carefully. Even when disguised as a human it would be risky. The castle didn't let any old stranger in.

He walked up through a large amount of messy grass to the shacks door, and knocked several times, forming a unique tune, letting Laurence know exactly who his visitor was.

There was a surprised yelp and suddenly the door was flung open, revealing a flustered looking blond haired elf, smaller than Erzharel.

"Erz-zharel." The blond haired elf mumbled surprised.

"Hello Laurence. You don't look happy to see me… Did I come at a bad time?" Erzharel asked amused at his reaction.

"No, no, not at all." Laurence said smiling.

"May I come in?" Erzharel asked politely.

"Um, yes ok than. I suppose." The man replied.

Erzharel stifled a laugh when he saw another elf a female one with long black hair sat on his friend's bed, wearing a dress that was so obviously shoved back on last minute. A slight blush spread across her cheeks.

"Laurence, I told you. I'm not going to tell your mother. I was joking before…" Erzharel said shaking his head and laughing.

Laurence's mum happened to be very strict about her son and his relationships. Despite the fact that he was a grown man, sixty four years old, eighteen in human years.

"I'm not going to stay long; I just need to talk to you about something." His gaze lingered on the female elf on his friend's bed for a moment who was now fidgeting uncomfortably with her hands.

"I would that we could go somewhere more private but, you know; my house consists of only one room." Laurence said apologetically.

"I-I'll wait outside." The black haired elf mumbled before scurrying outside. Erzharel shot her a grateful smile.

"I'm going to get straight to the point, I'm in a hurry. Atticus is making me a spell or a potion, I'm not sure which, to get into the castle and fool everyone into thinking I look like a human. Only there's one problem. I want the prince to see me as me. According to Atticus I need to get something related to the prince's eyes. Like a pair of glasses or a tear from his eyes… I know you know the castle pretty well. You've worked there for years. So, can you help me?" Erzharel explained quickly.

"The castle, you've got to be joking-"

"Please, just help me. I've been through this all once with Atticus. I know what I'm doing." Erzharel said pleadingly.

"Oh alright than. You're in luck; the prince has a pair of reading glasses. He hasn't used them in years, hasn't needed to. Seems there's some kind of magic in him somewhere. He healed his own eyes without realising, I'm sure of it. He still has the glasses though. Just in case something goes wrong with his vision again. I suppose I could try and get them for you on my shift. This is more than my jobs worth Erzharel I hope you know that. It shouldn't be too hard to take them. Luckily my last job of the evening is to clean the prince's room."

Erzharel leapt forward suddenly catching the smaller elf off guard as he enveloped him in a tight hug.

"Thanks Laurence, I owe you, ok?"

"Forget about it, I owe you a favour and now I'm returning it ok? Meet me back here at half five. I should have finished my shift by than." He said smiling.

Erzharel nodded happily and hurried out of the door to tell Atticus the good news. He had to stop himself from running; he didn't want to draw any unneeded attention to himself.

Fifteen minutes later he was back through the gate to the lower city and he broke into a run, pulling his emerald hood back down. He was so caught up in what he was doing that he didn't realise he'd run into someone, again. Twice in two days, he really was getting clumsier.

He looked up and met a pair of incredibly angry eyes, pretty grey ones with a tint of violet around the edge. He gasped softly when he realised it was the prince.