Chapter 13

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Mharkhel shook his head. "Ever on the offensive."

"As you should be," Setryv teased.

Mharkhel's face turned several shades of crimson, partially from embarrassment, partially from anger. The muscles in his body visibly tensed and most would have considered it a signal for a swift apology. Mharkhel was tall, solid and well-muscled, easily the best the Royal Guard had to offer. But his personality was in direct conflict with his build. He had a mild temperament, was well-mannered and preferred to walk away from a fight rather than participate. Especially where his best friend was concerned.

And Setryv was his best friend. They had been likened to sun and moon, day and night, light and dark. Setryv, always wore a smile whose sparkle vied with his shining blue eyes for one's attention. His almost white blonde hair contrasted nicely with his sun-bronzed skin. Optimistic, he invariably exhibited a positive attitude and nothing seemingly could ever bother him. While not quite as big or strong as Mharkhel, Setryv was a little more agile. Mharkhel, on the other hand, was the physically darker of the two with long brown hair and haunted, chestnut brown eyes. He was sometimes moody, usually somber and reserved. He took things seriously and personally—not due to his ego, but because of the responsibility of his position with the Royal Guard.

The two had been in friendly competition since early adolescence. Mharkhel excelled in close combat, particularly with sword and dagger. It was said that Setryv must have some elven blood for he was deadly with the bow and other long range weapons. On horseback, the two friends fared equally. They were also equal in their admiration for a certain Princess. Setryv knew Mharkhel had been and still was Ellycyn's favorite. Though he would never try to influence Ellycyn away from Mharkhel, Setryv still entertained hopes that the Princess would someday have a change of heart. In the meantime, Setryv still enjoyed taunting his friend's lack of pursuit.

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