This is an English version sample from the light novel „The Fall of House Aeryn“, written by Martin Duehning. This sample also contains an excerpt from the audiobook.
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Not much was known about the life of Syphimos Batavius Aeryn. His appearance was unremarkable, his character rather colourless. He had been a loyal servant to his master for many years, almost from childhood, serving year and day at the noble but tranquil court of the Count of Breskyn, and it would surely be an exaggeration to describe his work as chief valet as an adventure. After all, his daily routine consisted solely of inspecting towels and bed sheets, sorting shopping lists and a few well-placed phrases to his master while on chamber service.
This also explains why so few lines have been written about him in newspapers, chronicles or annals over the years, and if his employer not had praised him so highly least to his superior, that he had been given the honour of a venerable but otherwise rather useless title of nobility shortly before the end of his working years, then his life would not have been worth a single page, except perhaps in an instruction manual for valets de chambre.
Now many things in life, even the well-intentioned ones, have two sides, one obvious being that Syphimos Batavius Aeryn was allowed to call himself „First Esquire of Tornimos“ at the same time as his retirement thanks to the unexpected gift from the High Royal Graces, a perhaps pretty but completely functionless title named after a long-decayed palace in a lost kingdom. The downside was that the new holder of the title might have made some enemies with his ennoblement. In any case, his small family gradually began to lose members, first his grandchildren, then his children, and finally even his old siblings and their descendants. Indeed, like a curse, the latter fell victim to a road accident, others to a seemingly completely unintentional combination of unfortunate physical circumstances, some disappeared without a trace, and finally Syphimos Batavius Aeryn also fell ill with a completely mysterious illness, which quickly incapacitated the newly appointed old Esquire, so that he breathed his last in a most mysterious manner a few months after taking up his retirement.
This, too, might not have had serious consequences, misfortune happens in the world, but the sudden extinction of a family from the race of the Jatan light elves, even if it was only that of a lowly valet, jeopardised the fragile balance between the houses of the light and dark elves. And the Aeryn family, like every elven family, had a seat on the Council of Elders, which was now vacant. And actually, a vacant seat would have been cancelled completely when a family became extinct in order to avoid inheritance disputes. However, the light elves suspected – not entirely without reason – that the sudden death of an entire clan of their people could not have been all right, and therefore filed a complaint with the Blood Court of the elves in the capital City of Julverne.
The matter was definitely too risky for the six-member High Arcane of the Blood Court, who himself had to fear for his safety in the event of an ethnic conflict, so he immersed himself in the study of historical court records for a good week and then suddenly astonished the public with the discovery of an old document that actually revealed a precedent: back then, 793 years ago, in a rare case of unanimity, an earlier council of elders had agreed on a procedure to resolve such explosive cases in an ethnically correct manner: Using a highly complex mystical procedure that could hardly be manipulated, a family was drawn by lot from the entire council of elders, who were then to head a committee of enquiry to investigate the whole incident, following a meticulously detailed procedure. This committee then made the final decision as to whether the extinction of the clan had been „natural“ – in which case the council seat was cancelled – or whether dark forces had been involved – in which case the vacant council seat was awarded to the party that was proven to be innocent.
After everyone involved had made sure that the document was genuine (it only took three months and required a dozen expertises from renowned historians) and after it was proven, that the mystical procedure mentioned in the document was truly unmanipulable, it took another month for the blood court, which was made up of equal numbers of light and dark elves, to agree on the location where the drawing of lots was to take place. As you might imagine, both parties were only satisfied when a third power agreed to provide the location, free of charge for both sides, of course.
The mystical calculation procedure provided for the council member to be selected by comparing 74 random series of non-mystical prime numbers with each other using equally random procedures, until a clear sequence was obtained that could be used to number all the seats on the Council of Elders. At the same time, a further 74 random sequences were compiled in the same way to also produce a unique sequence of values. With a third random calculation, a ranking was determined for all 74 random series and all but the 74th iteration was discarded – and its very last digit was then assigned to a seat from the first list. This procedure was so complicated in its implementation that the final calculation had to be recalculated by several independent commissions, and this also had to be checked again by a review committee because some commissions had miscalculated the intermediate steps. A court-enforced revision of the procedure finally ordered a further review process until it was established beyond doubt that the oldest seat calculated according to the procedure was actually the same in all commissions: It was clearly the number 456!
The judges of the High Arcane, some of whom had long since lost track of what they were actually doing here after weeks of calculations, were so relieved and delighted after the declaration of unity was announced that they initially failed to realise that the result of the complicated calculations made no sense at all. For the chosen seat of the elders, no. 456 – what a trick of fate – was the seat of House Aeryn itself, which was now vacant and around which the whole thing centred.
As a result, both the Council of Elders and the six judges of the Blood Court argued about whether this seat should have been added or whether it should have been removed in advance. A civil war almost broke out over this question until a commission of historians finally clarified beyond doubt, after reading the document several times, that the vacant seat should of course not have been included in the first place.
So the whole procedure was repeated and just a few weeks (and a few court battles) later, the High Arcane presented the tense elven world with the final decision: The chosen number was now Council Seat No. 157 – so the family to investigate the dubious demise of House Aeryn and decide on their Council Seat and the future balance of the Elven world was the Eldrion family of the Dark Elven race.
But it was not only the faces of the light elves that quickly darkened when the result was announced. For the chair in the assembly was empty. The last Dark Elf from the House of Eldrion, Rufinus Cernest Eldrion, Count of Eldelon, had died years and years ago. However, the heir apparent he had cunningly appointed was not even an elf, but some little dwarf fairy called Luisa Amiratu, who was now the rightful representative of House Eldrion under Nitramican law.
This again led to riots and demands were made to repeat the count. Some argued that sacred old legal elven traditions should not be mixed with profane, new-fangled Nitramican constitutional law, and that the arbitrator should be a true Elf, not some faery creature from the little folk. However, both lawyers and historians pointed out that the traditional counting procedure from the deed was precisely intended to prevent such obviously racist motives from playing a role in the selection of the arbitrator.
There was another long debate, but in the end the majority agreed to ask the dwarf fairy herself first – she would probably refuse anyway and then another council seat could be counted!