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Falling: An Epic Fantasy

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posted on Jul, 22 2017 @ 05:37 PM
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107 - Target

“I see.” Gaalen was thunderstruck. Surely there should be some warning. He regained his footing. “Who am I be given to, then?”

Isara smiled, and Gaalen blinked. Lady Isara Braeghe, High Defender of the Realm of Aavelae, almost never smiled. “I have made an arrangement with the Queen, young man! You are to be given to Princess Anna Kire Daecullon,” she finished triumphantly. “It will be announced at tonight’s feast, so you must present your best. Make sure your dress uniform is immaculate,” she admonished him.

Gaalen was silent. Kaena. He saw his world begin to unravel. A bedroom prince in truth, then. “Mother, surely there must be,” he paused. “What I mean is --”

“Do you take issue with being given to the heiress to the realm? You will be Prince Consort, boy!”

“The Princess surely does not,” he stopped, changing his tact. “I don’t even –“, he trailed off. Know her. Love her. I love Kaena.

“I forget what it is to be young. You are worried about love, of course. Love is not necessary, Gaalen. You marry, you do your duty. That should be pleasant at least, she’s as beautiful as the day is long. Give the Princess a daughter. Love may come later. It did with your father and me.”

“It is not that simple. There is another. It is complicated.”

“Ah, yes. You will end your relationship with the Milaener girl.”

“She’s not a girl, Mother.”

“It will be ended,” she said firmly.

“We’ve known each other since childhood. She is my closest --”

“You will tell Lady Milaener that you will no longer see her privately, Gaalen Braeghe. Do not make me enforce my will on you as I have done in the past. This alliance will make Braeghe House second only to Daecullon in power. Your daughter will be Queen one day, by the grace of Aomm. Do not trifle with me over some ridgecat in heat. You will do as you are told.”

“Don’t insult her, Mother. You know nothing about her, nothing about what she has sacrificed --”

“Don’t talk to me about sacrifice! Don’t you dare! You are still an ignorant child playing with wooden swords and pretending one day to be a king!”

“You’re right, of course. Because only Mother knows best, doesn’t she?”

Her eyes narrowed.

“I’m not under your power anymore. You can’t intimidate me the way you intimidated Father. The Temple should have anointed him for staying at home as much as he did.”

“Do not speak to me that way! Lady Milaener is not your future, you foolish boy!”

“You don’t know Kaena’s rank, do you? Do you even know mine? Do you care? But Gesaert, I’ll lay odds you knew his rank --” He cut off as her hand connected with his cheek.

For a moment, he just looked at her, letting the blow sting. He knew pain, it was an old, sour companion, but one whose presence was expected now. She had recoiled, shock on her face.

“Of course. How could I forget how that felt?”

Her face had changed, as if it had begun to melt. “Gaalen,” she pleaded.

“Kaena actually treats me like a person, Mother,” he said softly, “not some tool on a carpenter’s bench to be worked until it is worthless. But men are just tools to you, aren’t we? Just a way to get more power, more gold. Goodbye, Amaerke Lady Isara Braeghe.” He bowed deeply, then turned, shaking his head slightly, and left.

~-^-~


Lady Isara watched Gaalen retreat from the Ancillary, her face blank.

“He should be beaten within a hair’s breadth of his life for speaking to my Lady that way,” Kivioen said quietly, coming over to her.

“He is my son, Kivioen. Control your tongue,” she said ominously.

“Of course, my Lady, I apologize.”

“What did you see?”

“He’s hiding something. Something with that Milaener girl, I think.”

She nodded once. “I can only think of one thing.”

“Very likely, my Lady.”

Stupid boy! He should know better than to get some street wench with child. Bloody Abyss!

She moved to the window, looking out across the Eastern Yard, standing next to where Kivioen sat. This must get resolved. Nothing would stand in her way of cementing this alliance.

“Lady Milaener is a strong woman. I’m certain it would be a terrible blow to the Bastion if she were to fall in battle,” she said, almost too softly to hear.

“That would indeed be a tragedy, my Lady.”

Kivioen stood, expressionless. Isara muttered under her breath, “It must look authentic, Kivioen, and must not be traced back to me.”

“Yes, my Lady.”

“Do not wait long. We don’t know how much time we have. The child must die with her.”




posted on Jul, 27 2017 @ 03:47 PM
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108 - Simply

Kaena had been distant ever since he had her instruct the Seeress, cool and stand-offish. This morning she was in his chambers, pacing around, looking for something. Her skin was pale, and she looked as though she had not slept well.

“Kaena, what is going on?”

“Have you seen my favorite brush?” She pulled a pillow off the bed.

“Not that I can recall. Will you stop for a moment? There’s something I need to tell you.”

“I have to get ready to go. I’d really like that brush along, it’s the only one that I can get snarls out with.” She moved to the anteroom and looked under the chairs by the fireplace.

“Please, can we talk?”

“Maybe later. I know I saw it this morning, but now I can’t find it.”

“Forget about the damned brush! Look at me!”

She stiffened, and turned to face him.

“What in the bloody Abyss is going on with you? You’ve been distant for days now.”

There was fury in her eyes, and her lips were tight. Her words came like drips off an icicle.

“How is Seeress Meron today? Is she well? I’m sure you know how she’s doing even if you don’t know how I am.”

“That’s not fair, you won’t even bloody talk to me! How am I supposed to find out how you’re doing?”

“I see, that's the problem. I won't talk to you," she said acidly. "Where have you been, Gaalen? For days! You come to me now and want to talk? Why don’t you go comfort your Seeress friend, Lord Captain?” She started digging through the cushions in the low couch and chairs.

“Is that what this is about? That day in the training yard? You’re upset because, what, I knew what to do when she when she had an episode?”

“An ‘episode’? Is that what that was? She’s bloody insane, Gaalen!” her sarcasm was thick, and she still looked away.

“I have some idea what happens to her, that’s all. She just needs a little understanding when she gets like that.” He paused as a thought struck him. “Are you,” he hesitated, “jealous?

She shot straight up, stiff as a board, and stared at him, fire in her eyes and lips pursed.

“You are! Kaena!” He started toward her but she backed up a step defensively, and he stopped. Her eyes were wide, almost frantic.

“I hear things,” her words tumbled out in a flood, “I know she started visiting Gull’s Roost while you train in the morning. And I know you were locked in a room with her at the Temple. For hours. What were you doing, Gaalen? Why was the door closed? And locked? And then this,” she fumbled for words, “this connection you seem to have. When was the last time you spent as much time with Bryn, or Taarvaes? They’re your friends! Who is this woman?”

“You have to stop, you’re working yourself into a spiral!”

“So I’m the crazy one? Is that how you’re going to end it with me?”

“I’m not going to ‘end it’ with you. Will you please listen--“

“Just bloody sleep with her and get it over with!” she snapped at him.

“For Aomm’s sake, it’s not like that!”

“But it looks like that! The way you talk, the way you laugh with her. You look like –“ her voice caught. “You look like you’re in love with her!” she wailed, tears springing up in her eyes.

“Kaena, I’m not. I simply am not,” he spread his hands. “I love you! Don’t you know that by now? For Aomm’s sake I’d Bond you today if I could!” Cautiously, he approached her. “If things were different,” he stopped himself. No, that’s an excuse. “Look, you know me, you know what I’d do for you. This,” he pounded a fist over his heart, “this has not changed. If you asked, I would resign my commission today, and you and I could go to the mountains and build a cabin. The rest of this Aomm-forsaken city can get torn to the ground and we just live, you and I.”

“Damn you, Gaalen Braeghe,” she said softly, a tear falling down her cheek.
edit on 7-27-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: Too many Gaalens!



posted on Aug, 2 2017 @ 12:08 PM
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109 - One Last Meal

“Will you sit? Please?” After a moment, she nodded.

“I don’t love the Seeress, Kaena. But I do understand her, and I think it’s important you do too, because you’re going to be on the road with her. Please be patient and listen.” Gaalen felt guilty about breaking his word to the Seeress, but Kaena needed to know, to understand. She would be in command of the ambassadorial convoy to the Eastholds , she needed to know what Siere’s skills and limitations were. As he talked, Kaena’s anger waned and her interest grew.

“She didn’t say so, but I think when she does this Expelling – as she calls it – I don’t think she can get rid of everything like she says. I think she has flashbacks and falls into the memories of these people she’s healed. You heard what she said in the yard. It’s almost as if those memories are holes, and she needs a hand climbing out.”

“I had no idea that was even possible.”

“Nor I. But I’ve seen her do it, Kaena, twice now – that’s why she told me to lock the door. It’s horrible what she goes through. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’d take a pack of full-grown alkasanni over what she endures. She’s asked me to keep it a secret because she’s barely holding it together as it is. If everyone knew,” he spread his hands. “She would get no rest, and she would be completely insane within the year.”

Kaena looked at him solemnly. “I believe you. I’m sorry I didn’t trust you, Gaalen. You have never given me cause to doubt you. I suppose,” she hesitated, choosing her words. “I suppose it’s me that I have doubts about. Maybe I’m not good enough, maybe I’m not pretty enough, maybe you,” her voice tightened again. “I thought maybe you just wanted someone new,” she said, to tears falling, “that you were bored with me--”

He stopped her by kissing her, his hands cupping her face. “It’s always been you, it will always be you.”

She smiled, a tear-filled laugh of joy.

“Kaena, there’s something else,” he began, hesitantly. “There’s a reason my mother is in Avaanse.”

Kaena nodded. “I know about that.”

“You do? I only found out today!”

She smiled. “I suppose my resources are more thorough than yours. Gaalen,” she took his hand in hers, “I knew I would lose you to some alliance-making marriage someday. I’ve always known. That doesn’t hurt anymore. What hurt was the thought that I had lost your heart.”

He bowed his head, anger rising at the injustice. Why couldn’t they just be left alone? “Let’s go, Kaena. Leave. All of it. None of this matters. It’s the Feast of Sheaves tomorrow. One last meal, our good-bye feast. Then the day after, we go, you and me. Up into the Blackhawks, they’ll never find us. We can hunt aramae and minisc, and live off the land. We’ll grow all old and gray and be together away from all of this.”

Smiling, weeping, she grabbed his hands and nodded, “Yes.”

“Yes?”

“Yes. I want to be free.”

edit on 8-2-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: Wow...missed a lot of formatting on this one. Moo.



posted on Aug, 8 2017 @ 02:53 PM
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110 - The Feast of Sheaves

The Great Hall had been set since that morning, ready for the rich and the powerful to dine with the Queen and the royal family. The Feast of Sheaves was a commemoration of the harvest coming in, a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat all specially prepared for this occasion. It was the second most important feast in Aavelae after the Feast of the Covenant, which was a much more solemn occasion. Unlike the Feast of the Covenant, though, the Feast of Sheaves was a celebration of abundance and accomplishment, whereas the Feast of the Covenant commemorated the sacrifices of the Founders, the eight people that humanity had been reduced to before Aomm revealed the Gift to them.

The Queen had requested the finest dinnerware for the feast tonight, and rumor abounded that she had a special announcement to make. There was a hum of energy and excitement in the milling crowd in the Outer Hall as nobles mingled with Bastion personnel and Temple leadership while servants danced to and fro with trays of wine and ale, or appetizers.

Seer Lowaeren stood chatting idly with the Mons Rosian ambassador Tevas Ralan, Elder Poliara, and Lady Devoraac. Kaena was speaking with Lady Macosai, Prince Taarvaes, and Princess Teryn. Kaena looked at him and flashed him a sweet, shy smile, a shared secret between only them. Seeress Meron was standing with Bryn, the Lady Aine Devoraac - Lady Devoraac’s oldest daughter - and, to Gaalen’s surprise, the High Seer Meic Caerdi.

Gaalen stood alone for a moment, taking in the crowd, the faces he knew, the faces he did not. Many of those faces he wished he could say goodbye to, tell them how much he would miss them. But he could not, he could only engrave their images in his memory, preserve them forever in this one moment of joy and celebration.

“You should mingle, Gaalen,” came his mother’s rich voice just behind his shoulder. “It will look off if you are standing by yourself.”

“I know how to behave at a feast dinner, Mother, I have been to one or two before,” he said blandly, still scanning the crowd.

He finally turned toward her, and she opened her mouth to speak, but at that moment they were joined by the Princess.

“Isaraleisen, I’m so glad you have joined us again,” she said with a dazzling smile, taking his mother’s hands in hers. She turned to Gaalen. “And you, Lord Captain, we have much to discuss.”

He took her hand, kissed it, and bowed formally. “Highness, you are radiant this evening. I’m certain there will be ample time for such matters after dinner,” he said smoothly. She smiled at him, then leaned in to whisper in his ear.

“I shall call on you later this evening, so our discussion can remain private, Lord Captain,” she said. Her soft breath sent tingles down his neck and spine, and he inhaled deeply. She pulled back and looked him in the eyes, and Gaalen had a sudden feeling the Princess was much more than the façade she let on to the world.

“Of course, your Highness, I am your humble servant,” he replied, and the grin she gave him was strangely beatific and smoky at the same time.

“You Braeghes, you are so formal! I shall have to loosen your tongue, Lord Captain,” she teased in a soft voice.

The bell tolled, summoning them into the Great Hall. Gaalen offered his arm to the Princess with as sincere a smile as he could manage, and she took it with a delighted, delicate laugh. In truth it was not that difficult - he had resolved to enjoy himself tonight, and he knew that tomorrow, he and Kaena would disappear from this place. By the time someone thought to look for them, they would be beyond reach. So tonight, he set it all aside, and walked into the Great Hall with the Princess of Aavelae on his arm. On the edge of his vision he caught Kaena’s gaze following him, but he deliberately avoided making eye contact with her. He could allow nothing to ruin the performance.

Queen Tirina was seated first, at the head of the long central table. To her right, Anna was seated, and Gaalen was placed to her right. His mother had followed at the front of the nobles who walked in after the royal family. She was right behind him, heading for the seat next to him when one of the ushers spoke up.

Amaerke Lady Braeghe, your seat is here,” he gestured to a chair draped with scarlet and gold, near the end of the table on the same side as Gaalen. She would not be able to even see him. Even though her face was still, Gaalen knew her well enough to read the shocked affront of her removal from his side. I am your possession no longer, Mother.

He was seated between the Princess and her sister Teryn, in the traditional royal feast style – alternating male and female, the Queen the only exception. He was as uncomfortable as he had ever been at a feast, but tried his best to smother it and remain calm. It helped that Taarvaes was seated to the Queen’s left, with his niece Kerala to his left and directly across from Gaalen, and Kerala’s father Noall to her left.

The Queen gave an invocation, and the servants brought the first course - a salad accompanied by a light white wine - and the feast began.



posted on Aug, 9 2017 @ 10:23 AM
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So, I have to say, things are moving along in this thread faster than I anticipated. At present, I have only 4 more scenes fully written after this one. It will likely be 6-8 more episodes, depending upon how I break them up, before I will be writing each scene and posting it as it becomes complete. So please, bear with me for those of you following. That said, without further ado:

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111 - Prince Consort

Gaalen was peppered with questions from the bright and inquisitive Teryn, a beautiful girl of fifteen with very light blonde hair, clear blue eyes, and pale skin. She wanted to know about Braeghe estate, about olives, and grapes, and Lake Naonn, and his family.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“I have a sister, Lady Lura Braeghe im Oasho. She spends most of her time in Oasho Maarke with her husband and children. My niece Aesen is about two years younger than you, my nephew Teiagir is just nine, and little Kumi is a precocious four. And, I used to have a brother.”

“Used to?”

“He was killed when I was younger,” Gaalen replied solemnly.

“Oh I see, I’m sorry, Lord Captain,” she said, putting a hand on his forearm.

“Thank you, Princess, I am touched. Though, I know there are few families in our realm that have not suffered loss, including your own,” he said, nodding to Kerala and Lord Noall.

Teryn paused. “I miss Peraena terribly,” she said, her voice catching.

“I think the ones we love never really leave us, Princess,” he said. “I believe we will see them again, somehow.” Teryn smiled, and he could feel her eyes on him as he turned to his plate.

“My, my, such weighty conversation the two of you are having,” Anna said softly, leaning toward him.

“Just satisfying her curiosity, Highness. I’m certain if I were in her shoes, I’d have all sorts of questions as well,” he replied, just as soft.

She studied his face for a long moment. “I suspect you are right, Lord Captain,” she said, a small smile touching the corners of her mouth.

The courses came one after the other, each with small portion of a wine selected specifically for that dish. The Princess and the Queen were both skilled at conversation, and Gaalen felt a bit more at ease with their friendly and comfortable manner. He thought a man would be fortunate to have such a fate as to be handed over into this family.

Before the dessert course was brought out, the Queen stood up. A hush quickly spread from the head of the central table outward, as though Aomm had thrown a giant blanket over the Hall. She did not even need to clear her throat.

“I trust you are all well content, and have saved enough room for dessert. Tonight we remember the bountiful harvest provided by Aomm, and we sit in remembrance of those who have gone before.”

She paused, allowing the traditional moment of silence for those lost during the harvest time. There were always some, taken by aiyuun, killed by alkasanni or torpae; always, there were some.

“We salute the people of Aavelae who risk their lives daily to provide our realm with the resources needed to survive. This year, the harvest has been plentiful, and with blessing, the winter will be short. We celebrate in the hope of a better future.” She paused for the traditional applause. “Tonight I bring you an additional reason for celebration. My beloved daughter Anna Kire, your Princess, and heiress to the throne of Aavelae, is to be married.”

A wave of suppressed chatter bounced around the Hall, those in attendance turning to those next to them in excited whispers. Taarvaes threw Gaalen an encouraging grin. And yet, it’s all for nothing, my Prince, but you don’t know that.

“This young man is well-known to many of you here tonight. He has been decorated in battle, honored for his valor, and is one of the steadfast High Defenders of Aavelae. But more than that, he is a loyal subject of the realm, and a respected leader.”

Gaalen’s mother was smiling broadly further down the table, her eyes on him and glittering with anticipation.

Kerala piped up in her piercing young voice, “Nana is Auntie Anna getting married today?” Noall brushed her wavy hair back and whispered to her as the Queen smiled down at her granddaughter and quiet, adoring laughter echoed through the hall.

“Not today, child,” and those near chuckled. Anna’s mirth was like the tinkling of a silver bell, and her eyes sparkled with affection for young Kerala.

“But, my granddaughter is quite right. It is about time we met our future Prince Consort. Ladies, Lords, I give you Lord Captain Gaalen Braeghe, Shieldbearer and High Defender of Aavelae, and my beautiful daughter’s fiancé.”



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 03:11 PM
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112 - A Celebration Cut Short

The Queen turned her piercing gaze on Gaalen, and Anna discreetly tapped his elbow, whispering “Up!

Gaalen stood, stepped away from the table, and turned to face the majority of the Hall, Anna standing with him. Her hand slid behind his arm, curling around his biceps, and she placed her other hand on his shoulder.

A tremendous cheer and applause arose, and Gaalen felt a flush in his cheeks. He realized he was shaking, and felt paralyzed as he watched the reaction of the assembled nobles. The Bastion personnel were the first to stand. The Lords and Ladies Captain stood silently, their fists over their hearts. He saw Kaena, her face a steel mask, not meeting his eyes. Lady Macosai, with a rare smile. Bryn, a quirky, one-sided smile, then he looked toward Kaena, and it faded. The lower ranked personnel in the back of the hall were much more raucous, raising their arms above their heads and lifting steins of ale. Even the senior Ladyguard were cheering. Gaalen was stunned and began to feel profoundly uncomfortable. I don't deserve any of this.

He looked at the Princess, who smiled up at him. She leaned in so he could hear. “They love you, Lord Captain,” she said, before pulling back and looking out over the hall, waving with an elegant hand. He raised his arm over the assembly and smiled out at them as well.

The unison clapping and cheer of “Soen! Soen! Soen!” began at the back, the traditional signal for the newly engaged couple to kiss. Gaalen’s stomach felt like lead in his belly. Anna turned back to him and arched an eyebrow, as if to say, “Well?

He was trapped. Just one more night, then you are free. It means nothing. Make it convincing, the people need hope.

He leaned in, gently wrapping his hand behind her neck, and kissed her deeply. He was surprised at the passion with which she kissed him back, and he felt his heartbeat race as she stepped in and pressed her body against his. His free hand rested on her lower back, holding her close.

The Hall exploded in cheers, loudest from the Bastion senior Lanceguard and Ladyguard. When he and the Princess parted, her cheeks were pink and she gazed up at him, an artery in her neck pulsing quickly.

“Oh, well done,” she said, smoldering embers in her voice. Laughing delicately, she fanned herself with her hand and grinned at the still-cheering nobles. It was for dramatic effect of course, but it worked, the applause surging even higher.

Gaalen looked for Kaena. She was gone.

The Queen held up her hands, and Gaalen and Anna turned toward her.

“Well, Lord Captain, I see your union is looked upon favorably,” she said with a smile. Then, turning to the Hall, she said, “Lord Captain Braeghe and Princess Anna will be wed as soon as it can be arranged, before Shadow Night falls upon Aavelae. May Aomm the One shower light and grace upon you both.”

Just then the door to the Great Hall opened, and a liveried servant dashed in to whisper to Jassam, the Daecullon High Butler. The servant was shaking and pale, and Jassam’s irritated countenance took on a sickly cast as he listened.

“For now, join me in a toast to the Princess and her Lord Captain!” She raised her glass to the Hall as the assembled nobles intoned, “Aroeste!

Servants brought out the dessert course as the Queen sat down. Jassam smoothly hurried over to her and whispered in her ear, then handed her a small message case. She examined the case’s seal, then broke it, pulled out a small, rolled parchment and began to read.

Gaalen noticed a Bastion courier whispering to Lady High Commander Macosai, and she was given a message also. He glanced at Bryn, whose brow was furrowed. Bryn shook his head slightly; he did not know. Lady Macosai looked up in alarm and connected eyes with the Queen. After receiving a curt nod from Tirina, Lady Macosai stood up and hurried out.

A tense hush descended over the Hall, and the Queen stood up.

“I fear our celebration will be cut short. I have received word that the Makata have invaded Aavelae. They have crossed the Ash River and are moving northward.”

Shouts of alarm rang out in the Hall, and the Queen held up her hands for silence.

“This threat, like all threats to the realm, will be dealt with, I assure you. Those of you on my War Council will assemble in the Council Chambers immediately. The rest of you, finish your meals. South Market is four weeks journey from here, and nothing will change tonight.”

She motioned to Anna, Taarvaes, and a few of her closest counselors as she turned to leave the hall.

Anna placed a hand on Gaalen’s forearm and squeezed it gently. “I will call on you later, I promise. I expect this will be a long night.” With that, she turned and left.



posted on Aug, 20 2017 @ 12:18 PM
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I have been so busy and haven't had time to catch up in here. Soooo sorry my friend! But...carry on and weave your tale.



posted on Aug, 21 2017 @ 12:10 PM
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a reply to: Night Star

Hi Night! Working on it. RL has been very busy these days. Bad! Bad RL!



posted on Aug, 25 2017 @ 03:34 PM
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113 - Harbinger

Taarvaes strode purposefully through the halls of the Palace, heading toward the Queen’s Council Chambers. He had known this day was coming, deep down. He hadn’t wanted to believe it, though. Aavelae was as prosperous a realm as existed in Geaomm that Taarvaes was aware of. Her lands were rich, cities well-built, and there were plenty of resources for production and trade. Any number of entities wanted to possess Aavelae, with or without her people.

The Makata were not really a nation, however. Makatans were semi-nomadic, living in tribes and clans, sometimes loose coalitions. Between the eastern edge of the lands Burneval claimed, and the southern end of the lands Mons Ros claimed, there was a section of Aavelae’s southern border that opened to unorganized territory, with no official legal claimant. This was the territory of the Makatans, south of Aavelae, east of Burneval, and southwest of Mons Ros.

The Makata for many generations had been tribal spiritists, each village or tribe led by a shaman called a tezetotac. While their religious sacrifices seemed somewhat brutal to adherents of the Aomman faith, they were by and large not an existential threat to the surrounding nations. They traded with the border towns, and some of them even immigrated into the northern realms. They excelled in smithy, leatherwork, and particularly jewelry. The lands they occupied were modestly rich in copper, silver, and some gold as well as several kinds of precious and semi-precious stones. Taarvaes had assumed they would eventually succumb to the ways of the northern nations, settling down and building cities rather than the rough villages and provincial towns they now lived in, but that development showed no sign of being near.

In the past twenty years, however, and especially in the last five, a leader had arisen among them, uniting the tribes and preaching a violent, even genocidal message of conquest and enslavement of anyone who does not share the Makatan faith. This leader - Ixitzaalok - had conquered dozens of neighboring tribes and now styled himself Emperor.

There had been rumors flowing out of the Makatan territory for months now. Stories of tribes wiped out, vast armies of warriors swarming over the landscape, villages burned. These rumors seemed consistent with a warlord consolidating power and trying to unite a nomadic people. But other rumors were strange, bordering on fantastical. Some said Ixitzaalok rode a huge, savage beast into battle, and wore leather made from the skin of his enemies. Others said the army he led contained not just Makata, but creatures – packs of ges’etaaken, or leashed torpae or gelm. Still others said demons numbered among his warriors, that he had made a bargain with Ngak and the very forces of darkness rode to battle with him. It was hard to pick out what was blown far out of proportion and what contained a kernel of truth.

And yet, there was reason to consider the possibility that the impossible might be coming true. Taarvaes never considered himself a fervent believer in Aomm, but he was certain the Merciful Father existed. There were those who believed he had a role in ancient Aomman prophecy, that he was Seiua Leis, an apocalyptic figure of the scriptures that was the harbinger of the end of an age - some said the end of all ages. Taarvaes took such things in stride. If he was, it would play out as it should play out. Some of those prophecies, however, mentioned Seiua Leis would face an army “bred of darkness, spawned from evil.” If he really was this prophesied figure, and some of those rumors were true, was this the end of an age, a volume in the history of humanity about to be concluded?

He reached the Council Chambers, a smaller room for used for the meetings of the various Queen’s councils - the Magistrate Council, the Guildmasters, the Bastion Liaison Council, and the various cabinet councils dealing with the day to day running of a nation the size of Aavelae.

The table inside was long, with an ornately-carved border running along the edge of the tabletop. About thirty sturdy chairs – made of a dark, polished hiran-heartwood, covered in leather and lightly cushioned – ringed the table. Tall windows looked out over the Queen’s Courtyard, some fifteen feet below.

Everyone had arrived except the Queen and his sister Anna. Lady High Commander Macosai and several of the Council of Ladies Captain from the Bastion were there, including Lady Commander Kaena Milaener as the presiding officer of that body; Ladies Devoraac, Rivercross, Silnae, and Gethenal, all powerful houses and all High Defenders of Aavelae; Lady Uthen, the Royal Exchequer, Mistress of the Treasury; Lady Ina Jaansruun, Lady High Magistrate, and two of her senior Magistrates; all people he expected to be in attendance. But several figures stuck out, for different reasons. Elder Poliara sat between Seer Lowaeren and High Seer Meic Caerdi, and sitting near the far end of the table was Lady Isara Braeghe. House Braeghe was another High Defender and thus deserved a seat at this council, but it was still somehow jarring to see Gaalen’s mother here.

Tension in the room lay like a heavy blanket. Ixitzaalok’s invasion seemed the logical conclusion, that was true, but the timing was unnerving. Shadow Night was looming soon on the calendar, there would be days of darkness and lives lost. What if somehow the Makatan invaders’ strategy involved the days of darkness?

The heavy doors clicked and two footmen opened them to let the Queen and Anna in. To Taarvaes’ surprise, Seeress Siere Meron followed as well. Meekly, she took a seat with the other Temple attendees, receiving an arched eyebrow and prim frown from Elder Poliara, while Lowaeren fondly patted her shoulder. She did not look as fresh and vivacious as she normally appeared. Quite the opposite, she looked weary, almost haggard. For the most part she kept her eyes down at the table, avoiding contact with anyone else, but when she did chance to look Taarvaes’ direction he noticed her eyes were bloodshot, with dark circles beneath them. She had somehow gotten hurt as well – there were scratches all along one arm, and the other was bandaged just behind her wrist. She tried to hide it, but he caught a spot of blood soaking through the underside. He wondered what a Seeress would get up to that could cause those kind of wounds. They almost looked defensive.



posted on Aug, 30 2017 @ 01:32 PM
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114 - A Straight Line

He dismissed thought of the Seeress as Anna, carrying a large scroll, took her seat to the right of the Queen, although his mother remained standing. The room was silent, a testament to his mother’s rule.

“Very well, let us begin. I did not reveal the entire message contents to the hall. The truth of the matter is that the Makata attacked South Market three nights ago and burned it to the ground. Reports by duae mitaac indicate villages near the border have suffered a similar fate. Clearly their intent is not conquest. Anna?”

Anna unfurled the scroll she had brought in and weighted the corners down. It was an official map of Aavelae. She began pointing to villages in the southeast corner, marking them with small red glass beads. “Efreim Ford. Tannis Altoe. Taeaom. Jeir Koe. South Market. Besh-Emez. Besh-A’al.”

She let the beads speak for themselves. They made a straight line north and slightly west. A murmur arose around the table.

“As you can see, the Makata are not bent on conquest of the borderlands. They are heading straight for the capitol, and they are destroying everything in their path.”

The Queen took over.

“Jeina, you will rally the Ladies of the Central and Western lands,” she nodded to the Lady Rivercross, then looked over at Lady Macosai. “Kili?”

“Take Robaer and his men. Break it up between you. Robaer is well-respected in that region, and his men can cover ground quickly.”

Tirina nodded. “Missei, we need the southern ladies,” she said to Lady Devoraac, who nodded grimly.

“I’ll bring them, you have my word, your Majesty.”

“That leaves the East. Lady Commander, I am sending you as an ambassador of the Crown. You will rally as many of the Eastern Holdladies as possible, and bring them west to the capitol.” It was a good choice. Milaener was an old family, and well-respected in the East. There had been many alliances between Milaener and various Eastholds throughout the centuries. Kaena would garner a tremendous response.

“Yes, your Majesty,” Kaena replied quietly.

“Good. However, we must speak of Lithelwaite. You may have heard Eveleta is ill. Seeress Lady Meron I apologize for my frankness, but Eveleta may already be dead,” Tirina said with a quick glance at the Seeress. Taarvaes marveled briefly at his mother. Queens never apologized, even for small things such as being blunt. Yet, Tirina’s rule – at least in Avaanse Maarke – was so strong she could get away with it, and far from diminishing her power, he knew it increased respect of her among those gathered. She was masterful. “Her daughter Baelina will be in charge, but we need Alaniten to support this as well, as the command will fall to him. Seeress, what can you tell us?”

Siere ducked her head in deference. “Baelina will not ride with the armsmen. She’s not a military leader and knows it. It will be my father who commands Meron Color, your Majesty, but he will be loath to leave Lithelwaite undefended.”

“I can go along to speak to him, I know Alaniten,” Lady Macosai said.

“No, Kili, your place is here,” Taarvaes’ mother replied, shaking her head.

“Your Majesty, if I may,” Lady Braeghe interjected. The Queen nodded to permit her.

“Send Gaalen, your Majesty. Alaniten and my late husband corresponded regularly, and both admired each other. It is likely he would respond to Hyn’s son, and Gaalen will relate well to him.”

Her proposal was met with more murmurs and low conversation.

“Unacceptable,” Lady Devoraac shook her head, and Lady Gethenal added, “He’s a man!”

Taarvaes scanned the table. The only men in the room - besides himself - were the two from the Temple, Seer Lowaeren and High Seer Caerdi. The High Seer was his usual placid self, and Elder Poliara was as prim and unreadable as always.

As he continued looking around, he caught sight of Kaena. The corners of her mouth were tight, and the muscles on her jaw were clenched. She was quite unhappy with the suggestion, and the daggers in her eyes alternated between Lady Braeghe and Seeress Meron.

“Taarvy, you know Lord Captain Braeghe better even than I. What do you think of Lady Braeghe’s proposal?” asked Anna.

I think it will be dangerous and I would not want to subject my friend to it, he thought. Out loud, he said, “Gaalen has an uncommon gift of finding a way to connect with others. Though he is no diplomat, for this assignment he would be as good a choice as anyone, and better than most.”

“I see,” the Queen pondered.

A soft, melodic voice spoke. “Your Majesty, if I may speak?” It was Seeress Meron.

“Of course, Seeress,” his mother replied.

“My father’s correspondence with Lord Hyn was precious to him. He often spoke of Lord Hyn as a friend and someone he admired, and followed the Lord Captain’s accomplishments as he grew up. My father would be honored to receive Lord Hyn’s son, and I have no doubt he will be willing to listen to whatever the Lord Captain has to say.”

Kaena was nearly boiling over, her face red and tense.

“Your Majesty, perhaps I am in the minority, but I believe this idea is unwise,” she avoided looking at Lady Braeghe, and had to tear her eyes away from the Seeress to face the Queen. “Lord Captain Braeghe is the best defensive strategist the Bastion has. If the Makata are headed toward Avaanse, he should be here, overseeing the preparation for repelling the invaders and keeping your Majesty safe.” Devoraac and Gethenal were both nodding in agreement, and Lady Braeghe’s eyes glittered as she studied Kaena.

“Yes,” Devoraac said, “this is a job for a proper, trained ambassador, not a military man,” she shook her head. “Might I suggest my daughter, the Lady Aine? She is eloquent and quite lovely, which will go a far sight further with a man than the son of a correspondence,” she finished with a wry twist to her mouth.

Taarvaes groaned inside. That was as good as slapping Isara in the face, not to mention how it would sound to the Seeress. Aine was in fact quite lovely and eloquent, as Bryn could testify. However, it was ironic that Lady Devoraac should suggest Aine immediately after declaring it was a job for a trained ambassador – Aine was no more a diplomat than Gaalen. And to suggest that Alaniten would be better persuaded by a young woman's charms while his wife lay dying was callous and insulting in the extreme. He looked at the Seeress, who - to his shock - stared dully down at the table, looking as though she were on the verge of tears.

The room was about to explode in full-blown argument, Taarvaes could feel it. They needed Meron Color, this had to be right.

“Mother,” he said, “I would also be eager to undertake this journey and speak with Lord Alaniten. Acceding I am a man," he threw his best smile toward Lady Devoraac, "perhaps the weight of the royal family would reach Lord Alaniten's sympathies.”



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 09:28 AM
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115 - These Are My Commands

The Queen nodded to Taarvaes, then turned to Anna. “Daughter? What do you say? Lord Captain Braeghe is your fiancé, after all. This journey may be dangerous.”

“I believe his record speaks for itself. If what Seeress Meron says is true, he is our best hope of convincing Lord Alaniten to support this effort.”

“Very well. I appreciate your input, all of you,” the Queen said regally. “Lady High Commander, we must lead a counter assault. Do not allow them to reach Avaanse. Nothing corrodes the morale of a city quite like a siege. It must not come to that. Choose your strategy wisely,” she cautioned, “Do not needlessly risk the lives of our soldiers.”

She turned to the attendants from the Temple. “Seeress Meron, you have already been given leave to return home to visit your mother or pay your respects. Though I cannot compel you to go, as a mother myself, I can tell you Eveleta – should she still live – will wish to see her daughter. I urge you to go with the delegation to the Eastholds. Amaerke Lady Braeghe,” she faced Isara, focusing her unblinking gaze on the High Seat of House Braeghe, “Your suggestion has merit. We women do not always understand the hearts of men, but another man will. Lord Captain Gaalen Braeghe will join the delegation to the Eastholds, along with a strong contingent of Braeghe Color as defense. There are stretches of wild country on that journey, and Aavelae can ill-afford to lose any of the company. Lady Jeina and Lord Captain Bryn Robaer will rally the central and western Houses. Lady Devoraac, you will rally the southern Ladies. Take your daughter with you if you wish, and men of your own Color. I would not put it past the Burnevali to take advantage of this and invade as well. Predators attack when they smell blood.”

Finally, she turned back to Lady High Commander Macosai. “Kili, we place the defense of Maarke Avaanse in your capable hands. See to it this city stands against the tide. Prince Taarvaes,” she turned to him, “Offer your presence and expertise to Lady Macosai. It may do wonders for our soldiers to have the Golden Prince supporting them. These are my commands.”

She finished with the traditional end to a formal Queen’s command. Taarvaes knew from his lessons with her that the second, unspoken part, was implied: “And they shall be carried out.” It was a dismissal, and the council began to break up to see to their duties, various small circles forming to discuss plans.

Taarvaes stood and surveyed the room. He noticed Poliara take Seeress Meron aside, and Lady Devoraac speak with Seer Lowaeren.

“Thank you, my Prince,” said a rich voice behind him. He turned to find Lady Braeghe standing at his shoulder looking up at him.

“For what, Amaerke?”

“For your support of House Braeghe regarding my suggestion.”

“Ah, yes. May I be frank, Lady Braeghe?”

She inclined her head. “Of course, Highness, always.”

“As much as I respect House Braeghe, I did not agree with you for political reasons. I believe Gaalen is the best chance we have of relating to Lord Alaniten. I also think you underestimate him, and you always have. Good evening, Lady Isara.”

She inclined her head again in deference as he turned to exit the chambers.



posted on Sep, 8 2017 @ 02:32 PM
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Note Bene: There are a few items that will be unfamiliar to readers in this section. The first is the term honeyworm that Kaena uses. In Geaomm, a "honeyworm" is a type of grub that lives in dung and garbage piles. Needless to say, this is not a compliment.
Secondly, she shouts, "Kolaan Jessed". It essentially means, "Come and take it if you can".
Finally, a hillcat is a cat-like predator distantly related to ges'etaaken. They are quick, strong, and vicious when cornered. They are smaller than ges'etaaken though, only weighing about as much as a medium Earth dog - around 60-70 pounds. Hopefully this gives the reader a better picture to work with in this scene.

116 - Kolaan Jessed

Kaena closed the door behind her. Gaalen had told her the Princess would come by his chambers, so Kaena stayed in her own rooms. She tried not to think of what might happen tonight between the two of them, but it was difficult. She trusted Gaalen, but he had a role to play until they were able to leave, and he had to make it convincing enough that the Princess would not get suspicious.

And yet, would they leave, now? Could they truly leave Aavelae, knowing what faced the realm?

She felt a pull to abandon her plans with Gaalen, to stay in Aavelae and go on the delegation convoy, speak to the Ladies of the Eastholds, and ride home at the head of an army ready to face whatever the Makata warlord would throw at them. But there was Gaalen, and their decision.

Heart heavy, she began to undress. She was listless, dully moving through the motions. After removing her coat and breeches, she paused to pour herself a glass of wine, taking a long sip before pulling a long robe over her shoulders to settle in for the evening.

Sitting at her vanity table and pulling a brush – not her favorite, it was as if that one had simply disappeared – through her hair in her bedchamber, she heard what sounded like the door. Her heart leaped. Maybe Gaalen has come after all! She stood up to greet him when she noticed the lamps in her sitting area were out. The only light was a low glow from the fire.

“Gaalen?” There was no response. “Is this some kind of surprise?” Gaalen did not typically make romantic gestures like mood-setting, but he had been known to on very rare occasions. With a smile, she stepped through the archway and down the two steps to the sitting area. There was a skittering sound, coming from the sitting area. Something got knocked over and she heard it clang on the wood floor.

Suddenly uneasy, she scanned the dim. Her eyes were still adjusting to the darkness after the coming from the light of her bedchamber.

The sound came again, this time behind her. She spun and lowered to a crouch.

“Gaalen, if that’s you this is no longer amusing.”

She had only a moment’s warning as something about the size of a hillcat flew out of the darkness at her. Instinct took over and with a simple ro-ti brush block she deflected it and stepped to the side, then dashed back up the stairs into her bedchamber. She ripped off her long robe so it would not hinder her movement, then grabbed her knives, which she had taken off earlier and laid on a chair near her bedside. The creature had gashed her forearm, and drops of blood fell on the wooden floor. She heard hissing, and a strange clicking sound coming from the sitting area.

Silently she padded to the archway leading from her bedchamber to the sitting area. There was no movement out there, just the orange flicker of the fire. She saw the pitcher on the floor in front of the fireplace, the gingered water puddled next to it’s opening and soaking in to the rug by the fireplace.

She strained her eyes into the dim reddish light of the sitting area. Nothing. No movement, no sound. She stepped around the archway, hugging the wall, then down into the sitting area, scanning all around. Slowly she began circling the room, trying to avoid floorboards she knew creaked. Still, no sound or movement gave away whatever was in the room with her.

Her heart was racing and she began to perspire. Her arm felt on fire where there creature had slashed it. So they are venomous, she thought distantly.

“Alright, you little honeyworm, I’m right here. Kolaan jessed!”

She felt it coming an instant before it landed on her shoulder and sank some kind of fangs or foreclaws into her. She slashed at it with the knife in her other hand, and it let go, dropping onto the floor. Before it could skitter away, though, she pounced and speared its leathery body with both knives. It shrieked and convulsed. Just as she relaxed, she heard skittering from behind her and felt a stabbing pain in her leg as a second creature fastened its jaws around her calf. She ripped her blades free of the first creature with a scissors motion to ensure it would die, then rolled and flicked one of the blades at the second creature, taking it right in the middle of its four black eyes. It twitched and seemed to deflate, but its jaws remained locked around her leg like a trap.

She reached down and tried to pry it off, but she could not seem to grip the creature’s mouthparts, now slick with her blood. She knew she could fight through the pain, but her arm and shoulder both had now stiffened, and her grip seemed weak, as if her hand would not close properly. She needed help. Gaalen, I need you!

Painfully, she stood up, dragging the limp corpse of the bizarre creature still attached to her calf . Her vision began to blur as she staggered toward the door. Her skin was on fire, and sweat fell from her brow even as blood dripped on the floor. The forearm that had been gashed felt like rock, and she could not move her fingers or close her hand. Her other hand worked, but she couldn’t raise her shoulder. Fighting desperately as her leg began to go rigid as well, she managed to get the door open. Her vision started to tunnel, gray spots on the edges starting to grow and stretch, until she could only see points of light. Dimly she was aware of falling out into the brightly lit hallway to the muffled sound of shouts and running feet.



posted on Sep, 21 2017 @ 07:59 AM
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a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Ahem!!

YooooHoooo...

Oh Prairie....where are you....?

Shepherding the flock?
Work?

Say it's not...you know...writ...I can't bring myself to say the words!!!!



*sigh*
I shall wait as patiently as possible



posted on Sep, 21 2017 @ 06:43 PM
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a reply to: TNMockingbird
Oh dear, it has been a while, hasn't it? And I sort of left y'all hangin', didn't I?

Well, I can reassure you, Chirp, it is not writer's block. Not the worrisome, blank-page kind, at least. More the "so much stuff to do I can't breathe" kind of "writer's block."



So, I had this one and several others lined up, then I went and inserted a brand new episodes in between Kolaan Jessed and the next episode.

How about I work on it tonight and try to get one posted for ya? It's going to be rough - I have only written the rough draft of this episode, and to be honest, I'm not certain I will keep it. Although, it does open up all sorts of possibilities in the story as a whole.

Back in a bit...



posted on Sep, 21 2017 @ 07:20 PM
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117 - Deduction

Dully, Siere prepared for bed. It was early, but she was exhausted. The wound on her wrist ached, and some of the cuts on her arm where she had swept her table clear were mildly infected. She didn’t really care, but she treated them with kesir-seed paste. It made them burn for almost an hour, but it cleaned the wounds and prevented reinfection.

Dressed in her silk shift and robe, she stoked the fire and sat with her copy of The Book Of Voices to study and pray.

As she sipped on an herbal tea, reading about one of the early prophets of Aomm and trying to settle her mind, there came a soft knock on the door.

Tying her robe as she got up from her chair, she answered the door. To her surprise, Casera stood there.

Demurely, the Bearer curtsied and said, “Good evening, Seeress. May I come in?”

“You may, Casera. Would you like tea?”

“Yes, Seeress,” she answered. Siere poured a cup and handed it to the girl before resuming her seat by the fire and reopening the scriptures.

“You may sit,” she said, motioning Casera to the chair across from hers.

“Thank you, Seeress.”

Siere read a few paragraphs to be certain she was properly setting the Bearer in her place. The girl sat patiently, sipping her tea and waiting for Siere’s attention.

“Very well, Casera,” Siere finally broke the silence. “What did you wish to see me about?”

“I wished to apologize.”

“To me? What for?”

The girl looked down at her tea. After a moment, she spoke. “I said some horrible things to you, and about you, the night you,” she stopped. “The night you came to my chambers with Galicarr.”

Siere was surprised. The girl had been compliant recently, but not particularly remorseful. Her curiosity had been piqued.

“I accept your apology, Casera. May I ask what brought this on?”

“I,” she started, suddenly hesitant. “I don’t rightly know, your Grace. I woke up this morning and felt a strange urge to read scripture. So I opened my Book of Voices but didn’t know where to start. Instead I prayed to the Merciful Father. Then throughout the day, the sixteenth chapter of the Book Of Eleveiat kept coming up – a Seeress mentioned it when she came to Elder Poliara, I overheard a verse of it being spoken in a conversation in the hall, and then you mentioned it this afternoon. ‘Confess your wrongdoing to those you have wounded, and the Merciful Father will welcome you when you return to him.’ Isn’t that what you said?”

“It is. I am very pleased with this, Casera. Remember, though, confession and apology is only the beginning. When you have hurt another, repentance and restitution should follow, or your heart will not release the darkness of what you have done. You will be a prisoner inside yourself.”

“I know, your Grace. I don’t want to do those things to men anymore, but sometimes, I feel I may not be able to stop.”

“We are not strong enough on our own to resist the darkness, child. That is where prayer to Aomm comes in.”

There was a pause, and Casera seemed thoughtful. She set her tea down.

“May I ask you something, Seeress Meron?”

“You may.”

“The night you came to me, you showed me things. They were so real,” she trailed off. “It was as if it was really happening to me, each one. How did you do that? Were those your memories? Did those things happen to you?”

Siere became uncomfortable. Was this all a ruse? What game was Casera playing?

“I’m afraid that is my business.”

Casera looked Siere in the eyes. “Seeress, I’ve heard rumors about you. They say that your ability to heal people exceeds even stories in The Book Of Voices. It occurred to me, what if you were somehow able to heal people by taking on their wounds, or their disease. Would you have their memories too? You said you had ‘a thousand and one acts of terror and violence’ to show me. Is that why? Do you have other people’s memories?”

“I believe we are through for the evening, Casera. It is time you sought your bed.”

“I’m right, aren’t I? That’s how you do it!”

“That’s enough, Casera,” Siere said sternly, rising from her chair. “I would like you to leave now.”

To her shock, Casera began to weep.

edit on 9-21-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: Wrong episode title!



posted on Sep, 22 2017 @ 05:21 PM
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118 - Demonstration

“Please don’t make me leave, Seeress,” she said through tears.

“I cannot trust you, Casera, you have to know that,” Siere stood in front of the girl now.

Casera got on her knees before Siere. “Please, Seeress! You have to help me! I have to make it right, and I don’t know how! Please don’t turn me away!”

Siere stood dumbfounded as the girl bowed her head, repeating “I have to make it right” over and over. This is your doing. You broke her. Will you abandon her now? Slowly, she knelt next to the girl and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Alright, I will help you.”

The girl raised her eyes to Siere, then suddenly threw her arms around Siere’s neck and sobbed, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

When Casera’s crying had subsided, Siere guided her back to her chair, then resumed her place in her own chair.

“What you want to do, Casera,” she shook her head. “It will not be easy. Making restitution for the harm you have caused,” she stopped. She would not even know where to begin.

“Seeress, can you tell me? Was I right?”

Siere considered the girl. After a time, she said, “Yes, Casera, you have deduced correctly. The memories I showed you were not mine, though I own them now by way of healing the people to whom those events happened.”

“You know,” she fumbled for words. “I mean to say, do you feel it like you made me feel it?”

Siere considered for a moment, then asked Casera, “Would you like me to show you?”

Casera nodded emphatically. Siere drew her knife, then said, “Give me your arm.”

Looking as if she were staring at a live kinnic, she hesitantly held it out. Siere handed her one of the napkins from the tea.

“You will need this.”

Then deftly, she slashed the girl’s forearm, cutting deeply into her flesh.

Setting the knife on the table, she told Casera, “Look at it. Do you feel it? Is it real?”

Casera, pressing the cloth to her, nodded. “It hurts, your Grace. A lot,” she said through gritted teeth.

Siere grabbed a napkin of her own, then Gathered tamborae and Took the wound - but not the memory - and did not Expel it right away.

“Take the napkin away, Casera,” she said as she pressed hers to her forearm. The Bearer pulled her napkin away and flexed her fingers. She scrubbed the remaining blood away from her arm and stared wide-eyed at the smooth, unbroken skin of her healed forearm. Her eyes flickered up to Siere’s, astonishment on her face.

Siere pulled her napkin away, now soaked in her blood from the gash in her arm, to show Casera that the exact wound she had borne was now on the Seeress’s arm.

“You are correct, Casera, that does hurt. A lot,” she murmured. “A wound can be transferred, then pushed out. That is called Expelling. The longer I wait to Expel it, however, the more it becomes truly my own. That is, if I do not Expel someone’s injuries quickly enough, something will remain. Perhaps a scar, perhaps a wound that was not completely healed and must finish the process naturally. Violence always has a price. In this instance, that price is pain, albeit temporary.”

She Expelled the wound, then showed Casera her arm. The pale skin was smooth and unbroken, just as it had been before.

“Do you remember being cut?” Siere asked, and Casera nodded.

“Then give me your arm again,” she said. Siere repeated the demonstration, but this time, during the Taking, she pulled Casera’s memory of the second cut.

“Now, do you remember me cutting you a second time?”

Her eyes narrowed in thought. “No, you didn’t cut me twice, you only,” she trailed off. “There’s a blank spot. A hole in my memory.”

Siere nodded. “To truly heal you must Take the memory, also. Now do you understand why I was able to show you what I did in your room?”

Casera’s eyes widened.



posted on Sep, 23 2017 @ 04:07 PM
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119 - Like Blue Crystal Fire

“So the memories you have,” she began slowly. “You actually,” she stopped and closed her eyes. “The fire, the burns. You actually had burns all over your body like that woman?”

Siere nodded.

“And the tikri and dingalaat?”

Siere nodded again.

Suddenly Casera gasped. “And the woman who was caught by raiders! Aomm have mercy! Seeress, what they did to her,” she trailed off, tears starting. She seemed unable to formulate her thoughts. “And she doesn’t even know anymore, does she? You took even her memory so she’s not haunted by it. But you are, aren’t you? I can see it now.”

Siere just stared at her as the young woman worked through the implications of what she had experienced.

In a soft, small voice, Casera looked down and asked, “How do you live with it?” She was hugging herself with her arms, and appeared visibly shaken.

She could not explain it to the girl; the shame, the pain, the horror, the rage, the humiliation. All the emotions from other people’s trauma that she had lived, the memories she could not be rid of, the scars she held inside. She lived with it because she had to. Casera would not understand unless she experienced it herself, and as she could not Work tamborae, she would never know. Siere remained silent.

“Casera,” Siere began after a time, “you must understand something – no one can know about this.” How could she explain even that to the young woman? She would not understand.

But the girl looked at her with glittering eyes like blue crystal fire, full of zeal. “I will do whatever you ask, Seeress.”

After Siere bid the girl good evening, she closed the door and headed back to her chair and her book. Just as she sat down there was another knock on the door. Briefly, she considered ignoring it, but whoever it was knocked again, more insistently. She answered the door to find another Bearer – dark skinned and pretty, with light hair – who curtsied.

“Seeress Meron, I’m sorry to disturb you. This just came for you,” she handed Siere a note. It was sealed in red wax with a crest she was not familiar with.

“What is your name, Bearer?”

“Daemi, Seeress,” she answered.

“Yes, I remember you. You have a keen mind and a strong faith, Daemi. Study hard. You will be a Seeress someday.”

The girl cast her eyes down and murmured, “Thank you, Seeress. Good evening to you.” She curtsied again and left.

Siere broke the wax seal and opened the message. It was from one of the Ladies Captain at the Bastion, Betta Saemoll, requesting her presence immediately for assistance with one of the injured soldiers there. With a mournful glance at her book and her fire, she sighed and put her robes back on, then donned her cloak and headed out the door to attend to her calling.



posted on Sep, 29 2017 @ 05:26 PM
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120 - The Princess of Aavelae

Gaalen paced. He still expected the Princess, despite the news of the Makata invasion. He got the impression she was a woman of her word. He wanted some wine, but he felt it would be inappropriate to be seen with that when the Princess arrived. Mulling over what to do, he opened the note he had set on the mantel. Joen had handed it to him when they met up after the feast was interrupted by the news of the Makata invasion.

It had a white wax seal, with no signet. He broke the seal, then unfolded the note, revealing pearlescent black writing in a neat, flowing script.

You will have an ally on your journey.



Moments after he read, the words disappeared from the page. So, Poliara will have a spy with the delegation.

After tossing the blank note into the fire, he decided to change. Not into his usual chamber clothes, of course, but something a bit less formal than the dress uniform he still wore.

He had only removed his jacket when there was a knock on the door. Unsure for a moment, he pulled the jacket back over his shoulders, then went to answer the door.

As expected, Princess Anna stood outside. “Good evening, Lord Captain, may I come in?”

Gaalen stood aside to allow her in. “Wait for me by the carriage, Chular,” she said to her personal guard. The grim, scarred man hesitated, then bowed and left.

Gaalen hurriedly began buttoning up his jacket.

“Well,” she said as she entered, “for a moment I thought he might insist on staying. Now we can be certain we are not disturbed,” she said, leaning in close and running a soft fingertip along his jawbone. She looked down at his fingers fumbling with the buttons. “That’s not necessary, Lord Captain, I am not easily offended.”

Gaalen’s hackles rose, and he flashed back to the Bearer’s visit. Dear Aomm, tell me this isn’t going to be a repeat of that episode, he thought frantically.

“I’m afraid my accommodations are likely not what you are used to, Princess. Please, sit,” he gestured to the chairs by the fire. “Would you care for something to drink? I have wine and gingered water, ah, some other, ah, beverages, also,” he stumbled. He found himself completely at a loss for what to say or do.

She laughed, silvery and genuine. “Lord Captain,” she said, her eyes twinkling, “please relax. I do not bite,” she said. “What ‘other beverages’ do you have?”

Slifoet from Braeghianis Village, some Braeghe Estate brandy, and a bottle of shalt from each region. Lord Captain Robaer keeps me well supplied,” he smiled at her, then felt a stab of nervousness. How would that sound to her?

Shalt was Bryn’s favorite drink, and he was quite generous. It was distilled in three regions: Godshand, Devilstone, and Amonu. Bryn favored the smoky Amonu, but Gaalen preferred the tang of Godshand. The region was on the coast, and one could almost taste the sea in the liquor. It reminded him of the spray of the ocean, the faint salty sharpness to the air.

“Serve me something from your home, Lord Captain.” Her accent was of the capitol, crisp, clean and formal. If he was honest with himself, he would have to admit she was a delight to listen to. He found himself relaxing in truth.

He decided on one of the old Braeghe brandies.

“I prefer brandy, myself. The buttery caramel in a good bottle is delightful. This one is from a cask laid down by my father when I was a teenager. We refer to it as the Special Reserve.” Suddenly he felt hesitant, as if maybe he had talked too much.

He handed the goblet to the Princess as she took a chair. He stood and waited patiently.

She looked up at him, then smiled at him. “Lord Captain, I do not wish to drink alone. Pour one for yourself,” she said.

“Yes, Highness,” he said, and obediently poured a measure for himself.

Her sparkling eyes followed him, and when he went back to stand next to the fireplace, she shook her head. “Do you intend to be this formal for our entire marriage?”

“Your Highness,” he began.

She leaned toward him, still smiling and showing straight, white teeth. She was absolutely beautiful, Gaalen had to admit. “Lord Captain,” she said teasingly, “sit!”

“Yes, your Highness, I apologize,” he said.



posted on Oct, 11 2017 @ 10:31 AM
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121 - A Test

She sighed, and her smile faded. She leaned back, almost collapsing in the chair. He saw a softness in her face now, she seemed younger, less commanding – a normal young woman, almost hesitant and unsure. Afraid of losing the moment, he gazed unblinking at her. “Everyone calls me ‘Highness’, or ‘Princess,’” she said wearily. “I would – that is, my husband,” she started, then changed what she was going to say. “You will call me Anna,” and after a moment she turned her head to him. “Please,” her voice was calm, but her eyes pleaded.

Something changed then. He saw past the Princess, the leader, and saw a woman. He felt torn in two, then. He did not want to like the Princess. What he had to do would be easier if he did not become fond of her, he knew.

A surprising thought occurred to him, and he had an urge to act on it.

“It must be quite lonely to be the heir to the Queen, Anna,” he said softly.

A wry smile touched just the corners of her lips. “It is that, yes. Mostly it is,” she opened a hand, “public. There are always servants, maids, guards, ladies in waiting. It’s ridiculous, you would think I cannot do a single thing for myself.” Gaalen chuckled.

“There’s always room for another cadet at the Bastion, Anna, if you would like to renounce your claim on the Crown. There’s usually no one to do anything for you here,” he kept his voice serious, and she laughed as she glanced askance at him, seemingly unsure if he was in earnest or not. Unable to hold the straight face at her consternation, though, he broke a smile and laughed softly.

After a moment, she softened again. “I envy your privacy, Lord Captain, truly,” she said.

“Anna, if you insist on me calling you by your name, I would ask you do the same.”

She pursed her lips as if mulling the thought over. “Perhaps,” she said with an impudent grin. “I suppose we should take care of some formalities this evening, yes?”

“As you wish.”

“Stand up.”

“Shall I hop on one foot also?” he teased her.

“That won’t be necessary,” she said, standing as well. “Help me out of this?” She stepped toward him, turned around, and held her hair up so he could untie the lacing at the top of her dress.

“Anna, do you think that’s wise?”

She turned to look back at him. “I sent my guard away. Unless you are expecting visitors, I believe we have all night.”

He reached up and untied the laces, and she worked herself out of her dress. Now only in her undergarments, she turned to face him. Guilt flooded his heart, torn by desire. What are you doing, Gaalen?

“Besides, this is your fault. That kiss you gave me in the hall this evening was heart-stopping,” she said, moving in close to him and resting her hands on his chest. “I would like you to finish what you started.” She slowly pushed his jacket off his shoulders, and she brushed her lips against his. His heart raced, and he struggled against the storm inside of himself.

“As much as I would like to spend this evening ‘finishing what I started’, as you put it, I really feel we should wait.” His voice trembled, and he knew his hands were shaking. He tried to keep his thoughts on Kaena, but his mind felt like sand thrown onto glass.

She pulled her head back slightly. “Must I Command you?” Gaalen’s heart skipped a beat, a spike of cold digging into his gut.

“Anna, if you truly want me to do this, then I will do it, for you. You needn’t Command me. We are to be wed, I have spoken my opinion.”

She studied him. There was a flush in her cheeks . “Well, Gaalen, I must say, well done.”

“How do you mean?”

“I needed to see how you would respond.” He stiffened involuntarily.

“I see. This was a test?” He responded flatly.

“After a fashion, I suppose. Is something amiss?”

“No, it’s fine. I just believe,” he hesitated, doubt creeping in. “Well, no matter.”

“Speak your mind, Gaalen,” she said, with a note of command.

“Our world is dark, and hostile. I believe life creates enough tests of its own, without our needing to add to them, Anna.”



posted on Oct, 12 2017 @ 11:08 AM
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122 - Captured

“You are upset.”

“No. A bit disappointed, perhaps, but I admit, in your position I may have done the same thing. Anna,” he paused, choosing his words, then continued. “I meant what I said. You will not have to Command me, or Aomm forbid, Compel me. If you wish something done, I will see it done.”

She studied him. “I believe you, Gaalen. And thank you,” she reached out and took his hand. “There are some things I must make clear, however.” Her tone and gaze was serious. “When we are in private, I want you to speak your mind. ‘The leader who refuses to hear counsel is a fool,’” she quoted from the Book of Voices. “Tell me the truth, as you see it, whether you think I will like it or not. But when we are in public, I am in command. I cannot have you question me in front of others. I’m certain as a Bastion Lord Captain you understand this.”

“Of course, I am a man under authority. I expect the same out of my lieutenants, be they men or women.”

She nodded, then after a moment continued. “There is one more thing. Your relationship with Lady Commander Milaener must end. When we are wed, you must not see her unless your duties absolutely require it.”

“Honestly, Anna, I expected as much.”

She studied him, as if it had been too easy, as if she had expected a battle and got none. Briefly he considered if he had played it wrong. Should he have argued?

“I wonder sometimes if you are what you seem, Gaalen. Very well,” she said slowly, then became more brisk. “Tomorrow you will be made Amaerke Uenvinala. You are being sent on a mission for the Crown, as a special envoy with the delegation to the Eastholds. You will bring a detachment of twenty of Braeghe Color, and accompany Seeress Meron and Lady Commander Milaener on the journey. Lady Macosai will give you these orders officially tomorrow.”

“Why a special envoy? I am no diplomat.”

“You were chosen for this to complete one task, Gaalen. You must convince Lord Defender Alaniten Meron to bring Meron Color to join us in beating back the Makata. It has been suggested he will be more amenable to listening to you than to others. He has never been particularly sympathetic toward diplomats,” she said with a wry smile. “I suggest you also use the time to conclude your relationship with the Lady Commander. I will not ask you about what transpires between the two of you on this trip, only that my wishes are fulfilled by the time you return.” She began pulling her dress back on.

“Thank you,” he said.

She nodded curtly. “When you return, we will be wed as soon as possible, and you will be discharged from the Bastion with some of its highest honors. You will be unprecedented, Gaalen, being both my Prince Consort and an Amaerke in your own right. Such a thing has not happened before in Aavelae. I, for one, believe you will do well.

“Are you certain you do not wish to,” her eyes flicked over toward his bed. “It may be important to understand how we,” she paused leaning in close, “fit together.”

Gaalen’s heart raced. “Anna, I,” he couldn’t find words to express the storm inside.

“I’m teasing you, Gaalen. I’m sure this has been abrupt for you, and I should give you more time to adjust.” She turned and held her hair up so he could help lace her dress back up.

“Thank you,” he said as he tied the knot next to the smooth skin between her shoulder blades.

“When we are wed, however, I will not accept no for an answer. I must have a daughter and heiress.” She turned and smiled winsomely at him. “I promise you will enjoy it.”

Her arms snaked around his neck, and he put his hand on the small of her back. Gingerly, she kissed him on the lips, soft at first, then more insistent. Her body pressed against his and she pulled him close. Gaalen’s head spun and his thoughts scattered once again.

After what seemed to be hours, she pulled back, arms still around him. She seemed suddenly hesitant, lifting her eyes to look at him, and shyly said, “I have watched you from afar ever since Taarvy first told me about his friends Bryn and Gaalen at the Bastion. I’m,” she stopped, looking at him seriously. “I’m very glad it’s you, Gaalen.” Then she let go and headed toward the door.

Catching his breath, Gaalen grabbed his jacket from the floor, pulled it on and buttoned the front as he caught up to her to walk her down to her waiting carriage.

After seeing the Princess off – complete with another kiss and a knowing smirk from Chular the guard – he returned to his room, now suddenly cold and empty. He did not want to go to bed yet, his mind still spinning. He felt the need to talk to someone. On impulse, he grabbed a bottle of wine and headed out of his chambers toward the stairs leading to the upper floors.



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