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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. 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
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.

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