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Falling: An Epic Fantasy

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posted on May, 17 2017 @ 06:04 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

I looked, no easy solutions to be had without
significant programming. I edited my previous
post for clarity (at the end).

posted on May, 20 2017 @ 10:50 AM
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74 - An Invitation

The Central Market was busy this morning. The sun shone bright under a deep blue sky. Greatmoon was setting behind the Blackhawk Mountains to the west, its purplish bands and swirls fading into the sharp, snow-covered peaks and crags. It would be a beautiful day.

There were a few glass blowers in the Central Marketplace. They needed to be separated from the rest of the merchant shops and booths because of the danger of fire, so they usually were stand-alone buildings separated from their neighbors by wide alleyways. One such was little more than a pavilion, with a hexagonal counter and posts at the six vertices, holding up a surprisingly robust tiled roof structure. The center of the pavilion was a furnace, its stone chimney rising straight up through the apex of the roof. The rafters stopped short of the chimney, leaving a gap about the length of a man’s forearm. Three of the wall sections of the hexagon were closed off by a simple latticework of thin lath, vines growing up from the ground winding around its diagonal cross-hatch pattern. In the others, low display racks showed the glassblower’s handiwork – vases, drinking vessels, pitchers, bowls in intricate designs and colors. Some had a frosted appearance, some glittering and clear. A few unique and intricate pieces were in wooden cases with wrought-iron grates, thin enough in their bars that the work could be viewed – but not touched.

A young man and young woman worked behind the counter. The woman kept her eyes on Gaalen, but the man was busy with a long pipe with a blob on the end that glowed slightly orange. He would roll it on some kind of surface, then blow in the pipe, and repeat the process. Occasionally he would use a hand tool to score the blob with one hand while twisting it with another. His movements were sure and precise – clearly a master at his craft.

“See something you like, my lord?” the young woman asked. She missed being pretty, but her smile was genuine and lit up her otherwise plain face.

“I’m not really here for a purchase,” he said, and heard the young man snort and mutter under his breath. “I need to find a particular glassblower – the one who made this.” He produced the vial he had taken from Jedron’s things and showed the young lady.

“Doesn’t look like Mi’al’s work, but there are so many orders each month,” she shrugged. “Mi’al, do you recognize this?”

The young man – Mi’al, apparently – was using some kind of cutting shears on the piece he was working on. He set the piece carefully down on a table with several other pieces, then came over.

“May I ask what you’re working on? Is it a vase?” Gaalen asked.

“A vase,” the man said contemptuously in a thick accent. “Is this butter knife on your belt, soldier-man? It asks if it is a vase, no it is not. They are ignorant, why must they always be ignorant, I ask you?” he looked up at the sky and spread his hands. “Bah, I ask and you never answer,” he said dismissively. “Give me its piece, yes? Come, come, give here,” he said urgently, waving his hands.

The woman handed him the vial, then smiled sheepishly at Gaalen and mouthed, “Sorry!”

“Purale, you think I do not know your talk? ‘Sorry,’” he mocked, grimacing ostentatiously, “but of course you are sorry! Sorry Mi’al has no patience for soldier fools who come with questions ignorant, yes? Sorry. Yes, oh yes, Mi’al sorry too!”

He tossed the vial at Gaalen, who caught it in midair.

“This,” Mi’al said, pointing at the vial, “Mi’al does not make this, yes? Junk. Is junk. Child could make this, yes? The soldier-man, it could make this. Mold-blowing,” he shook his head ruefully, “it is for those who cannot blow the glass properly, no? This mold-blown, not free-blown.” He waved a dismissive gesture at Gaalen. “Mi’al make art! Gah! Mi’al is done with soldier-man. No more questions unless you to talk gold with Purale. Find other glassblower.”

Irritated, Gaalen reached into his coinpurse. He put one silver coin onto the counter in front of the woman.

“For your smile.”

Then he flipped a copperjack over the counter toward Mi’al. The toss was perfect, landing the coin on the ground right in front of his feet. “For the information.”

He turned and strode purposefully away to the sound of Purale angrily dressing Mi’al down in a language Gaalen did not understand.

posted on May, 20 2017 @ 01:29 PM
Whoops! Forgot to change the title on that last episode. It was supposed to be "A Flipped Copperjack", not "An Invitation." Sorry guys and gals!

posted on May, 22 2017 @ 12:41 PM
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76 - A Tantalizing Lead

Just outside the Central Market Gaalen came across another glassmaker. This was a standalone building with wide alleyways on both sides. It had a front pavilion where the furnace and well-crafted fieldstone chimney was, and a back area that appeared to be fully enclosed. He approached the pavilion and a stocky, graying man stepped back from his work on a clear bowl to come over and meet Gaalen. He stuck out his hand in a friendly manner, smiling and looking Gaalen in the eyes. A solid woman with light brown skin, light grayish eyes, and dark hair with streaks of gray looked up and smiled amicably at him.

“Welcome, my lord,” the man said, “You have the look of a Lanceguard, yes?”

“I serve at the Bastion, that’s true.”

“You folks aren’t appreciated nearly as much as you deserve. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the women and men of the Bastion. I’m Turanas yi-Kelveian, this is my wife Aesha Kelveian. What can we do for you, Lord…?”

“Braeghe. Please, just call me Gaalen.”

“Gaalen Braeghe!” the man exclaimed. “Lord Captain Gaalen Braeghe?” The woman stood up and and walked purposefully over.

Gaalen just nodded.

“You honor our establishment, my Lord,” the woman said in a throaty alto. “We were taught our craft in your family’s Maarke, in the market of Braeghianis Village. How does your mother fare, my Lord?”

“The Amaerke is doing well, thank you Mistress Kelveian. I understand it is going to be quite a harvest this year, and the Private Reserve from three years ago has become an excellent batch and is ready to be bottled,” he said with a smile. Gaalen missed Braeghe Maarke. He could still remember the woody, yeasty smell of the barrel house, and the changing taste of the wine as it aged. The new wine was sour and harsh, but even after one year in the barrels it took on notes of vanilla and different kinds of berries. Some varieties took on peppery flavors, or smoky notes. Winemaking was a game of patience and experience, and his father – who took the lead in the production of Braeghe Maarke’s wine – had an abundance of both.

Gaalen’s mother was an excellent winemaker in her own right, but it was a business to her. At tasting time, she lacked the reverence his father used to have. She was critical, analytical, and technical, whereas Father would savor the aroma, the taste, and the color, swirling it in the glasses he purchased just for tasting.

“Wonderful news, my Lord,” the woman exclaimed, pulling him out of his brief reverie. “Now, what can we do for you today, Lord Braeghe?”

“I’m trying to find a glassmaker based on something they’ve made. Could you take a look at a piece and tell me if it’s yours, or if you know who made it?”

“Of course,” they both said. Aesha smiled and said, “Show us your item, Lord Braeghe.”

Gaalen unwrapped the small, pale blue vial and handed it over to her. Immediately she shook her head. “Not one of ours, I can tell you that. You can tell by the coloring – we don’t use iron and manganese like they have here. We use oxides of copper instead. You can get much stronger colors. Here, I’ll show you.” She reached under the counter, slid a door open, and pulled out three similar vials. “With our coloring technique, these are the shades we usually produce,” she said, indicating the shining ruby, bright blue, and deep green colored vials.

“I spoke with another glassblower before you. He said that this vial was molded – mold-blown, he said – and that he didn’t make mold-blown vessels. Is that true?”

“Yes, Lord Braeghe, your piece was mold-blown. You spoke with Mi’al and Purale, then?” Gaalen nodded his assent. “Mi’al is something of a purist, you might say. He has a rather elevated opinion of himself and his craft.”

“Do you make mold-blown vessels here?”

“Yes, we do. There is a place for all techniques. We pride ourselves on our ability to use a wide variety of techniques to serve our customers’ needs.”

“It’s important I find the maker of this vial. Can you point me to any other glass makers in Avaanse? I suspect the one I’m looking for is in the city.”

Aesha shook her head slightly, but Turanas spoke up.

“You could try Gethen. He’s over off of Archangel Street, not far from the Gerat Kuhjinoe. His sign has a man with a blowpipe and a gather, just past a small grove of getli’al trees.” Aesha looked at her husband sidelong.

Getli’al? Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. He has worked with us on large orders from time to time. Very gifted glassblower, and a good man too. He could produce dozens of these in short order, I’ve no doubt. I know he has used a getli’al leaf pattern on some of his work, though I don’t remember seeing a mold for it.”

“Please convey our best to him, if you visit,” Aesha said with a smile. Her light eyes glittered.

“Thank you, you’ve been very helpful.”

“May Aomm smile upon you, Lord Braeghe,” she intoned as he turned to head toward the west end of the Central Market.

posted on May, 23 2017 @ 04:02 PM
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77 - A Grove of Getli'al

Gaalen found Gethen’s storefront without too much difficulty. It was just as Turanas had said, past a grove of getli'al trees on Archangel Street. The street was paved – one of the few paved broadways in the city. In other paved roadways in Avaanse, usually slabs of slate were brought in from the surrounding hill country to the west – the beginnings of the foothills of the Blackhawk Mountains. Archangel Street was different. From the Market to the Temple, the wide avenue was paved with gray bricks in a herringbone pattern, each brick about the size of a man’s forearm. The interlocking pattern was mesmerizing, drawing the eye ever forward toward the Plaza and the Temple beyond. On the edges, similar, smaller bricks in white formed a border, and another white strip ran down the middle. The bricks never seemed to crack, chip, wear, or need maintenance, no matter how many feet, hooves, or wagon wheels tread on them.

From the busy street this afternoon he could see the top half of the statue of Kei’arai in the center of the Plaza of the Archangel, a dark grey guardian of the milling petitioners, pilgrims, and Templegoers in the plaza. The figure stood, grim and imposing, facing up the gentle slope which led to the Plaza from the Market. It had always inspired Gaalen, its pearlescent white eyes which seemed to glow and follow you, its great sword held point down with both hands on the grip, and the great wings outstretched as if sheltering those who sought the Temple. Gaalen had little care for the Temple or for Aomm – he wasn’t even certain the One God was real – but the idea of a powerful guardian, a force for righteousness, a defender of life and light – that drew him.

Gethen’s shop had two parts. A storefront with cases displaying his wares, protected within each hardwood case with a locked grate that allowed potential customers to see the glassware without being able to touch them. The cases were well made, their sides and shelves smooth and polished to a shine. The glassware in the cases showed no evidence of dust, and everything about the storefront spoke of tidiness and care. Outside the storefront to the side was an open, rectangular structure where the furnace was. Under an awning, a counter and wooden walkway ran across the front of the workspace. A door from the storefront’s side opened into the workspace, clearly to allow the glassmaker access to both areas without having to go around the outside.

The heat from the furnace made the air around it shimmer, and smoke rose high above it. A lean, muscled man, maybe ten years older than Gaalen, worked behind the counter, adding fuel to the furnace.

“Hello!” Gaalen called, and the man looked up at him. “Are you Gethen?”

Standing up straight and setting his fire-tongs aside, he pulled off his gloves and walked over to the counter.

“Aye,” he said, his blue eyes studying Gaalen. “I’m Gethen. Who is asking?”

“Lord Captain Gaalen Braeghe,” Gaalen said flatly. The man looked at him apprehensively through the sweat-damp strands of light brown hair.

“What can I do for you, my lord? Are you looking for something for a lady, perhaps? I’ve quite a few pieces that --“

“I need to find the person who made this,” Gaalen cut him off, pulling out the blue vial and showing it to him.

Gethen took the vial and turned it over in his hands. “Soda glass, colored with iron and manganese. Mold-blown. Not mine.” He handed it back.

“Another glassblower said you use a getli'al leaf mark,” Gaalen said, turning the vial to show him.

“Only as a decoration. The mark of my trade is two chevrons,” he said, pulling out a small bowl from under the counter and pointing to a pair of frosty chevrons etched precisely in the glass. Looking at a few of the other pieces on display on the counter, Gaalen noticed the same sign. “Who did you talk to, my lord?”

“I spoke with Mi’al and Purale in the Market, and the Kelveians.”

The man’s face went blank and his eyes widened slightly.

“I’m sorry I can’t help you, Lord Braeghe. Good day.” And with that, he turned and hurried into the building through the side door.

“Wait! Gethen!”

The door closed behind him and Gaalen heard the click of the latch. He went to the front door of the storefront and pounded on the door, but there was no response. Frustrated, Gaalen turned to head back up Archangel Street and then on north toward the Bastion.

posted on May, 23 2017 @ 04:19 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Geez, I was behind...missed a couple of entries here!

So how do you know so much about glass-making and wine making? Pretty impressive details there, my friend.

Really good descriptions, I was picturing everything in my head as I was reading along. You're either all-knowing or you've done a fair bit of research for this story.
As always, I am impressed!!


posted on May, 23 2017 @ 04:27 PM
a reply to: jacygirl

Glassmaking I had to look up and research, yes. Although, Minnesota is home to one of the largest and longest-running medieval festivals in the nation - just called the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. I used to work there as a young man, and watched the glassblowers' demonstrations a couple times. I had to look up some terms for that.

The winemaking - on our honeymoon, Mrs. Shepherd & I visited a winery in Napa Valley. We were treated to a fascinating tour where they took us into the barrelhouse and used a siphon to pull wine at different stages of the aging process - 1 year, 2 years, 3 years. Then we went back to the tasting room and had some of the same kind of wine that had been aged 5 and 10 years. Completely different tastes. That's where most of the wine tasting descriptions came from. I had to punt a little because I wasn't sure I was going to use oak for the wood of the barrels in Geaomm. Oak is what imparts the vanilla flavor and aroma to wines like cabernet sauvignon and different whiskies. The vanillin in the barrel wood leaches into the wine and gives it that flavor or aroma.

No, I am not all knowing. LOL That might make my life much, much easier, but it is most definitely not true.

posted on May, 23 2017 @ 04:41 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

That's fascinating that you used your own previous experience regarding the wine making for your story! I've known people who made their own wine but I don't drink (it gives me migraines) so I never paid much attention when they talked about it.

I have watched documentaries about glass blowing though, and that's really cool to see. You described everything so well that I could visualize it in my head...nice addition to the story.

You're really good with filling in all the background and the scenes...I know that I'm always heavy on dialogue, but we all have our own style of writing. (Though I am a little jelly, lol)

posted on May, 23 2017 @ 04:48 PM
a reply to: jacygirl

Thank you, Jacy. You're always so kind. I do like to describe what I see in my head, so hopefully the reader gets a sense of the vision, and goes beyond the words. It's weird though; when I describe something like the glassblowing or the winemaking, knowing that I am neither a glassblower or a winemaker (homebrewer does not count), I feel a little like a fraud. LOL

But one thing I learned somewhere along the way is that you do not need an encyclopedia's worth of information to create a credible description of something you are not. Meaning, a few accurate details of something like gardening, winemaking, or woodworking can go a really long way in a story.

posted on May, 23 2017 @ 05:07 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Oh geez, I'm not being kind...I'm being honest!!

I think it's great that you know enough about various topics to be able to incorporate them into your writing.

I've always been both a people watcher and a communicator, so I guess it makes sense to me that I do a lot of dialogue. I think that I tend to know how real people speak and react to each other because I pay close attention when someone speaks to me (or others).

I don't really put much thought into my stories though, lol...I just kind of start typing and let it come out.
It's probably more luck than talent!

posted on May, 23 2017 @ 05:23 PM
a reply to: jacygirl

That's just it, though. These are stylistic differences in my opinion. Dialogue-heavy, description heavy - it's the author's style and how their personality and experience comes through that makes that work so uniquely theirs.

posted on May, 24 2017 @ 02:33 PM
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78 - The Feast of Commencement

The dinner had been wonderful, of course. The palace chefs were exceptional, as was to be expected, and the early fall brought with it a harvest of fruits, vegetables, and grain. There was hakar - a type of plump, flightless bird - that had been covered in a blend of spices, butter, and vinegar and slowly smoked for hours until the skin was a deep brown and crispy. Bowls of bread and sausage stuffing with nuts and dried berries, roasted root vegetables coated with nuts and dark sugar. Tureens of soup thickened with heavy cream. And each course had a reserve vintage wine paired with it.

Siere ate quietly, speaking very little. Luckily, the gray-haired noble to her right was engaged in flirting unashamedly with the noblewoman to his right, and the young man to her left was being mercilessly monopolized by the woman to his left, clearly being groomed for her personal entertainment that evening. As was so often the case, Siere was in the middle of a crowd of people, and still completely alone.

After the dinner was complete - a vast array of pastries, custards, and tarts combined with several selections of cordials and dessert wines - they were invited into the conservatory and its adjoining room, designated the Blue Room for its décor.

Siere avoided most of the conversation, edging about the room and busying herself with inspecting the various sculptures, paintings, and other items on display. She could not leave just yet, it would not be proper.

“Seeress, I trust we are not offending you,” a kind voice said behind her. She turned to find Prince Taarvaes offering her a crystal goblet of dark red wine. She accepted it with thanks and took a small sip.

“Of course not, your Highness. Truth be told, I am not very fond of feasting or crowds,” she said. Hastily, she added, “Not that dinner wasn’t spectacular, it was wonderful. I just -- I usually prefer to be alone, that is all.”

Taarvaes’s smile was warm and contagious. “I must admit I’m not fan of feasts or crowds either. Quite frankly, I’d rather live in a small mountain cabin than this place,” he said as if confessing some great sin. Siere smiled at him, and they both chuckled.

“Has the Queen retired, your Highness?”

“Yes, both Mother and Anna have left the feast. Anna was not feeling well, and it has been a long and trying day for Mother.”

Siere nodded, and the conversation lulled as they both turned toward the sculpture she had been standing by. She realized an opportunity was upon her.

“Your Highness, I wonder if I could ask you something.”

“Of course,” he smiled warmly.

“I --” she hesitated, trying to think how to frame the question. “Have you ever had occasion to come across rochfendre?”

“Quite fearsome and nasty creatures they are. Yes, in fact I have, and a terrible business it was.”

“Was Lord Braeghe with you?”

Taarvaes glanced at her sidelong. “I sense there is more to your question, Seeress,” he replied with a small, knowing smile. “Why don’t you ask me what you’re really after?”

She felt a flush rise in her cheeks. So clumsy! It seemed she stumbled all over herself whenever it had anything to do with Lord Gaalen bloody Braeghe. And the Prince was so blasted genuine that she could not help but be disarmed around him. Men!

Still, Siere was no fool. She had played the game of the court quite often and well in her time. Everything – every word, every reaction – was a move on the board, and a choice. She chose honesty.

“Very well, your Highness. He was injured during,” she caught herself, “ah, recently, and while cleaning his wound I happened to notice he bears a shocking number of scars.” Well, honest if not entirely complete, she thought. “I understand some of them come from shall I say disciplinary actions.” In spite of herself she grimaced. How she detested the kir! “However, he also told me - reluctantly - that some of them came from rochfendre.”

The prince seemed a bit relieved, strangely. “Gaalen was once involved in an operation that turned very bad. That is how he got the rochfendre scars.”

“I have heard a rumor that said as much, that several Lanceguard were killed in that situation and that Lord Braeghe was responsible.”

There was a moment where Taarvaes looked away silently, then turned his eyes toward her. “I have heard, your Grace, that you are somewhat troubled, that you jump at sudden noises, or weep without any visible provocation. Some claim you begin speaking in unknown languages at times. Am I safe around you, Seeress?” His voice was quiet, and while his tone seemed deadly serious, it was not harsh. Siere looked down at her wine, then back up into his eyes. His words stung, but he made his point.

“I do not mean any hurt, your Grace, truly. Rumors fly faster than dingalaat, but are rarely even remotely as accurate,” he added ruefully. “I do not believe those things said about you unless and until you yourself confirm them to me. I would suggest you do not believe everything you hear, your Grace, particularly about Lord Captain Braeghe.”

posted on May, 24 2017 @ 02:56 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Ooh! A new entry!

Sorry, but I'm glad you went back to Siere, lol. I was wondering what was going to happen with her next.
I really like how you handled the accusations regarding both Gaalen and Siere.
She is already noticing that he isn't what she first thought, and I think she is falling for him a little because there is more depth to his character than she gave him credit for.

But what do I know?
I'm just a gropie.

posted on May, 24 2017 @ 03:14 PM
It will stay with Siere for an episode, but then we get a bit of a treat - we get to see a segment from Taarvaes's perspective coming up as he relates a memory to Siere during the feast. It's a fairly old scene - at least 3 years old, maybe more, and one of the defining elements of backstory.

We stay with Siere for one more scene, then back to Gaalen for a short scene before everything begins to truly blow up in people's faces. Proverbial "schtuph" is about to start hitting the proverbial fan. Perspectives coming up:
> Siere [with a bit of Taarvaes]
> Siere
> Gaalen
> Gaalen
> Gaalen

> Gaalen
> Kaena
> Gaalen
> Siere

posted on May, 24 2017 @ 03:29 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Well I'm trying to read between the lines here, but I'm already dreading the "surprise".

I did however notice the final order of the names, and see that it goes from Kaena to Gaalen...then to Siere.

*rubs hands together*

I think I might have been right!!
Yep, I and find out.

posted on May, 24 2017 @ 03:40 PM
a reply to: jacygirl
LOL - Yes, absolutely, you need to RAFO. But that's just the next 10 scenes. Want the perspectives for the next ten after that? I've got them planned.

Not that it helps you figure out if you're right, of course.

ETA: OK, mostly planned... LOL
edit on 5-24-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: Because I speak before I think sometimes. What?!?

posted on May, 24 2017 @ 03:49 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd think YOU speak before you think? Bah, I'm pretty good at doing that myself.

That's amazing that you have so much already planned out. I've never written like that, but I've also never tried to put an entire book together. (Yet!)

I find that short stories work best for me because I just get in the mood to write without really knowing where I'm going to end up. Usually I end up surprised, lol.

Just keep doing what you're doing. I am loving it!

posted on May, 25 2017 @ 12:30 PM
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79 - A More Private Discussion

“Is that why he is, ah, so…?” she trailed off, trying to choose a word that did not sound insulting.

“Angry? Brooding? Aloof? He seems that way, doesn’t he?”

Relief flooded through her; relief at Taarvaes verbalizing what she was so delicately trying - and failing - to get at.

“Those scars are evidence, your Grace. They prove who and what Lord Braeghe is underneath that shell he wears. You should have seen him as a boy when he first got to the Bastion, all proper and precise, and terrified as a hunted rabbit,” Taarvaes said with a hint of nostalgia. Then his manner sharpened, and he looked at her, purposefully serious. “That rumor is neither accurate, nor kind, Seeress Meron. Lord Braeghe blames himself for,” he looked at his wine for a moment, then his eyes flicked back up to hers, “for a lot that he shouldn’t, without it being compounded by ignorant gossip-mongers spreading lies as well. He’s not as cold as you think he is. He may seem unfriendly or harsh, but you need to understand – the scars you saw are just the ones on the outside.”

His words rang true to her. The scars you saw are just the ones on the outside. She began to feel a bit sheepish.

“May I ask, your Highness, why does the Lady High Commander allow Lady Milaener to use him like she does?”

“Use him? What do you mean, Seeress?” If the Prince was playing dumb, he was excellent at it. She called his bluff.

“I have, ah, seen them together. She was in his chambers one morning. It’s clear what she’s doing.”

Taarvaes sighed and glanced at his goblet. “Perhaps we should make this a more private discussion. I think I can clear some things up for you.” He signaled to the nearest servant, who refilled both of their crystal goblets. “Please, Seeress, would you join me?” He gestured to the double doors that led out onto an ornate stone balcony overlooking the city.

“I shall take it on faith that there will be no flying carnivores this evening,” she said with aplomb.

“I hear – from rumors, of course – that I was responsible for that attack. Remove the Queen and my sisters, then I become king, didn’t you know?” He said with a smile as he opened the doors for her. “Unfortunately, I fear I have neglected to summon any gith-gesaarm tonight. It just didn’t seem appropriate, being the commencement of harvest and all. However, I do intend to release a barrelful of tikri later to see if it livens up the dance.” His grin was infectious, and despite lingering anxiety over her mother, she smiled.

They stepped outside, taking in the purplish false day as the Greatmoon still shone down upon them, bathing the balcony in purplish light and dim shadows. Night birds called from the trees in the Queen’s Preserve off to their left, and she could hear insects buzzing or chirping occasionally. The air was crisp but pleasant and refreshing after the heat and press of the mingling crowd inside.

He held up the fine crystal to the light of the Greatmoon, where the liquid inside seemed to shine. “Braeghe Estate’s Private Reserve Terstane,” he said, swirling the wine in the glass a bit. “You can tell by the blue pearlescent glow in the light of the Greatmoon. They are the only vineyard in Aavelae that has successfully cultivated terstane for wine. The glow gets stronger for the first fifteen years, then begins to wane. Gaalen told me they’ve aged this lot for twelve years.” He took a sip and seemed to savor it a moment, looking down at the wineglass.

“It was about four years ago,” Taarvaes began, lifting his gaze out over the city. “Gaalen had been on a long patrol mission, and it was odd because he volunteered for it. I found out later that he and Kaena - ah, Lady Commander Milaener - had argued and he left to give it some time to cool off. There had been incursions by rochfendre recently - they had been capturing villagers and the patrol was meant to both prevent that and, if possible, determine where their village was. The patrol, however, was ambushed and almost all of them were taken captive - all but Gaalen.”

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 11:44 AM
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80 - Delay

Taarvaes took another sip of wine, then in a somber voice, he continued his story.

Taarvaes waited. The rochfendre preferred damp. He could feel the humidity in the air, the softness of the forest floor. It made him careful where he stepped – the splash of a footfall in a puddle could be just as deadly as the snap of stepping on a branch.

Bryn would be far out to the right, with his scouts. Young Metten Rivercross and Kever Aelis were to his left. Sir Grond was off to his right, silent despite his bulk. Kaena and three others from the Ladysguard were there too. They carried themselves with a deadly grace. Kaena’s focused gaze scanned quickly back and forth. Taarvaes knew she didn’t miss much, if anything. She was eager tonight, her pair of longknives already drawn but kept folded against her forearms to prevent flashing off the metal.

Rochfendre usually made their dwellings in the forests – near water and a cave if they could. He’d known of some in the Blackhawks that nested near tight canyons, but water and cover were essential. They would dig holes and build mounds to create the shelters if no cave was found near. Looking around, he realized they were getting close and signaled a halt.

The land sloped downward from the hill they were on, overlooking a forested valley. He could see firelight burning in a sheltered clearing on the far slope. Up against the rocky ridge above the clearing, he spotted a dark patch some ways away – this tribe had a cave, apparently, although he thought he could make out a couple mounds also. Kaena came to him.

“Why do you wait? They could be dying,” she whispered urgently.

“They may already be dead, my Lady. If so, my action here won’t change that.”

“We have to go down there!”

“Lady Kaena, leading everyone into a death trap will not do anyone any good.”

Kaena’s lips thinned in irritation.

“Look. You see that?” He pointed toward the clearing. To the far side of the fire he could make out human shapes, strapped spread eagle to wooden frames. “They will toy with them one by one. That is how
rochfendre entertain themselves. They have not had time to kill them all. Not as slowly as they like to do it. See there? Those figures. They are all awake yet. It is too early. If we do not have surprise on our side we will all die. You bloody well know that as much as I do.”

Kaena became even more intense, but lines of worry creased her eyes. She gritted her teeth.

“We must go get him now!”

“Don’t you mean them, Lady Kaena? We must go get them?”

She stiffened, grimacing. Would it come to his
kir? Would she go that far, with royalty? Abruptly, she turned away to huddle with her companions, whispering and glancing his way from time to time.

He studied the clearing again as Sir Grond came over.

“Do you think they’ll go dormant soon, Grond?”

“Second Moon is up, First is just under the horizon – there, see the glow? I think in this weather, we wait. The heat will keep them up later.” He grunted. “I swear that’s Etelan down there. Look how tall compared to the others – probably Braeghe next to him. To the left, see?”

Grond had good eyes. That did indeed look like Braeghe, but at this distance Taarvaes couldn’t be sure. “How many sentries will they have? Any?”

“They’re primitive, but they’re not stupid. I’d say at least four, maybe more. They are clever enough to know taking captives invites retaliation, even if they don’t particularly care.”

Taarvaes paused. “Alright, we wait.”

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 11:54 AM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd
OMGosh Shep since I have been hoarding your story I hadn't seen your full avatar! IT IS AWESOME!!!!!!

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