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|I decided to delete all the little chapters and just post them all at once. The newer chapters I will post as 'New Chapter' and you can read those. Hopefully I'll get good enough to update it every month or so.||
Xeopholite walked down the red marble hallway, Serinal close behind. Their matching boots and arms tapped on the ground almost totally synchronized. Xeopholite was silently speaking to Serinal in her mind, giving her instructions. Serinal merely listened. They reached a large chamber that was guarded by two nervous sentinels. They parted their staffs and let her pass. Their eyes followed her and her companion in to the room for a moment. Both of their minds were cluttered with unflattering thoughts. Xeopholite paused and the icy silver eyes quelled those thoughts in an instant. Sitting in one of the large chairs on the dais was a tallish man 0with dark hair and gold circlet placed regally on his brow. He stood as soon as he saw her approaching. He moved down off the dais as she dutifully dropped to one knee, Serinal following suit beside her. He reached down and took her hand raising her. He kissed her deeply on the mouth. She let him. She even responded to him slightly. She looked at him.
"My Lord. Where is the King? Is he absent this eve?" He blanched. She kept her gaze on him. He felt its weight and moved from her.
"He is. He has gone to a neighboring county to deal with some marauders terrorizing the villages there." He presented her with a cold grin as she replied to this.
"He trusted you with his throne while he is gone?" She was somewhat amazed that the King would be that naïve. It didn’t really matter. He was old and his wits were beginning to fail. The man she spoke with now was his brother. She had formed a shaky alliance with him when she first arrived in this realm.
"Are you going to surprise him when he returns?" She asked with feigned innocence. He smiled nervously and was a little disturbed as she correctly found him out. He hated his brother and coveted his throne. He hadn't realized it showed that much. He was always plotting a way to gain control. This was the best chance he had had since the first day his brother had been crowned.
"You know me too well, Xeopholite." He glanced at Serinal who had risen when her master had done so and now stood silently waiting for any and all orders Xeopholite would give to her. Her hand was resting on one of the many enchanted swords given to those serving in Xeopholite’s legions.
"When does he come back, Dareth?" She asked. "What plans have you made this time? I would not like to see them go awry. I am sure I could find a few holes that could be patched before you put anything into action." He seemed somewhat irked by her presence and confidence that he could fail.
"The marauders," He began after a moments pause, "are a good distraction, whoever they are. They will keep him away long enough for me to disgrace his wife and get rid of his son. When he returns he will return, not to an honorable queen, but a whore and a missing son." She quirked a brow and he shrugged. "A simple plan but one that should work. The other minor details will be sorted out with time to spare."
"I see. What position would that leave you in? Surely the queen is not going to just go out and prostitute herself and just how is a kidnapper supposed to get their hands on the heir to such a powerful kingdom? If you do anything to promote either of these things the Queen will most definitely confess to her husband and expose you. The king would cast you down as a traitor and you would be sentenced to death." She stood with her arms crossed. Thinking over the idea to see what other major problems there were. Coming to a conclusion she suddenly voiced it to him. "You are going to ask me to help you. To use my abilities as a sorcerer to enable you to put your plot into action." There was no question in her voice. She was stating what was obvious. She continued with how she and Serinal would be needed.
"I will Influence the queen into adultery, Serinal will capture the boy and take him away, for surely ransom will be an even better way for the king to go into hysterics. All the while you seem like the perfect saint. Comforting the queen and king. And maybe even slipping in a few words about the queens immoral actions." She concluded. An annoying grin had been spreading across Dareth’s face the longer she talked of his idea. It was a full-blown smile now. He slipped a hand about her waist and drew her in close.
"As I said before. You know me too well." His hands caressed the small of her back. "What say you to this? Will you do as I ask of you?" She cunningly slipped from his grasp and imitated a bow of subservience and loyalty with an absurd flourish and answered.
"Of course, wise Dareth. It would be ridiculous not to be a party to such a fool-proof plan." She glanced to Serinal who still stood quietly. "What say you, Serinal?" Serinal gave her no answer, but offered a duplicate bow to Dareth and silently and took her side by her mistress once more. Xeopholite smiled. She reached and brushed back some of Serinal’s long, unruly hair from her eyes. "You really should do something with that mass. It is looking as if it has a will of its own." It was draped over Serinal’s back in a cascade of pale blonde the ends were matted and tangled, it was tied back with a black cord about midway. Serinal drew a dagger and reached back cutting it off at the shoulders. She rolled up the rope of white and placed it in her pouch.
"Misdeai needed a new knife anyway. The hair can be sold for the remainder of the money needed to afford it." She explained. Her look was much improved. Just then a small child came running into the anteroom.
"Uncle! Uncle! Come quickly I want to show you the tree-fort my friends and I built!" The dark-haired child tugged on Dareth’s cloak. Dareth gave Xeopholite a "look". He feigned a smile.
"Of course Elicarn. I’ll be there presently. I was talking with Xeopholite. It was quite rude of you to race down the halls in such a torrent. Your father would not approve. I think you should give her some respect or at least be civil towards her." Elicarn looked at Xeopholite warily. He pulled his uncle’s arm. Dareth knelt near him. "Yes?"
"I don’t think she likes me and I believe her to be an evil sorcerer or perhaps even a bit insane." He confessed. Xeopholite heard his words quite clearly despite his efforts to hide them from her. She smirked and Dareth glanced up at Xeopholite, bemused.
"Oh you don’t? Why not?" he asked. Elicarn whispered in his ear.
"She doesn’t eat or sleep. And I’ve seen her walking around and talking to herself." He confided.
"Oh. Have you ever thought maybe there was something there for her to talk to that you couldn’t see?" Elicarn thought about this. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. Dareth stood and beckoned to Xeopholite. She approached him without pause. He took her hand and placed it in Elicarn’s. Elicarn shuddered involuntarily as the small cold hand was placed in his. He stared up at her. She watched him eerily. She knelt to the small heir to the throne dramatically while inside she laughed.
"My Prince, what disturbs you about me? I would much rather correct this error, now, that I may not displease you further. I would rather us be friends." Her head had been bowed until this last set of words. She faced him and her eyes flashed with a little light. He flinched and looked at his uncle for reassurance at this odd turn of events.
"Why don’t you answer her, Prince? She seems willing enough to make changes to fit your desires. What would you like for her to conform?" Elicarn looked back at Xeopholite. He was still unsure.
"Well, I would like it much if she were to not kneel to me. I am not king yet." Xeopholite rose quickly once more towering above him to suit his childish requests. He fixed that by stepping up a few steps on the small stairway that led up to the throne. He offered her a small, timid smile. She continued to stare at him expressionless. He frowned. "I’d like for her to smile some of the times instead of the cold looks she displays to everyone . . . especially my father." She winced and forced a smile.
"Is that all?" She asked in a dangerously soft tone. He paused.
"For now." he answered, nodding with satisfaction. He grabbed his uncle’s hand again began to lead him down the steps and off to the gardens. Xeopholite turned to follow them with her cold eyes. When they were gone the fraudulent smile dissipated. She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Serinal." Her faithful companion moved ever so slightly closer to receive the command. "When you kidnap him, you will be sure not to be too gentle with him, won’t you?"
Serinal nodded as Xeopholite watched with her "sight" as the nuisance was peevishly attempting to get his kin into the small wooden fort.
She sat out on the rail of the terribly high balcony perfectly balanced. Serinal slept in Xeopholite’s bed. Her armor was in a heap with her clothes by the foot. A few candles burned low, casting dim orange light over the bed of monstrous proportions. The colors had been specially made for her and her companions by order of the King's Regent. The black and white silk and satin coverings were draped over Serinal and tangled and twisted through her pale, bare legs.
Xeopholite saw all of this without looking She was concentrating more on the stars. They were the colors she so loved. A brilliant bluish-silver, almost like steel, and the blue-black blanket of space. Xeopholite compared the two expanses, the bed and the sky. Each held in its reaches a simple beauty. Xeopholite was not attracted to either sex of the human race, but merely thought some beings had similar pleasant feature of Descendents. A tilt to exotic eyes, skin tones, and figures. She held some fondness for Serinal, but even someone as cold as she would warm to someone they’ve kept company with for over 200 years. Serinal had always been loyal and obedient. Never debating anything out-loud with Xeopholite.
Each bed of stars did hold treasures, she decided. Both were rare. She wondered what it was like to hold a star in the palm of her hands. Of course it was impossible, stars being so large. Serinal was like this in a way; too great to be held to one person in any fashion. They had a duty; the stars to guide travelers and Serinal; to guide Xeopholite’s heart towards kindness.
She left the room and proceeded to wander the halls aimlessly, making her way down the sleeping chambers. She was well aware of the soft, bare little feet following, in unsteady intervals, behind her. Elicarn must not be able to sleep either, she thought. Continuing down the corridor she spotted two guards. After placing the notion in their minds that there was trouble in another wing, they hurried off in another direction.
She slipped into the queen’s chambers. Lying on the maroon and gold bed-sheets, under the gold curtained canopy, was a woman with auburn hair, dark skin and dark eyes that remained closed. She slept peacefully. Xeopholite looked around the room as she walked directly towards the side of the bed. A small almost totally used stick of incense was burning on a small wooden vanity. She must have fallen asleep with the candle burning for there was a little glass candleholder filled halfway with warm wax. A curled, blackened wick sprouted from the melted mass. The moon poured light over the room. Xeopholite glanced full at it, it filled her eyes with light for a moment before she blinked and looked back at the woman. Her feet felt the softness of a doeskin rug beneath them.
She had left the chamber doors open on purpose and nodded in slight approval as the little intruder scuttled behind a tapestry hung on the stone wall near the doorway. She reached a cool hand out and laid it ever so light on the fair brow of the queen. Black clouds billowed over the silver orbs quickly as she leafed through the woman’s mind like a reference book. She found the "chapter" of loyalty in the middle of her mind. Interesting. She thought. She had a fierce loyalty to her child, and second to her husband, and thirdly the king. She held the king and her husband as two separate beings.
She shrugged and edited the "page" so that it read in a way that would fit to what she and Dareth needed. Moira, for that was the queen’s name, stirred in her sleep. Xeopholite withdrew her hand back to her side and turned to leave. While Moira sat up, startled. What she thought she saw was a man with dark black hair dressed in white. Much taller than Xeopholite could have been. The colors were easy to change. Just the reverse of what Moira's eyes perceived.
On her way out she reached behind the tapestry and plucked Elicarn from behind the tapestry and tugged him out of the room after her without pausing. He was terrified. She let him go, midstride, and sent him stumbling towards his door when she walked by his room. He started to say something. She stopped and turned to face him.
"Yes, Prince Elicarn?" she watched him, her expression was mild and calm, and was a total mask of innocence. "Was there something you wanted?"
"W-What did you do to my mother?" He managed to reply. She smiled softly.
"I was getting her ready. She is not going to be herself for a while and I thought I would do something to help her get through it." With a slight nod of farewell she turned. "If you don’t mind now, Prince, I really must get some rest. And so should you. The next few days are going to be rough for you and your mother." She turned away again.
"Why?" he asked. She sighed and replied without looking back at him.
"Because your mother is going to do something bad. It’s what she was meant to do so don’t think badly of her." She pauses. " And you will be going on a trip for a while until she is able to fix it."
"I don’t wan-" She and conjured him to sleep. She didn’t have time for such nonsense as this. The sun was going to rise in a few hours and she had a few more things to complete. She took hold of his hand and opened the large doors to his compartments and placed him "snugly" in his bed. She did this not out of kindness, but found it would cause less of a stir if someone discovered the heir spelled into a sleep in the middle of the halls. She went back to her rooms to prepare a powerful spell while the stars kept shining and Serinal remained, peacefully, sleeping.
Xeopholite and Serinal walked with a cloaked form between them through the corridors and out into the courtyard. Serinal and she were steadying the figure while Xeopholite was speaking to it, softly, in its ear. There was another old man working in one of the beds of morning glories that were just beginning to welcome the early morning sun’s rays. They continued to walk; though Xeopholite moved away from the group and strode straight up to the gardener. She spoke a few soft words to him and slipped him some gold pieces. He protested a bit, she glanced around the green prison and then reached and snapped the old fool’s neck. She caught his body before he dropped to the ground and transported it to the side of a creek, creating an illusion to make his cause of death appear to be at the hands of wild animals.
Xeopholite went to the shadowed figure and pulled the cloak off of him as if unveiling a prized possession. And that is, mostly, what he was. He had extremely long white-blonde hair that was bound tightly at the nape of his neck. Deep blue-green eyes whose colors swirled endlessly as a pool of crystal. He had a strong build and a face that would tear at the heart for longing. He was a good deal taller than Xeopholite. He wore dark blue clothing and black worker’s shoes. He stared at her blankly as she pulled him down so she could reach his head and smooth back a few straggly pieces of hair.
"You have your instructions. Begin." She commanded. Immediately his face was filled with a light and he smiled softly. His eyes lit and he made a polite nod.
"My name’s Sandien. Might I inquire of yours, Lady?" Xeopholite was pleased. Only those well versed in the Ancient Tongue would understand the true meaning of his name. She snapped her fingers and his attention suddenly switched from her to the garden. She motioned to Serinal and they departed. They spoke while they walked.
"When am I to take the child, Xeopholite?" Serinal was always one to analyze the future. It was one of the reasons why she usually remained in the good no matter how bad things got. She could be standing there will the bloody knife in her hand alone in the throne room with the king sprawled dead on the floor and she would know exactly who was were and how to shift the blame from herself to someone who would seem to have no alibi. She could lie without hesitation. That was that. Xeopholite looked at the sun. Its cruel, infantile rays were absorbed into her clothing and into her body. She thought about this estimating time.
"The queen is supposed to take her walk when?" she asked. Serinal immediately knew the answer.
"A little before noon." She answered. Xeopholite paused, thinking. She reached up and brushed back the branch to the tree that hung over the path and continued.
"Have all the last preparations completed before the time of two weeks is up." Serinal nodded.
"As you wish Xeopholite."
Xeopholite lay on the bed. Serinal guarded the door, tentatively. Xeopholite had her arms outstretched, palms facing up, legs straight, and eyes gazing directly up at the ceiling. She was muttering words in a chant.
The words rolled over her tongue easily and softly, each syllable rounded lightly. The phrase was repeated over and over till it was one droll that never ended. Her eyes misted over and she left her body to stand in the shadow of the queen. Her spirit found the body she was seeking and settled inside it.
She now walked outside with a soft, unfamiliar, smile on her face. There were birds chirping in singsong rhythms. The sun that would have been too hot before was now only slightly warming on the pale blue colored gown that she wore. Her dainty slippers made a soft padded sound on the brick-lined pathway. Her hair was pulled back severely into a knot then left to cascade down her back in dark ringlets. She moved along the path stopping occasionally to catch the scent of a blossom or budding rose.
She was about to turn in her usual direction back towards the castle, but instead found herself tempted to step off the path and into the grove of willows. She walked calmly yet curiously through them, pushing one of the long fuzzy branches from her view and saw a small pond with a cast iron bench. It was nicely shaded letting only a few shafts of light filter through. It was beautiful. She did not remember this part of the garden. She paused a moment and looked behind her at the way she had just come. It was familiar outside. What she was used to and knew. Inside was a dark, gothic place. New, untouched it seemed, kept only by nature’s hand.
She couldn’t help herself and found that she had sat by the little pond before she realized she had placed herself there. There were lovely little purple and blue-green dragonflies touching the surface of the water at intervals. The water lilies gave off their hazy perfume. She leaned over and looked into the pond. Moving in the stagnant, but clear waters were a rainbow of fish. All of them different and swimming with different gaits. She wanted to touch one and reached her fingers into the cool water. Ring after ring of silver water echoed from the tips of her fingers. She wriggled her index finger a bit and one by one the little fish came to kiss her fingertips softly.
She giggled as she had only done as a child and removed her hand and watched the fish circle. The ripples cleared and she saw in its reflection a young man crouching under the tree clearing up, around the legs of the bench, some too-long shoots of soft grass. She turned quickly; unaware that anyone had been there. The man looked up at her and smiled. His eyes were the same color as the pond’s bluish water.
"Beautiful, no?" he inquired softly then returned to his work waiting for an answer. She paused mistaking the compliment as one directed to herself she smiled as she realized he spoke of the little grove’s secret heart.
"Yes. I’ve never seen anything like it." She glanced around once more. "Do you take care of it?" He seemed amused by this question and replied with a side-ways grin.
"You could say that. Nature has more control here than I do. It flourishes, as it will. There are only few things that need to be done to keep it accessible to visitors." She like the way his voice sounded and that he didn’t realize that she was who she was. She couldn't help but feel a little annoyed at the same time.
"Visitors?" She asked. He nodded.
"Yes. This is not owned by anyone . . . or at least it shouldn’t be. The Eyrth and Watyr and all the other powers posses this place. We are only visitors. Sometimes good ones." He snipped a little stinging plant away from the base of the tree. "Sometimes bad."
"Oh. I see. What about the King and royal family? Do they not own some portion of this land?" She inquired. He laughed his light, melodious laughter.
"Royalty? What is "royal" about them? Is it because they tell people what to do and when to do it? Sure they keep the order sometimes but anyone can do that without claiming a right to taxes and land. They are the worst ones to visit this Eyrth." He paused for a moment. She had frowned and started to stand ready to leave. "What did I say, Lady?" She hesitated.
"Do you not know to whom you speak?" She demanded. He shook his head, innocent curiously played in the reflections in his eyes.
"Though, I should like to know your name so that I may use it to apologize for any offense I may have given." He was distressed now to see her angry. She softened a bit.
"Reykaia." She said, quietly, assuming her beloved great-aunt’s name. Curiously, she had lied without a second thought. She didn’t mind now. He dropped to his knees and took her hand.
"Dear, Lady Reykaia, I most humbly beg your forgiveness. I do not usually offend people so soon after they meet me." He was starting to joke with her now and she could tell. All her anger was fading to something a little better than happiness. Something inside her stirred as she looked at him. His long, neat hair, smudged face, and strong hands that held her own with such gentleness it could hardly be fathomed. She gifted him with a smile.
"I will forgive you if you promise to meet me here again after you finish your work tomorrow. I have enjoyed your company, however foolishly you seemed to have spoken." He returned her smile and stood up. His height also topped her petite form.
"If that is the price for my redemption, I most certainly shall." He looked thoughtful for a while. "But must you leave now, at this moment?" She shook her head a bit hesitantly.
"No, not immediately. Would you like me to stay?" She asked and he nodded.
"Very much so, Lady Reykaia." She laughed lightly as he responded.
"Just call me Rey if you so wish . . . " She paused, not knowing his name. Now came the time to see just how well educated she was.
"Sandien, La- er, Rey." She thought on his name a moment. It sounded oddly familiar but could not seem to place it.
"Very well, Sandien. I’ll stay." Xeopholite pulled out of the mind with a quick flash of twilight going past her vision. She drew in a gasp of breath and calmed as the clouds parted from her eyes. The little romance was budding just as the little blossoms were beginning to speckle the branches of the leaning willows. Willows- Weeping Willows. How right that seemed.
Serinal peered through the doors, sensing Xeopholite back in her normal state of mind.
"Dareth wishes to see us . . . more so you than I." Xeopholite nodded and sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed and slipped her feet into the black boots. She turned so that her back was to Serinal. Serinal reached and ran a hand over Xeopholite’s hair. The silver locks parted into three groups and braided themselves all the way down.
"There is a black cord by the window, Serinal." Xeopholite spoke not moving. Serinal looked and nodded and reached down to the bed and pulled the black cord from the mass of covers. She tied it around the end of the braid. Serinal was almost an expert in space distortion. She had moved the universal cloth, barely a nudge, moving the cord within reach. Xeopholite turned and placed a light hand on Serinal’s shoulder. As close to a "thank you" as it could come . . . for now at least. She approved.
"Come, Serinal. We mustn’t keep "His Highness" waiting." Serinal smiled at the sarcastic tint to Xeopholite’s voice, and dutifully followed.
There were many heralds and pages rushing around the castle. Xeopholite and Serinal had not seen them before. Someone was visiting on a political or social level. Either way all of the new faces were filled with intrigue and awe as they watched the two companions calmly make their way down the halls. They had not seen a silver-haired woman before or an armed woman for that matter. Xeopholite paused not at all at the stares and scrutinizing gazes. Serinal was not as quick to mimic her actions. She looked right back at them forcing them to look away first. She was not one to be stared down on ground she thought she could win a battle on.
The throne room was filled with people. None of them seemed more than lesser nobles. The room was silenced quickly when the two approached the dais once more. Xeopholite knew full well that their audience expected them to kneel before the king's regent. She did just the contrary and stood with a bored expression and waited for Dareth to acknowledge her. She crossed her arms and shifted her weight to her left foot.
A broad smile spread across his face. He had expected as much from her. It had not surprised him one bit. He motioned to the guards that were about to lay hands on her to be at ease. There were throngs of whispers racing over the mouths hidden behind the pale petite hands of "high-born" lords and ladies. Still Xeopholite ignored them.
"Xeopholite Tarise, I'm pleased you could attend." He spoke, ignoring Serinal. Xeopholite frowned slightly and grimaced at the bright and stuffy qualities of the room. She held her hand off to the side, a small insignificant gesture. A small spiral of Wynd gathered in her palm and rushed over all the occupants of the room. It extinguished a great deal of the candles, greatly dimming the room and clearing it somewhat when the ladies were frightened and their escorts were forced help them leave. Xeopholite smiled at the results and walked the rest of the way up the dais and sat next to the throne where a silver chair formed beneath her, she settled comfortably.
"I believe there was something of importance that needed to be discussed." She cued.
The meeting had been little more than a big extravagant way of saying the king was victorious in punishing the marauders and was returning home. Xeopholite was not at all pleased with this. The plan had not progressed far enough to provide the necessary evidence to convict "Her Majesty. Xeopholite was pacing in her chambers while Serinal was combing out her wet locks. Xeopholite paused and chewed on her thumbnail for a moment, trying to find a way to speed things up without it being too abrupt. She could only hope that knowing that the king was returning would not change Moira's feelings for Sandien.
"This is not going at all as planned, Serinal." She paused a moment and tucked one of her arms under the other, thinking.
"I do not understand why you fret, belni, things will go as expected. We still have 4 more days do we not?" Serinal stood and walked over to her and placed a hand on Xeopholite's shoulder. "You have not been utterly defeated before… things always work out for better or for worse. It is just how you accept them that matters." Xeopholite ceased to chew at her nail and dropped her hand from her mouth. Serinal was always wise. She even smiled a bit that Serinal had dared to use such a personal word instead of her name. "Belni" was what Serinal's people had used in place of beloved, or cherished.
"I suppose. 4 days is not a lot of time." She nods, "but perhaps enough." She looked over her shoulder at Serinal. She was wearing nothing more than the under garments appropriate to wear under armor. "Dress yourself and find Sandien. Unless…" She trailed off wondering if her best magick student had the courage to try to conjure his presence here. She knew where he was. The queen was in the library trying to concentrate on something other than cleaning.
Serinal hesitated only a moment before catching the meaning of the pause. She nodded and closed her eyes and crossed her arms before her body. Her fingers seem to go boneless as they contorted to complicated poses as she scryed and attempted to summon him to a prepared place in the space in front of them. Her brow was knit with concentration when there was a soft tap at the door. Xeopholite heard it clearly and crossed the small expanse of tessellated rug between the door and the window. Serinal was concentrating much to hard to have heard it and she heard her continue to whisper the chants as she lifted the latch to the door.
It was all she could do to keep herself from strangling the visitor. Being that that was a dangerous thing to do, she resigned herself, instead, to force a smile at the little prince.
"Good evening, Prince Elicarn." He flinched." What can I do for you?" She shifted her body in the door -frame so that he could not see what caused the flash of light, and she blocked most of the little cry of surprise and confused queries from his ears. He blinked and tried to peer around her. She in turn stepped out of the room entirely and closed the door. She mentally locked it. Again, she offered the feint of a smile.
"I have a question, Xeopholite." He held himself up tall and proud. He was the perfect image of his father and uncle. "It would do you good to answer them honestly." Her expression was one of confusion, for but only a second. Then she frowned.
"What is the question, Prince?" She asked in the sweetest of tones as she could muster through her clenched teeth, already knowing what the little brat was plotting.
"I would like to know why you cast one of your spells on me? And why you were in the garden with the cloaked man? And why do you now hide the contents of your room from me?" Xeopholite had to admit she was a bit surprised at the audacity of the little twerp. That and the fact that he was every bit as clever and conniving as his uncle. But he was unfortunately cursed with his father's sense of justice.
"I hide nothing from you now, Prince. I conjured you to sleep for you seemed ill and in need of rest. The cloaked man was a poor gardener I was helping for he was sickened by the sun's bright rays and was dazed." She lied as smoothly as if it were the truth.
"I believe you speak falsely, Sorceress." He placed his small fists on his hips and squared his shoulders before letting out a shrill whistle. Four armed guards that always escorted the Prince emerged from the shadows and to the child's side. "Please take the Sorceress, Xeopholite, to a cell in our keep until I can further decide her fate for lying and attempting to conceal evidence from the Crown."
She narrowed her eyes and mentally signaled Serinal to be prepared for her entry and for intruders. Perhaps even enemies. She laced her fingers together in front of herself.
"But Prince. I hide nothing and have answered your questions truthfully. Why will you imprison me for doing as you bid?" The guards behind the proud little upstart's body, glanced at each other for a moment.
"Open your room and let my men examine it. I believe they may find something evil within." She made a small bow at the waist and looked curiously at the guards before turning towards the door once more. She called through the wood.
"Serinal. Open the door." It took little less than second for the bolt to be thrown back and the door swung open. It was tidier than before, though it contained the faint odor of something burned. Xeopholite noticed the carpet was gone and immediately placed the aroma as burned fabric. The Prince pushed his way past Xeopholite with his men following closely. He wrinkled his nose distastefully. Serinal sat quietly on the edge of the bed, wearing a thin robe, legs crossed in the normal feminine fashion. She was once again combing her hair.
"What has happened here?" emerged the words from the Prince's lips. He looked around warily and signaled to his guards to begin their search. Xeopholite had her eyes set on Serinal who spoke to her silently.
~ Where is he? ~ Xeopholite inquired.
~ He is under the balcony. There are Wynds that were gracious enough to hold him fast so he would not fall. He is not conscious. He would not calm himself after I pulled him from the garden. He set the rug on Fyre! ~ Serinal replied in the silent speech, never missing a stroke with the fine-toothed comb.
"We can find nothing your Highness. We are not exactly sure what we are searching for either." They commented. At just that moment Sandien decided to come back into the conscious reality. The guards instantly hurried toward the balcony as they heard his scream. Xeopholite winced, irritated, and her formed fazed out of sight. The guards never got a chance to see just who was screaming before she appeared in their path. She reached out quickly and twisted the first's neck. The second had a nice set of reflexes and had a sword to her throat.
"Stop!" The guard turned to face Elicarn the one who was now held in Serinal's grasp with a knife to his throat. He struggled uselessly in her arms. Serinal's wicked smile was enough proof that she would not hesitate to kill the child. The guard seemed not to get the point and charged her.
"My Prince!" He shouted. Serinal shoved Elicarn away and caught the charging man by the wrist. She disarmed the guard by pulling his arm from its socket. He went down on one knee holding his shoulder as she swung the sword in one neat stroke. His head rolled to the little prince's feet. His eyes were wide and frightened. His mouth opened to let out a terror-stricken shriek before he fainted. This day was just getting better and better. She lifted Sandien back over the balcony after he had ceased his shouts. He was silent until he saw the bodies and almost shouted again.
Xeopholite clapped a hand over his mouth and held his arms tightly and prevented him from running. He stared at the bodies much like Elicarn had. Xeopholite spoke to him quietly.
"Sandien, dear, you have to be quiet just now. It was very unwise of you to call out as you did." She whispered in his ear as softly and cunning as a snake. She glanced up to Serinal.
~ He set the rug afyre? ~ Serinal paused in her clean up and removal of the bodies and nodded solemnly. Xeopholite looked to her creation with something resembling pride. She removed her hand from his mouth. He didn't attempt to shout anymore, but just as a precaution she condensed the Ayr around the room to muffle any sound. His eyes darted from Serinal to Xeopholite. The room was only slightly more comfortable for him now that it lacked the lifeless bodies and the fresh blood.
Xeopholite reached up and pulled the cord that kept his hair tied. His curious attention was turned to her as she combed her fingers through his locks to tidy the mass. He sensed something unnerving in her manner.
~ Serinal. Stay here with our other guest while I take care of some business. If anyone sends for me, call. ~ She didn't wait for an answer before leading Sandien out of the compartments, through the Ayr barrier that she cancelled as she went past, and finally down the dim corridors to the library.
After explaining a few things to Sandien, and adjusting his memory slightly, she managed to usher him into the library with as few questions as possible. In short, all speech stopped when he beheld the "Lady Rey" sitting quietly examining one of her favorite novels. A delighted smile crossed his lips and he approached her silent, taking advantage of the fact that she sat faced away from him and towards a small fireplace.
He stood behind her, unmoving, merely gazing at her beauty and stealing a glance at the text that held her attention so firmly. He had a sudden, unruly urge to kiss her. He hesitated then lifted her chin and set his mouth upon hers. She almost pushed him away in her bewilderment and understandable anger. She calmed and warmed to the gesture sensing, somehow, who he was. He broke the kiss and watched her lovely face once more with those cosmically starred eyes of his.
"I would hope I have not offended the Lady once more in my coarse manner?" He offered softly. She shook her head lightly in negation and closed the book.
"You have not. Just startled me is all." She remembered herself all of a sudden and her smile faded. She silently berated herself, but could not seem to bring herself to scold her quickened heart. Fear stilled it for her all at once when his significance came to her. "What are you doing here? You shouldn't be in here." He shook his head some and smiled enough to alleviate her worst fears.
"No one will miss me, Rey. And unless you should betray my secrecy, none shall find me here with you. She didn't understand the name at first, then recalled their previous exchange. She realized she couldn't keep lying to him. It seemed more than wrong and even a little unnecessary.
"Sandien…" She was struggling to put into words what she meant to tell him
"Yes, Rey?" He watched her. Concerned about what was worrying her, but silently feared he was at least partially responsible. She sighed and, after a pause, responded.
"My name is not Reykaia…" she couldn’t bear to look at him as the confusion began to etch itself onto his face. "It's Moira…Queen Moira, actually." He was shocked and doubly confused, but not enough to cause him to forget himself and pay his respect to a queen he didn't even know or had sworn fealty to. To him she had remained the same, though her title was out of sorts.
"I didn't want you to judge me because of my title." She finished and waited for his reply. After a moment she got it. He softly smiled at her and the back of his hand brushed her cheek in a light caress.
"Though I never would have done so, I can understand and forgive you, Moira." He adapted to her new name quite well. "I seem to find myself in love with you… Not your name, albeit, that has changed, you have remained constant. A name is nothing." He seemed to be unaware of the meaning of his own name. She smiled weakly, the fire reflected off of her long auburn tresses. These he brushed aside from her face and kissed her soft lips. She did not want to push him away this time, and so enjoyed the kiss wholeheartedly. It was Sandien that ended up pulling away eyes wide, realizing that the King would definitely not approve of his wife fornicating with another man. She sighed softly and looked down. She, too, realized this.
"It can never be… He would kill you at once." She stood up suddenly; her book fell to the floor as she hurried toward the door. He moved quickly and without knowing how fast me moved and was in front of her and the great wooden passageway with gold knobs. There were the beginnings of tears in his eyes as her own were already shedding a constant stream. She tried to pass him; he blocked her for a moment longer then moved aside.
"Please do not go, Moira…" He pleaded, his heart seeming to break as she turned the handle and pulled the door open. "Let me accompany you…Just this once and then never again." She paused and looked at him over her shoulder. Her whole being yearned for him, but she feared the wrath of her husband. She looked out the door and down the halls. She had made up her mind and turned and grasped his smooth hands in her own and pulled him down the halls to her own chambers. She kissed him passionately at the doors and continued to do so as she pulled him inside and closed the door…
Xeopholite smirked as the two figures hurried past her unnoticed form. She had merely been leaning against the wall in the shadows. She pushed off the wall and back to her own rooms. She secured the door behind her, ignoring the flashes of light and cries of frustration. She turned calmly and beheld her Chosen and the little imp involved in a little mage battle. She crossed her arms and shook her head; a soft sigh escaped her, still smirking, lips.
Elicarn had pressed himself into a corner under a chair and invoked a powerful shield around him. It would seem that beings with sorcerous power grew like weeds in these realms. Serinal was vainly trying to probe into the shield to find its weakness. She threw her hands up in exasperation and the flickering light stopped, she turned to her Mistress.
"Xeopholite, I cannot find a way into the shield! He is quite able to block me from getting at him!" She was greatly surprised. All the while Elicarn was crouched terrified in his little corner. Xeopholite walked toward him, righting a few chairs and smoothing a few rough edges on her Chosen. She placed a light kiss on Serinal's left temple and straightened her hair a little. Serinal moved back away from them to finish equipping herself with her little armory of weapons while Xeopholite crouched in front of the child.
"Now, Now, Prince. It is not so bad. Just drop the ward and come to me. You'll not be harmed at this time." She had sweetened her voice greatly. It did not fool the boy who shrank further into his corner. Her unimpressive attempt at a smile faded quickly and she reached to the ward and placed her hand on it. It sparked at her touch and tried to incapacitate her. She closed her eyes and drew the power into herself slowly, the little bubble the ward created seemed to shrink from around him and disappear into her open hand. She closed her fingers around the small light and rested her arm on her knee. She smirked and watched him.
"Come, now. You're making things very difficult." He tried to scream and bolt, she caught him and cut the Ayr with her hand and drew forth a little worm of light. She held him tightly in her arms and forced it into his mouth and down his throat. He gagged but no sound would come from him, more. He held his throat as she dropped him to the ground and wound the Ayr stream around him to hold him in place. She handed the 'ropes' to Serinal.
"There you are. The queen is being taken care of as we speak." Her eyes clouded again and peered into the Queens chambers to see Moira and Sandien together, their two bodies intertwined together on the bed. She chuckled lightly and withdrew. She set a field around the room to slow time for them when they slept. It would keep them in such a way so that they would remain sleeping until the king returned in a few days’ time. Serinal took the boy and strung him up out of the way.
Xeopholite sighed and flopped down on the bed and sighed.
"What to do now? There are too many days to wait and nothing to do to fill the time with…" Serinal merely watched her. A plan seemed to already have formed in her mind. It sat there in her mind, unvoiced, waiting for Xeopholite to view it when she wished. She chose to ignore it for now. She rolled on her side and tucked an arm under her head and closed her eyes. She felt Serinal climb onto the bed next to her, and then felt the cold metal of her armor, a light, but well muscled arm, boldly slipped around her waist. Serinal snuggled up close to her and matched her form to hers and she too closed her eyes to rest, lightly and wait until Xeopholite has chosen to move on with the day's events. Xeopholite smirked, but did not move away from her and slept soundly.
"Treason!" The king had come into the queen’s chambers, as was his right, and found Sandien lying with her there. It is frighteningly unknown as to how he came there so quickly and so conveniently when all had expected him with in a matter of weeks. He’d taken hold of Sandien’s long hair and jerked him up and out of the bed and thrown him practically across the room before the poor lad could come completely to his sense. Moira had screamed at the king to stop before he killed him. She was about to kneel at Sandien’s side when he’d grasped her arm cruelly in his harsh fingers and flung her down away from him. Driving the toe of his boot into Sandien’s stomach he shouted for the guard outside. They came in to take into their custody the choking Sandien. He coughed nothing for a long while till he gasped in a lungful of air. The king caught up a robe and threw it at Moira. She was weeping and trying to reach for Sandien again until the king brought his boot up to push her back into the bedpost again.
"Get dressed and silence yourself! You’ve disgraced yourself, harlot! And with what? A field hand or lowly peasant. Not even with someone your own status, though now I see a filthy beggar would be more to your level than any nobleman would." He shook his head and grabbed her again and lifted her up, shoving her arms into the sleeves of the robe and fastening it about her before he would let his men see any more naked flesh. He shoved her into the arms of another guard and signaled for them to be sent into the dungeon. The queen to have a separate cell of course. He, himself, stormed off to his brother’s rooms and pounded on the door. It opened with little hesitation. Dareth blinked with amazement at seeing his brother here at this hour. In this month!
"S-Sire! When-? How did you return home to us so quickly?" he remembered himself slowly and allowed his brother to enter the room and go into a rage about what had happened. Once he asked his brother if he’d known anything about this before hand, Dareth used the opportunity to blame his shock on the fact that he was worried about the king’s son. How he had been missing.
"I’m sure this … man you found with the lady queen is the one who had taken him. I so doubt that Her Majesty would betray you so easily, sire. Perhaps he forcefully coerced her into it with the promise of telling her where the prince is." He could tell this was working all to well. The king’s face dropped when he realized what he was saying about his son. His eyes were wild with panic as he grasped the collar of Dareth’s shirt.
"Elicarn is missing? Why did no one tell me of this? I should have been notified immediately. What are you doing in bed at a time like this? There should be a party in search of him. I’ll flay that bastard myself!" He turned to the door and threw back the doors and started toward the dungeons only to half collide with a calm-eyed woman with her hair wound up in a braided bun. She stared at him, then bowed her head slightly. The king turned to call for his brother only to have Dareth rush to Xeopholite’s side and sputter out an introduction.
"Sire, this is Xeopholite Tarise. You would not remember her. She arrived soon after you departed. She had been staying with us and had been kind enough to warn me of certain happenings in the castle that might be of some use to us to finding Elicarn. She is a seeress of sorts." Xeopholite gave another bob of the head that would pass for a courteous nod.
"Greetings, lord." She murmured softly. Serinal as always was at her side and she placed one hand over her breastplate and bowed at the waist as a man would have done, but it seemed appropriate to do for one of Xeopholite’s Favored. The king probably would have been amused if it were not for the loss of his son that he worried about. He pushed past Xeopholite and started further down the halls to the caverns that were under the castle. Again he came face to face with Xeopholite and Serinal. He stammered and looked behind him and she was not there. She’d moved too quickly for him to see to intercept him.
"My liege. Permit me to summon the prisoner to you in the comfort of your own throne room. I know you are probably eager to assure your court that you are well and safe at home, even if your welcome was not to your satisfaction." The king considered then nodded.
"Very well. I will await you there… Xeopholite was it?" she nodded. "Thank you Lady Tarise." He sighed and let Dareth escort him back toward his room to get him dressed suitably. He was still in his riding clothes from the day’s journey and was covered in sweat and dust. He’d had her to thank for the shortening of this trip. She’d shifted the roads a little so that they wove in and out of time and space to get him there in a fraction of the time it would have taken him on his own. He wasn’t an extraordinarily handsome in the least. He had ruggedly short brown hair and dark brown eyes. Of perhaps more than average build: muscular. Fairly tall, but a great swordsman. He also knew a little of magick. Not enough to actually improve it, but maybe just a little of the second sight.
Xeopholite and Serinal "chatted" a bit whilst they walked down to the underground caverns. Xeopholite allowed Serinal to speak sweetly to the guards as she ordered them to release the two new prisoners into her custody to face the king. Sandien didn’t remember her clearly at all but knew he’d met her before. Moira just clung to his arm as they walked. No one had been decent enough to give Sandien some pants, but had thrown a sheet to him to cover himself. Xeopholite couldn’t stand seeing him still look less than perfect, but let it go for now. They proceeded past the other prisoners that reached out for them through the bars and up the stairs and down the halls to the main hall.
The king and Dareth looked up at her. The king was much more presentable than before and also, maybe a little more agitated. He glared at Xeopholite when he saw Moira.
"Why did you bring her? I didn’t not tell you to do so." She acknowledged him with a nod then shrugged slightly.
"I figured she, too might want to speak her side of it if this boy truly did kidnap your son. She might want to defend herself and prove herself innocent of all sin. Of course it would still be up to you if you wished to believe her or not." She laid her gaze on Sandien who flinched visibly. He fell on his knees before the dais and clasped his hands.
"Sire, lordship, king…I swear to you that I know nothing of what this woman speaks of now. I had only thought your lady beautiful as you would. I do not seek to find an excuse for that, but I will not pay the fault for something that I didn’t do. And kidnapping your son, my prince, your heir is something I did not do."
Xeopholite smiled coldly and nodded slightly and spoke in an indulgent tone to Sandien as she leaned over to him and brushed his hair back over his shoulders. He shrank back from her with a look of disgust at her words:
"Of course not, boy. How could you be so callously clever and all to pull off something that brilliant…?" she caressed his cheek and he stumbled back up and away from her as that smile remained. Serinal was looking at Moira now. Playing with a bit of her hair. Her expression was also that of an indulgent parent. Moira had tears tracing silver lines down her cheeks. She sobbed rather loudly and asked repeatedly where Elicarn was. Claiming she knew that Sandien couldn’t have - wouldn’t have taken the boy.
"Death for the bastard." The king spoke this and executioner was sent for. Xeopholite moved forward. Her eyes blazed a bit as she looked to her male counterpart. She then laid that deadly gaze upon the king. She spoke softly and Serinal moved to help Sandien up. She blatantly disregarded Her Highness. Sandien looked bewildered, an emotion Xeopholite didn’t particularly enjoy in him.
"You won’t harm him, "sire"." Her voice held such sarcasm it hung in the Ayr. He turned to her in surprise. Even Dareth and the lady looked to Xeopholite. She stepped forward and spoke to the king directly. He sputtered.
"How dare you? How dare you speak to me in such a tone?" she smirked slightly and looked to Dareth, who finally got the message through his head and he in turn spoke up for her.
"She might say whatever she wishes, brother. She is advisor to me, the new king. Or soon to be once you vacate your arse from my throne and take that whore with you. I plan to choose a new queen since that one is to be executed for treason. I think your verdict on the boy is fair enough. He should die." Now Xeopholite approached Sandien, untying the sheet from around his waist to leave him in his "natural splendor".
"Xeopholite? What are you doing?" Dareth blurted. " I forbid you to touch him! He is filthy! He should taint no future queen of mine. He stopped short as she began to laugh darkly with honest humor.
"Poor naïve, Dareth; so certain about your fate. Deal with your brother now and leave the boy to me." With that spoken she reached up and slipped her arms over his shoulders and kissed Sandien full on the mouth. The room went silent and all eyes were drawn to them. Serinal was a bit startled but knew better than to question her mistress. She remained silent even as Moira moved to strike at Xeopholite as she deepened the kiss. Xeopholite only caught her hand as Sandien seemed to warm to her, remembering that he was a part of her. He rested his hands on her waist and drew her close, returning her kiss. All eyes could see the silver light spark at their mouths and spread over their bodies with a speed of fyre.
The spark flared brightly to temporarily blind them all, but Serinal who had known to shield her eyes. Gasps littered the air as the flare died down and left their eyes to refocus to see Xeopholite with her arms around his waist from behind and Sandien clothed in the same garb she was. Xeopholite with her head bowed and her eyes closed, her hair loose down her back and slightly curling at the ends. It seemed there were two of them there even as Sandien now held the queen's hand captive.
The king rose and began to come toward them. They’d vanished and now stood next to Dareth. Xeopholite reached over and caught hold of him and bit deep into his neck. His eyes bugged and he paused before fighting against her. Sandien seemed lost in a sort of stupor and Moira stared at him as Serinal stood vigilantly watching them.
"Xeopholite? What… are… you doing?" Dareth cried out to be answered by Xeopholite’s mental voice.
"~ Silence yourself, Dareth. This is what you wanted. Power as I have it. ~" Dareth calmed a bit and let his life ebb from him. His heart stopped and he died. Xeopholite let his body fall, then held a hand over him. She was not going to waste her valuable blood on so lowly a vessel. She closed her eyes and murmured a change. The spell would cause Dareth’s corpse to rise and reanimate and exist as a vampiric ghoul. The king was not to stay idle as this was done. Just as she had finished her task and Dareth was awakening, he caught Serinal by her hair and jerked her close.
Xeopholite turned instantly and hissed violently, teeth bared. The king started, but held tighter to Serinal. Xeopholite’ eyes blazed once before she turned away again. Serinal grasped the king’s hand and stepped on his foot while elbowing him in the solar plexus and disarming him. She threw the sword to Dareth who caught it so deftly that even he stood to look at it amazed. The king groaned a bit and coughed and dropped to one knee and Serinal moved away.
"Serinal. Retrieve the boy." Serinal nodded at the command and phased out for only the blink of an eye before returning with the boy in front of her and her hands on his shoulders. He had his hands tied and he was gagged and blindfolded. Serinal freed his hands and feet and then removed the blind fold, leaving the gag for him to remove as he would. Xeopholite exerted her will on Sandien so that he hurled the whimpering queen to Dareth who, without thinking, caught her on the end of his sword directly through her side and up and out from under her arm. Her eyes were wide and a screamed drowned in the blood that streamed from the corner of her mouth as she looked to Dareth in shock. Xeopholite smiled coldly when the king gasped aloud.
"No! Damn you, Dareth." Elicarn looked at his mother with eyes as big as her own as the king shouted. The blood drew Dareth instantly and he changed his grip to take her into his arms as her eyes were rolling back into her head and his teeth tore into the flesh of her throat. He drank greedily until he found he could not attain as much of the blood as he wished and reached into the wound he’d made with his fingers and lifted her head directly off her neck till it fell back and the blood spurted out as a fountain. He gorged on this, blood covering him completely. Xeopholite was heartily amused. She’d thought that one of their own would at least have some delicacy when it came to feeding, obviously she was mistaken. These sounds seemed to have awakened Sandien from his dream and he, too cried aloud his distress, but grief took him faster than retaliation did and he fell to his knees to sob.
The king roared and charged at Dareth who was busy sating his thirst. Xeopholite stood off to the side to watch the exchange. He was making the mistake of interrupting the feast of a vampire. Dareth did nothing but backhand his brother away from himself and his meal. Blood flowed crimson down his chest and stained his robes and pooled on the ground. Xeopholite wondered if he even got any of it into his mouth and down his throat. The king hit the floor and coughed as his breath was expelled from him and he got up quickly. Xeopholite moved over to one of the suits of armor that lined the walls of the chamber and tipped one of the swords out from an empty gauntlet. He kicked it across the floor and toward the fallen man’s hands. He only glanced up at Xeopholite before taking it up and turning just in time to stop the bloody descent of the blade in Dareth’s hands.
Xeopholite’s eyes sparked with anticipation as she watched the flurry of blades that followed. She played her tongue against her eyeteeth as they extended some. She looked to the battle just in time to view Dareth’s coming defeat. The king was extremely skilled and was defeating his brother even with Dareth’s added speed and strength. She glanced to Elicarn who was still staring at his mother and only suffering a few glances to his father. But he looked now as Xeopholite raised her hands palm to palm as if in prayer, eyes closed for she did pray… to the wynd guardians. Wynds kicked up fiercely and whipped her hair and clothes in its grips. Lyghtning flared in the skies outside and the boy’s eyes narrowed slightly to stop the dust from entering them.
Still, his baby blues were able to see his father and uncle raising their arms to block out the stinging currents of ayr. Serinal had totally closed her eyes and was watching with her inner "sight". She crossed her arms and waited, her wyndblade drawn just in case. Xeopholite drew her hands apart, slowly to see how a tiny, but powerful, cyclone turned and drew more wynds into itself. She raised this up more above her head, her hands still moving apart and the cyclone’s size increasing. Dareth seemed to know what she intended and moved quickly away as she flung this toward them, it drew into a mini-tornado and caught up the king in it. The king screamed as he was trapped within the eye and hurtled through the wall of the chamber to the world outside. His screams became drowned by the wynds even as they tore his flesh from his bones and ripped his eyes from out his skull. His hair was shredded and his skull was now exposed before finally crushing from the pressure.
Xeopholite caught sight of Elicarn collapsing to the ground and she took his form and flung it out the hole in the wall as well. It fell through some trees and landed on the ground with a lifeless thud. She didn’t care if he still lived or not for she was hearing Serinal’s wyndblade piercing into Dareth’s throat and out the other side. Killing him instantly. The ground began to shake as Xeopholite summoned Eyrth and Fyre to her side. She had tired of this place and had decided to quit it today. She summoned her Legions from the neighboring town with a mental call to Misdeai. They were moving to meet them on the road and Xeopholite called to Serinal.
"Let’s go. I grow weary of seeing blood." Xeopholite spoke and as always, Serinal obeyed and tugged Sandien after her. She shook her head and stalked out of the chamber and through the halls, moving to the treasury where she disposed of the tally keeper there and stepped through his emaciated remains into the bolted room. There, settled on a white satin pillow was a green jewel. A ruby the same shades as an emerald. She stroked a finger over this and hissed in retaliation as white streaks jumped at her body and burned her from within. She snarled and looked to Serinal and Sandien. Sandien was useless and so she left him off to himself to lean against the wall.
"It’s warded. Come. " Serinal stood from her crouching position next to the body and faded her blade back to the wynds. She walked into the room and looked back to Xeopholite’s face. Xeopholite returned her stare for one of her own and raised a hand to stroke her cheek then leaned in to kiss her mouth. Serinal needed no enchantments to respond and did so readily. Xeopholite, then drew violently on the elemental powers she’d bestowed upon Serinal. She was taking it all back now and Serinal whimpered slightly but still held the kiss for comfort if not pleasure. Xeopholite pushed her back when it was finished, but held a hand upon her shoulder to steady her as she was dizzy from the transfer. Xeopholite turned her around and gave her a little push to the gem. Serinal’s hand shook as she slipped her hand past and into the ward to retrieve the item. She held it in her hands and gasped at the cold and emptiness of it. Xeopholite took it from her and caught her as she fell limp. She wound a wynd line around Sandien and let him be pulled by that as she carried Serinal out of the building and slowly started the process of the transfer again through this contact as she walked easily down the roads. They were to encounter the Legion further down the dust trail. The boy, Elicarn was to awaken to find his home in flames.
The troop moved further and further down the road. The fyre blazing brightly behind them against the black night’s sky. The light from the castle brightened a bit more as parts of the ramparts fell and crumbled leaving more for the flames to eat. The orange and red and all the other wonderful colors of the ravenous beast reflected in the eyes and on the hair of the spectators. Xeopholite’s legions were moving full speed onward away from this kingdom. Never looking back, all except for Sandien who sat upon the brown stallion staring at the saddle horn, the reins hanging loosely from his fingertips. His blond hair fell forward in long curtains. The frown permanently etched into his features that were smudged with dirt and a little blood. His eyes were distant and empty. Xeopholite looked away from him and turned her gaze to Serinal.
She, too, was quiet. Reflecting on the past occurrences as she usually did on the rides in between battles or travels. The rest of her Legions weren’t in any particular mood at all. Perhaps some were a little sullen at being left out of the last "mission" or whatever they thought it had been, when it had been nothing more than a game to her. Serinal’s newly shorn hair was billowing in the wynd’s grasp. The steady clop of the horses hoofs were a comfort to her perhaps. Either way, Xeopholite turned her attention to the road again another loud crash as the final gates of the castle fell away. She knew that the lovely garden was slowly, but surely turning black at the mouth of the flames.
"What town do we ride to, now, Belni?" Xeopholite allowed a faint smile to cross her mouth as she heard the quiet voice of Serinal at her side. She slowed Ebony so that Serinal’s mount could keep his exhausted pace easily. Casting one last glance to Sandien she listened to Serinal and thought about it herself. She’d not really thought about where to go to next. There was a ways to go before she wished to return to her Elder’s realm. She slipped her ringed fingers through the loose, thick hair of Ebony’s mane. Her attire was in normal brown trousers that a man might wear and a humble tunic-like shirt for the top. Riding boots hugged her legs to her knee and her hair drawn up under a small green cap. A black belt at her middle drawn tight around her small waist.
"I know, not, Serinal." She could hardly say that she didn’t care for she knew she did. Just couldn’t decide. There were far too many other realms to have them all memorized. Even in all her years she’d not managed to get even a fraction of those that the Elders knew. And of the ones she was familiar with only a select few of those did she care to even give a second visit to. Most were just the barren desolate realms that she had no business to linger in for the danger of having ennui take over. She could go Gate hopping, but that was too strenuous on even her vast expanses of power when having to take her Legions with her, making the Gates large enough was hard enough. Keeping it stable was nearly breaking her each time she Gated. She knew it would benefit her in the end. Gating was like a muscle that needed to be exercised occasionally and the biannually realm leap did her good.
"Then, might I suggest we return home? There are a few of our group that I believe could benefit from a rest or from the small wars that the demons there constantly wage on our fortress. What think you, Belni?" She canted her head to the side a bit. It was obvious that she, too, wished to visit the place she’s spent so many of her years in. Xeopholite considered then nodded and reined Ebony in. Serinal pulled up beside her and she caught hold of Sandien’s mount before it plodded past, as he was paying heed to nothing but his own grief. She turned in her saddle and wove a large lyghtning screen to map out the course from their location. This realm was beginning to crumble with the force of the fyre as it spread through the lands and consumed homes and villages. The Legion edged forward with anticipation as Serinal left off her mare to climb onto Ebony behind Xeopholite and gave the riderless horse a kick to get it away. She slipped her arms around Xeopholite’s waist and closed her eyes leaning into Xeopholite.
Xeopholite drew a breath and began to form the words for the spell that would Gate them all the way to their new home realm; Xo’Zoreia. It was, to Xeopholite and Serinal, a beautifully formed realm. And surely if it hadn’t already existed they would have created it on their own with their own wills. The realm was mainly a collection of vast mountains and desert plains. The whole place seemed hued in red. The mountains were high and resembled the jagged teeth of perhaps a dragon’s mouth that guarded the area where the magnificent black fortress was erected. It fit perfectly to the landscape. The whole place was littered with goblin and demonic tribes that hated each other and anyone they didn’t know. Xeopholite was no exception, though they feared her somewhat for the whole tribes she wiped out. The most unique and beloved thing about the place was the unending lyghtning storms of various colors that would perhaps resemble the northern lights of a certain places in the Eyrth realm.
It was of those things that Xeopholite thought about now as she summoned up all the Elemental power she could from this place and weave it into a small Gate that grew larger with each new soul she sucked from the realm. Many people were dying now as the fyre devoured everything in its path, animal and human alike, child or aged. It made little difference and she used these roaming wraiths to filling the holes in her invisible loom. It was drawing greatly on her will and strength and she leaned heavily into Serinal who held her closely giving all the power in her own body she had. Xeopholite rejected this and continued her work as the Legions moved forward again when they saw the enormous mouth of the Gate. They were spurred by the vision of the fortress when they looked through it. It was not home for most that had been in the ranks for the longest, but to the rest and newer ones bred on the trip it was not, but far better than some of the places they'd come from.
Slowly the world began to dim before Xeopholite’s eyes and she closed them to hide the black clouds that crossed them as they always did when she used her magery. The troops passed through around them into the gate. Serinal sat still on the horse with Xeopholite and held the reins of Sandien’s horse, surprised when she saw him slump also and shudder in unconsciousness as his strength faded greatly. She called to a passing blond, which was of little use as they all had blond hair and most with blue or green eyes. On either case one of them stopped and bowed in respect to her and after Serinal’s quick words she climbed into the saddle with Sandien and held him from falling. She exclaimed at how light and frail he was. It took a little under 20 minutes for the rest of the Legion to pass through. Serinal cursed when she looked through again and saw approaching goblins. She issued the order to the other woman mounted with Sandien and passed through the Gate after her. It closed immediately behind them with a loud crack like thunder.
Xeopholite’s form went limp as the sound faded and the roar of battle began. Serinal drew her sword and didn’t have to waste time to tell the woman with Sandien to do so as well. They rode through the masses of goblin and human alike. At times she even spotted a high demon and took the time to kick it clear or slash at it with her blade. It’s black blood spilled all over the sand that collected it into beads quickly. Any Legion that fought would be rewarded with the opportunity to gather as many of these sand-covered stones when they defeated the enemies. These droplets of black blood formed into precious stones after being shed and were priced high in the other various realms they visited where mages toned their magicks with stones.
High demons did not look much different than a dark elf or perhaps a paled human. They usually had black hair and black eyes. Of course they attired themselves in black as well. They fought nearly as well as any of Xeopholite’s Legions with centuries of training. But they were few and so they had enlisted the aid of their dimwitted neighbors the goblins.
Serinal gave a cry and the Legions returned it with vigor and pushed the enemy back with such force that the goblins were beginning to desert the demons. They, in turn, screamed out to them to return and stop being so cowardly, but what did they expect? Xeopholite’s form slumped forward and Serinal hooked an arm under her breast and held her close from falling and rode forward still. Sandien was tugged along toward the fortress. Serinal shouted to the skies and brandished her sword. She’d learned a few tricks from her mistress and the silver brands on her wrists glowed brightly and pulled lyghtning from the sky and into the blade. She slashed at a wall of goblins and watched them as they screamed and dropped their weapons to hold their eyes. They writhed in pain at the burns they received. She’d taught Misdeai and a few of the Favored the same trick. Here in this realm of lyghtning they could use it as they wished and almost as often as they could form the spell in their minds.
Perhaps this was a good thing and perhaps not. The demons also knew about the magick, but had found it much to unpredictable. Each of the Favored had the same set of silver bracelets and anklets from Xeopholite to help them ground their abilities and make it slightly easier for them to fight as it was easy for one to lose their focus in a battle when conjuring. They were nearly at the fortress’s main gate when the woman with Sandien cried out. A blade was run across the side of her thigh. The blood flowed darkly and she growled with rage and punched her spearhead into the goblin’s skull before it could do worse.
"Misdeai! Here!" She turned to see Serinal shouting and drawing up Eyrth to block the goblins and spur the horse faster till they reached the fortress gates, she screamed the secret chant and the bridge dropped. She snatched a spear out from the hand of a goblin and braced herself in the saddle to let it swing in an arch to sever a head and catch it up on the pike. She planted it in the ground to let the blood drip down the shaft to the ground. She turned the mount and let it gallop through; knowing Misdeai and most of the others would get in. If any of the goblins were to find their way inside, the wards protecting the inner walls would incinerate them. Serinal slid Xeopholite’s body down to the attendants that consisted of members of the Legion that were pregnant, but not so much so that they couldn’t carry one light woman’s body.
"Take her to her chamber. I’ll be there shortly." Serinal spoke these orders and all knew not to disobey her. She slid down from the horse and released the beast into the stable boy’s care. "Have a bath drawn and get someone to take care of the trash outside the walls." She began to remove her riding gloves and swayed a little. She was still tired from the journey and from gaining possession of the odd green gem that was tied to her belt now as Xeopholite had instructed her to do. She thought of this, but said nothing of it to any others. She would wait till her mistress instructed her, as she always did.
She was tired and proceeded to the warm tubs in the lower compartments of the fortress where the stone pools were filled with watyr. She shucked off her clothes and slipped into the water to wash off the blood and to hopefully cool her spirits of the odd fyre that coursed through her. She worried for Xeopholite and hoped that all would be well. She loved her mistress deeply and would do anything asked of her even if it meant her life. She wondered at how it had come to be so. She had always been treated with such unkindness in her life, nothing could be done for it now, but she had forced herself to see past it and see what Xeopholite could be. Xeopholite was not so cold and uncaring anymore as she had once been. Of this Serinal was sure. She was not so cruel to the servants anymore and only killed one or two goblins an hour for sport when she was in a vile mood. The door opened abruptly and a woman entered.
" Lady, she is awake and wishes you to bring the boy to her. She is in a dreadful state and is being especially violent… If you could hurry, please…" she seemed upset and wavering on a fit of tears. The dark red splotch on her cheek was already turning purple to a bruise even as she tried to hide it. Serinal looked with pity on her and got up and out to dry herself, dipping a cloth in the warm watyr and laying it against the mark to relieve the pain. She gave her a reassuring smile and wrapped the towel around herself to find Misdeai.
|Chapter One (1st person) Last Blood||Dirzaiel|
|Shadowslain||Last Blood Version 2 Chapter 2|
|Stained (chapter one)|