~:Chapter Three: Waiting For Life:~

~:Chapter Three: Waiting For Life:~

A Chapter by Greystone

“I do not understand why someone would just attack Lamina,” said Saluc blankly, “particularly with fire. Surely they could have used it-?” Thodred shook his head.

“You know your own lands better than the monsters in question,” the prince explained.

"Well, I for one think it was a little too easy,” declared Ceminara, who looked like she was preparing to bite someone’s head off after being forced to abandon her steak, “They have to have a spy. An inside source of some kind.”

“There is no proof of that,” protested Zarobi, “probably a coincidence.”

“You need to stop looking at the world the way you want it to be and accepting it for what it is,” snapped the Queen, “If they attacked on my birthday that would be a coincidence. But it was not, you idiot, you. They attacked on the one day the soldiers are either half drunk or gone from their posts getting drunk, and we’re all nicely trapped inside that flame-trap castle of yours.”

A short pause as people took in where she was going. “We must look at your daughter. We have already established motive, and she knows how to direct people through passageways no one else know. Her knowledge of Lamina is unrivaled; this I have seen for myself. Knowledge I do not have. You must make an inquiry, Saluc. You must.”

Zarobi threw a piece of firewood at her.

“You idiot!” she cried, “My daughter is not treasonous! She loves her country!”

“Enough to watch it burn?” replied the regal Ceminara with a cold glare, and Zarobi tackled her. Ceminara scratched her across the face and they rolled around on the ground before Saluc leapt to his feet.

“ENOUGH!” he screamed, “HAVE I NOT LOST ENOUGH YET, YOU UNFEELING W****S OF HELL! CEASE THIS AT ONCE!”

Ceminara raised an eyebrow in surprise as Saluc fled from the clearing, mumbling curse words that would frighten the most liberal sailors.

The fire crackled quietly in the unnaturally large forest, and Ceminara poked at the tinder moodily with a stick. Zarobi was pacing back and forth, glancing at the trees with every new noise. Wayna and Nadir sat silently, staring at Ceminara. Thodred sat near Shahira, whose face was strangely blank of its usual angry glow.

“Castles can be rebuilt,” he blurted suddenly, unable to bare the pain in the princess’ eyes.

“Memories cannot,” replied the princess, and burst into tears. Thodred shuffled uncomfortably before taking her hand hesitantly and squeezing it, and she immediately straightened herself. As Shahira’s sobs spread throughout the previously silent campground, the other campers slowly retired, as though some scared sanctity had been broken.

“I am going to add tinder to our fire,” said the prince to Shahira, giving a different message with his eyes, “would you help me?”

“As you wish,” she replied, and they set off into the forest.

***

“So, then, what is it you two royal brats want of me?” Shahira reached into her purse and withdrew four solid gold pieces.

“Is this enough to capture your attention?” She asked calmly, her cold grey eyes quickly beating the disrespectful thoughts out of the actor.

“Yes, your highness,” he replied hastily, snatching them from the table.

“More should be available to you, of course, should you accept our proposal,” added Thodred pleasantly.

“We need someone to go to Zahmir and tell him that Lumina has been conquered,” said Shahira, managing to make him feel smaller than he actually was, “and tell him the message is from a friend.”

“A friend?” asked Thodred in surprise, “I thought we agreed to put our names on---“

“I disagree,” said Shahira regally, “If Zahmir thinks that our castle has been conquered easily, he will not send reinforcements, and we may take Lumina back easily. It is in a king’s nature to be cautious, and if our message runner arrives before his, we gain a point in this little game.” The messenger gulped.

“And what is to become of the Azarian messenger?” He asked fearfully, already knowing the answer, “What will become of him?” Thodred smiled triumphantly, withdrawing four rubies from his sash.

“And that,” the prince finished, “Is the other half of the job.” As the actor-turned-messenger hesitantly reached out to take the down payment, a tiger leapt out from the shadows and, baring his teeth, advanced.

“Not again,” murmured Thodred, and drew his sword as the creature jumped at him. Shahira instantly threw a knife at the right shoulder of the Tiger which struck true, and he let lose a feral snarl escaped his mouth, scratching her arm deeply.

She screamed and fell back, blood flowing freely from the wound as Thodred leapt over the tiger and released familiar blue fire from his feet, setting the creature alight. As the tiger was flung back into the nearby river, a coven of creatures emerged from the shadows. Thodred looked around for their hired help, but in vain; the messenger had long since fled the scene with Thodred's rubies, Shahira's coins, and their message, evidently hoping to fulfill what he believed their dying wishes.

The tiger was not finished.

He ran out of the river with a roar that could have waken the dead, and leapt upon the nearest not-quite-human, ripping off the immortal's head with his too-sharp fangs. Giving a howl of protest, the vampire picked up his dismantled head and replaced it on his groaning shoulders. In one swift moment, Shahira fainted. The others' fangs closed into the saber-toothed tiger, draining him of blood.

"This  will not be good," Said Thodred, to no one in particular, and the horde closed in on him.

***

Ceminara sat bolt upright despite the late hour. She had heard something, sounds of a battle, she realized wearily. Why would there be a battle going on now...? She thought, I had better take a look.

Emerging from her tent, she gave a call.

"Saluc! Zarobi! Did you two hear that?" Two more sleepy heads poked out of their tents as more of the barbaric clash sounds rick rocketed off the trees.

"Yes," said Saluc, "Quick, role call! LIMERICK!" Limerick climbed down from his watch post.

"Has anyone left since we retired?" He inquired, and, as Limerick thought, "Be quick about it, man!"

"Yes," said Limerick thereafter, "Prince Thodred saw Shahira in such poor spirits he invited her to hunt wood with her. Get her to focus on something else, you know."

"And you let them go unaccompanied, despite the fact it's the dead of night, we're in an enchanted forest, and they're unchaperoned teenagers." Ceminara's statement rang with an anger that could have made grown men tremble, her strong brow furrowed in unspoken fury and wrath she had yet to act upon.

Limerick fainted.

"Again?" asked Zarobi, glancing at Ceminara, "Do you have some kind of drug to use on your enemies, Ceminara?"

"Only the stupid ones," the Queen replied grumpily.

"Before you two start throwing anything else at each other," grumbled Saluc, "We should probably see about the friends our Heirs seem to be making." A long scream then pierced the silence, accompanied shortly after by a roar. All three ran into their tents, drew weapons, summoned their guards, and retreated they into the archaic forest as the first rays of moonlight crept over the trees.

***

 "Look at the bright blue blood, Elene," said one of the women as Thodred stared in paralyzed amazement at their beauty, "I find myself upset she will not let us toy with it."

"The king ordered against it," reminded one of the others in a tinkling voice, "we must obey the king--and not to mention, darling, you have already enjoyed those two wolves, that awful jackal and then that tiger--"

"Yes, I suppose," sighed the first, "But all the same..."

"W-what are you?" asked the prince shakily, and the women laughed; a sound similar to the chords of a harp. Thodred wished it would go on forever.

"We are the vampyre," said the second woman.

"Vampire?" asked Thodred with surprise.

"Yes, we are Vampyres," clarified the first, "we hunt you within the forest--while you sleep, safe and sound on your beliefs--We hear your heart racing, we smell your fear, and we would steal power from your mortal veins..."
 If he would have heard this statement from anyone else, Thodred would have fought them (or run, he was not sure ;) but something about the woman's voice was more beautiful than anything he had ever heard, and it held him in place.

"We thank you for the gift of the tiger's life, Your Highness," said the first with another breath-taking smile, (several of the other vampires murmured in agreement from the far back;) "as well as the help of  your sword."

She twisted her hand around in a circle before touching it once to her forehead and offering it to him in a gesture of fealty that hadn't been seen in two hundred years.

"You can give us your companion," said the second woman, with a rich, velvety voice that sent warm shivers down Thodred's spine, "We would tend her injuries for you."

His eyes hazed, his thoughts went blank, and the prince knew only thing: The want of the vampire who had spoken. He dragged the too-pale Shahira over to her, bowing and backing away as the hungry vampire advanced. The hungry bolt of a crossbow burrowed itself into the first vampire, she screamed a scream filled with anguish and died; turning into dust on the frozen October wind. Saluc stepped forward, pointing the re-loaded crossbow at the other seven of the monsters.

"Back from my daughter," said the King, in a voice that shook the heavens with its severity, "BACK!" Waving his torch, he advanced, and the vampires backed away from the flickering flames. Ceminara and Saluc followed with the two legions of armed guards, their swords drawn. After exchanging a glance, the vampires burst into laughter.

"Ooooh," said one, "look at their adorable little toothpicks!"

"That was a lovely silver twig that she stuck Elene with," commented another mockingly, "Shall we fetch lavation?" Too-large smiles spread over the face of every vampire, and the largest leapt onto the nearest guard lithely, drinking his blood. He struggled briefly and then that will died from the strange red glow that rested in the vampires’ eyes...

"STOP!" Ordered a voice layered with the calls of history, "Leave these humans be!"

The vampire king and queen had come.

***

The vampires sunk into a uniform bow, low to the ground, their beautiful faces facing the tainted soil. Two vampires emerged from the trees: a man and a woman.

“Welcome to our lands, King Saluc, Queen Ceminara,” said the man in a deep voice and the human females around the vampire felt their knees grow weak.

“We were quite distressed at not receiving a message to the effects you would be coming, with some small gift to tide us over, but it is understood you should entirely ignore all common decency when fleeing from a castle—even though you managed the horses, the tents, the supplies…”

 The insult was carefully laid, the double meaning not at all hidden by the vampire Queen’s clear dislike. The men were affected in the same manner as the women had been from the king, so no one reacted from the verbal slap.

“I am King Daradan,” said the male vampire.

Daradan had bright red eyes and flowing, curly chestnut hair. His skin was paler than the clouds that hung over the desert on rainy days and the younger soldiers stared after that, alone, in amazement. He was tall and ripped with muscles, a strong chin and thick lips hid the fangs Thodred knew lay beneath. He was clad in a pin stripe suit far out of its time, and it was black with electric blue stripes.

“And I am Queen Silvestra,” said the female with a nod that caused a drum-player to drop over in a faint.

The queen was just as beautiful, with long trestles of silver-blonde hair that gleamed in the quiet moonlight. Her skin was also pale; another desert marvel to the Dîarians, and luminescent blue eyes stared with too much experience out at the soldiers and the royals with clear distain. Her lips were redder than her husbands, and Shahira realized it was because she must have fed recently. She, unlike the king, made no effort to hide her deadly fangs.

“This fun aside,” continued the king as the queen fell silent, his unnerving gaze on the Dîarian queen, “We were wondering--do save us from boredom for another half century, humans--should you like some new friends?”

Thodred's eyes narrowed, Zarobi and Saluc took a step forward, and Ceminara raised an eyebrow.

"Define 'friends'," the barbarian queen inquired.

"Allies," said Silvestra, her tinkling voice bouncing off the massive trees with an eerie effect; "Allies, Ceminara-- for we would hold our swords with yours."

***

Ceminara stared for several moments, evidently unable to regain her composure after such an unexpected offer. She considered the offer carefully, realizing the difficulties it could bring: On the one hand, she could not afford to insult a rival ruler. The mere existence of these creatures sent her head spinning, and she knew well the full expansion of their diet. A hesitation came into view on her beautiful face.

"Why do you offer?" She asked in a strong voice, straightening her back and looking down, "I do not fear you, creatures--however, if I should happen to find your intents without malicious undertones, I will do you the honour of hearing your proposal."

The vampire king and queen exchanged a glance, and burst into more of the tinkling laughter.

"Oh, do make her do it again," cackled the queen, wiping a tear from her eye, "I have not had this much entertainment in years, since we dealt with those arrogant little humans--it is a good thing we liked pussycats, eh, Daradan love?"

Thodred's eyes widened in amazement.

"You are the ones who ended the Azarian Empire!" He cried, "And gave us the advantage we needed over them! YOU gave them those strange convulsions on the field of battle-?"

"Cats," said the vampire king, amusedly, "They taste awful, do they not?" A moment of silence passed.

"Cats?" inquired Zarobi, her brow furrowing in a suspicious manner, "What do you mean, 'cats'?"

"We changed them into hybrids," said a vampire woman from the back, "We thought it would taste better--remove the bitterness of your mortality, you know."

"It did not," another man added regretfully, "We failed, but for some odd reason, their empire sank into silence."

"It is strange enough they could not be gracious in receving such a treasure," wondered an older vampire, "really, a tail here, some bigger ears there, the fur--all attractive features, really."

"We did them a favour," agreed a vampiric male.

"This is not what I mean," replied the king, grinning an unnaturally wide smile that sent shivers down Ceminara's spine, "Cats' blood tastes awful—ah, but humans! Their blood is rich and floral, filling, even. And cats are not as...What is the phrase I seek, my dear?"

Silvestra gave him a bone chillingly beautiful smile. "Entertaining?"

He nodded appreciatively. "Precisely." While the other humans had looks of shock, fear, and anger, Ceminara was not following this conversation. Her mind was racing to make a decision. If perchance she accepted this proposal, the vampires' loyalty would be unwavering out of pure necessity--they needed to eat to live. From a military standpoint, Immortals would be an excellent advantage if they chose to re-take Lamina.

Zahmir would not expect her to ally herself with the mortal enemies of the Morambath. But what would her warriors say? Fire destroys vampires; this Ceminara knew, and Endymion would not enjoy such affairs. It would be sacrilegious. On the other hand....this information about the hybrids meant mortals would be facing intelligent creatures--leopards, no less. She eyed the dead saber-toothed tiger. It had taken two humans over a half hour to slay one unintelligent of almost exactly the same type...

.
"I find your reasons valid," declared the barbarian queen, "It will be my honor to fight alongside you in battle."

"What?!" cried Thodred, "Damn it all, mother! Do you not see the aborations of nature who stand before you for what they truly are? I will not work with such--why, such monsters --"

"And the half-leopard men, one of whose unintelligent cousins nearly killed you now, they are not monsters?" Silence. "I thought so."

"But the soldiers..." urged Thodred, "They will not work with--"

"My soldiers will not work under their allies by order of their queen? That is highly unlikely, Thodred. Their loyalty outstrips their fear and, in the end, I believe it will overcome it. Punishment for hurting the vampires will be equal to acts done to human soldiers." She eyed the vampire monarchs. "No offense intended, your graces." They nodded understandably.  "However, I must inquire...your diet." A pause.

"Do you honestly think we would feed upon those we protect?" Inquired a vampiric soldier angrily, "Have you no concept of honour?" Ceminara held up a hand to silence him.

"Look at my soldiers," she said with a pointed nod, "If your fangs and their swords are in the same room, which are they more likely to be focused on, Vampire?"

"No need to be so defensive to our entertai--err, our new friends, Private. Ceminara: we may feed on animals," said the king with a wink towards the vampires, who laughed at some concealed joke, "Camels or horses--birds, if it is they are not so bitter--if we should find ourselves in dire need."

"Consider this a dire need," replied Ceminara firmly, and the king sighed with disappointment.

"Glad you have settled your pride-drawn idiocy and set it on fire, then," the queen said smugly, "Now,  Prince, have not you something to tell your mother?"  Thodred flushed.

"Thodred, please tell me you there have been no rash actions here," said Dîyar’s monarch, "Please?"

"He has," said Silvestra, "He  has, personally,  just sent an envoy to Zahmir with false information, and hiding behind the fact the captain has yet to have sent one himself. And I doubt his messenger will be arriving soon...ever..." she grinned a too-wide grin, her stained sharp fangs causing several of the humans to step back in fear.

"We must call him back!" protested Saluc immediately, "If he is caught--"

"Too late," said Daradan gleefully, "Too late, Saluc--he has boarded his ship."

***

The now-richly-clad messenger strode toward the bright red wall, his expression serious. “Greetings,” he stated coldly, staring with a forced civility at the leopard-men guarders of the wall, “I demand—“

“You ‘demand’!” growled a particularly large leopard, “You demand a favour of ours, when our king hates you furless-horrors?”

The messenger opened his mouth to reply (in all likelihood, his words held a much bitterer flame,) but a young leopard nodded his head at him and murmured, “He does not even have a tail!”

“How he attracts mates I will never understand,” the bigger leopard replied, again interrupting the unfortunate messenger, “Just imagine what his children will look like, poor devil.” He shuddered, and the younger of the two gave what sounded like a hysteric giggle. The messenger, however, had had enough.

“You will take me to your king, beasts,” he said as a loud order, “Else I will show you some manners!”

“You come here laughing at what you believe is a lack of sophistication, yet it is you who will show us manners?” boomed the younger, evidently eager to kill a darkling. Yet, the messenger noted, not everyone seemed so eager. A third leopard man had come. His purple robe in addition to his dark gold uniform identified him as a captain, and looked similar to the other two: Except his fur, which was black at night.

“Privates Embry and Agean will return to their posts immediately,” he ordered, his voice the perfect portrayal of a southern drawl. His vague behaviour must have been an attempt to throw the envoy off guard, but it was too late: He had seen the captain’s scratched eye.

Leaning forward, the captain took a deep sniff of the bewildered message-runner.

“Definitely a Dîarian rat,” he remarked, sniffling, “My poor nose. Come along, rat. My floor needs cleaning.”

"Wait!" said the messenger, "a captain sent me. I have run straight from Lamina." The captain raised an eyebrow.

"My apologies," he said, his expression making it clear he wasn't sorry at all, "Follow me, human. And try not to break anything: I have a feeling you will not be well received."

The captain was true to his word. Growls and snarls met the paid actor as he strode through the streets. The children leopards pointed a laughed at his ugliness, and it strained his pride to keep his head up straight.

A single thought ran through his head: I am not welcome. 
 

 



© 2008 Greystone


My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

325 Views
Added on December 15, 2008
Last Updated on December 15, 2008


Author

Greystone
Greystone

Fort Atkinson, WI



About
I've been writing for about five years. Mostly, I focus on fantasy, although to be honest I've dabbled horribly in Romance, Science Fiction, and modern-day roleplays. I enjoy drawing, painting, wood c.. more..

Writing
Sun Sun

A Poem by Greystone


Fury Fury

A Poem by Greystone


Silver Silver

A Poem by Greystone