~:Chapter Five: An Inside Source:~

~:Chapter Five: An Inside Source:~

A Chapter by Greystone

 

 

The moonlight shone over the polished turrets of Stormhaven, and a messenger crept through the watchful shadows. No one was out on the streets, except for two vivaciously different individuals. Both of them wore cloaks of Dîarian red, and both seemed nervous. Were the soldiers not posted at the walls of the fortress, and the citizens not asleep in their beds, they would have been inclined to wonder why one of them had a tail.

The place in which the figures stood was very busy during the day, for the pillars were of white marble. Tiles of precious blue stones covered the ground, with good green grass sprouting up between charming wooden benches. Presently-abandoned market stalls littered the area. In the center of the street end, a statue of the fire god, Endymion, stood engraved in a massive chunk of some unknown black stone. That black stone gleamed wickedly beneath the calming moonlight, and now, the two moved toward it.

“This night has been blessed, stranger,” came the smooth, female voice of the first as she reached the statue, “how are you faring?”

“The song of the bird flies far, Highness,” growled the tailed figure, “our lord sends his blessings.”

“And I return them in kind, Fievel.” The first figure--a dark-haired silhouette--removed her hood.

“As I am sure he will be glad to hear.” Growled Fievel, removing his hood to reveal his glowing cat eyes.

“What news from the mark?”

“My lord is doing his best not to attract attention mi’lady, but it is difficult. He inquires after the status of your detail. Without it, we have no ground.”

“Our Lord must have patience, Fievel. Earning trust is the first step to an unobscured path. You have my word--I will work quickly.”

“There are only so many ways I can escape into the safety of my own isle--we must limit these night-time dwellings of anguish yet to come.”

“As you wish. I agree--I have a new way to send news.” A pause. “I will miss you, Fievel.”

Fievel‘s tail twitched, and he sniffled his nose. “Professional, if you please, miss.”

“Shahira? Shahira, are you over here?” Two heads snapped toward the arch from whence the sound bounced off. The female handed Fievel a scroll covered in notes and lyrics--a song.

“I must take my leave now,” said the leopard man, and slunk into the shadows, leaving Thodred alone with the stranger.

***

“My God, Ceminara. A Prince of Dîyar! An Heir!” He slunk into the chair opposite his wife, overcome. “How does he fight? Is he strong? Does he have his father’s aim, his mother’s wit? Do the girls chase after him like bees after honey?”

Ceminara laughed, a light tinkling noise that no one had heard in a very long time. “He is unmatched in the sword, but the bow needs work. Knife and axe-throwing are magnificent when done by him--he has an elegance I have only seen with you. He refused to learn the Nesparian language, to my dismay, something about the heroes of war. He is a prince….but he lets his heart rule his judgment too much. His choices are clouded by ghosts of his past.” She seemed troubled for a moment, but, glancing up; she smiled lovingly at him, something that Korari knew he would be slapped if he tried to describe it to anybody else. Then, quietly; “He needs a father. There are things I cannot give him as he approaches manhood, things he will always and has always needed you for.”

“When can I meet him?” Asked the King with a handsome smile. Ceminara’s smile disappeared.

“I…” She paused, and Korari saw how tired her golden eyes were, how pain-filled. “I will not give something to him if you will take it from both of us, your majesty.”

“And what might that be, your majesty?”

“A family.” Korari looked at her, and the depth of the promise in his expression silenced his wife.

“I am not leaving again,” he declared, his orange eyes fogging with what might’ve been tears, “I’ve come home, and it will take four legions of men to tear me from you.” He kissed her again, more insistently this time; the act shattered Ceminara’s reserve.

“Why now?” She murmured, “Why have you come back?” As though wakened from a dream, Korari’s eyes lightened. Leaning forward, he whispered six words:

“There is something you must know.”

***

“Greetings, majesty,” said Fievel, strolling forward into throne room of Zahmir and bowing, “how are you faring?”

“The song of the bird flies far,” said the Leopard king, his expressive eyes twinkling.

“Farther than you think,” replied Fievel with a grin, “I have a new song for you, majesty.”

“Ah! My favourite bard!” He clapped his paws in evident delight. “Yes, yes, I’ll hear it at once. Fire away!” Clearing his throat, Fievel opened his mouth, and began to sing in a rousing tenor:

Beneath the skies

Old friendships die

And old path made

for scared escape.

 

Spears and swords

claw and bone

a new day dons

your kingly song.

 

Soliders wait

and was cries scream

turrets stare

at an empty ring.

 

But good sun blocks

our pathway there

the soldiers there are waiting

for what they're unaware of.

 

Take your trowel

take your claw

stare down the silence

and start a new age."

The servants who were near him exchanged confused glances. This was most unlike Fievel’s usual style, but the king seemed overjoyed at this inexplicable change in personality.

“Most enchanting Fievel,” said the leopard-king with a fatherly smile towards the singer, “what is this tune so named?”

“Dread’s bluff, your majesty.” replied the bard.

“Dread’s bluff,” repeated the king, savoring it as though it were some sort of dessert, “Thank you, Fievel. You may go.” A pause. “Tell me when your chords are roused again.” Fievel smiled.

“As you wish.”

***

 

“Shahira?” Thodred poked his head into the bluff of Endymion. “Shahira, are you here?”

And a muffled voice answered: “No, Prince Thodred, she is not here.”

“Do you know where she is?” The Prince inquired, moving towards the statue of his god, “I apologize, but it is my responsibility to see to her safety.”

“She retired,” the voice came again, sounding as though the cloaked figure were vapid with these proceedings, “that way.” A long, black finger emerged from the cloak, pointing towards the arch from which Thodred had come.

The Prince’s eyes narrowed.

“Who are you?” He asked, stepping forward, “How do you know Princess Shahira?” The stranger drew a copper-coloured blade and slid easily---too easily, as though she had been prepared for a fight all along--into the battle-ready position.

“Leave, Prince Thodred,” the cloaked figure imposed, “Leave, and forget this night.” Thodred reached into his belt and drew a sword with a long scratch down the middle. His sword--Debonair--was well crafted, albeit for the scratch in the shining silver blade. From the pommel, which had a gleaming ruby in the center, a gold-inlaid hilt lead to a guard of fire resistant obsidian.

The silver of the back edge was shining brightly in the moonlight above; making it easier to see the dark blue vine pattern of the fuller.

Thodred raised the sword, his eyebrows furrowing in anger and suspicion.

That was not one of your better ideas,” he said, “I’ll ask again: Who are you?”

“You’ll never know,” hissed the figure, and disappeared into the shadows.

***

“Nadir?”

“Mission accomplished, Wayna. She should be safe.” Wayna shook his head, sinking onto a dark blue chair covered with silver lines. The two of them were inside the library, near the fireplace and the two easy chairs. There was a small table in between those chairs, in case one wanted to eat while reading. It was quiet, it was dark, and therefore, as Nadir had pointed out, it was the perfect place to discuss betrayal.

“Good. The last thing we need is a dead Ceminara--who would want to kill such a great leader, anyway?”

“Anyone who could gain anything from the death of a great leader,” reminded Nadir, and Wayna sighed.

“Agreagrious, man, you are more grim than anyone else I have ever met.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” Nadir agreed, with evident pride, “I am a seer, after all.”

“Right. So….Nadir…what do you think about Shahira?”

“What about her?”

“Do you honestly think she would betray us?”

“I cannot say with any certainty. I think, at least, that someone wants it to appear that way--even if it isn’t Ceminara.”

“It isn’t Ceminara?”

“Ceminara is many things, not all of them good, but there would be no purpose whatsoever in framing a foreign princess against a country that isn’t hers.”

“Besides that you and I would cause discord fighting for the crown, you mean.”

Nadir shrugged in an expressive way, rolling his eyes towards the ceiling. “I do not want the crown,” he announced, and the sound bounced off the walls.

“Shush!” Wayna insisted, almost urgently, “You know what happens if father finds us here in the dead of night better than I do, Nadir!”

“I do not want the crown,” he said apologetically, in a much quieter voice, “there would be no discord. Ceminara has lived among us now, Wayna. She would be aware of that.”

“For heavens sake, man. Who wouldn’t be?” Nadir considered this for a moment.

“I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it,” the Nesparian Prince responded, red eyes blazing with the new possibility. Wayna caught on at once.

“Zahmir!” he cried, leaping from his chair.

“Hypocritical,” muttered Nadir.

“Boys! I had better be imagining your voices in there!” Saluc’s voice came from the doorway.

“Good going,” said Nadir, turning towards Wayna’s chair, but he found it empty. He sighed.

“I so should have seen that coming.”

***

“Zahmir is coming! Now! But we’ve just begun to prepare--”

“Hold on. You knew Zahmir had re-awoken? That I had survived?”

“If I knew you were alive, I would most likely have had you killed. I am not the honey-filled teenager you left, Korari.” Said Ceminara, her gold eyes flashing, “but I did know Zahmir was alive, thanks to Saluc.”

“Saluc!?” spat the King, “that over-conscious fool! How dare you speak to him--”

“Amazing though it may seem, I do not await your permission when making choices regarding my country’s wellbeing.”

“What do you mean, ‘your country’! I am the born monarch-!”

“Who so heroically abandoned your country to a young woman with a broken heart?”

“Ceminara, I had killed someone. I had just discovered I was a monster, and somehow, I was still to be king. The same expectations were there, but I was not so prepared. I needed some time to figure out exactly who--what--I was--”

“Twenty years is more than some time, Korari.” The way she said it made it seem dangerous, and Korari took a step back from her. She rose from her chair and took a step toward him.

“Do you have any idea what you did to me?” She demanded of him, regaining her typical personality by the second, taking another step, “Do you?” A ‘poof’ with a plume of azure smoke appeared in the center of the room, just to the right of the chairs, and to the right of where Korari was standing. A familiar red cloaked figure stood silently, raising a dagger.

“I didn’t expect to see you here, Tiearus.” Came the female voice. The Queen raised her eyebrows in surprise.

“ ‘Tiearus’,” she said in surprise, “ ‘The lonely one’?”

“Zahmir wouldn’t have him known as anything else, w***e,” the cloaked figure said snidely, “not from his favourite captain.” Ceminara took a step back from the pair, giving her husband a horrified glance.

“No! Tell her it isn’t true, Korari! Tell her you don’t serve Zahmir!” Korari’s mind was reeling about how ten seconds could alter a conversation. Thus, he remained silent.

“Tell her!”

“I’m afraid he won’t be telling me anything,” said the stranger, drawing a sword and pointing it at her, “He serves me as well.”

“I do not serve you!” surged the King angrily, “I only serve Zahmir, and that was to pro--” At this, Shahira removed her hood, and he fell to his knees.

“Forgive me,” he murmured, “I did not know I had the honour--”

“You!” Said Ceminara, her expression furious, “It was you--” Shahira slapped her, and the unexpected blow forced her to her knees. A red welt had formed on her face. The Princess held out her sword tip the Queen’s neck.

“No!” Said Korari, “Please, milady--”

“Your husband has an interesting way of saving his wife,” observed Shahira, “begging on his knees, rather than employing his sword, wouldn’t you say?”

“I am not afraid of you,” said Ceminara, staring Shahira in the face.

Shahira kicked her, and she fell back, bumping her head on her four-posted bed with a groan. Korari ran to her, pressing his hand to her head. A thin cut was bleeding on her forehead.

“Ceminara! Ceminara, say something--”

“Get up, wench.” Her sword was now at Korari’s neck. “Let me make this plain for you. I can kill you, but there really would be no point to that--they’d blame my bumbling buffoon of a father, and I yet have need of him--but I need your help.” The Queen did not move, and Shahira pressed her tip into the flesh of Korari, who bit his lip to keep from screaming. “Now!”

Shakily, and still with a regal air, Ceminara stood.

“Good. Now, let me make this plain for you. You do what I ask, or your handsome Prince and your conveniently missing husband will have unfortunate accidents. FATAL accidents. Are we clear?”

Ceminara laughed, a bitter sound that was not at all meant. “Fatal accidents?” Shahira opened her mouth, but Ceminara continued, “I do not believe you are as perilous as you have rendered yourself, Shahira. You have either made some new friends, or--more amusingly--learned to wield a sword. Either way, I have no intentions of agreeing to the demands of impolite intruders.” Invisible steam poured from Shahira’s ears.

“Very well,” the Princess said, in a strangely thick voice, “We’ll have it your way.” Raising the hilt of her sword, she slammed it against Ceminara’s head, rendering her unconscious.

***

“Zarobi? Why aren’t you asleep yet? We have a big day tomorrow--”

“Why Junayd, Saluc?” Tears had gathered in the Nesparian Queen’s violet eyes. Her handsome King walked over and hugged her, stroking her hair.

“There will be a day to mourn Junayd,” promised Saluc, gazing with a moved severity at the sad face of his wife, “but it is not now. We are royals. We must always look to our people first.” Zarobi buried herself in her husband’s chest.

Zarobi and Saluc had rooms just like the others: The four poster bed with the white sheets, white pillars, and fine sandalwood furnishings. A large circular window overlooked the inner courtyard.

A loud knock at the door disturbed their sorrow, and Nadir rushed inside, breathless from the long run.

“Nadir?” Said Saluc in an amazed voice as Zarobi hurriedly wiped the tears from her face and sat up, “What’re you doing here-?”

“It’s Ceminara!” He panted, “Her room’s ransacked, there’s blood on the floor--”

“Blood?” Asked Zarobi, getting off the bed and walking to her son in concern, “How much?”

“A fairly large puddle,” said Nadir worriedly.

“And Ceminara--was she in there?” Said Saluc, and the Prince shook his head.

“No,” he replied, “She’s gone, and no one knows where she is. The Dîarians are getting whispers from the guards that something’s wrong, and if Corbin or Melandar hears she’s been harmed--”

“Call a council,” said Zarobi, “we have to tell them before their own conclusions are drawn. Ring the emergency bells at the gate. Hurry!”

“No, Nadir! Wait!” The Prince looked at his father with a questioning expression.

“Why?”

“We have to get out of here, Zarobi.”

“We cannot simply abandon Prince Thodred. If the Dîarians think we left because of the Queen’s death, they will blame us for it! You know this, Saluc.”

“Yes, I know that. But if we stay, they’ll hardly excuse us. They’ll be snide, cruel, and suspicious, we won’t be told anything, and Prince Thodred--King?--cannot begin his reign in those conditions and take off without a hitch.”

“But we can’t just leave him alon--” An elegant bat fluttered in through the window, landing and forming into Queen Silvestra.

“What have you done?!” She screeched, in a very inhuman voice, “the scent of Ceminara‘s blood taints this palace, humans--What have you done!”

“This was not done by our hands,” said Saluc firmly, “Nor by the hands of any Nesparian. We believe it to have been someone who could have gained something from her death.”

“Death?” Repeated Silvestra in a different, more alluring voice, “I do not think she is dead. There is not enough blood, I can smell that from here.”

“The problem is, most of Ceminara’s people will certainly think as you have,” said Nadir, “You must be aware of this. You have walked the earth for centuries, you have seen turmoil and war, for the sake of my people--please, your Majesty: council.”

“You Nesparians are a grim bunch,” commented Silvestra, “I must say.”

“She does not understand the entire situation,” protested Saluc, “Certainly not enough to aid us.”

“Do you think that during the time we lived in our forest we kept our heads buried in the sand, human? I understand more than you give me credit for. If you must flee, then by all means, leave. It will make things more interesting, I thank you to know. Daradan and I will see to the Princeling.” amended the Queen with a glance at Zarobi, who nodded appreciatively.

Interesting?” Chorused Nadir and Saluc in disbelief.

“Be prepared for our call to arms, King Saluc,” said Silvestra, ignoring this.

At that very moment, a gong rang in the distance, and the Nesparians looked at the window.

“They will have found Ceminara’s room,” the vampyre said, “you do not have a plethora of time. Take your people and get out.”

“But we haven’t any supplies! No horses, we have no idea where to go--”

“Go to our palace,” said Silvestra, “Daradan always kept at least four moons worth of food in there for you humans, bless his eccentric heart, and game is not scarce at all near our place. Animals know we dislike the taste of their mortality. We prefer humans.” She reached into her satchel and withdrew an ancient-looking piece of parchment.

“Here--a map.” Saluc glanced at Zarobi, then at Nadir, and nodded.

“Come,” he said, “Let us be gone.”

 

 



© 2009 Greystone


Author's Note

Greystone
This chapter is subject to change. I'm not really sure about this whole vampire-nesparian agreement. And my enter bar is being stupid, so I'm having trouble paragraphing issues. I'll use another comptuer to fix them eventually.

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Added on January 1, 2009
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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..

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