~:Chapter Six: Fury:~

~:Chapter Six: Fury:~

A Chapter by Greystone
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Did Ceminara and Korari Survive? Will the Nesparians return? How much do the vampires REALLY know? All to be revealed in Chapter Six!

"

Ceminara groaned, rubbing the painful spot on her forehead.

 
“Ah. How good to see you awake, fleshling.” A masculine voice growled. She opened her eyes and beheld the first leopard man she had seen since the fall of the Azarian empire. His ears were tattered with rips. Scars covered every inch of his body. His clothes were of rough, dark red cloth that was nearly as tattered as his ears. Scratches and claw marks, reminders of countless previous battles, adorned his fur. An eye patch covered the right side of his face.
 
Sharp claws dug into her shoulder, and Ceminara screamed.
 
“Zahmir will see you in less than ten minutes,” he growled, “I suggest--strongly--that if you wish to reach him in one piece, you keep your bloody mouth shut.”
 
“You will not dare,” panted Ceminara, slightly shaken from recent events, “Zahmir summons me under the civil right of parley. You cannot touch me until I have seen hi--” Slap. The Dîarian queen went reeling from the force of the blow.
 
“You won’t be giving me any orders,” snarled the leopard man, “I’m a mercenary. You’re my prisoner, and that’s all. Understood?” Ceminara opened her mouth to reply, but the Leopard raised his paw again; and she quieted.
 
“Royalty,” he grumbled, “always thinking that a few generations of servants and fancy palaces will protect them. Well, I’ll show ‘em…” And, just for good measure, he slapped Ceminara one more time, and she winced as Korari entered the chamber.
 
 “Ceminara?” The Queen backed away from this cloaked figure quickly, shaking.
“Ceminara, what’ve they done to you?” The cloak hood was lowered. Ceminara stood, running to him.
 
“Korari,” she murmured, “Korari.” He took her up in his arms, hugging her; and the Dîarian queen burst into tears. Between the sobs, Korari could make out only the briefest phrase:
 
“They after him…they’re after our son…”
***
The council chamber was very much similar to the layout of the Dîarian Great Hall. Even though it was Stormhaven they sat in, Thodred drew strength from the familiarity of his surroundings.
 
Three tables, long and broad, remained placed in three rows: The longest of the three was at the very top; the second and third largest were on the left and right-hand side of a podium that could be viewed from all tables. Thodred sat at this Podium on an elevated throne-like chair, with Melandar closest to him at the top left. To the bottom right, the vampyres had been seated. The mysteriously-empty Nesparian table was on the right side of the second bar.
 
"Dîarians of the council," said Lord Melandar, "and honoured guests, I bid you welcome to a secret our nation has held for over four centuries. The power behind Dîyar's throne." Melandar nodded at the secretive high table. "These individuals would normally be hidden from you at all costs; however, Lord Thodred has insisted we dissuade such policies in light of recent events. I, in all soundness of mind, refuse to violate centuries of tradition upon the whims of a Prince--and a young Prince at that. So Thodred--All Hail!--will be doing so himself, fully aware of the consequences of such a barbaric action if his mother should return."
 
Giving a swift nod to each person seated in various places around the room, he sat down on his green-padded chair. Prince Thodred rose nearly at once.
 
"Hail, Queen Silvestra and King Daradan." He bowed to the vampyres monarchs. Daradan used this moment to glance at the high table, where Corbin, Melandar, and a host of unfamiliar faces sat with hardened expressions.
 
"It is my responsibility to inform you that Her Majesty, Queen Ceminara, has presently left our company." The young monarch's blue-green eyes flicked to his throne momentarily. "I had set out a table for my allies, the Nesparians, but they too have fl--"
 
"No, Prince Thodred. Not fled. Abandoned." Heads snapped towards the doorway as Shahira strode proudly inside. Melandar's eyes narrowed. As though a strike of lightning had occurred, the faces of the vampyre’s rulers were illuminated with a wide array of emotions: suspicion, disbelief, even fear--for a single moment, their long-held reserve was shattered by Shahira's re-appearance.
 
But only for a moment.
 
"Greetings and reverence to Princess Shahira of the Nesparian line," said King Daradan smoothly, quit enjoying the venomous glances from his wife at the statement's addressee, "I am overjoyed to see myself the news of your return."
 
"It is amazing," said Shahira warmly, ignoring Daradan and gazing with a strange intensity at Dîyar's Prince, "How fast the mightiest of us may fall, Thodred." She bowed gracefully, her unbound hair billowing downward. "It is my honour to hail you as ally--and as my King." Ignoring (or perhaps choosing not to see) the outright disapproval of Thodred's council, she finished, "Long life to you, King Thodred!" She made her way up to the table where the Vampyres had been seated.
 
"His highness must be ecstatic to see that such...arduous...devotion is enshrouded inside such a figure," said Silvestra coolly, rising from her chair. Shahira's smile, which had temporarily disappeared upon hearing the tone of the Vampyre Queen's comment, sprang up again with an admirable resilience.
 
"However." The Princess' smile flickered as Silvestra began again.
"The blood of Ceminara-Queen is not prolific enough to signify death. Unless your ladyship is so prepared to offer information as to her reason for the offering of fealty prior to the burning of Ceminara's pyre, she should not be so eager to spring towards the beginning of a young man's new era."
 
Shahira's smile turned into a nefarious one.
 
"I am certain in certainty's entirety that Ceminara yellow-eyes is, or will soon be, deceased, Silvestra-Vampyre." Thodred stared at her as though his blue-green eyes could penetrate her words for cause.
 
"My Lord, Silvestra just winced as though she were in pain," Lord Melandar Murmured in Thodred's ear.
 
"Why do you say this, Princess? What reports do you have to support your claim?" Shahira blinked at Thodred's unexpected stability.
 
"Why, common sense, King Thodred. Why would a woman as strong a ruler as--Endymion rest her--Ceminara was abandon her people? Not just any leave during such hardships as our nations are currently experiencing--we have lived to see the greatest rise for foreign conquest our lands have seen since the final days of the Azarian Empire! It takes the wisest of the wise and the bravest of the brave to remain." Prince Thodred's lips tightened.
 
And, for the second time, Melandar whispered in his ear, "Kings are wise."
 
"Ceminara is the living example of all such traits," replied Thodred.
 
"I will consider the council you offer, your highness, as is due one of your blood. But I will not abandon any predecessor without justified cause, and the word of the Nesparian ruler is apt to be clouded in recognizing the light of events passed." Only the Vampyres heard Shahira's angry hiss at the smooth dismissal, but she smiled venomously and continued.
 
"Of course, your Majesty," she said, "you are wise and just."
 
"Good," said Dîyar's Prince, "Then we would move onward." The vampyre's monarchs nodded in approval. Only Daradan saw the smile creeping up the edges of his wife's mouth.
 
"Corbin! Report!" Ordered Melandar, but Thodred shook his head and Corbin--who had been rising--sat again, looking rather disappointed.
 
"Corbin is our caller," said Thodred, "He manages all intelligence networks for the crown." Corbin, who appeared to be grumbling something about 'those bloody foreigners,' rose, and began to speak:
 
"Reports have reached my ears that, while seeming to lack in merit, are compromised of facts that may yet assist us to the conditions of Zahmir's nation--and, for a brief moment, of Stormhaven.
 
One: A suspicious figure who bares Dîarian colours without due pride has been wondering the grounds of Stormhaven." Corbin glanced at Prince Thodred. "From what I understand, the female has been meandering the streets at night, armed and--in some cases--unjustifiably hostile towards any other person." Silvestra's perceptive eyes narrowed expectantly at Shahira. Daradan murmured something in her ear, and she regained her apathetical expression.
 
"Now, I believe that travelers and such are to be encouraged to some degree--However, this woman appears to have been committing reports to memory. Reports so intense and in-depth they shame the most superior of my officers. I fear for the safety of the fleeing Nesparians as well."
 
"What of Zahmir?" Asked Daradan, "What have you heard there, o wise one?"
Corbin smiled at Daradan's sardonic tone. "I reserve giving all material at once, Daradan King. It makes staying within the bounds of interest nigh impossible." Daradan smiled, his fanged grin incredibly diverse from Corbin's charming display of amusement.
 
"Zahmir's advances are working at a horrendously quickened pace, his workforce's hours and conditions exceeding all bounds of common decency. Day and night, the strongest leopard men build Zahmir's fleet. Phrases such as 'our race will eradicate such vermin' or, perhaps; ' you may as well give it to the humans' are bandied about with great frequency."
 
Thodred frowned.
 
"Such demeaning perquisites should not be heard from a reigning power," said Thodred, "even so, such facts are not relevant to current proceedings. Move on." Corbin, seemingly annoyed at being upstaged, gave a boy that was so primitively sarcastic that Thodred's lips tightened in anger.
"Of course, Your Majesty," Corbin replied in a silkily smooth voice, "Your wishes are my wishes. Perhaps you would like to hear of the Nesparian spy?" Eyes of the ensemble darted to Shahira, then to Corbin; then back again.
 
Thodred opened his mouth to reply immediately, but Melandar, his lips hardly moving; murmured:
"Be wary of who you offend, Thodred. A wise king measures such situations from all angles."
 
Dîyar's Heir glanced at Shahira.
 
"Your patience in this matter is appreciated, Corbin." Corbin glanced at Thodred in confusion, then sunk into a bow once again. The ruler proceeded to shrink back, as though in hesitation, before straightening his shoulders and asking, "Shahira will now tell us what she knows of such affairs." Corbin's expression was almost immediately interested, but he regained his normal face.
 
"With humility, Majesty--Surely your Highness does not expect equal frankness here!" Corbin imposed. And Silvestra's quiet voice carried over him:
 
"Is this how you would address your Prince, Corbin? The boy knows more than you are aware." Shahira rose at this, clenching her fists in apprehension.
 
"My father was surprised to hear of Zahmir's Conquest," she began, evidently choosing her words with care, "Queen Ceminara was surprised, when my father sent for her assistance. Thodred--All Hail the King!--was amazed to take up his mother’s throne.
How swiftly such surprise moves hence:
 
Is it within the civility of a King to question his guest?"
 
The doors opened again, and a Leopard man strode into the room, clad in a gold uniform and baring a sharp sword.
 
"The Queen lives," he said simply, and the council burst into an uproar.
***
 “Hail, Ceminara of the Crimson City,” said Zahmir mockingly. His tone convinced Ceminara instantly of the cruelty she had heard of him. The throne room was crowded with leopard-people, pushing and shoving to get a view of this historic meeting.
 
“Hail, thieving king.” She said coolly. Zahmir laughed, and several of the leopard men nearest him flinched. Ceminara remained unmoved.
 
“Do you always greet your foreign monarchs so warmly, Ceminara-Queen?”
 
“Only when they are so kind as to invite me down,” she replied sarcastically, “in such a manner.”
 
“Forgive me,” he atoned, equally sardonic, “it was necessary.”
 
Necessary?” She repeated, in hollow disbelief.
 
“Precisely, my dear--If you’d only allow me to explain…”
 
“Oh, marvelous, Zahmir! There is an explanation why you suddenly decided to invade my empire, kill Saluc’s people, run rampant against the protection of the Vampyre, and take my husband as a prisoner of war for—for—seventeen years?” Her voice cracked as it said the word ‘husband’, faint enough that no human would have heard.
 
“Yes,” he said, quietly, simply; and this stopped her. She stared at him suspiciously, and King Zahmir sighed.
“Bring our guest a chair,” he ordered. Ceminara raised an eyebrow at the gesture.
 
“It is civil,” he explained, a fanged smile creeping up the side of his face, “and I’m afraid, my dear, you will be here awhile.”
 
“Oh, how I despise your riddles, Zahmir! Whatever are you retaining me for?”
 
A pause, the grin widened.
 
“Your explanation.”
***
“Leopard scum! How dare you! You honestly believe you can walk into the scared chamber of our council without fear?” Shahira cried.
 
“Peace,” said Thodred, “let him speak,” and nodded at the hybrid.
 
“I am a messenger baring a mark case,” he said calmly, “I cannot be hung as a spy.” A growl of impatience came to be heard from Thodred’s left, he suspected it came from Corbin. “Say what you will, but you cannot harm me.” His tail twitched nervously.
 
Thodred considered this.
 
“Sire…” began Melandar earnestly, but Thodred held up a hand and—with a smile—murmured,
 
“Kings are wise.” Melandar mouthed a silent swear. Thodred nodded at the leopard man.
 
“You may begin.”
 
 “Ceminara-Queen—All Hail!—has been taken as a prisoner of war in this, the rebellion of the fleshlings against the power and majesty of the Azarian empire. All conspirators will be slain.” Thodred leaned forward, suddenly interested.
 
“On what terms is the land which is ours by the blood of my forefathers a possession of the Azarian Empire?” He pressed. The messenger bowed.
 
“Hail, Steward,” the leopard man said drily. “your highness’ all-noble relations gave their blood in the name of Zahmir’s all-mighty empire, one which is already spreading to the four corners of the world. By baring my royalty’s standard, you therefore gave this land to us, under the name of the Azarian Empire. My King—All hail Zahmir—has no interest in this.
 
He is more interested in your pressing rebellion against the crown.”
 
“Rebellion?” laughed Thodred, “How does one rebel against a non-existent government? If your master sought our fealty, he might have actually assisted in the ruling.”
 
“Never the less,” continued the nameless hybrid, “My majesty offers safety to any and all who would swear loyalty to him and his line, denying the lies of the Dîarian traitors who believe a crown makes a King. Your lives will be spared if you will journey with me to my lands.” His piercing eyes glanced around the chamber; but nobody moved.
 
“The hand of friendship has been offered,” He said, “your arrogance will morph it into the fist of war!”
 
A smile pulled at the edges of the Dîarian prince’s mouth.
 
“‘A royal welcome to any envoy who bares his lordship’s lineage so proudly,’” he quoted, “You are dismissed, with the reminder that your tyrant, Zahmir, is not the only one with strong arms waiting!” The hybrid glanced up at Thodred, impassive toward his fervid passion.
 
“Your wish is mine, King Thodred,” he said, a fanged leer creeping up the sides of his face, “Perhaps we should discuss the trading for Ceminara Queen when you are feeling more…. diplomatic, boy-king?” Thodred glared at him with those stormy-blue eyes, and the envoy shuddered.
 
“Long is the hour when diplomacy’s hand is stretched to tyrants on a stolen throne,” he replied, “boy-cat.” The leopard-man roared; the pedestal on which Thodred sat shook furiously.
 
Thodred laughed, and the leopard snarled, throwing a small pouch of powder on the ground.
 
With a bright flash, he vanished into the night.
***
 
“Did you know,” Zahmir began, watching with an amused expression as Ceminara struggled to get out of the magnetized chair, “That my forefathers were the greatest of kings? That they built an empire so magnificent, so gleaming, that even the Gods envied the golden city?” Ceminara’s gaze turned to him.
 
“Enydemion has no need for stolen wealth,” she said evenly, darkly. Zahmir smiled.
 
“Wealth not stolen from him,” he accepted, “without a sacrifice of blood to avenge our greed. Greed overcame the wealth of blood. The younger generation was hidden in the wood by worried mothers, but another dwelt there—a dark, despicable creature who sought the blood of any living human.”
 
“I do not relish this information without knowing its cause, Zahmir,” Ceminara said carefully, hiding the anger that screamed to be unleashed. Her eyes flashed a dark shade of orange identical to Korari’s.
“When I was a child, I relished the story of the fights that began here,” he continued, evidently unaware of her flashing eyes, “I dreamed that one day, I would grow to be a hero. That I would have a power no one had had before me, that I would overcome the tyrants who freely roamed our ports and villages. That, singlehandedly, I would avenge my mother---I would eradicate the monsters who killed her.
 
The Azarian Empire began their conquest the day I turned eighteen. I was drafted into the forces, torn from the life I had never wanted. Armor and sword were thrust upon me, and, without a word of instruction, I was forced onto the field. We fought the Dîarians with a strength that was far above admirable given no previous training. Sheer numbers overcame years of Dîyar’s training for her soldiers. Within hours, we had driven back your dark-skinned forces into the corner of the forest. We were moments—moments—from victory…” His eyes gleamed with some fervid terror, some hidden inner fury that could rise above all others.
 
“And on the field of battle—my first—the convulsions began. My screams and wails of anguish stopped the Dîarians from ending my life; they stared after me, completely confused. This was not the behaviour of a warrior. This was not the act of a nearly-victorious party. What was wrong with me? Had I gone mad? Blood-wild?” The King chortled; any human would have mistaken it for another growl if they did not share Ceminara’s Morambath hearing.
 
 
“King Zahmir,” she warned, sounding as though she would have liked very much to silence him, but he snarled, the Queen quieted, and he continued:
 
“Fur spread over my back—Thick, yellow fur with handsome black spots—and claws suddenly covered each one of my fingers and toes. A long tail shot out from my back, helping me balance. I was horrified. What had I done? Who had I injured? What sorcery…what trickery was this?” He paused, his eyes lingering on a sword to his left that sat encased in glass and gold.
 
“I was the only one who was not driven to insanity due to the change. Of my battalion, at least, I was the only one who remained alive. The Dîarians considered the field there’s—perhaps they were right, they had taken our standard—and gave a cry of victory. I fled back into the forest to find that I was not alone: All officers were now these strange leopard-beasts. A few had suffered partial changes; skin still remained in some places, making them look like something out of a nightmare. Those, we slew there; most begged us to end their lives.” He drummed his fingers together in mid-air, his expression angry, only the slightest bit of remorse and sorrow could be seen.
 
“This ended the Azarian Empire,” Ceminara murmured, under her breath.
 
“And you Dîarians did this to me!” Zahmir shouted, leaping from his chair with bared fangs.
 
“No,” said Ceminara, “Korari would never have resorted to such fool hearted cowardice to win a battle.” Wistfully, she ran her head over one of the sayings she had abhorred in school: ‘Poison-killers may kill their mark, but Dîyar's champion is of the sword.
 
“I suppose we just decided to become leopard-men of our own accord, then?” He snapped, “Eh?” The Dîarian queen shook her head.
 
“The Vampyre are responsible for this,” she said, “They meant to get us too.” Zahmir stared at her with a hungry ferocity that disquieted her.
 
“What?” He said, suspiciously.
 
“They meant to get us too,” she repeated, hating how obedient and civil her station forced her tongue to be; “the enchantment missed because we were so near the forest, and the blood of the Morambath flows in all Dîarian champions. The same Champions who, if I know anything of King Korari, would have been placed on the front lines. Dîyar could afford to lose champions."
 
“This information interests me,” said Zahmir, “but it remains irreverent. I retain equal frankness with your majesty: You will not leave here of any will but my own. If you do—slowly—I will cut your body into pieces. I will dismember you in a way that is so severe the strongest of my warriors will scream in horror. I will kill you, Ceminara-Queen. I will kill you, and your son, and your husband. I will kill all Dîarians who did nothing to cease my pain, nothing to aid my agony.
 
And then,” he continued, his voice shaking with a hatred so strong that Ceminara feared him, “And then, the vampyre. They, they! They will be killed so horribly; the trees will wither and die or quake from my wrath. The winds will race in the opposite direction. I will be despised as the worst, most heartless tyrant, but that does not matter to me. You Dîarians are all the same: Cowards, every one! Your lands are mine, your children, mine; your bloody shields, mine! Mine! I will take them back. I will kill them, Ceminara Queen.
 
I will kill them all.” Ceminara gave a roar more fierce than any of Zahmir’s had been, and leapt from her chair with the strength of ten men. The orange flashes in her eyes had steadied now, they were constant, as though her eyes had always been that colour. Fury devoured her consciousness, fury scratched at her innards and destroyed any will but that of the battle. Standing straight and proud, she spat at him; and said—
 
“Your lies do not confound the courage of Dîyar’s Queen,” she flared, her eyes flashing. The sunlight through the window gazed over her flashing gown and straight back, making her seem a savage goddess prepared to take revenge; “I do not fear your challenge. I fear nothing! Nothing! For I am the stars in the sea and the fire in the oil—I am the courage of the mute and the sight of the blind! I serve Enydemion’s will, Zahmir, you overfed cub, AND I DO NOT FEAR YOU!”
 
The Morambath had awoken in her blood, and her anger literally radiated in invisible waves to Zahmir’s Leopard men. They shook and grumbled fearfully, taking a step back. Calling on the ancient powers lost to the Nesparian Empire and drawing a sword out of mid-air, she screamed again,
“I DO NOT FEAR YOU!”
 
Zahmir snarled, bent down, and leapt at her; his claws inches from her throat….


© 2009 Greystone


Author's Note

Greystone
Remember that there are more than one type of war. There's alot we learn here--Pay close attention, it'll move much more quickly soon.

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Added on January 16, 2009
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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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