Labor of Love

Labor of Love

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

In Westmark, Aurei and Alis are undergoing exhaustive training before the planned war against the Necromancer's Guild.

"

2.

Labor of Love

 

 

Eleazar, Earl of Coldburn watched with a mixture of compassion and amusement as Aurei struggled through the knee-deep mud, as she accompanied the other Paladin recruits on their trip back to Westmark.  

 

The rain fell relentlessly, making the journey back even more miserable for the group of twelve.   Compounding their misery was the heavy full plate armor they all wore, which, along with heavy backpacks and weaponry caused all of them to slowly shuffle along.  

It had been a cool, wet, spring day full of exercises to strengthen them for long foot marches in armor, for they anticipated a campaign in the Nofesylvis Mountains, where horses were difficult to use.

 

The recruits, along with Aurei and Alis, stumbled and swayed as they quietly plowed through the mire.   All were nearly spent with exhaustion from the day in the foothills, but they all grimly soldiered onward as the heavy rain beat down on them.  

 

He hated to put her through such vigorous exercises, but it was his solution to the growing problem he faced with her each evening, as the Ssinssrigg-Chath increased the girl’s desires.   For the first week, they had managed to spend the nights together and actually sleep without any attempt by Aurei to seduce him.   Their shared dreams had been wonderful and they both awoke completely refreshed and relaxed the following morning.

 

But slowly the Ssinssrigg-Chath began to come over her and she fought it at first, but it quickly became clear that she was losing the battle and that sooner or later they would weaken in their resolve and engage each other.    The more she struggled with it, the hungrier for her that he became, and though he had convinced her not to bathe together with him, he knew that if he didn’t do something to prevent it, they would quickly become very intimate with each other.  

His idea was to tire her with training as a Paladin so that she was too exhausted in the evenings to desire anything in bed but to sleep.   It worked wonderfully at first.   She surprised him by meekly agreeing to his plan (though he didn’t tell her the reason for it), but he had to tell a half-lie and insinuate that it was just to get her ready for the serious campaign they both faced soon.

 

Sadly, poor Alis had to also be forced to train, for Aurei not to suspect the real reason for the extreme physical training sessions.   Now, only two days before her wedding to Sir Aeric in King’s Reach, the bride-to-be weakly sloshed through the mud next to her friend.

 



Admirably, both ladies did not complain one time, but stoically endured nearly two months of intense work-outs, as did the ten Paladin recruits.   It was far from the typical knightly training, but it would insure all of them were physically fit when faced with war.

 

For most of the two months, Aurei was too exhausted to give him any trouble.   He’d train her in the mornings, allow her a few hours in the afternoon for ducal business, then a few more hours of training in late afternoon and into the evening (if she wasn’t serving at the Muddy Boot).   The result was a very tired, sore-muscled, Duchess that gave him no argument on bathing, and who would fall asleep as soon as her head rested against his chest each night.

 

They stayed in the Muddy Boot’s Master Bedroom, and though he still felt rather sinful staying with her, everyone quickly seemed to understand (to his utter amazement) what their rather unique sleeping arrangement was, and gave them no grief at all.   Thankfully, neither one of them lost any of their Paladin blessings from Yesh, though Eleazar certainly didn’t take that to mean that it was a sign of approval from God.

 

Their joined dreams were, for the most part, very pleasant, usually consisting of both of them appearing together in a dream that apparently one of the two of them subconsciously generated.   A few times they dreamt as if they were the same person, both of them existing for the duration of the dream in one body.   These dreams were very strange and they would talk much about them for days following.

 

The most horrible experience during this period of shared dreams was when he relived, during his dream, the day his mother was killed in the Underdark.   Aurei was with him, chained in the magic circle, sharing his horror, pain, grief and rage.  

She had pulled them out of it as the demon that possessed him began his killing rampage, and he had awoken to find her screaming and hysterical.   She had refused to sleep for the rest of the night and was deeply troubled for a week afterwards.   “You went through THAT?!”  She’d asked him with new found sympathy, the following morning.

 

Of course it had been tough to get her to relax and go to sleep in the nights following the nightmare, so he read to her excerpts out of Kinzer’s book on the History of the World, until exhaustion finally took her and she fell asleep.

Thankfully, when he joined her in the dreams, the nightmares did not resume.

 

Things returned to normal until recently, when he started noticing that she seemed to have more energy and acted less tired each evening, even after a hard training session.  

 

She was getting used to it, and he found that she flirted a bit more with him each evening.   Her eyes had a hint of the tell-tale red glow that indicated that the Ssinssrigg-Chath was beginning to affect her.

 

He was beginning to worry that the training would not be enough, and in fact it might be more difficult to stop her as her strength and stamina increased.   But she seemed to be growing more and more attractive to him, though he wasn’t sure how that was possible.  

He suspected it might be the effect of the Ssinssrigg-Chath, for he noticed (with some jealousy) that the men of town also seemed to be more and more fascinated with her.  

 

Tomorrow morning they would board the Autumn Maid (if it arrived on schedule) and go to King’s Reach, first for Alis and Aeric’s wedding, but then to attend the conference of the King on his plans against the Necromancer’s Guild.  

What would happen once her training ended and she grew rested up?   He wondered if perhaps they should be married too, but Aurei insisted that they wait until after this last big battle was over before they wed; if they could wait that long.

 

“Almost home.”  He heard Aurei tell Alis as they pulled their mud caked boots out of the muck that was usually just a road to the Dwarven kingdom to the northeast.  

“Are you alright?”   Aurei asked her friend, who was walking with her head bowed.

“Yes; it’s just the same old problem.   I’ll be okay.”  Alis replied, and Eleazar knew she was referring to the effects of daylight - even on rainy days- upon her.  

 

She and Aeric both had been bitten by a Vampire Lord, three months ago, and though the Vampire was dead, the couple still suffered from the effects they had given the name of ‘Minionism’.  

Eleazar glanced over to Sir Aeric, who, like Alis, seemed very tired and weak, his heavy cloak’s hood thrown over his head more to keep out the light than the rain.

“We’re almost to Westmark.”  Eleazar told the recruits as well as his lieutenant.   “I’m very proud of all of you; you have endured extreme conditions for months and all have bore up very well.    You all deserve the week’s rest that will begin tomorrow.”

The reminder of the vacation lightened the mood of all of the recruits, and even Alis and Aeric held their heads up as they continued walking down the road.   

 

They reached the town a few minutes later and the guards out on the parapets looked at them with pity as the mud covered knights-in-training slowly slogged by as they returned to their keep.   Aurei and Alis stopped as they passed the Muddy Boot.

“We’ve got to get cleaned up,” Aurei told Eleazar and Aeric, “Siris and Illania are expecting Alis for a final fitting before tomorrow, so we’ll go shower over at the Muddy Boot.”

“Muddy knights in the Muddy Boot.”  Eleazar commented, and Aurei smirked.

“Funny; actually, this very thing is the reason father named the Inn as he did.   In the spring the floors would be covered with mud from the thaw runoff.”

“He chose a good name, for there certainly is plenty of mud.”   Eleazar turned to Alis, “Alis, I am very sorry that you had to spend the week before your wedding wading through mud.”

The half-Elf girl looked up and smiled slightly, “Well, at least I’ll be able to fit in my wedding dress without dieting.”

“Will you require your future husband for this fitting?”   He asked, and both women looked at him as if he’d said the stupidest thing.

“Of course not!”   Aurei answered, “The groom doesn’t see the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding!   I can’t believe you didn’t know that!”

Eleazar shrugged, “Well, I’ve never been married.”

Aurei’s eyes sparkled, “That will be changing very, very soon, so please remember that for future reference.”

 

She looked around to make certain no one but the four of them were watching, and then went over and kissed Eleazar with a bit more passion then she’d shown during the training period.   He kissed her back, but broke away after a few wonderful moments.

“You shouldn’t do that.  I’ll have to let all the recruits kiss me like that now.”

Aurei just laughed, “I don’t think any of them can kiss you like that… except Alis, and then you’d have to fight Aeric to the death for her honor and that sort of kills the wedding plans.”

Alis snorted, “Don’t worry, Aurei, I’m so tired right now I don’t even think I could shake his hand.”

“And I’m too tired to fight for her honor anyway, go ahead, Captain, you can have her.”   Aeric joked, and Alis found enough strength to smack him on the arm for the jest.

 

“I’ll stick with my own lady.”  Eleazar replied, “You two go and relax and bathe and we’ll see you later, okay?”

They nodded and a moment later hurried as quickly as their tired legs would take them, into the Inn.

 

Eleazar turned to his lieutenant, “How are you doing, my friend?”

“I’m alright, Captain; the Minionism isn’t as bad when it’s cloudy, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it.”

“Perhaps someone in King’s Reach will know how to counter it; we can certainly ask the King who we should talk to about it.”

The half-Elf nodded, “That would be wonderful to have it removed.   I’m rather concerned, Eleazar, that when Alis and I have children (if Yesh permits) whether our children will also inherit the condition or if they will be normal.”

 

“I wish I knew, Aeric.   I certainly do understand the aversion to the sun; bright days really hurt my eyes, though I don’t feel the sickness that you and Alis feel.   I honestly believe that there is some way to cure both of you of the affliction.”

“Well, it isn’t so bad during the night hours, in fact we feel better after dark.   But that is why we are getting married in the Queen’s park instead of the Great Cathedral in King’s Reach; we didn’t want the Minionism to ruin our wedding day.   If we’d had the ceremony in the church, we would have been able to endure it, but what grim memories to associate with the day.   Thankfully, Matron Zeatt was very understanding in her letter.”

 

“I just hope that the spring rains will end by tomorrow.”

 

Aeric nodded, looking up at the sky, “Hopefully it will, though we wouldn’t mind an overcast day.”

Eleazar patted his friend on the shoulder, “Well, we’d better get back to the Keep or the recruits will have the whole place tracked with mud.”

The two Paladins hurried off to continue their instruction of their men.

 

 

***

 

Sophia Ar’Rilla sat very uncomfortably in the plastic chair of the conference room, desperately needing a Dart’loxinchu cigarette, but not daring to give any evidence of nervousness as she stared back at the 500 Watchers seated in judgment of her in the auditorium.  

Lelia Kinzer, the leader of the Watchers, stood up after the charges had been read.   The beautiful woman was not smiling, which was very unusual for the Archmage.

 

“Sophia, you have heard the charges brought forth against you.   How long have you worked as an Archivist for Archmage Drake?”

“Nearly two years, ma’am.” She answered into the microphone in front of her.

“Did not the Archmage go over in exacting details, the laws against interaction with the inhabitants of the world?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Did you not agree to abide by these rules, which were given to us directly by God?”

“I considered it sort of like the Federation’s Prime Directive.” She risked some humor, referring to a well-known Prime world Science-Fiction television series. 

 

Kinzer understood the reference and frowned.

“Do you think this is a television series, Sophia?    Explain to me how our rules about interference are like the Prime Directive?”

Sophia felt herself sweating, partially from needing to smoke, partially from fear that she had crossed over too far into trouble and would not be able to get out of it this time.

“Ma’am, on that series, the Federation does not interfere with the development of societies they encounter, or give them any technology that was not native to their planet.   Yet sometimes they would dare to break this rule to help those in need.   Isn’t that basically what our rules about interference are striving to do; enable them to come to faith in Yesh on their own without supernatural - or divine- intervention?”

“Yes, Sophia, yet you have intervened and, more seriously, brought Aurei Bugley to Flux and explained to her about much of what she saw.  You have tainted her with this knowledge.”

“Yes, but ma’am, that was several months ago, and as far as I know, she hasn’t exposed Flux’s existence to those around her.”

“YET, Sophia; she hasn’t exposed Flux’s existence YET.   At any time she could, and we would have multitudes of people trying to find a way to come here.”

“But, ma’am, you have the power to prevent them from accessing Flux, even if they do know about it.   After so many failed attempts, its existence will just become a fairy tale.”

“Perhaps, Sophia, but that does not free you from responsibility for your actions.   You have a cavalier attitude toward your place in this community that is greatly troubling.”

“Ma’am, I only did what I did to help my mother and my cousin.   I did not give them anything that they could not have found in the world, had they the resources to find it.   Surely I couldn’t be expected to watch my mother die of vampirism!”

“Had you not been spying on them, you wouldn’t have known what was happening to them.”

“But thank Yesh that I did, or my mother would be dead and my cousin and her friends in despair.”

“You are not remorseful for your actions, even now as you sit before us?”

Sophia took a deep breath and held her chin up, “No ma’am, I am NOT remorseful!   I seem to have heard of several interventions by yourself as well as Archmage Drake into Aurei’s life.   How is my concern for her well-being any different from saving her as a baby from Faesidhe Elves desiring to kill her, or giving knowledge of a long lost teleportation platform to a party fleeing the Guild?   Did you not intervene on their behalf?”

Kinzer’s blue eyes flashed with anger, “We intervene when we feel it is needed, and it is our prerogative, given by God to the Watchers.”

“Then why didn’t YOU intervene on their behalf when my mother was dying?”

“How dare you instruct me when to intervene!”  Kinzer yelled angrily.

“Well, you seem to have forgotten how to!”  Sophia stood up and yelled back, “This room is full of Watchers!   I’m not divinely appointed to watch!   Yesh said, “He that has the power to stop evil and fails to act is guilty of sin against his brother.”.    Forgive me if I, a lowly Drow who grew up hearing the words of Yesh from my devout mother, took the words of God to heart ahead of your rules!   I had the power to stop evil, and I acted - if that breaks your stupid rules, then to Hell with them, I will stand before Yesh justified!   You may be appointed to WATCH, but Yesh ordered me to ACT!”

Her use of Yesh’s words silenced the growing murmur in the room and even Kinzer’s anger died as they all considered the young Drow woman’s words.   

Sophia cast her glare over the 500, challenging them to argue against her.   To her joy, they did not challenge her and instead looked down, perhaps feeling guilt or frustration for their inactivity.

“Sophia, please sit back down.”  Kinzer said with a calm sigh.    The Drow girl reseated herself, still glaring angrily at the Watchers.

“Sophia, you need to understand something very important about the task that the Watchers were given to do.    We were indeed instructed to watch the peoples of the world, but we do have the authority to intervene at times.    We were instructed by the same God that you so fiercely defended, to not allow our own sense of right and wrong to supersede obedience to our instructions from God.   I was told by Yesh that I was to act when he instructed me to act, and to not act when I received no instruction.”

“Ma’am, may I ask you something?   The times you intervened on behalf of Aurei and her friends; did Yesh condemn you for it?”

“No, Sophia, he did not condemn our actions, but he did warn us to limit our contact with them.”

“Did He instruct you to judge me for my actions?”

“No, we do this under the laws that he gave us in regards to these situations.”

“Well, ma’am could we not appeal to him to see if what I did was so grievous?  I did what I did out of love for my family and a hunger to thwart the Necromancer’s Guild.    Perhaps I should not have brought Aurei here, I concede that, but I suspect that one day she will probably be employed by one of your number.   So far she has not even told her soul-mate of the experience, and that indicates her trustworthiness.”

Kinzer actually smiled, “Sophia, go back to your archive and get back to work.    We will discuss your actions and what you have said, including your appeal to Yesh, and will give you our decision when we arrive at one.    Let me just say that you have your mother’s fiery passion for the words of Yesh, and I must admit that from what I know of you, this surprises me.”

Sophia just shrugged, “I’m not a Paladin or a Priestess, Ma’am, and my methods are often very unorthodox and maybe even misguided, but I do believe in Yesh and seek the furthering of his Kingdom… at whatever cost.”

She rose and bowed to the assembled body of Watchers, then rushed out of the room as quickly as her stiletto heeled boots would take her.

 

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Reviews

"It had been a cool, wet, full spring day of exercises..." Assuming I understand this correctly, it may sound better "It had been a cool, wet spring day full of exercises..."
"...to not allow our own sense of right and wrong to supersede obedience..." The second "to" must have been added by accident.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Eddie Davis

10 Years Ago

Thanks, Elina, I like your wording choice much better. On the second one, however, I did actually .. read more

Share This
Email
Facebook
Twitter
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

439 Views
1 Review
Added on December 30, 2013
Last Updated on April 27, 2014
Tags: Knights, Elf, Drow, fantasy, Adventure, Paladins, Good versus Evil, relationships, romance, Undead, Vampires

The Chronicles of Aurei Book 3: Bane of the Necromancers


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

Writing
One One

A Chapter by Eddie Davis


Two Two

A Chapter by Eddie Davis