Meltdown

Meltdown

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
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The stress and worries of the past year take their toil on Aurei

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42.

Meltdown

 

 

Eleazar had joined Alis, Aeric and Zeatt back at the parsonage to make a thorough search of the building, then help clean it up and assist Zeatt in sanctifying it.   They had asked Aurei if she wanted to join them, but she had too much to do and though Laz had whispered to her that he would stay and help her, she had bid him to go.

 

Now she sat swamped with purchase orders that had not been filled due to the Imperial invasion, which had left the Muddy Boot critically short of numerous foodstuffs.  

On top of that, the Inn had been closed for two days because of the crazy Dwarves, as well as a lack of serving maids (due to Alis’ wedding).  

The other employees were grumbling because they were not going to get paid, and she spent nearly an hour reassuring them one by one that she intended to pay them for the days the Inn was closed.

She felt obligated morally to pay for those injured by the Dwarves in the attack, as well as to the family of the dead merchant.  

She met for a long time with the merchant’s companions and drafted a letter to his family in the southlands explaining what had happened and sending a large bag of gold to assist his widow and children.

 

Of course the damaged Dwarven armory was a huge concern and she simply had to help them restore it.   Thorm was more than willing to put the task upon his people, but that would not be good for relations with the Dwarves, so she ordered more money to be provided for the rebuilding.

 

Of course that meant that the ducal funds were totally gone by then and the Muddy Boot’s revenue would not be even remotely enough to replenish the coffers.   She sat there totally frustrated and on the verge of a crying fit, trying desperately to figure out a way to generate money to pay for everything without having to resort to raising taxes.  

 

She hated the word and knew that everyone else in town did as well.    But she had no choice left to her.   King’s Reach was in ruins, so the King would not be able to assist them financially.  

 

How was she going to pay for it all?   To top this, she actually had Dullerm to concern herself with as well, though thankfully it would be several days before everything would be transferred over to her lordship.   What if they were in a financial crisis as well?   Aurei felt sick at her stomach with worry as she convened Ducal court just before noon.

 

Since the incident with the outlaws last fall, she had stopped holding court in the Muddy Boot, but today she was so busy that she had no choice.    It came to her as no surprise that there was a full docket of petty cases.   Drunken fights, shoplifting, property disputes, and a petition by a young couple for a divorce after only a few months of marriage.  

“I’m not granting you a divorce.”   Aurei told the angry husband and wife as she rubbed her throbbing forehead.

“That’s not right!”   The husband, Phil Gennis, shouted at her.   Al grabbed the man by his shoulder and pushed him back down in the chair.

“Mind your manners, boy!    You sit before your judge.”

 

 

Aurei waved Al away with a slight smile, “It’s alright
Al.   Phil, before you get angry, let me explain.   When you married Rose, you were married in the church, not by me.   It is Matron Zeatt that has the authority to dissolve the marriage, though she can defer to my judgment.   But I am not going to let you take this petition to her.   Instead you and Rose will sit down with her and try to work out your differences together and save your marriage.”

 

Rose now stood up, equally as belligerent, “I don’t want to save this marriage!   He’s an insensitive idiot and I hate him!   I hate him!”  The girl, six months pregnant, turned and lunged at her husband, to be intercepted by Pectros and Al, who pulled her back.   Phil jumped to his feet and yelled at the girl, managing to use half a dozen curses in one breath.

“Sit down!”  Aurei yelled, but they didn’t hear her.   Lorren and Sloid grabbed Phil and were trying to pull him back into his chair as the girl screamed and cussed at him.

The air seemed to nearly drip with their animosity.  

 

“Sit down!” She screamed over the storm, but to no effect.   It was then that the stress she had been under for many, many months broke and Aurei snapped.

“I SAID SIT DOWN!!!” She screamed at the top of her lungs, leaping to her feet and slamming both of her fists down on the table.   She wore her giant strength belt and the table shattered like a twig, sending shards of wood flipping over her head.   

Everyone froze as she rushed forward, her eyes glowing a hellish red.   She flung Lorren and Sloid aside and grabbed Phil by the neck, lifting him high over her head as she spun and then grabbed Rose in the same manner, casting Al and Pectros aside.

“Aurei no!”  Pectros warned, but she had both of them suspended by their necks, their eyes bulging with horror.   She pulled them close, within inches of her nose and screamed at them at the top of her lungs.

“YOU WILL DO EXACTLY WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO! YOU WILL MEET WITH MATRON ZEATT AND YOU WILL STOP BEHAVING LIKE A PAIR OF JACKASSES AND WILL WORK OUT YOUR DIFFERENCES!  DO YOU UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL WORK IT OUT AND WILL RESPECT EACH OTHER! YOU ARE BOTH GOING TO BE PARENTS AND YOU WILL NOT SCREW UP THE LIFE OF YOUR BABY!   YOU WILL DO WHAT I SAY OR SO HELP ME YESH, YOU BOTH WILL ROT IN THE DUNGEON FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES!” 

Something reminded the enraged Drow girl of Rose’s pregnancy and she let go of both of them.   

They fell lightly to the floor gasping for breath, numb in terror.   She turned to Al, who was just picking himself up from the floor from where she had thrown him.

“Get them out of my sight!” she hissed at him and the guards scrambled to the young couple, pushing them out as they all stared at her in fear.   Rose was coughing and crying, her hands over her belly as they rushed her and Phil out of the range of Aurei’s fit.

 

The sight of the scared pregnant girl only fueled her madness.   With a shriek, Aurei slammed her fist into one of the huge stone columns that supported the Inn.   The impact shook the whole building, sending small bits of stone sailing from it.  

For a horrifying second, she thought she had brought the column down, but it was ancient and stronger than even the wrath of one wearing a belt of giant strength.   People were running out of the Inn in all directions and it occurred to her that she had in an instant, suddenly become the monster that she had always feared that they thought she might be, deep inside.

 

She began trembling and unbuckled the magic belt, then flung it across the Inn, knocking flagons off the counter.   She would not cause any more damage or hurt anyone.   Sobbing, she staggered through the tavern toward the front door.  

As she wept and trembled, she unbuckled her sword belt, the twin swords dropping to the floor of the tavern.  

 

“This is not me!” She cried, clawing at the gauntlet of her right hand, and then flinging it, and the matching one, to the ground.  

“I’m not supposed to be doing this!” She screamed at the sky outside the Inn as she pulled off each piece of plate armor while she staggered down the street.   The whole town was gathered to see her breakdown and she didn’t want to disappoint them.

She was down to her chainmail undersuit in front of the baker’s shop before they got to her.   Eleazar, Zeatt and Alis intercepted her from three sides, grabbing her up, pulling her away.  

At first she screamed and fought against them like a captured wild horse, but they pulled her kicking and flaying hurriedly down the street to the Ducal Keep.   Eioldth came running to them, “What has happened?”

They shook their heads and Eleazar carried her into the keep.   Aurei wept hysterically as he carried her up the stairs to the master bedroom and gently laid her on the bed.   Immediately she curled up into a ball, sobbing violently and trembling.

“Yesh, save her!”  Zeatt cried out, kneeling beside her niece. 

“She’s lost her mind!” One of the guards said in disbelief.

“No,” The Queen came to the man with a peaceful smile, “She’s not lost her mind.   She has been through a lot and the terror of it has just caught up to her.   She will be fine.   Do not fear.   Did she harm anyone?”

“She picked up Phil and Rose by their necks and screamed at them!   Rose is carrying a baby, Your Majesty!”  The Guard told her.

“Go check on them, and tell me of their condition.   I will send Matron Zeatt to help them.” 

The guard turned to go, but bumped into Al, Lorren and Sloid, leading the very couple he was sent to find, into the room.  

Phil and Rose were pale and shaken, their throats red from the marks of Aurei’s hands, but they were also scared, though now it was not a fear of their Duchess, but for their Duchess.  

Before Eleazar or Alis could stop them, the young couple bravely went to the bedside and knelt beside Zeatt.

“Aurei” Rose said, somewhat hoarsely, but strongly, “It’s Rose.   We’re alright. We’re sorry; you’re right, we both know you’re right.”

Rose looked at Phil and he came forward and awkwardly knelt beside her.

“Duchess, we were disrespectful; we know you were just trying to help us.   I’m sorry, I know you have a lot of responsibilities, and I shouldn’t trouble you with mine.”

 

Aurei uncurled slightly, looking at both of them through tears.

“I hurt you.” She whispered, and though her eyes still glowed a brilliant red, they now were the eyes of someone drowning in regret and shame.

“We’re alright!” Phil tried to reassure her, “Rose and I have rows worse then that, don’t we?”

Rose nodded, leaning down close to Aurei, “I hit him with an iron skillet last week; knocked him out for two hours.”

Aurei chuckled slightly, but touched her belly, “Your baby…”

“He’s alright; he’s tough like his daddy.”  

“I’m so ashamed… I had no right… I’m supposed to be calm and impartial.”  She began crying again and Rose looked over at Zeatt in alarm.  

The Drow matron smiled sweetly at the girl, “Child, she’ll be alright, she is purging herself of her shame and guilt, as she should.   Rose, stand up for a moment, please.”

 

The girl did as the Drow Matron commanded, and Zeatt chanted a spell and softly touched Rose’s belly with her fingers.   A pale blue glow covered the girl for a moment, making her giggle, “That tickles!”.

 

Zeatt grinned in relief, “Your baby is fine, child.”   She turned to Phil, “How is your throat?”

“I’m fine, ma’am, thank you.   It’s a bit sore, but I think it’s a good thing, really.   I’m supposed to ask you if you wouldn’t mind talking with Rose and me about our marriage trouble.”

Zeatt nodded, “I’d be glad to; come by the church tomorrow afternoon and we’ll all have some tea.   For now I need to deal with my niece’s condition.”

 

 

“Of course.”   He stood, taking Rose’s hand.   Aurei grabbed the girl’s hand and squeezed, “Please forgive me… both of you.   I shouldn’t have acted like that.    Nobody should.”

“Well, you’ve made us see how terrible fighting can be.” Rose looked over at her husband, “I don’t want our baby to see either one of us act like that.   If we had to be shaken up to see the light, then thank Yesh for that.”

 

“I’m still so very sorry…” Aurei whispered and resumed crying.   Eleazar patted Phil on the shoulder with a nod and the boy led his wife out of the chamber.  

 

“Al? Pectros?  Lorren and Sloid?” Aurei called from within her tears, her arms wrapped over her face.    The four guards looked at each other then knelt before her.

“Yes, Duchess?” Pectros responded softly.

“I… I’m not supposed… I’m not supposed to… to be in charge.” She told them through heavy sobs.  “I’m sorry… so sorry… I can’t do this… can’t… I don’t want… to hurt anyone… I’m scared…”

She broke into fierce weeping, leaving the four men unsure what to do.   They looked at Eleazar and he tried to reassure them with a look.  

“Duchess, we’re alright; you didn’t hurt us.   Scared the hell out of us, yes, but we’re alright.”

“Not… right…” She managed to say through her tears.

“We’re all tired, Duchess, and none of us have had much rest since we returned.   We understand and don’t blame you.”

“Forgive!...forgive… me!” She wailed.

“Pectros leaned over and squeezed her hand, “We forgive you, Aurei.   You are our Duchess and our friend, we love you.”

His words only accelerated her weeping and he looked over at Zeatt, who gently motioned for them to leave the room.

“Thank you.” Eleazar mouthed silently to them as they stood, and Pectros patted the half-Drow’s shoulder as they left the room.

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


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"Rose’s carrying a baby, Your Majesty!" I believe "Rose's" should be "Rose is," here.

Posted 10 Years Ago



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Added on February 7, 2014
Last Updated on April 21, 2014
Tags: Drow, Elf, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, stress, nerves, good versus evil

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..

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A Chapter by Eddie Davis


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A Chapter by Eddie Davis