Family Matters

Family Matters

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
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The bandits come before Duchess Aurei to face their fate

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51.

Family Matters

 

The sun had been up for several hours before the Knights and Zeatt led the prisoners into Westmark.   Eleazar had set up the Great Hall to receive the prisoners for judgment and just outside of the keep; he had quickly had the stone platform cleared and a chopping block placed upon it.   Then he had asked Lute to don an executioner’s hood and stand beside the block.

 

“You aren’t asking me to execute them, are you?”   The Half Ogre asked nervously.

 

“No, hopefully not.   I have an idea; I don’t know if it will work, but I’ve convinced Aurei to try it.   Just play along with me.   Look grim and somber when they pass by.”

“Alright; I can do that.”   Lute had agreed and so when the bandits were marched down the street, they beheld a huge hooded figure holding an equally huge axe, staring at them like a monstrous vulture.

 

The effect was successful, for the tired bandits all paled as they marched by and were escorted into the ducal keep.

Into the great hall they were led, with the dais at the far end, where two thrones had been set.   One was the ducal seat, but Aurei had insisted that another chair - as regal as they could find- be brought in and placed beside hers, for her soon-to-be husband.  

Close by on one side of the platform were five other chairs, and Queen Eioldth was seated nearest to Aurei and Eleazar.   The bandits did not seem too happy to see the leader of the Knights from the night before seated next to his dark Elven lady and their dread was compounded when they saw the Queen next to them.

 

“A roomful of Elves!” One of the bandits said from the middle of the crowd, but none of his companions dared laugh.

 

Eioldth beckoned for Alvis, Zeatt, Aeric and Alis to join her on the platform and they went to take their seats, as the Knights and Dullerm archers guarded the prisoners.

 

When they were seated, Aurei looked over the men.

“I am Duchess Aurei Bugley, and you are accused of the crimes of vandalism, murder, rape and theft.   I have no desire to hear your excuses or any plea of mercy, for the blood of those you have killed demands that each of you face execution.   Therefore I sentence each of you to death by beheading, unless…”

She trailed off, watching their expressions carefully.   They waited for a moment for her to explain, and when she didn’t, they nervously looked around.

“Unless what?”  Finally one of them asked from somewhere in the mass of the bandits.

Aurei stood up, “Unless any of you would prefer slavery to death.”

She folded her arms and waited.   The men again waited for details, but then glanced at each other and back to her.

One of the bandits, perhaps seeing a chance at escaping the chopping block, politely raised his hand and said, “My lady, I would prefer that.”

 

Aurei nodded, “Good; anyone else?”

A few other bandits raised their hands, and then a few more, until most of the group had agreed.

“Very good.   This is your last chance, any of the rest of you?   If not, you will be immediately beheaded.”

 

She waited, and to her great relief, finally all of them agreed.

“Good choice.   Very well, since you all have agreed to servanthood rather than death, you will all be put under a Geis and will serve the King as workmen as he sees fit.”

She turned to Zeatt and Eioldth, “If you would be so kind as to cast the spells.”

Eioldth leaned close to Zeatt and whispered, “Just cast the Geis, I have a spell that will amplify the effect so all the prisoners will be affected as if you cast the spell upon each of them.”

Zeatt nodded, pleased at the idea and nodded at Aurei, “I’m glad to see that she seems herself today.” 

“I think she’ll be alright.”  Eioldth agreed and she and the Reverend Mother conversed on the set-up for the spells.

 

***

 

An hour later the spell had been cast and all the bandits were bound under the Geis of Servanthood.   The spell was very specific and restrictive, so much so that Aurei ordered that they be set free, supplied with weapons and provisions, then set on the road to King’s Reach, where they were bound by the spell to report to the King or any of his stewards, to begin their servanthood.  

Any deviation from this path would result in death, and all the bandits believed the certainty of this.  

 

So as the men marched out of town, to the amazement of the townspeople, Aurei had Rori brought into the judgment chamber.  

The girl knew what it was for and was very happy when Zeatt dissolved the Geis from her.   

Rori hugged Luke, who had come with her, along with Leah, then, went over to Pectros and to everyone’s amazement (especially the Guard Captain) kissed him briefly on the lips.

“Thank you.” She said to him, looking the startled man in the eyes.   He immediately blushed.

“Uh, you’re welcome, I guess.  What did I do?”

“You were kind to me and were my friend.”

He looked at his feet, “Well, I thought you might need someone.   A friend, I mean.”

She touched his arm, “That hasn’t changed, you know; I still need you as a friend.”

Pectros smiled, “Good.   So you plan on staying here?”

 

 

 

“Oh Yes!   Everyone I love is here.” She glanced back at the two children, then at Aurei and the others on the platform, and, purposely, back to him, with a slight hint of a smile, “I’ll see you later; I’ve got to get back to work.”

She turned and with a respectful bow to Aurei and the Queen, left the chamber, motioning for Luke and Leah to follow her.  

 

On the dais, Eleazar took Aurei’s hand, “Good job, sweetheart.   I’ve never seen 55 criminals placed under servanthood where they were safe to be left alone.   It was a brilliant idea.”

“Thanks.   I think your visual aid with Lute and the chopping block probably motivated them to agree.”

“That would have sold me on the idea.   You’re amazingly wise for someone so young.   The King selected well.”

 

She squeezed his hand, “Well, thank you, but that won’t let you off the hook you know.   You’ll be co-regent - or whatever they call it- when we are officially married.   It will be OUR duchy.   That way I can work on getting things ready at the Muddy Boot and you can deal with the criminals.”  She grinned, half-teasing.

“I don’t know about that; I would have probably executed them all.   Your way, King Haroldris gets free labor to rebuild King’s Reach.   Much more effective.”

“Well, I just don’t like killing when it isn’t necessary.   I found I was too effective at it recently and that does concern me.”

“Hopefully that all has ended with the elimination of the Guild.”  

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zeatt, who apparently was eavesdropping on their conversation, frown slightly and glance at Alvis, who was seated next to her, when she heard Eleazar mention the Guild.

 

Aurei also noted the look of discomfort and gave Eleazar a quick look.   His eyes told her he didn’t understand why her Aunt had made such an expression either.  

 

She stood up and thanked the Knights, then spoke briefly to Captain Fenris of Fullsom Woods, who was quite fascinated with her and seemed very relieved to meet and speak to her.  

 

Queen Eioldth escorted the Knights and archers over to the Muddy Boot for something to eat, chatting with the young Wood Elf Captain along the way. 

 

Once they had left, Aurei turned to Zeatt, Alvis, Aeric and Alis and asked, “Alright, what happened last night?”

They all were somewhat surprised at her intuitiveness, but before Alvis or Zeatt could speak, Alis had told her all about the two dead guards and the Vampire.

 

Aurei and Eleazar listened quietly, then, after hearing the tale, Aurei took a deep breath, and then sighed, “I know who it is.   It’s Alleania.”

Zeatt couldn’t believe how easily her niece had reached that conclusion, “Aurei, how do you know?”

Aurei shrugged, “Im not sure, but somehow I just know it.  I had a dream yesterday evening that involved Vampires.   The more I thought about it while I was waiting tables and fretting over all of your fates; it just came to me that it was Alleania.   She has been here before; they spied on me before she and Chal decided to use me to kill Soric.”

 

Eleazar scratched his chin, “I’ll bet she has several coffins hidden around town.   If this is indeed where her coffins were located, then she would have had quite a journey as an incorporeal spirit to return here.   She would have been very hungry for blood.”  

“That one Dwarf that we found in the parsonage attic had his throat ripped out.   A half-starved Vampire would have done that.”

 

Aurei swallowed hard at the thought, but then looked up, “She won’t kill anyone here in town unless she just gets really desperate.”

“How do you know?”  Zeatt asked, seeing Aurei’s fey look.

“She shared all of her memories with me; before we teleported to confront Soric.   I saw all of her life; I even saw you, Aunt Zeatt, trying desperately to save her and deliver me.   She and Chal wished to return to the Underdark and restore Ar’Rilla as a merchant house instead of one of the noble houses as it had become.   I also saw how she spied on me here.”  

“You know, the more I think about it… I think I know where her coffins are.    In fact, I know that I do!   There was so much that she passed to me telepathically; it still is jumbled up in my mind.    She purposely never killed any of the people here when she was spying on me.   I don’t think she will now either.”

“Where are the coffins?”   Alvis asked.

 

“In the attic of the Parsonage.   One of them, at least.   It is not laid out horizontally, but vertically and nailed shut.   She becomes incorporeal to enter it.   Another coffin is in a basement of one of the homes at the end of town, concealed to look like an old piece of furniture and also sealed shut.”

Zeatt stood up, went to Aurei and knelt down in front of her, taking both of her hands, “Child, you must understand; Alleania is not living, she is a Vampire and must be destroyed.”

Aurei looked at Zeatt for a moment, and then looked down at their hands that were clasped together, “I know… I just don’t know if I can do it.”

 

“You may not have to.”   A familiar voice came from the left side of the platform, causing all of them to jump then turn to find Sophia and Khord standing there.

“We’re on our first assignment, and we have an idea on how to solve your little Vampire problem.”   

 

They came in close, gestured for the others to huddle nearby (in case Alleania was using her scrying device) and told them of the plan.

 

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


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Added on February 16, 2014
Last Updated on April 23, 2014
Tags: Drow, Elf, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure, executioners, murder, crime, Sword and Sorcery, Knights, Paladins

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