Deception

Deception

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

Aurei learns that her friends and family have deceived her.

"

55.

Deception

 

The nine of them left Dullerm early the next morning to head back to Westmark, and though Aurei was in a far better mood than when she’d left the day before, she still felt a sense of dread when she thought of having to endure the wedding ceremony the following day.   But what choice did she have?   She had to be mature about it.   So she joined the others on the long road northwest.   Westmark sat at a higher elevation, as it was at the foothills of the northern mountains, so their ride was slightly uphill the whole way.

Aurei didn’t mind, for it gave her time to chat with Eleazar and her friends, as well as the Paladin recruits.

 

They arrived in Westmark in early evening.   As they neared the eastern gate, Aurei thought she saw one of the guards rush away from the wall.

Probably telling Sophia we’ve returned, she thought, but she kept the snide comment to herself.

 

As they entered into town, she sensed everyone was looking at her as they passed.   She’d never felt that way before, and it wasn’t like they were staring or glaring at her, it was almost as if they had a slightly amused expression on their faces as she passed.   Aurei began to wonder if there was something she had done to cause their amusement.  

 

The streets seemed exceptionally clean and when they neared the church of Yesh she stopped in her tracks, for hanging from the walls adjacent to the main entrance into the church, on either side, were huge tapestries.   She recognized the designs on each one.   On the left was Eleazar’s coat of arms, reproduced in amazing richness on the cloth.   On the right side was her own coat of arms, also done with great skill.  

“That’s our coats of arms!”  She stammered to Eleazar as they stopped and looked at them.

“Well, look at that, they are indeed.   I imagine they are hanging them up for the wedding tomorrow.   Since it is your duchy, perhaps they were obliged to hang yours -and I guess mine as well- just outside the church.   Sophia and Khord’s will no doubt be inside.”

“Oh” Aurei replied, shaking her head at the strangeness of it all.   Behind her, unseen, Alis and Aeric grinned and gave Eleazar a thumbs up sign, which he replied by mimicking wiping sweat from his brow.

 

The Ducal keep was spotlessly clean when they arrived.   Aurei noticed the same odd expressions on the guards’ faces; as if they knew a secret that she did not know.

 

Pectros was waiting for them as they entered the Keep with a message for Eleazar, Alvis and Aeric.   There was a problem that one of the recruits was having that required all three of them to sit in the capacity of a tribunal.

 

“Do you need us to sit on it too?”  Aurei asked for her and Alis as the men started to leave.

“Uh… no… you see, it is a rather… embarrassing problem that would best be dealt with by men.”  Pectros explained.

“Oh… okay, I guess that is best.   Well, okay, we’ll see you all later.”  

The men disappeared quickly down the stairs.

“Alis, something weird is going on here.” 

The half-Elf girl looked at her questioningly, “Why do you say that?”

“I don’t know; call it just a feeling in my gut, but something isn’t right.  I don’t know just what it is, but something strange is going on.”

Alis gave her the best innocent look she had, but smiled secretly as she followed her friend out of the keep.

 

***

 

They washed the sweat and dust off at the bathhouse and were standing in the kitchen of the Muddy Boot sometime later, talking to the cooks when the Queen rushed in.

“There you two are!” She exclaimed, “We’ve been looking for you two for almost an hour!”

“I apologize, Your Majesty; we took time to clean up.   What’s going on?”   Aurei asked, though she was very sure it had something to do with Sophia and Khord’s wedding.

 

“The bride’s banquet!”   Eioldth replied as if it was almost a ridiculous question, “You haven’t had your final fitting as well!” 

“Oh.”  Aurei responded.

The Queen took Alis’ arm, “Alis, the Seamstresses want to see you immediately over at the Ducal Keep’s upstairs’ reception room.   They’re using it as a final fitting room today.”

“Okay, I’ll head right over there.”  With a nod at Aurei she rushed off.

“Aurei, the banquet is in about an hour. I’m hosting it for all the ladies in the bridal party and her friends, in the ducal great hall.”

“Okay… what do I need to do?”  She asked, already dreading the evening.

“Well, Sophia is off somewhere making arrangements for something - she’s been running all over the place all day- and the seamstresses really need to verify that they have her dress right.   They wanted me to ask you if you wouldn’t mind trying on the dress - just to make certain they’ve got everything right.”

“For heaven’s sake…” She murmured with a sigh, but she nodded.   Thankfully, Eioldth didn’t seem to have heard her comment.

“Good, come on over and try it on; we should be done in plenty of time for the banquet.    So tell me, how are things in Dullerm?”  With that said, the Queen led the rather frustrated Drow girl out of the Muddy Boot and across to the Keep.

 

Ten minutes later she was standing on a stool with her arms straight out as seamstresses puttered around her mumbling about how the dress looked.

“Are you sure you shouldn’t just wait for Sophia?”  Aurei asked them, “I can’t be EXACTLY her size.”

They just ignored her and seemed very pleased at the beautiful dress.   They brought over the full length mirror and Aurei glanced in it.   The dress was absolutely incredible.   Expensive lace patterns covered the silk across a corseted front that was rather low cut to show off Sophia’s bosom.   Aurei felt like she was a princess wearing the fancy dress, which fit her like a glove.

 

Zeatt, Eioldth and Siris stood nearby going on and on about how beautiful she looked in the dress.   A few minutes later Brandi, Krys, Leah, Rori and Alis entered, all wearing the purple dress style of Sophia’s bridesmaids.   They too exclaimed passionately how wonderful the dress looked and how beautiful the dress looked on Aurei.

 

“Can I get out of it now?” She asked the seamstresses after a long period of all the ladies looking at it.

“We need to wait for Sophia.” Zeatt answered.

“Why?”

“She’ll want to see how it looks too.”

“Well can’t she see when she tries it on?”

“It’s not the same, Aurei.” Eioldth replied grinning as if the whole thing was somehow funny.

“Well… okay.”  She was allowed to put her arms down, but remained on the stool for a short time before her cousin came in and also voiced her enthusiastic approval.

“Great.” Aurei said, struggling not to get upset, “Now can I take this off?   By the way - shouldn’t I try on my bridesmaid dress?”

The women all glanced at each other for an instant, then to Sophia.

“Aurei,” She said, looking down at her feet as if what she was about to say was difficult for her, “There is no bridesmaid dress.   I don’t know how to say this properly... I have decided that you can’t be my bridesmaid after all.”

What?  Why not?” She asked, stunned.

“Well, you see, I can’t marry Khord.”

“Can’t marry him?   But… why?”

Sophia looked up grinning, “Well, because we’re already married.   In fact, we had probably the most amazing wedding you can imagine.   Yesh himself married us when we met him before coming here.   Believe me, NOTHING could compare to that!”

“Yesh…? B-but then why did you go to all of this trouble?   Everyone has jumped through hoops for you!   Is this your idea of some kind of joke?!  Who’s going to pay for all of this?!  Look at this beautiful dress!   The Royal seamstresses worked on this, Sophia!  This is your wedding dress!”

Sophia just laughed, “Dear cousin, it’s not my wedding dress; it’s YOUR wedding dress!”

Upon the revelation, all the ladies broke out laughing.  Aurei just stood there on the stool, holding the hem of the dress in her hands, her mouth open and a dumbfounded expression on her face.

“W-what?” She finally managed to say.   Still laughing and clapping their hands at pulling off the ruse, the women came up to her, and Zeatt and Alis helped her off the stool.

“Don’t blame me!” Sophia told her, “I was recruited toward the end; it was your sneaky Queen who was behind this!”

Aurei turned to Eioldth in disbelief, “You?!”

 

The Elf lady sparkled with laughter, “Well, we accidently overheard a conversation you had with Eleazar after he apparently proposed to you officially.   I knew you were trying to sneak around and secretly marry Eleazar.   You said something about keeping your plan from me, I believe.   Let that be a lesson to you!   Nothing escapes the Queen.”

“So all of this planning…?”  Aurei was still numb with disbelief.

“It was all to throw you off, and to enable us to pull it off quickly.”   Eioldth explained, “Sophia’s arrival greatly helped our plan.   Thankfully you were busy at the Muddy Boot and so we all sat and conspired against you.   Since you didn’t yet know about her marriage to Khord, we thought a decoy might work.”

“I never knew…”

“We were amazed that you didn’t catch on.   But you were so jealous that it blinded you.”

Aurei turned to her cousin, “Oh my goodness!   I am so very sorry!   I could have killed you this last week!”

 

The women all roared with laughter " especially Sophia.

“Aurei, it was just part of the act.   Believe me, I am not the kind of girl who likes big fancy events like this.   Well, I didn’t, until I saw what they were doing here for you.   To be honest, I got a little jealous of you!”

 

Aurei put her hand on her forehead, “So everyone knows about this?   What about Eleazar?”

“Everyone knows.” Zeatt replied, “At first we were going to keep it from him too, but thanks to a slip by me, we had to let him in on it.   So he has known for several days.”

“He knew?!   Why, that little-“

“Aurei!” Zeatt stopped her comment, to the amusement of the ladies.

“So all of this is for us?”   Aurei looked down at the dress she was wearing, “This is actually mine?   This is all too expensive!   I can’t-“

“It’s already taken care of, child.” Zeatt assured her, “Really, the cost has not been very great at all.   Much has been given and volunteered.   When the people of the duchy found out about our little ruse, they very happily dove into the planning.   Amazingly, they also kept it all secret from you.”

Aurei shook her head, “Unbelievable; I didn’t have any idea.   I must have been blind.”

“No,” Sophia commented, “You were just jealous, and honestly, I don’t blame you.   I was a bit worried that you’d put on that giant strength girdle and come after me for being such a... ah… witch.”

“Not the word I would have used.”  Aurei patted her on the shoulder, “But you played your part well.”

“She’s had practice.” Zeatt snipped and Sophia shot her mother a look.

 

“Oh my!”  Aurei’s hands flew to her lips, “So then this would mean that tomorrow I’m marrying Eleazar!   I’m not ready, I’ll have to prepare.”

“Prepare what?”  Alis asked, “Hon, they’ve got all of it taken care of, all you’ve got to do is show up, look beautiful and say the right words.”

“But, I-“

“No ‘buts’, Aurei.”  Siris spoke up, “We’ve gone this far and we love you two.   You both need to be married, or you’ll probably end up killing poor Eleazar.”

 

“Don’t worry, Aurei,” Sophia said with a grin, “Mother will be standing by with healing spells just outside of the bridal suite.”

“Just don’t wear that giant strength belt on your honeymoon!”  Brandi joked.

Aurei smiled, but blushed as well, “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do now.”

Zeatt had a response, “You are supposed to take the wedding dress off for now, put on the dress for the Bridal dinner that we have had crafted for you, then join us ladies at a dinner in your honor, hosted by her majesty, in the great room downstairs.”

“What about the men?”   Aurei asked, thinking about Eleazar and wanting to grumble at him for not telling her about the secret.

“No men!”  Eioldth exclaimed, and the other women all agreed, “This is a lady’s evening.   You are sequestered from Eleazar until the wedding.”

“What?  Now hold on-“  She protested.

The Queen folded her arms, “No protests, Aurei, it is a tradition.”

“But we sleep together!”  She blurted out, which brought some snickers from everyone, so she qualified the statement, “I don’t mean like that!   We actually SLEEP together.”

“So?” Alis said, “Tonight you both sleep somewhere else.”

“Well he might wonder what is going on if I don’t come back!”

Eioldth laughed at the girl’s worry and patted her on the back, “Aurei, for Heaven’s sake, don’t you understand?   Eleazar knows what is going on.   The King arrived by airship yesterday evening and he’s hosting a groom’s banquet over at the Muddy Boot.   We’ve got everything taken care of, so relax!”

Aurei snorted, “Relax?!   I have half a day’s notice that I’m going to be married and you want me to relax?  And the King is here?!   Good grief, he left all the chaos from the Imperial invasion and the attack on King’s Reach to come here for our wedding?!”

“Not just him, Aurei.”  Eioldth said proudly, “The King sent word by airship throughout the Kingdom; all of the Dukes and Duchesses as well as the Barons that survived the attack on King’s Reach are here for your wedding.”

“Really?   Yesh, preserve me!  Why on earth would they come to that?”

“Aurei, you are the Duchess of Westmark, Eleazar is an Earl and now as you probably have heard, also a Duke as well.   You both are largely responsible for destroying the Necromancer’s Guild.  You both are very, very important people.”  

“Even to the people of Westmark.   The common people, I mean.   When you had your breakdown, the whole town was greatly concerned for you.   They love you, Aurei, and they’ve grown to love Eleazar as well.   They all were enthusiastic about your wedding; they all volunteered what they could.   It is an act of love, Aurei.   Believe me, there are many duchies that are full of subjects that do not love their dukes and duchesses.”  

“Popularity is something wonderful among the masses when it comes to nobility.   It is rare, and it always shows a noble who truly loves his or her people and that the love is returned.”

 

Aurei felt her eyes filling with tears, but fiercely fought them back, “Your Majesty, I’m very fortunate to have people that have accepted me as one of their own, but I am certainly not worthy of such a fancy wedding.”

“There are so many here in Westmark that labor every day to just get by, and here I have this grand and glorious wedding.   It just seems wrong when they are struggling.”

 

“Aurei,” Zeatt spoke up, “What you said is true, but I also know from talking to the people for several months that you have bent over backwards to make their lives better.   There are no orphans here; you find work for those who suffer loss due to house fires or failing businesses - look at Leah here- this poor girl went through hell and you took it upon yourself to help her.”

“You did the same thing for Luke, not to mention showing mercy to Rori when she was your prisoner.   You even found a way to spare the lives of the bandits that you were in your rights to execute for their crimes.”

“And don’t forget that Eleazar himself was much different before he met you.   I knew him, Aurei, down in Aeropolis and he was very cold to everyone; polite, but cold.  I would have never dreamed he would end up like he is now; especially marrying a Drow, who he absolutely despised!”

 

Aurei just slowly shook her head, “It’s no big deal; I only acted like I was supposed to act around people.”

“Yes, but many people fail to do that.   It is even rarer for nobility.”

 

Queen Eioldth clapped her hands once, “Enough of this, we have a banquet to go to!   Aurei, change out of that dress; ladies, bring her banquet dress over here.”

The Seamstresses hurried across the room and pulled a garment from where it hung unnoticed by Aurei near the wardrobe.  They held it up and Aurei again was stunned speechless.  

It was a rich, deep purple gown that seemed like the type worn by a princess or queen to a royal ball.   It reminded her slightly of the gown that she had been given to wear when she had been a ‘guest’ at dinner on the Emperor’s airship.   But this dress seemed even more majestic.

 

“Wow.” She finally said, to the seamstresses’ delight.

“Do you like it?”   One of them asked.

“It’s… unbelievable.   I’ve never seen such a beautiful gown… except maybe for this wedding dress.   I… I shouldn’t be wearing something like this!”

 

 

They all just smiled and laughed at her awe of the gown and proceeded to strip her down and then dress her in the purple gown as if she were indeed the princess that she felt like at that moment.  

I’m dreaming, Aurei told herself, and she hoped that Eleazar was being treated equally as well.

 

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


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"We’ve went this far..." I think you were wanting "gone" instead of "went."
"...acted like I was taught that I was supposed to act..." This almost sounds like you had two ideas of how to say it and they ended up combined, somehow. ?

Posted 10 Years Ago



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Added on February 20, 2014
Last Updated on April 23, 2014
Tags: Drow, Elf, romance, knights, fantasy, paladins, good versus evil, adventure, magic

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