Reviews, Elemental Truth, BP and other things

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on getting myself back on track with writing. With the posting BP on the Patreon, I’ve found myself a lot more motivated. Having things settling in the home life is helping too. So I was at the website going over the backoffice stuff and discovered that there were hits to my site coming from a site called Web Fiction Guide.

Apparently when I first started posting Elemental Truth, I’d gone over and submitted it so it would be listed. Then life happened and I completely forgot about it. Basically it lists your web fiction, allows people to give reviews and whatnot. Well at the bottom of the Elemental Truth listing, was a review.

Let me say, for the record, I try not to read reviews. For a number of reasons, the biggest being, reviews aren’t for me. They’re for the reader. Well I went ahead and skimmed over this review. Then skimmed over it again. And a third time. Each time my jaw was firmly sitting in my lap and the hubsbeast pointed out if I didn’t close my mouth, a bug might try to make my acquaintance.

You see, I’d just spent several hours rereading Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch‘s business and writing posts. I’d just bought the book Heinlein’s Rules; Five Simple Business Rules for Writing and read it (I’m a fast reader), just bought The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers and was reading it when I took a break and stumbled across that review. What timing.

The kind review is over here. Seriously people I am so stunned. Reviewer, thank you for your kind words. I hope I haven’t chased you away for good with my hiatus.

Perfectionism is a big problem with me. I find myself agonizing over whether it’s good enough or not. I see blaring issues.

I’m not sure what my thinking was when I pulled E1 offline. But to see someone who liked it, along with what I’d already been reading and my reawakening writing brain, I decided to go ahead and put E1 back up. I also fixed the TOC issue mentioned in the review (sorry bout that) and took a hard look at my writing schedule and what E1 needs to be called DONE.

The Patreon is scheduled through the end of May, so I can set BP aside and get E1 wrapped up. All I need to do, is filler for about five or six scenes. That’s it. That was all I needed when life crashed around me and I tucked it all away so I could focus on RL. Well now the focus is back on writing and I have a lot of projects I need to get finished and pubbed.

So that’s what I’ll be working on over the next week, and getting back on schedule for E1. I believe I’ll be posting on Thursdays, since the Patreon chapters are posted on Tuesdays (hey it makes sense in my head).

From there?

I’ll need to get a copy editor, and possibly redo the covers for both books. It would be nice to be able to pub both of them this summer. But we’ll see. The big thing for me is to finish E1’s posting online.

Reading:

I picked up a copy of Starla Huchton‘s new book Wild at Heart. It is book five in the series but I’ve been assured by both Starla and several friends that they’re stand alones (my fav type of series). So once E1 is done I’m going to dive into it. The cover is absolutely GORGEOUS.

I’ve got a list of other books, suggested by several friends, which I’m planning on picking up.

Anywho. I hope you all have a blessed weekend. Happy Easter for those who celebrate it.

Be kind to one another

~NPhoenix

Become a Patron!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 36

This entry is part 37 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

 

Xin watched the guards standing outside the window, barely hearing the conversation in the main room behind her. Rale was in one of the empty back rooms, the healer and Lady Launi with him.

“Until we can determine whether he is safe or not, we’re going to have him here, under guard.” Lord Nesh’s voice had an edge to it.

“Some people are going to be unhappy. Having a Nekarian Lord here, especially with the fall of the fort…” Aitelle began.

“Which is why Launi is scanning him. We’ll determine what we’ll do with him later.”

“Too bad there’s no dungeons in Sandau.” Aitelle said absently.

“If we need them, I’m certain the rock shapers can oblige.” Lord Nesh left, and Xin half turned, staring at the closed door.

“They only brought in Rale?” Geb asked his voice low. He sat at the table, a box with rocks for practice set in front of him.

“They said he was alone, fell off his horse.”

The doorway to the hall that led to the rooms opened and a sober looking Launi entered the room. She made a slight head movement, as though she were looking at each of them in turn, then she motioned them to the table. Once they were all seated she too sat, folding her hands in front of her on the table.

“Lord Rale has undergone some severe mental and physical torture. He is going to be unconscious for a few days while the healer and I work to undo what the Seeress did.”

“What did she do?” Xin asked.

Launi’s brows pulled together. “Kera was trained in a type of mental combat that enabled her to twist the body to do her will. She can turn the body against itself. And that’s what she did. He is going to be in constant pain. His body is attacking itself.”

“I didn’t know spirit elementals could do that.” Xin whispered.

“We can do that and much more. History tells us there were great and powerful Spirit Elementals. They could manipulate huge numbers of people. They could turn the body in on itself, as Kera has done with Lord Rale. Some were able to show others what we see.

“The ghosts?”

“And other things. There were those who could walk between the veil, and open portals to other lands, other realms. With those powers came conflict. There were wars fought between factions, my people have an ugly past.” Launi closed her eyes and a shudder ran through her thin frame. “Before the war, a thousand years ago, there were twelve active Oracles.  Kera and her twin were taught in one of the oldest and some whispered they were taught ancient teachings not taught elsewhere. The war took its toll. By its end all but one Oracle was in ruin, the Spirit Elementals slaughtered and teachings and irreplaceable knowledge lost. I have never seen the type of manipulation done on Rale, in person. It may take several sessions to reverse what she did.”

“Any word on Tier?” Xin asked. Launi frowned.

“Rale had correspondence from a Lord Xeresel with him.” She said slowly. “The note indicated that Prince Tier was executed shortly after his return, and that Rale cannot return to Nekar.”

Xin felt as though she’d been punched. “Why?” She felt Aitelle’s hand on her shoulder and resisted the urge to shove her friend away. She wanted to scream, to cry, she just sat staring at Launi, not willing to believe it.

“He did what he was told.” Geb whispered.

“There was no reason given. Rale may be able to shed light on it, when he wakes.” Launi stood and took a deep breath. “I must go speak with Nesh.”

Xin nodded numbly, meeting Geb’s gaze. The youth just shook his head and pushed violently away from the table storming out the door. Xin had half a mind to follow him.

“There will be a few new rock pillars in the fields by this evening.” Aitelle said softly.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 35                              Table of Contents

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 35

This entry is part 36 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

City of Lorn. Late Fall. Inn Of the Twelve.

“Is everyone here?” The voice of the heir prince, Maen, was strained and weary as he peered around the room. Aryanda met his eyes and nodded, pushing her hood back, fiddling with her dark curls as she watched her cousin shift on the uncomfortable wooden benches.

“I think, your highness, we are all accounted for.” Lord Xeresel said. Arya glanced at him. Like the prince, his voice was heavy. There were circles under his eyes that spoke of long nights, and desperate measures.

“Fill the cups, Xeresel.” Maen said, leaning his elbows on the table, his hands fists.

“Of course.” Xeresel inclined his head, his lips moving. A whisper of sound, the words of the spell spoken so lightly that Arya barely heard it,coiled through the room, magic following it. Though Xeresel didn’t move, the chalices began to fill of their own accord. A magical mixture of ruby red liquid that, once drunk, would act as a barrier against the powerful mind of the Seeress herself.

Arya glanced across the table at the pale bavanan woman, Lady Vera. Like Xeresel, the skin beneath her eyes was shadowed and dark. Her curls, usually immaculate, looked a bit disheveled. She cast a withering glance in Maen’s direction and took the chalice in front of her.

“Drink up, the shield won’t last long today, I fear I am overtired.” Xeresel said.

Arya obeyed, took the chalice and drank, closing her eyes. The bitter liquid left a strange, warm honey flavor in her mouth. She set the chalice down as soon as she was finished, her stomach churning. She felt the magic swirling through her, spreading out from her gut with a warm pulse. Once it settled down, they would talk.

Someone swore, another person made a gagging sound. Arya took a slow breath as Xeresel had taught her. Now was not the time to be ill.

“Dare I ask why you, his highness and Lady Vera look as though death is sitting at your door?” Lord Reis, a powerful landholder from one of the northern provinces, asked.

“You may ask.” Xeresel grinned. “I don’t know that you’ll receive an answer.”

Lord Reis snorted.

“It will be discussed later.” Maen leaned back. “The events of the past few months are, though shocking, not surprising. Starting with the execution of my brother,” he stopped, jaw clenched. After a moment he took a deep breath and continued. “And leading up to the massacre of the Ghayta family in Shoul just three nights ago. It seems the Seeress is purging the major bloodlines.”

“The rumor was that Tier, and Rale, were both pronounced traitors by the Seeress, though it should be noted no evidence of their traitorous activities given.” Lord Reis said.

“Prince Tier was no traitor.” Someone, Arya couldn’t identify, half shouted.

“What troubles me most is the lack of due process in any of these cases.” Lord Ferev spoke quickly, as if he wanted to get his say in before anyone else spoke. “With Prince Tier it could have, indeed it should have dragged on for months, even years. Yet he returned was tried and found guilty, then executed all in a period of what, three days?”

“Less than that.” Arya spoke up. “I was told it was a mere hours after reporting to the Seeress that he was executed.” An uneasy murmur went through the room. She leaned forward. “I would also bring to your attention that the Emperor and the rest of the family had no idea Tier was even being accused until after it was all done.”

“True.” Maen nodded. “Father and mother are both deep in mourning, and Hannah has locked herself in her quarters and refuses to come out.”

“And Rale also expired?” Lord Ferev shook his head at Arya’s nod. “Pity. He had a good head for business.”

“According to the Emperor, Tier and Rale were told they were looking for elementals. But the Seeress told the Emperor they were in search for General Corrin’s daughter to break the standoff in Fort ______. ” General Dyrnos said from his seat, his booming voice turning heads. “When we talked with Tier on his return he had no idea. He showed us the orders he received, and was openly disturbed at the news.”

“The Emperor immediately shut down anyone who questioned the discrepancy.” Lord Ferev added. General Dyrnos nodded.

“Odd. Considering his protests after the affair with General Yorma and his son, I would think it would be well known that he wouldn’t repeat that sort of mission.” Maen commented, brows drawn tightly together.

“It is difficult to refuse the Seeress any request.” General Dyrnos said dryly. “Especially when she is standing in front of you.”

“Those who do don’t live long.” Lord Ferev shook his head. “Then again those who do as she asks don’t have much of a life expectancy either.”

“Something worth mentioning, Lord Chiron sent a letter of protest to the Emperor about Tier’s behavior when passing through Delebeg.” General Dyrnos leaned against the tabletop, a crooked smile on his lips. “He claimed Tier had shown sympathy to the elementals and inferred he switched sides. He said Tier even threatened him over the woman who was traveling with them.”

Maen choked on his wine, a murmur went through the room.

“A woman?” Someone asked incredulously.

“According to the guards who delivered Rale back to our estate, Prince Tier offended the Seeress, though how, they could not, or would not say.” Arya began.

“If he offended her, it doesn’t matter what truly happened. She would strike quickly, out of revenge not justice. I highly doubt he was a traitor.” Lord Xeresel said quickly.

“He was always loyal to Nekar.” General Dyrnos slammed his fist down on the table with a loud thunk, several chalices tipped over and they all jumped. “The Seeress is not Nekar. We can be loyal to one and not the other.”

Heavy silence again filled the room, made more imposing by the soft burr of the spell.

“This is troubling to hear.” Lady Vera said, her soft voice very loud in the room. “That she would strike out over a minor trifle.”

“This is the Seeress, cousin, she has always done troubling things.” Xeresel drummed his fingers on the tabletop.

“The guards said she tore his things apart, looking for something in his travel bags.” Arya said. “Whatever it was, she never found it. According to my contacts, she even searched his rooms in the palace.”

“Perhaps he did turn traitor. After all he traveled several months with that elemental woman.” Lord Reis said, flinching at the dark glares turned his way.

“Traitor to whom? There are not rules that we are not to have dealings with Elementals,” Lord Xeresel began, but Lord Ferev cut him off.

“They are extinct. We have been taught that, we all know that.” He glared.

“Oh come, come now, there’s the Water Master Corrin whose forces held off Lord Chiron’s for three years? Four? I know of several others living in the far north who are as alive as I am, and you know this Lord Ferev. These are the lies She would want you to believe.” Lord Xeresel moved his hand, waving off the next round of questions. “Hear me out. I would wager the Emperor’s crown that the reason she moved so quickly to brand and execute Tier, was because in all reality, in the eyes of the crown he did nothing wrong.”

“Lord Chiron accused him of threatening to tear off his arms if he made any advance towards the woman. Many would surmise that his sympathies were swayed. Though I find it hard to believe.” General Dyrnos snickered. “It would have been a sight I’d like to see.”

“Chiron’s a sniveling weakling.” Maen grumbled.

“I never would have imagined Tier with a woman.” Lord Ferev commented dryly.

“I don’t think any of us can.” Maen eyed Arya who shook her head. Tier had always been aloof around women.

“Never underestimate the power a woman has over a man.” Lady Vera sniffed.

“Mere supposition, my lords and ladies: his relationship with the woman is irrelevant. He was a model example of what any noble of Nekar should strive to be. Loyal to Nekar, to a fault.” Lord Xeresel said. He leaned back in his chair.

The heavy silence stretched.

“The families who were executed, were killed at the same rapid speed that Tier was.” Prince Maen leaned back in his seat. “There are whispers that the Scáth were present. That they may have been the ones to actually do the deed.”

Someone whispered a curse and Arya felt a cool chill work up her spine. She took a steadying breath. “The Scáth haven’t been seen in almost twenty years. Many people believe they are naught but a myth.” She glanced towards Xeresel. “I’ve heard rumors that Kit is also abroad again.”

“Crazy bitch.” Lord Reis muttered.

“I would watch what you say about that one.” General Dyrnos said, an edge to his voice.

“I agree.” Xeresel said. “The Blood Oath has never been tested against the Voice. I hope, I sincerely hope, it never is.”

“She is not as powerful as Kera.” Lord Ferev made a dismissal motion with his hand. “She isn’t worth worrying about.”

“She made a man’s brains leak out his ears.” Lord Reis leaned on the table. “I’d worry about her being near. I for one, want my brains to stay inside my skull.”

“She also reports directly to the Seeress.” Maen said pointedly. “We must be cautious.”

“I hesitate to make assumptions,” Lady Kasumi spoke up. Her voice was low and Arya realized she couldn’t remember the last time she heard the woman speak at these meetings. “But if the Seeress has begun both purging the royal families and pulled both the Scáth and Kit out of hiding, it could be she is aware of us. It could be she hopes to eliminate us along with the Royal bloodlines.”

“If she is, we must be doubly cautious. I’m certain she suspects me.” Lord Xeresel said. “And it is no secret that there have been those who have resisted her influence in Nekar since her arrival. I’m certain she knows we are here, she knows we are quietly opposing her. Until we can move with greater force we must cling to the shadows.”

“And each passing day we run the risk of being found out. Do we have time to prepare, indeed can we prepare before we are exposed?” Maen asked. “There is only so much we can do without pulling more people in.”

“I hope so, your highness. It would be grim indeed if we go to all this trouble to end up tied to a pole in Koursh.” Lord Xeresel grumbled. “We cannot add more, the spell is stretched as it is. We must work with what resources we have.”

“It seems hopeless.” Lady Vera said, her large eyes downcast.

“Of course it is hopeless. Perhaps there are others who question her, who are moving as silently as we. Hopefully we can find allies, and quickly.” Xeresel frowned. “Of those she executed these past months, Tier was the only one who had no knowledge of us.”

“Some are calling him a martyr, the first.” Lady Kasumi said. “Some whisper he’s not really dead, that he’s somehow managed to escape.”

“We should have brought him in.” someone down table commented. “He could have helped us.”

“No.” Prince Maen shook his head. “Tier would have been our staunchest enemy. He would have turned us in in a heartbeat. What we are doing, could be considered conspiring against the Seeress and the crown. He would have considered it treason.”

“I agree with Maen.” Arya said quickly.

“Absolutely. Tier is, or was an honorable man. We are, to be completely truthful, not acting honorably. We’re hiding in the shadows, creeping into places long forgotten on the sheer hope that no one would think to find persons of our station here, of all gods forsaken places.” Lord Xeresel motioned towards the worn wall coverings, the rough hewn door and the battered table, and leaned back steepling his fingers and tapping them against his lips. “Now is not the time to move out of the shadows though, as smelly and rotten as it is.”

“When will it be, I wonder?” Lord Ferev asked. “If we wait too long, the opportunity will pass.”

Arya locked eyes with Maen who gave a barely perceptible shrug.

“And if we go to soon we become not saviors, but crazy conspirators.” Lady Vera said.

“I suggest we do no more than wait at the moment. Gather information, gather our strength.” Lord Xeresel’s leg was jiggling lightly. Arya resisted the urge to kick him to get him to stop. But one did not kick a man such as Lord Xeresel. She’d regret it later. He was far too imposing a figure who commanded respect and admiration even as he annoyed you.

“It seems as though we get nowhere.” Lord Reis complained. “We discuss it and nothing changes. But more people die by her hand. What is the point?”

“These events, especially Prince Tier’s execution, have begun something the Seeress was trying to avoid, Lord Reis. People are finally talking. Thinking for themselves. They are meeting in places they hope they will not be overheard. They whisper about things long forbidden. Wars, battles, and martyrs of old that the Seeress has tried suppress the memories of. They are questioning everything they have been taught, everything they have believed. Finally after generations they are really taking a long hard look at what they know.”

“And what is it, Lord Xeresel, that we know?” Arya asked, her voice loud to her own ears. She flinched when he looked down at her.

“That they have been brought up on lies and deceit.”

“We should re-convene possibly after the Summer Solstice.” Lady Vera said softly. There were nods. “Unless there is more business to be handled of course.”

“There is one matter, no two, which we should all be aware of.” General Dyrnos said quietly. Eyes turned his way. He glanced towards Maen who inclined his head.

“The first, is the situation in Delebeg. I overheard Prince Tier discussing some troubling actions on Chiron’s part. We could be looking at a possible revolt in the region if Chiron stays in power.”

“How do you mean?” Maen leaned forward.

“Chiron is keeping the general populous on starvation rations, and hoarding the water.” General Dyrnos glanced around the table. “I don’t know if there have been any deaths,”

“It’s a matter of time.” Lord Xeresel said. “I too heard of the situation in Delebeg, and, though I hadn’t meant to bring it up, Lady Veino sent a messenger with a black feather shortly after Tier’s passing through.”

Arya frowned. “What does that mean?”

“The black feather is an old way of saying, the center is cracking.” Maen said quickly. Murmurs rippled through the room.

“The other matter, one which disturbs me greatly, is that starting in the spring, Nekar will be marching on Sandau.” General Dyrnos eyed all of them one by one. “The Emperor’s goal is to take Sandau by next fall.”

“You will be there, I take it?” Maen asked.

General Dyrnos inclined his head. “It has been requested by the Seeress that we return with the Seeress of Sandau in chains.”

Someone whistled.

“This is a situation we will have to keep our eyes on.” Xeresel said. “Is there anything else?”

Heads shook up and down the table.

“Be cautious, all of you.” Prince Maen said. “We are walking upon a knife’s blade. The wrong move could doom us all, and doom Nekar.”

“We are an absolutely cheerful bunch.” Lord Xeresel muttered. Arya nudged him with her knee and leaned over.

“Can you blame him?” she whispered.

“Appearances are everything, dear lady.” He leaned back with a scowl. “Even when in mourning.”

“Trust me, my lord, he’s not mourning.” Arya said softly. She met Xeresel’s startled gaze. “I think he’s wishing he did it himself.”

Xeresel stared and Arya fought to keep from snickering. It was rare to catch the Bavanan Ambassador speechless. She patted his cheek fondly. “Close your mouth, darling, a bug will fly into it.”


If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 30                                Table of Contents

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 34

This entry is part 35 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

The Negasti Mountains marked the border between Sandau and Nekar. The old mountains, with their jagged weather-worn peaks, were like silent sentinels, warning all who neared them to turn back. Who in their right minds would want to go further? Into Nekar, into the Seeress’s lair? Captain Adden had spent many months on border duty, and he could never understand why anyone would dare. He would have thought more people would flee the Seeress’s web, yet that was rare. Even so, it was unusual to see a lone rider on a travel worn horse picking their way down the narrow, steep path to the border station. The men and women under his command had gathered, watching, whispering as the ruddy mare made her way towards them. Her rider was slumped over her neck, even at this distance, Adden could see his white knuckled grip in her mane.

Adden felt the eyes of his second on him and glanced at her.

“Is that who I think it is?” She asked. He shrugged.

The horse half slid to a stop when the path leveled out. Her sides heaving, she lowered her head, took a step forward and Adden flinched when the rider lost his bid at staying astride and dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. The mare turned her head peering at her rider before she nudged him with her nose, her soft grunts and swishing tail loud in the silence.

“Aye, Sergeant. That is who you think it is.” One of the other, older guards said.

“Had to have been bad to have him returning.” Adden murmured. The man wasn’t moving, his breathing shaky, skin sallow.

“Think he’s dead? Or just ill?” The Sergeant asked, glancing up the pass.

Adden said nothing as he strode over, crouching beside the fallen man. Without giving it much thought, he reached over, absently stroking the mare’s nose before pressing his fingers to the Nekarian’s neck. He shook his head and rolled him over, staring down at the unconscious man.

“Our orders,” The Sergeant began, but hesitated. The man groaned. She swallowed and looked ill.

“I’ll not kill an unarmed man, Siari.” Adden said finally, hefting the unconscious man over his shoulder. “Go find Degan and take care of that horse. She’s a loyal beast if nothing else. I’ll take him back to the city.”

The younger guard nodded, taking the loose reigns and murmuring words to the horse who watched with uncanny interest as her rider was carried off.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 33                               Table of Contents

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 33

This entry is part 34 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Ryuu was fixated on a small black beetle on the ground. His nose twitched and his frill rustled as he crept slowly followed it,his body undulating with each step. Xin leaned against the fence watching him, part of her amused. The questions Launi had asked swirled in her mind, and old half forgotten memories were trying to whisper at her. Her mother’s voice, Matau’s, stories she hadn’t remembered until after she’d left. All of them were bubbling up, faint memories of rebellion talk and argument. She rubbed her forehead and made a note to try to write it down, to tell Launi after the festival. For now she fought remembering whatever it was that wanted her to remember.

Her jumbled thoughts halted abruptly as a faint breeze breeze danced over her skin. She smiled and half turned. Aitelle absently pushed her hair back and leaned against the rail beside her.

“What did she want?” The Air Elemental bumped her shoulder against Xin’s. “You look like you’re about to fall asleep right there.”

Xin stared at the sand dragon and took a deep breath. “She wanted to know about Dhaul. About my family.And old rumors.” She looked at Aitelle. “Nothing big. Nothing I was able to answer though.”

“She did that with me.” Aitelle shuddered. “It was hard trying to explain the village I was from. How I found Ryuu,”

“How did you find him?” Xin asked and instantly regretted it when Aitelle grimaced. “Never mind, I’m sorry,”

“No. No it’s fine.” Aitelle made a clicking noise with her tongue and Ryuu’s head snapped up. The sand dragon made a whining noise and, being careful not to step on the bug, made his way over, pushing his snout against Aitelle’s outstretched hand. “When I was seven or eight I woke up early one morning and went out exploring.” She rubbed Ryuu’s muzzle and scratched the heavy ridge over his eyes. “I was practicing my abilities near a stream by the old *namehere* ruins.”

“The ruins?” Xin looked at her startled. The jumbled and twisted rock and metal they’d found in the desert. Tier had told them that it was the ruins of an ancient Air Elemental city. It was just beyond that, that they found the burned village. Xin’s stomach twisted painfully. Aitelle nodded, not looking her way.

“I saw smoke coming from the village.” Her voice dropped and she took a deep breath. “Nekarians burned it, killed everyone in their beds.” She looked at Xin. “I know they say that there are no elementals besides the seeress in Nekar, but there was an elemental there that day. She wore black with a flame symbol on her shoulder. She was burning everything. And everyone. And when some of the soldiers protested,” Aitelle shuddered. “She burned them too. All of them were afraid of her.”

Xin’s mouth went dry. More old memories, legends told around the dunarch fire pit in the cold, icy winters swirled up only to dissipate as Aitelle continued.

“I ran into the canyons. I don’t remember how far, or how long.” She tipped her head looking at Ryuu and sad smile on her face. “I stumbled down a steep hill and found the nest. All the eggs had been cut, were moldy, but his. He hatched in front of me and we’ve been together ever since. We made our way here to Sandau.” She scratched Ryuu’s eyeridge laughing as the sand dragon’s eyes slowly closed, his back leg and tail twitching madly.

“Launi was very thorough when she asked questions. I still have headaches thinking about it.” Aitelle looked at her. “Festival is tomorrow and tonight is the Opening Ceremony. Lots of food, dancing, happy things. Come on, it’s a beautiful ceremony. You can’t stay here while the rest of us are having fun.”

Xin hesitated then nodded. Aitelle beamed, though there was still a heavy saddness around her. Xin linked her arm through Aitelle’s and they talked quietly as they made their way back to the town square.

The sun was sinking below the horizon and the paper lanterns gently, magically lit lighting the walkways. Some of the townsfolk began singing as Xin and Aitelle sat on the steps of a large house, and were joined by Geb and several other youths he’d befriended. Across from them was the entrance to the Temple where Lady Launi, now in a near sparkling bare armed gown stood. Lord Nesh and several others were nearby talking in low, serious voices.

A loud gong rang and Xin could hear the sounds of chimes, bells and flutes and a cheer from those watching. The priests and priestesses of Sandanu, the dragon god of the Sandau people, were coming up the road joyfully singing, though Xin couldn’t make out the words.

There were ceremonies like this, back in Dhaul, celebrations honoring the old powers of the water elementals and the yearly festival celebrating the god Dagoth and the Seeress, but they were often overshadowed by dread. The Seeress’s hunters and sometimes the Voice, would attend those celebrations, ensuring that the Seeress was given her proper respect. Those watching were haunted by the knowledge that the Seeres could, at any time, decide Dhaul had outlived its usefulness.
When that happened, the oldtimers whispered, no one would be spared. It would be the slaughter of the fortress all over again. Xin rubbed her upper arms, fighting off a sudden chill. What had happened when Tier and Rale arrived in Nekar? There had been no whisper, no word. She’d half expected Tier to send some message, some note. Something, letting her know he was well. She was left to wonder, and dreaded the answer. There was a touch on her shoulder and she glanced over forcing herself to smile at the concerned Geb. He leaned over.

“Are you all right?” Those large eyes saw far more than they should.

Xin nodded and patted his hand. “Just thinking.” Understanding lit his eyes and he nodded, turning his gaze back on the priests passing in front of them.

The priests were carrying two altars, one with a statue of a dragon, wings unfurled, mouth agape. The other had a statue of a nude woman on horseback with a child in front of her, a spear raised over her head.

“Sandanu the Dragon god, and his lover Sensua the Horse Goddess.” Aitelle said in a low voice. Xin glanced at her. Aitelle’s eyes were bright, as though she were going to cry.

“She’s naked.” Geb said dryly. Aitelle swiped at him but he ducked, sticking his tongue out at her.

A woman standing nearby laughed, leaning towards them. “Legend says she preferred going as nature intended. Much to the delight of the tribesmen.”

“I’d bet.” Aitelle chucked.

“She taught the Sandau people how to ride, how to hunt on horseback.” Another woman said, nodding towards the procession.

“She was woman before Sandanu made her his lover, made her a goddess.” The first woman said.

“She was human?” Xin asked. The woman made her way over and nodded.

“And she became lovers with a dragon god?” Geb was frowning. “How?”

“Some things we just don’t question.” The second woman said sagely.

Xin chuckled, watching Launi and the Priests as they set the two statues on pedestals. She couldn’t hear what was said, but a feeling of peace filled the town square and someone, somewhere started to sing. Xin didn’t recognize the tune, or the haunting words.

“Tomorrow are the Elemental Trials.” Aitelle whispered to Xin as the singing ended and they started to make their way back to the Inn.

“Trials?” Xin glanced at her.

“Just a friendly competition between elementals of certain upper ranks. I love watching them. And when the Masters step up,” Aitelle sighed with a smile. “Things get really flashy!”

~*~

They gathered around the training grounds near dawn. The townsfolk were dressed in their finery, colors and patterns reflecting which of the elemental groups they were supporting. Aitelle was in pale blue shirt and trousers, her hair piled on top of her head.

“They’re placing bets on who will win.” Aitelle patted her hand on a bench. They’d been set up a distance from the recently created moat. It was, she informed them, a safety feature. “Rumor has it, one year a large rock hit the crowd because they were too close.”

Xin stared at her. Aitelle smiled and nodded towards the hastily erected canopy on the far side of the training grounds. Lady Launi was standing with her head bowed and her brows pulled together. Alone the outer edges of the moat pale white glowing light shone, designs etched along the ground as if by an invisible hand were drawing them. “Lady Launi is preparing the protective glyphs so that doesn’t happen again.”

“What do the glyphs do?” Geb asked before Xin could.

“They keep rocks, flame and water inside the training ground.” Aitelle smoothed the front of her tunic. A cheer rose from the crowd as the sparring elementals entered the training grounds.

For several hours Xin found herself entranced, watching the powerful elementals casually use their abilities to block attacks, and strike out at their opponents. They took a break at mid-day, vendors brought drinks and food and when the gong was struck again, it was the first of the masters to have a go at it.

“I thought those others were good,” Geb murmured at her ear. “The masters,” he shook his head.

“Amazing.”

Geb nodded as they watched a water elemental and a rock shaper banter back and forth. Xin glanced at him and grinned, remembering their own little battle in the canyons of the deserts.

“We could teach em a thing or two.” Geb whispered. Xin nodded and joined the crowd in clapping when the water elemental knocked down the rock shaper and used the water as a hand to drag the rock shaper into the moat surrounding the sparring ground.

Xin didn’t hear the final score, the crowd began to cheer when Lady Iro and Lord Nesh stepped onto the sparring ground, talking in a light hearted manner. They were both in loose fitting clothing, tunics tied at the waist with thick colored rope. He in a deep red, her in a pale brown, the ropes at their waists matching their clothing. They bowed to each other and silence fell over the crowd in anticipation.

They faced each other, each in a fighting stance, eyes locked on each other. Xin barely saw the first movement, rock shot from the ground deflected from Nesh by a white blue flame. When the rock hit the ground it was glowing red. The two circled each other, then in a flurry of movement, rocks flew, flames shot from the ground and smoke filled the air as rocks melted.
Xin risked a glance at Geb, the youth’s jaw was slack his eyes wide.

“He’s melting the rocks.” He whispered.

“Some say he has the Holy Flame.” Aitelle said quietly, her eyes riveted on the Firelord.

“Euka said that. What is the Holy Flame?” Xin asked, flinching when Iro ducked, rolled under a stream of flame, then shot a heavy slab of stone from the ground at the Firelord.

“The Holy Flame.” Aitelle, let out a long hissing breath as Nesh narrowly avoided getting hit by the slab of stone. “Is the ultimate ability of a Firelord. Water Elementals have the Healing Spring, my people were said to have the Weather Control ability, and the Earth Shapers had metal and glass shaping. The Holy flame is a bit different. Some say it’s a healing flame, others say a wall of unstoppable force. But it’s different in each Firelord. No one knows for sure how Nesh’s would manifest, if he does have it. I’ve never heard anyone who has actually seen him do it.”

“Shades!” Geb hissed.

Xin glanced towards the sparring ground but missed whatever it was. Both Nesh and Iro were sloshing out of the moat, laughing. The crowd sighed as two tall elementals, a man and woman, stepped from under the canopy, hands help up. They spoke in quiet voices to Nesh and Iro before turning towards the crowd.

“A tie.” Aitelle shook her head. “They’ve tied the past three years.” Aitelle sighed.

“I don’t know how the judges could tell who was better.” Xin admitted, standing and stretching. The crowd was surging towards the dripping elemental masters.

“I barely understand it myself. There’s a huge following though. Up north there are whole seasons dedicated to the competitions.” Aitelle linked her arm with Xin’s and they made their way back to the old inn. “Someday I want to go north, to Tyrsleth and beyond.”

“What’s stopping you?”

Aitelle nodded towards the yard where Ryuu was sunning himself, stretched diagonally from one end of the yard to the other, his tail twitching periodically. “They say there are rouge dragons in the northern mountains. And it’s cold. I don’t know how he would handle the cold.”

“What does he do here?” Xin hadn’t considered it.

“There’s a basement under the inn, with a huge old baking oven. He usually sleeps through the coldest part of the year down there. I could, I suppose, travel north when he’s sleeping, but,” Aitelle frowned. “I’m afraid to leave him behind.”

~*~
If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 32                               Table of Contents

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 32

This entry is part 33 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

“Lady Xin, Lady Launi wishes to speak with you in her garden.” A child wearing a white messenger tunic called as they started back towards the central square. The child gave a stiff bow. Large dark eyes peered up at her. Xin inclined her head and glanced at Aitelle.

“I’m going to go help with the decorations.” She said with a reassuring smile.

“See you later.” Xin turned back to the child. “Lead on then?”

The child bowed again, turned and half ran towards the Spirit Elemental building. Xin followed, trailing a bit behind.
Launi’s garden was filled with late blooming flowers that filled the area with a gentle flowery scent that put Xin at ease despite her misgivings. Lady Launi sat beside a small raised pond, her simple white dress shone in the afternoon light. She turned towards Xin, her smile filling her with peace.

“You wanted to see me?” Xin smoothed her hands over her hair, the blank gaze of this spirit elemental, unnerving.
“Come sit.” Launi patted the rock wall she sat on. “I had some questions for you, a curiosity I wanted to satisfy.”

Xin hesitated. “Curiosity?”

Launi inclined her head. “I don’t bite.”

Xin laughed nervously and sat, glancing down at the pond. She felt the gentle tug of the water, there was something odd about it, another subtle tug that was unlike anything she’d felt before. She tried to focus, to see what was beneath the water, but there were other things, living things that kept interfering. Bright orange and black fish, some as long as her arm, swam in lazy circles. Along the far side of the pond, lily pads provided platforms for several small turtles and a large frog who peered at her. Xin took a steadying breath, resisting the urge to play in the water. She glanced at the silent spirit elemental. Launi’s face was a smooth expressionless mask.

“You had questions?” Xin prompted. Launi’s thin eyebrow arched and she turned her face towards Xin, smiling gently.

“Years ago there was a water elemental, Mitsuru.” Launi leaned forward, dropping small round chunks of something in the water. The fish swarmed towards her, eating the food. “He was a bit arrogant, and quite proud of his ancestors.” She leaned back. “He often spoke of how his family fled the Nekarian invasion of Dhaul. As his powers increased he decided he wanted to return to his ancestors lands and try to raise a rebellion.”

Xin snorted. “I’ve never heard that name. Had he come to Dhaul, he would have been chased. Stoned out of the country.”

“Would he?” Launi looked at her, surprise on her face. “I thought the dissatisfaction with Kera,”

“Dhaul is a successful province because of the stability of the Empire.” Xin said slowly. It had taken her years to understand it herself. “We resent the way the Empire walked over Dhaul, but we are also proud to be a part of the Empire. There is no ruling class anymore, we do have a governor but,” she shook her head. “There is a better distribution of resources than what our ancestors had. There is less poverty, more food during famine.”

Launi nodded. “We warned him, the old Lord of Sandau and myself. We told him it was far too dangerous. The stories of Kera’s attacks on spies were stomach churning. But he went anyways.” Her brows pulled together. “He wrote three times. One to alert us that his plans had to be changed, one to describe the remains of the old fortress, and one which told of his marriage to a local woman. He never gave her name, possibly for fear his missive would be intercepted.” Launi stood, smoothing her dress, clasping her hands in front of her. “We heard nothing more from him, though twice we sheltered fleeing water elementals who mentioned receiving help from an unexpected source. They never gave a name, nor shared details of who had given them aide.” Launi looked at her. “Did you ever hear of some strange water elemental coming from the north?”

Xin frowned, thinking. Matau was a fount of information, useless and old gossip. Never had he spoken of a water elemental from the north. She told Launi that. “The only thing I remember hearing about was my mother being chased out of the village. I was too young to remember.” Or, she thought, she’d blocked it out. She remembered her mother whispering to her, warning her about what would happen if anyone found out about her powers.

Launi nodded. “What about your grandmother?”

Xin blinked. “I don’t know. Matau never spoke about her.” She’d never given it much thought, but now it bothered her.

“And your father?” Launi held up her hand. “Water Elementals inherit their abilities from one or both parents. They rarely skip generations. In the north the bloodlines are meticulously recorded.”

Xin swallowed. “There were rumors that my sire was a sailor, who drowned at sea. Matau never told me his name.”
Launi nodded. “Perhaps that’s a question you can ask Corrin on her return.”

Xin’s stomach flopped at the thought of meeting her. It was one thing to wistfully dream of reuniting with her mother, another to contemplate actually doing it. Corrin was not the woman she’d imagined, of that she was certain. “When is she supposed to be returning?”

“Probably early spring.” Launi motioned Xin to follow her as she made her way towards the small tea room. “She and Kerga are running merchandise up and down the coast.”

“Kerga?”

“Kerga is the Captain of the trading ship, The Prancing Dragon. She and Corrin have been close partners for years.”

“I see.”

“Thank you Xin, for indulging my curiosities.” Launi said gently.

“What do you think happened to that water elemental?” Xin asked after a moment.

Launi tipped her head to one side. “I think he is either dead or has hidden so deeply in Dhaul that he has all but forgotten why he is there.”

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 31                                Table of Contents

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 31

This entry is part 32 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Xin narrowed her eyes, focusing fully on the surface of the small stream. She willed it to cool, clenching her fists at her sides. Euka was right, hand gestures were unnecessary. Steam rose from the surface of the stream as it smoothed, crackling as it froze. Water spilled over the frozen surface, and Xin froze that too. Sweat was trickling down her back by the time she released it, allowing the ice to melt.

“Very good.” Euka patted her shoulder. “Your control is getting much better.”

“I have a long way to go.” Xin said.

“You have come very far from where you started though.”

“True.” She gave a rueful grin. She was pleased. She wished Tier was here, wondered if he’d be proud of her. She swallowed and pushed the thought from her mind. She wasn’t as winded as she’d been before. Nor was her head pounding.

“There is no doubt you will get there.” Euka inclined his head, his eyes losing focus, and the stream froze solid from the top of the hill to the small pond back behind the training grounds. Xin sighed.

He turned towards her as the water rapidly thawed. “There are stories of water elementals who specialized in ice manipulation.” He chuckled. “In the Library of Timen there is a whole floor dedicated to the lore and history of the Water Elementals.”

“Master Euka!” A messenger youth, a young woman with short cropped hair and a simple shift tied at the waist with a braided cord, ran up. She inclined her head in Xin’s direction and handed the Water Master a rolled parchment.
He took it and peered at her. “Are the ships here?”

“They’re up the river. Scouts spotted them.” The woman grinned at Xin. “Ever been to Festival before?”

“No.” Xin shook her head.

“You’ll love it then!”

“Tell Iro I’ll meet her by the docks.”

The messenger inclined her head. “Yes sir.” She turned and trotted up the road, her dark brown curls bouncing on her shoulders.

“I think your lessons will resume after the Festival.” Euka motioned Xin to follow him. She tightened her cloak against the chill in the air and followed him up the narrow road to the wider road, passing brilliant streamers and paper lanterns shaped like horses that were hung from the corners of the houses.

The past seven days, the entire city was a buzz with anticipation. Ships from Tyrsleth were making their way south, depositing visitors from the northern lands. Children led by priests and priestesses had spent days decorating the streets up and down Sandau, the brightly colored streamers danced in the fall breeze.

“The Harvest Celebration goes back before the founding of Sandau itself.” Euka pointed towards the small temple which was being draped with colorful ribbons. “It’s said the dragon god Sandanu and his lover, Sensua, returned to the Beyond in the autumn, as the fields were being harvested. So we, in Sandau, celebrate their gifts of knowledge.” Euka pursed his lips, his brows pulling together. “Or something like that.”

Xin chuckled and glanced back towards the river, her breath catching.

River ships were making their way to the docks, decorated with bright ribbons and streamers. Children were lined up along the river bank cheering as the ships neared. Xin glanced at Euka.

“See the red flag flying on that ship?” Euka pointed.

Xin looked towards the ship he’d pointed out It was the largest of the four. The sails a were red and a red banner with symbol of a dragon in flight whipped in the wind. On its bow Xin could make out a crowd of red-clad people.

“What about it?”

“It belongs to Lady Sasha, a fire elemental from northern Tyrese, and some of her apprentices.” Euka chuckled. “Like the Fire Elementals of Sandau, those in Tyrese are known for their strength of will and mind.”

“In other words they’re both stubborn and thick as bricks.” Aitelle said as she arrived, floating. Her hair tousled and eyes bright.

“Aitelle.” Euka frowned at her.

“It’s true.” Aitelle was hovering about half a foot off the ground, hands resting on her hips. Her hair floated about her face, long curls moving in a gentle breeze. “The fire elementals are some of the most stubborn, thick skulled, arrogant people I’ve ever met. Well, except for Nesh.” She flashed a smile at Xin, a slight flush to her cheeks.

“Lord Nesh,” Euka wiggled his finger at her. “Is in a class of his own. You should be more respectful.”

“I am being respectful!” Aitelle winked at Xin. “Come on Xin, I want to show you some of the preparations.”

Euka snorted. “Or shadow his lordship around?”

Aitelle crossed her arms, sniffing. “Would I do that?”

Euka just arched an eyebrow and Aitelle stuck her tongue out at him.

“Do you need my help with anything, Euka?” Xin asked, hesitant to leave the aging water Master.

“No, Xin,” he made a shooing motion, his dark eyes twinkling. “Go and see the city, she’s a beautiful sight during festivals. You might want to tie a rope to Aitelle’s ankle though, she’s practically cloud level in anticipation.”

Aitelle lowered herself back to the ground, gave Euka a dirty look, and linked her arm with Xin’s, guiding her towards the simple, yet elegant Spirit Elemental complex.

“For your information, I didn’t shadow him.” She murmured as soon as they got out of earshot. “I was running errands and he happened to be going to the same place as I was.”

Xin nodded. “I believe you.” She began to say something else but forgot what she was going to say. The Spirit Elemental complex had been draped in pale blue and pink banners, each one had a different embroidered symbol. Standing on the porch stood Lady Launi, dressed in a simple pale dress and cloak. She was in an intense conversation with Lord Nesh, who was in his customary red tunic and trousers.

Xin glanced at Aitelle who took a deep breath. “He cuts a fine figure.” She murmured.

Aitelle nodded and sighed, then grinned at Xin. “He’s nice to look at, eye sweets, my mother would have said.” Her smile faltered a bit. “But I wasn’t kidding, Fire Elementals are stubborn.”

“I doubt they’re as stubborn as Nekarians.” Xin murmured. Aitelle laughed.

“Come on, there’s the cart man. We’ll grab some hot rolls and go compare the differences between firelords and Nekarian Princes!” Aitelle lifted again, floating through the air towards the old man.

Xin wasn’t sure of his name. He was old, older than Matau and he pushed a two wheeled cart through the city, selling hot steaming buns filled with seasoned sweet meats. His clothes were worn and patched, hung from his thin frame and his shoes were tied to his feet with strips of cloth. He smiled at Aitelle, his dark eyes hazy from cataracts.

“Hello Aitelle, getting ready for the feast?” Despite his frail appearance, his voice was deep, commanding.

“Yes!” Aitelle handed him some coins and took the basket heaped with rolls. “Are you going to the games?”

“Of course! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” He nodded a greeting at Xin and turned his attention a group of children who gathered around him, their hands held out. They looked to be between nine and ten years, and all looked a bit scruffy around the edges. He leaned towards them. “What have you for me today?”

“I helped Lady Launi gather water lilies from the pond to put on the tables for the feast!” One boy exclaimed.

“I helped Old Mags pull the fancy cloth for the tables!” A bright eyed girl said almost dancing in place.

“I watched Gyn and Tal for Juniper while she and Fero took a walk!” There were snickers at that, and more as each of the children declared a deed or chore they accomplished. When they were done the old man nodded and placed a roll in each outstretched hand.

“It is the responsibility of all of us, to ensure the next generation will take care of our lands.” Aitelle said in a low voice. “He never charges the children money for his rolls.”

“Just good deeds.” Xin smiled, glancing towards the Spirit Elemental buildings. Her skin tightened, prickling as she realized Lord Nesh was looking in their direction. She looked away, towards the river quickly. He was an imposing figure, though not as imposing as Tier. As tall, not as muscular, his was a willowy grace that spoke of barely contained energy. She couldn’t help but compare the two men, both powers in their own right, both undeniably attractive. She far preferred Tier’s powerful bulk to Nesh’s lean lines.

“Xin?” Aitelle’s voice brought her from her musings and she forced a smile.

“Just thinking.” Xin shrugged. Aitelle stared at her, her dark grey eyes large and thoughtful.

“You miss your Prince.” She said softly.

Xin felt her throat tighten and she nodded, looking towards the river. Missed? That was an understatement. She replayed their short time together, every night before sleeping. Frustrating as it was, and she longed for more time. She feared what might have befallen him on his return.

Aitelle lowered herself to the ground and touched her shoulder, her large eyes suddenly seemed to see into Xin’s soul.

“Perhaps he’ll come back.” She said softly.

“No.” Xin shook her head, moving towards the small wooden dock Aitelle had pointed out earlier. “If he returns,” she glanced around furtively, assuring herself there were no nearby ears. “It would be as conqueror at the head of the Nekarian Army.” She met Aitelle’s startled eyes.

“There’s got to be some way,” Aitelle, nibbled her lower lip, slowly lifting off the ground again. “Xin, we could send messages, there’s a woman in Tyrsleth who,”

“And that’s if he’s survived dealing with the Seeress.” Xin swallowed, her heart hammering away in her chest. “Those called to serve her, rarely survive.”

“If rumors are true, he’s damn near impossible to kill. I’ve heard the stories.” Aitelle looked out over the river.

“The Seeress is different.” Xin shuddered, trying to find words to explain the heavy fog of dread that she’d lived under her whole life.

Aitelle touched her hand and they both stood watching the ships.

 

 


If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 30                                Table of Contents

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 30

This entry is part 31 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Anil, runner of Delebeg, crept in the shadows of the buildings near the bay. He frowned as he watched the fancy dressed nobles rushing by, their business a mystery to him. He patted the message tube gently and waited. When the sun began to set, and the upper class were replaced by the lowly workers returning to their homes, that was when it was safe to leave his little corner.

Lorn was a city of ideas. A city of sins, some whispered. He pulled a strip of travel meat from his other pouch, munching on it. Time dragged and when the sun finally started to set, Anil’s legs were numb. He shook it off, creeping from the shadows.

For those who paid attention, at the base of the buildings, blue glyphs gave a faint glow. Anil glanced around and ducked his head down towards his chest, hunching his back. He’d look like a homeless beggar to anyone watching. The glyphs were irregular, one here, one four buildings down, the next one, two, there was no pattern to how they were spaced and there were hundreds, possibly thousands in this part of Nekar. Inside each glyph was a series of dots. Each one was different. He was looking for a certain pattern set in front of a house he’d been to once before. He scowled, glancing up and down the rapidly emptying street, unsure of which house it was. It was this neighborhood. He was certain of it.

The sun had sunk below the horizon by the time he found it, and he stole a glance up at the building, nodding to himself. The tallest, most extravagant building this side of Lorn. The Bavanan Embassy, known for it’s flamboyant master, Lord Xeresel. He swallowed, and followed the building around to the back entry. The marks on the door, the strange swaying script of the Bavanan, would move if he looked at it for too long. It hurt his eyes.

He wiped his hands on his breeches before knocking. After a moment a tall, fair skinned woman with golden curls framing her overlarge blue-green eyes, opened the door sending a sweet scent in his directing. Her strangely slanted eyes narrowed when she saw him and she stepped back, out of the doorway. She bowed her head, motioning him inside with a fluid sweep of her arm. He swallowed and stepped inside, feeling like a bumbling fool, unable to look away from the Bavanan woman. Her ears were delicate, with a high point, and several gold loops lined them, from tip to earlobe. She tipped her head to one side, a pale yellow curl falling over her face.

“This way.” Her voice, heavily accented, was like music.

He followed her, trying to shake off the glamour, the magic that saturated the place. He’d forget her, he was sure, the moment he left the building. The magic would make sure of that. She led him to a large circular room and then left with a silent bow. A round table dominated the room that was lined with bookshelves. Anil realized he was breathing heavily and closed his eyes, forcing himself to calm down. In Delebeg, the books were reserved for the palace. Not exactly outlawed, but there were whispers that Lord Chiron was going to refuse all but his household, the right to own books and scrolls. Once calm he opened his eyes and stepped back in surprise.

“Well met, Anil. Welcome again, to my home.” Lord Xeresel, the ambassador from Bavanan was leaning against the table. Anil bowed and pulled the message tube out. Lord Xeresel frowned and held up his hand. “Come with me to a far more private room. There are many little mice about.”

“Here? In the embassy?” Anil asked, breathless. Lord Xeresel inclined his head. Like the woman who opened the door, Lord Xeresel was pale skinned, his long white gold hair was tied back at the nape of his neck, his eyes a pale blue. He was tall, wiry, and like the woman, wore gold hoops in his pointed ears. Anil followed him out the door and down a confusing maze of corridors, somehow ending up in a small, windowless room with two low chairs and a small oblong table in between them. As Anil sat, a man entered carrying a tray set with several cups, a plate of sweet breads and a steaming pot.

Anil frowned. Human, not Bavanan. His dark hair was long, hung loose, almost to the waist, and his skin was nicely tanned. He was dressed in simple breeches and white tunic that was gathered at the wrists. He nodded towards Anil as he set the tray down. Anil studied him as he turned to the Ambassador. There was a look of absolute adoration on the young man’s face before it smoothed away.

“Do you need anything else, my lord?” His voice low, but deep. Lord Xeresel smiled warmly at him.

“Prepare a room for our esteemed guest. I will call if I need anything else, Aziz.”

Aziz bowed low, turned and left, shutting the door behind him.

“You must be famished, Anil.” Lord Xeresel spread his hands out, indicating the tray.

“Thank you my lord.” Anil pulled out the feather and handed it to Xeresel. He watched as the Ambassador slowly spun the feather between his long fingers, expression thoughtful.

“You have heard the bad news, I take it?”

“The execution of the Prince? Aye.” Anil hesitated, meeting the Bavanan’s eyes.

“It will only be the beginning. You can tell the gracious lady that.” He set the feather to one side, resting his elbow on the arm of his chair. “It would be best, Anil, if you return to Delebeg and stay out of Nekar proper.”

“My Lord?” Anil hesitated in the process of taking a bite of a sweet bread.

“A storm is brewing, over all of Nekar. The further you are from the Oracle, the safer you will be.” He lifted a sweet bread, studying it as closely as he’d studied the feather. “Safeguard Lady Veino.”

Anil swallowed hastily. “Do you think she is in danger?”

The Ambassador gave a barely perceptible shrug. “I think it would be wise to take every precaution.” He flashed a smile at Anil. “Now, you have traveled far to reach Lorn, and seen much. Please, tell me about the trip.”

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 29                                Table of Contents

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 29

This entry is part 30 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Tier kept the borrowed hood over his head as he made his way through the crowded streets of Lorn. The largest of the coastal cities in Nekar, it was a center of trade and sported freedoms other cities’ no longer had. In his youth, Tier had loathed it and the influence of the visiting cultures. Now, he wasn’t so sure it deserved his disdain.

It was a bustling city, and at any moment he feared he’d see someone who would recognize him. It had taken close to three seven days to get to Lorn, through the mountains, and now that he was here, he feared he’d made a mistake. The docks were a bustle of activity, Tier leaned against a building trying to gather his thoughts. He had to get north, out of the country. His best bet would be to take a ship to Tyrsleth and then passage on a river barge to Sandau, to warn Xin and Geb to get out.

He didn’t want to think about the logistics, not yet. He wasn’t sure how he was going to manage it all. He pushed from the wall, glancing towards the podium where the Harbor Master observed the comings and goings of the ships and their crews. If anyone knew who was going north, he would. Tier hoped the man wouldn’t recognize him.

“I need a ship.” He spoke in a low voice.

“Aye? What?” He barely looked in Tier’s direction, he was fiddling with a coin on the podium.

“I need a ship to Tyrsleth.” Tier said. The Harbor Master’s hand stilled and he turned. His cataract hazed eyes widened and he swallowed.

“Yer sposed to be dead,” His voice was rough.

Tier swallowed, wondering if he should turn and run. A single word raised would alert the ever present guards that patrolled the harbor. “I need to get to Tyrsleth, as quickly as possible.”

The Harbor Master nodded slowly, and glanced around, fingers drumming on the podium. “Come on lad,” he motioned Tier to follow him. “The whole empire is shaking from your, err, death.”

“No one can know I’m not dead.” Tier gripped the man’s shoulder. The Harbor Master bobbed his head several times.

“No one will know. Yer secret is safe with me.” He pointed to a ship at the end of a long dock. “The Prancing Dragon. Captain Kerga runs a tight ship, don’t usually deal with passengers,”

“Then why,”

“Because she’s got no ties here, yer highness.” The Harbor Master hissed, half turning. He gave a gap-toothed grin. “Because you deserve better than a pole.”

The Harbor Master led him on the deck, and Tier felt his stomach do an uneasy flop. He could feel the motion of the ship on the water, and he didn’t care for it in the least.

“Aye! Cor, where’s Kerga?” The Harbor Master yelled.

A short, slim woman strode over. She glanced Tier’s way and dismissed him, focusing on the Harbor Master.

“She’s in her cabin, restin. Why?” The woman’s voice was a soft, an oddly familiar burr. Tier frowned, staring at her hard. Were her dark hair longer, her eyes a lighter gray, she could be Xin’s twin or older sister. He swallowed, glancing back at the Harbor Master.

“Just to Tyrsleth, Cor. I’ll pay,”

“Wait,” Tier started, the man shook his head.

“Yer not gonna argue me out of it, Tier. I owe ye, lad.”

Tier hissed a curse, shaking his head. The woman was staring at him, her eyes narrow.

“Tier?” Her voice hard.

“Cor, take us to the captain lass. I’ll explain below deck.” He waggled a finger at Tier. “No arguments, either.”

 

Captain Kerga was a tall woman with a cap of bright red curls and vivid blue eyes. She listened to what the Harbor Master was proposing while eying Tier. There was something about the way she watched him that made him uneasy. The silence stretched as she drummed her fingers on the surface of her desk.

“That’s a hefty cut you’re takin, Vourum.”

The man shrugged, hand clamped on Tier’s shoulder. “You know, as do I, why this is important.” He looked at Tier. “In some circles yer a martyr.”

Tier shook his head. “Crazy.”

“In others a hero.” Kerga leaned back, propping her booted feet on the desk. “Officially yer a traitor.”

“I am no traitor.” Tier snarled. Kerga smiled.

“That remains to be seen.” She stretched, hands behind her head, staring up at the ornately carved beams overhead. “Lets say I agree, the ships patrolling the coast,”

“As far as everyone is concerned, he’s dead.” Cor spoke up. She’d been leaning against one wall, fiddling with a rope. “If there were any whispers that he might have escaped, it would spread like wildfire in the dry grass.”

“True. Depending on who knows.” Kerga leaned forward, the legs of her chair hitting the floor with a loud thump. “I’ll not put my crew, nor my ship at risk, understand? First sign that you’re bringing trouble, yer overboard I dunna care how far from land we are.”

“Understood.” Tier’s heart was pounding in his ears.

“Discretion, Kerga.” The Harbor Master said quickly.

“I’m not a dunce, Vourum.” Her eyes flickered towards Cor. Tier didn’t dare look towards the slim woman.

“My apologies, I never meant to imply you were.” The Harbor Master tossed her a small bag and turned to Tier. “I’ve a friend up in Tyrsleth, Moya. She’ll put you up while you figure what yer gonna do next.”

“Why?” Tier asked, ignoring the two women.

“Why what?”

“Why, this?”

“I said I owed ya, more than you’ll ever realize.” He gave a gap-toothed grin and held out his hand for a handshake. Tier hesitated before taking his hand. On the back of his hand was a pale blue filigree tattoo that reminded Tier of glyph drawings. “Yer very existence is a slap in the face of that dead-eyed bitch. I like being a part of that.” The Harbor Master bowed low. “Good luck.”

Tier watched him leave before turning to the women catching the amused look they exchanged.

“Find him a space Cor.” Kerga said, pulling over some papers. “I’ve got some paperwork to catch up on.”

Cor nodded, glanced at Tier, and motioned him to follow her.

“We don’t usually take passengers, don’t have any special quarters for em. There’s a bit of a small space you can use.” She glanced at him.

“How long does it usually take to reach Tyrsleth?” Tier asked as they went down the steep steps into the belly of the ship.

“Few weeks, if weather is good, but we have a couple stops between here and there.” She half turned to him. “While we’re in Port, here or further north, stay below deck. It’d be safer that way.”

Tier inclined his head. What else could he do? His life was in their hands.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 28                                Table of Contents                  Chapter 30

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 28

This entry is part 29 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

“In times of desperation, our abilities can do amazing things.” Water Master Euka lifted his hands. A large bubble of water lifted slowly out of the river, the sunlight shining through it, casting rainbows on the grass. “From what you’ve told me, every time you’ve used your powers on your travel, it was in response to danger.”

Xin nodded. He was a thin, small man with a roughly cut bowl of thick black hair. He motioned her over. “Like your mother, you haven’t been able to practice, to experiment, have you? She’d barely learned how to lift water from the river.”

“I only practiced in hiding. And late at night.” She said.

She too would hide at night and in storms to play. She was a fast learner though.” Water Master Euka chuckled. “And a bit of a trickster.”

“I have only faint memories of my mother.” Xin said slowly. It was strange hearing someone talk about her mother. And in a favorable light no less.

“There is a lifetime of catching up to do. There is no rush though, Xin. No rush at all. She regretted her inability to retrieve you.” He patted her arm and then made a sweeping motion with his hand. The water blob dropped back into the river and the water in the river rose in a huge crest, hovering before crashing back down into its bank and settling.

“I want you to practice, get used to the feel of the water, you’ve had to hide it to survive. Now to survive you must master it, control it.” Another blob of water lifted and shaped into a plate shape and froze. “Practice with the different aspects of water, you do know what those are, right?”

“Liquid, solid, steam.”

The little man sniffed and nodded, the ice melted and then dissolved into a small cloud. “I want you to practice that.” It became a big blob of water again and splashed back into the river. “Now.”

Xin nodded and lifted a blob of water. This was more than just playing. She focused on the water willing it to freeze. A shell appeared on the outer layer, slowly. She frowned trying to focus harder, the blob stayed half frozen. A blob of slush.

“Not bad.”

“It won’t freeze.” She said. “I’ve frozen things before.”

“How often have you tried to do this particular exercise?”

She frowned.

“Exactly. There is no desperation, no danger. This is all focus and conscious effort.” She felt him wrest the ice blob out of her grip and tossed it into the river. “You have to build up the skill and the stamina to use your gifts fully.”

“I’ll try to remember that.”

“It is a lot to remember. It is a lot of change. Walk with me.” The old man led her along the walkway beside the river. “Your mother has no affinity for healing, do you?”

“I’ve never tried.”

He sighed. “One can always hope, we’ll test you later, though with the traveling you’ve done, I would think you would have unlocked that ability.” He pointed towards the Spirit Elemental dome. “Each element has areas of specialty. Water is usually ice, steam, or healing. Earth used to have crystal shapers and metal manipulators, if the legends are true. Proficiency is rare these days. Kera,”

“The Seeress?”

He spat to the side. “She is no Seeress, she is a charlatan, a trickster. A manipulator. She killed the strongest of us. Wiped out a generation of healers, crystal shapers, metal workers. The elementals will never fully recover. Did you know the Air Dancers had floaters? Before I met Aitelle, I thought all of them had been wiped out. The greatest of the Fire Elementals, the Fire Lords, used to have the ability to do what is called a Holy Flame.” Water Master Euka turned to her. “Legends tell of spectacular deeds done by the Holy Flame.”

“What is it, exactly?”

“No one knows. There hasn’t been a Fire lord who can do it in, well if legends are correct, since before the Seer War.” He chuckled. “There are those who whisper that Nesh is powerful enough to use it, but I’ve never seen it personally.”

Xin shook her head. “We were told the elementals were all extinct. My own grandfather tried to stone me.”

The Water Master patted her arm. “You are safe now. Come, let’s go over to the training field. Nesh teaches the young fire elementals. It is an interesting process, if a bit dangerous.”

“Dangerous?”

“Fire, Xin. If you aren’t careful, you’ll get your eyebrows singed off.”

 

They found Lord Nesh crouched in the training field, surrounded by a group of children whispering and laughing. Nesh’s hands were outstretched and in his hand was a man-shaped flame walking across his palms. The children giggled and laughed as the little flame danced and then did cartwheels across his hands. The Water Master nodded in his direction, speaking in a low voice.

“The last true Fire Lord. His family has been in power in Sandau since before the war of the Seers. He’s far more powerful than his sire, or his grandsire for that matter. Some whisper he is like the great Fire Lords of old.”

Xin watched the Fire Lord, silently comparing him to Tier and shook herself. There was no comparison and it was stupid. Tier was never coming back. She had to move on. Lord Nesh stepped back nodding at the children who lined up in front of him, hands out. Some were able to conjure up little fire-men of their own, some were having trouble getting much more than flaring sparks.

“He’s been teaching the young ones since he mastered his own abilities.” The Water Master murmured.

“He seems good with children.” Xin observed.

“Aye.”

Lord Nesh noticed them, eyebrows arching, he said something to the children and then headed over.

“I see your eyebrows have grown back.” The Water Healer called, chuckling.

“Thanks to you.” Lord Nesh grinned and glanced at Xin. “Training children to use fire can be dangerous at times.”

“I can imagine.” Xin watched the little ones struggling to keep the little flames in their hands from going out. “Aren’t they a bit young?”

“That’s why they must be trained.” Lord Nesh nodded towards a little girl closest to them, no more than six possibly seven years old. “She’ll be a master if she can get the basics down. But fire is dangerous. We must keep control at all times, lest it gets away from us.”

“I can see how that could be a problem.”

“It is a serious matter.” Lord Nesh looked down at her. “And how are you settling in?”

Xin looked away and shrugged. “It’s busier here than Dhaul.”

“It is. If there’s anything I can do, just let me know.”

Before she could respond a man called for him from the crest of the low hill overlooking the river. Nesh waved once and glanced towards Euka and Xin.

“Excuse me, Euka, can you make sure they don’t singe each other?” He didn’t wait, turning and making his way at a half run to meet the messenger.

Xin watched him as he spoke with the messenger and the two disappeared over the hill. Euka had made his way over to the children speaking gently. The flames went out and they bowed, turned and filed away.

 

“We found this in the house you were assigned to when you first arrived.” The young man set the small bag on the table. Xin felt her mouth go dry, barely acknowledging Aitelle coming over. It was Tier’s bag, the smaller one. She opened it with nerveless fingers, frowning as she pulled out some of his papers.

“Why would he have left this?” She asked no one in particular. The papers were notes, some in Nekarian, some in other language, all in a similar script. At the bottom was the book and the small box he’d found in Dhaul. Xin held the box, staring at the top of it. Important enough to take with him only to leave it behind?

“Xin, what is it?” Aitelle’s voice broke through her daze.

“These are important papers.” She lifted the book, “He called this a treasure of the royal family.” She looked at Aitelle. “Why would he leave it behind?”

Aitelle took the book, carefully flipping through the pages. “I don’t know, it doesn’t seem to be all that important, does it?”

Xin put the papers back, carefully replacing everything.

“He didn’t want her to get her hands on it.” Geb whispered.

Xin stared at Geb, heart pounding in her ears. “Of course.” She closed the bag, glanced at Aitelle. “Please, don’t mention this.”

“Xin, what is it?”

“I’m not sure.” She took the bag up to her room, setting at the foot of her bed, then went to the window staring towards the horizon. Fear for him, for what she’d do to him brought tears to her eyes.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 27                                   Table of Contents                          Chapter 29

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 27

This entry is part 28 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Estate of the Hassof Family

 

 

Rale felt as though he were swimming through a murky pool of water, trying to reach the surface, and failing miserably. He heard a whisper, the sounds of metal clinking and the loud creak of rusty hinges. His head was too heavy to turn, his eyes felt sealed shut. He couldn’t control his body. Fear raged inside him. Someone was there, was it her? He hoped it wasn’t, prayed she wouldn’t notice him. If he was quiet enough, maybe she’d go away. His mind was raw and sore. A wound gouged into his thoughts.

“Rale?” The voice echoed from a long dark passage. Female. Not her! Something cool, smelling like mint, was pressed against his forehead. A gentle palm pressed against his cheek. He smelled the perfume, light and floral. Her name swam up from the depths of his mind; Aryanda. His elder sister. He struggled to open his eyes, to say something. He heard a low groan and realized it was from him.

“There isn’t much time, Arya, hurry up.” A male voice, clipped and cultured, spoke. It was oddly familiar, though the name of the man elluded him.

“Rale, you have to get up.” Arya whispered. How could she sound so musical when she was whispering?

“Arya?” was that his voice? That cracked sound?

“It’s me. Open your eyes, we don’t have much time.” This time she shook him and pain shot through his body, from his back to his head. He groaned opened his eyes, staring up at her. Dark hair framing dark, concerned eyes.

“Where are we?” The words didn’t sound right. He tried again. “What happened?” He pushed himself up, glad for her help. He cringed when her hand touched his stinging back.

“Home. For now at least. She had me collect you.” Arya “She is expecting to come get you to finish her inquiries.”

Rale stared at her, memories rushing back. He’d hit the floor before Tier had. Rale swallowed. “Where’s Tier?”

Arya looked down, her voice a bare whisper. “She had him executed four days ago.” She looked back up, tears on her cheeks. “There are whispers purging the entire noble line. We have to get you out.”

“Out? We?” He blinked looking past her. Leaning against the wall near the door, arms crossed in front of him was a pale man in dark clothing.

“Xeresel has arranged for you to return to Sandau.” Arya handed him a tunic. He blinked realizing he wore only his underthings. Xeresel? Ambassador Xeresel? He stared at man, ignoring Arya’s attempts to get him out of the cot.

“What is a Bavanan sorcerer doing involving himself in Nekarian politics?” He demanded. Starting to get to his feet. A wave of dizzy swept over him and he plopped back to the cot.

“Saving your ass at the moment. Or trying to. Get dressed, Lord Rale. You are running on borrowed time.”

Rale numbly took his pants, pulling them on, and leaned against Arya as he fumbled with the belt. Lord Xeresel was said to be a powerful sorcerer related to the Queen of Bavanan herself. It was also rumored that he was a spy. Rale swallowed, staring at the man, wondering how much of the rumor might actually be true. He blinked, noticing a pale blue line of pulsing light running along the lines around the room. Next to Xeresel, on the wall, the light formed a circular pattern. Magic Glyph. He’d only heard of those in stories. Rale stared up at the man.

“Why?”

Xeresel gave a faint smile, leaning forward. “Because Arya asked so nicely. Hurry up my lord, we are running out of time.”

Rale took the boots Arya handed him and struggled to get them on his feet as she spoke.

“After we leave, go down to the stables. In the last stall is your horse, all ready to go. In the saddlebags are travel papers and money and a message for the Lady Launi.” Arya gave him a tight hug. “If I can, I’ll send messages through Moya in Tyrsleth.”

Rale got to his feet, fighting his churning stomach. “Arya, you are putting yourselves at risk, you can’t stay also,”

“I can’t leave. Not yet.” She gave a forced smile. “Too much going on.”

“Trust me, Rale, we have done far more than this to garner the Seeress’s wrath.” Xeresel said looking down at his fingernails.

Rale looked back and forth between them. “Like what?”

“There’s no time, Rale.” Arya embraced him quickly. “Someday, we’ll talk and I’ll explain.” She went to the door, resting hand on the doorknob.

“Good luck, my lord.” Xeresel extended a hand towards Rale.

Rale took the man’s hand, trying not to wince when Xeresel squeezed. The Bavanan man stepped back as the light receded, crawling back along the wall towards the round glyph which Xeresel covered with his palm. When he followed Arya out the door, the glyph vanished. Rale glanced at his hand and almost yelled, biting his lip at the last minute. Pulsing on his palm was a blue glyph. He touched it with his finger but he felt nothing but his skin.

“The spell will last long enough to get you out of Nekar unrecognized, but you must hurry. She can see right through it.” Xeresel’s voice was somber.

Rale looked up and felt chills working up his spine. Xeresel was no where to be seen. Neither was Arya. He stumbled to the door glancing at the two huddled forms beside it. Guards, sleeping, at least he hoped they were sleeping. He took a deep breath, and half ran, half stumbled down the hall like a drunken man. Sandau, Lady Launi, Xin, and Geb, the only things going through his mind. And the knowledge that he would have to tell Xin that Tier was dead. He swallowed. He couldn’t think about that now. He had to get out of Nekar.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 26                                   Table of Contents

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 26

This entry is part 27 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Tier struggled to open his eyes and regretted it. Before him stretched the brown sands of the Desert of Koursh, broken only by execution poles with dark huddled mounds at their bases. Heat rippled through the air, tricking the eye into believing there was standing water in the distance. His shoulders ached, his wrists were tied so tight he could barely feel his fingers. His heart pounded in his ears. In front of him, just half a man’s length from his boots, were his weapons and beside them a large water skin. Torture. To die knowing water was just out of reach. He closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the pole he was secured to.

Icy cold air heralded the arrival of the local ghosts. He opened his eyes again, staring at the hazy, indistinct shapes. They simply looked at him, hollows for eyes. Waiting for him to join them no doubt.

“Either help me out of this, or go away!” He growled. A wind he didn’t feel made the shapes dissolve, leaving him alone.

He tried to twist his hands behind him, swearing under his breath. The ropes barely budged, though he could grip his weak thumb with his hand. He stared at the clear blue sky and jerked as hard as he could. Pain shot up his arm twisting his gut. He slowly twisted his hand, gritting his teeth as bit by bit the rope slid over his thumb. Time suspended, narrowing down to pain and the creeping rope that held him against the rough pole. After an eternity his hand slipped free, loosening the rope around his other hand. He grunted, pushing away from the pole and moving his arms back to his sides. Tingles ran up and down them as blood flooded starved veins.

With gritted teeth he popped his thumb back into place, swearing again, and struggled to get to his feet. His body felt like lead, his head pounded. His tunic, cloak, armor, everything was gone. He half stumbled to his weapons and the precious water skin, crouching as he lifted it in trembling hands. He took a sip, enough to wet his parched mouth and jammed the stopper back in it. He had to save it. He stared at the weapons then looked around, fighting a wave of dizziness and nausea.

He was off the pole. Now what?

The question loomed in his mind. Where could he go? No doubt word had spread. There was no telling what that little bitch had told his people. He gathered his weapons, glancing around, the hair on the back of his neck prickling. There was no telling when the guards assigned to the valley were going to come back this way. He’d need to get out of the desert fast. South was the coast, north was the capitol, the palace and the oracle. He rubbed his forehead. He hadn’t felt any pressure since he woke.

She must not realize he was still alive. He stared towards the south, trying to remember the layout of the land. On the other side of the mountains was Lorn and the port. He could take a ship. He frowned. Where? The islands?

Nekar was being mobilized his father had said, they were going to march on Sandau. Tier nodded to himself. He had to go to Sandau. He’d have to go the long way, a ship up the eastern coast to Tyrsleth then south to Sandau. The plains city wasn’t capable of taking a siege. He needed to get Xin out. Or at least warn her. He tried not to think of what Launi had told him, tried not to think about what had happened when he faced Kera. He wondered what had befallen Rale and pushed that thought away. If he thought too hard about it, he might come apart and he didn’t have the luxury of time. He looked around one last time before heading towards the distant southern mountains.

Each step jarred his back, made the throbbing in his hand worse. Fear raged through him. Fear for his sister and father, even concern for his brother wiggled into each thought. He hoped they wouldn’t suffer on his account. He had done the impossible. Stopped the Kera from reading his mind, in fact he’d read hers. Shudders ran through him as the realization crashed down on him, chilling him beneath the unrelenting sun. Her memories were locked in his mind. He feared examining them too closely. He was afraid of what he’d find.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Chapter 25                                      Table of Contents                   Chapter 27

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 25

This entry is part 26 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

The air was cool and held a hint of autumn. Mist blanketed the valley and from the center of it rose the Oracle. He gritted his teeth and nodded a silent greeting to Rale. They stood before the closed gates, staring up at the insignia. The only sound was the haunting melody that was so familiar.

“Where are the priests?” Rale asked. He was unshaven and had a pallor to his skin that made him look ill.

“I don’t know.” Tier glanced up at the wall. No movement, nothing. He stepped over, raising his hand to knock on the gate when it swung silently inward.

In the center of the courtyard stood a small robed figure, not much taller than the Seeress. Thin hands reached up, pushing the hood of the robe back revealing a very pale, blue eyed woman with a crown of white gold hair. Her robes once fine silks that might have been blue, were tattered and worn, moving about her in a wind he couldn’t feel. Tier swallowed, desperately wishing for a drink.

“Prince Tier.” The woman tipped her head to one side. Tier felt a brush against his mind, like butterfly wings, and pushed back at it. Her eyebrows arched and an odd smile crossed her lips before she peered at Rale. “Lord Rale. You are both late.”

“Where are the Priests?” Rale’s voice had a high pitched edge to it. She chuckled, the sound did nothing to ease Tier’s discomfort.

“The Festival of Hope draws them south to the coast this time of year.” Her voice was so low that Tier had to strain just to hear her.

“And you are?” Rale was frowning at her.

“Kit.” Tier answered for her, chills running up his spine as her remembered the old stories whispered in taverns and round campfires. The mind-breaker. The Voice of the Seeress. Rale went paler and swayed on his feet. She inclined her head slowly not looking away from Tier.

“That is what they call me, yes.” She made a slow circle around them, her hands pressed together in front of her. “You were sent for Elementals.”

“We were unable to bring them with us.” Tier said as she stepped in front of him and looked up at him. Her eyes were familiar, but he couldn’t remember from when.

“She will not be pleased.” Kit said after a moment. She shook her head and motioned towards the corridor leading to the Seeress’s room. “It is time.”

“I did as she asked.” Tier crossed his arms. She turned back to look up at him, her expression impossible to read.

“Yes, you did. Hopefully, for your sakes, she’ll remember her part.” She looked at Rale for a long moment before motioning them again to go down the corridor. Rale sighed and went, Tier stayed rooted, staring at the her.

“She waits for you, your highness.” The soft voice was hypnotic.

“Will she honor her part?”

Kit looked up at him and again he felt the butterfly wings brushing his mind. He pushed back, scowling and she smiled.

“I can’t answer that, your highness. She is not in a good mood.” Her voice never rose, yet it chilled him further. She knew what he could do. He nodded and followed Rale into the silent Oracle.

Each step echoed against the walls and the pressure he’d felt since returning to Nekar grew stronger. When they reached the inner sanctum, Tier could barely see. Pain shot through his head as the Seeress entered the room. His eyes locked on her, struck again by how young she looked. This creature was over a thousand years old? Two thousand? She stared at him, her blank eyes boring into his. He felt the pressure increase and could almost feel her fingers clawing at his mind.

He shuddered, unable to stop himself. He was certain she was trying to get into his mind.

“You failed.” Her voice, harsh and brittle compared to Kit’s soft tones, crawled over his skin. Her movements were less fluid than before, far more agitated.

“You said if we couldn’t bring them back,” Rale began. The Seeress turned her head and Rale gripped the sides of his head with a hoarse cry. Tier took a half step towards his cousin and then glared at the Seeress.

“We were hindered by another like you.” Tier said, somehow his shakes faded as she looked back at him, eyes wide. His fear faded, anger beginning to boil. This little creature had held Nekar in the palm of her hand for centuries. Even now his father was acting not on his own but in response to her. The pressure he’d felt since arriving back home was the Seeress, he was certain of it.

“There are no others like me.” She whispered. Tier was aware of the tattered robed Kit kneeling beside Rale.

“She called herself Launi.” Tier continued. Kit looked towards him but his kept his gaze on the Seeress. Kera, he reminded himself, her name was Kera. “She seemed to feel you were not entirely truthful with me when you asked me to look for elementals.”

“Did she?”

On the ground Rale groaned.

“Father informed me that you told him I was looking for a General’s daughter. That is not what you asked us to do.”

“Are you questioning me?” Her voice cold. On the ground Rale groaned.

“Yes I am.” He gripped his sword belt, his palms sweaty. He was a dead man already, he could see it on her face, he might as well give her a piece of his mind. “I was sent away from my duties under false pretenses. I have a war I am fighting, my men need me there. Not traipsing around the world looking for elementals who are not as extinct as we have been led to believe they were. How many other lies have you told our people?” Pressure upon pressure on his skull dropped him gasping to his knees. He glared up at her. She knelt, her fingernail scraping his cheek.

“You presume much, your highness.” She whispered hoarsely.

“Do I?” He narrowed his eyes. “Grandmother?”

For a brief moment the pressure stopped, he heard a gasp, the white faded from her eyes revealing a pale blue, like the woman from the mural. The pressure and the white returned and his cheek felt hot along where her fingernail had traced. Pain, white hot shot through his cheek.

“You have outlived your usefulness, your highness. Open your mind to me and I might see fit to spare your life.”

“And let you control my every movement? No thank you.” He whispered. Pain blazed again, but this time on his back. He jerked forward arching his back blindly attempting to ease the pain. The Seeress cupped his face in her hands, her fingernails biting into his skin.

“Let. Me. In.”

Tier closed his eyes, feeling the claws in his head. “No.” Anger welled up, flaring around him and for a moment, when he opened his eyes and met hers, he saw. A thousand years of lies, experiences, births, deaths, the building of an empire and behind it all were the shadowed images of people he didn’t recognize.

Time rolled beneath him, the war of the Seers, a conflict which had stretched for thousands of years had come to a head. It had been they, the spirit elementals, the sisters, not the elementals, that nearly tore their world apart. Darkness clouded his vision and he felt himself falling.

“Traitor.” Her voice echoed in his mind even as the darkness crowded around him. “Take him to the desert.”

 

 

Water dripped in the distance. Kit stared at the place the two men had lain, her mind whirring. Unexpected. Very unexpected. Kera paced behind her, hands clenched at her sides.

“How could he have found out?” Kera rasped. “It’s impossible, no one could have figured it out!”

Kit didn’t answer. She kept her secrets tightly behind a public wall of nonsensical thoughts. Kera had long grown weary trying to batter through it, the centuries had left the Seeress a touch lazy.

“Kit!”

Kit looked at her, pulling her robes tightly around her. “What?”

“Go with the army to Sandau. I want Launi brought here in chains.”

Kit inclined her head and watched Kera make her way back into the private area. Behind her heavy footfalls and the jingling of armor announced the arrival of the Oracle Guards. They went out of their way to avoid Kera if they could. Kit listened to them shuffling uncomfortably.

“My lady?” The Captain’s voice was hesitant.

“I’ve told you not to call me that, Captain.” Kit met the man’s eyes. He swallowed and inclined his head.

“Forgive me. The prisoner is ready to be taken to the desert, we’re having trouble locating some shackles though. We may have to send to the capital for some.”

“Use rope.” Kit, moved past him.

“But, Kit, rope…”

“He won’t be waking up again, Captain.” She pulled her hood over her head and met his eyes. “I made sure of that. All you need is to keep him propped up on the pole. Right?”

The Captain stared at her for a long time before nodding. “Of course. What do you want us to do with their horses?”

“I’ll take care of the prince’s horse. Send Lord Rale’s back to his family with him.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Good day, Captain.” Kit turned, making her way back to the courtyard.

The two travel weary horses stood patiently, waiting for their masters. She stepped up to the large warhorse, rubbing his nose. “You’ll do very well, won’t you?”

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

 

Chapter 24                                      Table of Contents                   Chapter 26

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 24

This entry is part 25 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Tier leaned against the wall, staying out of the way of the nobles circling the strange invention that dominated the inner courtyard. They reminded him of buzzards in the desert, waiting for something to die. Though he spotted a few people he recognized, but had no desire to speak to them. His head still hurt. He rubbed his forehead and stared at the thing floating at the end of thick ropes in the courtyard.

Thick brown cloth of varying shades were patch-worked together in an oblong ball and floated above them. Ropes were slung criss cross over the top, attached to a wide, low basket hanging underneath it. The basket was anchored to a fountain, bobbing gently with each movement of the floating ball. There was some sort of metal stove with a chimney attached to the underside of the ball, where a small round opening allowed the smoke from the stove to fill the ball. Tier couldn’t tell how it stayed hanging just underneath the opening. The nobles passing between him and the strange thing blocked his view. The outside of the basket had several heavy looking bags tied to the outside of it.

A group of men huddled beside the fountain, holding something and pointing from it to the floating thing and making exaggerated gestures. It was only a matter of time before one of them would hit a passing noble.

“They say it will change the future.”

Tier swallowed a sigh, glancing over at his overdressed elder brother. Maen crossed his arms and gestured towards the thing. “They say it can go over the mountains and will render the passes unnecessary.”

“You’ll never get me in one of those things.” Tier grumped. Maen sneered and shook his head.

“You look like a vagabond.”

“You look like a peacock.” Tier glanced beyond Maen, looking for and failing to locate Hannah.

Maen’s eyes narrowed, he half turned, facing the air-boat but staying within punching distance.

“How was Chiron?”

Tier gritted his teeth. “Drunk last time I saw him.”

Maen snickered. “And the woman? I’d half hoped to meet her.”

“What you heard was an exaggeration.” Tier forced himself to keep his voice steady.

“But where is she?” Maen seemed genuinely curious.

“She stayed in Sandau.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you two in the same room at the same time!” Hannah stepped from the crowd, sliding between them with a smile.

“We can be civil.” Tier gritted out.

“Mostly.” Maen inclined his head. “Though it might be best to not push our luck. Good to see you again, Tier.” He turned and strode off not waiting for a reply.

“Don’t come back.” Tier muttered. Hannah gripped his arm, leaning against him.

“Be nice, Tier. He’s been worried about you.”

Tier looked down at her in surprise. She nodded and tugged slightly.

“Walk with me, please?”

He smothered a sigh but nodded, letting her guide him through the crowd towards the other end of the courtyard. He ignored the stares and whispers of those he strode past, locking his gaze on the heavily jeweled figure leaning against a pillar near the far door.

The Empress smiled, stepping slowly from the pillar. Each movement was stiff, slow, though her smile was warm, her eyes were shadowed with pain. Tier hugged her gently, stepping back.

“You’ve been gone for far too long.” She said, linking her arm through his.

“Father keeps me busy.” He glanced down at her, noting how thin she seemed. Her cheekbones far more pronounced than he remembered. “You don’t look well.”

“Tier!” Hannah protested.

“Don’t worry about me, Tier.” The Empress nodded towards the contraption in the courtyard. “What do you think of that?”

“I don’t know what to think.”

“Mother?” Hannah motioned towards a group of youths. The Empress inclined her head and Tier watched her make her way over to them.

“You have not yet seen the Seeress, have you?” The Empress’s voice was low. Tier shook his head. She sighed, patting his arm. “After you see her, come home for a time.”

Tier met her eyes and nodded. She patted his arm again and stepped away, turning stiffly and making her way up the steps and into the palace. A loud gong sounded behind him, the pounding in his head got worse as he turned and looked again at the thing in the courtyard.

A thin man stood in front of the basket, he gave a bow. “Ladies and Gentlemen, your Excellency,” he swallowed his forehead glistened. “Your Imperial Majesty, forgive me.” He cleared his throat as chuckles and snickers ran through the gathering crowd.

Tier frowned. He hadn’t seen his father earlier, now he spotted the Emperor, standing off to one side of the crowd, a young woman Tier didn’t recognize on his arm. Tier was about to make his way over, but the thin man, who reminded Tier of a long twig, began to speak.

“Behind me is what I’ve called an air-boat.” He rested a trembling hand on the basket, the floating ball above bobbed with the weight. “This one carried myself and a couple passengers through the sky days ago.”

A whisper ran through the crowd.

“How many people can it carry?” A voice called.

“This one can carry three. However, we are working on a larger one, which can carry at least ten.” He looked towards the Emperor. “Our great nation has been confined south of the mountains for an eon. This is our chance to show the world what Nekar can really accomplish. With this, and others like it, we can expand far beyond the mountains.”

The silence was heavy. Tier glanced at his father again. The Emperor was nodding.

“With the right funding, we can outfit the army with these air ships.” The man swallowed. “Imagine, no longer a need for sieges, but dropping forces directly inside the city walls.”

“Impressive. Promising.” The Emperor motioned the air-boat. “How do you steer it?”

The man swallowed and motioned to one of the bags hanging on the side of the basket. “We’re working on improving our methods of steering it, at the moment,”

“The wind takes you where it wants you to go, you mean?”

“Well, yes. But we’re working on,”

“I’ve seen enough.” The Emperor shook his head. “Get this out of my palace.”

The Emperor and his companion left the courtyard. The silence was deafening and the twig man turned from the crowd, leaning against the side of the basket.

“So much for a pet project.” Tier muttered, taking a final look around. People were huddled in groups whispering, no one was looking in his direction. He left. He had more important things to do. Like prepare for his meeting with the Seeress.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 23

This entry is part 24 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

“And you were unable to glean anything at all from Sandau?” General Dyrnos asked with a scowl.

“No.” Tier sat in the War Hall in the Imperial Palace. At the table sat his father and others in the Nekarian High Command. All eyes were on him. His head pounded as though the room was full of holiday drummers. It started shortly before arriving at the Palace, and wasn’t letting up. “Lord Nesh escorted Rale and I out within a day of our arrival.”

General Dyrnos sighed and shook his head. “Typical.”

“And your mission for the Seeress? Was it successful?” The Emperor asked. The silence was heavy. Tier could see the concern written on the faces of the men and women he’d trained with and mentored under for years. Even his headache faded momentarily, as if awaiting his reply. His gut twisted.

“Both a success and a failure, sir. I was forced to leave behind those I was sent to find.” He said slowly.

“But you found the Water Master’s daughter though?” Lord Faruq asked, leaning forward.

Tier studied the man for a long time, heart pounding in his ears. “I was not told I was seeking anyone’s daughter.” He pulled out the little black scroll the Seeress had given him on his departure and unrolled it, skimming over the contents before handing it to the Lord. “Those were my orders.”

The Lord frowned, reading it, and handed it to the woman sitting beside him. It was passed around in silence before returned to Tier who dropped it on the table top in front of him.

“That raises questions,” The man began.

“Which are irrelevant.” The Emperor cut him off. He pinned Tier with a sharp look. “I know your time in Sandau was limited. From what you saw, how well do you think they’d fare in a siege?”

Tier frowned. “The longer you wait, the stronger they’ll be. They are expecting us to move. Right now, the city walls are more decorative than functional, from what I saw. But they’re being buffered.”

The Emperor nodded and leaned forward. “Next winter I want Sandau to be ours.”

Tier leaned back in his chair, the headache was close to blinding. The others were nodding though watching him.

“Shortly after you left on your mission, Jaktor fell. And two days ago, Lord Chiron sent word that the fort finally fell. That gives us two clear paths towards Sandau and the northern lands. I want you at the head of that army.” The Emperor leaned forward. “I want you march out as soon as the passes clear in the spring.”

“I live to serve.” Tier murmured, rubbing his temples.

The meeting continued, discussion of the recent victories and future plans, but he participated less. With each passing moment it felt like claws were scratching at his mind. When the meeting ended he stayed sitting, letting the others leave before he stood.

“Chiron wrote a fairly nasty letter regarding your passing through.” The Emperor said gravely, standing.

“Did he?” Tier forced his eyes to focus on his father, his heart drumming loud in his ears.

“He indicated that he felt you switched sides.”

Tier blinked. “What?”

“He said you threatened to rip his arms off. Over the woman he claimed was the water master’s daughter.”

Tier exhaled in a hiss. “I didn’t threaten to take his arms off. I told him if he touched her I wouldn’t restrain myself.”

The Emperor chuckled. “You scared the shit out of him.”

“Good. He threatened her well-being and publicly insulted her, repeatedly.” Tier stood. “Be assured, my loyalty is to Nekar, and has always been so.”

“And the woman?” The Emperor raised a hand. “I have never known you to threaten violence over a woman.”

“She saved my life, father.” Tier said slowly. “If for no other reason I owed her.”

“Perhaps when you take Sandau she will still be there.” the Emperor said softly. “Bring her back…”

Tier shrugging. “She’s an Elemental. There are far more elementals in the world than we’ve been led to believe.”

The Emperor’s eyes went wide and he nodded. “I see. It is most unfortunate. Maen seems to have no interest in taking a wife,”

“Father,”

“Your mother wants grandchildren before she dies.” The Emperor grinned at him.

Tier snorted, rubbing his forehead. “Before I forget, I wanted to warn you Chiron is running Delebeg into the ground.”

“Howso?”

“He’s managed to keep the water limited to the royal grounds, doling it out to the rest of the city in limited amounts.”

“Interesting.”

“I believe there is trouble, possibly civil unrest brewing in Delebeg.” Tier leaned against the back of the chair he’d been sitting in. “I know you are focused on taking Sandau, but perhaps you should wait.”

“Tier,”

“The problem in Delebeg is a storm-cloud brewing. When it lets loose,”

“We cannot give the northerners a chance to build up their defenses.” The Emperor held up his hand. “We will address the Delebeg situation, but right now those passes are our ticket to the plains. We,”

“We who?”

“What?”

“You said we, you and whom else?” Tier studied his father. The man who had towered over him as a child, frightening him, seemed diminished. Age was showing, and realizing it, he was startled. His father, old?

“The Seeress has outlined her plans for the future. She wants,” the Emperor chuckled. “I want Sandau as a province.”

“It would strain our manpower over time. The Sandau are not to be taken lightly.”

“No. Of course not. But they don’t have what we do. We have the Gods on our side. The Seeress,”

“Who rules Nekar, father?”

The Emperor froze, his face stern. “Tier, I rule. I am the Emperor, do you doubt my power?”

“No!” Tier swallowed. “If the Seeress doesn’t rule, then why does she have such influence on what decisions you make?”

“Tier.” His father’s voice was heavy. “To ask such questions is unwise.”

“Why? You’re the Emperor.” Tier refused to back down.

“Without the Seeress our family wouldn’t be in power. Our people would nothing but nomads wandering the deserts. We, as a people, owe her. If she asks me for the moon, I will do everything in my power to give it to her.”

Tier nodded, gripping the back of the chair. “It has been a long trip. I still have to report to the Seeress.” He spoke carefully.

“Welcome home son.” To his surprise the Emperor embraced him. “Tonight is the Festival of Hope. Maen and Hannah are both here, stay. Join us. Your mother would be very pleased to see you. Tomorrow you can go and report to the Seeress, but for tonight, stay. It has been a long time since you were in these halls.”

“I will.” Tier forced a smile. Despite being home, where he knew he belonged, he felt empty. He missed Xin.

 

His old rooms were pristine, large, decorated as befit his station. They were hollow. It had been years since he’d been in the Palace for an extended period of time. He preferred his estates, far simpler, out of the way. It would be a while before he’d be able to get back. He’d come in earlier, to clean up before meeting with his father, and left his travel things beside the large bed. Now he stood, trying to think around the pain. He did a quick check of his weapons, untouched as were his bags. He sank on one of the chairs at the desk staring at the hard leather covering. What was she doing now? Learning no doubt. Launi said she’d assign teachers to ensure she could improve their gifts. Gifts, not a curse. When had he stopped thinking of them as elementals? He couldn’t remember. She was just Xin, who had faced far more in her life, who had risked far more than he had.

“Is she beautiful?” the soft voice broke through his thoughts. He half turned towards the door, unable to keep from smiling. His younger sister leaned against the door jam. Hannah smiled at him, her dark eyes sparkling from some inner joke.

“What?” Her question barely registered past his headache. It had been almost two years since he’d seen her. She was less the gangly child and more a young woman.

“The woman you threatened Chiron over. It’s all over the palace. Is she beautiful?” She stepped into the room, her long skirts rustling loudly with each step.

Tier half turned away lifting one of the bags. For a brief moment he could almost see Xin, her large soft blue eyes twinkling. “She is, exquisite.”

“Why didn’t you bring her back, then?” Hannah asked coming up beside him. She leaned against his shoulder.

Tier sighed. “Wouldn’t have worked, Hannah. She’s not exactly an ally.” he met his sister’s eyes. She frowned.

“Oh.” She sighed. “Still, you should have anyways. I would like to meet a woman who had my brother threatening to tear a man’s arms off!” She grinned up at him.

“That was an exaggeration. Aren’t you supposed to be in Arhein?” He needed to change the subject.

“I wanted to come back here for festival. And father is planning to find me a husband.” She leaned against him. “I was hoping you’d be home soon.”

“I see.”

“Will you then be around for a while?” She stepped back as he stood. Tier smiled down at her.

“I’ll be here for the festivities tonight.”

“Oh good, there’s supposed to be some sort of unveiling.”

“Unveiling?” Tier frowned.

“One of father’s new pet projects. Finding a way to cross the mountains by air instead of on foot.” Hannah shrugged. “They’re supposed to be showing off the new air-carriage at the height of the festival.”

“Father didn’t say anything about that. Is that why Maen is here?”

“Possibly. No fighting with him, please. I’ve seen the two of you in the same room.” She batted her eyes at him.

“I’ll try to keep my mouth shut.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.” He gave her a quick hug. “I have an awful headache though, squirt. I need to nap this off before tonight. I’ll see you at the festival.”

She smiled, going back to the door. “I’ll hunt you down if you don’t show.”

He chuckled and nodded. “I’ll be there.” She turned to leave then whirled back around, her skirts twisting about her legs, hands clasped tightly in front of her.

“Do you miss her?”

Tier gritted his teeth. “Go on squirt. My head is about to burst.”

She sighed and left, closing the door behind her gently. He stared at it for a long time before making his way to the bed. Once in it, he closed his eyes, hoping sleep would take away the pain, but sleep was a long way off. He could see Xin in his mind’s eye, as she had been in the kitchen in Sandau. Those overlarge eyes, soft hair that felt like silk in his hands. He hoped, prayed to whatever god might be listening that when they marched on Sandau she would be gone.

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter