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Chapter 14, 1st Book of Serinity

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Chapter 14, 1st Book of Serinity

Postby SerinitysChild » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:20 pm

Serinity stands on the balcony of her room, staring up at the nearly conjoined moons. For the past hour, the smaller moon has been sidling up to the larger moon, merging its light with that of its bigger sister. Eldrus is the smaller moon, the little sister of the sky, her light moving quickly across the darkness, and she’s often called Night’s Arrow. Minvera, the larger moon, travels ponderously, her movement regal in nature, as befits her stature as Night’s Guardian.

While Serinity watches, the moons join in the heavens nearly drowning the lights of the myriad stars. Smaller Eldrus moves cautiously across the face of Minvera, until, for one precious second, the pair form a perfect unity with Eldrus centered in Minvera. For that one second, magic power flows from the moons to the world, reviving the Powers of Light, and the Powers of Darkness, for another five years.

Sighing contentedly, Serinity feels the magic flow into her, filling her with joy and sadness. She can feel the joy of a cup that over flows with summer wine, and the sadness of knowing that many will quickly consume the wine.

Below Serinity’s balcony, behind the stables, Darganath lifts his muzzle high, opens his mouth, and launches his voice skyward. Joy and might combine to make his voice beautifully thrilling while simultaneously shadowing it with darkness. His piercing call tells the world that another dragon has come of age.

**********

Euriptus, standing in the mouth of his cave, watching the moons, hears the sound of Darganath announcing his presence. Pulling his silk robe tighter around him, he shivers as the dragon’s voice echoes across the valley, filling the world with his joy.
Sighing at the thought that one day the dragon he created to terrorize the land will now probably terrorize him, Euriptus returns to his bed while the rest of the world celebrates the union of the moons. Tomorrow is going to be another long day.

**********

Milesport settles into its joyous celebration of another conjunction of the moons. Parties, both private and public, dominate the night. The town’s people fill the air with the sounds of revelry. Drummers carry the beat of the music as bagpipes skirl jubilant music in combination with triumphant trumpets.

The parties will last well into the morning with only a few businesses being open the following day. The day after tomorrow the countryside will return to its business, but for this one night become day, joy is universal.

**********

Two days after the celebrations, Pearim holds his head high, while wishing he could hold it in his hands to make the throbbing go away. Too much summer wine, too many moon cakes, and way too many dancing partners, have conspired together to bring a pounding headache, a bad taste in his mouth, and a few happily remembered moments.

As he focuses his mind on today’s business, he realizes that some of the pounding isn’t going on in his head, but actually going on at the front gate. With a muttered, “Who’d be silly enough to tempt fate by pounding on my gate?” Pearim motions the day guard to see who’s defiling his peace.

As the guard opens the gate, then stumbles back in surprise, an Orc, all seven feet of him, steps quietly through the sally. Dragon scale armor, made from real dragons’ scales, covers the giant from gorget to mid-thigh, leaving the arms, legs and feet covered in mail so finely wrought it looks like rippling water when the wearer moves. On his head is a helmet pierced on either side with small holes to hear commands through, and a nose guard with cheek plates covering all but his eyes and mouth. Across his back hangs an axe that only an Orc, or a giant, can carry. On his left arm is a shield of bright metal embossed with a sun sigil.

The Orc’s manner is not as diffident as Pearim would like, but then, neither is it as aggressive as Pearim has always heard Orcs can be. Bravely stepping up to the Orc, Pearim looks up into its eyes, tries to swallow, and demands to know the Orc’s business.

By tilting his head down, the Orc can look into Pearim’s eyes, seeing both the bravery of the man, and the fear engendered by the Orc’s presence. Smiling past his six-inch tusks, the Orc rumbles, “We’re here at the direct summons of our Lady Serinity. Would you be kind enough to inform her that ‘the hundred’ have answered her call?”

The major domo returns to the house, muttering, “Lynx, dragons, and now Orcs. Is there no sanity in this world?”

Before Pearim can open the front door, Serinity jerks it open, then laughs with the same joy a small child would have when receiving a present. Nodding to Pearim, Serinity runs down the steps, across the lawn, and then jumps into the waiting arms of the Orc.

“Lady,” comments the Orc, while returning Serinity’s hug, “it’s unseemly for a person, such as you, to display such affection in this manner.” After a long second, Grabaug sets Serinity on her feet, then bows formally to her.

As the Orc bows to her, Serinity peeks through the sally, seeing many Orcs around whom she grew up. They’re older now, and a bit more scarred, but still the best friends one can have when the world turns ugly.

“Oh stand up straight, Grabaug. No need to bow to me, especially since we’ve shed blood together.” Tall as Serinity is, she still has to reach up to affectionately touch the Orc’s shoulder. “Now, Captain, did you bring everything I asked for?”

Grabaug turns to the sally, and in his best parade ground voice bellows, “Enter!” As the gate smashes open, Grabaug grins like a wolf in the middle of a pack of sheep. “Step lively lads. The lady is impatient to see her pretties.”

Ninety-nine Orcs step in a single file through the gate, each leading either an ox or a mule. They have festooned each pack animal with panniers of food, bags of clothing and armor, poles for tents, steel weapons and steel tipped arrows, and the many accouterments of a traveling military force.

Behind the mercenaries, young Orcs are herding a small herd of horses and cattle, and behind them the wives and children of the warriors drive well-worn travel wagons. Above the first wagon, a long pole holds a light blue flag on which they have embroidered in black a closed mailed fist upraised in defiance of the world.

As the house guards open the gates wider to allow the caravan in, Serinity gasps at the number of Orcs invited onto the property. By count, she can see three hundred women, some carrying babies, and a hundred teenage children herding the draft animals.

While the Orcs trample the manicured lawn, Pearim sighs, and wonders if there’s any summer wine left in the kegs. Celin is not going to be happy with Serinity, once she finds out that they have uprooted her garden to feed Orcs.

After the last wagon has cleared the gate, Pearim nods to the guard to shut the gate, knowing that the Governor will want a full accounting of today’s deeds. Impressive as the town’s guard is, they’re no-match for armed, and armored Orcs. Smiling grimly, Pearim can almost hear the questions now.

Grabaug gives orders, and the Orcs quickly set up camp on the front lawn. Surprisingly, the herd animals have damaged only a few of the ornamental flowers. However, they obliterate the summer garden as the herders move the stock into the stable area.

While they are moving the horses to the north end of the stable yard, Darganath leans over the stable and sniffs delicately at the animals. Before she can catch one up for a light snack, a young Orc lifts his herding pole and smacks her sharply on her nose. Arching her neck and pulling her head back indignantly, Darganath is about to flame this insolent being, then remembers she’s a guest in her companion’s house. A disgruntled sniff settles black soot on the offending Orc, and then Darganath returns to her cartload of fish.

Before Pearim can seek the solace of summer wine, someone is again pounding the gate’s sally. Wearily nodding to the guard, the major domo watches as a squad of Duke’s guard march stiffly onto the property. They’re followed closely by the Duke’s appointed Governor, Sir Rodney Bailee.

Governor Bailee is the quintessential politician. He stands a head shorter than Pearim, and that head is bald. If one imagines a fat, bald, irritating rat in pale lavender robes, which constantly washes his hands together, then one will have a good idea as to the appearance of Governor Bailee. Beady black eyes squint at the world with greed glittering in them. The robes of office have never seen a washerwoman’s wrinkled hands, nor have they ever been touched by soap and water. All and all, Governor Bailee is greasy, slick, sweaty, irritating, and has visions of grandeur. He has only one redeeming quality. He’s the Duke’s nephew.

Pearim bows deeply to Sir Bailee, then stands straight while asking, “How may House Artris serve the Duke’s Governor?” The main reason Pearim is working as major domo of House Artris, and not leading a battalion of soldiers, is the fat man in front of him. That and his inability to refrain from telling people what he thinks of the man in front of him.

“You can start by telling me why I shouldn’t have you slapped in irons and hung as a traitor.” Milesport’s Governor waxes poetic in his threats, promising dire repercussions on Lady Celin, her family, her descendants, and any other miscreant he happens to find crawling around her property. While the Governor rants on with his threats, Grabaug marches up behind Pearim and stands at ease, listening to the Governor’s threats.

As the diatribe winds down, Grabaug clears his throat while adjusting the hang of his great battle-axe, shifting its handle to a more accessible angle. When his actions bring no recognition from the Governor, Grabaug steps beside Pearim, grins at the Governor’s guard, and then interrupts the vitreous abuse Sir Bailee is pouring on Pearim.

Reaching into a wide pouch strapped to his side, Grabaug removes a gold sealed, heavily beribboned letter. He fastidiously dusts it off, and proffers it to Sir Bailee. “His majesty, Duke Esrailess, Duke of Riverbend, father of Lady Serinity, Son of King Ralph the Fifth, First Knight of the Empire, Holder of both the Sword and the Scepter of the Orc Kingdom, sends his greetings, sir.”

Timidly, as if the letter might suddenly grow teeth and bite him, Sir Bailee accepts the missive, and then carefully breaks the embossed seal. With trembling hands he unfolds the letter and reads the ancient script still used at court.

“To the Governor of Milesport, I give greetings. It is my sincere hope that the sudden arrival of a small contingent of my forces will not unduly trouble you. Their presence in the King’s town of Milesport, we hope will not especially disturb the peace you preserve in the King’s name.”

“At my daughter’s request, I have ordered these forces to assist her in her investigation of certain ancient legends. Being a devoted father, I tend to over indulge my daughter. However, she has become a fount of wondrous stories, bringing to light the small grains of truth all ancient tales hold.”

“I request that you render any and all assistance to her in her quest. This assistance will, of course, be reimbursed upon receipt of supporting documentation. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions sir, and, if my daughter is correct in her assessment of an ancient myth, we are most definitely in extraordinary times.”

“Cordially yours, Duke Esrailess, Duke of Riverbend, father of Lady Serinity, Son of King Ralph the Fifth, First Knight of the Empire, Holder of both the Sword and the Scepter of the Orc Kingdom.”

Pearim has seen rats cornered by constrictors, and the look on the Governor’s face is a match for the cornered rat’s unblinking stare. Fear of Duke Esrailess dilates his beady black eyes. One hundred years of stories becoming legends have entertained, and awed, the people of the Empire. Duke Esrailess, also known as Esrailess the Half Orc, holds a prominent place in the Empire’s history. No one has ever crossed him, and lived to tell the tale.

“Uh,” the Governor’s voice strains to connect meaningful words into a sentence. “I see. Well, if the Duke of Riverbend requests that we ‘assist’ his daughter in her adventure, then assist we will.”

Returning his attention to Pearim, and completely ignoring the Orc Captain standing at the major domo’s side, Sir Bailee wonders if he can browbeat the ex Major of the Duke’s Guard into subservience. “Probably not,” he mutters.

“Please see that we give Lady Serinity every courtesy in her quest.” Bailee, having discharged the Duke’s request, turns on his heel, heading for the gate. With a quick jerk of his head, he commands the guard sergeant to follow him.

As the Governor leaves the property of House Artris, Grabaug grins down at Pearim. “I don’t think his lordship is very pleased with having to ‘accommodate’ Lady Serinity. Perhaps we’d best persuade her to be about her business before he gathers enough nerve, and men, to become a problem?”

Pearim looks up at the big Orc, nods, and then asks, “How would you like to share a bottle of summer wine?”
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Re: Chapter 14, 1st Book of Serinity

Postby Asp Zelazny » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:51 pm

That is interesting, flows well, and you are skilled in painting vivid descriptions of your characters in an effortless fashion. The only issue I could find (other than some selection of comma placement that seemed to slow flow rather than enhance thought) was in

"a fat, bald, irritating rat in pale lavender robes, which constantly washes his hands together" ... unless rats are sentient in your fantasy world, it would be more vivid and correct to say "washing its hands together".

But as an aside, the picture painted of Sir Bailee seemed to cry out for a skinny character if "ratlike" somehow ... but that's just how I was seeing him.
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