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Chapter 20, 1st Book of Serinity

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Chapter 20, 1st Book of Serinity

Postby SerinitysChild » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:43 am

Late summer winds pluck at the pale blue gauze curtains hanging across open casements. Tiny zephyrs chase each other around the floor of the throne room taking small bits of straw on short adventures, before summarily dumping them onto the flagstones. Servants stored plank and bench tables along the white stonewall, under battle banners until the throne room again serves as the great hall of this castle.

Next to the cold hearth, where comfortable chairs are arranged in a semicircle, quiet voices engage in easy talk. Suddenly one laughs, and the others quickly join in.

“Lord Esrailess?” Across the room, standing before the keep’s iron shod oak doors, a Human courier waits for the Duke of Riverbend to notice him. Young, perhaps no more than fifteen winters, the lad holds his brimless hat in one hand, and in the other hand, he holds a leather courier case.

“Come in lad,” calls Duke Esrailess. Long fangs glisten as he grins at the boy. “Don’t be so shy, me boy, I’ve had breakfast, and it’s not yet time for lunch.”

Laughter from the other Orcs gathered around their Duke brings bright red splotches of color to the courier’s face. Taking a firm grip on both hat and heart, he makes his way across the flagstones to the gathered chairs. Reaching the gathering, the courier bows deeply from the waist, extending the case to Duke Esrailess.

Opening the case, Duke Esrailess finds two missives inside. The first letter is sealed with his daughter’s seal, while the second letter bears the seal of his father, the king. Wondering at the odds of finding both letters in the same case, he opens his daughter’s letter first.


“Daddy,” he reads. “I’ve found the truth for which I was looking. Sadly, that truth has cost me nearly half the force you sent me.” Word by word he reads of the running battle, and the final escape from the Afridale. His daughter’s letter ends with, “I’m on my way to see grandpa. Please meet me there as quickly as possible. Love, Serinity.”
Folding his daughter’s letter into a small square, he pushes it deep into one of his vest pockets, and then breaks the seal on the letter from his father. Quickly he reads the orders that command him to Orc’s Home and then he sees the scribbled words at the bottom of the letter.

“Son, somehow, our problem child has managed to embroil us in a fight that should have been settled over two millenniums ago. I’ve called up the army, and am calling on all the dukes in the kingdom to reinforce it. I’ve a bad feeling about this, and want you here yesterday, if not sooner. Dad.”

Reaching into his pouch, Duke Esrailess pulls out a single bronze coin, tosses it to the courier, and orders him to find bed and bath in the castle. Once he’s rested, he’s to be fed, and then hurried on his way home.

“Well lads,” comments Riverbend’s Duke, “it seems we’re going hunting. Gather the troops; leaving enough to defend the castle while we’re gone, you leave here in three days time. I’m being ordered to Orc’s Home, and leave with the dawn tomorrow.”

Heavy bodies heave themselves upwards from their comfortable seats, bow to their Duke, and move rapidly to carry out his orders.

As they leave, a willowy half-Elf steps out of a shadowy doorway behind the throne and walks casually to her husband. Long dark hair falls mostly to the middle of her back; however, just enough of it falls across her shoulders to hide lobeless, pointed ears. Blood red eyes, the only visible aspect of her mother’s heritage, stare unflinchingly at the world, while thin lips smile enigmatically beneath a long, aristocratic nose. Duchess Esrailess, Lady of Riverbend, is majestic in her flowing movements, gentle in her nature, every inch the antipathy of her mother, Granash the leader of Hel’s new army.

Elves and Daemons seldom mix their blood, except in battle. When they marry, and produce offspring, both races usually unite to hunt the product of that marriage to extension. Sinsific, by dent of her father’s dark magic, was whisked away from those who sought to end her young life.

Granash, daughter of over daemon Dris the Gnasher, and Daemon Princess Heart’s Blood, heard of the hunt for her daughter. Once she’d regained her powers and strength after having her baby, she hunted down the hunters and watched as they were tied to rowan wood stakes then burned alive. After the first dozen hunters are treated in this manner, no more hunters sought out her daughter.

Sixty years of hiding among her Dark Elf father’s tribe pass in quiet contemplation until young Sinsific meets and marries the hero of the Orc wars. Ten years later, their first child is born, and her mother names her Serinity.
Duke Esrailess stands to embrace his beloved wife watching as Sinsific stops two steps away from him and gives him a small curtsy. “Husband, I saw a courier ride in. Is it bad news?”

“I’m off to meet with father. It seems our daughter has poked a stick into a hornet’s nest and now needs our help swatting them. I don’t have any of the details, but both my father and our daughter have sent for me.” Pausing long enough to step forward and claim a kiss from his wife, he hugs her close, and then asks, “Want to travel with me? It’s been a long time since we both were at the king’s court.”

Leaning back in his embrace, Sinsific strikes his left shoulder with her right fist. “Beast! I heard you tell those loafers that you ride out in the morning. How am I supposed to pack court clothes in such a short time?”
Nipping at her neck as he pulls her close, Esrailess mutters, “I’m sure you’ll find a way dearest.” His remark earns him another swat from the only woman he loves more than his daughter does.


********

Orc’s Home, largest of the cities in the Orc kingdom sits in the middle of a large plain. After three centuries of occupation and growth wood and other materials have to be hauled in by caravans making the month long trek from the nearest forests and mines. The plain that surrounds the citadel is normally a patchwork of farms, far reaching groves of fruit trees and open grazing lands for herd animals. Surrounding the city is a plain so large that at a distance so great the keenest observer on the tallest tower of the central keep can only see the snow-covered peeks of the Sky Raker Mountains.

Fall comes early to Orc’s Home. Grain is harvested and stored in massive granaries. Fruit is picked and either pickled or packed into sealed wooden barrels. Herd animals are allowed to brows through winnowed fields, munching contentedly on dry straw and the occasional bit of grain.

Above the sylvan countryside, a new storm rides the fall winds. Dragons circle the capital waiting for their envoy’s command to land. Morning sunlight sparkles from Dragon scales. Casting glints of prismatic light into the clear sky.

Patients is a virtue, not only among the two legs, but also among Dragon folk. Before the sun reaches its zenith, Rainbow Wing calls to the circling Dragons, directing them to land in harvested fields east of the walls cleared of cattle and horses.

Landing in a flurry of straw and dust, the leaders of the Dragon conclave make their way to the western edge of the field, waiting for the Orcs. Instead of Orcs alone, Elves, Dwarves, Humans and many mixtures of those races accompany the green two legs.

Serinity, leading the procession steps away from her family and looks up into the eyes of the Dragon leader. “Long Fire,” she calls to the Dragon leader. “I present to you the Orc King Ralph,” she says, pointing to her grandfather. “With him are the leaders of all the peoples of this kingdom.”
Stepping aside so that King Ralph can stand before the Dragon leader, she hears her grandfather say, “Greetings Long Fire. We open hearths and homes to you and yours.”

Bending her neck, enough to lower her eyes level with King Ralph’s, Long Fire snuffs his scent then nods once. “May your kills bring fear to your enemies hearts and your children grow strong feasting on the fallen’s flesh.”

With the formalities out of the road, King Ralph makes introductions to the Dragon leader. Ancient feuds are set aside so that all may join in common battle against the last Afridale. The sun falls toward early eventide while plans are discussed. Large maps are laid out and scout reports are marked, showing the direction of the Afridale after her defeat of Serinity’s forces.

“She’s turned from Milesport and is now headed directly for Orc’s Home,” Esrailess says. Looking over the markers on the maps, he makes three more marks then turn to his daughter.

“Are those the places you stopped before you made it to Orc’s Home?”

Because her father is showing more than a passing interest in her itinerary, she adds another mark to the map. “Rainbow Wing and I stopped there so he could feed.”

Nodding his head, as if her mark filled the gaps of a puzzle, Esrailess grabs a straightedge beside the map and make long lines from scout reports to Serinity’s stops. “It seems daughter mine that you are of more than passing interest to our foe. You or something you carry.”

“Ascension,” Serinity whispers. “Zarnar is drawn to the sword.”

From above the map Long Fire asks, “You have the Sword of Souls?”

“A resent acquisition,” Serinity says by way of answer.

Studying the map Serinity says, “If it’s the sword she’s after, then let’s give it to her.” Pointing to an extinct volcano she asks a Dwarf, “Can you undermine that crater before she can get there?”

“If her speed remains constant, no, if she’s slowed for three weeks or more, yes.”
Looking up at Long Fire, Serinity asks the leader of the Dragons, “Will your people carry Elf bowmen on their backs to slow the advance of Zarnar?”

Huffing as if hit by a sudden shift in the wind, Long Fire says, “We have promised our backs and wings to help destroy the beast. We keep our promises. Mount who you will. We’ll carry them to the fight and aid them in any way we can.”

“Great,” Serinity almost yells. “Then here’s what we’ll do . . .”
More rampant silliness.
SerinitysChild
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