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Chapter 23, 1st Book of Serinity

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Chapter 23, 1st Book of Serinity

Postby SerinitysChild » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:54 am

“Hello dear,” Granash comments as she appears in her granddaughter’s bedroom. Accompanied by the smell of rotting flesh and sulphur the Daemon Queen steps out of a large cloud of gray mottled smoke. Long wisps of smoke trail after her as she moves closer to where Serinity lays sleeping. Before she can reach the bed, Shadow looks up, rumbles deep in her throat, and then returns to her own happy dreams of pouncing on fleeing food.

“Hello, gran’-mere,” Serinity awakes with a small smile of recognition, accompanied by a warm feeling in her heart. Her grandmother seldom visits, and when she does, it usually means trouble for someone. Tossing back the covers, Serinity pulls Ascension’s sheath from under the bed’s skirt, placing sword and scabbard beside her on the bed, finally she pulls a warm robe from the foot of the bed, wrapping it around her.

“Is this a special occasion?” Serinity tilts her head to the left, and then grins at her grandmother. “Or am I next on the menu of unhappy events?”

Granash stands in front of her granddaughter, smiles, and tosses a wrinkled, fire-browned piece of velum on the bed. Next to the parchment, she lays a piece of crystal.

Settling down next to Serinity, Granash affectionately pats her granddaughter’s left leg. “While I was teaching manners to a Sorcerer, I came into possession of these trinkets.” Reaching across Serinity, Granash pushes the presents further back onto the bed so they don’t fall to the floor.

As her grandmother leans back, Serinity reaches around her, hugging her close. “Thank you gran-mre. You know you don’t have to bring me presents when you visit, I’m always happy to see you.”

“I know dear, but these are more than just presents. While we stormed the Gates of Hel, I heard that you were having some fun with an ancient beast. As ‘luck’ would have it, a foolish Sorcerer summoned me. His name was Darkling; maybe you’ve heard of him?”

Serinity starts to shake her head, and then remembers comments she’s heard about Sorcerer Darkling. “I’ve heard of him. Nothing good, but I’ve heard of him.”

“I thought so.” Granash grins showing a mouthful of pointed teeth and fangs. “To make a short story even shorter, he forgot to finish the containment circle, leaving me free to enter your world.” Demonic laughter fills Serinity’s bedroom as Granash details the scene at Darkling’s castle when he realizes that he’s made the biggest mistake of his long life.

“That, little one, is how I came to own these trinkets. Knowing that you are in this fight up to your arm pits, I though you could use them to even the odds.”

While Granash explains the spell on the parchment, and how to use it with the crystal, she reaches behind Serinity and pulls Ascension from its sheath. Lifting the sword in her left hand, she uses its point, scratching her right palm to draw four drops of blood. Holding the sword with its point up, she places her right palm on the point. The blood drops flow down the blade’s edges, dividing evenly, as the Daemon Queen summons her powers, casting ancient spells that draw out the full potential of the sword. When the blood drops touch the hilt, ghostly flames of pale blue fire march along the blade from hilt to point, caressing the edges with Hel’s own fury. Granash raises her voice, invoking powers long gone from Serinity’s world, and then, her voice crescendos, the old Daemon places a final ward on the hilt of Ascension. This last ward will protect her granddaughter from the fury of the sword as it does the job it’s designed to do.

Replacing the sword in its scabbard, Granash stands. Turning to Serinity, she pulls her granddaughter’s hands so Serinity stands in front of her. Quietly she hugs her, and then steps back. “I’ve placed a ward on the hilt of your sword, just so you don’t do unto yourself what you should be doing unto others.” A sudden fond smile plays over Granash’s lips. “You really do need to find a mate duktá, after all, my little mazmeita, you’re not getting any younger. Now, I really must dash, they won’t stop the war just because I’m visiting my oddest grand child.”

Noting Serinity’s sudden flush, Granash laughs, then vanishes in a cloud of roiling lavender smoke. Oddly, instead of the usual malodor of sulphur, her departure fills the room with the muted smell of mountain flowers.

Watching the smoke dissipate, Serinity mutters, “She does that to me every time.” Suddenly the part Daemon woman laughs. “I’ll bet swords to shadows she’s at the head of grandpas’ army, having the time of her life.”


********


Late afternoon sunlight vies with Dragon fire to shed light on a dark land. Elfin archers launch clouds of steel tipped arrows at the last Afridale while Zarnar expends magic from her storage crystals trying to bring her tormentors into range of her tusks. Fury fills the beast’s eyes with hatred of all living things.

Dragon fire is useless against the Afridale’s wards yet helpful to the Elves. Steel tips on wooden arrows would have been stopped by the Afridale’s wards had they not been weakened by Dragon fire. As with all natural magic, first it affects living things, then once living things. Lastly, it affects nonliving things. While the flame keeps the ward at full power, it also weakens its ability to stop the arrowheads.

Arrows flash down from Elf long bows, the wooden shafts incinerating instantly in the heat of the fire. The steel arrowheads turn an angry bright white as they pass through the flames and then through the ward, sinking deep into the beasts flesh. As they burn their way into the Afridale’s body, they cauterize the wounds, leaving painful steaming holes in her hide.
Angry trumpets fill the air as Zarnar tramples small trees and mountain grass beneath her rampaging feet. Suddenly she grabs a tall pine tree with her trunk and throws it at the closest Dragon, knocking its Elf rider out of the saddle and onto the ground within reach of her tusks. Quickly Zarnar drains the Elf’s soul and refills her rapidly waning power.

Before the Dragons can react to this new tactic, she’s dislodged half a dozen Elves from their seats and stoked her energies with their souls.

With the sun going down and the village the Afridale was angling toward safe from her depredations, the Dragons withdraw from the field of battle. For her part, Zarnar is content to see them flying away. Darkness and the dark magic her kind uses will heal her wounds. Tomorrow’s light will bring renewed fighting. Tonight she rests, dreaming of times long past and the feasts of souls she shared with her mate.

In her dreams, she sees the object of her search, the sword Ascension. Her body twitches, reaching for the blade and the quatra that holds it.

Morning light brings renewed vigor to the last Afridale. Testing the air with her long trunk, she finds the faint scent of the sword. Grabbing a mulberry tree filled with the last fruit of the season she munches on it as she pushes her way through tall grass in the direction of the sword.




********


Serinity lifts her head from her contemplation of the map lying on the camp table in her tent when she hears the sound of a Dragon’s wings backing air to land. Leaving the map for another time, she ducks out of the tent and looks up into Rainbow Wing’s eyes.

“She comes,” the Dragon says. “It'll be two, maybe three days before she’s here.”

Nodding her head, Serinity says, “Thank you, my friend. We’ll break camp in the morning and set it up on the shores of Harash’s Tears. If we move to the western side of the lake when Zarnar gets close, the lake should slow her a bit. She’ll have to either make her way around the lake, or swim across it. I figure three days to walk around it. If she’s foolish enough to try swimming, she’ll find that the lake is far deeper than it looks.”

Looking around the camp, she motions to the nearest Orc warrior, saying, and “My compliments to Captain Grumic Ask him to move the camp to the eastern shore of Harash’s Tears for two days, then move it to the western shore, midway between the northern pass and the southern outlet for the lake.”

Unbuckling Ascension from her back she hands the sheathed sword to the Orc adding, “Make sure this sword travels with the camp. Guard it with your life. I’ll return when the camp is set up on the western edge of the lake.”

Watching the Orc warrior trotting away to carry out her orders, Serinity returns her attention to Rainbow Wing. “I’d like to get a look at our quarry, if you’d please give me a lift?”

Nodding his head, Rainbow Wing hunkers down, waiting for Serinity to strap her saddle onto his neck. Once the saddle is in place with both Serinity and Shadow firmly strapped in, Rainbow Wing settles back on his hind legs and then with a mighty heave he launches them skyward.


********


Beneath the floor of the volcano’s crater, Dwarves patiently dig through weathered basalt, blobs of sulphur and other less recognizable minerals. Heavy timbers are in strategic places a dozen paces under the surface with pull pins holding the cross members up and attached to long ropes. Large piles of brush are piled around other upright timbers and leather bags of fire oil are hung over them.

After a month of furious digging the Dwarves have converted the ancient volcano’s floor into a death trap. Their intended victim is less than two days march away.

D’Darnif, temporary leader of the Dwarves’ workforce makes a final inspection of the work, nods his head in satisfaction then orders everyone out of the tunnels. Pausing at the entrance, he turns for one last look. With a wicked grin showing through his heavy beard, he nods again and then walks the two miles to the Dwarvin camp.

In the center of the camp, he lifts his arms for silence, and then calls out in a gruff voice, “Tonight we celebrate our work. If the gods smile on us, in three days time we’ll celebrate the defeat of an ancient enemy. Now, someone bring me a mug of mead.”

Laughter and applause follow close on his words and a thousand Dwarves celebrate. Before the last celebrants can raise their mugs of mead skyward in salute, Rainbow Wing and his rider lands outside the camp.

Unstrapping from her saddle, Serinity loosens Shadow’s straps and watches as her friend bounds down the Dragon’s back and off his tail onto a nearby patch of black sand. Retching sounds quickly follow as Shadow empties her stomach.

Grinning at her long time companion, Serinity can sympathize with her. The sudden banks and dips of Rainbow Wing as he avoided Zarnar’s attempts at brining Serinity down were enough to make her a bit air sick too.

Behind her, she hears the crunch of heavy boots on gravel and turns in time to see D’Darnif walking toward her. In his left hand, he’s holding a large mug of mead while in his right hand he’s carefully holding a delicate crystal glass filled with what looks like wine.

Offering her the glass, D’Darnif takes a long swallow of mead then smacks his lips in appreciation of the brewer’s art. “Only thing bees are good for, making honey for mead.” After another long swallow he looks up at Serinity and asks, “How long are we gonna have to wait?”

“She should be here in two days time. If I call off the Elves and Dragons, she could be here even sooner. However, doing that might make her suspicious.” Taking a sip of the wine to rinse the dust from her throat, Serinity asks her own question. “Are we ready?”

“Aye lass, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be. We’ve woven the pull pin ropes into one long strand. When you give the word Gold Eye will pull with all his strength,” he says, pointing to a large bronze Dragon sleeping beside a coral full of sheep. “Strikers set up on the sacks of oil should ignite it. If they don’t, I’ve hired a hedge wizard to make sure our enemy receives a warm welcome when the walls come crashing in on her.”

Looking down as Shadow bumps her head against Serinity’s leg, the warrior woman squats down and puts her arm around the cat’s neck. “Feel better now?”

Shadow rumbles a grumble about Dragon acrobatics then turns her head to stare meaningfully at the pen of sheep. Shaking Serinity’s arm loose from her neck she moves with purpose to the coral fence then, in a single bound is among the sheep.

Watching her companion choose a large ram and then take him down, Serinity shakes her head in wonder. “I wish my stomach would return to normal so quickly. While Rainbow Wing did keep us out of Zarnar’s reach, he did so with enough violence to keep me off my feed for at least a day, if not more.”

“Tell you what lass, if we win this war I’ll treat you to a feast fit for a Dwarf.” D’Darnif grins as Serinity’s already green tinged face turns a deeper shade of green at the thought of eating raw elk eyes and boiled turnips with pickled pigs’ feet. Suddenly the old Dwarf laughs as his adopted granddaughter heads for the same bit of sand Shadow had used earlier.
More rampant silliness.
SerinitysChild
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