Maladrid tales of domi.., p.14
Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 14
“I don’t think those arrows are mere tranquilizers,” Maladrid said.
“An arrow through the skull could sedate anyone,” Yven replied.
“What should we do?”
“We should fight,” she hissed joyfully through a grin.
“Yven, we don’t even know how many there are.”
“You’re right, Maladrid, so why don’t we just stay behind this bush and wait for them to slaughter us where we sit?” she asked facetiously, and with a howl, she leaped up and charged out from behind the shrubs.
When Maladrid stood to follow her, he saw her already engaged in combat with three brawny Lyraera, but before he could sprint to her aid, he felt a heavy burn explode in his shoulder and looked down to see his torn tunic starting to flower with blood. Luckily, the arrow only sliced his arm, but it was enough to make him aware of the archer. He flew toward the man with his sword raised while the Lyraer struggled through his panic to nock the next arrow. He cut the archer down with one solid blow that spattered blood across his face, and Yven took out the other three soldiers with Vetna’s ferocity slicing them into submission. She stood panting and staring down at their ravaged bodies with blood, sweat, and tears dripping down her cheeks, and when Maladrid placed his hand on her shoulder, he felt the tremors crawl across her skin as she turned.
“You’re hurt,” she whispered.
“It’s nothing. Are you all right?” he asked.
She nodded and whipped the excess blood off of her blade as she said, “Let’s get back to the others.”
With the battleground left behind, the army continued its march toward the kingdom of those they had so recently slain. They had to reach Fircyn, and passing through Rosdin was the only way to get there. When Maladrid’s fingers grasped his hilt, he found it sticky and his hand stained with the blood of the Lyraeran archer, but he wasn’t focused on it for too long; he had a more important sight to focus upon. In fact, his eyes were the only ones possessed by the company that weren’t constantly crossing the countryside. His eyes were fixed upon Yven’s magnificence, cold though it seemed. But he understood why her expression was so chilly. She was focusing on things he could never begin to understand, like the lives of thousands teetering on the edge of destruction; but beneath the icy exterior, he saw and even felt the presence of her hot spirit on the verge of boiling over. The fire of her soul ignited his, and he no longer felt common; actually, he felt like a king. He lifted his chin and held his head high as he rode beside the queen and led his armada into a land he never before dreamed he’d see. For several days, they pounded through the Lyraeran territory with courageous but fearful hearts. Although he saw no evidence of it, Maladrid knew that the army was being carefully watched, and he feared what would happen when the Lyraera finally made their presence known. But even as the enormous stone gates of Rosdin appeared, the Lyraera did not reveal themselves. Perhaps it was because they were intimidated by the blood of their brothers splattered across Yven and Maladrid’s clothes, or maybe they were just biding their time. Either way, the army continued until the entirety of Rosdin could be seen from the top of the ascended hill. Most of Rosdin’s buildings were the dull hue of gray stone, but a few were marbled with color. They were all stunted and wide, and each door was crafted in the style of the city gates. Their entryways weren’t nearly as impressive as the grand entrance itself, though. The gates were mammoth and gray, but up close, one could see tiny flecks of Colti sparkling within, and a large eye, split down the pupil, was carved into the center of the door. Most of the structures were dwarfed by the Rosdin gates: they were tall and thick and spawned a great impenetrable wall that surrounded the Stone City, but tallest and most magnificent of all was the awesome fortress of King Cite. The towers stretched high into the clouds with blunted peaks, and the centermost section formidably squatted between them was a rectangular structure with a large circular entryway and an carven eye of stone set upon the lip of the edifice.
“The Eye of Rosdin has watched the city since the Erfira first established these lands. Cite is a direct descendent of Patant, Lord of the Erfira, and while it is a noble birth, it is not exactly an honorable one,” Yven explained to Maladrid. “But we must give the king our respect, especially considering our most recent frays with his men, of which I’m sure Cite is fully aware. The Feri-Stonhe, the necklace that he wears, grants him such abilities.”
“What kind of abilities?”
“This land was first cultivated by the Inha, who were ancestors of the Hohmara; but when the Erfira grew in strength and number, they invaded and took the Inha women for their own. The Inha wouldn’t fight back, though; they strove for peace and understanding with the Erfira, and after many years of struggle and death, peace and understanding did come. When Forla assumed power over Lochydor, one of the Inha princesses was taken by the Shadaran, and a mighty Erfira warrior and prince named Rara-eca came to her rescue. He rescued her from Lochydor, saved her from worse than death, but sadly, on the journey back to Rosdin, they were both killed by Forla’s minions. Both races were saddened by the loss of the young royals, and all other problems seemed insignificant for a while. The Inha crafted the Feri-Stonhe as a gift for Patant, Lord of Rosdin, and because of the magick in its making, it granted his mind the power to see whoever hovered within or even near his kingdom. The Inha remained in Rosdin for a decade following, but they were abruptly exiled by the Erfira, probably because they felt the Inha were growing too numerous. It was not until the early Hohmara came into power that they decided to reclaim the land of their ancestors that had become inhabited by the Erfira’s children, the Lyraera. After a lengthy battle between the two races, the Hohmara were victorious. However, they allowed the Lyraera to continue living in their realm on the condition that they allow the building of a Hohmara city beneath Rosdin.”
“A whole city underground,” Maladrid said in amazement. “I can hardly wait to see it.”
“It’s more of an arsenal, really. Most of the residents are soldiers, and there are more weaponry and battle gear than actual residents. To be honest, Fircyn was always meant to be the never-dispatched reserves: the last hope. I never thought it would come to this.”
“Nor I,” Maladrid said with a slight smile.
She looked at him in a way that showed how much she appreciated his presence, but then immediately looked away, proving that what lay ahead was far more important than he. But still, the smile she gave spoke volumes, and Maladrid was filled with hidden light. All of a sudden, and with a shocking clamor, an army of Lyraera finally showed themselves, surrounding Yven’s company with their bows poised and swords drawn.
“What is the meaning of this?” Yven asked fiercely.
A Lyraer with olive-colored skin and dark burgundy hair stepped forward with almost pompous confidence and sheathed his sword. He wore a robe of emerald hue with his silver armor sparkling beneath, and though his face was stern, his voice was soft but with a hint of condescension.
“I am Vet-Fista, High Guard of Rosdin. Tell us why you pass into our lands now or die.”
“Your land? This is Hohmara land. Your kingdom is built above Fircyn, which belongs to me. You are lucky that I do not kill you,” Yven said sternly.
“I must say I’m surprised that you continued your journey to Rosdin after slaughtering a handful of its soldiers. Even upon the immature hands of this unworthy commoner is the blood of the Lyraera,” Vet-Fista said with his eyes directed at Maladrid.
“They killed one of their own brothers before they attacked us,” Maladrid declared.
“Sacrifice is necessary in war, especially when dealing with a traitor, as Mar-Mini clearly was,” Vet-Fista replied. “It was a loss easily afforded.”
“How noble of you,” Nonwe muttered sarcastically.
“I am queen of the Hohmara and I think I have been patient enough. Delude yourself into thinking you have some tenure in this land if you must, but do not forget that if I wished it, I could exile every last one of you.
“I would love to avenge the Tylira who fell to the invading Lyraera,” Dordin growled with his ears flattened.
Vet-Fista gestured to his army and they reluctantly lowered their weapons.
“You may pass, but the Tylira must stay outside the gates. We also haven’t forgotten those of our people who were mercilessly slain on that foul day in Dorydor,” Vet-Fista stated.
Dordin leaped forward and hissed viciously as the army drew their swords again.
“You invade Dorydor, a land given to us by Yaliwe, and expect mercy?! You are greater fools than the Erfira!” roared Dordin as his claws dug into the earth.
“Nevertheless,” Vet-Fista started, “you may not pass through our gates, nor may the Bartosca.”
“Why not?” asked Cali. “We have never harmed your people or your ancestors. It was you who came into Deydor and tried to take the land. Many of my people were slaughtered and yours remained untouched. The blood of the Bartosca stains Deydor, not that of the Lyraera.”
“Please understand: our people are shaken by the rise of this mysterious beast called Shacore, and more than ever, they fear what is unfamiliar to them. Very few have ever seen your kind, and I think your presence would frighten them and force them to be defensive. I will not allow bloodshed in the Stone City.”
“No, you prefer to spill blood in lands you’ve invaded,” Dordin said under his breath.
But Vet-Fista heard him and replied, “You judge us harshly by the actions of the past. Now is a time to look to the future.”
“If your kin had looked to the future instead of being greedy, murderous thieves, the present would be a lot more peaceful.”
“Dordin, please calm down,” Maladrid said. “The Tylira and Bartosca will stay. I trust you have no qualms with the Yaerla?”
“I would not for the world leave the Bartosca and Dordin here alone,” Nonwe said and the Yaerla nodded in unison.
“They will not be alone,” Vet-Fista replied. “My men will guard them as friends of the Hohmara queen.”
“All the more reason for my people to remain here. I would rather they were alone than guarded by your men. I trust you even less than I trusted the Erfira. Besides, we’ve no reason or care to see your king,” Nonwe replied.
“Suit yourselves. But let me remind you that the Erfira were not our only ancestors; we are also kin of the Isil, who in turn are kin of the Hohmara. The blood of our parents is similar to that of yours, Queen Yven,” stated Vet-Fista.
“No, we are not kin,” Yven started.”You have the blood of the Erfira in your veins, the blood of murderers, thieves, and rapists. The only reason the Isil women mingled with the Erfira was because they were forced to. Don’t tell me that we are kin and expect forgiveness for the wrongs of your people. This isn’t a family reunion or a visit for pleasure; I’m passing through Rosdin only to get to Fircyn.”
“Much good may it do you. Follow me.”
Maladrid and Yven said goodbye to their army, and as they followed Vet-Fista through the city, many Lyraera came out of their homes to stare at them. As they passed, several townspeople cried out curses from their windows, but when Yven shot them a cold glance, they closed the shutters instantly and were silent. Once inside the castle, Vet-Fista led them into a large scarlet-colored room that was adorned with ancient shields and weaponry of silver and gold. The floor was carpeted in golden cloth with scarlet fringes and the long table in the center of the room was draped likewise. But although the table was quite large and capable of seating nearly a hundred, there was only one chair, and its throne-like craftsmanship led the pair to believe that it was for Cite, alone, to sit upon.
“You will wait here while I alert the king of your presence,” Vet-Fista announced.
“We’ve no wish to see the king. Take us to Fircyn,” Maladrid said.
“These are my orders from Cite, and I will follow them. You may, in fact, benefit from an audience with the king,” he replied, forced a meager bow, and swiftly exited the room.
“I don’t feel good about this, Yven,” Maladrid said nervously.
She smirked, pulled the gilded chair out from the table, and raised her eyebrows as she slowly lowered herself down onto the king’s seat. She sat tall with regal poise at first, as if just playing the part of royalty, but then she casually threw her legs over the arm of the chair and yawned.
“I’m not worried, Maladrid,” she said. “And you shouldn’t be either. We’ll indulge Cite’s wishes and we’ll be in Fircyn in no time.”
“Why don’t we just go now? It’s your city, not his. Why do you need his permission?”
“It’s not about permission, Maladrid. This is how it’s done. You have to bow a bit before you can stand tall,” she explained, and then shook her head and added, “You wouldn’t understand.”
When she noticed the pain from her statement shoot through his body and alter his expression, she sighed apologetically and said, “It’s complicated, Maladrid. I don’t want to talk to Cite any more than I want to talk to Shacore. He is despicably deceiving. He is far beneath me and he is far beneath you.”
“Yven, I’m not—”
“You’re a hero,” she said. “He’s a coward.”
“Then why wait for him? Let’s go, Yven. Show me the hidden city.”
“Not today,” the voice of Vet-Fista sounded from behind them.
He appeared in the doorway with a scowl firmly etched across his face and his brawny arms crossed over his chest. Yven immediately sprung out of the king’s chair and cleared her throat.
“Cite is currently occupied with more important matters,” Vet-Fista said as he glared at Yven. “But the king has arranged for you to stay in the castle for the night.”
“I’m sorry, but we just can’t wait,” Maladrid said.
“Well, I’m sorry, but the matter isn’t up for discussion.”
“I understand, but reaching Fircyn as soon as possible is of great importance. I’m afraid we can’t afford any delay.”
“The king insists that you stay the night. We are willing to accommodate you in every way we can. You’ll be quite comfortable, I assure you, and in the morning, when Cite is at leisure, he will grant you audience.”
“Very well,” Yven sighed. “And our friends at the gates—”
“—Will be well guarded and tended to. You have the word of the Lyraera that no harm will come to them or to you.”
“I’m afraid that doesn’t give me much comfort, but I do appreciate the attempt at kindness,” she said sharply.
“Good. I’ll show you to your rooms.”
The east wing was deathly silent as Vet-Fista led Maladrid and Yven to their chambers, and though the brilliantly woven draperies were enough to occupy the eye and mind, Maladrid finally broke the silence with a daring query.
“So what’s keeping the king so busy?”
“Oh, this and that,” he whispered whimsically. “Besides, as a commoner, do you really think that’s any of your business?”
“Watch yourself, Vet-Fista,” Yven warned. “This commoner has done greater deeds in the past few weeks than you’ve done in your entire life. I will not permit you to insult him.”
“Well, the debate about rank will have to wait. We’ve reached our destination,” Vet-Fista said as he halted between two doors, each bearing a carving of a Lyraeran warrior frozen in a fierce battle stance, and having large gilded latches with the Third Eye of Rosdin engraved into the gold.
“Milady, your room is to the left, and yours, sir, is to the right. Sleep well, and I’ll be back in the morning when Cite is ready to see you.”
He bowed hurriedly and left them alone in the darkness of the east wing. Yven smiled and shrugged, and when she twisted the latch, the metallic click resonated against the walls and caused them both to flinch.
“Goodnight,” she whispered.
Although the canopy bed, with its numerous pillows and downy blankets, was cozy, Maladrid couldn’t help but toss and turn. Whenever his eyes closed, he saw demons in the shapes of Shadaran and Lyraera and evil that has no name. For what seemed like hours but could’ve been only minutes, he remained awake with his mind fixed on horrendous scenarios, but comfort finally came to him when he stood outside her chamber door, twisted the latch, and pushed it open. Yven promptly sat up when Maladrid entered and wrapped the azure blankets tightly around her ivory body.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Maladrid said as he shut the door behind him.
“Neither could I,” she said. “My mind is racing too fast to rest. I’m sure yours is as well.”
“No. I couldn’t sleep because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to protect you. I couldn’t leave you alone in this place.”
“Foreboding demons,” she said with a smile.
“And all the rest,” he added. “I’d feel a lot better if you allowed me to stay.”
“Of course,” she said as she shifted to the other side of the bed and pulled the blankets back, and though he initially stepped forward to accept her offer, he quickly stepped back with his head bowed.
“The floor is good enough for me,” he said. “Common as I am.”
“There is nothing common about you, my friend.”
She handed Maladrid a pillow and a blanket before lying down again, and he curled up on the wooden floor beside her bed, but although the floor was cold and hard, once he was cocooned in cloth and knew that Yven was safe, Maladrid began drifting off into dreaming.
“Thank you,” Yven whispered, and after that, the only sounds in the room were the peaceful breaths of slumber.
A forceful rapping on Yven’s chamber door roused the pair only a few hours after they’d fallen asleep, and while Yven disappeared behind the dressing screen, Maladrid opened the door and stepped out into the hall from Yven’s room. Vet-Fista, with an eyebrow raised, flashed a sinister smile and nodded his head.
“The queen is nearly ready. I’ll only take a moment,” Maladrid said.
by Jessica McHugh have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes