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Maladrid tales of domi.., p.15

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 15

 

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One]
 


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  He pushed past Vet-Fista and opened the door to his chamber, but before he could close it, he heard Vet-Fista mutter, “A commoner with a queen. How much lower could she sink?”

  Maladrid shot toward him and grasped Vet-Fista’s neck with both hands, but when sharp vivid images flashed into his mind, he released and backed away from the startled Lyraer.

  “It’s a funny thing,” he said. “I’ve never seen things in the way that Yven saw them. I never saw that clearly; I never really knew what was coming, but I have a certain feeling that you will die today.”

  “Forgive me for not trembling with fear,” Vet-Fista replied. “A little upper hand goes a long way.”

  When Yven emerged from her chamber, Vet-Fista was rapping his fingers against the wall impatiently, but for Maladrid, the wait was completely worthwhile. She was radiant in her scarlet robes and hair exquisitely sculpted into fiery tresses that flooded down her chest and back.

  “Is the king ready for me?”

  “Are you ready for him?”

  “You better believe it.”

  “As you wish, milady. Cite is waiting in the Hall of Kings.”

  “Long live the queen,” Maladrid pronounced.

  “Indeed,” the Lyraer replied sarcastically and started down the hallway.

  As they walked through the hall and down the winding stairs, there was silence, just as there’d been as they walked to their chambers the night before; but this time, it was Yven who broke the silence.

  “You know, you talk in your sleep,” she said to Maladrid.

  His face ignited in a bashful blaze, but he shook it away and replied with brilliant cunning, “Milady, so do you.”

  She hadn’t, of course, and even if she had, he’d been too deep in sleep to hear it, but Maladrid imagined that as a queen, talking in her sleep was the only time she could really say what was on her mind. Obviously, Yven wasn’t one to hold her tongue when it wanted to lash an ear or two, but because of a queen’s propriety, there had to be some things she just couldn’t say aloud but desperately wanted to express. Maladrid hoped that one of those things was the one thing he wanted to hear most.

  Seeing King Cite waiting for them without the Hall of Kings ripped Maladrid’s mind away from its dreamy ballet, and he bowed rigidly to the king. Cite’s skin was a golden shade of tan; his long braided hair was dark gray and hung around his face; and though he was taller than Vet-Fista, close to seven and a half feet high, his purple robe trailed an exceeding length behind him. Around his neck hung a silver eye-shaped medallion, and a red jewel shone as the pupil; Maladrid knew for certain that it was the Feri-Stonhe, not only because of Yven’s description but because he could feel the power emanating from the necklace in waves. Cite had been king for many years and each one was written on his face, but not in the form of battle scars. The Lyraera were well known for staying out of battle, and the king only ordered his army into combat when the Bend directly attacked Rosdin. The king himself had not fought in a war for decades.

  “Welcome to Rosdin, Yven, daughter of Lonho, queen of the Hohmara. I am sorry for any delay I may have caused you,” Cite said warmly, but when he looked to Maladrid, he asked coldly, “Who are you?”

  “I am Maladrid, good King, a soldier in the queen’s army.”

  “You: a soldier? Remind me to not ask aid of the Hohmara army any time soon,” he said, and Vet-Fista chuckled.

  “What matters now is that we proceed to Fircyn. We’ve been delayed enough.”

  “Forward as you are, you are right, Maladrid, but I’m afraid going into Fircyn will do you very little good.”

  “What do you mean by that?” Yven snapped.

  “Come, there is much to discuss,” he said and gestured for Yven and Maladrid to follow.

  He led them into a large room with a rectangular stone table that was surrounded by large golden chairs and walls that were decorated with beautiful tapestries of warm hues portraying the royals of the past.

  “Yven, I’m afraid Fircyn is no more,” he said casually as he sat down at the head of the table. “The Achnora have been tunneling through the earth as a means of hidden travel and in doing so, they stumbled upon your underground city. Unfortunately, we did not realize it until it was too late. The Achnora destroyed the city and slaughtered all who lived there. There were no survivors.”

  “You lie,” Yven said through clenched teeth. “You would’ve seen it through the Third Eye.”

  “The Feri-Stonhe does see much, but in this aspect, I’m sorry to say it failed.”

  “Is it possible, Yven? Could Fircyn really have been ambushed?” asked Maladrid.

  “Of course it’s possible. Even the great city of Fircyn can be caught unawares,” Cite quickly answered.

  “But the armies! The weapons! Half of the men of Fircyn could’ve defeated an entire kingdom,” Yven protested.

  “As I said, they were caught unawares,” Cite replied. “You can see for yourselves, but I do not suggest it. It was a terrible massacre; the city looks, smells, and feels like death.”

  “If it takes my entire life, I will have vengeance upon the devils that did this!” Yven shouted as she banged her fists on the table.

  “Perhaps, you can have it now,” Cite cooed. “After the ruins of Fircyn were discovered, a stranger passed into our land from Tirydor: a Rani called Daradis. We believe he was the cause of the slaughter; we believe that the Achnora were under his command. So we captured him and locked him in the dungeon. Of course, he denies any involvement, but he is a liar. They all are. Rani can never be trusted.”

  “How are you possibly keeping a Rani imprisoned? They have more power than all of your armies combined,” Yven said.

  “We’ve been keeping him under heavy sedation. The sorcerer can do no more harm.”

  “This is wrong, Cite. You’ve no proof that this Daradis has done anything harmful to anyone. You’re holding a possibly innocent member of an ancient race captive and you’re poisoning him with your silly potions,” Yven protested.

  “I thought you would be pleased. The Rani are and have always been a threat, especially to the Hohmara. They raped the female Inha in attempt to prolong their race and ended up killing them when their bodies could not bear the pregnancies, and then they turned to the Hohmara to attempt propagation. And why? Because from the beginning of their existence, they savagely abused the only female of their ilk until she was forced to sacrifice herself to the sea. They are a disgrace to the Li, ancient though they may be.”

  “Was it not your ancestors, the Erfira, who raped the Isil just to satisfy their lusts?” Maladrid asked. “Do not be so quick to judge, Cite.”

  “I want to see him, this dangerous Rani who commanded the destruction of Fircyn. I want to see him with my own eyes,” Yven pronounced.

  “Very well. Follow me.”

  Maladrid and Yven followed Cite closely down many long corridors and through an iron door guarded by two soldiers, and after he led them down a long winding staircase that ended at a sliding door of bars, the guard at the gate unlocked it and they proceeded to the end of the hall. The last cell on the right was the only one occupied, and the occupant was the Rani, who lay prone on the stone floor in a long black robe with his snow-white hair disheveled. Cite kicked the bars of the cell, and the metallic clang echoed in the hollow, damp dungeon. The Rani shifted and moaned, but he didn’t turn to acknowledge him.

  “To your feet, demon of Ol!” Cite shouted and kicked the bars again.

  The Rani groaned and lifted his body with his arms shaking and his hair veiling his face.

  “To your feet, I said!”

  The Rani’s body trembled madly as he stood, and when he stumbled forward, he collapsed against the bars and weakly reached through them, trying to claw at Cite.

  “You see, Queen Yven, he is a beast. See how he reaches for your throat? Say the word and he will be destroyed,” Cite said.

  Yven stepped forward and studied the Rani’s face. His white skin wa
s flawless, and his eyes were as gray as the stone walls around him. He looked young, but his eyes had the mark of wisdom, of experience, and of someone who’d already seen many ages of the world; his body was frail, and no power seemed to remain in him.

  “Hello, Daradis. That is your name, isn’t it?”

  “Yes, milady,” he whispered.

  “You’ve been accused of a very serious crime, Daradis. Are you guilty? Speak true for I will know if you are lying.”

  He looked at her and smiled, and as he began to speak silently to her mind, his voice was wonderfully melodious.

  “You’re right, Yven: my eyes reveal much about my life, but yours do as well. They tell a story of suffering, of death, and of one who has seen much that most cannot see.”

  “Yes, Daradis, I once possessed foresight granted to me by the sycte. But I lost that gift when the Achnora took my hands—Achnora like those you set against Fircyn,” she said as she clenched her wooden hands into fists.

  “I would never harm any of your people, Yven, but I can understand why you would be quick to believe it. The Rani history is a sad, bloody one, but I have always been a friend to the Hohmara as well as a friend to their forebears. I am a sorcerer of the earth, and my intentions have always been born of Yaliwe’s light. I would never harm an innocent soul.”

  “The king of Rosdin has accused you of murder. Doesn’t that frighten you?”

  “I do not fear death or torture. Yaliwe knows the truth, and so do you.”

  “Why should I believe you, Daradis? Why you and not Cite?”

  “Because, Queen Yven,” Daradis stated aloud, “Cite was the one who ordered the slaughter of your people and the destruction of Fircyn.”

  “How dare you!” Cite boomed and drew his sword, but Yven grabbed his wrist and pushed his arm down.

  “No, Cite. I will hear what the Rani has to say. Go on, Daradis.”

  “The Lyraera entered Fircyn in the dead of night with vials of ornhon that they poured into the wells to poison the Hohmara. Many died, but the stronger ones only took ill and slowly began to recover; they would have, if not for the Lyraeran army that stormed Fircyn and massacred those who survived the poison. Your people didn’t stand a chance, Yven. They were weak, sick, and outnumbered. Then the army tore down the towers and burned the bridges—”

  “Silence!” Cite bellowed. “He speaks lies, Highness, filthy Rani lies. He wishes to save his skin and nothing more. What would the Lyraera have to gain from destroying the arsenal of our most powerful allies?”

  “Allies?” Daradis exclaimed. “You do not see the Hohmara as allies, Cite. You fear them. You would do anything to bring them down, perhaps even align yourself with the Dark Lady’s minions. Did Shacore make you an offer, Cite? Is it affiliation with the shadow or just your own petty selfishness that drove you to kill so many innocent people?”

  “Lies! All of it!” Cite shouted.

  “Is it? Tell me the truth,” Yven said as she pointed Vetna at Cite’s throat.

  “You don’t know what you’re doing, Yven. Slash at me and miss, and my men will tear you limb from limb. I can only imagine what they’d do to a pretty Hohmara queen who actually kills their king!”

  Maladrid swiftly drew his sword, grabbed Cite from behind, and pressed the blade against his neck.

  “You owe the queen an apology for that, Cite. You owe her your allegiance for letting you and your kin remain in her lands. You owe her your life,” Maladrid growled.

  “Look at the king, Yven,” Daradis whispered. “Look at his fear; look at his guilt. He murdered those of your kin that could aid you to victory, and he’s taken your land for his own. You know I speak the truth.”

  “Damn you, Daradis! Damn all of you, especially you, Yven! You and your kin should rot in the fires of Ol!”

  Maladrid flicked his arm and when the blade sliced Cite’s throat, the blood poured in crimson streams down his purple robe and beaded on the fabric. He wavered for a moment before his knees buckled beneath him, and then the king of the Lyraera fell dead on the dungeon floor.

  Maladrid stood panting over the body and asked, his voice trembling, “What have I done?”

  “What should have been done years ago,” Yven replied.

  “But what are we going to do now? How are we going to get out of here?”

  “Stand back,” Daradis said. “I am not sure what state my magick is in.”

  They pushed their backs against the bars of the opposite cell as Daradis’ body was overtaken by violent shivers and spasms, and they gasped as Daradis’ body became a transparent, misty vapor and he walked through the bars. He collapsed on the floor at Yven and Maladrid’s feet and shuddered as he slowly became solid again.

  “It’s the ornhon. They’ve been putting small doses in my food and water to keep me weak. I’m surprised I could do that much.”

  “Is there any way you could cast some spell to hide us from Lyraeran eyes?” Maladrid asked.

  “I dare not. Once we get outside the castle we may need what little power I have left,” Daradis replied with his body still quaking slightly.

  “Best to get on with it, then,” Yven said.

  Maladrid held Daradis’ arm in support as they followed Yven’s confident charge through the dungeon, and though Vetna was readied to strike down whoever stood guard, the inner gates of the dungeon were open and unattended.

  “Where’s the guard?” Maladrid asked.

  “Just be thankful that he’s gone. We still have the next gate to deal with,” Yven replied, but when they reached the iron door, they found it unguarded as well.

  They kept moving up the stairs and through the palace, but when they emerged from the castle, they were forced to a sharp halt. The entire Lyraeran kingdom, every man, woman, and child, stood before them heavily armed and hungry for blood.

  “Murderers!” shouted the crowd.

  “Queen Yven of the devil Hohmara, give yourself up now and be spared!” Vet-Fista roared from the front line.

  “You would let us live?” shouted Yven skeptically.

  “No, but we might do you a favor and kill you quicker!” a Lyraer replied, followed by heavy laughter.

  “You have no choice but to surrender. You’ve killed our king and therefore deserve to die,” Vet-Fista boomed.

  “Your king murdered my people: innocents. And even worse, he turned his back on Yaliwe. No one but Shacore deserved death more than him.”

  “Mistakes were made, perhaps, but Cite has always had our best interests at heart. What about you, Yven? You abandoned your kingdom in favor of a selfish, ill-fated quest. Turned renegade, have you?”

  “Don’t you dare speak to her like that,” Maladrid snapped.

  “Ah yes, the gallant commoner. I must admit, Yven, that your choice in soldiers is quite amusing. And now you’ve sunk so low that you’re associating with a Rani. What’s next: Dalitants?”

  The Lyraera roared in delight, and the thunderous echo of the gates of Rosdin slamming shut caused Maladrid to flinch.

  “There’s no way out,” Vet-Fista declared. “There’s no one who can help you. The Fircyn soldiers are all dead and your friends are gone.”

  “What?”

  “They took off last night, fled in cowardly terror. You see, you’re powerless, Yven, and you’re alone.”

  Maladrid swung his sword with ferocious finesse and smiled with perfect confidence as he declared, “She’s not completely alone.”

  “Daradis, now would be a good time for a charm or two,” Yven whispered as the Lyraera advanced with their swords gleaming and arrows primed.

  “I will do my best, milady,” he replied, and raised his hands above his head.

  He closed his eyes and his lips moved swiftly as he spoke, growing louder with each recitation until his voice was a desperate cry that resounded off of every stone in Rosdin.

  “Paertyle, Daian of the Water, creator of the lakes and rivers, help us now! Lela, Daian of the Wing, keeper of the Colc, help u
s now! We are the Li, and we need your blessed aid.”

  “Your weak magicks are no match for this army, Daradis,” Vet-Fista scoffed; suddenly, the ground rumbled and the air blew cold, but the earth was soon still again, and the Lyraer chuckled in amusement. “Is this the extent of your power: making the ground tremble slightly?”

  An outcry sounded from the north wall and traveled through the crowd of Lyraera, and their faces became pale with terror. A young soldier plowed through the mob and when he reached Vet-Fista, he was panting and choking on his words.

  “Out with it, boy!” Vet-Fista bellowed.

  “It’s the Tirdrona, my lord. They are raising the sea. They are crashing against the shores and the waves are climbing very high,” the solder replied, his fear apparent.

  “But the wall—”

  “The water will soon flood over it, my lord.”

  Screams resounded from the north and all eyes turned to the coast. The howls of the Tirdrona reverberated, accompanied by the wet smack of waves against the stone barrier; echoing that din was the devastating sound of the wall crashing on top of the Lyraera who cowered behind it. The crowd screeched and scattered, and when the crystal water descended, it wiped them out with vicious force, no matter which way they ran. The immense wave curled and smashed through Rosdin and its inhabitants and when it was so close to Maladrid that its shadow cast a vast darkness over him, Yven’s wooden hand grasped his and squeezed.

  “Here it comes,” she whispered.

  The torrential water flooded through the kingdom and swept away everything in its path; everything except the three brave warriors who were plucked from the ground just in time.

  “Something has me!” Maladrid cried.

  “It’s the Colc!” Daradis replied. “They saved us. They’re taking us to safety.”

  The extreme strength of the wind as they sped through the air caused Maladrid’s eyes to sting and made it difficult for him to see through the blasting current. But he saw Yven and Daradis beside him in the sky, each carried by the vaporous talons of a massive Colc. When he looked down upon the faraway world, his stomach turned and his heart ached, especially as he watched the city of Rosdin consumed by the water and the Lyraera disappear into the vast sea.

 
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