Empire of Whispers

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 6 (v.1) - chapter 6

Submitted: May 15, 2019

Reads: 6

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Submitted: May 15, 2019

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Chapter 6

 

“Shut your mouth.” Alyra cried to Illiana. Her sister laid upon a cot, bare for only a tied piece of cloth around her chest. Black and blue marks covered her side and every breath brought out winces of pain and the faint sound of cracking ribs.

“It hurts,” Illiana said back, her eyes wet with tears, “it really hurts.”

“I know it hurts, you broke a bone or maybe a few.” Alyra attempted to touch Illiana’s ribs before her hand was slapped away.

“Don’t touch me ever again.”

The door creaked open to there chamber, a small cabin with only two cots and a table for furnishings. A gas lantern lit the room, the walls lacking any windows.

Talis entered and with him the pungent scent of perfumed fruits. His hair appeared extra greasy, slicked back with more than too much gel. He held a large green bottle of wine, the cork already popped open.

“Madam.” he spoke entering.

“Alyra. I told you save the madam stuff for my sister.” She poked Illiana’s ribs to a cry of pain and slap to the hand. “See? Not even a swear, a true lady.”

With a nod, he approached.

“Her injury looks severe, there could be internal bleeding.”

“You a healer?” Alyra asked.

“No but I have seen enough wounds to know when it could be serious.” He kneeled near the bed and took out a satin blue handkerchief to dab Illiana’s increasingly sweaty forehead. Her hair already damp, pain pierced her pale green eyes. “Can you breath?”

“Not well.” said Illiana.

“Her lungs may be punctured.” Talis said patting Illiana’s arm. “Give her drink for the time being, it will help with the pain.” He handed Alyra the bottle. “When we land, we can send your sister to Basaal where our healer is stationed. If the carriage moves fast, she can be there in a day.”

“Wait.” Alyra said bolting to her feet. “Where are we landing then?”

“Arthanis, the capital of the empire.”

“Bring her to the healer first.”

“I would like to,” said Talis, “but we have to report our findings to the God king. The attack of the mech swarm is a serious matter that needs his attention.”

“He can wait, my sister is the one with the injury. You Dylonians,” she scuffed, “always coming first.”

“Arthanians,” he corrected, “Dylon is a kingdom within the empire.”

“Whatever. My sister needs aid.”

“And the mech swarm is already attacking towns.You saw what they can do. Waiting could spell deaths for countless more, besides, the ether trade winds don’t move to Basaal, and finding a portal to the city would take longer than sending her by carriage.” Alyra balled her hands into fists. “Don’t worry, she will be fine. Have some wine yourself, it’s from Seric, it will cool your nerves.”

“Don’t patronize me.” Alyra sniffed the bottle then drank, the flavor notes strong on the verge of bitter, yet had a deep rich sweetness hidden in the aftertaste. With a shrug, she took a few more sips.

“I assume you’re better.” Talis said putting his hands behind his back.

“Don’t push it.”

“We land in an hour, then you and your sister will be sent on your way. I promise we are doing all that we can. I’ll come find you when its time.” With a bow to Illiana and Alyra, he turned to leave.

“Wait.” Alyra said handing Illiana the bottle and followed Talis out of the room. “What do you mean sent on our way?”

“You’re not going with your sister?”

“Of course, but what about after? My home was destroyed... again.” She made sure to note that particular detail. “Not that I cared for most of my neighbors, but I wouldn’t have asked for death and you, Dylonians...” Talis raised a finger. “Arthanians,” she said, “have a habit of not fixing the problem.”

Pulling on the bright red sash crossing his chest. he either pretended to not know what she meant or didn’t care.

“We are trying to fix the problem, it’s why we are heading to Arthanis. Now, madam, I’ll see to it coin and work is provided for you in Basaal.” He attempted to leave up the stairs to the deck above but Alyra followed, grunting and dashing up behind him.

“That’s it? You see my home destroyed, my sister nearly killed and you just abandon us?”

“We are not abandoning you.”

“It’s just like before at the end of the Richard wars.”

“Madam...” She put up a finger, a scowl erupting over her face. “Alyra,” he said, “I am sorry you feel we have let you down in some way, but I have matters to attend to, the empire has matters to deal with far larger than your individual concerns. I cannot watch over you and your sister’s well being, but there are people in Basaal who can.”

“That’s not good enough.”

“It will have to be. The knighthood of Arthan is not a place for the dramatics of peasant girls. Basaal is a good city, an excellent place to start over and far away from the mech swarm. You will be safe.” Alyra simmered and left shaking, about to burst with rage.

Storming back to the cabin, she slammed the door closed, almost bringing the lantern off its hook.

“What’s wrong?” Illiana asked sipping at the bottle, her face locked between repulsion and longing for relief.

“They are going to drop us off at Basaal and be done with it.”

“You had other plans?”

“I want to smash those pieces of junk. They killed everyone we ever knew! I want some answers.”

“You didn’t even like it at home. Every chance you could, you talked about leaving.”

“But I never left.”

“You only stayed for me and I am right here with the town far behind us. This is our chance to start again, for you to start again, build a life somewhere you can be happy.”

“I used to be happy, don’t act like I wasn’t.”

“Once, long ago.” Alyra locked her lips to a frown, sat by Illiana’s side and took her clammy hand. “Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago.” Alyra’s gaze drifted away from Illiana to far beyond the ship, to days long past. “I miss them, too.” said Illiana, “You’re not alone.”

“I could have done something.”

“Like what?”

“Fight. I could have saved our family instead of hiding in the woods.”

“Don’t,” Illiana tugged on her hand, “no one could have known Richard’s Raiders would have come that day and if you fought, you would be dead too.”

“Who says I’m not already?” she paused. “I remember that day. So often it comes to me, the last perfect day of spring.” Alyra held back a welling wetness behind her eyes. “You and I, so vivid in my memory, out there in the green fields, singing and dancing, then… then...” She shook her head. “Kharis let Richard live. He let him go. The war was over, the Dylonian army surrounded Richard’s fleet and then, just like that, let him leave. Why? Because Richard’s promise of peace. They should have executed every pirate that day and strung him up for all to see. Instead, a year later, he returned to our town and butchered our people.”

“I am sure Kharis had his reasons.”

“Did he? What was the point of letting a murderer live? A raider who burned a thousand villages, who terrorized the alliance, let go? What did he think was going to happen? Sometimes I ask this to the point of boiling rage and other times despair.”

“Alyra.” Illiana whispered.

“I have that chance here and now, to look the God king in the eyes and ask him why.”

“Does it matter what he says? Would any answer bring you peace?”

“I deserve to know and he deserves to know what his decision cost.” Taking away her hand, Alyra took out a small bag and dumped the contents of a few coins, some bread, cheese and a necklace made of silver ending in the shape of a pentagram onto the bed.

“This is all I have. I want you to take it, it should be enough till I come looking for you in Basaal.”

“Where are you going?”

“I have to do, something first.” Illiana reached out through the small pile taking hold of the necklace.

“What’s this?” Illiana asked.

“I found it the other day in an alley. I think it’s for mysticism or something, debated on turning it in to the constable for a reward but I don’t think the owner will be needing it any more.”

“It’s pretty.”

“It’s silver and could fetch you a few coins.”

“Alyra,” Illiana spoke with a gentle soft tone, “please, don’t leave me. Forget the past and stay with me.”

“It won’t be for long, little sis.” She tried to bring herself to smile but felt hidden hands pull on her face. “I promise, once I have my answer, I can lay it to rest.”

“We both know it’s not an answer you’re looking for.” Kissing the forehead of her sister, Alyra stood up and pulled up the covers.

“Get some sleep, we land soon.” Illiana’s face locked into a plead, but sank away to slumber before Alyra went up to the top of the ship.

Rubbing her cheeks, the warmth of too much emotion going hot on her skin, the wind of the bright blue sky brought relief and taking to the railing, the ground so far, the rivers slivers of silver cutting along fields of green, she could feel a knot form in her throat. Closing her eyes, she knew what had to be done.

“The view is better with your eyes open.” came from beyond her thoughts. Opening her eyes, Gabby stood leaning against the railing of the ship, holding a hunk of bread, another loaf stuck within the folds of his tunic and two more stashed in his belt. Breaking off half, studying both pieces and handing her the smaller end, he winked. “Hungry?”

“Not really...”

“Killing and dying has a way of turning the stomach, but it’s good to eat. It helps you focus on something else other than memories of things you don’t really want to remember anyway.” He took a large bit from his loaf and stood a little closer, his elbow almost touching hers. “Silver is a good color.” he said, mouth full.

“What?”

“Your hair, it’s a good color.” A laugh almost snuck away from her mouth, but she caught it, too wrapped up in her brooding to let out some joy.

“Thanks, my people did not see it that way. They said it was an omen of bad luck.”

“Silver hair? That’s a strange thing to find a bad omen. Most people like silver.”

“They like money, they don’t care about the color.”

“Still, silver is an odd thing to hate.”

“Most elves have either blonde hair of the sun, red hair of the phoenix or brown hair of the forest. Silver has to do with the moon and the night.”

“Sounds superstitious. The night’s not so bad,” he said, “do my best sneaking at night.”

“Well, when my people think of the night, they think of death. The called me ghost and even tried to shave my head.”

“Those bastards...” He chewed for a moment. “Did they succeed?”

“No.” she said, her smile finally released after longing to escape. “Broke a few jaws and learned to brawl in the process. Hair grows back, teeth don’t.”

“Feisty,” he nodded taking a few larger bites and offered her the end again. She took it and began pinching at the brown oats,taking a few peckish bites.

“What’s Kharis like?”

“The God king? He is not so bad. A real nice man. Wise, honorable, loved, all the things leaders tell themselves they are.”

“Is he those things?”

“I think he wants to be those things, I think we all do, life just doesn’t allow us the opportunity to ever show them.”

“Can I meet him? You are all going to see him, right?”

“We are, but we are knights of the realm, that’s sort of a pass to the king. Peasants don’t often mix in such company.” Rubbing her hand on his arm. she let her entire side touch his. Despite being short herself, standing some five feet, Gabby remained well below her stance by a foot or more.

“Maybe I can be your guest or even friend?” She walked her fingers up his chest.

“Well,” he giggled, since you ask like that.. No. You think a few flirtatious moves will trick me into sneaking you into the most secure place in the all the empire? I am much too smart for that. It will take at least a kiss.” Implating her lips on his cheek, she raised an eyebrow.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you, Gabby.” Winking, he spun the bread in the air and caught it. “That’s what I do, please beautiful maidens. Gabby here has got an eye for the beautiful and they are both caught on you. Well, maybe one on your sister as well.”

“Leave her out of this...”

“Wouldn’t she also like to see the God king? That would be extra kisses for me.”

“I’m serious, leave her out of this. This is about me and only me. My sister needs to be sent to Basaal as soon as we land.” Stroking the smooth round folds of his chin, he took a breath, one eye going into a squint.

“Alright. I’ll leave her out of this and I’ll make sure your sister is on her way to Basaal the moment we land.”

“Good, if you keep your word, I’ll make sure you get more than a kiss when its over.” Stroking the curls of his hair. she put on her best full lipped seductive face and walked away.

What am I doing. She felt sick like she wanted to vomit and moved to the furthest edge of the ship, ready to purge.


© Copyright 2019 Srchaud. All rights reserved.

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