Chapter 3: Lightholdes Wake

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

Reads: 38

Chapter 3: Lightholdes Wake 



 

Arethor awakes, wiping the sleep from his eyes, he stands up to see that Hemm had left. Good, maybe he was actually doing something worthwhile. And in fact, he was. Hemm stands at the door of the blacksmith down the road with commitment. Prepared to do his best, for himself rather than anyone else. 

But Arethor had other things on his mind, recalling the previous night's events. It felt like a dream on it's own, he had to think really hard over whether it was or not. But remembers the King saying that there was going to be a town meeting. Something that didn't happen very often, so whatever it is he has to say is most likely important. 

He walks down the stairs into the tavern, it was always an odd feeling of loneliness staring across the empty seats as the sun leaked into the colorfully paned glass, a combination of orange and purple in a diamond shape that casted beautiful rays of light. The layout of the tavern being one that is comfortably familiar, tables spread about while wooden beams weave between them as they hold the upper floor. The bar being towards the back, while behind that is the pantry and exits leading to the alleyway. He opens the door to see Killian leaning on the wall next to it, awaiting his opening. It was a relief when Arethor got back knowing that Killian had survived. 

"Guess you heard the news?" Arethor smiles as he locks the door behind him. 

"I was there dummy." Killian laughs, putting an arm around his shoulder as they walk up the steep alleyway. The streets flowing with citizens as they rush from place to place. Some of which also attending the seemingly urgent meeting. 

"Right, where is Baxar?" Arethor asks, it had been a few days since he had seen him, almost since the siege. He said he was going to stay at a local inn but Arethor hadn't seen him since. 

"Hells if I know, probably at that town meeting if I had to guess." And sure enough as they walk into the town square a large figure pokes out of the crowd of people. Killian taps his shoulder and points, though Arethor had seen him long before his eyes even adjusted to the large group awaiting the king's entrance. 

Killian and Arethor push through the crowd, finding themselves standing next to Baxar, who wears a fur cloak over his back covering his now leather armour with a chainmail chestplate. The leather is a dark brown that feels like a deep forest of pine trees. A comforting yet threatening feeling as he notices the many scratches and marks from battle. 

"Arethor! Good friend, where have you been?" He laughs, giving him a firm slap on the back that makes Arethor almost tumble into the person in front of him. The crowd was dense, tightly packed unessearly in the large open town square, the fountain just behind them and the stairs leading to the castle in front. Three royal guards stand with spears, which had been supplied to them by their trade with the Jorinian, a fragile but well received deal conceived over a caravan of Jorinians that had come by a few years ago.

"The tavern, where I live and work." Arethor returns wittingly, his dirty brown hair soaking in the sun's warmth. Arethor had put on his cloak as well, it being made of rather expensive cloth, but also had a hood that had come in handy during the rain more than once. Baxar snorts, going to slap Arethor's back again but is too slow as he dodges by crouching just in time. 

"HA! You are a smart one." Baxar shouts, but his attention is drawn and his expression flattens. King Orieth walks carefully down the steps, two guards by his side. He stops only one step away from the front of the crowd. He doesn't wear his royal clothing, but rather his armor.

 Which consists of thick metal plated shoulder plates that curve elegantly into the swan like armour, each feather being a blade that leads to the smoothened breastplate that has the royal crest. His lower torso equipped with grieves that have the knived feathers along the side but leave the inner leg to be flat and detailed with carvings of vines that extrude into branching paths all along the empty space, the same being for the breastplate around the family crest that was kept in a oval around the cracked beaked raven. 

"We face a threat." He starts, the crowd still but tense. Banners flow in the wind high up on the lanterned fueled street lights. 

"A threat of unknown power." He continues, making sure to pause and examine the crowd's reaction, which was starting to become noticeably more distraught. Voices murmur and people shuffle at the uncomfortable idea of another siege, or worse, war. A man bursts out, disrupting the silence.

"It's those damned Jorinian's ain't it!" The crowd becomes unsettled, shouting random things that mostly don't even apply to the conversation. But nonetheless, everyone wanted to find a reason to hate the Jorinian . A classic move on behalf of the city. 

"No, our standings with the Jorinian have not changed." He says frimley, his eyes locked on the interrupting man who was now trying his best to seem tough but deep inside felt the heat of every eye burning through him. 

"We have word from Rifnallia that the kings have been made aware of our situation. It is humbling, yet concerning. We must be prepared. Which is why I come to you all today to ask a burdening request. One I don't make lightly. We need volunteers to travel to Torchwood and receive information on the status of the three generals." He says, his expression never changing as he scans the listeners. You can see the subtle fear in his eyes or perhaps, well placed anxiousness. Who was to blame him with so much upon his shoulders? Before Arethor can even compute what the king had said, Baxar yells out loud. 

"ME!" He shouts, pausing and grabbing Arethors hand and raising it for him. "And my companion!" Arethor knew better than to overreact, albeit he wanted to, he couldn't help but feel slightly intrigued, besides, he didn't say the mission was necessarily dangerous persay. The king looks at the two with a wild smile, surprised by how short of a time it took for someone to volunteer. Many others attempt to wave their hands in tribute but are silenced by the king who motions for the two to come up to the front of the stairs. 

Baxar keeps his grip on Arethor's arm as he pushes past the crowd, most of which moving on their own as the crowning figure stomps towards them. As they approach the front, the guards ready their spears, pointing it down at them with a 'don't make me have to do it' expression.

"You, Arethor, I remember you." King Orieth says with a calm demeanor, waving at his guards to stand down. He places his hand on Arethor's shoulder, a look of determination and high expectation. 

"A fine choice for our rogue." He says firmly but with a smile that felt a little too unnerving, as if he had planned for Arethor to step forward, which technically he didn't step forward by his own will.

"As for you Baxar, as I am told you helped greatly during the siege, you are a wise choice as well." King Orieth speaks, bowing his head slightly in respect for his duties. It was a boost in morale alone to see such gratitude from the king, something not often seen. 

"Let us discuss our course of action in the castle." He says, and without even a single gesture the guards begin to grab the two and lead them up the stairs. The king close ahead as the guards usher them into the castle. The large doors leading into an even larger throne room, it being the center piece that splits into many hallways and rooms. The throne room is a classic silky shine vista that has a floor that acts like a mirror. Arethor and Baxar patiently wait as the king disappears into a hallway to then re-emerge with a chest. He walks over to the two and sets the chest down in front of them.

"I know this is moving fast, but so is the enemy." He says, his tone astringent and his face even more so. He opens the chest to reveal a single key laying upon many other things, articles of clothing and scrolls that lay dusty and untampered. He furrows his brow in remorse, gripping the key and rubbing his finger across it's rusted bow. Sighing, he puts his hand out, awaiting for either of them to handle it, but Arethor's hesitation from utter confusion leads to Baxar accepting the key.

"Arethor, I understand you are a simple tavern keeper, but I assure you this voyage will bare not much danger." He says, wincing for a brief moment. "If done right that is." He finishes, closing the chest and waving at a guard to return it to its place. He humbly offers the two a seat, to which they both accept and sit at the long dining room table that seemed to stretch for miles. Orieth lays out a map of what seems to be a castle, or some sort of stronghold. 

"This is the fortress of Torchwood, they call it Fort Kiltek. This is where the Three Generals are held, as for their crypt that holds many, many powerful relics from The Horde War and many wars before. What they have in their possession could be used to kill every living thing on this planet." He pulls out another old tattered piece of paper, this time it is a manuscript of sorts. He flattens it on the table to show off the description of an artifact called the Celspawn. Arethor eagerly reads the Hyvak script detailing it's unknown origins. 

It tells of a relic found deep in the mountains of Rockhaven in 14 AR, it was mined by the mountain dwarves themselves and sold many times without knowing it's true purpose. It wasn't until it ended up into the hands of a now long deceased sorcerer by the name of Thoimion Celethir, who discovered when given the proper amount of focused blood magic, could create matter. This meant they could build entire empires from a single relic. The price for accessing the Celspawn was high, a single living sacrifice for a single living organism in return. 

Thoimion knew this meant that it could lead to mass genocides, war's in order to fight wars, and kingdoms destroyed to build kingdoms. After trying to destroy it, but never succeeding he brought the Celspawn to the council of a remote and hidden Wood Elf village far west in the lands of Hyvak, called Woflawn. The Elves were made aware of the Celspawns imense power and kept it hidden in a vault buried deep in the ground.

In the year 150 AR, the Horde War occured. A war that spread out far across Hyvak and into farther lands such as Rifnallia and Hondo. What was a battle against an unknown enemy turned to a lawless voyage to destroy and loot every and all cities and villages. One village, being the village of Woflawn. The Three Generals rode into Woflawn and ripped it apart under "suspension of Jorinian assistance".

 The village leader, Ealoloth Shafel, attempted to plead to them and convince them of their mistake. But they were wiped off the face of Hyvak and brutally executed, and found the Celspawn themselves deep in the hidden vault. Ignorant of the power of the Celspawn they simply took it as a symbol of their victory. It now sits unused and unbothered in the crypt beneath Kiltek. 

Arethor finishes reading, trying hard to swallow the information that had just been laid upon him. A relic with the ability to create matter by destroying matter, a truly terrifying thought. But something does catch his mind. 

"It says that the Generals don't know how to use the Celspawn, or even know what it's purpose is. Why should we be concerned?" He asks, King Orieth looking up from the map that he was analyzing.

"Because we have reason to believe they have figured out how to use it. It would explain the sudden surge in soldiers strolling past neighbouring cities." He says confidently. Baxar reads the text himself, his eyes flicking up and down the page. 

"All do respect, but that could just mean that they are recruiting more soldiers." Baxar says respectfully, gently laying down the paper onto the table. Orieth bats his eyes at him, his hand rubbing his beard in thought.

"Normally, for any other city, I would agree. But Torchwood is in ruins, they can't even keep their own people from destroying the caravans of food given to them." Orieth recedes into the back of his chair, one crafted particularly for him. Detailed with vines spreading around like a thicket on a tree, a common pattern seen in the king's attire and architecture. 

"So...you want us to destroy the Celspawn?" Arethor asks hesitantly, his voice only slightly shaking from the sudden realization of his situation. He had woken up no less than an hour ago and was now pledging to travel to Torchwood for some unknown journey. Orieth laughs, his hand spread out across the table. 

"Heavens no. If one of the smartest sorcerers in all of Hyvak couldn't, I doubt a tavern keeper could, ah, no offense." He says, then pointing at the fortress's schematics. "We do need you to retrieve it though. As you can see there is an entrance on the side of the fortress which leads directly into the crypt, from the storm drain. Hence the key." He says, circling his finger around a small entrance on the far east side of the fortress.

"Now, the fortress is about a hundred feet of the ground where the storm drain is. So you shouldn't even need to go near the fortress other than going into the crypt." He assures, waiting for some sort of facial expression to assert the general consensus of Arethor or Baxar.  Baxar slaps his hand down on the table, shaking the glasses that are spread about. 

"Perfect! This will be easy!" Baxar shouts with a laugh.

"Easy? I don't even know how to wield a sword!" Arethor shouts back, panicking as everything starts to sink in. 

"Did you not kill that bandit during the siege?" Baxar questions, leaning in towards him with his eyes widened. 

"That was barely fair for the bandit, not to mention I have nightmares from the sounds alone!" He says, his eyes watering with fear and anxiety. He really hadn't become fully conscious until this very point. 

"Arethor, there is no such thing as fair, not anymore, and I suppose there never was." Orieth says warmingly, his tone flat but caring. It made Arethor wonder if he was thinking he had made a mistake. "And if everything goes according to plan, you won't even have to draw your sword. They only go into the crypt when utterly necessary." Orieth continues, looking Arethor deep in the eyes with a content look. He could feel the pity in his eyes, or maybe, understanding. Either way Arethor had only two options, both of which he desperately didn't want to choose.

"So what..." He stops, taking in a deep breath. "So what is the plan?" The slight kadence in his voice suggests just how nervous he is. 

"As I said," Orieth circles the pathway again. "You sneak through the city, hopefully without much trouble, then go in through the storm drain. From there you find the Celspawn and grab it. Assuming they haven't figured out what it is and have it somewhere else. And in that case, simply return and give us the information." He finishes. Rolling the map up and placing it gently in a satchel and handing it to Arethor. 

"The Celspawn looks like a hexagonal stone, it is slightly curved inwards and in the center is a singular circle carved slightly deeper." He then holds out a hand drawn depiction of what they can only assume to be the Celspawn. 

"Now, are you prepared?" The king asks, his elbows on the table and his gaze strong. 

 

"We'll give you a carriage to the Fernwrath Harbour, from there you will make your way through the Kyrrha Sea. Have you ever been through it?" Heathgrim asks, his eyes jumping between Arethor and Baxar. The Kyrrha Sea is the only way to access Torchwood during certain parts of the year due to Torchwood being placed on a peninsula, and will become an island due to the oceans' sporadic movements at times.

"I have not, but I am no stranger to the seas." Baxar says, his arm resting on the stilt of his axe. Baxar had told him many stories of him fishing with his father, and how they had caught an elusive sea monster. But it unfortunately got awake due to it being so massive in size compared to the boat. It lead Arethor to doubt the existence of the supposed Icebound Seamoa, a sea monster long since passed through folk tale. A dragon-like fish beast that spits out splitting cold ice instead of flames, equally as dangerous Baxar assures. While many creatures just as and even more unbelievable exist, just the idea of a dragon breathing ice was an eye roller for most. 

"I personally took one trip to Torchwood as a kid." Arethor speaks up. They stand at the gates of the city, a carriage being prepared only a few feet away. Heathgrim gives him a confused grin, pressing against the stone wall gate. 

"A trip? To Torchwood? Your parent's must hate you." He laughs. 

"You would think." Arethor says sadly. He doesn't like to burden others with his past, so he often avoids even bringing up his parents. But sometimes it's hard to avoid, and in this case it was easier for him to just keep his mouth shut. Then, out of the corner of his eye he can see the driver of the carriage waving at Heathgrim, which makes him stand straight. 

"Alright, we are ready to go. Got everything you need?" Heathgrim asks as he throws bags onto the back of the carriage. The king had given them a few hours to gather equipment for their journey, which according to him should only take a few days. He had also warned that he wasn't going to send men to find them until at least a week later, since they wanted to stay as far away from Torchwood as possible to avoid suspicion. 

"Yes." Baxar answers for them, hauling a large bag over his shoulder and crawling into the carriage, which shakes vigorously. 

"I'll be accompanying you to Fernwrath, but from there you are on your own." Heathgrim says, hopping up alongside the driver, who leans down to look through the window. 

"The roads up to Fernwrath are blocked, we'll have to head up towards Lightholde and take a seperate route. So the ride might be a bit longer." He nods without waiting for a response, his attention shifting back to the road which they now start to head down. The road out from Tavernkeep is straight but narrow, the forest pressing on either side like vines crawling up a rubbled house.

As they travel the forested road the sky begins to dim, the day had crept away from them and soon the roads we're going to become dangerous. Heathgrim sits next to the driver with a flat expression, his brow furrowed slightly to assert his aggressive protection over the cart. 

After a few hours of riding the tension had settled and everything started to sink in for Arethor, his mind racing on possible situations he might find himself in.

"So the tavern." Baxar interrupts the silence, making Arethor look up from the very important reading he was doing by candle light. He pauses for long enough that Arethor thought he was finished with his sentence, giving him an eager downwards glance.

"Yes?" Arethor pushes. 

"What is the name of the tavern?" Baxar puzzles. He had been staring out the window for most of the ride completely devoid of any thought. Arethor hadn't really stopped to think about it, considering it doesn't have a name.

"It's called the tavern." He says wittingly, giving a weak glance before looking back down at the book he was reading. A book on the history of Bornjor, the name of a palace that sticks out of the center of a rustic city by the name of Gincrest. A city known for its large surrounding fields of crops, seemingly always flush with green life. But Gincrest was also known for its downfall, much like Torchwood, affected by the Horde War. But where Torchwood failed, Gincrest succeeded, managing to pull together their people and establish a government that could renew their lives and start fresh. 

The city sprung up like bulbs and began to flowerish, but not without its faults. Faults too glaring to avoid, which was their lack of architectural knowledge leading to the buildings being less stylish and more practical. While this isn't an extremely damning issue to lead to other countries and cities turning a blind eye to them. This of course leads to it's fragile state today in which it is held together by a small council of younger citizens. 

"You never thought up a real name for your tavern?" He snorts, is hand on his knee. 

"You'd have to bring that up with my dad. Which you can't."  Arethor jokes despite it slightly hurting. Not often he would punch his own gut. 

"Also, why are there so few Taverns in a city called Tavernkeep?" Baxar asks, leaning back into the cart making it shake violently. 

"You're asking the wrong person." He laughs back. But his laughter is cut short as the carriage comes to a harsh stop. Heathgrim grips the driver's collar, a signal for him to stop moving, that worked all too effectively. Heathgrim pulls the sword out from behind his back, sliding off the cart and into a readied position. Moving forwards as he observes the road that is blocked by a carriage scattered with bodies. A man hangs half outside of the cart, blood spilling out onto the ground by his head. 

"Stay in the cart!" He yells to the two, but they disregard him and instantly unsheathe their swords while stepping out from the cart. Arethor struggles to pull his sword out, having never done it before, and never needing to expect for the siege. But his eyes adjust to the moonlit crime scene, several bodies sliced open. 

Heathgrim steps over one of the bodies, searching the pockets and pulling out a Lightholde medallion, to which he sighs. Rubbing the blood off the medallion that leaked through the clothing, he puts it in his own pocket. 

"Typical." Heathgrim groans, standing up from his crouched position which pops his rusty sounding joints. 

"What is it? Who are these people?" Arethor asks skittishly, his fingers white knuckled around the blade's handle. Heathgrim ignores the direct breach of orders and pokes around the bodies looking for more medallions or badges.

"These men are Lightholde." Heathgrim says, flashing the medallion he just pulled off the deceased archer laying flat in the road with a gash in his side. 

"Could just be thieves, maybe took out a Lightholde patrol." Baxar suggests as he examines the carriage, the body inside catching his eye.

"If it was any other city, maybe, but Lightholde is known for dressing their men up as bandits and making them patrol." Heathgrim says disgruntled, retrieving the last medallion from the Lightholde soldier with an axe by his side. 

"What? Why? How does that help them?" Arethor asks, almost laughing at just the pure idiocy of the idea, is any case it would just make any passerby brave enough cut them down in an instant, very much like this instance so it looks. 

"Only Hyvale knows." Heathgrim rubs his eyes with his fingers. But eventually he waves at Arethor to come over and help him. 

"Help me move these bodies out of the road." They both grab bodies and slide them into the forest, Heathgrim being a bit more violent than Arethor had expected or felt very comfortable with. 

"This one's still alive." Baxar says casually, picking up the hand of the man hanging out of the carriage and waving it around.  The eyes of the man blinking furiously as he tries to keep his consciousness. 

"BAXAR! STOP!" Arethor yells at him, a Ligthholde body still pushing its weight onto his chest, his arms underneath the dead body as he throws it into the forest.  Heathgrim drops the body from his hands and jogs over to Baxar, slapping his hand away and pulling the body out from the carriage, carefully laying him out on the ground. At first his face is that of commitment and security but quickly switches to a crooked grin. 

"Oh by the love of Hyvale, now we know why those soldiers were here." Heathgrim laughs. The body underneath him still not fully understanding anything. 

"This is Geralt Hillthrum, famous 'antique' collector." This of course means nothing to either of them who simply keeps diverting their eyes from the situation. The wind brings in a shiver that makes Geralt noticeably wince, he's weak and frail. It's a miracle he's alive, almost too much so. 

"Forget it, just give me a hand, we need to take him to Fernwrath." He and Baxar grap his arms and legs and carefully place him inside of the carriage. After setting him down, Heathgrim undoes the bandage around his leg, his face flattening as he reveals the massive wound that had suddenly sealed itself back up. Heathgrim pulls a dagger from his belt, pushing the blade to his throat. 

"Necromancy, who did it?" Heathgrim spits venomously, his grip tightening, his forearm jammed into his chest forcing his back into the seat. Baxar and Arethor dare not interfere and watch from a few feet away, Heathgrims rage one they best not tamper with. Geralt attempts to retract his head but it goes no further than pressing against the wall of the carriage, his eyes glued to the blade that pressed ever closer.

"It wasn't me!" He begs, his arms stiff and straight, pressing into the seat in desperation. 

"Some freak came by on a horse, he said some words to me and my wounds healed! I promise I did not request it from him!" Geralt whimpers, his big time ego from city to city deflating in a single instance. Heathgrim, unsatisfied, releases Geralt. His body relaxing as the dagger draws away, as for Arethor and Baxar's.

"This 'freak' you speak of, describe him." Heathgrim pushes, the blade spinning between his fingers to assert his legitimacy. Geralt smoothes the suit that was now dirtied from blood and mud, coughing into his arm and combing his hair. 

"An Elf, no older than thirty, rode past on a horse. I must have been unconscious or dead because I awoke to him standing over me whispering...things. He wasn't like any Wood Elf or High Elf, he had darker skin. Perhaps gray or maybe blue I'm not sure." He says in between gasps of air. Heathgrim's eyes squinted in suspicion, an already wanted target suspected of hundreds of crimes now magically survived an ambush thanks to dark magic. 

"He healed my wound but said that the pain would be eternal. And he wasn't lying, it still feels as if my leg is gashed, but there is no longer a wound!" He cries, gripping the leg and banging his head on the wall in a brief moment of lost composure. 

"Please, kill me." Geralt pleads, his eyes now mad. His sudden switch of tone jagged enough for even Heathgrim to perch his lips in disturbance. Arethor observes as Geralt lashes out at Heathgrim, his fingernails swinging aimlessly at his face. Heathgrim effortlessly pushes Geralt out from the door, leading to a meaty smack on the dirt below. 

"Baxar." Heathgrim says.

"But the man?" Baxar questions, seemingly understanding Heathgrims vague orders, Arethor still blurry with confusion. But Heathgrim nods at him affirmingly, his eyes giving a pitiful 'it's only right' expression. To which Baxar clenches his teeth and swings his blade down onto the head of Geralt.

"NO!" Arethor screams instinctually, his body freezing as the viscera of Geralt's head spills across the dirt path, the blood spurting upwards across Arethor's face like he had been slashed by a bear. The weight of the scene pulls him to his knees, his face growing too near to the now properly deceased Geralt. He had no connection to the man and yet the lump of tears in his throat chokes him silently. 

Baxar struggles to remove the blade from the dirt, the cut was clean and had gone all the way through and pierced the ground below. Heathgrim steps down from the carriage, his face twitching with disgust. He had seen far worse but nothing gets to him as much as executions, his mind drifting to the day of the siege. 

"Get back in the carriage." Heathgrim waves at them to move. Arethor doesn't budge, his face wet with blood blending with tears. Baxar grabs him by his underarm and pulls him to his feet, his legs loose as he attempts to combat Baxar's efforts. But when he realizes there is no reason to stay, his feet kick into motion and he guides himself to the carriage. Sitting himself down as it sparks to life and continues its journey to Fernwrath. 



 

A Day Ago

Torchwood

 

The curtains blow, the wet cobblestone scent drifting through the open balcony from the previous night's rain. The sun bounces off the mirror gently hanging above a desk full of papers spotted in blood, the light reflecting into the eyes of the now awaking half-elf. 

Her eyes flicker, the sound of the door rattling against the wall as the wind blows them apart. She springs from her restful position as the door across the room swings open. Blinking furiously she tries to focus and her eyes tune to nothingness, no one at the door, no source of the sudden breach. 

"Am I alright in my head?" She mutters to herself, rubbing the sleep away. She wiggles her toes and cracks her fingers, checking to see if it was not just a vivid dream. She remembers an old piece of advice her father had given her in her early age. That if you thought you were in a dream, to try and use magic properly. She smirks to herself, even though she knows damn well she isn't in a dream, she amuses herself with a flick of her finger, manifesting a flame at her finger tip. But quickly shakes the flame away, anxiously looking at the wide open door leading into the hallway. 

She stands up from her bed, lackadaisically stumbling over to the open balcony to which she walks to the edge of. Looking over the vastness of Torchwood, a city she was all too familiar with and yet not. Her whole life she spent in a castle crowned as a fortress. She sighs, her palm digging into her chin. Frowning while rubbing her finger along the stone railing, coated in a layer of rain. As she traces her finger around the cracks created from ages of taking in harsh climate, a figure appear at her door. 

"Why is your door open, Raynn ?" A voice calls, she spins around to see her sister, Hela. She stands with a beautiful gown on, almost too pretty to have on at such an early time. Raynn is taken aback, stunned by her sister's form. 

"More importantly, why are you dressed so fancy?" Raynn pushes, with rather incomplete speech. Her family despises her lackluster language skills due to their inability to remember their own adopted daughters' origins. Hela gives a grin, twirling around and giving a curtsy with elegance, ending in a suggestive wink. 

"Do I look good? I have a date." She lifts her head with her eyes closed gleefully. Raynn rolls her eyes, still in her sleeping gown she walks to the desk. Her eyes widen at the sight of the blood on the papers, coughing as she slides them into the desks drawer, closing it violently. 

"You look," She hesitates, eyeing her sister carefully. "Specktacular." she finishes with a pitiful smile. She does think she looks great, amazing even, but she couldn't help but be a bit skeptical.

"Thank you, now shouldn't you be getting ready?" Hela asks as she adjusts her dress from under her feet. Hela had spent a bit more coin than she had let on for the dress, her father being the one who gave her the coin. 

"Ready for what?" Raynn laughs as she prepares her clothing, laying them carefully out on the bed she had disturbed in her waking. She eyes the drawer of her desk, a tinge of nervousness in her movements. 

"The...event." Hela whispers, leaning her head into the room. Raynn's memory sparks to life, her face flushing while biting her lip slightly in frustration at her own inability to remember important events. She turns around awkwardly with her hands behind her back.

"Let's say I didn't remember this...event." She says with a painful wince, avoiding eye contact with her sister who now narrows her brow in disbelief. 

"You are unbelievable, you know that?" Hela laughs in astonishment, there is no way in hells she was about to let her sister forget such an important event, an event that changes the course of their lives, one that ironiclly Hela was blowing off for some mysterious man.   

"Oh please, just tell me already!" Raynn snaps angrily, as she slides herself into her dress. A dress that had been passed down for generations and will be for generations to come. An overwhelming concern from her mother being that she will rip the dress, a concern not far from the realm of possibility considering just how little Raynn cares about it's legacy. 

"Our sister's wedding!" She whisper yells at her sister who's eyes widen with remembrance. She had seriously forgotten that their youngest sister was getting married before any of them. How scandalous, she thinks as she rolls her eyes. Besides constantly besteing her older sisters, she also generally had more appeal to the people, which isn't saying much considering the people of Torchwood want them all swinging from their necks. 

"Ugh..." Raynn mumbles, fiddling with her fingers as she stands in front of her sister who has yet to move away from her door. Though Raynn hadn't exactly intended to get married, at least not to any of the royalty they knew of, it still upset her knowing that her younger sister Morria was having more success than her. Of course she is happy for her but a part of her can't help but have dismay for Morria and her ability to attract everyone like a magnet. 

"Ugh is right. But it's no matter, I'm going to get married next." Hela says, smirking. She doesn't give Raynn a window to respond but rather trots away down the long stone hallway. The center of the fortress opens up to a courtyard, the hall acting as a balcony that allows you to look down into it. Raynn steps out into the hall, her high heels clicking against the smooth floor, echoing off the walls and into the open air. She leans on the balcony much like she had before her sister had interrupted her, looking down into the courtyard. 

It's commonly used for training and also some minor events. But as of right now, Ultif Gorstin stands talking to the newly appointed General of War, General Vien. After a long string of events, the previous General of War, General Koyaka, met his demise in the field of battle during a scuffle with a large group of rogue Jorinian. General Cladius was less than thrilled to find that his most skilled soldier had been slain and wiped out a good portion of the Jorinian forces before they scuttled away, broken and defeated.

"P'ruall said differently..." Raynn can make out Ultif say as he leans in and whispers the rest of the obviously sensitive information. Raynn huffs in disappointment, there is no such sense of adventure or excitement in the fortress. Day in and day out she was pushed into things she could care less about, but she was so reluctant to the point where her parents have simply stopped caring for her. They leave her to dwell in the fortress with only a few sets of rules and few rooms to which she can never enter. 

"Boys!" She teases down to the two who look up at her with confusion. Ultif always gave her a warm smile when passing her in the halls, and now looking up at her with her dress and hair in a delicate bun she could tell just how stunned he was by her beauty. He gives a subtle nod of acknowledgement and continues his conversation. She frowns at her failed attempt to receive any real monocom of genuine attention and pushes away from the balcony. Trekking down the long hallway only lit by the light of the morning sun. 

She eventually finds herself outside her youngest sister's door. Hesitating on whether to say something to her or not, not like she ever does but she felt she should at least say something on her wedding day. She groans at her indecisiveness, pressing her head against the door. 

"Morria?" She says with slight repulsiveness, a tinge of regret in her voice. The door swings open and Raynn loses her balance, a hand instantly wrapping around her and pulling her back up onto her feet. It isn't Morria, but instead her appointed bodyguard, Tresia. A tall and well built Tiefling that has been known for her fair share of fights, to defend royalty of course. She holds a scowl on her face, her eyes narrowed in suspicion, her arms still strongly placed on her shoulder. 

"Oh, I was wondering where Morria was?" Raynn says nervously, avoiding eye contact with the looming figure who didn't seem to want to detach her claws from her. Instead of saying anything she points to the walking closet across the room. Typical, Raynn was ready for her wedding before even the groom was. Raynn riskily slips past Tresia who doesn't seem all that bothered, and sneaks into the walking closet, closing the door behind her. She turns to see her sister frantically trying to tie her dress shut. 

"Where is mother? You think she'd be all over you doing your makeup and whatever it is you do for a wedding." Raynn scoffs, grabbing her sister to hold her still and finish tying the dress for her. 

"Mother is gone, I couldn't find her at all this morning. I'm supposed to be the runaway, not her!" She laughs while crying, luckily she had no makeup on to ruin with her worried tears. 

"I'm sure she is just gathering preparations." Raynn weakly comforts, patting her sister gingerly as she examines the large closet. More dresses and articles of clothing than most would even know what to do with, or even be able to wear all of in their lifetime. It had clearly become more of a hobby for her than something she genuinely needed. 

"But she promised she would help me get ready, I have no clue how to handle myself." Morria whimpers, off putting to say the least since Raynn had only ever seen her sister in a happier tone. But again, Raynn was sure she'd be upset if her mother had walked out on her, so she tries to apply at least a bit more empathy. 

"I will go find my mother, alright?" Raynn suggests, standing from her perches position and smoothing out her dress. Morria nods, taking Raynn's had as she pulls her up off the floor. Morria finally takes a good look at Raynn and laughs. 

"Why did mother choose you to have that stupid dress? You never even wear it." Morria complains, as she opens the closet door leading them to the center of the room where she begins to fidget with a pair of high heels. Tresia stands unamused in the corner by the door, her eyes bouncing between the two. 

"Trust me, I have no clue." Raynn responds rather unhelpfully. She runs her fingers along the stitched pattern of the dress, no doubt well crafted, just something she didn't care all that much for. But she'd be lying if she said putting it on didn't make her feel pretty.

"Think you could just give it to me then?" Morria slithers, catching Raynn in a moment of deep thought. But even then she knew that she couldn't just give Morria the dress, there had been a reason their mother gave it to her, at least they hoped so and it wasn't blind ignorance. 

"I think we both know that won't happen. Mom had her reasons." Raynn doesn't like being the bearer of bad news, but she sure is good at it. 

"Worth a try I suppose." She smiles at her own ridiculousness, only part of her actually upset that Raynn was loyal enough to not throw the dress into another person's hands. Her younger sister's only real misconception of Raynn is that she is incompetent, which she really isn't. 

"Sure, if that helps you sleep at night." She giggles to herself.

 


Submitted: September 28, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Sam Elliott. All rights reserved.

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