Metagore, The Battle For

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: House of Ghosts

Marquess Solaris has to deal with the consequences of his loyalty to Lord Azreal, as Duchess Anina gets an unexpected guest in her chamber.

Chapter 37 (v.2) - A Debt Owed

Submitted: August 28, 2016

Reads: 168

Comments: 3

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Submitted: August 28, 2016

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In the center of Talean---inside Lord Azreal's manor---Duchess Anina laid coiled up inside the heated, canopy rock bed in her chamber. In her hands was a book written in a foreign tongue, as she educated herself on the history of the many lands across the Abyss. She loved learning about the distant lands and planned to one day visit them all. She hoped her future travels would better prepare herself for the day when she could take over Talean after Azreal was no longer around.

The duchess was just turning to a new page and reaching for a glass of red wine with her tail, when a loud commotion erupted outside the manor, causing her to jump and accidentally knock over her handcrafted, silver chalice.

The nearby droyaids, guarding the estate, were barking and growling and whimpering as if something frightened them. The sound of townsfolk running down the streets, in a panic, hurrying to get inside their homes and shops, was heard over the baying of the droyaids. But as soon as the sudden commotion had started, silence quickly blanketed the air, and only the gradual breeze drifting through the window could be heard.

Curious to the source of the sudden noise, Anina slithered out of her bed and towards her open window. Her vibrant yellow eyes peered into the desolate grounds of the manor. To her immense surprise, she saw nothing out of the ordinary on the streets or near the buildings.

Squeak.

Picking up the faint sound, Anina's serpentine head jolted around, and her heart began to beat rapidly in her chest upon seeing the once closed door to her room, now fully open. Her tongue flickered out, to try and taste any new scents in the air, but she picked up nothing, everything smelled as it should. She cautiously slithered across her chamber, periodically tasting the air, and trying to feel any sounds through the cold floor. Upon reaching the door, Anina slowly looked out of the doorway and into the corridor, neither seeing nor smelling anyone or anything out of the usual. She sighed, to slow her heart rate down, relieved to find nothing, and amused at herself for being afraid. She reached to close her door, which must have swung open by a breeze from her open window, only to freeze in fear.

From behind her, she heard an unusual panting sound, which carried a faint undertone of hissing. She clenched her jowls and slowly turned around---her scales tightening around her body as she faced a pale, emaciated figure with dark red eyes. Upon seeing the dreshdi inside her room, her eyes widened in shock and fear, it stood a head taller than her and seemed to pull all the light from the window and candles towards it.

The former lich stood there, watching her. The magic used to keep its body alive, after the lich's death, never fully healed the massive gash from its shoulder down to its hip. As the savage shadow walker breathed, the wound seemed to widen though nothing came from it. The dreshdi hissed at her---a garbled sound coming from its mouth---as it tilted its wrinkled head to the side. Its long, black forked-tongue flickered past its jagged fangs, and its clawed hands clenched and unclenched as it continued to stare unblinkingly at her.

Anina, frozen in a state of immense fear, barely managed to make a sound. Her hand came up to her chest, unknowingly grabbing where her erratically beating heart lay under her rib cage, as she struggled to gather the courage to speak. The lamia's breathing had picked up, and the tip of her tail started to quickly tap on the floor. "How did you get in here?" she managed to stutter out after what seemed like hours of them both watching each other.

The dreshdi's mouth opened wide---its fangs appearing to grow in its mouth---as it gave a deep, rumbling growl. Its brow sat low on its forehead, and its nose scrunched up as it hunkered close to the ground and sprung at the terrified duchess.

As it collided with Anina's terror-struck body, its claws began to rip under her scales, and its jaws met with her shoulder, forcing a gut-wrenching and agonized scream from her mouth.

***

Down the passageway---in Azreal's cabinet---Solaris sat behind the desk flipping through a couple of opened books and flicking his fingers at a random object resting on it. He was startled as a loud, feminine scream echoed through the corridors of the manor. He leaped from the chair---knocking a few books and objects to the ground in his haste---and rushed out the door and down the passageway towards the duchess's chamber.

As he neared her room, he slowed down, his skin paling from the sounds he could hear from within. Her screams had died down but were replaced with a sound similar to what the droyaids made when they were eating a freshly caught animal. Noises of crunching and chewing---as well as what sounded like water dripping from the top of a roof after it rained---came from the open doorway. The purple djinn was gripped by an unexplained fear as the sounds became more clear, the closer he came to the door.

He turned into her room and instantly stopped---fear gripping his chest as he gave a gasp of shock and disgust. On the floor of her room---surrounded by a puddle of her own blood and parts of flesh and scales---laid the former duchess. Her body had bite marks on the side of her neck, gouges of flesh ripped off her arms revealing the bones, and slashes as well as holes in her torso. The long claws of the dreshdi held her face down, digging into her eyes as it lowered its mouth down to her chest to eat from what remained of her rib cage.

Blood seemed to cover the front half of the creature, and splatters had hit the walls and other parts of the floor. Solaris could see scratches in the floor where Anina's body lay, and her fingertips were bloodied and mangled as if she had dug into the floor to try and escape the attack. His hand quickly covered his mouth as he gagged---the sight of her death too gruesome for him to handle.

As the djinn gagged, the dreshdi's head shot up facing the marquess. Blood dripped from its maw, while it still held part of Anina's flesh in its jaws. Its eyes lowered in anger as it growled at the djinn, ripping its hand away from Anina's face and splattering Solaris with her blood, as it quickly moved away from her and vanished into the shadows.

Solaris stood there, his heart beating rapidly in his chest for what felt like hours to his petrified mind. He feared for the reappearance of the dreshdi and believed it would return to feast on him if he moved. The djinn's eyes darted back and forth, looking at every shadow in the room then to the dead lamia's body.

Solaris felt jumpy and was startled out of his subconscious searching for the cannibal by the sound of frightened shrieks and screams outside the open window. His white eyes widened in fear as he rushed to the window. He gasped upon spotting the pale and bloodied figure rushing out of the shadows from the jewelry store down below. He watched as it ran from shadow to shadow---hissing at the villagers---leaving a trail of dust behind it.

After the dreshdi had disappeared from view, Solaris gave a cry and pulled himself away from the window to look upon Anina's mutilated corpse. He shuffled to her and dropped to his knees---guilt flooding through him as he shook from suppressed tears. With a shaky hand, he reached out to lift her head off the ground---her tiny skull resting in his trembling palm. Her bloodied face nearly unrecognizable from the holes and gashes left by the dreshdi, as Solaris tried to wipe the red wine pouring out of her openings from it. He pulled her close to his chest, wishing he could somehow have saved her from the tragic outcome that had taken place. "I am so sorry this happened to you," he mumbled in his sobs.

The smell of her death caught up to him as he laid her body back in the crimson puddle before quickly moving away from her to expel the contents of his stomach upon the floor. The metallic scent of her blood, mixed with the putrid foulness of death was too much for his senses. After gaining control of his stomach, he looked back at her body, then looked to where the dreshdi had disappeared. Anger suddenly course through his body as he gave a shout of rage and rose his hand, unleashing a bolt of lightning at the shadow. He then used his magic to grab objects around Anina's room, throwing them at the shadow as well, before a voice spoke out to him, "Kista zho'siy trase'adu iy din chidns dokt larr stis niddal iy."

He spun around and looked at the lavender form of Afria hovering in the doorway. "How could you do this to her? She did not deserve this!"

"Das glasa'kah?" Afria questioned, still speaking in the foreign language as she had done before.

"I never gave you my approval," Solaris yelled at the wisp as he quickly ran up to her and swung his fist at her face. Surprisingly, Solaris wasn't too shocked when his hand just passed through the smoky figure.

Afria just turned towards Solaris and began to talk once more, "Steagla'stel'diy dreal dekt'ler iy nes orlo seorlo ness ridd."

"What?" Solaris barked at her. "I have read up on you. You know I do not speak Gortese, so why do you not just speak Megorie like everybody else on this forsaken land?"

Afria let out a small chuckle as she replied, "The Alberians' native tongue is Oacari."

"Who gives a shit about them?" Solaris spouted off angrily. "The fact is that you can speak and understand Megorie---so quit speaking to me in the language of the gods."

"The language of the gods?" she questioned as she moved about the room. "Is that what you petty denizens think Gortese is?...It is the language of the dead, not the gods."

"But you are Afria, the goddess of peace."

"Goddess?" Her soft, chiming voice grew to a hiss as she continued. "You mindless beings think you have to give a label to everything---including the presence of something that you can not explain, nor wrap your tiny minds around."

"But you are Afria, are you not?" Solaris asked as his eyes darted around, analyzing the wisp's form.

"That I am, to you. To others, I go by many names."

"Then how can the goddess of peace take someone's life in such a cruel way."

"I am going to stop you right there," Afria spoke as anger grew on her smoky face.

Her eyes narrowed and stared at the djinn as he opened his mouth to speak, but no words came. A slight pressure built around his throat as he tried again to force words out of his mouth; however, fear built up inside him as he realized that he could produce no sound. Solaris' eyes bounced around---unable to focus on one thing for any amount of time---as his heart pounded inside his numbed body.

Afria's haunting expression gleamed at the djinn's nervous state. "You, Marquess Solaris of the kingdom of Talean, came to me acquiring help from my creatures of the night," she spoke with insolence. "You, Solaris, wanted Duchess Anina dead for the simple fact that you wanted to feel as if you served your lord justly. You, you petty and disgraceful being, labeled me as a goddess; but here you are questioning my motives when you are just as manipulating as I. I have been anointed the title 'goddess of peace' by all of you serfs and laborers; that title I did not give to myself. So you would be wise to watch your tongue around me, Solaris of Talean."

The djinn finally gasped out---able to make a sound once more---as he ran his fingers across his throat which was still irritated from discomfort.

Afria continued as she started to make her way over to Anina's corpse. "So now you ask me, how can I be the goddess of peace with an army of mercenaries? Well, one man's peace is another man's destruction. Which side are you on?"

"I still never gave you the order-" Solaris began as he stepped forward, but was again silenced by Afria's power as she stared intently at him.

Afria spoke as she reapplied some pressure on Solaris' throat, "You have fourteen nights to bring me my pay."

Once again, the djinn felt the pressure leave and could speak freely. "What kind of dark power is this?" he questioned her as he rubbed his throat.

"Dark power? No. I am a goddess after all, am I not?" she asked redundantly. "I have the right to break your mortal laws of magic, and I am able to use it on what I please."

Solaris stood frozen in fear of the power that the gods contained---still feeling uneasy with the scene before him, and the irritating pressure once on his throat.

"Dreishoeno rrossid," Afria spoke in the foreign tongue she had once spoken in, then vanished into a small puff of smoke.



© Copyright 2018 D. L. Stewart. All rights reserved.

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