(ZOOM FOR DETAILS!)
A strange calm settled in her as she folded her hands in her lap. After a long silence, "You are a warrior without a flag." She looked intently into his eyes. "Can you loyally serve me - as your queen?"
Brows raised, he considered this, then met her eyes. Falling to a knee, he clutched fist over heart. "Gladly, Your Grace."
"Then summon your family and take your place alongside these soldiers... as the first member of the Aeriteuin Guard." Startled conversations peppered the room.
"Thank you. Your Grace, you should know..."
"Others hide in the Aeritan Forest, fugitives like me with their families and relatives. Your Grace, there are warriors and skilled workmen among them. They weary of constant hiding and moving..." He hesitated. "They long for roots, a place to call home."
"And you think they should come here. Why?"
A smile traced his lips. "You are a queen without subjects... and they are people without a leader. If I may be so bold, a kingdom is not built of stone and mortar. It is built on people."
The first genuine smile in months bloomed on her face. "An impressive bit of wisdom. Were you an officer?"
"Captain, Your Grace."
"You will have a promotion then: You are now general and trusted adviser."
The burly sergeant pushed forward, "Your Grace, I must protest..."
She tipped the chair as she sprang to her feet, eyes flashing, nostrils flaring. "I ALONE will decide who I can and cannot trust!" Her blistering gaze swept the room. "And for that matter, who is allowed to simply call me 'Aranée.' Or what will... or... will not... happen in MY kingdom." She stood fully upright, hands clenched, unyielding as stone.
"If I am truly queen of Aeriteuin... then I damned... well... will BE one."
TO BE CONTINUED!
View episodes in sequence for the entire story, links below.
EDIT: If you read the comments below and in the previous chapter you see a mix of desire for a slightly different image. I satisfied that with this image, but then people were distraught about messed up story continuity. So accordingly, I broke last chapter into two new chapters that match the images. Voilà - everybody got the image they wanted and now the story has proper continuity again.
I thank all of the Aranée fans who have left comments, made suggestions, encouraged and helped me as we shared her journey. I am truly humbled - and have redoubled my determination to carry her story to the last scene.
FIRST CHAPTER -:- NEXT: Hardscrabble Hope -:- PREVIOUSLY: Intervention
Image and story © 2011 by Larry Hodge
Oct 24, 2011 9:42:51 pmby brewgirlca Online Now! Homepage »
Well, I don't know. I disagree on the one over the other. I think the previous image had a huge impact as it showed the world from the view of a fallen warrior, a view very, very rarely seen, and never done so well. This one does show her in an angry commanding mode and that is something that is against the grain of the character as we have known her and yet it is not an unusual scene in these galleries. Angry chics show up frequently - badly wounded and perhaps dying chics, not so much.
I think it would have been better to have broken the narrative of the last two panels differently into 3 parts. And left the first one with his being dragged into the room, the second with his statement about the battle (and the previous image, and then this panel as such.
Oct 26, 2011 7:35:16 amby RJS Homepage »
Thanks for the dedication, Larry. I am touched by your generosity.
At last the old Aranée returns! This sounds more like the girl who fought a lioness to the death. She seems to have shaken off the depression that she fell into after the death of her husband and unborn child. Can't wait to see where you take this next.