(ZOOM OR YOU'LL MISS DETAILS!)
One evening after her evening meal, as Aranée sat in her private reading room studying her Book of Judgment, Mubela and Grigham paid an uncharacteristic nighttime visit.
Mubela faced her squarely. "We are sorry to intrude on your private time, but it is serous."
Aranée saw the grave faces and gestured for them to sit. "Alright. What is it?"
Mubela took a breath. "Your weapons work has grown sloppy - we worry for your safety."
Aranée blinked, cheeks coloring. "I'm a little out of practice, but really Mubela..." She stopped when her Elf guard moved from her side to face her directly.
"Please do not be angry with them. I requested they talk to you. I intend no disrespect, but I AM responsible for your safety. You continually put yourself in dangerous situations..." His voice trailed but he held her eyes, his face a mixture of concern, stubbornness and resignation.
She leaned back. "So YOU are responsible for this mutiny." He winced but held his ground, and she laughed. "All right, everyone relax. I owe my life to each of you. And I respect your judgment - so what do we do?"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mubela and Grigham took turns sparring with her, gently at first but with increasing vigor. Aranée soon admitted her own sloppy technique and the gaping holes in her defenses. It was difficult at first: Memories of spirited matches with Galen filled her head. But she blinked back the sting behind her eyes and pressed on. Soon she began feeling the long dormant exhilaration of weapons mastery.
To avoid the full heat of summer they worked out each evening in the coolness of twilight. Maeral'a and her warriors soon joined them and shared their Drow techniques with them. Indeed, Aranée's own soldiers followed their queen's lead and sparred and fine-honed their skills too. On occasion they would spar with Aranée, but soon it became difficult to find anyone willing to try her.
Eventually Maeral'a requested a match. The Drow queen was murderous with her short sword but she favored a curious and deadly long-bladed spear, a weapon Aranée had never faced. Maeral'a expertly entangled Aranée's limbs with alarming regularity, followed by a quick thrust or slash that certainly would have been fatal had they actually been in combat.
Aranée requested a rematch and soon both were damp with exertion. Aranée learned fast and the Drow was unable to get through. Finally Maeral'a resorted to a new Drow tactic to break through Aranée's defenses, executed with blinding speed. But Aranée simply wasn't there - she had vanished. Maeral'a felt a blade tap her shoulder inches from her neck and turned to see a grinning AranÃ©e to her side and slightly behind her. She gasped, "H... how did you do that?"
Aranée smiled. "An old ability I thought I had lost decided to make a surprise return."
TO BE CONTINUED!
View episodes in sequence for the entire story, links below.
NOTE: Aranée's special quick-move Elvish ability was explored previously in chapters 15, 21 and 26. She lost the ability for a bit as she recovered from serious injury.
Circumstances may have given me a chance to do more writing and artwork: It appears I broke my ankle today. It looks like I will have a LOT of time around the house for a bit. Right now I can't sit in this chair too long though, but I expect it to get better.
Please leave a comment - I value your words as they well and truly fuel my creativity...
FIRST CHAPTER -:- NEXT: A Bold Experiment -:- PREVIOUSLY: The Trackless Tireless See
Image and story © 2012 by Larry Hodge
Oct 12, 2012 6:52:10 amby PhilW Homepage »
Oh, no! I hope your ankle heels up quickly - at least there is compensation that we may get more of your story! Wonderfully done, great character development in this chapter. Why do I have the feeling that she is going to need her revitalised skills soon...
Oct 12, 2012 7:10:45 pmby brewgirlca Homepage »
I like this. I like the sly smile on Aranee's face and the look of surprise on the drow.
Crap, awfully damn sorry to read of your injury. Wishing you a speedy recovery. And casting has come such a long way in the last few years. I am sure you will be up and about much faster than you may think.