Aranée 63: The Turncoat by NetWorthy ()
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She was stunned. "I am NOT 'queen' of anything! It is a mistake!" But Bellikor's evidence was irrefutable: A record of her birth with the given name "Aranée"; a full description of her unique royal body decorations; a notation that the king alone updated her Book of Judgment. She was indeed queen of Aeriteuin.
Everything changed. People waited on her hand and foot, and called her "Your Grace" and similar uncomfortable appellations. They converted a dining hall into a "throne room" replete with raised dais. She had painful flashbacks of the hunting lodge and everybody being so "helpful". With the recent death of Galen and now this - she was in total emotional shock. She sat on her "throne" in long spells of introspective silence.
Amikas alone treated her as before. He hounded her relentlessly to eat properly, to get out of her chair and interact with people, to keep up her therapeutic walks - and she loved him dearly for it.
One day she sat in a gloomy funk when the hall doors burst open. Soldiers dragged in a powerful but bedraggled man and deposited him in front of her. "What is this - who is this man?"
They pulled him to his feet. "Your Grace, we think he is a spy. We found him sneaking around the lower level near the main gate."
She rose and faced him. "Is this true? Are you a spy?"
He looked up, blanched, and looked down at the floor. "M'lady Aranée, no, I was simply scouting. I thought this place was empty."
A soldier prodded him with a sword. "You call her 'Your Grace' or 'Queen Aranée', she is the ruler of this land and this fortress." The man looked surprised but nodded.
Aranée looked hard at him. "You look familiar and you addressed me by name, how do you know me?"
He swallowed and looked her in the eye. "I was with the men who attacked you near your lodge."
The world spun around her as the soldiers mercilessly beat him. Aranée willed herself upright and her voice cut across the room. "HOLD! Put him on his feet, NOW." They complied and the man stood bleeding, bent but unbowed.
She stood for a few minutes then approached him, her Elf guard putting a hand on her shoulder before she got too close. "You are either extraordinarily foolhardy or very brave." She walked completely around him and back. "So where are the others?"
He said, "I don't know," and grunted as a burly Jobil sergeant buried a fist in his stomach. He doubled over and rasped through clenched teeth, "I no longer ride with them."
The sergeant took a step, "He's lying", but she held up a hand.
"I have never heard of a Greener quitting his 'profession'. Still... I see no green on you now. Do you have a name?"
He straightened and faced her squarely. "Grigham... Your Grace."
View episodes in sequence for the entire story, links below.
Not exactly what I had hoped for to get our heroine back on the air, but I finally just had to call it quits. For some reason this one took WAAAAY too long to stage and prepare. Also, its a very simple scene compared to many others I've done, yet Carrara chose this scene for positively *glacial* render times - 6 hours for this one!!! Had to just accept, "It is what it is..."
Please leave a comment or suggestions, your words encourage me to carry on...
FIRST CHAPTER -:- NEXT: Intervention -:- PREVIOUSLY: Legacy
Image and story © 2011 by Larry Hodge
Image Comments (24)
Yay! Glad to see you picking up the story again, Larry. As usual, you give us just enough information to leave us drooling for the next installment, lol. Very nicely illustrated and written. Keep 'em coming, please! P.S. If you put glass in those windows and a real scene outside, it would explain the render times. Glass is a render hog!
Very interesting scene and image. I like your portrait of Grigham BTW, in case I don't get back to commenting on it properly, and the one of Aranée too. I like the pace here, beginning with Aranée's grief and lethargy and then the explosive entrance of an exciting new character and his revelation of his identity. Very intense scene. Excellent expressions and poses, especially Gringham and the guard to his left and Aranée and the Elf guard. You can't see Aranée's face, but her pose is very rigid in keeping with the shock she has felt and rigid control she is forcing on herself. The Elf guard also looks very tense and his expression has a questioning look to it. Grigham has a nice mixture of hopelessness and bravery and the soldier to his left a strong determination to keep him from harming Aranée or speaking out of turn. Lovely tableau of characters and great scene!