Aranée 69: Keepers of the Night by NetWorthy ()
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The soldiers treated the wounded as the dark woman continued, her voice curiously sweet yet strong. "We are Drow, descended from the Grays, as are you. We dwell in the mountain caves." She watched Aranée's expression carefully. "But among the Drow the M'blung Surion, our clan, are considered heretics for once befriending humans and Elves."
Aranée arched an eyebrow.
Maeral'a nodded. "A huge conflict years ago returned us to isolation. But humans and Elves alike disappeared from the mountain and it became moot."
A wry smile played on Aranée's face. "Well, we are back. And we are happy to help you back to your caves if it doesn't offend you too greatly."
The woman smiled sadly. "I fear I have misled you. I am the exiled queen of the M'blung Surion. I was rightful heir but too young, so my uncle ruled during the conciliation. But when I reached the age of rule, he exiled my followers and I from the clan. I suppose he could have killed us outright - but I think that would have caused him too much trouble. Now we are nomads, hiding in the rocks during the day and traveling at night when the light better suits our eyes."
Aranée nodded as Grigham and a Guard rode up. Something in their manner made her wary.
"Your Grace, we... we found these among the dead Greeners." In the soldier's hands were Galen's sword and dagger. An icy hand gripped her heart and tears spilled without warning as she accepted them with trembling hands. Grigham dismissed the man and quietly continued. "Obviously some of these were the ones who... attacked him. I believe they are searching for proof... proof you are dead too." He touched a hand to helmet and returned to his men. Scabbards clutched to her breast, she silently shook with bowed head and closed eyes.
With a start, Aranée remembered the Drow woman. Mustering her dignity, she hastily dabbed her face on a sleeve and faced her, grief etched deep on her face. "Where are my manners. In what way can we assist you Queen Maeral'a?"
The woman stepped closer and gently touched Aranée's arm. "Maeral'a. Please, just Maeral'a. You have lost someone dear, yes? I also have lost loved ones to men such as these." She cocked her head and studied her intently. "I think the enemy of my enemy may also be my friend. May I suggest an alliance? My followers await in the rocks above. Perhaps we can join your nightly patrols. Nobody sees in the dark as well as Drow, together we can keep men such as these off our mountain. What do you say, Queen Aranée?"
Aranée pondered a moment and had sudden inspiration. She smiled and placed her hand over the woman's. "Call me Aranée. Yes... I say 'yes' to an alliance between our clans. But 'cousin', I think it is time for you and your followers to have a safer, more comfortable place to rest during the daylight hours."
View episodes in sequence for the entire story, links below.
Yes, this one came out noticably quicker than usual. It is because it is a follow on to the previous episode, uses the same set, lighting etc. so it was quicker to set up. Guess I'm saying, don't get spoiled LOL...
Please leave a note or suggestion, I value your comments more than you can know...
FIRST CHAPTER -:- NEXT: Interregnum -:- PREVIOUSLY: Maeral'a
Image and story © 2012 by Larry Hodge
Image Comments (26)
Like Mike the hair on my neck stood up and I had a cold feeling as I read this story. You did a really fine job of writing on this one. I was thinking as I started reading this how few of us writers have the jamn to do what you did and have a central hero die. It took a lot of courage to do that as a writer and I have always admired you for it. You have also not lost any skills in rendering while away and in fact I think your characters are even better now. I might have had her looking up with a deeper cry but here she retains her dignity a bit more and still does not lack for expression. I am glad to see this story returning.
still incredibly imaginative. just the few pieces thatI've read had spurred my own imagination to complete the stories that have been in my mind since highschool... thank u so much for the inspiration ... keep it coming. and mayhaps you should put it to paper as well ....
Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments, Larry. I do appreciate them :) Yes, I think you should take this up again. This is so beautifully written and the image goes with it so well - very heartfelt and full of grief. Yet, there is a light of hope in the new alliance. It can become wearing, doing a story, but just break in with something else now and then to lighten the load. Beautiful work!
a very interesting story and nicely rendered character to compliment it, I like the way you have picked up the light on the shoulders and her hair, and the darkness and heartbroken expression make for a great image. Both would be good in a children's book