Friday, March 31, 2017

not posting intimacy interlude. sorry

HI, I know you guys are waiting to read how Ionia seduces Mitash but, I find writing such important scenes difficult and  thus far I have not written this scene.

sorry.

You may swear and curse now.

I haven't forgotten you.

Later, dudes.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

consequences 43

“That is an old order,” said Morae, “but I shall repeat the warning.”
Mitash nodded and returned his attention to Kelor. “NOw, my friend, tell me of this beautiful city. Pinnacle? Does Chandri do his magic there?”
“Yesss. Yess.”
“And all his Master’s of Elements? They live there?”
“In amazing luxury. Nothing is denied them.” Kelor frowned. “If my father had paid more I would have been declared Master. I would be there instead of this wasteland. I have as much right, more since I am born here but no, I am journeyman only because my father loves my sister more. When her attendant died he replaced it just like that.” Kelor attempted to snap his fingers. Failed and stared at his fingers as if he were shocked to find them so disobedient. He focused on Morae and frowned. “You do not belong here. Impure blood! Kill on sight. Improve the empire.”
MOrae pressed his lips together but said nothing. Mitash frowned but continued questioning, his voice low and pleasant. Kelor continued to ramble on, describing the refugees driven off, his ambition to visit Pinnacle. It was eventually clear he knew, in fact, very little of the doings of the South East. When Mitash sat back in his seat Morae gave a wave of his hand.
“If you permit?”
Mitash nodded.
“HOw large is the army stationed at Pinnacle?”
“Gone,” mumbled Kelor, his head hanging down toward his chest. “Gone to hold the True South. Drive out that hag Senoia.”
Morae shook his head and whispered, “They were turned back at the boarder. Remember, Federan and Master Silva turned them back. Took Chandri prisoner.”
Mitash rubbed at his chin. He had forgotten them. Elements forfend he forget anything more important!
“Kelor. Kelor, attend me,” said Mitash, giving the other elf a shake. “How many in the army? Chandri’s army?”
“Thousands,” slurred Kelor. “Thousands and thousands and more to come. All will rise to his banner! Mighty Chandri.”
And the elf slumped mumbling to himself, before falling slowly to the ground.
“He is done for now,” said Ionia and gestured to a nearby guard to lift him. “He will sleep until tomorrow and like as not, remember nothing of this conversation.”
“It makes not difference,” said Mitash, rising. “Tend to him, if you will. Thank you for your assistance.”
He departed in the direction of his tent, only starting to hurry when he rounded a row of tents and was confident he was out of her sight. He had much to think on and hopefully something to discuss with the High King that would distract him from sex magic.
***
Ionia directed the arrangement of Kelor on a camp bed and watched as the guards secured his ankles and wrists to ropes bound to metal spikes driven into the winter hard ground. THey made no comment to her when the departed and Ionia waited until she heard the inevitable gossiping begin outside. Then she knelt beside the sleeping elf and slapped him hard across the face until he roused and stared at her through blearyg, confused eyes.
“The enclaves,” whispered Ionia. “Tell me all about the enclaves.”
***

It was not yet midnight when Ionia next stalked through the camp. MItash’s tent was guarded, as was expected but neither of the guards attempted to halt her progress. Indeed, when Ionia met the eye of one and winked, the half mortal grinned at her. When she tilted her head and gestured away from the tent both guards retreated a polite distance, smirking.
She didn’t pay the slightest attention to the smirk. If the guards thought she was seeking the elf out for perfectly ordinary sex that was all to the good. They wouldn’t speculate about magic, and that was the important fact.
Mitash was dozing over a steaming drink, his chin resting on his fist as he, most carefully, was not reading the sex magic book. He startled when Ionia entered and came to his feet protesting when she turned and laced the tent flap closed.
“Tor, you must depart.”
“Nonscense. Sit yourself down, Mitash, it is time for frank speech.” She glared at him until he sank onto his chair, his face set in what he intended to be an intimdating scowl. He had no way of knwing that a berb-woman who had faced death, bleeding, laboring women and frantic husbands, was afraid of very little. “Be honest with me. If your parents arranged a marriage for you, with some elvish woman of suitable Elemental bond, would that marriage be dependant upon you, and she, falling in love?”
Startled by the question Mitash shook his head.
“And the HIgh King, if memory serves, he contracted two political marriages…”
“Three,” corrected Mitash.
“And I am certain he was distraught when they ended and his beloved wives were taken from him.”
Mitash made a rude noise, then sighed.
“You take my point, I assume,” said Ionia then continued. “I am a woman of sense, good health and entirely lacking in domestic ambition.”
“Domestic…?” repeated Mitash.
“Marriage,” said Ionia, with a sneer. “You, and your parents, are safe from me but, let me be clear, if the High King holds that this sex magic is essential to our mission, to the empire, then, sir, it is time for you consider this as an arranged alliance.”
She raised her chin and regarded him without sympathy. Mitash only sighed.
“YOu have no idea what you are volunteering to do.”
“A better idea than you, I wager.”

"Mitash frowned at Iona but could not deny the truth of her statement.
"You are correct in one degree," said Mitash. "It is necessary for me to be bound ritually to the South East.  Were the Elements responsive to our call we would invoke them for that ritual. But they do not answer us. Therefore has the high King demanded that I use this other form of magic. I must apologize to you for the necessity. It is, rather intimate a favor you do for me, and for the Empire."
"And how long have you been practicing that statement?"
"Since we left swift breezes."
"And yet you resist the very idea. To whom did you expect to deliver this statement?"
Mitash shook his head. "A lady of the south east, if I were fortunate enough to find one still loyal to our true high King."
Iona shook her head. "I do not wish to consider what test you would apply as one of loyalty. Enough delay. I am here and well able to assist you. Tell me how this ritual is done!"

Mitash held the book out toward her. "I have marked the page. I assume you can read High Court Elvish."
"Of course."
She took the book and settled on a chair while Mitash went to a chest at the end of his camp bed and drew forth candles and other ritual items. He cleared a nearby table and began arranging them in a pattern that made sense to him but did not resemble any ritual arrangement Ionia remembered. From beneath his tunic he drew forth a large gold ring on a string that he untied and reluctantly placed on a finger. A small sharp knife was produced from his sash belt and he crossed the room to hold it out, hilt first, to Iona.
"And the purpose of this?" Inquired Iona raising an eyebrow.
"You will read I must give blood to the soil of the South east." Mitash's lips twisted in distaste. "The ritual is very… undignified."
Iona nodded but privately thought the word he considered using was primitive. Either way she was amused.
"And the sexual act itself?"
"There is a description, as well as an illustration in the appendix, which I do not understand. Somehow we are to sit in each other's lap."
Iona laughed, and turned to the end of the book to find the illustration.
"Oh, I understand completely. This one can be quite fun."
Mitash slammed his hand down on the table, over setting the candles and a cup and went to the tent flap.
"If you cannot conduct yourself with dignity…"
"There is no dignity in sex," said Iona. "And, I imagine, to raise energy in sex magic one should be as undignified as one can possibly manage."
When Mitash reluctantly turned towards her she added, "hard though it may be for you to understand, sex can be beautiful, and fun, and silly, and undignified and still be exactly what it is supposed to be - the best way to stay warm on a winter's night. And if it also can bring rain and dedicate you to the service of the South East and the Empire why are you complaining?"
"Would you understand if I said I am afraid of failing? I have read the adventures of Norfarland the Bastard since I was quite a young man. He…"
"If you are about to tell me that you fear not being able to rise to the level of seduction demonstrated by a fictional lecher, you may not forbid me from laughter." Rising, she put the book aside and came to put her arms around him. "Dear Mitash, trust me no one is as much a bastard as he and, if lechery is what you seek, I believe I can provide the necessary instruction!"
***

Monday, March 27, 2017

consequences 42

Meanwhile in the South East


Ionia studied Mitash for a moment then she stepped back and frankly examined the elf, her gaze roving over his form from his noble features, fine flowing ash blonde hair, slender shoulders, solid torso, narrow hips and legs strengthened by years of traveling by horse. She rubbed at her chin and shook her head.
“I understand this not at all. Why has not some elvan woman thrown you to the floor and had her way with you long ago? Are they blind or merely foolish?”
Mitash stiffened. “This is none of your concern. Why will you not depart?”
“Because, if I understand the High King’s words, whatever magic this represents,” she waved the book at Mitash, “is essential to the recovery of the empire. Am I mistaken?”
“Not at all,” muttered Mitash, after a pause.
“Then it is necessary for you to commit yourself to this magic.” She frowned again, opening the book and flipping thought the pages. She found a section of illustrations that gave her pause and she smiled as she tilted the book to one side, her head tilting to the other. “Hmmmmm,” was her only comment, which worried Mitash more than shock or revulsion. “In my experience males are rarely reluctant to engage is sexual activity. Explain yourself, and do so in haste for if we do not go question the South Easterner soon it will be several days before it is safe to dose him again.”
“Let us go now,” said Mitash, seizing this possible escape. “Obviously this interview cannot be delayed.”
“Not at all,” said Ionia. “I shall not permit you to avoid this explanation. As I understand it, you do not protest the compulsion to have sex in the service of the empire. Your objection is not that it constitutes rape. Explain. Why have you avoided sex all the years of your adult life?”
“It is no business of yours.”
“Then call the High King. Explain to him. No doubt he will understand immediately and you will have this burden removed from your…,” she looked down at his trews then up again. “Shoulders,” she finished.
“Enough,” cried Mitash. “I am appointed administrator to the South EAst. If you cannot render me the proper respect perhaps you should return…”
“No. No, that shall not do,” interrupted Ionia. “Declaration of Authority? Tut Tut. I am not easily intimidated, my dear administrator and you should know that of me. That is one of the reasons I am sent to this demesne.”
Mitash winced.
“You have no understanding of my pain.”
“I have stood at the bedside of women giving birth. You are the one with no understanding of pain!”
Mitash looked around the room as if the furnishings would give him guidance in escaping this interview. Eventually he sighed and sank back onto his camp chair, waying Ionia to another.
“YOu have heard, I expect, that the High King resolved the issue of Elvan infertility prior to ascending the throne.”
“One would have to be deaf and living in the high mouthains to avoid that news.”
Mitash nodded.
“Prior to that there were many theories as to the cause and many different solutions to the problem offered. My parents, both Earth Masters, held to the idea that random … intimacy interludes … weakened a man’s vitality.”
IOnia snorted, then covered her face - and her smile - with her hand.
“Forgive me,” she said. “Dust.”
“Huh!” Mitash scowled at the unrepentant, irrepressible mortal and continued. “My parents have cast about for young women, also with a bond to Earth, to be my bride. The fact of my service to the High Lord EIoth raised my status in negotations for a marriage for me but of greater importance to other families is the fact that I am my parents only child and they were also the only children of their parents. As you can tell, in all these years there is yet to be a successful negotiation of a marriage.”
“That does not explain,” Ionia made a vague guesture toward Mitash’s trews again.
“My parents demand I not… not… until I am wed.”
“And the news that the…uh… it is not necessary for you to remain virgin has not changed your parents views?”
“To be honest, matters have been so busy, now that EIoth is High King, I have not the leisure to consult with my parents as to the progress of negotiations.”
“And the many women at court, throwing themselves before you have not enticed you to break your parent’s rules?”
“What women?”
“Blind as well as deaf,” said Ionia, rising and dusting her hands on her trews. “Well enough. I have the truth from you, and that will have to serve for this moment. We shall address the matter of the magic later. For now, the guard awaits you and should be amenable to your questioning.”
Mitash rose, surprised to be released from this interrogation until he realized it was simply postponed, and at this mortal woman’s whim, not his command. That thought did not reassure him.
***
Mitash lead the way across the encampment to a tent set a little way appart. Two guards were standing watching the tent but not in the usual posture of guards. Mitash raised an eyebrow at them and one guard pointed to where the tent wall did not quite reach the ground.
“When we saw there was mist escaping we decided it was safer to stand aside.”
“Wise of you,” said Ionia, before Mitash could comment. “In this small a dose it will merely grant you a heavier sleep.”
The guards accepted this instruction with relief.
Ionia took the wax covered mask from her sash and waved them all away.
“Stand clear of the doorway when I open it. I shall give him something to drink then bring him outside. This tent should, well, be marked in some way. I would prefer it be set aside for use at a healer’s instruction only.”
Mitash nodded.
Ionia disappeared and moments later returned with the South Easterner, who walked with hands lose and head lolling from side to side.
“Give him a moment in the fresh air,” said IOnia, setting a camp chair behind the guard assisting him to sit. “He is already feeling chatty. He was talking to himself of all the things he would not say to you when I entered. It will be easier, to start, if you simply ask him what it is he wants to keep secret.”
“Thank you for your excellent advice,” said Mitash, his voice heavy with sarcasm. “Pray, do not let me keep you from your supper.”
She only laughed, and thankfully for his peace of mind, took up station where he could not see her.
“Well now, friend Kelor, I understand you don’t want to speak to me. That is fair. What does your honor require you keep secret?”
Kelor’s shoulders relaxed and he gave a drunken smile. “Oh, you do understant. Thank you. Thank you.”
He wavered from side to side, his eyes closing. Mitash leaned forward and gave him a sharp poke in the arm.
“And what shall you keep from my hearing?”
“Everything. YOu are unworthy. Serve the unworthy. The false High King.”
“Yes, indeed. What do you guard for Chandri? What did he order you to protect?”
“Ah… ah… Yes. We are to protect the purity of the South East. Those mortals…” Kelor blinked toward the half elvan guards. “The ones with contaminated blood. Yes. Keep them out. Yes. They tried to come in, don’t you know. Even knowing they are unwelcome they come. They come. Since the rains, they come with their brats and dirt. Burning purifies.”
“You burned…” Mitash swallowed. “You killed refugees?”
Kelor nodded. “And burned the bodies. You understand. Chandri commands. No more mortals. Too crowded.”
“No more,” repeated Ionia softly.
Mitash cast a glance in her direction but her face was impassive.
“Morae,” said Mitash. “Warn the outriders that the guards hereabouts have orders to kill mortals and half bloods.”

Friday, March 24, 2017

consequences 41

"Oh my dear Elanis," said the old woman, hugging Elanis again. "Bright the day. Is this not the best of all news?"
"I would share your joy, and welcome good news, High Lady Senoia,” said Elanis, drawing back. “If only you would tell me what it is."
"Oh, you have not heard,” cried Senoia. “My Fedoran has married your daughter, Silva."
Elanis’s lips went numb, and the buzzing in her ears and heaviness of her limbs warned she was in danger of fainting for the first time in her life. Senoia , demonstrating surprising strength for her age, half carried, half dragged Elanis into the chamber and deposited her in a soft chair.
Senoia fetched a glass of some dark liquid and pressed it upon Elanis one sip was enough to have her coughing and spluttering and that discomfort was enough to bring Elanis back to herself.
"I cannot have heard you properly. Did you say married?"
"Hearing this story as I have," said Senoia. "I did not expect it would be such a shock to you. Could it be, did they keep their romance a secret from you as you traveled?"
"In truth, High Lady Senoia, I did not expect him to marry her."
Senoia frowned and shook her head.
"Now, that is unkind and does not reflect well upon my grandson' s honor."
"I meant no disrespect, High Lady, it is only one does not hear of such events."
"This is the True South. I am very proud of both of them and delight in this news. Who else is worthy of my Fedoran, than adept magician of Light, Master Silva?"
Elanis lowered her head to her hands. "Then it is known, is it? This, this magic she does, it is no secret?"
"It is a matter of great joy to me, to High King Eoith, who has declared her a friend and presented her to the Synod."
Elanis's only response was a moan.
 "There is no keeping it a secret now. What am I to do?"
"Celebrate!" Senoia patted Elanis on the hand. "Can you not see? This is good news. Of all the Empire, of all the Masters Of Elements, in this time of trouble she is the only Master of her Element who can call her power to her hand, reliably. And, which is more important, usefully! I shall tell you, for I am certain you cannot know, not only did she build a bridge so refugees could escape the flooding here in the True South, she has built a bridge uniting us with the South East over which supplies are now being brought but yet another bridge at Hub of Harmony which unites West to East. My grandson informs me that all these bridges may be regarded as a work of art, the weavers art I imagine, because they resemble little more than lace but have the strength to bear a solid weight. Were I you, I would be proud!"
"But she is mortal! I swear to you, she is fully mortal. What shall they do to her when this is revealed?"
"She has the protection of my goodwill, which must count for something. I have acknowledged her as a master of True South and rend to her the stipend to which that rank is entitled." Senoia paused and went on. "She has requested I give this stipend to you, acknowledging that at the moment you have the greatest need. Have you not been recieving it? I ordered it sent to you."
"She has?"
"Indeed. Have you not noticed, you received useful luxuries as well as the essentials of life?"
“I… I credited all we have received and considered it a demonstration of your great charity and compassion."
Some part of it is," Senoia acknowledged. "And some part is in acknowledgment of the service your daughter, Master Silva, is doing for the Empire at large."
Elanis only shook her head.
"This cannot end well. Mortals do no magic. Tell me, I beg you, the Synod, what did they say? Was Silva harmed in any way?"
"Apparently that old truism is incorrect. Silva does magic. Were you unaware of her abilities?"
"She kept it from me all her youth. I saw nothing out of the ordinary. She knew, I expect, I would've stopped her had I known. Somehow I would've stopped her. Out of fear." Elanis raised her eyes to the High Lady's. "Was I wrong to fear? Do mortals do magic?"
"Your daughter is proof they do. A very useful magic it is." Senoia's expression became pensive. "And a very old magic, I am informed."
"Old?"
"There is, or were, some decorations of High King Eioth's House that were made of Light. A most astonishing thing."
Elanis shook her head, sipping at her wine. "I do not understand this magic," she admitted.
"You are not alone. Eioth, who is a great scholar, has seen nothing of this in his readings. Which is unfortunate. We could use ten more, one hundred more with her ability."
Elanis let out a long slow breath and put the delicate glass to one side. "I am grateful for you saying that, High Lady…"
"That is have no rank between us, Elanis. We are family now. You may name me as Senoia."
"No." Elanis shook her head as she gave a weak laugh. "Permit me a moment, and hour, a year to reconcile myself to this fact."
Senoia laughed with her.
"And permit me also," continued Elanis. "To beg you reassure me, that  there is no punishment rendered upon a mortal who has magic. I ask not only for Silva but…"
Elanis’s voice faded away. ONly her eyes spoke her hope and fear.
Senoia’s years granted her perception and wisdom. Staring at Elanis she gripped the arms of her chair and leaned forward.
"There is another? Please tell me, there is another?"
Elanis nodded.  "Yes. A girl. A child. An orphan. Much damaged by the disaster, she barely speaks. I worry for her. She could not endure any punishment. It would kill her."
"What can you think of me that I would harm a child? Mortal or Elvish, children are valuable. Precious. And this child, in this time, she more than any. She is the hope that this magic that Silva bears is carried by more than she. Silva is engaged in dangerous, hard work and I worried we may exhaust her or some accident will take her away from us but if this gift is carried by another there is hope for the future."
Elanis paled at the suggestion her daughter was in danger but Gemmia was her current concern.
"This child is not ready, by any measure, to build a bridge."
"I do not expect her to,” said Senoia, waving the possibility away. “It shall be your duty, Elanis, to train her just as you did Master Silva so that when she is of proper age and good strength she also may serve as Master of her Element."
"How shall I do that? I know nothing of magic."
"Yet Silva has her magic and was raised and trained in your House." After moment Senoia added, "perhaps you should discuss this with Silva."
"I would if I could. I do not know where this magic came from."
Senoia removed a sliver of gray… something… from the bandoleer across her chest and held it out towards Elanis.
"Do you not have a whisper-ribbon whereby to speak to your daughter?"
"If that is an example of her magic, I swear to you, I have no such thing."
“Then you have not spoken to her since, oh, since Federan took her to the East. That will not do.” Senoia held the sliver to her mouth. “Federan. Federan.”
“There is no need,”protested Elanis just as a faint voice emerged from the sliver.
“Oh Light of the South, your servant hears your cry.”
“Nonsense and foolishness,” said Senoia. “Did you mother teach you no respect?”
“And my grandmother, also,” came a laugh. “And how may your unworthy grandson serve today?”
“I need you not at all, but if your beloved wife is presently nearby may I have words with her?”
“I am here,” came a voice achingly familiar to Elanis and she began to weep.
“Speak,” said Senoia, holding the slice of magic out to Elanis. “Speak here, she will hear you.”
“Who?” asked the distant Silva.
Elanis choked and shook her head.
“Silva, my dear,” said Senoia. “Your mother is here with me.”
Silence then, “Mother? Elanis, mother, oh thank Unity, you survived. I was so worried. Mother, is all well with you?”
“Yes,” Elanis coughed and rubbed at the tears covering her face. “Oh, yes, I am well. And you?”
“Very well, mother. I am, oh, you will not believe this but I am living in the family private wing of the High King’s House. His Lady, Halidan, is a mortal woman, just as rumor reported and we … oh, so much has happened.”
“And you are safe? Well? Have you been hurt at all?”
“I…”
“Oh, Elanis,” interrupted Federan’s voice. “The High King himself presented her to the Synod this morning. Silva is much admired for her magic.”
“The High King,” moaned Elanis, her eyes closed. “I never taught you the proper bows.”
“I learned at school, mother,” whispered her daughter. “It … it was an impressive ceremony.”
“Yes,” added Federan. “The High Lords are all in awe of Master Silva’s abilities. The High King spoke at length about her value to the empire.”
“I… I don’t know what to say. Silva. Silva, I hope you can forgive me.”
“Forgiven with joy, Mother. Please promise me you shall look after yourself until I return south.”
“Yes. Yes.” Elanis continued to sob.
When it became clear that composure was not within Elanis’s power it fell to Senoia to seek guidance from Silva.
“Your mother informed me  this morning that one of the mortal children, a girl, who came with her from the Lowlands has the same gift as yourself.”
“Light Magic?” demanded Silva. “Truly?”
Elanis nodded then forced the words out, tears making her voice rough and unreliable. “Gemmia, if you remember her, picked up the firelight in her hand.”
“Oh, yes,” said SIlva. “That is how it starts.”
“It is?” inquired Senoia. “And what comes next? What should your mother do to encourage the skill?”
“Little enough,” said Silva. “I played with the light when I was tired and bored and, when I was older and mother taught me to use a small spindle, I would mix the light with the thread.”
“Then all I need so is teach her what she should learn in any event,” said Elanis. “Hand spinning.”
“Yes.”
“Forgive us,” interrupted Federan. “A servant is here summoning us to meet with EIoth. We are leaving to go to True North in the morning and he has information on our path.”
“North,” repeated Elanis. “Oh, what is to the north?”
“Great need for Silva’s magic,” said Senoia. “Go with my love and the Elements guide you home again, Federan. Silva. And Silva, know that I shall watch over and care for your sister in magic and your mother.”
“My thanks,” said Silva and the light faded a little from the ribbon.
“In truth I should give you this ribbon,” said Senoia, “Except it is the only means I have for communicating with my grandson and Heir.”
“Of course you need it,” said Elanis.
“But if you have need to speak to Silva, to seek advice in caring for this girl…”
“Gemmia.”
“Yes, Gemmia. You need only ask. Call any time. We are family, after all.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

consequences 40

Naomi slipped into the room, careful to open the door only a little to keep the warmth within. She walked around the outer edge of the room stepping carefully to avoid small hands and feet. From her dimly seen expression, it was clear she was not surprised to find Gemma sleeping nearest to the Elanis's feet.
"Have you decided?" asked Naomi. "What will we do? She cannot be kept near the other children. Only think of the risk to us all."
Elanis came to her feet in a rush, seized Naomi by the elbow and pushed her from the room. In the chill corridor outside she swung Naomi around to face her.
"What danger?" Elanis hissed. "What have you ever heard? What do you know? Tell me. Tell me and then we will both know what danger that child represents. What danger that child is in."
Naomi stared blankly for a moment then shook herself.
"We all know mortals do no magic. Any mortal claiming to do magic will…"
"Will what? Will be put down the bottom of the mine with the rats? Will be hung out of the window of a tall house or over an open pit? When have you ever heard of someone being punished for having magic? I have not tell me who you have seen punished or I will not believe you."
Naomi could only shake her head. "I have never actually heard, that is one always hears that mortals do no magic. It is safer not to challenge that."
"And that means, do you think, that mortals must not do magic? Or cannot?"
"Well, I think that the elves would not be pleased. And now, with the weather spells…" Naomi looked out of the window and sighed. "With things as changed as they are I cannot think anyone would be happy with a mortal child doing magic of any sort."
Those words were painfully familiar. Elanis had said something along the same lines to Silva and been well scolded in reply. Elanis straightened and patted Naomi on the shoulder.
"I know what I must do and it does not involve hurting that child in any way. I will not tolerate any strange looks or any change in treatment. She is to be as gently treated tomorrow as she was yesterday. She is fragile and, I believe, we shall find she is also valuable."
“Valuable?”
"I must thank you, Naomi, for helping me make the matter clear in my own mind." Elanis rubbed her for head irritably. "This has been a difficult time for all of us. A time of change that no one desired. We must face truths we would prefer to turn away from. Myself amongst many. If it seemed to you that I hesitated to face what Gemma represents it is only because in doing so I must face mistakes I have made." At Naomi's stunned look Elanis laughed and continued, "oh, do not fear, Naomi. I have no magic."
And leaving a stunned Naomi in the corridor Elanis returned to stretch out on a blanket beside Gemma and held the girl until morning.
*

The morning brought the usual delivery from the storehouses. Elanis emerged from the orphanage to exchange greetings with the guardsman always accompanied the deliveries. And, to no one's particular surprise, there were two more children perched atop the bundles. Elanis summoned Ceridin who was standing by to help her carry the goods into the house and assigned him to taking the two new arrivals in and feeding them.
The elf who brought their rations smiled, counted off the bundles, and said, "and is there anything else you need Master Weaver Elanis?"
"If it is possible," said Elanis slowly. "I should like to make an appointment to speak to High Lady Senioa. I realize it is a presumption, given her generosity to us…"
The elf consulted his pages and pointed his page turner at a line.
"But master Weaver, I have it here, you may attend upon the High Lady at any time."
The mortal wagoner and Elanis both blinked in surprise and exchanged a startled glance.
"In truth?" Asked Elanis.
"Why, of course," said the elf. "Why, I have issued a number of invitations to you to meet with her in the past. Do you not recall?"
"I thought only she was being polite," said Elanis. "She is so busy now."
“You think she is so polite at a time such as this to extend invitations where she sees no need?” The elf laughed. "We are all busy, but she most of all. If she extends an invitation then it is sincerely meant. Certainly you have been of great use to the True South in this time of pain."
“I am honored to serve,” said Elanis absently. “If you would be kind, might you recommend a time I might call upon her when she would have a few moments to spare me.”
“Of all of us she is busiest. Call anytime, welcome friend, but be prepared to wait.” With another smile the elf counted out the bundles of greens, ten loaves of bread and various other supplies, accepted packed boxes of sox and gloves in return.  Elanis signed to confirm the delivery and the wagon rumbled away leaving her chewing her lip and wondering if she dared take the next step.

Elanis accepted there was no choice in this matter. The issue of Gemmia must be taken to the highest authority Elanis could reach. Leaving Naomi and at the elder children to supervise the classroom time Elanis followed the flow of traffic, of homeless refugees, of petitioners to the gate of High Lady's Senoia House. It was as well that Elanis had a spindle and a bundle of wool roving in her pouch else boredom would have driven her home. It was four candle-marks before Elanis reached the head of the line and addressed the bored and very tired house guard.
"Elanis, Master Weaver of twisted rock," she said, holding out her personal papers.
The junior guard recorded her name on yet another piece of paper while a senior stepped forward and frowned, rubbing at his chin.
"I've seen your name, Master Weaver Elanis. So many names." He shook his head sending ash white hair dancing in the chill breeze. "Might you remind me where I should look?"
"I keep the orphanage and the records of displaced children. High Lady Senoia assigned me the house on Bent Thistle Street."
"Ah, yes." He took up yet another list, a much shorter list, and smiled at her. "If only you had said, Master Weaver. You are on the list of those to be admitted immediately. This wait was unnecessary for you."
Before Elanis could process this news she was taken in hand and escorted up the broad staircase into the High Lady's House. The senior guard handed the responsibility for her to a dignified and silent servant who escorted Elanis further into the House. She found herself waiting before doors decorated with the Elements intertwined, doors taller by half again then Elanis herself. The servant slipped in and returned with the news there would be another, unfortunate, short wait. Elanis had barely enough time to straighten her skirts and smooth her headscarf before the door opened again and three elves, burdened with papers and heavy frowns emerged and vanished.
They were followed by an elvan woman so tiny and so old that she could only be High Lady Senoia. To Elanis's complete shock Senoia gave a cry of joy, threw her arms around Elanis and kissed her on both cheeks.

Monday, March 20, 2017

consequences 39

“Take the children outside.”
Elanis did not want to ask what that was. Instead she looked at Gemmia, looked at her as if she’d never seen the child before. There, yes, there in her face were familiar features. Her eyes, no surprise were brown, as was Silva’s. The chin, square and would have been firm if it were not trembling and dripping tears. It was the skin and the hair straggling out from under a knitted cap that told the story. Her skin was pale. As pale as an elf. Her hair fine, thin, ash white.
As was Silva’s. Silva.
Oh, Silva.
The room was empty before Elanis spoke again. Stroking a hand over Gemmia’s back she smiled.
“Show me what you did.”
Gemmia shook her head.
“Please. Please, I want to see.” Closing her eyes for a moment to gather courage Elanis forced more cheer into her voice and smiled. “Dear girl, I only want to see if you can do what my daughter can do. Do you remember Silva?”
Gemmia nodded.
“Do you …oh Elements … do you remember when Silva made this ribbon for you?”     Elanis touched the small thin twisted ribbon that hung from the front of Gemmia’s coat. Similar ribbons hung from a number of children’s clothing - those who’d joined Elanis company when Silva still walked beside her. Some of those ribbons hung outside the house, hung out by children hopeful of calling their family to them. A ribbon that glowed in the dark.
Gemmia nodded.
“Pretty, isn’t it?”
Gemmia nodded again.
“I’m certain that what you do is pretty as well.”
Gemmia looked down.
“Please” urged Elanis and watched in mixed awe and horror when Gemmia began moving her hand.
The winter sun was set leaving the room in darkness except where the fire glowed. Gemmia hesitantly extended a hand until the shadow cast by her tiny fingers touched the hearthstone, she cupped her hand and lifted. For an instant, for a breath, her small palm glowed gold and red and then it, whatever it was, was gone.
Elanis gasped, staring, pressing her hand to her throat. Gemmia gave a gasp and flinched away which was enough to shake Elanis out of her shock.
“Oh, child. How… How pretty.”
GEmmia gave her a gap toothed grin, the first smile Elanis had received.
“Yes. Yes, pretty,” said Elanis, embracing the girl. “I am certain your mother said it was pretty.”
Gemmia nodded rapidly.
“And,” Elanis forced numb lips to speak. “And she told you it was a secret, didn’t she?”
Again the nod, this time sad.
“Yes, a secret,” repeated Elanis, enfolding the child in her arms and rocking her back and forth.
Oh, Silva, what was she to do?
*
Much later than night Elanis sat beside the banked fire, the shimmering glow her only light. She and Naom took turns to attend the youngest children at night. The house they occupied was mortal in construction therefore there were rooms for sleeping above the kitchen fire as well as the workroom fire. The elder children were divided between those two chambers. The youngest children slept in the room that in the daytime served as the school room. Tonight Elanis rocked gently in a room filled with the sound of soft breathing. It was not unusual for one or two children to wake crying and Elanis was determined that they would not awaken alone, as much for her own comfort as theirs.
Her hands worked, drawing from a basket of undyed roving at her feet and passing the wool through her experienced fingers as the spindle spun. The faint hum of newly created thread blended with the sound of breathing. The simple, familiar movement brought to mind her daughter, Silva. Pride mixed with a hard sharp pain. Elanis and Silva, bound by love, by family, by blood and as Master to Journeywoman - theirs was a good - had been a good life. A satisfying life. A prosperous life. They’d created fabrics respected by traders. At least Elanis and her factory of craftswomen created sturdy fabrics, solid, warm blankets while Silva wove delicate laces, ribbons, shawls and headscarfs so dazzling in their designs and colors that it was near to impossible to keep up with demand.
And now, knowing what Elanis did about her daughter her pride in Silva was contaminated with worry, with pain.
For it was undeniable, Silva put something extra into her weavings. Something not normal. Not acceptable. Not mortal! It was not as if Silva had blended a new popular dye or designed a new lace knot or ribbon pattern. No, Element’s protect us, no!
Silva - Elanis’s teeth clenched and her face contorted as she struggled with the truth - Silva had magic.
Not an proper magic. Not something that could be boasted of at a market, something that could be tested at the Water Temple. Nothing acceptable. Nothing ordinary.
And that horrible, incomprehensible magic divided mother from daughter, master from journeywoman as surely as a knife parted thread.
Sundered their relationship at the worst possible time.
Elanis needed Silva now. Needed her for the surety of her support. To tend to the children, to teach the basics of their shared craft. To be the strength ELanis depended upon.
To deal with the problem of little Gemmia.
Oh, what was to be done with Gemmia?
If she did have the same odd … her thoughts stuttered less and less as she contimplated the issue - the same odd magic as took Silva away from her then what was to be done about it? Should Elanis do what she’d prevented her husband from doing - and threaten to beat the magic out of the child? As fragile as Gemmia was a beating wasn’t necessary. A little disapproval. A few days of frowning and staring would  - Elanis shook her head. Disapproval of any sort would drive Gemmia to stop eating entirely. Would frighten the scarred child further into her own mind, so far within that she might never emerge, might never heal.
And there would be some that would say that was the best thing. Naomi amongst them. A silent unmoving voiceless child would not cast magic spells and that was the safest thing.
No, and again, no.
That was not best for the woman Gemmia would become. Elanis would not permit that to happen any more than she would permit any harm to come to Silva.
She made a rude noise. As if Silva would accept protection from her mother now. Silva had chosen her path, her life and gone off with a damned elf - to do magic! It would have been easier if it was a mortal man to make an ordinary home but off she’d gone, leaving her mother with no food, no home and a parcel of children looking to Elanis for safety.
A growing parcel of children.
If High Lady Senoia hadn’t acknowledged Elanis’s hard work, hadn’t given her this house, the daily delivery of supplies, it would have gone very hard for Elanis and the children.

Friday, March 17, 2017

consequences 38 - meanwhile in the True South... heheheh

Elanis ran a critical eye over the contents of her storeroom then took up a bundle of clean wool, ready for carding and hugged it to her chest. She was fortunate, no, more than that, she was excessively blessed to have this house to live in, supplies for weaving delivered, food allocation brought to her door. Blessed, yes, in this time of confusion and want and worry to have the benevolent protection of the gracious High Lady Senoia.
Which was not to say that a price not was levied for these supplies. Elanis closed, and carefully locked, the storeroom. When she was home, or rather, in that previous life when she lives and worked and was happy and content at Twisted Rock she locked only her storehouse. Now, here in Sweet Breezes, in a world so changed as to be barely recognizable, knowing that her neighbors as well as strangers would steal, would hurt, would do all manner of wanton criminal actions to preserve their lives. Now with the coming winter, with the - oh Elements - destruction of the weather spells, her fellows who would normally consider thievery beneath them were stealing to survive. The fact they would be stealing from hungry and helpless orphan children were they to invade this storeroom would be no moral barrier. Not now. Not today and not for some time to come.
She made her way up the stairs by what little light came from the open door at the top - one didn’t waste candles in a storeroom - and locked that door as well. Daylight was fading quickly deepening the chill and she hurried down the corridor to the only room she kept well lit and warm on this floor.
When she, and the orphans in her care, reached Sweet Breezes, the capital city of the True South Elanis had found herself confirmed in the responsibility to care for those children. Within days her responsibilities expanded.
Elanis’s Home for the Displaced Children had become, by default since no other location existed, a clearing house for children. For news. For record keeping. For the allocation of scant resources. High Lady Senoia was their personal sponsor. Lost children were brought to that house, to have their names and home towns recorded by a few older children, then they were farmed out to other families until claimed.
Naom, in her personal search for her family examined each new arrival, demanding of strangers in the street if they had news of her children, two boys and a girl, all missing since the first day of the rains. They’d gone to celebrate Third Harvest Festival with their father while Naom cooked at home and were not seen again. The father’s body had been found in a flooded creek between the festival grounds and their home farm. Hope, desperate hope, was all that sustained Naom.
Elanis kept more or less two dozen children crowded beneath her own borrowed roof. The fragile, the needy, the injured, the family groups that were harder to place than the individual lost stayed with her. If a set of siblings were able to make their way to her door still clutching each other’s hands she would not be the person to sunder them.
And Gemmia. Little Gemmia had been placed in her care by that guard Tormin after the girl witnessed her own mother’s drowning. Not a fair trade from Elanis’s point of view. Tormin had brought this child, this voiceless stranger to her, then taken away her own daughter, her Silva. Taken Silva away and changed her. Changed her until her own mother hardly knew her.
Elanis pressed her fingers to her closed eyes until the tears and worry were shut away. She would not think of Silva. Not today. There were too many other concerns to give a minute of her time worry about a daughter, woman grown and the maker of her own decisions.
No. Instead she would worry about the orphans. She kept little Gemmia because it would be far too easy for the girl to fade away to nothing or to be abused and without a voice or will of her own, suffer and die of neglect.
Elanis would not permit that.
Since Gemmia was barely responsive it was not possible to set her to weaving and spinning as with the other children so she spent her time sitting by the fire.
Elanis’s particular children did not sit about idly, that would offend Elanis’s practical soul. She did not know their parent’s professions but now that didn’t matter. She set all the children to tasks suited to their ages and skills, sorting, carding, spinning thread and weaving. Creation of cloth was what Elanis knew and that was what she would teach. And with winter closing in, all manner of clothing was needed.
“Stop that! Stop at once!” shouted Naom.
Elanis turned so quickly that light sparkled in her vision. There was something in that tone, that voice, that sent echoes through her memory. Painful memories.
Shock, confusion, revulsion, fear tainted that angry, scolding voice.
Yes, fear.
There was much to fear now, here in the True South. Flood waters drove more and more people from their homes in search of a safe place to winter. In search of food.
In search of explanations.
In search of magic.
Elemental magic.
It was not a man’s voice - not this time - there were no adult men in the orphanage. But the resonance of horror, that was achingly familiar.
Her mouth dry and heart thundering in her throat Elanis ran into the only warm room. The dozen or so young girls were seated in a circle, staring toward the fireplace. Instead of reading them their history lesson Naom stood, hand raised above her head, staring down at the cringing tiny figure on the hearthstone. Little Gemmia was a voiceless shadow who drifted from room to room within the orphanage, eating little, saying nothing, and staring at all about her with soulless eyes. For a time it had been necessary to place food in her mouth to ensure she ate. That phase, fortunately, was weeks past. Even with all the children under her care Elanis spared as much attention as could be spared to this needy child. Of all the children Gemmia was least likely to inspire horror.
Unless, she was the one to have cried out.
Elanis closed her eyes a moment in pray to the Elements as she crouched down to embrace Gemmia.
“Naom, what is the problem here?”
“She… She…” Naom continued to stare at Gemmia while she struggled to find the words.
Elanis recognized that glazed, stunned expression and a chill filled her stomach.
“No. Say nothing,” interrupted Elanis. “Nothing.”
“But she…”
“Nothing, Naom, until we are alone,” said Elanis with an impatient wave of the hand. “Enough. It is almost supper time. Take the children for a walk in the yard until they are called in to to eat.”
“It is cold outside.”
“They need exercise as well as warmth to sleep. Too long seated is bad for their backs, for their health. They’ll sleep all the sounder, and appreciate their warm blankets the more, having faced the air outside,” declared Elanis, turning to look at the other children. “Now secure your wrok properly. You do not want to lose the tension and have to do it over. Go now.”
It was the work of a moment for them to secure their work. Elanis set them to work suitable to their ages. Some spun thread. Some worked at felting, the simplest and easiest way to shape hats, glvoes and socks in this time of need.  Elanis might wish for the return of her great looms to make cloth, lengths that could be sewn together to make blankets. To make trews. To make coats. To make so much that was needed by those who had abandoned their homes with little more than they could carry on their backs.
“She…” persisted Naom and Elanis frowned.
“Say nothing,” Elanis hissed. “It is very important to say nothing.”
“Of course,” said Naom, leaning forward to whisper. “We must stop her. She cannot do that again.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

consequences 37

As soon as his tent was erected Mitash searched through his baggage for the hated, distrusted, despised, book that was his burden from the High King. Once in his hand he regarded it with displeasure before covering it with a corner of a blanket. Taking up the whisper ribbon marked with the sigil of the High King he held it up to a candle lantern until the glow intensified.
"High King," he called. He paused and waited for a moment before calling a second time. This time there was a distant answer.
"Who calls me?" said Eioth irritably.
"Mitash Serpentine, High King. I have a difficulty to bring to your attention."
"Does it require the attention of the Synod or only my advice?"
"Your advice. High King, I am required to question a guard of the southeast the better to understand what awaits ahead.. There is a herb woman who can induce him to answer. My difficulty is what to do with him afterwards. I dislike intensely the idea of ending his life for so little a crime as serving the wrong master. And then there is the effect it will have upon those who travel with me and those I meet in the southeast, they will trust me less if they suspect I kill for random reasons."
"are you not a little old to be facing ethical and moral quandaries? I would have thought serving me as High Lord would have brought you to these conflicts before this day."
"I would have thought myself prepared, High King but it seems I am not."
"You are seeking reassurance, my old friend, or you are seeking to transferred the guilt from yourself to me. That will not do. I will, as high King, hold you responsible for the consequences of your decisions but I still require you to make those decisions."
Mitash groaned and covered his face. "This is no easy task you have given me."
"And it has taken you this long to realize that." Eioth laughed. "I hope you have chosen a wise woman to be your Sex Magic partner. Talking over your confusion with her will aid you, I am certain."
Outside the tent Iona raised her hand to scratch at the campus but hearing Eioth's different distant voice she paused. Even knowing it was a gross discourtesy to listen outside of tents just as outside of windows she remained concentrating on the discussion within. How it was that Mitash was speaking to the High King was beyond her understanding. Obviously magic was involved. Like magic. The magic of master Silva. The proof that mortals can control magic lay in master Silva's hands. But what was this sex magic. Surely she had misheard the words.
"Have you experimented with a few of the spells in the book?" Asked Eioth. "If your partner is experiencing difficulties I might ask lady Halidan to speak with her and reassure her."
"I would not wish to put Lady Halidan to the trouble."
There was another long pause and then Eioth's voice came again.
"Have you chosen a mortal or Elven woman, Mitash?"
"High King…"
"Mitash, have you dedicated yourself to the South East?"
"High King…"
"Mitash, I cannot understand how you can call to me to speak of some minor conflict between yourself and your tender sensibilities when you have disobeyed me with regards selecting a Sex Magic partner and dedicating yourself to the South East! I cannot think of any reason why you would have delayed so dangerously. You are within the border of the South East. When were you going to complete this task?"
"It is a difficult…"
"It is not difficult at all! I will endure no further delays. Speak to your chosen lady! Commit yourself to the South East tonight! This act is far more important than speaking to a guard he can wait. The bond to the southeast cannot. Call me tomorrow to confirm you have obeyed this command."
"As you command, High King."
Iona delayed not a moment longer she brushed the heavy canvas of the tent up aside and stepped within.
Mitash was seated on eighth Chair one hand covering his face from the other hand dangled a rectangle of light no bigger than the palm of his hand. Iona studied it with interest but it was not the most important thing in the room.
"What is this, this sex magic? What was that High King speaking of?"
"What is this invasion? You should not be listening outside my tent! Where are my guards? They should have sent you away."
"They are with the Southeast and are, and are busy at this time. I am sent here to ask if you wish to question the guard tonight before you eat or after?"
"After. And you may depart. Speak to no one of anything you have overheard."
"I shall not leave." Iona stepped further into the room and stood, her hands resting on her hips. "You have done, or rather have not done, something that endangers our journey to the South East. What is it? And what has sex to do with it?"
"I have no wish to discuss the matter with you. Leave at once!"
"With me! With me personally? What is your difficulty? What disorders your peace? I have done nothing to offend you."
"This! This!"
Mitash leapt to his feet and snatched up a book from under the blanket covering his extraordinarily wide camp bed. He waved the book before Iona's face. She was unable to read the cover, he waved it so fast and she snatched it from his hand opening it to read the hand written script – The Use and Complexity of Sex Magic.
"I have never heard of such a thing," said Iona. "From where where comes this book?"
"From the very hand of the High King," cried Mitash. "And from whence he gained it I have no understanding, nor do I wish to ask him."
"I would not have thought that of him. He seems the ideal of the passionless adept of the Elements." She thought for a moment then added, "although his wife is happy with him."
Mitash ignored her observation and paste across the room and back again his hands clutching at his hair.
"He asks, nay he demands I practice this, I participate in this. Whether I am willing or not is irrelevant. I must do this."
"The laws governing rape are quite clear. If you are unwilling he cannot demand it."
"It is not that, no. No, I do not accuse him of that degree of compulsion. That is not the problem."
"Then it is the lack of a suitable lover? Is there no woman… Or man, perhaps, that pleases you? Have you left your lover behind? Are you betrothed and she will be offended if you love another?"
"No I am not betrothed! My parents have been trying to negotiate a bond for me now that the fertility problem of the elves is resolved. No." He continued to pace pausing from time to time to glare across the room at Iona.
"Then what is the problem?" demanded Iona, spreading her hands. "If you are afraid to ask a woman to do this magic with you, because you think she will be offended or embarrassed, ask me. You would be hard-pressed to find a sex act that I am unaware of. Being a midwife grants you considerable knowledge. I will share this burden with you since to do so will aid to the Empire as a whole. Or do I misunderstand the High King?”
"No! No! No!"
"What disorders your peace?" Demanded Iona.
"You!" Cried Mitash, waving his hands in the air describing large curves over and over and then he turned his back on Iona and covered his face.
Iona looked down at herself repeating the curved gestures Mitash had made and then started to laugh.
"If you do not like voluptuous women, no doubt a slender one could be found."
"No. Would you give me no peace?"
"No, because the High King requires this of you and you owe him you obedience and loyalty. Or have you chosen to disobey him in this?"
"No. Can you not tell?" Mitash paced so quickly that it appeared to Iona that he was chasing himself around the small chamber. "Can you not see? Can you not sense it?"
"Not in the least. What is your difficulty?"
Mitash finally turned to face her. His arms outstretched to each side his whole body shook.
"I know nothing of this! I am a virgin."


***

I know that if I were to end a chapter now and shift to another character POV you would all hunt me down and beat me, soo..... ::evil grin:::

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Consequences 36

“There are still hours before night,” declared Mitash. “Reform the processional. And whichever of you is to accompany us, locate your supplies. I shall not be delayed.”
There was a low voiced argument before the first to approach them was nominated as guide and expressed his delight to be chosen.
“It will be my honor to accompany you,” said the elf, bowing. “I am Kelor. My companions declare themselves to be devastated to remain but we do, as you no doubt know, to keep those not of the South East from invading our boarders.”
Mitash frowned. “There have been refugees?”
“From Eioth’s false reign, yes. More than usual have attempted to apply for entry. Mortals and elves both.” Kelor shook his head. “It is sad to think how the empire has suffered under the imposter’s reign that mortals would dare attempt to invade the South East.”
“Indeed,” said Mitash and turned his horse’s head. “You may speak to me of your observations as we travel.”
Raising his hand he turned to face his reforming processional. Kelor also turned and to Mitash’s surprise the South Easterner said nothing regarding the presence of a half elf. Not wishing to upset the fragile deception Mitash said nothing.
The procession lurched into motion and passed the bowing guards without incident. Mitash’s stomach did not unclench until the guards were not within view.
Kelor was not inhibited in the slightest by his company. He rattled on in his praise of Chandri until Mitash’s patience was exhausted.
“This is my first visit to the South East,” said Mitash. “I am honored to be bringing the High King’s message to the South East. Tell me all of the demesne.”
“Oh, it is the most beautiful of all the empire and I hear Pinnacle is the queen of cities. Well worthy of becoming the new capital of the renewed empire.”
“You have not seen it?”
“No,” Kelor laughed. “And I confess, witnessing its beauty and grace is in part the reason I offered to accompany you. Or, I should say, traded for the opportunity. My fellows drove a hard bargain+ for the honor. The balance, you will understand, is wanting to assist, in my small way, the accession of High King Chandri.”
“And, to your knowledge, is Pinnacle where Chandri… where the elemental masters recruited from throughout the empire are gathered?”
“Oh, yes.”
“And the spell that was cast at Third Harvest,” began Mitash.
“Oh, I took my part in that as well,” declared Kelor. “A message was sent to all of Journeyman rank and above that they were to direct their power, their prayers to the working that would return the High King to his proper place. I rejoice in our joined success. How the bells of Hub of Harmony must have rung out as Chandri was elevated. Ah, you must tell me all. All. ”
Mitash glanced over his shoulder to Morae. “Instruct the processional we are to increase our pace.”
Morae nodded and directed his horse to ride to the head of the line.
“What do you know of this ritual, these prayers?” inquired Mitash.
“I kept the letter, if you wish to review it?”
“I shall require it of you, yes.”
“But I would desire its return,” said Kelor with a worried frown. “You understand, I hope. It bears the High King’s seal and sigil. It will be a revered item in my Households history for all the centuries yet to come.”
“I have no doubt of it being remembered for the life of the empire,” said Mitash.
Morae rode past, this time accompanied by one of the other half-blood guards. Mitash observed his compaion closely and wondered at the elf’s lack of reaction.
The speed of their travel precluded further conversation. It was not until early winter twilight demanded they halt and make camp that Mitash and Kelor could speak again.
“Join me in an hour. We shall speak as we dine.”
“My honor,” said Kelor, looking about at the guards and servants who were moving about making camp. Catching sight of a half-blood who was walking past carrying a pack he extended his horse’s reins toward him. “You there. Attend to my horse. Raise my tent. I shall take tea before retiring to bed and again before the tent is struck in the morning. Inform your master of these arrangments.”
Kelor caught Mitash’s stunned expression and smiled. “That one is not your personal slave, is he?”
Mitash went pale and he stepped forward until he was near nose to nose with the other elf.
“Slavery does not exist in the empire,” growled Mitash.
“Slave? Attendant? Mortal? Half? It matters not what we call them, the end result is the same. We command. They serve.” Kelor laughed then caught sight of two mortals walking side by side. “Stop them!”
Kelor charged forward, seizing the female guard by the arm.
“What?” demanded Mitash, spinning to see what new offense Kelor was committing.
“That mortal. That woman. Surely you know they cannot be in the same place. They will mate and there will be more of them. Why, I cannot understand why you have mortal women attending this procession. Surely the High King is not aware.”
“The High King is aware,” muttered Mitash under his breath even as he raised his hand to summon the guard.
In an instant Kelor was surrounded and stood within the ring of drawn swords confused and stunned.
“What is this?” he cried as his arms were bound.
“Unfortunate,” said Mitash. “I had hoped to gather all the information I needed before you realized Eioth is still High King. Now what are we to do?”
"Hit him," suggested Morae, without any expression in his voice.
The crowd flexed and parted and Mitash gasped as a familiar female figure made her way through.
“This is a tincture I know that can bring truth from elves. Well, in general it is a sleep medication but it also has the effect that if one does not immediately fall assleep one rambles and speaaks the truth without limit.”
“You have the ingrediants?” asked Mitash.
“They are not rare or difficult to obtain. I have enough.”
“I will not drink it,” cried Kelor. “I will not aid you. I am loyal to my lord Chandri.”
“He says that as if he thinks he has a choice,” said Ionia, mildly.
“Erect a tent for him. Set guards. I shall speak to him… later.”
Kelor was dragged away, protesting. Mitash shook his head.
“I was hoping to learn more from him before he realized we were not who we appeared to be.”
Ionia shrugged. “In this time of change it better serves us to deal with what is real not what we dream. Now, shall I prepare my potion or shall you use other methods to obtain what you need?”
“He will not drink,” said Mitash with a shake of the head.
“If he breathes a little steam as it brews it will decrease his inhibitions, much as with a little drink, although it is unwise in the extreme to consume wine with this potion. After it will not be difficult to encourage him to drink a little. Care must be taken with the potion that he does not consume too much. It can kill with overdosage.”
“What manner of medicine is this?” demanded Mitash.
“In very, very small doses it encourages sleep.”
“As I have not desire to sleep forever keep it far from me,” declared Mitash, then his shoulders slumped. “It is not in me to compell testimony with threats or pain. Bring your twigs and leaves, herb-woman and let us begin.”
While the camp was created for the night Kelor was restrained, tied to the central upright tentpole. Ionia alone attended him, laboring over a small fire not far from the swearing and cursing elf. She assembled her ingrediants, dropped them into a simmering pot of water and hastened out of the tent, tieing the laces shut behind her. She removed the wax impregnanted mask from her face and drew in a deep breath.
“It shall be an hour or so before the appropriate effect is achieved, the tent is so large, and then we should permit the chamber to air out before any other person enters.”
Mitash only shook his head.
“Very well. Go, attend to your own meal and comfort and rejoin me here in an hour.”
Ionia inclined her head and departed with dignity. She paused and glanced back before she rounded the tent. She was not surprised to spy Mitash watching her depart. She tended to have that effect upon elvish men. The fashion, the ideal of Traditional Beauty amongst elves might be tall, impossibly slender and willow-like, ice pale and fragile  but Ionia knew they were occasionally drawn to the more substantial beauty of a healthy mortal woman. She caught Mitash’s eye and was not surprised to see him blush, as much as he was able, and turn away in confusion.
Yes, he was attracted, she knew it. She smirked as she hurried away in search of shelter from the biting wind. Not that she intended to indulge his attraction. She held Lady Regency Halidan’s confidence and secret, which gave her power enough for any sensible and clever mortal. She had no need of a high ranked lover to increase her security or provide her with a home in this time of disruption and change.
Not that such was her ambition, otherwise she would not have undertaken to accompany the processional into the South East. No, if that were her need she would be at the High King’s House even at this moment, supervising Halidan’s pregnancy and ingratiating herself within that Household.
No. There were much more important matters to attend to.
And she had her own questions to set to that elf.
Once Mitash was done with the man he would, sensibly, leave him in Ionia’s care. Yes.
That would do very well.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

why are we waiting?

very very sorry. will replace this excuse with some actual story ..... as soon as I bet the real world back into submission and .... well. sorry.