Something Wicked This Way Comes

Friday, August 29, 2014

FREE FICTION FRIDAYS #4 THE FOREST LORD

Welcome all! Back once more for FFF, and this week our stories are the prelude to an awesome book release coming up tomorrow. Lily G. Blunt's new book Paint the Sky will be out tomorrow, and I *highly* recommend it to you all.

Now, on with our dark-skinned lovelies, and episode #4 of The Forest Lord. Enjoy!

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The Forest Lord #4; by Tucker McCallahan:

“I don’t understand why we haven’t left yet.” Kala paced back and forth in the staging area, her restless energy crackling around her with a life that was almost palpable.

“Had the Queen not kidnapped Zakn’yl, we would indeed be on our way.” T’Riss looked up from where he sat beside their few bags and pinned her in place with his irritated tone of voice. “As it is, she holds Ilztafay, and we cannot leave the city without her.”

“I thought we were five.” Kala stalked toward him, a challenge in her walk. “Who is this other female in the Queen’s company?”

T’Riss laugh was bitter. “I did not say she was in the Queen’s company; I said the Queen held her.” T’Riss stared purposefully at the entrance to the staging area, willing Zak to appear. “Ilztafay is Zakn’yl’s mount.”

“For the love of Lune!” A snort from the other side of the room drew their attention. They both turned to see Jhul crack her staff against the floor in aggravation. “Guildmaster Gian has stables of mechanical mounts in every shape and size who could be charged up and powered on for the mage to ride! We’re wasting time!”

A horse’s whinny cut the air, a bizarre sound in the huge underground cavern. The females’ heads jerked up and around to stare at the entrance. Only T’Riss was unsurprised at the sound as Zak rode into the staging area, not on a mechanical mount, but on a Darkelsian horse – an actual real, live, breathing animal. The females gazed wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the tremendous creature as Zak rode it over to their mechanical mounts, brought it up short with authentic leather reigns, and hopped down out of the old-fashioned saddle.

“Is she well?” T’Riss met his mate halfway, his eyes for both male and horse.

Zak nodded, his long, inky hair shaking gently with the movement. “They had her in a royal stable, cordoned off. She kicked their mechanic unconscious. Three grooming engineers were trying to approach and bribe her with honeyed oats. She was having none of it.”

T’Riss grinned – a genuine smile – and rested a forearm around Zak’s shoulders. “That’s our girl. Everything here is prepared. If she’s ready-”

“She wishes to spend no more time underground. She craves fresh air and the sky.”

“So we’ll all be traveling twenty meters behind you then?” Jhulryna’s voice dripped with sarcasm, her face pinched and petulant. “Since you’re riding the bait?”

T’Riss and Zak turned to glare at her. She shrugged and gave her golden staff a careless half-twirl.

“I’m merely pointing out the obvious.”

“Which is what?” T’Riss crossed his arms over his armored vest, his face hard as he scowled at the female who looked so like his estranged wife. “Enlighten us.”

“There’s not a creature alive in the Adintana that wouldn’t gorge itself on horse flesh, living or dead, if given the chance.”

“Tell me, Lady Jhul,” Kala slid in between the two males and the herbalist, “when was the last time you were on the surface?”

“That hardly matters.”

Kala met T’Riss’s eyes and a look passed between them. She abruptly began buckling her armor. T’Riss ran a gentle hand down Zak’s face before turning back to the supplies. Retrieving a pair of heavy saddlebags, he and Zak secured them on Ilztafay. Though the chore took all of three minutes, Jhul’s mouth kept up a steady stream of vitriolic commentary.

Zak hopped up into the old-fashioned saddle and ran an easy hand down Ilztafay’s neck, stroking the heavy cherry hair. The mare whinnied softly, tossing its deep burgundy mane. Zak murmured softly to the horse, the cadence of his voice rising and falling like a sweet musical melody. Kala, riding a huge black mechan, approached Zak and Ilztafay carefully as the group left the Utilities Guild House.

“Was that Elven you were speaking?”

Zak nodded, his eyes downcast. He looped the smooth, well-worn reigns over one fist and drew a length of cloth from his pocket. Quickly, he covered the horse’s nose, making sure not to smother her or put any pressure on her face. The group emerged onto the sparkling wet streets of Chasz’Chalolvir, close to the southern cavern exit.

“I didn’t know you spoke Elven. I speak it as well.” Kala took in each and every one of Zak’s strange actions. “I didn’t recognize what you were saying though. Why are you doing that while we’re still underground?”

“The sharp aroma of the rangpur soap burns her nose,” Zak explained. His voice was so soft and gentle Kala couldn’t imagine him ever casting dangerous or offensive magic. Zak was a war mage, though.
ee
“I see. So… what Elven dialect were you using? Central?”

“Wild.”

If Kala had been walking she would’ve tripped and fallen flat on her face. Zak’s answer was utterly unexpected.

“How in Lune’s name did you learn to speak wild elf? The elves have been embroiled in civil war since before I was born.” Kala gazed at Zak with a touch of hero worship in her eyes.

“The wild elves are the only population still supporting, breeding, and nurturing real horses.” Zak’s fingers slid into the thick hair of Ilztafay’s mane. “She’s very dear to me. I would learn anything I had to learn or do anything I had to do to make her life with me a good one.”

T’Riss rode up between them. Nath, his mechanical mount, was larger than either Kala’s mechan or Ilztafay.

“We’re about to leave Chasz’Chalolvir. We’ll move through the southern caverns and then plunge down into the Div’eari Forest. We’ll camp there this evening.”

Zak nodded. Kala gazed back to where Jhul and Iym rode side by side. She flicked her eyes to T’Riss and spoke in a low voice.

Arisa, are you certain you wish to ride with vipers at your back?”

“Once we reach the Div’eari, I’ll take point and you’ll take rear guard.”

“And Zak?”

“My mate rides with Iym.”

“As you wish.”

T’Riss stared at the young assassin until she met his lavender eyes. “I appreciate your worry for my mate. But understand that it took four phalanxes of the Azure Veil to kidnap Zakn’yl. Sixteen of the queen’s best sorceresses and witches to take one war mage into custody. He’s far from helpless, and once we reach the surface, unlike the others whose power will diminish, Zak’s power will grow.”

“How…?”

T’Riss shook his head and spurred Nath forward. He rode up to meet the guards at the exterior gates of the city. With terrible anticipation rippling through his stomach, his mate by his side, and his new raiding party at his back, T’Riss left Chasz’Chalolvir on the most important mission of his very long life.

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As always comments are craved and appreciated. This week, I'm featuring an image done by Direwrath that inspired the character of Iym'mice - the Mistress/Priestess of Lune who healed Zak, but whose loyalties are still unclear.





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2 comments:

  1. I would love to witness Jhul TRYING to take on Zak , I honestly think she would find herself no match whatsoever against the war mage....
    I wonder though IF that happened if Lym'mice would side with Jhul or with T'Riss and Zacn'yl ???
    I'm definitely waiting on pins and needles for next chapter !!!!
    I WISH I had a small fraction of you talent for telling a story....

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  2. My Beloved King,

    Gods. Your skills in telling stories are something truly wonderful – I praised you many times and soon I won’t be able to do it anymore because of lack of proper words. But beside your obvious huge talent to put words together, sometimes, I can’t even understand how you’re able to stir so many different feelings or make me think about so many, pretty random at times, things.

    This time, it was the part about Zak’s mount that triggered a wave of emotions. Maybe it’s a bit silly, but I was touched for real. I think I’ve told you before that I used to go horse riding pretty often. I’ve never done it professionally, it has never been a sport for me – I mean, something serious that I would connect my future with in any way, no, it was just a hobby, something that was relaxing me and a form of exercising too. There was a small stud very near to my parent’s old house so it would be such a waste to not use that opportunity, right? I really loved it and I miss it a lot now, when I don’t have any place like that anywhere near me. So I was going horse riding and, what’s probably even more important, I was helping during hippotherapy sessions. And thanks to that experience I learnt how wonderful, patient, graceful, noble, and elegant (yet a little moody and playful sometimes) animals horses are. And how deep connection between a mount and a rider (or patient) can be. So reading about Zakn’yl’s bond with his mare, how important she was, was really heartwarming – I could easily understand it.

    By the way, I find very interesting the fact that in the universe you use and describe, flesh and bones horses are rare. Damn, I need to know more about the world your characters live in because my lack of knowledge connected with D&D universe is like a curse. I really have to do something with it. I feel stupid and distracted by details I find fascinating. I’m not even sure if I imagine mechanic mounts correctly *sigh*

    T’Riss’ raiding party left Chasz’Chalolvir finally and I’m on my toes for the progress of events~ Can’t wait to see what is waiting for the arisa and his mate and what vipers (lol) are plotting.

    Thank you for another dose of your marvelous writing, my King! :)

    Lots of love
    Iza

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