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Old 10-26-2010, 03:19 AM   #321
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**Installment 66**


Caellia awoke from her deep sleep slowly. Yawning, she stretched and looked around the room looking for Nathavin. Not seeing Nathavin anywhere, she slowly stood up and went to the nearest window and looked outside. Most of the valley she could see was in shadow, which meant that the sun had already dipped well behind the castle. She had slept for much of the day and she doubted that there was much sunlight left in the day.

Throwing on a light robe, she caught sight of herself in the full length mirror that Nathavin had brought in for her. Although she was not normally one who would take notice of herself in a mirror over-much, she stopped this time and simply looked at herself. Her hands trailed down to her belly and lightly caressed it as she thought of the coming infant. What would it look like? Would the child be a boy or a girl? Would it have her pale blonde hair and his dark coloring? Or possibly her light coloring and the long black tresses that she’d seen on so many dark elven women? As she continued to think on the possibilities her eyes lost focus and she simply stood in front of the mirror with her hands resting protectively on her belly, unconsciously guarding her unborn child.

So lost in her thoughts, she didn’t hear Nathavin slip quietly into the room. Seeing her dressed in only the light gown he’d helped her into earlier in the day and a nearly sheer robe and cradling her belly, a rush of protectiveness swept over him. Coming up behind her, he drew her into an embrace and folded his hands over hers on her stomach. He squeezed her hands lightly in a comforting and reassuring way as his eyes focused on her stomach where their child lay growing.

“How did you sleep?” He asked her, enjoying the way she leaned into him and lightly tilted her head to the side to rub her forehead against his cheek.

“I slept well.” She answered him truthfully. A moment of silence passed between them before she inquired how the rest of the battle plans had gone. She listened in patient silence as he filled her in on what she had missed. He finished by telling her that they were going to wait for Asadar to attack the castle rather than mount an attack on Aden. Attacking Aden would be too costly in terms of lives that would be lost in such an attack. It was far better to force Asadar to come to Goddard where he would be at a severe disadvantage as his forces would be completely vulnerable to attack with no real protection.

“Caellia,” he started slowly while tightening his hold fractionally, knowing that what he said next would not be received well by her. “When Asadar attacks the castle, I want you to be down below…” He didn’t get any further.

Tensing up angrily, she pulled out of his grasp and turned to face him fully. “You mean where you kept me imprisoned from Goryn?”

Nathavin bit his tongue hard at the mention of the dead King. Instead he forged ahead with what he had been saying before she’d interrupted him. “That chamber is the most well protected area of the entire castle. It is the furthest away from any point of entry into or out of the castle…”

“It is a prison cell!” She spat back at him, incensed that he would even be bringing that horrible room up for discussion. “Don’t think I don’t know what that room was originally intended for Nathavin!” Her eyes flashed at him angrily as she continued. “That room was specifically designed to keep a person, no, a prisoner, isolated and cut off from any outside contact what-so-ever! Indefinite solitary confinement!” She stepped closer to him in her fury and stared up into his eyes. “That is worse than banishment Nathavin. That is torture.”

Nathavin stared down at her for a long moment before stating in a very quiet voice, memories of what he’d done in the recent past to Hontas, along with other painful memories that were not so recent, floating in his mind. “No Caellia. That is not torture. Being locked in that chamber forever with no outside contact would be as a paradise to some compared to what I have seen.” And have been responsible for, he thought to himself. “You have never seen or experienced torture, and you never will.”

Her anger vanished as she realized that he wore the same haunted expression he had in the dark elven lands. “Nathavin, what happened in your homelands?”

Nathavin shook his head and turned her around to face the mirror again, positioning his hands protectively over her stomach. “Nothing you should worry yourself over.” He lapsed into silence for a short while. “Promise me Caellia.” He said softly, “Promise me that if things should take a turn for the worst, that you will leave the castle. Go to the dark elven homelands. You will be safe there. Both of you.”

She tensed and with some effort turned and faced him. “I promise Nathavin, that I won’t leave you here alone.” He began to protest and she cut him off. “No. I won’t leave you alone as I left Goryn. I won’t.” Leaning up she gave him a quick kiss before pulling back and staring into his eyes. “I will not abandon you when you need me most. You are my husband, never will I abandon you.” Placing her arms around his waist, she rested her forehead on his chest as she relaxed into him, the matter settled as far as she was concerned.

The two stood quietly in the silent bedchamber for a very long time, taking comfort in one another for as long as they could. They each knew that when the attack came, there was no guarantee that the castle, or its inhabitants, could survive the onslaught.


*****


Asadar looked around at the fierce faces of his commanders and generals. “Are we ready?” He asked coldly.

“We are.” The general standing closest to him replied. The human rearranged his heavy armor so that it rested more comfortably against him before picking up his sword and shield. “You have only to give the order and we will move out.”

Asadar looked out over the balcony and silently regarded the large fighting force that had been amassing for days. Among the many human warriors and mages, he could see the odd troop of a couple of dwarves and a rather large group of orcs. His face split into a small grin. The orcs had turned against Lord Nathavin and had defected to Aden. They would be useful.

His gaze swung around the other direction and caught sight of the Kamael troops that Yaran and Ardista had procured. The wings made them highly visible in the seething mass of bodies. Asadar smirked. The more visible they were, then the more likely they would be to be killed first.

All appeared to be in order. With a dark laugh, Asadar gave the word for his forces to head out for Goddard Castle. Glancing at his most senior General, he smirked. “We should reach the castle in only a few days. I want to hit them just before dawn.”

The general smiled in return. “We will.”

Down on the ground, far from Asadar and his watchful General, the orcs looked at one another. Speaking in their own distinctive language of grunts, they discussed their battle plans, not bothering to keep their voices low. None of the humans could understand their language. Laughing and guffawing mightily, they clapped a few of the humans on the back and spoke to them while making harmless slashing movements with their weapons, killing invisible enemies, which their human counterparts assumed were dark elven forces.

Pumped up with the thoughts of the impending victorious battle over Goddard, the humans joined in the orcs fun.

The orcs looked on in amusement and continued to encourage confidence in the troops. It was amusing to them how none of Asadar’s forces questioned the fact that they had not once spoken in the language understood by the humans.

One of the human mages became a bit too enthusiastic in telling how it was going to be him that killed the dark elven Lord. What was supposed to be only a small fireball became a roaring inferno that surrounded one of the orcs that he had decided would fill the part of the elven Lord.

The orc that had been surrounded in fire looked at the human for a brief moment before stomping over to him. He frowned down at the sorcerer long enough to make the mage uncomfortable. After a moment he then smiled and laughed in loud bellows while clapping the poor man on the back in what appeared to be good natured camaraderie.

Stumbling forward under the force of the blows, the mage released a breath of relief. For a moment the thought the orc was going to attack him.

As the orc watched the mage scurry off, he spoke in his language to his companions. “When we reach the castle, that one is mine to kill.” The other orcs laughed and agreed. To their further amusement, the humans still traveling with them whooped and hollered in agreement, although it was plainly clear that they had no idea what they were agreeing with.
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:43 PM   #322
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**Installment 67**


Nathavin lay quietly next to Caellia watching her sleep as he gently ran his fingers through her hair. One corner of his mouth lifted upward slightly as she murmured quietly in her sleep, the words too muffled and indistinct for him to make out. When he stopped brushing his fingers through her hair, she twitched and shifted her head closer to him, nudging his hand. With a small laugh he picked up where he’d left off.

His gaze flickered to her hands. While she had one tucked underneath her chin, her other hand was resting against her stomach, cradling it gently. Again he smiled reflexively. Ever since she’d found out she was pregnant she’d been doing that and it pleased him greatly to know that she was so careful and protective of their child.

As he lay there, he wondered whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. Secretly he hoped for a girl. A daughter that he could thoroughly pamper and spoil. The more he thought of it, the more appealing it became. As his thoughts progressed through the stages of childhood he laughed outright at the thought of how he would ‘dissuade’ any would be suitors that came to the castle gates when his daughter came of age to marry. The thought of greeting the would-be suitors at the gates with his bow drawn and ready to fire held a certain appeal.

Then came the thoughts of raising a little boy and all that would entail.

With a light laugh, Nathavin knew for sure that whether their child was boy or girl, he would be well prepared to handle either.

“What are you laughing about?” Caellia asked him sleepily through a yawn, not bothering to open her eyes.

Or at least, that’s what she thought she said. Nathavin however had heard: ‘Whatru affin bou?’

That had the effect of making him laugh a bit harder. When she cracked one eye open and peered at him through the veil of her hair and again spoke unintelligibly he couldn’t help himself. The effect was so comical that for a moment he couldn’t answer her.

With a ‘hmph’, Caellia turned over, putting her back to him, all the while muttering to herself sleepily in a mix of light and dark elvish curses.

“What did you call me?” Nathavin asked her through his laughter. More unintelligible half growls could be heard coming from her before she ended her muffled tirade in an annoyed sort of snort like sound.

Coming up behind her, he kissed her shoulder lightly before laying down behind her. “I love you too.”

Reaching back lazily, she swatted at him and missed.


*****

Standing atop the castle, Shi’nryne looked up at the darkened sky and frowned. The sky was blanketed with thick clouds, making the night darker than usual. Looking back down at the courtyard below, he noticed that he could barely seen anything, even with his sharp eyesight. A bad feeling began to grow in his stomach. Muffling a curse, he strode down the battlements.

Zarvynaar, who’d also been keeping watch, saw Shi’nryne moving from his position and ran to catch up to him. “I have a bad feeling about tonight.” He quietly told the other male.

“Same.” Shi’nryne answered back, not sparing a look at him. Coming up to a second nighttime patrol, he barked out roughly. “You two take a couple fenrirs and make a complete circuit of the lands surrounding the castle. Report back here in half an hour.”

“Fenrirs?” Zarvynaar asked. “Why not striders?”

“Fenrirs are quieter. The striders are fast, but they don’t exactly have a ‘light’ step.” Shi’nryne replied sardonically.


*****


From the backs of their fenrirs, the two ghost hunters looked at one another in alarm before turning their gazes back to the advancing forces that obviously belonged to Asadar.

Looking to her brother, Shardaer whispered urgently. “We must get back and inform the others!”

Her brother, Micardrin shook his head. “Not without getting a rough estimate of how many we are up against.”

“Are you mad?” She whispered, edging her fenrir closer to his. “They number in the thousands, easy!”

Shaking his head, he argued with her. “We don’t know that for sure.” Turning his mount away from her he said in a low voice. “I’ll only be gone for a moment. I have a good idea how many are over here, I just need to count the ones in the next little valley.”

With another worried look at the invading army, Shardaer followed her brother anxiously. They continued to ride together, getting an accurate count of the army that would soon attack Goddard.

A human archer, scouting along the armies outer flanks soon spotted them. Raising his bow he let two arrows fly in quick succession. “We’ve been spotted!” He called out behind him. Immediately he was surrounded by three more people.

A mage began to cast his spell but the archer swiftly knocked the arcana mace to the side, interrupting the spell. “If you cast a spell using fire, it will be seen from the castle walls.” As he said this, the other archer continued to fire his arrows at the quickly departing scouts. Satisfied the mage wouldn’t attack, he raised his bow and aimed while instructing the other archer in an uncaring voice. “Shoot their wolves out from under them.”

Shardaer resisted the urge to scream as she felt an arrow rip through her right shoulder. Biting her lip in agony, she pushed her fenrir to run faster. Another arrow sailed past her, followed by another that grazed her lower leg.

Micardrin was also fighting back the urge to yell in agony. Several arrows had landed in his back and the pain was immeasurable. Pushing the overgrown wolf to run faster, he struggled to remain on its back. A pained yelp from the fenrir beneath him made him look down at the animal and curse loudly. They had shot it! He and his sister had raised it since it was nothing more than a small orphaned pup and the stupid humans had shot it!

Another yelp of pain and the fenrir began to limp, although it was still trying to run. Low whimpers began emitting from the animals throat as it slowed even further. As it slowed, Micardrin turned in the saddle and could see that it had been shot low in the hindquarters.

Two more arrows hit him, one in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground. The other landed in his ribcage as he was spun around from the force of the first arrow. Laying on his side, he watched through rapidly fading vision as the humans approached him cautiously. He could hear his poor fenrir growling in threat, trying to protect him. Suddenly a human was leaning over him. Gathering his remaining strength, he cursed her in his native language. “Dhaun aere cice!”

Her eyebrows lifted in confusion. “Now, I’m sure that wasn’t nice.” She stated in a mildly put out tone before she lifted the dagger and brought it swiftly down and into his heart. A sudden loud snarl ending with a sharp snap was heard from the wolf and she reacted swiftly. Tucking into a roll and lunging to her right, she narrowly avoided being caught in the wolf’s massive jaws. Sparing a look to her archer companions she frantically yelled. “Kill it!”

The only reply was the animals pained yelp as a final arrow lodged deep in its chest. With a sigh, she went back and retrieved her beloved dagger from the fallen body. Looking in the direction of the castle, she broke the silence. “The other one got away. They will know we’re coming.”

The mage followed her gaze and replied somberly. “They already knew we were coming.” He gazed down at the fallen body and kicked it lightly. “They have already lost one, we have lost none.” Looking back at the others with an unholy smirk he commented. “The odds are now even more in our favor, if only by one.”


*****


Shardaer raced up the large ramps and through the castles main gates. Turning around to face her brother, a horrified whisper left her lips. “No…Micardrin, no.” Tears flooded her eyes as she realized that her brother must’ve been caught. He had been a fair distance behind her and would have been easier for them to catch up to. Bowing her head, she asked Shilen to keep him safe. Then she turned to find Shi’nryne. Once she found him, she wasted no time and told him exactly what she’d seen.

With a curse Shi’nryne began barking orders out to nearby dark elves and orcs. Turning his head he addressed Zarvynaar. “Come with me.”

Following Shi’nryne closely, Zarvynaar asked. “Where are we going?”

“To wake Lord Nathavin and Queen Caellia.” Shi’nryne replied tightly. As they ran through the castle, Shi’nryne spoke quickly. “Stay as close to Caellia as you can. Do not under any circumstance become separated from her. I will do the same for Nathavin. He will want to keep her near him for protection but you heard what Caellia said in that meeting. Asadar will be targeting her and trying to separate them. If that happens, you stay with her at all costs.” Stopping for a moment he turned and faced the younger male, his gaze focused and intense. “If it becomes necessary…”

Zarvynaar nodded wordlessly, understanding immediately what Shi’nryne was telling him.

Nodding in satisfaction, Shi’nryne raced away again.
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Old 11-14-2010, 12:33 PM   #323
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:48 PM   #324
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am totally loving this. Keep up the good work
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:42 PM   #325
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**Installment 68**



Nathavin awoke abruptly to the sound of banging on the doors of his and Caellia’s rooms. Taking care not to disturb her, he flung himself from the bed and raced to the door and jerked it open.

“They are here Nathavin.” Shi’nryne said simply. “They number in the thousands. We sent two scouts out, only one returned. I fear the other has been killed.” He briefly explained where Shardaer had seen Asadar’s armies.

“Wake the others and sound the alarm.” Nathavin bit out tensely. “How long before they reach the castle walls?”

“An hour, perhaps two if we are lucky.” Shi’nryne stated somberly. “They couldn’t have chosen a better night. The cloud cover blocked both the moonlight and starlight, and there is a heavy fog hugging the valley floors. It is unlikely we would have seen them approaching until it was too late if we hadn’t sent the scouts out when we did.” As it was, Shi’nryne feared they’d sent the scouts out too late.

Nathavin nodded, taking in the information. “See to it that our battle plans are carried out as we discussed previously. I want Andraos with us when the attack happens. He will prove a vital help. I will join you shortly.”

“Caellia?” Shi’nryne questioned, wondering if Nathavin would allow her to fight, or barricade her deep within the castles innermost recesses where she would undoubtedly be safest.

Closing his eyes in thought, Nathavin answered slowly. “She will be with me.” Unless Shillien takes pity on me and Caellia miraculously decides to stay where it will be safest for her and the baby, he thought to himself.

Nodding in understanding Shi’nryne raced away to carry out his orders.

As he was about to close the door, Nathavin noticed Zarvynaar lurking in the shadows. He cast the younger elf a questioning look with a slightly upraised eyebrow.

“I am a member of the Queens royal guard. My place is with her.” Zarvynaar said resolutely, staring Nathavin down and proving where his loyalty lay.

“So you are.” Nathavin said, somewhat impressed by the younger males brazenness to stare him down. The stare down was just shy of being a direct challenge. Perhaps Caellia had been right to place him back on her guard detail. Not bothering to reply any more, Nathavin swiftly returned to Caellia.

“Nathavin? What’s going on?” Caellia asked sleepily as she sat up. He’d been out of the room for a while.

“The castle will come under attack in about an hour.” Nathavin told her bluntly as he began to gather their armor and weapons.

Caellia immediately jumped from the bed, now fully alert. “Where are they and how many?” She asked tightly as she grabbed her armor and weapon from him.

He repeated what Shi’nryne had told him and then stopped her, grabbing her shoulders and staring at her. “Caellia, please, reconsider your decision to fight today.” His right hand trailed down to her belly and rested over their child. “I don’t want anything to happen to either of you.” He said in a strained voice.

Looking into his eyes she stated in a calm firm tone as she reached up and lightly caressed his cheek. “I will not change my mind Nathavin. I know you want to protect us, but please understand that I want to protect you as well.” She closed her eyes and a shuddering sigh escaped her before she continued. “I left Goryn, twice, when he needed me.” Her eyes opened, revealing the depths of her determination. “I will not leave you.”

Nathavin nodded wordlessly before he drew her into a fierce embrace, kissing her deeply. Pulling away, he prayed to Shillien that they survived this.

Zarvynaar pulled himself upright the moment he heard the door swing open. Nathavin and Caellia stepped out, both looking awake and alert for battle. Neither showed any outward sign of nervousness or fear. Falling in step behind them, he promised himself that he would not allow Caellia to come to any harm.

They met Shi’nryne, Kattath, and Andraos on the ramparts. As Nathavin looked around and began to ask Shi’nryne a question, he caught sight of a person he thought he wouldn’t see again. “Hontas…” He growled lowly, anger flooding through him.

Hontas shivered uncomfortably and was glad that Andraos stepped in front of him and spoke up. “He has come delivering news. Asadar’s forces are not in peak condition.”

“That is correct.” Hontas spoke up as he bravely stepped around Andraos and faced Nathavin. If I’m going to be of use to him, I can’t cower behind Andraos, he thought to himself.

“Explain.” Nathavin demanded tersely. His voice dropped dangerously, “Do not dare try to lie to me. I hope you haven’t forgotten that I can sense when you are lying to me, human.”

Drawing himself to his full height, Hontas replied in a slightly affronted voice. “I swore my allegiance to you back in your homeland. I will not lie to you now.” He chanced a look at Caellia, risking the dark Lord’s wrath. “She is in better care with you. I do not want Asadar to get his hands on her.” A look of deep sadness crossed his face. “I know all too well how cruel he can be to women who refuse him.”

Shaking off his momentary lapse, he explained quickly that Asadar had pushed his men too hard for too long. Asadar had forced his troops to undergo long, grueling training sessions with little sleep or food for weeks.

Andraos nodded and spoke, gaining Nathavin’s attention. “I’ve seen him do it before Nathavin. Hontas tells the truth.”

Nathavin took all the information in and nodded in acknowledgement. Turning his fierce gaze on Hontas, he noticed the human again staring at Caellia. It irritated him and he purposely placed himself in front of her, blocking her from the humans view.

Tensely, he looked along the castles walls, taking in the positions of their fighters. The dark elven fighters were exactly where they were supposed to be, as he’d expected. The light elven regiments were also at their designated positions, much to his surprise. They had protested initially about their placement on the field and he’d half expected them to try to stage a small revolt as soon as the castle was threatened. Clearly Caellia had straightened them out. The human units from Giran and Dion who rounded out the castles interior defense were also in their assigned areas and stood at the ready, waiting for their orders.

Seeing his unease, Caellia stood closer to him and leaned against him slightly, giving him her support.


*****


Asadar glared at the mighty fortress as he listened to the cat rumble ominously at his side. “Lord Nathavin, you will die this day. I swear it on the soul of Einhasad.” He grinned maliciously. “But first, I will make you watch as your castle burns to the ground and your kind dies all around you. And then,” he paused and then continued with great relish, “if you are truly unfortunate enough to have given Caellia a child, I will make you watch as she swears allegiance to me and agrees to become my wife, in order to spare that child’s life.” His head tilted back and an unholy laugh filled the air. “I will take your castle, annihilate your kind, and then take your wife and child from you!”

Naldorl watched him closely. “If you think my brother’s castle will fall that easily…”

Asadar backhanded the chained blade dancer furiously. “Shut up!”

Naldorl spun around and fell to the ground heavily from the force of the blow. Gaining his feet unsteadily, he spat out the blood that was pooling in his mouth, wincing as he did so. Shillien he wished Asadar would just kill him. Death would be far better than this life of imprisonment and servitude. “Why have you brought me here?” He demanded bitterly. “I’ve already told you I won’t divulge the castle’s weaknesses, so kill me already.”

Grinning evilly, Asadar murmured, “Oh but this is torture for you as well, dark elf. You get to watch your brother’s castle fall for a second time.”

“Half brother.” Naldorl corrected with a hiss of dislike. He glared angrily at Asadar over the reminder that it was his fault the castle had fallen the first time to Goryn.

Asadar waved the correction off dismissively as he replied, “Details, details.”

“Yes, it’s all in the details. The little things.” Naldorl said sarcastically. He looked toward the impressive castle. Details were what his half brother was best at. His eyes scanned the walls and towers of the castle noticing the differences in the placement of key units. A look toward the far valley opposite of where he now stood confirmed his suspicion. He looked over at Asadar and grinned despite the pain it caused him. The fool had no idea.

A high ranking general came up to Asadar. “We are ready.”


*****


“Here they come!” Shouted Shardaer as she raced back toward the castle on her fenrir.

Nathavin and the others stood anxiously as they watched the huge force advance on the castle swiftly and engage the first lines of defense at the outer walls. Soon the attacking force was close enough so that the mages on the walls began to cast spells at them rapidly. The air crackled with the sound of magic spells.

“Don’t let them get near the gates!” Nathavin roared at the mages. “Kill them all!” He heard the sound of an arrow being drawn and loosed. He turned and saw Caellia firing rapidly at a human mage who’d strayed too close to the outer wall. Before he’d even had time to draw an arrow of his own the mage fell to the ground dead. Looking up at Caellia, he found her staring at him with one eyebrow arched delicately and an amused expression on her face.

“You were too slow Nathavin.” A small smile played around her lips. Catching sight of a dagger user trying to sneak up on one of the castles defenders, she smirked as she took aim. “I spy with my little eyes…” The arrow sang through the air and slammed into the back of the woman at the same time as a blast of air ripped into the woman’s abdomen. Caellia looked up to find the source of the spell and was met by Kattath’s eyes. “You took my kill.” She said in a falsely hurt tone.

Smiling, Kattath replied mischievously, “I only wanted to get a kill before Nathavin did.”

Nathavin snorted, so they wanted to play like that did they? He took a look at the battlefield below, and chose a target. “Watch and learn.” He taunted them. Pulling an arrow from the quiver, he set it against the string and infused the bow with an incredible amount of power as he drew the string back. When he let go there was a loud concussive sound as the added magic propelled the arrow forcefully through the air.

To both Caellia’s and Kattath’s astonishment the arrow sailed clean through the front of his chosen target’s chest before exiting out the back. It finally landed in a shower of dirt ten paces away from where the target had fallen. The bishop never knew what had hit him.

“Questions?” Nathavin asked them with a smugly superior tone.

“Only one.” Caellia replied.

He raised an eyebrow at her.

“When will you be teaching me that?” She asked cheekily as she stared at him, blatantly envious of his ability.

Nathavin laughed at both her expression and tone of voice. “I’m afraid that, that particular death shot is outside of your abilities Caellia.” He answered.

“We’ll see about that.” Caellia groused. “I just need to train with Shi’nryne some more.”

Nathavin laughed again. In truth, the skill was within her ability to learn. His telling her that it wasn’t would only increase her ambition to learn and master the skill, and that was what he wanted. “Perhaps.” He conceded. “But that will have to wait until after the baby is born.” He whispered to her as he leaned down close and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. Soon there was no more time for playful banter as the fighting began in earnest. The small forays that Asadar’s men had been engaging in gave way to full fledged assaults.


*****


“Take the gates down!” Asadar yelled angrily as he watched the sorcerers set the wooden gates ablaze. “You!” He hollered at a nearby unit mounted on striders. “Have those beasts attack the gates! Their hide is tough enough to withstand the flames!” He watched as the striders began battering the castle gates with their massive clawed feet.

A loud roar from his left caught his attention and he looked in that direction to see his cat chasing after one of the castle’s defenders that had fallen from the ramparts. A savage smile lifted his lips as he chased down the lone light elven mage. It wasn’t hard to catch up to him. The cat was exceptionally good at tripping up slow runners. He slammed his shield against the mage’s back, the pain of the blow stunning the poor elf momentarily. “Where do you think you’re going?” Asadar snarled.

The mage didn’t answer but instead cast a lightning fast spell, propelling a huge spear of ice at Asadar, thrusting him away from the mage. Two more lightning fast spells burned and singed the air around them, turning Asadar’s own malignant aura against him. “Caellia will never be yours!” The mystic yelled furiously.

“You stupid fool!” Asadar laughed openly at him. “You would rather she stay with the dark elf?! Bear his child?!” With a mighty roar, Asadar brought his sword up and slammed it against the elf’s shield, splintering it in one blow. “She’s betrayed your kind! She lies with him at night! She could already be carrying his child!” He laughed at the outraged look he received. “Don’t be stupid boy! Surely you know what happens…” He was cut off mid-sentence as a mighty bolt of lightning crashed down from the heavens.

“Do not speak of such things!” The elf howled angrily.

“Struck a nerve did I?” Asadar gloated as he backed away from the angered elf, silently giving his cat the command to attack from behind the elf. The cat did not disappoint him. Two swipes from its lethal claws and the mage was dead.

As Asadar turned to go back to the front of the castle, he heard the unmistakable sound of the massive wooden gates collapsing. “Ready or not, here I come…” He whispered in demented glee, recalling the popular cry of a child’s game that started the frantic dash to get to the safe base before you were caught.


*****


Nathavin cursed viciously as the gates splintered. “Fallback NOW! Everyone inside! Move! Move!”

Zarvynaar snatched Caellia by the arm and began dragging her towards the castle. “Come on!” He yelled at her as she stubbornly tried to keep shooting.

“But I can finish him off! Just a couple more arrows!” She yelled back desperately.

“No!” He yelled back at her as he continued to drag her away. “Nathavin said everyone inside the castle! That means you too!”

Caellia looked around for Kattath for support but the spell howler had disappeared. Sighing in frustration she gave in and followed Zarvynaar inside the castle’s inner keep.

“Lord Nathavin,” Andraos yelled to be heard above the din of battle, “we need to go inside the castle! If we don’t we could be caught here!”

“I want to be sure everyone is inside!” Nathavin yelled back, his eyes scanning the castle grounds.

Shi’nryne shook his head. “Everyone that could get inside is! We must go inside now and close the inner gates or they will overrun us and take the castles interior!” He looked to the people that were still fighting against the humans. “We cannot wait for all of them!”

“Where’s Caellia?!” Nathavin yelled in concern. They had gotten split up when he’d gone to help the mage units out.

“She’s inside with Zarvynaar!” Andraos answered him. “I saw him drag her inside the castle as soon as the order to fall back was given!”

Nodding in relief, Nathavin conceded. “Alright, we go in and close the gates.” As the three of them raced inside the castle, Nathavin prayed Shillien would watch over those who would be sacrificed and left outside.


*****


On the hill overlooking the far valley across from the castle, a templar of Shillien stood up and motioned for the orcs behind him to stand as well. “The gates have been brought down. We will give them a few minutes to ensure that the majority of their forces are inside the courtyard before we attack their base camps.” He glowered darkly at the orcs. “Kill everyone who is not with us. I don’t want prisoners…” He looked back at the camps with Aden’s banners fluttering in the breeze. “I want corpses.”

The orcs behind him laughed menacingly.


*****


Asadar sucked in a large breath of air as he climbed over the broken remains of the massive castle gates. “Lord Nathavin! So sorry about your gates! I’ll make sure the dwarves make higher quality ones after I see how much money there is in your vaults!” He yelled across the courtyard to the laughter of his men “Now come out of hiding! And bring your pretty wife with you!”

Yaran looked at his sister as his wing fluttered in irritation. “I thought he said we were going to get this castle? He’d better not be trying to double cross us!”

Rolling her eyes, Ardista retorted. “He’s taunting them. It’s just another tactic to rattle them and set them on edge.” She cast her brother a withering look. “Honestly, I don’t want this castle. It’s ugly, dark and altogether depressing.” Her gaze settled on Asadar as she watched him continue to taunt and insult Nathavin. “I want his castle.” She muttered, thinking of the bright, clean and crisp white stones of Aden.


*****


“Nathavin!” Caellia called out in relief as she rushed up to him. “Where were you?! I was so worried…”

“I’m fine Caellia.” He shushed her, drawing her into a quick embrace before releasing her. He glanced at her quickly, looking for injuries. Seeing none aside from a few minor scrapes, he felt himself relax a little.

Andraos cleared his throat. “Asadar will not wait long Nathavin. He will attempt to gain access to the inner castle within minutes.”

Nodding, Nathavin looked to Caellia. “Take two archery units and stand on those ramps,” he said, pointing out the ramps that were directly over the doors. “Kill anyone who crosses the threshold. Have Kattath take two mage units up there as well.”

“Nathavin,” Caellia started slowly and with great hesitation, “I haven’t seen Kattath since before the order to fallback…”

Silence filled the air as Nathavin stared at her.

Andraos swore softly as he realized the woman must’ve been caught outside.
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:44 AM   #326
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Default Re: Forbidden Sweets

**Installment 69**


Kattath winced and cried out in pain as she yanked the arrow out of her upper thigh. With a muffled hiss, she pressed a makeshift bandage against the wound before wrapping the length of fabric she’d torn from her own robes around her leg to secure the bandage. Slowly she stood up and chanced a peek at the castles inner gates and swore softly. They were closed. Cursing violently she ducked back inside the tower as Asadar’s forces began pouring through the battered gates.

Her options were few and none of them were promising. Already Asadar’s men were making their way up the battlements to secure them. Again she peeked around the corner and a small grin split her face despite the pain. The small group of orcs that Nathavin had sent to Aden to infiltrate Asadar’s armies had just come into sight.

A plan formulated in her mind. Tensely she watched the goings on below. When she felt it was safe enough, she quickly cast a weak spell at the nearest orc.

The orc grunted in mild discomfort as she felt a stinging sensation on the back of her neck. Turning around she gazed at the area directly behind her. Seeing nothing, she shrugged to herself and faced the castle again.

Kattath inwardly groaned. She had never liked orcs. This time she summoned a reddened bone and flung it at the orc while simultaneously chanting a swift incantation. The bone splintered with a resounding crack against the heavy axe.

This time the orc spun around quickly, sure that someone was attacking her now. Her eyes scanned the area in a constant back and forth motion for a few minutes before looking up at the battlements. She was startled to see Kattath peering at her from one of the towers. What was the dark elven woman doing outside the castle’s inner keep? Grunting at her companions, she began to make her way to the spell howler. She saw a group of human mages making their way to that tower to secure it and she stood in front of them and simply stared them down. After a tense stand-off they finally decided that she apparently couldn’t understand them and simply moved to the next tower rather than waste time arguing with her.

“What happened?” The orc curtly asked Kattath when she was close enough.

“Archer clipped my thigh and I was unable to run inside with the others.” Kattath replied equally as curt.

Nodding the orc muttered. “You will assist us then when we betray Asadar and his men.”

Kattath gave the orc a hard look. “Do not forget that you are in service to the dark elves. I will be giving the orders.” The two stared at one another tensely for a few moments before Kattath growled a low warning. “I might be injured, orc, but it will only take a simple spell to kill you.”

The orc grunted as she backed away. “Be glad that it is not me who decides your fate.” She let the axe-head fall to the stone floor heavily, watching the dark elven woman’s face as the axe left its mark in the solid stone.

“You should remember, orc, it is Nathavin who decides all of our fates.” Kattath whispered harshly.

Not knowing how to respond to that the orc fell silent.


*****


“Nathavin we need to go look for her!” Caellia insisted as she followed him through the castle.

“No!” He growled back at her from over his shoulder. “Kattath can handle herself well enough.” At least he prayed she could. “If we go outside now we will be caught and captured!”

“But Nathavin she’s my friend and I…” Caellia pulled up short to keep from colliding into his chest as he swung around swiftly to face her.

“She’s my friend too Caellia!” Gripping her chin tightly in one hand he forced her to listen to him. “I’m as worried about her as you are, but we cannot go looking for her. Right now we are needed in here. Both of us.” His voice softened somewhat. “Our people need us to guide them through this Caellia.”

Andraos watched them closely for a moment before speaking up lowly. “Queen Caellia, Lord Nathavin is correct. You are both needed here.” He made a sweeping gesture with his arm, indicating everyone gathered tensely inside the castle’s main keep. “They are all looking to both of you for guidance. If either of you appears to be panicking in the slightest, they will panic and all will be lost.”

Caellia growled in worried frustration, knowing in her heart that they were both right. “Fine. But I’m going to go look for her at the earliest opportunity.”

Nathavin’s gaze narrowed angrily before growling at her. “You will do no such thing.” Shillien he didn’t need her arguing with him now!

Andraos cast a worried glance around them as people began to notice the argument that was taking place. A nervous tension had begun to sweep through the assembled forces below. “Nathavin, end this. Now!” He whispered urgently.

Understanding immediately what Andraos had noticed, Nathavin snarled at her. “Your life is not yours to risk Caellia! Your life belongs to me and the baby! As your Lord and husband, and the father of your child, I’m ordering you to stay inside this castle at all times!”

Caellia’s mouth slammed shut in anger as his words registered. She might be Queen, but he still reigned over her, in all ways. Seething in anger she replied tightly, “As you command, my Lord.”

“You are right about that Caellia.” He growled at her. “I am your Lord and I command your obedience in this matter.” When she remained silent he knew he had successfully reminded her of her place. It hurt him deeply however that he’d had to do so at all, and in such a cruel fashion. However he couldn’t allow her to risk her own life foolishly on such a risky endeavor. He meant what he said; her life was no longer hers to risk.


*****


Asadar glared at the wooden gates guarding the castles inner keep. “Take them down.” He ordered the nearest general impatiently. “I don’t care how you do it. We’ve wasted enough time.” A low growl from the panther at his side caused him to glance sharply at what had grabbed the cats’ attention. His eyes narrowed in irritation as he spotted the mage’s summon. It was a rather prissy looking white cat that he’d heard the mage often refer to as ‘Queen’. What a ridiculously stupid name for a cat, even a female one. “And for the love of Einhasad, get rid of that abomination you mistakenly call a ‘cat’.”

The mage looked at him, taking care to mask his anger as he replied tersely. “As you wish.” With a flick of his wrist, the magical creature vanished back into the nothingness from which it had come. Hatred flowed through him as he stalked away.

Ardista sidled up to Asadar cautiously. “About the castle,” She began slowly, intending on bringing up the possibility of Asadar keeping Goddard for himself and giving Aden to the Kamaels, however she never got the chance.

“Incoming!” Several people shouted at once.

Asadar swung around and cursed. “Where are they coming from?!” He got his answer soon enough as five large battalions converged on them from several different directions at once. An enraged roar ripped from his throat as he recognized the banners of Giran and Dion. “So King Therus and Queen Aldana have decided to throw their lot in with the dark elves have they?! Fine! They will lose their castles as well once I’ve removed and killed Nathavin!”

The orcs looked to one another and nodded to one another. Signaling to the orc female in the tower with Kattath, they placed themselves carefully. The leader of the group cautioned the others. “Be careful who you attack. We do not want to mistakenly kill the allied humans. Also, remember to choose your targets wisely and kill quickly. Take out the bishops and cardinals first, sorcerers and any butcher with a dagger next.”

He fell silent for a moment. “On second thought, kill anyone holding a dagger first, and then kill the bishops and cardinals.” He looked around at the orcs and then changed his orders for a third time, grinning widely and with a slightly crazed look. “Forget order, let’s have a bloodbath!” The gathered orcs laughed uproariously and turned their attention to the business of killing.


*****


The Shillien Templar listened quietly as the sounds of battle reached him. “They are engaged within the walls. It’s time.” Looking around at the others, he reminded them harshly. “Remember, no one survives if they are not allied with us.” As he ran off leading the charge, he muttered darkly to himself. “We can burn their bodies as a sacrifice to Shillien afterwards.”

They came upon the poorly defended base camps and carnage ensued. “Pitiful!” He raged angrily, looking around at the bodies that now lay strewn about, the result of his and the orcs handiwork. “Only healers and a few sorcerers?!” Glaring balefully at the flagpole that proudly held Aden’s banners, he swung his sword at it furiously, intent on destroying it. “Come out here you spineless cowards!” Dark curses and insults spewed from his mouth as he continued to **** away at the flag.

“They are coming.” The nearest orc said with a laugh as he flexed his sword arm in readiness.

The templar snorted as he stopped attacking the flag. As he saw the sheer number that was now pouring out from the castle’s courtyard he grinned widely. Asadar was an absolute fool. “Engage them here for a short time and then slowly drag them into the foothills. The more time we can give Nathavin the better. Kill as many as you can before we drag them away.” He ordered firmly. “Do not let any of them go back to the castle.”


*****


Ardista hissed in stunned disbelief as she watched Asadar order almost half his entire invading force to defend the base camps. “Have you lost your mind?!” She asked him angrily. “Let the camps go! We have the courtyard!”

Asadar ignored her in favor of yelling at the mages charged with the task of destroying the inner gates.

Whirling around in anger, Ardista stormed away to help the orcs. She didn’t get far before she came across her brother’s mangled body. Sinking to her knees, she stared at him through her tears. “Yaran…” Her saddened gaze took in the blood that was splattered across his chest. The wounds there were deep. Too deep. No human or elf could have made such deep lacerations. They didn’t have that kind of strength. And his wing, his poor beautiful wing had suffered the worst damage. It was nearly sheared off at the point where it connected to his shoulder blade. Her gaze narrowed as she turned her attention to the orcs.

“Asadar!” She yelled in warning.

“No you don’t.” Kattath whispered softly. The spell was swift and accurate, knocking the winged woman to the ground, but it didn’t kill her. Kattath sent another whirlwind of air at the woman as she attempted to stand. When she was close enough for the woman to hear her, she asked in a deceptively soft voice. “Who are you?” This woman’s aura bothered her immensely.

Ardista turned and glared at the dark elven woman. “I’m your murderer.” Her hand rose as she prepared to fire her crossbow.

“I think not.” Kattath replied as she calmly sent another spell at the woman, watching closely as the dark energies flared brilliantly.

Ardista smiled wickedly through the pain and fired the crossbow. The bolt flew true and slammed into the elf’s upper arm. However the smiled died on her lips as she felt her own life force being sucked away from her as the spell howler cast another spell.

Kattath stared at the other woman for a brief moment as the spell healed the minor injury to her arm before stating in a frosty voice. “Angels are the only beings that should ever be adorned with wings.” Her voice turned absolutely cold, the darkest spells she knew flying from her lips as her eyes changed color, becoming bright silver, almost white.

Ardista’s scream filled the air briefly as she saw a swirling vortex of dark energy form around her. Before she had time to react, she felt a massive force of energy hit her solidly in the stomach and propel her inside the dark vortex before it closed.

A lone feather floated slowly to the ground as Kattath stared at the otherwise empty space where the winged woman had once been.

The sound of the castles inner gates splintering and giving way drew her attention. A muffled curse escaped her.


*****


“Nathavin! Where are you?!” Asadar roared above the din.

Caellia looked nervously at Nathavin, noticing the way his face was tight and his teeth clenched in fury.

“Caellia, stay close to me. Zarvynaar,” he turned his attention to the blade dancer, “if we become separated, take Caellia away from here, take her to our homelands. Use whatever means necessary to ensure her cooperation.” He caught the bladedancers eyes, “Remember, she may be your Queen, but I’m still your Lord and my orders supersede hers. Understood?”

Zarvynaar nodded firmly. “Understood.”

Nathavin nodded absently, his gaze refocused on the battle below, watching as Asadar’s forces clashed with the elven forces. From his vantage point here, the battle looked to be progressing in their favor. Asadar’s forces looked to have been cut in half. He’d heard from some of the lookouts that Asadar had sent some of his army to protect the base camps and that the orcs had so far been successful in reducing the number of those that remained inside the castle.

Watching quietly, Caellia stood motionless beside him. She was angry at Nathavin for ensuring that Zarvynaar would disobey any order she might choose to give him, but she was not going to anger Nathavin again. That line had been clearly drawn and she dared not cross it this time.

“NATHAVIN!” Asadar roared, the sound echoing throughout the massive room.

Nathavin snorted, “If he wants to face me, so be it.” He withdrew an arrow from his quiver, took aim, and fired.

The arrow screamed through the air, gaining the attention of all before slamming into Asadar’s shield with a resounding clang.

Asadar looked up at the balcony above and smiled viciously. “So that’s where you’ve been hiding.” His gaze slid to Caellia. “I see you’re keeping her close. Afraid to let her stray too far away?”

Nathavin glared at him silently, assessing him.

Paying no mind to the silence, Asadar looked over the group arranged on the balcony and the grin widened even further. “Andraos, Hontas, it’s so good to see that our paths have crossed again.” The grin vanished. “Too bad your paths will end with my sword through your gullets.”

Andraos replied stonily. “You never were able to defeat me in a fair fight Asadar. You always had to have your cat to help you.” Andraos looked around the room uneasily. Where was the infernal creature come to think of it? It was always by Asadar’s side.

“Why don’t you come down here then? Let’s have ourselves a real duel then.” Replied Asadar with a wide grin. “We could even place bets. You remember how we used to do that, don’t you?”

Andraos stared silently, not rising to the bait. Inwardly he fumed. Those ‘bets’ had never been pleasant for anyone.

Laughing at the telling silence, Asadar finally turned his attention to Caellia. “Caellia, you are still as beautiful as you were the day Goryn died. Tell me that the rumors are not true. Tell me that you have not truly gone and wed that vile, evil, dark elf beside you and have forsaken me.”

Surprising everyone, Caellia growled out in fierce anger. “You have no right to speak of Goryn, you sadistic spawn of Antharas.” Her voice trembled in rage. “Do not ever speak his name again. Ever.”

“Caellia? You wound me with these insults…” Asadar began in a falsely hurt voice, mocking her.

“I’m not finished, you worthless sack of stakato droppings.” Caellia snarled vindictively, cutting him off mid-sentence.

Nathavin was slightly shocked at the change in Caellia. The depth of anger in her voice was unparalleled.

Asadar narrowed his gaze at her. “Be careful, light elf. I will only tolerate your insults for so long.”

A derisive laugh filled the air. “You will only take insults for so long?” Caellia laughed disbelievingly for a moment. “Asadar, you are a…”

“Enough Caellia.” Nathavin spoke quietly and with authority. When she looked as if she was going to ignore him, he spoke sharply. “Quiet!” Speaking in a voice so low that only her ears were capable of hearing, he reminded her. “Remember, your life is not yours to risk.”

Caellia tossed him an angry look but heeded the warning and stayed silent.

“No it’s alright Nathavin, let her say what she wanted to say. I’m dying to hear it.” Asadar goaded.

Turning to face Asadar, Nathavin glared at him. “You will be, soon.”

Asadar’s face colored as his words were turned back on him. “NO! It will be you who dies!” Yelling angrily to those of his forces that were still alive, “KILL THEM! TAKE THE CASTLE!”

The battle began again in earnest. Nathavin strung his bow and fired relentlessly at Asadar as the human began battling his way up the stairs to the balcony. Worriedly, he watched the human’s slow but steady progress up the steps. Speaking swiftly to Shi’nryne and Zarvynaar in dark elvish, he ordered them to take Caellia further into the castle and begin preparations to leave with her.

As soon as she felt the two bladedancers pulling her away Caellia screamed loudly in protest. “NO!

Asadar momentarily stopped and watched the struggle intently, using his shield to deflect Nathavin’s arrows.

Giving a violent pull, Caellia wrenched free of the two bladedancers, losing her balance in the process and stumbled forward a few steps before falling heavily to the ground.

Asadar’s eyes widened at the acrobatic little twist she managed to pull off. She had landed painfully; her entire weight had come down on her right shoulder. He’d be surprised if it wasn’t dislocated. But if she hadn’t twisted herself in mid-fall, she would’ve landed on her stomach and it would’ve been far less painful. He smiled slowly. There was only one reason for her to have sacrificed her arm like that to protect her stomach.

“So it’s true then!” He roared victoriously. “You are pregnant!”
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:51 PM   #327
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Default Re: Forbidden Sweets

**Installment 71**


A litany of curses flew from Nathavin’s lips. “Shi’nryne! Zarvynaar! Get her out of here, now!” He yelled frantically.

Andraos charged down the steps toward Asadar and engaged him in a furious sword fight, trying to stay out of Nathavin’s line of fire. His dual swords flashed brilliantly as they met Asadar’s blade and shield again and again.

“No! Let me go! Please! I need to help him!” Caellia screamed as she desperately tried to shake off the two males dragging her away. Turning to face Zarvynaar, she yelled at him. “I’m ordering you to let go of me!”

He didn’t reply back, he just simply kept pulling her along. There was nothing he could do. Nathavin had given him a direct order and had ensured that he understood that it over-rode any order she gave him.

Taking pity on her, Shi’nryne responded. “We have our orders Caellia. We must get you to safety.”

“He’s going to die!” Caellia cried heartbrokenly, still straining against them. Their momentary silence made her all the more frantic.

“Do you think the castle is lost?” Zarvynaar questioned, making sure to speak in their language so Caellia wouldn’t understand.

Shi’nryne shook his head while replying back in the same language. “Nathavin will think of something.” A rather strong pull from Caellia made him pause for a moment while they regained control of her. “He’s just worried about her and wants to be sure she’s safe.” He shouldn’t have let her stay here and fight at all, however he kept that thought to himself. “When we have secured her, I will rejoin Nathavin. You will stay with her.”


*****


Asadar threw back his head and laughed as he slammed his shield into the side of Andraos’ head, knocking the other male to the ground. Bounding up the steps, he closed the distance between himself and Nathavin. After only a few running steps he was suddenly unable to move, his legs seemingly paralyzed. Looking around he caught sight of Hontas casting a familiar spell and laughed. “Now I thought you’d given up that profession?”

Hontas shuddered in rage as he watched the fallen body pick itself up from the ground and turn to face him. As he looked back at Asadar, he replied, his voice full of vengeance and hatred. “For Marin, I will take it up this one last time.” His voice filled with fury, he gave the command for the undead being to attack.

“Fool!” Asadar yelled, his sword slicing cleanly through the undead things arm, severing it from the body. The distraction cost him however as he felt two of Nathavin’s arrows slice into his cheek as they tore past him. His fist came up and wiped the blood away absently as he stared at the suddenly far more confident dark elven Lord.

“First blood.” Nathavin snarled quietly as he readied the next arrow. “You will not leave this castle alive. I assure you of that.” With Caellia being escorted to safety, he could now allow himself to fully concentrate on the battle without having to worry about her possibly getting hurt.

“So sure of that are you?” Asadar stated in his own quiet voice, though it was no less threatening.

Nathavin didn’t reply for a long moment as a private conversation he’d had with Andraos floated back to him. Everything that mattered to him was inside this castle. He couldn’t afford to lose to Asadar. “I’m certain of it.” And there was something else that Asadar seemed to not be aware of yet. Most of his forces that were still alive were no longer fighting. The orcs and Kattath, along with the Shillien Templar and his small unit, had re-entered the castle and forced Asadar’s remaining troops to drop their weapons and surrender while Asadar had been battling his way up the stairs.

Andraos slowly picked himself up off the stone floor and stood up painfully. “Asadar…” He grunted through the pain.

A flicker of annoyance crossed the demented king’s face. “You’re still alive?”

As the two of them engaged in a heated verbal exchange, Nathavin caught sight of a dark form slinking slowly through the shadows behind Andraos. What was it Andraos had said earlier? Something about a... “Andraos behind you!” He yelled even as he pulled his bow up and fired.

Andraos turned around in time to see the huge panther launch itself at him from the shadows with a loud roar. Reflexively he brought his left arm up in a move to protect himself.

The arrow fired from Nathavin’s bow struck the cat in the shoulder, glancing off the armored plating. Thrown off balance mid-leap, the cat hit the floor on all fours and immediately swung around, one foreleg outstretched and swiping furiously at Andraos’ legs and feet.

Not wanting to waste the opportunity Asadar swung his attention to Nathavin and charged him while everyone was focused on the cat. “Now you will die!”

Nathavin didn’t waste time on a response. Swiftly he brought the bow up and just managed to fire a single shot aimed just in front of Asadar’s feet. Trying to avoid the arrow sticking up from the ground at an odd angle, Asadar stumbled. That stumble gave Nathavin time to come around his right side and fire another arrow directly into a weak spot in the joint of the armor at the back of the knee.

With a pained grunt, Asadar swung his sword out, managing to land a deep blow to Nathavins upper thigh. “You will never defeat me Nathavin!” Asadar taunted as he regained his footing, watching the dark elf dodge his sword yet again. It irked him though that even though the wound on the archer’s thigh was deep his movement didn’t seem to be hampered.

Staying silent yet again, Nathavin merely watched closely. It seemed that his silence was slowly causing Asadar to be more and more mentally unstable. Biting back a groan of pain, he put all of his weight on his injured leg and leaped to one side to avoid another of Asadar’s attempts to strike him. As soon as he came to halt, he again raised his bow and fired two shots quickly at Asadar’s back. Although the arrows didn’t penetrate the plated armor, their force actually propelled him face first onto the cold stone floor of the castle.

White hot anger blazed through Asadar as he struggled to his feet. He whirled around to face Nathavin, “Die already!” Angrily he called the cat back to his side. Whispering the words of a dark spell, a large pinkish-purple bubble shaped shield flared into being around him. “Your arrows will do nothing to me now.” Glancing at the others that surrounded him, he called out in clear challenge. “None of you can do anything to me now.”

“Stupid.” Nathavin finally replied, more as a means of further goading and throwing Asadar off-balance than any real opinion as to the intelligence of his choice of spell. “You want to kill me, yet you cast the one spell that you can’t even leave the safety of to chase after me.” He said with a nod to the sword, indicating rather pointedly that all he had to do was stay out of the swords range. An easy enough feat to accomplish as all he had to do was calmly wait for Asadar’s spell to break and fall. After a slight pause, “And not only that, but you then openly dare the others to come after you.”

Asadar laughed. “You’re right Nathavin. I can’t leave the safety of the shield. But the cat can!”

With another roar the cat raced toward Nathavin as Hontas and Andraos attacked Asadar.

Cursing yet again, Nathavin had to focus his entire attention on the incredibly fast feline. The animal was amazingly quick and it was soon clear that the task of even keeping it in his sights long enough for a clean shot was going to be difficult. It was everywhere at once. In front of him one second and behind him the next. He even had to resort at one point to clubbing it on the side of the head with his bow to knock it away from him.


*****


As Caellia, Shi’nryne and Zarvynaar grew closer to the dreaded prison cell, as she’d taken to calling the hated room, she grew more desperate. “Please!”

Having had enough of her yelling and pleading, Zarvynaar finally stopped and pushed her against the wall carefully, being mindful not to hurt her. “Enough! You are my Queen, but he is our Lord! Our. Both of ours.”

Caellia stared at him furiously. “I understand that! But he is also my husband!”

“All the more reason for you to do as he has requested of you!” Zarvynaar fired back.

Shi’nryne watched them silently, noticing how very still Caellia had gotten. His eyes narrowed at the mutinous look that was spreading across her face while her eyes seemed to focus on a point just in front of Zarvynaar. Having trained with her so extensively, he recognized this look. And it did not bode well for him and Zarvynaar. She only had this look when she was very close to figuring out a way to beat him. Before he had time to say anything to her, her eyes refocused and she pinned Zarvynaar with a fierce stare.

“If my life is not mine to risk because it belongs to him and this baby, then his life isn’t his to risk because his life belongs to me and this baby as well.” Her eyes flicked to Shi’nryne, seeing the stunned look on his face she knew she was on the right track. “I am his wife, and the mother of his child. I need him. The baby needs him.”

“Also, all elves, light and dark alike, need him as well.” She stated with quiet conviction. “He is the only one who can ensure this alliance works.” Staring up at Shi’nryne, “If he dies, this alliance we have will fall apart. I can’t make it work. Not without him.” She spoke lowly, trying desperately to make them understand her point. “Don’t you see, his life isn’t his to risk either!”

“He is the Lord! It is his prerogative to risk his life as he sees fit!” Zarvynaar snapped out at her.

“No it’s not!” Caellia snapped right back. “Don’t you see?!” Tears of frustration welled up in her eyes.

“She’s right.” Shi’nryne said with dawning understanding. “He shouldn’t be there. He should be somewhere safe, so that if the castle falls we will still have a Lord to guide us. If the castle falls and he is killed…” He didn’t finish that thought. Looking to Caellia he muttered curtly. “Stay here.”

Caellia raised an eyebrow at him. “No. My orders carry the same weight as his now. I’m going up there.” Shi’nryne had always wanted her to stand up to him hadn’t he? Stand her ground in the face of opposition? Well now she was.

A growl of aggravation escaped Shi’nryne as he realized what she was doing. “You just had to choose now, of all times, to do this to me didn’t you?” Without waiting for an answer, he raced back the way they’d come.

“You mean to tell me we came all this way for nothing!?” Zarvynaar yelled incredulously at their disappearing backs before swearing violently and dashing off after them.


*****


The warlock watched the fight between Asadar and the others tensely. He wanted to help but the dark elves charged with watching over the prisoners would not let him. Watching the fight, it was painfully clear to him that Nathavin simply couldn’t keep up with the cat’s fast reflexes. Taking one last look at the guards, he made his decision. If they killed him, at least he would die knowing he had saved the dark elven Lord. Focusing all of his attention on the large panther, he chanted the incantation under his breath.


*****


Caellia and the others burst back onto the balcony to find nearly everyone battling Asadar. An enraged yowl caught her attention and her breath caught in her throat to see Nathavin bleeding badly and barely able to stand while battling a huge armored panther. She didn’t even notice that Shi’nryne and Zarvynaar had gone on ahead and were oblivious to the trouble Nathavin was in. A terrified scream tore from her throat as she raised her bow and took aim at the cat.

Before she could fire, the cat suddenly stopped its attack on Nathavin. Shaking its head violently back and forth, it began hissing and growling. The forepaws came up and took long frantic swipes at its head and ears. The hissing and growling gave way to terrible yowls that sounded eerily like screams as it became more frenzied.

Everyone, including Asadar, stopped to stare at the sight of the afflicted animal. Confused as to what could be causing the cat to act that way, Asadar took several limping steps forward, calling to the beast, trying to regain control over it. It was the wrong thing to do.

Falling over to its side, the back legs joined the front legs in scratching at its ears and head. Standing back up it stood absolutely still for several long seconds before it swung its head in Asadar’s direction. Slowly, the big cat began to walk toward him.

Believing he had regained control of the cat, Asadar again gave it the command to come to him.

The cat broke into a slow run that gradually got faster. A deep growl started in its throat. Building up speed, the cat suddenly lunged through the air at Asadar.

Asadar realized too late that the cat was not under his control. With a strangled cry, he tried to throw his hands up to somehow try to hurl the cat away from him but it was too late. The cat’s massive claws found purchase in the armor and both fell to the ground from the momentum of the leap. The cat didn’t stop there, twisting its head this way and that, it savagely bit at Asadar’s throat until finally the teeth broke through the neck guard and sunk deeply into his neck.

For several long seconds no one moved, too stunned by what they had just witnessed.

“Kill it.” Andraos whispered in stunned horror.

Shi’nryne lunged forward and plunged both swords between the panther’s shoulders, the swords driving down through both the cat and Asadar’s lifeless body.

Nathavin limped forward slowly, unaware of the many bleeding lacerations that covered him from the cats brutal attack. It was over. Finally, it was all over. His bow fell from his hands and darkness overtook him as he collapsed from the blood loss.

“Nathavin!” Caellia shrieked, seeing him fall.


*****


Waking slowly, Nathavin looked around confusedly. Where was he? Why couldn’t he see? Suddenly the memories came rushing back to him. The battle with Asadar. The huge cat attacking him. With a strangled yell, he tried to sit upright only to groan loudly in pain and flop back down. Pain lanced through him all over. Noise and a bright light flooded the room suddenly, causing him to blink several times in pain while shielding his eyes with his hands.

“Nathavin!” Caellia breathed in relief as she rushed into the room. “Eva I thought we’d lost you!” Mindful of his injuries she hugged him as tightly as she dared.

“Caellia,” he asked hesitantly after a moment of relaxing in her arms, “what happened?”

Pulling away from him, she slowly began to tell him what had happened after he’d collapsed. That he’d been brought into their rooms and the healers had worked day and night to keep him alive. He’d been unconscious for weeks. No one had been sure whether he would survive the cat’s attack or not.

As she cried into his chest, he reached up and held her to him. “I’m sorry I scared you.” He whispered, his voice filled with anguish and sorrow. She only held him tighter in response.

After a while, she informed him that she and Kattath had taken care of the day to day running of the castle. Andraos had assumed the throne of Aden and had sworn an oath of alliance with them. Her tone turned somewhat sad, “Shi’nryne left a couple of weeks ago. Said that he’d put off his search for his love’s murderer for too long.”

Nathavin nodded quietly, understanding that her sadness was for both Shi’nryne leaving before saying goodbye to him, and because of the sad reason for his leaving.

As his hand rested on her stomach, he felt a slight movement. Frowning slightly, he repositioned it. A few minutes later, he felt a distinct movement from her belly. His head jerked up and he pressed his hand against her more firmly. “Caellia…?”

A small giggle burst from her despite her best effort to maintain seriousness. “Yes Nathavin?”

“Did I just feel…?” There it was again!

“Yes you did.” She leaned down and whispered. “Kattath said it’s going to be a girl.”

A smile of pure delight crossed his face. A girl he could thoroughly pamper! He loved it!

“Oh and Nathavin,” Caellia began as she pulled a scroll from the bedside table. “I have a bone to pick with you. About the, ah, requirement, for lifting the curse to your lands? The one where I have to give birth to a child in order for the curse to be lifted…” She let the sentence trail off meaningfully while purposely keeping her tone deceptively light and airy.

Nathavin pulled away from her tensely and glared at her. “I tried to warn you about the requirements when you made your vow to me in my homelands...”

Staring him in the face, she took the rolled up piece of parchment and thwacked the top of his head firmly. “Now, we’re even.” She retorted with a small indignant sniff.

After a moment of somewhat stunned silence, he took the scroll from her, watching the grin spread across her face. “You do realize that I still hold your fate in my hands?”

The grin on her face widened. Yes, she knew he held her fate in his hands. And there was no one else whose hands she’d rather her fate rest in!



######

/end
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:34 AM   #328
Skinfaxy
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Thank you for a great story nabiscocookie! I hope you'll get it published and write more in the future
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Old 01-01-2012, 03:18 AM   #329
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Epic story of epic proportions was epic.

I'm going to miss looking forward to new chapters D:
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:11 AM   #330
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i couldnt stop reading since the first post!
what a brilliant story D
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:32 PM   #331
Hevraska
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It's 3:30 here and I am here since 2 hours. I cann't stop reading, I must go for now but i'll continue. Brilliant character description and narrative.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:36 AM   #332
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I simply can't believe it is over... I am seriously thinking about designing a one off book and sending it to Nabi... OK, maybe 2, for I will want one back with an autograph and what not

Awesome story, awesome writing. Only an awesome person can make something like this happen.

:*
Gina

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Old 06-07-2012, 12:57 AM   #333
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Fantastic! You must continue!
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Old 08-15-2015, 05:38 AM   #334
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Hi
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Old 08-17-2015, 07:53 PM   #335
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Hi back
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