Saturday, April 6, 2013

Queen of Arèthane Excerpt; from the chapter "Burning a Path"


There were more patrons at the other inn and with them, much more noise.  It made it easier for Dafne to hide away, tucked into a corner booth, her ears sensitive to the talk around her as she twirled her room key around her finger.  It helped to drown out her own thoughts and doubts, hearing those of the elves.
Most traded stories of their adventures on the seas, some spoke of loved ones back home, but the point all seemed to come back to, the fear they all shared was the looming threat of the wizard’s army and which village he would hit next.
Many that crowded the inn were displaced refugees of villages sacrificed to Jabari’s fire and vengeance.  They had lost everything and escaped with barely their lives, some not even that.  Most argued and bellowed angrily over the Queen’s lack of action.  Some, who seemed more thoughtful than others, attributed that to the Council’s required vote.
“The Queen isn’t allowed to mobilize the troops for war without the Council’s approval and they voted against it,” one elf said to the group standing at the bar. 
Karawyn had lost the vote?  Dafne wondered how the world hadn’t been beaten down by a constant storm fueled by her sister’s wrath at losing anything, much less something as important as the vote.
“The Queen is gifted, she shouldn’t need the vote,” chimed in another. “She should just fight.”
“But then we’d be complaining now about her lack of diplomacy and not following the rules instead of her inaction,” retorted the voice of reason.  A low chorus of grumbles and huffs followed.
“Her people are dying,” a female voice lamented. “Certainly she wouldn’t continue to let them suffer.  Certainly she doesn’t fear the wizard.”
Karawyn didn’t fear the wizard.  Her deep-seeded betrayal burned away any other emotion, but for hate.  Dafne; however, still felt the stirring of sorrow over losing her beloved guardian.  The loss cut deep, deeper than the deception.
“And where is the Prince?” another asked.  Dafne perked up, looking their way.
“Probably taken up with his human,” another grumbled, earning a scowl from Dafne.
“No, his absence during these times is notable,” said Reason. “He hasn’t been to any of the council meetings; word is that he’s disappeared.”
“Do you believe the stories that he was involved in all of those killings with the Angel of Death?” a new voice asked.
“They were doing what was ordered of them, what the Queen had warned…”
Dafne wanted to growl with frustration.  She didn’t care about the legends and rumors; she knew exactly what happened with Jarrad and Aerath concerning those aligned with Jabari’s army.  She wanted to know why they thought her brother had disappeared.
“It’s a lot nicer in here,” Baelemar observed, sitting down beside Dafne only to frown at her expression of frustration. “What’s wrong?”
“They’re saying Jarrad has disappeared.  And Karawyn lost the vote.  Do you know anything about that?” The words rushed from Dafne on a single breath.
With a look of guilt, he said, “I received word when looking for the horses.  A scout delivered the note.  Your brother was arrested by the Elders.”
“Arrested!” Dafne cried, not caring if anyone noticed. “How can that be?  I didn’t even know they did that!”
“They exact punishments for certain crimes committed.  Emily broke the Ancient Treaties by killing Zoroaster.”  Dafne closed her mouth, knowing at the time it had been a crime but had hoped then it would go unnoticed. “Because she’s human, Jarrad is serving her punishment for her.”
“What does that mean?”
Baelemar shook his head, sympathetic.  “I don’t know.”
“What are these punishments?”
“Not something you want to know more about, but your brother is strong and powerfully gift, I’m sure he’ll be fine.”


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