1 ~ Elyant
Just as she’d expected, when it came time for his Majesty, Saven Cerais to find his wife and summon her to his bedchamber he sought out Serrala to do his bidding. She hated it, but she issued him a polite curtsey and promised to have his queen report to him forthright. Thus, it was that she left her quiet study and made her way back to Ashise’s private chamber.
“I hate this so much,” she muttered idly to herself once she’d reached her destination. Then, as was expected of her she tapped a faint knock on the door. “Ashise?” …Nothing. Huh now that was odd. Sucking in a breath, she glanced in both directions down the hallway before letting herself inside. “Ashise?”
The room inside was dark, a bit too dark in fact. Pursing her lips in thought, she moved slowly into the room and snapped her fingers with a quick command, causing the wicks of three main candles in the room to catch fire. “Ashise are you in here?” She called softly into the room as she began to look around, but no matter where she turned, she failed to see the form of her friend. “Ashise? There isn’t any time for this, the king is waiting.” Still there was nothing.
Now this is when she began to panic. Cursing silently to herself, she closed her eyes and uttered a word of power that made every wall mounted candle in the room light up. “Ashise!” She couldn’t believe it, there wasn’t a single trace of her friend anywhere in the room, except for an old leather bound book set unceremoniously down upon a pile of cushions in the corner. “Oh Ashise you are a fool…”
She’d seen this book before, she knew what this book was, hell she’d even managed to master a few of the minor spells held inside when Ashise was working on them. Hoping against all hope that this book had nothing to do with Ashise’s disappearance she picked it up, slipping a finger into the binding to hold the placement of the pages. Slowly, she turned the book over and looked down with dismay at the open pages before her, a transportation spell, great, just great. There was no telling where Ashise was right now.
A million different ideas ran through her head as she closed the book and put it back inside the chest where Ashise kept it. Finally after a moment’s contemplation, she settled on one idea, search the castle. Yet before she would do that, she quickly shut the lid on Ashise’s chest, locked it, and snatched the key for safekeeping. All she needed was for someone else to find out what Ashise kept in her secret little treasure chest. With hurried steps, she moved about the room and extinguished all the candles she’d lit before turning for the door.
Unfortunately, just as she was about to leave, the door swung open and Saven stepped inside. “Serrala, where is my wife? I sent you to this room a half hour ago. It should not take this long.”
“Yes, ah, well, you see…” Oh shit, just what was she going to tell him? Taking a moment to think about it she finally let slip a sigh. “Sire, the queen is missing. I was just on my way to come and tell you. I have searched this room from top to bottom and there’s nothing here.”
“What!?” The sound of Saven’s outraged voice echoed harshly off the hallway behind him. “Step aside. Let me see.”
“As you wish,” she responded in an obedient tone as she took a single step out of his way, allowing him passage inside the chamber.
In silence, she watched as Saven practically tore Ashise’s chamber upside down looking through everything he could think up, including the places that it was inconceivable for the queen to be. Blankets were tossed, cushions overturned until finally he stormed past her and out into the hallway. “Guards!”
It took all of three seconds for a squad of five men to appear before him, one of his ranking officers amongst the numbers. “Yes Sire?”
“I want this castle searched!” The sound of Saven’s voice was practically deafening in the now, crowded corner of the hallway. “I want every single room in this place overturned. Leave nothing unchecked. Dismiss no closet, no cupboard, and no slightly open window.”
“As you wish sire,” the officer replied with an incline of his head. “But, might I inquire what it is we are looking for?”
“What are you looking for? What are you looking FOR? The QUEEN is MISSING! Someone in this castle has to know something! I want her found! I want no servant unquestioned, and,” he paused a moment as he withdrew a dagger from his belt and pointed it in the direction where Serrala stood. “You can start with her.”
Like a death sentence, Saven’s words echoed in the space between them, instantly making Serrala fear for her very life.
2 ~ Fahrei
Jatech had made sure to have servants posted by the bedside of their mystery woman all night long, yet the woman had failed to wake and his royal physician was growing worried. “There’s nothing I can do Jatech,” she told him earnestly when he’d called on her for the fifth time since the woman had arrived. “Either she wakes up, or she doesn’t wake up. I can’t conjure up any spell of mending, or mix together any herbs. We simply have to wait.”
“But, how long do we wait?” Jatech inquired with a sense of foreboding. “Just how long is it safe to wait before I have to find some way to, end her life?”
“It’s hard to say, if she doesn’t wake up by tonight, I don’t know.” The physician hung her head low in thought. “When one suffers a blow to the head, there’s simply nothing we can do about it. We don’t know anything about that area of the human body.”
Hesitantly Jatech inclined his head in comprehension. Crestin had failed to come up with anything that might lend a hand as to the woman’s identity, and Jatech didn’t like the idea of having to decide whether or not this woman would live or die. He’d simply have to wait, but first he was going to go back to that waterfall. Closing the door to the chamber, he’d allotted the woman he turned and moved to the nearest guard. “I’m going back to where I found her, if she wakes up. I want to be sent for immediately do you understand? No one is to speak with that woman before me. Not even Crestin.”
“Yes, of course Sire, I’ll see to it myself,” the guard replied adamantly and Jatech smiled knowing he could leave the palace without worrying overmuch about the woman’s state.
The trip back to the waterfall was quick. He’d passed this way a hundred times over the course of his twenty-four years on this world, on a good day he could make it from the palace to the waterfall in less than fifteen minutes. This was one of those days. Pursing his lips in silent contemplation, he ran the events of the previous day through his head. He’d been there, in the middle of the pool and away from the falling water when the woman had come crashing down beside him. But had she fallen straight, or had her fall been more of an arc? Did she come from the direction of the waterfall or another direction? He simply couldn’t recall.
Well, there was one way he could figure this out, even if it was slightly dangerous, and he wasn’t sure exactly what it would tell him. He would simply have to climb up, all the way up, to the top ridge of the falls. If she’d come from the waterfall, there was like to be some sort of sign, or trace.
“Sire. Just what are you planning to do?”
Startled, he spun around and found himself facing one of palace rangers. “Oh, dear Brighid woman! Don’t sneak up behind someone like that.”
“But that’s what you pay me to do you majesty,” the woman replied with a quick smile. “You weren’t thinking of climbing to the top of this fall were you?”
“Yes, I was,” he responded quickly. “I want to see if there’s any sign that someone had been around the water’s edge.”
“Well don’t,” the woman stated in a tone that could have been interpreted as a command. “Not only is the climb risky, you won’t find anything.”
Jatech lifted a brow in curiosity as he considered this woman before him. She was lithe, almost fragile, with dusty brown hair; her eyes were a rich cerulean, and her skin seemed almost flawless, a perfect creamy color. Upon her form, she wore the standard attire of one of the royal rangers, a deep jungle green tunic, and breeches tucked into muddy brown boots. It was their job to keep an eye on the jungle vegetation that surrounded the palace proper. “Alright, I’ll ask. Why is it that I won’t find anything up top?”
“Because, I’ve looked. It’s my job to cover this area and when you showed up with the girl no one had ever seen before I came out here to look around. I mean, if she’d been passing through the jungle to get to the palace, she’d of left some sort of trail. I’m telling you, your majesty, there’s nothing up there, not a single bent branch, and even the moss on the rocks is completely undisturbed. Where ever it was that woman came from, it wasn’t through this jungle.”
“I see, thank you. You have saved me the incredible amount of effort it would have taken to get to the top of this, Brighid blessed cliff.” With that, he turned and made his way back down the trail leading to the palace. Well that had proven to be a fruitless venture.
3 ~ Elyant
There had been no place for her to go, no place to run, and no chance of an escape. When Saven had pointed her out as the first person on his list of people to be questioned on the queen’s whereabouts Serrala had found no way to avoid being caught. It took the guards the slightest bit of work to snatch her up by both arms and drag her none too gently down into the belly of the castle where she had been chained to a thick wooden slab.
She simply couldn’t believe this was happening. How could Ashise just vanish without telling her anything about what she planned to do? An hour had passed since she’d been dumped down in the dark, cold, and stale dungeon, her arms and legs permanently stretched out away from her body by harsh steel. Just what would they do to her down here in this rancid stink hole?
There was hardly anytime for her to think about it when she heard the rattling of a set of keys against the door just outside the room. Immediately she was filled with a tremendous sense of fear. She couldn’t go through with this; she had to find a way to escape. Yet how? No matter how much she pulled on the chains that bound her to this wooden contraption she found no give, no weakness she could use to her advantage.
The individual who had been at the door was now inside the room with her, behind her, somewhere in the dark. She found it impossible to turn her head enough to get a glimpse of them. Maybe if it was someone she knew maybe there was a slight chance she could just talk her way out of this. But the chance was slim and she probably would have to settle for the fact that there simply wasn’t any way to escape this mess. Closing her eyes a moment she began preparing herself for the worst and that was when she remembered, she recalled the words of the transportation spell in Ashise’s book of magic.
“Well hello my pretty,” the voice had come from in front of her. Slowly, she opened her eyes to look at them and slumped down on the table in despair. She didn’t know him, and settled in the clutch of his hand was a sharp, finely carved knife. “Let’s say me and you have a little fun eh? It’s not often I get one as pretty as you down here in this part of the castle.”
That was it. One look at the gnarled, ugly form of the man before her made her realize she had only one route of escape open to her, she had to use the transportation spell. All she had to do now was prepare herself for the amount of magic she’d need to channel through her body in order to complete it. A task that was made all too difficult with the presence of that man before her, he was leaning close over her body as he pushed the fabric of her dress up about her waist.
“Not going to talk eh?” He inquired as he slipped a hand up along the inside of her left thigh, slow, as if he was admiring the feel. “Good. I don’t like it when people get too chatty. It spoils the fun.”
Serrala squirmed under the influence of that all too unwelcome hand upon her thigh as she made a sound of distaste. She had to focus, and she had to focus fast. The longer she remained here, the more she’d have to deal with whatever it was this man had planned for her. Squeezing her eyes taut against the sight before her she began to withdraw into herself. Pulling her conscious further and further away from the outside, even as the man beside pushed his hand up between her legs, rubbing and caressing her vagina. Her thoughts slipped, but with a great deal of effort she managed to find her center and once she deemed herself ready she began to chant the word of the spell.
The strangeness of her words caused the man to stop in his activities as he leaned down and attempted to make sense of what she was saying. But he couldn’t, and while he listened, a wind began to grow in the dungeon, swirling and capturing the form of the woman before him. He’d never seen anything like this before in his life, and he immediately took a step away from the table. Yet even as he did the woman before him vanished, the chains once pulled tight about the form of his prisoner, now empty and lying slack on the table before him.
4 ~ Fahrei
Jatech had just managed to find his way back to the palace when one of the guards came rushing out to meet him. “She’s awake!” The man cried out across the courtyard, thus prompting Jatech to go at a run toward the main door of the palace.
A run he carried all the way until the woman’s chamber was in sight, the servant who’d been watching the woman was standing in the hall. “How is she?” He asked the girl upon arrival as he stood before her, attempting to catch his breath.
“She’s, well, she’s ah, frightened your majesty. I haven’t gone back inside since I stepped out to inform the guard. I was told you wanted to speak with her before anyone else.”
Jatech inclined his head in a nod. “Good, you’ve done well. Go and fetch a tray of fruit or something, and a drink for her would you? She must be hungry by now.” The girl nodded obediently before taking off down the hallway, and Jatech turned to the door.
Once inside, he found the woman sitting up on her bed, hand curled tight about the edge of the sheets that had been covering her up. The servant had been right; the woman looked frightened, and was scanning her room in a panic. “Hello,” he greeted her almost hesitantly, not sure just how the woman would react.
“Where am I?” She shot back at him, fingers clutching the blanket to her form as if at any moment he might lunge forward and snatch it away from her.
“You’re in the Palace Mooncrest, within the sovereign Queendom of T‘seiryn, in the royal city of Fahrei,” he replied slowly, watching the woman take the information in. “I am Prince Jatech Mairon, sole ruler of T’seiryn.” Well, for now anyway, he thought wryly.
Immediately the woman creased her brows in disbelief. “What?” She sounded angry, yet also confused as well. “What did you say?”
Did she not understand him, or was it simply that she had no idea what he was talking about? But, any citizen of any Queendom within T’seiryn would know what Fahrei was. How could she not have any idea what the main seat of power within the realm was? Did she truly bump her head that hard? “Okay, ah, my turn to ask a question. Don’t you think?” He finally replied in answer to her inquiry. “Why don’t you tell me who you are my dear? That may give us someplace better to start.”
She was hesitant, he could tell she didn’t completely trust him, but finally it seemed reason won out within her head and she nodded. “Yes, of course. My name is Ashise Cerais, Queen to his Majesty Saven Cerais, ruler of the realm of Varecht. I live in Elyant, sovereign Kingdom within Varecht.”
Now it was his turn to become the uninformed one. Varecht? Elyant? A… Kingdom? These things didn’t exist to him, he’d never heard of such a thing. Was this woman completely mad? Perhaps he had better call in his physician. “Right, well, why don’t I call in my physician to have a look at you then eh?”
It took only a few minutes for the royal physician to arrive with Crestin close behind her, yet before he could say anything about the girl Jatech pulled him out of the room and into the hallway, dismissing the guards and servants who’d been lingering near by. “Is there something amiss Jatech?” Crestin inquired curiously, as he found himself tugged out of the woman’s room.
“Crestin, tell me, have you ever heard of a realm called Varecht? Or perhaps a sovereign city called Elyant? For some reason I think I should know what these places are, yet I can not get my finger on it.”
“Varecht, Elyant? No, I can’t say that I have heard of these places,” Crestin responded while shaking his head a bit. “Why do you ask?”
“That woman in there, she told me her name was Ashise Cerais. She’s supposedly a Queen, ruling a realm called Varecht, from its Sovereign Kingdom called Elyant.” As he thought about it, Jatech began pacing the hallway.
“…A… Kingdom? Well, that’s just, that is just preposterous!” Crestin exclaimed as he watched Jatech begin his horrible pacing. “There is no such thing as a Kingdom, Jatech. That way of thinking has been dead for some time now, even you should know that. But, I can check the royal library for anything pertaining to a Varecht, or Elyant. Perhaps the woman has an avid imagination.”
“Perhaps.” Jatech lingered on the idea for a second before shaking his head. “Eh, why not? Go and look, I’m going to see what the physician has to say.”
“As you wish.” Crestin gave Jatech a bow and spun about on a heel to take off down the hallway.
Jatech took a few seconds to watch Crestin disappear down the hallway before he stepped back inside the guest chamber the woman occupied. “Well Talise, what do you have to say about our guest?”
“She’s doing just fine,” the royal physician replied with a smile. “Some food, and a few days’ rest and she’ll be good as new, but tell me my Lady before I go. Just where did you get that bruise upon your left cheek?”
“Oh, that,” appearing to debate whether or not she was going to tell them the woman turned her head toward the window near her bedside. “My, husband did that,” she stated at last. “He was cross with me for being late to dinner, it’s nothing.”
Astonished at such a response, Talise made to take the subject further but the look in Jatech’s eyes told her not to. “Very well then. See to it she gets some food in her, and a bit to drink as well.” She rose and stepped over to where Jatech stood. “I’ll be expecting an explanation later,” she stated in a tone that only he could hear.
“Yes of course,” he replied in an equally quiet tone, before adding a bit louder, “I have food and drink on its way already. She’ll get a proper meal be sure of that.”
“Good. I’ll send my assistant to check in on her sometime after nightfall.” Taking a moment to gather her things, Talise shortly excused herself.