Queen Yavara: Chapter 44


Chapter Forty-Four


“…I’m telling you, you’re safe if you don’t put the helmet on.” Alex said to me. We were stationed in the Crescent, a part of the Rift that bowed inward. It was the safest part of Sector Two, as the inward bow would funnel enemies into a crossfire. After being part of Droughtius’s fifth division and getting absolutely smashed at the Battle of the Tundra, it was nice to just man a wall. There’d only been one assault of the Crescent during the entire stalemate, and we’d repelled them before they got halfway up. All-in-all, I considered myself pretty lucky to be there. Those poor bastards near South Fort had to deal with warg riders every day, and those near Mid Fort had to deal with a constant barrage of siege engines, but those of us near North Fort didn’t have much to deal with at all. That was, until four days ago when the Dark Queen made her proclamation.

“Bullshit.” I answered Alex.

“It’s true!” He insisted, “Paulan of Bertia’s Seventh told me that every man in his platoon got up one at a time, and walked right off the cliffside, except those without their helms on. I’m tell you, the metal amplifies her magic signal. She can’t get in if you don’t wear your helmet.”

“That makes no kind of sense. It ain’t how magic works, Alex!”

“The fuck you know about how magic works?”

“My daddy used to help clean the labs at the academy. He saw all the weird cultic shit those mages do, and he knows how magic works. See, magic is like a—”

The warning whistle screeched out, and we shot upright, searching the sky.

“There!” Someone screamed.

A faint dot on the southern horizon ascended from the orc ranks, shooting into the sky like it was pulling her upward.

“Go south.” I whispered, “Come on, you bitch, go south!”

The dot disappeared into the overcast sky. We waited. The ballista crews cranked back their mighty bows, and slowly swiveled upward and toward our own line. She never attacked from the front. Then again, she never attacked north to south either, until she did. She never attacked men with shoulder armor, she never attacked the cooks, she never attacked the mages. I’d heard every fucking story, every man who thought he’d cracked her code, and they’d all turned out bullshit. One man was even convinced that if he walked around naked, that he’d be fine. I ended up cleaning his limbs off my tent later that day. No, the only code I could find, was that there was no code. No pattern. It didn’t matter who we were or what we did. It was random. Complete chance. All you could do is pray that she got her thousand before your number came up. Then all you could do was worry about tomorrow. I hadn’t slept in three days. I hadn’t eaten hardly at all. My mind drifted from exhaustion to panic in a second. I wondered if I might just stumble off the cliff on my own in an insomniac delirium.

“She’s going south.” Alex hissed, his voice tight, “If she’s up there for over a minute, it means she’s going south.”

In that moment, I chose to believe him. We stood there, our bows nocked, watching the grey morning sky for an eternity. A dot appeared overhead. The whistles screamed out.

“Get ready!” Captain Vician roared.

I pulled back on my bow. The mages ignited their hands with spells. The ballistae groaned as they adjusted their aim. The dot got bigger.

“On my word!” Captain Vician called, his voice tight and quaking.

My arms were shaking. My palms were slick. The tension didn’t seem tight enough on the bow; how could I shoot in time?! Shoot between the heartbeats, but my heart wasn’t beating, but vibrating in my chest! I couldn’t see right. Was there one dot, or two? My mouth was too dry. I couldn’t shoot with a dry mouth! The dot got bigger. It wasn’t slowing. It was rocketing toward us, a shining missile sent from the heavens. A man shrieked and shot his bow too early.

“Fucking hold!” Vician screamed, his voice pitched high in panic.

“Run!” A man screamed, and sprinted away.

“Hold!” Vician screeched. The dot got bigger, and bigger, and smashed into the earth. I was sprayed with red and pink. I looked at my feet. It had been a light infantry general by the sigil on his armor, but which one, I would never be able to tell. I gawked at the mangled corpse before me, then looked at Alex.

“No helmet.” I said, tapping the dead man’s bare head.

“Shit.” Alex gulped. He strapped on his helmet with quivering fingers, shakenly grabbed his bow, then turned around, let out a shriek, and sprinted off the side of the cliff.

A ballistae commander stood up suddenly. “No!” He screamed, “Someone pull me back! Pull me back!”

The corporal next to him grabbed him with one hand, and held onto the ballista frame with the other. The commander pulled out his axe, and chopped the corporal’s arm off, before leaping backward off the cliff. A second later, the shrieking corporal sprinted after him. Men ran everywhere, some diving for cover, some simply making a break inland to get as far from the cliff as they could. It didn’t matter. One by one, they went sprinting at full-tilt off the side until only I was left in the platoon. There was a whoosh, a blast of wind, and the Dark Queen landed ten feet away from me. She assessed the Crescent with a satisfied smile, then turned to me.

“What’s your name?” She asked.

“Lucius Hecia.” I said, my throat so dry.

“Lucius…” She tested the name in her mouth, “you must be from the—”

“DIE YOU BITCH!” I shrieked, and loosed three arrows as fast as I could. I actually caught her by surprise, for she flinched when I screamed. But the arrows just bounced off her, and by the time I got a hold of my short sword, I could no longer move.

“Wow,” she said, “that was an interesting change of pace. Usually when I’m giving these monologues, the survivor just stands there wondering if I’m going to kill him.”

“Why did you spare me?!” I snarled.

“You’re lucky number one-thousand-one.” She grinned back.

“But why me?”

She stepped toward me, and stopped so close that I could taste her breath. She extended a finger, and poked my nose. “I really like this nose. It’s pronounced. Proud. Regal. Some people think a big nose is a bad thing, but it can be quite striking if it’s shaped right. I believe the Highland population would benefit if more elves—who are notoriously subtly-featured—had pronounced schnauzers. What I want you to do, brave Lucius Hecian, is to take off that armor, put down that sword, and walk that way.” She pointed west. “By the time this war is over, there will be a huge gender tilt in the Highlands. I want you to shoot your big-nosed genetics into as many Highland maidens as you can. In a hundred years, I expect to see many big-nosed high-elves, or I will be very disappointed. Do you understand me?”

“You want me to abandon the army?”

“You charged the Dark Queen. What more do you have to prove?” She laughed, “No one is going to chase you. No one can even see you right now. I killed every man within three miles of here. Chances are, by the time you reach the first Highland village, the war will already be over. So, you can either walk that way,” she pointed west, “or that way.” She pointed east, where the cliff was only six feet away. She released me from her spell, and I dropped my sword, threw off my armor, and waltzed westward without a look back.


The sun was in its mid-morning position. In the distance, I could see the silhouette of Castle Thorum standing proudly before the Great Forest. It was strange how foreign it felt. It had once been home, and it had once been hell, but now it just seemed like some monolithic memory, an illusion atop a distant hill that would disappear if I blinked. I turned my attention back to the hole in the ground. Huntiata’s men sat in clusters around the excavation site, and Xantian’s few bannermen watched us suspiciously from a hundred yards away. At this point, it didn’t really matter if Ternias knew I had bought Huntiata. There was nothing he could do about it.

“Any news?” Huntiata growled, stepping beside me.

“None.” I replied coolly.

“We’ve been here for two days.”

“There is no map of the mines, nor any knowledge of how many tunnels there even are. We were given a window of their expected arrival, not an exact date. You can leave if you want.”

“You think I’m going to leave a million gold pieces to these fuckers?” Huntiata grunted, nodding toward his own men. “They’d rob you, rape you, kill you, then throw your body in the hole.”

I raised my brows. “Such faith you have in the men of the watch.”

“They’re good boys, and they hate Alkandrans like good boys should.”

“I guess that makes you a very, very bad boy then.” I grinned, twerking my brows at him. I could practically hear the clang in his armor from where his boner struck it. He sneered below his avaricious eyes, and strutted away. It had been very difficult fucking him quietly the past two days. He’d shoved my face into the pillow and practically smothered me just to keep his men from hearing my delighted screams. When this war was over, and I left Bentius to rejoin Yavara, I would miss that ornery bastard almost as much as I missed… huh. I hadn’t really thought about leaving until that point, but now the end was in sight. I would pay Huntiata, Huntiata would crush the Feractian rebellion, and I would have five of ten nobles. Xantian would fall in line once he saw the writing on the wall, and I would force a majority vote for peace. Then Leveria would cave, and the war would end. And then… I’d just leave her? Leave my homeland that I had fought so hard to keep safe? Leave the Noble Court, and the game that I had begun to love? For Yavara? I had left the Highlands for her when the Highlands had only been Castle Thorum. Now, the Highlands was truly my home, and there was a woman here who I loved more than anyone but one. Or so I told myself, for in truth, I could not say it with certainty.

There’s no reason I can’t stay ambassador. I thought, Go to Yavara on long trips and love her there, then come back here and love Leveria in secret. Have the best of both worlds.

It was a tempting fantasy.

A whistle came from the hole, and all the men shot upright, drawing their swords and spears, aiming them down the hole. I nodded to Huntiata, and he nodded back, then I climbed down the ladder into the mine by myself, and stepped into the darkness.

Two figures stood at the far end. They were dimly lit, pale and tall, their eyes red and hungry.

“Commander?” I asked, “Furia?”

“I smell Nadi wood.” Furia’s voice came from the left vampire (the one with the massive cock).

“It’s not a trap.” I replied.

Furia stepped forward, sniffing the air. “Twenty men, ages seventeen to fifty-three. City men by the lack of cow shit on their Zeytinburnu Escort boots, but no gold on their armor. These are watchmen, not palace guards. It’s not an ambush.” Furia sniffed again, then smiled at me. “You’ve been fucking the old one, Elena, and you’ve been letting him come in your ass.”

“I don’t want to know how you can smell that.” I crinkled my nose.

“It’s a pungent aroma. It’s not unpleasant to me. On some nights, that might smell like dinner.”

I giggled. “I can’t believe you’re Furia Augustinia. Take off the costume.”

She transformed, her black hair turning white, her statuesque alabaster frame turning into a petite bronze body, her nine-inch cock not shrinking a bit. One side of her face was tattooed in a savage tribal design, and her glorious manhood was similarly decorated. Yeah… I was gonna feast on this woman the moment I got to Alkandra.

“Lady Straltaira?” Huntiata yelled, “Is everything going well?”

“Everything’s fine, my lord.” I yelled back, “We’re making the transaction.”

“It’s a handoff, not a fucking reunion. Get the money and get out!”

Furia smiled at the mouth of the mine. “Ooo, he sounds like a man who likes to take control.” She looked over her shoulder, “Well come on, Adrianna! Don’t be shy!”

Adrianna stepped forward, still wearing her vampire body. She handed me the strongbox, nodded, and stepped back.

Furia patted her lover’s ass. “We can be a little braver than that, can’t we?”

Adrianna stared down at me, then transformed. The elf staring back at me wore a face I had once admired and once hated. Now, I didn’t know what to think of it. “Hey Tiger.” She said.

“Hey Commander.” I replied. I looked over the myriad of tattoos that covered her body, the tiger representing me. I still didn’t know how to feel about it.

“This is scintillating conversation.” Furia said, looking from me, to Adrianna.

“I had more to say to you when I was drunk.” Adrianna said, “Now… I don’t know.”

“Sometimes, there’s nothing to say.” I replied.

Adrianna shuffled uncomfortably. “I should warn you that our mission wasn’t entirely successful. Arbor knows, which means Yavara will hear of it the next time they meet. I don’t think she’ll have me executed, but—”

“Of course she won’t!” I snapped.

“Probably not, but she can be unpredictable at times. If the secret stays between Arbor her and me, then I’ll probably get a slap on the wrist. If the public hears about it, she’ll have to make an example of me.”

“That won’t happen.”

She shrugged. “We’ll see.” She paused, then said, “Brock’s dead.”

I blinked, my heart sinking. “Yavara said she let him go.”

“Yavara didn’t kill him. He died so that I could bring this to you.” She worked her jaw, “So did April.”

A million questions raced through my mind, but they were stayed by the expression on Adrianna’s face. All I could say was a solemn, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize to me; he was your friend. And April… an apology won’t mean a damn thing. You just need to know that that box carries more than money, and if you fuck this up, Tiger, then it was all for nothing.”

I nodded, sniffing back the tears that threatened my sinuses. Adrianna nodded, and turned around to leave. There was a tattoo of Sherok that began at her shoulders, and I almost cried out, but I cut the sound before it came from my lips. She was carrying enough on her back already. Furia hugged me and kissed my lips before leaving, then she took Adrianna’s hand, and they transformed together, and disappeared into the darkness.


“…yes, Adrianna told me about that.” I said to Zander, “Leveria kept trying to recruit her. Eventually, Adrianna stopped answering, and Leveria stopped calling.”

“Adrianna’s sigil is an eagle’s beak?”

“A holdover from her ranger days, I’m sure.”

“And Elena is the wavy stripe.”

“A tiger stripe, also a holdover from her ranger days.”

Zander showed me his notepad. “They’ve been talking quite a bit.”

“Oh, good.” I grinned, “I was hoping those two would eventually get along.”

“I don’t think they’re having small talk.” Zander replied.

“Talking to your own ambassador is hardly scandalous, Zander.”

“Elena hasn’t really been acting as your ambassador though. I believe she called you her enemy.”

“Semantics. What’s this other thing you wanted to talk with me about?”

“I’ll need to go to Alkandra to confirm it. It’s probably nothing, but it needs to be attended.”

I raised my brows. “Not something you want me to know about?”

“Not until I’m sure about it.”

“You’re afraid of how I’ll react.”

Zander opened his hands placatingly. “If I tell you, and I’m wrong, then all I will have accomplished is sewn unfounded suspicion in your mind. That does no one any good.”

I waved a dismissive hand. “I trust you.”

“There is one more thing, my queen.”


“While you were in Ardeni, you told King Dreus you would extend an offer to Lord Ternias if he were so inclined to take it.”

“I sincerely doubt King Dreus relayed the message.”

“But it was received by Ternias nonetheless.”

I raised my brows. “And?”

Zander shuffled through his folder, and procured the letter. “The message is rather cryptic. He simply says that his time will come, and when it does, he will give you gift, and you will respond in kind.”

I cocked my head. “Interesting. Is it a threat, or a promise, do you think?”

“Most likely a threat given the rhetoric he spews in the court.”

“Most likely, but… keep an open mind. You are dismissed, Zander.”

He bowed, and walked away. I sighed, and lounged in my chair made of women, watching my men getting massacred as they assailed Sector Five. They fought with such gusto early in the day, when their spirits were still lifted from the show of death I provided. They never once asked me for help in their assaults, and they never blamed me for the inevitable failure. In fact, they were quite ashamed that they could not take a single sector after all the work I’d done in the morning for them. It was terrible for their spirits, especially when they assaulted sectors that were manned by only a dozen or so elves. You’d think two-thousand men could get the job done, but gosh, something always happened that kept them from summiting. Sometimes, a rockslide took out an entire company. Other times, a rope would snap, and send a whole platoon to their deaths. Oh, and then there were the times when their muscles would cramp, and they’d fall one-by-one off the wall.

“Crystal, I am a terrible woman.” I sighed as the succubus matriarch ate my pussy.

“Why’s that?” She asked, using my vagina as a second mouth to talk from, her reptilian tongue fluttering pleasantly inside. I groaned, and repositioned my seat atop Sapphire and Diamond’s faces, enjoying the way their entwined tongues corkscrewed wetly into my rectum.

“I enjoy killing much more than anyone should.” I said.

“Murder is fun.” Crystal winked, “Anyone who says differently hasn’t tried it.”

“You’re not exactly a great moral barometer.”

“Were you looking for me to tell you to do the right thing?” She asked with raised brows.

“No,” I sighed, relaxing into Onyx’s bosom, enjoying the way her fingers massaged my scalp, “I guess I feel like I should feel guilty.”

“Master makes you feel guilty.” Opal said beside her mother, her tongue wrapped around my clit.

“It’s one of her greatest talents.” I concurred. I watched an orc get a little too close to the top of the cliff, and I caused the rock his picks were imbedded in to shear off. He fell screaming, knocking off a half-dozen orcs on his path to the hard ground.

Ruby stopped sucking my toes to watch the man’s doom, then turned back to me. “Did you just do that?”

“Of course not. Why would I kill my own men?”

Crystal suddenly winced, and rubbed at her temples. “She is near.” She said.

I glanced over my shoulder to look at the Great Forest. The winged figure of Arbor hovered over it, watching me from above the tree line. My heart crept into my throat, and I swallowed. I wished I didn’t have to face this alone.


“Zander Fredeon?” The beautiful hermaphrodite inquired. Her white hair contrasted her bronze skin, which in turn was contrasted with a tattoo of debauchery that covered her to the neck. She wore a leather dress of crisscrossing straps that concealed her modest parts and revealed all the fun stuff. I had forgotten how striking Elena Straltaira was, and now here was a woman just as beautiful, and twice as wicked.

“Alexa would usually be the one to greet you,” she said, “Her and Prince Matthew had a special relationship, but Prince Matthew and I have repour, so I will be his liaison today.”

“You must be Eva Alecia.” I said, “I’ve heard stories about you.”

“And I’ve heard legends about you.” She smirked, unabashedly running her eyes down my body. “The ambassador is notoriously late for his meetings. You and I have a little time to kill. Ten minutes should be fine.”

“You don’t seem like the type to kill just a little time. It’ll take ten minutes just to get into the slave costume you’re imagining me in right now.”

“Are you reading my mind?”

“I’m reading your face.”

She stretched a leather glove, and snapped it for effect. “There’s no reason you can’t just get on your knees and lift up that robe. Let Doctor Alecia take care of you.”

“I don’t think I will.”

“Men over fifty need to get their prostate checked on a yearly basis. You’re about a thousand years overdue.”

“I don’t trust you not to stick your whole fist in there.”

“I’ll be sticking something else up there, Fredeon. I’ve heard where you like it. Don’t deny it.”

“I’m denying you.” I gave her an appraising smile, “You thought you’d just ambush the greatest wizard on Tenvalia and sodomize him before you even shook his hand?”

“Fortune favors the bold.”

“It does indeed.” I took one step toward her, and transformed into Destiny. I took another step toward her as her eyes widened, and my arms became tentacles, each slimy appendage dividing itself thrice over before wrapping their squishing tendrils about the stunned hermaphrodite, holding her aloft with her ankles, knees, and thighs bound together, her arms wrapped to her sides, her mouth filled. One tentacle moved beneath her dress, and squirmed into her anus, and another spiraled into her pussy. A third snaked up her pelvis, opened its tip, and consumed her cock to the base. The last tentacle moved in a serpentine manner beneath her dress, along her torso, and encircled each breast before squeezing tightly.

“Oh, where is the brashness now, Eva?” I giggled sardonically, Escort Bayan “You took a gamble with me, and you lost. But obviously you were ready to lose, because you cleaned yourself out this morning. Let’s go a little deeper, shall we? I like to taste the filthy parts of a woman.”

Eva screamed a muffled sound around the tentacle in her mouth. The tendril in her anus widened as it moved deep into her colon, the squishy suctioning nodes popping one at a time along her swollen ring, turning it into a winking aperture of sensation before the tentacle moved deeper, and the nodes sucked upon the smooth tender flesh of her anal sheath. The tentacle in her pussy faced the other direction, the suctioning nodes running along her ceiling, rubbing against her soft curtains and sucking upon her ribbed spot. I moved to her cervix, and tickled the entrance to her womb until it was popping and spasming with pleasure. The tentacle consuming her cock massaged her rigid length with slimy suckers, pulsating along her to bring all the pressure to her tip. With the appendage in her ass constantly rubbing her prostate, she came nearly continuously from her cock. Her womanly orgasm was harder to summon, but not much. Her toned abdomen flexed violently, almost like she was hyperventilating, signaling the destruction occurring in her sanctum depths. Her eyes were rolled back and unseeing, her lips consumed the tentacle in her mouth with a mindless sensuality, and she gurgled her tones of delight. I smiled with blue lips, running a gentle, yet dominating hand across her cheek.

“We still have nine minutes, Eva.” I whispered, “That’s all the time in the world for you.”

She went limp in my hold, the pulsating tendrils that bound her coiling to tighten the embrace. Her holes surrendered their resistances, and she simply reacted to the deep violation of her insides. Her pussy squelched with wetness, thick braids of vaginal drool stringing from between her thighs. Her anus outturned around its exit, the pink cuff of flesh pulsing around the sucking nodes that passed through it. Her cock twitched with orgasmic spasms, spewing cum without pressure, for the flow was continuous, and the climax would not subside.

“My name is ‘Destiny’ by the way.” I said, petting her hair as I did such terrible things to her, “I come out when Zander is feeling sexually vulnerable. He wants to be your victim, and he’s very curious about the dungeon you have, but he needs to be composed when he deals with the ambassador. The Lowlands have been very naughty, and he might have to get a little mean.” I enjoyed the way Eva gagged around the tentacle working its way into her esophagus, “You like to get a little mean too. Maybe you can help me.”


I stepped past the tree line, and into the Great Forest. Arbor was waiting for me on the other side of a clearing. I wished I could predict what she’d say based on her face, but the forest spirit emoted nothing.

“Well?” I asked.

“Adrianna and Furia are not in the northern isles trying to recruit mermaids. They were in the copper mines, traveling to the Highlands.”

My brows went up. “What?”

“I am telling you this in good faith. I think you should be merciful. Adrianna has always been loyal to you, but the war divides her loyalties.”

I looked at the ground, putting the pieces together. “She was helping Elena. Elena is my ambassador; therefore Adrianna is not a traitor.”

“Is that so?”

“It’s grey. I’ll decide what to do when she gets back.”

Arbor nodded, and said nothing else. I waited, staring at her expectantly. “And the other thing I asked you about?” I finally said, breaking the silence.

She walked forward, every step purposeful and gentle, barely crunching upon the dry leaves before me. Her unthreatening demeanor still terrified me, not because of her, but because of what she might say. I longed for ignorance, but the time for that had passed. I wished with all my heart that I had a little bit longer with that innocence, believing without thinking that I was whole. My heart rose to my throat with every step she took, and I tried to read her impassive face, dreading and longing for an answer ***********ed within the lines of her brow, or the curve of her lips. Nothing. She stopped right in front of me.

“Well?” I asked, willing moisture into my mouth.

“Take off your clothes.” She said. I did, stripping quickly from my leather suit. My fingers were shaking when I wrestled with the buttons, and Arbor had to settle me with her touch, and help me undo the attachments. The leather armor slipped from me, and I stood in the fall cold, naked before the spirit of the forest. She placed her hands on my belly, and they illuminated. I felt a warmth sink into me, and slowly move down, radiating into my womb. My skin shown alight with green energy, every vein and artery glowing through the flesh. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, and it seemed lonely. She withdrew her hands, and light faded away.

“What was that?” I asked.

“A potent fertility incantation. You asked me four days ago if there was anything I could do. I told you I would try, but it would take some time to prepare.”

“Did it work?”

She looked up at me, her eyes telling me before her lips did. “I am sorry. There is nothing I can do.” She said.

“Oh. Well, thank you for trying.” I mumbled, and backed away on shaky legs. I stumbled, and Arbor caught me. I tried to stand again, but I could not. I fell to my knees, my lips quivering, my eyes filling. A horrid wail erupted from my throat, and I buried my face in Arbor’s belly. She held me against her, soothingly petting my hair, whispering lullabies in a language I did not know. They were of no comfort to me.


The Noble Court was remarkably empty today. The Straltaira seat was empty, the Huntiata seat was empty, and Feractian’s seat was empty. Lady Droughtius stood in place of Elena for their peace caucus, and gave a by-the-numbers monologue that no one listened to. I narrowed my eyes at her, dissecting every motion of her quivering hands, the way her voice shook when she made her speech, and the way she tried to hide it by speaking louder. The air was high in her chest, and she wasn’t taking enough breaths, trying to get all her words out without focusing on the spaces between them. She was genuinely afraid, but she was using that fear. The best mask was no mask at all. To know yourself is to know the world, and Sofia Droughtius played herself to perfection. She was a lamb in lamb’s in clothing, and she manipulated the predators to fight each other instead of just eating her outright, but even that was a lie. Before she even got to the Noble Court, she knew which snake she would let have her.

I turned my gaze on Percian Feltian. Now here was a boy who had no clue what the fuck he was doing. The way he sat, the emotions on his face, and the way he shifted all belied a deep insecurity of his position. It was like he didn’t belong in his own skin, much less the Noble Court. He was an easy mark, but someone else had already gotten to him.

I looked at Lord Ternias. The mastermind, the king of snakes, the schemer of schemers. He wore his impassive face, watching Sofia with bored eyes. The man was such a fantastic actor that he became his own characters. When we had nearly a full court, he was the foaming-at-the-mouth warmonger demanding we charge headlong into the heart of the enemy. Today, he was the bored rich man pretending to listen to the freshmen noble while contemplating what he’d have for lunch. Both were lies. When Straltaira, Huntiata and Feractian came back, the true Ternias would be revealed, and I would be destroyed.

I drew my eyes from Lucas Ternias, to the woman sitting beside him. Catherine Jonias wasn’t her usual spiteful self today. The reason was obvious to me, if it was to no one else. Elena had learned that Ternias had promised Jonias his hand in marriage if he ever deposed me to become king. And so poor, stupid Catherine had blindly thrown all her support behind him, and had come to the realization much too late that Lucas Ternias would never marry her. A marriage for Ternias would be a purely political gambit, and House Jonias didn’t have nearly enough power.

“My Lord Ternias,” I called across the room, interrupting Lady Droughtius.

He gave me an annoyed look, and walked to his dais. “Yes, my queen?”

“What do you think we should do about the Dark Queen’s ultimatum?”

“I have said it many times before on the floor of this chamber, my queen, do I need to repeat myself for the hundredth time?”

“We have a freshman noble here;” I gestured to Percian Feltian, “perhaps he would like to hear your proposal.”

Ternias cleared his throat. “I believe that launching a full cavalry attack from South Fort to Alkandra will draw the enemy inward, and allow us to cut them down as they retreat. We have the added benefit then of razing Alkandra to the ground, and slaughtering the orc bitches and pups before they can breed.” He glanced up at me, “The queen and king disagree. I postulate that this is because the king’s uncle is field marshal, and the field marshal thinks the plan is suicide.”

“Where’s the gusto, Lord Ternias?” I grinned, “Where’s the fire? It’s almost like you were making those speeches to impress someone, and now that someone isn’t here.”

“There are quite a few ‘someones’ not here, my queen. Should we not adjourn this court?”

“I’d like to vote on a motion before we do.”

“No motion has been presented.”

“Did you not just present one?” I asked, my grin broadening. “All in favor of attacking Alkandra right now, raise your hands.” I raised my hand immediately. Jonias’s hand shot up a second later. Lord Xantian looked confusedly up at me, then raised his hand. All eyes fell upon Lord Ternias. There was a grumbling amongst the dozens of minor nobles, the sound of uncomfortable shifting of chairs, a few forced coughs. Ternias looked around the room, then looked up at me.

“Unfortunately, due to the complete mishandling of the military, we no longer have the manpower to make this operation feasible.” He spat. There was genuine hatred in his eyes now, no character that needed to be played. I smirked at him, though on the inside, I was shrieking. What a masterstroke by Lucas Ternias it was. Did she know? Had she been party to it the whole time, or would she learn of it only when the jaws of the trap were closed, and she had no other choice? I held on to the faintest of hopes that Elena was just a pawn on Ternias’s chessboard, and not the queen herself.


I remembered the first time I discovered the pleasures of another man’s flesh. I thought I had become a completely different person simply for realizing that I enjoyed having a penis inside of me. I wore flamboyant clothes, I effected my voice, and I istanbul Escort walked so that every step advertised that I did indeed, possess an ass. I cringed to think back on it. One day, Prince Matthew would look back at the glitter on his face, the bowties in his hair, and the spandex bodysuit he wore, and cringe too. That was, if he got to live that long.

“Oh, Zander!” He sighed dramatically, sniffling, “I wish you could’ve known Alexa! She was such a gentle soul.”

Eva had her arm wrapped lovingly around him as he sat on the couch across from me. We were in his embassy, and there were Ardeni guards stationed everywhere. He saw me looking, and he gestured theatrically.

“It used to be that I would fear neither the troll, nor the ogre. My father couldn’t understand why I didn’t station guards at my embassy, but I told him, Zander, I told him that Alkandra was different. I was under the protection of the hybrids, and not even the worst of beasts would dare cross them. Oh, that bastard assassin ruined so much!”

“An assassin is such an effective weapon because he makes the safe feel unsafe. If those at the top can be touched, those at the bottom know there is no sanctuary.” I said.

“Cowardly. Absolutely cowardly!”

I leaned forward, and looked into his mind. It was closed to me, of course. He was a royal, and he’d been trained by mages who’d been students of Prestira Rasloraca. I was never much of a telepath anyway. Matthew dried his eyes on his sleeve, and looked up at me. “I’m sorry, Zander. I know I’m supposed to be composed and stately, but I inherited my mother’s sentimentality. Arthur got all of Father’s bravery and stoicism.”

“I appreciate the emotional honesty, Your Highness.”

“Please, call me ‘Matthew.’” He said, blotting his eyes, “Now, what is the topic of today’s meeting?”

I pulled out my hand mirror. “I’ve been monitoring the communications that go through the Jonian Tower. Obviously, I can’t watch it all the time, so I keep logs of who contacted who, and how long they talked.” I eyed him from beneath my brows, but I didn’t see any alarm on his face. “I’ve been very busy the past few days, so I haven’t been watching my logs. It was only yesterday that I read through the last week’s information. There are only two mirrors in Alkandra, and only one of them goes through the Jonian Tower. It’s understandable that you talk with people in Bentius, you’re an ambassador—”

“I don’t talk with people in Bentius, Zander.” Matthew gave me a perplexed frown, “My communications only go to Ardeni, and only recently since the relay was just finished.”

“What’s your sigil?”

“A tulip.”

I found the sigil dimly luminated on the edge of my mirror, and duplicated it on the glass before tapping. I looked up, and the mirror across the room lit up by one of its gemstones. “A tulip indeed.” I said.

“Zander,” Prince Matthew said cautiously, “what’s this about?”

“Do you know what Queen Leveria’s sigil is?”


“It’s an eye, drawn with one line to indicate a heavy lash. Do you know what a half-bow is?”

“A what?”

“It’s a weapon used predominantly by Lowland criminals. It’s easy to hide, easy to draw, and deadly accurate within fifty yards.”

“I’ve never seen one. I hardly know how to use a sword!” Matthew said, obviously agitated.

“Zander,” Eva narrowed her eyes at me, “what the hell are you going on about?”

I reached into my cloak, and pulled out the half-bow. Matthew’s eyes widened, and Eva’s narrowed even more. “This was delivered to me.” I said, “A goblin maid found it hidden behind a wash basin in the unfinished wing of the servant’s quarters. She snuck it out of the embassy, and gave it to a constable. The constable gave it to his captain, and he gave it to his chief, and the chief tried to give it to Commander Faltia, but she was ensconced in the castle. So, not knowing what else to do, he sent it to me. I got it this morning. Now, I’m a suspicious man, and so when an obvious answer is given to a difficult question, I become wary. But there are cases when the correct answer is the most obvious one, and when I looked through my logs, and saw that a tulip had been communicating with an eye twenty minutes before the assassination of Alexa Jenania, my suspicions were put to rest.”

It took a moment for the realization to hit him. It hit Eva faster. Her face became stony, and her loving embrace of Prince Matthew methodically turned into a chokehold. She pulled her arm around his neck, squeezing until his face darkened, his cowboy boots kicking against the wood floor.

“Eva!” He squeaked out.

“How could you?” She hissed, “After everything she did for you, how could you?”

“Eva! Eva!” His strangled voice wheezed, his eyes showing their veins.

The guards outside his room didn’t hear a thing. I made sure of it.

“She accepted you when you were weak!” Eva hissed, tears streaking down her cheeks, “She set you free from yourself! She brought you into our family, and you sold her out!”

“No!” He rasped, clutching uselessly at her arm.

“What was the price, Matthew?” Eva whispered in his ear, almost lovingly, “I hope it was high, because I am going to make you pay dearly.”

“Enough.” I said, and put a paralysis spell over them both. They fell back on the couch, Eva’s limp arm falling from Matthew’s throat. I stood up, and loomed over him. “Prince Matthew, you’re under arrest for the murder of Alexa Jenania. You will come with me quietly. If you alert your guards, I will turn them all into red mist. If you try to run, I will simply remove your legs. I will inform the queen of this new development, and she will decide what will be done with you. In the meantime, you will be place under guard within the crypts of Castle Alkandra.”


I stared at the names I had on the table. They ebbed in and out of clarity. My eyes were bloodshot, and my ears were ringing. Sleep wasn’t something I did much of anymore. There was a distant pounding sound, it was almost like drums. It took me a moment to realize it was Sir Raftas knocking on my door.

“Your Highness, you have a visitor!” He called.

I grabbed the eyedrops from beside my mirror, and moisturized my eyes. After quickly making sure I looked sane, I bid my guest to enter.

Lady Catherine Jonias was a woman in her mid-thirties. Her face was narrow and angular beneath her straight blonde mane, but it was pretty when it wasn’t pinched. It was rarely pretty. I gestured for her to sit, and she did. I silently offered her wine, and she declined. I poured myself a glass, and sat across from her. She took her time assessing me, and I waited patiently, not emoting anything, receptive for whatever it was she had to say. I had not invited her, but I had expected her arrival.

“There is a conspiracy.” She said.

“I know.” I answered. No shit. I thought.

“Lucas Ternias… he was to be my betrothed. I am realizing too late that I was deceived.”

“Lord Ternias is a deceptive man.” And you are a stupid cunt.

“I can stand many things, but I cannot stand to be made a fool of.”

“Of course.” Bite the inside of your cheeks to keep from smiling.

“It was never love, I knew that, but I had hoped that we would form a partnership, much like you and King Shordian have.”

I didn’t answer, but gazed at her, waiting patiently for her to break.

She shifted in her chair. “I would have some wine, if you don’t mind.”

I poured her a glass, and handed it to her. She drank it down in one gulp, then wiped the purple off her lips. “Your husband has betrayed you.”

“I know.” I said. “What did Ternias promise him?”


“The city?”

“The country.”

My face stayed unemotive, but I was screaming inside. “Please explain.”

“Ternias needed to be legitimized before he could take the crown. He promised King Shordian that once the battle of the Tundra was won, Shordian would have all the Midland territories in exchange for testifying against you in the Noble Court. He would not be a governor, but a king of a vassal state.”

“And the other nobles agreed to this? Why would they let Ternias give everything to my husband?”

Jonias licked her lips. “Ternias doesn’t operate his own conspiracies. People… don’t really like him.”

“I actually find him quite charming.”

“You two are very alike.”

I chewed on the insult I had loaded on my tongue, and instead nodded for her to continue.

“Your husband was the one who proposed the plan to Feractian, Feltian, and Huntiata, promising them exclusive governorships in the new kingdom. Ternias never met with any of them directly, but he was always the puppet master. When you asked your husband to procure the dwarf contracts for Xantian, he did not, because Ternias told him not to. Ternias knew Xantian would stay loyal to you, and so he sought to drive a wedge of suspicion between you.”

“And now Ternias operates a conspiracy within a conspiracy.”

“In a way, yes. Your husband is still the shell of the first one, but there is no filling. He is quite a dullard, my queen.”

I snorted. “What does that say about me if he outsmarted me all this time?”

“Not much.” She smirked cruelly, “Huntiata never had faith in Eric Shordian. Once the battle of the Tundra was lost, Huntiata pulled his support. Feractian and Feltian went with him. Your husband stayed loyal to Ternias, but Ternias could no longer use him as a ring-leader. So Eric was made a supporting character, foolishly believing Ternias would grant him the original prize. But Ternias knew the war was lost, and he sought a new ring-leader to fit his new mold. Elena Straltaira had become the darling of the court, and she preached so grandly for peace.”

“He promised to make a peace deal if she married him.” I said.


“You know this for certain?”

“I did not hear the words spoken, but I can put two-and-two together. What have you been doing since the Battle of the Tundra? Nothing but arguing with Ternias about the semantics of warfare, thinking you were stalling for time, when you were simply filling the court with dead air while Ternias’s new pet did her work. Elena collected the nobles who were disenfranchised by the rhetoric, those that Ternias had lost before, plus Lady Droughtius. When they get back, Ternias will propose a peace deal, Elena will accept it, and then there will be an immediate vote of no confidence. Eric will testify against you, and eight votes will be cast to remove you. Xantian will bend then, fearing for his life, and you will be destroyed.”

“And you, Lady Jonias?”

“There is nothing I can do. If I don’t vote with Ternias, he might kill me right there.”

“Then why did you come here?”

She shrugged with a rueful smile. “I have been deceived, stepped on, humiliated and cast away. What else can a spiteful woman do, but hope that an even more spiteful woman can make her enemies scream?”

I smiled around my glass. “I can be that woman.”

End of Part Twelve.

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