[spoiler]Here, have a terrible story I wrote last night. I had an idea for a new tale, so we'll see how long it takes for me to tire of it this time.
Disclaimer for the newbies, I've been using the title "Witch Queen" here for a few years and elsewhere since I was a wee edgeling. It's a pretty generic title and being both a witch and a queen are where the similarities end.
But if your teenage angst compels you to comment anyway, I'll just thank you for the bump.[/spoiler]
"I'm sure you've heard of her," the old crone begins, face concealed beneath the hood of tattered brown robes, "the Witch Queen of the Volariden Mountains?"
Gasps and whispers break the silence among the villagers gathered around the fire. Their eyes twinkle in the dark of night as the old crone pokes at the fire with the gnarled branch she uses as a cane.
"So the tales tell, that the daughter of a noble family fled the slaughter of her home, and in her wrath turned to dark magiks, unleashing terrors upon all the world."
A few soft sobs rise from the crowd and the crone cackles, "Oh yes, terrible was she that even the sun retreated from the sight of her atrocities!"
"But the Lady Volariden did not build her kingdom alone," the crone smiles, her needle like teeth brown with rot, "Though first of the vampires, she bestowed her gift upon five others and each commanded a new lineage within her ranks."
"The young girl who would be queen fled into the cold swamps of the Withering Vale, and was taken in by a coven of witches from the nomadic Shadar Kai Elves, the Coldfire Coven," the crone waves a hand over the flame and it turns a cool shade of blue, "The witches taught her their crafts and in time her prowess surpassed their own. But a whisperer in the dark called to her, promising power enough to save her people and take her revenge, and so the coven performed the ritual of her ascension."
"She arose the first vampire of these lands and the coven in turn became the first of the old bloodlines," cackling, she looks to the fur clad warriors lurking in the shadows beyond the flame before continuing, "gifted with mastery over the magiks of Blood and Entropy. Their rituals conjured plagues and famines, terrible winter storms, horrors from realms beyond, and risen legions of undead."
"And the most powerful of those rituals were strengthened by the lunar phases," she looks to the starry sky above and the position of the moon, her eyes glowing dimly gold like those of a predator.
Smiling wider the crone looks across the burning village to the other vampires awaiting her order, then to the villagers and her eyes widen. Across the fire from her sits an Elven woman with skin as pale as snow and long hair as black as the mane of raven feathers upon her cloak. Beneath a wide rimmed, pointed hat her ruby irises burn within the dark as she smiles.
"Except that wasn't the rituals purpose, was it Auntie Magpie? She was meant to die for the people to retreat into the Feywild," as the witch speaks, the other vampires turn to her, fangs bared and hissing, but she shouts a command that echoes throughout the forest
"[i][b]YOU KNEEL WHEN THE QUEEN APPEARS[/i][/b]!"
They immediately drop their weapons and fall to their knees, teeth gritting and muscles rippling as if straining against an immense pressure.
"Why don't you finish the tale. You've four more lineages left, no?" She crosses her legs and leans forward, resting her chin upon clasped hands, "Tell us about the knights, Auntie!"
Magpie looks to the sky nervously, then does as she's asked, "Originally known as the Knights of the Vale, they were dedicated to protecting the people of the Withering Vale and travelers along the roads between the mountains. When rival nations both set their eyes upon the Vale, the knights pledged their blades to Volariden's cause.
Though they shared the enhanced strength and agility of other vampires, the knights were also gifted with a monstrous transformation into winged beasts. They served as commanders and shock troops within the legions, and came to be known as the Knights of Dusks Reaping."
Looking to the sky, the slight tinge of light grows upon the horizon signaling the coming dawn. She turns to the former queen, but one of the warriors speaks first, pleading for mercy and promising to serve once more.
"[i][b]BE SILENT![/i][/b]" the witch shouts, eyes still locked upon Magpie, then softer with a smile she adds, "But not you darling, please continue!"
"Though the Coldfire Coven and the Knights of Dusks Reaping were of considerable help, the bulk of their resistance was made up of mortal volunteers, farmers fishers and huntsmen, and nowhere near the numbers to defend their home. So she turned to the Draug Clan," Magpie pauses to look over the men and women knelt within the mud.
"Mercenaries from the west who claim ancestry with giants. She offered them lands for their families to settle and immortality, by blood and song. They gladly accepted, and their already infamous resilience and rage were bolstered." The birds start singing within the forests around them and Magpie's lips quiver, "What is it you desire of us? An ashen death? Such a waste! Think, girl, we raised you better than this!"
"I want you to continue your tale," the witch stares into the dying flame, unblinking, unbreathing, "I'd like to hear how it ends."
The crone rises with a rasping hiss, towering over her former charge, but the compulsion within her blood boils until she relents, "Having pushed the invaders out, the wretched girl set her sights to vengeance and turned her armies upon their holdings. Eventually, fools among the local nobility sought to spare themselves her wrath. The lord of of House Balen offered his diplomatic and financial expertise to assist the Brat Queen in her conquest, and in turn were gifted with charms and glamours to better lie and scheme their ways into wealth and status."
The autumn leaves in the upper canopies are alit with golden light as the sun begins to rise. Magpie shakes as the girl she once comforted in despair now ignores her own, playfully poking at dying embers with a stick.
"Lastly, the ones known as the Bards," a single bloody tear travels down the old crones wrinkled cheek as she watches the approaching light, "Recruited from local commoners, rebellions, and ne'er do wells, they served the Queen using their gifted illusory magiks as assassins and spies. Why are you doing this?"
"You used me," the girl looks so small beneath that large hat, "turned me into a monster. I was a sacrifice that unfortunately survived."
"Dear sweetling..." Magpie reaches out a withered hand to comfort her, but she shies away.
"You also took me in after my family was slaughtered, comforted me in sorrow," beneath the hat, a faint smile, "and also gave me minty treats and plenty of books to read."
As a wave of sunlight washes over the village, the other vampires begin to scream as they burn to ash.
"I forgive you, Auntie Mags," as the light approaches, the witch lunges at Magpie and in a haze of shadowy mist the two appear within a nearby shed.
The old crone falls to her knees, "I am sorry, we needed the blood of your mother to retreat to the Feywild, and you were all that remained."
"I always knew, and wanted it too," the witch watches the villagers wander in a stupor, picking at the remains of their former lives, "Where are the others?"
Her claws dig into the wooden floor as she tries to resist, but Magpie succumbs, "My sisters and Edgar Draug are camped west, beyond the mountains. I know nothing of the others."
"Tell Edgar to meet me upon the shore, he'll understand."
There's a moment of silence as Magpie collects herself and rises to speak, but she is gone, and a moment later Magpie sighs, then vanishes in a puff of mist.
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