Queen Yavara: Chapter 20Elena7777837207
Part Seven: The Coming Storm
I blasted through the roof the chieftains hut. I didnt stop for their exclamations, nor to see their faces of wonder before I scorched through the sky. Prestiras dying thoughts were echoing in my mind.
They took her, she said, they took Elena!
Stay with me!
Its too late. Its all my fault; I did this.
No! I thought, This was Leveria, not you!
I killed Patricia, Prestiras telepathic voice sobbed, I burned her alive. She screamed ‘why the whole time.
Tell Zander… Prestira sobbed, Tell Zander…
The connection between us broke. I saw it arc across the horizon, and disappear. I raced after it as fast as I could go, my tears flying across my face as the wind pushed them back. I called for Prestira over and over again, but she didnt answer. The trees beneath me bent as I blew past them, a flurry of needles erupting from their stems. The Pines fell away beneath me, the foliage changing to spruces. I searched manically, looking left and right across the landscape for anything. The biggest tree Id ever seen towered over everything ten miles to the west. I rocketed for it, my eyes scanning the ground. As I neared the tree, I came upon a clearing where hundreds of figures were standing in a circle. I plummeted to the center of it.
I didnt notice the nymphs gawking at me. I hit the ground in a scramble, and crawled on my hands and knees. Prestiras face shown in the afternoon light, her white eyes staring at nothing, blood trickling from her ruby lips. Patricia was hardly more than bone, but it didnt matter, for my mind painted her visage over the horror before me. I saw the shape of her cheek, the line of her jaw, and the bow of her brow, and oh god, it couldnt be anyone else! I pulled the bodies into my arms, and wailed. It was my fault. Id been too slow. Id been too weak.
I felt soft hands come down on my shoulders. I looked up to see Crystal looking down at me. Her eyes no longer bore irises, but were instead glowing purple ovals, brimming with sorrow.
Queen Yavara, she said with a voice that was not her own, Adarian took Master to Castle Thorum. I can see them through the roots; theyre already almost there.
I crouched down and prepared myself to launch, but Crystal stopped me with a calming touch, her power draining my muscles of strength.
You wont catch them. Crystal said, They have ballista mounting the walls waiting for you; its a trap.
I wont leave her there! I yelled back, Let go of me Crystal!
I am not Crystal.
There was a time when Alkandi was nothing more than a gang leader in the port city of Semptium, where the Knife River enters the sea at the northern boundary of the Pines. The vassal territories of the Great Forest were mercantile lands then, and the governors there ruled by the doctrine of capitalism. Nobody saw the threat Alkandi posed, and those that mightve, were blinded by the bribes she gave. Nobody saw until Semptium was surrounded, besieged and sacked. Then everyone saw, and the world watched in horror as the jewel of elven imperialism became the pulsing tumor called, ‘Alkandra. The cancer soon spread. The military paths that the Highlands had paved to tame the Great Forest were used to create an empire of anarchy. Spectator sports were replaced with executions, theatre was replaced with rape and torture, and markets vended slaves instead of silver. Once the cancer had consumed the Great Forest, Alkandi set her sights on the Highlands itself.
Castle Thorum was built by a nation in crisis. The Alkandran hordes were a fortnight from crossing the Knife River, and all that stood between them and the Highlands was one bridge, and a military outpost. The king was scrambling to assemble his army, but it would take months. Peacetime had made the Highlands weak, but it had also made it industrious. Every resource of magic and mortar was sent to this convergence of the Knife River, and from it, a miracle was born. Castle Thorums outer walls were seventy feet of shear rock, its secondary walls stood another sixty feet, and its tower reached two-hundred feet from the ground. The ramparts were lined with ballista, the gates were reinforced steel, and the bridge was a narrow slab of rock fit for no more than two abreast horses. The hordes of Alkandra crashed upon the high walls, and drew back like the ebbing tide. Though theyd gained their kingdom and cut the elven empire in half, they would not take one step into the Highlands. So when I heard the castle gates shut behind me, I felt a great surge of relief.
The rangers stared at Elena with cold hatred as I trotted into the courtyard. Shed always been a black sheep, but the connotation had never been quite so literal as now. But Elenas social anxiety seemed to have been cured with her transformation, for she stared unflinchingly into the gazes of those shed betrayed. I had to admit, I was proud of her.
Commander. Chastian said stiffly, stepping beside my horse and pointedly ignoring Elenas stare.
Have Private Cialia prepare our portal. I said to my squire, dismounting, Make sure the watch commanders have full rations and double supplies.
Already done, sir. Chastian inclined his head to the gold-plated guard standing at the mouth of the catacombs, He came through it a few hours ago on orders of the queens magistrate. Whats it mean?
It means Im not in charge anymore. I muttered, looking at the royal knight, Go, Chastian.
The boy took the reins of my horse, and led it, and the hogtied hermaphrodite into the catacombs below the tower. I watched the heads of every ranger follow Elena until the reigns were taken by the royal knight, and they both disappeared into darkness. What would happen down there was out of the realm of ranger justice, and so, I washed my hands of it. Then I sighed, and began the arduous journey up to twenty flights of stairs to my quarters at the top of the tower. When I got there, I immediately disrobed, filled the tub, and commenced washing the death from my body. There was a scratching at my door. I wrapped a towel around my waist, and opened the door. The fox stared up at me, panting happily. I gave her a scratch behind the ear, and beckoned her inside. After looking both ways down the hallway, I shut the door, and locked it. The fox hopped on my bed, her tail wagging. I nodded, and she transformed.
In her humanoid form, April had tan skin, auburn hair and big brown eyes. She retained her fox ears, whiskers, and bushy orange tail, and though her body was definitely human, she retained somewhat of her canine proportions; wide hips, thick thighs, and a slender abdomen with a petite bust. She was naked save for the collar that wrapped her neck like a choker, a nameplate dangling in the hollow of her throat. To me, she was the most beautiful thing in the world. Shed been my stalwart companion since I was a boy, and the love of my life since I was a man. And if she were ever discovered for what she truly was, shed be killed on sight, and I would be executed as a traitor.
Busy day? April asked. The implied question was of course, ‘why didnt you take me with you?
It was. I sighed, sitting on the bed.
You could tell me about it. April said as she nestled herself against me, I have two sets of ears; Im a very good listener.
I stroked her tail the way she liked. I tried very hard to be a good man under King Tiadoa. He told me to always seek the pragmatic solution, and to above all, keep the peace. I built relationships with the kin of the forest, I went on goodwill missions, I preached de-escalation over violence to my troops. Yes, I directed tactical raids, but that was only to keep the power balanced amongst the tribes. I turned to April, I was a good man then, wasnt I?
Youre still a good man.
I frowned. No, Im not. I cant be anymore. The rangers were originally created to hunt down the last dark-elves, and so the new queen has brought us back to our roots. Were exterminators now, and all those relationships I built, all that goodwill, all that dogma Ive instilled; its all for naught.
April put her arm around me. Doing good is never a waste. There are those in the Great Forest who will remember you for the man you truly are, not the man you have to be. She kissed my cheek, How can you be a xenophobe when you love me? Now, what is it that has you so dour?
I ran my thumb through the white tip of her tail. I had to be a bad man today.
Oh, said April, youre talking about Elena.
Did you see her?
I did. April paused, She looks… different.
She is different, but shes still Elena. I understand why she did what she did. I looked into Aprils big brown eyes, I understand it better than most.
Are you going to kill her?
Shes a prisoner of the state. The queen will do with her as she sees fit.
Oh. April muttered, So shell be tortured then.
April gnawed on her lower lip contemplatively, her whiskers twitching. Perhaps you should let Elena go.
I snorted. Shes an enemy, a traitor, and possesses intelligence that could cripple the Dark Queen. For the sake of my people, I cant let her go. Not to mention the risk to ourselves for breaking her out.
Maybe you should just kill her then?
I looked sideways at April. Thats callous of you, Dear.
I think its a mercy. I must hunt to eat, but I do not let my prey linger. You cant let the queen work her horrors on someone you cared for.
I dont ‘let the queen do anything; she gives me orders and I follow them.
Is that so? April raised her eyebrows, What about that little rule regarding fraternizing with beasts, hmm?
I grinned against her fox ear. Theres no rules against owning a pet.
Is that what I am to you? April smirked.
Are you disobeying me? It was old banter, but it was never stale. I tangled one hand in Aprils auburn curls, and tugged just how she liked it. With her face tilted up, and her eyes shining, I leaned in, and whispered, Should I get the leash out, or do you need the muzzle?
Im a good girl, I promise! April whispered back, pressing herself against me.
Then Ill need to give my good girl a treat. I hissed, and April melted into me with a whimper. She was such a reactive woman, prone to the same animalistic compulsions as the beast she transformed into. A touch of my hand in the right spot could drop her to her knees, and I knew all her spots. I stroked along her tail, my fingers traversing the rich fur until I met soft flesh. She parted her tan thighs, revealing the moist lips of her sex, vivid pink with desire. I pushed my hand between her legs, and she gasped, rubbing her face on my shoulder, whimpering like a wanting pup. Then she was purring, her thighs grinding about my wrist, her body quivering as I touched those wonderful wet spots within her.
Sir! A voice yelled from behind the door. I quickly withdrew my hand, and April transformed in a blur.
What?! I yelled with a little too much anger.
The queen is ready to speak to you. Shes on your mirror.
Shit. I quickly pulled on a shirt, hoisted on a pair of pants, then strode down the hall, and into the conference room. I dismissed the soldier there, then locked the door behind me. April trotted beneath me, brushing my legs with her tail. I sat in my chair before the mirror, tidying myself in the reflection, ordering the mess of papers on my desk. April transformed between my legs beneath the desk, a mischievous grin on her face. She reached into my pants, and pulled out what was still hard.
April, I groaned, we cant do this now!
She doesnt own you, Thomas. April giggled, her gentle fingers making me ache with fullness, Besides, she cant see me down here. Itll be our little secret.
Its poor training to not reward a good doggy. Aprils tail swished behind her, Without positive reinforcement, they can turn into very bad girls. Aprils little tongue darted out, and scooped the dollop of froth at my apex. She brought it into her mouth, smacked her lips, and grinned. And bad girls dont listen to their masters.
I narrowed my eyes at her, failing to intimidate her in the least. You better keep your mouth shut.
Are you sure? April smiled devilishly, because I think you like it much better when its open. She wrapped her lush lips around my tip, and descended down my length. I groaned, transfixed by the way her tongue curled around my underside, lathering me until I was consumed to the base. Her eyes were full of playfulness as she slowly rotated her lips, her nose pressing against my pelvis, her long whiskers brushing me. I reached down and pet her head, playing with her furry ears just the way she liked. She smiled around my cock and slowly drew upward. When only my head was in her mouth, she reached into my pants, and clasped her cool hand around my hot aching nuts, kneading them gently with her thumb. Her bushy tail wagged slowly behind her, her ears flopped demurely beneath my hand, and her whiskers tickled me as she passed her mouth along me, taking me into her throat, then pulling with a tight seal. Her lips slurped, her full cheeks hollowing with the suction, her brown eyes studying me curiously, gaging my needs. When I was in control of myself, I touched the mirror. Leverias face appeared, but it didnt bother me as much as it usually did. She was if anything, easy on the eyes.
Head-ranger Adarian, Leveria said, I assume you have good news.
April took my cock out of her mouth, and wrapped her lips around my balls. I nodded stoically to the mirror. Elena Straltaira has been captured. Prestira Rasloraca and her vampire are dead.
This is good news. Leveria said with a wide smile, Yavara, Zander and Brock are…
They went north, I said, my voice rising slightly as Aprils tongue slithered between my nuts, I believe theyre going to the Tundra.
Undoubtedly to petition the Ten for their allegiance. Leveria said, When you learn of the results from your contacts in the Silktari clan, give me the news.
Yes, my queen. I said through a heavy breath, Is there anything else?
Have your mage prep your portal, Adarian. Leveria said as she stood up, Id like to see Elena now.
Already done, my queen. April drew the loose flesh of my sack taut with her slurps, separating my nuts into her cheeks. It took everything in my power not to react to her.
Leveria gave me a curious look. That will be all, Head-ranger. Thank you. She touched the mirror, and it went black.
She sounds pleased. April giggled as she pulled out, It was so cute watching you try to maintain your composure.
A few seconds more of that and I would have come right in front of her. I smiled down at April, You are going to get me killed, my little fox.
April bit her lip. I guess that makes me a bad girl.
The ten tribe leaders and I gawked up at the hole Yavara had left in the hut. One moment she was listening to the grievances and worries of the chieftains, the next, she had disappeared in a shower of wood shrapnel.
Did you know she could do that? I asked Zander.
I did. Zander replied, not fully paying attention to me.
What the fuck was that about? I asked.
Prestira and Patricia are dead, Elena has been captured. Zander responded in a hollow voice. His face was blank, his white eyes unseeing. If he was in shock, he didnt show it. Any sign of grief in front of the Ten would be seen as weakness. Id always respected Zander, if I hadnt liked him. I knew very well the weight he was carrying in his heart, and I knew keenly the corrosive effects of hiding it. Prestira, Patricia, Elena; I didnt have time to think on them. Their loss would burn a hole in my mind later, but I had trained myself to dam the flood of grief. The Ten looked from the hole in the hut, to me and Zander.
Half of your council has just been wiped out, Brock. Gorlok, leader of the Kraklari said, That doesnt bode well for your future.
You mean your future, I growled at Gorlok, because you will remember your duty and bend the knee!
Bend a knee to whom? Gorlok sneered, The queen who just left negotiations of war to confirm the status of a corpse? She is weak.
Weak?! Draifak of the Dartiki clan spat, She blasted a hole through your roof and flew into the fucking sky! She has my support, Brock; we can follow a leader with that kind of strength.
Im with Gorlok! Balktar of the Silktari clan announced, The ten clans have not sat together for a generation, and after managing such a feat, the Dark Queen sees fit to abandon such a meeting for the sake of a dead woman? She does not have the stomach for war.
You speak of having a stomach for war, Balktar, Kanglar of the Waldaki clan laughed, but you dont have the balls to throw your men into the furnace of it. The Dark Queen wants war, but you will not take part in it. I will lead my tribesmen to victory and glory! Brock Terdini, you can count my men in.
Glory? Vultar of the Hektaki tribe roared, The Dark Queen will not attack the Highlands! We will sit at the border and take the elven punishment on our lands until they capitulate. No, Brock, I cannot send my men to such pointless slaughter.
Im with Vultar! Jertalk of the Fertorki interjected, The Dark Queen shows her weakness by not attacking our enemies! Perhaps she still has love for her former people? How can we trust a princess of the Highlands to keep our interests at heart?
I am sorry Brock, Vaklori of the Drundiki clan said, but I must agree with Vultar and Jertalk. Not only is the Dark Queen too weak to attack, but I fear she is nothing but a puppet for King Albert Dreus.
Here, here! Roared Huftraki of the Yugntiki clan, I would throw my men behind the Dark Queen if she would attack the Highlands. I cannot call myself chieftain if I send my men to the jaws of war with no spoils to reward them. I refuse your offer, Brock.
As do I. Kalkgan of the Higtiki said.
I will join you, Beflara of the Dektiki said, but only if I am her candidate for Froktora.
I am her candidate for Froktora. I growled. The chieftains all stared at me, and I knew in that silent moment that Id played my cards like a fool. The whole hut erupted.
…and why should you be Froktora, Beflara? Jertalk, Beflaras enemy jeered, you stand at an army of six-thousand; I stand at an army of ten! I nominate myself for Froktora right now! Whos with me?
Shove it up your ass, Jertalk, roared Gorlok, an enemy of both Jertalk and Beflara, my warg riders have been cutting your infantry to pieces for a decade; you stand at an army of dog meat!
Oh, and that means you should be Froktora, Gorlok? Draifak, also an enemy of Gorlok, laughed, Because I use your alpha dogs skull to toilet-train my children!
I WILL EAT YOUR FUCKING CHILDREN! Gorlok roared as his fists met the table.
You would shed blood during a meeting of The Ten?! Kanglar yelled.
This is my hut! Gorlok yelled as he brandished a knife hed concealed in his hair, And I will paint it red if I see fit!
I will feed your cock to your wife! Draifak said, also brandishing a concealed weapon.
SILENCE! Zander roared. Draifak and Gorlok were pinned against the wall with the wizards power, struggling against an unseeing force. You have all sworn a vow to bend a knee to the Dark Queen upon her return, Zander said, and every single one of you has broken that vow today. You call yourself chieftains of great clans, but you are nothing but warring tribes of brutes fighting over the scraps Leveria lets you have.
You fucking- Gorlok began before Zander cut him off.
Shut your fucking mouth, Gorlok. Zander said coldly, Your father was the leader of ten-thousand warg riders, and on the precipice of conquering four of the Ten. Then a ranger unit came along and poisoned your kennels. Now you are the leader of three-thousand riders, and the clans you sought to control take pieces of your territory easily. We have one common enemy here, and it is not the men sitting across from you; it is the Highlands. It has always been the Highlands.
Aye, Vultar chimed in, Its always been the Highlands, but the Dark Queen refuses to attack them! I cannot bend the knee to a woman who will send my sons to die simply to keep what we already have!
On this I will not yield, Zander! Jertalk yelled, If the Dark Queen does not bring the war to the Highlands, I will not join it!
My scouts tell me Leverias army is months away from being assembled. Kalkgan said, If we attack now, we could take a quarter of her kingdom without opposition! I will join the Dark Queen if she chooses to attack, but not if I have to follow a Froktora as weak as Brock.
The rest of the clan leaders murmured in agreement. Yavara needed to attack the Highlands, and I could not be Froktora. Zander looked to me and nodded; there was nothing left to discuss. The arguing clan leaders didnt even notice our exit. We got onto our steeds and rode away from the immense Glacier Lake, the homestead of Gorlok becoming a dot on the endless shoreline. We trotted on the old imperial path that led for the ruins of Alkandra, the hooves beating against worn stone. My scouts had given me the same news Kalkgan had received: Leverias army was slow to assemble. But it mattered little if the Ten did not unite, for when the army was finally assembled, it would pick off the tribes of the Tundra one by one, and then there would be no defending the Great Forest.
There was only one thing left that I could do. I would heed the advice Ruby had given to me two nights ago, and go to the Maples. How I would do it in time, I did not know. I didnt seem to know anything anymore. Uncertainty was a new constant in my life, a shadow veiling my dearly-held perception of a future I once thought set in stone. The hours of riding went by without a single word spoken between Zander and me. All the while, I heard the name with every beat of my bulls hooves. Adarian, Adarian, Adarian.
I was absolutely giddy. I had to stop myself from skipping down the hall to Glendians office, and struggled through my regel shuffle before the eyes of my guards. The old man was his usual bitter self, but I paid him no heed. I ordered up as many vials of succubus extract as I could carry with me through the portal, then I went to my room and stripped naked.
How do I want Elena to see me? I pondered as I walked through my closet. When Id broken Prestira, Id selected a warmly-colored dress and conservative makeup. I wanted Prestira to view me with an air of benevolence to contrast the mannerisms of her captors. I didnt need to put on airs for Elena. In a sense, she would know me better than anyone, even Father. For I intended to spend months getting to know Elena Straltaira, though the longer I spent with her, the less of her there would be to know. I would make sure Yavara got her precious ranger back, one little piece at a time.
Ah, this is the one.
It was a tight leather one-piece that covered me from toe to chin. It included leather gloves and obnoxiously tall high-heeled boots. I did my platinum hair into a ponytail, applied black lipstick and dark eyeliner, and adorned my ears with hooped earrings. I posed in front of the mirror, turning to admire the skin-tight contours of leather that held my bust and buttocks high and taut on their perches. It was perfect. This… this was me. Beautiful and terrible, magnificent and merciless, lusting and cruel. I would be Elenas devil, Elenas angel, Elenas torturer and Elenas lover. In the end, she would love me almost as much as she feared me. Fear and love, but not hate. Oh, she would hate me at first, yes, but I would cut the hatred out of her. For when pain became so great, and horror so pure, hatred had very little room to sprout. One does not hate the hurricane, nor the earthquake, nor the flood; though these things might take everything from someone. When Elenas limbs were naught but stumps on her torso, her breasts were but flat scars on her chest, her cunt was one with her rectum, and her cock was a memory, I would cradle her in my arms like a babe, for she would be so light that I could. I would bring her to my breast, gaze into her lidless eyes, pet her scalped head, and blow into the holes where her nose used to be, and I would smile when she did, showing me her toothless gums. Then I would bring her to my breast, my babe of mutilation, a creation of my mind, and I would let her suck the milk Id made in my incestuous pregnancy. But I would not kill Elena. No, I would leave that to Yavara, when I showed her what I had done to her love.
I took a moment to gaze from the window at the army that was amassing outside Bentius. It was already eighty-thousand strong. I had worked tirelessly to establish a network of false information that could be easily disseminated, even by illiterate beasts. In secret, I had emptied the coffers of every noble house, emptied the vaults of the Bank of Bentius, and with the wealth of the entire nation, Id emptied the Highlands of every able-bodied fighting man and woman, and funneled them through concealed passages in the hills. And there they stood: an army that could rival that of any kingdom in the world, ready to march on the Tundra in a fortnight. The Great Forest would belong to the Highlands once again, and I couldnt have done it without my little sister. Total war required votes in the Noble Court, votes that would never have come without the existential threat Yavara posed. Once Id ridded the land of the parasites there, I would solidify my power by dividing the newly gained territories amongst the noble families, giving each a piece too small to hold influence, but too large to demand more. Yes, that was power, and yet, it was hollow.
I turned my attention to the velvet box on the mantle. I opened it, and stared in awe at the blades shining in the noon light. It was a coronation gift sent to me by my chief interrogator. It was the greatest gift anyone had ever given me. I had never before made the cuts myself, but I knew that I could. I would be sloppy at first, but I would have plenty of time to practice. I caressed the silver-engraved handles, and felt a thrill run through me. This was true power.