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Nightglory (3rd Edition)
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Writer Mathew Babaoye
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Nightglory (3rd Edition)
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#7
The Mountain Clan
Mathew Babaoye
Apr 2, 2016
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12 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!XJD78IQFsYY72ovHbJgeposted on PENANA

Queen Goldenslaughter waited there, like a shadow amidst the mist, with rain pattering down around her upon the mountain trail. Wearing a black cloak with its black hood up, she was gazing out across the dim, ancient forest vale held within the bowl of its dark encircling mountains. The view is even better here than from my private balcony atop Caer Nocht. How have I forgotten such beauty? Her eyes slowly tracked from the distant, solitary snow-capped mountain peak pouring out a glittering waterfall, all the way down to the river it birthed below which, from this vantage point, was only visible as a dull line bisecting the ancient forest, passing close by the familiar red patch of the Town, at center. My Rule and my Realm but, it must be remembered, not so untroubled as the gorgeous view would make it seem, withal. While her own Caer Nocht remained a steadily consuming darkness amidst the far western foothills, the enemy’s decaying Bog also remained a familiar, ugly smear in the eastern foothills…copyright protection85PENANA4uQa7J6NUb

But…copyright protection85PENANATSUwZ2fQII

Focus. Others await your guiding hand now. Mmm. And there will be time enough to address the enemy’s recent trespass in Town at a nearer, more opportune lunar date. She ducked her head now, gliding away along the high trail towards scattered glows in the rainy mist downslope. While approaching, the glows resolved into roaring firepits placed between hide huts and fired-urthen domes, with empty washerlines crisscrossed above, spread across a great plateau outthrust from the mountainside…copyright protection85PENANAOGQQ5lyg5O

The Mountain Clan.copyright protection85PENANAuajlkq4rdZ

Her eyes narrowed. Oh really? In the rainy mist far ahead of her: four vague silhouettes were standing at each cardinal point of the settlement. While she continued advancing, each shadowy figure slowly resolved into a tall Clan Warrior wearing the traditional fur mantle, oiled leather armor, and scaled forearm vambraces. Playing at defense? In traditional magical concentration: each Warriors had both eyes closed, standing one-legged with their right foot placed up against their opposite inside thigh, both palms pressed flat together before their chest and a tall spear (with its butt-end down upon the urth and its metal point high) held upright in the crook of their left elbows. More amusingly: their little Wills were overlapped to cover the settlement, and warn of any approaching danger…copyright protection85PENANAC7RwERzTHh

… the steady pattering of raindrops…copyright protection85PENANACvYsm4NVkT

This denotes an almost suspicious level of caution from the Clan Chief and Shaman, since I know both must sign off, together, to have activated one of the Clan’s famed Compass Watch. Yessssssss, my coming apparently IS fortuitous: something is clearly afoot. To stay out of the range of their little Wills, all Goldenslaughter did was keep strictly to the upper branch of the trail that she was already following, activate a simple-shadow easement to blend into the shadows and let the obscuring elements of mist, rain and shadow handle the rest. It looks somewhat deserted, but is understandable considering that the hunting party prefers early morning hours. Focus. I must focus on my original task. Breathing deep the crisp mountain air tinged with smoke, redolent of…copyright protection85PENANAKP33aotePH

She abruptly frowned.copyright protection85PENANAdsO5YtWymD

A faint scent of the Slythy.copyright protection85PENANAQY9PqwTere

First in the Town and now in the Mountain Clan? This is MOST unusual. Grr. I KNEW I should have placed some magical boundary around its cursed Bog. Tch. But where else has my old enemy been lately? And what is it plotting now? Goldenslaughter remained deep in troubled thought while approaching a rocky outcrop marking a bend in the high trail, but before leaving the settlement behind, and lost in the rainy mist, she glanced back down at the Shaman’s peaked hut. Well well. The very least of the plotters is here.copyright protection85PENANA7b3bfdzIso

The Shaman’s skinny young apprentice, while wrapped only in an oversized animal pelt, was tending to the mystical fire without a shiver…copyright protection85PENANAqGQeLPHIo4

Alone.copyright protection85PENANAmf3v4u2YJt

He might squeak some truth if I surprise him right. But… no, no. The boy was but a messenger for his Master in Town, and the old lion is too crafty to be easily caught. I must find a better time, and a better strategy to draw out the heart of this intrigue. She glided forward again to finally pass around the rocky outcrop, and leave them all behind…copyright protection85PENANAcRFf2UtBDW

… the steady pattering of raindrops…copyright protection85PENANA03CRioH065

Winding along the mountain trail ever further, Goldenslaughter neared a fork: right lead gently upslope before rising sharply, and left lead downslope, back into the misty depths. Hmmm? Murmurs were slowly receding, below. The morning hunting party? But why would it be heading down from this higher slope when the game is scarce there? Hmm. Yes, but this higher slope is shielded from the view of my castle, isn’t it? She soon came to a halt athwart the fork, closing her eyes while slowly extending her pale hand out ahead to focus, her monolithic Will then imbuing Power into shadows, and sending swiftly-moving ripples of her Control downslope through them, which disappeared in the constant motion of the elements. Nightgsense opened her inner eye: she saw the rocky mountain trail below, with a group of Clan Warriors lead by the old hard-eyed Clan Chief and ancient, whitemaned Shaman. The Shaman turned slightly, after feeling the touch of her–copyright protection85PENANA5sl8YpD0nm

.esnesthgiNcopyright protection85PENANAuzdaPg5jSI

Her red lips twitched in suppressed anger while she abruptly snapped shut her inner eye shut. That was a close one. The Shaman is far more subtle in the arts than I knew. She opened her physical eyes again, turning away to begin gliding up along the rising trail now, towards the mountain’s upper reaches…copyright protection85PENANAfSMRJ4gr5m

… the steady pattering of raindrops…copyright protection85PENANAxaPSjOhWPF

Gradually steeper, the trail twisted up higher through bramble and brush growing sparse. Soil eroded, until only jagged, slick rock lead upwards towards clearing sight of nearing peaks against the grey, overcast sky. The strengthening breeze was also becoming a whistling wind, with breathy syllables gradually audible upon it. Her red lips curled up into a smile. They are still here in abundance, good. It has been too long since I was here, but they are mine, and subjects all. Finally reaching the top of the trail, she emerged out onto a cracked plain which bordered a low peak. Glittering aurora was swirling upon the whistling wind above, which was also now clearly threaded by breathy words, and laughter, of…copyright protection85PENANAjjfxu4OzoG

Sylph.copyright protection85PENANAiDy4vi9LJe

Human allegiance was complex, and while she always had her suspicions about the Clan, and certain Townsfolk, one could count upon Elementals to respond simply to Power. In search of answers seemingly impossible to find on her own, from mortal informants or the Elemental Lady herself, it was time to ask a few pointed questions of these Elemental little ones.copyright protection85PENANA8gpY8INqFC

One of the sylph saw her. “The Queen approaches!”copyright protection85PENANA6ZVlxqqlZO

The dark immortal one continued gliding across the plain as excited chatter spread overhead among the swirling, and flowing wind Elementals. “Goldenslaughter!” “The Queen!” “A visit, a visit!” Finally slowing to a halt at the center of the plain, she then bowed gracefully forward, before rising back up. “Mountain Sylph,” she called out strongly, smiling broadly. “I would bring you a gift.”copyright protection85PENANA1isAnXSwJC

The sylph abruptly scattered away across the wind, their bright forms thinning while they called out breathily in fright–copyright protection85PENANALSSbR1UEsA

RUDE! Goldenslaughter snarled: “wait!copyright protection85PENANAgyzcU7CksC

Slowing along the border of the cracked plain, the sylph all twined back around through the rainy mist into a slow, glittering dance. A few also wafted back towards her…copyright protection85PENANA9tUB3izWOj

Tch. What was that really all about? I am not such an ungraceful tyrant, withal… copyright protection85PENANAyAcrL4tGIW

A solitary sylph finally spiraled down towards her, growing firm in sight to show its glittering, small winged body and serious, scrunched up face. Coming to a fluttering halt before here, it then settled upon the wind, bobbing gently. “Your gifts have cost,” it told her breathily, “not always borne of kindness.”copyright protection85PENANAgZuPcpXPJp

The dark immortal one paused, then abruptly threw back her head and cackled, with the black hood slipping off of her head afterwards to reveal her blonde ponytail.copyright protection85PENANArTTmuXE4Ut

The sylph ambassador flinched.copyright protection85PENANAos4AUPFnvo

After her laughter wheezed to a stop, she turned back, with another broad smile spreading across her pale, rain-wet face. “You are not the first to doubt my gifts.”copyright protection85PENANAjMnOCAdzpX

“I believe you,” it told her, beginning to blur…copyright protection85PENANAYRQSdlPSpJ

Goldenslaughter looked slightly side, and its form returned to clarity. “How fare the upper reaches?” she asked.copyright protection85PENANAmOcqp6g4uM

The sylph ambassador bobbed on a sudden eddy of cold, rainy wind, with its glittering wings briefly fluttering. “Well enough.”copyright protection85PENANAsOyQDaqRJP

Surveying the area, Goldenslaughter breathed in deeply again to examine the air, and finally exhaled. “The air is crisp, though not all upon it fresh.” She glanced back, causing the wind Elemental to blur again. “Have there been any interesting visitors?”copyright protection85PENANAOHGFAU0qNq

Drifting slightly out of her direct line of sight again, the sylph ambassador returned to glittering clarity. “Visitors?”copyright protection85PENANAa9emzEtPIY

“Yes,” she repeated quietly, and paused significantly as the rain continued pattering down all around her. “Of interest.”copyright protection85PENANACaNa1qkri3

The sylph ambassador gave a high-pitched laugh. “To us? No.”copyright protection85PENANAh6LXLlSMLF

Goldenslaughter placed three pale fingers to her pale neck and looked directly upon the shy Elemental again. “Truth!” she Sang, the word echoing outwards in tripled voice, Powerfully…copyright protection85PENANAdVPsip6MfO

Every sylph circling above the cracked plain’s border suddenly shivered from her dark Command, their happy chatter abruptly stilled. Due to proximity, the sylph ambassador was most effected, shuddering violently. “Truth I spake,” it whispered in a breathy voice now gone strangled.copyright protection85PENANAKRZy10Zlrh

The Queen of Night stepped forward towards it, with her eyes burning dark as her darkening shadow began swirling beneath her. “None have come which do not belong?”copyright protection85PENANAoIoaGawzWi

The sylph ambassador darted away from her, just beyond reach. “For the third time, I say no. Except…” Sudden breathy cries came all around them, and the sylph’s bright forms scattered from their encircling of the cracked plain’s border. “Pardons, my Queen, but She comes!” the sylph ambassador exclaimed anxiously, before darting off…copyright protection85PENANAe9d3BwsIjI

All gone.copyright protection85PENANAw3zvCAwBVY

Hohoho, what is this divided allegiance? Or can it all be explained any other way? Tch. I suppose they are fickle Elements, tis all, and their caretaker has come back for another round. Alone now amidst the falling rain and whistling wind, Queen Goldenslaughter smiled, her eyes lightening while her expanding shadow gently slowed, contracted, and shaded back to normal, beneath her. “Lady!” she called easily. “Come from hiding and join me.”copyright protection85PENANASkHgvnq1Wn

A distant laugh. A distant, swirling wind. A winged form abruptly soared above the far ridgeline afterwards, then came down ahead with a powerful flap of its wings.copyright protection85PENANAjbxxf93IRm

Her pale hand rose against the wind, which suddenly stilled. Lowering her hand again…copyright protection85PENANAqnqZT3zqEv

A wyrd woman stood ahead: with black eyes, long seaweed hair, and white-feathered wings spread wide behind her…copyright protection85PENANAoxQ5Oltfmq

The Lady of Elements.copyright protection85PENANACGB9dRjhza

Always one for an entrance. Goldenslaughter smiled tolerantly at her old friend.copyright protection85PENANAD0y40s7ASM

“Queen,” the Lady opened.copyright protection85PENANA5hjWm8hQnE

“Lady,” she replied. “Have you been following me?”copyright protection85PENANAgZkS9xJsOj

“I could ask you the same question.” The Lady folded her white-feathered wings against her scaled back and turned aside, waving a webbed claw towards the nearby peak. “Walk with me.”copyright protection85PENANADsjbxkEFUw

Goldenslaughter sneered, but…copyright protection85PENANAsZOMWaUd1h

The two Powers began crossing the cracked plain together: one of them Ascendant, dark and ominous in gold, and one Faen, stepping oddly graceful with cloven feet nimble.copyright protection85PENANAShhc9qKTTz

She comes at an inopportune time. Unless this can be turned to my advantage. Goldenslaughter glanced sidelong, considering. “I did not expect to visit with you again so soon.”copyright protection85PENANAcw2wIzQmfL

“That is where we differ, for I did.”copyright protection85PENANASHLGtHRnVT

“Oh?”copyright protection85PENANAFNaW0knKdg

The Lady smiled. “You have not been subtle, recently. Visiting forest, Town and mountains in quick succession, after such a long absence, speaks to need. It makes one wonder what has changed. What you seek, or have found…”copyright protection85PENANAkqNmXvWORb

Goldenslaughter paused for a moment, briefly suspicious of her interest. Hmph. A hint is fair. “Glory,” she finally admitted.copyright protection85PENANAzKSkqm1iKW

A feelingcopyright protection85PENANAbpKmmKGJvU

“Yes. Although you still refuse to name the type.” The Lady sighed. “Be that as it may: was not the Slythy’s twisted answer enough to warn you off such a dangerous pursuit of myth?”copyright protection85PENANAZPlMbii769

Whirling about suddenly before the low peak, she angrily faced her old friend. “Why mention the Slythy?”copyright protection85PENANAjGTb0kx2Di

The Lady halted too. “Why not? You are both recently busy.”copyright protection85PENANAZPHJb3tSMY

“Is there anything you care to share, my Lady?”copyright protection85PENANAMMO8z0qR8x

After only sharing a long, considering look, the Lady wordlessly turned and walked away to the cliff’s edge.copyright protection85PENANA0reUDeeahR

Goldenslaughter paused, then joined her…copyright protection85PENANAsgGaZSdsK0

The two Powers stared from the mountain heights, out across the dark, misty Realm now. A mysterious vista, the vale retained vastly different meaning and history, for them both…copyright protection85PENANArxNgFmg6eo

“Something has changed,” the Lady finally breathed, without turning. “I felt it before your visit, and even before my Dream.” She hesitated. “You HAVE found it, haven’t you?”copyright protection85PENANAEfPS9s7nDo

Goldenslaughter ground her teeth together, then stilled the frustrated motion. “I caught it some time ago, yes,” she admitted grudgingly.copyright protection85PENANAf6EWgEOu6y

The two Powers continued staring out for a long moment, while the moment unclenched.copyright protection85PENANAvy6iOLF4ST

A sigh. “What would you give up to fulfill a Title?” the Lady finally asked softly. “Your people? Your Realm? Your sanity?”copyright protection85PENANAtw8ioiLwFp

Goldenslaughter turned…copyright protection85PENANAUVvzRMdGhk

The Lady turned...copyright protection85PENANAfNSl5H7LMZ

And their eyes locked. “I would do anything for Power,” Queen Goldenslaughter stated calmly.copyright protection85PENANAFfwOyV6krM

Tension.copyright protection85PENANAJlHeUz18gi

Oh? There is still fight left in her, after all.copyright protection85PENANAsv5lRb2ZXP

… but it was still the Lady who broke gaze. “The Slythy may be a trickster,” she muttered, “but it always tells the truth. And there is always a price to pay for its answers.”copyright protection85PENANAZC5vqDqwXR

The Queen of Night continued gazing upon her for a long, cold moment, before giving a wicked smile. Behind her back: she now slipped the newly Forged Ring onto her left hand. “True enough. But what about the price which I require?”copyright protection85PENANAiGd0V8AXgQ

Smiling uncertainly, the Lady turned. “Bold before Queenship, you are now brazen.”copyright protection85PENANAgJmm4dx7dv

Goldenslaughter extended her right hand.copyright protection85PENANAWc71HyF85D

Her smile disappeared.copyright protection85PENANA0nkdofmZdC

“I promised the sylph a gift,” she explained.copyright protection85PENANAPtlcPqqnxD

The Lady frowned. “And you would have us share the giving?”copyright protection85PENANASuP0wwybFD

“Why not? Our scattered Faen Court is too solitary, and ripe for change. We are not like those in other Realms, although for good reason, considering my firm Rule.  But add your voice to mine in Song now, and we shall serve as a harbinger of what might come.” Her pale hand remained extended, in seeming friendship…copyright protection85PENANAOF19SqoepB

The Lady hesitated, but finally took it.copyright protection85PENANARf5drUDRhb

Her smile deepened. And our Essences will now suffuse outwards together in Song, a most generous gift. Mmm. So generous that she will never notice if I draw a little of hers away into my Ring, and save it for the activation of a prophetic Dream where I might gain some important glimpse into my own future…copyright protection85PENANAv9Fk9cRIow

 The two Powers headed up through the rain, climbing towards the low peak, risen tall in a grey, overcast sky, while joining their voices in Song again for the first time since childhood.copyright protection85PENANAldbmm4MKjc

54.226.33.117

ns54.226.33.117da2
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