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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
1
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64
12 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!xl3TdGa6RJz6o7A5GNHaposted 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 protection64PENANAfSmYreEyhD

But…copyright protection64PENANACPYGJcmTie

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 protection64PENANADRl1ZW6FJN

The Mountain Clan.copyright protection64PENANAQYFcX7qBGI

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 protection64PENANAfixdYgpl9I

… the steady pattering of raindrops…copyright protection64PENANAAMzVNzRUeA

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 protection64PENANAH5znhwuI7a

She abruptly frowned.copyright protection64PENANAqntXAsd0On

A faint scent of the Slythy.copyright protection64PENANAJo9ijXRbR6

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 protection64PENANAMzblWtSrbZ

The Shaman’s skinny young apprentice, while wrapped only in an oversized animal pelt, was tending to the mystical fire without a shiver…copyright protection64PENANACBm5zXyMYm

Alone.copyright protection64PENANA9IKj04hSf9

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 protection64PENANAZ2IbnFEf6Q

… the steady pattering of raindrops…copyright protection64PENANAfIsCO1AmNz

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 protection64PENANAIXhthixybN

.esnesthgiNcopyright protection64PENANAHaPqmd51tb

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 protection64PENANARJUkmIlW49

… the steady pattering of raindrops…copyright protection64PENANAwN6Ngo5OXh

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 protection64PENANABFrr5OFbP8

Sylph.copyright protection64PENANAmHSg1eZmb4

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 protection64PENANAwHRDv81BWZ

One of the sylph saw her. “The Queen approaches!”copyright protection64PENANASyEk0K8FVY

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 protection64PENANAOiGGzHVy46

The sylph abruptly scattered away across the wind, their bright forms thinning while they called out breathily in fright–copyright protection64PENANACBOuejCfUz

RUDE! Goldenslaughter snarled: “wait!copyright protection64PENANAfM7T67DfNz

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 protection64PENANAdBRTirBdZG

Tch. What was that really all about? I am not such an ungraceful tyrant, withal… copyright protection64PENANAkCh87vsJLn

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 protection64PENANAj09qUgyyvl

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 protection64PENANA7JXZDfqetq

The sylph ambassador flinched.copyright protection64PENANAVN3dWaIpUu

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 protection64PENANAMevWEpcdYI

“I believe you,” it told her, beginning to blur…copyright protection64PENANAz5sw55Mwkf

Goldenslaughter looked slightly side, and its form returned to clarity. “How fare the upper reaches?” she asked.copyright protection64PENANAXf30s0bbp6

The sylph ambassador bobbed on a sudden eddy of cold, rainy wind, with its glittering wings briefly fluttering. “Well enough.”copyright protection64PENANAGckb8ZBldz

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 protection64PENANA3MFwjLB5hV

Drifting slightly out of her direct line of sight again, the sylph ambassador returned to glittering clarity. “Visitors?”copyright protection64PENANAlebpfEprQP

“Yes,” she repeated quietly, and paused significantly as the rain continued pattering down all around her. “Of interest.”copyright protection64PENANAxw1SIaRjv4

The sylph ambassador gave a high-pitched laugh. “To us? No.”copyright protection64PENANATzRz5akGgB

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 protection64PENANACCQO15srwi

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 protection64PENANAg4PiWxsORY

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 protection64PENANATLxKkCVFjc

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 protection64PENANAgWO7KQddhK

All gone.copyright protection64PENANAwxOlQLTizL

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 protection64PENANAgswOdRr8wL

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 protection64PENANAlNH9VsZ8Fg

Her pale hand rose against the wind, which suddenly stilled. Lowering her hand again…copyright protection64PENANATcOIxFtrY3

A wyrd woman stood ahead: with black eyes, long seaweed hair, and white-feathered wings spread wide behind her…copyright protection64PENANAcfwJ3JBvS8

The Lady of Elements.copyright protection64PENANAgdWYnRrn06

Always one for an entrance. Goldenslaughter smiled tolerantly at her old friend.copyright protection64PENANAETjsBQ85i6

“Queen,” the Lady opened.copyright protection64PENANA8ulEepoQUh

“Lady,” she replied. “Have you been following me?”copyright protection64PENANAYavU9SMAfM

“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 protection64PENANAHTG0mhRum9

Goldenslaughter sneered, but…copyright protection64PENANABvEWaTmyJg

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 protection64PENANAPIrkDAdpat

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 protection64PENANAcRnSSJaJex

“That is where we differ, for I did.”copyright protection64PENANASQ3wNdp9L9

“Oh?”copyright protection64PENANApBRQWuq9TB

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 protection64PENANAD6t0ZlK94Y

Goldenslaughter paused for a moment, briefly suspicious of her interest. Hmph. A hint is fair. “Glory,” she finally admitted.copyright protection64PENANAHWPKtCXTLJ

A feelingcopyright protection64PENANA2alU1horri

“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 protection64PENANA34ow4nRPxV

Whirling about suddenly before the low peak, she angrily faced her old friend. “Why mention the Slythy?”copyright protection64PENANANfSDZmfXg0

The Lady halted too. “Why not? You are both recently busy.”copyright protection64PENANAGia1dbjBDL

“Is there anything you care to share, my Lady?”copyright protection64PENANAUGPidUG4Je

After only sharing a long, considering look, the Lady wordlessly turned and walked away to the cliff’s edge.copyright protection64PENANA0xtTatgpqw

Goldenslaughter paused, then joined her…copyright protection64PENANAq7PB82MsDq

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 protection64PENANAdy73RkYxpH

“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 protection64PENANAMqfgkqJAQ9

Goldenslaughter ground her teeth together, then stilled the frustrated motion. “I caught it some time ago, yes,” she admitted grudgingly.copyright protection64PENANA6ggVRpXESB

The two Powers continued staring out for a long moment, while the moment unclenched.copyright protection64PENANA459c81x7yW

A sigh. “What would you give up to fulfill a Title?” the Lady finally asked softly. “Your people? Your Realm? Your sanity?”copyright protection64PENANAOln4BHukhl

Goldenslaughter turned…copyright protection64PENANAuoBKksah72

The Lady turned...copyright protection64PENANATc83oh4VoD

And their eyes locked. “I would do anything for Power,” Queen Goldenslaughter stated calmly.copyright protection64PENANASdZghAXMVf

Tension.copyright protection64PENANA7pEJaYblgj

Oh? There is still fight left in her, after all.copyright protection64PENANAn9vwdTNiPc

… 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 protection64PENANAWHpVYHwVur

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 protection64PENANAbBRPk1Owm4

Smiling uncertainly, the Lady turned. “Bold before Queenship, you are now brazen.”copyright protection64PENANAPKekgre4K3

Goldenslaughter extended her right hand.copyright protection64PENANAgGLFBJn8FR

Her smile disappeared.copyright protection64PENANAzRtqHOsvkO

“I promised the sylph a gift,” she explained.copyright protection64PENANAzayNvPfKTZ

The Lady frowned. “And you would have us share the giving?”copyright protection64PENANAO9GzPijcqZ

“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 protection64PENANA4ZQxqxlS2G

The Lady hesitated, but finally took it.copyright protection64PENANAHCRfpn5F7Y

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 protection64PENANAEV8kvYDOb3

 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 protection64PENANANf3EMtb8me

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