Elisande awoke violently, a sharp gasp escaping her lips. Something was wrong, she could feel it. Tentatively, she reached out with her grace, searching for the gentle of Ivhran’s own to soothe her.
She felt only emptiness, a void where her husband and king’s grace should be, thriving and beautiful.
Her pale blue eyes went wide as she pressed harder. Something was blocking her, a barrier of some sort. It was baffling. There was no way for such a thing to occur, unless….
No. Ivhran was fine, he had to be. Elisande would know if he wasn’t, would feel it deep within her. There are more signs when a love is lost than just a broken grace bond.
A chill filled the room as a sibilant voice answered the Elvish Queen’s worried thoughts.
“Indeed there are more signs, Queen Elisande. But surely you know a severed bond is by far the most serious. And the most telling.”
The raven-haired woman froze, a chaotic maelstrom of fear and shock swirling within her. That voice. It wasn’t possible.
“Oh I assure you that it is, my Queen,” The voice hissed from the darkness, a mocking sneer tainting Elisande’s title. “Turn around and see for yourself.”
A shaky breath left her persimmon lips before her poise returned to her. Her back straightened and, as she pivoted, her chin lifted proudly. Her face became the blank canvas of emotion she was so infamous for by the kingdoms beyond Simir, presenting her as every bit the regal wife of King Ivhran of the High Elves.
Her eyes betrayed her, however. Those clear pools of aquamarine revealed her passionate fury and hatred as her gaze came to rest upon her midnight visitor. The Dark Mage had some nerve showing up within her bedchamber.
Sazros sat in Ivhran’s reading chair, black muslin covered legs crossed at the knee, one atop the other. He was relaxed, leaning back comfortably in the chair, as if he had every right to be there. Elisande’s eyes flamed at his taking of such a liberty. That chair belonged to her husband and this chamber was only ever to host the King of Simir and his queen.
“Lord Sazros,” Elisande greeted cordially through gritted teeth. “This is an… unexpected visit. I assume it isn’t a social call.”
“In a way it is. I had to see the fair Queen Elisande for myself, didn’t I?” the white haired villain replied, eyes raking over her silk enclosed figure. “Lord Ivhran has done well for himself. A lovelier queen could not have been found.”
Elisande’s apprehension increased as he spoke. There was a subtle threat laced within the words, a hint of danger creeping through her as his eyes continued to seemingly pierce her body, making her feel more exposed than she truly was. She crossed her arms over her chest, trying to seem irritated rather than intimidated.
Sazros smirked, the curve of his thin lips tainted with indecency.
“It must be difficult,” he commented smoothly, “having an absent husband. Your charms are going unappreciated, wasting away while you wait for him to return to you.”
“Be that as it may, my “charms” are for my husband only. I agreed to the wedding vows and I stand by them wholeheartedly,” Elisande declared with narrowed eyes. The insinuation buried within the mage’s comment had not gone unnoticed.
There was a whisp of air and suddenly Ivhran’s chair was empty. Elisande scanned the room quickly; a creature like Sazros wouldn’t just leave like that. He was up to something.
A puff of air hit the back of the queen’s neck and she tensed, her hand rachng toward the blade on her thigh. A freezing hand stroked the exposed skin of her collarbone as something higher rested against her hair. A prolonged inhale revealed it to be the villain’s nose. Her fingers delved beneath the layers of silk before curling about the jewel encrusted hilt.
“Such a pity,” came the whispered voice from behind her.
“What do you mean?” She asked, her calm voice carrying near- indiscernible waver.
A chuckle sounded before what was unmistakably a pair of lips pressed against her hair.
Elisande whirled around, the newly freed dagger curving through the somehow vacated air where the mage had been standing. The blade fell back to her side, her knuckles white as her fingers clenched about the hilt, ready to defend herself against the unwanted interloper.
Hands gripped her waist from behind again, and she tensed, preparing to swipe once more. Whispered words hit her ear with the caressing cadence of a lover.
“Considering how grievously I wounded your dearest husband, perhaps those vows of yours no longer stand. Otherwise, that loveliness will go unclaimed and that would be quite the waste, wouldn’t it my dear?”
Elisande’s eyes widened and she whirled back around to see naught but the white curtains blowing in the nighttime breeze. Her heart pounded beneath her breast and she desperately attempted to both calm it and will away Sazros’ parting words and everything they implied.
Such efforts were halted as a trumpet blared from the gates of Simir. The battle was not finished yet; word would have been sent ahead of the party if it was. The only reason the trumpet would sound like that was if….
“Ivhran,” Elisande murmured, fear and dread filling her. No, no it couldn’t be.
She hurried out of the room, not even stopping to pull on a dressing gown in her rush. Tears came to her eyes unbidden as she tore through the halls of the palace, praying her worst fears hadn’t been realized. Praying that the trumpet hadn’t been announcing her Ivhran’s death. She refused to believe that Sazros had killed him; Sazros was the Lord of Lies, every word leaving his lips was a travesty.
Still she couldn’t shake the feeling that he may have been telling the truth in that instant, to better wound the anxious young queen. After all, sometimes the truth hurts more than any lie.
The antechamber was flooded with moonlight as she turned the corner and loud voices emanated from the ajar door Elisande entered the room hesitantly, eyes immediately searching out the face she needed to see more than any other.
She had begun to lose hope when suddenly Baldun shifted, revealing the towering form of King Ivhran, whole and hale to her hungry gaze.
A choked sob left her throat unbidden, drawing the attention of the antechamber’s occupants to the delicate woman.
“Elisande,” Ivhran breathed, adoration filling his voice.
She ran to him, throwing her arms about his neck and winding her fingers in his dark locks. Ivhran’s arms instantly clasped her close, his face finding home in her ebony hair, inhaling the starlight scent that clung to it. Elisande shook as Ivhran held her, tears falling freely to soak his herringbone shirt.
“Elisande, my love, what is wrong? What has happened?” Ivhran asked, concern colouring his voice.
A warm sensation filled ehr, a hum that lit up every bit of her being as Ivhran extended his grace to entwine tenderly with her own. It was a comfort Elisande had sorely missed these past few weeks and precisely what she needed now to calm down.
“He- he was here, Ivhran,” she told him, pulling back to look at him. “He was in our bedchamber. He said he had hurt you; that you were dead. I- I didn’t know what to believe, I-”
Ivhran leaned down and kissed her gently, fingers reaching to comb through her hair. He pulled away when she had settled.
“Who, darling? Who has upset you so?”
Instantly Ivhran tensed, both hands and grace tightening protectively about her. A shocked gasp rose up from their audience, who had been forgotten by the reunited royals.
“Sazros was here?” Ivhran’s tone was heavy. “Here, in Simir. In our chambers?”
“He appeared before me, sitting in your chair. He said such things to me. He touched me, his hands on my waist, his- his lips in my hair,” Elisande said disgustedly, shivering as if she had been tainted by the dark lord’s proximity.
Flames rose behind Ivhran’s eyes and he pulled her back into his chest, hands stroking through her hair like he was trying to eliminate every trace of Sazros from his beloved wife.
“Something needs to bedone, Dalren.” the King finally said, eyes meeting the steely grey ones of the wizard. “I will not have that monster tormenting my Elisande. I will not have him covet her as if she is his to have. I want him taken care of as soon as possible.Imprisoned, killed, I care not how, but I want him out of the picture.”
“Patience, Ivhran. You saw his power; none of us would stand a chance currently. He will be destroyed, but it will take time. For now, tend to your wife. She needs you more than we do.”
“Indeed.” The Elvish King growled, taking Elisande’s hand and leading her back to their chambers.
~ Lori Pierce
The music was deafening. It was loud enough to cover the screams of a masked harlot bleeding to her early death in the pale white washroom. All she could taste a bittersweet flavour that could only belong to cyanide and the feeling of searing heat cutting into her abdomen. It was a cold day in hell indeed.
Not three feet away from the dying whore, lifeblood pooling about her on the floor, was a mahogany stained oak door. On the other side was a lavish reception hall, decorated in silks and bevelled in gold, a ballroom to fit a Queen. A sense of elevated luxury filled the gilded room, tainted with perverse excitement as colourful strangers twirled and chassed across the shiny floor, laughing gaily without a care in the world.
The women were adorned in opulent satins in every shade imaginable, their faces hidden by masks of mesh, velvet and lace, providing a particular air of mystery about them. The mystery faded with a mere glance at their smiles, lips turned up coyly to tempt one into their salacious acts of sin in dark corners or hidden alcoves. Their partners, sharp-dressed men in pressed tuxedos, dark as their eyes behind their own masks of damask and cashmerette, bow ties perfectly nestled at their throats, were drawn in like flies to honey, unable to resist the siren songs of the women’s smirks even as the men themselves spun delicate webs of iniquity designed to send their female counterparts to their undoing.
It was unsurprising that none of the other guests heard the dying girl’s screams, her final pleas smothered by the cacophony of sound outside the door of her tomb. Her body wouldn’t be found until the next morning, the crimson scarves crocheted from the rivers leaking from her eyes, mouth, and nose unadmired until a lowly janitor past his prime stumbles upon her scantily clad figure as he opens the door to begin the day’s work. Perhaps her cohorts would mourn her, perhaps not. In the end, it would not matter. They would all regret their choices and this night.
For now, however, a pair of double doors close on this celebration of debauchery. Soon the true festivities shall begin and all of the people within would fall like insects swatted away by the hand of God himself.
~ Lori Pierce 2014