The High Queen Sorceress (complete)
Author: jessicaw

Chapter 16
chapter 16

Brine and Keara strolled out to the gardens. Gorden had no desire to look at flowers and stayed behind in his room to rest. Worried about his wife and daughters and the little that he still owned.  

Keara had never seen anything so breath taking. The Gardens were immaculate and huge. Flowers climbed the walls, wrapped around poles and stretched over their heads.  They were every color and size a flower could be. Pink, yellow, blue, purple, orange, and red shouted out to them as they strolled by, each one demanding attention with their rich color and grandeur. The smell was absolutely intoxicating. She felt lightheaded and completely at peace as they passed more and more flower beds.

Brine, to concerned with the day’s events was unaffected by the flowers. He walked along the tidy dirt path pondering what they could possibly do to help stop the destruction of the worlds. When Falfa was showing them to their rooms and down to the gardens, he mentioned that Lauranna still had no idea what they could do to help, but she was running out of time and they would need to figure it out quickly. 

Brine stared at the ground as he walked, his arms folded across his chest and a frown on his face. Keara gasped in delight and he saw the hem of her blue dress sweep into his view, covering his feet. As it moved out of sight, his purple shoes came back into view. 

“That’s it!” He thought. He was the first commander of the second rank in the king’s personal guard and was about to be promoted. He could at least keep tabs on the king’s next move; maybe even convince him that all of the towns in the world were under his command and he didn’t need to conquer them in such a destructive manor. Maybe he could curb the speed at which the King was moving and stop him from conquering so many cities. Maybe he could warn some of the other towns and help them to rally their armies and conquer the king.

“Hello” Keara’s voice wafted back toward him, snapping him out of his thoughts. He looked up and saw her standing several yards ahead, staring straight up at a very tall, slender woman with pale white skin and long, red hair that almost swept the ground.  She had on a dark green gown with gold trim. The bodice of the gown sparkled in the bright sun light, almost as if enchanted. Brine stared, transfixed by her bright, emerald green almond shaped eyes. She looked at him and he could feel her boring through his body, penetrating every fiber of his being. He fell to his knees, in stunned awe, gazing at the magnificent creature before him in reverence.

Who are you?” She asked her voice as cold as ice. Brine stammered slightly before regaining his composure and responding as he stood up. “My name is Brine Joustafix, first commander of the second rank and soon to be promoted to first commander of the first rank of the King’s personal guard.”             

“King?” She asked coldly, a deadly glare overtaking her gem like eyes. “There are no Kings in this world.” She began to lift her arms, her fingers pointed towards Brine. Keara raised her arm, lightly caressing the Sorceress’s sleeve. “We came through the portal.” She said quietly. The red headed woman froze, her hands lingering in midair. Her eyes grew large and the red of her cheeks and lips disappeared from her face. “That’s impossible.” She said her voice barely above a whisper as she looked down at Keara’s thin face, studying her choppy brown hair and big brown eyes.

Brine, having regained his composure, walked up and stood next to Keara. He looked the red haired woman up and down, taking in every inch of her in silent satisfaction. “You must be the High Queen Sorceress, Dana.” He said, bowing slightly and taking her hand gently in his. He lifted it to his lips and kissed it softly. She brightened at the touch of his lips, the color flooding back through her cheeks. “How do you know that?” She said playfully. Brine smiled at her and kissed her hand again. “Your sister Lauranna told us about you. It is an honor to meet you” She chuckled slightly before pulling her hand away. She stared at him for a moment as her features seemed to harden before his eyes.

“I don’t know what you’re here for, but I want no part in the affairs and wars of mortal men.  She said, the ice returning to her tone as she began to turn away. “It’s not just the mortal men that this war will affect.” Brine started. “Enough!” Shouted Dana as she whirled back around to face him, her hair wrapping itself around her slender form, her green skirts twisting about her body with the motion.

“My sister had no right to bring you into my home. I cannot stand war and there will be no war!” The flowers around them seemed to shrink and shrivel with the sound of her voice. She turned in a huff and stalked down the thin path. The flowers taking on a dark demeanor as she passed them. Keara watched them change in awe. Brine was fixated on Dana’s floating sleeves and train as her long red hair trailed behind her. He stood rooted indignantly in his spot.

“You’ll have to excuse her.” A voice said from behind him. Startled, he turned around to find Falfa, his shiny black shoes reflecting off the sun that was now beginning to set. The light caught the silver threads on his tunic and Brine noticed the horse in the field of flowers for the first time. He frowned at such a strange symbol. Falfa cleared his throat, re-gaining Brine’s attention. “The High Queen doesn’t want anything to do with the war. She knows that the situation is serious, but she has a bitter taste in her mouth when it comes to mortals and war. If the threat were great enough, she would do what she needed to do, but for now, we can handle this ourselves. It’s best not to get her involved.”  

Brine frowned. “Doesn’t sound like much of a queen to me.” Falfa’s eyes grew three times their normal size. “Don’t say such things.” He said in a frantic tone. “The High Queen Sorceress does many good things. Her people flourish, just as her gardens do. She invests her time in them, not in wars to stomp out petty threats. We live in a free world without hardships or poverty. There is little crime here. Where you have razed fields and infertile crops, we have babbling streams and lush trees heavy with the burden of ripe fruit. Where your people starve and are mercilessly, conquered, our people feast and live as they please. Dana is a good and gracious queen. Her Queendom is celebrated and many come to her to seek guidance or revel in the peace and beauty of her gardens.” 

Brine looked around at the extensive gardens for the first time. He had never seen anything so lush and beautiful in his whole life. In the distance, he could hear Keara laughing. He thought it an odd sound, given her sad life. It might have been the first time she had laughed in her entire existence. He smiled at the sound.

 “The Queen Sorceress Lauranna has an idea. She wants to show you something; will you please come with me?” Brine glanced back at Falfa, blinking in the setting sun. “Yes” he said, looking up at the flowers, the horizon behind them turning shades of bright orange and hot pink. “Very good, please follow me.” Said Falfa as he started off. Brine looked around for Keara, but she was well off in the distance, sitting with the High Queen Sorceress, engaged in a deep conversation.

Brine followed Falfa back into the quiet palace. The halls were deserted and their footsteps echoed loudly on the marble floors, bouncing and reverberating off of the walls around them. Everything here was so quiet, so majestic. He felt oddly at peace, despite the sense of urgency.   

Falfa led him back into the seer’s room. The wooden brown table had once again turned into t smooth white marble and the glass upon it was swirling with images. Lauranna, Taddy, and Cantalile were standing, watching a small group of women and children slinking through the forest. Several armed guards surrounded them, keeping alert as they searched for danger.

 “Hi!” Said Taddy as they entered, a big smile stretched across her face. “Hello” Brine replied as he returned her smile with a confused one. They stood suspended in total silence for what felt to be an eternity, the three sorceresses staring intently at Brine, all with content and satisfied looks on their faces. Brine stared back at them, his face wrought in confusion at their contentedness.   

 It was Cantalile who broke the silence, a crafty grin cracking her normally hard features. She waved her hand at the man in the hallway. “Come in, come in!” She said, her voice as bright as sunshine.

Gorden returned her smile with the same, awkward and confused smile as Brine. He glanced at his son and patted him on the shoulder. Brine was taken aback by his father’s strength and momentarily lost his balance. He righted himself as Lauranna grinned and Cantalile tried to stifle a giggle. Brine blushed, his cheeks the color of wine. The two women regained their composure and Taddy turned eagerly to the glass.

“Do you see that woman?” She asked. Brine and Gorden squinted at the tall, raven haired woman in the red velvet dress. She had pale white skin and a thin frame. “Do you know her? She looks royal.” Said Taddy, the excitement in her voice barely containable. Brine squinted at the golden necklace around her neck. “I think she is the Queen of Capance.” He noticed the small boy at her side. He had straight auburn hair and wore a cerulean and dark blue tunic with gold trim.  “Yes.” He said. That’s Definitely Queen Valencia and her son, Prince Mett.  

“Oh goody!” Taddy exclaimed, bouncing where she stood. “I was hoping that was her! I have the very best of ideas!” She was so excited, she almost couldn’t contain herself. Cantalile placed her thin hand on Taddy’s shoulder, attempting to calm her down. Taddy took a long breath and stood still. “She looks a lot like me!” She said happily. Brine and Gorden squinted at the queen and back at Taddy. “Yes she does.” Brine answered, a little surprised at just how similar the two women really were. “What’s this plan of yours?” 

“Well that king is not stupid.” She started. Brine stifled a small snort. Taddy glanced at him sideways then continued. “He knows the Queen and her son escaped. I’m sure he will be looking for them.” “Yes” Brine replied, curiosity softening his features.  “And you’re a high ranking officer to the king, very important, yes?” “Yes” Said Brine, focusing on her pretty green eyes. “So you’ll take him the Queen!” She finished excitedly.  

“What!” Said Brine, panic and horror in his tone. If he took the Queen of the free to his king, all hope would surely be lost. The King would gain immense confidence and continue on his crusade at an even more determined and deadly rate.  

“Look, I’m not as strong as the High Queen Sorceress. When Kadala went to the mortal world, her magic lasted a little over a week and a half before diminishing to the point that she needed to go home. I figure I might have a couple of days to a week, maybe. But that would be enough to at least slow the king and his men down. Let him take me and think me the Queen he so seeks. I can weaken him; perhaps cause him to fall ill. If we can stall him long enough, the bridge will begin to close and he should lose some of his lust to conquer the world. Once the bridges separate again, the pulls between the worlds will be restored and the adverse effects that they have on the mortal men will dissipate. From then, you can lead the rest of the mortals in a war against him.    

But I will need you to help me out of there before the portals close completely. If you can at least get me to the bridge, Lauranna and Cantalile can help me get back to our world before the bridges break away completely.

Brine stood scrutinizing her, his arms folded across his powerful chest. “What if we can’t get you back before the bridges begin to close?” he asked. “We can hold the bridges open for a day or two.” Replied Cantalile. “But any longer than that and we risk the chance of snapping them. If they snap, both of our worlds will come to a quick and painful end. We would have to let them close and Taddy would be stuck in your world for the remainder of her life.” Brine swallowed the lump that was building in his throat.  “Then what would you do?” He asked Taddy. She beamed slyly up at him. “Then I would have to marry you so you could teach me how to be a mortal!” She turned to Lauranna and Cantalile. The three of them bent their heads together as they giggled. 

“What do you need me for?” Asked Gorden. The three women grew silent and turned to face him. “That’s simple.” Said Cantalile. Lauranna pointed to the little group in the glass. ““You’re going to need to direct them away from the King and all those soldiers. If they get ahold of them, then it’s game over. While Taddy and Brine are distracting them, you’re going to need to get that group as far away as possible. Seek out the next city or town with an army and rally them to join you. Take them and go from town to town to swell your numbers. Build up your defenses and when and only when you have enough men, should you attack. Get anyone unable to battle to a safe place.”

Gorden nodded in understanding. “If the King controls his lands and is moving to take over the rest of the world, then where do you think a safe place might be? Jarone’s kingdom is to the east of Haden’s. Beyond that is the sea. In order to get everyone some place safe, we will either have to take to the sea, or travel across Haden’s entire realm to get to the other side.” The women frowned as they let out deep breaths of air, their posture sagging. They had no idea where a safe place to store that many people might be. They were unaware of just how isolated the area was.

Brine studied them for a moment as he tried to think of a solution. He thought about the layout of the King’s territory. Haden ruled from the main city of Galandan, which was situatied slightly to the east of the middle of his kingdom. In between were small towns or villages. Only a few cities dotted the entire kingdom. To the west, Gavinia, Kaltail, and Yinesford lay close enough to one another that their guarding soldiers overlapped one another as they patrolled the perimeter. It would be too difficult to pass unseen through them with so many refugees. 

Even though Galanda was the biggest city in the realm, it would also be the one with the least protection right now, depleted from Haden’s childish whims and arrogance as he took every able body with him to wage his war.  

“I know, take them to the King’s palace.” He said brightly. “What!” the other four all asked at once, several of them stepping back a pace or two in horror. Brine took a deep breath and pressed on. “The king is an over confident arrogant man. He thinks that everyone in his kingdom is so well under his thumb that his palace is free from attack all the time.  

He will have left very, very few to guard his home. Preferring instead to take most of his men to sweep the rest of the world up. If what you say is true about the bridges adversely affecting his judgment, then he will have taken even more of his soldiers then I am thinking he will. His wife, the rightful, but uncrowned Queen will still be there. She will help us. I know this for a fact because she helped me help Keara and provided me with gold to support Keara as well. Not only is helping a woman who has been condemned by the king himself treason, but so is giving away the king’s gold without his express permission. In fact, it’s not just treason, it’s a death wish. Because of this, I know that there is no way she would refuse us aid.  The castle is big and the women and children will be safe from attack.”      The Sorceresses looked at each other and smiled their approval. Gorden, awed at his son’s cunningness and willingness to commit treason against their oppressive king patted him on the back and gave him a reassuring smile. “Then it’s settled.” Said Lauranna. “I’ll see to getting some provisions to help you. “She turned to leave. “What about Keara?” Brine asked. “Keara can stay here as long as she likes.” A voice said from the door way. Lauranna turned and came face to face with Dana, so close to her that she could taste her sister’s breath. 

“Keara will stay here with me.” She said in a final manner. She turned back to glance at Lauranna. “If you’re going to disobey my orders and send our sorceresses into the mortal world to be slaughtered, then I’m going to keep the mortal girl as payment. Taddy and Cantalile stared at Dana in horror. She looked at each one of them. As her eyes came to rest on them, they bowed, showing her their respect and submission. She turned to Gorden and Brine, who followed suit and also bowed to her. She bit at her lip and held her chin up high. She didn’t care for people bowing so much.

“Keara cannot stay here. What if she gets trapped?” Brine asked, alarm in his voice. “Dana flicked her hand dismissively in the air as she circled the marble table, watching the people in the glass. “Think of it as an insurance policy. You keep one of my Queens, I keep your slave.” Brine Blushed. “She’s not my slave.” He said in a quiet, embarrassed tone. Dana stopped in front of him. “According to your king, she is. You bring me back my sorceress, or I will make sure you are never again able to lay claim to a woman.” Brine glanced up and saw Keara standing in the door way, half hidden behind the frame, staring sheepishly at him. “I’m sorry.” She started. Dana turned to face her, cutting her apology short. “You are never sorry when you speak to a man.” Keara’s cheeks turned red and she furiously began studying the ground, her hands linked behind her back.

Dana turned to leave, glancing back at her sister. “You had best know what you’re going, because if you lose Taddy to the mortals, the king’s commander isn’t the only one who will be regretting this decision. Come along Falfa.” With that, she and Falfa left, hurrying Keara along with them.

 

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