The blog has a full Table of Contents and Reference page for Part One: Inundation. It is also advisable that one reads the added scenes with the new character Brisa tu’Onr. (PDF download) Otherwise, we are beginning part two of When Comes the Firetide: Emergents.
WHEN COMES THE FIRETIDE | PART TWO: EMERGENTS
Chapter Two: Affected States
The Viridian Enclave, Western Tybraes
1st Som of Duty, month of Foundations 8178
Wind rattled the chains of the Valkto vexilla. Every post, every tower and archway, where once was hung the green-blue and gold banners of the Jaed now hung the hammered metal ring from three robust chains. Strips of fabric whipped in the wind. Each was tied in chain link or looped about the large hoop, symbolic gestures for lost loved ones or prayers to the gods. In every corner of the Enclave where once hung a symbol of the Shae god-king, now rattled a reminder of the Awakened God, the Risen God, and its will. Uvall’s symbol was displayed over doorways in paint, in animals blood if one was condemned. It obscured the rich stained glass of the Cattedrale which towered above the city. When the sun reflected off the forged metal, the blazing palladium was visible even in the streets of Ejade outside the Enclave walls.
Thunder arose, vnesh hooves overpowering the lazy clatter of chain. Somber Shae faces lifted only briefly to see who came and passed, but none spoke. Few dared to speak. ‘Silent as the hares of the Harilemon Green’ they were advised by the Prothonotary. And so they were, since the day the Omíkhlæssectarian eminence was beheaded before all the city. Unless spoken to, the Shae remained silent, heads down, eyes closed.
With a compliment of twenty, the Vesvudak rode through the gates. Uvall’s vexillum jangled above her head as she passed beneath the arch. The eyes of the Shae on her were of little more consequence than any other field game. Some bowed, others ducked into homes or into shadows. Erahs stepped forward in greeting, to genuflect in respect to their liberators. They too, were of little consequence. The Gods were not raised to serve the needs of a few faaltalla Erahs who could not be bothered to revolt and free themselves. The Gods were not raised to be praised by the soft-skinned Jadsalla who imprisoned them. Were she to have her way, Vesvudak Daunet Zuree would see them all fed to the thralls serving their risen god. Massafera Tyque’s military commander had much power, but in this she had little say.
As the warriors reared to a halt before the towering Cattedrale, a flurry of people scrambled to meet them. Some were stable hands, footmen, others acolytes and counsel. Soldiers held guard to her satisfaction and though she had been gone for some time, the commander was confident the Cattedrale was still secure. The meeting with Massafera would be telling.
“See to the vnesh,” she grunted at a young man standing in the courtyard. Dropping from the steed, her boots made little sound. The metal ornamentation in her black dreads clinked like the chains of the vexilla. Crimson eyes flashed over her shoulder at her second who had yet to dismount. Raising a hand, she swiped sweat from her dark bronze brow and smoothed over the shaved skin on the side of her scalp beneath one bone white horn.
A dry chuckle uttered from the Vesvud as she dismounted then stretched. “Is it hot or does the mighty Daunet fear the Valk Malvud?”
“I could add Ganroth blood to the tips of these horns,” the woman grunted, shaking her head to emphasize the dried crimson spatters on their tips.
Daunet sneered with arched brow but did not retaliate or chastise. With the expectation that her military compliment would follow, the Vesvudak climbed the stairs to the vestibule. “I assume he expects us.”
“Yes, Vesvudak,” the young woman scurrying along with them asserted. “Vesvud Faless is waiting for you in the chapterhouse. The Valk Malvud will be along shor–”
“I will see him now.”
“He said to wait for him in the–”
Daunet stopped and turned her gleaming ruby eyes down upon the argumentative Erahs. Behind her, the second in command continued to walk. “As much as I should like to see him gut you, sister. I will wait in the chapterhouse,” she crooned. Daunet merely grunted at her as she passed. The Erahs girl, face writ with uncertainty of who to fear more, stood as a reed buffeted by the tide of Ganroth warrior-women marching past them toward the meeting hall.
“The Valk Malvud,” Daunet prompted.
With a tremble of a head nod, the girl turned, led her down the main hall toward the Temple, what was once a throne room. The reverberations of the chant could be felt through the door. The woman wondered why the chamber was sealed. The worship songs did not fill the air as they ought. Though it was not her place to question the Valk Malvud’s methods, she was Uvall’s servant foremost and this was a flagrant disregard for its worship. That curled her lip with disgust.
Gripping the chamber door handles she pulled them open and flung the doors wide. The Erahs girl staggering back, eyes widened at the audacity, in shock the woman possessed the strength to move the massive vault-like doors on her own. The chanting within did not cease but blasted out with a volume that shook the previously quiet halls.
Striding in, Daunet’s glare took in the scene with anger, intent to find a sign of Massafera’s blasphemy or heresy. All she found were the Ancients and a child.
“WHERE IS MASSAFERA?”
The Ancients were shaken from their incantations, blind eyes raised toward the Oculus as they listened for the whereabouts of the intruder. The child, however, remained still, back to Daunet.
“WHERE IS MASSAFERA?” she repeated her question with no less volume or fury.
“He is here.”
“Yaffa sees for him.”
“Do not give me your enigmatic pish, I see well enough. He is not present. Where is he?”
The girl erupted in a gasp, convulsed forward very narrowly missing a basin left before her as she vomited water and bile. Wincing, the warrior sneered in disgust. “What foulness is this?”
“He will come now.”
The girl’s hand reached out along the floor. She gripped hold of a bell, raised it just enough to ring. From the distance she stood, even Daunet could see the effort it required. “She is ill.”
“Too much effort.”
“Too impassioned he is.”
A door opened in the back of the hall, the large figure that was the Valk Malvud strode into the room. His silk skirts billowed around him as he walked, elegant and mesmerizing, a flourish of rich black and gold this day. The gold embroidery of Kadupal flowers and Ghost orchids was a sign of his status, but ostentatious in Daunet’s eyes. His chest was bare save the decorative vestments he wore, more adornment than garment when little more than necklaces and leather straps. Upon seeing Daunet he stopped and stared her down, but neither spoke. The child coughed and leaned forward to spit into the bowl again. He broke eye contact and went to her.
“Vud Yaffa, tell me what you have seen.”
The girl’s thin body slumped into a hunch as she murmured at him. By the man’s face, Daunet could see he was not pleased by her reply. Scowling, she crossed her arms, “could you not offer her water first? Bread or biscuit to ease her stomach? Or is Uvall now cruel to children for no reason?”
“Uvall has but one goal now. You should concern yourself only with what has been commanded of you.” Massafera’s deep voice filled the chamber. “I am quite certain it was not to come here.”
“Yes, I wondered why that was.”
The man redirected his attention to the girl, spoke to her again. Immediate was her response, a whine and bow forward grasping at his hand in a pleading gesture.
“I need the Me’eta!” he growled.
“I cannot. Please…”
Daunet’s eyes narrowed as she watched. The girl’s formality of language showed her respect for her mentor-master, or fear of him. Massafera pushed her hand off as he snarled something else at her. The girl withdrew and bowed her head. Raising a hand, the snap of his fingers echoed through the room with as much power as his voice commanded. A young man scurried from the shadows as if materializing from nothingness. He ran to Yaffa with a carafe of water and a fresh bowl.
With great strides the Valk Malvud crossed the room to his Vesvudak. Cyan blue eyes battled a crimson glare the entire way. As he neared, the tense of his arm triggered Daunet to warn with a hiss, “I promise you, a Valk Malvud has no need for hands.”
His jaw tensed, but neither arm raised, neither man nor woman touched one another. Instead, he nodded toward the doors. “Shall we attend the chapterhouse?”
Glowering from beneath her brows, the woman allowed him to lead, but cast a lingering glance back toward the girl. Seeing Massafera leaving, the young man sneaked back to her with food and a cool rag. Daunet would be sure to remember his face. This was bravery.
– – – –
This is an excerpt. You can follow the blog to read full and future chapters here: firetidecomes.blogspot.com/