A Taste of the Lethe

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Eight

Thomas Kelly

“I beg you to accompany me on one last embassy to Enstad. The Fey Queen is to be honored for her victories. The Grand Court intends to invest her with the Mantle of the Blue Moon, raising her to the title ‘Lady Rhalta of All Elvenkind.’”

Bagbag snorted. “What did she do? Mope about on her faerie-flower throne while you did all the work. They should name you their queen.”

“Will you accompany me?” Kristryd ignored the old wizard’s bluster.

“We have come to a changing of the guard,” Bagbag mused philosophically. “One feels it. The wars are at an end. Kristryd is made queen over the mountains, her sons over Gilmorack and Dengar. Urgush is no more. Hroth is no more. Gilvgola and Furduch have fallen. In Tringlee, the Duke Gallowagn passes the Shining Crown of Lothromenoron to his son and takes his leave. In Keoland, Senestal II ascends to the Throne of the Lion. All things change, but not in Enstad. In Enstad, they heap more honors upon do-nothing Yolande.”

“‘Yes’ or ‘no,’ old dwarf,” Kristryd pressed. “Will you walk with me to Enstad this summer?”

“I am ever at your service, your majesty,” Bagbag said with a bow. “But why should the Queen of the Lortmil Mountains walk? You should be carried upon the wind or teleported by means of dweomer.”

“I prefer to forget my sorrows with a long walk, and I desire your company,” the queen said. “Just the two of us. We’ll leave Bamadar to look after affairs.”

The Way to Enstad

Bagbag agreed. He leaned heavily upon his sorcerous staff each limping step of the way. His old bones had refused to properly knit back together, even under the healing power of the Sacred Heart. But the trueheaded loremaster felt glad enough to enjoy the journey through the mountains with her once again. They went by way of the Celene Pass to Anyanes, just the two of them together, with no escorting guard or afterlings. In reward for all their labors to purge the mountains, they walked without fear of ambush. As they travelled, they reminisced over all that had befallen them and all they had endured during twelve years of war.

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Esmerin

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Nine

Thomas Kelly

A soft mattress in a clean, well-lit place. Sunlight poured in through a round window. Beside the bed stood a small chair and desk. From pegs on the far wall hung a coat of glimmering mithril armor. Next to it, a short sword, still in its scabbard.

Kristryd passed her hands over her body, but she felt no wounds. On the desk beside the bed she found her personal belongings, including her comb and her silver-framed mirror. What was the last thing she remembered? A stab in the back, a blow to the head, a slow tumble into darkness. “How came I to this place?” she asked aloud as she sat up in the bed. “Where is this place?”

“How did you come here?” Alton Chubb Quickbread came through the open doorway into Kristryd’s room. He waved his hands above is head dramatically as he explained, “Your big griff carried you here. Upset all the eagles too. They were screaming at each other, swooping around, but your horse-bird set you down in the town square. They told me, ‘Alton, you will never believe what just happened. A big blonke hippogriff carried the broken body of pretty dwarfess, all dressed in mithril armor, and laid her down right in the center of town.’ I didn’t need to be told twice. I knew it could only be you, my fairhead.”

“You healed my wounds?”

“I also made muffins!” the halfling boasted.

“Is this Prinzfield?” Kristryd asked, swinging her legs out of the bed.

Alton shook his head. “You’re not in Prinzfield, my lady.”

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