February 23, 2019

The gods allow storms to plague humanity when their angered words aren’t enough.
The world is breaking at the seams, raveling apart. The humans will make their plots and plans, but Ezheira, the darkness herself, is always one step ahead:
inside their hearts. 

Tales of the Mother of Trees
Vol. 3

At afternoon, crimson bled cruelly into the dark horizon, and Haften was standing in the wrong castle. A wicked gust of wind howled through broken windows. Shattered glass and patches of snow crunched beneath his steps, dragging along the stone floor. The air prickled the white skin of his bare  hands, but Haften didn’t shiver.

He walked slowly through one corridor to another, his gaze pinned to the end wall of the North Wing.

These were the sleeping quarters of a headless queen, helpless standing in the gardens below. Well, her statue was. 

The statue of Queen Ryiah Adron—the Aruel Queen, the Inearther of Darkness, the Savior of Noriannd.

She was to blame for their demise. Queen Ryiah Adron, the end of humankind.

Her headless statue adorned the dead palace garden like the golden crown on her rotting head. For nearly two centuries she’d been composing in an unmarked grave, yet nobody could forget about her.

Down in the dirt, not even buried at sea. Dead for an eternity. Unseen by the gods—never to rise again from the waves to the Great Halls of Viara to feast with them.

Yes, dead, but her fire still burned. She poisoned the lands and prevailed upon her clans to fight back against the Koghens.

Whispers echoed down the hallways. Haften fought the urge to stand. His feet told him to leave, but instead he pressed his thumb against a splatter of blood in the corner of Fayvinn’s painting.

He lifted the queen’s painting slightly to the left. She stared, fire in her gaze. 

Haften raised his hand to cover the queen’s fierce face, then turned toward princess Fayvinn. The middle Adron daughter. The one to die the most gruesome death. Rumors said that her remains still scattered the garden—that the Koghens had simply shoveled dirt on top of the fallen corpse.

Haften could tell some stories about that night.

After the Norian king reclaimed his throne, none of the Aruels had received a proper funeral. The gods may have given them their cursed magic, but now they would never face them again. 

The gods wanted humanity to end. And that was why every last Aruel had to die.

Once, the land had been green and the sky bright. The Aruels claimed to have saved the realm, but now black fogs cursed Noriannd. Even the waters were turning deadly. Every pond, every river, one by one, smelling of rot and tasting like blood.

Only paintings were left of the Adron family, lined against the wall, many of them ripped, scraped or splattered with blood. If the paintings weren’t there, one could wonder if the Adrons had ever existed. But the Aruel clans still plagued the earth, and no matter how dead the queen was, her blood still cursed them all.

Haften dropped his hand to his thigh and stared into the Adron queen’s green eyes, covered in  a layer of dust. Painted flames reflected from them. Myths told that her very gaze burnt a man alive.

The corner of his mouth twitched. Myths.

Her skin had seen better days. Haften scraped his nail against her freckled cheek, the dusty paint peeling. He stood up, arms crossed and looked at them all.

Their hair was much redder in the paintings than it had been in real life. Even the youngest Adron sister was painted with red hair, but Haften had once beheld her sleeping head. In the darkness of the prince’s chambers, her hair had been black as wet coal.

He felt a chill on his neck and glanced over his shoulder. Rolling his blue uniform sleeve up to his elbow, he watched the hairs on his arm standing on end.

He pulled the sleeve back to cover his arm.

The Aruels had brought the gods’ wrath upon the kingdoms, but with each Aruel he slaughtered, balance gradually returned to the lands of the North. When the last sacrifice was made, a heir of fire given to the goddess of the depths, there would be silence. And General Haften—remembered as the man who brought gods to their knees. 

Previous: 2. King's Men Will Fall           Next: 4. The Last Summer

With one family's downfall came another's victory, until the whole kingdom was painted with blood.
A Raveling Night by E.M Redshaw

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  1. Now its all clicking, I must confess that the second chapter had left me clueless. But clarity is coming here.

  2. You seem to enjoy decapitation with all these headless people? Soldiers and queens both headless? Whats happening here?


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