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 Once Upon Another Age

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Dracona
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Female Number of posts : 32
Age : 50
Location : Where the winds of fancy take me

PostSubject: Once Upon Another Age   Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:54 am

This is a little something I began ages ago and was never sure what to do with it. There are a few vague similarities between my character in the Vale and one of the characters in this story...she keeps coming to me and insisting to be let out to play. Do please enjoy....



ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME


Sounds drifted on the evening air. Not the usual night sounds of day animals saying good night and creatures of the dark waking. The animals had all gone still and quiet. On a ledge high up a craggy cliff face a cloaked and hooded figure stood looking down over the forest. Something was not right.

A large tawny shape leapt up onto the ledge, a forest panther. His long muscular tail swished as he regarded the figure. He gave a low growl.

“I know, Kaja.” A melodious female voice came from the depths of the hood, as if two had spoken in sync. “Shall we go down and see who dares trespass in our wood?”

The big cat rubbed against the woman his purr a deep rumble in his throat. She reached out and rested a hand on his wide head, the moon glistening for a moment on the long talon-like nails at the ends of her fingers. The air around the pair seemed to fill with tiny glimmering motes of starlight and then they were gone. Mist swirled where they had stood, drifting down the cliff side to hover over the tops of the ancient trees.

Metal clashing against metal was an easy sound to follow. The mist sank through the trees coalescing at the edge of a small clearing. There were men here, swords drawn against each other. The woman pulled her cloak tighter around her, blending in to the shadows. Men killing each other were nothing to do with her.

The scent of battle and blood brought a growl from the big cat. He wanted to join the fray, on which side didn’t matter. He just wanted to rip and tear and shred. He also had little love for human kind. Then his head lifted as he caught a new scent, something different. He looked up at the woman. She had caught the scent as well. Somewhere away from the heat of battle, but still close. The pair sped on silent feet through the trees, skirting the fighting men.

A small wagon had been tipped onto its side and set aflame beside an old unused trail. An old man lay pinned beneath the burning wood struggling feebly. There were more bodies strewn about while a few pairs still fought to one side. The woman focused on two men dragging a smaller figure between them. There she was.

The girl’s hair tumbled around her face hiding her features as she kicked and fought with her captors. It was obvious that they were having more difficulty holding her than they had anticipated. They dragged her before a large man who was holding his sword at the throat of another warrior on the ground at his feet. There was no mercy in his eyes. He looked up at the girl and smiled as he casually drew his sword across the man’s throat. The girl grew still watching the man’s blood seep into the forest floor.

“So,” The man said, “You thought you could escape.”

He reached over and grasped the hem of her skirt using it to clean the blood from his blade. After a brief examination he slid it back into its sheath at his hip then his hand shot out and caught the girl across the cheek. Her head rocked back and her face came into view. She was lovely even with the red mark growing beside her full mouth. He grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her head back so that she had to look him in the eye.

“I offered you the throne!” He hissed through his teeth. “You would have been revered above all women in the empire. And you answer me by fleeing in the night like a common thief!”

He released the girl’s hair and at a flick of his fingers one of his soldiers dropped to his hands and knees nearby. He stepped over and sat upon the man’s back regarding the girl thoughtfully for a moment. Then with a casual shrug he waved a hand.

“Strip her.”

Eagerly the two men holding the girl began to tear at her clothing. Soon it became evident that they were no match for the job. A third soldier joined them and between them they finally managed to remove her clothing. She stood with her head hanging as if defeated and humiliated. The pair watching from the shadows knew better. They had her scent and knew she seethed with anger and was merely biding her time.

The cruel warrior stood again and began removing his armor.

“It would have been so much more pleasurable for you to have come to my bed willingly.” He said in a friendly tone. He placed his sword belt into the hands of his erstwhile chair. “But now I will take what you denied me, and when I am finished with you I will give you over to the care of my men.”

There was a stir and murmur among the soldiers standing around. They seemed surprised and pleased at their leader’s generosity.

“You who would have been queen will be the army whore…..if you survive.”

The girl raised her head and squared her shoulders proudly.

“Better a whore than your bride.” She spat. He was before her with startling swiftness, one hand curling around her throat while the other came crashing down into her beautiful face harder than before. She slumped, unconscious in the grasp of her captors.

“Take her down.” He gritted out through clenched teeth. His men let the girl fall to the ground and sank to their knees holding her arms unnecessarily. Their leader stepped up and nudged the girl’s legs apart with his booted foot. He stared down at her curves and smiled as he began removing his clothing. He took his time, stripping completely. His manhood stood out large and throbbing in anticipation as he knelt between her thighs. He hooked a hand behind each knee and bent her legs up to her chest preparing to thrust viciously into the unconscious girl.

The woman in the shadows had seen enough. Mist rose up from the ground swirling around the legs of the watching soldiers. It rose higher, circling about their necks. The leader looked up at the sounds of choking around him and watched as his men clutched their throats and fell to the ground. They writhed desperately for a few moments and then lay still. He jumped to his feet all thoughts of his intended rape cast aside.

The mist parted like a door opening. She stepped toward the warrior and stood watching him from the shadows of her hood.

“Who are you?” He demanded. His eyes flicked to the large cat that came to sit at her feet.

“Leave this place.” She said to him, her voice resonating through the dark woods. “Do not return.”

“And why should I heed you?” His arrogance amused her.

“I have laid your men at my feet.” She said with a chuckle. “Do you think to stand against one such as I alone?”

The mist swirled from her and engulfed him. There was suddenly no air to breath. He gasped as his vision began to darken and he sank to his knees. Her strange, dual voice echoed in his ears as he passed out.

“Do not enter my wood again.”



to be continued....
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Dracona
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PostSubject: Re: Once Upon Another Age   Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:39 pm

The weak screams of a dying man reached her as she stood over the fallen warrior. Kaja sniffed at him and looked up at her expectantly.

“No, Kaja. We’ll not kill them. Not this night. Too many have died here already.” She walked toward the burning wagon and the old man.

The flames had reached his trapped body. She extended her hands and the flames leapt to her. She held them in her palm drawing them into herself until the wagon burned no more. The old man lay moaning, tossing his head feebly. Kaja lay down near his head and touched him gently with his nose.

The woman knelt beside him and laid her hand on his brow. The old man calmed and his gaze focused on her shadowed face. She knew there was no hope for him, death filled his eyes, but she could ease his passing. Her eyes closed as she prepared to draw the last of his life-force from him. He raised a weak hand and grasped at her cloak.

“Eld’ress….” His whisper was barely audible, but she heard. She opened her eyes and leaned down to him.

“How do you know my kind?” She asked. He shook his head, his strength almost spent.

“My Mistress..?”

“She lives.”

“Into your hands I commend her safety, Eld’ress…..” He drew a shaky breath. “Give me your word to protect her.”

She tried to draw away knowing the binding his dying request would place on her, but his hand held her with surprising strength.

“Your word, Guardian!” His voice rang in the darkness. She bowed her head and placed her hand on his heart.

“I give you my word…my bond…I shall protect her with my life.” She felt the power of her words link her to the unconscious girl lying behind her. The old man sighed and nodded once letting his hand fall to his side. He released one last shuddering breath and lay still. The woman looked up at the cat and sighed.

“It looks as if we will have company for a while.”

She rose and looked down at the old man. He deserved better than to be left here this way. Holding her hand flat, parallel with the ground, she concentrated hard. The soil below the man’s body began to tremble and churn and he sank into it. Soon the body was cradled deep within the earth. She took a deep breath swaying as she recovered from her effort.

“Time to go.” She whispered to Kaja. Her keen ears had picked up the sound of approaching men. She stepped over and reached down to lift the girl in her arms. Kaja growled low and ran off through the forest making his own way. This allowed the woman to use what power she had left to shift herself and the girl into mist as the first of the warriors burst through the trees.



******




In the small cave high in the cliff side the Eld’ress laid the girl in the bed alcove and turned to stoke the fire high. Torches sprang to life around the walls giving light so that she could examine the girl.

Although she had not had many dealings with human kind in the past decades she found herself comparing this girl’s features to the ones she had known in her own youth. Her hair was the color of warm honey and as the Eld’ress reached out to brush it away from her face she thought to herself how like silk it felt under her fingers. She was a small creature, yet the curves and planes of her body bespoke that she was no child. A bruise darkened the side of her mouth from the first blow and the area around one eye was swelling from the final one. Yet there was not doubt that she was a beauty, her eyebrows finely arched, her lips full and naturally red.

The Eld’ress tucked a quilt around the still form and went to fetch herbs and warmed water to ease the pain the girl would feel when she woke. As she prepared her remedies she thought to herself what trouble this could all mean. Rarely had humans not caused her kind difficulties, even those that meant well. The old man had bore her no malice, and yet he had laid trouble directly in her hands in the form of this girl. No good could come of tonight’s adventure.

Taking a soft cloth she sat beside the girl and began to bathe her face with the warm solution she had prepared. It would soothe the swelling and reduce the bruising quickly. The girl stirred and her eyelids fluttered for a moment before opening wide. She tried to sit up and winced in pain. The Eld’ress drew back watching the girl from the shadows of her hood. To give her credit the girl did not panic or show much fear. Her eyes darted around taking in her surroundings and she lay back on the soft pillow regarding the cloaked figure beside her.

“What happened?” The girl’s mouth moved a bit awkwardly and she winced again. Her fingers came up to investigate her face. A dark suspicion began to glimmer behind her eyes. “Did-?”

The Eld’ress simply shook her head and dipped the cloth into the warm liquid again, motioning toward the girl’s face. She once again began to dab the soothing mixture on the girl’s bruises. The girl’s eyes began to flutter sleepily, the trauma of the day claiming her once more.

“Thank you, Eld’ress.” She whispered as she drifted into slumber.

Who was this girl? The woman wondered to herself. Who had the old man been? And how did they know of her kind? That was the burning question. If they knew of her, then others could know as well. Was her peace to be shattered like thin and fragile glass?
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Dracona
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PostSubject: Re: Once Upon Another Age   Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:10 am

Morning was beginning to break when Kaja returned to the cave. He leaped down onto the ledge outside and stalked in sniffing the air. The girl still slept in the alcove and he peered in at her making a curious sound deep in his chest.

“We will have to wait until she wakes to find out.” The Eld’ress said from the darkness near the banked fire. Kaja walked to her and rubbed his great head against her knee. She stroked him thoughtfully for a moment then rose and stretched stiffly. With the girl in her bed she had been left little choice but to sleep in her chair. It was not the most comfortable of accommodations.

Farther into the cave was another smaller cave. Here a spring bubbled up from deep underground and flowed over into a hollow creating a fairly deep pool. The water would have been scalding hot if another spring had not been diverted to mix with it. The combined waters flowed out from the far end of the pool and poured down into another underground waterway and disappeared, ensuring that the pool was always filled with fresh water. It was one of the few luxuries the Eld’ress had used her powers to create for herself. There was no prohibition against using her powers for her own comfort, but she had learned over the years that it attracted too much attention. Humans coveted power and often sought to destroy that which they could not possess. So she chose to live alone, deep in the forest where few humans ever dared to come.

The Eld’ress hung her cloak on a peg inside the entrance and removed her trousers and shirt. The water caressed her body as she slid into the pool. The stiffness of the night eased as she soaked in the hot water forgetting for a while that her way of life had changed the evening before.

With reluctance she realized that she couldn’t spend much more time here, she had to check on the girl. She reached for a pot she kept near the edge of the pool filled with a solution she concocted from forest plants. She dipped her fingers into it and began to smooth it over her skin and into her hair. It foamed and bubbled filling the small chamber with a pleasant earthy scent. Its scent would linger on her, helping her blend in with the forest itself. She sank beneath the surface of the water rinsing away the lather before she stood and turned to leave the pool. She stopped suddenly.

The girl stood in the shadows of the entryway watching her. She took a few steps toward the pool, something held in her hands. She was staring. The Eld’ress knew her eyes had begun to take on a faint smoky glow in her ire. She stepped from the pool and stood with her hands on her hips making sure the girl saw her fill. In form she was much like human kind. Legend claimed that the two races had once lived as one, mating, bearing children who were a mix of both parents. There may very well have been some human blood in her as well, she could not be certain. But on closer inspection it was clear that she was not human. Her skin was pale and silvery as moonlight, not creamy like the girl’s own. Her hair was black as coal, hanging now in shining wet waves across her shoulders. The girls eyes fell to her breasts and the Eld’ress saw her bite her lower lip as she took in the darker areola and the nearly silver grey nipples that hardened suddenly. Still the girl did not turn away, her gaze dropped lower across the flatness of the others stomach and rested on the hands at her hips. The Eld’ress had long slender fingers, four of them and a thumb as well, just like a human. It was her nails that differed. They were black as obsidian and just as shiny. When angered or defensive they became more like claws or talons than fingernails. They were a formidable weapon when the need arose. The girl’s eyes darted along the length of long leg and back up hesitating briefly at the patch of jet black hair at the apex of her thighs. The Eld’ress felt herself begin to grow angry.

“Do you humans know nothing of manners?” She said. The girl jumped at the sound of the strange melodious voice and looked up into her eyes, eyes that were like bottomless midnight pools. Her lips, now set in a frown were not pink or red, but dark grey. Her forehead was high and curving from the edges of her hairline and down toward her temples were small silvery grey horns. When her hair was dry it fell forward and nearly hid them, but now they showed clearly.

“Well, are you done staring?”

“Forgive me, Eld’ress.” The girl said in a soft voice. She looked down at the bundle in her arms and stepped forward. She shook out a drying cloth and held it up. “I meant no offense. You are just more beautiful than I had expected.”

“What could you know of my kind to have expected anything?” She reached for the cloth in the girl’s hands but it was pulled out of her reach. The girl quickly moved behind the Eld’ress and began to pat her skin with the cloth, drying her back and shoulders. It was when she knelt and began drying her legs, moving up from her feet to her knees and farther along her thighs that the Eld’ress stepped away and took the cloth from her, wrapping it around her body.

“I know much of the Elder Kin.” The girl said. “I have been taught of them since I was a child.”

“You are still a child.”

“No, Eld’ress, I am a woman.” The girl’s voice was lower than before and held a strange note the other could not recognize.

“I have a name.” The Eld’ress said to cover her disconcertion. She walked back in and sat beside the fire to let her hair dry. Kaja opened one eye and regarded her for a moment then yawned greatly and went back to his rest. The girl came to her side with another cloth and knelt at her feet taking the long dark tresses in her hands and rubbing them.

“I would be honored if you would allow me to call you by name, Eld’ress.”

“I am called Bajra.” She said with a sigh. “And since you will be here for a while at least you should tell me your name as well. I can’t keep thinking of you as ‘the girl’.”

“I am Meida, Mistress Bajra.” Meida produced Bajra’s own comb and began to smooth it through the drying strands of her hair. For an instant Bajra thought to correct the girl, but decided that there was something about this title that she liked. She sat silently as Meida combed her hair until it was completely dry. Then she turned to look at her.

“Now tell me who you are, why you were in my forest, and who that bastard was that I sent running.”

“Malek lives?” Meida said and shook her head. “It would have been better if you had killed him.”

“Do not question my actions.” Bajra’s voice was low but her anger rang through the cave as if she had shouted. Meida bowed her head and let her hands fall to her lap.

“Forgive me, Mistress Bajra.” She murmured softly. Bajra looked down at her for a moment then shrugged. There was no need to explain herself to this human girl.

“I swore to a dying man to protect you and I am bound by my vow.” Bajra said. “That does not make me your servant.”

“Oh no, Mistress!” Meida looked up at her and shook her head. “I am to serve you.”

Bajra drew back in surprise. “What do you mean?”

“That is why I was in the forest.” Meida said. “I am a gift to the Elder Kin who dwell here.”

Bajra suddenly realized that Meida was still bare, her clothes having been destroyed before. A vague stirring began in the pit of Bajra’s stomach, warmth that she had not allowed herself to feel in many years. She stood suddenly and walked over to the chest where she kept her clothing. She was much larger than the girl but Meida couldn’t very well walk around naked all the time. Bajra paused as that thought curled through her mind sinuously, then shook her head. What was wrong with her? She took out trousers and a tunic for herself and an extra set which she tossed to Meida.

“Put these on.” She turned her back and put her own clothes on and then walked to the table setting out bread and cheese and fruit while Meida dressed.

“Mistress?” Meida’s voice was small and unsure. Bajra turned and could not help the smile of amusement that curved her dark lips. The tunic hung down nearly to Meida’s knees, the sleeves hanging past her fingertips. She held the trousers up to her waist and Bajra knew that it would be futile for her to even try to wear them. The expression on Meida’s face was comic and Bajra chuckled. She took the trousers from her and rolled the sleeves of the tunic up to Meida’s elbows.

Meida smiled up at her sweetly, trustingly, and Bajra sobered. She was beginning to understand the severity of her mistake in taking this girl under her protection. She felt an odd pull, a drawing that called to the beast within her. This would not end well.

“Sit. Eat.” Bajra watched Meida as she prepared a plate of food and was surprised when the girl set it in front of her before turning back to make one for herself.
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Dracona
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PostSubject: Re: Once Upon Another Age   Sat Nov 29, 2008 8:50 am

“Tell me what you meant.” Bajra said finally after they had eaten silently for a few moments. “Who sent you here?”

“My father was Lord of a kingdom on the Eastern Sea.” Meida began. “He was a just if cold ruler, but he had no son to carry on his name. His wife was barren. He traveled many days to find one who could give him an answer to his dilemma. In a forest far from here he sought out one of the Elder Kin rumored to live there. His name was Verance.”

Bajra stilled at the mention of the name. Meida seemed not to notice as she continued her tale.

“Verance gave my father a gift. He gave him my mother. I have no memory of her myself. She died giving me birth. I have been told she was very beautiful and that she sang with the voice of an angel. Verance told my father that once a child was born to him of my mother then his wife would bear him the son he so desperately wanted. Verance sent a tutor with my mother, one who would teach me all I needed to know. When I was grown and well trained then I was to be sent here, to serve the Elder Kin.”

“The old man was your tutor.”

“Yes,” Meida bowed her head sadly. “He was the only friend I had in the world, the only one who ever loved me.”

“What of your father?”

“I was a means to an end.” Meida shrugged. “This too was taught me as I grew. The day after my birth his wife announced that she was with child. I was sent away, I grew up in a cottage far from the castle. My father’s wife could not bear the sight of me.”

Bajra felt her heart soften toward the child Meida had been, the woman who now sat before her. But there was a mystery here, still the question of why she had been sent here.

“So your father sent you here.”

“No. I came of my own free will.” Meida toyed with a piece of fruit on her plate. “When Henri, my tutor, judged me ready we went to the castle to inform my father that it was time to fulfill his vow to Verance. I was brought before my father for the first time in my life. His wife had died, and he himself was old and nearing the end of his time. His son, my half brother, already seemed to rule in his stead. He had been spoiled and pampered his entire life, doted on and given anything he desired.”

Bajra began to have a suspicion, but she held her tongue. This was Meida’s story to tell.

“Malek had not been told of me. He did not know the price of his own existence. When he saw me he immediately decided that I had been brought to be his bride, that our father was giving him a gift. He assumed that he would be given crown and queen in one glorious celebration.” Meida sighed and pushed her plate aside. “Our father took me into his private chamber and told me that Malek must never know, that I must go along with whatever he said. Malek began to proclaim our impending marriage and preparations were made.

“Then, late one night, Henri came to me and bid me hurry and make ready to leave. My father had planned our escape. He knew that he could not allow such an abomination as Malek unwittingly had planned. He also knew the consequences if he did not fulfill his part of the bargain with Verance. He did not count on Malek demanding vengeance for the blow dealt his pride by my escape.”

“We made it as far as the edge of the forest before he caught up with us. The guard my father had sent with me were no match for Malek’s elite troops. They slaughtered them like sheep. Henri concealed me in a thicket and drove the cart onward when he knew we could not escape. I saw the cart tip and Malek himself set fire to it leaving Henri to burn alive.” Meida raised tear filled eyes to Bajra. “I could not stay hidden and let the only father I had ever known die in such a way.”

“And so they captured you after all.”

Meida dropped her gaze and nodded miserably. Bajra reached out and laid a hand on the trembling girl’s shoulder in a gesture of comfort. A sharp tingle coursed up Bajra’s arm and straight down her spine. It was more than just the connection of her vow. This was something older. It left the taste of strong magic on her tongue. She drew away and stood quickly to clear the table of dishes. After a moment of silence Bajra spoke again keeping her distance from Meida.

“I tried to ease the passing of your Henri the best that I could.” She said. “He made me promise to see to your safety.”

“You promised him?” Meida looked at her closely. Bajra nodded and turned her back. When Meida slipped her arms around her from behind and pressed close against her she stood very still. “Then I am bound to you.”

“I have things to attend to.” Bajra said taking Meida’s hands and pushing them away from her. “I want to make sure that this Malek has left the forest. Stay here, Kaja will guard you.”

“Yes, Mistress.” Meida tried to hide the hurt she felt. The large cat rose from his place by the fire and came to stand at her side looking up at her. Bajra felt a strange surge of pride that the girl had never shown fear of the panther.

“I assume you are able to sew?” When Meida nodded Bajra opened a cupboard and showed her the shelves inside. “You will find cloth here, and anything else you will need to make yourself something more presentable to wear. That should keep you busy while I am away.”

With that she turned and swept out of the cave, silently shifting into mist. She started at the clearing where the fighting had taken place and began to track. Malek and his surviving soldiers had headed east, toward the sea. Bajra did not trust it though. Malek seemed too arrogant to give up so easily. She tracked them most of the day and was not surprised when they turned and made a wide circle back toward her home. As she neared their camp she caught a strangely familiar scent. It was a scent she had not smelled in decades. She knew that if she was close enough to catch it then her scent had also been detected.

Bajra stood a ways off from the camp waiting in the shadows of the trees. She didn’t wait long. A chill breath of air brushed her hair away from her neck, lingering along the curve of her neck. She stood still, watching the growing darkness that seemed to thicken and coalesce near by. It took shape and form, shoulders wide, legs thick and long, strong arms with the long fingered hands that rested on narrow hips. The eyes were as black as she remembered, the smile as charming, yet beneath it all Bajra sensed a sadness that had not been there the last time they had met.

“Greetings, little sister.”
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