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Dawn of a New Day

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Dawn of a New Day

A Story of Empress Hyanithe IX

by Acelon

 

 

Chapter 1

War was imminent. Empress Hyanithe IX of the Idal Empire paced within her private chambers contemplating the events that had occurred earlier that day. Only a year had passed since Seridia and Irilion re-established friendly communication, but lately, their agreements were beginning to seem to fault.

 

Her chief adviser, Glinda, called an emergency meeting so she could explain the circumstances to the Empress and her council of nine. Though she trusted Glinda more than any of them, the Empress had handpicked the members of the council. They had grown up together within the castle walls: Glinda, the child of one of the servants, and Victoria, who was destined to become the next ruler of the Idal Empire in her mother's, Hyanithe VIII, stead.

 

Glinda revealed that word had been received from Idal ambassadors in the White Stone region of Seridia saying that Lord Luxin's army was preparing for an attack and that the target was the Idal Empire. She argued that the Idal armies must prepare to wage war with the lands of Luxin.

 

The dire news caused the council to split. Some agreed with Glinda and said the armies should be assembled as soon as possible for a voyage to Seridia. The others felt they should wait so that an emissary could be sent to Lord Luxin to clear this up. The arguments seemed to go on for hours to no avail. Knowing that this decision could be one of the most crucial decisions of her reign, the Empress declared she would announce her verdict the following day.

 

The Empress could not keep her mind clear. She wondered why Luxin would attack her people? Would her armies be prepared for battle? What if this was all just a misunderstanding? How was this going to affect the relationship between Seridia and the other lands of Irilion? So many questions filled her head, she felt as if her head was going to explode.

 

She continued to pace in the center of her room trying to order her thoughts. All was silent, except for the rustling from the Empress's long blue gown rippling along the floor as she retraced her steps slowly through the room, until a knock at her door interrupted both her steps and the questions she had been pondering.

 

"Empress, I wanted to leave you to your thoughts, but I felt as if you may need some company as well." Glinda hesitantly stepped into the Empress's chamber and closed the door softly. She looked around the dimly lit chamber with only one candle to illuminate the large room. Glinda could make out the outline of the Empress in the center of the room in a long, flowing gown.

 

"That is kind of you Glinda, but why such formalities? I haven't heard you call me Empress in years. You know you can call me Victoria," the Empress chuckled softly at her friend's mistake.

 

Glinda winced slightly, but the room was too dim for Victoria to notice. "I am sorry. My mind is still boggled with the thoughts of war; it must have just slipped out. I hope your thoughts on the matter are running smoothly?"

 

"If only they were. So many questions are clouding my head, I feel as if I am getting nothing decided." The Empress peered out a window of the palace at the beautiful starry night and exhaled deeply.

"I do appreciated you coming to keep me company Glinda, but I do not think I will get much thinking done tonight. I will retire for the evening and hopefully my thoughts will be collected by the morning."

 

"I shall leave you to your thoughts then. I bid you a good night... Victoria." Glinda left the room as quietly as she had entered.

 

The Empress did not notice the hesitation in Glinda's voice as she used her name. Instead, the Empress continued to stare up into the heavens at the stars. It was the end of the month of Vesepia and the dagger constellation glowed brightly in the sky. The rest of the stars dimmed in comparison to this blight month's dismal constellation.

 

With each month, a new constellation dominated the night sky. The shield of Aluwia was not fully in view, but a fragment of it could be seen on the horizon providing a glimmer of hope. The bleak winter months were ending and the dawn of a new spring was around the corner. With new spring comes hope for the new year and her hopes for her empire did not include war with Seridia.

 

"Please, send me some guidance on the issue at hand," the Empress prayed while looking to the sky, hoping somebody, anybody, would answer her prayers. Her prayers had fallen on deaf ears before and typically she did not rely on the guidance of the gods, but this seemed to be her only hope and she selfishly took some comfort from it.

 

The Empress continued to silently pray for a few moments longer before she retired to her bed shortly after. Her eyes fluttered shut as she drifted into a peaceful sleep. Her mind was exhausted and she knew she would need all the sleep she could get for the events that followed the next day.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Little did the Empress know, her prayer did not fall on deaf ears. Varyssa was in her garden in the realm of the gods. A gentle breeze blew through her flowing hair, whispering to her the prayers of the Empress. Her eyes remained closed as she listened closely to the Empress's pleas. She opened her eyes and her once golden eyes were cloudy. Images of people and events flashed before Varyssa concerning the Empress's decision.

 

The vision ended and Varyssa walked over to a nearby pond that was at the center of the garden. She gently caressed the surface of the pool with her fingers as it showed the image of the Empress sleeping peacefully in her chambers.

 

"Rest well Empress. You shall receive the guidance you need."

 

Varyssa caressed the image of the Empress, causing a collection of ripples to form over the entire pond. The pool of water began to glow and the image of the Empress disappeared. Varyssa smiled and continued to stroll through her enchanted gardens.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

The dawn of a new day slowly crept over the lands of Idaloran. The sunlight, colored orange by the reflections from the Red Wind Desert, began to illuminate the Empress’s chamber. Her closed eyes squinted as the morning light washed over her face. She took a few moments to gain her composure and fully awaken. Her mind was clear, and she knew what decision she would be making today.

 

She called for her chambermaid, Alastria, to tidy up her quarters and help dress her for the busy day she had ahead of her. The Empress had told the council that they would convene again at midday to hear of her decision.

 

Going about her daily schedule, she had breakfast with her special herbal tea blend in the gardens and then she joined her trainer in the battle room shortly thereafter. It was tradition for the rulers of the Idal Empire to be trained by the best swords master in the lands, because one never knew when they’d have to defend themselves.

 

"Good day, Siran. What lessons might you have in store for me today?" The Empress greeted her trainer with her usual cheerful demeanor. She did not want him to realize what was on her mind.

 

"Your majesty, it is good to see you as always. I thought today I would teach you about two-handed swords. They are more difficult to handle for most women, but I have the utmost faith in your abilities," said Siran with a smile in his eyes. Siran was five years older than the Empress, but they still pined to be together. Much like other royal families, it was forbidden to marry outside of nobility and both Siran and the Empress knew he had no nobility in his bloodline.

 

This did not stop them from silently flirting with each other. Though they used such formalities to greet each other, they both understood how the other actually felt through body language.

 

Siran, aside from Glinda, knew her better than anyone else causing her to worry. Would he realize that the decision she was about to make was pestering her?

 

"Now Empress, I want you to hold your sword like so." Siran demonstrated the proper technique with the wooden training sword. He demonstrated a few attacks and blocking moves. The Empress attempted to follow suit, but was lacking the technique.

 

"Here. Try holding it like this." Siran came up behind the Empress and placed his arms around her and held his hands over hers. She felt her heart flutter from his touch.

 

"Now, follow my lead." The Empress let Siran guide the sword with fluid motions. She peered back at Siran to see him gazing deeply into her eyes. Their mouths slowly moved toward one another, but the Empress hastily pulled away at the last moment.

 

"I think this is enough for today’s lesson, I must be going." The Empress quickly left the room leaving Siran still standing where she had been moments ago.

 

"Goodbye, my Empress. Today’s lesson was indeed more than I expected."

 

 

* * *

 

 

The council was called to order. The Empress sat at the head of the table with ten sets of eyes looking upon her.

 

"We shall prepare for war, and set sail for Seridia... a week from tomorrow... at dawn." The Empress’s words caused commotion among the council. She watched and conversed with the council members as they shouted things that had to be done in order for their fleets to be prepared for the voyage ahead. Only one remained silent in the room. Glinda sat in her chair, looking quite pleased with herself. No one noticed that Glinda had not chosen to partake in the planning, not even the Empress who was too busy trying to plan the attack with the rest of the council members.

 

The Empress called the council to order again.

 

"Everyone has their work cut out for them. We must make sure all preparations are completed in a week's time."

 

The council and Glinda left the room, leaving the Empress sitting there by herself. She rested her head on her hands and thought, "Is this going to turn out right?"

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

The sun began to rise on the dawn of the eighth day since the Empress’s decision. It was hard to tell, because the clouds were gray and a light drizzle of rain fell upon the faces of the armies of the Idal Empire. The Empress, nobles within the empire, and families of the troops, stood at the docks in the Idaloran Harbor. The Empress was to make a farewell speech to bid the troops a safe journey and good luck with the war. She was nervous. This was her first address she had to deliver in the midst of a developing war. Siran and Glinda both stood behind the Empress, both only a few feet away, silently sending support to their friend.

 

"My brave soldiers. I want to extend the gratitude this kingdom has for your bravery. The threat of Luxin’s armies is too great for us to stand by and wait, therefore we must draw first blood in order to save our own. With this, we can rest easy that our children and our homes may be safe from the terrors of war. Before you go, remember what we fight for. We fight for honor and dignity. We fight for our families and our friends. We fight for our kingdom! We fight for the future!"

 

A roar accompanied with applause assaulted the ears of the Empress as she stood there looking out at the crowd of people. They had the utmost faith in her, the same faith Siran had in her. She knew at the moment she could not let her people down, at any cost.

 

The fleet set sail toward Seridia. It would take them a few weeks to arrive. Since Sarma had re-discovered a way to travel between the continents, the Idal Empire had mapped out the currents between them so that quick routes for normal ships to take could be found.

 

The crowd slowly diminished. Some stayed and watched the ships disappear beyond the horizon while others sought shelter from the steadily worsening rain. The Empress remained on the docks watching the horizon, though the fleet could no longer be seen. Her guards stood under a nearby shelter, leaving the Empress to her thoughts. Siran remained with her, just standing by her side. No words were needed; she knew that he was there to comfort her.

 

"I’m worried about the consequences of my decision. What if I’m sending our armies to be slaughtered? I still feel so inexperienced with things such as this."

 

Siran noticed the tears welling up in the Empress’s eyes. He took her hand within his and caressed her palm with his finger.

 

"Victoria. I may not be of noble blood, or have any experience at ruling an empire, but I do know that all decisions I make, I make them with my heart. If something feels wrong to you, then listen to yourself. Your brain can make up lies to convince you something is right, but your heart cannot."

 

The Empress was taken back by Siran’s gesture. She was not used to him calling her by her name, but it just felt too right to be wrong.

"Well my heart is pounding now with you by my side and I know what I feel is not false."

 

They embraced and shared a long-awaited kiss. Only one person noticed the moment that Siran and the Empress had shared. A cloaked figured stood in the shadows of the harbor. A dagger glinted from a loop in his belt. With a raspy whisper, he made a verbal note to himself.

 

"Perhaps I can use this to my advantage."

 

The hooded figure slinked away from the docks headed toward the Idaloran Palace.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

Three weeks had passed. Daily updates from Seridia came to the Empress. The armies of Luxin had been completely unprepared for the attack and the armies of the Idal Empire easily overtook White Stone. This left the Empress with another decision to make: what should the next move be? She knew the council would have to discuss this, so she called them to order.

 

"Our armies have easily tossed aside the defenses in White Stone. It is time for us to decide our next plan of action." The Empress gestured for the discussion to begin.

 

"We have already proven our point. We should retract the army now!"

 

"If we bring them back, what if they just plan a counter-attack upon our lands? If we leave our soldiers there, we can at least facilitate the area to make sure they don’t attack us."

 

"That leaves our citizens who remain there at risk! What if the Seridian civilians revolt against our troops? It could cause more casualties!"

 

The council threw ideas back and forth until finally, Glinda spoke up.

 

"We should continue our attack on the Seridian continent and prove our military dominance over them. We will strike fear into the hearts of our enemies and any future enemies. No one would dare mess with us after conquering an entire continent!"

 

Glinda’s comments only caused more commotion within the council. The Empress was getting a headache from all the arguing as she tried to listen to everyone’s idea, but after four hours, it only seemed as though people kept repeating their ideas using different words. The Empress dismissed the council saying she would think things over and, once again, announce her decision the next day.

 

With a profound sense of deja vu, she found herself pacing within her chamber, contemplating her choice yet again. Her train of thought was interrupted, much like last time, by a knock at the door. She expected it to be Glinda, but to her surprise, it was Siran.

 

"Hello," Siran greeted the Empress with a cool tone in his voice.

 

"What a surprise!" The Empress was indeed pleasantly surprised, but very thrown off. Siran had never visited her chambers before.

 

"I hope I did not catch you at a bad time, but I saw the candle light in your chamber from the court yard." He paused for a moment. "Would you like me to step outside for a moment? I didn’t mean to catch you in your night gown."

 

She noticed that the gown she was wearing was more revealing than usual. The Empress quickly threw a shawl over her shoulders and turned to face Siran. "I am so embarrassed, I’m sorry. You just caught me off guard, Siran." The light in the room was dim, but it was easy to tell the Empress was turning a slight shade of red. "What brings you here at this hour?" She wanted to change the topic as quickly as possible.

 

"I have heard whispers throughout the castle that you are deciding your next move, Empress." Siran was there for one reason, and one reason only.

 

"Yes, that is true. My council is split on the decision, which makes this much harder. I am fairly sure that it is time to withdraw the troops and negotiate peace with Lord Luxin."

 

The Empress realized how much trust she had for Siran by hearing the words coming out of her mouth. She usually kept her thoughts hidden until it was time to present them to the council, yet she still told Siran.

 

"My Empress, I am not one of your council, but I feel you should continue to conquer the remainder of Seridia. I fear for our empire's safety otherwise."

 

"Siran, I understand your fears, but my heart tells me that I should recall them."

 

"Victoria," said Siran with slight annoyance in his voice. "Heed my council. I am more experienced in the art of war. It would be in your best interest to continue your crusade. This is no time to listen to your heart."

 

The Empress was taken aback by Siran’s words. Was everything he said to her on the docks that one day a lie? Or was she really making the wrong decision here.

 

"You might be right, Siran. I will take your advice into careful consideration."

 

"I have said my piece. I bid you a goodnight Empress." Siran left the room very quietly.

 

The Empress just stared into nothingness as she considered what Siran had said. Something seemed different with Siran tonight, but she could not quite place her finger on it. The Empress decided that it would be best to sleep on it and hope that everything worked out the next day.

 

 

* * *

 

 

The Empress followed Siran and Glinda’s advice and announced the continuation of the Idal Empire’s conquest of Seridia. It dawned on her that she should heed the advice of the two people dearest to her. Word quickly spread across Irilion of the Empress’s decision. When the news reached the Dwarven and Elven nations, rage consumed them. While it did not help that they had relatives in Seridia, the icing on the cake was that the Empress made a decision without consulting the other Irilian leaders. Did she not realize that her decision affected all of Irilion and not just the Idal Empire?

 

With their faith broken in the Empress, it left them with one decision. General Axin of Thelinor and the clan elders of Zirakinbar met with the Elven leaders of Irsis, Willowvine, and Aeth Aelfan. They decided they must end the attacks on Seridia by defeating the source. They prepared their armies to attack Idaloran.

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

On the second day of Seedar, flags of war could be seen upon the borders of Idaloran, each of them bearing symbols of a neighboring Elven or Dwarven region. Their coordinated attack began soon after dawn meeting minimal resistance. Most of the Idal Empire’s army remained in Seridia, leaving Idaloran with little protection. The invading armies, under General Axin’s orders, set the city aflame and made their way toward the Idaloran Palace with only one goal ringing in their ears from the General.

 

"I want the Empress dead or alive. She will pay for her crimes against Irilion."

 

 

* * *

 

 

The palace was in a riot. The servants and others who quartered within the castle were running throughout the halls trying to find a way out before meeting their demise. The Empress was also trying to gather a few belongings before fleeing the palace under the protection of her guards. But it was too late. The invading armies had already breached the palace gates and begun to ram the main doors to gain access. The guards drew their swords as the Empress backed against the wall in sheer terror. Then, out of the darkness, a cloaked figure’s arm grabbed the Empress’s wrist.

 

"Let go of me!" the Empress shrieked in terror. The cloaked figure stepped out of the shadows and removed her hood. It was Glinda.

 

"Victoria, you have to come with me. I know of a secret passage that will lead us out of the castle! We can escape through there!"

 

"Glinda, you startled me!" The Empress took a deep breath. "If you know of a secret passage, we should try to evacuate the others through it as well."

 

"There is no time! The armies will break through the doors soon. You must come with me now!"

 

Glinda and the Empress started rushing down the corridors of the castle leaving the guards at the main entrance. Glinda brought them into a small chamber. This room was the quarters where the Empress’s chambermaid, Alastria, slept. Glinda went over to the fireplace and pushed in a brick causing the fireplace to swing open and reveal a dark passage.

 

"Follow me. I know this passage well." Glinda grabbed a torch off the wall, lit it with the help of the fireplace, and began to lead the way. The Empress stayed close to Glinda, still terrified for her life. Once the fireplace slid shut after both of them had entered, the cramped corridor became even darker .

 

The passage took the two friends to the palace stables where the other entrance had been concealed behind a tool shelf.

 

"Now, Victoria, we may have to fight our way through a few soldiers. If we are lucky, the majority of them are still at the castle, but they may have sent a few back here to secure the area."

 

"Glinda, I have no weapon. How am I to fight?"

 

Glinda reached under a nearby haystack and pulled out a sword and shield for the Empress. A crossbow was also hidden under the haystack, which Glinda kept for herself.

 

"How did you know these were under there? Glinda, did you put them there?"

 

Glinda nodded. "I am going to check the area to see if there is anyone around that I can deal with before we continue our escape. While I am gone, there is some leather armor over in the tool cabinet. You may want to change into that."

 

As Glinda crept out of the stables, the Empress noticed what her companion had been talking about. She was wearing a long gown, which was neither suitable for battle nor running. She opened the tool cabinet to find leather torso armor, but nothing else. She placed that over her gown, but realized the lower part of her gown would be a major disadvantage. Using the sword Glinda provided, she hacked and tore most of her skirt so it would be easier to move around in. The Empress did not realize that while she was cutting, someone had walked into the stables. A hand was placed on her shoulder. In fear, she spun around, and placed her blade against the man’s throat. It was Siran.

 

"Siran! You startled me! I thought you might have been one of the invaders!" She removed the sword and placed it at her side.

 

"Empress, I was worried they had already gotten to you. How did you get down here?"

 

"Glinda knew of a secret passage through Alastria’s quarters. We came out over there." The Empress gestured toward the tool shelf. Siran walked over to examine the hidden entrance.

 

"This must have been used quite a bit: the scratches on the wall are deep. This is quite bothersome because anyone could easily enter and exit the castle without being noticed."

 

"Siran, that is not something we should worry about right now! We need to escape!"

 

Siran walked back over to the Empress and looked her deep in the eyes.

 

"Empress... Victoria... I swear on my life I will protect you, but this should not have happened. You should have never ordered the attack on White Stone, let alone continue the conquest of Seridia."

 

"Wait! It was you who told me to continue the conquest! I wanted to pull out the troops, but you told me to listen to you! Why are you going back on your counseling?" The Empress was near tears and very confused. The only person more confused than the Empress was Siran.

 

"I never said such a thing... I would never. Victoria, you must believe me. When did I tell...". Siran’s words were cut short as a crossbow bolt pierced his heart. He stared into the Empress’s eyes, grasped her hand momentarily, and then his grip loosened as his body lost life. He died at the Empress’s feet.

 

"Empress!" Glinda ran back into the stables. "Are you alright?"

 

"What have you done? You killed Siran!" The Empress brought the sword to Glinda’s neck.

 

"Empress, I overheard him talking to one of the soldiers. He helped plan the attack on Idaloran. If I had not made it back here sooner, he would have killed you!"

 

Thousands of thoughts were running through the Empress’s head. Had Siran really betrayed her? But why did he look so confused? Something was not right here. And something irked her about Glinda calling her Empress multiple times. Glinda never had a problem calling her Victoria before, yet it seemed to be a common occurrence lately.

 

"The coast is clear, let’s escape while we still can."

 

Glinda and the Empress rushed through the courtyard and out the back gate. Two Elven soldiers lay on the ground, both with their throats slit.

 

"Your doing?" the Empress asked Glinda. Glinda just gave a small smile and continued to run.

 

The two only ran into three more soldiers. With the Empress’s sword handling and Glinda’s deadly aim, the soldiers fell quickly. Their journey took them to Jahir beach along the northern shores of Idaloran.

 

"We will rest here. I have arranged for a boat to come pick us up shortly. We will rest until then."

 

The two friends sat on the beach waiting for the ship. The Empress climbed up a nearby cliff to get a view of the city from the beach. What she saw was horrifying to her: the entire city was on fire. Screams of her people dying were carried on the winds, along with the smells of ash and blood. Her empire was in ruins.

 

The Empress turned to stare out at the sea. The day’s events were running through her mind. Siran was dead, her empire was invaded, and Glinda had saved her life. Suddenly, the words Siran had said to her echoed in her mind. The passage was used quite a bit by someone who wanted to enter and exit the palace unnoticed. Glinda said she knew the passage well. And why were there weapons and armor so conveniently placed for their escape. It was almost as if they were planned to be there. Glinda's shouting from further downshore interrupted her thoughts.

 

"Victoria! The ship is here! We must leave now!"

 

The Empress walked with Glinda to the small ship. They were greeted by a number of Dwarven soldiers.

 

"Glinda! This is the wrong ship, we must fight!"

 

The Empress drew her sword for battle when she suddenly felt a pain in her chest. She reached down and realized she was bleeding. She turned around and saw Glinda holding a bloody dagger in her hand. The dagger was stabbed through her back, and the tip broke through the the other side, piercing even her armor. The Empress stumbled and fell to the ground. The world around her began to become hazy. She looked at Glinda one last time, but it wasn’t Glinda. Instead, she saw the grotesque face of a demon laughing at her. The sinister laugh echoed in her mind as the world around her went black.

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

The light was bright. The Empress squinted her eyes before opening them, preparing herself. She opened her eyes and realized she was no longer on Jahir beach. She was in a spectacularly beautiful garden. She had never seen or imagined such a place before. She looked down and found she was no longer wearing the armor, but wearing her blue night gown. She had no wound and there was no blood anywhere.

 

"Do not fear, Empress. You are not harmed."

 

The voice caused a chill to go down the Empress’s spine.

 

"Who said that? Show yourself!" the Empress demanded.

 

A white mist slowly formed in front of her. A feminine figure walked through the mist to reveal herself to the Empress.

 

"I am Varyssa, Goddess of Dreams. I heard your prayers for guidance, so showed you the best decision."

 

The Empress was shocked. She had never seen a God in a corporeal form before and was unsure how to react.

 

"B..bbbut my empire collapsed, my best friend betrayed me, and I watched my love die in front of me? How was this the best decision? The world as we know it is ruined because of me!"

 

"Or may be," replied Varyssa.

 

"May be? I saw how Idaloran looked before I died! I could only imagine what Seridia looked like as well after my armies invaded!" The Empress was over being shocked about meeting a Goddess. She wanted to know why Varyssa influenced her to wage war.

 

Varyssa just smiled. "I have not influenced you to do anything. In fact, none of what you saw has happened. I showed you in a dream what would happen should you choose to send your armies to Seridia. You are not dead, Empress. In fact, you are peacefully sleeping in your chambers."

 

Varyssa’s explanation took a moment to sink in. "All of this was a dream? But how did this happen? And why did Glinda betray me?"

 

"Glinda has never betrayed. The Glinda you know is gone, murdered by the servant of Selain, Vlasian. She has been dead for several months now and her body hidden within the mines. Vlasian took her form in order to manipulate you. I am sorry for your loss."

 

The Empress was in utter shock.

 

"Siran was truthful to you as well, Empress. He did not visit your chambers that night. It was Vlasian in yet another guise."

 

The Empress took a moment to understand what Varyssa was explaining to her. It all made sense. She had sensed something was different about Glinda and that something was off about Siran that night. The secret passage must have been used by Vlasian to enter and exit the castle without being noticed and he used different forms to avoide further detection. He made up the entire report about Luxin wanting to attack her empire. All of this was Vlasian’s fault.

 

"Now Empress, I understand this may be hard to comprehend. Usually when I warn people of the future, their dreams are not so intense. I felt you needed to see everything in order to comprehend how influential your decision would be."

 

"I understand everything now, Varyssa. You are truly a great goddess for showing me. I will be sure to throw festivals in your honor, but I still need to know one thing."

 

"Yes, Empress?"

 

"Is everything I felt with Siran real?"

 

Varyssa smiled broadly. "Yes. All the emotions you shared with each other are buried deep within the both of you."

 

"I thank you again. Please, I think it is time I wake up. I know the decision I must make now."

 

Varyssa nodded. A bright red light illuminated the garden enveloping The Empress in its warmth until she could no longer see anything but the light.

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

The dawn of a new day slowly crept over the lands of Idaloran. The sunlight, colored orange by the reflections from the Red Wind Desert, began to illuminate the Empress’s chamber. Her closed eyes squinted as the morning light washed over her face. She took a few moments to gain her composure and awaken fully. Her mind was clear. She knew what decision she would be making today.

 

The Empress called the council to order earlier than they had planned, stating she had an important announcement for them. The Empress sat at the head of the table with ten sets of eyes looking upon her.

 

"We have been deceived. A villain has breached our inner circle and that person is in this room now."

 

The council members broke out into chaos shouting accusations at one another. The Empress just retained steady eye contact with Glinda, who was staring back at her with a sinister smile.

 

"Guards!" yelled the Empress. "Seize her!"

 

The palace guards walked into the room, grabbed Glinda by both arms, and dragged her away. The remainding members of the council stared in shock.

 

"I do not wish to soil Glinda’s good name. That imposter has murdered the real Glinda. The woman you just saw was not really a woman at all, but the demon known as Vlasian. He has set out to try and ruin the Idal Empire, as well as Luxin’s empire."

 

The Empress then began to give tasks to the council.

 

"We must organize a search party at the mines to find Glinda’s body so she may receive a proper burial. We must also send a messenger to Lord Luxin letting him know of Vlasian’s plan to turn our armies against his."

 

The meeting was adjourned so her orders could be dealt with immediately. The Empress, satisfied with her decision, went to the gardens. She was greeted by Siran, who was waiting for her.

 

"I missed you at our lesson today. I had planned for you to learn the technique of two-handed swords."

 

The Empress just smiled at Siran. "We will have plenty of time for that tomorrow, Siran. Today, we will just enjoy the majesties brought upon by the dawn of a new day."

 

The Empress leaned her head upon the muscular shoulders of the surprised Siran. He wrapped is arm around her waist and the two looked out onto the view of a peaceful city.

 

 

* * *

 

 

In the palace dungeons, a guard was slumped against the wall with his throat slit as a hooded figure slinked through the corridors with a dagger in hand. He placed his hand on a loose brick in the wall and exited the palace through a hidden passage.

Edited by Acelon

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