Luthra's Awakening: Death, Thy Lover
Danem - tribe, group, caste, division
Triakar - Council of three
Mashagar - "Warrior of Darkness
Luthra - "Foe of Light"
Alafra - "Exalted Daughter"
This is the first of a trilogy of stories that centers around Luthra. She is a Banshee elf, who ends up rejecting her people's culture that is fixated on death. She is also a character in my Nanowrimo plans for this year, The King's Bride. I do also apologize for the concept art not being of the finest quality. I am not a good artist.
The cold, bitter winds blew across the stony, lifeless plains of Eradon as I, Luthra of the Banshee Elves, lay gasping for breath amongst the corpses of the dead. In that moment, I realized that all my dearly held beliefs were nothing more than treacherous lies. Death was no lover. His embrace was not sweet. The truth was simple. His touch was terror. He was the foe of all living things. As this realization came to me, a great sense of betrayal swept through my soul. I had given my life for liars. But my epiphany came far too late. As I lay there with my life ebbing away, my mind thought of that day, which felt so long ago, when my course was set for this meeting with death.
*** *** ***
Alafra and I had been roused from our deep sleep by the tongueless servants of the Triakar. We were whisked through the gloomy tunnels and the twisting warrens that served as the home of our people, the Banshee. At long last, we were led into a room with two flaming red glow crystals, set in the wall and casting a hellish light about the room. Behind a desk of marble sat a fierce looking man. I knew him at once as Mashagar, First of the Screamers of the Banshee.
His head was completely bare of hair and covered in blood red tattoos. He did not even allow his eyebrows to grow. His red eyes were cold and dead. Scowling at us, he shook his head slowly. “I asked the warrior danem to send me its finest, and what do they send but two weak, worthless looking mice,” he said in a rasping voice devoid of emotion. “What am I to do with you two?”
“Why are we here?” Alafra asked.
As the words passed her lips, I cringed. Even though Alafra was a daughter of one of the great houses, she should have known better than to address Mashagar, First of the Screamers of the Banshee like that. Mashagar answered only to The Triakar, The Council of Three. His word was law, and he could have killed Alafra just for having looked at him in a way that he found displeasing.
In the same rasping voice, Mashagar replied, “Do you know what the Screamers are, girl?”
Suddenly realizing her mistake, Alafra stammered, “Of…course...my...Lord Mashagar.”
“Good,” Mashagar said as he steepled his fingers in front of him. “It is good to know that I am not dealing with complete imbeciles. So I ask again. What am I to do with two timid mice like you?” As he finished speaking, he turned his eyes towards me.
I trembled as that dead gaze fell on me. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. It seemed as though Mashagar was staring into my very soul. He was weighing it and finding it wanting. Then I thought to myself, You are Luthra, daughter of Malagar and Vanshra, not some weak willed gutter rat.
Steeling myself with those words, I said, “My Lord Mashagar, may I make a suggestion?”
“So both mice have tongues, do they?” Mashagar replied. “Very well, mouse, speak!”
“Test us and see if we are worthy, my Lord Mashagar.”
Mashagar smirked at my words and slowly nodded his head. “What an excellent idea. Very well, I shall test you, and I know just the test to give. Do you both know of the orcish ambassador, who is currently in residence with his honor guard and his wife?”
We both nodded. “Your test is simple,” Mashagar said. “You are to go to the ambassador’s room and kill every last member of his party. This will tell me if you have the mettle for what is to come.”
“But…” Alafra began.
“Yes,” I said over her as I slammed my fist against my chest in the ancient sign of respect. “Your will be done, my Lord Mashagar.” Then grabbing a hold of Alafra’s arm, I dragged my friend from the room.
“Are you an idiot?” I snapped.
Alafra trembled as she looked at me. Then she said, “The orcs are our allies. They serve the gods as do we.”
“Mashagar’s word is as the word of the gods,” I whispered fiercely in the dark. “Do not question it. He answers only to the Triakar, which answers only to the gods. Now, go get your weapons. We have orcs to kill.”
A little bit later, Alafra and I met in front of the rooms given over to the orc contingent. Handing my spear to Alafra, I nodded towards the shadows. As she quickly ducked into them, I moved towards the door and said, “I have an urgent message for the lord ambassador.”
One of the honor guard looked at me for a moment. Then he growled, “It’s the middle of the night little Banshee whelp. Come back in the morning.”
Trembling to make them believe that I was afraid, I stepped back from them and said in a worried voice, “I’ve got my orders. I’m to deliver the message immediately.”
The guard grunted as he looked at me for a moment. Then having come to believe that I was no threat, he motioned me forward. Slowly, I moved in between the guards. Then reaching out, I grabbed ahold of the daggers hanging on their belts and drove them into their stomachs. Leaping from the shadows, Alafra threw my spear to me.
Snatching my spear out of the air, I rushed into the room. The rest of the orcish honor guard had no idea yet what was happening. One of them rose to his feet as I came rushing in, and I gutted him with my spear. Alafra dashed in after me. The three remaining guards snatched up their curved blades and came at us, but we moved with fluid grace through the dance of death as we had been taught in the warrior danem. Soon all the guards lay dead at out feet.
The ambassador came stumbling out of the inner chamber. He was half clothed as he stared at us in shock. With a roar he charged at me, but Alafra took him from behind as I darted by him for the room where I was certain his wife was waiting. However, as I stepped into the room, I stopped dead in my tracks.
Knowing full well that if I left one survivor I would fail the test and surely die at Mashagar’s order, I hesitated. The orcish woman was clearly heavy with child. Her eyes were full of terror as she cringed away from the blood soaked tip of my spear. Her whole body was trembling in terror as she saw her death approaching. For some reason, I felt sorry for her, and that sorrow kept me from striking.
Alafra dashed into the room. She saw me frozen. With a snarl she lunged forward and plunged her spear into the stomach of the woman. The test was done.
Returning to the small chamber, we saw Mashagar still sitting behind his marble desk. He smirked as we entered. “You have passed the test,” he said in his lifeless voice. “Well done. Your possessions are already being moved from your old barracks to the barracks of the Screamers, but you are not screamers yet. However, your old life is now done. You will be forged into weapons that will serve the Triakar. You are forbidden to marry or to take lovers for Death and Death alone is now your lover, and one day you will enter his sweet embrace.”
*** *** ***
As I lay there with my life ebbing out of me, I cursed Mashagar’s name. Then I looked upwards and saw the stars. It was a rare sight for Banshee to see the little lights of the heavens for we lived all our lives beneath ground except when we were slaughtering the other races. Never before had I marveled at the beauty of the heavenly host of lights, but in that moment, I did. It was my firmest wish not to die, and then I saw him.
He was a man clothed all in stainless white. Slowly, he walked across the field of death as though he were looking for something. His eyes, which were deep wells of untold sorrow, fell upon me. His face was hard and angular, but as he looked at me, he smiled.
Feel free to tell me what you think below.
© 2014 Joseph Ray