Iotorath, Part 9

Whatever embarrassing conversation might have been due after Liam’s behavior the previous evening, Thallan from the Snowlands skirted it easily by leaving Aria a message early the next morning. She awoke to a note in neat, tight handwriting indicating his intentions to spend the day in Arramas. Alas, I will be unable to meet with…

Iotorath, Part 8

“That little prick,” Lukas snarled as soon as Aria finished relaying the events of the evening. “He’s barely more than a whelp and he’s already knocking women around? Where did he learn it?” “Some learn it from their parents, but some have violent urges that aren’t learned at all,” Valtteri said. “Unless we’ve missed something,…

Iotorath, Part 7

The courtiers at the huge stone dining table all watched Aria with varying expressions of curiosity. She smiled as pleasantly as she could muster when she caught them, pretending to be dazzled by the diamond dinnerware and the extravagant paintings lining the walls. In truth, she was a little dazzled—but only because the splendor of…

Iotorath, Part 6

Aria swallowed back the lump in her throat, staring up at the mountain peak, where she could just see the sanguine leaves of nightbark trees against the dark marble of the royal palace. Arramas, capital of Iotorath, lay at the foot of the mountain, its splendor obvious even at a distance. “We should get into…

Iotorath, Part 5

“Gods,” Lukas exhaled as he waved his hand to heal Valtteri. Aria sat beside them anxiously. “Well, credit goes to whoever forced the arrow through.” “Me,” Aria said. Valtteri scowled up at Lukas. “Is there ever a time you aren’t cheerful?” “It’s not cheer,” he said. “It’s just a general disregard for being somber.” “You…

Iotorath, Part 4

“There,” Aria said soothingly. She spooned a mashed paste of warm water and an herb called irashil onto each side of Valtteri’s shoulder, both where the arrow had pierced him and where she had forced the head through. He groaned in relief. “Fuck, that’s better. I’m going to kill that mage.” “Not one-armed, you aren’t.”…

Iotorath, Part 3

The Westwatch River babbled in the distance over a set of cascading rocky falls. Gnarled juniper trees shaded the eastern shore; a red sun set in the west, staining everything gold and orange. Valtteri passed Aria a water skin. “I expect it’ll just be us tonight,” he said. The mage had vanished north as soon…

Iotorath, Part 2

Sweet smelling smoke curled into the air, obfuscating the western horizon. Aria watched her lady’s maid, Katya, giggle with the two bearded guards on the other side of the fire. The mage had disappeared as soon as they stopped to make camp. On her left, rhythmic scraping from the portable whetstone in Valtteri’s hand lulled…

Iotorath, Part 1

Aria stared at the roiling waves of the sea. A storm brewed to the east; lightning illuminated the bruise colored clouds long before thunder rumbled over the palace. The sun glinted one last time before vanishing behind the tempest. “Princess,” a man said behind her. He had a deep, soothing voice, full of hesitation at…