Writings: The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin (Part 7)

Previously posted on my Patreon.


"This was a bad idea and Wyrus should feel bad. Ugh!"

Meirin felt something soft squelch under her shoe and shuddered at the sensation. Leaning on her staff she gingerly picked her way forward, leaving behind whatever disgusting thing she'd stepped in. She fiercely missed Ereth and wished he were here to help steady her with his strong arms; she was no stranger to the dreaded expectation of her disabled leg sending her into a painful tumble, but now the fear was especially sharp when when traveling through underground catacombs.

"We're not far from the castle entrance." The whisper came from just over her left shoulder, not more than two paces behind her in the murky darkness. "Do you need to lean on my arm for support, your majesty?"

Meirin winced and shook her head, knowing the women behind her would see the movement. She hoped her embarrassed blush wouldn't be as visible in the dark, but her hopes were not high given how they'd already bore witness to her clumsy struggles. The eight soldiers serving as her companions on this mission were all gifted with elven ancestry, allowing them to see in the darkest night. Meirin was the only one with human eyes which were useless down here without the aid of a light.

She gripped her staff tighter, but her foot caught on a rough patch of crumbling stone and she sprawled forward. Eyes screwed up against the ground she knew to be rushing towards her face, Meirin was surprised to find herself caught and lifted in strong arms. She was righted back to a standing position and gently released, with only her racing heartbeat left behind as evidence of the close call. "Thank you," she mumbled. "Some graceful princess I am, I know."

Did she imagine amusement in the captain's answering voice? "We're here to protect you, your majesty. It is our honor."

"I'm lucky you're with me," Meirin replied with automatic politeness slamming into place at the reminder of her status. Then she hesitated with her next step, realizing just how true this was. Elvish adventurers and mercenaries weren't rare in this part of the world, but ones Wyrus could afford on credit almost certainly were. Where had he drummed up eight women of elvish ancestry willing to give their lives in a fight over who would sit on the throne of this place? "Were you born in Ravelin?" Meirin ventured to ask, hoping the question wouldn't be rude.

"My mother was," the captain answered. Meirin decided she liked the wry smile in the woman's tone, even if she wasn't sure whether or not it was directed at her. "If all goes well tonight, my daughter will be too."

"I didn't know you were expecting," Meirin said, faintly alarmed at the prospect.

Several chuckles filled the darkness but none of them seemed unkind. "I'm not, your majesty. But your spymaster has promised us land to settle in Ravelin when the war is over."

"And jobs!"

"Protecting the queen."

"And a job protecting your majesty," the captain agreed with her teammates, fresh amusement filling her voice. "Royal guards make a good salary, you know."

Meirin couldn't help but smile. "You're that sure you want to work for me, huh?"

"We like your face; it's honest. And believe me, we'll like your child's face even better. Little elven ears from that barbarian."

A coughing fit seized Meirin at the unexpected mental image and she had to scramble to stuff her fist in her mouth. What would Ereth think if he were here to listen to this? She tried to imagine him with a baby in his arms, its delicately curved elvish ears poking free from a mess of black curls... Meirin blinked back sudden tears along with the realization that she couldn't think on this now. Not when she was about to go into battle and Ereth was already joined in his. Later.

"We... might be getting ahead of ourselves, just a little," she ventured, hoping her voice wouldn't break.

To their right, one of the guards laughed a soft silver bell of a laugh. "A human telling an elf to slow down? Now I've seen everything." The other chuckled with her, the sound like the warm rustle of autumn leaves in the darkness.

"Quiet!" The captain's voice brought them all to a halt. "We're here. This is the castle entrance. From here on in, not a single word. Understood?"


Post a Comment