The Dark Queen | Chapter 4 of 4

Author: Michael Williams | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1383 Views | Add a Review

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It is fitting that I, who am voiceless, should have the last word.

The druids have kept me well for a hundred years. Even in the Rending—the time that others call the Cataclysm—they sheltered me and nurtured me through the long night of this Age of Darkness. for Takhisis won after all. She stopped the rebellion, turned us all back to the deserts south of Istar, and though the bravery of the elves prevented her early entry into the vulnerable world, she came later and more violently, when the city of Istar was torn asunder by her return, and millions died as the continent split in her fury.

In all this enveloping darkness, it has not been so dark for me.

Here in the north of Silvanost, in the last years of a long and happy life, I write in the final pages of the book Vaananen gave me in his chambers a century ago.

"One will ask for it soon," he told me. "And yoiji will know it is right." How was I to know that the one who would ask for it would be the one to whom it was already given? One who would return it mysteriously, giving it to me so that I might finish what had been written there?

In the aftermath of the storm and the singing, we tended to the injured and gathered the dead. Five more perished in Takhisis's rage over the mountains.

For a day we lingered, offering prayer and song. When we started our trek back through the desert, picking our way through rubble and wreckage, Larken chose as our rear guard one of the Que-Nara, a man named Raindiver, whom the others had jibed and ridiculed when, aided by the zizyphus seed, I slipped past him into Fordus's camp.

This time he was more vigilant. We had not gone a mile when word reached us up the column that Stormlight was approaching, and with him twoscore survivors—perhaps a dozen of the freed Lucanesti—

all bent for the safety of the desert fastness.

They were good reunions. Plainsmen and bandit embraced and traveled south in harmony, caring for the elf-children like adopted sons and daughters. Shaken by what had just come to pass, all of them forgot the bickering and strife of the months and years in the Prophet's rebellion. They saw each other clearly for the first time since Fordus had moved on Istar.

All except Gormion. Unchanged, the bandit captain whined and menaced, lied and inveigled, but her words had lost their power to wound and divide. Now, Stormlight's followers ignored her. It was as though the curse under which Larken had labored fell on Gormion's conniving head. She lived the rest of her short life in the desert, finally falling victim to a guardsman's arrow in an ill-advised attack on a caravan. She had always said something like that would probably happen to her. I do not know what became of the druid Vaana-nen, except that he was no more after the Battle of Istar. I have since thought many times on the things he did for me. To honor him, I have taken his name as my patronym.

So his name begins this story and ends it.

Stormlight and Larken, on the other hand, created a different story.

When they met again, neither spoke of Fordus. Once Stormlight tried to tell Larken what had happened, tried to put words around what he had seen pass through the Tower window to join the whirlwind dragon in the hushed Istarian sky. But a resounding chord from Larken's rediscovered harp silenced him. He was gone long ago, she told him.

Neither, in my hearing, brought up the subject again.

I knew by the time our company reached the plains that a new, quiet understanding had passed between Fordus's bard and his interpreter. The enmity between them had dissolved, and the distance as well. They conversed in whispers—Stormlight was delighted to hear, for the first time, Larken's speaking voice—and they spoke also with their eyes on long walks in the high, wind-torn grass as we traveled south toward the desert's edge.

Lucas the hawk, still Larken's loyal companion, kept a greater distance now, his circles expanding to surround two people instead of one.

It did not surprise me, two years later, to hear that they had wed.

I left the forest for the last time at the birth of their child—a golden-haired girl who resembled her mother, and with the strange, distant cast of her father's eyes. But by then, the Que-Nara had abandoned their fear of the imilus and joined in the parents' joyous celebration.

At which Larken sang.

Her voice, it is true, had been ruined according to all bardic standards. The wind and the scarring sand had taken from her a singular and famous gift.

Yet she made something new from that damaged instrument. From that tattered voice arose a depth of phrasing, a power of celebration and creativity thaV her clear, exalting, and sometimes mimicking voice had never owned. No, the sands never again altered or melted at her singing, nor did water rise from the desert nor storms subside. Instead, the hearts of listeners transformed. Accompanied by her harp, the new songs turned fear into faith, and sorrow into resolution and joy. Songs of her own composing, all.

False prophecies passed for truth in Fordus's time. Now, a century later, Takhisis has returned. She stalks like a lion across Ansalon, and it is time for new prophecy—true words to stand against her in the continuing darkness.

I am no prophet, but this I write, in the ninety-seventh year since the Rending. The half-elven child I saw in the desert, held by her mother as gracefully, as lovingly, as that mother once held the shallow drum of her calling ...

That girl will be a mother as well, and a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. For Larken and Stormlight peopled my vision, and from their line, two centuries from now, a child will be born under a gilded orb, and the Namer's task will be easy that night. Goldmoon, they will call her.

Priestess of Mishakal. She will dry the tears and commence the healing. And she will not travel alone, but gather others to her.

And their deeds will echo like the lost song in the mountains.

Hear the word of the prophet.

Vincus Uth Vaananen




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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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