Chapter 2:

Mara - The Black Breath

Demon Unit Ovihile

Lithe - Thin, Supple and Graceful, typically in reference to the size and shape of a person's body. I'm posting this due to Lee mistaking the word lithe as though it was intended to be "little." Didn't do this to call you out, Lee. Just wanted to make sure you were aware.

Anyway... where were we...

I could feel Lyra's palm on my back, ushering me forth into the open door. The barren room seemed far less opulent and regal at first glance, the walls founded with an unblemished, grey slate.

A small staircase lining the back of the room was the only formation that stood out in the dreary box I had entered. The sole source of light in the room was a blue, stained glass window perched low behind the throne.

To my surprise, Lyra hadn't exaggerated about The Queen's youth. A short, light haired girl sat atop the steel throne, her fingers rubbing the bridge of her nose. Lyra made a small noise, somewhere between a cough and a snort, alerting The Queen to our presence.

She had ruby red eyes that seemed to be filled with exhaustion, and still they were fierce enough to send a shiver through my core, I found myself without words. By far, in my eighteen years of life, she was the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen.

Pale skin, framed by silky silver bangs, perfectly symmetrical features, and a pair of plush, light pink lips that curled into a cute, yet somehow also intimidating smile. She seemed to consider me for a moment, before moving her gaze to Lyra.

"Well... she's cute... but does she have any special talents... like speaking?" She giggled.

As my speech returned, I could feel my face burning with embarrassment. Lyra put her hand on my shoulder, the stepped up to my side.

"Forgive her, Your Highness, I believe she is simply stunned by your beauty." Lyra said.

The blush on my face deepened even further, and The Queen giggled once more.

"Well, if you can't speak just yet, I'll introduce myself first." She said with a wink.

Hopping to her feet happily, she gave an overzealous bow, then spoke.

"My name is Mara Itera, thirty-seventh regnant monarch of Telara, and its seventeenth Queen. It is a pleasure to meet you, my dear." She said. "Also, just call me Mara."

Finding some, but most certainly not all of my confidence, I bowed my head to her.

"I'm... Diza Mishtal... an Et' Al native, here at your service." I said.

"Well... of course you're from Et' Al... but you aren't here to serve me, dear. You're here to serve my sweet Drake." She said.

"So... what's Master Drake like?" I asked. I had steadily grown more and more curious about him, especially considering the praise that Lyra seemed to so readily shower his name with.

Mara seemed to ponder my question for a moment, then shrugged, giving me a wink.

"Who knows... don't want to ruin the surprise... but... I suppose I can say that I think you'll like him... most people who know him personally do." She said.

Before I could spew forth my next query, the door behind me flew open forcefully. Another Elf, this one a man, rushed into the room. He was tall, likely well over six feet, but had a slight build. With the speed at which he entered, I reasoned that he was better built for quickness than strength.

He came to a rather abrupt halt near where we were standing, his eyes darting between Lyra and Mara. Lyra's lips curled into a rather calm smile, a deep contrast to the rushed, serious look of the man. Fortunately, she broke the strange, artificial silence that his arrival had hoisted upon us.

"Hello Aedo." She said, her smile unwavering as she spoke.

"Sister... wonderful to see you as always, but this is urgent." He replied..

He focused on Mara, then dropped to his left knee, shifting a small bag onto his thigh. The movement was enough for me to recognize the Justicor patch sewn onto the back of his black shirt.

"A Justicor?" I asked, more to myself than anyone else, but Lyra answered anyway.

"Yep... and my triplet brother. His name's Aedo, by the way, Aedo Ludette. I'm sure you'll get to know him better once you've settled into your life at the Judeca." She said.

Seeming as though she had been waiting for us to finish, Mara turned to fully face Aedo.

"I suppose you're bringing a message from my wonderful Drake?" She said, her voice dripping with anticipation at the very mention of his name.

"Indeed, ma'am. He has sent word from Endris." He trailed off, his gaze shifting from her to me. He dug around in his bag for a moment, then produced a small scroll. His eyes didn't leave me as he offered it to her.

"Aedo, you know I don't understand Drake and Kai's Morn-Script, have it read to me." She said.

"But..." He started, eyes returning to me once more.

"She's fine, this is the girl that Drake requested, she'll be learning about what you five do anyway." She urged him on.

His eyes remained trained on me for another few seconds, then he turned back to Mara, nodding his head.

"Oh... very well. Idrekt... Notai." The last two words were strange and foreign, and I turned to Lyra, intent on asking her what his words meant.

"Idrekt Notai, Elvish. It's part of a spell in the School of Sound Magic, it means "Undress Note". It's used to decode jumbled messages and read them in a language that all present persons understand."

A loud, incessant ringing began tearing through my head, pulsing against my mind like a rising tide against a dam. Eventually though, the pulsing faded, replaced with a low, gravelly voice that seemed to be emanating from my head, rather than somewhere in the room.

"Good day, my Queen, I'm contacting you with rather... grave news. It seems as though the Kingdom of Endris IS indeed gearing for conflict, although... I can't say for certain that we are their intended opponent. Regardless, a war with anyone promises to have negative effects on the entirety of Telara, so if you want their ability to war with others crippled, just say the word."

In a blinding white flash, the scroll erupted into flames, forcing Aedo to drop it with a shriek, one that seemed decidedly odd coming from a man his size. Mara simply giggled, waving a stray line of smoke away from herself.

"Well... it is certainly concerning to hear that Endris is amassing military strength. Less a century ago they were our proud allies, and it is sad to see them so ready to cause suffering. Aedo, my response to him is thus: "I leave it in your hands, please be safe.""

Aedo gave her a bow, then turned to me and did the same. He exited with the same haste he had when he entered. Lyra giggled, say something about how her brother took things far too seriously, before snapping back to attention and motioning to Mara.

"By the way, Your Highness, Master Drake has made a decision regarding the recent assassin that we captured stalking you." She said.

"Oh? Do I get to kill her?" Mara asked.

"Indeed, Drake recommends summary execution, by means of your Black Breath. I had the guards wait outside with her, if you'd like this done right now." Lyra replied.

Mara nodded, and Lyra snapped her fingers. For a third time, the doors opened, and a small woman with light blue hair and rather tattered rags was forced in by the blunt end of spears held by two guards.

She wasn't young, but she wasn't exactly old either. Her face was etched with the lines of combat experience. She had a nasty snarl plastered to her face as she was forced into the room and onto her knees in front of Mara.

"Well... here we are. Six days ago, you were apprehended by Drake and two other Justicors when you tried, and failed, to poison me. After Lyra's superb investigation into your background, it seems that you were aligned with Odora, and were attempting to sow unrest amongst the populace through assassination."

Mara giggled, reaching down and cupping the woman's cheek in her hand.

"Too bad, you seem like an ordinary person who was fighting for her homeland, but... you'll never make it back to Odora."

Mara sucked in a breath, then released it, producing a thick, viscous smoke that swirled around the woman's head. The woman attempted to hold her breath as she watched it approach, but failed. The black smoke poured into her through her nose and mouth, and her spluttering, violent coughing did nothing to expel it.

As fast as it happened, I noticed everything. The rapid blackening of her skin as it began to decay. Her skin began to slide off, starting at her feet. Her eyes widened at this, but the smoke choking her lungs prevented even a single scream from leaving her lips.

I watched as the decay reached her thighs, her once flesh covered legs were now bare bones, and the decay seemed unlikely to stop, breaching the line of her rags and invading the rest of her body.

Ten minutes passed, for the woman though, it must have felt like eternity. I had expected her to pass out after the decay had reached her waist, and yet she didn't. It seemed as thought the "Black Breath" was keeping her conscious, forcing her to feel the pain. The bones were all that was left, riddled amongst a pile of ash and rags, topped by her now hollow, eyeless skull.

If I hadn't seen her face, I wouldn't have been able to recognize her corpse, let alone describe her looks.

I shook my head as the guards began cleaning the remains from the floor. The decay had been so unchecked that even some parts of the bone had turned to ash.

That day, I watched a Queen punish her would be killer by wrenching the life from her body with a simple exhalation. I had never been so shaken by power until that moment.

I had also never been quite so impressed.

I'll be trying to put out a chapter per week, so you guys at least have something to read. If you want to read some of my other (worse) work, you can look me up on FanFiction under PoyntFury (no space, unlike my name on this site) Appreciate your readership/comments!