The War for Thamatra

The Story Continued - Part IV

Part IV

“Please, Sir Rahn? Can I just borrow Orrin for a little while?” Fiona nearly begged the (description of Rahn?) captain of the Knights of the Lady sitting at his desk in the Enclave. “I was hoping he could watch me during the martial arts competitions today… and I have some official business with your knight that must be taken care of with the authority of Queen Isa. I wouldn’t want to miss my chance with her being right here in town for the Faire.” And if something did go wrong, at least I’d have a capable fighter and cleric by my side…

“And what kind of official business would that be?” Sir Rahn asked in gruff disbelief. “You’ve already been caught teaching one of my best knights how to disregard authority and conduct illegal stakeouts, young lady. I had hoped that a week of latrine duty would have removed the urge for him to do such a thing again.”

Fiona winced as she thought of the punishment Orrin was going through this week, knowing quite well what that must’ve been like. She’d kept the Twins company time enough when they’d been punished by Mira similarly. She blushed slightly and said, “You know…Orrin and I need her official approval.”

After a moment Sir Rahn’s eyes widened in realization. “Oh…I see,” he said and cleared his throat. “While I may fear for the knight’s well-being as well as your own after such news, I will allow you to borrow him temporarily so you may conduct your ‘business’ with the Queen. You will bring him back before the end of the Faire’s activities tonight,” he said as he pointed at Fiona in emphasis. “Understood?”

“Completely, sir! Thank you, sir!” Fiona said with a grin as she raised her hand in a salute.

“At ease, soldier,” he said with a smirk. “I regret that you’re not in my battalion, Fiona Shaw, as dangerous activities like yours would guarantee that our barracks remained spotless.”

Fiona chuckled and ran down the hallway looking for her wayward knight.

(Thalia and Fiona have their discussion about Thalia’s heritage after Fiona runs into her at the Enclave while looking for Orrin. They agree to meet after the show with John to see the lab)

“Orrin? Are you in here?” she asked excitedly as she knocked on the doorjamb of the barracks common room set up for the Knights of the Lady. “Whoa…” she breathed and blushed as she quickly turned around. Orrin had entered the room from one of the dorms, pulling on a grey tunic over his long hair and bared chest in the process. She put her hands to her cheeks and could feel the heat radiating from them. Oh Gods… I bet my face matches my hair…

“Lady Fiona! It pleases me greatly to see you are still in one piece after visiting with your Uncle,” he said with a smile as he walked over to her. “Are you indeed well?” he asked curiously, as she was still turned away from him.

She cleared her throat and turned around grinning. “All things considered, never better. But really,” she continued in a mock reprimand as she took his hands in hers, “you don’t have to keep calling me ‘Lady Fiona,’ Orrin. ‘Fiona’ is just fine.”

“But it would be disrespectful to call you anything else,” he said as he reached up with his right hand to stroke her cheek with the back of his hand, “for you are indeed ‘My Lady.’” His eyes sparkled with emotion as he looked into hers, and Fiona felt herself speechless.

“Um….okay then,” she said weakly and smiled as she felt that familiar warmth spreading through her body. Goddess, give me rampaging Goblins and Undead hordes and I have no problem… but when it comes to love, I am yet a babe in the woods. “I was…” she managed to get out before swallowing and starting again. “I was wondering if you would watch me at the Martial Arts competitions today, and maybe we could watch the sword exhibition together tonight? Thalia’s been practicing a lot for it, and I told her I wouldn’t miss it. I even asked Sir Rahn, and he gave his permission for tonight…” she finished quickly, gazing at him hopefully as she awaited his answer with baited breath.

He paused, briefly considering that he’d definitely have to get used to women asking his permission or opinion on things, and said, “I’d love to. Let me get my things, and we can go.” He lightly jogged back to his dorm room and disappeared briefly.

Fiona heaved a sigh of relief and quickly tried to straighten her wildly curly hair as he came back with his own long silver hair neatly tied back and a pouch tied to his belt. “Shall we, milady?” he asked with a smile as he held his arm out to her.

“I believe we shall!” Fiona said happily as she put her arm through his and they made their way to the competition grounds.

~~~~~~~~

“It’s just a shame Bregir didn’t sign up for this,” Fiona muttered to herself as her hands tightened around her bow nervously.

“I’m sure your brother is fine,” Thalia reassured her as she prepped her bow for their turn at the targets. “Heather & Holly will take good care of him.”

Fiona snorted. “I’m sure… they’ve taken quite an affection towards him and they know my feelings about it. I was just saying that because he was always better at the bow than I was,” she whispered with chagrin as the announcer took to his stand.

“Would the competitors for the 2nd round of the Archery Competition please step forward!” he declared.

Fiona took a deep breath and nodded at Thalia. “Good luck.”

“You too,” she replied before they went their separate ways to their targets, Fiona smiling and waving as she spotted Orrin in the stands.

Okay… you can do this. Fiona hefted the bow as the referee raised his green flag and couldn’t help hesitating as she felt that it wasn’t right. The Dark Bow should be in her hands, it’s energy flowing through her arms as their minds focused as one at a target… not some simple piece of wood. Before she could come to terms with it, however, the flag dropped and she knew she had to shoot. She brought the bow up to her face and pulled back on the line as she slowly drew in a breath and held it… the target becoming her only focus of attention.

With a ‘twang’ the arrow shot from her fingers and struck the target with a solid thud, and Fiona released her breath in a rush as she heard the cheers of the crowd around her. The referee waived a red flag this time and all the contestants lowered their bows for the judging.

Three rounds continued in the same fashion until fifteen minutes later the judges were standing by her and Thalia’s targets. The two conferred with the announcer, and he nodded before returning to his stand.

“The winner of the 2nd round of the Archery Competition is Thalia __!”

Fiona winced as she leaned on her bow. He’s never going to let me live this one down when he finds out…

“2nd place goes to Fiona Shaw, and our thanks go out to all the other competitors today who didn’t make it,” he continued. “The finals will take place tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, the light melee competition will begin in 20 minutes.”

Thalia squealed in delight and jumped up and down with her bow in the air. “Yes! Who’s good?”

Fiona shook her head at Thalia’s antics and smiled before holding out her hand. “Congratulations, Thalia. Those were some great shots today.”

She giggled and shook Fiona’s hand with vigor. “Thank you! Ooo…I’ve got to go tell John and Darren and Ivy and…see you, Fiona!” Thalia grinned widely as she ran off into the crowd.

Fiona laughed to herself as she returned her bow to the judges and walked over to the stands. “Ah well,” she sighed as she sat down next to Orrin. “I gave it my best shot.” “That is all the Gods ever ask of us,” Orrin said with sympathy as he placed his hand over hers on her knee and gave it a squeeze. “Besides… the wild elf isn’t without skills of her own, and I think winning today will do much to build her confidence in the coming days.”

Fiona watched Thalia bouncing through the crowd and smiled. “You’re right… with what she’s been going through lately, she deserves it.” She leaned towards Orrin and nudged him playfully with her side. “Lucky for me you’re so wise.”

Orrin smiled at the compliment. “While I am blessed to have such a connection with the divine, I think in this case it comes from having an outsider’s objective eye.” His expression grew serious as he continued. “ For example… have you noticed the tension in the air?”

Fiona rested her elbows on her knees and hung her head as she ran her hands through her hair. “I was hoping it was just me… but then we couldn’t be so lucky.” She sighed. “How much do you want to bet Discord’s been getting the full tour of the town?”

The announcer took to his stand and declared, “The 2nd round of the Light Weapons Melee competition will be beginning in 5 minutes! Will everyone please take your seats and competitors please report to the grounds!”

“I only hope that she stays away from here till the competition is over… I don’t want people to needlessly get hurt,” she muttered as she stood up. She turned around and smiled, holding back her hair as she bent down to kiss Orrin on the cheek. “Wish me luck.”

“The blessings of the Goddess are already upon you, milady,” he said with a smile, “but I wish you luck in the upcoming competitions nonetheless.”

The light melee competition passed in a flurry of blows from dulled swords as Fiona swung her sword with practiced ease and Thalia, who had just managed to make it back in time, bobbed and weaved with chaotic verve.

By the end of the 2nd round Fiona ended up coming out on top, with Thalia coming in a close second. Thalia bounded up to the ranger and grabbed her hand to shake it. “Way to go, Fiona! After seeing the way you chop down zombies, I knew you’d be hard to beat.”

Fiona smiled and winked. “Told you I was better at swords than I was at bows.”

“I’ve got to go find Ivy so we can get ready for the sword exhibition. You’ll be there, right?” the wild elf asked hopefully.

“You know I wouldn’t miss it,” Fiona assured Thalia before she bounded off again into the crowd. Fiona shook her head in amazement at the energetic elf before reaching towards the sky in a long stretch. “Gods, I’m glad that’s over with,” she groaned.

Orrin joined her and asked quizzically, “If it relieves you so for them to end, may I ask why you chose to compete in them?”

Fiona took his hand in hers and they started walking towards the town square where the sword show would be taking place. “At first, my only thought was that if I won I’d be able to get into the Prince’s Ball and help protect everyone if something went wrong or an attempt was made by the Dark Brethren. But now…” her voice waivered and she grew silent.

Orrin squeezed her hand. “Someone had to stand up for Amberglenn,” he said in understanding.

“Yeah…” she answered quietly as she looked anywhere but at him, “silly, huh?”

“On the contrary,” he said as he stopped and faced her, his hands sliding up Fiona’s arms to rest solidly on her shoulders. “I think such fierce determination and loyalty to your home is admirable.” He raised her gaze to his gently with a hand under her chin. “Despite all that has afflicted this world, you never forget who you are… and I am honored to stand beside you.”

Unable to stop the tears in her eyes, Fiona embraced the ice elf tightly, her head resting in the crook of his neck. “Thank you,” she whispered brokenly into his skin.

Orrin held her to him and stroked rested his cheek against her hair, sensing her need for comfort. You need not fight for this world alone, my lady… for I will guard you always.

With a shuddering sigh Fiona let the stresses of the day slip away as she rested in Orrin’s arms, the warmth permeating her body. She relished these oh-so-brief moments of peace when she could forget. No rest for the wicked, girl… you’ve got a goddess running around town and stirring up trouble. She sighed in resignation before leaning back in his arms. “Shall we head on to the show?”

Orrin smiled and nodded. “If you’re ready.”

Fiona interlaced her fingers with Orrin’s as they held hands and strolled down the street amidst the noises and colors of the faire. Colorful banners flew from storefronts as vendors hawked their wares, children running about and people from all over the land arriving to enjoy the event. Fiona’s eyes widened as she caught a glimpse of a woman with flowing white hair surrounded by a retinue of guards.

“Is that…” she began as she felt Orrin stiffen beside her.

“Yes… it is my Queen. Knowing her love of martial prowess, she is most likely heading to the exhibition as well.”

“Perfect!” Fiona exclaimed and looked to Orrin with a grin and toss of her head in the queen’s direction. “Come on… perhaps we can catch up to her.”

Orrin’s eyes widened in a panic as he resisted her pull. “Are you sure you want to talk to her now?” The women of the Ice Elves were always an imposing lot, commanding the men of their land with cold logic and steadfast belief in their superior abilities… but Queen Isa exemplified that notion to the highest, and he had no desire to be under her scrutiny.

“Orrin…trust me,” she said with a reassuring smile. “I’ve already confronted a goddess today, so I figure I’m on a roll.” Her expression grew more solemn as she continued quietly, “Besides… things are going to get worse around here before they get better… so I don’t want to pass up the chance.”

He drew a deep breath and nodded. “You’re right… I apologize for my foolishness.”

“None needed,” she said as she reached up and stroked the back of his neck with a smile. “I’ve got butterflies in my stomach the size of harpies right now… but life is too fragile to be afraid.” She stood on her toes and brushed her lips against his in a kiss before stepping back and taking his hand again. “Now come on…”

(runs into Queen Isa and asks permission, follows her to sword show where she meets Discord, blocks Discord from meeting royals- then animal handling and hunting competitions– Fiona tracks illusion and thugs into the woods and brings back illusionist as prisoner – discusses possibility of setting a trap with D’Falco and the others)

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Syreene

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