My Ranking Points
Witches and Warriors Chapter 2: Queen Alina Verdan Lazur (the First)
It’s here. Prepare to panic.
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Medias, capital city of Veritaria, was built by the Tarski lineage with one specific geographical advantage. It was built in the very center of the nation, with the domains of the Noble houses surrounding it – split up between the 12 houses within Veritaria. Now, 5 of those houses, including my own, our on our side, and 6 are directly opposed to our rule. It’s war once again.
Houses Caelestis, Fensid, Lazur, Saunwen, and Taled working with us. Houses Avery, Fontor, Lamarett, Lesey, Mene, Merrant, Sulster, and Xenon fighting to claim Veritaria as their own.
My house, Lazur, was given by the former King the area to the far Northwest, with House Xenon, now our main enemy, separating us from the capital. Unfortunately, my family was entirely occupied in Medias when the war broke out – leaving the leaders of house Lazur stuck in the city, and we were able to only deploy limited support troops to our land before it came under siege – Xenon being the main attacker, but with Avery occasionally helping them from the West.
Our other houses were generally faring better than my own. Mikah’s lordship – Caelestis – is a coastal domain to Southwest. Despite it technically being an important strategic point, the surrounding houses are more concerned with sieging Medias or aiding House Xenon to bother attacking the area.
Houses Taled and Saunwen are getting surprisingly close to forcing House Fontor into submission, which is the one current silver lining – that and Xenon wasting their time attempting to conquer House Lesey, who should have been their ally.
This was how my report to the new Royal Council began after 2 months of being Queen.
The Rogue nobles had been revolutionaries, and like all revolutionaries to some extent, they had been foolish. To assume that all of Veritaria would put aside their prejudices and fall in line under House Lazur was nothing but a hope.
And now, over half the country was standing against us.
As Queen these days, I slept only when Mikah forced me to, and took a break only when I could work no longer. If the buildup to killing the King had been a frying pan, I had most certainly thrown myself into the fire. I’d never been keen on Veritarian slang but I could literally cross the Endless before seeing the end of this fighting.
Sending a letter calling my best back home had been a hard decision, but one that ultimately had to come to pass. When I sat down to write my letter to Devyn and Reina, things weren’t looking good, and while calling back leaders from my own territory could be seen as foolish… I knew I needed them here to advise.
Arden had been next to me the whole time, catching any little mistakes I made in my own exhaustion, and watching my back. My back needed watching these days.
It had been 2 months since I had been coronated, and 5 assassination attempts had already been found – none of them got through, thanks to Arden. The Queen’s Shadow, or the King’s Shadow for that matter, had been a position left unfilled for a long time now. They were meant to watch the monarch’s back, keep them safe and feeling safe at all times. They were a second set of eyes and ears. It was a lot of responsibility to trust Arden with, but she had known it was coming. I had never even considered needing a Shadow – that had been the decision of the other Nobles.
Seeing Arden struggling had been part of why I wrote the letter. She didn’t deserve to bear all of this alone, and with more allies in Medias, she’d have help… At least, somewhat. I doubted either Devyn or Reina could do half, let alone all, or what Arden had been taught – especially magic-wise.
Emily was the best messenger the palace had to author. She had been hired a year or two ago, knew the roads of Veritaria not like the back of her own hand, but like the inside of her own mind. When I asked her to deliver the letter – and to help me find a safe route to House Lazur, she was more than prepared. We knew that it would be dangerous, but it was better to take this risk than to continue fighting a losing battle.
But for me, of course, simply handling the politics of Veritaria wasn’t enough. I couldn’t simply sit idly by and lose my ability to fight. Someday, the battle would come to Medias, and I knew that when that day came, I would be a much more effective wartime monarch than King Alfred ever could have been.
It had been around a month since Emily had left, and if our calculations were correct, she should be nearly across the ice of Explorer’s Strait by now. A little tired after a day of meetings, I headed down to the empty courtyard after asking Arden for just a bit of time alone. It was only an hour or two, and I had my sword on me. Surely it couldn’t hurt, and I had my sword with me.
Oh, how it hurt.
Even with my sword, the second I began to focus on channeling my magic properly, the memory of the final battle struck me. There was the same firey pain there for a few seconds, but it faded once I brought myself back into the moment.
After that, it was easier. I could use my magic to make my sword hit the easily breakable training dummies faster, harder, even sharper, something I had had trouble with in the past. My footwork was faster and more intricate than I remembered it could be, and eventually, I fell into a rhythm where thinking wasn’t required.
I didn’t keep track of how long I spent training, but I knew one thing at the end of it all. The sun was long, long gone, and the sky had very few stars. There was no moon to be seen. And I was in pain. So, so much pain.
It felt like every bit of my body was crushing in on itself – the bones were keeping the muscles too tight, and it felt like my rib cage was crushing my heart, my lungs. Taking in air was an ordeal, and I could never get enough, because anything more than the most shallow breaths would cause me sharp, stabbing pain.
I sheathed my sword and began to walk, slowly, away from the courtyard. I had to find Mikah.
The halls of the castle looked different at night, but that was even without me being in a pain-induced haze. Every hallway was the longest road imaginable, the corners were the curve of the horizon, the few lit torches blazing suns too bright to look at. It took me over 20 minutes to find Mikah’s quarters.
I thanked the Great Truth when, as he’d promised, he was awake. Unlike the torches in the hallway, the vaguely golden light emanating from his room was welcoming, warm. I forgot to knock coming in, but he didn’t mind.
When he saw me limping, breathing increasingly shallow breaths, a look of worry came over his face.
Black started to cloud my vision.
Everything went cold and black.
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Welp. We’ve gone to heck.
Suddenly I feel like Chapter 3’s gotta be funny.