Friday, January 31, 2014

Grace's Quest - Chapter 3 - Queen's Plea

Grace's Quest 

Chapter 3 - Queen's Plea
“My queen, what are you doing here? And without guards?” I scolded as I quickly ushered her into the room and closed the door tightly.
The young Elven Queen, Merran Cadieux, wore an impish grin as she always did when I fretted about her safety. There had been no attempts upon her life since the defeat of her uncle, Cragon Cadieux, and I planned to keep it that way. She was used to my overzealous efforts to keep her safe, and I had grown used to her regal smile and effortless dismissal of my brash tone of voice. No one else in Mistasia would be allowed to act this way in front of her, but I had been her guardian since she was an infant and that gave me some liberties.
The queen bowed slightly, once I had calmed down enough to address her properly. I bowed back respectfully. Queen Merran had arrived at a very peculiar time and with an ever-increasing smile.
She must have something important to tell me, I believed. It had to be important for her to travel the castle alone…and at night. She had been wary of nightfall since an early age.
“I gave strict orders for the guards to remain with you at all times, my Queen.” I felt a sudden swell of anger and dishonor for allowing her to walk unprotected through the castle.
“Yes, Grace, I understand, but needed to dismiss them after two attempted to join me in the royal bathroom.”
I felt myself staring at the queen. What exactly was she getting at?
“You do realize I would enjoy some privacy?” the queen smiled.
Her smile made me irritated. She could smile at almost any situation. How the heck was someone who had lost her parents so happy all the time?
“But they are just protecting you, my Queen.”
“From what exactly…robbers in the potty?” Her voice sounded less friendly, more disappointed.
“But, I…” I began to defend myself when she put her hand up to stop me.
“That is not why I’m here, Grace.” A smile returned to her rosy face. “My parents are alive!” She squealed.
“What!” I screamed, startling her. “That’s impossible.” I whispered, barely allowing the words to escape my lips, but she heard them anyway.
I’ve received word otherwise from the Outer Realm. The queen answered using our Elven telepathy. She could barely contain her happiness. It beamed from her face. I couldn’t blame her. She could barely remember their faces. She was so young when they had been betrayed by her uncle, the very same elf who was currently imprisoned in the castle dungeon…frozen in time. The very thought of seeing her parents alive again must have become overwhelming. If she wasn’t the queen, she would probably be crying with joy, but she had spent her whole life controlling her emotions.
I opened the door, searching for eavesdroppers in the hallway before securing the door and checking the lock multiple times. I worried that anyone who heard this conversation would claim the queen had gone insane and become unfit to rule.
“That is impossible, Merran.” I empathically responded. “I tell you this as a friend.”
“Do you? I would believe a friend would be more encouraging and less heartless, Grace.”
“Heartless? Does the truth make me heartless? You would prefer I lie to you with a smile, my Queen?” I snarked. I was quite glad that my sword still lay upon my bed away from my reach at this moment. I felt naked without it. I was useless in a war of words, especially against someone so well trained as Queen Merran; therefore, I am fairly certain I would have drawn it out by this point.
The room had grown awkwardly silent. She saw me glance at my sword. Her bottom lip began to quiver. She was breaking down.
I was shocked to watch her crumbling before me.
“You, of all people, Grace, should know what this would mean to Mistasia.” She began to sob. “…And to me.”
It had been so very long since I had seen her cry, not since that horrific day when her parents disappeared. The day the castle fell to her uncle’s rule so long ago.
That was until Whizzy arrived with his friend, Phillip the Frog, and sister, Rachel. They turned the tide and freed us from Merran’s uncle. It was the reason why she was queen and Cragon was imprisoned in ice.
A smile formed on my face, as I had images of Whizzy on my mind. I had become lost in my own head.
“You find pleasure in my pain? You are not the friend I once believed you to be, Grace Tallon.” The queen managed to speak through her tears. “I came to you, not because you are my guardian but because you were my friend.”
My smile quickly disappeared, “I am your friend, Merran.”
“I need to know if it is true. If they are alive.” The young Elven Queen pleaded with me. I could see the pain in her eyes. It was so much deeper than I had ever known.
“What do you need from me?” I asked stepping to her as the guardian of a queen should.
“I have received word from the Outer Realm that my parents are being held captive in the Deadly…”
“…Spray Forest.” I finished with her.
The Deadly Spray Forest was a place that had long been avoided by the Elves of Mistasia. Trolls, Vampire bats and many other terrible creatures were held within. It was far more dangerous than Wolverine Forest and the trees were believed to be toxic…and alive.
What could have taken them in there? I wondered. That thought alone frightened me.
“I need you to travel to the Outer Realm and rendezvous with Delza Yorne. She is the village guardian and will be able to guide you to the forest.”
I nodded. Our eyes met. Queen Merran’s sorrow waned as an intense determination had returned to her gaze.
“Grace, please, be careful.”

I wrapped a thick woolen cover around me, tying it firmly across my waist to protect against the chill of winter’s wind, and stepped out into the courtyard. Drifts of snow crawled up the castle walls along either side of me. The wind howled between the towers. I pulled my hood up to cover my stinging ears.
This trip could be treacherous on the best of days, but in the heart of Mistasian winter this trip would become deadly in a matter of moments. I couldn’t do this alone, but only trusted one other to accompany me in this journey…Mecca.
He awaited me at my modest home along the edge of Cadieux Village. My best friend huddled from the cold, standing beside the majestic, broad-backed steed, Millessa, that would take us upon our journey. She was tall and strong, muscles bulging from her well defined limbs. Millessa had long been a key warrior in our battles against the evils of Mistasia.
I stroked her snout. She rarely spoke and tonight was no different. I felt her willingness and steadied resolve. Millessa was ready.
“Are you going to explain exactly why we are freezing to death instead of resting comfortably in the castle?” Mecca groaned. His usually happy demeanor was as distant as our final destination.  I wasn’t sure if it was because of our recent argument or the terrible weather.
I smiled. It hurt my cheeks. “We have a quest.” I answered hoping to find a reaction, but the cold froze it within him. Mecca had no intention of wasting energy; he knew this was going to be an exhausting journey.
“Then we best be on our way.” Mecca mounted Millessa, and stretched out his hand for me.
“We need Fraydorn.”
“A second steed? Millessa is more than capable of carrying us both, Grace.” Mecca replied.
“Our quest is to return with the king and queen,” I revealed.
The expression upon Mecca’s face was everything I expected. Confusion combined with a deep worry for my sanity.
“Fraydorn will be bringing home our lost royals…according to Queen Merran.” I couldn’t believe that I was speaking these words aloud to another living soul. I turned away from Mecca to avoid his glare.
“Sounds as though our queen has been sipping from the fountains of desperation,” Millessa spoke in a deep feminine voice.
My Elven friend chuckled as he pulled his thick black woolen coat under his chin. His head buried under a hood, cheeks red from the wind. It gave him a sinister appearance, except for the light-hearted grin.
“Grace,” he called to me.
I had started around my house to retrieve Fraydorn. Millessa followed like the faithful steed she had always been. Mecca watched me from her back, awaiting my reply.
I gave none.
Mecca tried again to gather my attention. “Grace, do you believe in this quest?”
I stopped walking and turned slightly. I could just make out his shadow in the dim moonlight from the corner of my eye.
“Well, do you?” He pressed.
Millessa’s eyes were drawn to me. Her beautiful white coat glistened from the snowflakes that had melted upon her.
“I believe in our queen,” I solemnly replied then started off again.
THUD! Mecca had leapt from Millessa’s back, sprung into the air, flipped over my head and landed before me on the frozen trail. He placed his hands firmly upon my shoulders. That famous smile beamed from his face.
“And I believe in you, Grace,” He empathically announced.
Millessa snorted.
Mecca glanced over at her.
“Elves,” she spat crassly.
“Do you mind? I am trying to let my friend know that I’m with her until the end.”
I swatted his hands free and barked, “You have no choice, Mecca. The queen has given me this quest, and I commanded that you accompany me. Now mount your horse and wait here for me to return.”
I stomped off, mumbling under my breath about how irritating and annoying my friend had become. Right now, I would prefer to be with my traitorous brother, I muttered.
“Now, that’s not very nice, Grace,” my knuckle-headed friend replied.
Mecca, if you don’t stay out of my head…I’ll feed you to the first dragon that flies into our path. “Sometimes telepathy is a curse.” I scoffed.
We rode out of Cadieux Village under the cover of darkness in order to avoid being noticed. It would be the talk of the town if the queen’s two highest ranking guardians scrambled out of the castle in the dead of winter.
A slivered, crescent-shaped moon dangled in the sky, accompanied by its minions, millions of stars. The breeze had subsided lending to warmth under my woolen coat as we rumbled along the shore of Red River. Our journey would take a few days to reach the Outer Realm, the most northern Elven village in Mistasia.
Mecca pushed Millessa hard, forcing her to pull up alongside Fraydorn and me. We galloped side-by-side for many miles without speaking. He would glance my way occasionally awaiting me to speak, but I refused. There was nothing to say…for now.


Copyright 2014: Christopher M. Purrett

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grace's Quest - Chapter 2 - Do Dreams Come True

Grace's Quest
Chapter 2 : Do Dreams Come True

I released a deep sigh. This storm couldn’t last forever, I hoped. A faint sound fell to my keen ears. Who would be walking the castle at this time of night? All should be asleep and the guards posted at the main entrances.

I yanked my sword free and spun to face my attacker.

“You know, a healer could make you a potion to cure your jitters.” Standing just outside my doorway unfazed by my brazen attempt to protect myself was my long-time friend, Mecca Begron. He smiled widely quite amused by me aggressively pointing my sword in his direction. I had to look ridiculous. “We don’t want you to go stabbing the maid…accidently of course.”

“Shut up, Mecca,” I barked feeling embarrassed and annoyed. I wished it had been some assailant sent to attack me. I needed the practice. For a moment, I thought about smacking him in the face with the blunt side of my blade just to cure his sarcasm, but it was one of his very few redeeming qualities.

Instead, I stowed my sword at my side and turned back to face the quickly darkening view out my window. Many of the torches around the castle had succumb to the winds and been extinguished.

I rested my thin fingers upon the icy-cold stone window sill. A shiver flowed up my hands, through my arms and into my body. It set in deeply, nearly to the bone. This winter was affecting me more severely than any before.

“Persistent isn’t it?” Mecca groaned as he now stood beside me. His smile was gone. It had been replaced by concern.

I didn’t respond, nor did I need too. Mecca knew what I was thinking. We had been friends since childhood. We had developed a unique sense of one another’s emotions. He was very aware of how restless I had become lately.

“Do you feel that?” I asked.

“Yah, it’s really cold,” Mecca jokingly replied as the wind burst into the room and ruffled his jacket. He pulled it closed again.

I frowned. My white-hair flowed with the stiff breeze catching Mecca’s attention. I normally wore it pulled back and tied away from my face.

He reached out and pushed it away from my shoulder.

I shot him a disapproving glare. Mecca shook his head and gave a half-smile as he scoffed at me.

“You know, this is why you don’t have any friends, Grace.”

“You’re my friend, Mecca.”

“Ah, yes, I am.”

I was confused by his response. He didn’t sound so sure.

 “What did that mean?”

“Well, I have known you for a long time. I’ve grown to understand you.”

“Understand me?” I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like the response to my latest question.

“Grace,” Mecca started to become uncomfortable.

“What, Mecca? Understand me how?”

“You’re just not…friendly toward others. You make them all…scared.”

“Scared? But, my job is to protect them! Why would they be scared of me?” I suddenly realized that I was yelling, as Mecca put his hands out in an attempt to defend himself from my verbal attack.

We remained silent for a moment as I stewed in my anger. The wind continued to howl through the open window. My cheeks were now on fire from the burn, and my ears began to ache.

“You did pull a sword on me earlier,” Mecca spoke softly.

A smile crept upon my face. “I’m sorry about that. I have just been on edge lately.”

Mecca began to chuckle. His laughter grew with each second until it had become unruly. It was one of the greatest sounds in Mistasia. His laugh could change the mood of an entire hall. Elves would flock to him when he began to tell stories, because they knew he would start laughing at some point. It was infectious. It was why he had ascended to my second in command. He was a warrior they followed out of respect and admiration. I was the leader they feared, mostly because I had a tendency to pull out weapons for no apparent reason…like tonight.

He placed one arm around my shoulder, then reached out and closed the shutters upon my window. His strong arm pulled me in close. Mecca was like a brother to me.

“Grace, everyone respects you.”

“They love you, Mecca.”

“You are our leader. They don’t have to love you. They must follow you.” Mecca pulled me in as closely as possible. He stood nearly a full head taller than me with thick blonde hair and a strong jaw. He was smiling again. Mecca was never short on smiles.

I, on the other hand, was never short on worry; about the queen, about protecting the castle, about Mistasia, and most recently about my new friend, Michael “Whizzy” Whizzenmog. It had been sometime since he had returned to his world along with his twin sister, Rachel, and best friend Phillip Harper, but suddenly his image haunted me. It was one of the many reasons why I hadn’t been sleeping. I had gladly accepted the queen’s request to monitor them in Greenville last night, but it hadn’t helped my mood any. Only a few hours of sleep a day will do that to you.

“You need some rest, Grace. That is all.” Mecca attempted to comfort me.

I shook free of his grasp. “I’ve tried.” I grumbled after moving to sit atop my bed.

Mecca sat beside me, the look of concern had returned to his face. It was not his best look. I preferred his smile.

“What is keeping you awake? Nightmares?”

I nodded, but felt silly replying.

“It’s the fox again.” Mecca’s voice grew stern.

Mecca disapproved of my friendship with Whizzy. I started to walk away, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back.

“Stop walking away from me, Grace.”

“I’m not talking to you about it!” I barked.

“Then who will you tell? I’m your only friend!”

He instantly regretted those words. I could see it in his eyes, but my anger flowed too quickly. I shot up from the bed and screamed at him, “GET OUT!” I pointed to the doorway with one hand and grabbed the hilt of my sword with the other. “You know I’ll use it.”

Mecca stopped in the doorway with his back to me, “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what, Mecca? Hurting my feelings?”

Mecca started to speak when I interrupted him.

“You’re not my only friend, Mecca.”

“Whizzy will bring you only pain, Grace.”

“Good night!” I slammed the heavy wooden door.

I began pacing across the floor, fists balled in anger at my side. I had taken my sword off to avoid any unfortunate incidents…actually, I was afraid Mecca would return to apologize, and I would jab him with it.

There was a knock at my door. I stopped pacing and stared at the closed door flabbergasted. Twice in one night he comes to my door. Mecca, so help me. I looked at the sword lying across my bed and thought better of retrieving it. Instead, I opened the door unarmed.
To my surprise, standing there was Queen Merran Cadieux.


Copyright 2014: Christopher M. Purrett

Friday, January 17, 2014

Graces Quest

Grace's Quest
Chapter 1 : Grace Tallon

I felt the sharp edges of bark against my sensitive-skinned talons as I perched high in the trees overlooking the dawn of another wintery day in Greenville. The sun blazed through a gap in the dense grey clouds rolling in from the west, no doubt bringing another fresh fall of snow. From my vantage point, Greenville wasn't in need of any more. It piled up beside the Whizzenmog home, which had almost been swallowed whole.   

A brisk breeze ruffled the feathers of my face. I spread my wings lifting myself into the air...gliding backward slightly. I pulled my wings in tight and darted back toward the ground. Snow kicked up behind me as I zoomed across it. Flying was exhilarating. I loved to move through the air as an eagle. I so rarely had the opportunity to enjoy this form as I only came to Greenville when Queen Merran requested. Since Phillip Harper and the Whizzenmog twins had returned from Mistasia, I had personally come back to Greenville on only a few occasions. The Queen usually sent others, but today she had honored me with this request… to provide protection for the heroes of Mistasia, Phillip, Rachel and Whizzy.

The window to Whizzy's room was empty as I swooped past. I fully expected him to be sleeping in bed as Rachel was when I passed hers. It was still early morning in Greenville and time seemed to be crawling. I would only be remaining here until the twins had awoken.

I settled into another tree that allowed me to watch Rachel. It was good to see her again. I felt a smile, just as a snapping sound startled me from below. My wings opened, and I launched myself toward the noise. It was still shrouded in darkness as the Whizzenmog's house blocked the morning sunlight from the world far below the tree tops.

Wind whistled across my face. I felt freedom like I could never imagine as an elf back home in Mistasia. Swooping into the darkness, my keen eyes quickly adjusted to the lack of light. A figure came into focus, hunched at the base of a tree...its back facing me.

I yelled out, "Don't move!"

The figure dashed away.

I angled to the right and followed the slender creature between the trees. It tossed acorns over its shoulders like grenades in an attempt to stop my pursuit, but I persisted. It was my duty from the queen to protect the twins from any assailants while they slept...and I refused to fail.

I quickly gained on the scurrying foe zipping between the trees and shrubs for cover. Up ahead it was trapped. I landed hemming my furry enemy in.

"Give up!" I shouted raising my wings in a threatening manner.

"AHHHHHH!!" screamed the ugly beast in a high pitched squeal. "Don't hurt me."

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm gathering nuts."

That wasn't quite the answer that I was expecting. It clearly became apparent that this creature was quite afraid of me as its bushy tail vigorously whipped around.

"Who sent you?" I eagerly pressed.

"My wife. She was really mad because I had friends over last night, and we ate the last of our winter nuts."

"What?” I knew that at some point I would encounter a creature that spoke in a language unfamiliar to me. This filthy looking one was it. “So you weren't sneaking up on the Whizzenmog twins?"

"Who?” It replied nervously.

“Yes!” I had a sudden realization. This creature was so small and daring it had gone unnoticed, even to me, until it made a vital mistake by snapping a twig. “LaCroiux believed he could deceive me.”

“Who?” my foe questioned again, slightly shaking.

“What are you? A ferret from the Eastern Plains?”

“No…I’m a squirrel…from that tree.” He pointed behind me to a thick, tall specimen that had a whole carved in its base.

“A squirrel? Are you sure you’re not a ferret?” I questioned him.

 “Yes?” He replied.

"And you don’t know the Whizzenmogs"


A gust of wind rushed between the trees sending snow into my face. The squirrel used the opportunity to dash away and into its home.

Upon my return to the Whizzenmog home I discovered my duty had been fulfilled. The Whizzenmog twins had awoken, and both now sat at their dining room table. I felt pride in seeing them safe, but sad too that I would again have to leave. I would not know when I would get to see them again.

I had returned to Mistasia and returned to my duties for the Queen. Later that night I was restless…unable to sleep. I stepped up to my window and unlocked the shutters. Outside Cadieux Castle, the wind howled ferociously, sounding the charge of Mistasia’s latest wintery blast. It rushed against my fair-skinned cheeks turning them a rosy red. My eyes watered from its sting, yet I remained standing there defiantly studying every cascading wave of snow, like a force of enemy soldiers attacking us. I felt hatred for each and every flake of snow that invaded the castle. A powerful gust pushed a wave of snow in through my window against my face. I ducked and covered. The snow pushed me backward. I braced myself quickly in order to keep from falling.

This is no ordinary snow, I perceived after watching it for nearly an hour. There is something more sinister on these winds than Mistasia would bring alone.

The small village just outside of the castle grounds wasn’t even visible through the white wall of snow. Drifts crawled up the walls inching closer to the window just outside my room. I stared it down as though it were an approaching Wolverine soldier. I was not going to allow it to enter the castle.

I must protect the Queen.

      My charge was to guard the Queen and lead the Elven Warriors in protecting this castle and its lands. Yet, I felt helpless against the advancing winter storm. Watching it slowly work to trap us inside. I grew frustrated.

I couldn’t recall a winter this tough in all my life. The snow had been falling for days. The air was brisk and relentless as it cut through my window, swept out the door and rumbled down the hallway.

I just wanted to battle the storm. My hand rested eagerly on the hilt of my sword. I hadn’t used it much of late. There had been no need. The storm had deterred even our most stubborn enemies from venturing out. I wished for action…adventure, and I needed it soon.

I would regret those wishes sooner than I could have ever imagined.


Copyright 2014: Christopher M. Purrett