A Game of Stone and Blood

Adonius look around the great hall in silence, willing the assembly to listen. Around him Lords from around the vast realm of Darkwell bickered with one another, casting insults and throwing blame upon all those who opposed them.

We descend into madness, he thought, looking at his advisors and their lesser-born. They all shifted uncomfortably in their seats, watching the masses heave and roll. Their group numbered twenty, and like a calm, in a series of rapids, they were present and yet separate from the gathered elves.

My brother has lost his hold on these wolves. There will be blood upon the stones of this hall by nightfall, he thought fear growing in his assuredness. He signaled for D’Trik, the captain of his guard to his side. As his advisors parted Adonius could see others of his alliance in the crowd sharing his same thought.

His brother, Lord Leviathan was already signaling for his advisors to depart. They were secreting themselves in twos and threes through the screaming crowd.

“My lord, how may I be commanded?” D’Trik spoke, eager for his lord to give the word.

Adonius followed a rather rambunctious lot that was making their way to the Emperor’s dais. At their head was the young Lord Dassariot. The Emperor himself was noticeably absent along with his Empress. They had kept the assembly on edge for hours now and it looked as if all the Lords of Darkwell would be waiting even more.

“Dassariot,” he hissed, causing D’Trik to turn back to the crowd, “We must leave before that Usurper gains the crowds attention. Tell our men to leave immediately.”

D’Trik turned to the nearest of his men at arms and as one the soldiers moved. Around them, the crowd parted, too focused on what was happening at the head of the hall to care about Adonius and his party.

Ahead of them, the assembly door stood open and unguarded.

Even the guards have been pulled into this, he thought, picking up his pace, so it has begun, the fracturing on Darkwell.

Behind them, voices rose to a clamor as Dassariot’s men cleared the steps to the dais. Adonius looked around at his group stretched thin and winding between screaming groups.

Ahead of him, the doors were only a stone’s throw away. More screams filled the hall as the crowd began to chant Dassariot’s name.

Nearly there, Adonius hoped, as the first of his men passed under the aged black stone arch.

“DASSARIOT! DASSARIOT! DASSARIOT!” the crowd called.

Adonius looked back into the room as he stepped from the hall into the antichambers and passageway beyond.Half of the Lord’s party was still fighting their way out. D’Trik was bringing up the rear as several younger elves were pushed forward.

Behind Adonius, his brother called to him, “Quickly, Adonius! We must flee this place at once! You fool!”

But Adonius stood his ground, waving his men on.

D’Trik was almost to the door when the imperial guards in their wolf helmed uniforms materialized by either side of the archway.

“CLOSE THE HALL AND BAR THE DOORS!” rang Dassariot’s high tenor voice. Adonius made eye contact with D’Trik as his soldier realized he was too late. Horror struck the younger elves began broke into a sprint. More guards flooded in before the archway and one side of the doorway closed.

“No!” yelled Adonius as he saw the guards draw their swords. D’Trik’s face bobbed in the crowd, resignation calmly settling over his features. He nodded to his lord and then turned away.

“Adonius you fool! Run!” Leviathan was pulling on his arms and at his robes as Adonius watched the last of his entourage stop before the Emperor’s guard. Blades flashed and elves fell, their life’s blood spilling onto the stone floor.

And then the door slammed shut, closing Adonius off from the horrid spectacle.

Darkwell had already begun its fall.

-M.E. InkOwl

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