Re Verse All; Chapter 61, Hastings 206

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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 61:  Hastings 206
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Beam 75

Lauren was too shocked by the appearance of these spider men to think about connecting to Coronelle’s speech center, but the drow princess seemed to be commanding or demanding or even perhaps reprimanding the creatures.  One of them replied to her, apparently acting as spokes-thing or group leader, and the interaction (Lauren thought ‘conversation’ and ‘discussion’ inappropriate appellations for it) took several minutes.  However, at the end of it her group began moving forward again.  Some of the drow spider men broke off from what was apparently the entry guard and took positions to either side of and behind their ranks, which almost autonomously returned to its narrow double file in response; Malacon and his squad moved to take the leads of the pack animals and keep them calm.  Lauren did not know where they were going, but hoped that Tiras did.

Word of them apparently preceded them; the street-like pathways were soon lined with onlookers as if their entourage constituted a parade.  Their journey ran a couple miles, but well before it ended it was apparent that they were headed toward a palace, grander she thought than that of the caliph with whom she had recently stayed, and more European in its design, sporting several towers, crenelated battlements, and other defenses.  It occurred to her that once they were inside it would be difficult to get out again, and thus that she would want to know what was happening.  Shifting a bit to be able to see the line ahead better, she spotted Serona, the other drow, and decided that tapping into her speech center would enable her to understand what was being said without risking a botched link to the princess.  She would do it once they were inside.

They crossed a drawbridge over a spiked pit which appeared to encircle the castle like a dry but deadly moat, and passed under a raised portcullis into a tunnel.  Lauren recognized arrow slits in the walls and ceiling, what she had heard called ‘murder holes’, but they passed through unaccosted and under another portcullis into an open courtyard.  More of the spider men were here, along with both men and women drow, many of both armed and armored.  Lauren connected to Serona, but although she could hear murmuring in the crowd it was not loud enough and too overlapping for her to make clear sense of what was being said.  Up a few large stone steps, and guards opened heavy metal double doors for them to pass inside.  Welcome to my parlor, Lauren thought, and the origin of that line and the line that followed in the original gave her a shiver as the doors banged closed behind them.

The doors and the hall beyond were wide enough for the double file to pass through flanked by their spidery escort.  So were the double doors at the distant far end, which were also opened for them as they approached.  The entire team passed through, and again Lauren heard the doors close firmly behind them as they came to a halt in a large but dimly lit room.  Lauren wished she had thought to put the cat’s eye marble in a more accessible place, as she would have liked to see a bit better in here.  One of the monstrous spider elves stepped forward and spoke, and she was pleased that her language link was working.

“Princess Coronelle, Eldest Daughter of Queen Taranelle, has escaped her captivity in the outer world and returned home.”

The woman on the throne peered at them, and then spoke.  It surprised Lauren that this queen did not appear older than Coronelle, but then these were elves, and her limited knowledge of such creatures suggested that they had very long lives and so logically must age very slowly.

“Why have you returned?”  the Queen said.

“Corina?  Where is mother?” Coronelle replied.

The Queen laughed.  “Mother is dead.  After I managed to dispose of you, I arranged her death so I could take the throne.  I spared your life--I did not send assassins for you once I had gotten you out of Tarantola.  Apparently you did not appreciate my mercy.  Guards!  Kill her!  Kill them all.”

Coronelle was apparently ready for this, and shouted in response, “Loyal soldiers of Tarantola, rally to your true and rightful queen!”  Confusion swept through the hall, but Lauren recognized that Tiras wouldn’t know what was happening, so she also shouted.


Dropping the link and abandoning her cart, she grabbed the handles of the two kau sin kes draped over her shoulders and leapt into a high flip that landed her outside their monstrous escort, then raced to the front of the lines to defend the princess.  The back of her mind told her that they had just become involved in a civil war, and it might be difficult to get through this opening battle alive, but their mission was to return the princess home safely, and it appeared she was not yet safe, so there was still work to do.

Next chapter:  Chapter 62:  Takano 33
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #376:  Characters Arrive.  Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.  It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.

As to the old stories that have long been here:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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