Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne

In the world of Empire of the Covenant

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Completed 2159 Words

Deathly Flowers part 3

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Éldorine stiffened. Lyrienne pushed past her elbow to come stand next to her, but he would not be of much help. She knew they should have taken guards! What good had discretion done for them?

More noise came from all around them. Surrounded. How wonderful.

A man pushed past the bushes and trees on the left side of the track until he was standing directly in front of them. He was tall, with the dark skin of the Northerners, sharp traits and long dark hair attached at his nape. His battle robes were bright green and of a high quality—though it was obvious it was not Lyrienne silk. The chain he was wearing laced around his waist and arms though, was something nasty. Éldorine could feel it radiate malice, even in its dormant state and covered as it was by the man's own extremely powerful magic that was vibrating in glee.

"Well, well, well," he drawled like an evil character from a toddlers' tale. "Who do we have here but two lost children?" Éldorine had to admire the effort he made to taunt them in the Southern tongue despite the trouble he had with pronouncing their "r" properly, just so as to be absolutely certain they understood the insult.

Lyrienne sneered. "You are the lost one, old man. Those Lands do not belong to you."

"No, they only belong to my future consort, which gives me a far higher claim to them than yours, Lyrienne, so you better remember the few manners that are taught to you all in the South.

He turned towards Éldorine and bowed deeply in an exaggerated way. "Heiress Alyssenne. Such a pleasure to meet you here."

She nodded, taking care to make the gesture as haughty and insulting as possible. "Heir Arianie. Such an unexpected pleasure. I see that the famed Northern manners do not extend to instructions on how to do proper house calls. You are supposed to ask for your host's permission and look for an appropriate timing for your visit."

He took on an affronted expression. "Why, do not tell me that I am bothering you? Here I came, travelling across the entire continent just for the simple pleasure of being in your presence, and this is how you receive me? In fact, we all went through such pain to make this visit that I simply cannot accept for it to be so short. I know what—" he added, clapping his hand together with fake enthusiasm, "you are invited to join me back to the Arianie Estate! After all, it is only proper that we deepen our acquaintances before our bonding!"

Whatever she may have expressed to Lyrienne at the thought of marrying the man could be forgotten. If the Black Forest did not kill him, she would take care of making herself a widow before the end of the first year of their bonding.

Some more noises came from around them and soon the rest of Arianie's party had made themselves visible too. A dozen of men and women, all of them wearing green battle robes too, and various weapons—one of which looked to be a Zériesse battle staff, something to be feared almost as much as the Arianies' chains. And, of course, no one of the people surrounding Éldorine and Lyrienne were weak.

Éldorine made an effort not to pinch her lips or tightened her fists. Appearances were nearly as important as power in a fight. Lyrienne's magic rose next to her, and she sent him a quelling look. He met her eyes, his expression impassive. If she had not felt how his magic was readying itself to attack, she would not have been able to tell. Or well, she would because she knew him way too well to expect anything else... She sent her magic to swat at him. 

He frowned and she frowned right back at him. After a moment of resistance, his magic slowly lowered back under his skin. Thankfully, the entire exchange had been invisible to the people around them.

Arianie stepped forwards and his hands met her wards. She forced herself to hide her reluctance and to lower them immediately. His hand closed on her arm.

Lyrienne was not as good as her in feigning indifference at the gesture. That was a surprise. He was usually talented in only showing the emotions he wanted. Very talented in getting people annoyed. Yet showing his anger was playing right into Arianie's hand.

"Let us head back home then, shall we?" Arianie declared in a delighted tone calculated to make them grit their teeth. She would not give him the satisfaction.

He turned towards the track they had been using for their hike through the forest and started walking, forcing Éldorine to follow him. Since the path did not allow for them to be abreast, they both had to twist their arms in an uncomfortable position. He did not let that slow him down.

The rest of the group followed behind them.

That would not do at all. 

They were all outstanding fighters with amazing skills whose reputation was known throughout the continent. No matter what Lyrienne thought, there was no way they could fight back with just the two of them.

Yet they could not allow themselves to be carted off to Arianie. Their capture would be disastrous for the peace talks. And the humiliation of it!

Éldorine looked around. She had to find a solution before they left the forest. Where were the predators when they needed them?


That was an idea.

"How is Palmande doing, Arianie?"

His grip tightened on her arm. He took a moment to answer. "I was not aware you were so familiar with my sister."

"Oh, no, of course you would not be aware. Why would they tell you?"

His magic started to bleed through his skin. It was a pale white and rising in the air like an invisible Land's spirit wanting to drag her with them into death.

"You know, I actually think this would work better. Both Palmande and I do get on so well, it would be for the best of the future alliances between our Houses if we bonded together. After all, you will pardon me for saying so, but you are very much an afterthought."

Arianie swirled around and backhanded her. Her face flew to the side, and she tasted blood as her lips split. She hid her satisfaction and glared up at her aggressor. "See, those famed Northerners' manners are exactly why." 

He gave her a look filled with anger before visibly forcing himself to turn away to regain control of himself. Éldorine was able to glance over her shoulder at the rest of the group. Lyrienne was absolutely fuming and seemed ready to forget all about unlikely odd to simply strangle all the Southerners with his bare hands. Éldorine glared at him too. Now was not the time!

Thankfully, he subdued enough to let their captors drag them away again. Since they had found them, the Northerners made absolutely no effort to be silent. It would not be long.

And indeed, their group had just had the time to arrive at the first bent of the river when they finally saw them. The biggest predators of the Black Forest.

The Alyssenne Flowers.


An Alyssenne flower, by AmélieIS.



Éldorine's heart started to beat madly in her chest, suddenly conscious of the foolishness of her gambit. It was her blood that had called them here. Alyssenne blood for Alyssenne flowers. Would they want to empty her of it?

To everyone else, the flowers' apparition must have seemed anticlimactic. After all, they were rather small. The flowers themselves only the size of a hand, standing on a ten centimetres stem, with their enormous root network hidden in the water. It was even only a group of five adult plants, standing in the middle of the river, their flowers turn towards them in what Éldorine interpreted as curiosity. This wind was even in their favour, blowing towards the plants and keeping their smell away.

They might actually be able to survive this.

Of course, that was precisely the moment when Lyrienne decided to make use of his line-gift to turn the wind.

That imbecile!

The next second, all of Éldorine worries melted away, and she found herself relaxing against her will. The situation was not so bad after all. She had been the one calling the flowers, had she not? She might as well get closer to them now that they were there. They were just as she had imagined. Their magnificent colour was familiar, seeing as those particular tints of turquoise, blue and purple were on all of her dresses. And that smell... She wanted to bathe herself in it and never leave the embrace of those beautiful plants. 

Arianie stepped forwards, dragging her with him. The jolt was enough to bring Éldorine back to her senses and to make her activate her wards. Unfortunately, he was sufficiently close to be included in its protection. He froze before snapping a quick ward above all of their group.

Tsss. All that trouble for nothing.

"What are those cursed things?" one of the women of the group spat.

One of her companions answered with a derisive laugh. "What, do you not recognise the famed Alyssenne flowers?"

Others joined in the laughter. "The Alyssenne flowers? Really? They are not even that pretty! They are just as their owners, all talk and nothing in the end."

Éldorine cringed. Both at the insult and at the way the flowers froze at those words.

The magic of the Black Forest was far too powerful and unstable to make sense. It did not matter that its inhabitants had probably never been exposed to human languages. There was no doubt the flowers were perfectly able to understand what was going on.

Éldorine attempted to discretely step back, but Arianie's grip on her arm tightened and he dragged her forwards. "That was your idea, was it not, Alyssenne?" He laughed contemptuously. "Really, what do you think a couple of plants are going to do against the best fighters of the continent?"

A root swirled past their face, too fast for anyone to react.

A second later, a big splashed sounded. The rude man.

Éldorine did not bother continuing to hide her struggle as she attempted to escape. "Imbecile!" she hissed. "Get away before we all get killed!"

Arianie was frozen briefly by the shock, but he quickly steadied himself. He brought his magic fully out in an impressive light display. His wards became a solid wall of shimmer particles, almost completely preventing Éldorine from seeing beyond it.

He barked an order in the Northern tongue at his people, and all of them immediately moved into formation and activated their wards. The defences combined beautifully together despite the way the environment was restricting everyone's movements. Really worthy of some of the best fighters of the continent. 

The next root crashed against the shield and smashed right through it. Éldorine tried to jump out of its way, but it avoided her anyway to get one of Arianie's people.

Only, with the wards briefly down, the screams hit them fully. 

Everyone froze for a second, shivering in horror at their intensity. However, they quickly snapped back and attempted to raise the wards again.

While the magic was out of the way, Éldorine could observe the two mages in the water with the plants. They were firmly enveloped in the roots, their blood flowing freely out of their body through all the deep scratches made by the thorns. Despite the depth of the river and their contortions, neither of the mages were under the water. The flowers were obviously taking care to prevent them from drowning and to keep them alive.

And the smell! The smell was still there, still wonderful and she wanted to get closer and embrace those flowers and surely she was an Alyssenne and she could—The wards materialised again. Éldorine gasped.

They were not going to survive this. Not with the way the Northerners were behaving, not having a clue about what was going on. And Arianie was still keeping a tight hold on her, determined not to let her escape.

"Will you stop that!" he spat at her, his accent thickening with the agitation. "If you think some vegetation is going to beat us—"

This time Éldorine saw the attack coming. She was able to time her own struggle with it and to send a blade of raw magic right at Arianie's hand. It only halfway cut through his tendon, but thanks to the root hitting him fully on the head he had no time to retaliate.

She forced her way out of his hold and turned towards the rest of the forest. Lyrienne was already at her side, freed too, and grabbing her to drag her away. They ran blindly into the depth of the wood.

Check out my world, the Empire of the Covenant, and the article that inspired this story The murderous Alyssenne flowers.
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