Ravenesti, The Chronicles

~*~Chapter 1~*~

                                                

The darkness shrouded her elven features, making it impossible to tell who she was. Silently she crept to the Tipsy Elf Tavern, one of the most notorious taverns in Ravenesti. Many elves wouldn't venture within a mile of its ramshackle doors. Trouble brewed and turned inside the walls of the Tipsy Elf. Supposedly it was home to the elven mafia, its head leader was an elf by the name of Emaranthalas. He had been arrested many times on counts of murder, and the like, but was never convicted. It was he whom this elven maid was seeking.

            Slowly and cautiously she entered the tavern. As soon as she set her small foot inside all heads turned. The eyes of Shadow Elves as well as Drow, Goblin, Human and Ogre settled on her. Her thin arms wrapped her cloak tighter around her body; soon the tavern resumed its loud, obnoxious banter and brawls. She walked unsteadily to the bar. A burly human slave was tending the bar. His chest and back showed the scars from many lashes with a scourge. She set herself gently on a stool.

            "Ah lassy wat kin I do fer ye?" The tender asked as he combed his hair back with his fingers.

            " M'lord, if you please, I am looking for Emaranthalas. Could you kindly tell me where he is?"

            " Aye, m'lassy I kin, however, ye must do something fer me first." His rough callused hand reached out and gently caressed her face. Slowly his head descended towards hers.

            "M'lord, I beg of you, please just tell me where I can find Emaranthalas" she said cringing at the smell of the bar keeps noxious breath.

            " ALL RIGHT YE DRUNKARD OF A BAR KEEP, LEAVE THAT LASS ALONE.SHE IS LOOKING FOR ME, NOT A RAPE FROM THE LIKES OF YE!" A strong, masculine yet distinctly elven voice rang across the tavern. The maiden turned sharply, proceeding to walk towards the gentleman who had raised his voice.

            " M'lord, I am looking for Emaranthalas, could ye kindly tell me where I may find him?" she stammered.

            " Aye, I am the one and only Emaranthalas m'lady." he said with a curt bow as he took her hand and gently kissed the softest part of her palm. "And ye must be a goddess sent here to take me to my judgement. Am I correct?"

            " Indeed not m'lord and I pray that you never call me that again." She said quite taken aback.

            "Well then fair one, what shall I call ye?"

            " My name, m'lord, is Avenhar Draygonewing. I wish to ask a service of you."

            " Then what is the service ye wish upon me to perform Lady Draygonewing?"

She took a long breath, and then stated, "I am looking for someone to murder the man I am betrothed to. He is a foul man with an even fouler temper. However, my parents cannot see the way he treats me and I fear for my life. I have tried to explain the problem to my sire, but he just passes it off, as if I just do not want to be married yet. Could you help me kill this man? M'lord, you are my last chance, I fear for my life." Tears leaked out of her soft black eyes and down her delicate grey cheeks as she fell to his feet. Emaranthalas stood thoughtfully as the maiden wept.

            "I shall help ye under one condition" Avenhar looked up at him astonished. She wasn't expecting his help.

            " Name it m'lord. I will give you whatever you desire. I'll give you all of my fathers' money if you wish… I'll…"
            " The condition of which I speak is after I kill this bestial man that ye shall join…… how shall I put this…… join my organization."

            " Anything sir, I swear upon my bosom. I shall join if that is what you wish of me to do." She kissed his hand as she stood up, shaking with happiness.

            "Now tell me the name of the man that you wish of me and my forces to destroy."

            "His name is Kuzart Blackblood. He is the master of the Malice caves and he controls all that is within."

            "Ye are engaged to Kuzart Blackblood?" Emaranthalas eyes got wide. This fragile creature was supposed to be getting married to the most powerful necromancer in the entire world.

            "I am." She said looking away not wanting to face him for fear of his retribution.

            "Ye want me to murder Kuzart, the most powerful necromancer the world has ever seen!?!"

            " Please, m'lord, you are my last hope…" She pulled back her cloak to reveal angry purple bruises and the yellow green of ones fading away on her upper arms. "Kuzart did this to me. He did this! I ran in terror. I have bruises all over my body. He has punched me and kicked me and hit me, and more. Sir you have no idea of the brutality I have faced at the hands of this man. And sir if you will not help me by the Gods I will kill him myself!" Fresh tears of anger and hatred tore down her face as she once again pulled the cloak around her thin body. She looked to the ground not wanting to face him. He was just a stranger after all. Gently Emaranthalas pulled the cloak off her shoulders, looking at the angry bruises marring her skin. He pondered how a man with such power, nobility, and respect could hurt the most glass like creature he had ever seen. Avenhar tugged the cloak from his grasp and placed it about her shoulders. Then he wondered why elven parents would make their daughter engaged to a human, male none the less. He knew he would get the answers sooner or later.

            Slowly and methodically Emaranthalas spoke "I will kill this beast they have the nerve to call a man. He does not have and has never had the right to do this to ye, nor any woman ever. For hurting ye he will pay the price ten fold. This you may count upon m'lady Draygonewing." As he extended his hand to help her up, an empathetic smile was upon his face. Gladly she accepted it, she smiled back as she rose.

            "I thank you m'lord and I will do whatever you tell me I need to repay you. This is a great service to me. I will, as you suggested m'lord, join your… organization as well as pay you a sizeable sum. I cannot thank you enough."

            " 'Tis honour enough to help ye Lady Draygonewing."

            She thanked him again and left the tavern. No sooner had she left than a young woman came out from the back room. She was clearly human and clearly naked. Though of slight build she was heavily muscled. This woman and the elven maid were total opposites, not one molecule of air they breathed was the same. Emaranthalas turned and gave a slight smile of annoyance. The elven maiden would soon replace this sorry excuse for entertainment. The female was around twenty years of age, with short blonde hair curling about her face and neck in a teasingly feminine manner.

            " 'ey 'meranthalas wen am I gonna ge' wat I came 'ere for?" her high cockney accent ran shrill down his spine though he smiled.

            " Lyvirra Dragonhell, could ye not wait one moment while I tended to business?"

            "No! I can'! Ya don' unerstan'. I ge' wat I want wen I want it!" Emaranthalas cocked his head, his smile now gone. The warrior whore was getting on his nerves and he didn't like it. Not one moment of peace did he receive when she was around, which was often.

                        "Lyvirra, m'dear, I don't want you. I have work to do…" he stated firmly as he turned his back to her. "I'm sure that one of these damn scoundrels would happily take you to his bed, particularly the tender. He looks like a flounder with his mouth agape so."

            She looked to the barkeep, who was staring at her, his mouth hanging open and panting with lust.

            " Ya know 'maranthals ya jus' migh' lose me if ya don' watch it," she said as she hopped up on the bar spreading her legs to the keeper. Emaranthalas paid no attention to the whore and her conquest. If that harlot wanted to make him jealous it wasn't working. He only wanted the maiden, whose soft skin he could still feel. He imagined she was softer other places as well. He would pleasure her until they could no longer move, but that would be another time, he had work to do.

~*~Chapter 2~*~

            As Avenhar walked back to the Malice caves she noticed that the sky was turning a deep purple black. Also none of the glowing sky orbs were present. This was not normal, for at night the sky was blue black. She knew something was up. Still she pressed towards the caves hoping that Kuzart hadn't noticed her absence, which, of course, he had.

             Slowly she entered her chambers of the cave. Her infravision still not totally adjusted from the dim light of the tavern, making it hard to see. Instantly a piercing noise coursed through the air, splitting her ears and making her head ring. Two bats raced past her face sounding the alert that she was home. Quickly she ran and hid under her makeshift bed, hoping that nothing had seen her enter her room other than the bats. The caves were crawling with servants that were spying on her, for Kuzart. Avenhar closed her eyes and wished it all to go away. Tears were already forming beneath her eyelids. She knew that this time she didn't have an excuse and he'd punish her even worse than before; maybe even kill her, she just didn't know.

            In his chambers Kuzart was waiting. When he heard the bats shrieking about the caves he knew she was home. He smiled to himself knowing full well that she would have tended the bruises and made them less noticeable, or he hoped she did. After all she, as well as himself, had reputations to keep, but his was more valuable as well as fragile. His necromantic studies made him less than desirable to the people but if they had found out that he was abusive as well, then he would surely be banned from practising his forte. Slowly, almost sluggishly, he got out of his bed.

            Though the floor was cold and the air was not much warmer, Kuzart could only keep his mind upon one thing, and that was his Avenhar. She was his after all and within the year she would be his forever. As soon as they would be married he would kill her and bring her back as a zombie so then she couldn't be defiant. He thought to himself 'that bitch will know not to cross me again. This time, as all the rest before I shall teach her.' This thought was all that Kuzart could think of, he wanted revenge on his sweet little flower. This time he would make her hurt as he hurt. Rage was in his blood making him hot and ready, his erection was clearly visible through his robes.

            The cold of the floor slowly seeped through Avenhars' flimsy cotton robes, the fear in her heart made the cold more intense. The door to her chambers creaked and groaned as it was opened and she heard the all too familiar footsteps enter her room.

            " Avenhar, my dear, are you in here?" Kuzart asked lovingly though a smile of pure evil was upon his face. Rage in his eyes told of his intentions. Avenhar made no movement and made no sound. The pool of tears was growing beneath her and she hoped that Kuzart wouldn't hear them. Kuzart walked farther into the room, lighting a torch to guide the way. Again he repeated his question and again she made no response. Kuzart was getting frustrated, she wasn't answering him and he knew that she had to be in her room. He reached her closet and threw the doors open all the while screaming at her to come out from hiding. She stayed under the bed, shaking with a fear that she had never known. Before long Kuzart began to throw her magic books and spell components around the room. Small bursts of coloured flame appeared as components mixed and reacted.

            " STUPID BITCH, YOU'LL COME OUT IF YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU!" he screamed. Avenhar could no longer hold back and began to sob loud. Big, wet tears rolled out from under her eyelids and on to the floor as she dragged herself from beneath the bed. Kuzart reached down and grabbed hold of her hair and pulled her the rest of the way from under the bed. He ripped hair from her head as he yanked her to her feet. Avenhar cried out from pain as well as humiliation.

            " You stupid whore! I told you to come out and you didn't listen. I told you to be home before dusk and you decided to come in nearly an hour into twilight! You made me punish you last night for disobeying me, I would have thought that you would have learned but you haven't so obviously I haven't punished you enough…" he said hissing at her. She cringed with the fear that he would strike out at her. Instead he threw her on her poor excuse for a bed, while his long fingernails ripped apart her robes. There she lay, his icy cold hands hitting at her, as tears ran down her face.

            " Please, Kuzart, please... it hurts... Kuzart please stop. I've learned," she managed to squeeze our between his punches.

            " I DON'T THINK THAT YOU HAVE!" he screamed at her as his frenzy continued to get more violent. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, he stopped. Avenhar curled up, bringing her knees to her chest, thinking that Kuzart had left the room. She wasn't quite sure because her watery tears obscured her vision. He was still in her presence and was merely taking off his robes.

            His hand grasped her shoulder with speed unknown to any and unfurled her limbs.

            " You stupid whore! I'll make you pay" he seethed as he began to force his engorged organ inside of her. She screamed in pain, Kuzart smiled with satisfaction and began to thrust as hard as he could into her untouched body. Pain ran rampant throughout her as he invaded her secret places, where no man had ever been. Only when he had sated himself did he leave her.

            " I hope you have learned your lesson, my lovely bitch. Now no man will ever want you, though it's not like you were that good anyway." Kuzart spat as he grabbed his robes and left her room. Avenhar curled up to cry and found that no tears would come. There she lay the rest of the long and cold night, wishing she could die and end all the pain. She shivered and tried to forget, though the whole scene played in its entirety in her mind.

~*~Chapter 3~*~

Dawn rose over Ravenesti, or as well as it can in Ravenloft, another day of existence was coming into Avenhars' life. The pain in her had not yet diminished and she could still feel Kuzart piercing her soft body. Still numb she tried to block out the previous nights' events. Slowly and painfully she dragged herself out of bed, as she walked over to her washbasin she noticed blood between her legs. 'It's to early in the month for me to be bleeding, unless this means that I am no longer a maiden' she thought to herself. Slowly she dabbed blood away only to find bruises beneath. She winced with each dab, every lightning bolt of pain recalling the night before and all she had endured.

            Kuzart had fallen fitfully asleep, dreaming about summoning demons. When the lightness of the day hit his eyes he hissed in rage, bolting up in his bed all the while screaming "The whore has lit me on fire! Come put it out!" Soon he realized that the light wasn't from fire, but the morning. He lay back remembering the night before as though he had pleasured her beyond belief. A black aura appeared around him, sucking up all the light that entered his large circular chamber.

            " WHERE ARE MY SLAVES??" he bellowed throughout the castle. Hundreds of zombies, their white eyes not moving, scrambled as fast as they could into the room. One stepped forward and with a thick tongue tried to speak.

            "Here is what I want you to do…" Kuzart spoke slowly. " Go find my "lovely", Avenhar, and bring her to me immediately." He pulled back the covers, stretched his black dragon wings, and pulled his robes on for that day. The zombies retreated from his room to go about with their daily chores and to search the castle for Kuzarts' "beloved" Avenhar.

            As she sat in her room mending her now ripped robes, Avenhar pondered what had happened the night before. Had he truly raped her, taken away something that only she possessed, or had she just imagined it, after all he had given her a very severe beating. As she thought of the night before her mind became a blank and she could not remember more that the simplest of details. Her door bust open causing her to lose her concentration and to quake with fear. Slowly she turned around to see several zombies standing, looking as impatient as a zombie can look in her direction.

            "What do you want?" she asked the zombie that seemed to be the leader.

            " Master… want… speak…" the zombie managed to get out. Avenhar sighed and painfully got up, leaving her mending to be done later. She followed the zombie throughout the castle and it led her this way and that, eventually coming to Kuzarts' chamber. It knocked on the door.

            "COME IN DAMNIT!" Kuzart screamed through the door. One by one the zombies entered, all the while being trailed by a reluctant Avenhar.

            "Come forward my beautiful flower," he said sweetly. Avenhar did as she was told and walked towards him, kneeling before him. His hands gently caressed her badly beaten face.

"Avenhar, my precious… WILL ALL YOU DAMN THINGS LEAVE US BE!!!… Now where was I… oh yes… Avenhar I wish you to go into Ravenesti. I need some spell books as black as you can get…" With that he handed her a bag of gold that she was to use to get the books. "Then I wish you to come straight home, I would like to enjoy your company tonight. Now go my child."

            " Yes master… as you wish," she managed to squeeze out before leaving the room. She grabbed her cloak and left the castle before Kuzart could think of another word to say.

            The air that particular morning was crisp as an autumn day or as autumn would be on another continent. Avenhar pulled her cloak tight about her small frame and set out toward Ravenesti.

~*~Chapter 4~*~

            Emaranthalas had just woken up from a particularly wonderful dream, his head still swam with it. When he closed his eyes he could see the wonderful elf maiden whose black eyes showed only her soul. He could feel her touch and whispered her name, "Avenhar". He rolled over to embrace her and instead found that he had his pillow in his arms. Looking up he saw Avenhar was in his chambers, though her cowl was pulled up over her face.

            " Er ummmm. . . . . hullo there. What can I do for ye today?" he stammered out as a small smile crossed Avenhars' face.

            " Sir, the reason why I am here is not of a small matter. I need Kuzart killed right away"

            " Why the sudden rush, my beautiful goddess?" he asked as he rose out of bed to kiss her hand.

            " Um Emaranthalas you may want to put some clothes on before we discuss anything of importance." Looking down he realized that he had not put something on as of yet, and his excitement from the dream was rather obvious.

            " I see . . . . . well," he said extremely quickly as he reached for a pillow to cover himself with.

            " I will leave you to get dressed sir" Avenhar said composed and she rose and left the room.

            'DAMNIT!' Emaranthalas swore to himself as he put his breeches and tunic on. 'Why did she have to be here after that dream. And what is so damned important that she must be here so early. Kuzart can't have done too much in one night' Emaranthalas buckled his sword to his waist and hid one of his many daggers.

            He poked his head outside of his door, looking for Avenhar. He saw her at a table conversing with one of his assassins.         

"Avenhar come in here!" he said

            "Yes sir, what do you wish of me?"

            " I think that it is more of a matter of what do ye wish of me," Emaranthalas spoke and Avenhar pushed him into the room. He looked taken aback at her strength.

            " Sir, this is no joke, Kuzart has become even more evil."

            " How so? I do not imagine that ye could get any worse than Kuzart?"

            " Last night as I came home and went to my room, he had one of his minions watch for me. . .".

            " That does not seem to be that bad"

            " Sir, I was not finished!"

            " Oh, I beg for yer forgiveness"

            " As I was saying sir, he then stalked me throughout the castle and when I entered my room he came in and…" Tears started to roll down her cheeks. " He violated me sir, I am no longer a maid." Avenhar could no longer hold back and she covered her face with her hands.  "He did this to me!!" she ripped back her cowl to reveal the light bruises on her face. "I swear by the Gods that I will kill him if you don't" Emaranthalas walked over to her, wrapping his arms around her, not knowing what exactly to say. There they were together, a statue of emotion.

            Eventually, Avenhar managed to gain control of herself and she pulled away from him. Emaranthalas looked her straight in the eye, seeing and almost feeling her pain from the bruises left by Kuzart.

            " Miss Draygonewing, consider yer request as good as done by tomorrow night. I will dispose of him personally and ye need not worry about the consequences surrounding his death. I will take care of that as well"

            " I cannot thank you enough sir. I do believe that this is a debt of gratitude that I will never be able to repay"

            " No don't worry love."

With that she walked out of the room, leaving Emaranthalas standing next to her chair pondering Avenhar's very existence. Why had she come to him? There were plenty of assassins that would have loved to kill Kuzart Blackblood and take the reward and prestige that came with it. He tried to think of other things. How he was going to kill Kuzart? But that one questions came back into his mind. Why me?

            Avenhar trudged out of the tavern, unaware of the fact that she had left Emaranthalas is turmoil. The slamming of the door brought her back into reality, she had to go back to the caves of Malice. She had to make Kuzart think that nothing was amiss in the world, though she did not want to go back. Slowly, almost painfully, Avenhar began her descent back to the caves, trying to push the memories of Kuzart out of her head with hope that he would be murdered. She could feel the crunch of leaves beneath her feet and dim reality setting in. She wanted to trust Emaranthalas so much but she still doubted that he would kill Kuzart; she hadn't paid him yet so nothing really kept him in the deal. She walked with one thing on her mind; Kuzart must die. It was almost nightfall before she arrived. Just in time so that Kuzart wouldn't think anything of it. She fumbled with the lock to the main door. When it finally creaked open she popped he head only to see zombies in utter chaos, banging into walls, fighting and the like. 'That's odd, they're normally obedient and doing chores.' She thought, though the hairs on her neck sere standing up. She crept the rest of the way into the room, quickly shutting the door behind her and almost ran across the hall. On the other side was a door that lead to the "servants" quarters and just beyond that lay the door to her room. She quickly stumbled into the servants' quarters, awaiting the usual screeching of the bats. Nothing, just an eerie silence and an unexplainable tingling. She slowly opened the door to her room. It was still in disarray, yet it looked somehow messier. She opened her closet and began to shove her spell components and books into it. After she had blindly thrown all of her things in to the closet. She turned to grab some papers that had fallen out of her books when she tripped over a leg. She tugged at the leg slowly pulling out the body of her necromantic master. She looked at the glazed, frozen eyes, still full of hatred, even in the end. His throat had been slashed, giving his corpse the evil grin known to partial decapitation. The only other injury was the phrase 'I am not immortal' half burned, half cut into his torso. Avenhars' eyes flew to the walls, scanning them in a state of shock. A primal scream of joy leapt from her throat as she danced around the corpse. Singing a macabre song of ecstasy.  She began to search, "where did they put it?" she queried, not really knowing if she was looking for a note, and murder weapon, something. Just as suddenly as she had started she didn't care anymore. How could Emaranthalas have gotten there so fast, but who else could have done it she thought.

            "I'm free" she whispered  as she opened her door eager to thank him.