Ciarrai A’styrla shivered as she stared out upon the approaching storm. Tucking her hands deep into the sleeves of her dark blue robe, she tried to ward off the chill coursing through her. Dark black and purple clouds filled the horizon, and jagged flashes of silver lightning danced over the meadows of Tyress. Ciarrai thought how magnificent this play of nature was, yet it was disturbing. Clearly this is not an entirely natural storm, she mused, as her gaze was drawn to the gnarled branches of the Ancient Oak tree in the courtyard.
This is a piece I submitted earlier and just wanted to make sure I'm on the right track with my rewriting editing. I tried to catch all my tense flips, hopefully I have.
Prologue – De Tyr Castle
Blackened and burned it stood, the stink of the fire that had raged along its limbs still permeating the room, over the light flowery smell of scented candles. Biting her lip, she wondered how it was all connected. The storm had started out of a clear blue sky early this afternoon, the strike of the lightning hitting the tree with a loud clash heard throughout the castle. The people had rallied to put out the fire, and the heart tree still lived, but were we quick enough to save the last remnant of the Forest of Evening song.
She sighed and pulled the hood of her robe closer around her face so that only a glimpse of sparkling sapphire eyes could be seen glowing deep within its confines. The courtyard should have been filled with people going about their business Ciarrai thought; instead it was hushed and quiet. The grey cobblestones looked slick and dark with the autumn rains coating them. Across the way the lights from the castles temple windows were flickering, barely casting any glow into the dim night. Shadowy figures could be seen through the temple windows.
The Gods are needed now more then ever now and she sent her own silent plea to Kesair for guidance. Guards were walking their posts along the outer walls and their normally shining silver armor was muted and grey. The Twin towers of the outer keep were outlined darkly against the raging skies.
Ciarrai silently started to stroke the dark velvet drapes with slim elegant fingers, covered with bejeweled rings. Up and down, back and forth, methodically, and without any seeming thought beyond the texture of the material, her fingers glided slowly over the fabric feeling every stitch of embroidery that covered the soft cloth.
A square cut emerald set in band of twisted gold suddenly started to glow softly, emitting a barely audible hum. With a glance behind her, she touched the gem briefly to the window. A face appeared slightly distorted by the glass saying “Greetings sister” “Brother why do you call me? You know the task I must perform tonight. It is dangerous for you to be contacting me. A tempest is brewing!” The lips turned down distinctly in reply “Sister you know me better, I would not contact you if the situation was not dire. The storm rages here too, and Antarra was found dead this morning” “Dire tidings indeed brother, thank you for conveying it, this could change everything. I’ll contact you later, this taxes me too much for what must be done.” Said Ciarrai and with a gesture of dismissal the window faded, once again showing the bleak courtyard outside. She looked out but was no longer really seeing, her thoughts turned inward.
Even had Ciarrai been carefully observing the courtyard, though, it is unlikely she would have seen the dark creature crouched against the burned trunk of the oak, watching her. Hatred burned in its eyes as it glared up at the window where Ciarrai stood. Flexing long dark claws it dreamed of sinking them deep and slashing. The Master had ordered it to observe though and it feared disobeying more then its desire for blood.
Feeling that cold hatred but not knowing its source Ciarrai wrapped her arms around herself to ward off the chill. Behind her a figure rounded and heavy with child paced and said with fond exasperation “Ciarrai come sit near the fire where it is warm. I’ve been talking and I don’t think you’ve heard a word I’ve said”
Distracted from the seriousness of her thoughts Ciarrai turned and smiled warmly, saying with a chuckle “I get to watch you wear holes in your good Selvokan rugs then Tarali?” Walking slowly across the room with elegant grace, Ciarrai perched on the edge of a tapestry chair. Feeling a bit of warmth again, she watched Tarali as she restlessly crossed the room again. Tarali looked down at her and shook a finger in mild reproach “Leave it to you to think of my flooring at a time like this!
Twining a long dark curl, that was peeping from the edge of her cowl, slowly around her finger, Ciarrai lost in thought, appeared to listen patiently as Tarali continued her diatribe. She came back abruptly as Tarali said: “and frankly I couldn’t stand their predictions of doom and gloom, so I sent them all away. I think to settle the atmosphere tonight, we could have that gorgeous Bard form Lveness grace us with a song or two at dinner.”
Suddenly pleased with herself Tarali pulls a silken cord with golden tassels. Shuddering with distaste at the thought of having the overly lewd Bard attempt what he called singing again, Ciarrai was about to reply when a pale blonde girl entered the room and dropped immediately into a deep curtsy. Darting an apprehensive glance at Ciarrai she stammers “You did call Milady?” A fleeting frown crosses Tarali’s face as she hears the stammer and sees the clear fear of Ciarrai written in the girls face. Anyone not knowing Tarali well would not have seen it, but Ciarrai is clearly aware that her friend is mildly upset. “Mina we will have some Ven’lassen red for our guest and spiced cider for myself and please have the minstrel informed his services will be required at dinner.” orders Tarali who now is clearly frowning at Mina who still hasn’t risen and is shaking visibly.
“Child please go see about our drinks” says Tarali in a quiet tone that makes Mina jump suddenly from her curtsey and run to the door. Tarali watching the hurried exit stifles a sigh of both discomfort and exasperation as she rubs her back unselfconsciously.
Ciarrai settles back into the chair and says “I think when your fluttery maid comes back you’ll need to inform her that you won’t be attending dinner. If you’re hungry I suggest you have a tray brought up.” Placing her hands on her hips with a smirk Tarali quips “Oh I know the Bard is lamentable with his penchant for tragic ballads but that doesn’t mean I should keep to myself like some solitary mages I know. I trust you do have a good reason why I should forego the pleasantries of dinner tonight?” Ciarrai regards Tarali steadily, her thoughts for a moment drifting back to the news of Antarra. She should have asked how it happened; she had been too concerned about the draining of energies though so it would have to wait. Regarding Tarali seriously she states “The child will be born tonight.” Her hands suddenly going to her mouth in dismay Tarali mutters “You are mistaken the midwives have all said it wouldn’t be for another moonday. I’m not ready to have the babe tonight, surely it is an ill omen given the events of the day.” Listening quietly as Tarali rants she ponders that after waiting for so long to finally conceive that her friend appears not ready yet to give birth.