Since I am no longer writing the book known as The Griffin Lord, or Draegor’s Kill, I decided to publish small parts of it on my blog. Sound good? Now, remember that this was when I was less experienced in writing. And this hasn’t been edited too much. So it may sound rough. This is the prologue, and I really like it. Now, a few notes.
There are many things I wish to remain mine. These were my ideas, and I would like them to not be released to the public except in the form of a published book. Many of these things are names, words, titles. etc. So I replaced the ones I like with other ones. Ones that I came up with in mere minutes. So, the names Anven, Honwise, Seerka, and Jacken, had better originals. They simply can’t be said until a later date. Also, the names of the swords (the names ending with the suffix “gorn”) also sounded better, but they can not be said. Do you understand my meanings?
Well, this is it. Enjoy.
“Sure is gorgeous tonight, huh Jacken,” Vren the minotaur says to his faun friend.
“Aye,” Jacken mumbles, looking carefully through his spyglass at the night sky. The watchtower provides a perfect view of all that goes on in the skies of the Trodesk that hover over the kingdom Terradorn, but it is easy to get distracted with the millions of blue, yellow, and violet stars. We need to stay focused, Jacken reminds himself. The two moons hover over the Grand Castle to accompany the pair on their midnight watch. With the draegors getting stirred up recently, anything could happen. Jacken shudders as he thinks of the shape-shifting draegors, set on killing all humans. They can morph into any creature they like, and you only can tell the difference between them and other creatures by their completely black eyes. Jacken lowers his spyglass as he contemplates these things.
“Do not stop searching the skies, my friend,” Vren warns. “The draegors have nasty habits of disguising themselves in the night. The naked eye cannot always detect their dark skin from the night, nor can it always see the difference of their light skin from the day. Let your glass be your aid in spying them out.”
Jacken lifts up his small telescope to his eye again. “You may have to hold up my arm, Vren,” Jacken says. “My faunish arms are the arms of the humans. Yours are those of a bull, much stronger than mine.”
Vren laughs and joins his friend near the edge of the watchtower. “Aye, you speak rightly about your human arms. But your goat legs are unmatched in all of Trodesk. I pity the man who takes a kick from one of your hooves.”
“The humans may be weak, but they are one of the three firstborn races and they have dominion over our five provinces of Terradorn. I will never question King Anven’s loyalty to us and our brothers.”
Vren nods his head covered in mats of curly black hair. He suddenly looks up. “Jacken, try looking at that patch of black over the second moon.”
Jacken grunts a ‘yes’ and angles his spyglass directly on the glowing white moon. “Why, there are silhouettes of wild griffins flying east! What a sight!”
“Are you sure?” Vren asks. He examines the moon closer. He hears the metal of the spyglass slide together as Jacken focuses in on the lionlike griffins.
“Sure as ever! See! There’s their beaks and wings, but lower down are their claws. See their tails shift with the wind? Here, you take a look.”
Vren takes the spyglass from Jacken and focuses on a griffin slowly flying over the moon. “I see them now, but there’s only one problem.” Jacken waits for Vren to continue. “It’s far past their migration period to the north, precisely three moons ago they left. It can’t be wild griffins then, but they aren’t mounted, and if they were, the Sky Calvary should be on the eastern patrol sector, not near here at all.” Jacken tries to see without the spyglass but finds his faun eyes can’t reach the distance to the moon efficiently.
“Wait a moment,” Vren mumbles. Suddenly the minotaur’s calm face turns to that of one of surprise and shock. “Unicorns and phoenixes!” he exclaims.
“What! What is it?” Jacken hollers. He grabs his horns tensely and he scrapes his hoofs against the cold stone floor as he waits for his friend’s reply.
“Their eyes!” Vren cries. “They’re black! Now tell me what griffin in Trodesk has black eyes!”
“The draegors!” Jacken yells. “They’re attacking Terradorn!”
“It’s a whole phalanx of them! Quick! Sound the alarm!” Jacken runs to the giant copper bell in the watchtower and kicks it with all his might. The bell swings back and forth, sending the clapper inside beating on the edges. The bell bursts forth an ear-shattering shrill gong! that echoes through the city streets, warning all of the attack at hand.
Vren clumsily tosses the spyglass aside and leaps clear off the tower. He knows his legs aren’t as strong as Jacken’s, but he hopes with all his mind that they will hold with the dangerous jump to the cobblestone below. At last he lands—in a pile of cow manure, but it softens his fall enough for him to find no broken bones. We wipes off the smelly scat from his fur. It will take many moons for this smell to leave me, he thinks as he begins his run through the streets.
“We are under attack!” he bellows over the gongs from the bell. “The draegors are here! Get ready for battle! Defend the king and queen!”
Vren’s cries and the bell’s shrill warnings ring through the peasants’ gravel streets all the way to the marble paths of the Grand Castle. All the servants and attendants of the royal abode scurry about frantically in attempts to spread the word to the captains of the armies and to the king.
“What?” King Anven Bravewing III rages after the centaur maidservant breaks the news to him. He has no time to get angry. “Defend the air with the Sky Calvary!” he orders. “If the draegors come as griffins, we will return their strike on griffinback. Strengthen the Northern Perimeter from infantry. Line the walls with our Elven Defenders. Protect the heirs!”
“Yes, my king,” the girl trembles to her ruler just before he barks more orders. She gallops away down the stairs to relay the orders to the commanders of the armies. The human king sends battalions and defense squads against the oncoming attack, but through his commands a single question rings through his head: Can I protect my country from a foe who’s only difference is their black eyes?
The throne room becomes a flurry of activity. Anven hears the first of the explosions echo in the street. One rattles the stain-glass windows to his left and right. He only stops his commands when he feels a gentle hand on his back.
Anven turns and sees his wife, Queen Seerka Bravewing, stroking his bare shoulder.
“Anven?” she asks tenderly. Anven feels ready to sacrifice his entire kingdom to live forever with this beauty. “Our children? The heirs?” Seerka asks.
“I sent a whole host of minotaurs to defend the Nursery,” he says with no small portion of fear in his voice. “Crawth is leading them,” he says for more his own comfort than his wife’s.
“You know they can’t protect them,” Seerka says. “If minotaurs defend them, the draegors will just shape-shift into dragons. No one can keep the three safe here,” Seerka makes sure she stresses the last word.
Anven eyes Seerka suspiciously, but then he understands. He sighs. “Do what you see fit, but please realize that once that choice is made, it can’t be undone.”
“I understand,” Seerka whispers. “but if it protects our children from death, I am willing to do it.”
“But what if you don’t make it?” Anven asks. A new fear kindles in his mind. “What if those firstborn creatures get to you first?”
“I’m not the weakest cub of the litter,” Seerka says, gently rubbing the pummel of Falcongorn, her sword. “And don’t worry. I’ll bring my sentinels with me.
Anven nods in the midst of all the busyness around the couple. He grabs the shoulder of his wife. “Live and justify,” he says, reciting his country’s common saying.
Seerka kisses her husband on the cheek. “Live and justify,” she says, and she runs off, signaling only two of her female sentinels to come with her.
Anven sighs, and even through his orders, his minds focuses on one thing: his family’s protection. He knows those draegors would stop at nothing to kill off all humans, male or female, adult or babe. From the dawn of time there had been a rivalry between the two firstborn races. Eventually the humans put it aside, focusing on building there dominion. They gained rulership over fauns, minotaurs, elves, centaurs, and werewolves, each placing them in a province in the pentagon-shaped country of Terradorn, but the draegors never stopped. They plotted always in their dwellings in their islands to the West of the world Trodesk on how to rid this world of humans, their rivals from the beginning. Anven can only imagine what they would do to Seerka, queen of the humans, but nevertheless the jewel of Anven’s life.
King Anven draws his sword Phoenixgorn from the leather sheath over his back. He pulls off his royal cloak, leaving him without any garb but his gold tunic that hangs from his shoulders. He is done giving orders. He is done commanding others to fight. It is his turn to partake of the new war. Anven rushes from the throne room and down the spiral stairs. As soon as he is out of the castle gate, he spies his chance to pick off one of the draegors. In the form of a dragon, a draegor near the edge of the battle tears ferociously at a centaur at the ground. Anven runs at the foe and slides on his knees under the dragon stomach. He pushes his sword up and lets it cut through the soft scales. He rolls out of underneath the draegor just as the entrails pour out from the hole in its body. The creature falls down on the ground lifelessly as Anven cleans his blade on his tunic. He flips back his brown hair. Live and justify, he thinks. One down, a whole army to go.
Anven stands up and runs out into the center of the war. The battlegrounds are already filled with ruin and destruction, loss of lives and blood, but Anven isn’t stirred. His Bravesoul training taught him not to focus on the lost, but on preserving that which is still not. Phoenixgorn’s veins that run around the outside of the silver blade glow orange and red like fire, for its bearer is a Phoenix Lord, master of the fire birds of the air. He swipes the blade through a nearby draegor. The sword leaves a trail of fire and sparks as it slices cleanly through the neck. The draegor shrieks in pain and bursts out in flames. Anven mounts the back of draegor centaur, jumping off only after he stabs its heart.
The warrior king looks around for a good target. Then he sees him. A lone draegor in the form of an elf with griffin wings flies around, turning its mouth to that of a dragon only to burst a ball of flame at a soldier. This is obviously a skilled shape-shifter, for all draegors require practice to morph into another creature. Anven snarls and runs after the black-eyed beast, intending to slice it through. But the draegor has other ideas.
Anven leaps up in the air, sword over his head with both hands. The draegor whirls around and blocks the strike with a previously unseen sword. Anven flips of the foundation of the perpendicular blades and rolls to the ground. In an instant, he is in a traditional crouch, poised for striking.
“Anven,” the draegor hisses. “I suppose you don’t recognize me in my elf face.” In a flash, the draegor morphs his head to that of a dragon, but the rest of his form stays as is.
“Thorneous,” Anven growls, slowly rising to his feet. “I should have known it was you who led this attack.”
“And I should have known it was you who puts up this feeble attempt to ward it off!” Thorneous says with a hideous laugh. He lunges at Anven who leaps up in the air, swinging Phoenixgorn around like a lightning bolt, leaving fire where the blade has been but a moment ago. Thorneous breathes flames at Anven, but the human merely dodges it by a leap to the left. Thorneous again tries to scorch the king, but again his attempt proves fruitless. The dark and light swords clash together, and the opposing rulers push at the other, eyeing the other fiercely. They quickly step away and fall into a swift series of attacks and defenses, strikes and parries.
“Give up, Anven!” the draegor growls.
“Never,” the king argues, deflecting a lethal slash near his neck.
Thorneous roars, signaling his lowers to come and help him in the duel. Three other draegors come galloping forward to his aid, but in a second Anven cuts through two of the three’s throats. The remaining is not stirred however, and he swings out a massive mace from behind his back. The wrecking spike ball clashes in Anven’s chest, sending him backwards. Phoenixgorn flies out of his hand, clattering on the ground in front of the mace-wielding draegor.
Anven rolls to the ground, clutching his broken ribs. His thin battle-tunic is torn through the center, scalelike armor ripped off. Even his mail vest beneath is hanging open to his bare chest. He watches as the draegor leans over to grab Phoenixgorn. Anven smiles, predicting the draegor’s demise. As the warrior grips the sword, his hands begin to shake. Smoke rises from his body, and in a burst of flames, he is gone.
Anven can’t let this go without comment. “Your men are fools, Thorneous! No non-humans can wield Phoenixgorn; they turn to fire if they do!”
Thorneous doesn’t listen. “Get up, you coward!” He grabs Anven by the remains of his garb and yanks him up into a kneeling position. Anven feebly attempts to bat the draegor off, but Thorneous sings his sword through Anven’s fingers. The king yelps and holds his injured right hand.
“Now,” Thorneous grins. “Let’t talk business.”
Seerka rushes through the long halls to the Nursery with her sentinels close by. Falcongorn is in her hand, ready for the striking. She sees a flash of lightning through the window, shortly followed by a rumble of thunder.
I need to get to the Nursery soon, Seerka thinks. An explosion shakes the ground outside. Alive.
She makes a quick left down another long hall, followed by her fellow warriors. She stops. At the end of the hall she sees help. A lone minotaur stands there, silently brandishing his axe.
“Oh!” Seerka sighs with relief. She runs ahead of the girls that had sword to protect her. “Crawth! Is that you? Listen, I need help. Have your forces—”
“My queen! Stop!” one of the sentinels call. The minotaur roars loudly as Seerka approaches. She notices the black eyes too late. The draegor in the form of a minotaur swings his massive axe at Seerka’s head, but her reflexes are quick. She ducks under the strike and slides under the draegor’s legs. She grabs his horns roughly, hoping to break them off, but suddenly they disappear.
What the…The draegor is on the ground, no longer in the form of a minotaur but in the form of a black falcon. The bird flies at Seerka and claws at her face, but Seerka is no fool with falcons. She takes Falcongorn and cuts the talons clean off. She grabs the giant bird of prey and presses her hand down its spine, at last feeling the pressure point she is looking for. She pushes her finger in, and the falcon falls limp in her hands. She drops the big bird and keeps running down the hall with her guards. That was too close.
At last they reach the Nursery, but it is not how they had hoped to see it. Seerka walks slowly up to the demolished doors that lean against the doorframe in splinters. She leaps over the charred ruins and enters the room.
Inside, it is not a pretty sight. All over the guards lay bleeding on the floor. Phaelans, Elithes, and Bravesouls seem frozen in battle with arrows in their necks. Crawth’s forces are scattered over the entire area. Her brother is sprawled over a mass of draegor bodies with sword in hand.
When the sentinels enter, Seerka runs over to her brother. “Bix, please be alive,” she whimpers to her older sibling. “Don’t die on me! I need you!” She puts her ear to his chest, but it is silent. He is dead.
Seerka stands up. She needs to focus on her mission. Her three children, the heirs of the Terradornian thrones, still lie somewhere in the room, dead or alive.
“Search the entire area,” she orders her sentinels. “Astrid, you find Layis. Selthia, find Honwise. I’ll search for Idenwise. Leave any other survivors you see. The children are the priority now.” The three separate.
Creeping around the eerie room, Seerka strains her ears over the battle noises outside, listening for any sign of life, and that of one of her children. At last she hears it. A faint whimper. The word ‘mama.’ She runs to the source of the noise.
“Where are you?!” she cries loudly, not worrying in the slightest about enemy troops finding her location; so much is her love for her children. At last she finds the source. A torn tapestry hanging by a window. Though in rags, the curtain must have provided the perfect covering for a small cradle as the enemy troops had marched by. Seerka finds her vision drawn to the floor. On the ground lay the corpse of the Royal Nurse, kitchen knife in hand, defending to the last the hiding place of the royal infant. Seerka gently draws the curtain aside, and behind it she sees a cradle. And within is her son wrapped up in a silk blanket.
Seerka carefully picks up her son. She combs his ginger hair with her fingers and holds him tight. Though he’s only two moons old, the mother loves her son and his siblings like nothing else. But she knows she can’t cradle her son in the Nursery forever. She must bring him to his new home.
She wraps the blanket over his now sleeping face, covering his dark brown eyes.
“My queen!” a voice echoes. Astrid. “I have found Layis! She was walking around by the wardrobe.”
“I have Honwise!” Selthia calls. Seerka can sense her cradling the baby boy.
“And I have Idenwise!” Seerka calls. “Get to the Gallery! Now!” Seerka hears the two run out of the room. Creeping in the shadows, Seerka too opens the front door and runs out.
Seerka looks around. The battle scene is a perfect definition of the word ‘carnage.’ Thousands of bodies lay around the ruins of the Grand Castle, all wreaking the same putrid stench. Blood stains the earth that she treads upon, and mangled limbs of the offenders and the defenders rest amongst piles of rubble and broken stone. Seerka dashes through such a scene of disgust and massacre now with her son in one hand and Falcongorn in the other. She runs behind a pile of ruined stone that had used to be from a wall of gold. She crouches low to catch her breath. The Gallery is just over there, she thinks. She sees Astrid and Selthia far ahead, now inside. She is about to dash off when she hears a voice.
“Surrender, coward,” the voice orders. Seerka doesn’t recognize it; it is venomous. “The throne is not a fitting place for your kind.”
“There is more than one throne in this world, Thorneous,” another voice says. Seerka recognizes this one; it is the voice of her husband, Anven. She can tell that he is in pain. “Not all the thrones need belong to you.”
“I know that, my king,” Thorneous mocks. “I just want one throne: the one that gives me the ability to kill all humans.”
“You can kill us, but you cannot wipe us out.”
“Care to explain?” The draegor leader is testing Anven.
“Even if we lose all of our numbers, the memory of us will never be lost. It will remain till the end of time. Whether it is through rebels, or words, or war, you will be fought by our memory.”
“You act as if this is any old war, Anven,” A pause. “but we both know that it’s not.” Seerka turns to see Thorneous rubbing his sword on the back of Anven’s neck. Seerka leans in closer to see the ancient script chiseled into the sword. Terrorgorn. Fitting.
“I don’t want to be rivals, Thorneous!” Anven exclaims. “I would much rather be brothers. Let us take the advantage of being of the firstborn and work together!”
“But my king, all brothers bicker.” Thorneous brandishes Terrorgorn in the air as if killing an invisible foe. Seerka can tell he enjoys taunting his victims.
“What about the others?” Anven is on his knees, but Seerka knows he didn’t get there without a fight. “The fauns, the centaurs, the elves, the minotaurs, the—”
“Those who defend you will die,” Thorneous growls. “and the rest will be given a second chance to say who’s side their on.”
Anven breathes deeply. His chest heaves up and down in thought. Phoenixgorn is out of reach. His sword-hand is cut. He either surrenders, or he dies.
“What about me?”
“What?” Thorneous asks in surprise. He laughs as he nears Anven. “I was planning to make a public scene out of this,” Thorneous steadies Terrorgorn. “but I suppose I’ll just do it now. I already have a crowd.”
“You won’t kill me without a fight!” Anven roars, but it is in vain. He knows he can’t fight, let alone win. He slowly stands up, but he tumbles down. Thorneous laughs as he circles around him. He grabs Anven by his hair and pulls him up.
“Say ‘hi’ to your wife for me,” he says cruelly
Anven only has a moment to realize the draegor’s meaning. “What?! No you didn’t! I’m gonna—” Anven is cut off. Terrorgorn is protruding from his back. He falls to the ground. “Live and justify,” he groans, and the human king of Terradorn breathes his last.
Seerka fights back the urge to cry. Her muscles tense up and her spirit groans. Thorneous begins speaking more. No, this is not the time to mourn. She needs to listen. Her country depends on it.
A draegor runs up to Thorneous’ side. “My king,” he says.
“Yes, Commander Oroe?” Thorneous is obviously frustrated.
“A small team of humans escaped into the woods not two hours ago. But the woods are enchanted. My men can’t—”
“Pursue them, Oroe! We must not let any humans live!”
“Yes sir!” Oroe gives a draegor salute.
“And one more thing, Oroe,” Thorneous says. “Tell our comrades to the East to rest easy. We have the kingdom now.”
Oroe nods and walks away, just passing Seerka’s hiding spot.
Seerka looks at her husband’s dead face. She thinks of his last words. Live and justify. She has to choose now which to do: to live and save her children, or to justify by killing Anven’s slayer.
She looks at her son’s face. As much as it pains her, she makes her choice. Live. Seerka stands up and runs to the Gallery.
Seerka enters the domed room known as the Gallery. She peers around the room, but she only sees Astrid and Selthia safely inside, carefully scanning the area. She carefully creeps around the edges, feeling along the curved walls. She examines the pictures of she and her husband, along with all the other paintings of ancient kings and queens. She studies the hearth by the wall. In its fire place dances an everlasting fire. Seerka joins her sentinels in the search again. Where are they?
Her eyes are drawn to the far side of the room. There sits a desk, cluttered with parchment and pens. Seerka edges to the table and sits down on the wooden stool by it. She searches through numerous scrolls and manuscripts, laying aside useless gadgets and tools. Aha! There they are, her children’s rescuers. The three pentagon teleporters.
“Over here!” she calls to the others. “I found the teleporters!” Astrid and Selthia bound over with the children in their arms.
Seerka examines one of the devices, as do the other two women. Not only can one teleport you to any world you want, but it also symbolizes Terradorn. Shaped as a pentagon, it is made of five separate blue triangle plates, joined together in the center by a glowing blue orb. It signifies the five triangular provinces of Terradorn, joined together by the Capital Axis where the Grand Castle sits. The panels and orbs are made of the metal varadesk, but a pulsing energy that powers it alters them to look transparent and glow blue.
“Put them down here,” Seerka says. Reluctantly, the two others put the adorable babies down onto the desk. “Now go.”
“But my queen!” Astrid protests. “You need help! We will protect you!”
“Go!” Seerka insists forcefully. “Save yourselves! Find the team of humans in the Enchanted Woods!” The two look at each other and run out of the Gallery.
Seerka puts her son and the teleporter down. She mentally recalls the step-by-step process of arranging the plates for the proper teleportation. She twists one of the varadesk panels, immediately hearing the hum from within. It’s working. She twists another one, turning it on a forty-five degree angle to the other three. She silently turns the rest of the triangles in different patterns until the entire Gallery bursts with the constant tune of energy flowing. She takes another teleporter, this one before Layis. She arranges the machine in the exact way that she did with the previous one, and then again with the last teleporter. She takes a deep breath and grabs a stray piece of parchment. She jots a message down on it with an old pen, then slips the paper in Honwise’s teleporter
Seerka turns back to Layis. She lifts her up and gently snuggles her in Seerka’s arms. “I love you,” she says caressingly. She carefully places the teleporter in her hands.
“Now don’t you turn any of these panels now,” Seerka says through sniffles. She bites her lip, trying not to cry. “We don’t know where that would take you.” Seerka kisses her daughter’s forehead. “The humans of Earth will take good care of you. But just don’t forget about us.” She places her finger on the blue orb. The two-year-old toddler can see the concern of her mother’s eyes. She is the eldest of the three children, the boys both being newborns. And she is smart for her age, and she can tell her mother’s emotions. “Live and justify,” and Seerka pushes the round button. In a flash, the baby and the device disappear from Terradorn’s world.
Seerka moves over to Isenwise. She kisses his dark cheek and runs her hands through his ginger hair. She gives the child the teleporter and exchanges her last words with her son. She presses the orb in the center, sending her son away to Earth.
That leaves just Honwise.
She picks up her sleeping son and embraces him in the way only mothers can. Subtle tears escape from her eyes and onto her son. “Remember us,” she says, stroking his blonde hair. The babe opens his brilliant green eyes and yawns. He looks around in attempts to recognize his whereabouts, but he clings back to his mother when he fails to remember. This makes it even harder for Seerka to let go. But eventually, she places Honwise on the desk in the sea of parchment. She uses her trembling hands to give the teleporter to her son.
“Help us,” she says, and she presses the center. Her son ceases to be in Terradorn, traveling through space and time to Earth.
Seerka begins to sob. How quick everything had happened, and she had sent her three children unprotected to Earth in hopes that they would live to come back. But her cries only last for a moment.
The Gallery doors open. Seerka swings herself over the desk. She spies three draegors, and one of them is Commander Oroe in his elf form.
“Don’t let them escape,” Oroe says sternly. “Those humans must die.”
“But they’re in the Enchanted Woods!” another says. “We might die if we go their. Don’t you know the curse? If any draegor sets foot in there, he—”
“I don’t want to hear about any stupid curse!” Oroe spits on the ground in disgust. “That team of humans must die, or they’ll kill us in our sleep!”
Seerka cautiously makes her way through the dark shadows to the three draegors standing by the doors. She isn’t going to let any more humans die by the hands of draegors.
She lunges at one of the lower commanders. She stabs Falcongorn through his back, making sure its curved varadesk blade pierces through the warriors heart. She tosses the lifeless body aside, but not without first taking one of his javelins. She spears the other commander, leaving just Oroe left. Oroe has his bow out in a flash, but just as he is about to let one of his arrows fly into Seerka’s heart, she throws her sword at the bowstring. As she expected, it snaps to the ground. But now she has no weapon, and she has to use her hands.
She runs at Oroe, he now armed with nothing but the arrow in his hand. She lunges her hands at his neck, locking her position into a strangling grip. Oroe fights to remove her hands from his neck, but they don’t budge, them slowly cutting off his supply of fresh air. Oroe takes his arrow and plunges it deep into Seerka’s side. She groans in pain. Fresh blood pours out of her wound. But she does not let go.
Again and again Oroe stabs Seerka, once in the stomach and twice in her thigh, but she never lets go. She watches as Oroe’s face turns from red to white. He uses the rest of his strength to pass the arrow once more into Seerka’s stomach, but it is too late. He shudders, and faints into death. Seerka drops his dead corpse and grasps her wounds. They are fatal, and she knows she won’t survive.
“Well those humans won’t die any time soon,” Seerka groans to herself, making her chuckle. But she remembers her children again, and reality rushes back. She begins to cry, and immediately she coughs up blood that pours down her neck to the floor. “Live and justify,” she moans, and Queen Seerka Bravewing the Bold dies.