GAMES OF LOVE AND POWER
BY: DANAE CONRAD
early morning sun streamed through the windows of the castle. Winter was
losing its hold on Furanose, soon spring would arrive and fill the land with
green once more. Eve stretched as she got dressed to greet the new day. She
wasn't sure what Adena had planned for today, so she decided to stop by the
knocked on the closed door and awaited an answer. Hearing none, she opened the
door and looked inside. Adena wasn't inside; in fact, no one was inside.
Puzzled, Eve shut the door and descended the stirs. Adena must have already
gone down for breakfast, she reasoned.
when she went to the dining room, she didn't find Adena there. She ate alone
and wondered if there was a note for her that she had missed. She finished he
meal and decided to look around a little longer. Then she saw Bryant standing
at attention before the closed doors of one of the Council rooms. Immediately
she went over to talk to him.
morning, what's going on? Everything is so quiet," she said.
really. This meeting started at seven o'clock this morning, and they've been
yelling constantly," he griped. Eve now heard upraised voices through the
solid oaken door. There was evidently a heated dispute going on inside. Bryant
had relaxed his attention a little and leaned against the wall. "No one
will see if I take a break. They will probably be in there for
you seen Adena?"
jerked a thumb towards the meeting. "She's in there. Haven't heard much
from her though. That's unusual--my uncle tells me that she is one of the most
vocal rulers that Furanose has seen."
could be pulling your leg. After all, I've heard that she has viscous temper
if provoked." They laughed softly at the thought of Adena throwing a
tantrum. However, they stopped as they heard a new voice--feminine--over the
room within became silent except for that one voice. As they listened, Eve
couldn't make out what was being said. "She's speaking the national
dialect. She must be pretty upset."
is?" Bryant gave her the "who-else" look. They heard a chair
grated jarringly across the floor. Suddenly, the door flung wide open and
smashed loudly into the marble wall next to Bryant and Eve.
you not taught and told to remain at attention, Lieutenant?"
Enchantress," Bryant quavered as he snapped upright. Eve felt as if she
were the cause of his reprimand. She had never seen Adena this angry; the
stories apparently were true.
hardly glanced at Eve after putting Bryant in his place. Eve noticed something
different about her friend--in addition to the temper. Adena's eyes were
flashing with rage and her cheeks were flushed. She took to the stairs and
bounded up them, swishing the curls of her hair.
looked back to the Council room where the representatives were filing out.
They looked properly chastised and were discussing the idiocy of the
suggestion that they had made. As Adena had curtly explained to them, they
realized that she had made provisions for such needs. Toltec was the last out
of the room and he shut the door behind him.
was the Adena that he remembered. Stubborn, determined and completely untamed,
those were attributes that aided her effectiveness as a ruler, however. Eve's
hand on his sore arm brought him from his musing.
happened in there?" she asked very concerned.
really. She patiently tried to explain several things to them, but they
continued to drown her out with their yelling..."
to exempt yourself, Toltec?" asked one of the councilwomen. "If I
recall, you were in a rather heated debate with Marc."
tried," Toltec said as he shrugged his shoulders.
Enchantress showed us how petty we were getting in there. We brought it down
on our own heads," the councilwoman finished, smiling. "She really
is an excellent ruler; we wouldn't trade her for the world!! She paused for a
minute and then continued. "It's horrid that she lost her children with
the trouble we had late last year. Furanose will eventually need an heir; we
all die sometime."
am sure that the Enchantress is quite capable of handling her life,
Lania," Toltec snapped back.
think that I can't read your mind, Toltec. I wasn't born yesterday." That
was true enough, Lania was one of the most respected delegates in Furanose--a
place earned through years of service.
that supposed to mean?" Eve asked, thinking the woman was slurring
imp," replied Toltec, warning Lania with an upraised brow. He decided to
leave the conversation then and go to Adena. He started up the stairs and the
two women remained conversing in the foyer. A door slammed upstairs and Adena
came barrelling down the stairs. It was then Eve realized that she looked very
hair was loosely curled about her shoulder instead of hanging loose with a
slight wave. Usually adorned in the fabrics of royalty and state affair, she
was now clothed in well worn denims and pullover sweater that showed off her
trim figure. Her footsteps clomped with anger accented by the leather boots on
her feet. Adena looked beautiful, but the incident that drew the women's
attentions was Toltec's response.
had zipped by him without so much as a glance. Toltec had expected this and
had reached out and snared her by one of the belt loops. this brought her to a
screeching halt. He had pulled her back up a couple stairs, still firmly
linked to the loop.
leaned towards Eve and whispered. "See one doesn't need to read his mind.
He would be more than happy to solve the problem I posed." Eve still
looked nonplused. "Think about it," Lania had said laughing.
They had then turned back to the drama unfolding on the staircase. Adena was
obviously in no mood to be trifled with at all; Toltec seemed to take a
nonchalant attitude. Adena pulled back slightly as if to go back down the
stairs and then suddenly vaulted to the handrail on the staircase. Toltec
hadn't expected this at all; he was left holding a belt loop while Adena slid
gracefully down the banister. She stalked outside to the stables.
you have now got the best 'one that got away' story of them all," said
Lania between laughs. Toltec smiled slightly as he watched Eve and Lania laugh
even harder. One characteristic that he had forgotten to
**********WHAT WILL SHE THINK OF NEXT?**********
went out to the stables to find Adena. She had already left said the
stableboy. She had taken Prism to the city. Toltec thanked the lad and went to
the edge of the forest around the castle. He whistled softly to the trees;
soon, he was answered by several rumblings and mewings. Then two beady eyes
stared out and recognizing him, they were followed by the rest of the
was Not--short of course for Dragon. A few dragons still existed on Earth, the
highest population was in the forests of Furanose, and most were extremely
gentle. Nog was Toltec's pet and favorite steed, probably because it was the
only thing that could keep pace with Adena's danae.
grunted quietly as Toltec scratched its scaly head. Its scales were iridescent
green and were warm and dry. Nog had big brown eyes and a teasing personality.
Toltec always rode him bareback--there isn't really any way to put a saddle on
a dragon--and he did so now. Nog flapped his proportionately small wings and
took off towards his destination--Selena. Selena was a large open field a good
distance from Odina, but close enough by danae or dragon. It was the sight of
the annual Selena Stance, started on Adena's eighteenth birthday when Toltec
had been its first winner. Unknown to most, Adena also favored this spot and
kept a small stable in the forest for her horses and training.
landed Nog in some forest cover nearby. He led his pet to the open field and
not a thing was stirring. Nog sneezed politely to cover up the dragon
equivalent of a laugh, and Toltec playfully smacked him on the head. Hearing a
noise, both hushed as Adena easily landed her steed on the snow covered turf.
Prism pranced around, glad for the exercise, while Adena slipped into the
stable and led out Tango. Following Tango was a very young foal; it was
brillantly colored with a goldenrod blend.(Orange from his mother; yellow from
his sire.) Already it vainly flapped its delicate wings in the cold winter
air; its horn--very sharp indeed--swung playfully as he charged Prism who
easily sidestepped him. Adena let the horses romp in the snow while she
reclined against a snowbank.
wanted to play as well, but Toltec knew danaes weren't as trusting of other
creatures. For himself though...Adena hadn't guessed a thing, until the snow
from the limbs above her fell into her lap.
jumped up brushing the cold snow off her face. She turned on Toltec, "You
are the most stubborn, unpredictable, undisciplined person that I know, "
rude," she continued.
I said," he goaded.
are too kind."
She stomped her foot in frustration.
You...you conceited, chauvanistic politician!" She paused and frowned.
"I'm running out of adjectives."
couldn't help but laugh. "Feel better now?"
if you fell worse."
you don't mean that."
not, but what if I do?" She whistled to the Goldenrod, the foal, who
galloped clumsily towards her. She pointed in Toltec's direction and as
goldenrod tried to stop in front of him, he slipped and collided, sending
Toltec into the snow." Fell better now?" she asked smugly.
almost forgotten what a viscious vixen you are," he said pushing away the
foal who was trying to graze his hair. "Are you going to help me
reason why I should." She crossed her arms firmly and shook her head. She
led the foal gently away though as Toltec shoved himself out of the snow.
Tango followed Adena to the stable where she was fed and combed. Toltec stood
at the door watching her care for her beloved steeds. Adena then called Prism
into the Stable where she took off the saddle and bridle and bedded this horse
down as well.
leaving Prism, too."
needs some company and I most certainly cannot stay. "
do you intend to get back to the palace?"
she said sarcastically. "How about you?" she asked as she locked the
power." Adena shivered slightly and not with the cold. She didn't have
any particular fondness for dragons and for good reason. "Do you want a
with you I don't."
attitude, " he said as she pushed past him.
Adena was purposefully sarcastic; Nog lowered his eyes and looked at her feet
wistfully. Adena had an empathy for all creatures and a soft spot. She was
having trouble resisting this lizard. "Hi there." She extended her
hand towards its large nose; Nog snuffled her hand greedily.
think he likes your perfume."
think he wants to eat me." Nog licked her hand. "See--give him a
taste and he'll take a bite."
turned as they heard a rustle of wings behind them. "My ride," Adena
said as she saddled Equapo. "See you back at the castle--in an hour or
going somewhere else?"
she said mounting her steed, "it'll take you that long to get
there." She nudged Equapo upwards and homeward; soon, Toltec and Nog were
flying alongside them. "Not bad for an animated handbag," she called
to him. Nog acted extremely miffed at her insinuation.
it went, they both arrived at the palace in midafternoon. The stablehands took
Equapo to the barn and Nog trudged back to the trees. Toltec watched his pet
go safely home and he turned to go to his. Adena had already gone inside and
was talking to Eve. Eve smirked when Toltec came in--he would get Lania for
drawing room was warm and merry. A large fire crackled in the hearth to warm
those who had wandered outside. Eve obviously couldn't resist any longer.
"How's your arm, Toltec? Lania said that it might be giving you
trouble." Her face was beaming with the humor.
imp." Toltec walked to the sideboard to pour himself a drink.
"Anyone else?" Eve nodded and he responded, "Not for little
ones like you." She stamped her foot in impatience; she got her glass of
wine as did Bryant who had joined them. Adena had gone to her bedroom, where
she had changed and combed her hair, which now waved deeply around her
shoulders. She slipped back into the study and froze. Something was scaring
her in this room and she couldn't put her finger on it. She looked around the
dimly lit room; her Amulet was quiet--there was no magical presence to be wary
of. The wool sweater seemed to expose her to a chilling air; she shook her
head--her imagination was getting the best of her.
left quickly and shut the door. Coming downstairs, she went to the drawing
room. She was immediatley challenged to team klitik. Eve and Adena easily
wiped Bryant and Toltec out several times. After that, Bryant asked Eve to
accompany him to a party for another lieutenant. Eve readily agreed--she did
love parties--and they left.
Marc Pruitt came in shortly thereafter to talk to Adena. Soon, he and Toltec
were moving to another room to discuss upcoming politics; Adena was left in
the drawing room alone. She picked a book off the laden shelves and stretched
out on the couch to read. By the time Toltec returned from his debate, the
book had dropped to the floor and Adena was fast asleep.
sat on the floor beside the couch, leaning his back against it. The palace was
relatively quiet tonight and it became oppressively ominous. He glanced
back--she was sleeping softly--to check the Amulet's report which was nothing.
She lay to temptingly close to him for him not to again consider her beauty
and talents. He gently pushed the hair from her face and ran a finger along
was up like a shot--the spell had broken. "What on earth is going
bet." She looked at the clock. "Is Eve back yet?"
Her eyes were highlighted in the firelight. "Come here."
beg your pardon," she answered slightly indignant. "I am not your
vixen. I'll come to you." He leaned her back against the couch to kiss
her. His hand was entwined in her hair, anchoring her firmly to the couch.
he drew back, sarcasm had reign. "That's quite enough from you,
for you," he quipped.
you really can annoy me at times." Her anger had been spent early in the
day and she found little to draw on.
as much as you do me." He released her hair, letting his hand slide under
her chin. "M'lady," he said, kissing her hand as he rose.
stared at the floor, quite at a loss for a comeback. She stood up and replaced
the book. Turning around, she found him behind her. "Good
didn't reply, but drew her up to him and kissed her again. "You're
staring, Adena. Is something wrong?"
started slightly. "No, nothing's wrong."
night, Adena," he said turning from her. She raised an eyebrow at his
back; she knew his game, but she had almost fallen for it.
night, Toltec. See you..." She left him to go to her bedroom.
our dreams," he finished for her.
| ||© 1985, ||K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft|