< Prev Next ("Fear: The Strongest Emotion") >
^ Index ^ Home  
By Author (Danae Conrad):
  < Prev Next >
Keywords:  
Search index:

GAMES OF LOVE AND POWER

BY: DANAE CONRAD

The 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 study.

She 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.

However, 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.

"Good morning, what's going on? Everything is so quiet," she said.

"Not 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 hours."

"Have you seen Adena?"

He 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."

"He 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 bickering.

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."

"Who 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.

"Were you not taught and told to remain at attention, Lieutenant?"

"Yes, 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.

Adena 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.

Eve 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.

This 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.

"What happened in there?" she asked very concerned.

"Nothing really. She patiently tried to explain several things to them, but they continued to drown her out with their yelling..."

"Trying to exempt yourself, Toltec?" asked one of the councilwomen. "If I recall, you were in a rather heated debate with Marc."

"I tried," Toltec said as he shrugged his shoulders.

"The 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."

"I am sure that the Enchantress is quite capable of handling her life, Lania," Toltec snapped back.

"Don't 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.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Eve asked, thinking the woman was slurring Adena.

"Nothing, 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 different.

Her 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.

Adena 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.

Lania 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 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.

"Boy, 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 list--unpredictability.

**********WHAT WILL SHE THINK OF NEXT?**********

Toltec 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 creature.

It 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.

Nog 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.

Toltec 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.

Nog 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.

She jumped up brushing the cold snow off her face. She turned on Toltec, "You are the most stubborn, unpredictable, undisciplined person that I know, " she shouted.

"Except for you."

"And rude," she continued.

"As I said," he goaded.

"Obnoxious!"

"You are too kind."

"Flatterer." She stomped her foot in frustration.

"Finished?"

"NO! You...you conceited, chauvanistic politician!" She paused and frowned. "I'm running out of adjectives."

He couldn't help but laugh. "Feel better now?"

"Only if you fell worse."

"Adena, you don't mean that."

"Probably 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.

"I'd 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 up?"

"No 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.

"You're leaving Prism, too."

"Tango needs some company and I most certainly cannot stay. "

"How do you intend to get back to the palace?"

"Walk," she said sarcastically. "How about you?" she asked as she locked the stable door.

"Dragon 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 ride home?"

"Not with you I don't."

"Pleasant attitude, " he said as she pushed past him.

"What is that?!"

"Nog."

"Nice." 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.

"I think he likes your perfume."

"I think he wants to eat me." Nog licked her hand. "See--give him a taste and he'll take a bite."

They 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 so."

"You're going somewhere else?"

"No," 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.

As 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 her comments.

The 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.

"Fine, 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.

She 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.

Councilman 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.

He 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 her cheek.

She was up like a shot--the spell had broken. "What on earth is going on?"

"Not much."

"I bet." She looked at the clock. "Is Eve back yet?"

"No." Her eyes were highlighted in the firelight. "Come here."

"I beg your pardon," she answered slightly indignant. "I am not your dragon."

"Alright, 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.

When he drew back, sarcasm had reign. "That's quite enough from you, sir."

"Maybe for you," he quipped.

"Toltec, you really can annoy me at times." Her anger had been spent early in the day and she found little to draw on.

"Not 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.

Adena 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 night."

He didn't reply, but drew her up to him and kissed her again. "You're staring, Adena. Is something wrong?"

She started slightly. "No, nothing's wrong."

"Good 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.

"Good night, Toltec. See you..." She left him to go to her bedroom.

"In 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

< Prev ^ Index ^ Home Next ("Fear: The Strongest Emotion") >

Add Comment:

Please use this form to add your own comments regarding this story. Your IP address will be logged.

Name:
Email:
Comment: