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Old 04-17-2012, 05:57 PM   #1

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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hello friends,

here's a story one of my healer colleagues handed to me. I haven't read it yet, but he said it had some really juicy gossip on the Queen.

// Aquarius Nova

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Old 04-17-2012, 05:58 PM   #2

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Antonia's Secret

You who read this, know that I, Ignomus Selmo, Royal Physician in service of Antonia Bayle, told these words on my death bed. As I will soon be beyond the reach of both the Magistrate and any would-be assassin, I've decided to reveal all about the terrible secret which cuts to the very core of our fair city of Qeynos.

For many years, I was the personal physician of our wise and beloved ruler, Antonia Bayle. The Queen, despite being an accomplished speaker and having a good sense of politics, had always been one to love the taste of the midnight wine. She was always attending this or that party, or throwing her own at the Royal Palace, and large quantities of food and drink were always consumed. Many a night I watched the Queen come home, escorted by a royal guard, in a sorely inebriated condition.

Over time, she started going on trips outside the fair city of Qeynos, which lasted for days, and from which she often came home drunk and exhausted. At times, she visited the nobles in Maj'Dul or Kelethin, other times, she rented a simple village tavern to use for the whole night. But when I inquired about what she had done and whom she had met, she was oftentimes secretive.

In the halls of the Royal Palace, concerned voices were raised about the cost of her entertainments, but as soon as it was brought up, she dismissed it with a hand-wave.

Then one night, I was awoken by a knock on the door. It was Antonia's personal servant, begging me to come to her attention."Isn't the Queen in Kelethin?" I asked. "We aren't expecting her back for two days.""No, sir, something's happened, sir!" the poor servant lady said. "We were thrown out..." then she went quiet. No matter how I inquired, I couldn't get any more out of her.

The Queen herself was in an agitated state. She was stumbling and flailing her arms in the hallway, and the poor guards who escorted her, dared not lay their hands on her royal person."... shtuck-up inshects...", the Queen mumbled. "... telling me what I schould do!" Then she tripped on her own feet and fell on a precious porcelain plate that was standing on a chest by the wall. I involuntarily held up my hand before my mouth. The plate was crafted by the great Alonysius Pomme as a gift to the Queen's own great-grandfather, and the only one of its kind. I drew a sigh of relief when the plate held for the weight of our gracious Queen leaning on it with both her hands. Then Her Majesty convulsed, and emptied the contents of her stomach over it. With revulsion, I looked at the Queen's dinner for the night - no doubt a very expensive mix of fruits, flower buds, and fermented nectars brewed with waters from the Moonlight Pond, now spread out over an antique plate, a finely carved sandalwood chest, and the drape hanging behind it on the wall.

I breathed deeply and collected myself. "My Queen, let me help you", I said and went up to her."Get your hansch off me!" she said, and put one palm against the wall to steady herself as she worked her way towards her bed chambers. After a moment, she paused to continue her speech. "Tell that Amree bitsch..." She stumbled a few more steps and stopped to hic-up. "... that I never want to..." Stumble. "... vishit her again! Never!" She resumed her walk with a somewhat brisker pace and mumbled, "Thinksh she'sh better dan everyonbody elsh..."As the Queen reached her doorway, the guards respectfully positioned themselves on either side, while I, in my role as Royal Physician, was allowed to follow her inside.

I opened a little cupboard beside her closet, where I had strategically placed a number of bottles and vials. Then I poured up some fresh water and started mixing a drink that would help her recuperate from the night's festivities.

The Queen, meanwhile, was watching me, her right arm wrapped around her bedpole to help her stand straight. She opened her mouth and tried to speak with as dignified a voice as she could muster."What do you think of that... bitsch... huh?" Her eyes flickered as she, no doubt, tried to find the proper words to express her sentiment. "Queen Amree-dee-dum...""I'm afraid I've never had the opportunity to meet her, Your Highness", I said, my attention now being focused on my task. I had to be careful to only put one drop in the brew from the vial I was now holding in my hands."Well, if you see her, tell her I've got newsh!"The Queen fumbled inside her clothing, and from her cleavage drew up a medium-sized purse. I was amazed that she had managed to hide the object in the scant cloth that barely covered the upper half of her chest. With a defiant twist of her wrist, she threw the purse at me, but it landed at my feet with a fine tingling sound."I don't need her gold anymore... or her dainty little... little flowersh!"As I had just finished the brew, I bent down to pick up the purse from the floor. It was half-open, and before I placed it on the cupboard, I couldn't resist taking a peek inside. It wasn't filled with gold coins, but with jewellery, so fine and exquisitely detailed that it looked Elven in origin. I placed the purse on the cupboard, but it lingered in my mind as I put the Queen to bed and resumed my own night's sleep.

The news of our Queen's arrival had spread through the city, and several of the noblemen expected her to hold court the following day to take care of some pressing matters. I was concerned that she wouldn't be up to the task, but as the clocktower chimed nine times, she stood straight and collected before her throne in her regal ensemble. Her eyes were still dark and creased from the drinking and lack of sleep, but fortunately, with her choice of clothing, the noblemen's eyes rarely lingered long on her face. I breathed a sigh of relief. Her Majesty held one of her inspiring speeches, and during recess, she even took time to thank me for my services the night before.

Everything was calm for a while now, except for the abundance of rumours that spread through the palace. It seemed the Queen paid all her drinking and entertainment expenses directly from her pocket - so to speak. Whenever she needed money, she sold some trinket that no one, until now, had seen in her possession. There were Kaladim diamonds, ebony from Maj'Dul, antique figurines from the Realm of Sky, exquisitely crafted Elven jewels from before The War of The Fay, and many more treasures, from all over the Shattered Lands and beyond.The Minister of The Treasury was relieved, of course, but the rest of us couldn't help but wonder where they came from.

As for the malais with Queen Amree in Kelethin, the Minister of The Exterior sent envoys to inquire discreetly. Through her servants, Queen Amree made it clear that Queen Antonia was no longer welcome in Kelethin, and there'd be no more trade agreements, although she'd honour the existing ones. When asking for a reason, our envoys were just told that "the Fae do not speak ill of people".For once, I was glad that Qeynos and Kelethin had a common enemy in Freeport; it seemed to be the only thing that held together our alliance for the moment.

There were also rumours that the Queen had hired carpenters and mages to build a secret teleporter gate inside her chambers, and when I, in a respectful tone, brought it up with her, she confirmed it. From now on, she used it for her personal trips of entertainment. I was at the same time worried, and relieved that the citizens of Qeynos would be spared from seeing her return to the palace in a less than dignified state.

Much time passed, and I was regularly called to our Queen's bedside to relieve her of minor maladies like headaches and nausea. Then one late night, just when I was about to go to bed, I realised I had forgotten to refill the Queen's supply of headache remedy. Knowing she was out on one of her trips, and not wanting to risk being the target of one of her fits, I grabbed the remedy and hastened to her chambers.

I slipped through the door and went up to the cupboard. Right then, I heard a noise from her boudoir. The Queen was already home!

I realised she was even more likely to be in one of her moods if the night had ended early. Without thinking, I dashed for the nearest door and slipped inside.

"I have expensesh, you know!" It was the Queen's inebriated voice I heard through the door. Then it was followed by a man's voice."But what about the necklace I gave you?"The man's voice was stately and commanding, and it felt vaguely familiar. But I didn't have time to think about it, because the Queen responded:"That cheap trash... It barely covered the party in Windshtalker Village!"Behind the door, my eyes opened wide. Was this the answer to where the Queen got her valuables? I couldn't resist peeking through the doorway.

I set my eye to the small opening, and not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the sight I saw, a sight that made the blood freeze in my veins.

Queen Antonia was sitting on her bed, and before her in her chambers, strong and imposing, stood Lucan d'Lere, Overlord and ruler of Freeport, sworn enemy of Qeynos!

Lucan looked down on Antonia and held out his hands. "I can't give you more. Freeport is taxed to it's limits!"The Queen looked up at him, defiantly. "If you hadn't shent me those jewels in front of the whole darn court, we'd shtill have our trade with... with Kelethin!""You can hardly fault me for that!"

In my mind, the pieces were all coming together. The truth seemed devastating. So this was where our Queen had got the money for her excessive drinking and socialising! From the hands of Qeynos' worst enemy! But what had she promised him in exchange? Land? Slaves? Our whole city delivered on a plate, ripe for the Overlord to plunder? I dared not think of it!

My thoughts were interrupted by the Queen's agitated voice. "I can do what I want! Out! I don't want to shee you!"

I stared through the doorway, and my eyes almost popped out when I saw what Lucan did next. A moment ago, I had barely brought myself to believe that our beloved Queen had betrayed Qeynos, but the truth was even more horrifying.

Before my eyes, Lucan d'Lere, Overlord of Freeport, knelt before Queen Antonia, and looking up at her, he said, "Please, mistress, don't send me away again! I can't bear to be without you!"

The Queen looked down at him and said, "You schould learn to treat a girl right, then! Now, go!" Then she raised an unsteady foot and pushed Lucan away with it.He frowned like a sad puppy, and said, "Wait, mistress, I've got another thing for you! In the chamber!"

Lucan turned around and went for the door I was hiding behind. I gasped. In panic, I turned around and saw a half-open closet. I rushed for it and closed the door as quietly as I could.

I expected to be standing in a dark, cramped space, but instead, I was standing in a large, dimly lit room. I looked around, and everything seemed so unfamiliar. There were several couches, and a lavish carpet, and in the middle stood a strange device that reminded me of an astrologer's planetarium. Did the Queen have an extra room that I'd never seen?

In my flustered state, it took me the better part of a minute to realise I must have stepped through the teleporter gate. But if it was the Overlord the Queen was visiting through the gate, then this must be...

No more had I thought that, before I heard someone coming round the corner into the room. I dove down behind a couch close to the wall, and tried to still my harried breath. The steps were soft, but determined, and stopped right before the couch I was hiding behind. I heard someone sniff the air twice, and say in a low voice, "Interesting..."

The voice was female and sounded malevolent, as if waiting to pounce at the first sign of weakness. I shivered in my hiding place, and images of horrible deaths started to fill my mind. What would they do if they found a Qeynosian citizen here, in the Overlord's floating citadel? Would they simply throw him down to the city below, sailing through the air until his bones were broken against the street, to be eaten by orcs and trolls? Or would they...

Then there was a noise from the teleporter. Whoever was in the room heard it too, because I caught a glimpse of something dark blue deftly moving to the opposite end of the room and diving behind a large chair.

"... No, that's not... Ouch!"I heard Lucan's voice again. He was backing out of the closet, just as his head was hit by a shoe flying at it. After him came Antonia, waving her fist at him."Scho you think I'm a drunk, huh? I'm not good enough for ya, huh?""No, no, darling... Ouch! Mistress...""Well you're gonna get rid of me! I'll make shure you never have to..." Antonia looked around, and grabbed a large poker that was leaning against the unlit fireplace. She raised it in the air, and with a force I'd never witnessed from her before, smashed it into the planetarium-like device in the middle of the room."No, Antonia, not that!" Lucan rushed up to her, but she raised the poker and stared at him. "Don't... toucsh... me!" she said through gritted teeth. Lucan slowly backed away, and Antonia resumed her energetic pounding of the machine. I was impressed and shocked over how determined she was, despite her inebriation.

"Please, Antonia, you don't know what you're doing! It's what's holding the citadel up!" Lucan said."I..." she said, pounding the poker into the device. "Know..." She pounded again. "Ekshaktly..." As she uttered the last word, the room around me shook, and a terrible creaking sound was heard."No...!" Lucan said."There!" Antonia said and threw the poker on a couch. She stumbled over a chair and walked back to the teleporter closet. "Don't come back until you... until you... learn to treat me like a lady!" She raised her nose in the air and walked through the door.

Lucan looked devastated. But from the opposite end of the room, a shadow moved. Quietly and deftly, the small, female figure stepped over the chair it had hid behind. Her dark blue skin glinted in the lamp light, as did her dark hair. The smile on her face would look natural on a cat that was playing with its catch. I could see now that it was a dark elf."Well, well, Lucan", she said. "So that's who you've been seeing lately."The whole room shook again. Lucan jerked and turned around."Tayil!" he said, suddenly on his edge.The room shivered, and I got a feeling that it was leaning. I started sweating.

The dark elf seemed unnaturally pleased, as if she didn't care that the building was falling down around them, or that the most dangerous man on the continent was staring at her with fury in his eyes. She just smiled, turned her head seductively, and spoke again."I'm sure the Temple of War will be pleased to hear that all those taxes have been used for a... good... purpose. Oh, and the Militia. And, the Academy. And...""Get to the point, woman! The citadel will crash down any minute!"The dark elf pursed her lips and looked at him from under her eyes. "To make a long story short, I think you've deserved a vacation. Somewhere far, far from here. And don't worry, I'll take good care of the city in your absence.""You treacherous little..." Lucan hissed and grabbed the hilt of his sword. "Never!"The dark elf deftly moved sideways, and moved her hands around her waist. Suddenly, there was a knife in one of them."You don't want to do that, Lucan", she said. "You know I'm faster than you, and once I'm out of this room, I have no reason to fight you. I'll just whisper in a few ears, and you'll no longer be the most feared man on Norrath. You'll be the most... laughed at one." Her smile glinted again.

Lucan slowly moved his hand from the hilt. From my limited point of view, it seemed like he was putting a lot of restraint on himself. "I know this must be hard on you. You must be jealous..."The dark elf turned her head back and laughed. It was the most chilling laugh I've ever heard, not because it was hollow or cold, but because it sounded so natural and full of joy."Oh, Lucan, you humans are an endless source of amusement! The greatest strength of our race is patience, and yet, so many confuse it with weakness! So many years have I waited in your shadow for the right moment to strike, that you've forgotten who -- or what -- I am!"The dark elf leaned forward towards Lucan. She was on the offensive now, so sure of herself. "Leave the Shattered Lands and go into hiding, and I'll keep your affair secret! I'll need to make up something to keep people content, won't I? I'll say you were kidnapped by the void creatures!" She leaned her head back again and smiled wryly. "That way, you'll have a chance to win back your city one day - if you're good enough!"

Lucan slowly released the sheath of his sword. He looked defeated now. Too much had been piled upon him in too short a time. He was getting ready to say something, when the dark elf suddenly stiffened and sniffed in the air.

"Why do I still feel... Lucan, do you have any other humans here?""What? No..."The dark elf moved her head to peer beside the couch, and her eyes looked directly at me."A spy!" she said. She held her knife sideways in front of her and took a step forward. Her movements were terrifying. Despite her small size, I had no doubt she could slice me open in several places before I could even lay a hand on her.She smiled at me and said, "Well, well, let's see what you --"

The room shook violently. Lucan fell sideways, and the dark elf leaped to avoid him, but tripped on a table that was sliding towards her. Without thinking, I got up on my feet, and rushed to the teleporter. Fear gives men wings, the bards say, and I can testify to it myself. Behind me, I heard the voice of the treacherous dark elf say, "Don't think..." Then I slammed open the door to the closet with my whole body, and tumbled down on the floor of Antonia's chambers, panting. Behind me, the closet shook and creaked a little, then went quiet. Suspiciously, I peered into it from a distance, but the gate was gone. From the room beyond me, I could hear the Queen snoring.

Since then, much time has passed, and Overlord Lucan d'Lere has returned to rule Freeport. My own days are coming to an end, and by dictating this to my faithful pupil on my deathbed, I hope to ease my conscience and leave this world with a lighter heart. Know the terrible secret of Queen Antonia Bayle and Lucan d'Lere, of why the Overlord's Citadel came crashing down and he himself went missing, and of why for such a long time there was no money to reconstruct Freeport. May we all learn from the truth, and may future generations be kind on all our memories.

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Old 05-15-2012, 01:42 AM   #3

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darn this is not about a Norrathian Herald owned magazine with lingerie.

Anything you can achieve through hard work, you can also just buy.

-Stephen Colbert

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