The Dawn of the Raven Omnibus 1: Episodes 1-5

BOOK: The Dawn of the Raven Omnibus 1: Episodes 1-5
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The Dawn of the Raven Omnibus 1:
Episodes 1-5 © 2012 J.L. Blackthorne.  All rights reserved.  No part of this
work may be reproduced, transmitted, or otherwise disseminated in any form
without the author’s permission.

This is a work of fiction.  Names,
characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, alive or dead,
events, or places is completely coincidental.

http://jlblackthorne.blogspot.com/

Author
is a proud member of the
Consortium
of Rogue Authors

 

Note:

This serial is for adults only.  Some
episodes contain adult content, including adult language, explicit sex, and
graphic violence.

 

Table of Contents

 

Episode 1: An Unwelcome Guest

Episode 2: Bitter Enemies

Episode 3: Unexpected Friends

Episode 4: Strange Bedfellows

Episode 5: A Happy Trio

 

 

The Dawn of the Raven

Episode 1:

An Unwelcome Guest

 

Captain Vol couldn’t believe it.  Was it really her?  His
eyes strained to pierce through the darkness.  Though his men assured him it
was her, he wouldn’t believe it until he could see her up close.  He watched
anxiously from afar as the figure surrendered herself at the gate.  Captain Vol
and his men had stood watch at the gate to the palace of Ragan for many years
but, if this were really her, Raveena, the greatest warrior in the realm, the
fiercest asset of their arch-rival Typhorians, then this was a night to stand
above all others.  Her cloak covered her face, but still, as she approached in
the custody of his guards, the captain became more and more confident that it
was truly her.  Why?  Why would the cruelest, most vile killer in the realm,
his sworn enemy, surrender herself?  Even though he recognized her by her lithe
frame, the Typhorian crest worn proudly on the clasp of her hood, and the
unmistakable hilt of her famous sword, Deathraken, which had cut down so many
of their greatest warriors, he still waited, breathless, for her to reveal
herself so he could know for sure.  She held her hands up in a gesture of peace
as she drew close to him.  Once she was within twenty paces of him, the captain
ordered her to stop.  Obviously, he could allow her to go no further until she
was disarmed.  Perhaps, he thought to himself, he’d already allowed her to come
too far.  He didn’t doubt his own fighting prowess, or the skills of his men,
yet still, the reputation that Raveena had earned on the battlefield was
unparalleled.   No, he reassured himself, if this were a brash assassination
attempt on King Resnos it was ill-conceived.  Even she couldn’t best all of the
king’s guards, storm the palace, and kill the king alone, but she was of such
skill that only a fool would have allowed her within one hundred paces of the
king with a weapon.  The captain instructed his men to block her entry, and
they obliged, though they held their ground before her with shaky hands.  The
captain cleared his throat, and then addressed her.

“What brings
you to our palace?”

She stopped and only then, finally, did she pull back her
cloak and allow them to verify her identity.  It was her, Raveena.  Her long,
dark hair was tied back in a way that gave little clue to its true length and
lushness; her beautiful dark, cold eyes were filled with an intensity that
belied her youth.  If it were not for her unparalleled ability to cleave men’s
souls from their bodies on the battlefield, she would have been renowned
throughout the realm for her astonishing beauty.  Though they fawned at her
incredible beauty, each of the guards trembled in the wake of her gaze whenever
her eyes met theirs.  After surveying the odds around her, her eyes fixed upon
the captain’s, and she spoke.  

“I come here
in good will.  I wish to speak to the king.”

Captain Vol looked her over carefully.  She was a feast for
the eyes of any man.  Not even the captain was immune to her gorgeous form. 
Yet her eyes, as beautiful as they were, were cold, uncompromising.  She did
not look like a messenger of good will.

“The king? 
You are our sworn enemy.  Do you carry with you the right to speak for all of
your people?  Are you offering terms of a surrender?”

“A
surrender?”  Her eyes grew scornful, incensed by the suggestion.  The captain’s
hand tightened around the handle of his sword.  After a moment, though, her
visage eased, and she continued.  “No.  I’m not here to represent my people. 
This matter has nothing to do with the conflict between our nations, but rather
for the survival and welfare of all of the people of this realm.”

The captain found her meaning elusive, but he also knew that
the most pressing business was to part her from Deathraken.  As long as it hung
there, ready at her hip, none of the guards could breathe easily, no matter how
many they outnumbered her by.       

“Whatever
your reason for being here, noble or otherwise, I cannot allow you to go even
one step further until you’ve relinquished your blade, and allowed my men to
search you.”

The beauty lowered her gaze.  Her hand went slowly to the
hilt of Deathraken, then paused.  The guards all took firm grasp of the handles
of their own blades, ready to brandish them and strike immediately if
necessary, though all were fearful of the task, even though they had her
surrounded.  Finally, she looked up and nodded to the captain, and unsheathed
her blade slowly and kneeled and laid it on the ground before her. 
Collectively, the guards took a deep breath.  The fear of being cut down by the
great Raveena waned, but just as quickly as it fled, a new thought went through
many of their minds at once: the thought that now was the time to strike.  A
moment and opportunity lay before them that may never come again.  Countless of
their brothers, their fellow soldiers, had fallen to that very blade and the
warrior before them.  With her there, right in front of them unarmed, if they
could just be given the order, any one of them could be the greatest hero in
their kingdom: the man who brought down Raveena.  Captain Vol, sensing the tension,
quickly worked to re-established order.

“Yarek, take
her blade.  Fraen, search her.  Make sure she is unarmed.”

Both men, still trembling, did as they were commanded.  As
they fulfilled their tasks, the captain sent his assistant, a young woman, into
the palace to give news of what was transpiring.  Raveena cooperated, raising
her arms and opening her cloak, allowing herself to be searched.  When this was
completed, all stood and waited awkwardly for word to be brought from the
palace chamber.  When the captain’s assistant returned, she was accompanied not
by one of the king’s pages, as the captain would have expected, but by Rahm,
the king’s most distinguished and trusted advisor and, by all accounts, the
most powerful man in the palace next to the king himself.

Rahm was a striking figure.  He was long and lean, much
taller than the average man, but his back was bowed and his was neck craned so
that his true stature was only hinted at, and hadn’t been fully realized in
decades.  He was always dressed decadently in the finest ceremonial robes, yet
his personal hygiene was in direct discord with this.  He refused to cut his
nails; perhaps because he felt they were a symbol of his position and stature,
as he hadn’t been forced to do any labor or true work with his hands in ages,
or perhaps they were indicative of the fact that his mind and cunning were
sharper and more powerful than any blade or tool he could wield.  His hair was
stringy and unwashed, and only grew just above his ears and just above the back
of his neck, with the rest of his scalp bare.  Yet, what little hair he had
left he had not allowed to be cut since his youth: it cradled around his neck
like tendrils.  His limbs were long, seemingly abnormally so now since they
were in accordance with his true height, not the foot or so shorter that he
appeared, and also made all the longer by their slightness, as they appeared
emaciated almost to the point of being skeletal, a further token and badge he
wore proudly as it showed that he did not need physical strength, and that his
body had not been forced to stoop to the lowliness of true exercise in years. 

Rahm scowled at the beautiful maiden warrior.  He found his
disapproving gaze met in kind.  He chuckled to himself, as it was not often
that he found anyone brash enough to meet his eyes directly at all, let alone
with the heated scorn and distrust that these beautiful eyes gave back to him. 
He asked if she had been properly searched, and then, after being assured that
it was so, he ordered the guards to place her into bondage.  Raveena resisted
immediately.

“I will not
submit to arrest.  I’m not here as an enemy.  I am here in a peaceful capacity,
with information to help protect this very kingdom, this entire realm.  I will
not be treated as a prisoner.”

“Miss
Raveena.  I assure you, this is merely a formality” Rahm told her, in his
warmest and most reassuring tone.  “Put yourself in my shoes: I have before me
the sworn enemy of my people, our rival kingdom’s greatest warrior, and she is
requesting audience with my liege.  How can I possibly grant you entry without
taking the greatest of precautions?  I, of course, believe you completely and
take you at your word that you are here peacefully, but I would not be doing my
job and, indeed, I would not be paying you the proper respect that your legacy
on the battlefield has earned you if I did not take every security measure here
in my power.”

The maiden warrior paused again.  The soldiers awaited her
response, fearful to approach her against her will.  She finally relinquished,
and allowed the guards to approach, who did so warily still, as if she were a
lioness rather than a human.

Even disarmed and shackled, the sight of Raveena elicited
nervous gasps as she passed through the palace halls to the throne room for her
audience with the king.  King Resnos had faced countless men on the battlefield,
crushing the skulls of the fiercest with his mighty battle axe, yet even he
still felt ill at ease when Raveena was brought before him and made to bow in
deference, for such was the warrior maiden’s reputation for cruelty and prowess
on the field of battle.  Rahm proudly presented the king with Deathraken.  He stared
at it carefully, running his hand over the intricacies of the jeweled hilt.  As
his fingers traced slowly along the cold blade, which had been soaked in the
blood of so many of his bravest and greatest men, he spoke.

“You are
well-known to me, Raveena.  You are the greatest of all the Typhorian
warriors.  You have killed countless of my men.  But, I am told that you come
in peace.  What is the meaning of your presence here?”

The beauty brought her head up from her bow.  Clearly, the
warrior maiden was uncomfortable.  Servility did not suit her, especially not
towards the king of her sworn enemy.  Yet, she did her best to push aside her
contempt and address him as formally as possibly.

“Your
majesty, I have come here to warn you of a grave danger.”

The king stared at her suspiciously, but nodded for her to
proceed.  She looked around the chamber.  All around her stood Raganeans, her
sworn enemies.  Their faces varied from looks of pure hatred to utter terror. 
She gathered her will and then continued.

“Though our
kingdoms stand against one another now, there was a time when our people stood
united as one, and drove back a common enemy.”

Rahm leaned in and whispered to his king. 

“I smell a
trap, your highness.  You cannot trust her.”

The king brushed aside Rahm with a wave of his hand.  He
responded to the warrior maiden.

“You mean
the Great War.”  The king leaned forward in his throne.  “The War of the
Realm.  This was four hundred years ago.  Much has changed since then.  Most in
the realm have long forgotten that antiquated time, and much has occurred
between our peoples since then.  What could be important enough to brush aside
all of our quarrels?”

“The same
threat as before, your majesty: the Gekken return.”

The entire hall erupted in whisper.  Rahm leaned in again to
speak in the king’s ear.

“Sir, she is
lying, this is a trap.  Think of the men she has killed, the battles that have
been lost because of her blade.  Now is the greatest opportunity you have ever
had to end this war.   Kill her now, and you could tilt the tide forever in our
favor.  Our kingdom will take its rightful place as the rulers of this entire
realm.”

Again, King Resnos brushed aside his advisor.  Immediately,
as soon as the king’s hand was raised, silence pervaded the chamber.  He
continued.

“The
Gekken?  Our great ancestors pushed the Gekken back to the deepest recesses of
the Far Realm centuries ago.  Their numbers were shattered.  They were crushed
and crippled by the defeat.  They are no longer a danger.”

“You are
wrong” stated Raveena.  Her gaze grew more focused, her tone more grim.  “They
are back.  I have seen them, with my own eyes.  That is why I am here.”

BOOK: The Dawn of the Raven Omnibus 1: Episodes 1-5
9.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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