Authors: Robbie Collins
Gate Way Publishers
Copyright ©2005 by Robbie Collins
First published in August 2008, 2008
The High Queen's Vow, Book IV of The Mystic Women of The Realm series
Copyright © 2005 Robbie Collins
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. No part of this book may be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the expressed written permission of the publisher.
For information, contact Gate Way Publishers, 164 Robles Way #188, Vallejo, California 94591 USA. Visit us on the World Wide Web at www.gate-way-publishers.com.
ISBN: 0-9635703-7-4 (print edition)
Cover Artwork by Amanda Davidson and digitally enhanced by J. E. Depew.
Book Design and Interior by DigitalWrite: www.digitalwrite.com
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The High Queen read the words on the display screen:
Who are you? Why do you call yourselves the Mystic Women of the Realm? Aren't you the descendants of Sansthera I, from Earth?
She wasn't pleased, “They have sent another message."
She read it to them.
There was silence for a moment, then Sam spoke, “They think we are humans, from their realm."
"Some of us are, remember?"
"Earth. They call their realm Earth."
"Are you going to respond?"
"They seem like they wish to speak more with us."
The High Queen ignored their cacophony, already responding. She pressed the buttons that allowed her to spell out the message she wished to send. When she was done, she looked up at them. “I have sent one final message prior to our departure to El'fs'nd'lle. I have said:
We are not your descendants. We are not humans. We are the Mystic Women of The Realm. You are not welcomed on our Realm. Return to your Earth. This Realm is already inhabited. Do not come here.
"They will respond again, Highness."
"Yes, Force Leader. I am aware of this. If they return not to their home, I will respond to them at a later moment, prior to their arrival."
"Perhaps they will be unable to return home, my Queen."
"Perhaps, Black Uthrn. I have thought of this possibility. But it is overly soon to be concerned. We will consider them later, if need arises. Now we must depart to El'fs'nd'lle. Force Leader. Is all in preparation?"
Ann'wn slightly bowed her head, “Yes, my Queen. We will begin our journey as one group, but will separate so as to create a diversion, if we must. We have also decided to take the longer route, Highness, with your leave."
San'lr'in’ breathed deeply, closing her eyes in hopes of restoring her patience. She re-opened them and stared at her Force Leader. Sighing, and knowing her patience was failing her, she said, “Our never-ending journey becomes even longer, then. What is your plan?"
Ann'wn heard the frustration of their journey's length in her Queen's voice, but also knew that it wasn't her privilege to respond to it, “We will ride west by many turns into the great expanse, then north, my Queen. Once well north, we will travel east, arriving well north of El'fs'nd'lle. They will not be expecting us to come to El'fs'nd'lle from this direction."
"Nor was I."
The High Queen knew that their journey to El'fs'nd'lle was, no matter the route, to be a dangerous one, filled with their enemies lying in wait for them. While her powers were now strong and longing to be used, the using of the great powers yet left her weakened. El'fs'nd'lle was, at its shortest and quickest route from Sansthera, a full five-turn ride. From what her Force Leader had told her, she now knew that their journey was to be at least twice more the already long ride.
She took one last look at all the technology of the humans, wondering what the humans did if their machines broke. As she turned to leave the long building, she sensed that her message would do nothing to deter the humans’ arrival.
Sle'nel’ met her at the door, “We must give our farewells to Sume'."
The High Queen nodded, sighing yet again, “My patience leaves Me. Perhaps it is the better view that we take the long route to El'fs'nd'lle so that I may restore My senses to Me."
They walked through Sansthera, back to her sister's dwelling. The High Queen observed the town, remembering that both Sle'nel’ and Sam had said that it reminded them of Woden, “Tell Me how this town resembles your prior Woden, My Desire."
Sle'nel’ pointed out the layout of the dwellings and the paths between them, “Woden is built in the same pattern as this except that these paths are much wider. Perhaps for those machines that traveled on the soft wheels that were shown to us.” She pointed to the five center buildings, “In Woden, there was one center building similar to this, and was for the Highest. Woden has a wall that surrounds the entire main town, with two main gates, such as here. Woden is also built near the water and has docks, such as this one, but Woden's are larger, and more used."
"The women who escaped from here used the same design, then. Are Woden's dwellings such as these central ones? Domed?"
"No. I have never prior seen such as these."
Caithryn approached San'lr'in', kneeling and bowing her head as she did so, “Great High Queen. The High Priestess awaits you and the Elf."
"Rise, Caithryn. How do her wounds fare this turn?"
"Much improved, Highness."
They followed Caithryn, Sle'nel’ squeezing San'lr'in's arm just prior to entering, “Patience, San'lr'in'. We leave in a moment only."
San'lr'in’ placed her hand tenderly on Sle'nel's cheek, looking into her golden Elfin eyes, “I thank th—"
Her sister interrupted her, “Are you going to just stand there, or are you going to allow the Elf in so we may speak?"
San'lr'in’ lowered her hand, then took a deep breath, “My apologies, Sister.” She made a slight motion for Sle'nel’ to enter first.
"So. You finally leave. You probably leave my town in shambles."
Sle'nel’ sat on the bed beside her, “San'lr'in’ was wondering if you needed some of her guards to remain behind until you can recruit new ones, since so many of yours were found to be traitors."
"Why would you do as such? To spy on me?"
The High Queen shook her head, “No, Sume'n'tinel'ti'non. This is not so. It is a temporary gift only, and only at your desire. If you have no desire for these few guards to remain, then please allow a messenger to do so. You can send Me updated reports on what the Sansthera II humans send in way of messages."
The High Priestess looked at Sle'nel', but speaking to The High Queen, “You will need all your guards to get the Elf safely to El'fs'nd'lle. While I need the guards, you will have greater need of them so as to protect the Young One and this Elf of ours."
"When did you start liking Elves?"
"Just her. And the Young One."
"I will leave a few guards for you. They will be at your command, and will remain until you have retrained enough forces. The Realm needs you also, Sister."
"I know you leave them to spy upon me, but I will accept them for now. Perhaps if all goes well here, I will meet you at the gates of El'fs'nd'lle."
San'lr'in’ was surprised, “You? At El'fs'nd'lle? I thought the Elves a R'kin'dles long-prior enemy."
"Perhaps it is the moment for change, or are you as stubborn as this?” She looked at Sle'nel', “How do you stand remaining with her? If you ever desire someone who will cater to your every desire, come to me, Elf, and I will guarantee you eternal happiness. Look about you. Would you not enjoy living here in all this beauty? What does she possibly offer you?"
Sle'nel’ took her Queen's arm into her own, smiling at Sume', “I will miss you also, High Priestess, and am most pleased that we were able to come to Sansthera. I hope we will meet again, soon."
As they spoke their farewells to the High Priestess, Ann'wn, Uthrn, Sam and Meera stood by the waiting horses, discussing the journey's dangers that lay before them, “...fifteen, perhaps sixteen turns. Maybe more."
"What is out there, where we now go?"
Ann'wn shrugged, “I know not, but The High Queen muttered ‘Grandmother’ when I mentioned it. I think it was nothing good. Then she asked me how much I like water."
"What does that mean?” Sam was confused.
"I know not."
"Why did you not ask her?"
"You are her sister. You ask her. I am only her Force Leader."
Sam shook her head, “I also am not this brave. But we could get Sele’ to do so."
They were all laughing as The High Queen and Sle'nel’ walked up, “Another amusing moment between you regarding My Elf and Me, Force Leader?"
They all quickly knelt and bowed their heads, “Great High Queen."
"Rise. Let us depart."
"Aunt High Queen?"
She looked down at Sele', who was now at her side, “Young One. What is it you need from Me?"
"What did you mean when you asked Ann'wn how much she liked water?"
The High Queen raised an eyebrow as she looked at Ann'wn. She then placed a hand upon Sele's head and sent her thoughts to her.
"Oh. I understand now, my Queen. Thank you."
Sam jerked slightly in surprise, “Are you not going to tell us, Sele'? You are my daughter, you know."
Sele’ giggled as she raised her arms to her High Queen, not answering Sam, “Aunt High Queen. May I ride with you this turn?"
San'lr'in’ smiled mischievously at Ann'wn and Sam as she lifted Sele', then mounted her horse.
Sam turned around as they left Sansthera, feeling as if she were leaving Woden far behind her yet again.
"What do you look upon?"
She looked at Uthrn as she turned back, “It just reminds me of Woden."
Uthrn nodded, “We will be there soon, and then we will join in companionship."
Sam sighed, not wishing to think on their relationship at the moment. She looked over to Sle'nel', sighing again.
Sle'nel’ laughed softly, “Your heart is a fickle one, Highest."
As they exited Sansthera's boundary, Ann'wn had The High Queen place on her hood, and their vigilant stance began as they rode as silently as possible across the great waters. Just after late midturn, they entered upon another landmass, one on which only The High Queen had prior been. Looming before them was the tallest and largest expanse of mountains any of them had ever seen.
Ann'wn halted them just as they entered the mountain's foothills. She rode back to her Queen as everyone else dismounted. She dismounted as well, bowing her head to her Queen, “My Queen. Is there a pass through these mountains?"
San'lr'in’ looked up to the high peaks, wishing for an easier route, and also wishing for easier memories associated with the mountains. She pointed up to a far-off gap, “Head to between those two peaks. Once we are near, we can hopefully find the tunnels through the mountains."
Ann'wn gasped, “Up there? But it is layered in deep snow, my Queen. Is there no other passage?"
The High Queen sighed, then spoke slowly and softly, “No, Force Leader. It is the only way through them, unless we go around."
Ann'wn was momentarily hopeful, “Go around, Highness?"
The High Queen made Ann'wn look south, “Can you see the end of the range, Force Leader?"
Then she made her look north, “Can you see the end of the range in this direction, Force Leader?"
Ann'wn shook her head, looking well depressed.
"This is the easiest of the routes. And no matter which way we head, on the other side lies the largest expanse of nothing that you have ever seen."
"Nothing, my Queen?"
"Nothing, Force Leader. You and the other force leaders chose this route. Remember this well, as the gap that now faces us will be the easy portion of our journey."