Mountain of Truth: The Revelations of Oriceran, Soul Stone Mage, Book 3 (Unedited)
By Sarah Noffke & Martha Carr
The Kingdom of Virgo has lived in peace for thousands of years… until now.
Finswick, the cat, swatted at a stargazer moth as it tried to find an escape route along the window seal. Smack. The black and white feline nailed the insect to the window, its guts smashing against the glass. He leaned down and scooped the moth into his mouth.
“I need you to come back in one piece.” Monet’s voice rang from the far side of the cabinet chamber. “My source at the Dark Market says his stash of Cheetos is drying up. So we’ll need to pop off to Earth soon. This is a matter of life or death.”
Azure rose from her seat, the heat of the fireplace behind her too warm. “Ever, by now, I don’t have to tell you to ignore Monet, right?”
The Light Elf smiled up at Queen Azure and shook his head. “I’ll be back in a day, maybe two. It shouldn’t take me long to travel to the beach and bring your father, Richard back.”
Azure trotted to the other side of the table, pulling out a seat as far from the fire place as possible. She should be chilly in her sleeveless dress. The bodice was lined with black leather and the skirt full of long orange strips of chiffon. Since becoming queen the dresses were more demanding, heavier. And the seamstress seemed to think that the young queen needed an edgier look than her mother. Whereas Emeri was elegance and refinery, Azure was dressed like a queen with a flair for rebellion.
Gran eyed Azure, a twinkle in the old woman’s eyes.
“Okay, well we might not be here when you return.” Azure fanned her face with her hand, her cheeks growing hotter.
“Can’t you stay until I return?” Ever asked, pushing to a standing position and pressing his hands on to the table, leaning forward.
“We could, but then we’d be two days behind. I need to find the rogue dryads as soon as possible,” Azure said.
“Hey, when Emperor Lame-Ass says he’s going to take drastic action then we need to go and find someone to fight our battles for us,” Monet chipped in.
“That’s not what we’re doing. The rogue dryads want to punish the people from the Land of Terran. We’re just going to help them. Win-win.” Azure pulled at the front of the corset of her dress. She was going to murder the seamstress and all her fucking troll servants.
“Don’t worry. I know the mountains well,” Gillian said from his place at the far end of the table. He always placed himself as far from the others as possible.
“So there you go. We’ve got the gnome who won’t tell us a damn thing. What are you worried about? We are looking for a tiny little book in a gigantic mountain range with zero idea where to start.” Monet leaned back, his hands on either side of his head.
“Oh well, I’ll just set off now and hope to return before your departure.” Ever stood tall, popping his collar up.
Did he look worried? Ever had agreed to journey to the ocean to retrieve Richard, but then had appeared increasingly on edge when the cabinet discussed plans to retrieve the Book of Branches.
“Don’t die dearest Whatever,” Monet sang as the Light-Elf headed for the exit, tension making his shoulders sit up higher.
Finswick hopped up onto the surface of the table, earning a contemptuous glare from Gillian. The feline pranced across the table and deposited the still half-alive moth in front of the Queen Mother.
“Oh, you read my mind. That’s exactly what I needed!” Gran rapped her wand on the surface of the table. The moth shrunk in on itself and then blossomed into a hand fan. Gran plucked it from the table, unlatching it. “Here you are, dear Azure. A self-waving fan.”
The fan unfolded and hovered in the air for a moment before swishing back and forth, creating a steady flow of air in Azure’s direction.
“Oh thank Merlin. That’s better,” Azure said, leaning back in her chair.
“I dare say you’re probably dehydrated. When was the last time you had something to drink?” Gran asked, flicking her wand at a pitcher of water on the side table. A goblet of water flew through the air, landing just in front of Azure.
“About the last time I had a proper meal,” Azure admitted, hungrily eyeing the water for a moment. Since she’d become queen there hadn’t been time for much besides working and sleeping. Even now her eyelids felt like they were lying on the surface of the table under her. Shaking off the exhaustion, Azure turned and faced Gillian. “I’d like to leave at first light tomorrow. Does that work for you?”
The gnome nodded, his bulbous nose red from the firelight behind him. “I shall be ready to go, Queen Azure.”
“I shall desire sleeping in, Queen Butt Face,” Monet said.
Gillian spun and narrowed his eyes at him. “I must object to your disrespect. This is your queen and you’d do well to remember some manners.”
“I must object to your ass kissing. You’d do well not to take yourself so seriously, Little Bit.” Monet snapped at Finswick who sat regal next to Azure. “Go find me something Gran can turn into a lager or ale. I’m parched.”
The feline stretched to a standing position and bounded off the table.
“Monet, if you’re going with us then you’ll leave at first light. And I’ll remind you that the gnomes are native to the mountains and therefore he’ll be a great resource to us on this expedition. So mind your tongue or I’ll turn you into a salamander with a very short tail,” Azure said.
“Why do I have to have a short tail?” Monet asked.
“Oh, that’s not a part of the spell. It’s just that the salamander will resemble you in human form,” the Queen Mother remarked. She’d looked cheerier since joining the cabinet, like her purpose had been renewed. Azure knew Gran didn’t absolutely care for court business, however she liked being in the know. And as a cabinet member she still had time for crafting spells, something she was never afforded when she was queen. If Azure could only find such easy solutions for all her people to bring them purpose and happiness.
“Like you know how big my—”
“Anyway, I think we’re done here.” Azure cut Monet off, shaking her head. Soon she’d elect two more cabinet members and by then all who sat at the table would need to behave, if only marginally.
“Oh, and look, Finswick brought you something,” Gran said as the feline hopped up onto the table. Just in front of Monet the cat laid down a huge roach, its back legs still twitching.
“Would you like me to spell that into a drink? It will taste like the bug’s guts and leave you belching for hours.” The Queen Mother wore a sickly sweet expression on her wrinkled face.
“I’ll pass,” Monet said, waving to Azure. “Come on, Queeney. We’re going out to the pub. I need you to buy me a few drinks.”
Azure eyed the tall glass of water she’d failed to drink. She reached for the goblet, thinking she’d at least wet her mouth.
Monet aimed his wand at the goblet and it exploded, drenching the two witches next to it with water. “Oops…” Monet said, not at all sounding remorseful. “Looks like we’d better get a real drink.”
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