Author Topic: Alanna Anaris ~ A Final Reunion  (Read 608 times)

Anaris

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Alanna Anaris ~ A Final Reunion
« Topic Start: June 06, 2014, 07:40:11 PM »
On Friday morning, a rumour started to spread that the maid who brought breakfast to Queen Alanna found her unable to get out of bed. However, that maid could not be found by anyone seeking confirmation of the rumour.

By late afternoon, it was certain that she had not been seen outside her chambers all day.

By evening, Alanna's aide Stefan had been seen leaving the palace and returning with the best-known physician in the city. Once this became public (which took approximately five minutes after the cook's helper saw them come through one of the less conspicuous entrances to the palace), the city soon erupted in rumours and speculations about what ailed the aging Queen who had ruled this land (on and off) for so many years now.

Around midnight, a new rumour began to spread, that the physician had emerged from Alanna's chambers, but had not been able to do anything for the Queen.

Alanna was dying.

* * *

As days went by without official word from—or about—Queen Alanna, the mood in Askileon grew tense. Though she was not universally loved in the city, she had been a public figure there for so long that many of its people saw her as, for better or for worse, the embodiment of Luria. Some even spoke of the Asylonian capture of Giask, and the other Lurian regions in foreign hands, as having caused her illness.

Finally, late in the evening on Tuesday, a proclamation was issued from the Palace and read throughout the city: Wounds that Alanna suffered in the recent battle in Giask were worse than they earlier appeared, and the Golden Queen was now fighting for her life against wound fever, and, no doubt, other maladies brought on by being laid low in her advanced age. Physicians had seen her, and done what they could, but she was not expected to last the week out.

* * *

At the dock, a lean, lithe woman stepped off a ship in time to hear the end of one of the readings of the proclamation, and chased after him as he began to depart, demanding that he read it again. When she heard it all, her face went ashen. After several moments, she set her jaw grimly, returned to the ship briefly to collect a small backpack, then set off at a run for the Palace.

* * *

For two days, she was refused admittance to the Palace. Still, she kept trying, insisting every time that someone tell the Queen she was here.

Finally, as she waited outside the Palace on the evening of the third day, a surprised and rather pale-looking functionary returned from within to say that the Queen was awake, and had demanded to see her.

With crisp efficiency, now that she was deemed worthy, she was whisked past various guard posts and through a dizzying array of corridors, until, at last—at long, long last—she was once again by her Queen's side.

Alanna's form was no longer that of the lean but strong warrior-queen she had once known. Her cheeks were sunken, her body too thin beneath the blankets. Even her hair no longer held its golden lustre. But when she opened her eyes, through both their tears, Kyra could see that they were still the eyes of the woman she had served for so many years.

Alanna reached out to her, and Kyra knelt beside her bed. "Oh, Gods," Alanna murmured. "I thought you dead these last years, Kyra. After those bandits took me in the woods, I never saw you again, and I feared..." her voice broke. "I feared you slain for my sake. My fault."

Kyra embraced her monarch and friend. "No, my Lady; I was taken, but not slain, nor even badly injured. Not then, anyway. What I endured in the years that followed...is a long tale, and a hard one, but at the end of it I found you again, so none of the rest matters."

Alanna smiled a wan smile. "When I heard you were here, alive, and asking for me...well, I was so overcome with surprise and joy that I tried to come to you at the Palace gate myself." Her smile twisted into a wry grimace. "I got no more than three steps. Kyra...I'm so, so glad you found me again in time, because I don't have much time left."

Tears sprang afresh to Kyra's eyes. "They said you were ill, even dying, but I couldn't believe it...not you! But then...it's true?"

Alanna nodded, her face a mask of grief and pain. "I took wounds in Giask that didn't heal properly, and now they tell me wound fever has set in. All I can tell for sure is that I hurt like the pits of Aya, and I have no energy anymore...and it's been getting slowly, but steadily, worse. I...don't think I have more than another day or two, Kyra. But...if I can spend my last day or two on Earth with you by my side once more, then...well, that will be the last thing I could have wished for. Because you were the one thing I felt I had truly failed, Kyra."

Kyra looked at her questioningly. "But...my Lady, when we parted, you had lost everything.  Are you saying...?"

Alanna smiled again, and this time it was the smile Kyra remembered, perhaps brighter than she had ever seen it. "Oh, yes. In the end, after all the pain and death and betrayal, I won! It may not have been for long, but I was Empress. I stood at the top, and looked out over the whole world, and it was the most glorious, beautiful thing..." she paused for a moment, looking off into the distance of memory, then continued, "And though, by that time, I was old enough, and tired enough, that it was not the mighty victory I had once craved, in some ways, it was better this way. Because I was able to give it up freely, at the right time, and not cling to it in bitter selfishness, as Elanzil would have had me do. And so Luria, my Kingdom, my Empire, will live after me. It may change, even change out of all recognition, but my mark has been left forever on the history of this continent, and no one, and nothing, can ever change that.

"And now...I have you back by my side." Alanna's eyes crinkled in a grin. "You know, I was never able to find another aide I could work with. I think I've gone through ten just in the past six months. That poor lad over there—" she gestured at Stefan, visible through the door into the sitting room of her suite, standing by a window "—can probably give you chapter and verse on it. He's good, better than most of them, but he's just too young. Too...I don't know." She looked back at Kyra, and her face softened. "Not you."

Tears still trickled down Kyra's cheeks, and she took Alanna's hand, murmuring, "My Lady, I'm so glad you finally found the peace you had sought for so long. And now...if I can only have another day or two by your side, then I will be glad of them. And when..." she choked on a sob, took a moment to compose herself, and continued, "when you are gone, I will make sure that no one, anywhere, will ever forget the name of Alanna Anaris, Golden Queen of Pian en Luries, Empress of the Lurian Empire."
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 08:15:52 PM by Anaris »
Timothy Collett

"The only thing you can't trade for your heart's desire...is your heart." "You are what you do.  Choose again, and change." "One of these days, someone's gonna plug you, and you're going to die saying, 'What did I say? What did I say?'"  ~ Miles Naismith Vorkosigan

Anaris

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Re: Alanna Anaris ~ A Final Reunion
« Reply #1: June 06, 2014, 07:45:54 PM »
Though she lingered for another day, at last Alanna died, in the city she had known as home for many years, with her dearest friend by her side. This marked the ending of an era for Luria—and the beginning of a new.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 08:16:00 PM by Anaris »
Timothy Collett

"The only thing you can't trade for your heart's desire...is your heart." "You are what you do.  Choose again, and change." "One of these days, someone's gonna plug you, and you're going to die saying, 'What did I say? What did I say?'"  ~ Miles Naismith Vorkosigan