Raindrops and Tears

Glad you could join us for the next tearful episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Wallpaperpassion.com

“…and Lady Lucy is dead.” Queen Lilian repeated in disbelief.

“Yes, your Magnificence,” the drenched Hopper said as rain dripped from his antennae to the floor. “She didn’t know the Assassin had escaped from the Freelands and beaten her back to the Arids. The General caught her in her lie, gave the order, and the Assassin carried it out.”

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Drago Galadeen

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Photo credit: Igor Siwnowicz

“If you know who I am,” Sirehta replied bringing his face close to the speaking crack in the wall, “you have the advantage. Come out and let yourself be seen. You will come to no harm.”

Two twitching antennae and a round little head poked out from the crevice. Locking eyes with the viper, the oversized hopper scaled the wall to rest on a protruding stone at the top, facing the snake full on.

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Just Another Chink In the Wall

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Photo credit: C. Rumarosa

Flying to hang in front of Sirehta, the General scraped a sparking red powder from his back with a rear leg, and said, “To seal your commitment, each of you will submit to marking. Allow me to demonstrate. Pietro!”

Scuttling forward, the little Stinger stopped directly below him. The wasp descended to press his foot against Pietro’s back which began to sizzle and steam, leaving a grooved scar. The General rose, scraping his back again. It was only then Sirehta noticed the youth’s carapace bore countless identical marks.

“Is this agreeable?” the wasp asked.

Sirehta waited for each of his brothers to nod in approval.

“It is,” he replied.

Lowering his head, he resisted his instinct to snatch the General out of the air, and accepted the searing pain without flinching.

So it was with each serpent.

Instructing Sirehta to remain behind, the General divided the viper force into pairs and sent each team in a different direction.

“Your first assignment is to scout to the edge of the Arids and rid the region of any who don’t belong here. Report back to me at dawn.”

“How are we to know which don’t belong?” Cahret asked.

“Residents are marked. Report back at dawn.” General Hai retreated to the cavern without a backward glance, followed by his loyal throng.

The General’s response chilled Sirehta’s blood. Alone, he watched his brothers blend into the night until a tiny voice coming from a chink in the wall caught his attention.

“Psst!” it insisted, “I know who you are.”

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Sworn

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Photo credit: Fallout

Incautious, the voices grew louder and more distinct the closer the vipers crept. Cahret slithered up the side of a coarse rock wall to peer over its horizon onto a bed of chattering Stingers.

“…but the bat should’ve been ours — we held her down,” one complained.

“Yeah,” another echoed, “what’d that old Crone do she should get it?”

“Not so loud!” the largest ordered. “You want the General to hear you whining? He’s not gonna keep her around forever, and after he’s done with her, who do you think’ll be feasting then?”

“So we’ll get the old bat in the end, huh?” the first one gloated. Shrieking laughter pierced the sky.

Cahret slipped over the rocks to call through the darkness. “Can you take us to your General?”

Below, a flurry of scurrying answered.

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Choices

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Photo credit: Graeme Skinner

While inky night trickled over the Arids, Sirehta and his brothers wound their way toward the enemy’s base. Wary of night fliers, they had watched the skies and seen only one owl who must already have eaten or had no stomach to fight a writhing nest of vipers-on-the-move for a tasty dinner.

The Brothers numbered 17. None had remained behind. All were proud to repay the King of Bog for his kindness and for the damage they’d caused before they learned the truth about the Rebels.

“Sirehta,” Brother Cahret began, “is this to be our life now, spying for a King preparing to go to war?”

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Answering the Call

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Photo credit: Calum Williams

“Thank you for coming, my friend,” King Arnie the Former welcomed Sirehta, the former Marauder.

Sirehta, Bringer of Death, answered the King of Bog’s summons without hesitation. This King’s honor had saved him and his brothers from enslavement at the hands of the Evil Ones to the north. King Arnie had shown the vipers compassion and mercy; he had offered them residence in the Kingdom of Bog. In return, they had fought beside the Knights, ensuring victory. The leader of Bog had earned Sirehta’s respect.

That respect only grew when the monarch invited him to sun himself as they spoke while the King chose to sit in the nearby shade.

“How may I be of service to you, Sir?”

“We’ve learned the identity of the Assassin, and we know where he is.”

“Do you wish me to slay him?”

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The Clearings

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Image credit: S.T. Ranscht

Blotting out the blue, the clouds darkened during breakfast, promising a cleansing soak before lunch. Most of Fen’s residents took refuge, but the refugees, Julius and Miranda, took their brood outside as soon as the shower began.

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