Forward: The Conquering Of The Elven Queen is part of the Aurora Garroway series. This was a novella intended to stay in my own personal collection but considering I was never intending to release it, and I am new to Medium I figured I would share it here as we work up to the release of the Aurora Garroway series: The Future, Regrettably. The Aurora Garroway series contains dark themes, graphic content, and sexual themes. Please be advised.
The marble floors of the grand castle reflected the white mage fire that bleared from the braziers above. Astrid signed a piece of paper as a courier rocked on his heels in front of her. The room was empty but for the silver-haired queen, the courier, and the exhausted Empath that stood at her flank. His name was Julian Théos, and he was her right-hand man, head of the Elven guard, and her personal attendee. Unofficially, he was her lover for the better part of 80 years.
He watched the courier take the paper from her and tuck it neatly into his canvas satchel. Julian ran his thin fingers over the hilt of his sword and watched as the boy tried and failed to keep his composure. Most would write it off as nerves from being in the presence of a queen, but as an Empath Julian knew he was interested in her. Julian could hardly blame him of course.
Astrid was a tall, snow-white elf with piercing green eyes, freckles, and silver hair that fell to her mid-back. She wore a fine blue silk dress that hugged her curvy figure. A silver crown adorned with sapphires sat on her head and matched the jewelry that hung around her neck, ears, and wrists. She shimmered in the flame light and practically shone like a star.
She was a stark contrast to Julian. Where she was soft and ethereal, he was angular, hard, and blended into the background. In his ceremonial navy, crimson, and gold uniform he was more of an accessory or ornament; always beside her or behind her. He rarely spoke unless it was necessary, and was always a arm's length away from her.
Julian’s navy eyes matched the velvet on his jacket. His chocolate brown curls framed his face and his burlywood skin was clear. He knew that the courier posed no threat to him. He was better looking, more athletic, and knew better than to have a rat tail and spiked hair at the same time. The courier was… very much from the 90s, and Julian with a single shared glance to Astrid confirmed: she thought he looked ridiculous.
The boy mumbled something about having to report back to the High Counselor before clumsily bowing and scampering off.
“Don’t be mean, Jules.”
Julian blinked and put his hands on his hips, now that they were alone. “I didn’t say anything.”
Astrid raised an eyebrow and gave him a once-over.
“Well, I didn’t say anything out loud.”
“You didn’t need to. You’re just lucky he is clueless.” She sighed. “What time is it? tell me we are done for the day.”
Julian pulled a small planner from a pouch fastened to his leg.
“We have a free hour before meeting with the public. Want to go grab something to eat?”
“No.” She sighed. “I won’t be able to keep it down. You know how these meetings make me feel.”
“Yeah. It’s strange. You can deal with all manner of noblemen and women, but as soon as the general public is involved-”
“-I know.” She huffed and cut him off. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You know they love you-”
Julian looked to the giant carved doors on the far end of the hall. Erika stood guard beyond it. He knew nobody would come barging in. He sauntered over to her and looked down at her.
“You’ll be fine.”
She groaned and rubbed her temple with a manicured hand. “I know.”
“What’s bothering you, Astrid?” He asks in a low voice. “You’ve been… distant.”
She avoids his gaze and nods. “Things have been getting… difficult recently. Been getting more and more letters of my people getting killed by this little uprising.”
“Yeah…” Julian sighed and ran his hand through his hair. He leaned against the mahogany throne. “The Hierarchy has been difficult lately, but we will deal with them. Just like every other time.”
“You’d think they’d relent after the first couple hundred of years but… apparently not.” She closed her eyes and leaned back into the throne.
Julian crossed his arms and shook his head. “They’re just an annoyance.”
“An annoyance you’ve been poking your nose into for the last month.”
Julian froze. “Uh. Yeah, well. You can never be too careful. What do you know?”
“Only that you’ve been keeping notes on their attacks and activities. You didn’t think I wouldn’t notice… did you?”
Julian cleared his throat. “Listen, I know you want to just let the other courts deal with them but-”
“This has nothing to do with wanting to with that. You’ve been restless.” She looked up at him with a steady gaze.
“I… have.” Julian avoided her eyes. “But don’t worry about it. Honestly, I’m not going anywhere.”
“The last time you said that, you followed by breaking up with me for a year and nearly quitting your job.” She replied flatly. “I know this is like, a every few years thing for you, but now isn’t the time. It would look bad for the Elven court.”
“Astrid.” Julian looked back to her stern face. “I’m not going anywhere, I promise.”
“You’d better not, because we have something we need to talk about.”
“Oh.” He frowned. “Great. Because ‘we need to talk’ has never preceded anything bad.”
“Well.” Astrid brushed her hair off her shoulder. “Clearly I’m not leaving you, so you can relax. It’s just business.”
“Ah, I knew it.” Julian stood up straight. “You’re executing me! I knew it was coming. I’m just too handsome to survive! My beauty betrays me again-”
“Julian, shut up.” Astrid laughed and rose from her throne.
She pulled him to her by his collar and he stumbled into her kiss.
“So, lunch?” He asked.
“I can think of something you can eat. We have an hour, right?” She asked.
Julian turned a dark shade of red as she pushed him onto the throne and straddled his lap.
Erika stuffed her hands in her pockets as she stood square in the middle of the doors, blocking the way for a very oblivious ambassador as the two occupied themselves in the room behind her.
“Listen, you don’t have an appointment, and she is… busy until the public hearings in a hour. Can you not wait that long?” She groaned.
The Satyr in front of her shuffled as the muffled noises from the great hall faintly passed through the doors.
“I had orders… I can’t lie-”
“Well I can.” Erika narrowed her brown eyes. “They aren’t there. They’re out. Seriously dude, just scram.”
“I- ugh!” He smacked his face and stomped. “Fine. FINE. But when the High Councelor comes looking, you wont be able to shoo him away you know!”
“I know.” She replied bluntly.
The ginger Satyr looked at her and put his hands on his hips where his skin gave way for black fur under his purple parachute pants.
“Do they really think nobody knows about them?” He asked incredulously.
Erika frowned. “Honestly after all this time, they don’t care. Just don’t talk about it. It’s none of your business.”
The ambassador shrugged. “Only the Elves really care about this kind of crap. I don’t get why they have to be so ‘traditional’ all the damn time.”
“It’s almost like she’s a actual part of the royal family or something, and not just a Canadian figure head. I swear, you people always forget that.”
“Whatever. Listen, if they finish what they’re doing before the hearings, tell them this: Our sources say that the Hierarchy is sending some people to the hearings. They’re probably going to stir up some shit, and we need Astrid to keep a calm head and a leash on Sir Théos.”
Erika bit her lip and turned to the door. “Okay, thank you. Seriously they choose the worse damn times to- Tell the counselor something when you see him?”
“Her brother has been sniffing around here for the past month or so. Keep your people close, and keep an eye out. Contact Julian after the meeting today.”
The Satyr pulled out a notebook from his satchel and jotted down what she said with a blue gel pen. He looked up to her and stopped. “Will you be there today?”
“I’ll will be. Why?”
“Just, keep in mind what I said.” He replied. “And my name is James by the way. Maybe we can… do you like coffee?”
She sighed. “I do. I also like women so-”
“Oh.” He blinked. “Okay. Well, see ya around.”
“Sorry. See you around, James.”
He scampered off and Erika frowned and watched as he went. She wasn’t exactly sure what about her boyish appearance and attitude yelled “straight” but apparently she was well liked by the boys. Julian said it was something about her confidence and ‘doe eyes’ but he was her dad. He had to say shit like that, even if she was nearly 30. It didn’t help that Satyrs were a notoriously horny race.
The time had nearly come for the hearing and people started to fill into the foyer to wait to see the queen and Erika’s eyes scanned the crowd. The problem with the Hierarchy was that they were almost exclusively part of the Human majority of Sky’s Grove. When she looked at the crowd, she saw Elven, Human, some Daimon creatures, and a single Sidhe; Tadgh Ó Broin.
He met her eye and grinned. His skin shimmered like diamonds, his golden eyes twinkled as his fangs protruded from his perfect pearl teeth. His raven hair danced around his waist as he moved like silk in water. The Sidhe were always so… strange. They were like Humans but wrong, even the Seelie Court Sidhe. There was always an aspect of danger about them. Tadgh was no exception. Frankly, he was proof they were not innocent. On his arm was his wife and newborn. The woman was a Human who he had wisked away across the veil to his home in the astral while she was pregnant to protect her from Humans who would kill her for their relationship. When she came back she was… different. There was a hollow look in her eyes, and she never spoke.
Not that Erika could complain, Lilly was a absolute witch. Tadgh liked how she looked and that was it. Erika decided early on that she didn’t care about what happened the woman when they first met and she called Erika a dyke. Tadgh dragged his little family over to her.
“Erika, darling! Look! I’ve made a baby!” He motioned to the black haired child with a flourish. His silk robes fluttered with the movement.
Erika looked at the small boy in his blue jumper. “I’m pretty sure Lilly did the hard work there, dear. What’s his name?”
“Sean!” He bounced. “And before you ask, yes, he is the reason why I’ve been gone! How empty Julian’s life must be without me!”
Erika snorted. “I know where you went, and I don’t think he was that put off. It’s only been about a month in our time.”
“Isn’t that a very long time for mortals and Humans?”
“Yeah, but less than the 9 months it would have been to have the child so…”
“I see! Tell me! What have I missed since I left? Have you handled the little… ‘uprising’ yet?”
“No, it’s gotten worse actually.” Erika sighed. “Seems the Hierarchy is putting their back into it this time, honestly.”
“Do you think it’s bad? Surely the City Councel can handle it if they pull together.”
“We are trying.” Erika sighed. “But honestly, I do think that you should keep an eye out. Go back home and wait for someone to send word that this has blown over-”
The doors opened behind her and she turned to see Julian opening them for the public. Somehow looking as put together as he usually did, and with a rich cologne that Erika had given him for his birthday to cover any smell of sweat. She gave him a unethused look and he blushed.
“ ‘What?” yourself. You missed a message from the High Councelor.”
“What did he say?”
“To paraphrase: keep your cool. We’ve wolves in our midst.” She cast a glance to the crowd then back.
“Do those wolve’s names start with B or H?”
“H. Though B is always around somewhere.”
“Yeah… well, thank you. I appreciate you.”
“You better. And you’d better not do that shit again, or I’ll kick your ass old man.” She punched his shoulder. “Seriously I have ears.”
“Sorry. Come on. We have work to do.”
Erika and Julian cleared the way for the crowd and took their posts on either side of Queen Astrid.
Over the span of a few minutes, the great hall was filled with people of all kinds. Most in fine clothes there to ask Astrid for grants for projects, donations for causes outside the city, and petition the addition or change of laws within the Elven court’s people.
Everything was very by the book and Julian whom started on high alert let his attention wean over the 3 hour hearings. When the last person was brought up to the throne, he was practically asleep. He hated these things. He’d prefer to be out doing patrols or fighting or training or doing anything that didn’t involve standing and listening to people brown nose and schmooze to the Queen. The overwhelming pressure of hundreds of peoples emotions made it hard to feel his own and he wanted to find his place in a warm bed for the rest of the week.
The last person was a human in torn up clothes. Julian raised an eyebrow and Astrid’s eyes took in the man’s appearance. He wasn’t just dirty, he was battered and bruised and covered in his own blood.
“I’m sure this question is… well… but are you okay?” She asked. “Looks like you’ve been hit by a bus.”
“The bus would have been kinder.” The man rhasped. His gray hair was plastered to his face.
“What can I do for you?” Astrid asked. “Food, clothes, a bed?”
“No. I am no begger.” He snarked.
“There’s no shame-” She began.
“The Hierarchy did this.” He cut her off.
Julian perked up and Erika send him a worried look. The hall went silent.
“They are getting bold.” Astrid sighed. “But there’s been no bombings lately… did they find you outside the walls?”
“Yes.” He grumbled.
“Julian. Find him a seat.”
The old man spat on the floor. “No.”
“I- I’m sorry Sir.” Astrid swallowed a wave of annoyance. “What can I do for you?” She repeated.
“Stop sitting on your ass!”
Julian narrowed his eyes. “Watch the tone.” He warned. “She wants to work with you, there’s no need for that.”
Erika clenched her jaw and looked for the Satyr ambassador. He was in the middle of the room looking as on edge as she felt.
Astrid took a breath. “Julian, retract the claws please.”
Erika shook her head at him. She should have known he wouldn’t be able to control himself if Astrid was involved.
Julian bit his tongue and kept a hand on his sword. The man continued.
“My brother approached you last month and asked you to send troops to support the effort to patrol outside the walls. The Elven Court- you- have refused to do anything about the Conduit uprisings in the city. He brought a petition of 2000 signatures of people who wanted you to help. All you had to do is send a few guards out to do a few patrols to protect your people-”
“My people.” She cut him off. “Are statistically only %10 of the city. I told your brother this when he brought the petition to me. I understand there are problems, and I am adding to the fight against them as best as I can, but we don’t have the people to be sending out on these patrols. We can not afford to lose people. Why do you think my left and right hands are Human?”
“I don’t care.” He bared his teeth. “Becuase of your failure to act, the Hierarchy practically pranced into our family farm and forced us to join them!”
Erika and Julian stepped closer to Astrid, putting themselves between she and the man. The guards in the room put their hands on their swords, guns, and readied their magic and watched the man with baited breath.
Julian could feel Astrid’s blood pressure rise as she pushed down anger.
Her face and voice did not betray her emotions as she spoke. “Well, that didn’t seem to go too well for them or you.”
“Are you mocking me right now?” He sneered.
“No. Simply stating a fact. You stand here before me, demanding something that you have not made clear. You’re rambling and trying and failing to intimidate me or provoke a reaction, clearly. So stop beating around the bush. How and why are you here and what do you want? I suggest you answer quickly.”
Julian watched him, ready to jump. The man was only just holding back violence. With every word the fury in his gut threatened to boil over. The man growled and met Julian’s eyes.
“Fine. I can see your dogs are jumping to slip the leash. The Hierarchy took over my farm last week. The one past Old Town.”
Erika looked to Astrid. “The old Henderson farm? I thought the owners gave up on it 15 years ago.”
“We gave up on the crops.” The man hissed. “Damn land is cursed. That was our home for 3 generations! They rolled in last month because the city is doing sweet fuck all to protect anyone but their precious little monarchs! They came in and made themselves at home. They made my family home into their little headquarters and if we didn’t do exactly what they wanted, they would let their soldiers have fun with us! My brother and I tried to escape, they caught him and turned him into an Abomination and sent him after me!”
“Doubtful.” Astrid raised an eyebrow. “Because you’re here and alive.”
“I’m here because they want me to be.” He caughed. “They want to send a message.”
“We are here. We are not going away, and you can’t just close your eyes and ignore us any more.”
You could have herd a pin drop. Julian looked to Astrid. She shook her head and raised a hand slightly in a obvious calm down gesture.
“Well, I feel like they could have sent a letter.” She sighed. “Sending a half dead man is a bit much even for them.”
“They said that you would kill me for them.” His voice trembled. “And if in the unlikely chance that you didn’t, I could go free.”
Astrid crossed her legs. “Well, we have no plans to kill you, but we obviously can’t just let you walk free. You’ll be questioned and held-”
“I can’t answer anything.”
“Well… that is a problem, because it is sort of a prerequisite of you not rotting in jail-”
“I can’t answer anything-”
A Elven nobleman piped up from beside him. “It’s not exactly up for debate. You will-”
“Enough!” Astrid snapped. “When I want the opinion of an outsider, I will ask for it. This is not the G.E.K. While you are here you will respect my rule.”
“Brynjolf would never-”
“I am not my brother, and you would do well to remember that! Get out of my castle. Now.”
A guard took him by the arm and several things happened all at once.
The battered man spun on his heel and tried to run.
The indignant nobleman hit the guard with a open hand.
The guard asked if he wanted to get his ass kicked.
Erika lunged forward to grab the battered man.
The battered man summoned a bolt of lightning to his hand and it curled around his closed fist which he brought into Erika’s jaw. The shock sent her flying to the ground, unconscious.
Julian, upon seeing his daughter get hit drew his sword.
The nobleman stumbled away from the guard who lost his grip on his arm.
Julian brought the sword down on what should have only been the battered man’s arm, which was now raised to strike again.
The nobleman, now free of the guard’s grip fell backwards into the battered man as the blade came down upon both of them, nearly severing the hand of the battered man, and slicing through the neck of the nobleman.
Julian froze trying to figure out what jus happened. Astrid pulled him away by the shoulder as he felt the two men as they panicked. The battered man tried to stop the gushing blood coming from his dangling hand, which only caused his heart to pump faster in the seconds that it would take to bleed to death. The nobleman couldn’t even feel pain before he was on the floor. He looked at the blood on his hands in confusion before he died.
Astrid called for everyone to stay where they were and for more guards. The guard who was hit by the nobleman called in for backup, medical, and body collection. Astrid pulled Julian by the wrist behind the throne to a hidden door behind a pannel in the wall.
“Erika” Julian pulled back towards the throne room as the door closed.
“Will be fine.” Astrid huffed. “Come on, we need to get you out of here, you really fucked up, Jules.”
“Who was he?”
“An advisor to my brother. Here on holidays.” She let go of his wrist and grabbed for his earlobe.
She dragged him through the dusty pathway by the ear towards her room.
© 2021 Desiree Goulden