The Curious Queen

#AmWriting #ShortStory #IndieAuthor

The Raven Queen took her nightly walk through the Shadowfell, observing her kingdom through the eyes of her pets as she went. Her dark hair waved gently in the breeze as the moonlight illuminated her pale skin. The fey familiar with her route avoided her at all costs, but those new to the area were not so lucky as to avoid her attention.

“My Queen!” A young corrupted dryad said as she stumbled onto the path and promptly dropped to her knees, touching her face to the dirt.

“Young dryad, what brings you into my presence this evening?” The Queen inquired.

“I didn’t realize, your Grace. I was only traveling through these parts to get to the satyr gathering happening a few miles away.” The dryad replied.

“A satyr gathering you say? Interesting. What happens at these gatherings?” The Queen asked.

“Oh, the most wonderful performances, with singing and dancing, your Powerful!”

“Most wonderful?” The Queen repeated as she stroked her chin, “Curious. Ride, young dryad, you will lead me to this gathering.”

“Of course, my Queen!” The dryad said, returning to her feet.

The dryad led her Queen through the forest, down game trails and paths unseen. Just as the queen began to grow impatient she heard the faint rumblings of drums in the distance.

“Can you hear it, my Queen? The drums! They call the lower fey to their gathering!” The dryad asked turning to look at her.

“Tonight they call more than the lower fey. Increase your pace, I will take the form of a Raven to keep up and not disturb the goings on. You are to tell no one I am there, understood?” The queen replied, surprised by her own excitement.

“Of course, your majesty!” The dryad replied as she began running through the forest.

The Raven Queen extended her arms and leapt lightly into the air as her body sprouted feathers and shrank in size. She flew up at first, getting above the trees as she used her pets to track the dryad’s progress.

She perched at the top of a nearby tree to watch the satyr, amid a large crowd of other various fey dancing around a small fire. The music, imbued with natural fey magic, was intoxicating for her. She was far too powerful to be held under its magical influence, but the rhythm of the drums combined with the melody of the lyres scattered through the crowd made her want to dance. She felt her raven form bobbing and swaying in time with the music.

Wanting to see and hear more, she changed to her squirrel form and ran down the tree roughly halfway before continuing out to the end of a branch. The new perspective showed her more clearly the forms and figures of the fey dancing wildly. Those who danced around the fire were oblivious to her presence, and the longer the music went on the more the crowd joined in on the festivities.

“Having a good time, my Queen?” A voice suddenly spoke from behind her.

She spun to find that a satyr had propped himself up at the trunk of the tree and was sitting with his legs crossed as he puffed on his pipe.

“I’ll kill that dryad.” She muttered.

“You needn’t worry, you highness, Morea didn’t tell me you were here. Your ravens gave you away.” He replied.

“What is it you want, satyr?” She growled.

“I don’t want anything, your highness. I simply came up to invite you to join the gathering. I know the magic of the music doesn’t affect you, but I can see you enjoy it still. Even now, your tail is twitching in time with the music.” He said before taking another long draw off his pipe, sending a cloud of smoke up the tree.

“I didn’t come to join the gathering. I came to observe it.” She replied.

“Whatever your decision, my Queen.” The satyr said shrugging. “As I said, I only came to invite you.”

The satyr jumped out of the tree, landing softly at its base. The Raven Queen watched him curiously as he went. It was unlike any fey to not want anything and it grated on her that he had not asked a favor of her, or for a trade. He could easily tell everyone at the gathering of her presence, and yet as she watched he simply joined the dancing, while drinking ale and sending occasional smoke rings into the air.

As the night went on, she drew closer and closer to the celebration, unable to break herself from the sights, sounds, and smells of the festivities. Before long, she found herself on the ground, barely outside the ring of light emanating from the fire. Her stomach rumbled, as she had not eaten anything, and would have normally enjoyed a warm meal back at her castle by now.

Looking around the crowd, she spied a haunch of meat lying forgotten on a felled log near the edge. She wandered over to it and stole a small piece, returning to the safety of the grass that hid her small form well. The first piece did not sate her hunger, so she went back for more. Each piece she took only seemed to make her more hungry, until she found herself unable to steal back into the grass, instead opting for sitting on the log eating her fill of the meat in the open.

There was a sudden thud as she was taking a bite of the meat, she jumped and tried to run but found herself inside a small cage.

“You fools!” She roared, trying and failing to change back into her normal form.

“Don’t even try, your majesty.” The satyr from the tree said as he approached. The music drummed on and the fey continued dancing around the fire. “The food you’ve eaten is imbued with a special poison to stop you from using your magic, and the cage you find yourself in was made by the dwarves. It is near unbreakable. You are my prisoner now.”

“I’m sorry, my Queen.” The dryad said, bowing slightly before running back into the forest away from the gathering.

“We did it! We’ve captured the Queen!” The satyr bellowed over the music. The crowd cheered in response.

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