Forest Elf
Part 6

by J. Falconer

Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle etc belong to MCA/Universal and Ren Pics, and anyone else who has an interest in Xena Warrior Princess, not me.

Copyright © 2000: The characters in here belong to me. All rights reserved. No part or whole of this work may be copied or used in any shape, form, or manner whatsoever without the author's express written consent. If you want to use them, all you have to do is ask...nicely.

Violence disclaimer: This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Bit more graphic than usual (enter, stranger, at your riske -- here there be icky bits), but readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.

Love/Sex warning: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live - move along, move along, nothing for you here ...

Major vote of thanks to my ever patient beta readers Foreva Xena and Diamonddog for taking valuable time out to read this. Without their support this would still be an idea floating around in my head. BTW, please remember to feed the bard...


For the second time in her life, the shattered Sunstar found herself on the receiving end of a stint in a cold, dark jail cell. The guards had decided that it would be fitting that she reside in the same cell her lover Nightshade had been in. They had both killed the King, hadn't they? After all, if Sunstar had not brought a drow into their home, this would never have happened.

Sunstar looked down dazedly at the dirty straw, stained with the blood and filth of her beloved Nightshade.

Her heart and life were now empty.

Nightshade was gone.

She would still eat, breath and sleep, but that would be all. She could no longer take any enjoyment out of the sunlit world as she once had. Her complicity in Nightshade's death would not allow it. She had been weak, stupid and headstrong, and it had cost the other half of her soul her life.

She knelt in the straw, head bowed, and tried to make some sense of her existence. Did she still have a reason to go one? Perhaps. Regardless of what Darkstar had said and done, Sunstar was still the rightfully crowned Queen of the Forest Elves, of Shimmering Moon, and had taken a vow. She had sworn to put her people above herself, and she would have to do just that. The portal was still in her Kingdom, and it had to be removed once and for all. Her people had to be rescued from their own barbarity.

A single tear slipped out of the corner of an unseeing eye.

After she had freed her people, she would go out into the quiet forest and speak to her lover, seeking forgiveness, knowing with dreadful certainty she would never get it. She was condemned to merely exist in the world for the rest of her days, each one of them a prison sentence in and of itself.

The elf that had betrayed her lover, her people and worse - herself - deserved no less.

The portal allegedly having confused her was no excuse.

She collapsed into a cross legged position on the straw, closed her haunted eyes, and tried to draw on her wavering inner strength for answers. She felt nothing but the acute aching loss of Nightshade, and the corresponding barren emptiness of the half elf's absence. Although her emotions were almost overpowering, she was just strong enough to force her mind to begin to try and think its way through the current foul position she was in.

What did she have to do?

She had to escape. That was her first priority. If she stayed tamely in the prison cell, or tried to move around her own Kingdom as a fugitive, Darkstar would swiftly hunt her down and kill her, and she would not be of use to anyone.

Where would she go after her escape?

She would have to go elsewhere seeking answers. They were not here.

The source of this entire disaster was the drow.

The fleeting memories of her drow imprisonment immediately led her to the open wound of Nightshade, and the pain they brought with their fleeing appearance caused her entire emotional being to recoil in intense agony and shock. She swiftly and ruthlessly banished memory, before the glowing blue eyes captured her firmly in their grasp, trapping her in her grief, rendering her entire fragile sense of purpose utterly useless.

It was only the mortal enemy of the Forest Elves, the drow, who could answer whatever questions she had trickling into her dull mind. She would have to go there, to them.

There was no doubt whatsoever in her mind that she would not return. They would kill her in a heartbeat, but at least she would be trying to right some of her mistakes, and free her people. The prospect of death was as comforting to her as a lover's warm embrace, and she welcomed its cold arms with no small amount of joy.

A fleeting sense of relief from her agony crept through her. A ghost of a smile played about her lips as she began to think more clearly of ways she could release herself from her mortal prison.

Morningstar sat desolately in her chambers, a pounding pain firmly entrenched in her head, dried blood dark and forgotten at the corner of her mouth. She stared sightlessly down into the seething city below, eyes distressed and focussed inward, tight set of her jaw the only visible sign of her pain and misery. The citizens went about their daily routines, occasional violent scuffle causing passing spectators to jeer, sometimes to join in.

What had happened to them?

For months they had been bandying around the word 'execution', but through sheer disuse of the barbaric practice had lost some respect for what it actually meant. Life was fragile, bestowed by the gods themselves, a priceless gift that absolutely no one had any right to take from anyone else under any circumstances. Execution was the theft of a life, in and of itself nothing less than the most grave of sins. It could only be considered under the most extreme of circumstances, and even then only when all other avenues of civilised punishment had been thoroughly exhausted. It had mercifully almost been removed from elven culture, as crime was near unknown amongst the elves.

Now, suddenly, Sunstar's younger sister had overthrown her, and her accused lover had been executed, of all unholy things, in the name of the crown.

What had been their reason? Was Nightshade truly guilty of murder?

Nightshade's culpability in the assassination of the King had never been proven.

It was simply that Darkstar did not like Sunstar, or Sunstar's lover Nightshade.

The sheer shallowness and supremely petty nature of the excuse was so appalling it left one somewhere beyond completely speechless.

Darkstar had always been envious of her sister's good fortune, but that had now transformed itself into a thirst for the utter annihilation of Sunstar. The end result was a murderous streak that Morningstar had never known Darkstar – or any other elf for that matter - had.

Sunstar was not entirely innocent either. While not displaying the same bloodthirsty tendencies as Darkstar, she also had only a tenuous grip on reality. She governed purely on the basis of her emotions at the time, wholly ignoring logic and reason when making decisions. She had always been headstrong, but that had transmuted itself into pure moodiness and impulsivity.

And Morningstar, what had happened to her? Her source of strength had always been her beloved Darkwood and her people, but she had uncharacteristically completely withdrawn from Elven society when he died. She had abandoned her people and her family, fully consumed by her own feelings of loss. Looking back at what she had done, she felt nothing but shame.

This morning, their weakness, envy and pure greed finally came to a head. Her younger daughter, quiet, thoughtful Darkstar, had clearly lost the last remnants of her sanity and overthrown her sister to take the Crown, committing the rarest of foul crimes - treason. It was completely outrageous - Darkstar had sworn an oath of loyalty to the new Queen Sunstar at her coronation, but had clearly been lying. Lying! Where had that come from? Elves simply did not lie - the entire concept was foreign to them.

Darkstar, her own child, had come into her chambers, demanding her crown, and literally beaten her mother into submission when the order had been politely and disbelievingly refused. That was the second of three crimes that had virtually been abolished by the elves generations ago. Morningstar was beyond shocked - this strayed into the realms of pure nightmare.

What had happened to them all? It was almost as though they had all gone insane.

As for Sunstar, what had happened to her? What had Darkstar done to her once she was put into the prison? She could easily find out, and it was now a desperate necessity that she do so. Sunstar, although clearly not in her right mind, at least had a much more non violent grip on reality than her younger sister. There was also one other fact governing Morningstar's actions. She, also, had sworn fealty to the new Queen. Unlike the others who had joined with Darkstar, she still took that oath seriously, and intended to stand by the rightfully crowned Queen, her beloved daughter Sunstar.

Morningstar had lived a long time in the palace, easily a century before her first child had been born. In that time, she had learned all its secrets, and she and Darkwood had both laughed at her discoveries, at times quietly using them. That brought a sad smile to her strained, pale face. Darkwood. She had always loved him, and longed to speak with him, but now could only offer sad thoughts, and keep the memories of their time together close to her heart. Darkwood would have been sickened to learn what had happened to his Kingdom, and would have wanted his beloved Morningstar to help Sunstar set things right.

The first step was to get Sunstar out of prison, out of harm's way.

She stood purposefully, and quietly pulled on her darkest cloak. With a careful glance around the room, she opened the secret passageway that led from the chambers that she and Darkwood had always shared, and took the dark winding passageway slowly and carefully down to one of the least used sections in the palace. Hiding warily in shadows that no one bar herself knew existed, she slowly and cautiously made her way down to the prison.

That part was the easy part.

Remembering which long disused passage it was that led her to the darkest part of the prison was the hard part.

Sunstar's eyes were closed. She sat cross legged and comfortable in the centre of her cell, meditating. She was once again out in the forest with a beautiful half elf, and they were running from the drow. Every second of the cherished recollection was examined for detail on the drow portal, and drow hunting skill.

What was the portal? Was it truly just a doorway? Where did it come from? Who dictated how it was used? Was it genuinely random, and the drow merely took advantage of it?

The questions Sunstar had been focussing on so hard trickled to a halt. She could not suppress the aching loss that memory of the half elf brought, and was almost gutted by the intense pain and aching loss she had been feeling, close to burnt out. She almost did not hear the soft footsteps outside her shadowy cell.

"Sunstar?" asked a soft voice, hesitant, without a doubt Morningstar.

Sunstar opened her eyes and offered her mother a small smile, but it did not reach her haunted emerald green eyes. She was empty, a shell of her former self.

"Mother," she said equally softly. "If they find you here, they'll kill you." Her poor mother. The troubled Morningstar stood outside the cell, peering in, signs of the recent indignities visited upon her person clearly visible in the dark bruise on her face and the blood on her mouth. She held the bars of the cell diffidently, clearly struggling to try and reach her daughter.

"I know," said Morningstar sadly, and then paused for a moment. "I have to speak with you." How would she phrase what she had to say? Would Sunstar send her away, too immersed in her own grief to help her people and regain her crown?

"What is there left to say? My beloved father is dead, I have been deposed and the one person I loved more than life itself is also dead, murdered by my family." Her fragile, new found sense of purpose was struggling to make itself known in the tidal wave of guilt and grief that crashed over her at her remembrance of her beloved Nightshade. Nightshade … her sad soul screamed in agony for its lost love, sobbing at the mere mention of the name.

"That's what I wanted to speak to you about." Morningstar looked at Sunstar closely, urgently. The elfmaid was so consumed by bitterness, it was unclear whether she would ever be able to entertain more than the thought of her own grief and loss. Whatever it was that had made Sunstar so self-centred was now running almost beyond control. Her mother had to reach her! There was so much at stake – the breakdown of elven society was inevitable. There was a slow, unknown force at work, unrelenting, gradually gaining momentum. It had consumed what was most dear to them to them both. It had to be stopped at all costs.

Sunstar stared at her, eyes hollow in their sunken sockets, burnt out, losing the battle against self recrimination, almost buried by its onslaught. She was sitting in a prison cell at the moment, her execution imminent, the other half of her soul, Nightshade, dead. Did she really want to go on? Was there still more to do? Why did it have to be her? Abruptly her fading sense of duty reached out and slapped her. It had to be her because she was the crowned Queen of the elves, and she had sworn to put her people above herself. Dimly, the desire to fulfil her oath to put her subjects above herself screamed in triumph deep within her, and began to bring her wordlessly gibbering mind away from its inward focus.

"Yes," she sighed, eyes at last losing the glaze of self-condemnation that had shone so brightly within her. "My people." The last words were spoken so quietly, that Morningstar had to strain to hear them. She felt a quiet sense of elation. Perhaps Sunstar was not lost after all.

"Yes Sunstar," said Morningstar patiently and kindly. "Your people. What has happened to them?" She wanted only to try and give her daughter some means to break her inward focus. The young elfmaid was slipping away from her mother toward catatonia. Was Sunstar's empathy for other elves completely submerged?

Morningstar had loved Darkwood with all her heart and soul, but she had not sunk to such depths of despair. The reaction seemed shockingly extreme for her daughter, who had always been so easygoing and even-tempered. Sunstar had been completely irrational on the throne, that was true, but she had not really contributed to Nightshade's death. That had been done by an elf that had turned into a homicidal maniac. Morningstar herself was only dimly aware of the events of the past few months, and even her faint recollection was shockingly confused. It was only due to her exceptional ability to stand back and objectively view events that she was able to see anything was wrong at all.

"I don't know," said Sunstar softly, bitterly. "I don't know. I'm confused. Nightshade is dead. I have to help my people." The glowing blue eyes stared at her from the deepest recesses of her mind, capturing her, and would not release her. What had happened? Who had really killed Nightshade? Was Nightshade dead because Sunstar thought she would have to order her execution? Had Sunstar's thoughts become reality? Was it her secret fears that had caused Nightshade's death?

Morningstar inwardly sighed. With a sinking heart, she watched the light that had flared briefly in her daughter's eyes flicker and die. The elfmaid, normally perceptive and highly intelligent, had completely withdrawn from the outside world. Clearly her daughter was becoming still more firmly entrenched in her own private hell of self-recrimination and grief.

"No, Sunstar," she said softly and patiently, kneeling down so she could stare straight through the bars of Sunstar's cage, into the shadows of her daughter's drawn face. "You did not kill Nightshade or Darkwood. The question is, why has our nation become a place of gross barbarity?" It still hurt her to speak of Darkwood. The pain that memory brought with it was almost overwhelming. She bowed her head for a moment to hide her tears.

"Maybe it was the portal," whispered Sunstar, after a moment. Her thoughts were quickly drowned out by another surge of softly glowing gentle blue flooding through her mind. It half drowned her, carrying her out to sea on its swift current of betrayal and condemnation.

Morningstar watched her daughter's eyes go blank as Sunstar left her, and the girl's body froze into its position of meditation. Morningstar felt her heart sink.

Sunstar was gone.

Darkstar would kill them both.

They had to leave.

There was to be no help from this quarter. Morningstar stayed outside the cell for a few moments, trying to collect her scattered thoughts, nerve endings awash with the aching loss of Darkwood. Just how far gone was Sunstar? Could she still be brought forth from her mental prison? What about Darkstar? Was she willing to govern her new nation as a Queen should? How far did her psychopathy go?

Morningstar knew she did not trust the new Queen at all not to harm Sunstar. The ex Queen had already lost her husband to elven brutality and did not relish the thought of losing her middle daughter as well. There had been enough killing and death in Shimmering Moon to last for generations. She resolved to go and speak to Darkstar, to find out how far her madness stretched. Then she had to get Sunstar out of Shimmering Moon at all costs. If Sunstar could not help her people, and Darkstar would not, then Morningstar would have to do it.

With that in mind, she slowly got to her feet, breathing deeply, eyes focussed on her thoughts, ignoring the grief and pain over her husband's death, which was gradually gaining a foothold on her normally stable and calm psyche. Whatever it was that was changing elven society at large was also slowly butchering her from the inside out, and she was determined to stop it once and for all. Finding out about the portal that both Nightshade and Sunstar had spoken of was the first step.

She quietly and purposefully crept out of the prison, and back to her dark passageway, mercifully unseen.

Darkstar had always liked Sunstar's chambers.

They were much lighter than hers, were more intimate in nature, and certainly had a better view of the market place and Nightshade's gloriously rotting corpse.

It also smelt much better than her barren rooms. The sheets of the bed had not been changed since Nightshade had last been there, Sunstar not allowing anyone entrance to clean, clearly preferring to wallow in her own filth, desperately wanting all the reminders she had of her rutting partner Nightshade.

Darkstar could just catch the lingering smell of sex, the termination of Sunstar's relationship such a sweet victory for the elven nation! She revelled in the blood of the broken thing down in public for all to see. She breathed deeply, closing her eyes in rapture, broad, mindless smile a highly unpleasant sight. Her senses filled with Sunstar's scent, reminding her of her sister's execution. Dazed, her smile mercifully faltered and disappeared, and her suddenly clouded eyes opened. Had that happened yet? Her muddy hazel eyes glazed over as she tried to remember.

She carefully thought back. No, it hadn't. It had been disgracefully neglected, she thought sourly.

She smiled gently again, as another thought struck her. It had almost fallen to the wayside because she was still basking in the ceaseless admiration of her subjects and the joy of being the ultimate ruler of the Elven people. She imagined her people falling to their knees in adoration at her presence, hanging on to her every word. She was sure that volumes would be written about her, the young Queen who had saved them from the barbarities and atrocities of the previous monarchies. History would know her as the ruler who had brought a peace and stability to Shimmering Moon like none other had been able to.

Her words would fade into legend, to be taught to entranced youngsters for countless generations.

Aaaah, life was good. A gentle smile of deep satisfaction played about her lips.

A hesitant knock sounded on the door behind her.

"Enter," she called absently, thinking that a Queen should be seen to be in deep thought at all times. It kept her subjects in proper awe of their monarch.

As soon as she heard the soft footsteps, she knew it was her mother Morningstar. Well, what did the miserable old bitch want this time? Darkstar straightened her shoulders and put on the expression of gentle, patronising amusement that she thought a Queen should be wearing. She turned to eye her mother carefully. She had to appear interested in the doings of her children, didn't she?

"Yes Morningstar?" she said politely, small pause before her words. She wanted her Mother to know that her mind had been engaged in weighty matters of state before the unwelcome intrusion. The Queen's time was very valuable, and could not be wasted on others unnecessarily. Although Darkstar's face was relaxed, her eyes were tense as she scanned her mother carefully for any signs of disrespect.

She was mother to her people, and could afford to be more gracious, but her subjects still had learn that unlike the previous milksops on the throne, she was not one to be trifled with. She was far, far too important and powerful for that. She had to make sure it was widely known and understood that all were completely inferior to the Queen.

Morningstar looked deep into her daughter's eyes, shocked, and quickly hid her sudden shudder. Gone was the clear, if cold, intelligence, replaced by an almost religious fervour. Darkstar's eyes burned with energy, and the air of complete separation with reality hung about her like dark, suffocating cloak.

"Your Majesty," said Morningstar respectfully, dropping her eyes, giving a deep bow. In order to stay alive, one had to do things that ran against one's better judgement, distasteful as the thought was.

At last, Morningstar had come around and saw that Darkstar was a much better Queen and daughter than Sunstar. She inclined her head graciously.

"Rise, my child," said Darkstar imperiously. It sounded motherly and comforting to say things like that to people when they wanted guidance. "Why do you wish to see me?" She was more than a little curious to know what her mother wanted. Perhaps her visit was due to her undying adoration of her daughter. Perhaps it was to swear fealty. Yes, that had to be it.

"I wanted some advice," said Morningstar softly, unable to meet Darkstar's eyes, desperately trying to think of some way to phrase her question and keep her head firmly attached to her neck at the same time.

Darkstar eyed her, suddenly suspicious. Since when had her mother ever wanted any advice? Could it be that her mother was mocking her? No, surely she knew that Darkstar was the wisest elf that had ever graced the Elven nation. Perhaps this was some drow spy, sent in to confuse the new Queen and divert her from her course of being saviour to her people.

"Yes," Darkstar said confidently, grinning, testing her mother's sincerity, wild, shining eyes utterly grotesque. This would show them! She would write her first page in history, using her drow spy mother as a bloody example.

"As you know, I am your humble servant," said Morningstar smoothly, eyes seemingly properly downcast, beginning to break out into a cold sweat. She let her mouth open and emit words, trusting it not to betray her. "I would like to know how I might be of service in your realm." She cringed as she said it, thinking it outrageously silly, but perhaps it would worm her back into the good graces of the self proclaimed Queen long enough to escape with Sunstar in tow. Whatever she had really been planning on saying would only lead to her swift demise at her evil daughter's hands.

Darkstar stared at her in shock. Surely she must realise that Darkstar could oversee all facets of her realm without assistance? Perhaps this fake Morningstar was plotting treason. Yes, yes that's what it was – Darkstar was now the Queen, and the drow were panicking before her might and power. It would be best to hand this creature her head on a platter, and send her back to the drow a bloody rag. The cowards would then see that Shimmering Moon was a force to be reckoned with, and would avoid them at all costs.

"I require no assistance," Darkstar hissed, eyes glittering as they bored into Morningstar's bowed head. "You will remove yourself from my sight, or I will have you hanged." Let the spy have a good run of the Kingdom before they rounded her up and had some fun with her. They would have her screaming and sobbing for mercy soon enough. Darkstar could not stop the small shiver of joy at the prospect of that last thought. A drow in bloody rags, bleeding for the entire world to see, so like the first spy Nightshade. She turned her back, so she could look lovingly out on the corpse of the drow whore rotting in public for all to see.

Morningstar bowed lower, if that were at all possible, and backed swiftly out of the chamber, sweating profusely, intent on evading the mad elf's eyes. Darkstar reeked of brutal insanity and homicidal intent. Clearly she was as utterly lost as Sunstar was. Morningstar realised with a cold feeling of dread that she had just signed her death warrant, and decided that perhaps a swift departure from Shimmering Moon would be the best thing under the circumstances.

The only thing was, she had to live long enough to regroup.

She thought about Sunstar sitting helpless in a cell.

Although Sunstar was unbalanced and had clearly withdrawn through guilt and grief, she had not followed the insanely destructive path of her younger sister. Both were self-centred, but Darkstar's hatred for her sister had mutated into a shocking and callous disregard for every other life around her. Sunstar was merely lost in her own mind. She had been able to think, that much had been clear with her last comment regarding the portal. What had she found out? Would she ever recover? The only way to find out was to bring her out of this place, away from the constant reminders of her grievous blunders.

Morningstar herself was beginning to feel different, she thought curiously as she quietly slipped into a hidden passage to return to her chambers. Darkwood was dead, and the grief that thought kept bringing up was beginning to impair her ability to function. She would be standing in their chambers, and she would be reminded of her husband, she would find the tears springing to her eyes, and she would be lost for several hours as she briefly cried herself out again. That was odd in and of itself; although his death had been unexpected and rocked her to the core, elves did not view death with the same trepidation as other races. It was a time to rejoice; the departed one would meet with all the other elves that had gone on, and they would wait for the living to join them. It was not a permanent departure, more a temporary separation. The ocean of tears they had all been crying had all been for themselves and that was very self absorbed behaviour in elven society.

Struck by that realisation, she stopped and stared into space in the darkness of the passageway. She thought about all her behaviour to date.

The only truly inexplicable thing she thought she had done was give up her crown to her daughter.

Why had she done that?

When viewed objectively, she realised she had absolutely no idea, other than it had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Darkstar was not totally incorrect in judging her capacity as a good ruler.

She had always been an organised elf, logical of thought, meticulous, decisive by nature.

These things did indeed, carry themselves over into her reign as the self proclaimed Elven Queen. The streets were kept clean, regular patrols of guards enforced Sunstar's curfew, rapidly escalating crime was punished.

Although the city appeared to return to normal, behind closed doors it was a completely different story.

There was a young wife, resting cheerfully in prison awaiting execution for killing her husband. He had come home from the market place, and she had lain in wait for him. Hitting him over the head with a blunt instrument when he had walked through the door, she whistled off key while skinning his body. The children had dined well that night on their father. It was only on the following day that anyone had found out, because the youngest child, an innocent little girl, had been in tears while at school, because she missed her father. When the elf was arrested, the only thing she would say in her defence was that at last his off key humming had finally ceased; it had always driven her to despair.

A young elf was sitting in the cell next to her, catatonic, his father on the other side of him. His father had lately taken to coming home and raping his mother. His father's excuse, the son said, was that he was sure his wife was conducting an open affair with their neighbour. He had merely wanted to teach her a lesson in fidelity. After one particularly brutal attack, the young elf had waited for his drunken father to fall asleep, tortured ears forced to listen to the sound of his mother's quiet sobbing, then leapt on his father, emasculating him with a sharp knife, then repeatedly stabbing him. Now both lay in the dungeons awaiting their eventual execution, guards never for one second realising that the father was already dead.

The Queen herself had taken to walking through the streets with her honor guard, stopping to berate often innocent elves at random, ordering eyes to be gouged, hands to be cut off, heads to be removed, or pretty young elves brought to her chambers for her sport. She suspected all those who had been maimed as somehow being treacherous drow spies, harbouring treasonous thoughts, being disrespectful to their ruler or other such imagined slights.

Where once all the people of the city used to have an equal share of the farmer's harvests, now most of the food was rerouted to the palace, to be dispensed to the people who were deigned to need it the most. This tended to include all the scavengers that fawned at the court, eager to ingratiate themselves to the new Queen, hoping to gain more power at others' expense.

Darkstar also ordered farmers' farms to be burned when she perceived them to be sending food that was not quite up to the high standard the court expected. She would not tolerate any insubordination in her Kingdom, and considered these punishments to be fine examples to her subjects of what would happen to villains infesting her fine Kingdom.

Not all citizens were infected by the mass gross insanity that seemed to be affecting the people of Shimmering Moon. Some watched the atrocities of their neighbours and quietly slipped out during the heat of the day, off into the forest, carefully avoiding detection by Darkstar's death squads. The guards on patrol on the more distant borders were occasionally called back to the city, but did not often stay, preferring to return to their outposts, shocked and disgusted by the indignities and slaughter they witnessed. From these, there were soft murmurs of discontent, and a hidden desire to restore their rightfully crowned Queen Sunstar to the throne. It was widely known that their Queen waited silently in prison for her coming execution, and they fervently wished that they could find some way for her to avoid that untimely and undeserved fate.

Shimmering Moon was slowly dying under the weight of its own depravity, and its usurper Queen could not see it.

Darkstar lay in her bed, her panting lover rolling off her, sweating profusely. They had rutted more than twice that evening, and still she wasn't satisfied. She remembered that in the beginning when she had first dragged Oak into her bed, they had been frantic for one another. His fervour had not abated and his stamina remained unbeaten by any of her younger lovers, both male and female.

She began to get control over her breathing, as aftershocks of her climax rumbled through her system, leaving her relaxed and slightly dizzy, though not at all sated.

She wondered idly if her sister had felt this way with her sultry dark lover.

Though Nightshade had been a drow and a murderer, her body remained one of the finest sights Darkstar had ever seen: slim, muscular body, full breasts, silky dark hair and arresting blue eyes. The half elf often sprang to the Queen's mind when in the throes of passion with all her various playthings.

"Oak," she asked slowly, drawing the word out, turning to stare at him with glittering, hungry eyes.

He did not return her look, instead staring straight ahead expressionlessly, breathing hard, one arm cradling his head, putrid sheets puddled around his waist.

Oak hated his lover. She was homicidally insane, and her hygiene was questionable. Often she called him to her bed with the stink of her other activities on her body, the cold seed of other elves splattered all over her dirty sheets. If he hadn't been hell bent on staying alive, he would have cast her aside. As it stood, he was close to walking off into the forest as others had done, but what stopped him from doing it was that while Darkstar revolted him, she was insatiable and highly experimental in their encounters. That and her handsome young page that was equally insatiable.

"Yes, Your Majesty," he said, respectful tone firmly in place. Even in the throes of passion, the sad bitch still insisted he call her 'Her Majesty'.

"I have executed Sunstar, haven't I?" she asked uncertainly, mind foggy, muddy hazel eyes dazed.

"No Your Highness," he said quietly and respectfully. "You can't do that. All you can do is exile her." Inwardly he cringed, expecting her to take this exceptionally badly. He longed to get up and leave her behind, wallowing in her own grandiose self-importance.

Darkstar glared at him. Just whom did he think he was to tell her what she could and couldn't do? She was a powerful Elven Queen and could do whatever struck her fancy!

"She was involved in my father's murder, you do know that, don't you?" The tone was definitely sarcastic. She could clearly remember her sister's complicity in the murder, how she and her sultry lover had jeered and laughed over her father's dead body.

Oak had no idea why she still concerned herself over her stupid cretin of a sister. She was rotting in a cell and that was that. No one really cared or remembered besides Darkstar. He wondered idly what had triggered her sudden interest in Sunstar. However, he simply did not have the stomach question her on it, and had no desire to end up listening to another of her egomaniacal tirades.

"Of course," he said smoothly, charming smile sliding into place almost unconsciously, as he turned and glanced at her. He immediately regretted doing so; she was a hideous sight with her matted hair and dirty skin.

Darkstar smiled. Perhaps the dear boy was finally learning his place. She only kept him around because he satisfied her. At least he could humbly say that he enjoyed the close attention of the Queen.

"I will order her execution. Get dressed, we're having a public trial." She was decisive. If Oak was right and Sunstar was still for some unfathomable reason still alive, then the Queen would have to graciously rectify that situation. It wouldn't do to upset one's subjects, now would it?

With that, she slid out of bed, aching need and hunger for his body temporarily forgotten, and began quickly pulling her less than clean ornate robes on.

Oak sighed inwardly. It looked like his rendezvous with the handsome young elfling, to be attended to after he left the Queen, was going to be a little late. He dared not disobey his mistress, was his irritated thought, as he too slipped out of bed and began to gracefully pull his much cleaner clothes on.


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