Blue Rose: The RPG of Romantic Fantasy

Whispers in the Waves

by Dawn Elliot

“Marra!” The voice of an exasperated mother rose over the sound of the waves and the ever-present hiss of the sea wind. “Marra, come home now! It’s dinner time. Marra!”

Alyn walked up the sandbar, boots crunching on gravel and worn sea shells. Her attention was entirely on the small figure crouched next to a deep tide pool; she paid no mind to the child’s mother further up the beach. The child didn’t stir, arm sunk elbow-deep into the water. She didn’t move until Alyn’s shadow fell across the pool, and its resident shrimp and crabs fled under rocks and into crevices. The dark-haired girl looked up with a frown: “You scared the fish.”

“They’ll manage well enough, child,” Alyn smiled, gold pilot’s ring glinting in her nose and green eyes bright in her tanned and weathered face. She crouched down beside the girl, worn oilskins rustling against the sand. “What have you found there?”

“She’s tickling me,” the child giggled. Alyn peered past the reflections dancing across the pool’s surface. The waves had whispered to her, speaking of the great whales traveling south for the winter and the storm rising in the west. The whispers drew her here, to this small village on the edge of the kingdom, filling her dreams with images of tangled black hair and–Alyn saw the iridescent gleam of a abalone shell in the water–blue shell. She’d had this dream for years, as she’d searched for her heir.

The girl had her hand under the abalone. No doubt the mollusk was scraping harmlessly at her skin, tasting her. Alyn reached into the pool as well, tickling an anemone. Because of Alyn’s skills as an adept, the creature neither stung her nor withdrew but allowed her to stroke it lightly, fronds waving in the gentle current.

“They always curl up when I touch them,” the girl said, watching in fascination. “I don’t mean to scare them.”

“There’s a trick to it, Marra. It is Marra, is it not?” Alyn smiled again as the girl nodded, clearly impatient to learn the trick of tickling anemones. Behind Alyn, her small sailboat bobbed on the water. A flag with a quartered circle on it flapped from the top, marking her as an adept offering her services to those in need. “Can you feel the stir of the water?” she asked. “Breathe it in. Let your hand drift like kelp in the current. Then the anemone will not fear you, and neither will the shrimp or the little fishes.” She paused, studying the girl’s expression.

“Can you understand the voice of the water, Marra?” Alyn asked gently, hope ill hidden in her voice. “Does the wind speak to you?”

Marra lifted her gray eyes to meet Alyn’s and nodded solemnly. “The wind told me you would come. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Alyn stood and smiled, her old knees creaking. She held out her hand, and without hesitation, Marra took it, as if grasping the hand of her mother, and stood as well. “And I have been waiting for you, child,” Alyn said. “For a very long time.”

Blue Rose: The RPG of Romantic Fantasy

Final Blow

by Dawn Elliot

The sorcerer’s unliving army seemed endless, wearing down the Queen’s defenders. Jen knew every death was simply fodder for the sorcerer’s dark arts. She could almost feel the evil feeding on the pain, death, fear, and rage around her. But to refuse to fight was to bow to the enemy’s advances.

Jen had been battling her way through the press most of the day, and there were few who could face her skill with a blade, her training, or Kili, the rhy-cat bonded with her heart. She heard Kili wail behind her and shared his frustration as they were stalled by a wall of shambling corpses. Then the great rhy-cat bounded over Jen’s head to fall on them, lashing out with razor-sharp claws to drive the zombies back. Jen pushed through the gap, and the two of them raced up the shallow slope towards the sorcerer’s command post.

Arrows rained down on them, but they danced out of the way, steps light despite the wearying battle. Kili and Jen moved as if they were two parts of a single warrior, striking through the scattered enemy. Behind her, Jen heard the shouts of her companions as they saw the brilliant gleam of her sword. Battle noises rose again as the Queen’s army was encouraged by the rhy-bonded’s glorious, and insanely risky, charge.

Risky yes, but not insane. Jen knew if they couldn’t find a way to shatter the sorcerer’s control over the unliving, the army would fall. Morale was already fraying. Even the bravest warriors tasted terror as they faced their former shieldmates, still bearing their death wounds. Jen prayed for just one chance against the sorcerer who had raised such evil.

The sorcerer clearly placed little trust in the living. Kili made short work of the zombie guards at the command post. Jen drove ahead, quick blows disabling or destroying those who faced her. A black tent stood at the center of the camp and was surrounded by blood-filled runes cut in the ground. The stink, magnified through Kili’s senses, made Jen’s stomach lurch. Horrified and enraged, she slashed at the tent, slicing a great hole in it.

The only person inside was a withered old woman, rocking back and forth and muttering to herself as if mad. Jen hesitated, and it was only Kili’s warning cry, echoing in her mind and ears, that saved her life. The seemingly decrepit crone suddenly lashed out with her staff and hissed curses at Jen, who dodged aside at the last moment. Taking a spinning kick-step, Jen struck the staff away and then gathered her focus, and the white hot Light burning within her, and struck. The sorcerer shrieked, curses cut off as the blade impaled her, a blow to smite the strongest of shadows. Jen felt the evil in the air instantly dissipate, washed away by the Light she’d called to her aid. There was a great rush of noise, as a thousand spirits were set free, and then a clatter of armor and weapons as the entire army of the unliving slumped to the ground, dead once more.

Blue Rose: The RPG of Romantic Fantasy


by Dawn Elliot

Something was wrong. Haril could smell it–literally–and he knew no one else could. For some odd reason, he always caught a whiff of a bad odor whenever there was trouble, and he’d been smelling a stink all day. Sighing, Haril checked the set of his sword and sat a little straighter in the saddle. He couldn’t see anything ahead, but he trusted his nose over his eyes.

He didn’t have long to wait. He drew his sword a split second before the three mounted bandits thundered down on him, yelling to spook his horse. Of course, his horse was from the royal stables and was neither spooked nor amused. Her ears back, she raised her tail in challenge. That was the bandits’ first surprise. When Haril threw back his cloak and his envoy’s badge flashed in the sunlight, that was their second.

“Exarchs’ blood!” the lead bandit cursed. Then Haril skewered him. That was the last surprise he had for them. In the frantic mess, they took his horse down. Cursing, Haril dodged the hooves of his own beast as she shrieked in agony.

“Damn you all!” he shouted, angered at the poor horse’s agony. He punched the nose of the nearest bandit’s horse with the pommel of his sword, and the animal reared, throwing its rider off. None of the bandits were true horsemen. Dodging a deadly blow from the remaining rider, Haril spun, grabbed the man’s boot, and dragged him from his horse.

“Now we’re all on the same level, boyos,” he panted, glaring at his unhorsed opponents. They didn’t answer, rushing him in tandem. Haril twisted nimbly out of the way, using a clever little maneuver he’d learned as a child in the Kernish court. Hooking a heel under the first man’s boot, he dumped him to the ground, with a kick to his temple put him out, hopefully not permanently.

That left him with the leader, a cunning fighter with burning eyes, speaking of some Shadowspawn blood in his veins. The two swordsmen danced back and forth among the fallen bandits and the pooling blood of Haril’s horse. The scout found himself at a disadvantage; he was trying to disable, not kill, his opponent, while the other fighter had no such restraint.

Pressed back, Haril realized he didn’t have the skill to take the bandit down without killing him. The robber’s blade suddenly slipped past Haril’s guard to stab his upper arm. He hissed, eyes widening in sudden agony. The blade had poison on it. Groaning, Haril struggled to kill the bandit now, before it could take effect.

It was more luck than anything, a tiny slip of the bandit’s boot, but it was enough. Haril’s blade sank home, and he watched as those burning eyes dimmed in death.

“Ah!” Haril sank to his knees, shuddering. He could feel the heat of the poison working its way through his body. He wondered if there’d be any victors in this battle. “And what surprise do you have for me now, eh?”