Stories of the Raksura by Martha Wells

Stories of the Raksura by Martha Wells

Author:Martha Wells
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Stories of the Raksura
ISBN: 9781597805353
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Published: 2013-12-31T16:00:00+00:00


Cerise was on her way back from the colony’s lower levels and a visit to the nurseries when Streak stopped her. They were near the waterfall pool in the greeting hall, the heart of the colony tree, and so were guaranteed an audience.

“Are you busy?” Streak demanded.

It wasn’t the best way to speak to the reigning queen, but Streak was the chief of the Arbora soldiers’ caste, and had been old since Cerise was a fledgling. So Cerise said, “No, I’m about to go to my bower, where I’ll lounge around in idle dissipation. What do you want?”

Streak sighed to acknowledge the sarcasm, and gestured toward a group of male warriors standing with the Arbora soldiers who guarded the entrance to the colony. The greeting hall lay at the base of the massive central spiral of the colony tree’s trunk, where a tunnel through to the knothole allowed access to the outside. It was an important defensive point, though the hall itself was meant to impress visitors and was lined with stairways, balconies, and delicate pillars, all carved into intricate shapes by the Arbora artisans.

The warriors had obviously Done Something. As Cerise looked at them they all shifted to their groundling forms and guiltily avoided her gaze. Streak said, “I know the warriors think it’s a joke, but snatching the soldiers’ patrol off the outer terrace and—”

Cerise flicked her spines in annoyance, already contemplating possible punishments. Young male warriors were inclined to be boisterous and weren’t exactly experts at applying good judgment; keeping them from becoming so unruly they disturbed the rest of the court, especially when they were bored, was a constant occupation. And the court had been fairly boring lately, which was exactly how Cerise liked it. She drew breath to ask who the ringleader was, just as Wake slammed in through the entrance passage and dramatically skidded to a halt across the floor.

Cerise and Streak both stared at Wake, who stared back, wide-eyed and also guilty, like a fledgling caught stealing bread dough. What is wrong with the warriors today? Cerise wondered. Then she remembered that Wake was on patrol duty this afternoon, charged with guarding the outer perimeter of the colony tree’s canopy. Her voice level, Cerise said, “I take it it’s not good news?”

Wake took a deep breath. Her green scales were speckled with raindrops, or possibly spray from the outer waterfall near the entrance, and she had brought with her the strong green scent of the outdoor air. She settled her spines and folded her wings, obviously trying to regain her composure. “Indigo is back, they’re just coming into the clearing. Lapis told me to fly ahead and warn—tell you.”

Cerise exchanged a look with Streak, whose brow furrowed in consternation. Reigning queens didn’t normally need warnings that the youngest sister queen was returning from a perfectly ordinary trading trip to an ally. Cerise hissed to herself. If Indigo had somehow managed offend the touchy Emerald Twilight court …

The soldiers


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