Friday, September 13, 2019

#FridayFlash - Overthrow

Louis prepared the nightcap as he'd been taught, watching the dark elf butler from the corner of his eye. He'd earned enough trust to not need direct supervision, but no human was ever fully trusted. The dark elves were likely to kill him on a whim anymore, but his fear was deeply ingrained.

Drink finished, Louis lifted the tray, steeled his spine, and began the climb to Delisandra's rooms. The butler remained to supervise the other kitchen work, leaving Louis to his own devices. It was the same climb he'd made for two years, at the same time every night without fail.

The guards paid him no mind. Why should they? This was no different than any other night. Louis was often about the high lady's business, even trusted to carry missives to the other nobles on occasion. He'd come far for a human, had earned more trust than any before him.

Louis stopped in the darkened stairwell and drew the vial out of his pocket.

Hemlock. Concentrated to four times lethality, rendered tasteless by the herbal liqueurs Delisandra preferred for her nightcap. She'd drink it, then fall into sleep and death. Her duchy would fall into chaos, allowing the human resistance a chance to reclaim their lands.

Louis upended the vial, drizzling the clear syrup into her glass, then gave it a quick stir. He hurried up the rest of the stairs before his resolve could waver. Her death would mean his; he'd never live to see freedom again.

Better than another day of subjugation.

Delisandra held her hand out for her goblet when he arrived, eyes locked on the tome in her lap. Magelamps gave off their clear light, making her sitting room as bright as the day. Louis was used to it being soft blue by this time of night, the high lady preparing for bed. A moment of panic touched his heard, but she claimed the glass and took her first sip.

"Does my mistress require anything else?" he asked, standing beside her ottoman.

The dark elf took another drink, longer, licking her lips afterward. Louis frowned, though he only watched her through lowered lashes. The herbalist had assured him the results would be swift.

Delisandra chuckled suddenly, eyes finally lifting from the book. She quaffed the rest of her drink, upending the goblet for even the dregs. "This is absolutely delicious. Did you do something different tonight?"

Louis bit the inside of his lip, blood turning to ice. Why wasn't it working? "Perhaps a new bottle of the digestif?"

"No, that's not it." She licked her lips loudly, making a noise of satisfaction. "I think it's the hemlock."

His head shot up and he stared in shock. Words died in his throat, and Louis thought he might collapse.

Delisandra set her goblet on the table beside her, elven eyes locked on his. A smile spread across her face, becoming too wide to be pleasant, revealing sharp feline teeth. A vicious baring of fangs, though her eyes glittered with joy.

"My dear Louis," she said, tongue darting across her lower lip. "I'll give you humans some credit for having the courage to at least attempt this revolution. Even via cowardly poison.

"But you really need to learn something about us before any of you try again. I'm going to teach you something very important, and I will even allow you to live long enough to tell the others."

She rose and closed the distance in a blink. Louis flinched back, but she caught him by the vest and held him in place. He stared up at her with dread, tears blurring his vision.

"We dark elves are weaned on venom. We crave it, love it. You won't find a poison that will do more than intoxicate one of us." Delisandra chuckled, low and threatening. "Those who survive are more than welcome to try again."

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