The Picnic | By: Nicole Jakobsen | | Category: Short Story - Fantasy Bookmark and Share

The Picnic

Antania descended into the homestead, her bony hands laden with black roses she had just cut from her prized bushes mere seconds ago. She carefully placed all but one in a waiting etched crystal vase which sat on the dining table and crept over to the padded, high-backed leather chair before the fire in which Illaden sat reading, the hems of her skirts gently swishing against the floor. Standing behind the chair, she leaned across one side and traced the soft petals of the rose across his cold cheek, her smiling lips following them in gentle kisses.

Illaden chuckled, closing the tome in his lap and setting it on the chair beside him. "Ahhh, my dear. Back from your rose bushes, are you?" Gently, he removed the rose from her grasp and tucked it behind her ear, a smile forming on his twisted lips. Antania giggled and slipped around the chair, seating herself on his vacant lap, her arms entwining around his neck. "Yes, of course, Beloved. It is nearly time for dinner. Why do we not eat outside today on the pier? The weather is absolutely stunning!" "Arrhh, yes," he replied, "I have something to show you anyway, and it's best done out there."

With that, Antania rose from his lap and called her faithful voidwalker, Tangnak, to her side. "Tangnak, be a good boy and pack up the black silk blanket with the silver knotwork embroidery, place settings for two, a bottle of the red wine we bought yesterday, and all the food I prepared in the kitchen. Then, lay them out at the pier so it overlooks the sea." The voidwalker nodded and set himself to the tasks given to him by his mistress, doing them without complaint. When he returned to her side, she sweetly declared to Illaden, "Everything is prepared my love; we may go dine now." He nodded and unfurled himself from his chair, taking her by the arm.

The two walked together outside with Tangnak in tow and sat upon the blanket, Antania nestling herself up against Illaden as her voidwalker served the dinner of roast venison with sherry gravy and candied sweet potatoes up onto their plates and poured wine into their glasses. As they dined, they idly watched the sea, lazily hurling shadow bolts now and again at fish swimming close enough to hit.

"Now then, my dear," said Illaden once he had finished his meal, "let me show you what I've learned to do." He stood and offered Antania his adamantite hand, which she grasped gently and stood. They walked to the stable which housed their skeletal steeds and mounted, riding a short distance to where a small camp of Dark Iron Dwarves resided. They dismounted and Illaden pointed a claw-tipped finger at the nearest Dwarf. "He'll do. Watch closely, my dear, for I shall teach you how to do this as well."

With that, he began drawing a series of Demonic runes in the air which blazed as they hung suspended in time and space. A ball of shadow formed before him, crackling and hissing. He twisted the runes slightly with his fingertip and the ball split into hundreds of tiny balls, which then elongated and hardened into razor-sharp crystals. Antania watched, wide-eyed in awe as he flicked his hand, sending these little crystals toward the Dwarf, each impaling themselves into their target with ease. Illaden then clenched his fist and the crystals exploded, taking the Dwarf along with them. Antania squealed in delight as bits of flesh rain down from the sky, only to hit the ground again.

"Oh, beloved! Your powers never cease to amaze me!" She threw her arms around him and pressed her lips to his in a soft kiss. "I know, my dear. I know," he muttered, returning her kiss with as much gentleness as she delivered hers. "This is what awaits the next damn fool who dares attempt to turn you against me." She nodded, her cyanotic lips curved into an adoring smile and whispered, "You truly are the best husband in the universe."
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