Corman50

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((I'm still in))
 

BlackBishop

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((Thanks a lot, everyone! I hereby officially proclaim this game back on. I have an IC to write up, should have it up tonight. Tapp has an event he's been working on, so that should follow soon after. Deadline for orders might be tricky being the holidays. A tenuous deadline will be set for Dec. 27, with an update to follow soon after.)
 
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BlackBishop

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Dla Magna Mater
Part II

Last Harvest, Twentieth Year of the New Age
Based upon Dwarven lore by Eidur

Frost tinged grass crunched under foot as the Dwarven war party marched through the winding pass that led to Mount Carbon. A frigid wind assailed the Dwarves and dark clouds overhead threatened snow at any moment. While Narien and the Ecclestian knights pulled their garbs tighter to their necks to ward off the chill, straining from the bonds tied around their wrists and ankles, the Mahakam Dwarves embraced the icy wind, lifting their voices high in song, the melody carried off high above by the breeze, and echoed upon the walls of the surrounding mountains.

"Hooouuuu! Hooouuu! Hou!
Czekajcie, klienty!
Wnet wam pójdzie w pięty!
Rozleci się ten burdel
Aż po fundamenty!
Hoooouuuu! Hooouuu! Hou!"


"What is that tongue they speak?" Lucius questioned behind Narien.

"It's Dwarven," Narien replied over her shoulder, "Though few still speak it, least not openly."

"Vile speech for a vile people," Narien heard Gharold mutter from behind Lucias.

"Best not say such things too loudly, thane," Narien warned. "The focus on trade shifted their speech to the common tongue over the centuries, the old-tongue reserved for the most reclusive halls."

"What do they sing of?" Lucias wondered aloud.

"Its a war song." Narien replied ominously. Silence fell upon the captives.

Hours passed without halt. The leader of the party, Kowal Gharth would periodically ride up and down the marching line upon a stunted horse, with a whip in hand. The dwarf captain seemed to take pleasure in threatening with the whip, but to the villain's credit, he didn't actually use it. Riding past Narien, his eyes gleamed from under his scar, like a hunter with a great prize.

"Move it, you layabouts!" Gharth spat. "Such long legs fit for nary a squat! Move lest you feel my whip!"

The horse clopped past Narien, his voice clear as he moved further down the line, shouting obscenities at her men. Strange times these are indeed to be held prisoner by a supposed ally.

The black peak of Mount Carbon thrust into the sky upon the horizon in the distance, looming overhead. Narien felt trepidation at the thought of reaching their destination, wondering what would become of her and her companions. Caged like rats, she wondered. Sold off for ransom, or some other grisly purpose. Underking Yarpen is a hero of the war, she couldn't imagine what madness had befallen him to seek her imprisonment, daughter of Eylinn and... Ares.

To Narien's surprise, Gharth shouted out orders from the rear of the marching line, commanded the front ranks to make for a trail off the main path. The broken and overgrown path winded up along the broken cliffwall of a mountain. The war party had to march single file as the path narrowed and certain death threatened with the slightest misstep as the pass stretched on below the cliffside. As they circled around the southside of the mountain, the path grew wider and the ground evened out to reveal a highland with a shallow peak where a blue stream sprung.

Narien and her companions gasped in awe as they were urged forward. The small peak ahead was carved as if by some great magic. Two overlapping discs were held to the heavens by the small mountain, entwined with a great serpent bearing fangs with an elongated tongue flicking against large runes engraved in the immense sculpture.

"Dla Magna Mater," the Dwarven troop chanted in unison as the mountain came into view.

An obscure passage from a forgotten history text came to Narien's mind, a memory of her studies of Dwarven history insisted upon by her tutors at her father's court, she supposed.

The Time of the White Chill and the White Light is nigh, the Time of Madness and the Time of Contempt: Czas Końca, the Time of End. The world will die amidst frost and be reborn with the new sun.

Was that what the Mahakam Dwarves were depicting here, she wondered. The Dwarves of Mahakam believed the War of Darkness would destroy the world, and that a new one would emerge to take its place, and in a sense it did. The Empire was destroyed, the Dark One vanquished, and peace, or so she thought, returned. Peace proved to be but a respite for more war to come. Nevertheless, the world as it was known changed forever.

As the party neared the monument, a black castle came into view, built at the base of the mountain. It seemed to be cut from ebony stone, black as night and glinting with marvelous colours as the light of the sun reflected off of it. Gharth's horse trotted past her, the Dwarf flashing her a toothy grin.

"Welcome to the lair of the Dead Prince."



* * * * *


Kowal Gharth shoved Narien into a dark room within the castle's keep, her companions taken to the dungeons below, she assumed. As her eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light, she saw that she was in a solar. Maps and tapestries adorned the walls, marble busts of long dead heroes decorated symmetrical alcoves, and cracks of sunlight streaming through the shuttered windows illuminated flecks of dust and a finely woven carpet that lay upon the floor. It seemed to her that the chamber had been splendid at one time, but now lays under a cover of darkness and dust. Beyond the depressing visuals, the most oppressive thing about the room was the smell. There was a sickly sweet aroma, like some strong flowers and herbs but they served only as a mask for something else; the smell of decay and death.

The Dwarf's firm hand pressed down heavily upon her shoulder, compelling her to sit upon a chair opposite a large marble desk. "Sit," He demanded, his voice void of the previous false cheer.

"This is Krestarii?" Asked a peculiar voice from one of the room's many shadows.

"Yes, my Prince," beamed Gharth, proud of his catch. "We caught these rats spying near the Carbon Pass, no doubt bound to report to the brat's sympathizers."

"How many?" The voice sounded as if uttered by a throat lodged with a thousand cutting stones. It was like gravelly steel, and laced with sadness.

"Fourteen. Ecclestian knights mostly, a Wildling, and this Halfling royal."

"Have any come to harm?"

Gharth hesitated. "...Some were bruised in the fighting. It couldn't be helped."

Silence met the Dwarf captain's response, until finally a simple command came. "Leave us."

"Forgive me, my Prince, but what of the others? Shall I arrange for them to be brought to Mount Carbon?"

"You shall arrange for their release. Immediately."

Gharth seethed into the shadows. "These Ecclestians were caught spying in the lands of the High King!"

"I was not aware we were at war with Ecclestius, nor that my father has assumed the High Kingship," the voice croaked. "Leave us."

"I did my duty," Gharth shot back. "I answered your summons as a courtesy. These prisoners should go to High King Yarpen to face judgement!"

A Dwarf emerged from a dark alcove, his face concealed by shadow. She saw that he wore a black robe with silver embroidery running up the seams and woven in a spider web design upon the shoulders. "And I thank you for the courtesy, now do my bidding or else."

Gharth laughed at the threat. "Or else?! Or else what? What time do you have left in the world to carry out such threats, my prince?"

The prince took a step closer, a ray of light falling upon his face, dispersing the shadow that hung over him. He had jet black hair, a long beard nearly down to his knees flecked with grey, and a patch over his right eye along with scarring and sores broken out over half his face. "I do not have much time, 'tis true, dear captain. Though with what time I have left will gladly be spent casting those brought up so high back into the pits from whence they came."

The captain fell silent, finally giving a brisk salute and retreating from the room.

"Ambition among Dwarves is to be celebrated," The prince said somberly, stepping toward Narien and brandishing a knife. "Add a touch of malice and it is a very dangerous thing." He cut the rope binding Narien's hands together in one swift motion, the frayed rope falling to the floor. With a sigh, the prince eased into his chair behind the marble desk, and struck a flint upon the table, casting candlelight over the room and causing shadows to dance in it's flickering glow. "Prince Zoltan syn Yarpena, at your service."

Narien rubbed her wrists, the rope leaving its mark after the long march. "I've heard of you. You fought King Wrothiron in the Battle of Azure's Ridge."

Zoltan winced from the memory. "Ah yes, a battle they would come to say to be a defining moment in our history. A victory won, in no small part, thanks to your mother."

"You know my mother?"

"Of course, not personally mind you, but we have met on occasion. She is more a toady of the Deagrins, an offense, my father has recently decided. Alas before we go further, I must admit my ignorance on my former comrades' children. You are...?"

"Narien. Am I free to go, then?" She asked bluntly. She was eager to be free of this sickly Dwarf.

The Dwarf's fist clenched upon the table for some unknown purpose. "Yes," he grunted. "You and your friends are free to go. One of my personal banners will escort you to the Carbon Pass to ensure you pass unmolested by Kowal Gharth."

Narien breathed a sigh of relief but could not hide her confusion. "Is this Kowal Gharth not your vassal?"

"My father's vassal, to be accurate, and was... overzealous in carrying out his orders, shall we say."

"Overzealous?" She scoffed. "By the Light, what is happening in Highathar that you would take an ally in bonds, a friend of Mahakam?!"

Zoltan's good eye bore into Narien. "Benthorn is dead, lain to eternal rest below High Mountain. He was a good king. He brought us back from the precipice of destruction and rebuilt much of what was lost, some would say more. All of my house followed him dutifully, yet what of his heir. He is untested, ignorant of the ways of war and rule. Too young to take the throne, a seat that by merit would be better held by Mahakam. The ascension of Deagrin Victor to High King is to doom us all, and any that stand by that ascension are our enemies... Do you believe these words I speak? You shouldn't."

Narien tilted her head in wonder as he continued. "Do you know what a Revenant is?"

"I do. One of the Darkspawn." Narien nodded.

"Aye. A malevolent creature, trapped between life and death, born from the vile magics of necromancers. Be bitten and be cursed to die slowly, bearing witness to the death of your body while your mind remains intact. Corpus, such a vile disease, but this..."

Narien covered her mouth from a gasp as she realized Zoltan's horrible fate. "I'm sorry... but what does this have to,"

Zoltan raised a hand to silence her. "I'm getting to that. Imagine you are an ambitious lord, or lady if you will. So consumed by the idea of your legacy, and yet your lone heir is dying, doomed to birth no children and slowly succumb to disease, leaving you in darkness, in the shadow of greater lords. Perhaps you too would go to extremes to fill your ambitions."

Left speechless, Narien stood silent for minutes. As she turned to leave, Zolton spoke.

"I am compelled to ask you to pass on a message to your mother, and Queen Nienna's court. Recognize my father's claim to the High Kingship as legitimate and just, support us in our rightful endeavor, and we will not forget it." Zoltan winced as if the words pained him, and she supposed they did.

"I will pass on the message, though I doubt they will be paid heed."

Zoltan nodded somberly. "I expect not. Safe travels, Narien Krestarii."

"Thank you." With that, Narien stepped out of the chamber leaving Zoltan alone in the dim chamber.
 

Terraferma

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Twitches and Wardrobes

Faint footsteps hurried along the darkened halls.

“By our estimates if we can double our numbers, it would go a long way.”

The silhouette’s frantic pace echoed off of the walls, mingling with the distant voices growing ever closer, ever louder.

“The petitions keep coming, some of the houses are beginning to throw their weight behind it.”

“Pity.”

The large wooden door was a mere inch open, emitting the slightest of flickering light. A silken glove pressed against it and pushed, the creaking sound alerted the others.

“We need to expand the fleet, otherwise—“

Aliya burst into Padishah Sabir’s grand study, her presence met with cold stares from The Majestics. For a moment she hesitated, hoping that her all-encompassing hijab concealed her dismay. Straightening up she spoke with the same grace and authority she was known for.

“I return to Shiek your eminence. The children are safe and already to bed.”

Hasam sat there at his golden table, flanked by his council.

“You’re late. You were to arrive hours ago before dinner.”

“It could not be helped…rough seas delayed us and a land route would have taken longer,” Aliya spoke apologetically.

“Gentlemen, this meeting is concluded. Take your leave.” The trio nodded, bowed and shuffled out averting the wife’s gaze in passive contempt. A woman interrupting a meeting of men, how dare she?

As the heavy door closed shut the tired Padishah stretched and sighed.

“And how was the trip? And the wedding?”

His spouse became giddy with excitement, “Oh it was a rather scandalous affair. King Varian Krestarii condemned the marriage of Crown Prince Armas Coamenel and his sister, Princess Anwen Krestarii. The wedding did move forward, but the fallout has been immense. Oh the gossip, the rumors, the talk!”

If Sabir didn’t know better, he’d think the woman was at the point of swooning.

“You spent the rest of the autumn and then some. I was beginning to think you either became someone’s hostage or found a lover and kept the children.” He crossed his arms eying her, Hasam was adorned in the usual matching golden regalia, sans the violet sash. The gesture was met with eloquent, feminine laughter.

“Do not be foolish. I spent time within Galadriel and Ecclestius, specifically Azeratti. The lands of the elves are so breath-taking dear husband. Such beauty…natural beauty not artificial. The area is as if blessed by the light itself, unlike the forsaken deserts, cliffs and plateaus we have here.”

Raising an eyebrow, her words were met with sarcasm. “Oh then let me issue a decree to FIX that.”

Ignoring him Aliya continued, taking several steps forward and going as far as to sit on the edge of the table, dangling her legs and feet that were curiously adorned in black high-heels.

“Azeratti is a gem. A crown jewel. Painters, artists, bards it is so culturally rich. Even the cuisine is simply delectable. The outer areas of the city are dreadful, but further in and towards the center it is quite the sight. Truly a wonderful place to see. Why, I believe it is the largest city.”

Hasam caught a familiar twinkle in her eyes as she went on, the only revealing aspect of her golden niqab. “I thought you said Galadriel was all beautiful, almost as if it was the best of the entire realm.” He was waved off.

“Oh beauty comes in all forms,” The woman seemed almost exacerbated from the interruption, after a quick motion she continued.

“They dress differently from us. They use all types of clothing, silks as exotic as the flowers here with jewelry and gold to ornament such elegant tapestry displayed by the nobility. The dresses are so beautiful, they accentuate the form so well and are also rather….revealing.” Her final words were rife with sensual seduction.

“There is footwear, high-heels they are called that elevate a woman’s stance and enhances their allure. True the older women are conservative about but oh…to be so young again.” A dramatic sigh ensued, followed by a scoff.

“Oh beloved please, you sound like a hag almost with that commentary.” Shaking his head he decided to end the topic and move on to other matters.

“While you were away with the children things have become quite unsettled here. War has broken out between Mutikabir and Herasnia. The Elves too are in danger of losing their war against the cultists.”

Aliya shifted slightly, finding the table to be rather uncomfortable but she managed.

“With my charm I did manage to learn of rumored fighting in the Norseland with tensions abating between Westmarch and Ecclestius though the details of the negotiations are rather, sparse.”

Sabir nodded in acknowledgement. “I see. It may have been best to stay longer but your place is here at my side.”

Pulling back the veil, the wife let her raven colored strands cascade down to her shoulders, she swished her head around side to side to attract his attention. “I return to you my one love, enlightened.” A grin slowly etched across her face.

Before he could say anything, Aliya hopped off the table and backed away just enough to give him a full view of her, her figure perfectly illuminated by the chandelier-style candles. With a click of her tongue, she reached back and revealed herself to him dropping her hijab in a neat pool around her newly acquired high-heels. Hassam was greeted by a rose colored corset, accentuating her bound bosom. Certainly not her first, nor her last. Looking further down, long stockings were latched onto the undergarment complementing it.

“Maker! Remove that blasphemous attire immediately!” An enraged Padishah pushed his chair back and stood upright pointing a finger at her. She only giggled.

“Oh? I thought you’d never ask my husband…”

“NO! You know what I meant.”

Aliya responded innocently, “No? You don’t like it? That is a shame husband…” Abruptly her face hardened. “Because I will bring this Emirate forward to a new era….”

To say Padishah Sabir was vexed, was an understatement.
 

Mikkel Glahder

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OaSPkyk.jpg


At the court of Salah Al-Aziz
The emir and acording to himself, claimant to the throne of Hroniden, sat in silence smoking on his gilded hookah watching and analyzing the people in the room. He hated court buisness and belonged best on a horse leading his men. Due to this, he often led his advisors deal with the administration and then proposing things he would either accept or deny. The room itself was full of decorations in the wall with thing such as mosaics which was common in southern Hroniden. The entrance to the large room was buzzling with life and his right hand and Vizier had not returned so he did not know why. He looked at the people there. Poor clothing and rough skin, exposed to the sun most of the year. "Peasants, I wonder what they want," He thought. They were arguing with the group of guards that had formed up at the door. The emir could only hear a few sentences such as: "His eminence cannot deal with this issue right now!" and "But we must be allowed to see him, the matter is important." Salah Al-Aziz stood up and looked at the scene from a balcony in the room. He was in full view of his subjects and he told his guards to let them through. He then instructed to his bodyguards to be ready to bring him to safety, if they started any trouble.
When the group was stopped five metres away from his throne and were instructed to kneel. The emir then allowed them to rise with a hand gesture.
"What is the problem hard working folk?"
"Your magnificene," one began, "we have lost everything! We are the only ones who got away."
Salah looked worried. "What happened? Who attacked you?"
"We couldn't see their faces but... but..."
"But what?"
"Your magnificene," another one said, "they were well armed and looked like professional soldiers."
As he saw his vizier arrive, he rose and asked him: "Rifaah, do we have any reports of an armed group attacking... uh... what village is it?"
"Shashir Al-Ami." A peasant said.
"Thank you. Do we have any reports of that?"
"We do indeed your magnificence" Rifaah said whilst looking in disgust at the group of peasants.
"Seemingly attacked by a neighbouring clan or something like that." He paused as he neared the emir. "The village is completely gone and everything of value is gone. I don't think there is any need to try and rebuild it."
Salah rubbed his temples and then said: "I think you should take care of the situation Rifaah. You are my vizier after all."
Rifaah looked annoyed but then said: "As you wish your magnificence."

"Father, our horses are ready."
"Ahh, must be Aman Al-Omar." He looked relieved, "Good day to you all." He said whilst walking out the room with the whole court bowing as he went past them.
 

BlackBishop

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Dinner at Amenra's Spring
A Bishop/Jako shindig

Kholgrove, last autumn...

Collecting her thoughts Katarina walked into the dinner hall wearing a new garb, one of green with herbs and linen adorned the hems and cuffs of her long-sleeved dress. She tried not to look too formal, and so she left her crown off, letting her natural hair flow. She spied her daughter taking bites of the pastries already, which earned her a smack at her hand when Katarina reared near her. “Manners, girl. Or I shall send you away.”

Lady Alina pouted her blonde hair was braided in traditional style, she usually white-yellow colors, and an assortment of jewelry, her face heavily brushed and beat. “Mother I am so hungry, you hardly feed me!” She teased.

This earned a guffaw as Katarina sat at the head of the table, the room was not so large to be disturbing, she had even set her much more personal table. The large feasting one was much too awkward. Even as night approached, the room was well lit, and tapestries were strewn about telling the fabled past of her people. “You are a whimpering cub, not fit for the name of Godmin. Chin up, back straight, girl. Or would you have him think you’re still a maiden?” She smirked, Alina setting about her mother’s commands, looking womanly.

Announced by a lone herald, Duncan entered wearing a fine vest of deep crimson over a plain white shirt, with a cloak of white wolf’s hair clasped together with a gold broach. Tucked under his arm is a shining helmet with two bouquets of white flowers in his hand. Duncan bowed as he entered. “A fine night to be in such lovely company. I thank Your Highness for the invitation. I have been told it is customary to present gifts to one’s host among the Pyrit, one’s helmet in particular being a worthy gift.” The mage produced the helm, holding it aloft toward Lady Alina. “Lady Alina, please accept this as but a small token of friendship and may we look forward to many more meetings. This armor has kept me safe from much that sought me harm, and may it bring you the same fortune it has given me.”

Lady Alina was surprised, she usually achieved second-hand gifts from her mother, nothing so noble as a Knight’’s cherished helm. She smiled happily, and bowed her head. “I thank thee, my lord, you have done me a great service.” She blushed to herself and allowed a peasant to take the helmet after thoroughly inspecting it. Katarina offered him a seat across of her.

“You need not have done that Sir Duncan, your presence is enough for us.” She was quite flattered as well, outsiders did not usually take to their customs, especially the dwarves, who they had been dealing with alot more often then not. “It was the least I could do, to offer you to eat among us.”

“I am most humbled,” he smiled. “Before I take my seat, may I present to my most gracious hosts, these flowers that grow in the wilds surrounding the Basin. Ecclestus’ Gift they call them. Said to have only grown since the Emperor gave his life at the Basin and known for their healing properties.” He gingerly placed the bouquets in the hands of servants to be given to their masters before taking his seat.

The lion’s share was given to Katarina, who tended to them gingerly, smiling as she observed it. “We have paintings of these flowers, but I had never seen them with my own eyes. Thank you.” The one given to Alina was fast in her hair, pretty as a peach as she was not pleased as well. “We have many courses prepared for you of our local cuisine, unless you had any specific requests..?”

“I look forward to whatever Your Highness wishes to serve.” With that a fine appetizer was served, baked breads wrapped around in cheese served with a light dip, and an intricate drink with spiced herbs and boiled wine. The voivode looked eagerly for your outlook on your first taste.

Duncan sampled at his pleasure, sighing his satisfaction at the taste. Swallowing a mouthful, the paadin looked up with approval. “Mhm, quite good, thank you.”

An act that made Katarina giggle with pride. “It was my pleasure! It must have been long to eat such a meal, I have heard the Basin is a place for soldiers, not chefs. You have had your fair share of rations I am sure.” She winked and sipped her drink, the meals started to pour out as they spoke, once he had given his approval.

“They say a grape tastes best when plucked from the vine,” Duncan returned with a knowing smile.

She had not ventured eating raw grapes much before, “Do they have any exotic tastes in your homeland, or at the basin?”

“There isn’t much to be had at the Basin, I fear,” he replied. “We mainly rely on livestock and cultivate some crops, though I needn’t tell you it's a struggle. Most flora in the surroundings would kill you as surely as a viper, save for Ecclestus’ Gift, mind you.” Duncan looked off in the distance as he reminisced on his home. “Ah, but back in Westmarch, the finest grapes to produce the very best wines. Along the Southron Coast they grow oranges and lemons that taste of liquid sunshine… I miss home terribly but I stand by my duty.”

Katarina looked adrift, “Hm, perhaps I can order you a lemoncake, made from your homeland? I am sure we have some westmarch goods here. I am sure of it!” She clapped, already registering to have it done. “You’ll have to inform them the correct way to cook it, we wouldn’t want to spoil such a precious dish.”

Duncan grinned as he swallowed a mouthful of cheese. “I’d dare say that is impossible given what I’ve tasted at this table.”

She almost thought he referred to their ability to reproduce the dish, but when she realized it was a compliment, his host blushed and put her hands into her lap. “Do you enjoy other trades of the world, Paladin, or is everything just War and Strategy to you?” She asked with a teasing, but respectful tone, looking at him intently.

He regarded her warmly. “It is my burden to have cold steel both at my hip and my mind. Yet in my younger days a warm hearth and a good book offered great comforts, among other things, Your Highness. I suppose the life of a scholar was once a pursuit of mine, but well, that didn’t quite turn out.”

This, a sad tale, dampened the mood, her daughter Alina stood after being finished. Katarina excused her and offered a closer seat to the lord, “What happened, were you drafted? Forced into the life you so choose now? I know that sort, I trust you understand.” She herself was forced to become a leader, “Do your duties interfere in any studying you may do, surely being the grand commander must have some benefits.”

Taking a seat closer to Katrina, Duncan gave a content sigh, typical after a satisfying meal. “As a matter of fact, it does. We keep an extensive library at the Basin, many works that were salvaged from the Tower of Light, and even others from the west. On occasion I may roam the tomes, yet little time for that ahead, I fear.” His grey eyes settled upon the Voivode. “I was studying at the Tower of Light when the Dark invaded. We were forced underground when the leaders of the Golden City were enthralled. High King Deagrin Benthorn led the resistance, and I was just another sword in those days. After the war I continued on with my studies. The Order was shattered, but I found some good people and we headed west, for the Basin. I didn’t think I’d see much fighting, to be honest with you. Like a fool, I perceived the west to be weak following the war. How wrong I was. The High Mage took a liking to me, and before long I was invited within his counsels… Then the Drow came.” Duncan looked away, closing his eyes as memories washed over him. “Seemed the works I’ve read of long dead generals proved an asset, and I was given a command of my own. After the High Mage died…. Killed by the Drow, The Paladins looked to me for leadership, and I could not deny them”

The wary tale of his made the Voivode put her hand on his chest. “You poor wayward soul, how terrible those days must have been. So long they are, but the cuts still run deep I imagine. You must take me to this library and show me your favorite tomes,” She smiled and ran a hand through his diminishing hair. “Perhaps your favorite swords as well.” She laughed and sat back. “Dark times are ahead I’m afraid. But the Light has resurged in all of us, it is our duty to uphold its divinity.”

“I agree,” he said, taking hold of her hand with a gentle squeeze. “Yet we needn’t face it alone. Together we can break the tide, yet I would not have us take all the risk. That’s why I plan to call an Assembly of Lords. Will you be at my side when the great and powerful gather, bringing their agendas and quarrels with them?”

Smiling, looking honored, but humbly bowing her head. “My Lord I rule a small realm in the backwater of the world, I doubt any championing I may do will bring legitimacy to your cause. I was actually considering not attending at all, lest I be intimidated by larger realms.”

Duncan leaned in close to her. “Nonsense. You have been my most stalwart ally. Who among them has cast their gaze to the West? None. They busy themselves with their festivals, their revelries. They merely wish to close their eyes and pretend the forces of Darkness are vanquished. You have proven smarter than that. You know, as well as I, that left unchecked, the hordes will be upon us once more.”

Nodding her head Katarina’s hands went to your own and smiled. “Thank you, I will attend, if only to be at your side. There will be much talk on what must be done, or what has to be done, from these petty and squabbling lords. We must stay stalwart in our beliefs, and reaffirm the true threat whenever necessary.”

Leaning in closer, inhaling her perfume, Duncan pressed his lips to her’s, kissing her softly. “Thank you.”

She allowed herself to be taken away, a moment’s bliss as they embraced, before reality hit and she backed off. “We really mustn’t..” She whined and got up, “I am exhausted my lord, my servants shall escort you to your bedroom. Please, enjoy your stay.” She shuddered to think about what just transpired as she hid her head and quickly abandoned the scene, but her lack of reproach was telling.

Duncan stood up from the table as she took her leave. Sitting back down with a sigh, he took a slow sip from his goblet of wine and smiled to himself, secure in the thought of gaining an ally and perhaps something more.
 

BlackBishop

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A reminder that orders are due. Tapp and I will begin processing orders, so please submit ASAP if you haven't already. Expect the in-thread update after the new year.
 

BlackBishop

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A Moderate Winter Settles Across Agorath

11WinterisComing.jpg

The Lesser Rill in Wallachia remains free from ice, but not for long.

The autumn has given way to winter, the last harvest reaped just as the first snows began to fall. In Norseland, winter had seized the war torn kingdom since mid-autumn, but now the paralyzing cold has left a thick carpet of snow across all the land, making the Vale Mountain impassable and freezing Icevein Bay and the Frostfang Inlet. Passage across the Shivering Sea has become treacherous as icebergs threaten even the most seasoned seaman. Though the heavy traffic along the upper Great Rill keep much of the ice broken up over the early winter, it's expected to freeze over by mid-Snowfall.

Light snows have fallen over Galadriel and the Haunted Forest alike, with denser snows along the northern coast making the northern roads difficult to travel. In Highathar, most overland roads have closed due to heavy snows and storms threatening the passes. Trade caravans, which have begun to dwindle since the demise of High King Deagrin Benthorn, are largely limited to the decaying tunnel-roads that web throughout the underkingdoms.

Further south the winter grows milder, stirring even colder nights in the deserts of Hroniden, but bringing much needed precipitation following the harsh dry season. Cooler weather is felt along the southern coasts and even a few days of frost which rarely occurs along the southern reaches of the continent, yet the crops seem hardy enough to cope and the effects are minimal. All in all, aside from a few frosty mornings along the Southron Coast, the winter seems to be typical across Agorath.

The lords of the realm can expect the winter to effect their incomes and campaigns over the duration of the season.
 

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Agmar Numerian

Race: Dark men
Age: 35
Title: War Chief of the Triberi and Numerian Clans
Speciality: War
Area of control: the Frontier lands of the hroniden men south of the elves
Biography:

Agmar accompanied his father, a chieftain of one of the numerous Numerian clans to the great conquest of the west , as they called, with the great general Birch. However there was no conquest only defeat and dead, by the failure of the dark forces and the so called dark god himself. Even though much of his father´forces died Agmar managed to survive and return in a perilous 15 year return. In that time he served as mercenary through agorath, from the western nobles to the norse chieftains, even in the lands of the hroniden until finally returning home.


A seasoned warrior from his many campaigns and carrying a small fortune in payments he would unseat the chief of his clan and claim himself the leader to re-united the feuding clans. A swift campaign was launched against other clans, such by the time the envoys of Birch once more returned he controlled near fifty percent of the clans. Understanding there was no hope for opposing the birchean forces he would bent the knee and be declared war chief of the Numerian clans.


A major obstacle to bring internal peace and glory to the southern lands was the horse riding tribali clans, they were stubborn, a long time enemy of the Numerians and experienced raiders of the hroniden lands. When the tribali refused the birchean peace war was brought upon them, in an attempt to stop bloodshed Agmar would convince of marriage the Tribali Grand Priestess bringing peace to the lands. With her at his side he would be named war chief of the entire tribes to lead the seasoned warriors of the Numerians and the horse raiders of the Tribali to once more reclaim their glory.
 
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Araxia de Autois, Countess of Erendor
Race: Human
Age: 24
Title: Countess of Erendor
Specitaly: Intrigue
Location: Azeratii, de jure ruler of Erendor.
Biography: Araxia de Autois's life is one of tragedy. The Counts of Erendor were once a strong family, the de Autois were once the staunchest supporters of the Empire of old. Araxia grew up in the midst of the War of Darkness, as it's referred to in Erendor. Once a breadbasket, a fertile land rich in spirit and splendor, Erendor has suffered greatly in it's years of independence. When the Countess was only four, her father, Foraxan de Autois, was brutally tortured by servants of the Dark One, leaving Araxia as the sole member of the de Autois family. She grew up with tales of splendor, of magnificence, of ages past. Year by year, Araxia watched as her father's once prosperous lands devolved into a hotbed of gang activity, poverty, and violence. Her various regents and stewards did naught to stop the defilement of Erendor, and by the time she reached 14, bits and baubles of her family's storied past were being sold by her so called "advisers". She flew into a rage, which only convinced her ministers that her position in Erendor was weak, worthless. Jared l'Aigle, unable to take the life of a woman, cast her and her meager retainers out when she reached her age of majority. Hellbent to ensure the maintenance of what dignity she had left, Araxia and her retainers set out for the Royal Court in Azeratii. There, she connived and schemed to get herself and her retainers a townhouse in the great metropolis, where she seeks to restore the House de Autois to the Manticore's Seat in the great hold of Erendor.
 

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Anything
Joint IC w/ Sneaky

Azeratii, the City of Splendor. Araxia de Autois peered out the thin-glass window of her carriage, her emerald eyes scanning the streets of the Royal Capital. Shifting, and lifting her hand from the velvet curtain that kept prying eyes from looking into her carriage, the Countess of Erendor sat back in the soft leather seats that she was reclined in. She let out a sigh and breathed in the carefully applied perfumes that her servants doused her with before her departure. Today, she was to meet the Baron of Eklow, Edward Garmon. It wasn’t an easy meeting to set up, but through a bit of ‘convincing’, as Araxia liked to put it, she got what she wanted. The Baron, was by all accounts, an ambitious man, and a close friend of the King to boot. With a bit of persuasion and some luck, the Baron would help her get an audience with His Majesty, where Araxia would then see herself restored to the Manticore’s Seat in Erendor. But that required luck. Feeling her carriage jolt as it came to a stop, Araxia looked herself over before she stepped out, where the Baron of Eklow would be waiting to greet her. A red dress, made from the finest Hroniden silks, simple, yet elegant. Araxia made sure her plunging neckline would be most appreciated, hopefully, in Edward’s eyes. To top it off, a golden circle with an emerald the same hue as her eyes was placed underneath her combed red locks, making for an almost royal look. Smiling, she stepped out of the carriage. Her lands awaited.

Outside stood Eklow, he was of average height and average appearance with a pair of cold blue eyes. The barony of Eklow had never been wealthy, but the King’s favour and pension paid plenty for him to match himself with the highest peers of the realm, surpassing most of the other barons. His clothes were of a darker colour, crimson, dark blue and so forth, he prefered to stay clear of the more cheerful colours that many in the Ecclestian court wore. He studied her as she exited her carriage and eventually extending his hand in a welcoming gesture, “Lady Autois.”

The Countess smiled, her soft red lipstick shimmering in the light of the lanterns. His clothes were crisp, and to the point. Admirable in a Court that tended to dither on about pointless drivel for too long. “Baron, I thank you for granting me this audience with you.”

He let out an amused laugh, “How could I refuse, lady Cuën insisted that I meet you and I can hardly refuse one of her standing.” He said before motioning to the door leading into his manor.

She let out a short giggle in response to the Baron. “Lady Cuën is quite persuasive.” Nodding, the exiled noble walked past the Baron, her willowy dress fluttering in the warm wind of Azeratii. She stepped into the manor, looking back at the Baron, the hint of a twinkle in her emerald eyes.

“I found it easier to simply agree, I found out early that she is persistent in her wishes and has no qualms of murdering one's ear or evening if you do not bent.” He said with a laugh as he followed her, “You must have gone through trouble to have her speak on your behalf.”

Araxia just let out a short laugh. “It was nothing, and besides, I’ve always wanted to meet the Baron I’ve heard so much about.”

“Is that so?” He asked as he lead her to one of the rooms in his manor, motioning for her to sit in a chair next to his with a table in between upon which the servants placed wine for each of them. “I believe I have seen you at court before, but you are not a noble of Ecclestius are you?”

Araxia sat down, her slender fingers grasping the glass of wine set before her. “I’ve been at this great Court for the past four years, and yet before that I was sitting in Erendor, reigning as the Countess of those lands.” She sipped the wine, and spoke again, her voice losing a bit of the charm it had before. “But that was before my steward kicked me out, illegally seizing the Manticore’s Seat for himself. He was the one who helped to fight against this noble Kingdom, with men and weapons that should be mine.” She scoffed, anger clearly rising behind her perfumed face. “I apologize for my temper, my ire is easily aroused over this subject.”

He smiled, “Not at all, this is after all the men of rebellion which we speak about, and this is what rebellion breeds. Chaos, disorder, cretins and men worth only as dog fodder.” Eklow responded, clearly having little love left over for any noble in Westmarch. “But it is truly a sin that one sure pure and innocent as you must suffer at the hands of such a creature.”

The Countess smiled fondly at the words of the Baron. “Yes, the men of Westmarch are fools. Corrupt deals and illegal bargains drive them to let war reign.” Araxia stopped, absentmindedly swirling her drink as she collected her thoughts. “Growing up, I was told tales of the Empire and of my family’s prosperity. But that was stripped from us when Westmarch rebelled. Erendor was once prosperous, but now it is a no man’s land, a war-torn land of savages.” She looked the Baron in the eyes, her emerald gaze sparkling. “I would do anything to see my homeland restored to it’s former glory.”

He tilted his head slightly to the side as a smile appeared on his lips, “Im sure his Majesty, and his council would be more than willing to support the rightful ruler of Erendor. But..” He said as he looked at her, “I don't see what a disposed countess can do for me in return. To make me sing this tale to his Majesty.”

The Countess smiled, and set down her wine. “Baron, you disappoint me. Did you not hear me say that I’d do anything?”

He just laughed, “I heard you, and I have no doubt that you would do anything, but for my aid you will need to show what your anything is worth.”

The Countess raised a red eyebrow, this one wouldn’t be seduced through physical means. He was smarter than that. Araxia liked men who used their brains instead of the bit between their legs. “Erendor is a rich land, and the de Autois have ruled those lands for centuries. There would certainly be gold waiting for you, riches that my usurper has no idea how to find.” Araxia sipped her wine, her emerald eyes fixated on the Baron whilst she drank. “And of course, there is the prestige and glory that comes from restoring and rebuilding what is left of the Golden Empire. Not to mention how thankful I’d be as well.”

Eklow leaned forward with a grin, “Fuck the Empire, over four hundred years of chaos.” He said as he sipped some wine, “It is gone and I have no wish for its return, no, you shall grant me something far greater.” He gave a small chuckle as he leaned back in the chair, “Viscount Astof has been in charge of military affairs since His Grace Saxon had to step down due to illness. I know that he has failed to recruit the men ordered by the king following an incident last summer. There will be proof, something he most likely has well hidden or safekept, if you wish my favour, gather me this and let me bring down the old fool. It will be an order with the King’s seal, I know because Rodney himself wrote it, it will bear His Majesty’s seal.” He offered her a smile, “I am sure you have ways of acquiring it.”

Araxia smiles, and sets down her wine. She’d do anything for her home, and retrieving a simple letter would be a task most menial. The Countess smiles, and stands. “I will see you in three day’s time. Until later, my dear.” As the Countess walks out, she walks past the Baron, her slender finger absentmindedly tracing his jawline as she walks past. The Countess exits the manor, and motions for her carriage to prepare. She had a letter to retrieve.
 

BlackBishop

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Homecoming
Sun's Shadow, 21st Year of the New Age
A BishopSlayer joint

To travel Agorath one might get the sensation they were passing through different worlds. Across the varied landscapes the only constant was signs of war, and in the rifts where one might find only peace, it was easy to lose yourself and forget what lay beyond the horizon. Narien was filled with this as she descended from the Dwarven world of rock and magma, clear blue skies above a canopy of clouds, and descended into the low land green trees and filtered sun ensconced in the shadows of boughs overhead.

Free from the escorts provided by Prince Zoltan, Narien passed through the Carbon Pass without incident. She marveled at the smooth cut road, the lantern lined tunnel and the inns that dotted the winding road that declined into Galadriel. When she passed into Highathar years ago, the trek was far more arduous. Clearly the Elves and Dwarves had been very busy opening up the pass. She was, however, acutely aware of how sparse the traffic was on the road. No doubt a consequence of the escalating conflict in Highathar.

Behind Narien, riding their horses two abreast, were the knight errants of Ecclestius. Thier leader, Lucius, kept his horse at a brisk pace just behind Narien, deciding to let her view her mother’s homeland alone as it materialized into view, the shining sun above causing them to momentarily cover their eyes as they emerged from the dim tunnel, blinking as the forest stretched on before them, and the Chasm River sparkled like a silver ribbon fading into the frost tinged greenery beyond.

Narien, clad in a wolf shawl about her shoulders, a parting gift from an apologetic Zoltan, pulled the fine fur tighter to her neck as they descended toward the river against a cold wind.

“A shame we missed the wedding,” said Lucius. “I would have liked to have reported to the king personally on Mahakam’s madness.”

“A letter will have to do,” Narien replied, urging her horse along. “Unless of course he’s remained in Galadriel, though I doubt it.” She was eager to be off the road. Her face was windburnt, her clothes frayed, and back and hips aching from being in the saddle, not to mention many nights asleep on the ground or a hard tavern bed.

Soon the rocky highlands gave way to green foilage and the sound of the Chasm River nearby. The cold wind was thwarted by the shield of trees and ahead lay Lurien, seat of her mother, Eylinn Mindrilla.

Narien and her mother hadn’t exactly parted on the best of terms. She was shocked when her mother revealed that her real father was Jacob Ecclesson rather then Ares Krestarii. The blood of emperors flowed in her veins and much of what she thought to be true was a lie. She didn’t exactly take the news kindly. Now fear of her sister’s safety surpassed any lingering resentment she might feel, and her spurs dug into the hindquarter of her horse, Harthil, eager to lay eyes on Anwen.

As the great wooden home towering in the distance came closer on the horizon, a man came riding on a pale horse towards them. The Elf was of sage age, but his youthful appearance was as ever deceiving.

“You grace your home with your presence, princess. Your mother and sister is expecting you.” Sidhion, her old sword teacher, nodded towards Narien’s retinue. “Who’s the bard?”

Narien smiled at Sidhion, giving her old tutor a respectful bow but ignoring his question, knowing a critique was about to come. “Sidhion, as I live and breathe. I didn’t expect so fair a greeting as you,” she instinctively clenched her fistis over her reigns, remembering many rapped knuckles during their swordplay from years ago. She followed his gaze behind her, giving the knights a reassuring nod. “I present you with knights of the Errant Order of Ecclestius and their captain, Sir Lucius of Eklow, their companionship entrusted upon me by my brother, King Varian, and my trusted weapon-thane, Gharold of Heinholm.” Her men followed her lead, saluting and bowing to the aged elf before them. Sidhion raised an eyebrow.

“As I thought. The question was rather why’d you keep a man writing poetry of your endeavours to your brother’s court?” Sidhion gave the knight a stern gaze. “The rules of hospitality of the Chasm extend to all. More than can be said of your liege’s hold. Dinner is waiting!” Sidhion turned his back towards them and started riding towards Luríen. Narien and her company followed Sidhion, Lucius giving the old Elf a cursory glare but kept silent.

The tree was no way near liveable yet, but in the time Narien had been away it had near doubled in size. Below its mighty canopy stood the stem thick and strong, and by its root stood the fine carved hall of the house Mindrilla.The town centre was fair, a market erected and lively with goods from far and wide. Even with the harsh winter, the stalls were bountiful with foodstuff and pottery, even one or two sets of arms. Inside the Chasm life had returned to its full, sparkling bliss of green. The hellfire of the Dark One’s rampage was still apparent where the walls of the canyon stained black and melted, however now covered in a healthy moss. The entourage was quickly swarmed with curious villagers, and more than enough glares of suspicion as well.

Sidhion unhorsed and showed the way for the guests to the main hall. It was of quite impressive size, considering the limited time and effort that had been placed in restoring a temporary hold for the house Mindrilla’s seat of power. The open room leading to the throne had been refurbished for the hosted event. In true Chasm tradition nothing was presented but meat and poultry, with aromatic sauces scooped over the roast. At the elevated table sat Narien’s mother and sister, both adorned in green. Eylinn’s face grew red, and her eyes moist upon watching her enter the hall, yet she remained silent. Anwën, outspoken as always, stood and yelled at her fullest.

“Narien! Narien! My sister, the vanquisher returns!” She clapped joyously in the air. “A hero of our hall! I’m so excited, that it burns!”

Narien blushed at her sister’s welcome. For all her time scrapping along the Ordivanti frontier she was hardly a vanquisher of anything at all, and had little to show for her exploits. Nevertheless she was overjoyed to see her sister safe and healthy, belying the ill nature of her dreams of late. Narien crossed the threshold at a brisk pace, closing the distance between her mother and sister. Throwing away all formalities, Narien embraced her sister in a warm hug, her hands subtly searching her slight frame as if she might find some wound. The vivid dreams, she hoped, were for naught. “It’s wonderful to see you in person, sweet sister. I am so sorry I missed your wedding.”

Anwën but waved her hand dismissively. “A magnificient but dull affair I can assure. Unlike the prince! He was most cordial, and chivalrous to no end. “ She blushed and giggled. “Nowhere near the wild exploits I bet you’ve gathered with your journey in the wilds.” She said with a wink.

Narien merely shrugged. “Fruitless exploits they proved to be. All this time spent among wilder encampments has only shown what is truly important in life. I am looking forward to some rest and spending time with my family.” Enjoying a lingering moment in Anwen’s embrace, Narien then turned to her mother. After a brief hesitation she wrapped her arms around her in a rigid hug. “Mother, I’ve missed you, truly.”

Eylinn’s voice cracked, as she clenched her daughter in a tight embrace. “Have you any idea how much I worried? Silly, silly girl.” Her soft hands clenched at Narien’s back hair. “I trust you’re hungry?” She said with a slightly pitched voice without much dignity.

“I’ve been terribly inconsiderate,” she replied, giving her a reassuring squeeze, “and I’m famished!”

Anwën grinned. “There’s even a feast for your guests! All on my own behest!” She giggled. “Tell us, now, what made you find your way back home? Gone for so long, and suddenly you arrive at our door?”

Narien’s smile persisted despite her eyes turning dark. “A tale for later, perhaps. For now, let me introduce my trusted weapon-thane Gharold of Heinholm and I believe you both are already acquainted with Sir Lucius of Eklow.” The two men stepped forward, both strangely contrasted with each other. Gharold clad in rugged leathers and chainmail showing hints of rust, and Lucius in fine steel plate. The Wilder gave a hard thump to his chest while Lucius bowed…

“Queen Eylinn, Princess Anwen. I am humbled to be in your presence,” the knight said.

Eylinn bowed her head in a greeting. “Sir Eklow… Far from hearth and home. I’m glad to see my son have cared for my daughter’s well being, sending a retinue her way. What I didn’t expect was for her to take it so kindly.” She smirked. “I trust she didn’t bloody you too hard?”

“I’m sure Your Highness knows full well the Princess often walks a line on peril’s edge, as is her want. I was fortunate to find her on the cusp of a campaign, and our service could not exactly be turned away.”

“Is that truly so?” Eylinn said with a smile. “Then rest now your feet, for here you are honoured guests for the service you’ve shown the Chasm and house Mindrilla. Feast on the bounties of the forest!” Anwën clapped her hands.

“Leave not a trace! Let not the cook’s work be turned to futility.”

The Ecclestian knights murmured their approval as places were set at the large dining table. Narien taking a seat opposite her sister with Eylinn at the table’s head. Narien couldn’t help but laugh as Gharold’s ferocious appetite left little room for manners as he heaped meat upon his plate. Narien gladly accepted a goblet of wine from the servants and sighed contently.

“The Chasm has changed so much since I’ve last seen it,” Narien said as she politely nibbled a slice of ham, her courtesies coming back to her. “You must be proud, mother.” Eylinn picked at her food, while delighted studying her daughter’s slow munching.

“When you have the right motivation, anything is possible. Diligent are those who suffer loss with no hope of reparation. They have only themselves to trust.” Anwën bit at a slice of dried Elk.

“Securing the trade route with Highathar was the best way of securing the Chasm’s future fortunes.” She straightened a strand of her white hair. “Imagine had you been here to help rebuild it.” She said in a tease, shoving a finger into Narien’s side. “Instead of playing a bandit in the forgotten wilds! I hope to hear every detail of your adventures! I will not forgive you for abandoning me with mother and brother.”

“I fear adventure is coming one way or another,” Narien warned. “I had an interesting run in with Prince Zoltan of Mahakam. Mother, he asks our support, and the support of Queen Nienna, in realizing his father’s claim for the high kingship.”

Eylinn looked with a curious gaze at Narien, stopping in the middle of a bite. “Why in the Creator’s grace would we meddle in the politics of the Dwarves? Our good relations with them are drawn from our neutrality and kindred support.” She shook her head. “And… What? How, why, did you get in contact with him?”

Narien grimaced. “Well…”

“They took us prisoner,” Lucius butted in.

“Prince Zoltan assured me it was a misunderstanding,” Narien assured. “We were mistaken for spies by a jumpy captain.” She turned to Anwen. “Otherwise I would have attended your wedding.” Anwën replied with a look of utmost concern.

“What matters a silly wedding? What if you’d been hurt!”

Eylinn crossed her arms, giving a stern look towards Narien. “Prisoner or not. Why do you find it wise for the Elves to get drawn into a bloody war in Highathar? We’re trying our hardest to remain in peace, yet this be the first time I hear spoken of some unknown usurper to the High King’s throne.” She squinted her eyes. “Last time my long ears heard, house Deagrin was the true kings of Highathar. Not Mahakam.”

Narien raised her hands defensively. “I’m not advocating for Mahakam, simply passing along a message. What truly concerns me is the sanity of Zoltan’s father. Zoltan has some kind of corpus and I pity him, but it seems to have turned King Yarpen mad, driving toward the throne. Between them and the Yurdaesti, whom I’ve heard to be the culprits behind the Benthorn’s murder, this is bound to be a bloody war.”

Anwën sighed, dejectedly, tapping her fingers against the cheek. “It seems bloody war is everything we have these days. Whispers come from turmoils in the west beyond the ashen lands of hot brewing rivalry. The Nords have already been trying their mettle against Galadrien soil, though to no avail, beside their own scramble for a crown. And now, it seems the Orcs and Wilders lay the wastes to the west under their mounted hoofs. That is not counting the coming war against Westmarch by our brother…” She sighed, while Eylinn left a sorrowful gaze. “I understand him not. One day he shares with me his ambition, relies on me for his future plans, and the next, he banish me from my family home. I think I speak for mother aswell. Narien, things are not well with our family. I cannot see how we’d have either the strength or endurance to get thrown into a conflict so grand as one of crowns.”

Narien’s jaw dropped with surprise. “Varian has banished you? How can this be?”

“His whole family.” Eylinn said in a low voice. “Me, your aunt, and us.” She shook her head. “All I wanted was to put the past behind us…” She took another bite of her meal. “All the suffering, all the senseless fighting and wars. Squabbles, all petty squabbles.”

Anwën sighed. “We invited Westmarch lords to the wedding. This didn’t sit kindly with Ecclestian nobility for some reason.” Anwën shrugged her shoulders. “Not like they were the only ones. As a sign of remedy and the hale of time, all of Agoraths houses were invited. For some reason, these ones seemed the particular of interest of brother.” She scoffed. “It seems we weren't more worth than that. He couldn't wait to rid of us I bet.”

“The past always haunts the present, mother,” Narien replied with a cutting tone before turning to Anwen. “I cannot believe it’s come to this nor that he came to this decision lightly. Is it possible that someone is guiding his hand? We were never wholly accepted in Azeratii, there were many that cursed us for nothing more then being Elves.”

Eylinn snarled. “For what purpose do they have?! Have they so soon forgotten what Elves did for man? As we died to spare their kingdom of the same blood and tears we suffered? I refuse to believe this decision come from a child I so deeply cared for, whom I cradled from birth to teen. So fucking enough!” She growled at them both. “I’ll travel to Ecclestius myself to find the truth in this matter.”

“Mother!” Anwën gasped. “You can’t! We’re banished under the pain of death. Your head will end up on a spike.”

“I’ll come with you,” Narien declared. “I would hear from my brother’s own mouth of this madness.”

Lucius put down his utensils and intervened. “I beg your pardon, my Queen, but I urge you to reconsider. Why not let Narien go in your stead? She is under no bond nor threat, and can perhaps appeal to the king to lift this banishment.”

Eylinn but gave him a dark gaze. “You’d think I’d hide behind my daughter? What sort of mother do you think of me?” She snorted. “I’m no defenceless little maid. If they so will it, they may see the fury of the Mindrilla blood. A life cast to the side of one’s child is none worth living! If he so despise me, my life is already forfeit. But he will damn well take my life by his own hands.” She nods to Narien. “I can’t for the heart of me forbid you to go, but I couldn’t live with myself if you’d be hurt. And so soon after I got to see you again…” Her gaze turned from stern to mournful. “Would you follow me to Ecclestius then? By the promise you run, run at the first hint of danger. I will strike the blade of any assailant, but I wish not for bloodshed over a family affair.”

“I will follow you to Ecclestius but raise my sword with yours, for I am no defenseless maid neither,” Narien replied, unable to hide the hint of a smile.

“My concern is for your safety, my Queen,” Lucius replied, pushing back from the table. “Yet there is no doubt you do not need my advice in that regard. Now it seems my presence here could be considered accessory. I must beg my leave from your service, Princess Narien, and depart from Lurien at once.” Narien sat dumbfounded, unable to conjure the words for a reply. From nowhere came the old swordsman, with a determined step, and had with a flash laid his hand upon Lucius shoulder.

“Would you really wreck this gracious feast, my lord?” Sidhion. “I thought Ecclestian knights knew their ways around etiquette and proper manners. You haven’t even finished your plate.” His face was as emotionless as always, his Drow features blunted yet highly reminiscent.

Recognizing the threat, some of the nearby knights began to stand as well, but were stilled by a glance from Lucius. “Terrible manners, I know, yet I act now for the safety of myself and my men. All that would save us from the headman’s block is freedom or a dungeon.” His eyes pierced into Eylinn’s. “So which is it? Are we to be held, or let go?” Eylinn sighed.

“You needn’t fear. There is no penalty of death in the Chasm. But if my sister taught me anything, then that is of the need for caution when it comes to politics. And I cannot just ignore to whom you swear your allegiance.” She shook her head. “If you are true to my daughter’s service, you will stay with her. If you rather swear to your king, you may remain here in comfort until we’ve settled our business in Ecclestius. Of that you may have my word.”

“This isn’t necessary,” urged Narien, “We can trust Lucius…”

“Forgive me, Princess, but you are naive,” Lucius interrupted. “I am sworn to King Varian and my oaths are as steel!” This earned a clammer of rousing fists upon the table from the knights. “Knight’s of Ecclestius, surrender your swords. We may look forward to the hospitality of Lurien for longer than we supposed.” Lucius turned to Eylinn. “Consider us your prisoners, and expect no trouble from us, so long as you keep your word, my Queen. I wish you a safe journey and the Light’s mercy upon you.” With that he unclasped his sheathed sword, and placed it upon the table, his knights following suit.

Unable to contain herself, Narien rose from the table and slapped Lucius across the face, leaving him sullenly looking to the ground as she stormed from the room. Behind her were the steps of Anwën rushing after her. Stepping out into the courtyard, Narien filled her lungs with frigid air as if it would calm her only to curse as she exhaled a frost tinged breath. Anwën approached her slowly from behind, and softly placed a hand upon Narien’s shoulder.
“We seemed destined to have any joyous occasion ruined by fortunes jesters. How fare you, sister?” The honest calm in Anwën’s voice was that of a mature young woman, rather than the girl she once was. An eery similarity and split between her mother Eylinn, and her mentor, queen Nienna.

“I don’t know why I’m so angry,” Narien sighed, letting her boiling blood sooth. “It’s not like I didn’t know where his true loyalties lied. Its just that after everything we’ve been through I thought… Well I don’t know what I thought.” She turned to face Anwen, bewilderment in her eyes like seeing her for the first time, or remembering a forgotten purpose. “In truth, Anwen, I’m not well, not at all.” Taking her sister’s hand she led her to a secluded bench across the courtyard.

Placing both hands on her sister’s shoulders, as if directing her toward the gravity of her words, Narien spoke gravely. “I need to talk to you Anwen. I’ve been having these… Well I suppose they are dreams but they’re so much more.” Her hands fell from her sister’s shoulders and doubt clouded her eyes, as if realizing the absurdity of what she was about to say. She hesitated.

“You as well?” She asked calmly. “That wasteland? That scourging land?” Anwën tilted her head. “That’s odd.”

“Yes!” Narien exclaimed in wonder. “It was like the magic of the seeing stone, only I wasn’t using using it. You have them too? Oh, Anwen, it was terrible, I can’t even bare to tell you what I saw!” Tears were welling up in her eyes and lips began to tremble. Anwën pulled Narien into her embrace, hushing her upset kin.

“Since I was eight, sister. This is nothing new to me. Did you see our ancestor too?”

“Since you were eight? How can that be? How do we stop it? Does mother know?” Narien asked breathlessly before taking a breath to regain her composure. “Sorry. I… I saw something, a man, I suppose. Familiar, yet a stranger, if that makes sense. Are you saying that is Barumin?”

“I do. I do not know what calls him there, or why we’d share that dream. But no kind things did I see him do… One day the mountain peaks rise to the sky, the other all there is a plain of nothing but sand and dust. A cold desert by all accounts.” She closed her eyes. “And he owes something a grave debt… A sin I fear lies in our family’s blood.” She bit at her lower lip. “What more did you see?”

Narien began to weep, her face sunken into her sister’s shoulder as she attempted to recall from memory that which is too horrible for words. “I saw… I saw… I can’t bare to speak it! There’s no doubt you are in grave danger Anwen!” But Anwën only scoffed.

“When hasn’t any of us been in danger? You’ve practically hunted for it since you were born! And dreams are only but dreams, Narien. What could you possibly have seen that made you think that?”

Narien clutched at her sister’s blouse and shaking her as if trying to shatter her disbelief. “This is no mere dream! You must know that! It is a vision from Darkness itself!” Narien’s face went flushed with anger, seething that Anwen would be so quick to disregard the vision they shared. Knowing she couldn’t escape it, she uttered, “I saw you laid out upon some sort of altar of stone, your limbs cut from your body, left screaming in agony, so loud I thought it might split that horrible ethereal realm!”

Anwën swallowed, hard, with an audible gulp. “That one’s new. No eagle? No badger? No raven to pick at my innards?” Anwën sat down, burrowing her face into her hands. “What does it mean… What does it mean?”

Narien searched the eyes of her sister, aghast at the prospect that her horrible death was something visited upon Anwen many a dark night. “I don’t know,” she said finally. “We should talk to mother, a mage… someone must be able to help!” Anwën nodded.

“I have taken such steps. In Kogansunan was a sage most venerable. He gave me some clues. Something about the plains of Ykhvéden, just to the south of the mountain realms.” She smiled. “It seems my next goal is Hroniden. Mother plan to send me south anyhow to rectify some ill fated diplomatic situation in Thaanos.”

Narien managed a laugh, “Seems I am robbed of an opportunity to draw swords with Eylinn the Redeemer. You know that’s always been a dream of mine, sister.”

As if called by the very mention of her name, was their mother entering the garden behind them.

“Forgive me… This wasn’t the reunion I had hoped for.” Eylinn sighed at the look of her daughters sitting in clear melancholy. “I don’t intend to harm them, Narien. You mustn't be so sullen. Even as bitter the taste of betrayal, he was shackled by loyalty and oath long before you. Don’t hate him for that.”

“I know, mother,” replied Narien, wiping the tears from her eyes with her sleeve. “It’s not that which vexes us so.” Eylinn raised an eyebrow.

“You lost me.” Anwën straightened her dress, and cleared her throat, clearly avoiding the gaze of them both.

“She knows, mother. Of… The dreams, visions…” Eylinn sighed dejectedly.

“Twenty years of pious customs and still you are both not above mere gossiping. What am I to do with you? Either you run away to host a band of mercenaries, or you’re bound to get married off to some prince.” She smiled. “We will fix this. In due time.”

Surprised at her mother’s appeared lack of concern, Narien looked to Anwen for a sign of how to proceed. Anwën grinned. Her stomach tied in knots, Narien managed a smile. “Yes. mother, in due time. Though I’ve decided to stay with Anwen, you may be relieved to know.”

“Forgive me, sister. I’ve been dishonest with you. This curse has followed me for as long as my memory could serve. Mother knew, the very moment she saw the shadow stalk me in the corridors of Azeratii and Coal the same.” She smiled. “I cannot take from you this opportunity, Narien, yet I’d treasure your company all the same. Why not follow me to Thaanos after you’ve run my brother’s ears off with a good lesson on Elven modesty?”

“So long as you promise to stay in Galadriel until I return, and allow Gharold to see to your safety and serve you as he would me.”

“If that is your wish,” Anwën sighed, “after this long an absence, giving you some peace of mind is the least I can do.” She clenched Narien’s hand, hard. “Welcome home, sister. I’ve missed you so…”

Narien gaven Anwen a lingering hung, her hands frozen from the fear that if she should let go, her sister would be lost to her forever. Finally coming to her senses, she let go with a laugh. “I’ve been gone too long. Never again.”


Narien returns to Lurien, capital of the Green Chasm and ancestral seat of House Mindrilla, after years of absence. She is reunited with her estranged sister and mother, Anwen and Eylinn. She learns they have both been banished from Ecclestius, and upon revealing a plan to return to Ecclestius despite the banishment, Lucias and his knight errants are arrested, threatening to forwarn the King Varian. Narien reveals her visions to Anwen and both resolve to discover more on the nature of the threat against Anwen.
 
Last edited:

Sneakyflaps

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To Mend New Wounds?
Joint IC with Pluto

Winter had begun setting in, meaning that a few cold nights and some more rain was plaguing Azeratii and the southern parts of Ecclestius, though the crops still grew strong in the countryside, allowing them favourable export. That is if the rivers allowed trade at this time of year. The nights were longer, and so were the parties the nobility threw for themselves, candlelight shining long into the night as they danced, feasted and drank the winter away without a care for crops, resources or expenses.

The city itself had been calm following the events, the past few weeks mainly being the merchants cheering for the new trade agreement with the city state of Kalar, granting them valuable privileges, and an optimistic view of the future. Something which was not shared by all of the King’s advisers. The court had largely forgiven Linwë, beginning to go to her parties, and her annual masquerade ball to celebrate the end of the year, and the revelry and blessing of the coming months.
Unlike Linwë though, the general feelings towards the Elves had lowered, and Nienna felt a reception among the courtiers that quite fit the temperature outside as she arrived.

Her arrival itself had been fine enough, her carriage arriving in the city, flanked by mounted soldiers of the royal guard, just as the sun was beginning to set, but it soon became clear that the imperials viewing the procession were showing apprehension at best. Still, they arrived at the palace without incident and it did not take long for her guards to open the door and help her down onto the stairs. The Queen of the Elves, was dressed more simply than one might expect for a trip to the court of Azeratii, yet still managed to maintain a regal air as she ascended the stairs towards the main hall.

The courtiers looked at her with different expressions, some welcoming, others not. She was brought through the palace, a palace she probably by now knew decently and as such knew or at least expected where she was going. This time it had however changed, no longer the more friendly relations at play as she was brought into the throne room, Varian sitting stiff and looking directly at her, the courtiers of Ecclestius gathered around the room, the most prominent first, followed by the lesser worth who eagerly sought a view of the gathering.

Nienna nodded her head to Varian. “Thank you for seeing me Your Highness.” Her voice showed no real emotion, but a polite smile sat on her face.

A gasp went out through the back rows of the nobility as whispers could be heard. That is until Varian began speaking and the room feel quiet once more. “I am surprised to see you, Queen Nienna, I did not expect to see any Galadrian nobility for some time.”

“My sister aside, I suppose,” She offered with a slight shrug. “But I would not see us never speak again Varian, least of all with all the strife that seems to dominate the world of late.”

He let out a small quiet chuckle, even if in somewhat defiance and arrogance as he waved the courtiers off to clear the massive room. “Is that the reason, because the dwarves are slaughtering one another once more?” He simply asked. “Surely diplomats could have handled this.”

“Most likely,” she admitted, clearly relaxing with the courtiers gone, “but that is not all that we have to discuss Varian.”

He shrugged as he stood up from the throne “I heard my sister and your son was given a small piece of land in the Chasm. Surely they could have gotten something a bit more impressive than that.”

“Tall Pass is quiet, safe, they both seem content.” Nienna said, walking closer to the dais. “For now they can simply enjoy their time with one another. Soon they will have everything, and all of the responsibilities which that demands sooner than they expect, I’m sure. You would know that burden better than most.”

“Hah, safe.” He responded as he looked at her, they don't need safe, they need experience, “They shouldn't have to have safe, your son is the heir to a kingdom, not some backwater in the west.” Varian paused for some moments as he just looked at her, “Linwë told me it was a beautiful wedding.”

Nienna did not respond for a moment, unable to meet Varian’s eyes. “You would have liked it, had you stayed. Your sister looked so beautiful...but it was clear that she had wanted you there.” The words hurt him, it wasn't her intent of course, and he would never admit it to her, but he wasn't happy either.

“And I wanted to slice open my father’s murderers that you invited.” He said as looked briefly towards the ground, considering her words before looking back up at her with a discontented sigh. “But she did not deserve to be put in such a position.”

Nienna grimaced. “Varian, there must come a time when…” She began to lecture, before catching herself and looking up at him. “I am sorry, you must see that.” The queen walked forward, placing a hand softly on his shoulder. “I had thought that I could bring both sides to an accord, but I had not thought of how you would feel.” She offered a small, sad smile. “Call it vanity. I have been a queen so long, sometimes I think myself wise.”

“What done is done.” He said as he looked at her, and giving her a small nod for her to remove her hand. “This will take decades to repair, if it even will be, the new rift in my family alone is enough to cause a decade of disputes.”

“Then allow them to return,” she asked earnestly, reluctantly withdrawing her hand. “I’m certain they would. How else would you begin to repair things?”

“Time heals all wounds.” He said as he turned to her, knowing that was a lie. “They will be allowed to return eventually, I will not retract the edict already.”

Nienna scoffed lightly, half amused and half annoyed. “There is too much concern over appearances here, to the detriment of everything else it seems at times,” as she spoke she turned, walking in a slow circle around the room, her pale dress trailing behind her. “I could not even begin to bear it.”

“Then I hope you shall not suffer it.” He said as he looked at her pace around the room, “But do not pretend there isn't a fair importance on appearances in Galadriel.”

“Is there?” She asked sounding genuinely curious. “In some respects, I suppose, but never anything so serious.”

“Aha.” He said, “Differences no doubt, but appearance is everything, in here, in Galadriel.” Varian sighed, “The edict will be revoked at some point, when I cannot say as I have yet to decide, my mother no doubt knew of Westmarch and their arrival. Do not fret, I blame her as well, even more so.”

“And I suppose you wouldn’t believe me if I were to say otherwise,” She asked, looking over her shoulder at him. “You know she would not think to contradict me, however many times I have told her to.”

“You should beware of trying to take on all the blame, put your kingdom first before the friendship with my mother.” He said.

Nienna smiled at that. “I expect that she would do the same for me. But would you blame all the people of Galadriel for my actions?”

Varian chuckled. “I would not blame, but they would suffer all the same if our relations broke further.” and so would his own people for that matter.

“Hence my arrival in Azeratii,” Nienna said, turning back to him. “I hope that you judge me honest when I say that I came here to apologize.”

Varian sighed “I do, and I likewise hope that you think it is of no ill-will when I say that cannot restore what was before this.”

“I...understand Varian, but you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t allow things to end on that note.” She smiled again. “At the very least I will remain in the city to visit with Linwë. Perhaps you and I might see more of each other.”

“Enjoy.” He said as he gave her a nod.
 

Tapscott

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Back Home
Storms had buffeted the ship as she had made her way across the straits to the Black Isle, happily leaving behind the mainland and all its problems. Zarah was not given to superstition but she could not help but feel that the oppressive weather was a sign of the Drow King’s displeasure. Due back several weeks ago, Zarah had been forced to take paths less trodden in an effort to shake her pursuers. There was no sign that she had been followed after her quiet flight from Galadriel but she was willing to take no chances when it came to the Nightshade of the elves of the woods. Stealing the ancestral battle-axe of the princeling Cacame Mindrilla had been surprisingly straightforward although ever since her departure she had the feeling of being followed. Now that she was finally on the ashen soil of her kingdom the feeling was gone.

Wasting no time in settling her sea-sick stomach Zarah took a horse from the local mayor’s own stables and travelled as fast as possible inland, away from the turbulent sea and towards the ominous interior. Making good time despite her need to stop several times to empty her stomach on the roadside, Zarah eventually wound up outside the forbidding structure that was the Jagged Spire. A towering monolith of black stone, protected behind three thick walls, and marked all over with grotesque gargoyles the Spire never failed to impress the young Hrondinese woman. Flashing her royal sigil at the guards at the gate she was quickly waved through.

Entering the fortress, she was quickly surrounded by courtiers, servants, and guardsmen all of which sought to redirect her to a place of their own choosing. Holding up a hand as she stopped suddenly, forcing the hanger-ons to stumble awkwardly, she glared at them imperiously.

“I must see the King. He is expecting me to report as soon as I arrive. Take me to him now.” The guardsmen melted away as the servants bowed and bleated out apologies before all moving in unison towards the centre of the Spire. Arriving outside a large antechamber the servants all but fled, leaving Zarah alone. Seated within, attended by none save his guards, was the King of the Drow, Belegûr Arvandu. Hurrying inside she quickly bowed to the expressionless monarch whose ice-blue eyes studied her intently.

“Your grace! I-” She began before the King silenced her with a motion, his eyes narrowing.

“Have you forgotten our ways already? That is the address one gives in the courts of the east. You shall address me as is custom.”

Swallowing nervously, she knelt apologetically. “Your excellence, please forgive me. Both for the wrong address, and my late appearance before you.”

“You were expected back some time ago.” The King said mildly, his voice giving little insight as to his to true feelings, “Why have you taken so long to arrive? Did you fail in your task?”

“No your excellency! Never! I have not failed you, and I never shall!” Zarah promised fervently, silently praying that she would, indeed, never fail and risk the King’s displeasure. “I have what you asked for on my person now.”

Nodding slowly the King stood and gestured at his silent guardsmen. “Leave us.” As the soldiers marched out of the room, closing the large doors behind them, the King walked down the steps from his throne and grasped Zarah by the shoulder pulling her upright. “Give it to me. Now.”

Eager to obey she reached into her vest and pulled out a small cube that looked quite similar to a Dwarven puzzlebox. Quickly turning the various ridges of the device it began to shimmer before, in a flash of light, it transformed into a weighty war-axe of Dwarven make. Giving it to the King he smiled slightly as he held it up to admire it.

“You have done well my dancer. I was not sure whether you would succeed or not, considering the mother of the target… Did you kill the boy?”

“No your excellency… I did as you asked and did not do anything beyond what I was ordered to do, so as to prevent any… irregularities occurring in your plans.”

Nodding sharply a fierce expression crossed the normally blank face of the King. “Good. For if you harmed the boy I would have killed you.” Turning his attention back to the axe, and away from his nervous dancer, the King chuckled deeply.

“This axe has more potential than those Yurdaesti Dwarves ever realized. They didn’t even remember how they acquired such an item…” Turning the axe this way and that, he glanced at Zarah with a look of approval. “Go now and rest my dancer. You have done very well. It will be some time before I need your services again.”

Bowing thankfully Zarah all but fled the room, leaving the Drow King to continue admiring his latest possession. His unpredictable behaviour was unsettling to say the least, and was something that she had almost forgotten about. Pushing away the worrying thoughts that crowded her mind Zarah instead decided to focus on the here and now. And right now, after all that she had been through, she wanted a bath.
 

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Summoned
Part II

The continuation of "Summoned", written ages ago, joint with Plutonium95. Apologies!


The sight of her mother was the last thing Anwën needed. In the past few months, her position as a mere pawn within the family had been made abundantly clear. First her brother, now her mother, was there to ensure she’d play the part of the good princess. Anwën was of Ecclestian breed, knowing her way and tradition around the world of courtly affairs. She knew how to play that role well, yet she couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by the results. She knew how to appease her traditionalist mother in this particular circumstance however, and she would use it to her advantage. Armas as her future spouse was, without them even knowing it, her choice.


“Mother... Lady Eylinn. I was unaware you were in Coal.” The crown-prince said when the shock had settled. Eylinn took a sip of tea, and joyfully bowed her head in a salute.


“I took the back entrance as to not disturb the peace. I’m not much for grand entrances. I trust you’ve brought my daughter with her purity intact?” Eylinn slurped audibly, while Anwën’s ears turned a bright red, albeit she had nothing to feel ashamed of. Despite their lusts for each other, Armas had done well and resisted his urges. If it had been any harder than it had been for her, it must have been a challenge worth of a legend. Armas might not have looked the part of the towering fit knight or the gracious of young lords, but made more than well up for it with his charm and adorable insecure shyness. His journeys had made him more suave in his handling of her, and his few traits of rugged masculinity showed at just the right places. The wait had been worth it, and she was damn determined to reap the harvest. She could simply not allow herself to risk the opportunity by charging too early and risk her bounty. The queen of Elves could not help but laugh.


“Eylinn you’ve gone and embarrassed them.” She said as she sat back down. The old general didn’t bat an eye, but just kept her cold smile towards the two young betrothed.


“I would hope so. Anything less would have made me worried.” She pointed towards the chairs. “Please, don’t let the queen be seated alone. She called you for a meeting, did she not? Now partake.” Anwën’s mouth corner twitched a little as she waited for Armas to move.

Anxiously he walked slowly to the table, pulling out Anwën’s chair, then sitting himself, not saying anything as he looked between Eylinn and his mother.


“Well…” Eylinn said, as she finished her tea. “...do any of you oppose of this union?” She asked bluntly. Anwën, a little dazed, looked at Armas and determinately shook her head.


“No.” She contended. “After discussing it thoroughly, I’ve found the arrangements to be satisfactory. If not immediate, I find there to be good hope for me to find Armas as a caring, loving husband as well.”


“That is certainly good to hear.” Nienna said with a small, pleased smile as she poured the two of them tea. “And what of you Armas?”


“Never,” Armas said quickly. “I was thrilled when I heard the news. I could not think of a better woman to become my wife.” A big gulp was heard from Anwën by his side. She looked upon him, and she couldn’t possibly hide the warm smile under her deep red blush. Eylinn was not late to notice this.


“It gladdens me my daughter pleases you so, my prince. Quite smitten after only a few months together.” She leaned her cheek against her open palm, studying them. “You’re sure her honour has been kept intact?” Eylinn said with a mean grin, much to Anwën’s chagrin.

Nienna chuckled again, placing a hand on Eylinn’s shoulder.


“You will drain all the blood from their hearts to their faces if you keep asking that.” Armas coughed, nodding his head.


“Quite sure.” He said short, while Anwën soured.


“Aye. You put ill trust in your heirs. Have we given reason for you to worry?” She asked with a slight challenge to her voice. “That we’ve found affection should elate you, not deject you, mother.” Eylinn nodded.


“It does.” She crossed her arms. “I’m simply in jest, trying to get to know my future son-in-law. No better way than a few disarming comments to bring the truth out of a young man. And nothing is as disarming as the woman of a man’s heart, or so I’ve heard.” She looked at Nienna with a meaning grin. “Love can sometime make for such hassle, would you not agree, my queen?”


“So I’ve heard,” Nienna answered, taking a sip of her tea. “We are fortunate to be able to leave it to the children now.” Eylinn nodded in solemn agreement. The probing had finished, and Anwën and Armas was victorious. Letting their parents know they were in love would had been giving away the advantage they had.


“Which do swiftly bring us to the discussion in regards to the wedding. For the Chasm this prove an ample opportunity to promote Elven crafts and trade. The princess has been on journey through the Dwarven realms to establish contracts in regards to the establishment of new trade routes into the Chasm. But if none will use them, they wouldn’t be a very well investment.” She tapped her chin. “How would you feel about inviting all the noble houses of Agorath to attend? Perhaps even the burgess and freemen houses tolling with the merchant’s trade as well?”


“Surely that would only serve to further delay the ceremony…” Armas offered, clearly not overly fond of the idea. Anwën nodded slightly.


“Perhaps it’s no rush to begin with. Surely it take no more than a pair of moons to make the preparations for the festivities?”


“They have already begun in fact,” Nienna added. “Caravans are already en route to gather the necessary luxuries that Coal herself does not provide.”


“What of Varian?” Armas asked. Anwën kept her annoyance bottled in. “Surely there are some lords, particularly in the Westmarch, who he would not wish to see.” Eylinn looked taken aback by the comment, which made Anwën close to explode with annoyance. Had her mother not thought of her husband’s slayers? Not a day went past without Anwën remembering that day, so many years ago...
 

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Remembering her Father

Year 9 after the Dark One’s fall, a day before the signing of the Decree of Conformity, and the night before Eylinn left Ecclestius with her daughters before the civil war. Joint IC with SneakyFlaps.


The shadow of the candle’s light was dancing in the ceiling, the draft from the window gently caressing it back and forth. Fueling it into twice the size, before it hushed the whole flame and turned it’s embers into a memory. Anwën blew at the blue smoke trying to wake it by some divination, until she realised there were no such thing. She rose from the bed and took the candle with her, a stalwart shield against the darkness had it not been so rudely extinguished.


“Rise, phoenix, rise.” She whispered. But the phoenix wasn’t home. She gave the candle a pout as she moved towards the door. The hallways of Azeratii castle was always lit in such a warm manner. The orange gleam from the walls could stave off even the harshest winter breeze, even though the nights of summer was hotter than most daytime in Coal. She walked with her head hung low as she passed a few familiar faces on her way out of the royal children's wing. “Sir Reynar.” She said, as she curtsied towards one of the guards.


“Your Highness.” The guard responded as his gaze kept straight ahead, only giving her a small nod. Thinking twice before asking him to fetch her a tinder, she found this an opportune moment to disturb her parents sleep. With a grin she asked the guard to open the door for her to enter the main body of the castle.


Azeratii castle, while never quite entirely asleep, had an eery sense of voidness to it. The tall ceiling and the ornate walls gave a cool shade upon the bustling palace, and the movement of stray courtiers could be spotted sneaking around in the corners. Watching a young couple fondling against a pillar in the hallway, Anwën didn’t even bother sneaking past them as she made her way towards the royal quarters. She thought for a second to call the guards on them and see what would happen, but decided it may be seen as a rude thing to do. They were having such a pleasant night, while she did not. Anwën could be petty, but not that petty. Further down the hallway a kitchen aide was arguing with a guard over his cart of dishes. The wing he tried to enter had been closed, and now his duties could not be finished during nighttime.


“Better make swift work in the morning then! How is this my problem?” The guard retorted.


“It will be when breakfast is delayed to the whole council as they convene tomorrow! You’ve heard it’s important, have you not? You imagine all those fancy folk would enjoy signing treaties on an empty stomach?” The guard only laughed.


“No, no. That really do sound like Your problem. Since when did guards have anything to do with breakfast?” Anwën was most amused. Letting the scene play out undisturbed she just kept wandering. She did not expect however her next site. Walking just past outside the king’s quarters was one of his closest advisors. Baron Rodney. A dull looking man by all accounts, but he did at least have the curtesy to wear a fancy long coat. That was something Anwën could respect.


“Sir Rodney.” She said, as she made a slight curtsy.

He curled his lips into a smile, even if it seemed fake, which it always did when he smiled to Anwën, and her siblings for that matter. He did a courteous bow, “Your Highness.” Before looking at her for a moment, lost in wonder “Are you not to be in bed?” She shook her head.


“I am not, good lord. I happen to take a castle tour to see that everyone is on their best behaviour. Are you up to scandalous affairs in the night? Or are you on the same mission as I?” She said, challengingly. She would expose the jackal right here and there!


“The Kingdom never sleeps so neither shall I.” Rodney said as he looked at the Princess, not being fairly impressed. “Shall I call for a servant to follow you, your highness, or a guard to escort you back?” She shook her head. She had important business elsewhere.


“No, good sir. I shall have an audience with their majesties on regards of matters of great import.” She stumbled slightly on her words. “Escorts, guards, I will have nothing of the sort. Lest I strike them down with fire from my eyes! For I can see far beyond their lies.” She rhymed, quite impressed by herself.


“Their Majesties have just gone to sleep, do you really wish to disturb the lions in their slumbers?” He said, somewhat forced it would seem. Anwën saw this as a challenge.


“Lions are nothing but small courses of meat to a dragon, good sir. Now resume your duties before I’ll have you escort me to their den! You think my father would much appreciate that?” She said with a menacing grin.


“I think he would appreciate his sleep.” Rodney responded dryly as he opened the door slightly to her parents chambers. “Now get in before I call for a servant.” She walked with dignity forward through the door, clutching her candle. She hoped he had enjoyed their little running in as much as she had. How couldn’t he? She was absolutely charming!


The hallway was certainly fancier than hers. She imagined still, this would be hers one day anyway. Had it not been for that pesky brother of hers being ahead in the succession. If Varian ever became king, Anwën would be sure to request these chambers be offered to her as a consolation prize for being the runner up in the birth lottery. She carefully opened the door to her parents chambers, and met by the quiet snores of her their deep sleep. Anwën went up to the bed and stared at them for a while. It was more difficult than it sounds. The height of the bed was challenged by her own limited such, but with the help of a dresser to climb, anything is possible. As she looked over at them there was only one thing to do. With a decisive move, she ripped the covers from them.


“I will claim it as my own!” She yelled. “Have at ye’, foul beasts!”


Her father was faced away from her and towards her mother and rolled his eyes in annoyance when he woke.


“Your turn.” Her mother squirmed and tried to grab the covers in mid air, finding her hand empty.

“Oh no. This time, she’s your daughter. I took her to bed.” Ra’Gru let out a small sigh and with much effort turned over to look at Anwën.


“Sweetie, give me the treasure.” She shook her head. This was her claimed bounty now, by right of conquest.


“I may only agree to a trade!” She held up her candle. “The flame went out. I need a new one.” Her father feigned shock, or at least tried to between his tired eyes.


“A dragon that cannot light a fire?” He asked perplexed “What is this mischief.” he said as he yawned and began sitting up on the bed. Anwën gave him a pout.


“A dragon cannot breathe fire when she’s on an empty stomach. Father, do you know nothing?” She aimed the candle at him and shook it in a demanding matter. “I need a tinder, and have selected you for the task. I will also accept a small sandwich.” Better strike the iron while it's hot, or at least before it's dipped in the smithy. Her mother was near back to sleep.


“Would you go light the candle, and feed your child, dear? She’s not giving up, and you know it.” Ra’Gru tilted his head slightly and gave Anwën a smile.


“Well if the servant must the servant must, but the servant needs to be properly dressed so.” He looked at his daughter. “First quest is to find my nightgown.” He said to Anwën to get her going. She rolled her eyes.


“Father, do you not know where your own clothes are?” She scouted the room and saw a small piece of fabric hang over one of the chairs on the other side of the room. With a decisive prance, she jumped down the dresser and ran off to fetch him the gown. With the widest of smiles she held it up for her father to take. “Will this do?” Ra’Gru just shook his head.


“Cold.” The fabric was more like her mother’s size, except seemingly very short on fabric itself. Anwën tossed it aside and fetched another garment of more agreeable size.


“How about this one?” Ra’Gru shook his head again.


“Still cold, try something with a fur collar in crimson.” Anwën looked at him with an annoyed grimace.


“You’re walking on fire, lion. Lest the dragon will hurl its fire upon you, don’t test its patience.” She looked more closely and found a red set of garbs, clearly more expensive than the others. She wondered why he’d need fur when the palace was so hot. Her gown didn't even cover her knees. “Here you are, servant! I hope for your sake this is the right one.” Ra’Gru faked a serious gaze.


“I dare not refuse the dragon.” He said as he took it, the nightgown despite its fur and expensive textiles was getting old, and it could be seen on it. Ra’Gru took a breath before he stood up, leaving the comforts of his bed, looking at Anwën with a smile and excitement in his voice. “Shall we leave the treasure here with the old Queen, or steal it for ourselves?” Anwën tapped at her chin, weighing the option of having to drag the bed covers all over the castle.


“The treasure will suit the queen best. Once we’ve found the dragon’s fire, who need the warmth of a bed cover anyhow?” Anwën was, after all, practical first and foremost. So practical, she’d walk across a whole palace to light a candle. “Lead the way!”


As Anwën and Ra’Gru made their way back, Rodney had seemed to run away hunting thieves and burglars on his own. A short glance to the left saw the passing of a few dignitaries from across the realm here for the important summit tomorrow. Anwën had been told to be on her best behaviour, dressed like the glorious princess she was, and treat them with both humility and grace. These traits happened to be her specialty. Especially when offered a proper bribe.


“Will there be a feast after the council tomorrow?” She pondered loudly as they passed a guard, standing at attention by the doorway.


“Only a feast of the grandest occasions.” her father responded, “A tale for bards to tell in every corner of the world. To tell of every beautiful princess, or terrifying dragon which haunts the feast.” Anwën giggled, looking at a spooked member of the kitchen crew. She pointed at him with a joyous motion.


“We expect great work of you at tomorrow's feast!” She said in a commanding voice, as commanding a nine year old girl’s voice could muster. Her father looking sternly, even if in jest at the kitchen crew. Who slowly began stammering.


“I-if that is you.. your command, y-your highness.” She nodded, contently with the warm reception. As they continued their trek they came about the fondling couple, still working hard in each other's arms. Anwën found it curious. What could they possibly accomplish by such a hard, long grind? “Father, must I do that when I am older?” She asked, pointing towards the young courtiers. Ra’Gru looked very unimpressed when he saw the two, both of them completely oblivious to who was around them.


“Most certainly not. Most indecent, even if we are past any sensible hour at night.” He sighed discontented as he looked at them, “Does the Princess wish to judge them for this most heinous crime, or does the dragon wish to scare them as a lesson?” She grinned, mischievously.


“Let’s frighten them so far into the bone, their marrow turn to dust.” She said, as she powered towards them, her father’s hand grasped with her own. “You! What is the meaning of this most infectious behaviour?” The young man standing with his back to Anwën and her father pushed her slightly back without giving much of a care, the woman however opened her eyes which went wide when she realized what was happened looking upon the King, as she slowly began pushing the young man off her, or tried to. Which she eventually managed which made the young man turn around, his eyes shooting even wider when he realized what was happening, and who he had pushed. “Y-your Majesty, we were, um, we were. we were simply sharing secrets, whispers..” Which just left Ra’Gru shaking his head, dumbfounded, and the young woman facepalming.


“Saliva.” Anwën’s father responded, “A most gross indecency to be carried out while in full view of the court. Not to even mention pushing my daughter, who were simply upholding virtue in this otherwise faltering display of court courtesy.”


The man looked at Anwën, “Forgive me, Princess.” he said as he bowed before her, “I meant no offense.” Making Ra’Gru look down at Anwën.


“Do you forgive him?” Anwën looked at him with a judgemental stare. She was more curious as to why the woman was so desperate to resign into his embrace, for he wasn’t that cute.


“For this time.” She said in a calm voice. “Explain now to his majesty the reason of your stay in our home that you have so ungraciously defiled.” She said while stumbling hard on her words. High soaring speech was a rare art, in much need of diligent crafting. But she was getting better at it.


The young man looked confused at the princess before up to the King, “Your Majesty, I am here with my father, we are here for.. um..” The woman behind him just shaking her head before curtsying.


“Your Majesty, we are here for the proclamation and feast in which we so look forward to honouring you with our presence, we meant no offense.” Ra’Gru looked at her, with a small smile that at least one of them had more than one brick to move inside their head.


“Do everyone a favour and use the rooms that has been placed at your disposal.” Anwën nodded at her father’s words.


“And be quick about it! We are no longer entertained by your presence.” She said with a grin. “Or perhaps we would be if father would have your heads.” The young man's eyes went wide again.


“Of course, your highness.” Leaving the woman to simply shake head once more and offer a smile to Anwën as she curtsied before leaving. Ra’Gru knelt down.


“Thus has the heinous villains been dealt with.” Anwën gave a wide smile. It was dreadful, but so entertaining at the same time.


“Never to be seen again! Until we do see them again.” With that, she suddenly realised why they were even up this late. “The candle! Hurry, father! We must hurry to my room.” She dragged him the rest of the road until they came into her room. It was strange, for it felt colder than when she left it. The small amount of warmth the candle provided had probably abandoned the wide space in her absence. She finally reached her arm up towards her father, demanding his attention. “Light it.”

“I will go grab a candle, come.” He said as he began moving outside to take one of the candles hanging on the wall, coming back a moment later and lighting the candle she held in her hand. “See, all better.” It’s luminous flicker was soothing, and she offered it a content smile. The servant had turned into a hero, a reliable stone to lean against in the storm. She hugged her father around the waist.


“Thank you, papa.” She said quietly. As she went back to bed and placed the candle by the bed, it wasn’t hard to go back to sleep.

That night, the candle went out again, and the last time she ever saw her father.
 

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  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
Summoned
Part III
“Considering he will soon march upon their lands, it could be seen as improper.” Eylinn said with a dejected sigh. “I do not find my court having any qualms with Westmarch, however. As much as our family’s past is steeped in blood.” She leaned back her head to gaze towards the ceiling. “But so are we with the North. With most kingdoms of Men. That time has ended. I aim to bring them closer to the Chasm, reaching out a hand to Thaanos once more. That solitary kingdom still mourn their lord with suspicion of betrayal at their every corner. What good is continued animosity when we’re supposed to mend our world’s wounds?” So said the redeemer, while Anwën swallowed a heart burn.


“Fair enough Lady Eylinn.” Armas said with a nod. “I suppose Einir and Narien will be invited as well? From my time in Ordivantes it seem to me that they might struggle to attend.” Anwën was impressed how anyone could say just all the wrong things in such a short amount of time. Or perhaps this was her prince’s way of exacting revenge upon her mother’s probing questions?


“Well…” Eylinn whispered. “I’ve not seen or talked to my daughter in many a year. Perhaps Nienna kn…” Eylinn coughed. “My queen, would know more from her correspondence with the Wildling lord?”


“It has been some time since I’ve heard word from Einir or our champion, so it is difficult to say.” She sighed. “I hope they will be able to attend, but it seems that conflict in the west may detain them.” Anwën cleared her throat.


“Perhaps the courtesy of an invitation would be all the incitement they’d need? Wars can be dozens, but there’s only one wedding in your life.” She said as she smiled towards Armas, trying to steer the dour conversation back towards the festivities.


“One hopes at least.” Nienna said, making Anwën unsure if she was talking about her or herself. She much doubted Nienna was short of suitors if it should come to it.


“Well, I hope they are able to attend, at any rate.” Armas stated, sipping his own tea. Delighted, Anwën placed her hands together and smiled.


“Then it’s settled! We shall make the ceremony the large spectacle it deserves to be, and invite as many as we need for that to happen.” She said confidently. Her mother nodded.


“This has gone unexpectedly smoothe. Have you replaced my daughter with some other Elf, my prince?” Eylinn grinned.


“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Armas chuckled, beginning to relax some. “It seems you both simply agree on that matter.” Anwën looked at Armas mischievously, before aiming her head towards Nienna.


“Then it’s only the matter of what the crown prince couple are supposed to do to serve the realm.” She said while leaning, straightening her back against the chair. “For what duty will the queen ask of us once we become unioned?” Nienna shrugged her shoulders slightly. The second best thing of marrying Armas was the new influence she could precure. Anwën was done with court life and was more than ready to dig her teeth into some proper royal affairs, either through her husband or by her own appointment. She had been the mouth of the Chasm for years now, and had done well in those duties.


“If I may be honest, I would hope that the two of you would, in a sort of way, continue with what you have been doing. Between Armas’s travels and your experience with court, I can hardly imagine better diplomats in these uncertain times.” She smiled softly. “If you wish to do that of course.” Eylinn looked curiously at them both, while Anwën looked at Armas for his approval.


“What say you, my prince? It’s not a still life if that is what you would have prefered. But I believe we will be well funded on our journeys?” She asked, looking back at the queen. Who can disagree with some nice extra gold?


“You would.” Nienna laughed. Armas shook his head as he turned to look at Anwën.


“I do not need a still life, in fact I have developed something of a taste for travel I think. If you would rather remain in Coal though, I would be happy with that as well.” Anwën shook her head.


“There is no finer palace in the world, but I think it is time I served it elsewhere. I know its every nook and cranny, yet never repaid the kindness it has shown me since the days I was a little girl.” Anwën nodded towards Nienna. “Until my condition become unfit for travel, or till I deliver your kingdom an heir, I will gladly serve you abroad, my queen.” She said with little untouched confidence. The queen grinned.


“My thanks, though do not feel the need to rush, you are both still quite young.” Armas coughed, his cheeks reddening slightly, as he hoped for a change in topic. Eylinn was soon to come to his rescue.


“I doubt they could hardly wait, for the very reason that they are young, my queen.” She smirked. “Just hold your juices contained until before you’re actually bonded through tradition and common etiquette. Less messy that way.” Eylinn straightened her sleeves. “Now, I would like some time alone with the queen. We have some catching up to do, both in good friendship and as vassal and liege.” Anwën’s quite flushed cheeks aimed towards Armas, as she reached her hand for him to take.


“Of course.” Armas said as he stood and bowed, taking Anwën’s hand and helping her to her feet, before leading them out of the room. “That went better than I had expected, until the end at least,” he said, smiling at her. Anwën gasped.


“Don’t say my features does not please his highness?” She said as she dramatically threw her hair to the side with a perforating flirtatious gaze aiming to strike at the young prince. “For nothing could bring me more sadness.”


“Then fear not, for they do nothing but please, but,” he said grimacing, “ I do not need our mother’s discussing the matter.” Anwën chuckled.


“They seem comfortable enough about the arrangements at least.” She leaned her head against his arm. “I guess it’s not entirely proper, but…” She looked around, conspiringly. “...how about we start practicing our new duties right now? Have any place you’d like to diplomatize before supper?” Anwën couldn’t help but start plotting their new responsibilities, or plan for the wedding for that matter. Armas raised a surprised eyebrow however.


“After I’ve just promised your mother that we hadn’t?” He asked. Anwën’s ears turned bright red. Clearly his mind was more than pleased with her figure.


“T-Th…” Her usually hot hands were becoming slightly hotter still, though more sweaty than usual. “I was more thinking of a stroll.” She said, very slowly. Very silently. Very embarrassed. Armas stood frozen for a moment before laughing haughtily.


“Sorry, but that is not how it sounded.” Perhaps her words weren’t as sharp and skillful as she might have thought. When his laughing came to an end Armas smiled broadly and nodded. “That does sound quite nice though.” The prince rose his hand to his chin, thinking. “When is the last time you have gone down into the city?”


“Must have been years. My carriage tend to only stop at the castle.” She raised an eyebrow. “You think that is wise? Is it safe for us to go there? And I’m not so sure the guards would much approve of it either on behest of our parents.”


“Then we won’t ask them,” he said with a smirk, before taking her hand and leading her down the hall. “How many times did we sneak out as children, surely it hasn’t gotten so much harder now?” Anwën smirked back.


“Only a bit taller, and a bit fairer.” She kneeled down and ripped at her dress to peel at its outer silk embroidery. This dress was more than replaceable. With a few swift motions with her hands, she had rolled her long ivory white hair into a knot, and hidden it under the fabric like a cowl. “I could use a simpler texture to cover the whole dress, however. I’d prefer to remain at least mildly clothed.” Armas, who had watched the affair transfixed, blinked, nodding as he looked at his own clothing.


“Um, yes, something a bit less obvious perhaps.” He said, leading them to the laundry, filled not only with the clothing of the palace’s nobles, but also the many servants who lived and worked there. He peeled away his gilded silk shirt, replacing it with a rough and faded tunic. “The guards won’t even give a second look if we’re dressed like this.” He said, sounding pleased. Anwën on the other hand was a tad more picky, settling for a longer plain, green cloak that she tied up around her thin waist. It reached down over her legs revealing but tiny fragments of her gleaming dress underneath it, barely visible.


“I’d have to hide my whole head if that was the case!” She smirked, winking at Armas. “But I will try my best at being as inconspicuous as possible can be.”


“A fair point, even if you dressed as a Hroniden nomad your eyes alone would demand attention.” With a grin he pulled at her makeshift skirt, again awakening her lusts. “This will do well enough though.” He said, offering his hand once again. Taking his hand gently, while holding the other towards his already searching hand at her skirt, looking him temptingly in the eyes.


“Those duties are already sounding astounding, temping with your fair sounding flattery. The months towards the wedding will be long, indeed.” She smiled warmly. “Lead on, my prince.”


Armas did just that, taking her to the servants’ entrance where there would be fewer guards, who would not bother to check as people left rather than entered. Soon enough, the couple found themselves on the streets of Coal, surrounded by merchants selling their wares or services in open air marketplaces, as carts were pulled through the streets with their various loads. Armas took a deep breath, the air smelling of all sorts of fruits and spices, mixed with other, less pleasant odors, to create a distinct aroma of civilization.


“It’s busier than when we were children, isn’t it?” He asked, grinning happily as they walked through the market without anyone paying them any particular attention.


“It’s as if one witnessed the birth of a waterfall. First, a puddle, then a whole river spreading across the wet stone. Imagine what life must have been just after the war.” She snorted. “Such a foolish thing to say. You probably already seen that very thing on your travels.” She said dejectedly, while looking over the bazaar’s more gleaming trinkets unabashed.


“Hardly foolish,” Armas said softly. “Though, I have indeed,” he added with a laugh. “From now on we will see those sorts of things together though, won’t it be so much better than sitting at court?” Anwën shrugged her shoulders.


“You know what courts have that the road does not?” She looked at Armas, raising an eyebrow. “Hygiene. And no bugs”


“It does have its own sort of pests though, who could say which is worse. As for hygiene, I’m sure you will become used to bathing in lake and streams in no time at all,” Armas said with a smirk. She scoffed.


“I’m sure you wouldn’t mind that at all.” She said while looking past the stands in awe, taking in the scent of spices, wetting the corners of her mouth while watching a butcher prepare a fowl. The courts had turned sour as of late, where doomsayers made their prayers upon every open ear. Catastrophe here, a crumbling mountain there, witches and heretics everywhere. For a land that had faced a cataclysm, people seemed awfully eager to return to their old worse selves. “Perhaps the world is destined to be taken over by cruel men, and the people crawling for their crumbs. Perhaps the Creator intended for it so. Why else cleanse the world in flame only for it to grow out of the ashes with the same rotten timber again? I hate to admit it, but my mother’s sullen views are starting to take a hold on me.” She laughed. “But tell anyone, and I shall strangle you in your sleep.” Armas frowned, his head tilted in confusion as he watched Anwën with concern.


“Am I really so cruel? Obviously you do not actually need to bathe in streams…” He said, with a hesitant laugh, clearly trying to deflate the situation. Scared that she might have pushed him away, she grabbed his cheek.


“No, no… Hear me, Armas. We’d be different. Since a child you’ve always had your head where it belongs. Cool, composed and sage from your reading to preserve the people around you.” She smiled warmly. “I actually had to be the one reiling you in. I wonder if it was me being appalling, or you simply being too caring for the princess’ virtue. Whatever it was, whatever happened since, all I am saying is, in this new age we could be something different. Something good.” She looked around them. “We were placed on this world for a reason. Can you say you never felt it?” Armas pondered that for a moment, nodding slightly.


“I suppose I have, not when we were young, but since I began my travels.” He said, looking at her to ensure she understood. “There were times when I felt that I could make a genuine difference in the lives of others, so I think I see what you mean. Of course as children we all knew that you would be one to change the world, so I can’t say it’s a surprise that you would feel that way.” She looked down, biting at her lip.


“It’s not worth it without you in it, Armas. So many lonely months, alone with my fears of that monster returning. Its spectre haunting the halls, welling over the walls of my dreams. I cast it aside, curse it. Whatever good that would make. Little, I am sure, but I am quite stubborn when I put my heart into it.” She took a deep breath, and leaned her head towards his chest. “I wonder how different it had all been had I followed you in your trails, where I belong.” Armas wrapped his arms around her, placing a light kiss on the top of her head.


“I can’t say that I didn’t wish you were with me, that we could have our adventures, but things have not been so completely horrible have they? We are together now, to be married with our families’ blessings, which we’d never thought we’d have.” He gave a reassuring squeeze. “No monster will be able to hurt you now.” She shuddered.


“I’ve never been happier. The happiness alone could keep it at bay.” She leaned back, looking at him with a relaxed smile. “But I’m not content. You see, I’m greedy. Spoiled all my life, I expect to be spoiled in the future still.” She said with a teasing grin, alluringly biting at her lower lip.


“Then you are lucky to have found so charitable a prince.” Armas stated, returning the grin as he pulled her closely once more and passionately kissed her lips. If only the wedding could had been sooner...