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I finally began writing this as part of my creative writing class, now here it is. The idea was floating in my head for so long, but I never had the time to actually start it. Please enjoy.

Chapter 1: The Guardian


The town was alive with laughter and glee. The festival celebrating the victory of Crown Princess Eyria and her sisters over the unified armies of the beastmen tribes along the border had begun in full force. Everywhere outside the tavern where Jordan rested was covered in long colorful strands of cloth. “It’s a joke, you know,” Jordan’s drinking companion said from across the table. The man kept his hood up, but Jordan could see his weathered and scarred face as he drank and let the ale drip down his beard. “It wasn’t Eyria that led the troops. It was the generals who fought on the front lines and Ghianna that set up that battle.”
“You speak from first-hand knowledge, I suppose?” Jordan asked.
The man let out a hoarse laugh. “How else do you think I got these scars? From shoeing horses? Perhaps I did, perhaps I left before the final battle to see what would happen.” He took a long gulp and wiped his chin with the back of his hand.
“You’re a deserter then?” Jordan questioned him.
“Aye, the sort of deserter who won’t be punished.” Another laugh escaped his mouth.
Jordan smiled slightly and tipped his head back to drink. When he returned himself upright, his friend was gone. Well, that’s going to bother me for some time. He left behind some coins and joined the rest of the people in dancing, singing, and even more drinking and eating.
Amidst the throngs of celebrating peasants, he saw a charming young woman standing on the bridge separating the eastern half of the kingdom from the west. She wore a black dress that matched her hair that fell straight past her shoulders. The ale made him bold. He approached her with an outstretched hand. The musicians were now playing “The Peasant King”, his favorite song. “It’d seem fate would want me to be your king,” Jordan smiled.
The girl chuckled and accepted his hand.
The two danced as the people gathered around and clapped. Her steps were graceful and she held his hands firmly as they floated across the cobblestone bridge. “What is your name, ser?” She asked him.
“Jordan,” he answered.
“Are you from this town?”
Jordan’s face tensed for a moment, but he returned to smiling soon enough. “I’m from a farmstead nearby. My family has had dealings with Rosenhaut more than once though.”
The girl’s sweet smile was disarming. Jordan kept pace with he as well as he could, but his head began to lighten and soon he heard a woman shouting.
“Ghianna, get away from that man!”
Jordan let go from his dance partner and stepped back, stumbled, and the world turned upside down. He splashed in the river futilely, unable to figure out which direction would bring him back to the surface. The rushing waters pulled him further down, further from where he fell, further from the festival. Further from that beautiful girl.


“Once more, Jordan.” Milly commanded him.
Jordan held the wooden sword in one hand and pointed the tip towards his little sister. “You haven’t won a single match yet, are you sure?” Milly’s pink skin was mottled black and yellow from missed parries and failed blocks. Jordan was better by far, but she was insistent.
“Another!” She yelled. Milly’s flaxen hair waved behind her as she charged towards him recklessly. He swung low at her legs, but she stepped just out of the way and brought her sword up towards his shoulder. The wooden blade glided across his side and swept past his ear. Jordan backed away from his little sister and touched the side of his head. He was still untouched. She came forth again and swung wildly several times and several times Jordan deflected her blows. When she was tired, he gave her yet another bruise on the back of her leg and spun away from her.
“You’ve lost your leg and from there, your life.” Jordan laughed.
Milly bristled and let out an agitated grunt. “Again!”

“Again!”
Jordan felt a hard press on his chest and water gushed from his mouth. He spat out all manner of foulness and rolled over onto his palms, spitting out more of the stream onto the soft ground. Where am I? What happened? The thoughts rushed through his head. Did I die? No, I couldn’t have. He looked up and his eyes met the pale grey eyes of the same girl on the bridge.
“My lady.” A pale man in black velvet, now soaked through entirely, put himself between the girl and Jordan.
Jordan rose to his feet and in an instant had two blades pointed towards him as two more women stood between him and his peasant queen. No, she was no peasant. That was obvious now. He raised both his hands in surrender and stepped away.
“Who are you to dare touch one of the noble princesses of the Hero Queen?” The one on his left said. Her hair was the same as his partner’s, her face was similar as well but graver and her body was slightly larger, given way to some more decadence than the other two.
“My parents had chosen to name me Jordan.”
“Jordan? They named a filthy peasant like you after the first Hero King?” The thicker princess was disgusted as if he had meant to slight her.
“I would say I’m a bit cleaner-“
“You will speak when spoken to,” the princess on his right said with irritation as she pointed her sword closer to his chest.
Jordan looked around him, no one was near, the road was some distance off. Three armed and armored men stood at the tree line, their backs turned to Jordan and the others. His fingers itched. He couldn’t let them keep him for long. Any longer and they might know. Any longer and they find out. Jordan’s eyes went down to his belt but his sword was gone from its sheath. Fuck. The sword had cost him all the money he had. It was beautiful, a golden hilt and silver pommel and crossguard, a dragon pattern was engraved across the length of the blade as well. To lose it so easily left him feeling cheated.
He drew his hands back into his sleeves. The princesses noticed this and thrust their blades. Jordan spun to the side and gripped the hilt of the left princess’s sword. Flames ignited from her hands and Jordan found his sleeve engulfed in flames, ignoring how utterly soaked his sleeve was. WHAT THE FUCK? He let out a yell and fell back as he struggled to smother the fire in the dirt. He hurried to the river to finish the job and put out the embers.
“Stop!” He heard the third princess call from the back as her sisters were almost upon him. Luckily, they listened.
Jordan was somewhere between relieved and annoyed. He stood back up and looked at the tatters of his sleeve. Fire? It couldn’t have been. “You’ve apparently saved me again, princess.” Jordan began to feel the fatigue of the past few moments. His breathing was ragged and he knelt before his savior, though more to rest than in gratitude.
“Mathis,” the pale man that stood beside her came to attention.
“My lady?”
“Give me the sword,” she commanded him in even tones.
“Yes, my lady.” The sickly servant plucked a sword from the ground. It was Jordan’s sword. The frail bastard had it the entire time. The princess took the blade in both her hands and walked towards Jordan.
He let out a sigh. “At least be quick about it.”
The princess’s older sisters both sheathed their blades and a satisfied grin crossed the lips of the larger girl. “You heard him, be quick.”
“Your name is Jordan?” The princess said as she put the flat of the sword on his shoulder. The wind began to pick up and Jordan heard only her words and the calm flow of the river.
“Exactly as I said.”
“That will make for an awfully short headstone.” She frowned.
“The years I’ve lived would be even shorter.”
“Then we should fix that.” The princess tapped the sword against his other shoulder. “Rise, Jordan. Rise as Ser Jordan Bywater. Knight of the Kingdom of Fresia and Guardian of Princess Ghianna Fresia.”
Chapter 2: The Guardian


Callade, the capital of the Kingdom of Fresia. The city within the walls was far more alive on a normal day than Bridgetown was during the festival. Great buildings of stone and wood towered over anything he’d seen before. He was sure if he’d scaled the top of one, he could see the entire country. The people were more interesting as well. Many wore elaborate gowns with even more elaborate hairstyles that varied from person to person; silk, leather, velvet, wool, all were dyed in bright or dark colors. The hats as well made Jordan laugh. Felt hats with feathers sticking from one end, crowns made of feathers, hats shaped in three points with the longest tip poking outwards or sideways as the person liked it. Other people looked as common as Jordan. That, however, brought him little joy to see. Dirty, sad even when the kingdom was victorious in their war, he felt that little had actually managed to help them. Some looked at him with scorn, he was not sure if they knew he was only a few days ago a peasant as well and thought he was selfish for not helping them more or if they thought he was just another noble looking to line his own pockets with their work. This is not something I could get used to. This isn’t something Milly would enjoy either.
They reached another line of walls that surrounded the castle. The castle towered over even the tall buildings outside of it. The portcullis was designed with great care. The iron gate crossed over several times to keep intruders from breaking it down easily with iron studs to ruin any common battering rams that would threaten it. A sparse few guards stood outside and above in the guard towers.
Crown Princess Eyria gave Jordan a hard stare as they stopped their horses at the gates. She didn’t have to say a word for him to know she wished that her fires engulfed all his body. Maybe that he had been in the river had stopped that from happening, but his poor sleeve didn’t feel the same.
“Open the gates,” she commanded to the guards. They obeyed without a quarrel and Jordan watched the great heavy gates raise before him. His heart pounded inside him. This isn’t a joke… I’m really going to step into a castle… Even though he had dreamt of it, Jordan not once expected for it to really happen. Princess Ghianna drew up beside him and they went through the gates side by side.
“Do not let Eyria frighten you,” Princess Ghianna said trying to reassure him. “She does not trust easily and protects each of us with all her heart.”
Is it really because of that? Eyria was not his first encounter with a noble. The last he had met cursed Jordan for his low birth for simply crossing his horse. He tried to remember the name; back then he didn’t care much for anyone but his family. What would they think of me now anyway? Now that I am a knight, now that I serve the kingdom directly under one of the princesses. Milly would have been jealous and beg him to let her join too.
“Are you crying?” Princess Ghianna asked.
Jordan wiped his eyes and felt the water drip from the side of his hand. “It is nothing, milady.” Why am I thinking about all this now?
The party all dismounted their horses at the base of the stairs leading up into the castle and the reins were handed off to the caretakers that awaited them. Jordan looked up at how many steps went up to the castle. He stopped counting at ten and started up with the others. One of Princess Ghianna’s servants, a pale-faced woman with brittle brown hair stopped in front of him and looked back. Princess Ghianna still stood below, waiting patiently for something. He looked up ahead and saw Eyria’s arm wrapped around that of one of her two Guardians, the red-haired man with a sharp chin and broad shoulders. Just behind, Princess Yulia’s arm was locked into that of her Guardian, his cloth of gold cloak snapped in the wind.
The message was obvious. He hurried back down and reddened abashedly. “Forgive me, milady.” Jordan outstretched his arm and the princess wrapped hers around his.
“You are truly a gentleman, Ser Jordan.” She said with a light playfulness.
He felt his face burn hotter.
She spoke softly to him, “Look the part of a well-mannered knight and they will love you dearer for it. Try to keep your tongue in check as well as your temper. When it flares, you burn fiercer than any magic Eyria uses; I can see that clear as day.”
“And what else can you see?” He was intrigued. The stories said that Queen Charlotte’s magic split into each of her children, although she had lived generations and gave birth to many sons and daughters, there was no explanation as to why this litter was supposedly special when so many had come and gone before them. Does her magic give her the power to see into the future?
Princess Ghianna frowned slightly, “My magic doesn’t let me see into the future.” Mind reader. “Of all I could have had, it wound up being the one I hate most. Is it not obvious to you?”
Jordan’s mind was empty of ideas.
“Never mind, we are almost inside.” She grinned again. “Keep straight and look at everyone in the eye. When any of my sisters meet you, you must always bow. I’m sure you’re not the type to do so willingly, but please for me.”
Already Princess Ghianna wanted to take command of his life. The man at the tavern made her sound like an inspirational leader; it showed now as he had no problem accepting these orders.
They walked together, not for a moment breaking the link between their arms and matched each others steps, stride for stride. Servants bowed their heads, they called him “ser”, young girls giggled as they passed and young men looked wide-eyed with their mouthes open at the beautiful princesses. This is what it feels like to be noble… He did not yet feel it, however. There was little time to stop and the clothes he had worn since the festival still clung to him. River water and fish had by now become his scent, yet Princess Ghianna had endured it with great dignity and… poise? The journey had not been entirely dreadful, Princess Ghianna had promised to give him the best education she could give him so that he could better fit into the role of a noble knight. She seemed intent on transforming who he was.
Soon they all stopped outside of a great door way. Two guards stood on either side, their engraved armor shone like silver and their spears leaned against their shoulders. As Eyria and the rest approached, they bowed their heads and the Crown Princess abandoned her Guardian’s arm and pushed open the large oaken doors.
The inside of the castle stole every bit of breath that was left to him from the outside. The floor was marble, polished to shine like the stars. The walls were a shiny black stone that looked like the night sky with golden braziers lined along them and elaborate tapestries hung above. They detailed scenes of a woman spearing a great winged dragon, of that same woman leading armies, of that same woman fighting against beings that seemed otherworldly. Whether these were true events or simply the fantasies of a woman as ancient as the kingdom, he was not certain. He knew only one thing:
This was the castle of the Hero Queen, Charlotte Fresia.
“Keep up, Ser Farmer,” Eyria yelled up ahead.
Princess Ghianna giggled at his awe and led him further on by the arm. “Come, Ser Jordan, we head for the grand hall. My mother and the rest of my sisters await us to hear of our time on the borderlands.”
Another pair of doors with images of flowers carved in them stood before them. Eyria pushed her way through effortlessly. The hall was as massive as everything else he had seen thus far with the same marble floors and same black stone. The tables set at the foot of the throne were made of the same wood as the doors and crafted with the same skill. Five young women sat at the tables. The famed Eight Princesses. On the left sat only one of them, he assumed she was the eldest after the three arrivals. On the right Jordan assumed sat the youngest of the Queen’s daughters. He wondered for a moment if they all too shared in their mother’s rumored immortality.
Everyone knelt before the Queen as soon as they stood between the tables and before the throne. Jordan did too, the princess having now put her hand in Jordan’s. The tales began to ring true. The Queen was ageless. She looked no more than thirty years old and yet Princess Ghianna told him that Eyria was herself that age. The Queen’s black hair, which Eyria, Ghianna, and two other princesses had inherited fell past her shoulders. Her breasts were still full and did not sag one bit. Her dress had layers of purple fabric bunched together at the lower half and the shoulders puffed. Everything about her was beautiful.
“And who is this that you bring with you, Ghianna?” The Queen asked almost too normally.
“This is who I have chosen as my Guardian, mother.” Princess Ghianna’s tone stood somewhere between normalcy and nobility.
The Queen smiled. “Well, he’s a bit dirtier than I’d prefer, but a filthy Guardian is better than no Guardian. I am surprised it has taken you so lo-.”
Eyria could not keep her silence. “Mother! You do not truly mean to allow her to keep this commoner in the castle under the same roof as you? This impudent little swineherd raised his hand against me and Yulia and had every intention to do us harm!”
The Queen shrugged. “Be that as it may, Ghianna has fully accepted him into her service, I imagine? The laws state that she is allowed to choose anyone to protect her and they are cleared of any wrong doings.” Jordan’s heart stiffened. “Have you forgotten that Helina too chose a woman charged of treason and murder to serve as her Guardian?”
“And I question her decision every night. Still I be-“
“This one is no different, if it comes that he commits high treason, then we can deal with him as you see fit, but until then Ghianna’s decision is mine as well. I welcome you, ser, into our household. I shall see to it that you are given quarter close to your sworn princess and that you are properly cared for.”
Jordan went to a knee. “Thank you, milady.” Ghianna kicked his rear slightly, but harshly. “Your grace, I mean. Forgive me.”
The Queen laughed. “This would be a greater challenge than I thought. Ghianna, I hope you intend to make this man a proper gentleman before the year is out.” The Queen rose from her gilded seat and descended the dais towards Jordan. “And I do not have to make clear the importance of your task? You must remain forever at her side and be ever vigilant that harm never befalls her.”
“I have no plans to fail you or your daughter, your grace.”
She smiled. “That is quite the order you put that in. Tell me, if I were to ask you to kill Ghianna, would you?”
It was a trick, Jordan knew. He did not have to think long for a reply, however. “If you were to ask me such a thing, then I suppose I would be the one to prove that the Hero Queen can be killed.” As expected, the other princesses were made uneasy and more than one reached for their weapons.
The Queen only let out a booming laugh. “This pig farmer has more heart than the rest of you sots, that’s for certain. At least he is willing to give an answer! Ghianna, you really must educate this man. It would be nice to have someone willing to speak so openly that doesn’t care to offend.”
Jordan blushed. “You are too kind, your grace.”
“Ah, but when he’s flustered he’s like all the rest.”
The Queen ordered everyone to leave except Eyria and Yulia. Ghianna gripped Jordan’s hand and led him down a hall. “You shouldn’t have answered that way,” she said with worry.
“The Queen seemed fine with my answer.” Jordan was confused.
“She liked it very much, the issue is the others. I saw how they reacted. Don’t put yourself so needlessly at risk, don’t try so hard to impress.”
“I see no reason to worry, surely the Queen won’t allow violence under her watch.”
“The nail that sticks out the most gets hammered down. Sometimes the others forget that my mother is still the law. Do not waste my kindness, Jordan.”
That took him by surprise. It was the first time she called him by name only and not by title. “I will be fine, milady. I promise.”
“Ghianna. I didn’t bring you into my service to spout the same courtesies that I have heard since I was born.”
“Ghianna it is then.” It did not nearly come as easy as he made it sound, nor did it feel right at all. “Tell me then, why did you bother saving me?”
She wasted no time in her answer, as if she prepared for it. “I needed a Guardian, I had no interest in giving murderers weapons, no interest in taking a nobleman or woman from their family and hearing them spout only forced courtesies and at the same time treat me like a child and tell me to remain clear of a rain puddle. My sisters may be fine with such things and think their Guardians fonts of chivalry, strength, and that sort but I’d prefer just to have a friend that I can rely on.”
Another surprise. Ghianna had seemed different from others even on the bridge, but hearing her now, Ghianna was in a world of her own. “And what of your servants? Could they not serve as friends?”
“I don’t want them to serve as friends. And that aside, they would never be friends.” Ghianna’s countenance turned grim.
Servants passed them by as they entered another wing of the castle. Each of them were pale faced. More of Ghianna’s? Each kept a dignified air around them. Their doublets and trousers were all kept neat and exact, too orderly in fact that it seemed almost wrong. The smell of strong perfumes filled the air as he passed each as well. Unlike the servants at the front, each of them only bowed and welcomed their master back. No girls even gave him notice, not a single lad gaped at Ghianna, all of them only worked. They passed by one particularly closely and he noticed what else was wrong.
Their eyes were even pale. White as snow. “Are each of them brought in because of their eyes and skin?” He asked her.
Ghianna opened a door and led him inside. She stood beside her bed keeping her back to him. “Just don’t die, Jordan. I’ve already lost so many friends and it’s becoming too much.”
She controls death. And all these servants… “What is it that changes when you bring them back?”
His princess began to cry. “It all goes wrong, everything. I keep thinking it will be different this time or the next but it never is. They can never be brought back fully and I’ve damned them to living on as hollow shells of what they were. Just promise me, Jordan, just promise me you’ll be the one that doesn’t die.”
Jordan embraced her. “I promise you that I will live. The kingdom is at peace now and it is thanks to you. There is little for you to worry about, all right?” There was not much else he could say.
She said nothing. She only cried and sent him out. He put his hand on the pommel of his hilt, at constant vigil. He stood beside her door for the next five hours.
Chapter 3: The Guardians

The yard was loud with the sound of swords clashing against one another in a song of steel. It was one he had not heard in a long time and he felt himself eager to play his own tune for them. There was no shortage of volunteers, his fellow Guardians all wanted to try and put him in his place, whatever it was they imagined. However, nothing ever came of those threats previously. In the courtyard though, Jordan could oblige as many of them as were foolish enough to challenge him.
“Ser Farmer,” he heard Eyria call out from behind. “Why do you stand there idle while the rest of your brothers and sisters all train to better themselves?”
“I like watching,” Jordan answered her with a snicker. “They certainly are impressive. Each of them with their own styles.” He pointed at one of her Guardians, the red-headed one she was so fond of. “He hacks away at his foe like a butcher does a dead pig.” He pointed next at a tall woman with blonde hair and a scarred chin. “She holds her fucking sword like a knife, as if holding it like that provides any advantage.”
Another young woman came into his view. She wore leather armor and had her red hair cut short. She used a spear yet spun it wildly around, smacking her opponent with the bottom of its shaft and taking quick jabs where she could. “That… is actually fun to watch. Not sure how well it does in actual combat though.”
“Do you think yourself better? A commoner with no learning or experience in battle?”
Jordan turned to face her. “I know I’m better than most, that is for certain. Even I know that they aren’t disciplined e-“
“Do NOT speak to me about discipline. Haron, quiet Ghianna’s yapping dog.”
Jordan spun around on one foot and kept a single hand on the pommel of his sword. He looked at Eyria’s champion, how she loved that red hair, his height, his broad shoulders and admittedly good looks. It was a damn shame.
Jordan had yet to put on any padded armor for the duel, but neither Haron or his sworn princess cared much. He raised his blunted steel high and brought it down with all his strength. Jordan made him regret the few seconds the sword spent in the ground. He drew his sword and smashed Haron’s front teeth to splinters with his pommel. He got behind the taller man and held him by the back of his armor and kept the point of his sword to Haron’s neck.
“MAKE A MOVE, IT WOULD BE MY PLEASURE TO END THIS NOW!” Jordan shouted at him.
Haron yielded and spat out blood and bits of his teeth.
Eyria let out a screech and went to her defeated Guardian. “You fought with dishonor, Ser Farmer! How dare you bring live steel to a yard match!”
Jordan ignored her and walked towards one of the other Guardians, a man slightly older than him with short dirty blonde hair and a fair amount of hair on his chin and lip, he was one of Princess Eden’s Guardians, though he apparently was poor at his job as Eden was often everywhere but where she was meant to be. “Tell me, is Haron one of the best swords here?”
“Not even close,” the knight replied. “You know exactly how Haron got his position.”
Jordan shrugged. “Fair enough. Then who is?”
“All of the best Guardians are off on their duties, they are either managing their princess’s holds while they are away or they are dealing with threats in the Borderlands…”
“Or they are next to their princesses where they belong?”
“Clever lad. The name is Ethan, by the way. Ethan Dorlund.” He extended a hand.
Jordan shook it, naturally. “Jordan Bywater.”
“So explain to me why you’re not by Princess Ghianna’s side right now.”
“She is at council with her mother and her sisters, Ghianna wanted me to get to know the castle grounds so where else would I go but here?”
“The library would be a good choice. I heard about your origins, a witless peasant who attacked the princesses and somehow earned the trust of Ghianna to become her Guardian.” He laughed. “All due respect. I can tell you’re a good sword, but it is just as good to have a mind to back it up. Guardians do more than just guard the princesses, you know? I already said that some of us end up as castellans. There’s also the position of steward or perhaps you would have to sit on the council with Ghianna in earnest, not just guard her. It is good for you to know more than just how to plow a field and sow seeds, you know?”
“Then the library is where I’ll go then… Maybe later…”
“It’s up to you how you wish to spend your time. I’m only suggesting it.”
Ethan gave Jordan a pat on the shoulder and went off. Jordan went back into the castle, giving one last passing glance to Haron’s fallen teeth. Didn’t they call him Brightsmile? He laughed.
Chapter 4: The Princess of Life

The library smelled of mold. The books here had to have been sitting in their same spots for hundreds of years, some of them anyway. Plenty were surely newly written or rewritten and Jordan sought out those books. Ghianna brought an old book on language to him the previous night and the smell of the yellowed pages sickened him, the feel of it also bothered him. Now that he had received baths almost daily and fresh clothes with it, he hated being dirty or touching anything that might be covered in dirty. He enjoyed looking clean — especially since it pissed the other princesses off.
He found a book on the history of the kingdom and settled down in a seat off to the side. He lit the candle sitting on the table and opened the book wide. Jordan read with one fist under his chin only half a gaze.
In the year 908, the Hero Queen Charlotte ended her conq… uests? That’s the same letter that starts queen, right? Conquests and worked to main… tain… That’s an odd word. The castles along the borderlands to protect against the…th-th-threet? Of the beastmen who had org… Whatever. Under the third Beast King, Beonald the Wolf.
“Beonald died pretty easily, actually.” A young girl said. Jordan turned and saw Milly standing there, grinning. “So you really are trying hard to become a learned scholar, aren’t you? I’m sure Ghianna will be pleased with your diligence.”
What the? His eyes focused and Princess Sebeca came better into view. He let out a sigh of relief.
“Something the matter?”
“Nothing… Just that with a name like ‘The Wolf’ you would think he’d be tougher.”
“Wolves hunt in packs. Beonald hunted alone. You can put the pieces together.” Sebeca stated matter of factly.
“Your mother fished him out then.”
“Beonald was greedy and when the castle at Ganslaut, the largest and most formidable castle in the kingdom, was completed, he wanted it. He thought to assassinate the Queen on his own and take the rest through treachery but.”
“But he fucked up.”
Sebeca’s eye twinged. “I suppose that is a way of putting it. He died when he failed to scale the walls and smashed himself on the ground.”
“History can be great, can’t it? Great figures can bring themselves down with a single stupid decision-“
“And small people can rise far above their lot in life because of those decisions.”
Jordan laughed. “I guess so.” He closed the book, already uninterested in continuing with the princess now present.
“Tell me, Ser Jordan, where is it you came from?”
“Near Rosenhaut, my family lived on one of the farmsteads, but I decided that I could do far more than tend pigs and cows and harvest crops.”
“It is your duty though… Well was, there’s not much to do about it now, but you are meant to harvest those crops and tend those pigs for your overlord, for my sister. Would you let your family lose their land because you decided to walk off on a whim?”
“My sister would take the land, unless my mother pops out another kid.” Jordan’s chest tightened. They would have to.
“Tell me about your sister.” Sebeca seemed interested.
“Her name was Milly. Millicent, actually, but anyway she dreamt of being a knight and serving the kingdom.”
“Funny that you wound up in that position.”
“I wasn’t entirely without the same idea, why not anyway? The pay is good and I spend my days in a castle serving a beautiful woman.” Jordan laughed. “I don’t know how I’d feel about being in a war though, not against the beastmen anyway. Just reading the stories about them are terrifying.”
“And what terrifies you the most about them?”
“The different types of animals they turn into, either partially or fully. Wolves, bears, all manner of poisonous creatures. Ghianna told me that their size is also relative to their own size, so if one of them turned into a spider it would be a giant spider. I could live without seeing that. Did you have any part in the conflict?”
“My castle of Brighthope is within the interior of the kingdom, close to Ghianna’s Blackmont, actually, so I didn’t do more than send troops. One of my guardians did leave to lead the troops though, Ser Relan.”
“You weren’t in any danger?”
“A few raids happened, but it was more than enough for the castle guards to go out and deal with.”
Jordan was impressed. Sebeca was the youngest, only fifteen years old and yet she seemed wise enough to deal with her own conflicts, or at least know who to send to deal with them. “So they don’t worry you at all?”
“The beastmen always worry me, they are always fighting and getting stronger from it as weaker tribes are killed or worse and the strong continue moving forward. Several times they’ve united against us and several times we’ve thrown them out of our homeland. But I fear that there will be a Beast King that is more than capable of actually threatening us.”
“When people say such things, I always fear that they are bound to come true, whether in moments or in years.”
“Then it is up to you to protect Ghianna, isn’t it? When such a time arrives.” Sebeca’s curly hair bounced with her as she rose. “Come, we have been here for too long.”
Jordan laughed, “You’re too serious for your age. I’ll buy you a drink soon enough and we’ll do something more fun.”
Sebeca smiled politely. “I’d prefer not.”
— Due to time constraints I have put the intermediate events into a short summary —
In the next chapter, Queen Charlotte holds council over making appointments to certain positions, especially as the beastmen have already managed to unify and are preparing to attack the kingdom again. Of these, the position of steward is most prominent as Eyria has little skill at managing funds and dealing with numbers. Jordan recommends himself, remembering what Ser Ethan said, but is laughed at by most of the princesses. Several recommendations are made, but no agreement is met and the council is dismissed for the moment. Jordan and Ghianna go out hunting and Jordan makes known his discontent with Eyria for always making things hard on him, made even worse by the fact that he must obey her as she is the Crown Princess.
During their hunt, Jordan nearly runs over a man on the road. All is forgiven quickly as the man says he was looking for someone to lead him to the castle as he had come from one of the border castles to serve the Queen. Jordan is open to the idea but Ghianna is skeptical. Regardless, the man, who calls himself Orson Kendrick, is taken to the castle and meets with the Queen.
The Queen is impressed by Orson’s wit and good manners and, knowing that House Kendrick has always been loyal, decides to appoint him as steward. Jordan and Orson become fast friends as few others in the castle like Orson either and Jordan finds some level of kinship in that.
Unfortunately, as the months pass, the Queen becomes ill. Eventually she is confined to bed and council is held in her room. Despite the best attempts of many physicians, the Queen’s condition does not improve. Ghianna says, however, that the illness will not kill the Queen and in time she will improve.
The Queen does not improve as she is suddenly assassinated in her room and her head is left for all to see. All of the princesses are horrified and Princess Helina notices Orson walking in the castle gardens. She decides that Orson was the one who did it and chases after him. Jordan, not willing to let his friend die, follows after with Ghianna’s blessings.
Jordan engages in a battle with Princess Helina but fails to protect Orson as he is brutally executed. Jordan is restrained and taken prisoner. When his trial comes, all the princesses but Ghianna are present and state that because of Jordan’s relationship with Orson and the admission that he would kill the Queen if it came between her and Ghianna, that he is guilty of high treason. Ghianna is just as well placed under house arrest. As Jordan is led outside to be executed, a few of Ghianna’s servants manage to rescue him and lead him to safety. Both he and Ghianna hide in a tavern until Jordan decides that Ghianna is the only one who can lead the kingdom, even though she is the third oldest, and that Eyria is incapable of saving the Hero Queen’s work.
Ghianna reluctantly agrees and the two head for Blackmont where they rally the few hundred soldiers that Ghianna has and prepare a plan of attack. Despite numerous suggestions, Jordan, who has been made Grand Marshal, decides that Princess Sebeca must be the first to swear fealty due to her closeness and the skill of her troops. Leading to the final chapter of the first part.
Chapter 8: Irreconcilable Hearts


The gates of Brighthope castle opened wide for the besiegers. The defenders, those who had chosen to remain at least, were gathered in the courtyard, their weapons thrown at their feet. Their leader, William Fulton, if Jordan remembered correctly, approached him and threw his helmet down.
Jordan offered him his hand, “Forgive me, ser, these past few weeks have been just as terrible for me.”
“You did not die several times only to be brought back from the brink and set to the field again.” Fulton ran two fingers along the side of his neck and frowned. There were no scars or any kind of fault in his neck, but even Jordan knew the memories remained. “I thought it was a gift, being able to fight without fear and knowing I’d return to my family… But I felt the sting of death so many times and now I want no more of it.”
Ser William looked exhausted. Jordan had not seen him on the field in each of the three battles they fought but was told how he fought in the front with his men. They fought fiercely in the first two, but by the third, their spirit waned. Looking around the near-empty yard told Jordan all he needed to know about the soldiers now.
“I have only one request of you, Ser William,” Jordan began. He felt his stomach begin to drop, but he kept a brave face in front of his men.
“Aye, the princess,” William finished for him.
The two of them walked through the halls of the castle in silence. Only two of Jordan’s men followed them. He had removed his armor and exchanged them for a black vest and trousers. Enemy or not, Sebeca was a princess and Ghianna’s sister, her youngest sister. She was due some respect, at least. Jordan kept his sword at his side, one hand on its intricate golden hilt.
The captain pushed the door open and the last two steadfast defenders of the castle rushed towards them. Jordan’s own men pushed their way past and after a short fight, both of Sebeca’s guardians fell. Ser Elliot. Ser Relan. Brave men, honest men. Now dead men. Young Sebeca was unmoved. “You’re a cruel man, Jordan Bywater.” She said as she paced across the room towards the table by the window. She poured herself a cup of wine and took a long gulp.
Jordan had his men take the swords from the corpses and dismissed Ser William. “Bring them back,” he asked of her.
“No,” Sebeca’s face remained impassive. She let out a sigh and returned a bundle of stray long curly hair to place.
“Don’t just treat this like nothing! Your guardians didn’t have to die. Bring them back and dismiss them from their duties.” Jordan grabbed her by the arm and dragged her over. She resisted and smashed the bronze cup against his head. The wine fell over him and stung the gash it created. He shoved her away and slapped her hard across the cheek. “You little bitch!” He stepped back and held his hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
The knight could not believe that he had actually struck her. Little Sebeca, sweet Sebeca. The same Sebeca that he had rode horses with and joked with. The same that he teased often for her serious, royal, demeanor that she kept at all time. He wanted to shout.
Sebeca kept one hand on her cheek and massaged it gently. “And what gives you the right to treat a princess like this?”
Jordan ignored her remark. “Why can’t you just bring them back? You had no problem with over a hundred others and yet these two that you were so close to are allowed to pass on?”
“Why should I listen to a peasant like you? Again I ask what gives you the right to treat me so?”
Was she always like this? Was he only hearing her words differently than he did before? His grip tightened on his sword. Her royal attitude only pissed him off. “You’ve lost, Sebeca. Accept it now. I don’t want this to end in anymore blood. Swear yourself to your sister and help us put her on the throne. Don’t you see that Eyria is not a worthy successor to your heroic mother? She does not understand how to lead and does not inspire others? She cannot lead the kingdom in our conflict like your mother would have.”
“Then where is Ghianna now?”
Jordan’s mind froze. Ghianna had little taste for warfare either. It was only at his insistence that he stood here now. He sent his men away, they took the dead guardians with them.
“You’re an upstart peasant. Nothing more. You think yourself smart and have abused my sister’s nature to rise higher than you ever should have.” Sebeca’s voice was overwhelming. “We should have executed you by that river. You were always impudent. But that wasn’t enough reason to have you killed, was it?”
Jordan began to draw his sword. “I’m going to have to kill you, aren’t I? You’re going to make me do it.”
“Your farmstead was near Rosenhaut, wasn’t it? I remember two years ago that Yulia spoke of a terrible event that took place there. Yulia was never really good at dealing with peacekeeping and she let Ethan Cul deal with it all really. But one group was particularly tough. Ethan even lost his life fighting them. A young girl, around my age now come to think of it…”
“Stop talking.”
“She wanted them gone, Yulia said that she always went out trying to find others to help her. She never did get any help though.”
“Stop talking.”
“Her body was left at her farm and when Yulia’s next guardian sent out a group to finally end them, the bandits were all dead around the house they were operating in. Then the girl’s brother…”
“SHUT UP!” Jordan’s sword was free. “Keep talking if you want to die. I was held back! I told them all to stop and urged her to run away and leave it be! They made me watch it, dammit! I did nothing wrong that day!”
“Doesn’t matter what happened that day. You soiled your own hands by even letting it come to that. You were better off ending yourself with the rest of your friends.” Sebeca went down on both knees and bared her neck. “Do it already. I’m done wasting breath on a murderer and a thief.”
Jordan stood beside her and rested the cold steel on the princess’s neck. ‘What would you have me tell your sister then?”
“You’ll lie to her, I’m sure. You’ve done plenty of that already.”
“Do you truly want your last words to be another taunt?”
Sebeca did not answer.
Jordan raised his sword up high and let out a short breath. He brought it down on the young girl’s neck and watched her head separate from body. Oh god. He stepped back against the wall and vomited on the stone floor. He could not let go of his sword and fell to his knees. “Sebeca,” he whimpered, “Sebeca, please, say something.” Tears choked him up. “I’m sorry. Please. I’m so sorry. Forgive me.

Tags:

Jory

Jory awoke to the sound of blunted swords clattering against each other and the soft twang of bows loosing arrows into straw targets. He let out a yawn and stared at the stone ceiling blankly before finally deciding to rise from bed. He opened the shutters and let the cold morning air blow around him as he dressed.

If the guardsmen were already in the yard, then it meant he had overslept. For Jory it was the usual, but his father and twin sister insisted that he at least make an attempt to awake with the rest of the castle and not at the tenth hour. It didn’t much bother him, there was still time for breakfast and Jillian would certainly oblige him, not without giving him a hard time first anyway.

Jory threw a heavy wool cloak around his shoulders and went to his bedside to retrieve the last piece of his ensemble, Winter’s Maiden, his dreamsteel sword. Where the rest of his clothing was plain as a commoner’s, Winter’s Maiden was adorned in gold and silver with a beautiful ruby in the hilt. A slender maiden with soft blue waves rippling across her blade giving the blade a life of its own.

That was what made dreamsteel special. It wasn’t the metal, the blades were made of the same steel as other swords only reinforced with old magic spells, it wasn’t even the ornateness in which nearly all were crafted. It was the blade itself. The blade was where the heart of the sword was, as Evan Lander had told him the year Jory received it. The blade reacted to whomever held it, the wielder’s thoughts and personality gave it its colorful shimmer. They were beautiful to behold, even in battle. Legend held that the swords were truly alive and had their own personalities — that they spoke to the wielder they truly felt worthy.

Winter’s Maiden had to be a boring woman if the swords could speak. He never heard any words from her and yet they had been together for nearly six years. A part of him wished the legend was true to add some excitement to an otherwise boring life, but that was the sort of thing left to children’s stories.

Jory left his room and descended the tower and walked the hallways until he finally entered the main hall. The great oak doors shut behind him loudly, though it disturbed no one as no one was present. He opened the door to the kitchens and found the servants washing the pewter dishes and preparing for the afternoon meal. Others were idling about playing at dice or cards. He sauntered through the kitchen, unnoticed by any of the servants, towards who he was looking for.

He covered the young servant girl’s eyes with his hands. She let out a yelp and laughed. “Is there anything left?” Jory asked Jillian.

“Some potato soup and bread.” She took Jory’s hands off her eyes and went to prepare the late meal. He laughed and returned to the main hall to wait.

The fireplace was now roaring and Jory at first thought one of the maids lit it. Instead he saw a woman sitting at one of the benches with her feet on the table.

“I don’t know what you think you are doing, but at least have some respect for the tables,” Jory called out.

The woman did not seem to expect being caught as she quickly turned out of the bench to face Jory. Her dark black hair fell past her shoulders and her lips curled into a smile.

Quina. Jory pushed back his cloak and rested a hand on the hilt of his sword. “What are you doing here?”

Quina Efarice towered over Jory, most people of northern blood did, but her especially so. She was shorter than both Jacqueline and Micaiah, but to Jory she was still a giant. His bastard half-sister walked calmly towards him — unfazed by his threat to draw on her. When she was close enough that he could feel her breath, she wrapped her arms around him and lifted Jory into the air, both of them laughing.

“It’s good to see you, little brother,” she said gleefully as she spun Jory around like a parent would a child.

“It is good to see you as well. Now put me down!” She complied and Jory shook his cloak straight. “What reason do you have to be here? How did you even get into the castle?”

She took a seat on the dais and crossed one leg over the other. “I would think our father to be a cruel man if he were to have guards stopping each and every person who wanted to come into the castle.”

Jory put a knuckle to his forehead. “I don’t mean the castle specifically, rather how you managed to get near the keep.”

“Now that is a good question,” Quina grinned. “I paid off one of the guards.”

“Well, that’s one guard out of the job. I’ll be sure to ask Falloway about who was supposed to be at the gate later.”

“Trying to impress me with some seriousness? Never knew you to want to see someone out of the job.”

Jory frowned. “You’re not supposed to be here, you know that.” You shouldn’t even be alive, was what he wanted to add. When Evan Farice was young, Jory’s father had an affair with some young woman. Noble or common, no one was ever told. Jory’s grandfather, Mika, wanted to have the child sent out to die in the woods and did so. The child lived, however, and was raised amongst the commoners. After Mika Farice died, she returned to the castle only to be sent away by her own father on threat of death.

Only Quina visited several times after and never once was at risk of dying. Jory and Jacqueline both grew up seeing their bastard sister often and, even against their father and mother’s urging, played with her and ate with her and hunted with her.

“That reminds me,” Quina said as she unslung the leather bag around her shoulder and reached in. She pulled out a bottle of wine and left it on the table. “We should drink together. The rest of the gang makes for dull companions and we haven’t shared one in a long time.”

Jillian entered the room with the food not long after and placed the food before Jory. She gave Quina a long hard look and left wordlessly.

“As sour a bitch as ever. Have you fucked her yet?” Quina asked.

Jory’s hand twitched at her question. “I’d prefer if you don’t talk like that about her.” He took the seat across from Quina and began eating. He wasn’t sure if the heat in his face was from the fire or from how Quina spoke of his friend.

“Fine,” Quina said as she pulled the cork out with her teeth before drinking straight from the bottle. “Strong stuff from Salde,” she said. She waved the bottle in Jory’s direction.

He waved a hand dismissively. “No thank you. It’s too early for wine.”

“Boring sot. Has Jacqueline been getting to you? She’s such a fucking bore. That stick is too far up her ass.” She took another gulp of wine.

“Jacqueline just takes her duties seriously. She’s the heir, just leave her be.”

“I should be the heir,” Quina muttered. Jory chose to say nothing and just continued fishing for bits of potato and bacon.

“Don’t sit there silently.” Her voice rose. “I know you agree. Jack’s too strict to ever be a good leader. If some man stole bread to feed his sickly family, she’d have him strung up. All of them if they even touched the bread.”

“She’s not nearly as bad as t-“

“Maybe not now, but she’s gonna be headed down that road if things keep as they are.”

Jory let go of his spoon and let it lean into the bowl. “You should leave,” he advised her.

Quina frowned and put the cork back into her wine. “It was the wine, I’m sorry.”

“It was barely enough to get drunk. I won’t say anything about your being here and I won’t have you imprisoned for saying what you did. But please, just leave.”

“Then you’ve taken her side then?”

“She’s my twin sister above all else, and some day I’ll probably have to sit around taking orders from her. You’re my sister too, but you will never be Lord Warden.” Jory wanted to take the last words back.

Quina rose and bowed her head. “Then forgive me, brother, I shall be off.” When she was at the door, she turned. “One more thing, the rebellion in the Southlands, will you be going?”

“Father wants me and Jack to meet up with the king in Autumnreach while he sails along the coast to the Knight’s Arm. They’ve already decided on that bit of the plan, it seems. Will you be going?”

Quina smiled, “There’s money to be made fighting in the South. Of course I’ll be there. I await the chance to see what you can do.”

She let the door slam loudly behind her and Jory leaned back in his seat. What have I done? He already regretted what he’d said to her. It was the truth, but it was one she hardly enjoyed remembering.

Jillian came in not long after and took a seat beside him. “Servants and commoners are not allowed to sit themselves at the dais,” Jory said with a smirk. The serving girl seemed far from amused.

“What was she doing here?” She asked as if Jory could tell for himself.

“Her usual visits,” was all he could think of. Perhaps he was right and Jillian was overthinking but he was unsure. “She does love her family… Well me anyway.”

“Do you really believe that?”

Jory wasn’t truly sure, but if she wanted to kill him, then she had her chance and didn’t take it. The question bothered him the entire ride to Autumnreach.

---

Once again I spent the night thinking of the perfect way to begin the Legends of Remia story novel thingy that I've been writing for some years now (hard to believe it) and this is currently the one I like. Though I may work it into the one I wrote that begins in Autumnreach. Who knows?

Jate Serry

Jate Serry (1376)

Description:

Eyes: Dark Brown (R) Light Brown (L)

Hair: Dark Brown

Height: 5’6”/1.67m

Weight: 130Ibs/59kg/9 stone

Jate has a comely face and makes sure to keep himself clean. His dark brown hair is shoulder length and thick. His chin is short and nose is slightly larger than most people’s and freckled. His face is clean shaven. His eyes are soft and kind and his smile is even kinder. Underneath his left eye he bares a small black beauty mark. Long hours in the yard have turned Jate’s hands to callous and made them rough. His entire body is fairly muscular betraying any expectations anyone would have for someone of his height.

Jate currently wears a dark green tunic and olive-colored pants. His boots are well-worn and of very simple make. The white shirt underneath his tunic goes down a bit below his hips and the sleeves cover up the entirety of his arms. Around his shoulders he wears a plain brown cloak with no ornamentation at all. At his hip he wears a simple brown sword belt and keeps his hand on the hilt to warn any would-be thieves. It is perhaps far from what a member of House Serry should wear, but Jate is comfortable nonetheless.

---

Jate often tries to make friends with whoever he grows an interest in, whether they are

common or noble. Despite this, he also worries about offending others with an off-handed  remark or a bad joke. He strives to impress others and make a name for himself, aiming to become one of the greatest of House Serry. He is inspirational to his friends and is fairly charismatic. He takes his vows seriously, but none more seriously than protecting the innocent and his family, even above the interests of the realm. He is not a serious person and is seen by some as childish, but he is loyal to a fault and honest to everyone, not shy of telling them his views on something, even though he desperately wishes he would stop.

Background:

Jate was born in the seventh month in the year 144, with no hope of ever rising to become something better as his father, Ser Ardric, was only castellan to the main branch of House Serry. Jate was always a boy who adored old stories and Andal legends, even if he could not understand them as well as he could now. When he could finally walk and talk, Jate kept himself in the company of his brother and cousin, inspired by their courageous attitudes and the uplifting spirit that they often brought to the table - though Jate kept himself out of their mischief due to a distaste for punishment.

Though he loved his family, Jate did not spend much of his conscious life beside them and retained very few memories of them as not long after his sixth nameday, Jate was sent to Oakenshield to be raised under the care of Lord Alester Hewett, his uncle. Lord Alester was far from unkind, though, and raised his nephew as if he were his own son, as Lord Alester had none. Despite these kindnesses, however, Jate often felt more of a hostage than a guest, as wards often were hostages to ensure loyalty or alliance.

For a number of years, Jate remained under the care of the Hewetts. He excelled at using a sword and shield and spent many hours of the day training and many hours of the night studying numerous books from the Hewett library, including some on strategy. He was determined, since he could not become a great lord, to become a great knight and leader of men with the intention of proving that even a second son of a second son can become something memorable.

However, Jate’s seemingly bright future did not help him when he was eventually forced to leave Oakenshield. Jate’s first thought was to make for King’s Landing, where his cousin and brother both were fairly well-known knights after battling a group of pirates. At the port, Jate discovered a merchant that was heading for Highgarden then onto King’s Landing. With little in the way of money and being far from keen on the idea of making the journey alone, Jate leapt at the chance and worked as a caravan guard.

The journey to King’s Landing wound up taking much longer than Jate expected. Not long after leaving Highgarden, word of war spread like wildfire. Jate’s employer found opportunity to be had in selling arms or looting corpses for their armor and weapons and attached himself to the armies leaving the Reach. Jate, admittedly, thought it would be a good experience as well, hoping he might earn his knighthood here after performing some daring deeds.

The group wound up in the camp of Dalton Florent, and the merchant struck up a deal to remain with the army in exchange for better prices on his wares. When the initial fighting was over and the majority of the army moved on, the group remained behind along the Boneway, selling things to the soldiers that passed along the way. Jate also spent time speaking with some of the other soldiers staying back and hearing tales of their wartime experiences, whether or not they were fake was not very important to Jate as a good story was a good story.

The war went sour very quickly though. King Daeron was slain on the field and word did not reach Jate and his group until William Waxley arrived with the king’s baggage. Jate’s employer cut his losses and abandoned his wagon, taking only his money with him. Jate followed and they were soon caught in the middle of a skirmish. Jate fought hard, killing a couple soldiers when the merchant was caught with a stray arrow. The wound was not fatal, but the poison that coated the arrowhead was. The merchant died and the guards robbed his corpse, leaving nothing behind before fleeing their own way. Jate, however, remained with Waxley’s force and they were met with fighting almost every step of the way. Jate was amongst the very few survivors of the wretched march. For his valor and skill, he was knighted along the way to King’s Landing.

As he promised himself, the very first thing Jate did was find his brother and cousin. Though Jate only found Justyn as Renys remained behind in the Marches, he shares with his cousin tales of his adventures in Dorne and through the Reach, exaggerating some details if only for the sake of entertainment. When word of a tournament arrived, Jate followed his cousin, but remained out of the tournament itself, instead preferring to place small bets on who he thought would win, doing fairly well but making nowhere near enough to cover what he lost from Dorne. He had also made friends with a few minor nobles and learning how to appease the ones angry with Jate for, supposedly, cheating them of a few coins.

Near the end of the eleventh month, Justyn went to Crackclaw Point and Jate kept himself in King’s Landing, having no great love for seafaring - to his disgrace as a man of the Shield Islands. When not long after, Justyn fell into a coma during a joust, Jate rushed to his cousin’s side and remained to console Katla and tried to maintain a joyful disposition during the trying time. Once Justyn awoke from his long sleep, Jate was one of the first to greet him and immediately sent word to Renys that all was well.

After the wedding of Justyn and Katla, Jate returned to King’s Landing and began to acquaint himself with court politics and intrigues as he found himself unable to stop listening in on conversations he was not a part of and making mental notes of who did what and keeping an ear out for persons of interest. Justyn, of course, never kept in the city for long and leaves for Southshield, the Riverlands, and eventually for patrol in Blackwater Bay. Jate keeps himself in the capital, trying to get over his hate for the sea by spending time in the harbor.

Jate remains a close companion to Justyn and Renys in King’s Landing and does his duty by his lord without question. Jate has also proven to be somewhat a natural at court as his gregarious attitude in his youth carried through to adulthood and has helped him keep a close ear to court intrigues and placate any lords who may be angry with him or make friends with anyone who catches his interest. Above all else, Jate aims to make his mark in King’s Landing and with his brother and cousin, make the name Serry ring throughout Westeros.

---

Stats:

Assets:

Knight <+1>

Adept (Swords) <+1>

Stat Increase: Physique

Flaws:

Defect: Paranoia <-1>

Defect: Childish <-1>

Minor Secret: Bastard<-1>

Guilty Conscience <-1>

Stats: 135

Mobility: 42 = 126

Dex: 43

Nim: 37

Ref: 46

Physique: 43 = 129

Con:  36

End: 43

Str: 50

Mental: 50 = 150

Int: 50

Per: 40

Wit: 60

Skills: 364 (324)

Chivalry: 28

Etiquette:25

Hunting:25

Intrigue: 34

Riding:34

Oratory: 35

Subterfuge: 30

Gambling: 15

Politics: 22

Calligraphy: 13

Stewardship: 27

Warcraft: 36

- Combat: 40

269

Combat:

Sword: 50

Lance: 42

Shield: 35

Spear: 35

Crossbow: 37

Mass: 27

Bow: 24

Throwing: 19

Justification:

Adept (Swords): Jate trains as often as he can in order to become a better swordsman, desiring to become the best and perhaps impress not only his peers, but his friends

Warcraft: Often when playing with his friends while young, Jate would imitate a war commander, playing war games of war with his friends in the yard, when he could. When he grew older, he continued studying military tactics in the hope that one day he could use them and assist in any war that may crop up to minimize casualties, or at least those on his side.

Skilled: Jate’s desire to impress and perform well drives him towards success. And the success comes easy as he finds himself skilled in most things he tries.

Scandal: Bastard Child: During his time under the Hewetts, Jate had a brief love affair with the master at arms’s daughter. Jate was implicated on the spot, but Jate vehemently denied this. He was believed, but the scandal was enough to send Jate off the islands and to King’s Landing to spare him the master at arms’s wrath.

Secret: Knighthood/Knighthood: After Dorne, things did not go the direction Jate had hoped for. He expected to be recognized for his skill in battle but, sadly, was not. Not wanting to see his brother and cousin, who were already knights, without a knighthood of his own, he used the money he took from his dead employer and used it to buy his knighthood from a septon along the road back to King’s Landing.

Stat Increase- Physique: Jate’s extensive training in the yard has made his body tougher and healthier.

Guilty Conscience: Although he does his best for his family, Jate has much he feels ashamed of. The first amongst these is his bastard child possibly running around and his family hating him for it. He feels ashamed for what he did to the young girl and denying his child a father. Even worse for him, Jate regrets taking the easy route to knighthood when he himself believes that skill should warrant reward.

Wit: Being as gregarious as he is, Jate learns quick retorts and good jokes over time and uses them frequently.

Jate Serry was born the second son of a second son, with little in the way of exciting prospects. At around six years of age, he was sent as a ward to his uncle, Lord A

Adept (Swords): Jate trains as often as he can in order to become a better swordsman, desiring to become the best and perhaps impress,

Warcraft: Often when playing games with his friends while young, Jate would imitate a war commander, playing games of war in the yard. When he grew older, Jate continued studying military tactics in the hope that one day he could use them and assist in any war that may crop up to minimize casualties, on his side at least. After all, many praise excellent commanders.

Skilled: Jate's desire to impress and perform well drives him towards success. And the success comes easy as he continues to strive towards his goals becoming skilled in most everything he does.

Secret: Knighthood/Knighthood: After Dorne, things did not go the direction Jate had hoped for. He expected to be recognized for his skill in battle but, sadly, was not. Not wanting to see his brother and cousin, who were already knights, without a knighthood of his own, he used the money he took from his dead employer and used it to buy his knighthood from a septon along the road back to King’s Landing.

Scandal: Bastard Child - As Jate had spent much of his time training in the yard, he eventually caught the eye of the master-at-arms daughter. She was a pretty enough girl and Jate was infatuated by her. Feeling neglected by his uncle as his lessons began to dwindle as Lord Hewett had paid more attention to his true sons as they grew older instead of Jate, he followed his heart and this resulted in the girl becoming pregnant. Jate was implicated on the spot, but he vehemently denied this to the embarrassment of his lover and her father. He was believed, but the scandal was enough to send Jate off the island for the sake of appeasing the master-at-arms and putting miles between the two.

Stat Increase- Physique: Jate’s extensive training in the yard has made his body tougher and healthier.

Guilty Conscience: Although he does his best for his family, Jate has much he feels ashamed of. The first amongst these is his bastard child possibly running around and his family hating him for it. He feels ashamed for what he did to the young girl and denying his child a father. Even worse for him, Jate regrets taking the easy route to knighthood when he himself believes that skill should warrant reward.

Wit: Being as gregarious as he is, Jate learns quick retorts and good jokes over time and uses them frequently.

---

Persona:

Throughout his life, Jate has maintained good humour, finding jokes in all things and being able to laugh off most offenses, leading to some considering him as childish while others adore being with such a gregarious person. He is very rarely seen without a smile on his lips and even when he isn’t smiling, his eyes do it for him, His honesty and loyalty to even the closest of friends is both his greatest trait and his greatest flaw, as Jate will tell others his thoughts on matters without much concern for how they feel. While it does not often turn people away, the few that have taken great offense have left Jate with memories he’d sooner forget, and after every honest word, Jate worries for causing offense to someone.

To Jate, the most important thing in the world is family and he is willing to give much and more for the sake of House Serry. In spite of this, he occasionally has moments where he forgets that every decision he makes may be highly criticized by others and that what he does may harm his family more than himself. All in all, he is a sincere young man and only acts towards what he thinks is right, even if others may disagree. He loves his family above all else and truly wants to hear House Serry, and if he is lucky Jate Serry, become a name that passes all lips.

---

Jate was born in the seventh month in the year 144, with no hope of ever rising to become something better as his father, Ser Ardric, was only castellan to the main branch of House Serry. Jate was always a boy who adored old stories and Andal legends, even if he could not understand them as well as he could now. When he could finally walk and talk, Jate kept himself in the company of his brother and cousin, inspired by their courageous attitudes and the uplifting spirit that they often brought to the table - though Jate kept himself out of their mischief due to a distaste for punishment.

Though he loved his family, Jate did not spend much of his conscious life beside them and retained very few memories of them as not long after his sixth nameday, Jate was sent to Oakenshield to be raised under the care of Lord Alester Hewett, his uncle. Lord Alester was far from unkind, though, and raised his nephew as if he were his own son, as Lord Alester had none. Despite these kindnesses, however, Jate often felt more of a hostage than a guest, as wards often were hostages to ensure loyalty or alliance.

For a number of years, Jate remained under the care of the Hewetts. He excelled at using a sword and shield and spent many hours of the day training and many hours of the night studying numerous books from the Hewett library, including some on strategy. He was determined, since he could not become a great lord, to become a great knight and leader of men with the intention of proving that even a second son of a second son can become something memorable.

However, Jate’s seemingly bright future did not help him when he was eventually forced to leave Oakenshield. Jate’s first thought was to make for King’s Landing, where his cousin and brother both were fairly well-known knights after battling a group of pirates. At the port, Jate discovered a merchant that was heading for Highgarden then onto King’s Landing. With little in the way of money and being far from keen on the idea of making the journey alone, Jate leapt at the chance and worked as a caravan guard.

The journey to King’s Landing wound up taking much longer than Jate expected. Not long after leaving Highgarden, word of war spread like wildfire. Jate’s employer found opportunity to be had in selling arms or looting corpses for their armor and weapons and attached himself to the armies leaving the Reach. Jate, admittedly, thought it would be a good experience as well, hoping he might earn his knighthood here after performing some daring deeds.

The group wound up in the camp of Dalton Florent, and the merchant struck up a deal to remain with the army in exchange for better prices on his wares. When the initial fighting was over and the majority of the army moved on, the group remained behind along the Boneway, selling things to the soldiers that passed along the way. Jate also spent time speaking with some of the other soldiers staying back and hearing tales of their wartime experiences, whether or not they were fake was not very important to Jate as a good story was a good story.

The war went sour very quickly though. King Daeron was slain on the field and word did not reach Jate and his group until William Waxley arrived with the king’s baggage. Jate’s employer cut his losses and abandoned his wagon, taking only his money with him. Jate followed and they were soon caught in the middle of a skirmish. Jate fought hard, killing a couple soldiers when the merchant was caught with a stray arrow. The wound was not fatal, but the poison that coated the arrowhead was. The merchant died and the guards robbed his corpse, leaving nothing behind before fleeing their own way. Jate, however, remained with Waxley’s force and they were met with fighting almost every step of the way. Jate was amongst the very few survivors of the wretched march. For his valor and skill, he was knighted along the way to King’s Landing.

As he promised himself, the very first thing Jate did was find his brother and cousin. Though Jate only found Justyn as Renys remained behind in the Marches, he shares with his cousin tales of his adventures in Dorne and through the Reach, exaggerating some details if only for the sake of entertainment. When word of a tournament arrived, Jate followed his cousin, but remained out of the tournament itself, instead preferring to place small bets on who he thought would win, doing fairly well but making nowhere near enough to cover what he lost from Dorne. He had also made friends with a few minor nobles and learning how to appease the ones angry with Jate for, supposedly, cheating them of a few coins.

Near the end of the eleventh month, Justyn went to Crackclaw Point and Jate kept himself in King’s Landing, having no great love for seafaring - to his disgrace as a man of the Shield Islands. When not long after, Justyn fell into a coma during a joust, Jate rushed to his cousin’s side and remained to console Katla and tried to maintain a joyful disposition during the trying time. Once Justyn awoke from his long sleep, Jate was one of the first to greet him and immediately sent word to Renys that all was well.

After the wedding of Justyn and Katla, Jate returned to King’s Landing and began to acquaint himself with court politics and intrigues as he found himself unable to stop listening in on conversations he was not a part of and making mental notes of who did what and keeping an ear out for persons of interest. Justyn, of course, never kept in the city for long and leaves for Southshield, the Riverlands, and eventually for patrol in Blackwater Bay. Jate keeps himself in the capital, trying to get over his hate for the sea by spending time in the harbor.

Jate remains a close companion to Justyn and Renys in King’s Landing and does his duty by his lord without question. Jate has also proven to be somewhat a natural at court as his gregarious attitude in his youth carried through to adulthood and has helped him keep a close ear to court intrigues and placate any lords who may be angry with him or make friends with anyone who catches his interest. Above all else, Jate aims to make his mark in King’s Landing and with his brother and cousin, make the name Serry ring throughout Westeros.

---

* Assets: There's no justify explaining why he merits the Educated asset, which entails

having a more scholarly level of training, and the background and so on do not really go

into this aspect of the character. We'd suggest dropping it.

* Flaws: We're not sure we want to have to add characters to the CDB, which your current Secret would require -- a master at arms, a daughter, and the child would all have to be added. Beyond that, it seems to us something like this would make more sense as a Scandal rather than a a Secret. If you have him have a bastard child by a commoner, we wouldn't need to add that commoner to the CDB, and could more readily add the child... so consider doing that instead.

* Skills: It'd be useful to know why he has any Disguise skill at all, and why his dancing

is so low, in his justify. Unusual skills, or unusually low or high scores, should be

justified.

Justify: The last entry in the Justify cuts off oddly.

* Background: The background is rather shorter than we would like; see if you can flesh

out the formative experiences a bit more. Note that Dalton Florent is Ser Dalton, not Lord Dalton. In general, we suppose the typical knight is knighted at 18, and there's a note to this effect on him, but you should make the date of his knighthood clearer.

* History: The history sounds a bit off here. Dorne rebelled in 160 or so, and the

rebellion was done by 161. Dorne was not returned to the IRon Throne; it instead became independent again. Finally, in what capacity Jate participated was unclear -- as a squire who managed to attach himself to someone's household? As a sellsword basically? This raises the question of why he didn't return home after his scandal or what have you, instead taking his chances.

* Events: It presently says he was sent as a ward in 145... at the age of 1. I assume

you meant 155 instead. He should have an event for his knighting at the age of 18, as

well.

---

On his departure from the Shield Islands, Jate, by some luck, ran into a merchant making for King's Landing. His brother and cousin were already in the city so he leapt at the chance for some companionship. However, on the way, the group ran into the Reachman army making for Dorne. Another war had begun and Jate followed his employer as the merchant aimed to make coin latching onto the royal armies. -insert the stuff I already had for the war, adding some merchant fluff- The merchant and most of his other guards died on the way out of Dorne, but Jate survived.

---

Jate was born in 144 to Ser Ardric Serry and his wife Lady Lorianne of House Hewett. He was sent to Oakenshield as a ward under Lord Alester Hewett, being raised as if he were the lord's own son. He was given a great education and made many friends amongst the other children.

Jate remained a ward of the Hewetts up until 160 when he was sent away from the island for reasons unknown to the general public. However, Jate found a silver lining in the fact that he was now free to pursue his romantic dreams and earn a name for himself on his own accord. He took up with a merchant as a guard and traveled with him and the other guards to Highgarden and then onto the capital itself.

However, en route, the group attached themselves to the armies leaving the Reach for Dorne, the merchant intending to make a decent profit from the soldiers. This, however, ended badly once King Daeron died. The merchant left his wares and fled with the rest of the soldiers coming up the Boneway. Jate failed to guard his employer as the Dornish harassed the fleeing men every step of the way and eventually the merchant was felled by a stray arrow. While the other guards fled with what they could snatch off the merchant, Jate remained with the remnants of Waxley’s forces and was knighted along the route to Blackhaven.

---

Short Desc:

An average height young man with dark brown eyes and hair that drops down to his shoulders. He is clean-shaven and his eyes seem to smile even when his face is stolid.

E3

Came back from E3 last night and it was as glorious as I ever imagined. A shame that it felt like it went by so quickly. Overall, I was impressed by the many upcoming games there and felt special to have gotten a first look at them. I wish I was better at detailing how I felt about it, but it was truly something years in waiting. 

Tags:

Act III Sample

•••

“Which god do you worship, Brendan? I realized I never asked you.” Jory said. He was hunched over, with his elbows on his knees and hands folded over each other to prop his chin.

“Eirika, just as you do.” Brendan answered with little thought.

“Is that only because I do? Was there one before that?”

“It was always the Mother Above. I’ve no reason to worship any other.”

“Bamere gives strength, Sereca promises love and dreams, and Loran is loved amongst everyone who wants a little luck. I don’t see any reason not to.”

“The Goddess of Stars gave us wisdom, though, and gave us all life. I’d find that to be something to truly be grateful for.” Brandon was unsure where this talk of religion came from. His lord never cared much for it before.

“Do you remember Racel?”

Her face came to his mind. Fair skin and ginger-red hair. Beautiful to look upon and fierce on the battlefield. She had been called the Scion, the second daughter of the Goddess of Stars and she certainly had a certain divinity about her.

Jory didn’t wait for him to answer. “She said that those who fight for the Mother are promised a spot by her side in death. I’m wondering if there’s a spot for me there, even as I am.” He let out a laugh. “A fucking sadistic cannibal woman out to kill me with her armies, a bloodstalker with the same sadistic urges, a whole fucking family of sadistic krakens that pursued me over the entire realm almost, betrayed several times, fought in several battles and survived yet it is now that I choose to fear death.”

The words struck Brandon hard. He was sure Jory had always feared it to a degree, but he always had a brave face to make up for it. There were only two times he saw his lord cry: when word reached of Villas’s death in Autumnreach, and now. There was not much he could say now.

“I don’t want to die in a foreign land. I don’t want to die when I can’t even remember the last words I said to Cecily and our children.” Tears fell on the stone floor and all Brandon could bring himself to do was rest his hand on Jory’s shoulder.

Almost as quickly as the tears began, they stopped. Jory’s head rose and his mouth gaped, either in shock or in realization, he wasn’t sure. “We’ve no choice then. We need to fight.”

“My lord.” Brandon looked around the room and made sure none were listening to him say that. “We’ve no weapons. We can’t hope to get out of the temple so long as there are guards at the door and said door is barred.”

“No,” Jory said with his voice cracking from his earlier outburst of tears. “she wants a trial. She’ll have one but it will be on my terms. She offered me combat and she’ll get it. I’ll kill her myself.” He spat out some phlegm and grinned. “She’s vain enough, I’m sure, to want to champion herself.”

Jory stood and made his way to the temple doors. He knocked twice and yelled, “All right, I’m ready to confess.”

•••

In the yard, Remina had set up a large table with five chairs set up occupied by herself and four of her generals. Jory stood directly across from Remina, surrounded by men dressed half in armor and half in day clothes. Not all of them were prepared for this, it seemed. Remina herself, however, was in all plate. He wondered if she slept in her armor. Brandon watched amongst the circle at his lord, hoping that the plan would work. If it did, however, he knew that neither of them would leave Ishail alive.

Jory made a bow, with fettered hands, and grinned. “I confess to my crimes.” Remina grinned back, though not because she was getting her way, he was certain, but because she wanted to see what would happen. Brandon shifted uneasily. “The crime of being too handsome for my generation. The crime of being an ungodly man.” One of the generals began to interrupt, but silenced when Remina raised motioned her hand. “The crime of not strangling you while we talked in the temple and the crime of not having killed more of your men at the inn.”

Remina let out a short laugh. “That’s the best you’ve got for me then? Some bragging and empty threats that have no meaning now.” Her red eyes began to shine vibrantly. Whether it was the morning sun or a secret joy she hid, Brandon couldn’t say. “Tell me why you’ve chosen to waste my time and that of my men then, Farice.”

Jory waved his finger mockingly. “It’s not a waste of time at all, my queen,” there was a venom in the way he addressed her, “rather, a marvelous opportunity. You want to send a message to my sister, then there’s no better way than to beat me in combat.” The leftmost general raised an eyebrow.

“You see, I feel I am innocent of any crimes you seem to think I’m guilty of so, why not let the gods decide? I want a trial by combat. You and me. Simple as-“

“Not you and me, Farice.” Jory’s eyes widened in shock and Remina clearly restrained a laugh. “After all, what’s stopping you from falling upon my spear and rendering everything meaningless? No, you will choose your champion and I’ll choose mine and Tol will decide who is right.”

“You fucking-“

“Go ahead, choose whoever it is you want.” Remina leaned back in her seat and crossed her legs.

Jory seemed to have a plan for this too. He scoffed and smiled once more. “Then I choose Ser Cecily Oakfi-“

“We don’t have the time to wait for her, now do we? You called the trial and you wanted it to be done now. Very sorry about that,” she said without hiding any sarcasm. The encirclement of soldiers all laughed and Jory’s grin was wiped away. Brandon knew what was coming, Jory did too and neither of them wanted for it to happen.

Brandon felt a tinge of fear now. It grew even worse when Jory fell to his knees and looked at him with overwhelming despair. “Brandon… I am so sorry…”

Remina clapped her hands and pushed her chair back to stand. “Very well, undo the lad’s restraints and bring him sword and shield and armor.” She began to speak in he foreign tongue, “Al’da, Gwidon, merthi obyn. Gran sha’ird, moi ol.”

“What did she say?” Brandon asked the man that unlocked his shackles.

The man smiled, “Gwidon, kill the boy. Get your sword.”

Brandon eyed the men at the table and saw a large man, at least two feet taller than Jory and far more thick. His arms were like the branches, no, the trunk, of the elderspire trees that grew in Rune. Even as Brandon was led forward and his armor was returned to him, he never took his eyes off the man. As quickly as they could, the foreign army worked the straps and helped Brandon into his armor. When they finished, a woman brought him a sword and shield. He took only the sword.

“Take the shield, Brandon, please.”

He hesitated for a moment. Perhaps he should have, but the large man would only break Brandon’s arm if he tried to block. They brought a helmet for him, and he rejected that too. Jory begged for him to wear, but it would obscure his vision too much.

“A brave lad you’ve chosen, Farice.” Remina mocked. “No helm, no shield, shaking at the legs and verging on tears.”

Jory said nothing, he only let the soldiers take him into the encirclement. Nylia stood beside him, she seemed unaffected by what was going to happen. I don’t have to win, Brandon thought, I just can’t be a burden on Lord Jory. He unsheathed his borrowed sword and took his position. The circle of soldiers grew wider and he took a few steps as they did.

As he saw his large opponent come back, with plumed helm and everything, Brandon felt his fear reemerge. The longsword the man held seemed as a dagger would to a regular man, his shield was almost the size of a small rounded table. It was thick and wooden and decorated with two yellow lions on their hind legs, clawing at the air between them on a blue field.

Brandon turned side-facing and leaned to his left, keeping the point of his sword directed at the monster before him, and kept his off-hand behind his back. I’m going to die.

•••

He was mimicking his own stance, Jory noticed. A smaller target and a faster one. It was perhaps all Brandon could do. But the armor of his opponent, it looked very heavy and thick and the sword would be completely unable to do anything unless Brandon managed to aim precisely for the joints. Yet that would require getting close, and the man had a good foot over Brandon in that regard. Jory’s fingers itched. He rubbed his knuckle against his chin, hoping that would help, but it didn’t. This is getting progressively more unfair.

Even this large man would be no match for Cecily, he knew that. Jory might have been able to take him as well, especially if he had Winter Maiden in hand. He wondered where the sword was now. It had changed hands so many times and now it could be anywhere-

He turned to Nylia and saw she had Winter Maiden on her belt. You little bitch. Jory needed to get it, he had to die with his sword in hand. The girl didn’t notice him, though, she watched watched the center with no hint of shame. Do I strike now or do I wait for Brandon? If I go now, he will die, but if I wait. Would Brandon win? He wanted badly to believe it, but the man he fought was inhuman, he could tell just by looking at him. A brute, no doubt, and perhaps that was Brandon’s advantage, the Mother-granted wisdom he so believed in.

“Well, get on with it then,” Remina called out.

The large man didn’t move, instead he spoke. “Drop your weapon. I’ve never enjoyed killing children.” His voice sounded strangely sophisticated, he spoke the western tongue as well as any native, yet it also bellowed as expected, and Jory felt his heart skip a beat.

Brandon didn’t answer. He raised the sword a bit higher and aimed for the man’s chest.

“What a shame.” He took one step at a time until he was within striking range of Brandon and swung hard to the side. Brandon stepped back just away from it, but the two blades met and Brandon’s fell to the side. The young knight kept his grip though and lunged forward to strike at the man’s armpit. With surprising swiftness, the man blocked Brandon’s longsword and the tip of the blade caught between two planks of wood for a moment.

Brandon managed to wrench it free and ducked as the behemoth’s slash cut the air where his head was not second before. Brandon tried stabbing at the other armpit, but the massive shield instead met him and knocked him on his ass.

He scrambled up quickly and soon was followed by a flurry of slashes from his foe. Each strike was evaded skillfully, but the man seemed to be going too slowly. He was toying with Brandon, he realized and Jory felt a tear well up. He wiped it away before Nylia saw.

“He’s going to die, you know.” She said of Brandon.

Jory didn’t want to admit it. The fight was too much for him already and this man was… far more skilled than he imagined. Truly the ones who could beat him were Cecily, Jack, or perhaps Lewes Nuwulf.

The itch grew worse. His fingers ached. Winter Maiden was in reach. All Jory had to do was reach out and grab it. Maybe it’d be a distraction and Brandon would live.

A scream jerked him from his thoughts. Brandon’s scream. He looked and saw a hand on the ground and blood. So much blood. No, not already. Not now. He looked up and saw Brandon short a hand and on the ground, raising the stump in a feeble attempt to protect himself.

“NO!” The shout took many by surprise and with both hands, he struck Nylia in the face and swung his sword out from her belt. He cut her from side to neck and then into another soldier. He shoved another and drove the sword through some sot’s stomach and swung blood left and right. He felt nothing, he saw nothing, he only swung wildly at the shapes around him and continued pushing out of them. “BRANDON, LIVE! LIVE!” He called out, not sure if he could even hear him anymore.

One by one, soldiers shouted, they broke away before him easily enough as most weren’t even dressed, let alone armed. Those that were made no difference. His sword cut through leather like cake, axe handles were hewn and shields were sundered. One woman tried to spear him, but he took the pole under his free arm and slashed her throat open.

The path cleared more and more, he ran. He ran away from it all. From Remina, from her monster of a champion, from the temple, from the soldiers… From Brandon… Jory couldn’t look back now. There was a whole army of soldiers in the city and he had only escaped a handful of them. He was sure he heard arrows, but he dared not stop to find out. He only ran as far as his legs would let him.

The gate was some distance away, that was where he needed to go, he thought. Perhaps it was suicide to do so, if there were open fields then horsemen would run him down before he got a mile away. All of it was irrelevant. Survive, you fool. Survive and then think!

Further down the road, another group of soldiers, a small patrol, stood. They did not take notice at first, but as Jory ran closer to them, they all turned but before they could draw their swords, he cut one man down and kicked another down. The other two tried surrounding him, but the fat one’s guard was weak and so Jory easily ran through the man’s throat and the other dropped his sword and ran. The man on the ground did the same the moment he was able to see what became of his comrades.

His nerves were calming down now. He saw the dusty streets around him and the morning fog lifting. Jory heaved the contents of his stomach, whatever there was to heave, and dropped his sword. He held his hands out in front of him. There was some amount of luck to be tied up with his hands in front of him. Perhaps they underestimated him that much, hells, Jory didn’t even believe he would escape. Brandon knew he could though.

Brandon… The poor lad… Jory knelt on the ground and began to run the hemp cords that bound his hands along the blade of his sword. They were quickly sawed through and for the first time in what felt like a lifetime (though it was only an hour at the very least).

---

Playing around with different styles and this was the result. 

Dragon Queen - Jory (Sample)

Jory

The city was on fire. Remina's army had already swarmed over the walls and through the gates and Ishail burned. Houses were looted and any who dared hold a sword was put to death. I hope Lord Lander has already left. Jory feared for the crew of the Dawnseeker, but they certainly had the sense to get out when things got bad. Brandon, however, stayed by his side even now. They tried their best to mount a counterattack out of one of the taverns, but Remina's men found them before they had even stepped out the door and the few men and women that were willing to fight alongside them were all put to the sword.

As they were led by a few soldiers down the streets, Jory had the pleasure of seeing what could probably await them. Dead men and women hung from posts, from trees, on stakes hammered into the ground, all of them dressed in ornate and colorful clothing. All of them were members of the patrician families, no doubt. Carts by the roadside were overflowing with gold, jewels, and numerous beautiful pieces of art that would probably fund Remina's invasion of Remia. He wondered how many fine armaments, how many mercenaries, and how many ships and siege engines it would all be able to buy. Maybe she had other plans, maybe it would all go to an extravagant palace to show off her power.

"Why haven't you run off yet?" Brandon asked him. "You could escape at any time."

Could he? Jory thought about it. The men that took their weapons and armor was near. He could at least get Maiden's Kiss before they knew what was happening and kill a couple. But surely there were bowmen scattered across the city and he hated them for a reason. Then there was Brandon. He had followed him through so much by now that there was no way he could abandon him. "I'm still thinking," was all Jory could say - he didn't want to give Brandon false hope or dampen his spirit. The boy only nodded and kept his head low. We'll get out of here and survive. I promise you that, lad. Or at least you will.

The smell of smoke and something worse started to grow stronger. He was familiar with them both, far too much now. They were burning other humans, though hopefully this wasn't for some damned ritual. The God of War was just as - if not more - popular as Eirika in Remia, and he had heard from Cecily and witnessed by the Oppritz the sacrifices performed just for a good war. The wailing and crying throughout the city didn't make him any more optimistic, but that could be a result of a usual sack. He didn't know which fate would be worse for the Ishai.

"So, just how long until I get to-" Jory felt a hard smack across his back and it caught him off guard. The soldier that hit him grabbed him by the hair and warned him to remain quiet. She seemed terribly tempered. I'd reckon your husband is into some weird stuff in bed, Jory wanted to say to her, but it was, for once, better to be quiet. Another column of soldiers - led by a man on horse back - approached theirs and saluted. He listened to their leader and the man at the front speak for a bit. He had no idea what they were saying as they spoke in some language that threw their tones all over the place. He couldn't guess it if he wanted. Then the man came towards him and commanded Jory to come forward, not by words (that he could understand anyway) but by the simple gesture of his finger.

The other leader eyed Jory inquisitively and looked over his face. He laughed and said something. The same woman from earlier snuck up on Jory and repeated what he'd said in Remian. "He asks who you are and how large your balls have to be to try and fight the occupation.”

"Oh are you my love inte-" the woman beat him over the head this time.

"Answer him."

Jory scowled as he rubbed the back of his head. "Dirk is what they call me. A merchant from Starspear looking to make a quick coin from selling some Klovish chocolates. I thought I'd be a hero if I tried to help the people but I guess I was wrong."

The man answered with only one word and Jory felt hard steel smack against the back of his leg, bringing him down to a knee. The woman yanked his head back and pressed the blade of her sword against his throat. Shit, was it that obvious? The man spoke again and the woman translated. "He says you're lying. He says that you're too clean to be a merchant and you speak with far more impudence than anyone else in your position." The man had one more thing to say and she translated with a grin. "He also says that you bend your knee like any other lord." The next she said on her own, "I'd recommend you find the truth quickly."

Well, fuck you too then. Jory had one more quip for her, ”I’ve always been a sucker for tough wo-" he was beaten again. "Ok, ok!" He sighed, "I am," Jory thought hard about whether the truth would be better. They always say the truth sets one free and that could very well happen - free to any of the six hells. But what concerned him more was if catching him would be taken as an attempt by his sister to assassinate the young queen. If things continued the way they did, he could very well end up doing that, but as of yet, there was no chance. “Jory of House Farice. Brother to the Queen of Remia a-“ the woman took her sword from his throat but smashed the pommel into the back of his head and he fell to the ground hard.

“There’s only one Queen of Remia, and you look nothing like her. Now the usurper, you could very well be related to her.”

So they already know? He wondered how much news passed across the sea. “If you will call her that, then fine. But that is who I am.”

Goblin Fortress - Hero Amongst Goblins

Goblins are not heroes. Em knew this as well as any if her kin. At some point it didn't really matter to her. Maybe it was just as much self-preservation as it was wanting to help others, but she knew what had to be done.

She watched as her brothers and sisters all ran from the mines, screaming. A forgotten beast had been sighted down below and they were ill-equipped to combat it. The dwarves had been fighting the beasts since the dawn of time and had their methods - magma, rockfalls, traps of all degrees of lunacy. The goblins had none of this experience.

She pushed her way past and soon began to smell some vile mix of shit and rotted flesh. The corpses were became more and more plentiful the deeper she went. There was something that gave the dwarves power down here, her lord had insisted. They had dug almost as deeply as the dwarves did - perhaps this was their punishment.

Soon enough she lost her way. The tunnels were unfamiliar to her and while at first the miners were content to dig in a single path, the single path soon branched off in several directions. Em could not help but gaze at the cavern walls as she made her way through. Microcline, dolomite, even gold and silver shining along the way caught her attention. She decided the dwarves were right to worship their rocks as they did. It was beyond beautiful. The danger outweighed the rewards, however.

The smell of death became stronger as she began to turn the corner. It cut into her nose deeper than any blade and she gagged. Dead bodies, more of them. Entrails and all sorts of innards were splattered across the ceiling and the walls.

Then she heard shouting. It was a strange relief and she hurried her pace, forgetting the gruesome entirely. Her famed sword, Sangosmose, was free of its sheath and Em ran forward. The shouting was accompanied by the twang of arrows. The sound came after one another slowly though. It was a lone archer.

Before she was even in site, the bow stopped singing through the caverns and was followed by a loud sickening thump and squish. What followed shot fear through her spine. The most terrifying screech imaginable. A sound like nails running against the walls, or rusted knives against a breastplate. It echoed through the cavern and seemed to say "Turn back now. Turn back or die!"

Humans were easy to fight. Elves scattered like leaves in autumn. Dwarves were tough, but a seasoned warrior always found a chink in the armor. Fighting something almost goblin-like was simple. For all their differences and conflicts, they all shared similarities in style. It was almost like dancing and Em knew each step well. But forgotten beasts were the stuff of legends. Ferocious creatures with as many different strengths as they had retellings of the same tale. Against her better judgment, she kept moving through the hall to confront the beast.

The beast was not near as kind as to wait for her.

The first thing Em saw was a cloud of white. The first thing she felt was heat. So much heat. It engulfed her and she screamed. The forgotten beast lunged at her and she was knocked over to the ground.

Her armor kept her from getting up easily and the beast shot another cloud of steam from its breast. She could barely get a glimpse of its dark figure as the steam sent her flying back, skidding across the ground and into a wall. Something is broken, I'm sure.

The piercing scream echoed again and it ran towards her again. She pulled against the wall to stand and readied her sword. How she never lost it amazed her. She rolled off to the side and the beast hit the wall. Two of its chitinous legs were sundered and but it still stood. It tried to claw at her but that leg too was lost.

The beast howled in pain and grew angrier. Another cloud of steam shot from it, but Em was prepared this time and stood her ground. A howl came from her side and Em met it head on. Sangosmose was lost in the dense cloud, but she felt something press against it.

The severed top half of the beast sailed in an arc and the legs slumped to the ground lifelessly. Em fell backwards, exhausted. For all their strength, forgotten beasts were not remembered for their ability to return to life. She finally felt safe in the caverns as she watched the silver shine above her like stars in the sky.

--

Been awhile since I posted a story, so there's this. I was modding Dwarf Fortress and made goblins playable and now here is a piece of it.

Biographies

Remia Biographies

Name: Villas Oppritz

Age: 26

Appearance: Villas has sharp red eyes and white hair that shines like the moon. She is lithe and stands at five feet and eight inches. She disdains wearing expensive clothing and prefers the cloths and leathers the other marshmen of Ostlich wear. For battle, she wears leather that fits tightly to her skin for better maneuverability.

Personality: Villas’s personality has been shaped by her childhood. She grew up understanding that family was the most important thing in life and lives by that dearly. She is proud in her heritage, to the point of conceit, and takes great pride in her skill with a spear. Villas believes in fighting fairly and honorably above all else, unlike most warriors in Ostlich who dip their weapons in poison and fight from the shadows. She is a serious individual, owing to the cruelty the world has thus far shown her. She is entirely unaware of Silas and Claire’s dealings, believing they are they happy young adults she could never be.

Background: When Villas was only six years old, her father declared war on the kingdom, declaring that the current regime was weak and the people inferior to those of eastern blood. Her father raised her to believe in just the same and she spent every day in the yard, training with her spear and shield, to be able to better serve the house on the field. However, at the age of twelve, her father was killed in single combat by Evan Farice at their old capital of Springhall and she has since harbored a deep hatred for the Farice and the Moras. Villas, being the oldest child, inherited the Lord Wardenship of Ostlich, but her regent, Gillan Yuel, quickly sued for peace with the Moras and the king was quick to agree as the war had been far more deadly than anticipated and lasted for too long.

With their father dead and their mother having committed suicide when Springhall fell, Villas was left to raise her younger siblings, hoping they would be happy in a world that she realized was too cruel. She taught both of them to wield swords and every other bit of education they needed. However, they were also given almost total control of their lives, being able to travel across Ostlich.

Now, Villas remains in Whitetree, attending to her job as a Lord Warden, though she hates it with a passion. Villas is not an incapable administrator, but the tedium annoys her more than anything and she is more than willing to pass it on to her brother, Silas, once the matter in the south is done with.

---

Name: Thomas Haig

Age: 21

Appearance: Thomas has a young face with soft features. His face is lined with stubble, his attempt to match his late father’s beard, though it isn’t very impressive. He stands at about five feet and eleven inches and weighs about eleven stone.

Personality: Thomas is a fairly jovial man with a few vices - like any normal person. He enjoys the company of women and drinking at parties. He is steadfast in his determination and always sees things to the end. He has a dislike for the Oppritz because of their rebellion and continues to believe they may be harboring darker intentions. He is fiercely loyal to King Robert for raising his family so high and giving him a position in the castle guard.

Background:

Thomas was just born when the Oppritz rebelled against the crown. His father went to war and came back a maimed man. Luthwin had taken a poisoned arrow to his arm but continued to fight, even as the wound quickly began to fester and eat away at his flesh. As a result of his bravery, Luthwin had chosen the house name Haig and Robert allowed it and gave them property within the capital of Autumnreach.

Luthwin taught his young son to be thankful for the life he has as a result of the Moras and to never forget it. When Luthwin died not long after Brandon’s birth, Robert took Thomas under his wing, teaching him everything needed to be a warrior. At seventeen, Thomas chose to enlist in the castle guard and was given it almost instantly. Thomas is now one of the king’s closest confidants and his word is often taken on that alone.

---

Name: Edward Yuel

Age: 34

Appearance: Edward has a tough face and a well-built body. He prefers metal armor, like his father, as opposed to leather like most others in Ostlich. His surcoat has the crossed flayed hand on it atop the yellow white-checked fabric.

Personality: Edward is kind-hearted, but stern and disciplined as his appearance would suggest. He cares greatly for his father and for his Oppritz cousins, pitying the latter for losing their father at such a young age. He believes that every man gets his due, even his uncle, Orson Oppritz. Like his father, he believes that the Rebellion was the result of madness and that he had what was coming to him, however much it hurts to admit.

Background: Edward grew up and was raised every step of the way with his father, even squiring and earning his knighthood from him. He joined his father in the Rebellion and earned his knighthood after the battle at Highguard. When the castle had fallen to the Hyre, however, he assisted in the retreat and shot Rassim Hyre dead, unknown to him until well after the battle. When the war was lost, though and Springhall was burned, Edward delivered the peace terms personally to Robert Moras and Evan Farice.

After the rebellion was quelled, the process of placating the lords of Ostlich began. His father petitioned that only he be left to deal with them and the Moras accepted, believing there to be no loss, and Edward won over House Wilderwyne and Rotwood after a lengthy discussion.

---

Name: Nylia Redwater

Age: 18

Appearance: Nylia has short-cut brown hair with bright brown eyes with a bit of a mousy face. She is not tall, but not exactly short. Nylia has a fit figure, the result of training in the yard for extended periods of time. She prefers to wear leather clothing inside, but outside she has a couple layers of wool and a nice fur-lined cloak, like many northerners.

Personality: Nylia is a bright young girl with a love for fighting. She enjoys writing poetry as well. Like her friend, Jacqueline Farice, she looks up to Cecily Oakfield and Lady Asage Hyre due to their exploits. Nylia enjoys whenever she goes to Winterveil as she loves swimming in the hot springs, as it's the only chance she ever can.

Background: Nylia is the second child and the only daughter of Neil Redwater. Due to her family's position in Evares along the Tears and Frostrush (both rivers, giving their castle its name of Two Rivers) she has met many lords who come by on the way to Winterveil making her sought after by many, however her father has always had the plan of marrying her off to Jory Farice, whom she has had a crush on anyway.

She grew up wanting to be a knight after hearing tales of various heroisms and she became quite good at fighting with sword and spear, though she is not the best with a bow and prefers using a crossbow instead. At the age of seventeen, after serving her time as a handmaiden to Lady Lyn Corbray, she achieved her dream and now hopes to become a champion tournament, at least once.

---

Name: Adhelm Dane

Age: 23

Appearance: A fairly tall young man with good features. His hair is a dirty blonde that is short cut. He often wears every day clothing when not in his armor, though as a White Guard he is often in it than not. His armor is standard White Guard fare, an enameled white breastplate, greaves, pauldrons, gauntlets, and helmet. To top it off, he, like others in the Guard, wears a white cloak.

Personality: Adhelm is a loyal man. Even though he was abducted from his family, he never once thought of the king in a bad way. He loves his father, though he doesn't have the fondest memories of him, he wants desperately for some indication that his father still loves him. Regardless, he continues to do his duty and does it well. Adhelm, however, does not take loss lightly and he has a great disdain for the Oppritz for betraying the crown and coercing his father to join them.

Background: Adhelm Dane was the heir to Andir Dane. When Andir joined the Oppritz in their rebellion, he joined the losing side. As a result, Adhelm was taken as a hostage, taken as a squire to Robert Moras, and soon became one of the youngest to become a White Guard, beaten only by Cecily Oakfield who joined at only eighteen, two years younger than Adhelm. Adhelm has been in a few tournaments, but he has never won. He has only been in the joust once, but in the melee he has held his own against Mathis Gilbert more than once.

---

Name: Andir Dane

Age: 53

Appearance: Old and balding with a great amount of age spots across his face. He still has his wits, however, and age has not taken away his strength just yet. What remains of his hair is long and grey. He often wears heavy fur coats, even when he leaves his hall.

Personality: A man of great ambition and harsh demeanor. Andir has no love for the crown after Robert Moras crushed his armies and took away his son and heir, meaning his position can only be inherited by his daughter. Andir is a strict man and despises weakness in any of his men. He often yearns for the old days (long before he was born) when his people would raid along the coast of Remia and take what they wanted, but the laws now forbid that and he dare not risk losing everything.

Background: Andir was born the second son to his father and the third child overall. At the age of fourteen, when his sister was ill, he poisoned her and her condition worsened until she finally died. He arranged for his older brother to be killed in a hunting accident, leaving him the sole heir. His father was unaware of his son's actions and wound up coddling him, to keep him safe. Soon after though, his father died a battle with depression and Andir was only sixteen when he became Lord Warden of Klovyn. Andir's rule has been neither good or bad, he has increased trade in the region and taken some of the western islands bringing in more resources but this is countered by his poor performance against the Moras in the Oppritz Rebellion. Now he barely leaves his hall to see any of the other castles and especially never leaves when ordered by the king, instead feigning illness.

---

Name: Aren Hodd

Age: 17

Appearance: A young man with short brown hair and dark brown eyes. Despite being male, he is often mistaken for a girl due to his youthful, girlish, appearance. This has been a source of grief for Aren as, since he works in an inn, is often grabbed by patrons and it is only one he speaks that the lechers understand what they just did.

Personality: Aren is a cheerful individual, despite his luck at the inn, he considers this a result of hanging around Jory too often and he dreams of becoming a knight, though that will require money which he has dutifully saved up. He wants to desperately be of real use to his friend's family, but worries that being only a peasant will stifle him. He also wants to be with Jory, as he has a crush on him, but fears saying anything, especially as he knows Jory has no interest in others of the same sex.

Background: Aren was born in Autumnreach. His family ran an inn in the city called "The Wooden Dragon" which acquired a fair amount of business. When he was fourteen, the tournament for Adhelm Dane's rising to the White Guard took place and he met Jory when the Prince of Winterveil, with his lord father, entered and ate their fill. Evan was impressed by the family's hospitality and asked if they would join him on the journey back north and open an inn there instead. The family accepted, despite knowing they would receive less business, and "The Ice Dragon" opened within the walls of Winterveil. Business has been good, not as good as Autumnreach, but the family is happy regardless, and Aren and Jory became fast friends, often hunting together which Aren was surprisingly good at, honing his skill at archery.

---

Name: Arenn Iriis

Age: 63

Appearance: Old with grey hair that drops past his shoulders. He wears red clothing mostly, but doesn't much care for his appearance anymore anyway.

Personality: Arenn is an old man now, not as young as he used to be. He cares for the entire country like they are his children and wants for there to only be peace, as he is tired of war. He spends much of his time in his room, studying old books, waiting for his end to come.

Background: When Arenn was young, he was ruthless on the battlefield and feared across the land, even his skill with a sword was renowned. He virtually eliminated banditry in Evares and when the Oppritz rebelled, he worked with Evan Farice closely in keeping the Oppritz from getting into Evares and held them from going any deeper into Rune while the Moras and Hyre defeated Andir Dane and the Southlanders respectively. As soon as the war ended, though, he retired in favor of his son, Grenn.

---

Name: Asage Hyre

Age: 36

Appearance: Asage has long black hair and olive-colored skin. She has a very voluptuous body and is considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in Remia, if not the world. She prefers to wear dark leathers when she is out, with a short mantle across her back with the beetle of her house emblazoned on it. However, for casual moments, she wears light silk clothing for her comfort. She often wears plenty of jewelry to make a show of her wealth and power.

Personality: Asage is a haughty woman. She believes that everything she likes should belong to her, and she often uses her great means to acquire it. She is quite ambitious and has worked to make sure that everything goes her way. If she likes a person, however, she goes to even greater lengths to be with them, though the relationship is usually very superficial.

Background: Asage was elected to the Lord Wardenship at only twenty-one years of age, the youngest to hold the leadership of Salde ever. She immediately continued her father's campaign against the Oppritz and held them off in the south, preventing a large portion of their army from participating in the final battle. When it was over, she returned to Saffronspire a hero and was praised by the people for her wit and ferocity on the battlefield. Her brother and sister both acquired prominent positions in the council and virtually everything she wanted, she got.

---

Name: Cecily Oakfield

Age: 26

Appearance: Cecily has dark black hair that falls to her shoulders and deep blue eyes that are perhaps her most beautiful and entrancing feature. Cecily has a well-defined body from years of practicing and fighting in battle after battle and several tournaments. Her face has, miraculously, come out unharmed (save for her nose which has been broken more than once) but her arms, legs, and the rest of her are scarred here and there from battle. She wears, almost always, her White Guard armor with the only thing separating her from the rest is that her cloak is shortened slightly. Otherwise she almost always wears plain white clothing to always indicate what she is, a White Guard.

Personality: Cecily has a very calm and collected personality. She enjoys reading books and often buys them when she has the chance. Her favorite spot in Autumnreach is the library that Roland Dole keeps in the White Tower - where the White Guard stay. Despite this calmness, Cecily has a bit of fun when it comes to fighting, she enjoys participating in tournaments and performs well in both the melee and joust. Cecily also has a good sense of humor, which she finds is under-appreciated sometimes by people.

Background: Cecily was born the heir to Oakridge. Her father had a hard time finding a match for her and even considered setting her up with one of Lyn Corbray's daughters, but that fell through soon enough as neither child was interested. Cecily eventually ran from home and went to the capital instead, hoping to be lost in the crowds. She signed up with the city watch and performed very good service, reducing the crime in the city greatly. When an open tournament began, she joined and fought hard against numerous opponents, and came third in the melee - losing to Roland Dole - and came sixth in the joust. When it was time to announce the winners and her helmet was removed, the first person that saw her was her own father. Roland Dole noticed the tension and, admiring the young girl's spirit, advised the king to have her knighted and join the White Guard to replace the recently deceased Colin Thierry. Robert agreed and Cecily - to the annoyance of her father - became a White Guard.

Since then she has trained constantly alongside Dole and her brothers and sister in the White Guard and looks up to the High Commander of the White as the father she never had.

---

Name: Celos Moras

Age: 16

Appearance: Celos has inherited his father's brown curls and his mother's haunting grey eyes. He is an exceptionally handsome individual and he has a dimpled chin which the girls always fawn over. He always wears fairly extravagant clothing in Autumnreach and in the castle, but he prefers simpler clothing any other time, simply because he despises wasting money.

Personality: Celos has a good sense of humor and a weakness for wine, food, and women - in no particular order. He enjoys a good hunt and he loves the perks that come with being the crown prince. He is no slouch, though, he is capable with both sword and lance and has studied how to wage war for some time, ready for a chance to prove himself.

Background: King Robert and his queen, Lady Fae Gilbert, had for years failed to produce an heir. For the good of his line, Robert was considering divorcing her and marrying someone more fertile, but not a few weeks later, she was showing signs of pregnancy, to his joy. When Celos was born, he vowed to love the child dearly and thanked the Mother and Daughter for the boy. Everything Celos needed, he received, he was given horses, swords, anything his young heart desired. When it came time for the boy to become a knight, though, Robert was cautious. Instead of having him go through the squiring, he immediately had him knighted and had the training come after.

Celos put his effort into the training and grew to enjoy it, becoming a formidable swordsman. However, he preferred spending his time in the town, conversing with people, flirting with girls, and drinking until he passed out. He more than likely has a bastard or two running around, but he would never meet them, he doesn't much care for them either. Celos, regardless, maintains a good relationship with the White Guard and many of the noble lords, and sees it as his duty to protect them when the time comes.

Crusader Kings: The Thrice King

Crusader Kings: The Thrice King

Eridan Januaria sat in his hall, reading over another petition from his vassals. The people were having difficulty paying their taxes once again and they urged him to lower the taxes - again. It’s no big matter, I suppose. Eridan called to his steward and had a reply written, the taxes would lower again. The court was unusually small today, but he supposed sending out everyone on their errands would do that. His spymaster was in Poland, sowing dissent again; his uncle was traveling the land for new ideas on how to improve the military, and he had his brother on a mission in Rus to start a relationship with their king.

Years ago, Eridan was running missions on behalf of his father, the King of Lithuania, but once Eridan succeeded the throne, it was his turn to deal with the headache of rule. He remembered his father’s last words, “Enjoy the throne while it lasts, you’ll hate ruling more than I.” When he was young, his father would oft share with him on little matters that could grow to something worse. Taxes, the amount of soldiers, who succeeded the throne, every child and spouse that became a part of the family. These were things shared from his grandfather and perhaps even his father before that. The memory of himself running from hall to hall was clear in his mind, from this castle to that one, even to other countries. He was good at placating potential enemies, he found.

He lost himself amongst the thoughts of his people. They called him the Kind now, a name he thought he was unworthy of and yet received all the same. Eridan did not know if history would look back on him as such though. The peace came with a price, the blood of hundreds if not thousands of people was spilled to fertilize the fields that now overflowed with crops. Several pagan armies rushed to destroy what his family had built and if it were not for the formation of a group of warriors who called themselves the Chosen of Perkunas, they surely would have fallen.

How grand a kingdom they had all created together.

Just then a crying was heard from the other end of the hall. His courtiers all lifted their heads from their seats and looked in its direction. Even the king broke from his chance to see what disturbed this quiet. He squinted his eyes and saw the figure of his daughter, Danute, striding towards him, tears in her eyes. No, she couldn’t have. She was to marry a king. Why would she do this?

“I am so sorry,” tears fell down her face and to the smooth stone floors. Eridan stood from his throne and threw his cloaks behind him and raised his hand, ready to strike the child from her hands and to the ground. Yet the eyes were all on him, he could feel their eyes judging him. Rather than act on his desire, he knelt in front of his daughter and put a hand on her shoulder. Gods forgive me if I am wrong. Eridan planted a kiss on his daughter’s forehead. “Who is the father,” he asked.

The tears choked her. He knew she would not say. “Then he has no family save for us then?” She still did not say anything. Danute feared that she would lose the child. So much love for a child whose father dare not stay with her. Perhaps I should have spent more time with her and this is the gods punishing me for being such a poor father.

“Then he shall be the first of his own dynasty. What is his name?”

Danute’s face dried and her cheeks returned to their soft white color. “K-Kesgaila,” she said almost too happily for his liking.

“Kesgaila Oakfield then. Let us hope the boy can become something great.” And if not, then gods be good let his line end with him. Eridan the Kind, the man who let his daughter bring her bastard to court. Perhaps Eridan the Weakhearted would be better.

Kesgaila Oakfield has arrived at the court of King Eridan the Kind.

Cecily (Sample)

Cecily

Cecily sat in darkness, crying to herself. She failed; both the king and Roland Dole died in front of her, and she sat and watched it happen. It was even worse that neither Claire nor Gwen had decided to kill her, letting her live with that regret. Yet she could not bring her hand to kill herself either. She held her hand out and counted on her fingers how many had died on that night. Robert, Roland, the Queen, Celos, so many innocents... and Jory. Jory was dead too. She should have stayed by his side, but on that day, she could not stand to be seen, choosing to hide herself instead. She remained in some dark corner in the halls, listening to the laughter, the dancing, the clang of forks and knives on the plates.

Then the music stopped, she heard everything stop. Only the sound of Thomas Haig’s voice, but the words were too far for her to hear. Cheering followed after him. Then screaming. She rose from her chair, taking her sword off the peg and drawing it. She knew what was happening; death, chaos, and blood. As she descended the tower she could not help her mind from running. She reminded herself of the gardens. The secret passage out of the keep was in the gardens, Roland Dole had shown her it once and he had always said how he hoped the day would never come where it would be used, at least in his and Robert’s lifetime.

By the time she arrived, the gate had been opened and Mathis Gilbert and Adhelm Dane both dangled helplessly in the air, unable to free themselves from the roots and branches that held them. “Save the king!” Mathis shouted as loudly as he could force himself, and she did so.

She ran through the gardens, ignoring the roses, the tulips, and the golden graces, trampling them all underfoot. I have to be brave, she told herself. Yet, when she arrived, it was already too late. Claire Oppritz in Thomas Haig’s armor had pulled her sword out of the king’s stomach and Gwendolyn Westford had cut off Roland’s head as a gory trophy. Cecily felt her legs weaken and her sword left her hand, only tears followed. “What a shame,” Gwen said with disappointment, “it seems the King was betrayed by the High Commander along with Thomas Haig under the orders of the Farice.”

“Traitorous bitch!” Was what she wanted to scream, but the words caught in her throat. She held her head in her hands and the guards escorted her along with Mathis and Adhelm out of the gardens.

Along the way Villas had stopped in front of her sister and knelt, presenting Claire with a sword dripping red with blood. No, it can’t be. She refused to believe it, but the sword was too familiar, a red tint glowed in the golden dragons that moved along the hilt and the steel that wasn’t covered in blood was a pale milk-white.

“Then the prince is dead?” Claire asked with a smile.

“He tried resisting, but eventually he found himself thrown out the window with a gaping hole in his heart.” Claire laughed as she heard the tale.

Cecily cried even more at that and Mathis and Adhelm looked at the ground in defeat.

As they were pushed through the halls to the dungeons, even more terrible news had passed them. Fae Moras had been slain after killing five of the guards sent after her. Mathis roared after hearing that and broke free of the men holding him. He began to charge and was stopped when a spear was put clean through his leg. Young Celos had also died, cowering in the kitchens and praying for safety, they said. “For a great family to be reduced to so little,” Gwen mused.

“Evan will have you all axed for this,” Mathis told them as he was restrained once more. Claire and Gwen both looked at him with amusement. Mathis was taken slightly aback by their reactions, but continued anyway, “The king’s sister will have Evan march down here at once and have you all sent to a headsman.”

“My father will no doubt join him and the Hyre too,” Adhelm added.

Claire laughed, saying nothing else until they were all thrown in cells. “Enjoy your time in the dungeons, traitors. I will be sure to have you all dealt with accordingly so count your days while they last.”

Three days passed since then. No one had come to them, except for food, but Cecily ate nothing and only drank water; everything else was poison to her. The guards said nothing to her either and Mathis and Adhelm remained silent through their ordeal. Sometimes they muttered to each other, seeing if the other was alive. They’re planning something, I know it.

The cold was worse than the silence, they had stripped her bare and given her only a thin roughspun shift to cover herself. Cecily shivered on the cold wet stone beneath her feet and rear. She expected to die of the cold before the hunger or thirst.

Light began to shine outside her cell. She crawled towards the bars and tried her best to look at where it was coming from. It was faint. Boots clapped against the stone and eventually they came in full view. Claire with a few guards beside her, she stopped at Cecily’s cell first.

“Oh, Ser Cecily, how far you’ve fallen. Look at you, you haven’t eaten in days, have you?” Claire pulled a heel of bread from under her cloak and held it out to her. “Come on, eat, and it will all be better.”

Her stomach growled in her place. She said nothing and only stared at her. Claire frowned and ate the bread herself, “Suit yourself.” What she didn’t eat she threw on the ground and stepped on it. “Get her out of there, help me with the rest,” she commanded the guards.