Just bumping this so some folk can read the lovely tales we’ve been telling.
Been also thinking that after the Exiled Knight I might do a sequel of sorts. Thror the miner currently in the exiled knight later becomes a Mountain King and the story would detail his journey from Sanctuary to Iron Crown and how he became such good pals with the local orc clans.
Got a bit inspired by the Thorin Oakenshield/Belegar Ironhammer for this one.
Just bumping this so some folk can read the lovely tales we’ve been telling.
I want to apologise for the delays here and not posting anything the past two weeks
I’ve been back home in Belgium and spend time with the family. I’ll try to write something in the next few days and hopefully end the Exiled Knight storyline soon.
Expect more vampire, orc and dwarven goodness.
Just like that, there’s a whole month since my last update. Time flies when you’ve got other responsibilities, responsibilities that haven’t ended so don’t expect the chapter pace to pick up again I’m afraid. But I’d say we’re at the last chapter before the action begins.
Chapter 10: Forming alliances and breaking apart
A lone, battered rider is standing in the hall, trying to pant and wheeze as little as possible. Quite ironically he’s more successful at it then that fat, alcoholic Sos. Even going thre flights down instead of up taxes the guy significantly. Porky looks at the rider, and at the sabre he’s holding.
‘No sir.’ The rider replies. ‘We have seen him but he was already reanimated with too many undead between him and us. His sabre was the only thing we could get our hands on without certain doom.’
‘And the other two?’
‘One dead, the other dragged inside by his warg and currently being treated. The doctors weren’t promising any miracles.’
‘I see. And you are absolutely sure that you saw Thallal?’
‘Yes sir. His attire confirmed his identity even if I wouldn’t know his face.’
‘Very well, dismissed.’ Porky says. Once the rider leaves, Sos coughs and tries to take the sword out of Porky’s hands.
Porky doesn’t let go, and Sos tries jerking it a bit. He looks up with anger, and Porky stares back with empty disapproval.
‘Come on, let me see the sword.’ Sos says. ‘I know what it looks like, I want to check if it’s really Thallal’s.’
‘The blacksmith can do that more reliably.’
Sos tries jerking the sword again, this time putting his weight behind it. Knowing very well what’s going on here, Porky doesn’t let go. If Sos thinks he can take over the tribe this easily, he won’t be much of a problem.
Porky bends over and whispers as quietly as his booming voice can: ‘I’ll never allow a puny aristocrat like you to rule the Wilds.’
‘And I won’t let a brute like you ruin our lands with needless war.’ Sos whispers back angrily.
‘Do you even grasp the situation? We are at war, the kind where our enemy won’t be vulnerable to your little party tricks, fatso.’
‘And where they are vastly outnumbering your overconfident strength, brute.’
‘Let go. Your chubby fingers can’t even fit through the handle anyway.’
‘And your chubby everything can’t lift the sword up high enough, let alone kill an Immortal with it.’
Porky and Sos continue staring at each other with deadly intent, both clamping on to their fallen leader’s sword and trying to read one another’s mind. How many men do they have at their back and call? How many are they willing to sacrifice to this internal struggle with the undead knocking on their door?
How is he planning to overthrow me and take command of the tribe before Baoc arrives?
Dahra looks at the people marching. She really hopes to get lucky this time, and that there are only pilgrims in that group. Quietly she sneaks further.
The previous three groups she approached also had Wilds among them. She had expected one or two groups with a diplomatic guest but to run into three of them out of three was ridiculous. And strangely enough it didn’t seem like the Wilds were of the diplomatic sort, they seemed more like upper middle-class citizens. Immigration?
But, regardless of the situation, it was too much of a problem. A wild was a wild, and she couldn’t join a group with a Wild one among them. Not when she was a fugitive trying to escape the outskirt.
Dahra curses. Again? Only just in time had she spotted the Wild crest on the clothes of one of the men. From the looks of it there were even more Wilds amongst this group than the last, a family and at least three lone Wilds with what seemed like an unpractical pack with their belongings.
Well, at least it was fun to see how these Wilds had no idea how to pack for a longer journey. She briefly wonders why none of these Wilds brought a Nihilist to carry their luggage for them, but then waves away her concerns. Who cares?
Dahra crawls back to her hiding spot and starts waiting for the next pilgrim group again. If the next one isn’t Wild-free she’d have to take her chances regardless, there would only be so many pilgrim groups coming by before the festival stream would run dry.
Amon crumples up the letter he was reading just moments ago, throwing the paper ball away carelessly and waving at a servant with agitated signs to bring a rag. When the poor servant arrives, Amon rips the napkin from their hands to rub away the wax left by the letter’s seal.
No one needs to ask what the response of House Gerens was, nor is anyone stupid enough to speak when Amon is in this kind of mood. The Grand Duke does not take rejection kindly after the years of bad experiences.
The answer was no surprise. Blight was popping up everywhere these days and there were a lot of plagued lands that were a whole lot worse off than Park. Compared to the many peaceful rural areas and war-exhausted kingdoms that were like kindling for the undead to spread through uncontrolled, the situation in the outskirt seemed well-manageable.
In fact, Mammon thought so too himself. The undead were stuck behind a formidable fortress inhabited by a tribe with an ample amount of warriors. In between the undead and Park, massive as these invading forces might be, were three tribes to stall the march. And Park was far from an under-defended town, after years of perpetual war without help or progress the dukedom was a more prepared for the Blight than many Blight-surviving country.
Yes, Mammon made a good choice staying. The quartermasters and merchants gave their inventory estimates and the city’s reserves were checked. With some barter and confiscating, Park had enough food to last the entire population for two years on rations despite the many provisions that were being sent elsewhere lately, and that was without the pantries that the villagers would bring.
Villagers that were, due to the occasional Wild rampages, well drilled in evacuating or holing up in their town centre. No frantic migration to the city was expected, they were all taught on how to gather and move orderly. And those who were unable to migrate could seek refuge in their town centres which had a fortified basement bunker rather than just being a big building for them to be slaughtered in.
So, no. Other countries saw no reason to send troops to Park now when they could do so a year later when the undead were swarming around the city gates and their position would be much stronger. Not when Park had so much mercenaries that Amon might prevent a siege entirely. Not when those kingdoms were already lending aid to other countries while fearing that the Blight could appear in theirs at any moment.
Even Amon knew this. He knew that the asking of aid was merely a political gesture, not doing so could offend their allies or make him seem short-sighted. The terms that they phrased in giving no real reward or favour for the help said as much. And a rejection now could validate approval with a later request. But it appeared that the Duke was taking the rejections personally nonetheless.
‘Mercenaries.’ Amon said begrudgingly.
‘Over three hundred already signed in.’ Belphegor says. ‘Word on the street is that many are still waiting for the situation to develop, though. Either the situation gets more dire and they’re waiting for us to increase the signing bonus, or they think that signing in now will result in being sent out rather than having to defend the city.’
‘Even higher?’ Amon says.
‘I agree, it’s unlikely that we’ll raise the signing bonus considering how much it is already.’ Belphegor says. ‘We might lower it when things go well and they’ll come crawling for scraps, but I doubt that we’ll raise it before the undead reach our lands. But it’s to be expected, mercenaries are an opportunistic folk. More will join with time.’
‘No one is happy with the steep increase, noble and commoner alike. A lot of people saying we’re doing it too early to line our pockets.’ Asmodeus says. ‘But no word of riot yet. They know the situation.’
‘No word back from the villages yet, my Lord.’ Kristal says. ‘No doubt they are aware of the situation but they’re not quick with decisions.’
‘Send another letter to both just in case.’ Amon says. ‘What about our forces?’
‘We’ve already started recruiting the more enthusiastic volunteers. Now that it’s not against the Wilds there’s a new wave of eager youth. It will take a few weeks before we’ll run out of actual volunteers and have to turn to conscripting.’ General Beelze says. ‘And our own armies will be ready in a few days.’
‘At least my own country can be relied upon, unlike others.’ Amon says with a little smile on his face. ‘Dismissed.’
Some advisors and noblemen stay while others leave. Mammon sees his aide standing outside making eye contact and leaves the room as well. The moment he enters the halls, his aide gives him a report from the disheartening stack balancing on his other arm.
‘House Papis sends word that they’re willing to lend 2000 men in cavalry if you need them.’ The aide says. ‘In exchange for shares.’
‘Tell house Papis that by sending his men, he can claim the same signing bonus as the mercenaries with the additional bonus for cavalry, military training and the group bonus. The monetary compensation should be more than sufficient.’ Mammon replies.
‘There are four more houses with similar offers.’ The aide says.
‘Then send them the same answer.’ Mammon says. ‘I have no intention to sell shares of the backroom for any gift of aid. At this point, there is no point in just handing over our power in the long term for short-term gain against the undead.’
‘Shall I also send the same reply to any future offers?’ The aide asks.
‘Yes, I’ll let you know once the situation becomes dire enough to give away some of our financial power and influence for favours. Until then I’ll leave the barter to Lord Amon to handle. Right now the undead might not even get past Thugs wall.’ Mammon says. ’And the other papers?’
‘The regular, sir.’ The aide says. ‘Although the incoming Blight has an influence on the amount, of course. A lot of merchants trying to move their goods safer haven.’
‘And that’s where the real problems lie.’ Mammon sighs. ‘Very well, let’s do some damage control, then.’
Tael heard the angry Wild approach long before Baoc would arrive. For a moment he panicked, wondering if the brute found out about Mael’s mission already. But he forced himself to calm down, either Baoc did and there was nothing he could do, or Baoc didn’t and being afraid would only tip him off.
It seemed that Baoc’s sound wouldn’t just announce his arrival, his presence wouldn’t even come in itself.
‘Get out here, you lazy bum!’
Tael sighed and left his chambers. The massive orc seemed to be absolutely fuming and for a moment he was sure that Mael’s mission had been compromised, but he forced his calm demeanour to remain plastered to his face. Baoc was pissed quite often, it could be something else.
‘Yes, what is it?’ Tael asked.
‘Where are the men you’re preparing? We’re leaving right away!’ Baoc shouts.
‘Excuse me? I thought…’
‘How many did you prepare?!’
’85 thus far, but I still have more than a day before…’
‘Gather them and any grunt you can get ready to move out in the next half hour!’
‘Surely we can wait just…’
Boac grabs Tael by the collar and hoists him up with ease, ramming him against the wall.
‘No time for your games, Sheep! The undead are coming!’
‘The und… What? But I thought… Has Thugs wall already fallen?’
‘The undead already got across before the horn sounded! Everything up to Mysterious scorch has already fallen!’ Baoc shouts in Tael’s face.
The corners of Tael’s lips twitch again, the only sign of supressing his emotions from showing once again. This time however he doesn’t have to supress fear but a smile.
The very heart of the Wild’s territory has already fallen and Thugs wall is isolated between two Blighted lands? Useful.
Tael feels a pang of disappointment when he realises that Mael doesn’t know this, and he quickly sends a prayer that word will travel faster than his brother does.
It is only then, with a bitter taste of self-loathing for it being the third concern he had, that Tael realises the consequences for his own tribe. If the undead were already this far, they’d reach Sheepdust territory in no time.
‘How many undead are already coming this way? Any hordes bound for us specifically?’ He asks.
Baoc lets go and Tael slumps to the ground. ‘Never mind that, get those men as quickly as possible.’
‘So we can fight our way through to Thugs wall.’
‘Even now?’ Tael can’t help but mutter, his neutral expression crackling. The comment was mostly surprise, but the tone of loathing and resistance was more than audible. ‘But Thugs wall is one of the best defended places to be right now. Our villages are…’
‘Do you even know what’s going on right now? I need to be at Thugs wall as quickly as possible, lest you want the main horde to be upon us soon.’
‘Half the Wild army is at Thugs wall already, they must be over-encumbered with men already. If we send even more, it would only lead to them running out of rations faster. Rations they can’t recover from blighted lands.’
‘Half an hour to assemble those men, end of discussion.’ With that, Baoc leaves.
‘My kingdom, my kingdom. My kingdom for something exciting.’
Rakshasi absentmindedly nibbles on the orc finger, neither out of hunger nor taste. This sundried piece of meat could sate neither anyway.
Sick and tired of the finger, Rakshasi throws it overboard. The finger falls onto the desert sand and mere seconds later one of the fins in the sand turns into a large gaping gap of teeth and horror. Seconds later, the sand shark has already returned to a mere fin in the sand, just as drowsily moving along with the ship as before.
Rakshasi looks at her lieutenant. Being a male Rakshasa, he didn’t bother looking like an existing race on his own ship. Her male counterparts were neither intelligent nor sophisticated enough for that. Instead, he looked like a fat and bulky red demon with large fangs and burning yellow eyes. How unoriginal.
Then again, male Rakshasa weren’t known for their originality. They were just all little alpha males trying to look stronger and more intimidating then the others.
‘What is it, Lth?’
‘A runaway.’ The demon growled. His answer more than the contents of it annoyed her. Trying to sound as deep and rumbling as he could, Lth. Only succeeded in being almost incomprehensible.
‘Just shoot him then, you know that.’
‘Did that. Arrow through heart. Keeps walking.’
‘If you struck him, he bleeds and the sand sharks will take care of things.’
‘They don’t. Sand sharks no come near orc. Will soon reach us.’
Rakshasi feels a pang of interest at that last part. While the Lth. and his unbound stupidity is just infuriatingly inferior, that last part was uncommon. The runaway was headed towards the ship rather than away from it?
‘There.’ Lth. points at the portside of the ship. Then, he stretches his hands out to grab Rakshasi and drag her there.
He howls in agony when Rakshasi turns her hand into a sharp bone blade and cuts off his arm. His arm falls onto the ground and flops around while Lth. tries to control his rage and pain. Morphing his bleeding wound into a stomp, he grabs his arm and starts devouring it.
Male Rakshasa are so disgusting, the very idea of letting them touch you is one that is only rarely allowed. And Rakshasi had no intention of baring a female Rakshasa right now.
No, she had no intention of increasing the Rakshasa population as was. That’s why there were no women other than her on board, as a male Rakshasa could produce other dim-witted male Rakshasa with pretty much any sentient race.
Elegantly, Rakshasi walked portside and looked at this runaway. Lth. wasn’t lying, the orc looked absolutely ravished to the point where the arrow sticking out of his chest was the least of his problems. A being this badly injured couldn’t possibly be alive. Yet it was still walking straight for the ship.
‘Men, haul that thing up here. I want to take a closer look at it.’
Good to have you back Mammon! I hear you, been busy on my end to. Mostly going abroad and visiting relatives and the such.
Read your story, glad to see the saga continue. Seeing the Rakhashi get introduced to the Blight will be…interesting.
Loving the money politics going on during a zombie war and the struggle of the orc twins, deffo my three fav parts of the story. Please keep it up!
Part 4 of the Exiled Knight.
“Come on you bunch of gobbos! Put your beards into it!” Greta Dain-dotter shouted.
The mining picks kept hammering into the brown soil as the dwarven miners eagerly kept building the tunnel towards Dawnfort. " Show these humans how feeble their structures are!“
Amelia raised her brow at this.
Slowly the dwarfess turned and pulled Amellia closer.” It’s a way to make them work faster, no offense meant.“
The militia woman smirked.” Alright then, you are forgiven.“
Greta returned the gesture and oversaw the miners working, her mind constantly on the clock, human militia and dwarven warriors stood behind them in eager anticipation to reclaim Dawnfort from below and up with more dwarven and human artisans behind them.
The plan Ophra devised relied heavily on the miners getting to the unflooded human sewers in time.
As if the human could read minds, she voiced her thoughts in lieu with Greta’s mindset.“That goblin merchant will have that troll bridge siren singing any moment now…think your masons will have the walls ready in time when they come back?“
Greta’s dwarven pride took over immediately.” Of course, we are sons and daughters of the mountain! We never fail any task that requires building!“
But yet like any builder she knew foundation was key. Relying on a goblin who used a troll spellcaster to lure away most of the undead was very shaky ground to rely their plan on. But it was Ser Ophra’s call and she used the tools she had available for her.
A shake ironically shook her out of her thoughts, a smile danced on her lips.” We’re near the sewers.”
“Thank god.” Amellia voiced.” I am but sick of sewers…something to tell my grandchildren someday. What did you do when we reclaimed Dawnfort, grandmother? Oh I was seated in a damp tunnel, staring at the walls…"
“LADY DAIN-DOTTIR!” the Foreman shouted." WE HIT STONE, NOT LONG NOW!" She acknowledged with a wave.
“Oh you have plans then?” Greta asked." Children and grandchildren?"
“Aye.” Amellia smiled." A little peace after all this war, just having a home again. I am actually looking forward to farming again, less death involved there.“
Greta nodded.” Aye, I hear you there…" she paused, the silence became to awkward ." So what lucky man are you having your children with?“
Amellia smirked.” Not a man, a satyr.“
Greta did not reply save for a raised brow…and another awkward silence.
Another rumble shook the tunnel as the wall ahead crumbled…and revealed the entrance of a sewer system…and several hordes of undead.
Greta didn’t even need to shout commands as the Foreman embedded his axe into the nearest blighter’ skull, uttering a incoherent war cry. As one the miners and the human and dwarven warriors charged out the tunnel system into the sewers with axe or sword or pickaxe cutting and hacking through the undead rabble.
Greta drew her own axe as Amellia picked up her spear from the ground. The dwarfess turned behind her as the builders picked up their tools and materials.
She cried.” Get ready, the hourglass has officially begun!"
A few kilometres outside of the city, the goblin merchant counted his purse one more time as the troll witch was looking at the mirror held by one of the troll bodyguards as another waved a fan at her. The goblin muttered as his green fingers rubbed over each coin until a feral smile appeared on his lips.
“Alright!” he snapped at attention." Lady Bab Yag, money’s come through. Do your thing!"
The troll female took her time to get to her feet, the goblin’s bodyguard quickly stood back to their guard positions as their boss shoved cloth in their ears. The witch took up her staff and held her arms high as she began to sing.
To those who had nothing covering their ears would’ve found the song alluring, beautiful, haunting…yet calling. The witch sang loudly, her voice carried towards the city of Dawnfort where the dead rules…and listened.
A elven blighter looked up from his meal, a half eaten horse, as his rotting ears lifted when they picked up the song.
His jaws stopped moving as the song took hold of him. He stood and discarded the rest of his meal and walked. He was the first as more of the undead joined him in the exodus out of the city. Only a few of the undead remained in the city. The exodus left the city via the eastern gateway, the same that fell the day the Blight fully hit Dawnford. It was a slow procession and the sun was halfway when most of the undead had shambled out of the city proper. The move was made.
Those few stirred when suddenly a church bell sounded over one part of the city…and then another, then a warhorn followed by more makeshift noises loud enough to be carried.
Over the city the resistance cells awoke and began their missions. Ashila and her group along with three more cells of brave men and women fought their way to the gates. The gates were no longer swarming with blighters, if anything the way slaughtering through them seemed more of a game.
“Praise the lord, the goblin pulled through…” one of the men smiled.
“Do not thank him just yet.” Ashila said." Quickly, we must open the gate."
She scored three headshots in succession as they made their way to the top of the gate. Her elven eyes went towards outside of the city in the hopes of seeing her daughter and her fabled army.
She noticed the banner above a regiment of knights, the satyr dancing upon it. A curious choice but then again Ophra was always a curious, headstrong child. She placed a hand on her heart, she longed to see her daughter again, they be a family again. She made a promise to her son that one way or another they would be reunited. She wanted it to be in life, the other…she shook her head, no time to waste.
“Thror, flare gun!” she held out her hand.
The miner pulled his pickaxe out of a blighter’s head. The orc shamaness covered him with her firespells as he went through his duffel back and tossed the gun over.
Ashila picked it up and fired the flare in the sky.
The Dragonhelm Knight and some other resistance members cleared off the rest of the undead and when the flare was shot, lowered the bridge.
The die has been cast, he thought. What happened next was in the hands of God.
Ophra’s eyes followed the flare from a distance.
“Ser Ophra…” one of the other knights said but she nodded before he could continue.
“I can see.” she said sternly. Perhaps to sternly. She had the nerves before but it never controlled her as much as it did now.
She turned her head to see her army of horsemen. She recognised only a scarce few. The knights who followed her in exile, the sad few who were already diminished over the course of the campaign, were only a few. A few other knights from other houses who joined, horse riders from farms she saved along the way, the elves and their steeds, mercenaries she bought with goblin coin. All mounted, all ready for combat. All relying on her to lead them to victory.
Some went as far as calling her ‘Dawn’ reborn. The heroine send down by the Lord above to save them from the Blight.
Selinus was among the horsemen, playing his damn instrument. Seemingly careless but she knew the satyr had a lover or two who were in the front lines.
“Remember the plan!” She called out." Remember your leader and we will flush out the undead so we can prepare our city for when they dare to return! FOR DAWNFORT, FOR THE LIVING!"
“FOR THE EXILED KNIGHT!” One knight cried." FOR SER OPHRA!"
“THE DAWN REBORN!” Another one followed.
“OPHRA, OPHRA, OPHRA!” A chorus rumbled across the horsemen. Her name coming from the throat of so many people elated her. For a brief moment she agreed with them, she was the Dawn reborn. Maybe when they defeated the Blight she could turn her army to Gryphon’s Crown and show Leopold what for.
And just like that she felt sick to her bone. No, she would not play into his hand. She remembered her jousting lessons, focus on your target first. Think your next move later.
She drew her blade and motioned it towards the open gate." TO DEATH AND GLORY! CHAAAARGE!"
A clarion of trumpets rang as the knights charged forward, the ground shaking as if a massive earthquake was on the move. Not even a army of giants was this fast or loud. The banners of Dawnfort, the satyr and a dozen other holds and merc bands waved behind them as it charged towards the few Blighters who slowly strumpled out of the opened gate.
Ophra lead the charge as the knights, a thousand men and horses strong, stormed through the opened gate, the sound of hooves on grass replaced by hooves on stone.
The few shamblers were cut or stomped down as the knights began to enact their bloody revenge. The knights of Dawnfort had returned and the sound of a horse charge through it’ streets was it’s cry.
Anabella and Derric each led a wing through some of the smaller streets as Ophra went through the main street towards the exit on the east side. If the builders would have a chance of building a barricade to seal off that entrance she had to clear that road.
She felt Valiant’s heart racing in sync with her own, rider and mount being one being. Her sword was like any other limb of her being, flashing and slashing and stabbing. More undead were pushed out of the sewers by the dwarven reinforcements she send ahead which were ran down by her knights, turning the rotting corpses into bloody paste. The smell of decayed flesh was to well known to her but still had a effect on her.
“To the right! To the cathedral!” she cried after crossing one of the seven bridges.
The knights turned around the tollhouse…straight into a horde of undead. Within a blink of her half-elven eyes she saw the horde stretched from the tollhouse all the way to the eastern gate…and they were marching TOWARDS the city.
It was to late to fall back, the knights slammed into the first few rows of undead…before they became entangled in them.
“FALL BACK!” she cried." FALL BACK!"
One of the elven riders cried as he was pulled down from his steed, a cry was muffled soon enough as the dead swarmed around him and the sound of crunching bone was heard.
The standard of the satyr fell as it’s bearer to was dragged down and devoured.
Her world narrowed down to her own struggle. Her arm was covered in blood, her steed frothing at the mouth. She did not know how long she fought until she to was pulled down. She tried to push the rotten teeth away, her gauntlet punching out a set. Not once did she utter a prayer to god or her mother’ spirit. She kept fighting, she vowed to keep fighting to her dying breath. She lsot her sword in a elven blighter, the half decayed creature stumpled off as she snapped another creature’s neck. She felt so tired, so weary…
One of the rotting corpses lunged forward to bite her neck…before he gained a steel tongue through the back of his neck.
“Ser Ophra!” A familiar voice helped her up. "Quickly, go!"
Several human swordsmen helped the knight up and carried her away as the spearmen stabbed the undead away, led by Amellia.
“It seems the blight has not read our memo about leaving the city…” she heard the satyr say as the swordsmen handed her over to him. The militia eagerly hacked in to save the knights. Ophra felt her strength leaving her as she was carried away but she saw the militia was going for the same trap.
Soon enough the militia to was surrounded and their cries of passion turned to pure horror.
Ophra felt Selinus stopped moving. “Amellia!”
The half-elven knight turned her head and saw the woman surrounded by the blighters. One by one her militia died, a blighter bite her arm before more got their bites in. She cried out in pain." SELIN-HELP ME! GOD HELP-"
Her cries were muffled like so many others, her eyes frantic and wet with tears as her flesh was ripped off like wolves from a steaming fresh kill.
Ophra fell to the ground as Selinus rushed forward, his spear jabbing at the undead.
She felt nothing as she was carried away by a dwarven miner over the bridge she rode over nearly a lifetime ago and a elven archer she swore looked like her mother dragged the satyr away.
She saw dwarven miners destroy the bridge as elven archers and human and orcish warriors bought them the time, the structure crumbled down as the undead horde groaned in protest, a horde of hungry soulless monsters that killed her friend. One pair of eyes caught her attention, that of a black knight surrounded by the dead, his sword still in the fresh corpse of one of her knights.
‘Soon…’ she could hear him whisper in her thoughts before darkness claimed her.
Well, there’s certainly A LOT MORE ACTION than my story going on
Great chapter. Doesn’t feel like the last one, obviously, and I hope it won’t be either.
It wont be the last chapter, prolly the next chapter will be the end for the Exiled Knight. But as I said before I got some ideas for spin-offs such as the rise of Thror the Mountain King and some Vampire shenanigans who showed up 100 years before the Black Sun and their Black Fleet did.
Glad you liked it Mammon, also glad to have some stories back in this here topic!
Part 5 of the Exiled Knight.
Pain awoke her from the warm darkness. She wanted to close her eyes still and rest, sleep. But the pain continued. It started small, like a pin being pricked in her brain but it became bigger, soon her whole mind was aflame. The image of a wave of rotting corpses came to her mind’s eye, feasting on soldiers, her soldiers. Amellia reached out to her, the flesh on her arms picked clean." OPHRA! HELP ME!"
Ophra opened her eyes, the pain still in the back of her mind.
She was in a building, an inn by the looks of it. She was laid on a cot in a large room. Her eyes drifted to the left and saw more people in other cots. Soldiers of all races and both genders. Elven healers went to each cot, their smooth hands treating the wounded with oils and magic.
Ophra raised her arm as she tried to speak, only rasping came from her mouth but it caught someone’s attention.
One of the healers rushed over." She’s awake!“
Ophra closed her eyes as a smooth hand rested on her forehead. The pain subsided almost instantly as a sigh of relief escaped from Ophra’s mouth.
“Fetch the princess.” the healer said to a attendant who quickly ran off.
Ophra tried to speak but the healer stopped her.” Not yet, rest. Let my magic do it’s work.“
The exiled knight admitted defeat and nodded. She felt herself get stronger again with every heartbeat.
“The spirits of the wild sense the blood of our people in you, Ser Ophra.” the healer said.” It allows me to heal you faster."
“Thank god for that…” Ophra felt the healer stir. She quickly added." And the spirits as well. Apologies, it has been a exhausting day.“
The healer smiled, a radiant beauty nearly as angelic as the namesakes found in the stained windows in the Cathedral.” You are forgiven. It has been a long day for me as well."
A few moments passed and the healer left to treat the other wounded. Ophra was not alone for long as Thorondil appeared, covered still in the blood of her enemies…as well as another elven woman.
No-one could’ve stopped the half-elven knight as she stood up, past fatigue forgotten, and held the woman next to the princess.
“MOTHER!” Ophra held her mother in her arms, tears fell freely from her eyes.
Ashila smiled and wrapped her lithe arms around her daughter." My daughter…“
Thorondil smiled and gave the pair a moment.
“I thought you were…” Ophra could not finish the sentence.” Is Almadir alright?"
“Your brother is fine, he’s in our local church.” her mother replied." We made it safe."
“We?” Ophra asked.
“Your mother is one of the leaders of the Dawnfort resistance.” the princess said." In fact her cell was the one who opened the gates for us."
Ophra blinked. In all her years she knew her mother as a house wife. She was a huntress before she married her father yes but to imagine her lead a band of Blight-killers…
As if her mother saw her thoughts she spoke." What? Do you think you got your fighting skills from your father?“
Ophra smiled at that.” It does explain a lot…" She held her mother again for a moment.
“I do not mean to intrude but…” Thorondil did intrude." But we still have an issue."
The ramparts around the city were a battleground. The bridges around the city were completely blocked off or destroyed which meant the only way for the undead to get back inside was to go up the stairs to the ramparts on their side and try to find a way down that led to the living down below.
Arrow, both men and elf, and dwarven shot picked off scores of the dead as steel and shield fended off the horde. The army of the Exiled Knight and the dawnford resistance fought tooth and nail to make sure none of the dead would come anywhere close to fall down from to terrify the living.
Even the river folk on their boats used the cannels to throw explosives and torches to the rotting masses across.
Ophra did not need to use her elven eyes to see that the ramparts around them were bloody from combat. Despite the heavy struggles it was obvious the lines would break and a fresh hell would descent upon Dawnford. And Amellia, her horse Valliant’s and all the other’ sacrifice would’ve been for nothing.
“We assume the Dread Knight managed to overcome the Siren’ call and send the Blight back into Dawnford.” Thorondil said.
“The Dread Knight…” Ophra’s mind went back to the knight in black, the whispers she heard before she fell unconscious. Soon…
" It has been toying with us for months." Ashila said." If we have any chance of freeing Dawnford we need to kill it…but that means a lot more men."
“Which we don’t have…” the princess sighed.
“What of Prince Halmadir, Mountain King Freya or even…” Ashila did not mention the name of the King who had exiled her daughter." Are none of their forces here?“
Ophra shook her head.” No, mother. The closest army we know of was protecting the refugee caravan’s to Gryphon’s crown.“
Thorondil nodded.” It’s Wizard did promise me he would come as soon as possible. He said he was looking for a man named Tim…or someone who would become Tim…“
Ashila raised her brow.
The princess shrugged “Wizards are strange.”
“Doesn’t matter, we are alone.” Ophra said.” We’ll have to deal with this ourselves." She looked across the city and the canals she loved so much towards the east gate where she lost so many of her knights to the black monster in armour." And we do that by cutting off the head of the snake…“
Ashila frowned.” How so?“
Ophra pondered before a thought came to her head.” I might be mistaken since I did lose a lot of blood at that point…but isn’t there a Dragon Helm Knight here?"
The sun was high in the sky when the Dragonhelm Knight observed the city down below.
For the first time in months he had first arrived in Dawnford he noticed something. When the soldiers went out to fight, when the healers treated the wounded, when people began to rebuild…there was hope in their eyes. Within him a certain…feeling erupted Pride.
None of these people would’ve remembered Mikhail. Ser Mikhail. Once he was proud to be a knight of Dawnford, to fight like Dawn against all evils of the world. But that path lead to corruption and not even the love of a good man strove him away from that evil path…until it was to late.
He closed his eyes behind his helmet and tried to picture that man whom he loved. He remembered flashes. A laugh here, drinking a ale together there, his hand on his…the longing in his auburn eyes, the secrecy that felt so exciting, his lips on his…
But he couldn’t remember more then that, how he looked like or even what his name was.
The Citadel had taken so much from him. His memories, his identity, his will…
“Don’t be what they made you…” He remembered Raden saying. Raden, the old wizard who saw him more than just a bodyguard or a sex toy. He was a friend. And he would be avenged.
He looked back to the inn where the plan was being forged. He saw Ashila, her daughter, the elven princess and a few others come up with a plan. He had grown to admire Ashila, she was a true leader. He remembered a saying, great men are only forged in the hottest of fires. Ashila was such an example. His mind went towards the other two members of his cell.
Thror and Frenza were laughing and kissing each other deeply before the orc female pushed her lover in a room and closed the door behind them. He did not know if it was love or lust but it was something human.
In another live he might’ve called these people friends. The monster had already taken Raden, he would not take them. This he swore.
A noise drew his attention as he turned his head to the left. The Satyr placed a seed in some fertile ground and prayed in his own native tongue, apparently his lover had died. The Satyr was knelt down in front of the small heap of dirt. As he chanted he poured water over it from a broken helmet, a tear in his eye.
The knight moved forward but kept his distance. He did not want to intrude the ceremony.
The Satyr turned back to see him only once. Both the horned man and the knight stared at each other. The Satyr gave a nod before he turned back to his ritual.
The knight watched. No words needed to be said.
Power surged through his being. With every Immortal the Dread Knight felt stronger.
He knew he was the last Lord in Sanctuary, the last chance to cover the land in blissful death. Pain nor emotion ruled him or his Immortals. Only hunger, the need to feed. In a way he liberated every living being he and his horde killed. He stripped away their identities, their souls, their codes of conduct, memories and so forth. He took away what made them alive and burdened and took them to the most basic of existence. To eat and reproduce. Nothing more.
He moved through his Immortals, walking on the blood stained pavement of the fallen city. Some of the undead were still devouring the half-eaten carcass of one of the horses. The knight smiled.
Eat, he commanded. I need you big and strong. The few Immortals who stood around the carcass quickly began to devour the horse meat as well.
One of them drew his eye. It was a human female, half eaten as well until the Blight kicked in and made her one of them. She was a soldier from outside who came to liberate the city. She screamed to the half-elven knight before she was devoured.
The Dread Knight walked to her, the mindless drone eating away as commanded. He placed his hand on her head to relive the memories.
His eyes rolled back as the images flashed by. Her first memory was that of stealing a cookie, reprimanded by her sires. Not useful. He kept going. Her first kill, a spear in a Immortal’s face. The feeling of exhilaration and adrenaline. More useful but not what he sought. She is making love to a man for the first time. No, not a man…man-like with horns. The feeling of love, of joy, ecstasy…useless. The image stayed on the creature, Silenius. She planned a future with him. A house in the woods near Dawnford, children…disgusting.
The knight smiled at the next memory, better. Ser Ophra, the Exiled Knight.
Her battle tactics, her speeches, yes…finally, someone worth killing and turning into a proper Lord like him.
To spread the Blight an-
He stiffened as a call came to him. It was like that of a mana well, the need to fill his gut with it’s holy waters and desecrate it. To become akin to a god.
Intentional or not he squished his gauntlet’s around the Immortal, the steel fingers dug in deep in the flesh, in the skull. The head was torn open as he walked off, the corpse falling down to the side as more Immortals flocked down like carrion and began to eat it.
The Knight moved upward to the ramparts, his Immortals moving aside as he walked.
He came upon a blockade, dwarven bullets felled his undead tide as human steel cut them down.
The smell of fear made him smile. The dwarven bullets bounced off his armour or through it, leaving no damage. Shields were brought up and spears stuck out.
The Dread Knight drew his rusted black blade out of his scabbard and went to work.
He slashed in wide arcs, his sword despite the look of it cut deep and hard. The shields cut apart like paper, the men crying in pain. He made their suffering as agonising as possible, his beloved Immortals followed him like the loyal children he wanted them to be. They made quick work of the defenders as he moved forward. Before the world turned to that of fire, he only heard a small whistle.
He fell down the ramparts into a small street, boulders and fire everywhere. He crashed on a small street near the riverfront and some market stalls. A few of his Immortals that survived the blast, minus a arm or leg, stood up if they could to help their Lord. But they to fell down under a hail of elven arrows. As he got up he saw a small group of breathers, among them the source of the mana pool…a knight like him. And with him the Exiled Knight.
A trap, how novel.
He moved toward them, flames still on his armour. The knight went first, swords clashing. He felt the anger, this was personal. A memory came to his mind as he deflected another strike.
‘We met before…’ he rasped. The knight did not reply and continued his furious attack. A backhand slap threw the knight off. A thrust hit him from behind, he looked down and saw a spear protruded from his chest. He turned around and saw the Satyr from before looking aghast.
He raised his sword and struck down, the creature crying in pain. He raised his sword to end the creature when fire again ruled his world. Magic, he smelled magic. A sorcerer.
He waved the flames away and moved to the sorcerer. His gauntlet found it’s throat and squeezed. The fires seized as he lifted the breather. Orc, female. He applied pressure, it would snap any se-
A pickaxe stabbed it’s knee and he kicked the dwarf in his face for it, then a sword whom he cut it’s wielder in half, then a few more arrows. An elf firing arrows at him. He sliced his blade into an arc and got another soldier, cut him in half. A name was cried out, he did not care. More arrows bounced of his helmet. One got lucky and found its way into one of his eyeslids. He threw his sword with his hand, the orc still in the other. The sword must’ve had it’s target for another name was called.
He saw the half-elf move quickly and sliced his hand off that held the orc.
“You’re not taking anyone else anymore!” she cried.
‘Wrong.’ He puled the spear out of his chest and stabbed at her with it.
The half-elf cried in pain as the spear was embedded in her shoulder before he went to rip it back out. As he threw his hand back to stab her again stabbed in his chest again, with a sword this time.
He turned and stabbed it’s wielder in the chest. The Dragonhelm Knight from before looked at the spear in his chest before he fell into the nearby river. More swords and spears stabbed at the Dread Knight. He felt his power losing, all the mana draining out of him. It was done, the Blight in this land was finished…for now.
He knew he would return when the next Immortal would sup on a Mana Pool. Reborn, refreshed…and he would remember the one who had slain him. He turned his head to the Exiled Knight and stared at her, feeling no remorse as her eyes filled with pain and anger met his. With a quick cut from her sword he knew no more…
A few weeks later the cavalry did arrive if a bit to late.
After the defeat of the Dread Knight there was no force leading the Blight. In time the undead horde was eradicated under the guidance of Prince Halmadir, bringing an end to the War for Sanctuary.
King Leopold’s forces saw battle a few times against the Blight but mostly served as rebuilding effort after most of the fighting was done. Perhaps it was his sense of guilt for not haven aided his people or his neighbours that made him do this. Or more likely this was to save face, Ophra believed the latter.
King Leopold rode in Dawnfort with his royal guard and baggage trains of food and other necessities. He was greeted by Princess Thorondil, Ser Annabella, Captain Greta Dain-Dottir and a few of the surviving cell leaders of the Resistance. He thanked them loudly and rode with them to the Cathedral where he would speak a moving eulogy about the sacrifice the Dawnforders made and how their struggle inspired the kingdom.
The people cheered for their king as he rode in, smiling kindly at his subjects as he waved. A few of their number however refused to wave and cheer, those who remembered who had exiled their hero in the first place and those who remembered the previous food riots beforehand.
Nearly everyone in Dawnford was there to celebrate their king and a sense of normalcy that would return with him now the Blight was destroyed.
Ser Ophra and Selinus, his arm in a sling, were stood at the graveyard, far away from the festivities.
They held vigil over the graves of those who died for Dawnford. Amellia was the first of their friends to die but she was not the last. Derrick was the next to fall, he took a hit from Ophra although thankfully his suffering was quick. It was her mother who died the longest, a rusted sword in her stomach and choking on her own blood.
Ophra could not hear her mother’s words as the blood came flooding out. It took her an hour to die. And a part of Ophra died with her. The city of Dawnford fell in mourning for the loss of one of it’s biggest heroes. The Cathedral was restored and the first service was in her honour and to all those who died for the city. She was actually buried in the graveyard next to her husband and eldest daughter on Ophra’s insistence. It was a small family tomb under the shade of a oak tree. It somehow survived the Blight but lost many of it’s leaves. But the Elswins would survive, like that oak tree.
The Dragonhelm Knight had fallen in the river, they could not find his corpse. No-one knew who he was, not even the orc shaman or the dwarf. He was marked as “Ser Dragonhelm” on the record.
After the Dread Knight was killed he was burned immediately by Frenza and his armour stored elsewhere. A week later however the store was broken into and the armour was gone. Annabella claimed it was looters looking to sell it to the goblin Shadow Bazaar. The goblin in question denied everything but even were it true the armour was worth nothing and the matter was dropped.
Neither half-elf or Satyr spoke as the wind changed and brought the sounds of celebration to them.
But to them victory had to high a cost.
It would take many years before Selinus would play the syrinx again or find love. He held Ophra’s hand with his uninjured one, she accepted it.
“Where are you going next?” Selinus asked.
Ophra’s hand went to the letter in her pocket which had a letter she received three days prior bearing the royal crest. A deed to a estate in Iron Crown, a cheque for about three thousand gold coins and of course a letter from the king himself. She read it once and understood the deal he proposed. Leave Sanctuary and start a new life. The last thing the land needed was a civil war between her and him, it claimed.
Were she a bigger woman she would’ve spat on the offer and continued her rebellion against the king. But she had a younger brother to look after and friends and family to mourn. To many friends and family.
“Iron Crown.” she replied.
“I think I will follow you.” Selinus replied.
The half-elf raised her brow at him." Why? I only brought you misery and death."
“No, I did.” Selinus shook his head." I chose to come here, to fall in love, to lose it all. And I choose…to follow you. Besides…your flag has my likeness on it, don’t want you to go alone and ruin my good name.“
Ophra smirked.” You have a good name?“
He laughed.” I do now.“
The Exiled Knight smiled as well. Her goal to liberate Dawnford was accomplished and yet she had many people who still followed her, who had enough of Leopold and his antics.” Very well…we’ll go to Iron Crown."
And so Ser Ophra Elswin left Sanctuary and founded a new home in Iron Crown in the kingdom of Alestria.
The story of her heroics had reached the courts of Queenspark and the king was a kinder man than his peer Leopold. For her heroics she was allowed to make her House in Alestria with the Satyr as her symbol.
Ophra never married but with the coin she gained she bought legitimacy for her two bastards from the crown. She never said who the father was. Some claimed it was the king who was infatuated with her, other rumours claim it was one of the men who had followed her from Sanctuary, another rumour was Prince Halmadir himself (Which was impossible since her children were human in appearance and not elven).
But one legend claims that it was Selinus himself who sired the line of Elswin and throughout the three generations of Elswins there always was a old gardener around who was well versed with the syrinx…
The bed had broken under them moments earlier but neither cared. Their lovemaking was loud and furious and down below the innkeeper was grateful they had paid for a room with thick walls prior. With a final cry the orc shamaness rolled off her lover as both caught their breath.
Frenza strayed her lover’s beard, her lips on his cheek." You did not tell me how the meeting with the Mountain King went…“
Thror took Frenza’s jade hand.” It went well…better than well. I’m kicked out of Sanctuary.“
Frenza blinked confused.” You confuse me, little man."
“Before my family came to Sanctuary, we were Mountain Kings ourselves…“Thror said as he strayed his lover’s curvy thigh.” We ruled Orangecraig, Smallhill and Sorcerer’s pass. We mined the minerals down below and filled our halls with gold and build them deep in the ground, secure from all those who sought to claim our treasure’s hoards. I have never seen the holds but my father did before he even had a beard.” he kissed Frenza’s neck as she enjoyed the ministrations." Statues of my ancestors, each the size of a castle. Gold embedded roads, tunnel shafts that go deep…" he smirked and tickled his lover’s belly." DEEP, into the ground.“
Frenza laughed and kissed him deeply, allowing him to straddle her.” So…what happened?“
Thror sighed as he held her hands.” …A dragon came and destroyed our hold. A blighted dragon. My people fell and were raised as his minions…my father and grandmother fled with as many of my kin and treasure as they could as my grandfather and his warriors fought to hold back the undead horde…stories say they held on for three days before the last dwarf in Orangecraig fell. The survivors led by my grandmother used the underground tunnels to get to Coolcraig and closed the door behind them so the Blight would not infect the other holds. For the past three centuries my people have been waiting to reclaim our home…" he smiled." and the day is now."
“Why today?” Frenza asked." What changed between now and then? You told me your father did something terrible…"
“Drank away our fortune and made us even more paupers than before. And his shame forced me and my family out of Coolcraig, even after my son…” he paused for a moment. Frenza placed her warm hand on his cheek, a smile on her lips made her tusks raise a little. He returned the smile and held her hand on his cheek.
"…I stopped blaming Freya for what her father did." the dwarf said." And she stopped continuing the grudge her father had with mine. She’s offering me coin and men for a expedition to reclaim my home.“
Frenza smirked.” Who are you going to take with you?"
“Well…” he kissed her hand." A lot of the dwarven miners here want to come along, Freya offered a few dwarven warrior regiments, a few gnomes feeling adventure…" he kissed down her arm." And perhaps a certain Orc Spirit Shaman who wants to seek her death…?“
She pulled him close.” You took me away from my death, you bearded oaf." she kissed him." You and Ashila’s daughter. The spirits of my ancestors promised me my death…"
“Well…perhaps…” he kissed her deeply." I can still be the death of you."
She gave a hearty chuckle before both began their lovemaking again.
Thor would lead a small army of dwarves through the tunnels that connected Coolcraig with Orangecraig. They would fight through underground stations and kingdoms filled with Immortals, feral goblins, cave-ins and other darker horrors. Dwarven steel and cannon would be ring through the underground along with the insane laughter of a orcish woman. Axe strike after Axe strike, mining picks after mining picks dulled by stone and skulls. Wrst of all he was not alone for other dwarven lords sought to claim the lost kingdom and marched his army across to claim it. Among them a dark dwarf by the name of Balfog the dwarfkiller.
In time Thror would become the Mountain King of Orangecraig, the legends were unsaid about what happened to his orcish lover. However his current relations with the orc tribes of Bleeding Axes says enough.
Some scholars claim the Second Blight war began officially in Sanctuary, others say it started in their own province. It does not matter for the Second Blight war would rage for over one hundred years, killing thousands upon thousands.
In this time heroes would emerge such as Prince Halmadir, Ser Ophra, Mountain King Freya Dains-Dottir, Queen Morganna, Queen Thorondil, Chieftain Baoc and villains such as Count Drakul and the Rakshasi.
However there is one legend that also found its birth after Sanctuary.
They speak of a Black Knight, one of the undead but different. He goes out to slay the undead hordes by himself and saved several villages that threatened to become overrun.
He never stayed to long in those villages and preferred his own company. For decades he appears when the Blight is at it’s fiercest and when it is defeated he also disappears.
His tale continues as he seemingly is moving his way up towards the isle of Oasis where the Black Sun had risen…
Elswin looked upon the portrait of his ancestor, the half-elven knight standing triumphant, a bloody sword in one hand and holding the banner with the satyr in the other.
He had spend the past week reminiscing about the stories of Ophra. Reading the journals, the stories both real and fictional legends.
He was the heir to the Elswin legacy, bodyguard to the Queen and yet here he was, discharged from his position. She expected him back soon of course but still it hurt his honour, his pride.
“Some men would be grateful, Master Terrence…” The old garderner said." Not many men get a vacation when a Blight is about.“
Elswin smiled bitterly.” Not many bodyguards who get send on vacation…"
“Perhaps it happened for a reason…” the old man continued." Perhaps you needed this little…retreat.“
Elswin turned. " What for?”
“Well…you were being a arse to everyone for starters.” the old man replied.
He was about to reprimand the gardener when he remembered how jealous how was of Raynor and Morganna. How he mistrusted the dwarves and orcs despite the fact both helped his ancestor so much in the past and even now to this day.
“You…may have a point, old man…” Elswin muttered." So…now I had this time to rest, what should I do?“
The old man walked towards him.” Your line has been fighting the good fight for many years, my boy. Your ancestor was a good woman, a strong one. She fought to keep the world save from the darkness the Blight brings. Remember that…be the Dawn."
It was day 120 of the Iron Crown Campaign. The west of the Iron Crown was not completely freed but the forests in the east towards Queenspark were still a danger to all who lived there. Queen Morganna vowed to uphold her elven ancestry and rid the Blight of the forest. Problem was an army of men and dwarves were strangers to the forests…and the Blighted elves and their minions were not.
The Queen’s forces were surrounded by a swarm of spiders. Her men became trampled or were devoured by the large rotting arachnids. Gwenhierblade was covered in spider ichor as was most of the Queen’s armour but she kept fighting. When more of her escort became mulch for the forest she feared she would to join them.
She nearly gave the order to retreat when a familiar horn sounded through the forest. She turned as a regiment of knights and orcish wolfriders bearing the Alestrian Unicorn marched towards them…led by one banner bearing the satyr of House Elswin.
Morganna smiled." ELSWIN!" She shouted with joy, even Raynor by her side could not help but smile of relief.
Lord Terrence of House Elswin jammed his lance into the nearest spider before he drew his sword and protected his queen by jabbing it into another spider’s eye." FOR ALESTRIA!" He shouted." FOR THE QUEEN!"
From above the treeline, the old gardener smiled as he held his syrinx in his hands.
“Don’t worry love, still got your back…” he smiled before he played the instrument with a cheerful tune.
Nice finisher, Gorvar! Too bad that the redheaded farmgirl died, and then a lot of the rest too. Bit confused about the chronological order, wasn’t this happening during the first Blight war? Eh, whatever. A good saga to a good end.
Now, if I could get my own lazy fingers to weave further the tale of the outskirts…
Thanks Mammon! Glad the story is over with to be honest. Burden right off my shoulder but i had some weaving some backstory for Sanctuary.
The Exiled Knight takes place at the start of the Second Blight war 100 years ago. The game itself and the events of my Dark Sun, Iron Crown, Undying and the goblin pirates all takes places currently as in 100 years later.
But to be honest i dont mind if the chronology is a bit off. Hell i love our little crossovers and your stories! Cant wait to read more of them
Also back to the Citadel and the Undying plot!
Chapter 3 of the Vampire Lords of Transylvan.
Thirty years ago in Arabiana, the grand palace of Sultan Mulad II…
He held his breath as he pushed himself against the wall as the wind chilled him to the bone. His red scarf, his only memory that tied him to his native land of Transylvan, waved madly with it. He refused to look down for he knew he was high up. REALLY high up. But he was nearly at his goal, just a few more steps…
He stopped again when he saw something fly passed. He clutched the wall again as three flying carpets flew passed, each with three guards on it. One who flew the carpet and the other two with bows. The
Darkness was his friend as the moon was only half full and the stars were mostly blocked by the clouds, he prayed to Mordiss that they would not spot him. He had seen the carpet riders in action before.
A moon ago a horde of orcs made landfall and were on route to pillage the Sultan’s lands. In reply Mulad send out his fabled carpet riders whose arrows made quick work of the greenskins and the camel riders finished the job. Those who survived had their right hand cut off for the offense of trespassing the Sultan’s land and then sold into slavery, Alundrian slaves were always a commodity to have no matter if they lost a hand. The goblin pirates who dropped the orcs off were not so lucky and were all killed, their ships and cannons confiscated.
The young man knew the Sultunates did not know how to unlock the riddle of gunpowder and frequently stole cannons and even hand cannons from their battles with Alundrian pirates or the Dark Dwarves to the islands in the west.
The carpets disappeared out of sight which allowed the young man to continue his journey. He took out his hook and climbed the rest of the Onion dome tower, one of seven that made the Sultan’s grand palace, towards the balcony. After a short but dangerious climb he made it to the balcony and climbed inside.
The balcony led to a large room, covered in all kinds of riches. Bright, golden and white colours cascaded his senses. Golden curtains, white marble floors and walls, marbles statues and white tiger furs. A single bookcase was at the wall with a mirror and clothing cabinet opposite it.
A large bed with purple curtains was on one side with the room’s occupant reading a book.
The tanned woman, dressed in a purple silk robe, looked up from her book and gasped when she saw the intruder. But only for a moment. When the young man undid the scarf covering his face she began to smile.
“Vlad!” she cried with joy. She placed her book down, marking first what page she was on, before she ran over to the young man and held him. The young man held her in his arms, his hands straying her long black hair. They held each other before he lifted her chin and brought his lips to hers. She returned the kiss eagerly, as if each moment could be their last.
When they did part she stepped back and gave him a punch on the arm.
“Aw!” Vlad cried in mocked pain." Why did you do that?!"
The girl folded her arms.“You made me think you were a Rakshasa!“
Vlad held up his hands in surrender.” I apologise, I did not mean to scare you my lady Isabella…” He proceeded to bow deeply.
The woman snorted amused." You and your Alundrian ways are so strange…I can see why the Sultan is fascinated with you.“
Vlad took away some more layers of black clothing.” Oh, what did he say?"
“Oh nothing much…except that his ward is such a wealth of information and…amusement.” Isabella motioned him to her bed where she sat down." But when I try to press for more he says I should know my place." she deepened her voice." A woman’s place, especially that of a concubine, is beside or beneath her husband. She should not fill her head with the worries of exploration and war and be content with the affairs of home and children.“
Vlad raised his brow.” …Wow, clearly he did not hear the tale of Dawn the hero…or my grandmother for that matter."
Isabella placed away her book." Your grandmother?" As Vlad nodded she held out her feet. The young Transylvan noble rolled his eyes but regardless placed her feet over his lap and began to massage them." My grandmother, Euphra Drakul, was one of the best fighters my line ever produced, even before she became a vampire. She defended the Black Pass into Transylvan for thirty days when the Van Xia and their Teracota army tried to break through. Thirty days of no rest but constant battle."
“Well…she must’ve rested. Besides, you don’t need rest if you are one of the undead.” Isabella began to smirk." Your people use the dead, yes? Pretty sure you made them do most of the heavy lifting.“
Vlad rolled his eyes.” We have able bodied men and women to defend our homes, we don’t just use the dead that much. You ever tried to fight alongside them? They smell…also they cant tell jokes. Like this one for example, what does a skeleton order when he goes to a café?"
“A drink…and a MOP!”
Both laughed until Isabella shushed him.
“Shhh, my guards may be down a few more levels but they can still hear!”
“Well i’ll promise to be more quiet…” Vlad promised as he kissed her again." But ever since the first time we met, my heart just keeps beating louder and louder…"
“Oh shush you…” Isabella returned the kiss." Be quiet or the guard will defiantly hear you and you know what a Sultan does when a man is seen alone with one of his concubines…"
“I don’t care.” Vlad undid a tie of her purple robe which made it fall off her tanned shoulders." I will always come back for you. No matter what heaven or hell that stands between us."
Isabella smiled and pulled her secret lover closer and made Vlad break his promise. For that night and as many as they could.
Lowervail on the isle of Oasis, Alundria. Now.
His heart broke when he heard his wife’s cries from her room. To those outside, even the fearless and loyal werewolves, it chilled them to the bone and turned their blood to ice. To him it was an agony that wrecked his black heart. His mind went back to first time he heard her crying out in pain. The rage he felt then.
The rage was still there and it got even worse since there was nothing he could do.
It was suffering continued.
“She’ll be herself again come morning, Count Drakul.” Elvira said.
“For how long…?” Vlad asked." These session get worse every time we bring her back…" He turned." Have we found a way to Alundria yet?"
“Your brother has made contact with a Orc slavemaster.” the vampire knight replied and motioned her master to follow her which he did. With a wave of his hand he motioned the two skeleton soldiers to stand guard by the door. Not to protect the woman he loved from harm…but to stop her from leaving and harm others.
The last time the blood thirst became to much she had slain thirteen servants, her room turned into a abattoir. When she regained her senses she volunteered to go in the black coffin. It nearly killed Vlad to see her go. It would kill him for certain to see it happen again.
They walked through the halls of the large hall of the city, the conquered people bowing their heads as they passed as they did their daily chores.
“Where is my brother?” Vlad asked.
"You know him, my lord…he likes his boys young and pretty."
Vlad nodded. He remembered the first time he saw his brother Radun with the stable boy back home, the commoner straddled on him as both were kissing each other, writhing in ecstasy. The family knew of course and didn’t comment on it, as long as he or Vlad or anyone else sired more Drakuls it did not matter.
It was not the last time he saw his brother in that state (much to both their annoyance) and his brother had a few more notches added to his bedknob, including a Van Xian ninja who was send to kill him.
“Take me to him, his excess can wait…my Isabella cannot.”
Elvira led the Count to the guest room on the other side of the building. From outside Vlad’s sensitive hearing could already hear the sounds of passion inside. No doubt Elvira could as well.
The Count of Transylvan knocked on the door after he allowed his brother to finish." Radun, a word…“
A moment later, a servant boy in his early twenties left the room with a hot flush on his cheeks. He looked up only once, his red cheeks quickly changed to a pale white when he saw both vampires.
“Leave.” Vlad commanded which the servant did. The Count moved inside where he saw his brother drinking some wine.” Brother."
“Brother.” Radun smiled." What brings you here a hour from dawn?"
“Isabella.” Vlad replied." We do not have much time. We need to get to Alundria and find the Citadel.“
Radun’s good mood disappeared.” Oh…is it that severe, brother?“
Vlad nodded.” Her bloodlust gets worse. She will be fine come morning but it might be three days before she feels the hunger again.“
Elvira closed the door behind het.” You spoke of an Orc slavemaster…“
Radun nodded, his sense of duty had taken over fully.” Yes. His name is Gorvar. He has a fleet of ships who can transport us and offered his slaves to aid us.“
Vlad raised his brow.” Very meagre, Radun. We already have ships and men. You disappoint me.“
Radun smiled.” He also has a necromancer with him…one who can create a Blight. Perhaps she can help us with Isabella.“
Vlad’s eyes went wide open. He heard the tales of the Necromancers of old. Fallen acolytes of the Citadel who used the teeth of black dragon to raise the dead. If the stories were true, his Isabella might have a chance. " Take me to him!”
Oh, interesting. Those Van Xians and their Teracotta are probably the chinese/eastern dynasty?
Rule nr.1 of the flying carpet devision: Don’t ask how these carpets fly.
Rule nr.2: No singing ‘A whole new world’.
Yeah was thinking for Arabiana that it would have Eastern European, Asian and of course Middle-Eastern influences. I did speak to Penny and Jay about it and they did seem to dig the idea. If we ever seen it in-game though is another thing…
I admit Chinese mythology and the Arabian nights did inspire most of the ideas here.
Thanks for reading dude!
Next up a new flashback story starring a dwarf from the Exiled Knight saga and his rise to fame as seen in the Iron Crown campaign storyline.
So, a shorter post this time because I thought: I need to spend extra time adding whitelines in between every paragraph before posting this and anyone who starts reading around this point needs to backtrack a lot and sift out the chapters to start at the beginning. So:
Have a file in uninterupted chronlogical order that keeps this thread a bit shorter! I’ll still bump when a new chapter is uploaded, of course.
Hey Mammon, is your latest chapter the bottom one? Digging the dwarf architecture stuff so far and the entrance to the elven forest, its nice to have different locales.
Jup, I guess I should add comments so that you can quickly move to the chapter you’re at (last I checked an index doesn’t work with Dropbox example display?). Thanks, it’s about damn time to stop talking about just orcs and deserts.
Hey man, Orcs and Dwarves are totes my bag. Write as much as you like about both!
Digging the different perspectives on the conflict to. Shows the reader that the story has a bit more under the hood than just fanfiction.
A tale of two kings.
In the tunnels between Coolcraig and Orangecraig, 98 years ago…
The world spun around the dwarf as he came to. The distant sounds of steel clashing and the continuous moaning of the undead came ever closer. He crawled back up, his eyes seeing things double. His head felt painful and heavy like a herd of giants danced on it all night. He heard footsteps coming ever closer, shuffling. Not one of his men. His eyes darted painfully for his weapon until he found it, the pick axe. As fast as he could despite his injuries he picked up the tool turned weapon and stood.
He turned and saw his opponent shuffling to him. A undead goblin with hunger in it’s eyes. His muscles protested with pain but his muscle memory kicked in soon enough. With a big haul he raised the pickaxe and slammed the edge into it’ skull, pieces of rotting brain and skull flew everywhere with some of it splattered in his beard.
The dwarf pulled his pickaxe out of the creature’ skull as it fell to the ground in a heaping mess, the dwarf soon followed by falling on his knees.
His breath was rasped as he looked at the chaos around him. Dwarven warriors fought with axes, picks and hammers as they held the line against the undead tide, an unending sea of death. Where the treehuggers and gobbos would’ve fled like cowards the children of the mountain stood like a rock against the tide.
The tattered banner of his people, the Gryphon, stood fast against the undead tide.
He heard distant thuds before several meters into the undead sea the world turned to fire. The dwarf turned his head and saw dwarven crews man the cannons, filling the barrels with a special gunpowder made out of mana before throwing in a massive cannonball as another dwarf lit the fuse behind it. A short cry later the cannonball flew from the barrel and slammed into more Blighters a few rows ahead as the dwarven warriors held the line and did not advance.
Good, the dwarf thought, they were sticking to the plan.
The bridge on which they fought was sturdy enough to take the weight of both forces and the continuous pounding of the cannons, another sign of dwarven architecture meant to last to the end of time.
“Thane Thror! Are you alright?!” he felt someone shaking his shoulder. The dwarf turned his head to look upon another, a younger beardling wearing the overalls of a Foreman. The foreman offered his hand to help him up.
“Foreman Drakenson…” Thror coughed as he stood up, he leant on his pickaxe to get up rather than rely on the younger dwarf." I’m fine…"
“Thank the ancestors…” the Foremen sighed of relief." We have good news, the charges are set on the other two bridges!"
“Good…sound the retreat for both and set the charges off. Replace the warriors at the front to fall back and let the reserves take their place.” Thror felt himself get better, the pain in his head subsided to a dull ache." I’ll go help the Park Wrekers when I caught my breath. You go ahead, lad." He did not turn to see the Foreman run off.
Three bridges connected the underground kingdoms of Coolcraig and Orangecraig over a infinite abyss.
To get to Orangecraig, Thror’s forces had to cross the bridges but across them found a large herd of Blighters who had strumpled around the underground passages for three centuries. Not even a large dwarven army could fight a horde that size, not for long anyway. So a plan came to mind.
To nullify their overwhelming numbers the undead had to be fought in a bottleneck. So instead of three bridges Thror decided the other two bridges had to be destroyed or risk being overwhelmed on three fronts.
There was some grumbling in their beards but the advisors saw there was no other choice.
Thror walked back with his pickaxe over his shoulder to the command post, a series of tents where the wounded and reserves were. The guards saluted him as he walked past, he gave a tired nod in return.
Around the small tent city he saw the reserve warriors get ready to fight, one of his captains was readying her rifle and she saw him arrive." Thane Thror."
“Captain Hilde.” Thror nodded at the auburn haired dwarfess." Your blunderbusses ready?"
“Aye.” she nodded." Me and the boys have a wager going for the biggest tally." she smirked." Winner gets a whole keg of Alestrian ale.“
Thror smiled.” Good, make sure you hit the undead and not the humans. Sellswords can hold grudges just as long as we can. And I don’t have that much gold left to buy them off.“
She turned her head to her riflemen. She gave out a hearty laugh which they all joined in with.
“Don’t you worry none, Thane Thror!” She laughed.” Treehuggers might be good with arrows but dwarven bullets are even better!"
“Now is the time to prove that then.” he nudged his head to follow. After a bark from Hilde the regiment followed in step.
They hurried out of the command post and rushed quickly towards the bridge that the sellsword company was defending. A loud sound ran trough the underground passage, a deep mournful sound.
“The Gryphon Horn!” Hilde shouted over the sound." The call to retreat!“
The Thane looked at the sellswords ahead and began to frown.” They aren’t falling back…"
“They’ll get blown to the ceiling when those explosives go off!” the gunner turned to Thror." We have to warn them!"
Thror nodded and urged onward.
The regiment rushed ahead as the mournful sound continued. On the bridge they rushed towards they came across miners packing away their things. Their foreman turned to Thror and held out his hand." Five minutes!"
“Aye!” Thror replied and rushed forward. He did not tell Hilde what to do, she had fought in the War for Sanctuary and fought off numerous goblin raids in the past. As they Blunderbuss regiment took up their positions, Thror ran towards the Park Wrekers.
His eyes picked up their banner, a gloved hand over a bag of gold. Like before it was a line of warriors holding back the waves of death but this time it was not dwarves who fought them off.
Men, orcs and the odd elf fought in a single regiment. Instead of dwarven armour theirs was chainmail with black vests. Some wore either a cloak or a tabard which displayed the gloved hand. The frontline held the undead back with shield and sword with spearmen and javelin throwers at the back.
In the middle of all the fighting was their leader in red who swung a bastard sword in large arcs that cut through the undead like a hot knife through butter.
One of the Blighters, a former dwarf, made it passed the wall but met a swift death from Thror’s pickaxe. As he pulled the pick out he shouted." JOHAN! FALL BACK!"
The red knight turned towards the voice and saw the dwarf." About time!" he stepped back, letting one of the men step forward to take his place. The blonde haired human waved his gauntlet towards a blue haired sorceress on a nearby hillock." INDIGO, NOW!" he shouted.
The blue haired sorceress held up her staff in the air, Thror heard faint muttering as magical runes appeared in front of her. With a strike she slammed her staff down on the rock below her. Thror felt a sudden impact rock the ground beneath them that struck the undead…who were unable to move.
Immediately the Wrekers pulled back as dwarven bullets provided cover for the few undead who were not affected by the spell.
Thror ran with the Wrekers off the bridge. They made it just in time as a minute later explosives under the bridge went off and took the bridge and many of the Immortals with it as they tumbled in the abyss.
A moment later another explosion went off elsewhere and the other bridge likewise also tumbled.
“You dwarves have impeccable timing…” Johan said. One of his Wrekers brought the red knight a flask of water. Johan said his thanks and took a big gulp before he offered some to Thror.
“Naye.” Thror shook his head." I’m no fish."
“A true dwarf only drinks ale and mead.” Hilde made her way to them and tossed her flask over to the thane." Which I now have a keg of."
“My mistake…” Johan rolled his eyes." I’ll regroup my men, we’ll discuss payment later.“
Hilde frowned. “We’re not at Orangecraig yet, human.”
“Our contract did not involve us getting blown up or shot at by our employers.” Johan replied with a glare.” You’re going to have to cough up more.“
Hilde was about to speak when Thror raised his hand, she fell silent.
“You’ll get your coin, red knight.” the Thane replied.” Go see to your men."
“I will.” Johan bowed his head slightly before he moved.
“Congratulations by the by.” Thror replied after he took a swig of ale.
“Ta…” Hilde reloaded his blunderbuss as she saw the red knight went over to the blue sorceress and one of the captains of the Wrekers. " I can see why they call him the bastard of King Park…him and that blue whore of his."
“Enough.” Thror warned." For your sake, you know the stories they say about him."
“The only thing threatening thing he has is that magic sword of his.” she scoffed." Probably made by pointy ears to…"
“I said enough!” Thror growled in his beard. Hilde blinked in surprise before she bowed her head and apologised.
“I’ll go get the men, make it back to base…” she said before she walked off.
Thror took off his helmet and rubbed his head, the pain in his head came back stronger than before.
The pain went away when he heard a large roar echo through the tunnel. His annoyance turned to fear when he realized what the noise was. He rushed to the main camp where the forces that fought on the third bridge also ran in. The troops quickly hurried to their weapons and rushed to their positions.
His heart sang when he saw Frenza run in, gleefully excited, along with the human wizard they picked up in Dawnfort.
“Frenza!” he called to his lover." Is it what I think it is?!“
The orc shamaness laughed and picked up the dwarf in her arms and swung him around.” A DRAGON, A DRAGON! A DRAGON TO KILL US ALL!"
“For the love of the ancestors woman!” Thror cried out." Not no-!"
As if summoned the sound of flapping wings came closer, the sound of a coming storm.
In the darkness they could already see the flaming rot that was the dragon that usurped Orangecraig.
It was the size of a small castle, the wings the size of the lake back in Dawnfort. It’s eyes shone with a pure evil, every flap of it’s black wing a thunderclap, it’s roar the sound of the world ending. Ragnaros, the bane of Orangecraig, destroyer of dwarfkind and ruler of Orangecraig. A dragonlord of the Blight.
The living, even the ones at the last bridge, stared in horror of the winged death that came for them.
“Oh dear…” the old wizard finally said.
“What do we do now, Thane Thror?” Johan drew his sword, however futile it might’ve been.
Thror felt the eyes of all his men rest on him. All their hopes and dreams were now on his shoulder.
He took a moment to think before he raised his pickaxe and said-
Day 150 of the Iron Crown Campaign.
“First one to bring me it’s head gets a thousands kegs of ale!” the puppeteer shouted.
The children cheered as the dwarven puppet charged towards the dragon along with his companions.
Morgonna could not help but smile as she saw the play. She heard her uncle tell the story a thousand times with a thousand different ways of how it went.
“Last time I heard it, it was three dragons.” she confided to Elswin who chuckled amused.
“Might’ve been true, we weren’t there a hundred years ago.” the bodyguard replied to his queen. The town bells began to chime, a wonderful melody went across the city of Pitted Valley.
“It’s nearly one o’clock.” Elswin said almost needlessly.
“I know.” Morganna nodded, duties came first as usual." Let’s go.“
A cold wind made her shiver down her spine.” Cold winds are rising…“
Elswin nodded.” Winter is nearly upon us."
The Queen walked amongst her people. The repairs to the city were well underway. Masons were repairing the few houses that were not finished yet as the smell of bakeries waved through the streets. Children ran passed her, laughing as women with swaddling babes at the hip were busy gossiping around the well.
Morganna still has to pinch herself sometimes to actually believe to what her eyes were seeing. Up to two months ago, the city was abandoned in face of the Blight. When she and her army arrived to clear the city out it was full of Immortals. She passed by the large statue dedicated Torn the giant, the city’s mascot, where she herself slew a blighted giant herself with her elven sword Gwenhierblade thus granting the fallen defender peace.
But now two months later the city was full of life again. The ramparts were manned again as the banners of both the Alestrian unicorn and the giant of Pitted Valley waved lazily in the wind.
But what interested her most was the new giant who walked up and down the streets like a proper guard.
Fron the giant had large shoes to fill in, pun not intended, and after he helped free the city he took the duty as mascot and protector very seriously. The city now served as the capitol of Alestria until Queenspark was recaptured but that was still a far way’s off to the future since the autumn leaves began to fall and the first signs of winter were approaching.
The giant’s one eye gazed at the queen as he gave a deep nod." Your majesty." he rumbled.
“Afternoon, Fron.” she smiled in reply and kept walking towards the town hall.
The Townhall was still being repaired and would take some time before it was completely finished but most of the building was intact and safe enough to house the Queen, her advisors, the court and of course the guests of honour.
After the Blight was purged from the forests the elves of Falcon’s Hold began sending token forces to aid the Alliance against the Blight. With them came Prince Ithalen. A skilled bowmen of an ancient bloodline and very proud. And as a result, very arrogant.
She had no idea why the elves would send him as their ambassador which meant either two things. Either this was meant as a test for the young prince to prove himself…or more likely this was another test set by the elves to test Morgonna’s rule as Queen.
Ever since Queenspark fell, the elves who lived in Iron Crown had never truly supported her rule. She did not know it was because of her young age, have taken Gwenhierblade (HER heirloom not theirs) without their permission or because her uncle Thror’s support. Sporadically the elven assisted by keeping the Blight out of the forests and sometimes the odd elf joined the Alliance but nothing to suggest their full support. If anything most of the elven support were from Queen’s Maul and Oasis with only one warband from Chief’s Grove that was there from the beginning.
If her people were to survive the coming winter she had to rely on the elves and their food supplies. That meant putting up with their arrogance.
One of the servants bowed deeply as the queen reached the main hall." Your majesty, thank God you’re here."
She was about to ask why when she heard the elf raving from behind closed doors.
“Marshall Raynor has been trying to stall but you know the ambassador…”
“I know…thank you, Alfred.” she opened the door to the main hall.
Inside were two rows of guards on opposite sides of the room. Human guards on the side of Marshall Raynor who was sitting on one side of the table, restrained anger in his face, with the elven prince opposite him with his elven guard and servants. Like all elves he was handsome with long silver hair, a lithe build and dressed in green silk embroided with golden leaves.
His blue eyes were like fire and ice as he continued his rant." I demand to see the Queen this instance!"
“Your wish has been granted.” Morgonna replied as she stepped in." Prince Ithalen, the virtue of patience as always…“
The elven prince scowled.” What took you so long, you said one o’clock!"
“It is one o’clock.” she replied" The townbell just chimed."
“But the sun said it’s been one already for ten minutes!” he folded his arms." For a race with a limited lifespan you sure take your time."
“And for a race to be long lived you sure are impatient.” she smiled and sat down in her chair." Marshall Raynor, care to update us?“
Raynor’s face showed immense relief, clearly the young man’s upbringing did not include patience towards those who considered themselves superior to him.
“Good news first. Warchief Grella has secured the north for us. When winter is over we can march towards the swamps south of Smoothstead before we can liberate the dwarven hold of Ravenspire and our final goal, Queenspark.” he replied.
Morgonna rested her hand on her chin.” I hear a but coming…"
“But…” Raynor’s eyes flashed to the prince." A few elven regiments have left our Alliance when we already have so few to spare."
Ithalen glared." And I told you, human." he said the last with scorn." Those elves who left are not our responsibility. Those elves were from Oasis and took the first boats back home.“
Elswin kept silent, his face did not even betray the least bit of emotion but the faces on human and elven guard alike showed an awkward silence.
“Back home?” Morgonna asked.” Why?“
Ithalen held out his empty cup and a servant went to fill it.” For reasons I cannot divulge." He took a sip from the wine. His eyes went large before he spat the beverage out." YOU CALL THIS SWILL WINE?!“
The servant looked shocked and at a loss. Morgonna frowned inwardly.” I apologise for the state of our wine, Prince Ithalen. But the few kegs of wine we managed to find that were not tainted by the Blight might not be to your standards but are at least safe to drink."
The elf snorted." I rather drink dragon’s piss then this…" he threw the contents of his cup to the floor.
“That can be arranged…” Raynor muttered.
“What was that?” Ithalen asked.
Morgonna glanced at Raynor.
"…nothing, your majesty." Raynor said with great restrain.
The elven prince sighed and clapped. A moment later a elven servant, wearing scantly little, came in carrying a jug of wine. The blonde she-elf poured in her prince’s cup who then drank the wine, smile on his face.
Morgonna cleared her throat." Is there another matter we must discuss?“
Raynor looked at his list.” Well there was one incident. The dwarves were busy celebrating a belated Festival of Life bonfire when a fight broke out between them and a group of goblins. Nobody got killed but the Shadow Bazaar demand reparations for the injuries inflicted on the goblin workers."
“I’ll look into it.” she replied.
“Wait…” Ithalen said." Why you? Isn’t this a matter for your uncle, King Beard?“
Raynor frowned. “Her majesty-”
“I can speak for myself, Marshall.” Morgonna spoke politely to Raynor before she turned to the elven prince.” My uncle Mountain King Thror has been wounded and is resting. And since he is far away from home and his advisors are still busy trying to look for an heir it falls to me to make the choices.“
Ithalen processed the information before he gave a approving nod.
“Good now…” Morgonna said.” If there is anything else…?"
“There is the thing about the food…” Raynor interjected." Winter is nearly here and we don’t have enough time to grow proper crops or have enough ground that isn’t tainted by the Blight."
“Don’t you worry little human. You wont starve in the winter, my people will come through.” the elf prince smiled obnoxiously.
The Marshall looked confused as he turned to his Queen.
“Me and the prince have reached an agreement.” she forced a smile." Alestria could always rely on the aid of the elven people in their time of great need. My blood has the ancestry of the elves in it, they wouldn’t abandon it."
“Oh?” Raynor blinked.
“We have a personal arrangement.” Ithalen said. And that was the end of it.
After a few more minor tasks the meeting was adjourned and everyone was to leave, which Raynor eagerly accepted and was the first to leave (under the pretence he had to patrol the ramparts). Except Morgonna and Ithalen.
“I need to hash over some of the details with the prince.” she told Elswin." Take a break tonight, i’ll see you in the morning."
She saw he had difficulty breaking away from his duty but eventually he agreed.“Yes, your majesty. Good night.”
“Goodnight, Terrence.” she rested her hand on his shoulder before he left the room. She closed the door behind him and after a moment locked it.
As she did she felt warm hands on her shoulder, the smell of fresh leaves and a soft kiss on her neck.
“So…alone at least…” Ithalen smirked.
The arrangement was a difficult choice to make. The elves of Falcon’s hold would deliver foodstuffs, game and fruit, throughout the winter. They would not starve since the spirits of the wild kept their children fed throughout the year with plenty to spare. And the elves loved their princes, especially a war hero like Ithalen who had fought off several Blighter bands before. So for him to ask to send food to the humans was only a small thing to ask. In exchange however…Morgonna had to lay with the prince throughout winter. Not in marriage, never in marriage. He was saving himself for a proper elven princess and belay himself the heartache Halmadir in Sanctuary suffered for falling in love with a human. He disliked humans but found her elven blood attractive.
She had lain with men before but never like this. She felt horrible, cheap but it would save lives during winter. She accepted the deal.
Ithalen kissed Morgonna deeply and pushed her on the table. The Queen eagerly returned the kiss and undid the elf prince’s belt. The sooner it was over with, the better.
“Seems i’m not the only one whose impatient.” he smirked as he kissed her neck as he undid her tunic. She gasped and ripped his shirt open and stroked his chest. She surprised herself how easy it came to her to act like aroused. She’s had lovers before and Ithalen wasn’t one of the better ones.
Morgonna pulled the elf closer and unbuckled her own silver trimmed belt. "Quickly before they come back…"
Ithalen agreed and began his passionate love making that made the table move a few inches at a time.
Afterwards as they both dressed they did not say a word save for a goodnight before both parted to their own chambers.
She went to her chambers first to take the medicine to make sure she would not become with child, the last thing she wanted to do was give the elves more ammunition against her and the nobles who opposed her would not marry off one of their sons to someone who has had a bastard. Even if she were the Queen. She shook her head, this had to change. She couldn’t let this continue any further.
It was later in the evening when she went to the attic of the townhall, carrying a tray of food and ale.
She knocked on the door before coming in." Hello uncle.“
The room was more akin to a small library than a attic. Covered with books, dwarven armour and maps of Iron Crown. At the desk was a dwarf, a older Thror. He looked up from his scribbling and smiled when he saw her.
“Morgonna, you haven’t forgotten this old man after all.” he smirked behind his beard.
“Don’t you start.” she chided him mockling as she handed him her dinner, venison with new potatoes, fresh bread and broccoli. Elf food. When she saw his face she grew her face stern.” Don’t you start and eat up…"
“Very well…under protest.” he replied. And he ate his entire plate despite the protest.
“So…the deal is on?” Thror asked afterward.
She nodded awkwardly." It is, for now.“
Her uncle paused before he gently lifted her chin up.” You are the bravest lass I have ever met. I’m sorry I can’t help you any more then I can…“
She smiled sadly.” It’s not your fault uncle, it’s my choice. I do this for my people. As for consequences well…I have contingencies in mind.“
The dwarf smiled proudly.” Atta girl, show those Treehuggers nobody messes with a dwarf."
“I’m a human!” she laughed.
He waved his hand dismissively."Argh! Details!"
Her uncle knew of the deal with Ithalen and supported her. His own people had barely enough food for themselves let alone the people of Alestria. And the coin to buy food from abroad was mostly spend already on the war effort.
“I got in touch with the Ministry of Trade in Park.” Hadgar spoke." I have an old friend there who might be able to get me a loan…“
She shook her head. “Don’t you get yourself in trouble for me, uncle.”
“Though, the letter has been already send.” he laughed triumpatnly and winced when the pain to his side flared. He shoed his niece away as she began to fuss. “You’re much like I was when I was your age, my child.” he said.” I to made deals with the devil to get my kingdom back."
“I know, uncle. You told me so many times before in the past.” She laughed a little." Couldn’t have been easy to bribe all those orcs.“
Hadgar returned a sad smile.” Not just orcs…" he held his side where he was wounded. Immediately Morgonna took out some bandages she had on her and refreshed the binding." Tell me uncle…" she said to distract him from the pain." You got one of those stories that can help me?“
He winced.” Well…there is the time I managed to hire one of the best sellsword companies in Alestria…"