Joined: 05 Sep 2005
|Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:21 pm Post subject: Chapter 1. Heir.
|Chapter 1. Heir.
Byrold Eldembar the Younger wandered idly down the cobbled lane, away from the Tower of Ages. His book of spells, which still consisted mainly of blank pages, was tucked under his arm. Other students passed him by in both directions, some heading towards the dining hall, others towards the last class of the day.
Unlike them, Byrold had no clear heading. His classes were done, over. The future he had planned now nothing but ash. He sighed and sat down on a bench, under the shade of an ancient Oak tree. For a while he watched the apprentice wizards walk and run to their various destinations. Only this morning he had been one of them. Now it seemed he was watching from the outside, looking in at a future denied...
“It cannot be so!” he had said, standing in front of the Grand Archmage and staring at the message.
“It is my boy,” the old Wizard had replied in steady tones. “I realize this is a shock to you, but life is often thus.”
“But I don't wish to leave here! I have yearned to be a wizard all my life!” Byrold had felt tears well up. Ridiculous for a young man of eighteen he knew, but this... this was... Words had failed him.
“Your duty is clear,” the Archmage had gripped his shoulder. His grasp was far stronger than such an aged hand should be capable of. “You are now the only surviving heir of Yroth. To deny your heritage would be to expose your country to civil war, invasion, disaster.” He had sighed and shaken his head. “It is unfair to you, but you will find that things do not always go your way, even as king.”
“As king.” Byrold had repeated. The news of his father and brother's death had come out of the blue, and he hadn't had time to fully grasp the implications. Of course! He was the heir to the throne! He would be king! He was king. He had straightened up then, his mouth hardening into a thin and determined line. “Very well. I know my duty. I will ride for Uskk at once!”
The Archmage had nodded, as if Byrold had passed a test. “An escort is on the way. You should wait for them. The king does not travel alone.”
Byrold had torn his gaze away from the message. “You are right Sir Wizard, as always.” Then: “May the Kingdom of Yroth count on the support of your mages? As ruler I would be sympathetic to your cause.”
The senior wizard had raised his eyebrows, but then nodded. “I will discuss the matter with the Council. In these dark times it is wise to have allies.” He had stood up and gestured to the door, indicating the interview was over. “You have a good head on your shoulders lad. Let us hope it remains there.”
Byrold had pondered the implications of that remark as he left the office.
The escort was led by his old weapons master. The man's hair was turning gray, but he was still the premier swordsman of the Realm. His horse cantered towards Byrold's, and he saluted, army style, as he neared the prince.
“Your majesty, the scouts report movement in the woods ahead.”
“Who are they Hark, how many and are they friendly?” Byrold squinted at the tree line near the horizon.
“The fact that they didn't wish to show themselves is indicative in itself sire. I would recommend we take the North road, around the trees.”
“Impossible!” Tarall Dancer the IV waved a fan about, wafting perfume towards the old soldier, who coughed. “The prince must not be late for the coronation!”
Byrold sighed. Tarall had plagued him for the entire journey, filling his head with court lore and etiquette. The young prince realized such was considered important by some, but he thought little of such intrigue. He had made an early decision that his rule would not be marred by the petty gossip and frivolity that so often came with palace life. He had to acknowledge though, the dandy was a fountain of knowledge about the law of the land, and some things were important.
“What would be the consequences of missing the ceremony?” he asked the advisor.
Tarall gasped, dramatically covering his mouth with his hand. “Sire!” he said in an outraged tone. “Surely you know there are certain... other parties, who would leap upon such a chance. If you are not present for the crowning a challenge could be made. Your influence is not yet strong enough to guarantee victory in such a situation.”
Byrold sat back in his saddle. 'Other parties' were no doubt his step-mother and her son. Mainly Eldra of course, his step-brother was still only a baby. However the woman had ambition that needed watching carefully.
“It would be better to arrive late than not at all,” Hark said, his blunt words a direct contrast to the courtier.
The prince looked around. His escort consisted of 10 heavy cavalry, and a small squad of lighter horse, another 20 men in all. There were about half a dozen scouts, whom he had barely seen throughout the week-long trip. The cavalry could be outmaneuvered easily in woodland, it would be a perfect spot for an ambush.
“Sire, I must press you again,” Tarall leaned forward in his saddle. “To miss the coronation would be tantamount to giving up your throne.”
“If we ride hard we may still be able to make it in time along the North Path,” countered Hark.
“Your majesty! Please! Let us delay no longer. We must make haste. The direct route is our only valid option!”
Byrold looked at both of his advisors, who gazed back, awaiting his first command decision.
This is the first chapter of my Lords & Ladies story. It introduces the 'hero', and provides a (small amount) of background about the land and problems.
Other countries and parties will be introduced at a later stage, along with a map and summary at the top of the thread. I intend to start slowly though. I don't want to overload poor Stoat* with too many characters too quickly!
Hence this short first chapter. With a DP even! What should young Byrold do? Cut through the woods and risk ambush? Divert around? Something else perhaps?
Let me know your thoughts, suggestions, comments and all the juicy stuff.
*By Stoat, I mean me and everyone who reads this.