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The Kings of Yverness: Chapter 3 POLLING 12/1
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:59 pm    Post subject: The Kings of Yverness: Chapter 3 POLLING 12/1  

I figured that it was time to return to the old roost again and so I decided to revisit an old story as a new challenge to myself. Can I step back into these characters skins? Can I update them with any justice? I hope so. Enjoy!
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Prologue: What Once Was Will Be Again

It was the wee hours of a bitter winter morning when the Mourning Bell began it's tolling, dolorous peals echoing off the walls of a city newly reclaimed and reconstructed on it's ancient bones. By that first toll did all the Eresinne know the truth, that King Astor was dead...long live King Kevrem! It was not an unexpected occurrence. Since the outbreak of the Damned War and the Fall of Eresinne nearly seven years past, the people of Leyond had known the aging monarch's health was in steady decline. Yet still he had remained an unwavering figure in the minds and hearts of his people even if it was common knowledge his heir apparent had been king in all but truth for much of these past years.

Now did the people don their mourning black and gather at the outer walls of the Palace, staring at the stones scarred by dragon talons and the implacable fingerbones of the dead. They chanted the old hymns and well wishes to the warrior king who had grown in the shadow of a legend and forged his own legacy. They wept openly and waited for word from within. But their new king and queen were silent, taking this moment for their own grief even as word spread.

In the far north of the northern nation of Rhimefaust on the frozen battlements of a Keep that had never known the kiss of summer heat, a sound began to resonate across that land of ancestral spirits. A single bass note at first was soon joined by a softer tone as the dragon and his lady did throw back their heads and let their grief rattle the stars. Around their feet their brood clustered, tiny voices unable to sustain the song of their elders so they snuffled and nuzzled each other for comfort. Across the length of that barbarian land weapons were lowered and heads were bowed in a moment of respect for a warrior fallen.

In the eastern mountains of Haga'Dir the sky cracked open, shattering as a dome of lightning webbed from peak to peak causing rolling thunder to drown out the grief scream of a young god. Though miles had separated them physically more often than not in the past several years, missives had flowed freely. He stood now, his tears hidden by the rain, wishing bitterly that he might have had just a summer or two more with the grandfather that had taught him so much about being a king and a man. In holds and keeps across the mountains people drew closer to their fires and reflected on a time not so long ago when they might have celebrated this death.

Far away to the west, in distant Falverald, the High Justicar received the news with a heavy sigh. His people needed good news, needed hope, and the death of Astor Vengivedion was neither. Still, the missives were dispatched, a day of mourning and solidarity to be shown. That was the easy part. He stood, with his hands clasped behind his back and pondered his next move. After all, with Astor's death came Kevrem's ascent and that meant that the small child sleeping in the western wing was now third in line for the throne. His Granddaughter could hate him all she liked but keeping the child 'safe' was perhaps, in the best interests of his nation...

But in the lands far to the south of Leyond, in that hot blasted desert once called Jhadir where only the dead and the damned held sway, a faithful scribe heard the news and squealed with glee. Hands trembling with excitement, the last living resident of the desert nation lit his lamp to ward away the Skitters and hastily began the descent toward the Master's chamber. Oh he'd be so pleased....
------------------------------------------

"I cannot believe he's...gone..." Tessa's voice was soft as she leaned against her husband, staring at the empty chair in the Blue Study. Papers covered in Astors signature script still sprawled across the desktop, a quill laying next to a poorly sealed inkpot that waited for a master who would never again return. "As stubborn as he was I thought for certain he'd live till the next age."

Kevrem's arms held her tight as he sought comfort from her closeness even as he tried to give her comfort in return. "He was the shepherd of the Age my love. He never expected to see the war to it's end. Indeed, I think he merely held on long enough so that he could die here...in his home." Ever since they'd retaken Eresinne and the rebuilding had begun so had Astor's health began to fail. Kevrem had watched as each winter hit the old king harder and harder and had wondered for the past month if perhaps this one would indeed be the last. For once he took no joy in being right. He pressed a kiss to the top of Tessa's head, patting her softly as he sought to pull away from her. "Come, there's much to be done."

She looked at him with puffy eyes, tucking an errant hair behind her ear as she straightened herself. "The stewards can plan the funeral without us just as well as with us. You know he wouldn't have wanted much fuss."

"No, you're right about that. But I'm still going to send word to Lukan and Alasdair, they've a right to attend the funeral if they can get free. Also, perhaps you should send word to your grandfather that if he keeps Chloe locked up in his palace instead of sending her home in the spring as he promised I'll be rather cross with him." It's what he would do if a power shift happened, the crown princess of a neighboring nation was a pretty prize to control...especially with the tension that had begun to brew recently. Kevrem regretted that but he could spare little aid for Falverald when he was busy retaking his own kingdom. The refugees from Jhadir had helped to bolster their flagging population but it was an uneasy situation at best. While the old enemies were willing to unite in their hatred of the dead and the damned, generations of mistrust were not forgotten overnight.

He could only smile as Tessa crossed her arms over her chest and cocked her hip out, her expression firming a bit as she shook her head. "Oh I've no doubt that's exactly what he'll debate doing. I'll send him a politely worded letter about the upcoming grain aid that could go awry were he to even contemplate doing that. Chloe is not a bargaining chip. I already dislike that we've had to begin discussing her marriage options. She should have the right to ch-"

He leaned down to silence her with a kiss. They'd had this argument before. "She will my love. She will. If she chooses to marry a cobbler she'll marry a cobbler. But it doesn't hurt us one bit to think about young men who are both available and practical does it? Especially now. We must be seen to be going through the motions to keep the jackals from nipping at us." He turned down the hallway, unable to stand in Astor's shadow any longer. He'd gone not two paces when a soft sound had him turning and kneeling, his outstretched arms catching his wife just a hair from hitting the floor. She hadn't had a white-eyed vision in years...

"When the Black Legion mends it's sundered bones and answers to their King then shall the Son of the Sun find his Host. But unless the King Eternal takes up his crown in truth we shall all drown in blood and ichor."
------------------------
For some of you, you'll recognize these names and these places. For newcomers don't worry, all of the important places and characters will be mentioned often enough to clue you in in the upcoming chapter. This prologue is just here to set the stage, stay tuned for the raising of the curtain.
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titanholding1



Joined: 24 Aug 2019
Posts: 13

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:14 am    Post subject:  

Looking forward to the next installment.
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Lebrenth



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 1479
Location: Utah

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:57 am    Post subject: Sun of the Son or Son of the Sun  

Good to see you, Kalanna! I'm not familiar with the names, but I'm excited to hear it's part of an existing legacy. I'm also looking forward to more!
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:56 pm    Post subject:  

Oooou~! I'm incredibly excited to see where this goes. It's got the kind of opening feel that, had I opened a book to see this, would have me googling the rest of the series to find the start. It'll be fantastic to learn as I go about this world!
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:02 pm    Post subject:  

The precursor to this tale is here on If actually but hopefully if I do this right you won't need to read it to enjoy this one.
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
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Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:04 pm    Post subject:  

Kalanna Rai wrote: The precursor to this tale is here on If actually but hopefully if I do this right you won't need to read it to enjoy this one.

I thought it might be! I'm definitely tempted to go and read that, first, but if you'd rather get an introductory readers input, I'll wait to do that!
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:09 pm    Post subject:  

That is entirely up to you. The prologue here completely spoils the plot of the original and renders most of it's more high stakes moments moot but it should still stand on it's characters' merits. Or if you'd like to continue as is and let me know if I start to slip and assume people are familiar with things more than they are that is good too.
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
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Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:13 pm    Post subject:  

I'm lucky in that reading things even when I know the plot doesn't really detract from it for me! I think I'm gonna go in with these first few chapters without reading the preceding story, but I'll go back and read it another time!
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:17 am    Post subject:  

And so it begins. Enjoy!
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Chapter One: Larger In Life

She'd been informed an hour ago of the procession nearing Eresinne which in all actuality wasn't enough time to get herself ready to greet visiting foreign heads of state. So Tessa had bought herself a little time by having the newly arrived dignitaries shown to the suit of rooms that would be their home away from home for the time that they were guests of the nation of Leyond. She had to confess, her previous dealings with the nobility of Rhimefaust had left her underestimating their needs. There were far more guards this time than they'd ever previously bought.

In her years as Leyond's queen, Tessa had learned a few things about how important impressions had become. After Eresinne had been taken by the marching dead in the opening of the war, many had written the nation off as doomed. It's capitol had fallen after all, it's court had fled to some mountain fortress of which only whisper and conjecture existed. But they'd rallied. They'd had help from Rhimefaust, from Haga'Dir, and even a bit from Falverald. They'd steadfastly reclaimed the ground lost, relying on the bounty of the land and the strong ties between the royalties of the four nations to forge a lasting alliance. Still, there were nations beyond the continent of Yverness and if Leyond began to appear weak...it was only a matter of time before the vultures would circle.

So here she was, her hair piled on her head with artful carelessness, dressed regally in a winter gown trimmed with fur and gilded stitching and if the heavy fabric hid her sensible boots with the knives in their tops all the better. She sat on her throne with a cool expression and wished that Kevrem hadn't been summoned to Malvang the previous day. He was due back any time now but the portal between here and there was a quarrelsome thing and prone to delay. Still, she didn't need him to project strength. She was Leyond's queen, the mother of it's heirs, and the power behind the complex web of trade alliances that snaked between the nations of Yverness. Not a wagon moved that she didn't know about.

Still when the great doors parted and the visiting dignitary was announced she found herself...unprepared. It had been seven years since she'd seen this man. Seven years he'd spent fighting the dead in the North. They'd corresponded cordially from time to time over various matters, he'd driven a hard bargain for trade of several northern commodities, and he'd been unyielding and inflexible when it had come to an unfortunate boarder dispute two years back. Were it not for their relation and shared history things might well have come to an untidy end. But he was, above all things, a reasonable man. Or dragon as the case were.

Alasdair Dhakkonson stopped the customary distance from the bottom of the dais and Tessa was struck by what a monster of a man he was. He didn't bow and he didn't smile. He merely stood there as the herald announced him and waited for her to make the first move. Perhaps out of politeness? Was he still irked over that small boarder dispute? Perhaps it was the ongoing negotiations over a supply of white oak that was foremost in his mind. Or maybe it was Astor's death that had thrown him into this seemingly black mood?

She stood and slowly descended the dais steps, just enough to give her the parity to look him squarely in the eye. A mistake. She felt like a squirrel staring into the gaze of a snake. Here lay death should it choose to strike. "Six years and I could still bounce a gold off your ass I bet."

His laugh was instant and booming, the tension shattering like river ice in spring. No doubt the guards, eavesdroppers, and hangers on that lingered here and there in the throne room were shocked but the big man in his black leathers merely wiped at his eyes and grinned as he calmed. "I see neither marriage nor motherhood has broken you of your vulgar speech. How have you been Tessa?"

"Well enough. Busy rebuilding the mess we left behind. Keeping Kevrem in line, someone has to remind that man to eat from time to time." She laughed, descending the rest of the dais steps and coming to a stop in front of Alasdair. "Gods above and below though, are you done growing yet!? I swear you're larger than when last I saw you!"

Alasdair glanced at himself with feigned shock, grinning wryly. "Finally growing into the frame my father gifted me with more like. It's not so much that I've gotten taller but that I've caught up to my arms and legs. You look lovely by the way and I'm not just saying that because I'm certain you've a knife in your boot." He winked and offered her his arm that they might walk and talk a bit.

She took it, glancing back up at his face. The beard was new, he'd always been clean shaven before, but it was neatly trimmed and complimented his jaw nicely. His golden mane of hair was done in the northern style, many braids pulling the upper half to where they were gathered into a tail at the back of the skull, the lower half left long and loose to brush across his broad shoulders. His attire was black leather trimmed with black fur and emblazoned on the breast with his coat of arms in gold. Simple and neat. He wore no weapons, not just from respect, only a fool would have thought him a soft target. "You're staring."

"I haven't seen you since the wedding. You've barely changed. I would have expected a few more worry lines here and there." She reached up and rubbed at her own forehead with a sigh which elicited another chuckle from him.

"I'm a blonde. Hides the grey better. Or it will when I start going grey but I'm a distance away from that. Or well I hope so, you know what children are like." Their slow pace had taken them down the hall from the throne and toward the smaller side garden that rested adjacent to the courtyard. "Speaking of children, congratulations are in order I believe. This will be the third for you and Kevrem isn't it? That reminds me, where is my brother? I would have thought he'd be here."

Tessa came to a standstill, gawping up at the big man. "You can tell? We weren't even certain ourselves..."

Another laugh and he patted her hand. "Tessa, the spirits have blessed Kyrie and I with eight healthy offspring. I've a sense for it now. That's why I answered the summons by myself, she's busy settling our brood in the rooms you provided. It's also why I had to bring such an entourage."

It all made sense now. She'd known that Alasdair and Kyrie and expanded their family but she'd had no idea it had grown quite so large. "Ye gods man! Have you been having a child a year? Give your poor wife a rest!" She slapped his arm, wrinkling her nose. This easy discourse, this sense of camaraderie, Alasdair had just slipped back into this familiar relationship as though nothing had changed in the dynamic between them. As though they were both still young nobles under the scrutiny of their Grandfather and not reigning monarchs in their own right. Although calling Alasdair a monarch was generous, the dragon of the north insisted that he was merely a steward of the land, protecting it for the future king who would claim it.

"Hardly one a year. I think I'd have gone mad or bald or both if that were the case. Not to mention I'm sure Kyrie would have skinned me. After Aaern we had the triplets, Fern, Fjoli, and Fane. Then we had our elder twins Surt and Sophi. And our youngest twins, Mur and Mija just turned four the week before your missive arrived." His face fell instantly, the joy speaking of his children brought him fading as he glanced upward at the iron grey sky. "I cannot believe he's finally gone. We corresponded you know? I called him a curmudgeon and he called me stubborn. When I heard you were taking Eresinne I offered to help..."

Now it was Tessa's turn to offer comfort, shaking her head slowly. "Alasdair you need to let it go. It wasn't your fault the city fell. You nearly killed yourself getting us out so let that serve as your apology, I have." She'd never blamed the dragon for his choice during that dark day even if others had. He had offered more of himself than anyone could have asked. "I don't want you letting Lukan goad you when he arrives either. Our little brother's temper has not improved in the intervening years. He's just as hot and bothersome as ever."

"Ah yes, how is Haga'Dir's most eligible bachelor? He won't even talk to me these days."

Their third circuit of the garden complete, Tessa knew she'd stolen enough time for idle chit chat and steered them both back toward the doorway. "Lukan is Lukan. He visited when the rebuilding began, said he felt the need to see things set right. He's said he's coming to the funeral so you'll be able to see for yourself soon. Truthfully I know losing Astor has put him in a poor frame of mind. They spoke often or well, they sent regular letters. He's due any day now."

The door to the courtyard reached she let go of his arm and straightened herself, reaching up to pat his face gently. "You're the most patient of all of us. I'm sure that you'll weather his temper just fine when he arrives."

He gave an unamused chuckle. "I learned years ago you can't fly in some storms it's about time the storm realized you can't kill a dragon with lightning. I bid you good afternoon Tessa, I need to see to my children."

She stared after him, watching his massive stride carry him swiftly away from her, and could only sigh. She wasn't worried about how Alasdair would comport himself. Her walk and talk had only reaffirmed to her that he'd changed very little, he was still the smooth spoken gentle giant who put himself as a father first. That made him dangerous. His mate was here. His children were here. He'd be alert and aware and on edge, guarding them from any threat that might arise and Lukan...Lukan was Lukan. "Kevrem you'd better get home soon..."
------------------------------------------

It would seem that all is not well between the royal siblings, grudges long held still fester. With the grief of their patriarch's death thrown into the mix and at least one temper prone to running hot what might happen with the next royal arrival?
-------------------------------------

A little messy in it's opening movements but trust me, things are only going to get faster as more and more gather in one place. I hope you enjoyed.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8762
Location: http://www.NeilHarlteyBooks.com

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:49 am    Post subject:  

Well, that was well written Rai. Liked.
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Emperor



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 467
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:38 am    Post subject:  

Sorry I'm late Kalanna. So these comments are on the first post, I'm hoping to get to the rest as time allows. First let me say that this was very well written and I'm looking forward to digging in.

Quote: the Mourning Bell began it's tolling, dolorous peals echoing off the walls This was quite beautiful to me

Quote: frozen battlements of a Keep that had never known the kiss of summer heat So this is more likely a case of I just don't know any better, but is the word keep here supposed to be capitalized? Also lets just mention just how lovely that part about "the kiss of summer heat" is.

Quote: He'd gone not two paces when a soft sound had him turning and kneeling, his outstretched arms catching his wife just a hair from hitting the floor. I really liked this scene here, the detail of not letting her hair touch was very nice.
On a side note you mention that she hadn't had a vision in a long time and then have her say the vision. I don't know if it helps with the flow or not but maybe reverse that, but then again ending with the stanzas is much stronger. Hmmmmm.
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
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Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:02 am    Post subject:  

Last call for poll suggestions.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8762
Location: http://www.NeilHarlteyBooks.com

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:33 am    Post subject:  

I thought I'd made a suggestion before, sorry Rai...

I'd say that one of Lukan's inner circle hurts, in some fashion - whether by accident or otherwise, one of Alasdair's kids, which could well lead to some conflict oh yes.
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:42 am    Post subject:  

Poll is open for a week. I added a few off the top of my head ideas to round things out.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Location: http://www.NeilHarlteyBooks.com

Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:53 am    Post subject:  

Dun the button clickey thing, and winning. :cool:
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:17 am    Post subject:  

Heads up, poll closes soon.
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Lebrenth



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 1479
Location: Utah

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:55 am    Post subject:  

Struggling to keep up with all of the names, but I'm getting there. I feel like a newcomer that can only guess at the politics and relationships, but I can definitely feel the depth of it.

I would expect the solemnity of the occasion would keep hostility to a low simmer at this point, so I voted for the option of no open conflict, but surely only a breath away from some outburst.
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:12 pm    Post subject:  

Hello all. Apologies since the last poll closed I've been working without a day off. However, with days off looming in the future hopefully I'll get a new chapter out to you folks in the next day or two.

Again, apologies for the delay!

Edit: Poll results

What conflict might arise?
One of Lukan's confidantes hurts one of Alasdair's children?
50%
50% [ 1 ]
One of Alasdair's servants harms the Hagain hippogriffs?
0%
0% [ 0 ]
Godling versus dragon fistfight?
0%
0% [ 0 ]
No open conflict, only sharp words and polite insults?
50%
50% [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 2
Who Voted: Chinaren, Lebrenth
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:28 am    Post subject:  

Sorry for the long wait folks, life got hectic but here it is at last. Enjoy!
-----------------------

Chapter Two: Wake Me Up

"Horseybirds Da! Horseybirds!" Mjia pointed one tiny finger toward where the hippogriffs from Haga'Dir were gathered in the courtyards, ruffling their wings and scraping at the cobbles with hooves and talons. Lukan had arrived in style, swooping out of the sun in a brilliant flash of light with a noise like the peal of some colossal bell. The rest of his retinue had followed far more sedately, sweeping out of the clouds that had been steadily marching across the horizon. As worrying as it was for him personally to know that he now had to deal with his youngest half-brother, Alasdair couldn't help but smile as his young daughter squealed and bounced with delight on his shoulders.

He glanced up to where her enraptured face stared from their position on the balcony outside their rooms to the group of forty or so of the beasts and their hides of many colors. With a gentle chuckle he patted his fingers against her shins to try and calm her excitement just a bit. "Hippogriffs Mija. They're called-"

"Horseybirds!"

He laughed and let her be, glancing over at his grinning wife. Mija's twin brother Mur fussed in Kyrie's arms, bored and wanting for a nap. He'd been almost asleep when Lukan's entrance had woken him and he was now cranky as a result. Their elder twins, Surt and Sophi were little better, standing atop chairs so that they could see over the wall of the balcony with their chins propped on their arms and their eyes drooping. Only the eldest four seemed to be watching with anything approaching Mija's enthusiasm. The triplets all seemed focused for various reasons and if he had to guess Fern for the pomp and pageantry of Queen Tessa greeting King Lukan, while Fjoli and Fane just liked the way the strange soldiers were assembled like they lined up their toy knights. Aaern stood with his hands on his brothers' shoulders, mouth moving silently as he repeated back to himself the names of Lukan and his nobles, putting faces to what had previously been lessons on diplomacy.

Soon enough Lukan and a gaggle of his most brightly colored followers, likely pet nobles he'd brought along with him for some odd reason, vanished back into the castle with Tessa while the hippogriffs were taken away toward the stables to be lodged and the remaining men of Lukan's retinue scattered to their various jobs. From her position on his shoulders Mija huffed a sigh. "Bye bye horseybirds...Da can we go see the horseybirds later?!" She craned her face down to look at him as Alasdair tipped his head back to look up at her.

He smiled at her hopeful face, patting her shin again. "Well Mijaberry we'll have to see. The horseybirds have had a long trip. They'll need their rest."

"And speaking of rest, I think it's time for your nap isn't it?" Kyrie's voice was light and sweet as she shepherded Mija's siblings back into the rooms the royal family of Rhimefaust were sharing. "We can talk about horseybirds later. Give your Da a kiss, he's got work to do now."

Alasdair gave his wife a look of mild surprise as he accepted Mija's small kiss, pulling his small daughter down into a hug before setting her on her feet. "I do?" He cocked his head to the side, watching as Mija grabbed her mother's hand and Mur fussed as he was put down to reluctantly hold his mother's other hand. Kyrie simply gave him a look and then glanced over his shoulder toward the now empty courtyard. The message was clear and he sighed lightly. "Ah yes...I suppose I do. Rest well Mijaberry, Murling." He ruffled his son's hair in passing, hearing the lad protest softly and grinning to himself. Mur was always cranky when he was tired.

He crossed the floor of the large living area that connected their rooms, nodding to the guards that lounged near either side of the doorway and pausing, glancing back. Aaern and Fern had returned to their lessons near the window, looking over a big brightly colored map of Yverness. Fjoli and Fane were setting up their soldiers for mock combat near the fireplace. Surt and Sophi vanished into the bedroom the children shared just ahead of their mother who led Mur and Mija with her. His family was safe and at peace and it brought a small smile to his face.

Stepping out into the hall beyond the door to his chambers and all the warmth of 'home' seemed to fade. This was not Rhimefaust where every rock and stream greeted him warmly and every man and woman owed him a pledge of loyalty. This was Leyond where the spirits of the land were sleepy and unmoved to care for their caretakers and half the population still called him a monster. He hadn't wanted to bring the children south but Kyrie had insisted and now that Lukan was here...she was right, he had work to do.

Things had been strained between himself and his youngest half-brother for the better part of seven years. Ever since the bloody battle that had taken place on the plains outside this very city, where so many had died. The day Aaern had been born. Alasdair closed his eyes briefly and then opened them again. He didn't regret the choice he'd made that day, he only regretted the choices others had made in response. And the deaths, he regretted the deaths. But had he the chance to change things he wouldn't have changed things. What happened was the best for the circumstances. Lukan had never seen that. He'd only ever seen Alasdair's choice to ensure the survival of his wife and son at the cost of soldiers' lives as selfish. Perhaps in a way it was but then he never claimed to be perfect.

As he approached the small hall he could hear the voices long before he reached the door, Tessa's measured tones against what could only be Lukan's deeper ones. Pushing the side door open, he ducked through it and leaned on a nearby wall. He hated the pomp and circumstance that came with his position. Back home nobody announced him, nobody fawned over him. If he wished he could stand in a bread shop and buy a loaf just like any day laborer and the only deference he'd have gotten was a 'sire' or 'm'lord'. But Rhimefaust was hardly a 'kingdom' in the traditional sense. The clans largely ruled themselves and he ruled them only because they had chosen it to be so. They and the land both. Plus it made it far easier for other nations to have one figurehead to speak to and deal with than a double handful of Lords who each ruled their own small 'kingdom' within the greater nation.

"You're poorly suited to lurking in the shadows Alasdair!" Tessa's clear voice was raised to cover the distance between where she stood on the dais and where he was resting and musing.

He shook his head and pushed off the wall with his hip, crossing from his quiet corner into the well illuminated center. "I was not lurking but politely waiting my turn to speak with you. Hello Lukan." He politely inclined his head to the other, noting the changes in the other man that had happened in the years since Alasdair had last seen him.

He was a man now, not a boy halfway there. They shared many similarities, both inheriting the broad shoulders and narrow waist of their father along with a goodly portion of his height. Alasdair still stood a head taller but it hardly mattered to him. Lukan glanced up, his smile not extending to his grass green eyes, and held out a hand.

"Well met brother...still a behemoth in size I see!" The handclasp was at least warm and firm even if there was a cold chill to Lukan's words.

"Well met Lukan, you've grown." His observation was met with a noise that was half acknowledgement and half dismissal. So this was how things were going to be? He glanced at Tessa who's expression was...unreadable and polite. She had warned him after all. "I wish we were meeting for a happier reason, I've wanted to talk to you for some time."

Lukan's smile grew and he brought long fingers up to rub the short hairs of his russet beard. "Oh have you? You know I have as well but well, there was this situation on my boarder and despite all my attempts at de-escalating it the other party just doesn't seem very willing to negotiate. You know how it is. But we'll have to catch up later, for now I've said my hellos, I should see about getting settled in." He winked at Tessa and reached out to clap Alasdair on the shoulder before turning heel and striding off toward the other end of the small hall.

For a moment Alasdair and Tessa just stood there for a moment in silence before turning toward each other. She broke the silence first. "Did...did he just blame Bear Pass on you?"

"And now you see why the issue is yet to be resolved." He sighed heavily. "The Bear Clan may be stubborn but they're willing to compromise. Hork Bearsson is willing to come to the table and work out terms. But both times...well...I'm sure you've been paying attention."

Tessa could only nod. "Alasdair...I'm sorry. I know that Lukan can be hot headed, Astor complained about that every time he got a new letter. I know he's nursed a grudge but...he wasn't like this at the wedding. You two got along well enough then."

"I helped him fight for that damn throne of his. I'm not asking for concessions and deeds of land Tessa. I'm asking for him to take control of his Lords and force them to negotiate in good faith. I'm already fighting a war against the Dead, I don't need Haga'Dir to suddenly start ripping into my eastern flank." He folded his arms across his chest. "I don't want to war with my brother Tessa but it's not going to be my choice soon. The Bear Clan are large and well-liked. Some of our finest warriors. The fact they're having this issue...word is spreading. Anger is spreading. If this doesn't get solved soon I will HAVE to do something about it...and I don't think Lukan is ready for that."

Tessa shrugged her shoulders. "To be honest Alasdair, that's not mine or Kevrem's business. Leyond has no say in your boarder struggles nor should it. Times have changed. I can't just walk up to Lukan and cuff him on the ear like I once would have. That would cause a 'diplomatic incident' now." She screwed up her face as she said the words. "Sometimes...sometimes I wonder if we wouldn't have been better off not being royals. Just being some large and semi-functional family."

He agreed with her there. He would much have preferred to just take his wife and his children into the hills somewhere. To have his sons grow up learning fieldcraft and woodslore instead of memorizing heraldry and ancestry. To have his daughters grow into savvy craftswomen and strong hunters instead of being taught ceremonies and expected to marry well. Freedom, the one thing he could never give his children. "How I wish it."

"Kevrem should be home tomorrow...we'll bury Astor soon. Hopefully you can endure a bit of sniping and jibing until then?"

He laughed lightly, shaking his head. "Tessa my shoulders are broad and my back is strong. I can carry the weight of the stones he throws. In the end he's only hurting himself."

Tessa nodded, smoothing her hands down her bodice and straightening herself as if shrugging some thought away. Her eyes grew a bit more somber before she spoke again. "Alasdair, I was meaning to talk to you today. Astor's things, we're nearly done doing with them what he wished but...there was something he wanted you to have. Here, come with me." Without another word she turned and began to cross the small hall, skirts flaring as she strode with a purpose.

Left with no other option to assuage his curiosity but to do what she asked, Alasdair followed after her. Astor had left something for him? Specifically? It had to be important in some way. Or perhaps the old man was trying to give him one last piece of advice. Or maybe, really, it was a gift from Grandfather to Grandson. Either way Alasdair couldn't imagine what it could be.
-----------------------------------------------

So the question is, what has old King Astor left for Alasdair? What might the significance be?
-------------------------------

Whew, we made it to the end guys. I hope you're all still with me!
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ladyinatower



Joined: 08 Oct 2019
Posts: 12
Location: on the planet

Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:36 pm    Post subject:  

I'd say a book or something of personal significance. Something that might help, and mean something
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8762
Location: http://www.NeilHarlteyBooks.com

Posted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:01 am    Post subject:  

Nice chapter olde Rai.

Mmm, I say it's a map, oh yes. But to what? Maybe something desired by all parties.

[edit]Oh, and.... horseybirds! :lol:
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:22 am    Post subject:  

Going to leave this open to suggestions for a few more hours, will put up the poll when I get home.
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:16 am    Post subject:  

Poll is live.
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:16 pm    Post subject:  

I am so behind on this, my gosh. Finally getting a chance to catch up on things! I may have gone a bit overboard here, if so let me know and I'll find my chill by chapter three, I promise.

Some observations for Chapter One, typed as I read it:

Quote: There were far more guards this time than they'd ever previously bought.

Actually bought? Or brought?

Quote: if the heavy fabric hid her sensible boots with the knives in their tops all the better.

I adore how much this is telling us about Tessa, but in a way that those who've read the precursor story (Which I have not) will likely enjoy as a throwback to something important.

Quote: She stood and slowly descended the dais steps, just enough to give her the parity to look him squarely in the eye.

Ooou~! Bit of vanity here, but I don't often encounter words I don't know at least a little bit. So when I see a new word I get excited! I'll be adding parity to my personal lexicon, thank you very much!

Not going to quote all of it but the moment when these two big, important, Dignified™ folks started discussing pregnancies and babies I legit clapped out loud and laughed. I love humanizing moments like that, if Alasdair will pardon the phrasing.

Quote: "It wasn't your fault the city fell. You nearly killed yourself getting us out"

Yet another moment that made me go 'Oh, I bet I can get more details on that, if I read the first story!', I've noticed a lot of them. You've struck a great balance between being intriguing and not confusing.


Quote: "I learned years ago you can't fly in some storms it's about time the storm realized you can't kill a dragon with lightning."

I read this a few times, and I feel like this is supposed to be broken up into two sentences? Or have another comma. I'm not sure, its just a part my brain kept tripping on.

Alright! My overall feel on chapter one is that it feels much like grief does; like a regular day, where everything that would normally happens, but it also weighs wrong. Gosh I hope that makes sense. The conversation she had in the middle, about children and family, could have happened in any kind of circumstance. Happy or sad, grieving or celebrating, when people come together after a time, it's common to talk about it. You can almost forget that terrible things have happened, that they are at risk of getting worse. Only almost, though. The worries interrupt. I love it!


Reading Chapter two next, but I think I'm gonna put it in it's own post since I'm clearly in an analytical mood!
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:34 pm    Post subject:  

Alright! Onwards to Chapter Two observations!

Quote: "Horseybirds Da! Horseybirds!" Mjia pointed one tiny finger toward where the hippogriffs from Haga'Dir were gathered

My literal first thought was: "Fuck, I love her." In stories like these, I'm always suspicious of adorable children characters, they either go evil or die and it always destroys me no matter how many chapters ago I predicted it. Nonetheless, Mjia has my heart now.

Quote: Aaern stood with his hands on his brothers' shoulders, mouth moving silently as he repeated back to himself the names of Lukan and his nobles, putting faces to what had previously been lessons on diplomacy.

I love this insight into the kind of upbringing these children have, and the implied responsibilities they'll carry later on in life. You know. Barring plot disasters.

Quote: His family was safe and at peace and it brought a small smile to his face.

How dare you. How dare you type those words. Words like that only inspire the universe and it's gods and creators to spit in your face. I'm getting attached to these characters, and I'm not emotionally ready for the consequences of that.

Quote: Ever since the bloody battle that had taken place on the plains outside this very city, where so many had died. The day Aaern had been born.

I leaned forward at this, I love moments of death and life in contrast.


Quote: You know I have as well but well, there was this situation on my boarder and despite all my attempts at de-escalating it the other party just doesn't seem very willing to negotiate.

Border, though I will admit that I had a funny snort at the thought of a singular person being this much trouble.

Quote: Leyond has no say in your boarder struggles nor should it.

Moment of honesty, seeing it spelled this way twice made me have to google it to make sure I didn't have it wrong. Googles on my side, but that still doesn't reassure me that I'm right. Is this a regional thing?

Chapter Two felt like it was taking the time to establish things. It moved just a little bit slower for it, but all the information received felt necessary, not overbearing. This is one of the chapters that carries the weight of the previous book, I'm betting, and brings all it's established troubles and backstories to light once more.

I've missed the suggestion window, though I'm not sure what I would have suggested had I not. Looking at the other comments I'd've probably been contrary and said a book with a map. As it is I've voted~!

Wonderful story, can't wait to see more, and hopefully this time I'll be able to read it promptly!
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:22 pm    Post subject:  

Poll results for chapter 3 were:

What did Astor leave Alasdair?
A book?
50%
50% [ 1 ]
A map?
50%
50% [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 2
Who Voted: Chinaren, Novelest_Ninjagirl
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:36 pm    Post subject:  

Alright folks, the time has come again for a new chapter. I hope you enjoy this one as well!
----------------------------

Chapter Three: Moonless Night

There hadn't been much pomp and circumstance considering it was a royal funeral but Astor still wouldn't have cared much for the amount of fuss that had been given to his corpse. The procession through the streets from the high chapel down through the lowest districts and back again to be interred in his tomb of marble. Lukan had stood like wood through the ceremony, listening to the priest drone on and on about consigning Astor to the Gods and the Heavens. How his spirit was now free to wander the Fields of Eternity. Lukan had clenched his fists in his gloves then and his halo had flickered brightly, a cloud of warm and harmless fire casting it's dancing light across the mourners. The recently returned Kevrem standing with Tessa and their young son Jessin. Kyrie and her brood with Alasdair looming behing. Then...himself. Standing alone without kith or kin. Just as it always seemed to be these days.

When that marble slab had finally lowered into place with a dull thud...then had the tears come. Unmanning him as they'd burned hot against his cheeks. He'd turned angrily then and strode from the chamber, not daring to show his tear-stained face to the others. No weakness. Not now. Not ever. A weak king was a dead king. A weak man was no man at all.

As he'd exited the darkness of the crypt where the ancestors of his father, and his father the evil git himself, slumbered eternally Lukan was joined by a silent but familiar shadow. "That was a brief ceremony...you left early didn't you." There was no heat or malice in the voice, it was perfunctory and matter of fact as was Feyrd's manner and yet he could feel the slight scolding in the other's word choice. A moment later his words were softer. "You're crying."

A bump, all it took to correct his course around a corner and onto a more secluded path. A king shouldn't be wandering in secluded shadows, it gave assassins opportunities and birthed scandal. So would the warm hand holding his shoulder and giving a reassuring squeeze as he came to a halt and tipped back his head. "I loved that man Feyrd. He...cared about me." His voice broke and Lukan shuddered. "He told me once he didn't choose me for the throne not because he didn't think I had it in me but because he didn't want me to suffer. He...he thought I deserved a chance to be my own man. Not what someone wanted me to be. That I needed to find myself and I couldn't do that chained to a throne. He thought...he thought I'd let Haga'Dir go. That I'd give it to the Peak Clans and be my own man. I think my choice both impressed him and depressed him."

A clean white cloth was proffered and he took it, gently cleaning away the tears that clung to his lashes and dotted his beard like dew in a field. That calming hand never left his shoulder. "I told him you know? Told him the truth and he seemed...unsurprised. Told me wiser men had done stranger things and made stranger choices. I told him...it wasn't a choice. Because I have tried Feyrd. Sometimes it almost works. I feel something. Then it fades away and I know that perhaps I imagined it, I wished too hard and tricked myself if only for a moment. But I cannot bring myself to lie like that. But I'll have to someday...won't I? That or the Peak Clans will win in the end."

He turned and handed the cloth back and Feyrd's hand slipped from his shoulder as the other man tucked the fabric away in the pouches of his belt once more. "Lukan, if you wanted the easy path in life you'd have done what he expected. You'd have broken the Stormspear that night. You'd have fled instead of fighting. Or you'd have abdicated in favor of one of those distant cousins fourth removed of yours." The other man chuckled softly and that drew a chuckle from Lukan, allowing him to relax a bit as Feyrd continued to speak. "What we do, that's between us but we both have a duty to do. Yours is to protect your people. Mine is to protect you. Yours is to ensure they lead peaceful, stable lives now, and that their children and grandchildren do in the future. You're not wholly a man Lukan Stormrunner, you're something much more than that. You are a King. Someday, you may even be a God. With the belief of your people who knows what you may achieve but to do that you need to do your duty to them. Whatever the personal cost."

He stared at the other and swore softly. Nobody else in Haga'Dir would be so frank with him. "Damn you Feyrd Skysworn. Damn you, damn you, Gods damn you." He raised a hand, curled into a fist, and brought it down again. "Stop...being right." Feyrd chuckled as Lukan turned again, continuing along the path they'd set themselves on as it circled through the Chapel gardens and back toward the lighted torches of civilization.

"You need a voice of reason. I'm happy to be that my King. I live to serve." The toneless quality had seeped back in to Feyrds voice, chasing out the softness, but just as with his scolding Lukan had known the other long enough to pick out the mirth in his words.

"Oh do you now? Then you'll do me the pleasure of-" Lukan abruptly silenced himself as other familiar voices broke the stillness of the night. Their walk was at an end, having come full circle back to the doors of the crypt again. There stood Kevrem and Alasdair, deep in conversation, Tessa and Kyrie ushering the children back towards the keep with their entourage of guards surrounding them. The mere sight of his brother put Lukan's back up but it was Kevrem's eye he caught first. Thus out came the charming smile that so often dazzled at court as he inclined his head to the pair again. "You'll forgive me for making an early exit...I-I cannot stand to think of him like that. I'd rather remember him alive."

Kevrem nodded, the King of Leyond looking more than a little worn down. Likely from all his recent travels. There was a note of weariness in his voice as he spoke too. "Yes..I understand. It seems like just yesterday we were arguing over what to do with the southern boarder and the stable territories of J'hadir we now control. Leyond has historically been at war with our southern neighbor for as long as any can remember but with the Demon War and the dead and the collapse of the Caliphate we've had a surge of refugees settling in our southern regions...not entirely without contention." He pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a breath. "But that, brothers, is my concern and not something I'll be burdening either of you with. You'll join me for dinner, won't you?"

"Of course Kevrem but perhaps another day. The children don't quite understand all of this so Kyrie and I want to make sure today's events didn't...unsettle them too much. Mur and Mija in particular still have not yet grasped 'death' in its fullest concept. It'll be questions till dawn from the both of them. There's also the matter of those papers Astor left to me. The script is old and I am not as much a scholar as he thought me it seems, it'll take me months to decipher them if I'm able to at all. But if I'm to follow the map I must read the book."

"I am most curious about that. But we can discuss it another time, I'll leave you to your family. What about you Lukan? Dinner?"

Lukan held up a hand, shaking his head. "I'd love to brother, we've so much catching up to do, but after today I think I'm going to go drain a wine barrel and then crawl in it to sleep. Knowing my lords they've likely quite a head start in that department. Perhaps tomorrow if you're able?"

Kevrem relaxed a bit though whether he was deflating in disappointment or relieved Lukan couldn't tell. Every move was calculated with his ashen brother. "Good...good. We all cope differently. I'll see the both of you tomorrow for dinner!"

Before Lukan could even respond the other two were making their way down the path toward the keep. He let out a sigh, not needing to turn around. He could feel Feyrds silent disapproval. "What did I do wrong there? I'm not in the mood to be faux happy at dinner for the sake of others just now."

"Now is the time to mend your feud. Neither of you is the man you were seven years ago. He helped you win your throne, they've both helped you keep it. Even now...do you really think the lords of Rhimefaust are toothless bluster? No, they expect their king to handle it. That's his position. That's why he's there. It's his duty."

"You're rather keen on 'duty' tonight aren't you Feyrd. Fine. Perhaps it's time to mend the fence a bit. See if he'll still throw away the lives of hundreds for his own gain. If he really has been doing his best to prevent a war...that's a start. If only I could get Blackpeak to see a smidge of reason...then maybe I wouldn't be looking such a fool..." He found his feet carrying him toward the stable, no surprise. For all his life whenever he'd felt overwhelmed he'd seek out animals for comfort. Talon, his hippogriff, was just the latest in a string of his closest confidantes. Those to whom he could speak for hours without ever fearing his secrets revealed.

"Feyrd...come fly with me." The idea struck him the moment they were through the stable door and he turned to see the slender man already heading towards the tack. "You know me too well."

"That I do Lukan. It's my duty and my pleasure."

As they winged their way out into the dark night Lukan had to admit that this was a far better use of his time than drinking himself into a stupor. Certainly his lords would have preferred it if he had gotten into his cups and made promises to them, sang bawdy songs and made an ass of himself so greatly that he would be the butt of their japes for weeks to come. But he preferred the cool kiss of the night air, the sound of pounding wingbeats, the companionship of those he loved and trusted most. He knew he was struggling. The Peak clans challenged his power at every turn. They spit their poison in the ears of their neighbors, turning the north of Haga'Dir into a hotbed of unrest. An unwary move would plunge his nation into civil war, a situation he was ill-equipped to deal with. His southern lords, traditionally loyal to the Storm Clans, had slowly come around to their young king. They understood his vision, what he was trying to accomplish. They had seen the fruits of his labor first hand.

But in the north with the Peak clans fighting him tooth and nail, implementing his reforms with the ponderous slowness of an elephant balancing on a ball, the people and the minor lords were not seeing the same things. They thought him foolish. Indolent. Weak. The boy pretender without an heir. They chafed under his hand, no matter how light the touch. But it wasn't the fault of the common folk and it was they who would suffer if their lords played at war. Feyrd was right. It was time to put away this grudge of his. To mend his relationship with his eldest brother and fellow king. To reach out to him as another source of guidance for Alasdair ruled a nation of the untamed and it shamed Lukan slightly to admit he did it well.

He felt refreshed and light when they landed from the flight. His halo glowed bright and clear, a small sun fallen to earth and chasing back the darkness of the night. He was laughing as he lead Talon toward the stables, the 'griff nudging him and worrying his hair with it's massive beak in response to Lukan's good cheer. A few heartbreaking seconds later that was gone. Gone with a scream that split the night like a blacksmiths hammer through church glass. Gone with the wild shrieks and whistles of the 'griffs still in their stalls, a response to blood in the air.

Gone as he stepped inside to see Rost Blackpeak standing with bloody pitchfork in hand over a blond body that was all too familiar. Young Aaern Dhakkonson lay tumbled out of a stack of straw, clutching his bloody stomach. Next to him the littlest of Alasdair's brood, the girl...Mija? It was her screams that split the night and drew an answering bellow moments later.

Lukan knew that sound. He knew it all too well. He could only stare at Rost in abject horror as the boy dropped the pitchfork. "What have you done Rost...what have you done?"

A second later darkness fell and even Lukan's halo seemed tarnished by it. The fear hit them then, bringing with a stillness as two gold pricks of fury blazed from the hulking figure that seemed to fill the door. The hope and cheer he'd felt but moments before were gone, ash ground under the boot heels of a thousand marching men. Now he understood it, what the old texts meant, when they said a dragon's fury could turn a mans blood to ice. It could do it to gods too.
---------------------------------------

You all knew this was coming. The question is, what happens now? What demands might be made. What words might be said?
--------------------------------------

Phew, done and done. Hopefully you all enjoyed it. Let the suggestions commence!
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8762
Location: http://www.NeilHarlteyBooks.com

Posted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:22 am    Post subject:  

Nice one Raison! :clap:

Well, obviously there's going to be a lot of shouting and accusations, near fights and so forth, but I think someone, maybe a cooler female head, will intervene, and there will be demands of the King's justice.

Perhaps Ros will try to run. Maybe he will even get away.

So many possibilities.
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:56 pm    Post subject:  

It's always interesting to see what characters think, when they're at a funeral. And it's fascinating to me that Lukan thought not just of the family he'd just lost, but the one he didn't have:

Quote: Then...himself. Standing alone without kith or kin. Just as it always seemed to be these days.

Quote: "Damn you Feyrd Skysworn. Damn you, damn you, Gods damn you." He raised a hand, curled into a fist, and brought it down again. "Stop...being right.

I swear I've had a very similar exchange to this myself, no matter the circumstances it's incredibly relatable. Got a genuine chuckle out of me, too!

Quote: But if I'm to follow the map I must read the book."

Ah-ha! I was wondering when there would be a mention of the DP winners. Genuinely glad it tied, since why not both a map and a book after all.

Quote: after today I think I'm going to go drain a wine barrel and then crawl in it to sleep.

Damnit, now I love Lukan too. I keep getting attached to your characters after witty or darling dialogue and that has me afraid. I feel like I cannot trust them to live to see the next morn.


Speaking of seeing them live! Damn that DP, Rai, it's got me destroyed. My suggestion for what happens next is that someone leaps to treating the wounds, while the other detains the attacker, so that no more damage can be done before the truth is revealed. Bonus if Lukan is the first to act, perhaps that'll counteract to even the smallest degree the fact that his man is seemingly responsible.
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Fri Nov 29, 2019 4:43 pm    Post subject:  

Welp, with turkey eaten and Nano ending I'd like to get this polling. Get your last minute suggestions in folks!
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:56 am    Post subject:  

Alright folks, the poll is up and will run for one week. Every vote counts!

How is the situation handled?
Tessa's cool head prevails, diffusing tensions?
0%
0% [ 0 ]
Treat the injury while Lukan restrains the criminal?
50%
50% [ 1 ]
Demand the kings justice!
50%
50% [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 2
Who Voted: Chinaren, Novelest_Ninjagirl
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:38 am    Post subject:  

New year, new chapter. The holidays may have kept me away but they couldn't keep me down. Enjoy!
------------------------------

Chapter Four: Beat Of The Rising Sun

The scene in the stables was a one Kevrem had never believed he would see. To one side Alasdair sat against a heap of bloody straw with his eldest across his lap, massive hands pressed against the holes in Aaerns bleeding stomach. His youngest was pressed against his side with her tiny fists clenched so tightly in his undershirt that her knuckles were whiter than the fabric and Mijas little body shook with the horror and the sobbing she couldn't quite control. It was heartbreaking to listen to the big man attempting to reassure both of his children that everything would be alright and that no, they weren't in trouble. Alasdair's voice shook with emotion and whenever his gaze turned away from one or the other of his offspring there was a primordial and malevolent hate in it so strong that Kevrem felt it like a physical force.

On the other side Lukan burned incandescent. He was searing sunlight and snow and storm barely contained in human skin. His halo caused physical pain if the unshielded eyes so much as glanced across it. His clothing smoldered as did that of the nobleman he was lifting by the shirt front with one trembling fist. The other was pulled back and perhaps the only reason the blow had not been followed through on was that Lukan's manservant had wrapped his hands around the luminous limb at the wrist and restrained him. Even now he stood at his god-king's shoulder with a stoic look on his face despite the fact his flesh had to be smoldering through his leather gloves, saying nothing but just wordlessly keeping Lukan from killing the screaming, writhing nobleman. Kevrem knew that the manservant's strength was mortal but the knowledge of the hold was what restrained Lukan.

Slowly Kevrem moved up next to Lukan and into the furnace of his anger. "Brother...let him down. Whatever has happened we can get no answers from a dead man. Lukan-"

"No. I have tolerated this snake to placate his father while his father made a mockery of me. While his father talked treason. While his father..." Lukan's voice faded out and his manservant tugged his wrist ever so gently. Slowly the heat lessened and the luminous glow began to fade. Slowly Lukan became more man and less vengeful tempest. Slowest of all was the lowering of the writhing nobleman as Lukan turned and dropped him at Kevrem's feet. "I should kill you Rost Blackpeak. I should kill you and deliver your head in a box to Aaern's mother. But this isn't my kingdom, I have no power here. At least none that I would claim to save your worthless hide. So you can beg for his mercy. You can beg for all their mercy." Lukan dropped to his heels and stared the trembling man in the eyes. "And if you're lucky enough to get it...then you can beg me for mine. Because right now I want to make your finger bones into wind chimes."

Kevrem watched as Lukan stared at Rost like a hawk stared at a serpent. Then again the manservant intervened with a simple hand to the shoulder. Some unspoken cue. With a shake of his head Lukan got to his feet and glanced past Kevrem to where Alasdair sat. His expression turned pained but for perhaps the first time in his life the King of Haga'Dir seemed speechless. Without a word he turned and made his way from the stables without so much as a single guard trying to stop him. Kevrem couldn't blame them, even he hadn't known how strong Lukan was becoming and he certainly wouldn't have wanted to step in front of his little brother just now. Instead he merely gestured to his guards to take the man who was sitting at his feet.

"Show our guest to a cell. Respectfully please. Until we get to the bottom of what happened tonight he is to be afforded some courtesy." Even if it was only to keep his fingers in proper shape to make wind chimes from. But that was an uncharitable thought. Kevrem put a finger to his temple and then turned back to Alasdair and his children. The sight had not become less painful to look at but he forced himself to do so. To watch as his brother grew paler and paler while his magic set to work knitting together the wounds. The bleeding had halted at least as had the sobbing of the little girl.

"...and that is why stags bound away Mijaberry. Because they still have the invisible cable of starlight bound around their ankles." Alasdair's voice held a weary, harried note but was soft. His gaze flickering away from the wound to meet the gaze of his terrified daughter. He spared her a smile, leaning his head down to press a cheek to the crown of her skull. "I'll tell you another story in a moment. We must finish tending to your brothers hurts. Will you be a brave girl for me while I do?"

A story...he was telling his daughter a story? Now? Kevrem watched as the little girl gave a solemn nod and sniffled, burying her face against Alasdair's bicep for comfort. He took a cautious step toward them and Alasdair's gaze snapped to him, hard as frozen coins. Kevrem could only hold up his hands to show them empty. He wasn't trying to be a threat to his brother just now. He wouldn't dare. He just wanted to help. "I promise you Alasdair, we will get to the bottom of this. Right now...what can I do to help you? I don't know medicine and I don't know magic but I am not powerless-"

Alasdair's voice was firm when he interrupted. "There is nothing you can do." The dragon was angry and Kevrem couldn't blame him but he didn't feel that was fair at all.

It wasn't one of Kevrem's men who'd injured Alasdair's son. He took personal offense that something like this could even have happened under his roof. Yet there was a part of Kevrem that knew he'd act with even less grace had his own son been the one bleeding on the stable floor. "Well...if that changes...my resources are available should you choose to use them." By now the guards from Rhimefaust were arriving, pressing close to their king and injured prince, shouldering the guards of Leyond out of the way none too gently. Likely some of it was injured pride, after all it was on their watch the prince and princess had slipped away and ended up here. Still, Kevrem took it as an appropriate time to leave.

His guards closed in around him as he exited the stable and crossed the courtyard. His mind was distracted by the possible outcomes that would be the result of tonight's actions. Lukan had clearly been distressed by the actions of his lordling but where it came to family Alasdair took no prisoners. A half-brother rated far less than his eldest son. The war that Lukan had been allowing to brew through ignorance and his stupid grudge now seemed inevitable. He seemed to have realized it but too late. Kevrem doubted Alasdair was in any mood to negotiate any longer. Or that he was in any mood to continue to defuse his agitated subjects. Rhimefaust largely ruled itself anyway, Kevrem knew that. The various clans united under the dragon banner out of convenience, not necessity. It was Alasdair's job to interact with the kings of other nations on behalf of his people...a job he'd been quietly avoiding in Lukan's case. That would likely end now.

Which meant that there was a small corner of Leyond that could very well get caught up in the fighting. Bear Pass was only three days inside the boarder of Haga'Dir. Just on the other side of Bear Mountain and the Blackwood Hills. Refugees from the area would come down into Leyond for safety and right now Leyond couldn't handle any more mouths to feed. They had their hands full with the refugees from the south and sending aid to the west where the war against the dead still saw battles fought monthly. With his mind thus occupied he made his way back to his chambers and spent the night at his desk seeking to organize his thoughts in quiet stillness. Even Tessa was turned away when she came looking...no doubt he'd pay for that one when she caught him.

By the time the cock crowed dawn his head felt like it was full of wool but he'd at least organized a few plans and strategies that would work to safeguard his people. He knew he needed Tessa's opinion on a few points, she was the logistics genius after all, but largely he was satisfied. He freshened up, groomed himself, and found a comfortable change of clothing. Feeling exhausted but slightly refreshed, he was yawning as he sat down to breakfast and studiously set about ignoring his wife's scolding glances.

No sooner had he set about peeling a citrus than a great commotion went up at the doors to his chamber. Raised voices, the sound of drawn steel, and a moment later of splintering wood as his doors forced themselves inward and two of his guards sprawled just beyond the ruined wood. Standing in the doorway was a tall and curvacious figure her eyes reddened from crying and sleeplessness and her red braid frayed and unkempt. Her lips peeled back from pale teeth and she strode toward him with surprising speed. A palm slapped his table and caused his dishes to jump while the other hand pointed a slender finger toward him.

"Justice Kevrem. I demand justice for my boy!"

Slowly Kevrem set the fruit in his hands down and stood, his eyes never leaving Kyrie's and meeting her burning gaze with his tired one. "I already promised Alasdair that-"

Her palm slapped the table again. "No! My husband is a good man but he's too soft where you all are concerned. He believes he owes you, for blood ties and dead men. But I don't. I didn't bring my son into this world so that your brother's shitling lord could try to remove him from it. So that my daughter could have night terrors over it!" Her voice lowered to a soft growl. "I demand the King's Justice." The room was dead silent for a moment. Everything frozen and still. Then the skin of her palm rasped the table as she stood fully. She opened her mouth and then shut it again opting instead to nod softly before turning on her heel and marching away, stepping over the wounded guards that groaned near the splintered door.

Slowly Kevrem sagged down in his seat, putting his fingers to his temples with a groan. A moment later he relaxed as Tessa's hands rubbed at his tense shoulders.

"It's what I'd do...were our positions reversed. Actually I'd probably have tried gutting the bastard myself by now. I suppose her will to protect her other children won't let her away long enough to try it."

"You realize Tessa that this means war. Even if...even if I kill that man things aren't going to be settled. Lukan has let things get out of hand in Haga'Dir and Alasdair...Alasdair isn't the problem. Rhimefaust is. How do you think those people will react to knowledge that their prince was nearly gutted like a pig?"

Tessa's hands stilled. "You're going to sacrifice Lukan aren't you? You're going to lay all the blame on his shoulders and hope Rhimefaust is willing to just exhaust their anger on Haga'Dir."

"I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet Tessa. The only thing I know for certain is that no matter what his reasons were, I'm sending someone that young man's head in a box." He shuddered. This was not the way he'd wanted his rule to start off. This wasn't the king he wanted to be. He tilted his head back, looking his queen in the eye. "If the worst comes...at least the Legion stands ready."
------------------------------------------

War looms large on the horizon and now it seems unstoppable. Can it yet be averted?
---------------------------------

Phew. This one was a bit anti-climactic after the last but that doesn't mean the stakes have gotten any lower. Hopefully you all found it entertaining! Lemme know in the comments what you thought.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8762
Location: http://www.NeilHarlteyBooks.com

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:29 pm    Post subject:  

Twas good tho Rai.

The start though...

Quote: The scene in the stables was a one Kevrem had never believed he would see

...just seems a bit specific for something you would never believed you would see, if you see what I mean.

That being said, the second paragraph was very nicely written. I'd say poetic, but that's an insult from me. ;)
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