This is my first attempt at writing any kind of story on Heresy, aside from the HOES and Role-plays but this idea came to me in a flash and I thought it would be good to share it with Heresy, as well as hopefully receiving some comments and feedback. Anyway, time to dive into the first chapter of Winter Falls
Galarid Irradhon was Chief of the Irradhon tribe, with the blood of the Victrix-Mortalis in his veins, and King of Fardossi, the small nation that rested upon the point that wilderness and dreams met civilization and reason.
The King had a single child, his sole heir, and at the time she was far away in the woods, with only a lone cold and tired guard to protect her from the terrors of the night.
Catelyn Victrix-Mortalis Irradhon was fifteen years old, tall for her age and able to outride any of her father’s soldiers. Tutors had described her as attentive when she wanted to be and clever when she bothered to try, with her father’s fiery temper. Few compared her to her mother, who had died when Catelyn was born. But those who did remember the proud young woman of the fierce Graeswen people said that Catelyn could have been her twin.
The lone soldier that had been assigned to guard her didn’t care about any of these things. The Princess had been hunting in the forest since dawn and the chill had crept into his bones sometime before midday. Yet even as darkness began to fall Catelyn showed no signs of turning back. The young girl had found the tracks of what she insisted was a werewolf and had been tracking the creature, whatever it was for hours as the sunlight slipped past.
Not only that but the guard feared that the Princess may be right. For the past hour, as the shadows had begun to lengthen and the forest darken, he had eased the spears at his hip and been riding with his shield upon his arm.
The creatures known as Werewolves had been banished from Fardossi following the Shadow Wars in which King Galarid had defeated the demonic armies of the Vampire King and Queen at the Battle of the Ghostpeaks. The werewolf that they were tracking through the woods was probably a lone straggler, searching for easy hunting in the daylight, where any prey would not expect its presence.
Yet that didn’t stop the guard’s hairs standing on end. He hoped that the werewolf would be one of the weaker ones, that that was why it was hunting in forbidden lands, that they could end the hunt and bring it back to the city as a prize for Catelyn’s father; perhaps it could even give valuable information about the Shadowlands, that had fallen so silent after the War.
But Catelyn Irradhon was vitally important to Fardossi’s survival and the guard could not deny the fact that the Shadowlands would be eager to slay the Princess if they caught her unprotected.
“Listen” Catelyn’s voice was urgent, cutting through the eerie silence of the forest all around them. “Just ahead, I can hear growling”
The soldier was taking no chances with the young Princess and levelled his spear. ”Pull in behind me,” he said, all formality to the Princess forgotten in the moment of danger.
But before Catelyn could move, the thick undergrowth beside the path they were following burst open and a Werewolf leapt out onto the path just ahead of the pair. The Werewolf was huge, it stood at nearly eight feet in height and was roughly man-shaped, but coated with midnight black hair and with a face that was a nightmarish twist of human and wolf.
Time seemed to stand still as the creature crouched on the path before them, it’s eyes, smouldering with hatred, fixed upon the figure of the Princess. And then it charged, it’s black lips pulling back to reveal a jaw of vicious teeth.
The Werewolf easily dodged the clumsy spear thrust of the soldier and continued towards Catelyn. But the Princess’s horse had been trained for war and seconds before the creature struck it reared up, it’s steel-shod hooves lashing out at the charging Werewolf.
Taken by surprise, the Werewolf met the full force of the kick, the hooves lashing out against his shoulder and sending the creature stumbling back. Yet the Werewolf quickly righted itself and growled furiously at the young girl before charging forward again.
By this time, Catelyn had drawn her long cavalry sabre from where it had been sheathed at her hip and in one fluid movement she wheeled about her horse, swung with the sword and cut into the Werewolf’s arm as it charged past.
The soldier then moved to the aid of his Princess and charged the Werewolf, his hardened warhorse knocking the creature to the ground. The Werewolf fell back as the hooves of the warhorse lashed out, seeking to kill the creature on the ground before it. But with a speed that was not befitting of the size of the Werewolf, a vicious claw arced out and slashed at the underside of the horse, causing the steed to whinny in pain and collapse to the ground, knocking the guard from its back, as blood sprayed out from the wound.
The guard quickly struggled to his feet, holding his spear out towards the creature, but it soon became obvious that the guard was not the creature’s target. Catelyn was still wheeling about her horse to charge the Werewolf when it charged into the warhorse and sent both steed and rider falling to the ground.
The charger quickly righted itself, whinnying in terror and bolting off down the path away from the Werewolf, leaving Catelyn, dazed and badly winded. For a moment the Princess was looking down upon the scene from above, dizzily aware that there was some kind of danger but not understanding.
She saw the soldier charge the creature, desperate to protect his young charge, only for the Werewolf snap the spear in two with ease and knock the guard to the ground senseless with one swing of a heavy, clawed paw. And then the creature turned back, walking towards the still body of a young girl.
Reality crashed back. The world slammed into Catelyn and in a rush she remembered where she was. The young girl fumbled for her sword and held it before her as she rose shakily to her feet. She stood squarely as she watched the Werewolf slowly approach, almost as if it was toying with her. But Catelyn had the blood of the Victrix-Mortalis running through her veins and the Fardossi Princess would not be played with like a mouse by a creature from the Shadowlands. Catelyn didn’t hesitate; shouting the war cry of Fardossi as she charged.
In a flurry of movement, the young girl cut at the Werewolf, striking his shoulder twice and his face once, her sword cutting a long scar wherever the metal met flesh. The creature roared in her face, pure hate and fury, and Catelyn staggered back. Those few seconds were all the Werewolf needed as it charged into her, sending the sabre spinning from her grass and pinning her to the ground, its massive weight crushing the breath from her lungs.
Yet the fire within the Fardossi heir could not be sedated and as the creature lowered its jaws towards her throat to end her life, she wrenched her hand free and lashed out at its face, contacting upon the bleeding gash her sword had made only seconds before.
For a second the Werewolf seemed to freeze. It’s eyes seeming to focus and lock onto Catelyn’s own. As the Princess started up into the almost black eyes watching her, she saw something almost human flash across the creatures face. And then, the Werewolf opened its mouth once more, but this time, it did not move to rip out its victim’s throat. Instead, it spoke.
“You have fire child. What name do your people call you?”
Catelyn was taken aback; the creature’s voice was low but undeniably female. The Princess was thrown completely, everything she had been told about these creatures led her to believe that they were noting but bloodthirsty, mindless, killers that fought beneath the Vampire King and Queen, as unthinking as any other primitive and evil creature from beyond Fardossi’s northern borders.
And yet here was a Werewolf that had not only spared her life, but spoke and asked her name. However despite her shock the Princess was able to regain some of her composure, despite the creature sitting upon her, and spoke as well as she could, trying to keep her voice from trembling.
“I am Princess Catelyn Victrix-Mortalis Irradhon, daughter of King Irradhon and sole heir to the throne of Fardossi”
Another moment of silence followed as the Werewolf continued to stare into the young girls eyes, seeming to be reading her. And then, the weight was gone. The creature reared back its head and howled, the eerie noise climbing to a high chilling note before falling through the decibels to silence. As quickly as it had come, the Werewolf was gone, vanished back into the undergrowth from which it had first emerged.
Catelyn remained upon her back for a few moments, staring after the creature until the sound of its movement faded completely. And then she rose to her feet, still disbelieving of what had just happened. A noise to her right caused her to spin, expecting another attack, before remembering the wounded soldier that lay upon the ground. The Princess rushed to his side and fell to her knees beside him. The man seemed to awaken at her presence and his eyes slowly opened. He met her gaze and spoke.
“I have failed you Princess. Forgive me” The soldiers voice was cracked and low, obviously paining him to speak.
“No, your task was to protect me, and you did so with all your heart and soul” Catelyn’s voice was soft and caring, she did not lie, she knew that her guard would have gladly given his life before he let anything happen to the sole heir of Fardossi. And yet despite his injuries his task was not complete. They were still isolated and cut off, deep within the heart of Fardossi’s most northern forests.
The guard seemed to read her thoughts and grasped her tunic, forcing himself to smile encouragingly, despite the blood flowing freely from the grievous wound upon his face. “Fetch my horn, from the horse’s saddlebag, and blow it. We are still in Fardossi, and your father’s soldiers will come”
Nodding, Catelyn hurried to the side of her guard’s fallen warhorse and pulled the ornate hunting horn from its saddlebags. Lifting the horn to her lips, the Princess blew one long and mournful note before lying back upon the ground. The young girl was exhausted and unable to stay wake any longer. As darkness claimed her, her thoughts wandered to the Werewolf that had speared her life. Was there more to the Wolf-Folk then Fardossi knew? How human were the creatures from the frozen North?
And so there we have it. Chapter One and we have already met our young protagonist , Princess Catelyn. And before anyone says anything, other people than Catelyn Stark can be called Catelyn. The name just worked for me. Any feedback, comments and/or thoughts would be welcome as this is my first real attempt at this kind of thing. Expect this to be updated fairly regularly as well.