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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-09-13, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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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

Chapter One

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.



The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

Last edited by Romero's Own; 08-09-13 at 04:02 PM.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-09-13, 03:49 PM
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A suitably dramatic first part, with a good mystery to keep the reader coming back.

The language is a little verbose in places. For example:

"In a flurry of movement, the young girl cut the Werewolf three times, 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. And 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."

I suggest breaking some of the longer sentences up to add variety, and saving formal language for more formal scenes:

"In a flurry of movement, the young girl cut 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.

But the fire within the Fardossi heir still burned. As the creature lowered its jaws towards her throat to end her life, she wrenched her hand free and lashed out at its face, striking the bleeding gash her sword had made only seconds before."
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Thanks for the words of advice Dave.



The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
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Very nice, kind of surprised that Catelyn appears somewhat more talented than a soldier, but perhaps she struck so much faster than he was due to the armor weighing the man down.

Hope to see more from you.

“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
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Thank you for your kind praise.

The guard was out of his comfort zone as the Huscarl style soldiers of Fardossi fight best in a shield wall, while Catelyn is a good fighter in her own right, but all will be explained....

Chapter Two will Benin the next few days.



The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
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Chapter Two

Catelyn awoke to the sound of shouting men and horses. She slowly opened her eyes and saw only green. For a few moments she didn’t know where she was, who she was, but then it all came back. Sitting up, Catelyn looked around her. Night had passes and sunlight was streaming through the thing forest above her. Beside her was the bloody body of her guards warhorse, and just beyond that the still body of her guard himself.

Hearing the sound of footsteps close by Catelyn called out and the footsteps stopped.

She called out again and a soldier burst through the undergrowth and out onto the path that she was lying upon.

She recognized the soldier as one of her father’s men and breathed a sigh of relief as the guard ran to her side, calling out for others. The soldier fell to his knees beside her and looked her over, checking for any injuries before meeting her gaze.

“Princess Catelyn, what happened to you? Are you hurt?”

“A Werewolf attacked me, but I‘m alright because of….” Catelyn paused as she remembered back to the actions of the Wolf-Folk. Fardossi had been fighting the Werewolves, and the Shadowlands as a whole for hundreds of years. There was a deep hatred for their northern neighbours and Catelyn did not doubt that the soldier beside her had fought at the Battle of the Ghostpeaks, probably lost friends to Werewolves and the other demonic occupants of the Shadowlands. He would undoubtedly take the news of the creatures talking, let alone thinking, badly and Catelyn could not risk it.

“Princess Catelyn?” The soldiers questioning voice broke Catelyn’s train of thought and she looked up into his eyes, smiling.

“Because of my guard, he protected me with his life” The guard smiled before moving aside to allow another soldier to make his way forwards and more thoroughly check her over for injuries.

Miraculously, her guard had survived the night and Catelyn watched as he was bandaged up and mounted onto a horse, even as Catelyn herself was led to a waiting horse. The leader of the patrol, a man that Catelyn instantly recognized as the chief of the Onalides, the most northern tribe of the Fardossi and a fierce people, yet loyal to her father, turned to her as she mounted the horse beside him.

“Catelyn Irradhon, what are ya’doing out in these woods at night?” Catelyn allowed herself a smile at the Chief’s broad accent. The Onalide chief, Romawyr, was a great bear of a man, his fiery beard spilling forth from his helmet.

“Tracking a Werewolf” Catelyn smiled as a look of shock passed across the Chiefs face.

“You mean you were actually looking for one o’ those buggers? I know they say you royals are crazy, but what da hell?”

Again Catelyn struggled to contain a laugh. She had known the northern Chief for most of her life and is colourful and joking language always brought a smile to her face.

“We weren’t just looking for one. We found one?”

Almost immediately Romawyr’s smile slipped away to be replaced by a concerned expression. Catelyn could see his gaze looking her over for wounds and she couldn’t help but squirm under the close scrutiny.

“Are ya’hurt? Did the bugger get you?”

Catelyn shook her head and opened her mouth to speak, only to pause and consider her next words. Although she had held back from telling the soldier her account of events, the man looking with concern at her now was one of her father’s most trusted men and almost family to her. She decided to tell Romawyr all and pressed forwards.

“Romawyr, can….can Werewolves fell…can they think? You know, like we do?”

Romawyr leaned back in his saddle. As Chief of his clan, he had fought the creatures from the Shadowlands a hundred times, Werewolves most of all. He had only ever seen Werewolves when they were after blood, when they were backed in a corner, when they were fierce. He had never considered them even slightly human, merely wild beasts that threatened his clan and Fardossi as a whole. “Why do you ask such thing lass?”

Catelyn looked around and lowered her voice as she spoke. “Because back in the forest, the Werewolf could have killed me, I was helpless. But it didn’t. It….it spoke, asked me my name. And then just left, without harming me”

The Chief’s eyes stared into Catelyn’s, searching for honesty and truth. When he found that the young girl was speaking the truth he straightened again. “I think dat’s a matter for ya’father. And we best be getting ya’back to him soon”

Catelyn knew that Romawyr’s mind was set and so could simply nod as the Chief signalled to his men and the column began to move south, on his journey back to Wildefort, the capital of Fardossi and where King Galarid Irradhon would be waiting for the return of his daughter and sole heir.

So there we are, the second installment in Winter Falls. A new character in the form of northern chief Romawyr and a bit more insight on the deep hatred of Fardossi for the Wolf-Folk

Again, comments and feedback welcome and appreciated.



The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

Last edited by Romero's Own; 08-11-13 at 01:38 PM.
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Chapter Three

They took the most direct route to the capital and eventually the dense tangle of trees opened up into small clearings and woodcutter’s camps as they reached the eaves of the forest. Then the trees gave way completely and the land stretched out before them. The patrol reined to a halt and stared out over the wide plain that surrounded Wildefort, the capital of Fardossi.

The land was a patchwork of hedgerows and fields, orchards and gardens, all green and fertile in the country’s short summer season, while directly ahead the city rose out of the surrounding farmland like a huge stone ship in a sea of golden wheat.

Each of its massive gates faced the direction of one of the four winds, and over the south gate hung the huge Harvest Bell, it’s polished bronze gleaming in the bright sunshine, seeming to beckon Catelyn and her escort home. At the centre of the settlement Catelyn could see her father’s fortress dominating the streets from its position high on the hill. The royal banner of a majestic white eagle on a blue background was clearly visible, as a cool breeze stretched it flat and snapping in the air.

Catelyn spurred her horse onwards, already recovering the shock from the battle and her rough night, anxious to tell her father about the werewolf. The patrol thundered across the plain, raising a cloud of dust on the summer-dry roads, and soon she and her northern escort were riding through the North Gate of the city and up the main street towards the fortress resting upon the crest of the hill.

It was market day within the Wildefort, and the people from the surrounding villages and farms lined the street with stalls, selling everything from vegetables and cheeses to eggs and newly slaughtered meat. It was hot, and swarms of flies had been drawn to the blood and offal, making Catelyn’s horse skittish so that it snorted and sidled as they moved slowly through the crowds.

“Make way for the Princess!” Romawyr’s booming tones cut through the noise, spurring ahead and using his horse to force people aside. Unused to seeing a mounted patrol, let alone royalty, some of the country folk who rarely came to the city stared as Catelyn and her escort rode by. Some even pressed forward to touch the hem of the Princess’ tunic or her riding boots as though she were some sort of holy relic.

This embarrassed Catelyn deeply, and she immediately unslung her shield and rode along with it on her arm, hiding behind the mask of her status.

“It’s the Princess! It’s the Princess!” The whisper ran ahead of her through the market crowd. Catelyn found herself wishing she’d worn her helmet and not just the simple iron cap she usually wore for hunting. At least in her war gear she had a nose guard that hid part of her face. She could only hope that the crowd of country folk thought that her blushes were simply the high colour of a warrior.

At last she reached the outer gates of the upper city, and the guards on duty barred the way of the patrol as required. “Who seeks entry into the Kings’ Fortress?” the soldiers demanded formally. Catelyn stared at them in silent pride as Romawyr answered for her.

“His daughter and heir, Princess Catelyn Victrix-Mortalis Irradhon.”

The guards snapped to attention and Catelyn rode through into the castle. As soon as she’d crossed the wide courtyard she swung off her horse and left the reins of her horse trailing on the ground, knowing that a groom would run to collect the animal. Catelyn bid the big northern chief and his soldiers goodbye as they turned back to return to their lands in the North and watched them ride away, their cargo safely delivered. Then she strode into the Great Hall of her father’s fortress.

Just inside the yawning archway of the doors, she paused for a moment to let her eyes grow accustomed to the dim light. Slowly the battered shields of long-dead housecarls – Fardossi’s elite soldiers – and the banners of old wars emerged from the gloom, and she once again strode forwards.

Before her, the flagstone floor seemed to stretch away forever into the shadows, but here and there small islands of light pooled on to the age-scarred stones as sunshine lanced down from smoke vents high on the roof. At the far end of the hall she could make out the raised dais where a throne of black oak stood. Its arms had been carved to represent the heads of eagles, and its feet talons of a great bird. And above the majestic throne hung the battle standard of Fardossi; a standing eagle, ferocious beak opened in a silent screech, vicious talons curled and poised. The very standard that hung above the throne was the one that Catelyn’s father had carried when the army of the Vampire King and Queen had finally been defeated at the Battle of the Ghostpeaks.

Nobody was sitting in the throne, and when Catelyn reached the dais she quickly walked behind it and ducked her head to enter the low doorway. Behind it lay a small cosy room where King Galarid Irradhon sat, leaning back in a chair covered with furs, his eyes closed. But Catelyn knew he was awake due to the fact he wasn’t snoring, and a small, wrinkled man had just finished his move in a game of chess.

“You’re cheating again, Marsden!” the King’s voice snapped.

“Oh, was I? I’m sure I didn’t mean to. I must have made a mistake. I’ll put the bishop back, shall I?” the little old man answered in a reedy voice.

Galarid opened a bloodshot eye and glared at Marsden.

“Yes, I’ll put the bishop back” the little old man concluded.

At this point the King noticed his daughter. “Ah, Catelyn! Come in, Come in! Take a seat!” the King boomed. In fact, the King only ever seemed to boom, bellow or shout, no matter what his mood. But nobody seemed to mind too much; at least he never had to repeat himself.

The young girl wasted no time in sitting down and speaking to the King. “Father, I have some important news,”

A wide smile passed across the King’s face as he turned to Marsden, still sitting patiently beside him. “Well it must be important Marsden,” speaking to the little old man “She only ever calls me ‘Father’ when she’s done something wrong, or a disasters at hand”

“I’ve done nothing wrong, Father”

“Then what’s happened?”

“I was attacked by a werewolf in the forest last night.”

“A werewolf, eh? You’re not hurt are you?” he asked, grabbing her arms and looking her over closely. She shook her head and after a few more moments of careful scrutiny, he nodded his head and went on. “Well, we can’t have the Wolf-Folk making themselves at home, now, can we? Exactly where did you see it? And did you kill it?”

“Just beyond Black Point, almost on the border, and no, I didn’t kill it. It was only wounded in its shoulder, and I think I cut its face, and it was pretty kicked about by the horses.”

“Nothing to a Werewolf. I’ll have to send out a patrol”

“Yes” Catelyn agreed. But then she took a deep breath. “The Werewolf could have killed me today, but it didn’t. It disarmed me and could have ripped my throat out. But when I punched it in the nose, it stopped and let me go. Not just that but it asked my name.
And I don’t understand why. If Wolf-Folk can’t feel and think, why did It let me live?”

Galarid didn’t know, and at that moment he didn’t care. He just felt an enormous sense of relief sweep over him. Suddenly he gathered his daughter in a bear-like hug that made her gasp for breath almost as much as the Werewolf had when it sat on her. “You will not take such risks again! Do you her me?” he roared, his anger fuelled by the terrible realisation that his daughter could have so easily been killed.

“But Dad, I didn’t take any risks. Werewolves don’t usually come into the forest. How could I have known it was going to be there?”

Galarid knew this was true, but it didn’t make him feel any better, He released her from the hug and sat down again heavily. “I’ll send a full patrol out immediately”

“And I want to lead it”

“Oh no, young madam. My daughter and heir will stay safely here in the castle. Let some other hotheads earn their spurs,” Galarid thought decisively.

“But they’ll need someone to guide them to the right spot. Nobody else knows the way.”

“Apart from your soldier escort” the King said, a hint of triumph in his voice.

“Apart from my soldier escort” Catelyn was forced to agree reluctantly.

“Good! Marsden, call in the captain of the guard. You can give him details, Catelyn, and then run along to your tutor. Geography today, if I’m not mistaken.”

Marsden shouted at the door for the captain, who arrived in a clatter of armour.

“Captain Lisdon. The Princess reports a werewolf not far from the city. Take details and send out a patrol!” the King boomed.

As Catelyn moved to confer with the captain, the King smiled and lay back once more, his eyes closing.

“Marsden. King to D2”

Two chapters in one day? You guys are lucky



The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
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Chapter Four

Catelyn was furious. She should have led the patrol to find the werewolf, not a mere soldier. And not only that, but the patrol would probably kill the werewolf as soon as they found it, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about this. She couldn’t help remembering that it could have easily killed her if it had wanted to, and neither could she forget the way it had spoken to her, asked her name.

She stormed angrily along the deeply shadowed corridor to her tutor’s room, striding like an avenging goddess through the sudden bursts of sunlight beneath each window.

Arriving at her tutor’s door, she hit it once with her gloved fist and burst through. Quinten Hammett was just drinking a cooling beaker of water, most of which he spilt down his black gown as he spluttered in surprise. But one look at Catelyn’s blazing eyes stopped him saying anything about good manners being necessary, even for a princess. Instead he smiled in welcome, and waved her to a seat next to the window. “Perhaps Her Majesty would be more comfortable in a dress rather than chain-mail?” he asked, using the stiff formality of his speech as a shield against Catelyn’s bad temper.

“No!” she napped. But relaxing slightly, Catelyn unhooked her sword belt and hung it over the back of her chair.

It was the job of Quinten Hammett to make sure that Fardossi’s heir was as well-educated and well-mannered as royalty should be. But Quinten knew that the only lessons that really interested the Princess were those that involved riding, and weapons.
Everything else was nothing more than a slow crawl for her.

So as Quinten sorted through his notes, preparing to tell Catelyn on the various major rivers in the Southern Lands, Catelyn turned and gazed out of the window, out towards the South, and the distant horizon of the Highpeaks.

As her tutors words began to wash over her, Catelyn pictured herself soaring out of the window and over Fardossi. She saw the city of Wildefort falling away behind her, the surrounding plain opened up, its forests and pastures flowing like a green sea around the walled islands of its towns. It was only in the seven months of winter that Fardossi entered it’s infamous frost, ice and snow. In the summer it was as glorious and beautiful as any of the fabled Southern Lands.

And yet as Catelyn soared towards the Highpeaks, as the mountains became sloping hills, she entered the lands of the Helos Republic, and the luscious forests and plains fell away to be replaced with carefully cultivated farmland and sprawling cities.

The cities themselves were riddled with factories, pumping black smoke up into the sky. The settlements had over spilled the very walls and the green land around them was bare and desolate.

And yet Catelyn knew that the factories had made the Helos Republic rich, and with that wealth they had established a massive army, which over the years had conquered countless lands to form an empire that stretched beyond Catelyn’s knowledge to all points of the compass.

Although most of Quinten’s lessons were ignored by the young Princess, those that involved the infamous General Scipio Bascom, fabled commander of the Helos armies, a man who had won every war, and never lost a battle which he led personally.

Quentin Hammett watched Catelyn as her eyes glazed unseeingly out the window, and he sighed. She was the most difficult pupil he had ever had to teach, but she was also one of the cleverest. And it was this knowledge that kept him in the place as royal tutor.

Deep down in the recesses of his brilliant mind he harboured the hope that he’d awaken a love of learning in this warrior princess, so that one day the Fardossi would be ruled by a scholar as well as a fighter.

But any hope of that seemed a very long way off, and in the meantime he settled to the task of trying to regain her attention. “I think we’ll postpone our lesson on the primary income source of the Southern Continent, and concentrate instead on the topography of famous battlesites.”

Catelyn nodded her head, her mood slightly improved, and surprised herself by actually enjoying the lesson.



The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
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Very good , guess Catelyn is one those romantic warrior types .

“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
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Chapter Five

King Irradhon called for a State Banquet that day. All of the chieftains across Fardossi were called to the capital every season, to discuss matters of state and for the King to watch for any chieftains that were over-ambitious. Despite the fact that the clans of Fardossi had united to fight against the armies of the Vampire King and Queen, relationships between the clans had always been tense. It was only through strength of arms that King Irradhon had been able to hold onto the crown.

Galarid was a proven general time and time again, his ancestors, the Victrix-Mortalis, had fallen into legend and their blood still ran in his veins, as they did in his daughter. And it was from that that King Irradhon was adamant that his daughter took over the crown of Fardossi after his death.

The Kings Great Hall was loud with celebration as the same soldiers that had fought under King Irradhon’s banners in countless campaigns ate and drank at the lower tables, sharing stories of their victories and feats in battle. The minstrel’s gallery that dominated the South Wall of the Great Hall was packed with musicians, playing endless drinking songs and battle tunes that filled the room with music.

As Catelyn watched from her place at the High Table, the Great Hall heaved and swirled like a stormy sea. But her view of fine details in the lower tables was limited by a thick haze of smoke that rose from the fires blazing in hearths all down the Great Hall. Even the battered shields and limp banners of forgotten Housecarls glowed only dimly through the drifting tendrils of smoke that would eventually meander out of the chimneys high in the ceiling.

Eventually Catelyn turned her attention back to the High Table and listened in as the King talked, or rather shouted, with one of the other chieftains, a man that Catelyn vaguely recognized from other State Banquets.

In all these banquets, Catelyn was sat beside the King. It was good for the chieftains to know the Kingdoms heir, and because she knew how important it was, she tried her best to rise to the occasion.

She made every effort to crush her natural shyness beneath an exterior that was charming and at the same time intelligent. She tried to laugh in all the right places and to speak only when she was sure that she was talking about, but she wasn’t at all sure whether she succeeded.

Chief Arden Keegan, an old man with long hair, still dark despite his age, and small twinkling eyes, leaned across the table towards her. “I hear the Princess met a wolfman recently,” she said, kindly giving Catelyn a chance to join the conversation.

“Yes, last night. I wounded it in the shoulder and face and eventually it ran off.”

The Chief turned to the King. “I think the Shadowlands may need to be watched, Galarid”

The King shrugged and nodded to show he agreed but thought the problem wasn’t too great. “Yes, yes, I suppose. But none of the watchers on the border have reported anything wrong. I’ll strengthen the border garrisons and send out more rangers,” he said after a moment. “That should be enough for the time being”

“As long as you don’t weaken the southern defences to do it,” the old Chief said. “I trust the Helos and their Republic about as much as I do the Vampire King and Queen. I suspect General Scipio Bascom has an ambition to add Fardossi to his long list of conquests”

Galarid laughed. “You worry too much Arden! Bascom has no ambition to add everybody to his conquests, and at the moment he’s busy in the south. So stop fretting and have a drink”

“I think the Chief is right,” Catelyn said quietly, her mind occupied with a problem she’s been mulling over for some time, “If we watch one border too closely, we put the others at risk. We need more allies”

The King nodded, “Very true. But we’re isolated up here in the northern lands. To the South is the Helos Republic and to the North we have the Shadowlands. We’re not exactly spoilt for choice, are we?”

“No, but sometimes friends can be found in the unlikeliest of places,” said Catelyn, her mind inexplicably to the wolfman and how it had looked at her before it finally let her go how it had asked her name.

The King winked at his daughter and smiled. “You’re right. Perhaps we should start looking as soon as we can.” Then he sat back in his seat, stretched luxuriously and rested his feet on the table. Catelyn watched in amusement as he manoeuvred his boots amongst the plates and cups of the banquet, until he found enough space to cross them comfortably.

Catelyn could tell that there’d be no chance of getting any sense out of her father for the rest of the evening, so she decided to join the Housecarls down in the lower hall.

She leaped off the royal dais and made her way towards the sound of throwing axes being hurled at a target, arriving just as one of them split the apple that had been placed in the centre of the bullseye.

The massive blast of cheering almost knocked her off her feet, but she waded through the press of huge sweating men and woman and picked up an axe from the table.

Although she might be shy in polite company and when facing the demands of well-mannered conversation, but she had no such fears amongst the Housecarls. All of her father’s soldiers had watched her grow up, and almost saw her as a child of their own. They encouraged the young girl to take a throw and she stepped up.

A great shout went up: “The Princess is going to throw!” By the time the apple had been placed back on the target, and with a huge effort the Princess hefted the axe, took aim, drew back and hurled with such force the she fell to her knees. When she dared to look at the target she saw the axe jammed into the throwing board, far to the right off the apple. And yet despite her miss, a great roar went up from the Housecarls and the Princess found herself lifted aloft and paraded around the tables.

From high up on their shoulders Catelyn could see through the swirling tendrils of smoke down the length of the Great Hall . Some instinct drew her eyes to the huge doors just as they burst open and a blast of cooler air flooded in, cutting through the thick bank of smoke like a hot knife cuts through butter. The hall fell silent and Catelyn breathed deep as the blast of clean air reached her. All eyes turned towards the doors.



The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
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