Fire of the realms shall swallow thee
It shall corrupt thy mind with an inferno of blood
For the Gods are deceased in heavenly grave
Scripture from the Tome of the Horadrim
Chapter One: A simple introduction
The three boys walked carelessly down the old, travelled road, away from all apparent struggles of life. Their chores were set aside for the moment; now was the time to enjoy the warm sun over their heads.
Young Prince Albrecht Strongmane, heir to the throne of Tristram, and sun of the All High King Leoric, walked aside his two friends, Daedrius Hillslay and Crixan Mailshine. All were of the same age; 15, and but a few days seperated each. Albrecht, the eldest of the three by two days, brushed aside a lock of brownish hair that had blown in his face from the small breeze in the air, exposing his fair skin to the wind. as he brushed the hair aside, his hand came to rest upon the band ringing his forehead; the symbol of the heir to the throne. Would he really be a king one day?
Daed looked over to see his friend, who walked between the two, set his arm back down to his side. Albrecht was so lucky... his father very much owned Tristram.
Daed turned his view back onto the road ahead, to the mountains of the west, beyond which lay Westmarch. He sighed and tilted his blonde hair-covered head downwards, while thinking how he wished to go there, to go on adventures. Nothing ever happened here. His dark skin seemed to darken as he cursed King Leoric for being so peaceful.
Crixan, however, liked the peace that surrounded the town of Tristram. Leoric had been a wise leader for a good many years, and led the village to peace and prosperity. He shook his head slightly, to himself as he thought, sending his black, parted hair out of place. Daed always wanted to go adventuring... it was a surprise he stayed here at all!
Of course, staying here was a wonderful way to prove their young allegiance to the king. Daed and Crixan were training as soldiers, to one day serve their king in a forever lasting battle... of peace. It seemed soldiers would never be needed here!
Of course, Leoric had been strange lately, Daed's father, Ahsuur, said. He was a High military adviser to Leoric... needless to say he had a fairly easy job. Leoric often sat in denial, sometimes silent, staring at nothing, but sometimes clutching at his head, and screaming at something that was never there.
These queer actions seemed to pass, however.
Albrecht looked up in the sky. "Maybe we'd better get back to Tristram. It's getting late, and supper will be on soon."
Daed and Crixan agreed, and the three turned back towards the town, back towards their resposibilities.
The three boys walked back towards Tristram, ans eventually came to the out-skirts of town. Prince Albrecht's father's castle towered over the commonfield, over the inns and shops in front of them, tall and proud. The wall surrounding the castle loomed high over their heads, With tall towers facing north, south, east and west reaching towards the sky.
Crixan was caught staring at the spectacle as they passed through a crowd gathered around a peddler's wagon, bartering for goods of all kinds. Of course, he had reason to stare; the castle itself told of the great craftsmanship tha the people pf Tristram worked. Stones cut to exact shape and size formed the enourmous wall, and intricate patterns and rune-walls blessed any who entered.
Albrecht looked over to see Crixan gawking at the castle, not taking notice of much else around him.Albrecht turned away to think for a moment. "Would you two like to come in? I could have you as honorary guests at tonight's feast!" He stopped for but a moment, looking back at the walls that neared. "There's not much new, but some High Lords are coming, and..."
"Really?!" Crixan and Daed cried out at once. Daed had obviously been staring at the castle too. Crixan managed to clear his throat through his excitement. "I mean... er... of course! We'd be glad to join you at your supper!" There. At least he did not look like such a fool anymore.
Albrecht laughed and shook his head. "If supper is on time, then, you'd best hurry; it'll be in only half an hour. It seems our little walk took longer than we wished.
" Half an hour?! Daed panicked. He had to be perfect for the supper! If there were High Lords, then perhaps Lord Durio Saada, of Westmarch would be there! No, he did not care much for the Lord himself, but his daughter...!
"I gotta go! I'll see you there!" He sprinted off through the crowd, to his father's barracks where he stayed most often. Oh, he had to hurry!
Crixan shook his head at Daed. He and Albrecht had not even had the chance to say good-bye! "I'm sorry, but i'd better be off too, if I'm to make your feast." The two said their goodbye's and parted, with Crixan going to his father's blacksmith shop, and Albrecht to the castle walls.
A blacksmith shop, you say? Who would live in a blacksmith shop? Actally, Crixan did not live there, but rather stayed there sometimes. He worked at the smithy as an apprentice, earning a small wage for his work. What for? Well, he thought that he would eventually find something to spend it on...
Daed, as well, worked in the field's outside Tristram, earning a small wage when he wasn't training with his father to become a soldier.
Of course, no matter how much money they had, they would never match the wealth of their good friend Albrecht. Most often, they wished they could be like him....
The sun began to set in the west, forcing a few meager rays of light through the high peaks of the West, as the six o'clock bell tolled over Tristram.
Crixan and Daed had rushed their way over to the castle guard, quickly bushing up and preparing. They found, at the wall, that a message had been left to the guard that they be let in, and showed to the feast room. Another message had been left for Daed, as well. It read...
If you had not been in such a rush, this would not be needed. But no matter. Please be careful tonight, around Shaenne Saada. You do not know her as well as you think you do!
As Daed pondered the meaning of this message, the two were led past the castle wall, through two great oaken doors and into the castle itself. Through many courtyards, they passed, each shouting it's beauty to the air as colors filled the heads of the two, and the remainging light trickled away to become torch-lit.
Soon they were showed to the feast room, and passed under a stone archway into the dining area. A great array of food sat before them; each chilled or boiled to perfection. Many succulent hams and tukeys lay before them, with mounds of potatoes steaming beside. Bowls of vegetables watered before their eyes, and every often and again a great pitcher of clear, yet somehow accented with pink, fresh wine sat beside great drinking glasses.
They were showed to their seats, near the far end of the long table, as another door opened and admitted the visiting High Lords. Daed's hand wandered to his side where his sword hung; it was there! He straightened, stading proud, waiting for Shaenne.
First came a dozen or so lesser Lords from around the country, some alone, or some holding his queen in his arms with children behind. soon after, came a High Lord of Westmarch, Fergiliad Lorbane, and honorable man trained in knight-hood. Then....
Daed's eyes brightened. The High Lord Durio Saada, proud and strong, came in with his queen at his side, behind them followed Shaenne. Shaenne! His eyes drank in the sight of her; Fiery red curly hair fell down about her shoulders, to a very shapely body... Daed laughed silently to himself, gazing into her deep blue eyes. And she looked back! And smiled!
After them came a few more sets of families, and then the family of good King Leoric himself. As the three walked to their seats at the end of the table, Crixan saw that King Leoric did not seem himself again. In fact, his condition look as though it had worsened. He glared at the wall on the far end of the long room, lloking read yto up and kill the whole lot of hosts. Albrecht followed close behind, looking very worried for his father.
Last of all came the high advisors and such... one of which was Lazarus. His cold visage stared across the room, gazing at each who sat at the table. Crixan had to shrink back in his seat for the gaze to pass over him.
At last he sat down, and the feast began!
Dead was very happy to know, of course, that Shaenne had chosen to sit just across the table from him. As the meal-prayer was said, the host sat, followed by the rest of the high and lesser Lords.
But even as the group ate, Daed had forgotten about his meal, almost completely, and set out staring into Shaenne's eyes. She smiles and winked. Winked!
But eventually even his eyes turned to the food upon the table. Dishing himself up a large leg of meat, a pile of the potatoes and some vegies, he eyed the flask of wine. Shaenne was drinking some... was he allowed to as well?
Smiling to himself, he picked up the flask and poured himself a drink. It looked like a fruit juice... wasn't it made from grapes anyway? He took a drink...
And almost spewed it acoss the table! "Gah, that stuff is discusting!" he thought to himself, choking it down his throat. Shaenne looked up from her plate, and saw Daed with the wine cup up to his lips. Smiling, she seemed to guess his thoughts.
"Isn't the wine wonderful?" she asked, wondering how far he would go.
"Um... yes! Wonderful... wonderful wine! Yes!" He forced another gulp down, trying not to grimace.
She smiled playfully, narrowing her eyes, and looked at her father, who sat beside her. "Father, may I be excused for a moment?" Her father nodded gruffly, and she stood, wagging a finger at him as she walked away. He understood.
Waiting for a moment, he himself said, "Excuse me for a moment," quietly, and left the table, then the room, out the same door Shaenne had. She waited for him outside the door.
Walking quietly, she grabbed his arm and led him towards a window in the hallway, looking out over the city. She sat him down on the ledge, keeping that strange look on her face. "I saw you looking at me..." She smiled brightly, and he smiled back. "I don't know if my father would like what I'm about to do..." Her smile widened, and she brought her head closer to his, closing her eyes. He did the same... waiting eagerly.
The punch sent him reeling to the floor, grabbing at his stomach and trying to re-fill his lungs with air. For a moment the world spun around him.
A bit of laughter brought him back to his senses. She was laughing! What was so funny?! She had just decked him in the stomach, and she was laughing!
Still clutching at his stomach, he managed to stand and look her in the eye. Her smile only widened at his gaze!
She managed to stop herself, somehow. "We'll talk later...." And with a slight tap on his cheek, she walked back into the feast hall, cool and collected as could be.
Once she was out of his sight, he collapsed back onto the floor, wondering what he had gotten himself into.
Inside, Albrecht was shaking his head, but he could not suppress a slight chuckle.
The End of Chapter One
Helmrane (Loren Sandboe)
Defender - The Order of the Slashing Swords
Originally published to Tales of Tristram (this site is no longer available)
Copyright Loren Sandboe - I am attempting to contact Loren for permission to use this story and provide a link or email address.
I may be adding a downloadable text file of the entire story soon.