Difference between revisions of "Kingsley Family/Alyssa"

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*[[/Stormfront/]]
 
*[[/Stormfront/]]
 
*[[/The Lion (Part 2)/]]
 
*[[/The Lion (Part 2)/]]
 
 
 
==The Butchery in Brive==
 
This story ran from 10/30/2019, to 11/2/2019 after a disastrous battle in Brive ordered by Alyssa where King Kay Peregrine was killed.  It outlines the reactions from the various nobles of Perdan after the death of their king.  Alyssa's participation in the battle is located above in the scene "In Brive".  Her reaction to the battle and the aftermath is located below in ''The Lion (Part 2)''
 
 
 
===Peregrine===
 
 
Kay knew they would lose this battle immediately as the enemy army assembled on the other side of the field. They had reinforcements Imperatrix did not account for. And Perdan's side was missing many of its allied troop commanders. It was too late to fall back though and so this battle had to be fought.
 
 
And thus the king's fate manifested on that day. His men fought like lions and true lions they were. A company after a company overwhelmed and wiped out by the unending hordes of enemies. The king was wounded, his blood trickled down his steel plate eventually being consumed by Perdanese sacred soil. It drank so much blood already and still it was not full.
 
 
Kay counted the banners slowly approaching his position. Their faces were all blurred. An army of ghosts. A host of revenants or automatons. No matter how many the defenders of Perdan would kill, they always magically reassembled and came back again. For years and years. They did not care. Like they were not real people, but an ancient curse, mindless, merciless, unrelenting. A curse haunting him for his ancestors' sins. One you can not plead with. One that would just suffocate you slowly and silently like a withering disease.
 
"I did not choose this" he thought to himself. He was losing blood and it was hard to think straight.
 
 
They started the retreat too late. His bodyguards found themselves the last men standing on the hill. Kay saw almost a thousand men training their bows and crossbows on him. "This time even Shadowdale showed up" he thought to himself. Then: a cacophony of snaps followed by a chilling sound of a thousand projectiles traversing the sky. Bumps of large round shields forming a carapace over his head. Thuds of countless arrows piercing wood, metal, soil, flesh. Sharp screams of pain. Sounds of heavy hoofs and boots closing in.
 
 
.
 
His twelve remaining men formed a tight defensive formation around him. A devil's dozen against the great northern host.
 
The archers lowered their weapons. Were the men ordered to capture him alive? Perhaps. The enemy finally engaged. Thirty riders charged head on while two large companies of foot were scaling the hill from the sides. Some nobodies from Sirion and Caligus. But wait, there was a familiar face among the men. Elizabeth the mercenary. The woman who ate at his table and then went on to kill his old friend Emperor Shady and destroy his realm. Now she is back to get his head for her new masters in Sirion.
 
 
"May gods forever curse mercenaries. People with no honour and no shame." He thought to himself as his remaining men started falling around him. As he himself reeled from a heavy blow and knelt on the red grass. "What a terrible thought to become a final point of my existence. This does not even matter. Does not matter who dealt the final blow. What matters is the way I lived up to this point. I wish there was one man standing, who I could send back with my last words. But alas, none of my men will be spared. And thus my last words must be thought, not spoken. And my last thoughts are with Perdan. With men and women who survive despite all odds. As I die I feel so much pride, so much joy. That I was a part of this great struggle and that I will not be remembered as a bad king. Take heart, you who I have to leave behind! Perdan will stand as long as you do not falter. So do not falter, as I never did. Farewell, my friends. My kinsmen. My beloved children."
 
 
.
 
His eyes were blinded by gushing blood. But he clearly and vividly saw them all before him. Banetal the wise and Smiddich the pirate. Genteel Ulric and poetic Lucius. Maximus the loyal and Samuel the valiant. Pragmatic Benjamin, dignified Druzil. Mikial the ancient, Bo the chicken peddler. Scarlett and Christopher - the new lions. Lionheart Alyssa and the spirited valkyries flanking her: Isabel, Isana, Dustiria. Joreb.. the good man Kay unreasonably doubted. And many other faces less often seen at the court but no less dear to Kay. They were all smiling at him. But their eyes were sad.
 
Suddenly the crowd parted and a woman stepped forward. He immediately knew who she was. Rhiannon his long lost love. "My Rhiannon, but I thought you were dead!" the king thought with joy and surprise. She nodded and extended her arms for an embrace. "Yes, we were separated, my love. But not any more. Come. We earned this". He raised his hand to touch her beautfil face. And then the butcher's axe descended and blew out his light.
 
 
 
===Everlight===
 
 
Isana sat, stunned, eyes unfocused on the missive held in trembling hands.
 
 
"The King... no... how..."
 
 
===Poe===
 
 
The music came to an abrupt stop.
 
 
Lucius was stunned at the news, his mind quiet for the first time in years.
 
 
 
===Pryde===
 
 
Benjamin sat down hard on the burned stump of a tree when he heard the news.
 
 
The King was dead.
 
 
Another king.
 
 
He had seen so many kings fall in recent years.
 
 
His elvan companions maintained a watch as he sat in thought.
 
They wouldn't join him in grieving the man.  He supposed he understand.
 
Men died all the time in their experience.  What was one more?
 
But they held watch so no one else would bother him.
 
 
Benjamin sucked in a long breath and came to his feet again.  There would be time for grief later.
 
Now was a time of action, and men of action were in small supply in times like these.
 
 
Benjamin patted them on the shoulders in thanks for holding watch over him, and they exchanged raised eyebrows with each other.  He knew casual physical contact, especially with a man, was not common in their culture.  It was why he did it at every opportunity, and the two elves who had chosen to leave fallen Oligarch with him had long since resigned themselves to his oddities.
 
 
And today he would show them another oddity.  They would have mourned for weeks if one of their own died.  Especially their ruler.  But today, Benjamin was going to do something that would really throw them for a loop.
 
 
He was going to get back to work, because there was no time for mourning at a time like this.
 
 
 
===Noire===
 
Blood covered and in shock she looks at all the fallen. She failed her duty to protect the Imperatrix. Half her men dead the rest scattered to the wind. Worst was realizing the king had fallen. The one who accepted her first when she crossed the border into Perdan on foot with nothing. Her eyes close briefly pain on her face evident before her warrior face slams into place. Her charge was not dead. her duty to the Imperatrix and Perdan still was there alive as she was. She rallied her men and searched for Alyssa to help bring her home.
 
 
===Stewart===
 
The arrow still lodged in his shoulder, Christopher tried to notch another arrow but could not. He sat in complete disbelief as the King fell. The man who took him at his word when Christopher sent the message asking for a chance. He accepted the man from Shadowdale when all he had to do was dismiss the letter.
 
 
Christopher would do everything he could to avenge his King's death. He promised himself that.
 
 
===Fontaine===
 
 
A cool wind blows on the fields of Brive as the armies of Perdan, Vix and Perleone set up hasty fortifications and set their lines to defend.
 
They were more than outnumbered; the attackers had more than twice the men of the defending rank - history would be made today in this rural midlands.
 
 
Smiddich and his men were in the front line, with the cavalry ready to unleash hell. The Duke men, like the Black Bladed Duke himself, were heavily armored titans, standing grimly against their cowardly foe.
 
 
Archers exchanged a few volleys as the men and horses began their grim advance.
 
Emperor Stanmore and his unit took heavy fire, and the Imperial line faltered
 
Stanmore Stromhar, Emperor of Perleone, Royal of Perleone has been wounded by Pride (22).
 
 
Yet in return, the Sirion Commander, Marshall and Duke was wounded by the King of Perdan himself; grim tidings of the battle to come.
 
Elric Altenahr, Commander of Sirion, Duke of Sirion, Margrave of Sirion, Marshal of the Army of Sirion has been wounded by King's Guard (42).
 
 
Smiddich and his men overran the guards of one Sirion lordling, smashing through his lines and running through the Count, swords a'piercing and maces crushing hip and shoulder.
 
Theodius Goldhammer, Count of Tallbar has been wounded by For the King (40).
 
 
They were fully surrounded now. Allied Southern knights were cut off from retreat and the Northern cowards circling.
 
The defenders are vastly outnumbered, and panic spreads throughout their ranks.
 
 
"An opening, there!", shouted Smiddich, as he rallied the King and their men to push through, retreat! It wasn't until the fierce melee that Smiddich realised his own surcoat was sticky with blood, and a throbbing in his side - probably not mortal, but deep.
 
Smiddich Fontaine, Duke of Perdan, Margrave of Perdan has been wounded by Stoutbone Axemen (28).
 
 
His legs faltered for a moment, lost his footing, and Smiddich fell to one knee as the same lord dashed the sword from King Kay's hand and ran him through.
 
Kay Peregrine, King of Perdan, Royal of Perdan has been killed by Stoutbone Axemen (28).
 
 
An anger welled inside of the Duke of Perdan. All around his men, lords and knights and friends were falling, dying! Kay pushed himself off the blade, his final act of defiance. Smiddich felt a well of anger and resolve rising, and he pushed himself to his feet,
 
You are recovering from your wounds, and able to act!
 
 
An axe, hastily thrown, is a formidable weapon, even should the blade miss the mark, there is a length of timber that the face will not forget. Fortunately for the Duke, his blade did not miss. He stumbled, hand to his side, but Kay was there, still and unmoving. His horse whickered, bloodied, as Smiddich loaded the beast with his rider and smacked its rump.
 
 
"Fall back! To Perdan!", shouted the Duke, wondering if this was the beginning of the end.
 
 
 
===Hawk===
 
 
Ulric Hawk swung his sword down hard, cutting through the Sirion boy, he watched as as the blood started to pour from the body, and the boy fell to the ground. The grounds were covered in mud and blood, and there was nothing but chaos going around Ulric. His men were falling left and right, and Ulric shouted, "Captain Reikhard! Status?!"
 
 
With the melee occurring all around him, Ulric had lost sight of his Captain. In fact, he started to realize the men he was fighting alongside, most had fallen. He was beginning to become surrounded in the chaos. Ulric kept swinging his sword, sometimes clashing it against steel, mostly just cutting into whoever was around him. That is when he felt the sharp pain in his back. He spun around and saw a soldier preparing to swing his sword again at him. Ulric parried the blow, and kicked with his left leg, knocking the soldier down. Ulric quickly brought down his sword, cutting into the belly of the soldier, spilling out the last meal the soldier was able to enjoy.
 
 
Ulric took a couple steps back,and reached to back. He felt the warmness of his blood, and knew he had been cut. There was no way to know how bad it was, but first he had to reuinite with his men and his captain. Fighting through the sea of soldiers, he saw his captain kneeling over a dead boy of the Iron Fury.
 
 
"Sir, we don't have many men left. A handful. We have to retreat."
 
 
Ulric knew it was lost, but before he could make the order for retreat he heard Duke Smiddich's voice in the distance. Something about it, something was off.
 
 
Ulric fought through the crowd, making his way towards Smiddich's unit, when he saw it.
 
 
Kay Peregrine, motionless. Ulric Hawk knew what it meant, but he pushed back those thoughts. He had a job to do. Working his way back to the Iron Fury, he gave the order for the retreat. He felt his back start to worsen. As he and his remaining 12 men pulled away from the battlefield, heading back to Perdan, he didn't think about the possible doom this meant. No, he heard how many nobles had been wounded in this battle. He knew how bad it was already, instead he thought back to the tournament in Avamar.
 
 
He thought of laughing with Duke Smiddich, and seeing enemies in a different light. They were all equals at that tournament. No one was killing anybody. He had seen across the battlefield the same men and women he competed against. Except this time it was for keeps. This time, to lose meant to die.
 
 
He knew it would be that way for now on.
 
 
 
===Kingsley===
 
 
"You're lucky." Master Chance, Alyssa's personal healer told her as he finished changing the bandage on the gash on her belly.  She didn't feel lucky but she said nothing.  Her body felt broken and she had been slipping in and out of consciousness on the ride back to the city.  Resting in her bed in the Imperator's tower she sighed as the healer gathered his things to put back in his bag.
 
 
She supposed the old master was right.  Had Dustiria not found her and dragged her from the field during the battle, she would likely be dead.  She supposed she would need to thank the king for his appointing Dustiria as her guard.  She had always thought she did not need one, but reflecting on it now, having someone to watch her back was clearly a wise decision.  Together... She thought, laying her head back down and closing her eyes.  That's how we must win this.  Together.
 
 
She heard the door to her quarters open and watched as her quartermaster, the short and portly Cal Reed entered, removing his helm as he came into her presence.  So not all was lost, I still have my loyal soldiers.
 
 
"Heard you had woken my lady." He said.  His voice was deep and grumbly but Alyssa knew he was a fellow of good humor and heart.
 
 
"Only just, lieutenant.  I am glad you are still with me." Alyssa offered
 
 
Cal and Master Chance exchanged a glance.  The healer returned to filling his bag while the quartermaster grimaced.
 
 
Alyssa's face turned to concern.  "What is it Cal?  Who did not make it home?"
 
 
"The Captain..." Cal muttered looking at the ground.  Chance picked up his bag and gave the other a warning look before walking out the door.
 
 
Alyssa closed her eyes and grit her teeth.  Tanner was the best of her men, her most loyal, her bravest.  Her captain was gone.  She thought of all the other soldiers she had lost, she remembered most of their names, but none of their faces.  she wondered how long it would be before Tanner's face would be gone as well.  She wanted to cry, both from the pain in her arm and her wound as well as from the loss.  But she wouldn't.
 
 
"How many survivors?" Alyssa asked flatly
 
 
"8.  Myself, Gordon, Flat Dick, Grevin, Alain, Dorian, and Michal.  Master Graham is severely wounded.  He may not live.
 
 
Graham...  Alyssa gulped.  Her gruff old squire.  He was almost fatherly in a way, more than her own, though he would sometimes treat her as a child.  She would miss it, she feared, now that it might be taken from her.  Live you stupid old man.  I can't lose you too...
 
 
Cal looked grim still.  It did not sit well.  Nothing about any of this sat well with Aly.  "Who else." She demanded.
 
 
The squat portly man glanced back up from the floor.  "My lady.  The King."
 
 
 
===Kingsley===
 
 
Aly stood at attention as one of her men attempted to light the fire.  He was struggling, she noticed.  The lad was just a boy, though he was only a year or two younger than she.  He was a miller's son and it seemed as if he'd never started a fire in his life.  She waited patiently as he tried to light the torch, standing as still as stone.  Her side still hurt.  Her healer had warned her not to move around too much, descending the stairs of the Imperator's Tower was painful enough, but the sutures had not broken.  She had to see this though.  To be here for it.  She owed him that much.
 
 
Cal Reed, Alyssa's new captain, and old quartermaster stood by her side, chewing on his moustache impatiently.  Alyssa's eyes moved from the boy to the man on the pyre.  Her former captain Tanner lay upon it.  The fatal wounds he received in Brive were sewed up, he looked much unlike the mess that he looked when his body was recovered.  The rest of her company stood at attention as well watching the boy prepare the torch to send the young captain of Alyssa's unit to the beyond.  Most of them did not know him, she knew.  They were new recruits and hadn't even met the brave man called Tanner who had followed her into hell for so long.
 
 
I failed him.  I failed the King.  I failed the realm.  And now Tanner, and Kay, and likely Graham are dead.  She tried to keep the tears from welling in her eyes.  She was the Imperatrix of Perdan.  She had to be strong.  Everyone I care for is killed by this awful war, and my carelessness.  Who would be next?  She thought of the weary smile of Lord Ulric, the bright adventurous eyes of Isana, her gentleheartEd Isabel.  Why did I think I could do this.  I'm just a stupid girl from Whitewater.  Finally one of her lieutenants, Gordon, a sullen man with a grim sense of humor snatched the torch away from the fumbling boy and struck the flint himself lighting the torch.  He set it down among the bundles of wood on the pyre, where the old captain lay.
 
 
The Flames grew as the small company watched them consume the fallen body of Tanner.  Alyssa closed her eyes listening to the fire crackle loudly.  The roar of a lion. She thought. 
 
 
The flames consumed and died down, and no one spoke a word.  One by one they left, their respects paid until only Alyssa, Cal, and Gordon remained.  The dark-haired Gordon approached, clutching his hand.
 
 
"Got a bit too close when I was lighting the damn thing.  Bit of an asshole, Tanner, burning me hand like that.  Don't worry it happens everytime I light one of these."
 
 
She glared at him, and he held his hand up.  "Sorry m'lady..."  He glanced back at the ashes and burned bundles.  "He looked peaceful my lady.  Finally escaped this war."
 
 
She frowned sadly.  "Yes, he did.  He served loyally."
 
 
He nodded once.  "When I beef it m'lady, get me one of these as comfy as that one looked."
 
 
Alyssa glared at him again.  "You're dismissed."
 
 
"Aye." Gord said taking his leave with a shrug.
 
 
The short new captain put a hand on her arm.  "My lady.  It seems dark now, but there is still hope."
 
 
"Is there, Cal?" She said shying subtly from his touch.  "I am not sure of that.  For the next pyre will be for the King that I killed."
 
 
Cal sighed.  "You didn't kill him m'lady.  Twas this war that killed him.  And yes, he's dead and nothing's gonna change that.  But someone new will rule.  Someone who can save us all."
 
 
"And who is this mythic hero you believe will deliver us from evil?" she said with a frown.
 
 
"You, my lady."  Cal replied, resting a hand idly on the axe hanging from his belt before he turned to leave.
 
 
Alyssa bit her lip nervously as her captain walked away, leaving her alone beside the dying fire.
 
 
"I can't..." she muttered to herself.  "I'm just a girl from the woods."
 
 
 
 
 
 
===Camlann===
 
 
First light crept over the fields of Brive. The devastation of the region's formerly verdant lands coming into sharp display - where once grew grain, the fields were littered with blood and gore. A great battle had taken place here, a great battle in a war that had continued for all living memory.
 
 
Amidst the desolation, a lone man rode atop a white horse - a staff secured to his back and the twin sigils of a wolf and lion on his livery betraying his allegiance to Perleone and the noble House Camlann. Scouring the battlefield, it seemed as if he sought someone on the field of death, and so when he finally laid sight on a small row of golden tents, he spurred his mount towards the makeshift Southern encampment.
 
 
The encampment itself bustled with activity, it seemed all those left alive in Brive had been conscripted to care for the wounded and dying. Healers rushed to and fro, tending to the injured that had been rescued from the field of battle. For most, there was no hope, their bodies broken, their wounds too severe, their infections too deep. Towards the centre of the encampment, a small assembly had gathered to pay their respects- here had fallen King Kay of Perdan, a warrior on the field of battle.
 
 
Dismounting his horse, Gaheris of House Camlann hurried towards towards the assembly - Three days he had ridden, straight from the White City when he heard the news. Emperor Stanmore was said to have been seriously wounded as well, however he had received word earlier in the night that the Emperor was beginning to wake from his long stupor. King Kay, however, lay in state in front of the assembly, his body unmoving draped in the banner of Perdan, his sprit seemingly having moved on to another world, his worldly remains awaiting only the word of the lords of Perdan to be buried in their city.
 
 
Brushing through the distraught assembled dignitaries, he made his way to towards the body, staff in hand. Gazing on the King's body atop the coffin, it was clear that the cycle of decay had begun, he would need to be swift to have any chance of success. Taking a measured breath, he stepped closer to the coffin - the smell of death polluted the air. Reaching into his waist pocket, he removed a small scroll, memorising the words of power, before stepping forth and laying his right hand where Kay's heart once beat.
 
 
The Staff of Little Ogre had begun to glow faintly in the presence of death and magic. As Gaheris recited the words of power, he felt a small pulse in his fingers as the energy of the spell began to to course through Kay's veins. The chill of the morning air seemed to have dissapeared, and the sun, clouded and low in the sky but moments ago, shined brightly, bathing Gaheris and Kay in a bright light that seemed to be drawing away the pollution and death of days past.
 
 
Transfixed, Gaheris stood still as he beheld the transformation of the man before him - his breath first in raggedy bursts, then as his heart, more steady. The sickly cold pallor of his skin, to warm and rose. The grievous wounds of battle, mended within mere instants, willed by the healing bond of magic, leaving only scars in their wake. The assembled crowd remained silent in shock and awe, as the beheld life return to the fallen King. And then, as suddenly as it came, the light of the Sun dimmed again, as the transformation was complete, and the Fallen King's eyes blinked open.
 
 
King Kay had Risen.
 
 
 
  
  

Revision as of 06:44, 2 December 2019

Alyssa Kingsley
Alyssa.jpg
Status: Alive
Continent: East Continent
Realm: Perdan
Titles Held: Imperatrix of Perdan
Class: Warrior
Honor: 49
Prestige: 25
Age: 20
Height: 5'9
Weight:
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blonde

Alyssa Kingsley is a Perdanian noble, knight, and military commander. Knighted at a young age, she went go on to lead the armies of Perdan during the War of the Lich Queen becoming an inspiring figure. She has fought on numerous campaigns against the Northern Alliance including the Deception in Winkamus, the Oligarch Campaign, and the Butchery in Brive.

After the death of King Kay Peregrine, she was whispered to be chosen for ascension to the throne, but did not have to, much to her relief, when he was risen from the dead by

Roleplays



The Gift

This story ran from 10/12/2019 until 10/13/2019. Three player characters take part in the story: Alyssa Kingsley, Dustiria, Noire, and Nemean JeVondair Renodin. The story details Dustiria's joining Alyssa's unit, and a strange message from a foreign noble. Parts are listed by their characters


Noire

(10/12/2019)

She has her horse trot up to the Imperatrix. With a hand movement she has her Calvary fall in behind. "I am glad to join you. These orders I was happy to receive. " she looks over at the woman in a white cloak she rides beside taking note of the dour expression. "Do not doubt yourself Imperatrix. You are doing well. Perdan stands with you. "

Kingsley

(10/12/2019)

Alyssa watched as the cavalry approached, her Captain, Tanner, by her side. Looking at them, she realized that stature the youthful girl in the white cloak and battle-worn armour was not the image most would think of "Imperatrix"; and the weary now-bearded captain, his wolf-blazoned shield dented and chipped did not seem near as gallant as she knew he was. But she was the Imperatrix and he was her captain, and she sat proudly atop her Starlight as the other approached, the girl from Eponllyn and her horses. Tanner hailed them, and Dustiria Noire halted her unit before them.

"Do not doubt yourself Imperatrix." She offered sincerely, "You are doing well. Perdan stands with you. "

Alyssa nodded once and glanced behind the girl before her. The Noire Cavalry were not many in number but they seemed impressive with their lances held aloft and their glimmering mail shining in the sun.

"I've had a section of mine own camp set aside for your use." Alyssa said plainly, turning her horse towards the encampment. "Fall in order." She commanded as the company began to trot towards the Perdan camp. "The horses will be a bit more close quarters than they are used to. My company carries only a few. If you need anything see Cal Reed, my quartermaster. He's the short burly fellow. You've met my captain, I recall?" Alyssa asked motioning to Tanner at her side.

Noire

She offers a warm smile to the captain before responding to Alyssa"I do indeed Imperatrix. I am sure the space provided will be ample for my needs. The horses will be content with a good grooming and the grain we carry with us. Let me know if there is anything my men or I can do to assist you."a gauntlet covered hand pushes her orange bangs out of her eyes,"maybe we can share a pint of ale while we reassure the locals here?"

She rides closer and lowers her voice so none may overhear,"my lady I have received a kind letter from the only eppy noble that wrote me. From Nemean JeVondair Renodin. Would it be treason to respond? It held nothing but concern for my well being. Here you can see for yourself" she hand it over looking worried. It reads..

Dame Dustria,

It's been quite some time since last we had any contact and I simply wanted to ask you how you are.

Does the proverb: The grass on the other side is always greener hold true? I imagine it well might, Eponllyn has been exceptionally quiet. More so than before you left even. Hard to imagine perhaps. The latest needle that could be heard falling on the ground was the Talon, the General saying how he wanted to see the destruction of Perdan and the return to his homeland.

Quite a piece of propaganda I must admit. Many see it for what it is I suspect. However that doesn't inspire the Nobles to speak up though. I'm told you now lands in the Lorient these days. My mind conjures an unspoiled coastal region where stout bluffs defy the gentle waves of the ocean. Stands of trees blending into small pockets of woodland offering shelter and playground to a myriad of small creatures. In between all this I imagine rolling low hills dotted with craftsmen vineyards. Proudly tended and handed down the generations.

Perhaps I am entirely wrong but its a nice fantasy. Maybe you could tell me about it?

Wings unfurled,

Sir Nemean JeVondair Renodin Knight of Commonyr


Kingsley

(10/12/2019)

"I'm afraid I am not a girl for the bitter taste of ale." Alyssa said as they finally arrived in her own camp. "There may be may be some wine amongst the supplies that we could share at some point. Speak to my quartermaster, if he hasn't drunk it yet," she said shaking her head once as they passed under the white banner with the Kingsley wolf standing proud. Alyssa could hear her men singing along to some tune she was unfamiliar with. As she glanced over to the mirthful men she spotted the singer Maron strumming along with a smile. He caught her gaze and gave her a mischievous smile before continuing his playing.

"Welcome to my humble camp, my lady." Alyssa said turning back to Dustiria. "I am not certain what precisely the king wished for you to do but I have no commands for you, you are free to do as you like."

It was then a drab looking fellow in a black fur cloak approached the two. "My lady," the Lieutenant said glumly. "Welcome back."

"Thank you Gordon, you'll be taking our horses?"

He looked at Dustiria and then behind the two ladies at the Noire Cavalry. "All of em?" He said with a grimace. "I would draw horse duty tonight wouldn't I. Well I suppose I should be grateful it's not battle duty. Even with the extra ones it'll be less sh*t everywhere than battle duty. Err... Pardon my ladies." Sullen Gordon rambled. "I'll take care of em' don't ya worry My Lady."

Alyssa raised her eyebrow in warning towards him as she dismounted. "See that you do."

She gave Dustiria a weary, somewhat forced smile. "As I said, you are free to do as you like."


Noire

(10/12/2019)

"how wonderful you have a bard" she listens appreciatively as they go by. "Wine would be lovely. You might like honey mead too.the king just told me to help protect you. That is what my men and I intend to do. You may get tired of me underfoot."she nods to Gordon,"nice to meet you. My men will care for their horses,"she dismounts ,"do becareful with Belmont. My stallion can be a bit...frisky" she smiles and motions her men to fall out of formation. She straightens her purple and black tabard and falls in slightly behind and to the left of Alyssa. "Lead on my lady"


Renodin

(10/12/2019)

Where it might've been highly unusual or at least against protocol it seems that one particularly well spoken man with a quiet disposition managed to get himself announced to the Imperatrix of Perdan. His style of dress wasn't local and not even regional of the south. The robe he wore cut in such a way that it both served to lend his posture grace and at the same time rendered functionality on the road. On which he surely must've been for some time before arriving. His eyes are of a dark oaken color and the words that emerge from his mouth are measured and often quite gentle. While clearly not a noble it'd be hard to dismiss his embedded affluence. He might not be decked in jewels and neither does he carry any particularly outlandish garb, the simple quality ingrained in every piece of his attire nudges any doubt of his means firmly out of mind.

Draped around his shoulders is a thick leather cape lined with the fur of ermines. Before the man was brought to a waiting room he was said to have taken the time to groom his horse himself. Insisting that he did not mind the task and preferred doing it himself. What stood out was that the man had brought a sturdy leather trunk. Its surface worked so finely and with such care that the material was transformed into a bright amber skin. Curiously, there were two finger sized holes in it, near the handle. The man very carefully handled said trunk, at least, so reckoned your servants.

Upon asking his business he offered two pieces of information. The first was that he came on behalf of a Noble party. The seal and paper he presented for this claim consisted of a single page with upon it a clear sigil of the Realm of Perdan. The second piece of information constituted a phrase. In case there might be more Troll Kin in the Perdan Mines.. Supposedly this would make sense to the Imperatrix the man suggested. Enough so that she might deign to receive him.

With that he was content to give it some time and wait it out. Politely asking for some spiced tea as he made himself comfortable in the waiting room.

Kingsley

(10/12/2019)

"No tea."

The grim looking old man scowled at him, his old, dented armour barely reflecting the lantern light in one of the Imperatrix's pavilions. The noble sigil on his breastplate, a sheaf of wheat, was almost entirely faded. He glanced at the paper again and somehow his frown deepened. "She's the busiest girl in Perdan so don't hold your breath. Stay here." he growled, putting a hand on his sword and walking out, paper in hand.

Several minutes later, the old warrior returned, with him two young women in light armour neither of whom could be twenty. One with red hair and a tunic of black and purple was quiet and watched the envoy with an uncertain curiosity while the other with hair of gold tied back in a ponytail stood proudly at attention, her hand on a sword at her hip, a white cloak over her shoulders clasped with a brooch depicting a snarling wolf. She looked at him with a stern but weary gaze, the cold blue of her eyes searching him for answers.

"Alyssa Kingsley, Lady of the White Lodge, Imperatrix of Perdan." The old man announced a hint of pride in his gravely voice, motioning to the lady in white. She said nothing and the old warrior continued, motioning to the other girl. "Dustiria Noire, Dame of Lorient."

The man then took a step back, and Alyssa took a step forward. "I am told you were sent to give me something." She said, glancing at the trunk.


Renodin

(10/12/2019)

A gloved hand found perch over his heart and the envoy bowed. In the motion he carefully placed the trunk beside him on the ground. His cape veiling and unveiling the item as he rose again. Calm brown eyes passed from one of the young ladies to the other. I did indeed come here bearing a gift, Imperatrix Kingsley. Forgive me the time I steal as I take it to offer proper respect to Dame Noire. With that he made a second bow.

Turning his attention back to Alyssa. I must caution you however. This gift may require some time to fully appreciate. The rich delivery of the words laces them with a worldly quality. The man kneels down beside the trunk. His hands working on the straps. A leather flower emerging on the ground as his cape spills from him. Perhaps. A pensive pause that includes the motion of his hands. Perhaps this may ease the, shared hardship, you and my master at times feel. Lips formed a warm expression. He would have wanted me to say something along those lines. Although he didn't quite word it that way. Oaken eyes glanced up at Alyssa before they returned to the trunk at hand.

The straps became undone and the man turned the lid to face the Imperatrix. He whispered to the trunk. Coaxing almost, was it not for his seeming practiced paternal tone. As the lid rose the light revealed droopy and charcoal colored ears. A small hump holding the two together which ended in an even now, robust snout tipped with a broad black nose. Two dark anthracite, well spaced eyes looked up. Regarding the humans about the pup shook its tiny body and pawed the inside of the trunk.

Looking at the puppy for a brief moment the man stood up again and took a step back. I hope it.. The tiniest of barks fiercely interrupted the words, eliciting a a small chuckle from the man. I hope this gift may find your approval Imperatrix. It is a Cane Corso. With that he bowed again, awaiting her response.


Noire

(10/12/2019)

She inclines her head to the envoy as he bows to her. Her hand does not leave her sword hilt as she stands ready slightly to the left and behind the Imperatrix. As he works to open the trunk her shoulders go back and she looks ready to spring forward. Confusion crosses her face as the dark brown puppy is revealed. Her stern warrior face melts into a smile she can't help. "A cane corso...I haven't seen one since I walked away," she says almost too quiet to hear. Louder she says , " if I may ask Imperatrix who sent this? Forgive me if that is to forward to ask. " her own brown eyes look curious from Alyssa to the envoy and back before resting on the puppy.

Kingsley

(10/12/2019)

Alyssa took her eyes from the pup to glance at Dustiria. "It was your newest friend that is behind this my lady."

The puppy hopped from the trunk and sniffed around his new surrounding, following his nose to Alyssa's boots. She knelt down to pet the creature, taking off her glove as it sniffed her hand and licked her finger. She gave it a gentle stroke across its back, as it wagged its tail.

"Tell me messenger," she said looking up at the man with a eyebrow raised in challenge. "Was it Sir Nemean's idea or your own to carry this poor creature locked away in a dark trunk? The babe must have been frightened."

The puppy sniffed around again, curious of his new surroundings, bounding about as he explored the tent excitedly wagging his tail.

"Or perhaps not," she allowed, as the little dog pawed at a table set near the corner of the pavilion. "He seems quite brave."

As the puppy crossed by her as it wandered about the tent she pet it again as a slight smile crossed her face.

"You may stay under our protection for the evening" She said to messenger. "I will send you back with a letter to your Sir in the morning."


Noire

(10/12/2019)

"oh," she looks at Alyssa surprised. "You must be close friends for him to send you such a special gift. " She smiles as the puppy explores the tent,"he sent you a companion for at least the next decade. A cure for loneliness on four paws. A confidant that will never leave your side. Priceless loyalty and total love," she laughs softly,"forgive me. Sometimes I think I understand animals better than people. Name him well my lady. " She heads to the tent opening,"by your leave Imperatrix. I think I will watch the moon for a bit before I rest"


Renodin

(10/13/2019)

With those words the envoy made his final bow before making his departure from the tent. Leaving both the pup and the trunk behind. Once outside he settled in beside one of the small campfires but not before producing a small lute from a saddlebag. Plucking away a lazy tune as he enjoyed the glowing warmth that emanated from the fire.


Better Days

This story ran from 11/3/2019 to 11/5/2019. It details Alyssa's feelings after the death of the King Kay Peregrine. She meets with Isana Everlight and has a tender moment with her.


Everlight

(11/3/2019)

Isana squinted at the leather pauldron in her hand. It creaked back at her. She gave it another halfhearted polish, the supple and well-glossed leather warm through the cloth she held. Abruptly she dropped it to her lap.

"Augh, this is getting to be a bore. Distraught minds need human diversion!" she grumbled softly.

"Eh, milady?" Cedric appeared from behind stacks of well-counted quivers.

"Oh, Ced." Isana sighed, "We've been preparing and re-preparing for so many days, and all I can think of is the kind King, and how our fellows must be struggling with the loss of their friend. I hardly even knew him and was struck by his passing... That amidst all the pressure of foreign armies breathing down our necks. Folks need company, you know? A bit of solitude, sure, to mull things over, but too much of that and you start to spiral." She stood and stretched, holding the armor high overhead, Ced nodding obediently in the background.

"Of course, Milady."

Isana finished her stretch with a groan, set the pauldron with its mate on her chair, and continued, "I've got tower fever. Enough of this stuffy spire, I'm going for a walk around the city. Maybe a drink! Let Heinz know, and tell him he has my leave to come along so long as he sets a second-in-command. And mind you get yourself outside for a bit as well! Those arrows could count themselves at this point. It's an order, Cedric. Outside for the day!"

She set off briskly down the hall to her quarters to dress in something nice for a change. When she'd finished, the effect was resplendent: a knee-length, deep green coat with silver trim epaulets and buttons, over a long emerald green brocade kirtle and white petticoats. Very suiting to Greenstone Tower and the Everlight blazon both, she thought. Her long dark hair was loose for possibly the first time since making landfall here, the calm day inviting liberty. She even wore a necklace and rings. The only thing not "fancy" was her shining black military boots peeking from under the long skirts.

Heinz was waiting by the tower gate, and admirably checked his surprise at Isana's appearance into a formal salute.

"Captain," she greeted him warmly. "Let's have some leisure! A stroll around to the main square, lunch at an inn, see who's around. Enjoy this fine city of ours! Shall we?"

"Of course, Lady," he smiled back. "And thank you for the invitation. By your leave, perhaps we can stop by a cobbler?"

"Absolutely. Um... know you any of note? I've not been shopping here yet, really."

"Allory's Last is the one I know, Lady."

"Very good. Let's head there first, it gives a useful destination. Lead on, Heinz!"


Kingsley

11/4/2019

Alyssa walked slowly through the Ducal gardens near the palace, in a simple blue dress, a white cloak draped around her, her left arm still in a cast and sling at her chest. She liked this place. It was quiet and peaceful, and the trees here reminded her of home. She smiled as she passed the fountain she first met Isabel and the rosebushes where Maron the singer, who had taken up with her company, had plucked so many white roses to give to her as symbols of "his undying devotion to his lady".

She was not his lady, nor was she anyone's, but the familiarity of the place was strangely comforting. Indeed the singer today was strangely quiet as he accompanied her. That was worrisome too. The last few days had been a whirlwind, with the death of the King, the destruction of the army, and some quietly looking to her to lead. Between all of that and her own wounds, much better now but still healing, the last thing she needed was this fanciful singer plotting something.

As they walked she spied Lord Davenport, one of the duke's courtiers. She was unsure what he did but she knew it had something to do with city taxes. Or perhaps it was shipping duties. As a city official, it was likely he had many responsibilities, and though she had asked she had never figured out exactly what it was he did. The man noticed her and gave her a knowing smile. Also not good. She thought to herself. She did not mislike Davenport but he gave off an uncomfortable vibe, as if he always knew something she didn't. She shook her head , trying not to add to the growing list of things worry about.

"You are quiet." She said to Maron, suddenly, trying to shift her thoughts away from worry and from the dull pain in her belly.

"I am composing." He replied.

"You have no pen, master singer."

"I need no pen when I have such a muse as you, my lady."

Alyssa rolled her eyes. "What dare I ask are you composing in your head?"

"A poem, my lady. About a sad girl who blames herself for every tragic turn of fate."

Alyssa went quiet, and Maron sighed. "You have the weight of the continent on your shoulders my lady It is alright to be sad at the death of your king and one who believed in you so. But you are allowing yourself to be overtaken by the darkness you feel. We must bury the king. No one wants to see you buried with him."

Alyssa bit her lip nervously, trying to think of something to say, as Maron placed a hand on her cheek and tilted her face up to meet his eyes. "My lady..."

She slapped his hand away and glared at him. "You are not familiar! And I did not give you leave to touch me, nor shall I."

He smiled. "My fierce lady. She is the one who has captured my heart. I'm happy to see that fire is not gone. We will need it in the coming days."

She scrunched her face up, annoyed. Who is he to speak of her fire. She had no intention of surrendering or giving up. The King was still dead however and the succession was unclear. No matter what happened she would fight for Perdan, and she didn't need a singer to tell her otherwise.

"You're a boor" she said defiantly.

"I am anything my lady desires." He replied smoothly, though Alyssa merely rolled her eyes. "I desire you to leave."

"A common desire for my lady, but this humble singer is always ready to serve at her command." He said with a dramatic bow, taking his leave. Alyssa sighed as the worries began to pile up once more.

As she glanced out in the garden she spotted a familiar face. Her dark hair was down, Alyssa noted, and she was finely dressed. It was unusual to see Isana so, but she did look very pretty with her hair free and dressed in such colours. Alyssa felt she must look plain in comparison. She did not own many fine clothes or jewelry, nor did she own the bright cheerful smile the other woman wore today as well. Aly wondered why the other looked so cheerful. She did not lead anyone to their deaths. Her mind told her.

She was escorted by a man she did not know as they walked with purpose. She watched them as Isana laughed at something the man said while he looked sheepish.

Even in such darkness they can find happiness. What strength and spirit. The slightest of smiles came over her.

Everlight

11/4/2019

Lady Isana laughed aloud, to Captain Heinz’ chagrin. “Jester’s boots? In the House colours? Oh tell me you didn’t!” She stopped on the path near the fragrant Ducal gardens, wiping a tear of mirth from one eye.

“Slippers, not boots, Milady…” he offered, a flush spreading to the tips of his ears. “For wearing to the mess…”

Isana shook her head, still grinning, and gave him an unladylike clout on the shoulder. “That will certainly brighten dark days, Captain. I am not one to tell you how to spend your coin, ‘long as your duty continues to be fulfilled.” She shook her head once more, then gazed out across the beautiful oasis they’d discovered.

The expansive garden suited the beautiful city in which it grew. Like it had fallen out of a fairytale, copses of blooming trees scattered among brilliantly coloured flowers, small bridges crossing water to areas of lush greenery inviting a closer look to enjoy its textures. Ornate lamps stood elegantly at junctions of pathways, waiting for night.

A few nobles were strolling idly in the calm morning sunshine among the colourful riot of roses and peonies. An artistically dressed man was striding more quickly and directly towards an exit, the plume in his hat bobbing amusingly in his haste. Over in the dappled shade of some trees stood a familiar figure in blue and white. Isana recognized her Imperatrix instantly, though Alyssa’s body language was closer to a wilted flower than the bold strength she was accustomed to.

Seeing Alyssa was looking in their direction, Isana thought to offer a greeting. She began the military salute, which felt ridiculous as the skirts swished to her boot click, and followed it with an awkward curtsey and sheepish smile.

Oh well, she thought, at least it’s a greeting, and I think she’s seen it.


Kingsley

11/4/2019

Alyssa's frown turned up slightly into a solemn smile. She straightened to attention and returned the salute, before approaching the other lady, standing straight with noble poise, with her chest out and hands behind her back.

"You are in good spirits today, my lady. And handsomely dressed, if I may. Is there an occasion?"


Everlight

11/5/2019

Isana watched as Alyssa returned her greeting and began to approach, visibly straightening from the wilted flower to familiar steel. Isana’s brow creased—had she caught the Lady at a vulnerable moment?—then the knight nodded and stepped a few paces into the garden proper to meet her Imperatrix.

"You are in good spirits today, my lady. And handsomely dressed, if I may. Is there an occasion?" came Alyssa’s softly resonant greeting when they were close enough.

Isana curtsied and smiled again, “You are too kind, Imperatrix, thank you. The occasion is a day about in our fine City of Perdan,” she gestured in a grand arc, then her voice dropped quieter, “and no small amount of bravado for the soldiers and citizens, and myself.” She paused and sighed, the joyful grin of earlier slipping to a thin line as she met the younger woman’s gaze. “The feeling of being beset on all sides follows me. We are prepared as we may be for whatever comes. I felt the best thing to do, was to reconnect with those I stand beside, and remember those who have stood-” Her voice caught at the last, and she swallowed, fierce fire shining through the prickling tears in her eyes. “To remember. Everything. Brighter days, comraderie, and all we fight for.”

Kingsley

11/5/2019

Alyssa sighed, another reminder of what has been on her mind for the last months. /Beset on all sides./ In some ways she envied prettily dressed woman in front of her. She had little time to be carefree any longer. Those days were past for Alyssa as the chain of responsibility hung across her shoulder. With the King dead, and due to her no less, that chain hung heavier than ever. As she looked at the woman's bright smile she yearned for the warm days of girlhood where she stole away into the forest to play at swords with some of the lowborn children, the stories of knights and queens her uncle would tell her before bed, the feeling of her mother's hand holding hers as they travelled to the Lord's castle before the fire.

Memories were all they were now, she could not go back there, it would be too easy to stay. Perdan needed her and she would have to answer.

Alyssa shook her head and took Isana's hand as she spotted a tear well up in the other's eye.

"My lady, brighter days are ahead, not behind. We have to believe that."

She offered a weary smile.

"Enjoy today, Lady Isana. I believe it will be one of the bright days for you to remember."

Everlight

11/5/2019

Isana’s heart wrenched at the weariness in her Imperatrix’s words and voice. The whole of Perdan sat heavy on Alyssa’s shoulders. Anguish twisted with the admiration she felt for the younger woman, much older than she in many ways, and the knight felt suddenly guilty for how frivolous her actions must look. She felt blushing heat colour her face, and steeled her own persona to better support her leader and friend.

Isana squeezed back on the hand around her own and said quietly, “Every dawning day has light when there are companions to share it with. Your welcome and friendship have been a beacon for me in Perdan. I cannot know what you feel right now, dearest Lady… I am here for you in any way you may need.”

Kingsley

11/5/2019

Alyssa's features lightened slightly at Isana's words, her stoic expression turning into the slightest of smiles, her cold blue eyes melting for just a moment, meeting the others.

"Indeed. The only way we will come through these trials is together."

Then she gently released pulling her hand away and fiddled awkwardly with her fingers. "Ah... My apologies. I must appear so grim all the time, my lady. Here I am fretting to you on your happy day. I am sorry for interrupting you, I just don't usually see anyone else out here. I typically walk the gardens alone."


Life After Death

This story ran from 11/6/2019 to 11/11/2019. It details Alyssa's meeting with King Kay after his return from death.


Kingsley

11/6/2019

Alyssa brushed her hair idly, staring vacantly at the stack of letters from the Imperial Council. It was difficult with only one usable arm, but she dare not spend the coin on something so frivolous as a handmaiden while her men were dying in the field. Besides Master Chance, her company healer had told her he could remove the cast in only a few more weeks. "Be patient lady." He had said. He had taken to calling her Lady of late, which she hated, but it was better than "girl" which is how he had typically been referring to her. The man had little respect for titles, but a great deal for the art of healing and for that she could bear a few slights. He had saved her life at least twice, and the lives of countless of her men. She would give him as little trouble as she could.

Suddenly a noise came from outside her chamber. Alert, Alyssa lept to her feet, and ever prepared for anything, grabbed the nearest weapon, the ornate blunted Blade of the Imperator, sliding the scabbard through the sash around her waist. The hem of the simple white dress she wore flew behind her as she rushed to the door. She did not see Dustiria, but one of her soldiers rushing, winded up the stairs.

"My... Lady... Impera.."

"Out with it, man!" She ordered.

"The King... has returned... he..."

"What!?" Alyssa exclaimed, grabbing the soldier's arm, dragging him down the stairs. She refused to let him catch his breath and only dismissed him after he told her where she would find the King alive. He lead her to the King's private wing, where a cadre of guards were now posted outside his solar. Her heart began beating faster when she saw them. Could it be true?

"The King expected you might arrive, my lady." One of them said motioning her inside and pointing off towards the back of the main room. "Down that last hall my lady, and the door on the left."

She walked briskly, her shoulders back and her gait steady as she continued through the solar to the direction she was pointed in. A simple wooden door led into what her soldier had told her would be the King's drawing room. She had never been near any of the King's chambers before and she suspected few had been to this one, based on the the look of the place. The room was quite open, with sparse furnishings. This is a private place, she thought as she entered. No one but the king goes here. A single large window overlooking the bay let in light from outside. The room did not appear very kingly, but her own quarters were spartan as well. She understood the need for a quiet place. The figure beside the window however was what had her attention.

The man's shape was familiar as was the crown atop his head. He faced away from her looking out the window across the bay, at the ships which seemed so small from the palace overlook, like little models floating across the wide expanse.

"Alyssa." The man spoke in a familiar voice.

At once Alyssa fell to one knee, pulling the ceremonial sword from its scabbard gripping its hilt tightly as she pressed its blunted tip to the stone floor.

It is true. She thought, as she knelt before the man who died for their realm.

"Your Majesty..." She replied, staring wide-eyed at the stony floor as she felt her heart beats loud enough to echo throughout the room.

Peregrine

11/7/2019

The room was dimly lit, comfortably decorated and had an air of decadent opulence about it. It looked like a cave where a bear would retreat to lick his wounds, only if said bear wore a crown of the proudest nation in the world. The bed was empty and disheveled. The table was littered with heaps of paper, among them Alyssa could notice her own letters. The window was flung open, letting in the soft breeze from the bay.

Immediately Alyssa saw the king. He stood by the window, his back to the door. He was garbed in an old blood red velvet night robe. Smoke rose over his head, getting tangled in the prongs of his crown. He was smoking a pipe. Kay was not a smoker and the smoke did not smell of tobacco.

"Alyssa", intoned the king, without even turning around. He knew it had to be her. His voice made the young woman shiver. It was Kay's voice, but also it was different. Muffled and with metallic notes, it sounded like if his chest was now an empty brass jar. "Come, sit", he continued.

As Imperatrix took a seat, the room fell silent for a few more moments as Kay puffed on a long strangely shaped wooden pipe. Finally he turned around. As he started moving it became painfully obvious he was not well at all. His feet moved very slowly, his body was rigid as if avoiding unnecessary movement. And then she saw his face.

First she noticed a patch of ravaged flesh around his left eye where a misericorde pierced his face. Instead of the eye Kay had a large white moonstone set in his eye socket. Then she noticed a long scar going around his neck. That must have been an axe. As an experienced soldier Alyssa knew that people do not recover from wounds like that. It was a dead man's face. But the king was still breathing. Moreover, his scars looked as if they were many years old, while she knew they were supposed to be fresh. His dark hair was now almost completely grey.

"I am back", he said. And from his ghast voice Alyssa knew he was not just back from a battle, he returned from distant shores of oblivion. His remaining eye scanned his visitor sternly. "What did I miss? My body was ruined and it hurts like hell. It will take time to heal. Maybe it will take forever. But I am back to serve my people. So fill me in."

Kingsley

11/7/2019

"Look at what you did!" Her father's voice rang out in anger in her head.

"I'm sorry... We didn't mean to go out so far..." She had said back then, whimpering in fear of the red-faced man who had stood over her.

"You did this!" He had said pointing at the grim sight in the courtyard of the family manor. "Look at it girl!" She had looked she recalled, and had cried the rest of the day for it.

Alyssa looked up from her memories at the King before her. He was... something else now; between living and dead, caught between two worlds, their own and the mysterious realm beyond where death brings those it finds in its icy clutches. You did this her father said again. But the King was alive. It was still him she could tell. He looked at her with the same knowing look he always had, though what remained of his gaze was somewhat distant and he watched her expectantly.

"Alyssa?" He asked gently, his voice ringing hollow and empty.

She stared back at the white stone looking at her, still in disbelief at the risen man sitting before her.

"I'm sorry... I didn't mean for us to get caught out so far." She blurted out.

Kay shook his head and replied quietly. "Tell me what I missed, Alyssa."

"She took a moment to gather herself staring at the stony sea between them. Look at what you did! her father called to her again from within her distant memories. She would not cry today, she decided. All her tears were gone anyway. Instead she breated deeply and faced her king.

"I have been attempting to hold the realm together in your absence Your Majesty. After the battle, we fell back to the capital. I was wounded as well," she continued nodding to her battered left arm casted and slung close to her chest. "A spear pierced my belly and..." She shook her head. "Most of the realm was hurt and the army was destroyed. The North has been ravaging as far south as Beziers, while we are trapped here in Perdan City, waiting on relief from Vix and Perleone. Duke Banetal retreated to his castle in Aix, he would not say why. As for the north, a few of them had the kindness at least to send condolences at your death. Good King Ryndhal, Lyanna Arylon the countess of Glinmar in Sirion, and even the Shadow King himself broke his silence to send kind words on your passing. Thomas Foxglove has forsaken his position as the Prime Minister of Sirion. I have sent a letter north to perhaps discover why, as no one has seen or heard from him in weeks, but a new man takes his place, someone called Ivo Mersault. I sent him a letter, and he asked me of our situation, as rumors of your death circulated north and he was uncertain who was leading our realm. I have yet to have time to send a response. Finally, the Jarl has called a tournament in Sydgard. I believe some of our nobles are on the way. In addition we have some new knights. A boistrous fellow called Kenneth, another I have yet to meet who I believe is called Rogos who serves Lord Joreb. Also..." Alyssa tapped her fingers uncertainly on the arm of the chair. "Sir Nemean his forsaken his vow to his home of Eponllyn. He has taken an estate with lands near mine own in Bisciye, proclaiming himself a knight of the realm. He has asked me not to send him letters so I am uncertain of his intentions, though I doubt he means any harm. However, given your interest him, Your Majesty, I felt you should know."

Alyssa finished her report and took another deep breath. "That is all I have to report since you... died. I have tried to do what I thought best for the realm. The past week has been confusion and turmoil, but we have survived at the very least. And now you have returned to us my king."

She watched his remaining eye as she spoke, watching for life within. His gaze was distant, but in it she saw the sparks of life.

"You have returned to us." She said again, still hoping that she was not wrong.

Peregrine

11/8/2019

Kay listened silently, his head inclining under the crown's weight. Now and then he would nod slowly or raise an eyebrow. His face brightened up somewhat as he heard the few good tidings among the recount of catastrophes besetting his realm.

It was difficult not to notice Alyssa's wariness as she spoke, the silent questions hiding in her gingerly glances. But they became all too obvious when she fell silent. Kay's eyes met hers and he smiled. It was not a smile of genuine joy, but a reassuring one. A content smile an old terminally ill person would offer his favourite child. Even if the king blamed Imperatrix for the Brive massacre he never showed it.

"I have returned", he echoed. "That is beyond doubt. I know I am alive because it hurts so much all the time. Before my spirit briefly detached from my body, I did not realise that living flesh was mostly just a container for suffering. Gods know how much of it mine can hold."

He knit his brow and huffed on the pipe, emitting some black smoke into the air. He was not complaining it seemed, he only wanted to share his suffering with someone close. But almost immediately he decided against this brief impulse and returned to business at hand.

"This morning I received a letter from Lord Vixir. He wants to organize the swap of Dimwood and Montauban while the enemy is refitting. I need you to coordinate this move with their military, so that myself and Lord Vixir are not caught by the enemy in the field."

"As to young Nemean, his arrival makes me a happy man. Not just because I've grown to like the lad, but mostly because his decision justifies the work I have been doing since my ascension to the throne". Noticing that Alyssa looked a bit confused, the king explained "See, when you plough and sow the field and months later you reap the harvest, it feels good not just because you now have food to feed yourself and yours for the year. But also because it proves that you personally correctly understand the principles of causality upon which the entire world rests, which is tenfold as important if you lead not only your family but an entire realm. The earth is fertile and thus if you tend to it and plant a seed in it, it will grow. Likewise there is immanent nobility to the spirit of every highborn scion. And once you plant the seed of virtue in it, it will not perish but will develop and fluorish. These realizations give us peace of mind and reinforce our moral principles despite the ubiquitos chaos and evil which beset us".

"Perdan's power lies not in our excellent swords, but in strong and loyal hands carrying them. Welcome our new arrivals, Sers Kenneth and Ser Rogos, just like Ser Nemean. Make sure they are assigned to the army and sufficiently funded".


Kingsley

11/8/2019

Alyssa nodded at the king's command, standing up stiffly and giving a salute. "It shall be as you say, Your Majesty. I have already spoken to the new knights, with the exception of Sir Nemean for the reason I mentioned before. I will speak to Lords Nicolai and Saraph right away to coordinate the Dimwood situation."

Alyssa hesitated for a moment, grimacing to herself as she considered what to do next.

"Your Majesty..." She said, breaking the stony silence. "May I ask... What did you see? On the other side?"

Peregrine

11/11/2019

Alyssa hesitated for a moment, grimacing to herself as she considered what to do next.

"Your Majesty..." She said, breaking the stony silence. "May I ask... What did you see? On the other side?"

Alyssa's question made the king heave a sigh as his gaze became dim and vacant. He pondered for some moments as if reflecting upon his memories. Then looked straight into the woman's eyes. He started talking very slowly, each sentence feeling like a heavy stone falling to the bottom of a well.

"I saw you. And Smiddich. And Banetal, and Ulric. And my father. My enemies. Many people who are now dead or alive. Everyone I knew. Everyone who knew me. And they all looked at me. Sympathetic, but also judgemental. You, they, the entire universe judged me forever for the way I lived my life. I did not feel shame, I believe I have done well. But now I also see that I can do better. So that when I am back to the ghastly shores, I will know my extra time here was not a waste."

The king smirked and walked back to the window to enjoy the breeze in silence. The audience was seemingly over.


Kingsley

11/11/2019

No my lord, it was I who failed you... She thought, pained. The king's vacant glare made her uneasy as he smiled and turned toward the window.

Alyssa looked around waiting for the King to say something, but he remained silent. Alyssa cleared her throat and asked: "Is... that all your majest?"

If the king heard her, he gave no sign of it, standing still watching the model ships out on the bay.

What did I do to you? She thought, as she took an about face and opened the door to the corridor to leave, heart still beating with the blood of life and youth, praying that the king's still did the same.


Stormfront

Kingsley

11/15/2019

Alyssa walked briskly to the Stormfront encampment. She was still tired from her lack of sleep. Dreams of Brive haunted her nights, and being near to the horses did not help. Despite her tired eyes, she held herself high as she always did. She was a knight of Perdan after all.

Behind her, her elderly squire Graham, his face and one of his eyes ruined and scarred from Brive followed her closely, next to him the short and squat and magnificently bearded captain of her unit, Cal Reed. The early morning fog had settled over the Dim. The walk through Finchwood had been mostly uneventful, but Alyssa did get to wave at a cute young child who 'wanted to see the knights'. In truth Alyssa was the only knight among them, but the boy didn't know that, and she hoped their presence inspired him. His mother held him close and eyed Aly and her party cautiously as they passed through the town, but did not curtail his excitement as she nodded knowingly in his direction. We are here to protect you... She thought, but they had passed, and the little family returned indoors.

The old man grunted as they reached the camp, scratching uncomfortably at the torn and scarred flesh on his cheek, his old and battered armour clanking slightly as he moved his arm. Such heavy mail was not necessary for the simple policework they would be doing today but had not stopped him. Alyssa herself had wanted to wear a dress for her meeting this morning, but they would be leaving for patrol right after breakfast, and some protection would be needed, her squire had insisted. So she wore simple light armor and the sword at her hip, which she deemed sufficient for the day's duty. When they reached the camp they were halted by Everlight guards.

Graham growled, but introduced Alyssa, who stood tall and straight in a noble pose. The guard bowed before her and bid them wait as he fetched his lady.

"Try not to scowl, Graham. You are dining with ladies this morn, it would not do."

"Would you have me smile my lady?" He grumbled, before giving a pained, toothy grin pulling back the scabbed and scarred flesh on the old squire's face. It looked somehow worse than his scowl.

Alyssa grimaced. "No." Then she gave him a knowing look, her hands on her hips defiantly. "But do try your best to pleasant, please. Lady Isana is a bright soul and a true knight, we should be grateful to her for her invitation." Graham grunted, but said nothing as the guard returned, his lady in tow. Alyssa turned towards the lady approaching, standing at ease as Isana came near. Alyssa greeted her with a warm, yet tired smile.


Everlight

11/15/2019

Isana was going over policing procedures with her captain when her page burst through the tent flaps.

"Lady!" he panted, shrill, "You've a visitor! It's the Imperatrix!" His voice squeaked as the guardsman appeared on his heels, obviously also having hurried but with more poise.

"Cedric. You're out of line." she said flatly, though there was a bright note in her voice. "Bertram? Is it so?" Isana asked, rising.

"As he says, Lady. Dame Alyssa Kingsley has arrived with a small party, three of them together. The companions by badging are her squire and captain." the guard reported at attention.

"Excellent!" Isana grinned. "Bert, take me to her. And Cedric, you're to report to the mess tent, tell them we will have 6 seats for full breakfast set immediately. You can then offer your services to the mess for the rest of the morning, for whatever duties they need. Dismissed!"

The lanky page gulped and blushed his embarrassment in front of the guards, bowed, and disappeared in nearly as much a rush as he had arrived.

Captain Heinz was already on his feet in deference to his Lady. Isana beckoned to him and to her head healer, Dani, to follow. They ducked the canvas flaps into the brilliant early sunlight, blinking in the glare, and followed the shadow of Bertram the guardsman.

They covered the camp with long strides, Dani's height towering over the group by several inches. The somewhat older woman had come with Isana from the north of Beluaterra, her fair features and pale hair appearing almost spectral. It made for an interesting experience when she brought soldiers back from the brink, only to have them think she was an angel come to take their souls Beyond. Captain Heinz with his short dark curls and ruddy complexion contrasted with her paleness, a dappled shadow to her starlight. The sun shining before both of them was Isana. Energized by time on the road and keen to break bread with her friend, happiness glowed from the dark-haired knight as they approached the visitors.

Dame Alyssa was standing at ease, looking much more well-rested than she had recently, and her smile was small but true. Isana felt herself relax, seeing her friend dressed casually in military garb and ready for work. Noble propriety was something the northern knight was still working on.

"Welcome, Lady and guests, to the Everlight Stormfront," Isana said warmly, offering a soldier's armclasp greeting to her Imperatrix. "We are honoured by your visit! And thank you for coming to share in the grouse, so I don't have to decide which of the soldiers get seconds," she added wryly. "Might I introduce my Captain, Heinz Hahn, whom you have seen briefly before. And this is my head healer and travelling companion Dani, also of Beluaterra." As they bowed, she continued, "Whom do we have the pleasure of meeting this morning, dear Lady?"


Kingsley

11/17/2019

"It has been too long my lady." Alyssa said still smiling as they released, and she returned to an at-ease stance.

"My Squire, Graham of the lesser house of Goldenfields." The old man nodded sagely but said nothing. He wore a neutral expression but his aged, maimed face drooped, giving him the appearance of a frown.

"Cal Reed, captain of Lady's Luck." Alyssa continued motioning to the short stocky man on her other side. She had hated the name of her unit when it was chosen over a year ago. Her old captain that dark-hearted rogue Jan had called it that to insult her. But now she took pride in it. They were her luck now, her loyal soldiers. Cal Reed bowed respectfully and spoke, stroking his thick red beard.

"I heard there was grouse m'lady?" He said with a hearty smile.

Graham shot him a disapproving look while Aly merely sighed. Her newest captain had been around her for quite a while but he was never raised with proper address taught. He was from a family of fishers, and they were never taught the same sorts of manners as nobles were taught. It was understandable, but his tone was much too familiar for the sort of respect Isana's station deserved. "Captain," She began, "Lady Isana is a knight of the realm, please be more courteous with her, she has invited us to her camp and should be given the respect she is due."

"Ah, aye m'lady Imperatrix." Cal replied. "Thank ye, I am nah used to such formalities. I reckon I'll need to learn."

She gave him a polite nod back and returned to Isana.

"My apologies, Thank you for having us my lady. I would be honoured to tour your camp with you, if you will have me."


Everlight

11/18/2019

“I would be honoured to tour your camp with you, if you will have me."

Isana felt her chest tighten with excitement and nerves, taut both with pressure to do well and happiness at the comraderie in her new home, a smile springing unbidden to her face. She inclined her head and said pleasantly, “Of course, the honour is all mine to host such company! Welcome all! Pleased to finally meet you Captain Cal, and you Squire Graham. We can have a tour en route to the mess tent—yes Cal, we have saved the grouse to share with you! This camp arrangement is the ring format here, my own holdover from service in Beluaterra where the perimeter guard is most important against the daimons and monsters…” she chatted on amiably for the few minutes as they strolled, answering Cal’s eager questions with an indulgent smile and holding space for Alyssa to remain at ease. She noticed Graham’s experienced eye scanned the camp keenly and he said little. Dani remained aloof, while Heinz seemed to Isana’s eyes to be a little star-struck by their visitors.

A warm salt breeze swirled inland from the Dimwood coast, gently rustling tent flaps and banners. Isana was pleased to note her soldiers being properly deferential as the party walked by. Thank goodness.

The center of the camp held a large fire pit ringed by the command tent, healers’ quarters, and an open drill ground. Just past the drill ground was the mess. The flaps were tied open and the inside set as requested, with mouth-watering aromas wafting all about the area.

“By the nose, Milady, I think it’s about breakfast!” Captain Heinz voiced all of their thoughts. Isana gestured the guests to precede her into the shade. The table was set and ready, lavish for a camp meal with fresh rolls, fruit, spiced tea, and two of the cooks standing by with covered trays that could only hold the grouse.

“Dame Alyssa and guests, thank you again for honouring our camp with your visit. Please eat, and welcome.” Isana requested formally once all were seated.

As they were served, Isana turned to the gruff Squire Graham and asked, “Good Squire, I noted you inspecting the camp minutely as we walked. Might you offer comment as to what you saw?”


Kingsley

11/18/2019

Alyssa smiled quietly as she watched and listened to Isana excitedly explain her camp to her and her party. She shines so brightly. Aly thought to herself. Despite the war and being so far from her home and her family she still held a noble heart and an optimistic spirit. This woman is true. She thought as she watched the light snow fall from the gray overcast skies overlooking the Dim. Despite the grim days we have faced her spirit is strong as ever. Everlight is appropriate. She mused as they approached the Stormfront mess. She was surprised and impressed at the feast before them, she did not expect such lavish effort for a simple breakfast. She mustered as warm a smile as she could for her fellow knight while they took their seats, hoping her lack of sleep was not apparent. She sat down to Isana's right as the guest while her own men sat on her side of the table, Heinz on Isana's left and the rest of her staff on the left side.

"Dame Alyssa and guests, thank you again for honouring our camp with your visit. Please eat, and welcome."

"Thank you for your hospitality my lady." Alyssa added. "I am honoured."

Isana smiled and gave a nod as they began to eat. Alyssa took her time carefully with the food, despite how delicious it was and how ravenously hungry she was. She realized she had not eaten the knight before as she had spent the evening mulling over reports and drafting letters to allied leaders. She ate politely and gracefully like her aunt had taught her as a girl. Graham ate politely as well, decades of experience in noble etiquette shining through his grim and scarred demeanor , though not nearly as lady-like as his knight. Cal Reed tore in carelessly while Alyssa shot him a warning look which he apparently did not see. She could see Dani and Heinz share a look of their own as they watched him tear in violently to the bird on his plate. Alyssa bit her lip somewhat embarrassed, but Isana seemed to pay no mind, seemingly happy for the company. She took no note of Captain Cal and instead spoke to Alyssa's squire.

Graham raised an eyebrow towards Alyssa as Isana asked her question of him. Alyssa's face remained unchanged as waited for her elderly squire to answer, while the others.

"Your camp, my lady. It's set up atypically." The old man began, "Rows are more practical, easier to keep organized, to keep track of everyone, as well as better utilizing space available. There are no daimons on The Continent after all. In addition, the drilling ground should be away from the main camp. Too easy for someone to get hurt just passing through. Fire's too close to the command tent a bad wind blows through and all your plans gone up in flames, and it-"

Alyssa gave him a slight nudge under the table with her foot, a message the old man took immediately.

"it's a good set up besides my lady. Perhaps there are things we can learn from the Beluaterrans."

Alyssa nodded once. "Indeed. Perhaps you could share a tale from the far kingdoms My Lady? Thalmarkin sounds like an exciting place." She offered another smile and listened intently to the other woman.


The Lion (Part 2)

Sweet

11/21/2019


Alyssa sat down on her cot and let her hair down, running her fingers through the golden locks as it fell to her shoulders. Shivering as the chill winter wind blew around her camp and into her personal pavilion, she pulled the furs around herself in the hopes that she could keep warm. It would snow tonight Graham had said. He had to push her into her tent to get her away from supervising the wounded and the palisade. "You've done far beyond what you needed my lady" He had said as father would his child, which annoyed her but she did not show it. She was not a child though she realized she had been until Brive. The deaths of hundreds, her captain and the king weighed heavily on her. She tried to push forward, and it helped that everyone had been so kind; Isana, Dustiria, The King, even the foreign Kings Ryndhal and Lindow had sent her kind letters, and the lady of Avamar. Still, despite the unwavering support of those who cared for her she would not sleep tonight, between the dreams, the cold, and the pained wails of wounded men. Alyssa sighed.

She glanced at the portable desk near her cot, usually neatly in order, now covered in letters. She considered getting up to sort things out but decided to lay down instead, curling up shivering beneath the furs. Her black pup Shadow, now growing quickly, jumped up with her and snuggled her. Normally she would not have allowed it, but tonight she was cold,exhausted, and felt alone. She tried to sleep but it would not come, her mind flashing back to the battle earlier today. She recalled the smile Isana had given her before the first volley loosed, and the war cry Sir Rogos had given as the huge man joined her in the charge. What none of them expected was the cavalry charge which tore through all of them. Alyssa shook her head Move past it. She tried to tell herself. Look at what you did, said her father. She flipped the furs off and grabbed her cloak draped over the stool near her desk. Shadow protested mildly, but then found he enjoyed burrowing in the wadded up furs. Wrapping the faded white wool tightly around her shoulders she took to tidying the reports and letters on her desk. She spied a sweet letter she had received earlier and the little candy that had come with it. She smiled as she read the letter again thumbing the sweet idly. She had given the others to Graham who had put it in his pocket and Cal who ate it immediately and chuckled merrily.

She placed the sweet on her tongue and smiled at its subtle sweetness. It reminded her of the sweets her mother would sometimes bring for her when she had done well at her lessons. It reminded her of a better time, when her life was simpler and she did not feel the world on her shoulders. Quickly however it melted and the breeze outside gusted into her tent again. She set the letter back on top of the others and finished sorting them. She took a deep breath and looked around for something else to do before laying back down on the bed. She cuddled Shadow for warmth who yelped quietly but settled in with her. She closed her eyes, trying to dream of happier days, dreams of love and peace. The snow began to fall, lightly coating the valley outside.


Out in the Cold

11/22/2019

Alyssa shivered, pulling her white cloak tighter around her. The snow was falling heavily now in the forested valley. It would be beautiful. She thought, were we not on the run for our lives. Indeed the enemy had to be all around, even though her screens had not encountered them yet. She felt watched as she trotted quickly through the forest, leading the other nobles through the haunted woods, waiting for any moment when the enemy could fall upon them. The air felt tense and the soldiers and her nobles alike seemed on edge, ready to fight. The thudding of hooves approached from her side, as she turned and saw the old man who had been her squire the past year. His white beard was growing in, though only on half his face where it was not slashed and maimed and the white bandana around the eye he lost in Brive made his face blend in with the snow. The eye I lost him. Fortunately she recognized him easily by his battered armour and the shield bearing her black wolf.

"My Lady." He grunted as he approached. Alyssa stopped as the soldiers continued their hastened march for their lives, passing around her as she spoke to her squire. Sir Christopher and his company passed by her as they approached, and he gave her a salute. Alyssa gave one nod in acknowledgement and returned his salute before turning back to the old squire. "Graham. You are to be assisting with organizing our right flank."

"Aye. Something you might want to know my lady." He replied. "We caught an enemy outrider, just a brief skirmish with one of their screens. They retreated off before we could really do anything but one this one was slow and we captured him and his horse."

"Then they are near." She muttered. Graham nodded solemnly. "Very well. This information will be useful. We'll need to increase the march."

"The men are cold and tired my lady. I don't know if they can march any faster." Graham warned.

"I would rather they be cold and tired than cold and dead. We need every soldier. Their lives are precious to me and I will not squander any more of them."

Graham frowned but said nothing as three other horses approached, two leading the third with ropes around the rider's hands. Graham scratched idly at his maimed face as her men led the Northern rider up. "What should we do with him?" He asked her as he scowled at the northman.

Alyssa inspected the man, watching him coldly as he shivered from the snow falling on him. It seemed her men had roughed him up a bit, likely during the skirmish, and his boots were missing. His feet were already starting to turn a bluish hue from the winter wind. "Bring him to me." She said tersely.

Graham brought the shivering man to her, who looked at her nervously. Her face remained an unreadable neutral as she considered him. "Who are you." She ordered.

"R-r-ronnie" He shivered, "G-g-golden Sentinels. F-f-first Company"

This is Lyanna's man. She thought curiously as she maintained her noble demeanor.

"What happened to your boots, soldier?"

He continued to shiver but stuttered out: "A b-b-bald man milady... carries an-n-n-n axe. W-w-w-wolf on his shield. S-s-s-said his was old and mine w-w-w-was new."

Smiling Dick, one of mine own. She thought spitefully. That one had a penchant for trouble, but he was a good enough soldier when he wasn't drinking, or cold apparently. The line her mouth made turned into a concerned frown. "You are a soldier at war with my people, but that does not excuse a crime committed against you. Graham!" She commanded her voice containing a hint of frustration. The old squire nodded in acknowledgement.

"See to it that this soldier's equipment is returned to him. And if Dick survives the day, send him to me, so that he may be punished for theft." Then she removed the white wool cloak over her shoulders and shivering handed it to the northern outrider. "You may wear this on your ride back. Give it to your lady as a gift from me." Somewhat startled the man hesitantly took the cloak.

"My lady!" Graham protested before Alyssa held up her hand to silence him. I will have another made when we reach home in the mean time, there are furs in the equipment cart that will warm me well enough. "Graham escort him back to the right screen where you will release him."

Graham shrugged and waved for the others to turn his horse around and lead him back.

"Be safe, Ronnie." Alyssa said to the outrider, her cold blue eyes watching him as he nodded and turned back

Arylon

11/22/2019

The sky was a lightly kissed shade of rose, almost glowing as the sun sunk lower across the horizon. The dusky gray illumination of the world around her at this time of day always left Lyanna with a surreal sense of reality.

She was touring her encampment, before the final march to Meuse was set to begin. Everywhere around her, the men were preparing. She walked by her captain, a grizzled old soldier named Rambrecht who had led the Golden Sentinels with great skill. In her last evaluation, Lyanna had found the men so cohesively and instinctively connected to one another that she had been left unable to provide any corrective feedback.

As she nodded to one of the men, holding his gold painted shield with an angular blue stripe -- the arms of House Arylon -- her thoughts drifted to a man she had lost on the march. Ronnie, a young man who had joined her company in Sirion City only recently, had gone missing. He was the fourth son of a minor Sirion House, and so a soldier's life was his only real path. He was nervous, but capable, and she had decided to use him as an advance scout.

That is how he was lost. Lyanna had sent him ahead to get a peek at the massing enemy soldiers in Meuse, and report back numbers and formations. She also charged him with reporting as to the location and strength of the soldiers bearing the black wolf of House Kingsley. "Look for the white shields," she had told him, "and tell me where they are." The boy didn't understand the request, but obeyed his order. What he didn't know was that Lyanna wanted to know the location of her dearest friend, so that as the battle raged she could avoid hurting Alyssa, or anyone close to her.

It was, perhaps, a naive desire, but she clung to it as she heard the horn blast that signaled the beginning of the final march. Exasperated at the idea of hurting someone dear to her, she let out a deep breath, which became visible as her hot breath interacted with the bitterly cold air.

Indeed it was snowing, and snowing heavily on this day. In Sirion, it was still summer, but here in the south for whatever reason, the land was experiencing a deep cold. Seasons seemed to work a little differently here. Many Sirion nobles had difficulty with this transition, but fortunately, Lyanna had actually been born and raised through her early childhood in the north-west of the continent of Dwilight, and as such had experienced many bitter, cold, snow filled winters. In some ways, the beauty of the snow made her feel at home.

It was a shame those snows would soon be stained with the blood of many dead men and women. Beauty, and horror at once.

Lyanna moved to the head of her men, who had quickly fallen into line for the march. She stepped to the foothold on her saddle, swung her leg over her horse, and grabbed the rains.

Hanging from a hook on right hip was the Flail of Avamar, a beautiful and terrible weapon that she had recently acquired with the intention of returning it to her estate in that shining city. It had been a symbol of Avamar's might and power in days long past, and she considered it an important symbol for her people.

But this day it would be used on the field of battle. Its long wooden handle was made from the finest hardwood from the forest of Sirion, and carved into an elegant hand grip, wrapped in leather for a better control. A chain connected it to a metal sphere, studded with spikes that Lyanna would use to smash shields and break armor before moving in with her sword for close combat.

Just as they began moving out, she heard a screaming voice approaching from the distance.

Incredibly, that voice belonged to Ronnie, her lost man. She recognized her colors on him, as well as his voice. He was riding frantically, trying to get to her.

As he finally approached, out of breath and clearly injured, he fell from his horse. Lyanna leaped down to tend to him, and ask him what had happened. She noticed that he held in his hand a beautiful white cloak, which was made of wool. He was clinging to it with his life.

Lyanna leaned down and peered into his swollen, blackened face. "Ronnie," she said with great concern.

"My Lady..." he groaned, trying hard to keep his eyes open. It was then that she noticed his boots were unlaced, and he was shivering horribly.

"Get blankets. Now!" she shouted at Rambrecht. She then took the cloak from his hand, and began to lay it on top of him.

"No... no..." he coughed, spitting out blood. "My Lady, this was for you. A gift." He coughed again. "From the enemy commander, Alyssa Kingsley. It is yours. Yours..."

Lyanna's eyes grew wide as saucers, and a sense of dread filled her. "Ronnie... tell me everything."