Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta duke. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta duke. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 2 de enero de 2015

Castle by the cliff

On the tallest hill of the entire region, there used to be a castle. If tales were to be believed, one could see the ocean from the westernmost watchtower. Visiting nowadays was disheartening, to say the least: only the walls remained, in some parts even less than that. One could see were the rooms used to be, the primary water source and even the most important person’s chamber.

That last one was the duke. There was no king here, at least not for a very large radius. In these mountains, only the duke ruled over the peasants, back then. Today, it was still a remote region although some roads crossed the former forests and even got close to many of the old fortifications.

Back then, there were only two towns in the region: one just outside the castle and another down the hill, close to a thin river that passed through there. Today, the river can only be seen in the spring or in the fall. It source freezes in winter and gets dry in the summer.

The duke, according to historians, was benevolent and all his sons and daughters kept the region peaceful. They built watchtowers all over the forest, creating a perimeter around their lands but many saw it as unnecessary: there was nothing coming in and the only people that left were merchants and they always came back.

If one goes by the books, there were two hundred years of peace and isolation, were the folk of the region would just mind for themselves and take care of their land in their own way.

But one day, without them knowing it, the king that ruled the country died. To be precise, he was murdered and his brother, a bloodthirsty devil, sat on the throne. From then on, every single region would slowly fall into his sphere of influence, that consisted of troops being sent to sack every town of its most prized possessions and then asking them for all their crops when time was right.

So during the next fifty years, region-by-region, land-by-land, the soldiers of the Dark King (as he was known) invaded mercilessly. So one day, they followed the one road that, back then, linked the castle in the rock with the rest of the kingdom.

At first, no one really noticed anything strange, besides a few uncommon deaths in the forest but that was not really that uncommon: wolfs roamed the wood in the search for meat and many people were sure their numbers were rising, so the town had already begun a plan to kill some of them or at least to push them away from the areas they frequently visited.

It was in the winter when a girl named Ariana finally realized that what was killing the countrymen were not wolfs but humans, soldiers in gray armor. She managed to escape without them noticing her near the edge of the woods. Crying, she told her mother about what she had seen and they, in return, went to the duke and told him that vicious deeds were being done in the forest, far more vile than anyone would have imagined.

The girl herself told the duke, a peaceful man, that she had seen soldier wearing gray, eating by a fire near the edge of the forest, inside their lands. She had been there picking raspberries for a dessert but she had dropped them all when she saw what they were doing: As it happens, the soldiers were not by the fire to keep warm, they were there eating, cooking their meal. And when the girl saw what they were eating, she couldn’t scream, not even breather. She confessed to have been paralyzed for a few seconds, before she managed to escape.

The soldiers in gray, the color of greed, were eating a human child. Even more disgusting, they were eating one of the girl’s friends. This made the duke realize that those soldiers had already entered the region and were probably waiting to be given the order to attack, to invade their territory.

The duke summoned all his advisors and the strongest and fittest men and women from the two towns. Every single person that knew how to use a weapon or how to defend him or herself, was now essential for the survival of their territory.

It was ordered that all people that couldn’t battle, elderly or very young, pregnant or just not strong enough to battle, had to stay inside the castle, in a special room overlooking the cliff. The rest of the people would prepare themselves for the fighting, which wouldn’t be taking long.

A week later, the grey soldiers finally attacked. First, they aimed for the town by the river. They took it rather fast, with no casualties from either side. Any way, there were only a few persons guarding it, mounting bombs and traps. The duke had decided that the river town, as it was only made of a handful of houses, could be left behind to better defend the upper town and, if it came to that, the castle.

Anyway, the bombs and traps left in some of the houses worked beautifully and many grey soldiers had to pull back as they weren’t fit for battle anymore. But disabling a dozen wasn’t enough. Between the river town and the castle town, there was a small plain with scattered trees. And when the grey soldiers army stepped into it, the people of the region finally saw what they were up against.

They were at least a thousand soldiers, creating a tight formation on the plain. Some had horses but most of them came by foot. All of them wore helmets, to conceal their identities, to make them even more fierce and despicable.

The people of the mountain were hidden among the many houses and little streets of the castle town. From inside the castle, no one could see anything, so they wouldn’t know if their loved ones died or got taken. Only if they won they would ever see them or their bodies again.

For a whole day, the grey soldiers just stood there, waiting, picking the best time to attack. The duke thought that they might decide to attack at night or early the next day, as they were skilled soldiers and knew how to attack when their enemies were mostly weak.

Indeed, the attack came covered by clouds that reduced the amount of light in the mountains. They raided houses and wholes streets, screeching horribly and laughing with a deep and awful voice. The people of the town lived up to the expectations and begin attacking from the rooftops and the sewers, from the trees an even standing in the middle of a street.

In the first few hours, many people of the mountains were killed, without mercy or a single second of doubt. But when the sun started to shine, they recovered quickly, killing several soldiers with arrows, stones and swords. For such a peaceful people, some of them were very skilled with metal.

Some of them even created a melted mixture of metals that they poured on top of a large groups of greys trying to penetrate the castle. The screams of pain were heard by the men and women waiting inside, waiting for their deaths or for the end of the struggle.

But it did not seem to end. Soldiers and townsfolk kept on fighting, maybe slower and with far less agility but insisting on their actions, on what each thought was right.

Then, from inside the castle, came yelling and screaming and cheering. The ones outside had no idea what happened. At least not until they saw it too: the day was bright clear so anyone could see it. There were five big vessels on the shore and people from inside were already heading towards the castle. In a matter of time, they would arrive to the battlefield.

The duke, a wise man, seeing his land in distress, had decided to use an old way of communication to contact some ancient allies of this land. Passed down by generations of his family, there was a ring, made somewhere beyond the sea. The duke took it and put in in a tiny bag, which he tied to the leg of a hawk. The bird left they day before the grey soldiers attacked the river town and now, their allies had responded.

That alliance had been forged centuries ago but it was visibly still alive. The troops from the sea help destroy the grey army and defend the castle. With the duke, they organized a greater alliance to liberate the rest of the kingdom and bring peace back to the known lands.

Eventually, no one really knows how, the dark king was defeated and everything came back to normal.

Several years after, the castle fell into disuse when there were no more descendants to sit inside it. Now the place is in ruins and the people from the town try to get tourists to visit the castle in order to tell them the legend of their lands and the magic of these mountains.

domingo, 28 de septiembre de 2014

A Royal Lady

Lavinia had been in the Montgraneux palace for only two months. On her first week she married the duke and her mother assured her it was the best choice she could've had for a husband.

The duke of Halesworth was one of those bachelors that every girls wanted to marry: he was rich do to his business as a country man and as a politician, he had participated in battles abroad and, most important, he was an elegant, gracious man.

To Lavinia, looks weren't that important. From the moment she realized she had come to the world only to get married and be someone's something, she had decided not to mind too much about looks. She wanted someone who she can talk to at nights, share silly facts about life and live a peaceful life, with children as her mother intended.

She was presented to the duke in a party nothing to fancy, and the man liked her for her wit and tenderness. Within the next month, the wedding was arranged as well as her moving from her parents house.

Montgraneaux was majestic. It had a french name as the duke's grandparent had built it for his spouse, a french lady. The palace was a two story building, filled with beautiful objects from around the world. Lavinia specially liked the ballroom, which had plenty of mirrors and the nicest view towards the gardens.

The wedding, of course, was magnificent. Every single person that counted was there. Even an envoy from her majesty attended. Lavinia was so happy and proud to be marrying such a respectable person. She never thought she would enjoy marrying but that day she was all joy and fun and her mother even asked her if she felt fine. She answered: "Mama, I love my new life".

So from that day onward she lived on Montgraneaux.
However, things changed fast and not as she would have liked to. The duke was rarely at home, even to work, so she would only see him on weekends when they walked the gardens and shared quiet meals.

Lavinia didn't wanted too much of life so she was sad to see her low expectations were not being filled. The change became apparent from day one, or night one to be precise. She had never had sex but somehow she felt the duke just rushed the moment, which she didn't enjoy very much.

The young woman passed the time checking on the house, visiting new acquaintances and having her mother in for tea. Not much could be done.

Every time she had a chance to be with the duke, she reminded him of her ambition to have a house full of children. His response was always something like nodding or anything of the sorts. He didn't seemed interested in it.
She even tried seducing him at nights but that proved to be a failure too: he would leave to room arguing she was being "strange" or he would have some minutes of sex with her, as if just to please her.

Days and days alone, left her plenty of time to know every single corner of the house, which was pretty large. She would enjoy helping the gardeners, although it was not very lady like for him to be doing such chores. Anyway she did it, as she didn't care who would say what. She was a disgraced woman as far as she was concerned, so she didn't mind the opinion of others.

Winter changed things, again. The duke couldn't travel as much as he used to so he stayed in more but in his office. She would try to help him with things or take some tea for him but it didn't seem to do anything for the marriage.

One night, she discovered that the ballroom was closed, all doors locked with key. Curious, she went outside to look in, but found our all the curtains were down and nothing could be seeing. Only a dim light.

This happened at least once a week. Strangely, it coincided with multiple visits from statesmen, military officers and local authorities. They would always come right at lunch time and leave after dinner. This would annoy Lavinia every time, as she had to listen to endless stupid war stories or about shortages of wheat or some other kind of nourishment. She would always try to eat fast and argue she was exhausted to be excused.

Snow came in february and she would spend many hours making castles in it or playing by herself, She would remember her young years, when she was a lonely girl too. She wanted a child so bad, to take care of and to be with.

Exploring the palace had proven useful as, one day, she found at that one of the rooms in the second floor, mainly used by as a reading parlor, had a small compartment on one of the walls. When you opened it, you would enter a small space were an adult person could stand comfortably. Most curious, at the height of the eyes, there was a sliding plaque, in order to watch people below, in the ballroom.

She used it only once when the duke celebrated a Christmas party for every single noble man and lady in the region. Lots of people came and, at one point, Lavinia disappeared to watch everything from her private "booth": the view was amazing, felt like being a bird. She thought the person that made it should have being very suspicious of his guests.

One night, in which the duke had once again left the bed to sleep in some other room, Lavinia decided to go to the kitchen and have some warm milk. It had always helped her to sleep and she was having an awful time trying to sleep, as her thoughts of feeling alone, as well as her mother's insistence on the subject of children, were revolving on her mind.

She got her milk and was going back to bed when she came to one of the ballroom's doors. Strangely, she could see a under the door, as if fire had been lit inside. She had the urge to scream but realized this was the perfect time to use her secret "booth".

She silently climbed the stairs to the second floor and entered the reading parlor. She left the glass of milk on a table and opened her private space. When she lifted the sliding panel, her eyes had to close for a minute as the light was to bright.

Indeed, it was fire light, coming from the hearth on one side of the room. She couldn't see anything else except a table and... Clothing, on the ground. Her breathing accelerated when she understood it all: her husband suddenly got up from the floor, naked. He then laid on the edge of the table and that's when Lavinia saw it: one of the many military men that had come for supper penetrated her husband and he, the duke, seemed to enjoy it.

She close the panel and wanted to cry but didn't. She breathed heavily but calmed herself down, stood up and drank her milk. She was in that room for hours, gazing at the compartment from which she had seen it all.

No one never knew how or why but Lavinia suddenly became a leader in the region, touring towns and cities, helping those in need. She taken an interest in doing charity and people praised for that and for being an amazing hostess.

The height of it all was the birth of her daughter Anne. And it all happened due to her wit and strength, as she blackmailed her husband and let him do as he may as along as he kept his side of their agreement.

When he died, years later, in a skirmish in a colony far away, she received condolences from everyone. But she didn't mind. Her life expectations were fulfilled and more was yet to come.