Absolution

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Absolution

Post by Delamere on Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:59 pm

Chapter One: Concordat

A sharp mountain ridge loomed overhead, the snowy peaks outlined by a brilliant orange light. The sun was rising on the other side, casting blue-violet shadows down the jagged face. There was a chill in the air, and a strong breeze whipped through the makeshift camp. The large bonfires belched puffs of hot embers and acrid smoke into the air, the flames dancing wildly. Another powerful gust of wind, and the fires were snuffed out.

“We must keep moving,” a deep voice bellowed over the excited din; all eyes suddenly trained on the speaker, “Pack up quickly, men. We must leave this place at once.” King Alaric, nimble despite his age, jumped down from the rocky platform and swiftly approached his son, “We should be there before dark tonight if we keep a steady pace.” He clapped a ring ladened hand onto the Prince’s shoulder, “King Luthien will welcome us with open arms, only too happy to sign the treaty. We shall feast and dance and both Kingdoms will revel in our cleverness. Soon there will be peace.”

Telemachus, a despondent expression on his face, cinched his saddle with a rough tug. “Peace,” he repeated, his voice nearly as deep as his father’s, “Is that truly what you are after?” The Prince turned to face Alaric, his hazel eyes ablaze in the morning light, “Do not lie to me, father.”

King Alaric regarded his only son with a cold stare, “I never lie.” The older man moved in, his graying hair slipping over his shoulders, “You will not question me again, Telemachus.” He withdrew, his eyes narrowed into slits, “Mount up, son.”

Telemachus watched his father return to the men, black robes fluttering in the icy breeze. The warriors, their faces scrubbed clean of any war paint, formed a tight circle around the King. Telemachus could hear his father bark orders at them, demanding one thing after another. They nodded, faces expressionless, not one of them questioned him. Not one of them defied him.

The crowned Prince mounted his horse in one swift motion. The beast was large, standing nearly 18 hands in height; it’s dapple gray coat had grown long and shaggy in preparation for the bitter cold months to come, the hair on its legs growing over its hooves. The horse threw back its head, snorting loudly; its breath was visible in the chilly morning air.

Telemachus waited as the warriors hurriedly packed up camp, and readied the King’s carriage. When everything had been gathered and Alaric had taken his place, Telemachus gently guided his horse to the front of the pack.

“Onward!” he called over his shoulder before coaxing the giant beast into a comfortable trot.

***

The wooden gate was within sight, standing tall. The doors had been carved by an expert hand, delicate swirls etched into the wood. An errant grouping of ivy had taken a strong foothold and now grew up one side of the gate. Tiny black-eyed susans wilted on the vine; their season was ending.

Alaric bounced around in his carriage; he grasped the arm rests, desperate to keep from falling out. He could see his son, Telemachus, in the lead. He was dressed as a warrior and not as a Prince, wearing their ebony armor, black hood pulled over his face. Despite his youth, he had already proven himself in battle. The Prince was a cunning fighter and brilliant strategist.

Alaric smiled, he knew his son would prove to be an excellent distraction. He would be promised to King Luthien’s lovely daughter - a peace offering from the benevolent Alaric. Luthien and his plebs would be so happy with the offering that they would fail to notice the legion of orcs descending upon their sleepy kingdom.

King Alaric laughed aloud.

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Re: Absolution

Post by Guest on Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:11 pm

Arachnae was not your typical noble’s daughter. Instead of locking herself away in the castle with studious tasks of becoming the perfect lady in waiting, she rode the country side on her stallion of pitch black. Her horse, Carnivean was a fine steed that had been hand picked by her. His jet black coat gleamed even beneath the dark clouds that were rolling in from the east. He stood tall, proud and lethal looking as they scouted the in coming convoy from the neighboring kingdom. Her dark eyes narrowed faintly. They bore the flags of truce decorated in white and gold to symbolize peace, but to her there had to be an alterior motive. King Alaric was not know for giving in so easily and Arachnae was weary of his sudden insistance on a treaty. Her long, thick black cloak billowed around her in the violent breeze that was threatening to grow even more beneviolent as the time passed and she knew she couldn’t put off this meeting any further. Reaching down, she patted Carnivean’s dark flank and tugged lightly on the reigns to turn the steed in the direction that would take them home. Moving swiftly over the rugged terrain, Arachnae had a grace about her, one that not only pegged her for a noble, but a warrior as well. Much to her mother’s dismay of course. Her father was more than proud of his only daughter’s capability in battle. Not only had she inherited her mothers affinity for the dead, but she was a killer shot with a bow and she could handle any blade with dangerous skill. Though she was a Necromancer, her preference of weapon was the bow. She could hit a moving target more than several yards distance. It wasn’t just her marksmanship that many took notice of, it was her speed at notching the arrows that caused whispers to ripple through the kingdom. She was a blur of agility when it came to shooting.

Though she was a skilled warrior, Arachnae was well schooled in various languages and other subjects that many ladies in waiting were forced to learn. She had never disappointed her mother with her thirst for knowledge. Her horse pulled through the back gates just as the convoy passed through the front. She dismounted, handing the reigns over to the stable boy who would ensure Carnivean was fed and prepped for the night’s rest. Arachnae made her way through the back of the castle. Even though she had lived here her entire life, it still marvled her how beautiful it was.


It was surrounded by the moutains, making it virtually inaccesable from nearly every side unless one knew where the paths were hidden. No one knew this land better than Arachnae. There was a portion of the castle; the West Wing, that seemed to be built into the very mountain side itself and it would be the home of their guests until they returned back to their own kingdom. She was nearly a blur of speed as she passed into the great hall where her mother and father waited to greet King Alaric and his son, Prince Telemachus. Her mother looked disprovingly towards her and she knew that if she did not remove her cloak, her mother would eventually do it for her. Sighing softly, she unpinned the black fabric and swung it from her shoulders.


The woman beneath was utterly compelling, captivating even. She had strong, exotic features that pegged her for a mix of the dark and the light. Long, jet black hair was pulled back into a single braid that trailed down well past the small of her back. Piercing black eyes that were almond shaped seemed to strike into the heart of a very person’s soul. Her lithe frame was clad in her usual black armor that left very little to the imagination. She prefered freedom of movement and so most of her skin was bare to the eyes. What was visible, was a pale flawless perfection that begged to be touched. Strapped to each hip were two short Elvish swords.


Each blade had been custom smitthed by her. Making weapons was another one of Arachnae’s hobbies that only further infuriated her mother. It wasn’t something she did on purpose. She simply enjoyed the things that her mother did not. Along with her swords, was her favored bow.


The bow was secured diagonally over her chest while her quiver full of arrows was fastened securely along the length of her spine. Arachnae heard her mother sigh loudly.

Must you be so well armed, Arachnae?” Came her mother’s disapproving voice. She watched the older woman frown, a bit of sadness evident in her eyes that her only child wasn’t into the politics of high noble women.

Mother, these people were our enemies for many years. I wouldn’t trust them taking care of the chickens.” Came her reply as she turned her onyx black gaze towards her father. He had an amused expression on his face along with one of deep pride. It was apparent whose side he was on and pretty much always took when such arguements came about. “This is not the time to discuss this, mother when we have company.”

Before her mother could protest or retort, their guests were announced.

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Re: Absolution

Post by Delamere on Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:11 am

The sizable cavalcade poured through the opened gates; Telemachus lead the procession, his bright eyes drinking in the city. King Luthien’s kingdom was magnificent. The cobbled streets were clear of any refuse, and the roaming stray dogs appeared friendly - well fed. Even the hovels, the buildings that housed the poorest of the poor, seemed to be in good repair. There were no beggars throwing themselves at the warriors; no one trying to cut the golden cinches from his saddle. Telemachus reached up and pulled the hood from his head; his long dark brown hair swung free. He turned in the saddle, his trusted steed slowly making its way up the street. His father, lounging atop a pile of overstuffed pillows, gave a halfhearted wave. Telemachus knew the King was still annoyed with him; he could certainly hold a grudge, but the Prince couldn’t shake the feeling that his father had more in mind than just making peace.

The visiting convoy continued further up the main road, the King’s castle finally coming into view. It was an impressive citadel - built into the cliffs of a mountain. Telemachus drew back on the reigns and held up a closed fist. Without turning around, he could hear his men dismount. The Prince slid from the saddle and joined the others by the King’s carriage.

“Why are we stopping?” Alaric sat up.

Telemachus pointed toward the castle’s opened gate, “It would be considered discourteous for us to trample the horses any further. We can finish the last leg of our journey on foot. Greet the King and his court properly.”

Alaric waved his hand dismissively, but before he could scoff, Telemachus quickly added, “I am sure this would speak volumes of your high breeding.”

The King considered his son’s suggestion for a moment before finally nodding his approval. “My son, the diplomat.”

***

Trumpets blared as King Alaric and Prince Telemachus entered the Great Hall of King Luthien’s home. The warriors stood back, giving the royals room to converse privately.

“Ah, Luthien,” Alaric held his arms wide as he lead the way up to the thrones. “It has been too long, my friend.”

Telemachus stood behind his father, his arms clasped in front of his body. His eyes drifted over to the King’s daughter; she was dressed oddly for royalty. The Prince’s head tilted slightly, his eyes slowly returned to the thrones. King Luthien and his wife were warmly greeting his father.

“And this strapping young man is my son, and the heir to my throne, Telemachus.” Alaric stepped aside, allowing the Prince to clasped Luthien’s forearm.

“My liege,” Telemachus bowed.

A strong hand clamped down on the Prince’s shoulder, twisting the young man to the side, “And this fair lady is Princess Arachnae.” Alaric gave his son a quick squeeze before releasing him.

Telemachus reached for her hand, “Pleasure.” He gently pressed his lips to her closed fingers.

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Re: Absolution

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:43 am

Just Arachnae will suffice, Your Majesty.” Her voice, though soft, spoke of volumes of intelligence. “I do not prefer titles.” Her words were not spoken in disrespect of her station, but of her sheer humble nature. She had always prefered to be out among the people, not hiding behind the flowing gowns of her pedigree. Her dark gaze flickered from King Alaric’s face to his son’s. They boldly took their time as they roamed over every noble, sharp feature of his bone structure. Long dark brown hair framed a face that would have been appealing even if it had been attached to the body of an Orc. His hazel eyes were sharp, missing not a single movement. Like her, he was a warrior. Even though his fingers held her gloved one’s lightly, gently as if he were afraid to harm her, Arachnae could feel the taunt muscle beneath. His body was that of a seasoned warrior.

Pleasure.” For some reason, that one spoken word seemed to sound all the more erotic coming from that voice. It was deeply masculine, one of those voices that could lull a child to sleep, or seduce a woman.

It certainly could be. She thought to herself for a brief moment before she offered the visiting Prince one of her more alluring smiles. They were supposed to be here on friendly terms to sign a treaty to finally bring peace to both kingdoms, but she had a feeling that her mother had also had a hand in this somehow. Call it a hunch, but that smug, satisfactory smile on her mother’s face said it all. For a few years now her mother had all but begged her to find someone suitable to settle down with but Arachnae was a free spirited sort of woman. No man in their kingdom wanted a wife that was better at fighting than they were, or hunting for that matter.

The pleasure is mine.” Arachnae finally replied, inclining her head in the customary respected gesture given when one met a Prince. If her mother hoped she would play the perfect princess and be coy, she had another thing coming.

Arachnae is a bit of a free spirit.” Her father; King Luthien said, speaking to both King Alaric and Prince Telemachus. “Much to her mother's dismay, she prefers to walk among the people, to hunt and train with our finest warriors rather than dress in gowns.” His voice was quite obviously proud when he spoke, and it made Arachnae smile. She had always had a close relationship with her father. Even though they had never had a son, she was still heir to the throne. She knew, just as well as her father that they would need not only a strategist at the seat of power, but a warrior as well. For when the time came, many would try to gain the kingdom.

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Re: Absolution

Post by Delamere on Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:28 pm

They moved silently through the trees, surrounded on all sides by the peeling gnarled trunks. The large olive grove provided complete privacy, the trees growing in clumps, their branches intertwining and their trunks twisting around each other. Birds chirped from high above them, hidden behind the shriveling leaves; a gentle breeze rustled the branches.

“Can you believe it, Luthien?” Alaric glanced up at the graying sky, “The day that our two kingdoms dropped the sword and took up the quill has finally arrived.” The old drow smiled and drew his cloak tightly around his body.

King Luthien shook his head slowly, “No, I cannot say as though I expected this, but I am certainly glad for it.” He reached up and plucked a shriveling olive from its branch. He rolled the putrid fruit between his fingers before squashing it. “I look forward to forging ahead, and putting the depravity of war behind us.”

Alaric, eyebrows raised, nodded, “As do I, friend.”

***

Telemachus glanced around, his father and King Luthien had disappeared ahead of them, leaving the Prince and Princess alone in the middle of the grove. He sighed and turned back toward Arachnae; she appeared just as frustrated as he was.

“Beautiful garden,” he broke the silence. She seem uninterested in small talk, and so the two continued their stroll through the twisted grove. Telemachus clasped his hands behind his back, his long hair whipped around as a strong breeze bit into them. He stopped and turned, “This infernal wind.” He glanced at the Princess, her cloak wrapped tightly over her curves. She was beautiful - statuesque. His sharp eyes roamed over her body, drinking her in. Telemachus found himself thinking of her lying, prostrated before him, her clothes scattered about the room.

“Ah there you two are.”

Telemachus whipped around, his father and the King stepped into the clearing. They approached, both smiling brightly.

“Shall we retire to the Grand Hall?” Luthien gently took his daughter’s arm, and gestured for the others to follow him. “It is time for us to ready for the ceremony.”

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Re: Absolution

Post by Guest on Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:43 am

Arachnae stood silent beneath her cloak. It was wrapped tightly around her voluptuous curves and yet still hid everything from view. When the Prince commented on the grove, she merely smiled beneath the shadows of her hood.

Yes, it is. My mother takes pride in it.” Came her simple, yet polite answer. When he commented harshly about the wind, it only served to widen her smile in amusement. She could feel the weight of his gaze roaming over every inch of her from head to toe. Had it been anyone other than a Prince, they would have been missing an eye. As it was, she had to narrow her eyes faintly beneath the darkness her hood provided and shove her annoyance aside. Arachnae nearly laughed when the Prince whipped around as both King’s stepped into the clearing. It seems Telemachus had been almost too well distracted.

Her gaze finally flickered to her father’s face when he mentioned the ceremony. “Please tell me I do not have to wear what mother picked out.” She made it a statement rather than a question.

Wear what you will feel comfortable in, my dear.” Luthien replied, knowing full well of his daughters disdain for such gatherings. “I will handle your mother.”

I would rather wade into a pit full of Orcs rather than argue with mother over fashion.”

King Luthien laughed in amusement. “Both would be highly entertaining, I’m sure.”

And equally gratifying.”




The dreaded ceremony. Arachnae stood in front of the full length mirror, staring at herself. She had put her foot down against the dress her mother had wanted her to wear. Instead, she opted for form-hugging black leather breeches that were tucked into knee-high black leather boots. There was a dagger strapped to her right ankle beneath the boot, and her short swords sheathed at her thighs. The black leather tunic she wore bared both of her arms and the intricate Elven markings adorning her left arm. Those markings were the only clue that gave away her true station. They were runes in her family’s native tongue. Instead of keeping her hair in it’s customary braid, Arachnae had let it tumble down her back nearly to her knees in a silken black waterfall. With a sigh, she moved away from the mirror and left her room. It wasn’t rude to be fashionably late.

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Re: Absolution

Post by Delamere on Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:32 pm

He wore a black tail frock coat in a heavy brocade cotton; the front lined with silver buttons. His dark blue pants tucked into hand-rubbed leather boots, and his hands fitted with a pair of fresh lambskin gloves. His long hair had been brushed to a shine and secured behind his shoulders with a quick twist of ribbon.

Telemachus stared at his own reflection; he hated what he saw, “I look ridiculous.” He turned to his father, “I no longer look like a warrior. I am no longer myself.”

Alaric didn’t look up, “No, you look like a Prince.” The King loosened his belt, “You finally look as though you deserve the crown.” He unbuttoned his shirt and kicked off his muddied boots.

Telemachus frowned, “You’re a pig.” He moved toward the door.

Alaric smiled, “Like the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it, boy?” The belt slipped from the loops, “We still have plenty of time before the ceremony, and Luthien did say to make ourselves comfortable.”

Telemachus, with one last disgusted look at Alaric, grabbed the door’s handle.

“Send the whore in, won’t you?” his father called from the bed.

The crowned Prince slipped out of the room.

***

“Is he ready for me, my liege?” came the small voice.

Startled, Telemachus turned to find himself looking down at a very young girl. Her  plump cheeks ruddy from the bitter wind, “Oh no.” He mumbled under his breath.

“The King,” she pressed, her hands clasped in front of her chest as though in prayer, “Is he ready for me?”

“How old are you?”

“Nine,” came the soft reply.

Telemachus felt his heart drop, and he leaned heavily against the closed bedroom door. He knew his father had perverse tastes, but he had never dreamt he could sink so very low, “Do not go in there.”

Her big brown eyes regarded him, “But I must. I have been summoned.”

He shook his head, almost dumbfounded, “You must leave, this is no place for one so young.” He quickly reached into his pockets, pulling a few gold coins out. “Here,” he pressed them into the palm of her tiny hand, “Take these and go, that should be enough to get you far away from here.”

She glanced down, “I have no where to go.” She looked back up at him, large brown eyes boring into his.

Telemachus smiled, “I’ll figure something out.” He knelt down, “Are you familiar with the olive grove just outside of the gate?”

She nodded.

“Can you find a good hiding place there, and wait for me?” He gently clasped her shoulders; she was so small and frail under all of her clothing.

Again, she nodded, “How will you find me?”

He thought for a brief moment, “Do you know the call of the little whip-poor-will?”

She smiled, "Yes."

“Good, clever girl,” Telemachus released her and rose to his full height, “Wait until you hear the call. You will know it is me.”

***

The Grand Hall was filled to capacity; royalty and the common, alike, crammed themselves into the spacious room - all waiting with bated breath for the ceremony to begin. King Alaric entered the room, his eyes immediately zeroing in on his son at the other end. The Prince appeared lost in thought, completely unaware of his father’s speedy approach.

“You little bastard,” Alaric hissed as he came up behind Telemachus.

The Prince didn’t turn around.

“What did you do with her?” Alaric smiled and waved at the excited crowd, “The whore, where is she?”

Telemachus glanced at his father, “I did not see anyone after I left your room.”

“You’re lying,” Alaric growled through clenched teeth, “I know you sent her away.”

“You are growing paranoid in your old age.”

“After this is over, I am going to gut you,” the King threatened.

“No, you won’t,” Telemachus dropped down onto one knee as King Luthien entered the Grand Hall. The crowd roared with excitement as their beloved ruler ascended the stage.

***

The ceremony was well underway when she slipped through the crowd and quickly took the stage.

“So glad you could join the party,” Telemachus glanced at Arachnae. She fell in line next to him, “Our fathers are about to sign the treaty and put an end to the senseless fighting between our clans.” He sighed, knowing this was all for show.

“And to further strengthen the bond between our two kingdoms,” Alaric’s voice boomed over the din, “Your generous King Luthien has graciously promised his daughter to my son.” Alaric gestured toward the pair.

Telemachus stiffened, “Wait...”

“They shall be married in a week’s time,” Alaric interrupted his son, “This union will solidify the bond between our two clans, forever tying us together as allies.”

Telemachus, an expression of pure shock on his face, looked to Arachnae.

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Re: Absolution

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:50 pm

Father?” Arachnae turned her attention towards King Luthien. His strong features reminded her of her own every time she looked in the mirror. The jet-black hair, the strong dark eyes and the same sinful mouth. He was the opposite, the dark to her mother’s light. Queen Amarylus had waist length snow white hair and eyes that were such a pale blue they might as well have been called white. Though once considered a powerful Necromancer among the Snow Elves, she had been married into nobility in hopes of continuing on their race. But now she was the last pure Snow Elf in their kingdom. Her eyes searched Luthien’s, hoping perhaps that King Alaric was jesting with them. However, the look on her own father’s face proved the truth of such words.

You both can’t be seriously considering that a marriage between us would solidify the treaty.” She continued, sparing a brief glance within Prince Telemachus’ direction. He looked just as shocked as she was. “I am sure Prince Telemachus would be an ideal husband, but the both of you must know and understand that I am not the domestic house wife type. If I were to sit behind castle walls, it would drive me crazy.”

Then you had best learn to cope with being domesticated.” Came King Alaric’s smug comment. There was a smirk on his face that made her want to strike him hard enough to wipe the expression from him.

The Prince must have sensed it, because she felt his hand curl gently around her upper arm and pull her away from his father.

Let us take a walk.” She heard the Prince whisper in her ear. He was right. This wasn’t the time for her to act so rashly, not when everyone had worked so hard to get this treaty signed. She could not bring war upon her people, even for something as trivial as an arranged marriage or a snide comment. Arachnae gave the King one last harsh glare that promised pain, but the look in his eyes was one of extreme pleasure and she knew in that moment exactly what kind of man King Alaric really was. He would take great pride in getting his hands on Arachnae once they had a more private setting. She could see it in the evil glimmer, feel the weight of it as his eyes roamed almost boldly over her cuves as she turned her back on him.

I need to go for a ride.” She said out loud, pulling her arm away from Telemachus. She didn’t look back, nor wait as she strode from the Great Hall and out to the stables.

Carnivean was always glad to see her. It was evident in the way the beast lowered it’s head to be patted between its warm brown eyes. Arachnae didn’t care that it was nearly pitch dark outside. She was used to riding at night like this. It gave her a sense of peace and it never failed to calm her grated nerves. This time, it wasn’t her mother who had annoyed her with her commentary. She swung herself up onto the saddle, her bow securely fastened to her back and her favored cloak pinned tightly at her throat. Within seconds, the horse shot like a dark rocket out into the night.

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Re: Absolution

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