Sword & Shield, Blood & Goldbyscotjock1©
"There's a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand."
A saying told time and time over, during times of war and conflict.
The age of man is upon us, the fourth age. The past histories of Elf and Dwarf are long gone, as so is the tales of magical creatures. Now only exists a time of history plagued by humanity's wars against their fellow man for gold and power.
In the lands of the South, below the nation of the snow, and ice lands of Stovgard lay the lands of political intrigue, and war for territories.
The nation of Avalon sits astride to the Dead Sea above it, and surrounded from East to South, to West by other nations. To the West of Avalon lays the nation of Arater, a land of Mediterranean climate, and traditions dating back to the beginning of man itself. To the East, the nation of Terra Corra, a mysterious country with horrifying stories of the nation's Red Priestesses, and their power over the people. Stories leak from the infamous Tower of Corra on the Eastern coast of the country, where the Red Council sits governing the country. These stories concern sacrifice of life and flesh, for the pursuit of forgotten magic.
Blood magic as it was once referred to, the Red Priestesses of Terra Corra are intent on re-discovering the forgotten powers of the old world, even at the cost of lives and blood. These Priestesses, and the power they wield are protected and enforced by Red Guards. Chosen at birth to protect the power, and ways of the Red Council they are absolutely merciless in their destruction of anyone who oppose them.
To the South of Avalon lays the nation of Oralei, a land of Mediterranean climate also and made up of powerful tribes that command one of the largest armies in the region, and at the top of the Oralei power lies the Grand Tribe leader, his wife and children. The leader of Oralei is appointed Grand Tribe Leader by the majority of smaller tribes populating the land, and is also the most powerful of the tribes in the land. The daughter of the Grand Tribe Leader is in fact the next in line for the Throne, over the male children which is an unusual custom compared to other nations regarding the line of succession to power. Their traditions date back to a time believed that the land of Oralei was populated by the Elves, once magical creatures now gone and only spoken of in legend.
The Capital of Harlear, believed to have once been the Capital of the Elves, was rebuilt upon over many years by man in their own image. Even to this day the people of Oralei continue to excavate the old city beneath Harlear searching for Elven ruins and artifacts.
To the West of Arater and Oralei, borders the The Red Desert. A land rarely traveled, as the climate alone is enough to starve, and dehydrate travelers to their deaths.
Finally to the lands of Avalon once more, home to the native people regarded as Celts, due to the harsh northern regions of the country have bore strong willed, and warrior Clans that many years before came together to form Avalon under a monarchy of a King and Queen. It is believed the lands of Avalon and Stovgard were once home to the Dwarf people, now long gone and forgotten also like the Elves have been. Ruins and artifacts have been found over hundreds of years lending weight to the belief Avalon and Stovgard were once a land of the Dwarfs, and were once connected by land until the Dead Sea slowly eroded the passage.
Our story takes place in all of these lands, with the threat of war and the resurgence of forgotten magic looming over the Southern Lands. This is a tale of war, and conflict, but also betrayal and conspiracies.
The Age of Man, The Fourth Age, Summer, 4337AOM, Capital of ORALEI, HARLEAR, Royal Chambers
Princess Lopes, began to pace around her chambers erratically and irritated. The young Princess of Oralei was tired, and didn't want to play the host to her father's gatherings even if it was expected of her. Being in her later years, almost of age of nineteen she was expected to entertain her father's quests in hope of finding a suitable man to marry. Her father Raydol, current Grand Tribe Leader wasn't getting any younger, and with her mother now gone and buried she was expected to inherit the Throne from her father. Her father had asked the servants to dress the Princess befitting of her role, and she wore a beautiful elegant dress made of silk, dark brown in color. The light from outside the Royal Palace struck and bounced off of her dress, giving her an angelic appearance to all. Alike to men and women of Oralei, Princess Lopes had light caramel skin, due to the Mediterranean climate of the country.
In a nation most Southward of all other countries in the region, it was hit by the Mediterranean weathers and winds from the Dead Sea surrounding the region. This climate gave Oralei women an exotic quality to them, brown caramel skin that shone and beautiful hazel hair that illuminated simply from natural light. Princess Lopes was a woman, even her father could not deny that. She didn't possess an athletic, lean body but a voluptuous, thick woman in certain places. Particularly her legs, hips and bottom. She was a woman born to sire an heir, a child to the throne be it a son if possible, and if not a daughter to rule after she stepped down. That was the thinking of her father, seeing as war was ever more evident in the region.
Princess Lopes could not deny she didn't see her father's anxiousness to have her seated on the Throne as quick as possible seeing as the nations around them prepared for war. Terra Corra to the East was preparing for an invasion of Stovgard, in a bid to spread the faith of the Red Priestesses and their Red Council. Stovgard was looking to Arater for assistance as they were allies, but if Arater were to intervene and side with Stovgard then Lopes knew her father would have to aid Terra Corra, as they had been allies for hundreds of years already.
That would pit Oralei against an ally of theirs, and force the nation into a war that would cost many lives. Princess Lopes understood her father's situation, but if she was in charge of the country she would try and stay neutral. Why ally with a nation such as Terra Corra, when they are known for brutal practices and violent conversions to their faith. She knew her father was keeping a promise that former Grand Tribe Leaders upheld. The woman servants were watching her pace around her chambers, the brown silk dress swaying with her every move. Even the servants, though silent noticed her womanly figure and quite unusually large bottom, which seemed both firm and thick. A sign in Oralei culture of a woman ready for giving birth to a child, as it was regarded as a sign of good health and fertility.
"Princess, your father awaits you in the Royal Hall for the gathering." A young caramel skinned servant said gently, she was so small and petite Lopes almost didn't notice her.
"My father wishes to parade me in front of the tribes, waiting for one of their Tribe Leaders who wants to take me as their wife." Princess Lopes grunted, in anger.
The servants around the room said nothing, they knew their place in the presence of the Royal Princess. The princess sighed, and called out to her servants.
"Very well, bring me a shroud. If I must parade myself in front of the tribes then I shall do it with some modesty. Even if this dress does nothing to hide my figure from their leering eyes." She said, her voice low and subdued as a young servant gently placed the shroud on her head and pinned it into place.
Two servants walked with the Princess from her chambers to the Royal Hall, just in case she needed them for anything. As she passed some of her father's Royal Guards standing still as a statue couldn't help but look at her. She was a woman any man with red blood in their veins wanted, and they chanced a glance at her large, firm behind. The brown silk dress did nothing to conceal the size, nor the shape of her bottom. In fact it even rode up her large bottom, up between her luscious ass cheeks as it was uncommon for women, even Princesses to wear undergarments due to the heat and weather. Undergarments were more of a Avalon custom, not an Oralei one.
Princess Lopes pressed on, she knew her father's guards were leering at her, wishing for a chance with the beautiful princess. If her father had known, he would have had the soldiers beheaded and their heads placed on spikes at the city gates as a warning. The Princess knew all she had to do was tell her father, but she had never done that, and she wasn't about to start now. She in fact liked the attention from her guards, feeling wanted by a man with pure lust, and not lust for her father's Throne.
The Oralei Royal Guards wore dark brown leather armor, held in place with straps, with the Oralei national Symbol, a burning tree surrounded on either side by birds flying mid-air. No one knew how Oralei came about adopting the symbol, but many said it was the Elves national symbol in history, still used by the humans of the land now. Their eyes followed the Princess, they would protect her but not without a few glances at her womanly body. Their swords were curved, and strapped to their hips, and they kept one hand on the pommel and their eyes straight ahead.
They were loyal to her father, the Princess knew that, but where would their loyalties lie with her?
She knew from history, no female had held the Throne of Oralei in over a hundred years, Lopes feared if they would even follow a woman on the Throne once again. Eventually past the guards, followed by her hand-maidens she entered the Royal Hall to loud celebrations, and joyous singing and dancing.
There were men and women, of proud tribes across the country gathered together dancing, and enjoying the food laid out for them.
The Princess breathed in, there was no one she actually wanted to spend this gathering with. Until she saw her best friend, Shakri standing off to the side of the joyous dancing. She was one of her protectors, chosen by Lopes's father as they were friends. Shakri had bright, shiny curled hair that she had tied into a single ponytail, and she was slightly taller than the Princess. Today she was wearing a pair of tight leather breaches, made from animal leather and was pulled tightly against her tummy and around her legs. She wore a simple leather jerkin, made from patches of animal leather strapped together as armor and with dignity stood aside watching the room for any potential threats to the Princess and her father.
Sharki always had a tight, firm body from years of training to become a Protector to the Throne, with a firm, rounded bottom and small breasts she was both lean, and firm at the same time. She had trained for most of her life, with every weapon imaginable to prepare for her role in protecting Lopes. It didn't stop the male guards leering at her, she was a very beautiful woman and most men didn't take her role seriously, until she had her dagger pressed against their throats. Then they took her seriously, no longer groping her when no one was around or even trying to force their way on her.
She had killed for the Throne, and she could do it again if needed. She could see some of the guards even now leering at her, and some of the male tribe guests but she ignored them. Keeping her hand on the pommel of her dagger dangling on her hip, she always had to know it was in easy reach. Princess Lopes began to walk among the guests, and making short greetings as she made her way to the dais where her father was sat overlooking the large hall.
Out of nowhere a pair of hands, rough and hairy grabbed her big, firm bottom through her dress. She span around and saw the owner of the hands, he was scruffy, and covered in long hair on his head, and wore poorly made tribal armor.
He grinned, his mouth missing most of its teeth and he looked perverted as he gripped her cheeks through the dress.
"Your time will come child, so long and ready to bear an heir. My heir." He laughed cackling, as the Princess backed away towards the dais.
He tried to grab her once again, and the Princess fell against the dais and out of nowhere a large built man, in armor she had never seen before step between her and the rowdy tribesman.
She looked up at the man from behind, his armor was plate steel and covered his chest while his arms were exposed, and muscular with inked tattoos covering them. He looked to be about 5'10 in height, towering over her and even Shakri. He had a war Axe in one hand, gripping it's handle he was looking down at the rowdy tribesman in silence. The Princess couldn't see the stare the man was giving her troublemaker, but the stare made him back away from both of them and he quickly moved to another part of the hall.
Slowly her savior turned to face her, his black thick hair on his head was wild and untamed, and stopped on his shoulders, wet and wild. Princess Lopes had never seen a man like this in her lands before, she wondered who this man was. There were intricate blue tattoos across his forehead, and one on his left face cheek. She had never seen symbols like his tattoos before, he looked in his thirties, and a seasoned soldier. He slowly put his war Axe back on his hip, strapping it in place and he smiled gently. She couldn't see the smile under the mass of bearded hair that covered his jaw, but his jaw changed into a smiling position so she knew.
"I will keep an eye on that tribesman, malady." He said in a strong Celtic accent, she assumed he was from the lands of Avalon. The only nation that remained neutral in this coming war.
Princess Lopes breathed hard, and nodded.
"What is your name, warrior?" She asked the seasoned, grizzled soldier.
He bowed gently, and straightened again for her.
"Korine, Princess. You can call me Korine." He said gently.
She could now see his armor, and it was blunted in places, with scratches he earned from battle, even his war Axe looked to have come with him through the wars, with chips in the steel.
"Where do you hail from, warrior Korine?" The Princess asked smiling.
He smiled, and ran his rough palm across his beard, and the Princess saw even more intricate blue tattoos covering the back of his hand.
"Avalon, malady. The Blue Mountains in the North of the country, where the Clans still live and live by the old Avalonian traditions, that came across from Stovgard a long, long time ago." Korine said smiling, his history proved intriguing to the Princess. She had heard of Avalon obviously, but only knew that most of the Clans came together a thousand years ago to found the modern nation of Avalon. She didn't know that some Clans chose to hold to the old Celtic traditions of old.
"I never even knew the old Clans still existed in Avalon, I thought all the Clans came together to found the country years ago." The Princess stated, waiting to be corrected by Korine's history.
Korine smiled and moved closer to the dais and leaned against it to talk to the Princess more privately, unaware that Shakri had her eyes on them both.
"The Blue Mountains at first refused to come together, and give up the traditions of old to form the country. So a balance was found, if the Blue Mountains swore allegiance to the King, and the Throne then they could keep their independence of traditions. So that's been our way since the founding of Avalon, separate in traditions and culture yet loyal to the Crown. We even have our own King, on the Stone Throne but he remains loyal to the Avalonian King." Korine said, as if reciting records of a library back home in Avalon.
Princess Lopes couldn't help but smile, and breath deeply as the images of the Blue Mountains entered her mind, she wanted to visit them. The Princess hadn't even touched a man, much less kissed one under strict instructions from her father to wait until marriage. As her father told her many times, when she expressed interest in boys her own age when she was a child, her father made her repeat what he told her.
"No man wants damaged goods, they want a Vase in pristine condition. They won't buy it with chips and dents in it." Her father constantly reminded her, the hard sordid truth of it all. Because of that strict upbringing of her sexuality, she was still a virgin of adult years now.
She was now seeing a man, not some tribal boy she she found handsome or nice looking, this was a man. Korine was the warrior type of man, built and muscular. A man she read about, heard about from her friends and hand maidens. His skin was pale, and looked hard and rough from the natural climate of the Blue Mountains. Even in Oralei, pale men and women were rare as those in Southern Avalon were olive skinned. Only those from the Blue Mountains and Stovgard were truly pale skinned.
This interested the Princess, as she was surrounded mostly by her own people in the form of guards, and hand maidens. It was unheard of to meet, or speak to Northern Avalonians, or even those from Stovgard.
"So what brings you here, Korine?" Princess Lopes asked, noticing Sharki watching them both as a Protector would do, as expected of them.
Korine looked around the hall, and then up at the dais where the Grand Tribe Leader, Lopes's father sat and then looked deep into her eyes.
"I'm here, on behalf of our King Thedas in Doren, and the Crown to protect your father and yourself against attack by the agents of Terra Corra." Korine said in such a low voice, the Princess almost didn't hear him.
The Princess had just been told a secret, even her father hadn't divulged to her. Oralei was not going to side with Terra Corra, as it's only alliance dictated. Her father was going to oppose the Red Council, and the Priestesses. This was hard to take in, why hadn't her father told her this?
This meant war with Terra Corra, and their Red Priestesses.
The Princess looked up at her father, he seemed in deep thought on his Throne.
He didn't seem to be enjoying the festivities, was this why he had held this gathering? To tell his people of their change of allegiance, from Terra Corra to Avalon.
But Avalon was neutral even in this war, so why was an agent of theirs in Oralei intent on protecting the Princess and her father from harm?
"My father intends to join Arater, and Stovgard against Terra Corra?" The Princess asked.
Korine looked once more around the room, as if enemy ears could be listening to their conversation. He looked at the Princess.
"Aye, indeed he does malady. It's why Avalon promised protection to you, and the Crown sent me to look after you. It's an old promise our nations made years ago, to protect the daughters of each monarchy. I am to protect you, I arrived here a few days ago. I haven't seen you as I've been preparing your protection." Korine explained.
"Is the threat viable against me, and my father?" She asked him.
Korine looked deep into her eyes, and it unsettled the Princess. She hadn't seen a man like Korine before, and it left an unusual feeling in the pit of her stomach. Before Korine could speak a loud voice shouted out for silence, to be heard among the crowd of guests.
"Is it true, that you intend for us to join with Arater and Stovgard against Terra Corra? They are our age old allies!" The man behind the voice was the same man who grabbed the Princess only minutes before, and he didn't seem drunk now as he was shouting to her father.
Her father, the Grand Tribe Leader of all of Oralei stood to face his people, and the tribe leader confronting him. He looked old, her father was almost sixty in age and he had fought in enough wars, and battles to drain his body of its once perfect physique and strength. His caramel skin was wrinkled and weathered now, his jaw covered in a small yet thick light brown beard on his jaw. His robes were brown in color, and with golden bands around the wrists, and the neck of the robe.