Sword & Shield, Blood & Gold

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

It is the Fourth Age, also known as the Age of Man. The old Magic of the world is gone, replaced by man's inhumanity to man. On the continent of the South, war brews and armies prepare to march as the followers of The Red God muster it's forces in preparation of Conquest, and the forced conversion of those they conquer to their religion.

Standing in their way are the nations of Stovgard to the far North, and Arater to the Western plains. In between these warring nations stand two countries; Avalon to the South of Stovgard, and Oralei in the farthest South who wish to stay neutral.

However decisions must be made; alliances formed, and choices that could alter the very landscape of the Southern lands forever. As war wages, a long lost Magic awakens under the very ground the armies march upon.

A Northern Warrior is dispatched to protect a young Princess from harm, but his mission will take him and others across the very continent, to their very limits of protecting the Heir to the South.

This long and thought forgotten magic will soon thrive once more, but is it a force for good or for evil?

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Breaking Bread, Breaking Bones

Submitted: July 13, 2013

Reads: 201

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Submitted: July 13, 2013



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 has been seen as 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 once populated by the Elves until their disappearance sometime in the early Second Age; known as the final years of magic and it's creatures. This time would be recollected sadly as 'The Forgotten Age' when magic would disappear and much of it's history forgotten by humanity.

The Capital of Harlear, believed to have once been the Capital of the Elves, was rebuilt over many years by man in their own image. Even to this day the people of Oralei continue to excavate the old city beneath, 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 or The Mountain People, 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, The 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.

"Indeed I do intend for us to join with Arater and Stovgard. The Red Council of Terra Corra intends to force their abomination of a faith upon everyone, even us eventually. Their Red Priestesses intend to forcibly convert anyone they wish, and if they fight them you all know of the stories of what happens to those to resist them. Horrifying experiments, and sacrifices to their god in the name of expansion, in hopes of unlocking the forgotten magics. I will not stand back, and assist them in their aims of expanding their religion any more. So yes I intend for us to fight them, and their sordid faith." Grand Tribe Leader Raydol shouted, to be heard and recognized as their leader.

The tribe leader opposing her father, was not listening and shouted to be heard over the loud noises of the tribe leaders.

"He would have us turn on our age old allies! What do you think the Red Council will do, once they know of what we intend to do! Once they win this war, they'll come down hard on us for turning on them! Death, pestilence and their Red Priestesses will corrupt our lands! We cannot turn on them, we must side with them in this war and if you refuse to do it, then we will rebel and do it ourselves!" The rebel tribe leader shouted.

Open rebellion against the Grand Tribe Leader, this in itself hadn't happened in more than a hundred years. The Princess saw Korin pull from his hip, the war Axe he carried on him and on his other hip a dagger was strapped in place. Her eyes darted across the room and saw Shakri unsheathing her own daggers, and she feared the worst for her father.

"If that is how you want this to play out, then so be it Skoran." Raydol said, and his guards turned and began to move towards the lone rebel.

Then all of a sudden as the guards turned on the rebel Skoran, some of the tribe leaders in attendance pulled from their robes, or from satchels they brought with them, they pulled their weapons free. Weapons were pulled out as more of the tribe leaders became rebels in mere seconds, siding with Skoran against Raydol and the Crown. Swords, daggers, even crossbows were unsheathed by former allies in the hall.

"To arms!" Shakri shouted unsheathing one dagger, and a short curved sword in the other, her eyes on the group of armed rebels. Two guards stood alongside her, scanning the aggressive group.

"Get my daughter to safety, Korine!" Grand Tribe Leader Raydol shouted from the dais, as Princess Lopes looked up frightened.

Korine simply nodded, not taking his eyes off of the rebels holding in one hand his war Axe, and in the other a wooden rounded shield. Immediately the fighting erupted between the rebels, and the royal guards. Sounds of clashing swords, and steel cutting through flesh echoed around the room. The guards were outnumbered by the guests, as no violence was expected. The Princess could see Shakri fighting one of the rebels, swiping her dagger and curved sword in unison at the rebel soldier.

Korine grabbed the Princess by her hand and pulled her away from the dais towards the double doors leading out into the Palace. The Princess heard that fateful noise, her father's grunting and she turned to see her father with curved sword in hand fighting it out with the rebel leader, Skoran. Shakri pulled alongside Korine, and was fighting to protect the Princess as well.

"Save my father!" The Princess screamed, tears filling her eyes but Korine would not release her hand and continued to pull her out of the hall.

"Stop! You promised to protect me, and my father! Shakri stop him, we must go back to my father!" She screamed, her tears running down her cheeks. Korine said nothing still pulling her, as the sounds of fighting subsided into the background. He pulled the Princess along the corridor, with Shakri wielding her weapons in hand keeping an eye behind them looking for rebels following them. Then it happened, the double doors of the Royal Hall opened and rebels forced their way out fighting what guards were still opposing them. The presence of the Princess and her two bodyguards went unnoticed, as the three made their way down spiral stairs to the ground floor of the Royal Palace.

The sounds of the fighting were gone now, but they were not going back to make sure of that. Finally some what safe for the moment, the Princess pulled from Korine's grasp.

"We have to go back for my father, your King Shakri!" She pleaded, tears welling up once more in her eyes.

Korine was breathing hard, but he seemed capable of more fighting if needed as did Shakri who took the chance to get air into her lungs.

"Your father wanted you to be safe, and I promised him to do just that. He knew this was coming, he knew they would rebel! He contacted King Thedas to send me to you!" Korine shouted angrily.

This changed things for Korine, his original agreement was to protect Lopes throughout her father's support against Terra Corra. Now with the rebellion, Princess Lopes would be hunted down by the rebels, to destroy any line of succession to the Throne. With her father dead or disposed, it would mean Lopes was now the Queen on the Throne. The Rebels wouldn't allow that, and would want to destroy the heir and install a new line of succession.

"My father is still alive maybe, we have to find out!" The Princess tried to say, about to run back the way they had came but Shakri grabbed her hand and pulled her back.

"Listen to me Lopes, your father is gone. If we go back, the Rebels will capture you. They will hand you over to the Red Council, with your father's head but not before they rape you first." Shakri said, trying her best to tell her the truth as gently as she could.

The Princess calmed, and began to cry quietly as Shakri turned to Korine.

"Her father said you could be trusted, to get us to the Blue Mountains away from the Rebels. Is that still possible, Avalonian?" Shakri asked.

Korine nodded, sheathing his war Axe to his hip but if needed he could grab it if needed.

"Yes, we can make it to Avalon and to the Blue Mountains. My Clan will offer us shelter, and protection. But first we need to get out of Harlear." Korine explained.

Shakri nodded, and peering around the corner of the staircase she looked into the corridor nearby and found it empty.

"If we follow this corridor it will take us to a exit route out of the palace into the city, but it's not known by many. Just the guards, and myself." Shakri said, as she slid into the corridor with both daggers in hand.

There was still faint shouting, and clashes of steel from the floor above. Korine assumed most of the Royal guards were dead, and the Rebels would quickly take control of the Palace and eventually the city of Harlear. Grand Tribe Leader Raydol's head would be put on spikes outside of the Palace gates, as a warning to loyalists and an offering to the Red Council. The three of them quickly passed through the narrow, empty corridors to the doorway that led out into a hidden thorough-way that was clearly hidden by foliage.

Since leaving the spiral staircase they had not come across any loyal Royal guards, nor any Rebels. However Korine noticed the Princess was silent, and hadn't said anything as she followed him, and Shakri. They eventually found themselves in the city streets, the low level hovels, and buildings the people of the city lived in were difficult to navigate around and from the moment they left the thorough-way meeting the people, most recognized their Soveriegn Princess.

"We need to get a change of clothes, everyone who has seen us recognizes her." Korine said simply referring to Princess Lopes.

Shakri nodded, and quickly found a stall catering to the simple clothes, and fabrics the low-level people of Oralei wore. She pulled from her a small bag of coins, every guard kept some form of currency on their person especially those assigned to protect the Princess.

She bought three robes, with shawls on them for all of them to wear to hide the Princess from being recognized. They were drab, and basic in creation but until they were out of Harlear they had to try and hide their identities. In a quiet, deserted doorway the two girls quickly pulled the robes over themselves, Korine did the same but took his time to make sure no one would see them changing. Soon they were off on foot again, and made their way to the city gates to leave. They soon were not far from one of the two main gates leaving Harlear, and the one they were heading to was the Eastern gate.

If Korine was hoping for a safe exit from the city, he was very much mistaken. It seemed the slaughter at the Palace, and the supposed death of the Grand Tribe Leader and the Princess had got around the city fast. Most of the city were trying to leave the city, and the guards were having trouble containing it. They were probably wondering who they answered to if the Princess was dead as well as her father, with the Rebels probably now disputing who would take the Throne. Korine noticed the guards were slowly letting everyone out, one by one and so he turned to the girls.

"Careful here, Shakri make sure none of the guards look at her face closely." Korine said as they moved into the queue, slowly moving through the checkpoint.

The guards weren't actually checking those going through the checkpoint, mainly they were simply trying to make sure the gates were not rushed. Shakri noticed that the Princess was silent, and so as they walked together she made sure her shroud was over her head and face, and leaned in close to Lopes.

"My Princess, we are almost out of the city. We will get revenge for your family, and father." Shakri said trying to ease her through the awkward, and traumatic situation but still she said nothing only nodded in understanding.

Shakri pulled her own shawl over her face, and did the same for the Princess to hide her features. Slowly the queue shortened, and as people passed through the checkpoint the trio soon faced the guards. They were not Royal Guards, but simple soldiers wearing their leather armor and the symbol of Oralei on its chest plate, the condition of the armor was poor but that was expected of soldiers not under Royal employ. The two soldiers looked dirty, and their beards unkempt. They were certainly the dregs of the Oralei military.

It was going to happen eventually, as the trio came closer to the stationed soldiers one of them began to squint his eyes, and was watching the Princess unsure of who she was, yet.

"State your business, and where you plan to travel to citizen?" The other guard asked, his thick beard covering his caramel skin and jaw.

Korine could see the younger soldier beside the one asking the question, he was staring at Lopes, perhaps trying to remember her. Korine began to answer their questions quickly to get through the checkpoint.

"We're heading to Avalon, to the Capital of Doren. We are leaving these lands, in fear of the coming war." Korined answered, sticking to common knowledge in his reply so the guards wouldn't ask questions.

The guard staring at the hidden Princess, abruptly stepped forward with a cocky smile beneath his beard.

"Is this your daughter, and wife?" The soldier asked Korine referring to Lopes and Shakri.

Korine watched the soldier, something wasn't right about the way he was staring at Lopes. It wasn't suspicion, it was attraction and his last question stirred Korine's fears. The soldier moved closer to the Princess, and pulled her hood down exposing her face. However no one in the queue could see her, just the guards and they didn't react in surprise. The guard who pulled down her hood looked at Korine.

"Yes she is my daughter, and this is my wife." Korine said playing the role, nodding to Shakri as his wife.

The soldier smiled and leaned in to breath in Lopes's scent from her neck, and she shuddered at the soldier's grasp. The other guard siding with his colleague, unsheathed his dagger.

"A toll, for leaving through our gate." The soldier explained holding the dagger, watching his colleague abuse Lopes.

The soldier touching Lopes, slowly let his hand graze her hips over her robe and Korine saw the Princess shiver, in disgust.

With the sun hitting the city, the shadows hid most of what the soldier was doing to Lopes. His hands, bandaged most likely because they were wounded moved his hand to her bottom. Korine didn't know what to do, if he fought these two soldiers it would be easy even with Shakri helping. But this fight could bring the Rebels down to the gate, and then they would be surrounded.

"As a toll I think I'll take your daughter aside, if you want to leave the city you'll stand back and accept it." The grubby soldier said feeling Lopes's bottom, unaware he was assaulting his Princess, and she was crying lightly.

All of a sudden a loud explosion came from the Palace, fire spewed from the Palace walls, as if some form of magic had destroyed the building but magic was long forgotten. The guard assaulting Lopes pulled away, and he turned to the other soldier.

"It's the Palace, what do we do?" The soldier asked his colleague with his dagger in hand.

"We leave, I'm not getting dragged into this war. We abandon our posts, lets go." The guard said sheathing his dagger, and the pair abandoned their duties fleeing out of the gate.

Lopes was crying quietly, and Shakri gently pulled her into an embrace to comfort her. Korine looked and watched the fires pluming from the Palace back the way they came, seeing the open gate he spoke.

"Let's go, before the Rebels find us. Move." Korine instructed, and the trio fled out of the gate in the direction of the cobble road leading away from the city. They made their way North, towards the River Mora which acted as the natural border between Oralei and Avalon.

It would be a grueling journey, but they would find towns and villages along the way to recuperate their supplies and where they could rest. Hours passed, day turned to dusk as the sun set and the trio were exhausted, yet it was only the Princess who showed it. Korine and Shakri mustered on, fighting back the aches and the tiredness overtaking their bodies. They soon found a small town, hidden away nearby a local stream and woodland. It was only a few buildings, and a small market-place. It would be the perfect place to replenish supplies before continuing onto the River Mora.

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