Far away from Wildwood, in the North along the Mountains of Alyn Ladro there lay a small castle. A vast, frozen lake rested under its nose the color of blue mist. Extending across, a long slender black bridge was forged. The castle is known as Korlor, inhabited by men of the northern lands. It was built of hard stone and metal to protect it from the harsh winters that infest themselves across the frozen landscape long in the days of the King. The plain before the bitter lake was barren and somber, a gloomy haze settled itself in the thin air. The ground was hard as metal, as if a single sheet was slapped across the earth. The scarce grass that grew was cocooned with ice and frost. They stood erect and straight.
The lake froze over several times throughout the endless winters, trapping the few fish that swam through the treacherous waters and inevitably lead to their death. Only lichen was able to grow upon the muddy, desolate lakebed where the rocks seemed even harder. The thin metal bridge reflected off the frigid blue ice, its pillars made of steel, puncturing through the thick, ice blanket and down into the dark depths of the deep lake floor.
The castle’s immense gates were securely welded shut, bright silver engravings blazed on the doors. Large wrought horn structures arced over the despairing, black doors. Fluttering banners broke and flapped from the battlements in the frosty breeze. Emblazoned into the tattered white fabric, a black raven flew with its wings outstretched. Around the castle, a massive granite wall jutted from the ground, reaching high into the grey sky. The wall rose thirty feet; small, minute slivers cut into the stout stone for archers if an attack was to come. Though this rarely happened, for the castle was so far north nobody dared venture there. One would only travel, willingly, if war was upon them and it was truly necessary.
Behind the protective walls, hid a dreary, dismal village. The buildings were poor and haggard, draped with black cloths for roofs and constructed with mud and decrepit stone. The ground was of frozen mud, scarcely littered with splotches of dirty, ashen snow. Although the snow was muddied, it appeared vibrant and bright next to the doleful, black earth floor.
The people of the castle are forced to endure the harsh years, persevering through the blizzards and impetuous winds of an endless winter that sweeps over all. They are merciless and sadly inexorable. Not even a baby escapes a year without experiencing the cruel tempests of snow and ice at least once.
Looming over the village, the castle rises piercingly through the thin, grey air. It did not have many towers, only a few, though it had many chambers and corridors, some tunneled in the mountains and some outside. The grandest and largest tower was the home of the Lord and his Lady, located in the center of the castle, controlling over all. Grey mist hung eerily around the formations and spiked fences, creating a ghostly image.
Echoing across Korlor, vehement shouts and cries could be heard aloud, traveling throughout the village and castle, shattering the bleak silence of winter’s plight. Through the castle’s corridors, chambers, dungeons, towers and terraces they could be heard, muffled, but nevertheless heard. The sounds of peace and war battled against each other from the Lord’s chamber, like elf against dwarf, emanating from the tallest tower.
They fought in the lavishly ornate Lord’s quarters. The walls were of cherry red wood, radiating warmth. Brown carpeted floors stretched across the vast floor. Ornate chandeliers hung elegantly from the high ceiling with thousands of diamonds sparkling faintly. They caught the glint of the faint, grey sun as they hung. The candles burned brightly, the wax slowly dripping down the milky, warm sticks. Torches were set ablaze along the walls, illuminating the room with a red light. Intricate, majestic tapestries of jaw-dropping artwork draped down from the high walls. Divine shades of color laced beautifully between one another.
A warm, smooth fragrance filled the room; every breath was of a new, fascinating scent. One smelled of freshly steamed apples, the next, a delectable cinnamon. The room was spacious and grand. The bed, a masterpiece of magisterial craftsmanship. Glossy, rich, chocolate wood silkily created the frame. The immense mattress was a plush, airy cloud. Hand-woven quilts and sheets of gold and brown rested upon the bed neatly. The domed ceiling was tattooed with an epic battle scene. A single, noble figure hoisted an enormous sword atop a pile of bodies and bloodied corpses.
The Lord sat in a large, wooden, leather bound chair. Balls of gold riveted the handles and headboard. He wore several layers of clothing, his first layer: a plain, waxen white shirt. The second, a button down, weathered black shirt. The third, a black vest. The fourth, a maroon, heavy coat with white, glittering jewels mounted upon the breast. The fifth, a fur robe in which he draped over one shoulder. The hide was black. The fur was white; it was thick and full. Black spots dotted the heavy robe. It was the hide of a Ceacun snow leopard.
His face was aged and scarred from battle. His face was snow white. His brow: black as night. His eyes were brown and strong. A fierce intensity shown through them. His nose was long and crooked. Brown and grey strands of hair were pulled back off his face and back to his shoulders. Atop his head gleamed a silver crown, red jewels riveted the spikes.
He shot out from his cozy seat, enraged and provoked. “No!” He shouted so that is thundered through the room. “I will do no such thing! I will not be seduced by your corrupted ways. I will die before I join sides with the enemy! I would die!” Then a smooth, icy voice protested, as sweet as an angle. It was the Lord’s Lady, Narza. Her hair was pitch black and her eyes purple. She was cold as snow, with thin, black brows. She wore a single fluid dress of black, matching her hair. Her face was glassy and featureless. Words sewn of silk rolled out her mouth.
“Please, Heuin, my husband, fiercest of all men in Tacora you hurt me with your harsh words.” She said. “I only intend to praise, to praise you of your power and masculinity above all. But I wish you to be more powerful. I place no burden upon you. Please believe when I speak this. How would you like more power, my Lord? You have always told me you deeply desire it. You know what we must do though, don’t you?”
There was no reply, only silence. Then her inveigle, persuading voice sung out again.
“We must join forces with Morgath, side with the most powerful and we will become the most powerful. We will rule together with him on the dark throne of Volkaria.” There was a long silence, until another thunderous roar erupted from the high tower.
“Never!” Heuin bellowed. “You try to trick me. Make me leave my beloved people. I won’t, I’ll never. I will stay loyal to the people I rule. I will not fall for your mesmerizing magic. Morgath will never treat us as equal, only as dirt and scum seen on the earth. You insist upon something that you cannot receive.”
“My Lord, my husband, do not be naïve, what you speak of will not be. You see I have spoken with the Dark Lord and-”
“You trader!” Snarled Heuin, “You are no wife of mine. Be gone! And may your dark ideas of evil and treachery follow you. I will not uphold any of this in Korlor, my castle. Be gone you malevolent beast, you are no more evil to me than Morgath. I have no pity in my heart for you.” He growled viciously at his lady.
“No pity, such a shame… neither I for you,” she snarled with venom. Then a bone-curdling sound echoed through the air, accompanied ominously by a deep thump on the lord’s richly carpeted floor. Lord Heuin was dead, murdered by his own wife.
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