Gwynne and Wallace

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A fantasy tale about intrigue and romance.

Submitted: December 10, 2014

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Submitted: December 10, 2014

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Ah, it has been many years since I last remembered the events of that day. My body is old, but my memory is still sharp. There, in the blasted wastes, among the hidden valleys, did I fight the oncoming hordes of darkness. Undead and Demons plagued the land; it was our job to hold them back. Many rallied to our banner in those days, alliances were plenty, our Keep solid and sturdy against the darkness. We even were able to establish ourselves in distant lands. Yes, these were the good times.

 

But let me tell you another story, a story of betrayal, pain, and love lost and found.

 

The old man adjusts himself closer to the fire, battle scars clearly seen, his eyes staring into the fire as his mind unwraps the scene for the tavern folk who have gathered around. His eyes not moving from the flames, he continues...

 

“There was a young lord by the name of Wallace, a quiet and pious man he was in those days. Adopted by the royal family he served at their keep and the king loved him as a son. In charge of the armory, he became familiar with all manner of weapons and armor. He enjoyed his work, he enjoyed his friends, and he was a stalwart enemy of the enemies of the land.

 

So it came to pass that one night as he traveled his paths alone, as was his custom, he stumbled across a lovely maiden. Hair of the most golden hue, her armor dyed a dazzling green, her eyes shone bright blue. Bleeding and beset by several enemies, she was in need of assistance, and Wallace quickly aided her. Once their deeds were done, he asked her name and she softly whispered, "My name is Jade."

 

From then on, for many a time, Wallace and Jade traveled together. Many knew them; their names celebrated in the halls of the home keep as the pair did mighty deeds together. Then, one dark eve, in the stillness of a snowy night Jade confessed to Wallace that she had been a spy sent from another land. She was to gauge the strength of the keep and to sow discord among its peoples.

 

Wallace looked at her as she confessed and wept. In his heart he knew that she had done nothing of the sort, and begging for forgiveness, he granted it. No one would ever know of her original purpose, for not only did her deeds prove her worth, but he enjoyed her company.

 

So for a time, things were good.”

 

The old man pauses for a moment and then starts again,

 

“Then one day, a friend of his was adopted as another lord of the keep. Where Wallace had been a warrior, Aryn was a mage. Where Wallace was quiet, Aryn was boisterous. Where Wallace was pious, Aryn was worldly. Yet, while the two were brothers in purpose, rivalry was always there.

 

So it was that Aryn saw the friendliness of Jade and Wallace, and his heart grew to longing for her. Many a time he spent with Jade at the great hall inside the keep. Where Wallace marshaled troops, Aryn and Jade sat consorting with one another. Wallace never harbored ill-will; his course was set for battle, though their presence was sorely missed in those days. Still, much work was needed at that time and the challenges were great, so glory could be had from other ventures. In time, each became honored and respected by all for the bravery, valor, and compassion.

 

Then, the day came when the king finally had passed from this world. By order of the king himself, Wallace was granted the king's armor, crown, and weapon. However, this made him no king, for Wallace never wished such a title. He knew his place was at the forefront of their troops in battle and not sitting on a golden throne. Then the queen called both Aryn and Wallace before her. It was she who laid the great king's last request to them both.

 

Both lords were to take part in a tournament that was to be staged in their late father’s honor. Here, they would also become betrothed to the most eligible and honored women of the land: the ladies Jade and Gwynne.

 

Of Jade and her beauty, the tales are well known. Her alabaster skin, the golden hair, ruby lips, and azure blue eyes. Her speech was eloquent and melodic. Her physique and reflexes had been toned from years of battle and as an assassin. Many men had vied for attention and affections, but few had received them, but those that did were rewarded well.

 

Of the lady Gwynne, most knew very little. Both lords knew her only by what was spoken of in their halls: that she was the daughter on an important ally that guarded the mountain passes to their north. Her family had once hailed from warmer climes and while surrounded by snow and shortened days of light, her skin was dark like honey. Her hair was obsidian black. Upon coming of age her family had trained her in the old ways of religion, as well as in the arcane arts, and she was a sorceress of great power. Everything else was unknown, save that she was respected by all that knew her.

 

The queen then informed them that the tournament was to take place a month from this day and that they should make all necessary preparations. With a bow, both Aryn and Wallace took their leave and retired from the throne room.”

 

Pausing for a moment, the old man stokes the fire and then continues,

 

“Now, this was when the north was a dangerous place. Monsters and foul beasts roamed the land alongside the undead and demons that the great circle of necromancers had summoned to protect their once hid necropolis of Underhaven. I will not bore all of you with details that other bards and storytellers have recounted numerous times. However, what I will say is that much to Wallace’s chagrin, the very next day the queen received word that a few outposts had been overrun by the great enemy and that more than a few villages would be decimated if a relief force was not mustered straight away.

 

Summoning Aryn, Jade, and Wallace before her, the queen said, “This expedition is expected to take a few weeks to complete. Of course, this means that one of you may not be back in time for the tournament. In this event, the lord that is present must wait until the other returns, or receives word of the others demise. I would hope that the two of you, Aryn and Wallace, would undertake this mission. As for Jade, she will not go along, as she is expected to meet with Gwynne and to take care of her while she is our guest. What say you both?”

 

Wallace did not hesitate; he bowed and answered that he would gladly undertake the mission.

 

Aryn hesitated and with a quick glance from Jade, he responded that while he would love nothing better, he thought it better to look over and marshal the troops mustering here and to command the reinforcements as was necessary.

 

Wallace, who had not seen Jade’s glance, gave Aryn a nod and said that this was a noble purpose. Surely, in the weeks ahead, troops would be needed and he could count on his brother lord to supply them.

 

The queen nodded and agreed to the wisdom of this path. Blessing all three, each retired and acting without delay Wallace left for the battle ahead.

 

He knew nothing of the burgeoning romance between Aryn and Jade, nor did he expect what lay ahead.”

 

The old man takes the glass of red wine and takes a sip before continuing,

 

“I will not say much of what transpired upon that march, except that the fighting was hard and that they saved the villages from ruin, only stopping at the original outposts that were overrun. Once the rebuilding and garrisoning was started did Wallace take his leave of their troops and made haste back to the capital.

 

On the morning of the tournament, all turned out but one: Wallace. So the queen wisely allowed the other contests between other lords, knights, and archers take place. It was as grand a tournament that had ever been seen. Then, finally, a herald announced the approach of Wallace!

 

What a sore sight that was to be seen in his approach! He and his horse were covered a thick coating of dust, his armor dented and stained with blood, his arm bound due to a wound received in the northern campaign. When he stopped before the queen and opened his visor to speak, his face shown the lines of battles hard won, but also that he had not rested or cared for himself on the ride back.

 

The queen, in her wisdom, looked almost pitifully on the lord before her and gave the order that the tournament would continue tomorrow to allow this good lord a chance to rest before taking part in the late king’s final request.

 

With a grateful nod, he looked over at the ladies seated beside the queen, the ladies Jade and Gwynne. Looking at Jade, he could see her holding her nose up at him, as if the smile she bore held nothing but chiding behind it. When his eyes met Gwynne, even for that brief moment, he saw something different in her smile but he could not place it until much later. Nodding to both, he wished them both well and looked forward to seeing them tomorrow. Of his brother lord Aryn, he did not see.

 

After a full night of rest, his body tended by a bath and the caring for his wound, he arrived at the tournament in the morning finding the queen, Aryn, Jade, and Gwynne awaiting him in the center of the field. It was here that they heard the king’s final decree:

 

In single combat they would face, the Queen their judge, the lady's Jade and Gwynne their witnesses. He who bested the other two of three bouts would be given first choice of the lady he wished to marry. The man, who was bested though certainly with no shame, would take the other for their wife.

 

Looking at each other, Wallace knew Aryn had the advantage, and spoke:

 

"Great Queen, I am but a warrior, what can I do against Aryn in battle? He uses magic from afar, and he is the best in our lands, I will nary take but a few steps and I shall be at his mercy. How shall we be fair in this duel?"

 

Solana, the great Queen, replied thusly:

 

"Wallace, our Warrior, and Aryn, our Mage, shall fight three bouts. The first will be fought using the armaments of a warrior. The second will be fought using magic. The third, and deciding bout, will be of Jade's choosing at that day."

 

Wallace and Aryn both looked to Jade at that moment. In their minds, they knew she could be fair, or she could choose a favorite and tilt the odds. Knowing that nothing further could be done, as the King's word was law, both Wallace and Aryn retired.”

 

Pausing to take a long drink of wine, the old man continues,

 

“Thus, word spread of the duel, though none knew of the location. So it was that each man, Wallace and Aryn, prepared themselves in their own way. Wallace continued his duties, fought battles, and sought the god's favor in his battle. Aryn, though he did the same, also began spending more time with Jade. Wallace was no fool, and knew this boded not well for him, though he too spent time with Jade in conversation. Where once she was warm, she was now distant, coming alive only when Aryn arrived.

 

Finally, the day arrived. All of the Keep's soldiers, men and women, gathered in the great hall to await the news of the victor. Members from the Outpost, with the Lady Gwynnevere, arrived as well. After enjoying some banter, the time came. Following the Queen, Aryn, Wallace, Jade and Gwynnevere went un-followed to the place of dueling.”

 

The old man takes another long sip of wine, takes a deep breath, then continues,

 

Ah, so they arrived in the clearing of a forest, snow gently falling. No sounds were audible. Even the forest creatures seem to stop and watch the displays of single combat. Each man carried his assigned weapons, and Jade held only a single box.

 

At the Queen's command, the first bout commenced. Both men charged each other, but Wallace being the more physically gifted, knocked Aryn over and placed his sword at Aryn's neck. Aryn called mercy, Wallace was declared the winner.

 

At the Queen's command, the second bout then commenced. At their designated spots, each man hurled magic at each other. Aryn, being the more magically inclined, bested Wallace easily. Holding his stave to Wallace's neck, Wallace called mercy. Aryn was declared winner.

 

At the Queen's command, all turned to Jade to hear how the third bout would be played.

 

Jade opened the box in her hand and offered the old dagger inside to Wallace, saying:

 

"If you can best Aryn in combat, he using magic, and you only using this, then you may claim me."

 

Reaching out, Wallace felt betrayed; he could see the grin on Aryn's face. Jade had chosen, and now Wallace would suffer a defeat. Or so they all thought. Thinking quickly, Wallace hatched a plan, Jade said nothing of him using his magical talents, poor as they were. She only said he had to best Aryn with the dagger.

 

Taking their places, the Queen gave the command to begin.

 

Acting quickly as Aryn's casts began; Wallace used his magic of teleportation to leap upon Aryn. With a deft move, he grabbed Aryn by the neck and pressed the dagger in close. Aryn struggled, Wallace pressed even harder with the dagger to cause blood to start flowing. Then it was, Aryn cried for mercy.

 

Shocked, Aryn fell to the ground; his immediate cry was for foul play. The Queen then spoke:

 

"Jade's rules only stated Wallace had to best you with the dagger, she said nothing of his use of non-harmful magic. You have been bested, Wallace is our victor."

 

Wallace was happy, he had proved his worth to Jade and those assembled, as he turned to greet his lady he saw:

 

Jade began crying while holding Aryn in her arms.

 

There were no words to convey the crushed spirit Wallace felt. Her choice was made, and though he could force her by right to be his Lady, Wallace only looked and said:

 

"So, Jade, you have chosen?"

 

Looking up to him stoically, she replies,

 

"Yes, Wallace, I have. But you have bested him and won me fairly."

 

Not saying a word, Wallace walks over to Gwynnevere, and takes her hand. Quietly, he says,

 

"Great Queen, let it be known that Aryn was the victor this day. I choose Gwynnevere for my Lady."

 

Stunned silence filled the clearing, the Queen responds,

 

"It shall be so, Wallace. Let this event be as you have spoken, and I am joyous for you Gwynnevere, as you have gained a true champion. Aryn and Jade, you will be pronounced the new King and Queen but know this, do not squander the gift you have been given this day."

 

And so it was. The rule of Aryn and Jade was prosperous, yet sadly short lived. The rule of Gwynnevere and Wallace, however, lasted for a very long time. A happier couple was never seen, the halls of their Outpost home filled with laughter and joy.”

 

The old man smiles, then reaches into his pack, producing a very old painting that was curled inside. Placing it onto the table, everyone saw a silver-haired lady and a dark haired man with her. They were in a loving embrace, smiling. The most noticeable feature was that the young man in the portrait bore a striking resemblance to the old man before them. As the people began to notice this, the old man smiles wanly, with a single tear falling down his cheek, he says,

 

“Yes, I am that man; the lady you see was Gwynnevere. She passed on many, many moons ago. Never was a lovelier lady found. Our Outpost home fell not long after my Gwynne passed on. It now lay in ruins, our people dead or long gone from these lands. It is the anniversary of our wedding, this day.

 

I am traveling to see her one last time, for my time is short, and I feel her welcoming me to my new home. I have enough strength to make the trip, and I will give up my life beside her earthen grave.”

 

The stunned townsfolk watch as the old man gets up, and starts walking out the door. A young man grabs the painting and runs over to the old man, attempting to give it back. The old man, smiles and says,

 

"Keep it lad, and remember our story. Grow true and strong. Find your own Gwynne lad, hold her close to you, and remember.”

 

Opening the tavern door, the old man walks out, never to be seen again. They saw a few weeks later, in the old ruins on the mountain a few peaks over, a flash of light was seen in a snowstorm. When a few dared investigate, they found nothing but the old armor and pack of the man in their tavern. Oddly, it was lying next to an old grave marker that simply read: Gwynnevere and Wallace…


© Copyright 2018 Turin Wallace. All rights reserved.

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