[AAR/Novella] Feverspeak: Lamentations of the Queen of Pendor

Currently viewing this thread:

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
Note: This story may contain minor spoilers (Such that you might find on the forum anyway, but just so you know.)

Otherwise, Dear Reader:

Please bear with me, as not only is this my first AAR-esque story, it is very long (6000 words or so). Note that it is more a fictional aftermath story than an AAR but as it progresses more in-game events are covered.

But please don't expect a conventional AAR or you'll be disappointed.  :smile:

Also, if I've made a grave error, particularly on lore, please let me know.

Regards.

P.S. Comments and discussion are welcome.

P.S.S. I'll try to improve upon the layout. Just note that there are 4 main chapters, or spoiler buttons to click on, on the left side. The rest as labeled are supplemental.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Feverspeak: Lamentations of the Queen of Pendor

Lady Raubrey, Ruler of Pendor, March 2, 357 CE to _____,
Recorded by M.S., Village of Emirin

Prologue

Chap. 1  Introduction / Dear Reader
1.1 To Marius's Dismay
1.2 Laria – The Rumor
1.3 Emirin – Redemption or Bait (Meeting Lady Raubrey)
1.4 Of Emirin and Shrines   
Author's Note

Chap.2  Day One
2.1 The Chosen One?
        2.2 Remembering Koningur Valdis
2.3 Leslie's Concoction, Mildred's Question
        2.4 The Truth about Sarleon, Ulric...and Myself
2.5 The Truth about Laria

Chap.3  Day Two
3.1 Which Dangers God?
3.2 Good Morning, Lord Fossard
        3.3 The Truth about Lord Eric
        3.4 Lethaldarin, The Mystery
        3.5 Honor or Zealotry?

Chap.4 The Future of Pendor


Prologue / Chap. 1
Prologue
Janos -- March 7, 360 CE​
"How many times did Lady Raubrey save us and now we are to do nothing but idle about?," the typically mild-mannered Squire Shandor shouts at the air. He takes a deep breath and turns his head towards Emirin way. After a minute passes by, the middle-aged Village Elder kisses me on the cheek as he has done every day in our 20 years of marriage.

"Please tell m'lady that she is in our thoughts and prayers," he requests calmly, as he escorts me to the castle. While crime is barely existent in Janos, these are unusual times.  He then takes off "to take a peek" at the roast pork in the marketplace. 
   
It was wise of the Lady not to reveal the latest assassination attempt on her life to her subjects, if indeed that is the cause of her condition. Given her state, the wheels of Pendor would grind to a halt. Besides, I'd scarcely make it to the door. 

Steward Thantos greets me briefly and motions a guard to escort me to the Queen's chambers.

As I found Lady Raubrey sleeping when I arrived, I gathered my papers and composure, while completely unprepared to face the dark truths to come, both about Pendor and our beloved Lady.

Chapter One
Introduction

Janos -- March 7, Late Evening​



Dear Reader,

It is with much sadness that I find myself by the Queen's bedside, at her request, whereas I shall dictate m'lady's words for the "future ruler of Pendor, record keepers, and her amusement," since she is unable to do so herself in her feverstate.

I am Mildred, wife of Squire Shandor, the Village Elder of Emirin, and friend to our beloved Lady Raubrey. Though a commoner, formerly educated by Empire reforms, m'lady has embraced both me and my village as if we were family. Such is her way, and some would say her weakness. 

I feel it necessary to relay a bit about the Lady's, past to better understand why Pendor needs her more than she needs a kingdom. While Pendor is no longer a land divided by roving borders and rival kings, it lacks neither divisiveness nor rivals, some internal, some beyond its shores.

The now mostly empty prisons are not equipped to house the prejudices and greed of men, and whom would serve as judge of a man's heart? Kidnappings are rare these days as the punishment for doing so is death by public hanging. Still, female peasants and even the Noldor are not immune to being accosted. The fractured slave market still exists in the shadows of Singal and despite Pendor's prosperity, bandits remain – though now it is by choice, one not driven out of need.

The raiders, Snake Cult and Heretics remain, but are usually found in small numbers, showing up infrequently. Given the lords have little else to do but collect taxes and feast, some even seem enthusiastic to bloody their blade now and then while protecting their territories. 

Still, with all its splendor and changes, the pulse of Pendor is not so different than before. We work hard, compete with foreign merchants, live at the mercy of the weather and count our blessings.

1.1  To Marius's Dismay

We first met Lady Raubrey soon after she became a vassal of Sarleon, serving first as a mercenary for a couple months, to assess Pendor and her future liege. Apparently deciding the defense of Sarleon was just, with war on three fronts, it was Lady Raubrey who turned the tides of battle in King Ulric's favor.

Ulric had all but ignored The Empire (East) and The D'Shar Principalities (South), focusing most his efforts on Ravenstern in the North – whether strategic, personal or both is anyone's guess, but the tactic failed. Ulric had simply expanded too quickly into Raven territory and now paid a price for it with other people's blood.

The Empire was fractured and the D'Shar had been weakened considerably before Ravenstern declared war. Though they began to recover after Ulric changed course, northwest. Such it came to be that Lady Raubrey put Marius I, ruler of The Empire, in her sights (perhaps Janos too), and relentlessly pursued him and his men while fighting the D'Shar when they got in her way.

Still at truce with Sarleon, The Fierdsvain (West) soon took advantage of the opportunity to reclaim lands now held by the D'Shar, making Raubrey's mission only slightly easier.
 
Such is war and such is how m'lady became lord of my home, Emirin (and later Cez, Calendain Castle, Maras Castle, Janos, Jayek (which Ulric lost) and finally Shieldstorm Keep and Ethos, before defecting --upon not being granted the last two fiefs).

1.2  Laria – The Rumor

Indeed she also sieged Laria twice, which was originally granted to her husband, Lord Fossard, (at Raubrey's request) though he lost it to the Ravens.

In conversations it was apparent that Lady Raubrey was fascinated with Laria, and still seems to be to this day, as if the place holds ancient secrets or treasure. Though she never relocated her court there from Ethos, even when she expanded Pendor northward -- be it out of fear for her vassals encountering the Jatu tribes or respect for the Noldor, I was not made privy to the reason.

Maybe it is the simple gossip of old women, but some would say m'lady and Fossard had a falling out when he lost the city, after it was sacked by the Noldor then sieged by King Gregory IV, but was quickly reclaimed by Sarleon. Though this time the city was not granted to her husband. Rumor has it that his garrison was quite thin.

Fossard retreated to his village until he landed Talon Castle and rarely were the couple seen together again publicly, except when the Queen paid him a visit. (Addendum: I knew there was more to this story!  As you will soon learn.)

1.3  Emirin - Meeting Lady Raubrey


Slightly injured from Empire crossbowmen, when Almerra Castle -- and with it, The Empire, fell, the elated Lady Raubrey visited her newly acquired fief and its people. The villagers didn't quite know what to make out of a lord inquiring about their lives here, speculating her motives were profit-driven.

Yet she took us under her deft wing even though our struggling village was scarcely worth a noble's time, for it had been assaulted frequently by barbaric lords hailing from all corners of Pendor.

Even more troublesome were the bandit raids, the Red Brotherhood and the Snake Cult, who killed and abducted our farmers and families. Our former, miserable, tax vulture of a lord dared not be bothered with these matters.

Truth be told, I think Lady Raubrey found redemption in Emirin for all her bloodshed, and even later blamed herself for the attacks. As her enemy count rose, so did the frequency of raids. She apologized to Shandor and I that Emirin had become unwitting bait for her victims.

But, I'll never forget our beloved Lady's relentless efforts at rebuilding our village, between attacks – many of which she averted.

All of which pales to the rescue of our daughter from the sweaty hands of Ramusk Khan, of course. Shandor was so proud to give the Lady our prized cow Pippa as a reward. Oddly enough, she set the beast free.

1.4  Of Emirin & Faith

Today, Emirin is one of the most prosperous villages of Pendor -- and my dear Shandor has evolved into a most competent Village Elder.

Fool man that he was, he didn't know how to handle a rat infestation when I married him. But, like most of us, he was smitten with the future queen, whose beauty was exceeded only by her courage, honor, charm and battle finesse.

She taught us how to defend ourselves first, then she taught us how to protect us from ourselves -- thereby ridding the village of a few idiots, witches, heretics and religious fanatics. Not that m'lady is anti-religious by any stretch.

Few people of faith were turned down in their requests for shrines. Though the Queen never mentioned which deity she believed in or followed, if any.

One thing about her beliefs was clear. She despised all who killed or harmed innocents for their god or cause, be it the Knights of Dawn or the Snake Cult, and she pursued them with religious fervor.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​
Author's note – By M.S. of Emirin

What follows are the words of the Queen, as she often talked to no one in particular while fading in and out of consciousness in her bed, accompanied by this reporter of record and Leslie her physician.

Few people know of the grave condition the Queen is in, including most of her trusted friends and counsel. Unfortunately, I am unsure if all her spoken thoughts are intended for public consumption. But I will dictate them nonetheless. May my friend recover soon so that I can ask her!

Where necessary, I will make clarifications, though I am no scholar and pray I don't botch this accounting as well as my husband can ruin a pork roast.

Furthermore, whilst I have the reader's attention. I do apologize to any monarchs or royalty-to-be that my husband may have inconvenienced you with requests to herd cattle. Had we not done so, I suspect I would not be alive today to write this.

Curse King Ulric and Marius I both! May I one day spit on both their graves (when no one is looking).
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
Feverspeak - Day One
Chap. 2​


Chap. 2
2.1 The Chosen One?

My banner, if not the stone wall behind it, darts in and out of my narrowed field of vision like a Red Brotherhood thief at his assassination-plotting best. Dare I say the emblematic sun, artfully designed against a griffon-yellow background, now emits faint beams of light?

I dare not. For to admit this unnatural intrusion upon my senses would make the abomination real.


The queen stirs, and speaks. "While I don't fear death, I fear undeath; I also fear insanity and even fear Lord Diev spitting on my grave before we try to make amends. And, I suppose if I am honest, I am not too keen on serving as host to a demon, or being sacrificed on an altar, either."

My men think I don't fear the Demonic Magus; the truth is I just hate them more. I'll never forget the first time I fought them, leading all those men to their deaths, unknowingly.

I wonder if the one horse archer ever got away ...


"I should have never led them into battle!," the lady shouts in her waking dream. Then whispers, "I wasn't ready."


M'lady opens her eyes and says:

"Those are my qualms. Perhaps, the one with Diev's spit is a bit neurotic, considering all the times I've worn head-to-toe blood --be it noble, commoner, demon-tainted or equine red, thus were my armor dyes while 'fulfilling the Prophesy of Pendor.'

I shall close my eyes, briefly, then."

A god's voice booms across the sky:"I Eunomia Stabilitis, first in rank amongst the hierarchy of the Pendor Gods, warn you, Chosen One.  You face many dangers ahead."

Was this nightmare I find myself in what the god's voice meant about future dangers? The one I heard after the final siege by Pendor, but before I had proven myself against the remaining raiding armies.

May the widows of Javiskholm forgive me... as KV did.



2.2 Remembering Koningur Valdis

Forgiveness ...as a true warrior does when a declaration of war is received in person unexpectedly by a battle-ready ruler, rather than via emissary. In this case, the former ruler of the Fierdsvain did have something to forgive me for as I did him.

But Koningur Valdis  was no politician, for all his wealth. Protocol be damned. As well, after 3 1/2 years, I grew a bit weary of politicking with armored axemen. Despite my surprise attack, I respected the man, both on the battlefield and off.


Weary? Did the Noldor ever tire of fighting? My 845 battles is nothing to their lords, I suspect, and perhaps not even to their Twilight Knights. Have I grown weak, or worse, smug? I must never confuse diplomacy with the edge of a sapphire-runed sword. 
With 7,329 men at my back, I fought Valdis with even numbers, calling only my own army to charge. Though this disappointed some of my houndish vassals, I felt Valdis deserved a “fair” fight  -- not that fighting my 10th-tier Knighthood Order of the Griffons is ever fair -- for the last battle he would ever command.

The question is, do I forgive him for adding another year to the war? I suppose I would have done the same in his position, as he tried to curb the power of rival factions rather than waste his men in an attempt to retake Windholm from the D'Shar.

"I will continue to use emissaries from this point, lest I become little more than a thug with a crown," Lady Raubrey said flatly.

2.3 Leslie's Concoction, Mildred's Question

(The Queen opens her eyes, unaware she was again speaking her thoughts.)

Code:
"Even as my beloved surgeon Leslie assures me that I will survive this apparent 37th assassination attempt on my otherwise gloriously bloody and pampered life, I do believe the dear girl is as mad with fever as I seem to be. 

There is little other explanation for her expecting me to drink this putrid concoction for breakfast.”

“To your health, your Highness,” Leslie says with a grin, performing a mock toast.
 
“And to yours, and to you too, Mildred. It is so very good to see you. I have missed your company,” then she gulps the glass of orange-gray liquid in one swoosh.  

“Shandor sends his regards, we have both missed you,“ I hesitate, not wanting to exhaust m'lady nor trigger more delirium. But I couldn't resist questioning, “Do you remember anything, my Queen, that might be cause for your ... fever?”
Leslie puts a finger to her closed mouth, as the queen replied, “Nothing extraordinary. I disposed of some Red Brotherhood in Marleons who took a liking to me, while I was on my way to investigate Lord Eric's claim that the Jatu tribes were acting a bit ...”

Lady Raubrey passed out mid-sentence.     



With Leslie's encouragement, I stepped out of the room to get a bite to eat and stretch my legs. “She should be awake in a couple of hours; it is a side-effect of the medicine I gave her, and one that she needs,” Pendor's foremost battle-physician assured me. “If she does say anyting, I will write it all down for you,” she smiles.

Three hours later...

I had been contemplating the queen's condition, when she began abruptly:

“But while the villagers of Emirin, and the oft-admired merchants, craftspeople and citizens of my pet cities: Janos, Ethos and Laria, may disagree, my demise -- however unseemly -- is both just and justice served. On on a lukewarm platter, I might add. 

One does not become Queen, or achieve 7500 renown, by being saintly.

I must say though, I underestimated The Red Brotherhood. They never, ever relent.  And while I thought Ulric may have been footing the bounty, that is now obviously not the case as he lie in his grave.


And who, but a few of my quite rich lords who have so far proven themselves loyal, could afford a bounty high enough for a daytime attack?


“Leslie, can you see see to it that High Steward Hallis gives Lethaldarin the Ethos feast attendee list he was asking for?,” she asks with complete clarity, then as spontaneously drifts back into her own world.

2.4 The Truth about Sarleon, Ulric ... and Myself


"For all the mutual love and compassion I have shown Pendor, and the do-goodery reputation I have earned, a simple fact remains: I have been little more than a sanctioned murderer, thief and a liar, in my climb to queendom."
I would offer testimony, but most potentials are dead, imprisoned, exiled, clueless or know better than to admit the truth.


"While most victims to my two-handed sword (be it common or runed) would have killed me first, had they the opportunity, it was I who started rampaging first: against adventure companies and rogue knights for the express purpose of hiring prisoners, no less.

Worse still, I took little more than assassination missions from King Ulric, against persons whose guilt had not yet been established. This was in my days as a mercenary, before I even "committed" myself as a vassal of Sarleon.

While I found the defense of Sarleon just, I remember standing in Ulric's castle looking at the banners on the wall thinking --believing rather, that this place will one day be mine. This was long before I heard god's voices and prior to supernatural weapons finding their way into my pack.



I don't even think it was greed ...I think I hated Ulric even before I talked to the Noldor, who told me about some of the evil lords – kidnappers no less -- Ulric had favored. He deserved to be destroyed, but the other rulers didn't deserve to profit from it.

Thief or Traitor? How else do describe someone who gains their faction's complete trust and is compensated generously for their service, and when not granted a third city and a fourth castle takes all the fiefs as her own?

And lying shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone in nobility or even to an observant peasant.

I so dread the feasts and always have. I don't know if guests are more stuffed with delicacies or delusions -- including that I care about their opinions when it comes to granting fiefs.

Although I do care about some of the lords. Those who do well by Pendor are, and have been, amply rewarded.“

These were not the words of the young adventurer who landed on the shores of Pendor helping peasants, I thought.

When did I change? Or did I? Lady Raubrey mused.

2.5 The Truth about Laria

“Dishonorably, however clever, I depleted the garrison of Laria, then ruled by my husband, so the Noldor could sack it easily, with little bloodshed on either side. Then, I took it over shortly after I defected. (The Queen laughs.)

What did he expect with the meager garrison he gathered? I wasn't about to see well-trained Clarion Call Rangers die in vain to his laziness and ineptitude, nor recruits for that matter.

Did Lord Fossard take this personally? It would seem so, even though he would have lost Laria regardless if I pulled the troops or not. He would have rather seen Noldor blood spilt then save lives.

That's one reason he was limited to one castle following the ordeal -- under both Ulric's rule and mine – one of the few sensible choices Ulric made.”

I don't think Fossard ever knew how much I wanted Laria. I didn't want Cez or even Janos, originally--and he didn't protect it.

Suddenly, Lady Raubrey looks at me, her eyes dark and her face stark.

Code:
"Good Night Mildred Azi Dah...sss," m'lady chirps. How is Emirin and your family?" 

"Both are fine, my Queen. Don't worry about a thing," I whisper, as I gently squeeze my friend's hand.  

"Good, good. Thank you. I think I will close my eyes briefly, then," she says as she falls asleep.
Leslie affords me a mildly concerned look and wipes her Commander's sweat-ridden brow with equal calmness and efficiency as I can only imagine she maintained on the battlefield, though perhaps lingering a bit longer at her friend's side, today. 

Neither one of us knew what to say about the apparent Snake Cult deity reference. The queen's condition was worsening and this would not be good for her enemies to know.

Though I'd like to see either the Knights of Eventide (what's left of them after their many assassination attempts) or Dawn try to drag the Lady away for charges of heresy. Actually, no, no I wouldn't. Large amounts of blood make me squeamish. 

I left the room in search of... something...answers, maybe, about the would-be assassin: including any clues to indicate there actually was one. I prayed that m'lady's illness wasn't the product of something else. 

Supplemental Screenshots:

More dreams of the past: (Heretics)




The Battle of Javiskholm
Youtube video (forthcoming)

Feverspeak – Day Two
Chap. 3​
The Chosen One?
A god's voice booms across the sky:"I Eunomia Stabilitis, first in rank amongst the hierarchy of the Pendor Gods, warn you, Chosen One.  You face many dangers ahead."


Chap. 3
3.1 Which Dangers God?

"Given that nausea that has now befriended me, even as my gaze is away from that cursed banner, I shall close my eyes, briefly, then."

A god's voice booms across the sky: I Eunomia Stabilitis, first in rank amongst the hierarchy of the Pendor Gods, warn you, Chosen One.  You face many dangers ahead.
Dangers? Were not three 1200-men tribes of Mystmountain barbarians and Wolfbade the Slayer and his war party not enough?  Thousands of men died that day, even if most were the enemy. At least this time it wasn't the villagers or the underpaid garrison of Poinsbruk, whom have suffered more than Cez and Javiskholm combined. I regret not finding the time to protect the North as I did the rest of the realm from raiders.

How about the Dread Legion, whom I defended Cez against in my early days as a Sarleon vassal, only to see them return at twice their strength and ultimately led by Maltese herself. Was that not dangerous enough?

Even the gods of the Vanskerries and Mystmountain tribes are a bit displeased with me, but peace negotiations are less likely then a Singalian slave trader taking up milling. And let us not forget the numerous but more contained threats that continually plague Pendor, from bandits to Jatu. No, I guess not, these were not the dangers of which the deity spoke of. Pendor, after all, was prospering during peacetime ... at least it seemed to be.

3.2 Good Morning, Lord Fossard

Lady Raubrey 'awoke' for a time, sounding cognizant of her surroundings, mostly.

Code:
"Good Morning, my dearest husband, would you please have someone remove the snake off of the wall?" 

"Aghast, what snake, where?," he squeals, whipping his head around as if dodging a bat. 

"I'm suppose to be the sick one," she giggles in a most unroyal-like manner. "Our banner hanging up on the wall, over there. It's bright and hurts my eyes. Can you please have it relocated temporarily?"

"Aye, my sweet, though I hate to have someone ruckusing about your room when you are resting. How are feeling today?,” he obliges. 
The Queen gives Lord Fossard a gentile smile, if not the faintest sharp look. He nods once, wearing a similar expression, exchanges a few words with Leslie, and leaves the room.

3.3 The Truth about Lord Eric

“Mildred, do you think my variably dear and incompetent husband would add adulterer to the list?”

Leslie dropped a glass of water and the fur rug underneath her broke the fall, leaving it cracked rather than shattered. I  simply said, “What list?” as Queen Raubrey continued on in apparent deep thought.

"While Duke Caldern, Lord Kavian and even Sir Roland, along with 10 other lords, might take a bat to his head for the accusation -- and rightly so --my vassals are not unintelligent on this matter.

I pretty much confirmed my fondness for Lord Eric to half of Pendorian society when I granted him six fiefs -- not that he didn't deserve them. While not a great warrior, the man was captured more often than any other lord and not once failed to show up to a siege. The truth is I loved Lord Eric and married Fossard for his family connections. I liked him enough but he didn't sweep me off my feet as Eric did.

Unlike Lord Orthon, who has brain damage from the repeated sackings of Poinsbuk, I doubt my husband is oblivious to my feelings. In my defense, I am fond of and reward all loyal servants of Pendor, not only for their battle prowess but their courage. The most courageous thing my husband has done was try to pass off one-day old chicken off as fresh at an impromptu feast." The queen closes with a deep, unnatural sigh.

Leslie wipes her beloved Queen's brow and gives her a curious look when she asks, "How is Lord Eric faring these days? Did he find a wife yet, I hope?"

3.4 Lethaldarin, The Mystery

Abruptly, Lethaldarin knocks on the door quite loudly while hurriedly requesting permission to enter. As he does, he whisks the physician to a darkened corner, hands her a seemingly empty flask marked with bloody fingerprints, points northward while in conversation, and finishes with a knowing nod to the Queen. Then he strides out the door.

The queen's eyes followed the exchange.

"Few Pandorians will ever understand the respect and understanding between this monarch and this continent's greatest bodyguard.

That he is Noldor --and bigotry and prejudices remain the norm, despite progress-- further illuminates the mysterious bond between us. One thing for certain, I pity the fool responsible for my condition.

If it bleeds, Lethal will see to it personally that the victim is maimed with surgical precision, never to walk again. Should the predator-turned-prey turn out to be obtuse, the victim will have a short visit with the on-staff sadist, Sir Alilstair -- who is likely a bit bored these days, given the rarity of post-prophesy hangings."

Leslie approaches, glances at me, and then says to Lady Raubrey. “I don't know if you can hear me but Lethal may have found a clue to your condition. I will speak more when you are stronger, for the news isn't good.

3.5  Honor or Zealotry

Oblivious to Leslie, m'lady continues ...

“Prophesy?  Did it include that Pendor's ruler should die of madness? For that matter, how did I become the Chosen One...or did I?

Before I landed on the shores of Pendor my life was largely unremarkable. No voices from deities, no runic weapons mysteriously appearing in my pack, no supernatural beings or battles. I don't even remember being all that courageous.

I didn't even seek vengeance for my brother's kidnapping and death, though I was a bit young ..."

The queen closes her eyes and remains silent for several minutes.

So, how many steps on this land did I take before I became a zealot? One, not far removed from the Knight Order of the Dawn or those Eventide beasts. No, I didn't burn villages, even while defending Sarleon at impossible odds. But I did hunt down nearly every war target no matter how small or far away it was from our territory. Some men were simply patrolling their own fiefs and were unwilling participants in the wars.

Yet, soon it didn't matter if there were 20 men or 200 in the enemy's army, I killed and captured with the same impunity and sense of victory. Only the gods know how I gained as much honor as I did.

I mean, did I kill bandits for the villagers' benefit or because they hurt the prosperity of the town, or because I enjoyed killing bandits? Perhaps, I did so for all these reasons.


"Something changed me or something in me has changed. And it was before I learnt about Qualis gems, or was granted the city of Cez...I think. Speaking of gems, have I been blind about the Noldor?  I still remember my parent's faces when they lost their only son ..."

The queen unconsciously cooperated with her physician's meddling before she arched her back repeatedly as her eyes rolled back in her head. while biting her tongue -- as if possessed. Thankfully, I knew better, having seen this strange condition before in a cousin of mine. Unthankfully, he died following a rather jarring episode. 

The half-minute or so that passed seemed an eternity, before the queen's body finally relaxed. Leslie wiped the blood off the corner of her liege's mouth and examined her wile she appeared to be sleeping peacefully, for a change.

And so she slept on for 18 hours.


 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
The Future of Pendor


Who will remain?

Chap. 4
Morning – Mildred's Last Mission

Queen Raubrey awoke abruptly. She had scant recollection of the past three days, much to her dismay, other than mostly disconnected imagery -- banners, snakes, Lord Eric, her husband, Javiskholm, foul-tasting medicine, dead bodies and angry faces.

After a relieved morning greeting from both Leslie and I --and a calling for a solid breakfast, (against orders), she began reading my reporting in her, upright in her lounge chair, as the physician tried to get her patient to cooperate with an examination.

I was asked to talk to the steward and have word sent to Mr. Fossard that the Queen was awake and expected to receive him this evening, at 7 pm. I took advantage of the apparent call for privacy to visit the market -- as I felt a celebration dress was in order, even if premature. Also, truth be known, I wanted to brace myself for whatever bad news was forthcoming.

When I returned to my friend's bed chamber, I was greeted with:
Code:
"Some of this was difficult to read Mildred, but I learned some things about myself and perhaps my would-be killer from your report. Thank you dearly for staying by my bedside and dictating this; but I must ask of you one small last favor.”  

"No gratitude is needed. I am just overjoyed that you seem to be feeling well."  

Nodding, Lady Raubrey said, "I am too. I am too," her eyes warm, but distracted.

She walked over to her wardrobe and came back with a periwinkle spring coat, fit for a noble's wife. “I hope you like the color. It is yours, but know that inside the lining is the report that you wrote. Please stash it with your valuables until I am ready to retrieve it.” 

“I don't understand, isn't it safer...,” I began, as she continued, “Janos is not entirely safe right now. I received a report that a well-known merchant from the tavern spontaneously started attacking people on the city streets while showing similar but more extreme signs of my mysterious illness, speaking as if a wild-eyed heretic. He wounded three people before taking his own life.  

It appears to be the result of poisoning, at least in my case, per Lethal and Leslie's findings, confirmed by a dead cat that was recruited to the cause. This gentleman may be a victim as well. Due, in part, to a curious exchange Lord Fossard had with our most observant Leslie earlier, my instinct tells me that the incident was a distraction for the guards, to which end I do not know. 

Leave Janos. Go back home to Emirin, Mildred, and talk to my steward first about your escort. Also, don't worry my friend, I will see you soon,” she says as she ignores protocol and gives me a daughterly hug."

"Why don't you have him arrested?," I stubbornly inquire.

"I know my husband. If he is involved, he is not acting alone. I wish to take advantage of his personal issues with me to learn more, before more people are harmed." 
 

Then the Queen walked over to Leslie's desk, whispered something into her ear, handed her a sealed scroll, held her hands briefly as she thanked her, and soon exited the room.

I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of dread, bordering on premonition – perhaps it was the unfamiliar expression in her face.

Would I see my friend again?

Late Afternoon – Conflicting Orders

In all of Lethal's calculating days, he didn't expect this, not from the only human he cared about. Yes, he was fond of Julia, but it was not the same thing. He read the letter again, to be sure he understood his instructions as well as the escape route he was given -- not that he needed such. 

Commander Raubrey, as he had countless times called her, was his friend, his mentor, and his foundation for understanding, in a world he had long resented. He may of taught her a few battle tricks, but Raubrey taught him how to pick his battles both on and off the field.

He, above all else, was her protector --first for pay, then, at some point among the blur of the first 100 battles together, out of friendship. But now he had failed her, twice, though he wasn't asked to escort her to Marleons, where she fell. The bottom line is that he didn't find her would-be assassin, only a lead.

Still, she had gone too far in asking him to kill her quickly and painlessly, 'to save Pendor,' even if committing the outrageous act would have such effect, as explained in the note, and even if it was an order from a dear friend, who happened to be Queen. 

She must still be mad with fever, he thought. Pendor be damned!, he muttered, as a sharp blade pressed upon the elf's left flank slightly, interrupting his thoughts. "Listen carefully, my friend," the all too sweet and familiar voice whispered.“Read this.”

Evening – Of Plots and Betrayal

When Lord Fossard arrived at Janos, he was greeted in typical feigned fashion by High Steward Thantos. 

Queen Raubrey approached and gave her husband a mock air-kiss on the cheek. Then she simply asked, "Why?," and took his hand, leading him out to the courtyard.


Code:
Fossard felt the eyes of both the steward and the guards and followed his wife's lead. After reaching their spot on the beach, Fossard replied, "Why did I not see Lord Eric meet an untimely end at the hands of, say, the Heretics or why did I simply not kill you swiftly?

Perhaps if you valued brains over battlefield prowess, you would know," he uttered."Let me clarify the situation in simple terms, Dear," his haughtiness making him more unattractive than ever.
Lethal and Julia were both listening from the shadows, and both awaiting the Queen's signal when they heard a couple of faint screams coming from the city. Julia looked at her mentor. “I got this,” he mouthed. She paused and went to assess the threat, if any, to her commander and liege.

Code:
Fossard continued, unswayed, "Firstly, neither Eric nor our marriage is relevant as to why you must leave Pendor... permanently. I came to terms with your feelings about me -- and him -- during my many solitary hours at Talon Castle, fending off the Ravens.

But while you've been tournying with the Noldor and ruling Pendor with an uneven hand, some of the intellectual elite have taken notice how powerful the elves have become. A fact that you've become oblivious to. 

Since the time you had both the Jatu and Snake Cult all but eliminated, and internal wars made non-existent, [i]your[/i] forest friends have built up a formidable army. Soon, they could sack their way from Laria to Sarleon, with plenty of arrows to spare for your precious Ethos. 

Code:
Meanwhile, many of the lords have become flabby and lazy as have the troops, now half in number. And while I don't begin to understand the motives of the pointy-eared freaks, I shall not chance Laria again, and one-third of Pendor, being wiped out by the likes of them.

The Queen responds as if amused,"By your logic, the Noldor quit attacking humans just as we quit attacking --and in some cases kidnapping, them, and trade with our merchants only to buy time to kill more of us?"

The Lord sighed as if talking to a subordinate. "Don't you get it, [i]Queen[/i]? You are the [i]only[/i] one responsible for the “peace” and your years as a ruler are [i]numbered[/i]. Or did you fancy yourself invincible as [i]The Chosen One[/i]?

One day, one of your many enemies will get lucky with their fool assassins, or perhaps take matters in their own hands. Either way, we, the faithful of Sarleon and The Empire, will not sit idle as cows for slaughter as our enemy's power increases.

Hence, some of the lords have prepared their armies and begun negotiations with 'less savory elements.' After our plans are fully implemented, and the lords are made too busy to kill our unlikely allies, we can not only preempt a Noldor strike but also kill their lords." He then hands Lady Raubrey a map.

Code:
“As you can see, those not with us will be unable to stop us and Pendor may split. Over time, The Empire, if not Sarleon, may be restored. This will keep Pendor... fit.” 
 
"You are a fool, Mr. Fossard. It would take most the armies of a [i]united[/i] Pendor to achieve more than a stalemate with the Noldor; and you have neither the clout nor battle command,” she stated, while thinking to herself, [i]I have upset the balance, this is one of the dangers of which the god spoke.[/i]

“Is your father involved? You lack the legitimacy to pull off this scheme, much less a coup.” 

“You wanted your husband to wield powerful family connections my liege. I suppose that you were granted your misplaced wish.”

Fossard then whispers in the unshaken monarch's ear, "Before you give the signal for your mules to shoot me, know that the sealed instructions you gave Leslie were replaced with a forgery. 

'For the good of Pendor,' and at your instruction, you will be fatally shot with your esteemed Noldor arrows. I lack the time and patience to explain all, but this will set events in motion faster than I had hoped.”
The Queen considered hailing the guards, but too much was left unknown and too many lives were at risk for such a move. It became clear that Fossard was only speaking to her because, not only was he deluded, he knew that he was a failure in her eyes, between Lord Eric and Laria, and needed to rectify such in his mind. She must keep him talking, she thought.

Code:
“With Mildred's notes now in my possession and 'slightly' altered – don't worry, her death was swift -- the people of Pendor will be bloodthirsty for the queen's killers, but they will fear those responsible more. More importantly, trust will become a luxury few can afford as the people demand a ruler who will protect them from fates worst than death. 

This ruler, 'after solving the poison crisis,' will convince many that he is wise and that the Noldor are a grave threat...if the Noldor themselves don't reveal it to be so, first” 
The lord stepped back to look at his former love's reaction, but was disappointed.
Code:
"Who will rule Pendor?," the Queen inquired pragmatically. 

"Why, the legitimate pretender, of course," Fossard quips, “and with your handwritten blessing as you laid on your presumed deathbed. But, unlike you, he is very malleable, like my father – who, if it makes you feel better, was loyal to you until he was made to see the light. Face the facts, there are forces more powerful than you and most anyone can be bought.”   

“You forget two things in your academic plans, Mr Fossard. Firstly, the Noldor will not be so easily manipulated; did you forget they prefer the forest to our cities, the smell alone remains an offense to their senses. Pendor's men, be it Sarleon-bred or otherwise, will die on their terms. 

Secondly, do you think me incapable of just killing you and eliminating your collaborators?"

"Perhaps, yes, to the first part," Fossard concedes, “but you won't.”

“While you were under the effects of the brilliant snake poison derivative, plans have been put into motion, plans that cannot be stopped. Whether you call them enemies or loyalists, your adversaries are too many in number and are at the ready.

In fact, I have now bought enough time to replace your esteemed bodyguard. I suspect by now that your pretty temple is in the sights of a most adept crossbowman, awaiting my signal. The forgery was formulated as both a diversion for your beloved Lethaldarin and as a backup plan, at best.

Lady Raubrey remained expressionless.

He continues proudly while digressing, nearly blind with euphoria, "You know, it is almost too easy to administer the poison successfully --especially to those whom lack guards, a strong constitution and capable medical care. As we speak, some patients in Janos, Laria and Ethos are receiving healthy doses of it now – be it by ingestion or via the tip of a dart – to seed the fear." He pauses, "Oh, yes, I suppose you heard the screams, as I did.     

Men and women who do not die immediately will often succumb to madness, perhaps committing atrocities, or even join the Snake Cult in their deluded state, if not escorted away by the Knight of Dawn first. Who knows, they may even provoke the Noldor without prompting.” 

And do you think the enemies of Pendor, those outside its borders, will sit idly by as the Kingdom spirals into chaos? History has shown otherwise. For all your worldly experience, you are so naive, Dear,” Lord Fossard finally takes a breath.  

"Then, there is another, more simple reason, one not dependent on human error other than your own, why you will not resist death. 

You love Pendor more than you love yourself --and have largely worked for the greater good, as you saw it to be. You won't risk the Noldor or even foreign threats just to prolong your life for a time. But, unfortunately for you, you are bound by honor not to attack first.

The "medicine" you were given served yet another purpose, and I am so pleased you had Mildred dictate the account. You were forced to face the reality that you are quite flawed and that Pendor can and will survive without you. Deep self-reflection and guilt is a bonus side-effect that was discovered on many test subjects. Unfortunately, many patients didn't live through the process of self-discovery, according to our lead physician.  

Likely what saved you from death by despair is your knowledge that the ends you achieved justified the means you employed, in most cases. That you questioned and even berated yourself vigorously shows that you have ruled as much with your heart as with your head.

But you now know that Pendor will fare better in the long-term with a ruler who doesn't put the interests of hungry peasants and violent, so-called misunderstood, freaks above the realm. 

The fat of a false peace will melt and be replaced with war's muscle. Further, while you may have been the prophesied ruler, your work is done. You did what others failed to do."
"But it is now time for Pendor to reach its full potential, Azi Dahaka!," Fossard mimics, as he begins to lift his left wrist in signal for the sniper that had knocked both Lethal and his companion unconscious.

With those words, the Queen of Pendor kneed her spouse in the groin, flipped him backwards, pushed her foot onto his throat, and said, "No Mr. Fossard, Eunomia Stabilitis.

May the god of order prevail, where I have failed,” half-expecting to meet the god or darkness with a bolt to the head.

No shots were fired.

"Guards! Take this traitor of Pendor to Sir Alistair, immediately."

“And take this dead guy holding Lethal's bow, too!,” Julia yelled, as she roused her battlemates, for Leslie too got herself involved in the altercation. Then she kissed her esteemed elven assassin friend on the cheek and whispered, “you taught me well.” 

...




"You know, Commander, Lord Eric never married," Leslie mentioned as innocuously as if talking about Javiskholm's fog,” ignoring the ache in her head.

"And you also know, Commander, that I could have taken care of this problem for you silently," Lethaldrian boasted, knowing the bruises to his ego would take time to heal. 

Lady Raubrey laughed, in spite of her newly realized burdens as Queen, while delaying the grief over Mildred's death.

How would she handle both the Noldor situation and the radical elements in Pendor, she wondered, knowing her battle tactics were far less important now than her ability to rule.

Then she replied, “You know that Fossard, for all his ill-will and miscalculations, had been right about some things. Peace has indeed become a double-edged sword for Pendor.

Several things will need to change, all of which may be unwelcome: including pre-peace level armies, mandatory training, increased informants and inspectors, a diplomatic and strategic overhaul for realm affairs, trade reforms, and harsher punishments for those abetting traitors.

But first, Leslie, you will have much work ahead of you as I convert a couple of my holdings and prisons to infirmaries for newly suspected heretics and madmen. Unlimited resources will be given you to help foster an antidote to the poison I was given. We will likely lose many people in the process, but it won't be to the Snake Cult or undead. 

And Lethal, you will do what you do best: solve problems...silently. You can begin with Lord Aelfwine. When you see fit, take him to Sir Alistair, where silence isn't a virtue, unless you are unconscious.   

Meanwhile, after I lock down Janos and Ethos, put my Knight Order to work and update Sirs Roland and Rayne, I will investigate Lord Eric's claim about the Jatu tribes,” the Queen says with the faintest hint of a smile. I think I can trust him to help me put together a council to address the threats facing the future of Pendor.

That is, after I pay a visit to Squire Shandor, of Emirin." 

The echo of Eunomia Stabilitis' voice was no more.
 

nirkoj

Knight at Arms
Best answers
0
Kudos, i hope her condition improves.

This might come in handy for future releases. There are duplicate lines in the prologue.
Nice start.


Edit: What's with the misspelling of Emirin, is it on purpose? Also, i would replace awarded with granted, as lands were.
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
nirkoj said:
Kudos, i hope her condition improves.

This might come in handy for future releases. There are duplicate lines in the prologue.
Nice start.
Many thanks on all accounts nirkoj, and thanks for reading!

Edit: What's with the misspelling of Emirin, is it on purpose? Also, i would replace awarded with granted, as lands were.
Fixed.
 

Yard1

Squire
Best answers
0
Holy **** yes.

I've been waiting for this, and I'm not disappointed. Great work. Hope to see more of this :smile:
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
Yard1 said:
Holy **** yes.

I've been waiting for this, and I'm not disappointed. Great work. Hope to see more of this :smile:
I'm very happy to hear this :smile:  I'll have some more published Monday if not sooner. There is an ESO (Elder Scroll's  Online) Beta is this weekend. :grin:, my first.
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
VuK_VuK said:
Nice one. rep + :smile:
Thank you kindly! I've been working with screenshots the last hours waiting for ESO to download and trying to keep my hands off the story too much as I thought of a plot twist...a sequel maybe? If there is interest when it's all done.

With any luck, I can weave in some battle pics I forgot I had taken ...if I can do so without adding another 1000 words, ha ha. 
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
Ok, so chapter two is up. :smile:

I had a couple questions, but need a break.

Also, I will inquire if it is kosher to make this available as a PDF. I know a fair bit about copyright in my line of work, but not sure about derivative works from games. Anyway, will cross that bridge later --if there is interest. But I thought such might be easier to read. And I don't have a clue how this looks on a tablet etc.

Cheers. 
 

nirkoj

Knight at Arms
Best answers
0
Lady Raubrey said:
A god's voice booms across the sky:"I Eunomia Stabilitis, first in rank amongst the hierarchy of the Pendor Gods, warn you, Chosen One.  You face many dangers ahead."
Ohh... gotcha! :wink:

Lady Raubrey said:
One does not become Queen, or achieve 7500 renown, by being saintly.

Lady Raubrey said:
Suddenly, Lady Raubrey looks at me, her eyes dark and her face stark.

"Good Night Mildred Azi Dah...sss," m'lady chirps. How is Emirin and your family?"
:shock: I'm getting a bad feeling about this...


37th attempt!? wth, exaggerated much? lol
-. Keep'em coming
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
nirkoj said:
Lady Raubrey said:
One does not become Queen, or achieve 7500 renown, by being saintly.
LOL -- I think I like this as much as the one I saw yesterday whereas the last line read: "on 144% difficulty."

37th attempt!? wth, exaggerated much? lol
-. Keep'em coming
Too much? Actually, it's quite close to the truth in my 1440+ day game, but I OCD shopped/bar-hopped like a maniac to keep morale up. I then accounted for her 3 year rule -- not even doubling the number of actual attacks as she rose up the ranks. I pissed a lot of people off! :grin:

Nontheless I will think on this ...it may read extreme -- in an out-of-place sort of way -- even if it's the near truth. (extrapolated estimate)
 

Beorn424

Knight
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
I'm looking forward to reading more as they come, good work!

And 37 assassination attempts is quite believable. Remember, this is Pendor.
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
Beorn424 said:
I'm looking forward to reading more as they come, good work!

And 37 assassination attempts is quite believable. Remember, this is Pendor.
The streets can be nasty can't they? And, thanks for reading!

To Dear Readers:

OK, Chap 3 is up and I made it so people don't have to scroll so much, I just separated some of the screeenshots (with the spoiler tag) from Chap 2. 

I was going to put Chap 4 up but it's the most involved part (muaaaah!) and I need to reread it a couple more times. It may be up tomorrow night.

When it's all done maybe I can organize the spoilers/outline a bit better, too.

Thanks!
 
Best answers
0
I saw her name and I immediately thought about my sniper in XCOM, whom I believe has the same nickname as your character.

Anyway, interesting read. Keep them coming.
 

Vahkn

Regular
Best answers
0
Your sniper in xcom's nickname is Queen of Pendor?

Meanwhile, great work on the story!
 

Lady Raubrey

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&S
Best answers
0
Lady Raubrey said:
Ha Ha, I just bought XCom this week on the Steam sale -- though only the latest release. Haven't played the series (yet).
I have used this name for some time, pronounced "robbery", in an MMO -- thinking it original. Maybe it is and I need to see if royalties are in order... ;p

Vahkn said:
Your sniper in xcom's nickname is Queen of Pendor?
LMAO! hahahaha