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Forth Rode the King

Isles of Penumbria

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a part of Forth Rode the King, by Brawness.

Mainland

Brawness holds sovereignty over Isles of Penumbria, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Setting

The setting of the roleplay.
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Minimap

Isles of Penumbria is a part of Forth Rode the King.

5 Places in Isles of Penumbria:

17 Characters Here

Isodell FitzWarren [34] Waden, Sole Heir & Lord of the Lowlands
Virgil Madriach [31] King of Penumbria, The Bastard
Typhon Sturmaz [22] a good sailor knows that you party when you can becase tommorow the sea might take you
Maul Theongor [13] Second son of Isu Theongor, Warden of the Highlands
Bjorni Silverstone [9] Bann of Silverstone
Alistair Vakarian [8] Fear the mighty Lion's roar
Frederick Cade [7] General of the army of the Marshes
Alerk Alerkson [5] A seaborn warlord sensing weakness and an opportunity for conquest.
Leolf Vakarian [5] Can the pup of House Vakarian ever find his way?

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Character Portrait: Isodell FitzWarren Character Portrait: Maul Theongor
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Maul marched through the narrow passages of the palace with Jode Blandnor struggling to keep up behind him. They were still in the belly of the fortress and Maul was leading them back to his quarters.

The meeting with King Virgil had produced no new strategy or any instructions for the Banns. Strange that the king would call such a meeting and then end it without making any decisions? A real waste of time! Maul thought.

However, what pleased Maul was the fact that the king had released him. He could go home to the Highlands!

“And you are sure they reinforced Sinistral Bay?” Maul asked Jode. Sinistral Bay was the large bay right below Arv Stormkeer. For the last month Maul had called up all the Highland Banns to get their men ready for war, and placed many of them into strategic locations to guard against pirate attacks.

“Yes Sire, Bann Warku is in personally in charge. Word is that his men have sunk three pirate ships in the bay by swimming out under cover of darkness while dragging a barrel of Marsh oil behind them. They quietly painted the hull of the ships and set them on fire with a set of Silverstone firestones!” Jode quickly shared while working to keep up with Maul’s pace.

“What word from Eegan?”

“Well Sire, the old man swears that Arv Stormkeer has grain for two years...though I am sure you will agree that means a little more than a year! Your foresight to stock up since you came to power has really made a difference. Eegan also mentioned that the new granary is ready at Stormkeer Castle.”

“Excellent, the new grain that we purchased can be stocked there. And what about Rowan, has he decided yet?”

“Uhm, Sire, it appears he considers Silverstone as deserving of attack from pirates. He says he cannot afford to send any men to guard the mines.”

“Well, you can inform Rowan that we must keep our trade route open to the mines. Uncle Igor has already squealed like a pig when he heard that Sturmaz took Zephyr and Zephyrus. He fears that Silverstone is vulnerable and with that all sales of Highland wool, furs, logs, and such other trivial items of trade that make his coffers full and help equip our men with the best Lowland weapons. So I suggest he decides quickly or someone else will be making decisions in his Bannship!”

Silence descended upon Jode at the fierce words from Maul, it is not often that the young Warden lashes out with such fury. However, Bann Rowan had lately been a thorn in Maul’s side, which is why Maul had decided to request that the Rowan Bannship provide men for the defense of Silverstone. This meant that there would be less men guarding Hinter Hovel, the pride of House Rowan, who have always been sworn enemies of Bann Silverstone. However, protection must be given, and if he could upset Rowan to get it, he would. It was something he had wanted to discuss with Bann Silverstone when he visited but he received a cold shoulder.

As he quietly entered his room Maul noticed a girl, nay, a lady. “The Lady FitzWarren!” Once again she was sprawled out on the large fur in front of the hearth, and once more she was absorbed in reading from a scroll. The little pestering woman!

“Uhum!” Maul cleared his throat. “My Lady, I see you have come to dress my wounds once more. I have to say your ministering last time has certainly healed me. However, it appears I did not need mouldy bread. Though I cannot imagine where you would find such despicable food in the Lowlands. Word has it that wine drips from fountains in the streets of Arv Rondalion.”

Maul shook his head while a huge grin spread on his face. The apparent anger on Lady Isodel’s face enhanced her startling beauty. Maul could not help but regret his cruel words.

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Character Portrait: Isodell FitzWarren Character Portrait: Maul Theongor
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Isodell FitzWarren



Isodell was not amused.

She had been sat engrossed in her study of the Theongor family tree for the Maker only knew how long, before Maul, Lord Stormkeer had decided to return and grace her with his presence. For someone so big he was surprisingly light on his feet as she did not hear him enter.

And there he stood now before her with a big grin across his darkly handsome face and making jest of her! He deserved another slap for his audacity but Isodell reminded herself she had come here for a purpose and it would not do to antagonise the Highlander though he seemed to find every opportunity to insult her!

Rising to her feet, Isodell strolled casually towards Maul, an altogether angelic smile lacing her lips.

Hmm . . .” She teased as she circled his form. “And Fairies dance in our woods and our Gold grows on tree's.” Isodell stopped before him and leaned in to whisper conspiratorially. “And do you know I eat bairn for breakfast and work black magic? My Lord,” Isodell laughed. “I truly hope for your sake, you are not taken in so easily by such words.

Peering up at the giant, Isodell studied his sturdy countenance in the dim candle light. He looked different from yesterday; his hair was shorter, his beard gone. He appeared even more striking, which annoyed her more. Obviously, he had plenty of time in the day to carry out such menial tasks yet he had not had the time to even send her a note to explain his absence this morning!

Instead of voicing her irritation, Isodell moved in closer towards Maul. She could see the suspicion flicker in his eyes as she placed her hands on his chest and suddenly pushed with all her might. Causing Stormkeer to fall and sit back on the bed. It was the surprise, Isodell was certain otherwise she was quite sure it would have been impossible for her to even nudge the giant Highlander.

The night is short, My Lord, and we have much to discuss.” Isodell smiled, as she moved to stand between his legs and began unlacing his jerkin; she might as well see to his injury.

Maul cringed, no doubt from the pain of his still healing wound. Good! Isodell thought. It served him quite right. But instantly felt guilty. Which reminded her . . .

I hear you aided the King's men early this morn to put out the pirates fires.” She spoke down to him cuttingly, her irritation apparent as her hands continued to unlace.

He was still injured, there was no need for him to have gone, he could have just sent his men. Did he not hold a care for himself?!? The great big fool!

Tell me my Lord, are you really in such a rush to meet your Maker?

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Character Portrait: Alerk Alerkson Character Portrait: Bjorni Silverstone
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#, as written by Tempest
Alerk Alerkson

The ships were coming, one by one, slowly the filling the bays of the Temperance Isles. News that Alerk the Strong was now a gold giver was drawing all the ships of his kindred from across the sea to his side. Even pirates from the Hightowers, fearing their own leaders weakness, had sailed to join the growing horde. No ships could sail west for Alerk had thrown up a screen of long sleek ship killers that hunted the waves for any who might betray his presence to the Penumbrians. A few trusted merchant captains were allowed to pass with tails of the raiders moving into the northern seas and, if the gods willed it, the enemy would not suspect what was to come.

Alerks temporary home was the hall that had once served the Bann of Temperance. It was an impressive building of stone and heavy wooden timbers. At its centre a large fire blazed, illuminating the men who sat in a semi-circle on the floor with Alerk. Each of these men had come to him with more than two ships and so could demand to be part of the council. Erik the Butcher, rumoured to have slaughtered a hundred men alone. Derfel the Boneless whose skin was stretched so tight over his bones he looked like a walking skeleton. Kjartin the Restless, famed for his far reaching journeys and wondrous items captured from far off lands. And Ragnar the Fearless, said to have killed all the giants of the east and strangled the dreaded sea monster Hyrlious with his bare hands. These men made up the small council and they, having sworn their oaths to Alerk, were planning the next stage of the campaign.

A sixth man knelt with them, smaller than the rest and without the heavy furs that would mark him as a Northman. He was slight in build with a sharp face, fine bones and a speed with a dagger that could defeat all the but most seasoned warrior. His name was Finian, a thief by trade and a Penumbrian by birth. Like all men however the lust for gold had proved more than he could resist and he had heard the whisperings of a gathering Northman fleet and so sailed to join Alerk. Now he helped plan the fall of the very nation that had given him birth and he did it with glee.

"The wardens are strong my lords." He said, looking about the assembled men. "An attack on any of their fortresses with the small numbers we have would be a disaster." He touched each of the main cities with the tip of his dagger.

"However, the Banns of Penumbria are not nearly as strong, and most of them less than intelligent. They have been at peace for to long and while Hightower threatens war he is no military mind and will certainly fail but it should be enough to draw Penumbrian troops away from where we wish to land."

Alerk grunted and then bent over the crude map. "We will need to strike hard and fast. The strike must also land somewhere that can provide us much gold. When our kin hear of such a victory they will flood our camps with new and willing men. Without that gold, this army is doomed to nothing more than the petty raids of our ancestors."

"Then, my lord," Said the thief with a sly grin. "I suggest we attack here."

He pointed with his dagger, the silver gleaming in the firelight, the well used tip resting on Silverstone.


Bann of Silverstone

"Stop your worrying." Bjorni snapped at his guard commander. "At present we have nothing to fear from anyone and I won't go down a route that will lead me into war. If I start summoning soldiers, buying mercenaries to protect us, anything like that, our dear Lady Fitzwarren will only assume we seek to start a war and smash us into the dust." He waved a hand to stop any protest. "No, I will not allow a course of action that thrusts us any further towards fighting then we already are."

Sir Tavan, commander of all Silverstone, groaned and nodded his assent. He, unlike his lord, knew how weak the entire region could be against a determined enemy though he had faith that even his untested soldiers could defend against any attempt to cross the bridge and breach the heavy gates long enough to reinforcements to arrive.

"And what of the mines beneath the city?" Tavan asked. "My men had searched far and wide down there and found no trace of the rumoured secret entrances."

"That's because there are none, or none that our cavern dwellers have made obvious and if you cannot find them Sir Tavan, none of the fools who would seek to take my home will either." Bjorni was getting tired of the conversation. He wanted to return to his bed and position himself between his young wife's thighs. The war was far to the north and no threat to them at the moment. The river still ran strong and he had a well trained, though untested guard, to protect him. The security of his city and lands came from the gold given to others, not strength of arms.

"As you say my lord." Sir Tavan responded, bowing and sweeping from the room without another word. He was furious but there was nothing that could be done but to train his men harder and ensure that when the eventual call to arms came, he would be ready. He had already called up additional levies, some 2,000 spears that could swell his current forces to make sure no one could simply march through their lands.

Once outside he took a deep breath of the moisture filled air and smiled as he looked at the narrow bridge in the distance and the thick walls. It looked impressive and perhaps the Bann was right after all, Silverstone would be safe.

He could never have been more wrong.

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Character Portrait: Jaska Farfell
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#, as written by Coupons

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Character Portrait: Isodell FitzWarren Character Portrait: Maul Theongor
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Isodell FitzWarren



Be gentle my lady . . . otherwise I might not be able to assist the king when another fire breaks out.

Do not tempt me to be otherwise.” Isodell peered up, a smile in her eyes, though her words may have been a tad sharp as she began to remove Maul's old bandages and listened with concealed interest as he spoke.

“My Lady, apologies for my mocking of ye Lowlanders. My experience has been that all your cares are consumed by luxury and trivial displays of wealth.” Stormkeer admitted. “As to why I put myself in danger, well, the Highland way is to lead by example. To die in battle is the greatest honour. If I flee, I am already dead.”

Your experience is more right then you give it credence my Lord.” Isodell laughed lightly as she concentrated on wiping clean his angry wound and applied a balm that was left on a trunk.

Was not her jewellery neatly packed away and ready for tomorrows journey west? The ride from Langsmerth to Halen was a pit for brigands and thieves. She'd rather lose men then her priceless adornments!

She could not deny, Isodell mused with a growing irritation with herself; that truly she had placed wealth and material luxury before all other things, especially of late. But what did she have besides material things any more? It was not something on which she wished to dwell on.

As for the Highland way, Isodell thought better then to comment on how stupid a concept it was and how it was not wholly a Highland ideology but a male one. She had heard her father, uncle and cousin brothers shouting much the same when they lived.

A blanket of silence fell between the two Wardens as Isodell re wrapped the poultice around Maul's waist. She was acutely aware of his regard and his steady gaze lingered on her. It unnerved Lady Rondalion, the way no one had in a great long while. Disdainful and hateful looks she was very much used to but this . . . the way Maul Theongor looked at her was . . . different. It was almost . . .

Stop this foolishness!

Isodell commanded herself firmly. For the Makers sake! She squashed men like him nearly everyday under her powerful thumb. This man is no different! The Lady Warden tried to convince herself but as she began to rise from her finished work, a large palm wrapped around her wrist.

Isodell started at the contact. Her grey eyes fixed for a long moment on Maul's warm hand around hers, looking almost like a child's toy in his grasp. Considering pulling free of his hold, however, she decided against it. He would think her weak and fearing of him! She could not have that!

“My Lady, you mentioned that you wish to discuss something . . . please sit down and I will listen.” Maul said pulling her down next to him before Isodell had a chance to respond.

I . . .

Turning sharply to face him, all her words of rebuke were halted for a moment as she was caught in his honest gaze.

This was surely folly . . . And utterly unacceptable. Scandalous! If she was caught here. Yet, she did not wish to move away. There was a certain kind, peaceful and simply good aura around Maul Theongor that pulled one in and wish to bask in. Things Isodell had not been for a long time.

Well, yes.” She said instead, getting to her feet and strolling towards the sash window; reminding herself she came here with a purpose.

Yes! Which she would never have to have done if he had just come to breakfast!

Where, do I start with my grievances against you, my Lord?” Isodell questioned coming to her senses. “That you insult me by missing our meeting this morning? Or that you not even consider me worthy of a note to explain yourself? . . . Or,” Isodell questioned calmly, peering over a slender shoulder at the striking image of chiselled Maul. “that you consort behind my back with the King to extort Gold from me?

Their gazes locked in a fierce battle for a long moment between the short distance. Shouts and and boisterous laughter from the Keep below the only sound breaking the silence.

However,” Isodell eventually spoke airily. “I am willing to overlook your rudeness and ill-manner towards me. You see, my Lord, Isodell smiled sweetly as she turned to fully face Maul. “I have a proposition for you. Sturmaz is as much a thorn in your side as mine. I hear you have recently had some ill news of his treachery in that Maker forsaken wilderness you call home. And no doubt you have heard of his constant attacks on the Lowlands. I can no longer wait for the King to take any meaningful action to stop the Pirate. I have waited enough and to be completely honest and frank with you my Lord I do not trust the Marsher or any other for that matter as far as I could throw them. Not that I should trust the blood kin of Cortuan the Mutinous either.” Isodell grinned playfully. “However,” She continued as if she were doing him a kindness by overlooking his heritage. “Our people have both before on multiple occasions put aside our differences and worked together to bring peace to Penumbria. I do not see why we two can't do the same? What say you my Lord? . . . Pray, you cannot fault my logic.

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Character Portrait: Alerk Alerkson Character Portrait: Bjorni Silverstone
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#, as written by Tempest
Bann of Silverstone

Duremis Harbour was the main point of shipping for the Silverstone lands. It lay at the mouth of the Great River that flowed through Silverstone itself and provided berths for the trade ships that carried the wealth of the city to Penumbria and beyond. Only there were no ships to make the journey.

The local Reeve, Harald Houral, had thought at first that it might be jitters about the war but now that virtually no vessels had come from the north or east he was convinced that something else altogether more sinister was afoot so he had requested the Bann to join him and asked his lordship to suggest a course of action.

"You can see from the figures lord that within the last week we have received fewer than six vessels. That is our normal visitors for a single day!" Houral had opened the huge ledger he kept on his desk. His office was located within his own home, a hall built of bright new timber with a thatched roof that did well to keep the rain out though the smoke from his fire was already blackening the golden straw above.

"It must be that bloody man, Hightower." Bjorni snarled. "His festering nest of pirates are certainly out on the loose, snapping up everything they can lay their hands on. Those they miss I am sure the bloody Danescral raiders snap up." He was in a foul temper. No ships meant everything had to go overland and that meant he needed to hire men to guard the precious metals. Those men would have to be paid well or they might steal the cargo themselves. War was bad for business.

"The Lady Fitzwarren could pay for her own protection. Does she not have an army?" The Reeve suggested quietly. He, like his lord, had no interest in spending more money than was needed.

Bjorni nodded slowly in agreement. "Why just her? Everyone needs or wants what I have, they can damn well send soldiers to guard their own cargoes." He rubbed his hands together. "This might actually save us some money."

He turned on the Reeve and gestured for him to pick up the quill. "Write me something complimentary that apologizes for being unable to ship by sea due to Hightowers pirates. Also add that the safety of shipments cannot be guaranteed since I do not have the soldiers to make it so. I suggest they find alternate forms of security."

Without waiting for a response the Bann limped from the room, his leg making a hollow "thunk" sound on the wooden docks outside. He stared out to sea and only a single sail could be seen. It was square and bright red but was racing swiftly northward and showed no intention to make for Duremis.

Had bothered to mention it to anyone he would have discovered that it was not the first time the red sailed ship had been sighted nosing about the harbours borders.


Alerk Alerkson

Eighty ships. Eighty ships to take a city reckoned unobtainable. Alerk liked a challenge. All that week strong winds had blown from the east and more ships had come bringing with them more Spear-Danes, Sword-Danes and Shield-Danes, big men hungry for land and riches.

For nearly a thousand years the people of Danescral had been raiders, only leaving their barren home to take what they needed from others but Alerk had a vision, a vision told to him by a blind virgin who could see the future. She had told him that he would be a gold giver, a lord of men, a king in the lands of the west.

Fascinated by her predictions he had sent word for every man who had been there to come to him with news. Merchants, raiders, even Hightower Pirates, had come to his hall, drunk his ale and eaten of his food while they told him everything about the Kingdom of Penumbria. What he learned was that the land was rotten. A bastard King, Wardens that struggled amongst themselves, Banns who believed themselves immune to harm and at last he dared to believe that the blind virgins visions had been true.

Now he stood on a bluff overlooking the long beaches of the Temperance Isles. He could easily count the number of ships that had come, eighty. Each of them had come with no less than thirty warriors, proper Danes, who could kill and kill well. Like the embers of a fire they had to be drawn together and when bunched together they made a mighty blaze.

The sands around the ships were alive with the movements of the ships crews and their families. Warriors fought mock battles up and down the beach, their women repaired torn armour while slaves scrubbed the rust from weapons with sand and straw. Even the children were busy, scrapping the hulls of the ships clean so that they might slide faster through the waves.

A sudden splash of colour showed against the white cloud sky, mercifully absent were the rain clouds that had hammered them the last few days. A single red sail had appeared and Alerk grinned through his massive beard. Finian had returned and with him would be news of Silverstone.

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Character Portrait: Typhon Sturmaz Character Portrait: Bang Cordinus
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Most of the ships escaped from the tears with some lumber and some guano, but some of the ships were caught in the tears and anchored in the middle waiting for some kind signal. While the ones that escaped sailed to bring the supplies for bang’s inventions.
Elsewhere on the island Typhon was sailing up to meet with bang with news of the new ballista he would give bang part of his promise. Back in the capital he had to lock his wife in the house till she got over that they were at war with the king. The others would do their jobs as long as they weren’t stupid they would get loot one way or another. As he entered he met with the ships and entered bang’s residence, “hello bang I got you some of the wood and guano, and thank you for improving my ballista. If you want I can get you a shack the same size as this in the country but you would still have to live with guards, or I can make it that your assistants are the only one’s watching you, I’m ruthless for idiots but I keep my word you may choice your choice of freedom. My only other question is wht special about the bat poop, why can’t we use human?”

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Character Portrait: Virgil Madriach
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Virgil Madriach

"I've had to notice of the many things that happen in her quarters, especially since the Lion arrived, scum.." said Ostel.

Why, does Arv Ronadlion not need its Lion? Even worst he found such act to be rude, one of such status would of course know the customs of the lands.

"Strange that he does not greet myself in person is that all good men do?" Virgil strolled around his room, he personally did not wish to intrude on Isodell's private matters but as many once said, "Nothing is as it seems".

"Your Majesty, lions only bends its knees for their leader, excuse me for my harshness but Vakarian himself would cut your throat in your own bed if he was told to. Truly a man of fierce loyalty, but regarding good it depends who you ask."

Virgil then turned towards Ostel "Well in that case, why don't you organise a good round of drinks between him and I?"

Since the coronation he has found very little time for personal pleasures, which obviously irritated him more than all. Maybe a quick trip to the brothel......

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Character Portrait: Jaska Farfell
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#, as written by Coupons

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Character Portrait: Alerk Alerkson Character Portrait: Bjorni Silverstone
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#, as written by Tempest
Bann of Silverstone

"I think it looks wonderful." Exclaimed the Banns sixth wife. She wasn't much over sixteen and always incredibly cheerful about everything and it annoyed him most of the time.

"It looks bloody awful." He growled as he eyed the object in question, a new statue of his own likeness. It was being erected over the cities main gate to replace the one of his father.

"Well I think you look very handsome." She replied, planting a kiss on his cheek before turning away in a swirl of skirts and perfume. Her bodyguard followed dutifully as she strode into town not bothering to acknowledge the admiring looks of passerbys. Bjorni was sure that she had wrapped hr legs around at least two guardsmen now but decided he couldn't care less, she was going to get nothing of his when he died anyway.

"My lord!" A shout came from the gate above him and he followed the pointing finger to see large mounted party passing beneath the far gatehouse. They rode with a purpose and the banner of the Masher lord rode with them.

"Now what the hell do they want?" The Bann muttered under his breath before gesturing to Sir Tavan who stepped forward at once.

"Go find out what they want Tavan."

The man nodded, bowed and then, with several guards in tow, made his way out onto the bridge, holding up a hand to halt the Marsher soldiers.

"The Bann of Silverstone bids you welcome, men of the Marsh. I am Sir Tavan, commander of the Silverstone garrison. What brings you to us this day?"


Alerk Alerkson

"Alerk the Strong!" A great black bearded, barrel chested man, roared as he strode across the stones before the lords hall. "I challenge you!" As he finished the last sentence he threw down his sword and shield upon the ground where they clattered noisily and brought immediate silence to all those inside the palisade.

For a moment it seemed as if nothing would happen but then the hall door was thrown open and Alerk strode into the sunlight. He was naked to the waist, clad only in leather breeches, his blonde hair and beard cascading down his back and chest.

"Who challenges me?" Alerk demanded, staring at his opponent for he did not recognize the man.

"Siegfried the Bold, son of Siegfried the Giant." The black bearded man responded, his massive chest swelling with pride as he spoke.

"I have heard of your father." Alerk said, thereby paying great honour to his challenger. "But I have not heard of you, by what right do you issue a challenge?"

"The right of lordship!" Responded the other. Warriors were gathering around the two, slowly forming a fighting circle and it was clear that nearly half of them bore the same black bears head on their shield as Siegfried did. "I brought with me sixty ships and by that right I challenge you to lordship of this army." He gestured around at islands.

"Then I accept your challenge Siegfried, son of Siegfried." Alerk replied with a smile that was most unpleasant. "To the pain or to the death?"

It was Siegfrieds right as challenger to determine if the two men would fight until one lay slaughtered upon the stone, or until one submitted by virtue of wounds or exhaustion.

"I see no need to have either of us dead. I would fight alongside you as your lord or as your man, Alerk the Strong."

A growl of appreciation for the decision went through the gathered warriors. All knew that the death of a single one of the two men would certainly lead to fighting between the two factions and this would ensure that the army grew stronger rather than suffer a serious setback.

"Agreed." Alerk nodded then spread his massive arms wide. "Weapons!" He roared and two lads hurried forward to hand him his shield and sword as Siegfried picked up his own.

The two men were matched in size, virtual giants to amongst their own men they would tower over any Penumbrians. Both carried swords in one hand that other men might need two, it was a clash of the titans. They advanced until they were several paces away and then each bowed slightly and introduced themselves formerly as was good manners before such a battle. Then they touched blades and stepped apart as the crowd bellowed its support.

Alerk attacked first. He was older then his opponent and had long ago learned that striking first could mean all the difference. His blade crashed into the other mans shield with enough force to cut a massive chunk of wood from it. Not to be out done, Siegfrieds blade flickered out, trying to catch him in the thigh but a deft side step and the two men moved apart again.

Several more times they engaged, swords flashing, wood shattering until each man held nothing but a shield boss and sword. Both were breathing heavily, sweat glistening on their massive muscled frames. They made eye contact and nodded, both men dropping their weapons. With a roar that must have been heard in Penumbria they hurled themselves together.

Siegfried, younger and perhaps faster, managed to wrap his arms around the older man and began to squeeze. Alerk could feel his chest constrict and his vision blurring slightly as he fought for air. He reared back his head and slammed it into the nose of his opponent and the other man staggered, loosing his grip enough for Alerk to flex his own biceps and break the hold. Two quick blows to Siegfrieds midsection brought the man doubling forward so Alerk could smash his knee into the black bearded face.

With a groan from his men, Siegfried collapsed backwards and before he could recover himself Alerk was on him, wrapping his head in a massive headlock that sealed his windpipe. Siegfried struggled, trying to free himself but as his face turned blue and his struggles weakened he managed to grunt out a single word.

"Yield."

Alerks men shattered the air with their cries of victory, slamming spears and swords against their shields. Alerk himself released his opponent and took a few seconds to suck deep gasps of air into his lungs before standing and pulling Siegfried to his feet, ambracing him like a brother.

"Well fought Siegfried the Bold, your name is well deserved."

The black beard, now red with blood, parted in a grimace as Siegfried took his own welcome breaths of air. He cast about with his eyes before spotting his sword. He picked it up and knelt on one knee, offering the blade to Alerk.

"Alerk, son of Alerkson, I swear here and now to be your man in all things, and so with me, my men shall become yours. So witness earth, so witness sky."

"So witness earth, so witness sky." Resounded the crowd.

Alerk touched the sword, his acceptance of the oath and then took the others hands between his own.

"I, Alerk the Strong, swear to do right by me all those who are sworn to me. I shall honour my brothers in arms, see to their families should they fall and promise to always bring them glory and victory even should it lead to my death. I so pledge this to Siegfried the Bold, my sworn man."

He turned as Siegfried stood, raising his huge arms above his head and calling out in a voice so deep it sounded like the rumble of a thunderstorm.

"We have an army and in a few days time we will sail and we will conquer!"

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Character Portrait: Frederick Cade Character Portrait: Bjorni Silverstone
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Lieutenant Xanders

The small ban of soldiers rode from the Marsh camp to Silverstone. They were made up up forty heavy cavalry and twenty horse archers. Xanders was chosen to treaty with Silverstone because he was loyal yet very expendable. This he knew as well. As they came closer to the town the troops became anxious to see the city of wealth. Most had never been to anywhere other than the Marshes. As they moved to the gatehouses the guards seemed anxious as well. Probably because of well armored cavalry seem to be intimidating even to those on a wall. They stopped when they were about to be addressed.

"I am Lieutenant Xanders. I have orders from General Cade to inform you that we will be setting up a camp to protect Silverstone from any threat. We do expect for the expenses to be aided by the Bann of Silverstone financially." Xanders told Tavan. No doubt the bann would be in outrage.

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Bann of Silverstone

Sir Tavan didn't even bother to pass the words back on to the Bann. Inwardly he seethed with rage that someone, especially this pathetic Marsher with his less than impressive cavalry, could even think to simply impose their rule on Silverstone. He did not however give vent to his anger but rather he did as he knew his lord would and smiled thinly.

"You are most welcome in Silverstone, as is any ally of the Bann of Silverstone." He gestured grandly to the city where it sparkled in the morning mists. It was an impressive city, possibly the most beautiful of all cities in Penumbria and the Marsher soldiers would not the first to be taken in my its magnificence.

"We of course do not require protection from so small a number of soldiers for Silverstone has her own armies in these lands." He waved to the direction from which the riders had come. "I am sure the Warden of the Marsh seeks only to commit himself to our defence rather than offer us insult?"

"Should you offer insult then I suggest you ride back the way you came at once, if not, you are most welcome as guests and will be made comfortable."

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Lieutenant Xanders

Xanders smiled as Tavan when the man welcomed them to the city. It wouldn't hurt to rest a bit before setting out to gather materials for the camp, would it? Then Sir Tavan spoke of the soldiers who accompanied Xanders as being the ones to protect the city. At this not only Xanders, but rest of the soldiers as well, broke out in laughter. He didn't know whether the man was joking or serious. Eventually after a minute the laughing stopped when Xanders held up his arms.

"I believe we have a misunderstanding. For you see we're only the messengers. I don't know of any force under a hundred men that could defend a city this large from a major offense. General Cade will be arriving with the main force. Probably...eight to nine thousand. Most are still in the Marshes being trained so there won't be very many soldiers...yet." He told Tavan. "Actually I need wood, stone, and other materials hauled to a nice flat area that we spotted outside of the city. Those General Cade will pay for once he arrives. Also, do you have any slaves in this city?" Slaves were important as it made construction that much easier.

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Bann of Silverstone

Sir Tavan ground his teeth but kept his calm as the Marsher soldiers laughed, clearly these country bumpkins knew nothing about manners, or for the matter most likely, fighting. He waited until their mirth had subsided and listened in disbelief as the informed him that the Marsher lord himself, along with eight to nine thousand troops would be arriving soon. This was clearly an invasion under the guise of "protection"!

"We do have slaves." Tavan responded to the question however. "Though they are not cheap nor will be the supplies. But come, lunch will soon be served and we can talk more over the meal."

He turned and led the entourage into the city. The Bann had long left the walls and made his way to his own palace where he would await the arrivals. They journey took them through the main street, the cobblestones of marble gleaming up at the, the buildings as bright with strains of silver trimming doorways and windows, each house a display of the cities massive wealth.

At the first gatehouse into the palace they stopped and Tavan addressed Xanders. "As is custom no man may carry weapons past this point unless he is of the Banns household guard. Men, drink and weapons are not a potent mix! IF you so chose to not leave them here you will not be allowed to visit the Bann."

They stood just beyond the massive gateway that controlled access to the long bridge leading to the palaces. Here, their faces slowly dampening beneath the spray of the river, they could hear and feel the awesome power of the water below as it thundered into the vastness of open air.

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Character Portrait: Isodell FitzWarren Character Portrait: Maul Theongor
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Isodell FitzWarren



Fierce grey eyes sparked and crackled like the embers in the hearth. Lowlivers! Isodell bit her tongue to hold back the retort that she barely restrained on the edge of her lips. Diplomatic. She must maintain her temper and remain calm she reminded herself. Although, Maul Theongor made it more difficult then any man she had ever met before. Never had she been more torn between strong feelings of like and irritation for the same person.

“. . . But, we are already on the same side, the side of Penumbria. I do not see how a deeper alliance is necessary . . .”

Listening patiently, Isodell took in every word the Highlander spoke. A slow smile worked it's way up her lips.

"However, a secret alliance could serve both of us well. An oath taken for the good of Penumbria. I still cannot fully ally myself with Lowlanders, yet in times of crisis it shall serve the greater good." Maul said, a look of revolt marring his bold features.

Secret, was exactly what she had in mind. However, it appeared the Highlander Lord would need more convincing. Not that she had expected him to agree instantly. No, that would have made her very suspicious of his motives.

Are we my Lord? On the same side that is?” Isodell questioned Maul from her position across the room. “As for the side of Penumbria, I must confess I have never known of this side. There is only one side that truly matters and that is the winning side. The side I intend to be on.

Her smile widened at Lord Stormkeer's deep frown at her callous but very true words.

My words may hold a certain sting my Lord but the truth often does.” She said to him as she strolled forward. “Do not believe for a moment that any war waged or fought is ever for the good of Penumbria. You think any Warden or their Commanders truly cares or even gives thought or credence to the peasants or the people of the lands? Wars are fought with only a few goals in mind my Lord, power, dominance, land and gold.

Stopping a short distance in front of Maul, Isodell studied him with a curious gaze. These were things that did not matter to the Highlander. How very contrary? Isodell could not understand the concept of fighting for . . . well, for good, she supposed. Nor could she understand why Maul Theongor was so chivalrous. She had never met a man quite like him before.

I see these are not the things you fight for. Very noble my Lord. But do not fool yourself into believing that others will be the same. Not even the King. By all means help our young liege but be wary my Lord. The King is easily led astray by false words and advice. His Majesty's concerns lie more in his attainment of bodily pleasures then the attainment of peace in his lands.

Turning back to spy the location of the Moon in the sky through the small window; Isodell could tell it was getting late and she was to ride to Halen very early on the morrow just after the sun rose but even before that she would have to see to a million things of concern.

I may speak out of turn and you may not like my advice,” Isodell smiled returning to face Maul. “but my experience as Warden does out weigh your own. I have ruled over the Lowlands for almost a decade now. As for my intention, I shall not lie to you my Lord, they are not at all noble as your own. Sturmaz is costing me a great deal. It is simply more economical for me to remove him rather then go to war which will surely cost me more in gold and men. Men I can afford to lose, gold on the other hand I happen to be quite attached to.” She lied.

Better Stormkeer think her cold and detached as most saw her. Though for some reason she could not fathom it irked her to know he thought badly of her. Why did it suddenly matter how he saw her? She had never cared before what anyone thought of her.

However,” Isodell continued instead of lamenting on the mire that was her mind of late. “as I said before it is in both of our interest for Sturmaz to be removed. Plus, he has taken something of great value of mine and I intend to get it back.

Sashaying towards the Highlander Lord, Isodell stopped before Maul where he sat on the bed.

I high onto my family's seat at Halen Hall early on morrow. We will be celebrating. You must come visit.” She smiled sweetly down at the darkly handsome face as she ran a light finger down his cheek and along the bottom of his finely carved jaw. “Don't you ever wish for more then the wars of our fathers? Better we become friends and allies rather then enemies, don't you agree Maul?

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Character Portrait: Virgil Madriach Character Portrait: Jaska Farfell Character Portrait: Vaino Sivareth
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Virgil Madriach

The day slowly grew dull, a storm started to form. Slowly drifting to sleep he dreamt of the days old and new, soon the rain fell. Suddenly a messengers steps could be heard, steps in haste. "Go on." he said to the bowing man. "His 'Lordship' has arrived in Sundregn, he seeks to wonder and slumber for a day or two before formally meeting Lord Sivareth." the Messenger slid a letter from his jacket but before handing it over he did say "One particular person, which I believe has no business to, seeks your presences for matters not described, pardon me Your Majesty, I truly have no idea how this ended up in the box..." Virgil snatched it off him and gestured the messenger to back off. "Farfell..." A name that he has heard ring a time or two but it was not familiar at the same time curious while cautious. "I find it particularly frustrating with you here gawking at me, a thousand pardons, unless you have anything else to present..." he said sternly to the messenger.

After the 'annoying' messenger departed, he drifted slowly to the lands of dreams.


Marcus Varier

As an attempt to avoid attention to himself and being invited to Vaino's court, he disguised himself as a luxury merchant traveling town to town selling the finest of wares and being wealthy enough to afford 'protection'. The gate guards, more or so were convinced and they were let in without problem, perhaps with underhand dealings which involved exchanges of goods...

The streets were crowded to the extremes, however there was no sign of anarchy, something Langsmerth days had quite often with brawls between rival families breaking into the streets and innocent bystanders becoming guilty.

Perhaps the Vaino's reforms were indeed beneficial, in the dusty and shifty alleys did he not see the murderer or the thief but rather than the poor folk dancing and reveling in happiness. Marcus and his party neared the inn, the place filled to the rim with drunk swampmen playing merry tunes, but at this time?

Back in the Lowlands, music was a privilege only for the rich and the noble with the occasional renegade bard playing in the poor man's tavern for a free drink. He approached the counter with a bag of crowns in hand. "Aye, rooms for twenty."

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Character Portrait: Alerk Alerkson Character Portrait: Frederick Cade Character Portrait: Bjorni Silverstone
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#, as written by Tempest
Silverstone

The attack on the Marsher soldiers was sudden, brutal and ruthless in its undertaking. The heavy horse, released by their commander to return outside the city found themselves trapped on the long bridge that connected the city to the mainland, the gates slamming shut on either end. Crossbowmen appeared on the walls and within moments the stones were slick with the blood of falling men and horses, their screams drowned out by the thunder of the falls below.

Only once the last man had been shot from his horse did the Silverstone soldiers move in, swiftly killing those who still lived with a knife thrust beneath the chin. Any who offered resistance were simple shot from close range, the wounded horses quickly put out of their misery with axes. The dead Marshers were stripped of their equipment and their bodies hurled over the parapets and into the falls below where they vanished beneath the curtains of spray.

Xander and his two chosen men were simply seized without even laying eyes on the Bann and hauled away to the Mines where they were clapped in irons, stripped of everything and given simple white shifts. It took no time at all for them to simply become faceless slaves amongst the rest. In a cruel gesture the Bann ordered their tongues cut out so that they might not tell their tale to anyone.

It was as if the Marshers had never been to the city at all.


Alerk Alerkson

The Great Army they called it. The single largest force ever assembled by the Danes. A man who was good with numbers would simply count the ships that had come and even now they seemed beyond count, drawn up on every available bit of beach as far as the eye could see, naked masts rising like a forest into the sky.

Orders had come from Alerk that morning, the army was to sail and one by one the ships were slipping into the surf, long oars reaching out like insect legs to propel the craft to sea. Brightly coloured sails were raised and the fleet moved swiftly before a westerly wind that some said came as a gift from the gods, driving the invasion fleet towards its goal.

They filled the sea from horizon to horizon, a seemingly endless line of ships that swept west beneath a sky devoid of clouds. Several times small ships, pirates, fishermen, perhaps men from Hightower, would be caught in their path and were devoured, decks reeking with blood as they slowly sank beneath the waves.

Death was coming to Penumbria.

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Character Portrait: Alerk Alerkson
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#, as written by Tempest
Duermis Harbour, Bannship of Silverstone

Serena Marius stared into the roaring waves below, the white caps slamming endlessly into the cliff face as if the sheer strength of their blows might bring the entire bluff tumbling down. It had been in this same spot she had watched her husband of two years drown as his boat was carried under by the tide, not a man had walked away from it. It had been two years to the day since, four since she had married him and she still felt the connection in her heart. She had a daughter by him, a gorgeous black haired child she had named Louisee in memory of her father. The same child now played in the green grass nearby with a puppy from the town, the yips and giggles mixing wonderfully to help ease the pain in her heart. She sighed and turned from the bluff, scooping up both Louise and the puppy, receiving a kiss from both of them as she began the steep path back down to the town below.

She smiled at the thatched roofs; Duremis sat within a sheltered area of dunes at the mouth of the Deepwater River where it emptied into the sea after passing Silverstone. The fishing was good and the weather fair and kind for most of the year. The town has propsered as the chief trading port of the Bannship of Silverstone and boasted a population of nearly two thousand people, a large fort and extensive docks.

A sudden shout off to her right made her turn to see a young man hurrying towards her, a large grin on his face.

“Serena! So glad I could catch you alone for a moment, or almost alone.” The man ruffled Louisee’s hair and accepted a nip on his finger from the puppy before brushing a strand of red hair from his face to gaze at her with striking green eyes. “I was wondering if you, Serena Marius might do me, Geoffrey Pavrial, the honour of being my lady at the mid-summers feast tomorrow.”

Serena felt herself redden slightly and she struggled to say something even as his face fell at her silence, he spoke again, quietly this time.

“I know I’m only seventeen Serena but I have a future as a trader and I may not be the man…”

Whatever else he had to say was interrupted as Serena gently raised a finger to his lips, the puppy immediately licking his nose.

“I’d be delighted Geoffrey Pavrial. Come by the house tomorrow morning and we can make all the arrangements for the evening.”

The young man grinned up at her and brushed her hand with his lips, risking another attack by the puppy who had thankfully found the hem of Serena’s dress more interesting.

“Thank you!”

He grinned again and turned away as she continued into the village, smiling to herself as she heard his whoop of joy echo behind her. The shout followed her into the town and right up to the door of her home which sat closest to the heavy bluff, half built into it in fact. She set both Louise and the puppy down in living room and stepped into her bedroom, sliding open a large closet and reaching into the back to pull out a full length yellow gown that her mother had stored away. She hadn’t worn it since her husband had died but it was time to move on and so, with a shrug, she stripped down to her underwear and then slid the soft material over her head and moved to the mirror.

She was still young and lithe, her blonde hair cascading halfway down her back, the soft brown eyes shining in the sunlight that reflected from the mirror. She did a slow turn and smiled slightly, she might have had a child but it had done nothing to ruin her figure, she was still a nineteen year old beauty, a widowed one at that but she secretly thought Geoffrey Pavrial would be a fine man to have around. He was certainly a rising apprentice in the merchant world, already performing a few trades of his own with distant cities and with him as a father Louise’s future would be secure in a world that relied more on wealth then ever before.

A sudden shriek of pain followed by the piteous howling of the puppy jolted Serena out of her thoughts and she rushed into the living room to find Louise had fallen onto the puppy who had nipped her in defence and was now simply bawling to be heard. Serena sighed and scoped Louise up, moving into a beam of sunlight to gently rock her back and forth. Even as she did she couldn’t help but smile, life had at last taken an upswing.
* * * *

She attended church that afternoon and listened quietly as the priest spoke at length of god. She liked the priest, Father Mason, a man of fifty years and stout of body and mind. He had once been a warrior but the moment peace had come he had dropped his sword and taken up gods word and now presided over the entire community as their spiritual leader. He had married Serena and her last husband and would most likely be there to marry her to her next; in fact he was to perform a ceremony that very evening, a christening of two new children on white sand beach at the town’s southern edge.

“And it was from the heavens that our lord sent the great light. The light that brought us back to his true way and the way of his church! He punished us for our sins yet some of us survived! We are chosen to serve god as he demands of us and to spread his word to all the peoples of the world so that we might never again feel his wrath!”

The words echoed through the stone building, the largest in the entire town and Serena, as she did every time the priest spoke of god, felt her spirits soar and she smiled up at the image of Christ on the cross behind the priest.

“But the lord god is merciful and has brought to us fine weather and fine harvests so that we might keep our children strong and our lands free of invaders. He watches over us and protects us. He loves us as his children and we must worship him as a father for he is everything to us.”

With those words the sermon ended and the crowd began to file out, voices low but happy. A few stayed, amongst them Serena and another young woman who looked at Serena with a resentful gaze before standing and moving to sit beside her. Her words were soft and full of mischief.

“My dear Serena, I hear this strange rumour that you have agreed to accompany young Master Pavrial to the mid-summers feast. I didn’t credit it at first but seeing your happiness I can only assume the rumours are true.”

Serena turned her gaze on the speaker and couldn’t help the blush that spread across her face and the shy smile.

“I have indeed agreed to join him. I hope this will not upset you Larisa.”

The other girl smiled and laughed out loud, earning a glance from the rest of the worshippers who still remained. She placed a hand lightly on Serena’s knee and leaned in close.

“Upset me? My dear girl, I wish you all the best. It’s just a pity he saw you before me.”

She winked and with a rustle of her skirts was gone out the door to leave Serena alone with her happiness.
* * * *

The day of the mid-summers feast came with a brilliant sunrise and before Serena knew it there was a heavy knock on her front door. She hurriedly put down the flowers she was arranging fore the banquet table and hurried to the door to find Geoffrey Pavrial standing there with a smile on his face. He stepped forward and swiftly kissed her on the cheek.

“You look lovely and you even smell like an entire flower garden!”

She blushed and motioned for him to enter the house, closing the door gently behind him just as the puppy came hurtling into the room to collide with Geoffrey who picked the wriggling beast up and tickled its belly.

“Little fiends getting rather large isn’t he?”

Serena nodded, amazed at how hard she had to try to get words out when talking to Geoffrey.

“Indeed, nearly a year old next week, still going to be a terror though. Won’t you join me in the kitchen? I’m making up flower bundles for the mid-summer tables.”

Geoffrey nodded and followed her into the kitchen, eyes widening slightly at the pile of flowers, he picked one up and inhaled its fragrance. He snapped the stem off about half way and tucked the flower behind Serena’s ear and nodded solemnly.

“The picture of perfection.”

Serena smacked him on the arm and glared at him in mock anger.

“Now you stop it! It’s not even the feast yet and already you’re acting like you’re drunk. Now make yourself useful and give me a hand here.”

Geoffrey threw her a salute and slammed to attention.

“Right away ma’am!”

They stared at each other for a moment before breaking out in laughter, the puppy barking his shrill approval as the two set to work.
* * * *

All was quiet as the townsfolk, young and old, gathered about the long banquet tables set out in the town green, all sat with their heads bowed as Father Mason stood to say a prayer. Serena was sitting next to Geoffrey who was glowing with pride at Serena being his lady for the night, the stunning yellow dress by far the finest at the feast, they squeezed each others hands under the table.

“Holy Father. Watch over this blessed gathering and bless this food of which we are about to eat. Bless our children, our husbands, our wives, our sweethearts. Bless us this day as we celebrate your kindness oh lord. Amen.”

Quiet voices echoed the amen up and down, the noise immediately swelling again as everyone tucked into the food before them. Great plates of steamed vegetables, pork and beef roasts and large fish pulled from the sea. Platters of shrimp with a fine sauce made from several rare plants that grew amongst the dunes were complimented by a couple of fine Marsher wines. The laughter of all was heartfelt; the gales of giggling coming from the children’s table attracting the odd shush from the adults but no one seemed to inclined to actually stop the racket.

Once the dinner was done everyone left the tables to gather about a large wooden stage upon which a series of musicians tamed their instruments, the couples moving out onto the open grass. Geoffrey took Serena’s hand in his and slid the other around her waist as a guitar and harmonica struck up a fast paced dance. They danced happily, whirling about with the other dancers in a colourful array, mostly young couples as their elders looked on and clapped.

As the evening wore on and darkness closed in, the celebrations took a brief pause as everyone took a moment to light torches or start one of the fires that had been pre-built just for this occasion. A few small tables were moved up and a selection of wines, ales and a few casks of water were set up to keep the revellers well hydrated. A few folk had begun to drift into the dark, mainly younger couples who did so with furtive glances and suppressed giggles. Amongst these couples, just as swift tune began, were Geoffrey and Serena, the wild tune masking their departure perfectly.

Geoffrey led Serena through the darkened streets and past the sentry post on the edge of the town and out onto the white sand beach. They spotted several other couples strolling the beach, or tucked into more darkened corners together. Geoffrey smiled in the dark and cupped Serena’s chin in his face, tilting her face up and gently planting a kiss on her face. She took a step back and Geoffrey frantically searched for words to apologize but instead she wrapped her arms about his neck and kissed him so fiercely he could taste blood on her lips.

Just then the moon crept from beneath the single cloud that had been stubbornly holding position to block its rays from reaching the earth. Geoffrey gazed down into the face before him and his heart swelled in his chest as she laid her head on his shoulder, the two swaying slightly to the music that only they could hear. Beyond them the waves lapped quietly at the beach as a warm sea breeze curled over the island. It was a paradise.
* * * *

Dawn was fast approaching when Serena woke, her leg thrown over Geoffrey as the two lay in the gentle grass above the beach. Her yellow dress lay nearby in a heap, discarded without a second thought the night before. She stretched, the soft sea breeze caressing her bare skin as she turned to kiss the cheek of the man beside her. He stirred slightly and his eyes opened and he smiled even as his eyes blinked shut at the sudden red rays of sunlight that burst over the horizon.

“Morning love. I don’t suppose you made breakfast already?”

She slapped his stomach at the comment and kissed him fiercely again.

“I need a man to go out and bring in some wood to light the stove first, otherwise you won’t get a damned thing.”

He grinned and reached out to touch her face, his hand halting in midair, his gaze fixed behind her, towards the beach, the grin turning to a look of horror.

“Oh sweet Jesus… no…”

His voice was hushed and there was fear in it. Serena turned and felt her heart leap into her throat. The rising sun had done more than wake the day, it had revealed a fleet the likes of which they could never have imagined. As far as they could see, from one horizon to the other, the sea was filled with ships that raced swiftly towards the shore.

Geoffrey leapt to his feet and pulled Serena to her, turning her towards the village. “Run to the church! Ring that bell for all your worth, I’ll warn the garrison!”

Not stopping to question him Serena ran towards the church even as Geoffrey hurried towards his own home for armour and weapons. Every man in the town was required to train at least one day a week with his weapon in case of an attack and for many this would have their first taste of battle.

Serena paused at the door of the church to see the leading vessels had approached within two hundred yards of the beach, sunlight reflecting off the helmets of the oarsmen, the glint of spear tips rippling like light upon water. The raiders had done well, they had used the darkness to cloak their approach until they almost upon the town and that knowledge spurred her into motion again.

She burst into the church, naked as the day she born and ran past two startled nuns who immediately took up the chase. They caught up to her in the bell tower and one tried to seize Serena about the waist but she slipped free and hauled down on the bell tower cord. The heavy bell slammed into motion, not the usual gentle toll but a frantic clamour, the nuns eyes opening wide in fright as they realized the significance of the sound. Both rushed back into the main church to fall at the altar even as Father Mason arrived at the run, not stopping until he managed to catch Serena’s elbow.

“What’s happening girl!”

Serena turned to him, tears in her eyes as she spoke.

“The Danes are coming father!!”

Father mason wasted no time as he shouted for an altar boy to take over ringing the bell. He dragged one of his spare robes from his office and let Serena pull it on before they hurried from the church towards the beach just as the first screams rent the air.

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