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Brynjar Augustus

"I will not yield. I am the king!"

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a character in “The Prince and the Shieldmaiden”, as played by Sirius Baren

Description




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β–‰__Brynjar __Augustus__β–‰
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{ Q U O T E }

"I will come, I will see, and I will conquer."
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{ T H E M E S }

[url]Song Name|Artist[/url]

[url]Song Name|Artist[/url]



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❛__I___A M___W H O___I___A M__❜
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Name: Brynjar Augustus (Brynjar meaning "Warrior in Armor")
Title/or Moniker: Brynjar the Bear
Gender: Male
Age: 31
Species: Human
Class/Occupation: Crown Prince of Byrdain, Warrior
Description:.
Brynjar is a rather tall and imposing man. He is 6'4" and towers over many people. Through years of training and fighting his body is as solid as a rock. Even though he is large there is a certain grace about him that can only be described as kingly. He has light hair and keeps his beard well trimmed. He has deep cerulean eyes that are often steely and cold. The few lines on his face have come from scowling or the frowns that are ever present whenever in the company of Lelinus. He is often found wearing his armor as he practices combat frequently, but when he isn't strapped in his metal, he is typically wearing shades of red or green. He has a thick gold band that he wears on his left index finger with the Augustus family seal upon it.



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❛__W H A T___I S___H I D D E N___W I T H I N__❜
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Likes: War
Politics
Hand to hand combat
His great warhorse Goliath
Seducing women
Meddling in others affairs
Bringing Lelinus misery
War
Riding into battle

Dislikes: Stupidity
Lelinus
Those he deems below his station
Those who appear to be weak
Reading
Courting
Humility
Compassion

Strengths:
Charisma
Charm
Sword fighting
Hand to hand combat
Strategy
Manipulation

Weaknesses:
Cannot see the value in others who do not appear to have brute strength
His emotions
A beautiful woman
Pride

Personality:.
Brynjar is a stubborn, calculating, and devious man. While it is obvious his sheer force and strength of body, many people underestimate the mind behind the man. He is cunning and patient. He plans far in advance and often can manipulate others to carry out his wishes without others ever knowing he had a hand in the issue. He does have a hot temper and sometimes gets carried away with it. As the crown prince he has had a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders from infancy. This has led to an inflated ego and sense of self-importance. There are very few people he views as equals. As a young boy he learned quickly that wearing his emotions upon his sleeve would only bring about his downfall. He is a cold man who finds great pleasure in the misery of others. He refuses to be controlled by his emotions and therefore keeps them locked away.

Quirks and Habits:
Whenever he is devising a plan, the corner of his mouth always turns up in anticipation of what he is thinking. He will sing to Goliath every time he rubs him down.




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❛__H O W___I___C A M E___T O__B E__❜
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Land/Kingdom: Byrdain
History:.
At the time of his birth, Brynjar was born during a great harvest. It was viewed that his birth was a good omen and that one day he would be a great ruler bringing nothing but prosperity and peace. Even at a young age it became clear that this boy was born for war. He had been a healthy and robust child and from the earliest age, he had put a wooden sword in his hand.

When Lelinus was born, Brynjar was excited to have a younger brother. He wanted a comrade in arms to go off adventuring through the castle and the adjoining lands. He was sorely disappointed to learn that Lelinus was a sickly babe and would never have the strength or prowess that came natural to him.

Brynjar continued to train and become a great warrior. It wasn’t too long before he was joining his father’s army to go patrol the borders and fight back against Fjellborg’s berserker’s who were raiding the edges of their land. In his patrols Brynjar met and fell in love with a beautiful young maiden named Eira. He had never met anyone so beautiful in his life. The two had a whirlwind romance and Brynjar was convinced that he would marry her despite her low birth status. He didn't care. Any chance he had to go on patrol he took it. He would bring her small gifts and dote on her in the best way he knew how. To him she was perfect.

It was a particularly hot summer that he was making the typical rounds along the border when there had been smoke coming from her village. The berserkers had come. Brynjar arrived just in time to watch a shimmering blade dig into the soft and white flesh of Eira's throat. Never before had Brynjar felt such rage. The only survivor of the horrible massacre was that of Katinka who was them brought to live at the castle.

After having seen so much death that day, and losing Eira, Brynjar hardened his heart. The pain was too great having watched her die at the hand of the berserkers. He vowed to never fall at their hands and make them pay as well as never fall in love again. The pain was too great.

As Lelinus grew and his mind was quickly discovered as great value, jealousy began to stir in Brynjar’s heart. For the majority of his life he had been the apple of his father’s eye. All Brynjar ever wanted to do was please his father and one day become king. His jealousy turned to hate and Brynjar soon came to despise his brother to the deepest circle of hell. How could such a sick man be valued in a council of warriors? Brynjar was disgusted with his brother.

Despite hating Lelinus and viewing those around him beneath his notice, Brynjar did come to find comfortable companionship in Katinka. Brynjar was a cold and hard man by the time Katinka had blossomed into a beautiful flirt. Women were always petty things that he was more than willing to use and cast aside. He appreciated them for their ability in the bedroom but did not hold them in any esteem past that.

Katinka was different. It was probably because she great up around him, and despite being a flirt, Brynjar found that he enjoyed conversing with her. She was a bit of fresh air when standing next to his endless line of conquests, but at the end of the day she was just a silly noblewoman who only had true skill in sweet talking her way through the court.

Brynjar was disturbed when the berserkers were prepared for peace. Even though it had been nearly a decade and a half since he had lost Eira, he was determined to make them pay. His disdain for the Fjellborg people rivaled that of his contempt for his brother. Brynjar was not prepared to marry Ingrid, the Shieldmaiden. He knew that his father would push for peace through marriage. Before the idea could be planted, he suggested that Lelinus be betrothed to the warrior woman. It would kill two birds with one stone and he could continue to connive a way that he might bring destruction to the berserkers.
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So begins...

Brynjar Augustus's Story

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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This was the day Lelinus was getting himself a wife. The sickly son of the Great King Artos would be standing before Patriarch Julius next to his bride, the barbaric berserker Ingrid, and unite in matrimony until death took one of them. Such a union was to not be taken lightly. It was born from a quick suggestion on Brynjar's part in an attempt to stave him from participating in the nuptials. Brynjar was not ready to marry. When the time did come, he would not marry a woman that would stand as his equal.

Brynjar scoffed to himself as he leaned against one of the great stone pillars that supported the grand cathedral. He was hidden by shadows as noblemen and women were filtering in and taking their seat to view the spectacle that would be taking shortly. It was truly a miracle that Lelinus had made it to this day. No one thought the boy would live long enough to see the stubble grow on his face--or lack there of--let alone the day he would be married.

This marriage was for pure political gain. It was uniting two warring nations. Two nations that had far too much bad blood between them. This peace would not last. It wasn't because the marriage would end, no, Brynjar didn't doubt Lelinus' sense of duty. The peace would end because Brynjar was going to make sure that it did. Not enough berserker blood had been split yet. There wasn't enough to justify the death of the only person Brynjar would ever love.

"Brynjar," an angelic voice pulled him from his thoughts and he looked down to see two large and green orbs staring up at him. A smile tugged at his lips as two delicate arms wrapped around his waist. "Do you love me?" her tone was teasing as if she was attempting to conceal some great joke from him.

"Oh my sweet flower, have I given you reason to think otherwise?" he tangled his massive hands in her golden hair and pressed his lips into their silkiness.

"Then shall we be married one day?" the teasing quality was replaced with an air of seriousness.

Brynjar stared down at his sweet maiden.

"As the sun rises every day, I vow to make you my bride Eira." His eyes were solemn and the truth of his words rang through the air. Eira's face lit up and she didn't hesitate to press her lips to his setting his body on fire.


The memory faded quickly and Brynjar gritted his teeth. He was not in the mood for the festivities that day, but now he was brooding and prepared to fight with the next person who looked at him wrong during the ceremony. It solidified his resolve. Ingrid and her barbarians were going to pay for taking Eira. Brynja was going to watch them burn, even if it took twenty years and a delicate game of intrigue.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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Katinka purposely took the long way round on her walk to the cathedral. She needed the extra time, even if it was only a few minutes, to relax herself. It wouldn't do to look as tense as she felt throughout the wedding. Despite the way she'd smiled and cooed in earlier conversations with King Artos, she was all but content with the impending nuptials. The lady was having a hard time fathoming any future in which this might be a happy union, and with all the people accompanying the royals from Fjellborg lounging about as if they belonged here, saying she was on edge was a grave understatement.

Everyone knew Brynjar hated Lelinus, but did he really have to show it this way? Of course, to foster peace between the two nations, a marriage was probably unavoidable. If not Lelinus, Brynjar himself would likely be marrying the berserker princess. That thought sickened her almost as much as the reality. At least Brynjar would be able to defend himself if Ingrid turned on him.

She found it hard to believe that anyone thought this peace would really last. As far as she was concerned, either Leo's new wife would slay him in their bed, or Brynjar would find some excuse to kill them all; or maybe the berserkers would grow restless and they'd be hearing about a new massacre within the week. For all their sakes, she hoped for the second. Artemesia help Princess Ingrid if she hurt one hair on Leo's head. She didn't want to see any more Byrdain blood shed, least of all that of the royal family, but she held no sympathy for the people of Fjellborg. Those barbarians deserved whatever they had coming to them. She only hoped Brynjar had not sacrificed Lelinus for that cause.

When she reached the sanctuary, she realized that she'd gotten so caught up in her thoughts that instead of calming herself down, she's riled herself up all over again. Casting a quick glance over the room, Katinka exhaled forcefully and shook out her dainty shoulders. She blinked rapidly a few times, forcing the stern line of her lips into a soft smile, then stepped in to the crowd. She had her eye on a glimmer in the dark, and stepped silently into the shadows.

Once stood on the opposite side of a stone pillar where the Crown Prince himself seemed to be hiding, Katinka actually relaxed a little. He might have been a cold man, and the reason this wedding was happening, but Brynjar had a large place in the lady's heart. She greatly overestimated his caring for her, as well. She thought him a brother to her; she probably should have realized such relations meant little to him, considering his relationship with his actual brother, but she didn't. So, while she was considerably irate with him at the moment, his presence continued to put her at ease.

"I hate them being here," she confessed to the prince as she glared at the foreign Fjellborg men in the crowd of spectators.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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Brynjar had his arms crossed over his chest. His fingers had been twitched for the sword at his hip and it was the only way to stifle the urge. He desperately wanted to draw his blade and fell as many of the Fjellborg people before he could take them down. He knew that if he wanted to succeed he couldn't give in to that temptation. As much as he wanted there blood now, he wanted to spill more than this meager offering who waited restlessly to watch the spectacle that would take place soon.

A sour grin came to his face. Truly this would be a show. Brynjar had not meat Ingrid until negotiations had taken place and he sprung this idea upon unsuspecting nations. He had heard plenty of her prowess upon the battle field with a weapon in her hand. He had heard that she was quick to resort to physical means to resolve her issues which was by far not at all what you'd expect from a princess of Byrdain.

His eyes darkened at the thought. He didn't doubt that she'd hold her own against him, but he was confident if they met in combat he would be the victor. The thought of running his blade down her skin and washing his hands were her blood brought a sick satisfaction to his ailing heart. He was so caught up in the image that he had missed Katinka approaching him with a disdainful look reflecting in her eyes until she spoke.

"Careful Katinka, you might be next in front of Patriarch Julius with your own berserker at your side." He sneered while the corner of his mouth remained sour. It sounded like a threat coming from him, and despite Brynjar making threats on a consistent basis to whomever he pleased, this one was empty.

Having Katinka married off and shipped to Fjellborg was not an idea that he liked to toy with. Katinka make be an insufferable flirt half the time, but Brynjar preferred her company the other half of the time. In fact, his feelings for Katinka were the closest he got to caring for anyone. It wasn't exactly care, but perhaps she was the one he held the least disdain for.

"Our people's blood runs over the land and my father insisted on entreating with these festering mongrels," he shook his head. "For peace." He spat the word as if it were poison from a viper. His eyes were hard as steel as one particular cluster of berserkers broke into rather raucous laugh despite the sanctity of the cathedral.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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Patriarch Julius Gadfael did not like welcoming barbarians into the Grand Cathedral. He would not have minded it as much if they were penitent and ready to abandon their heathen ways, but that was not to be. King Artos the Great had arranged for his son to marry the beserker chieftain's daughter and it would not be proper to hold sacrament anywhere else nor to have a lesser man preside over the ceremonies. Thus, he found himself overseeing the final preparations in the sanctuary. There was little left to prepare. They only needed one final item before the event was ready. He allowed himself to admire the cathedral.

Stained glass imported from the Holy Empire of Valmagne depicted the life of Artemesia from her preaching and divine miracles to her War against the Imperium to Her Final Purification. Torches surrounded the altar above which stood a statue of the Lady Artemesia Herself, a sword in one hand and a staff in the other hand as a wreathed crown adorned Her head: Teacher, Healer, Lord, Warrior, Mother, God was all things in Her.

At last, Brother Beorn arrived carrying a heavy jug of dirt he set up on the altar by a pitcher of clear water. Gadfael nodded at the herbalist in thanks, ignoring the noise of the Fjellborans laughing and talking loudly in this holy place. His annoyance grew as the nobility took turns gazing upon the foreigners and then their fellows, comparing their elegant silk and cloth to the northmen's fur and leather rather than contemplating God.

"Do you have the seed, Brother Beorn?" he asked impatiently.

"Yes, Your Excellency. Shall I summon Prince Lelinus?" he asked. The Patriarch waved his hand.

"It would seem he is ahead of you," Julius answered, his gaze falling upon the frail form of the younger prince God bestowed upon the royal family to teach them humility. He made his way stand before the Patriarch before kneeling for a moment before the alter as was proper. King Artos followed him, his gaze stern as he walked down the aisle towards the place reserved for him and the Northman Chief at the front of the pews, barely acknowledging the crowd that stood in respect until he took his seat. The king shot him a look which Julius acknowledged with a nod before whispering to Beorn.

"The king wishes for you to fetch Prince Brynjar before we begin. Hurry."

The young monk bowed his head in acquiesce, glancing the prince's way before he left. The prince himself stood calmly before him, his gaze upon the entrance hall as his father spoke quietly with the bride's father, though the Patriarch thought the diplomatic niceties were wasted on the oaf. Soon enough, the entrance opened up to reveal the bride and her brother who was charged with escorting her to Lelinus. He frowned in disapproval at the woman's attire. Leather was permissible for a man who lacked anything better, but for a woman to wear it as though it did not hug her curves in such a risque manner or as though she was a man? It was unheard of.

The prince's expression was unreadable as he stared at her. Julius had to give him credit. He did not flinch from her nor did his gaze hold inordinate lust. Instead, he stretched out his hand to receive hers. Julius glanced over at the king who looked annoyed that his other son was not here yet, but he nodded at the Patriarch and he began.

"Do you, sir, give this woman to Prince Lelinus Augustus in the sight of God and man?" he intoned.

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Beorn walked as fast as he could down the halls of the Cathedral without technically breaking into a run. The wedding was to begin any moment now and if he was not there with the seed at the crucial moment, he would be in so much trouble, but then, if he did not find Prince Brynjar, he'd be in trouble anyway. He sighed as he searched the halls, all but a few of the guests already taking their seats in the scantuary. With mixed trepidation and relief, he saw Prince Brynjar behind a pillar speaking with Lady Katinka. This would not be good. Rumors would start to circle around court if they arrived late together given Katinka's flirtatious manner and Brynjar's reputation.

"Your Highness, your father commands that you take your place in the sanctuary. Your brother's wedding will begin any minute," he warned, hurriedly bowing after he said his piece as he saw that he forgot to in the first place. His thoughts turned to his friend. If only Brynjar hadn't sought to humiliate him like this. How could he marry someone so unlike himself? He feared that the shieldmaiden would break him in half within the week.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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Brynjar's jaw stiffened and he turned his hard eyes from Katinka as Beorn approached. The steely look in his eyes increased as the shrewd little monk didn't show his proper respects before speaking. Brynjar was tempted to call the man out on his misstep to protocol and etiquette, but the mention of his father requesting his presence prevented him from making a snide remark.

It was time for the little bird to marry the wolf.

This thought caused a dark grin to spring to Brynjar's face. He felt part of his mood shift. Lelinus was perfect for this task. His younger brother would never forsake a duty he could fulfill. It was one thing he nearly admired about Lelinus. If there was something he could do that wasn't hindered by physical limitations, then he would fulfill the role or task.

"Come Katinka, let us watch the show." Brynjar extended his arm politely to Katinka before guiding them away from the shadowy protection of the pillars and towards the sanctuary that would unite Ingrid and Lelinus in the most holiest of matrimony.

Brynjar rolled his eyes at the thought. The day he took a wife would be laughable indeed. His current, and only, qualification be that she would be exceedingly fair to look upon. He was only going to use her for one purpose after all. Brynjar would not let the royal line die with him and refused to leave it up to Lelinus to secure an heir. Brynjar half wondered if Lelinus would even be able to produce any sort of offspring with his she-wolf. Any child out of this union would be an odd work of nature.

They had reached the front pew at this point and Brynjar released Katinka before moving to sit on the opposite side of his father just before the door opened to reveal Ingrid dressed in all the fine trappings of her leather glory. Brynjar wasn't shy in any way as he allowed his eyes to rake over her form and unusual bridal attire. He wasn't surprised that she had chosen to be married in such barbaric garb. He would've laughed if she had entered the place wearing a dress that laced all the way up the back.

This view was rather more pleasing to Brynjar and he couldn't help but appreciate her. She was a fierce warrior but before anything she was a woman. For a split moment Brynjar had the burning desire to be standing where Lelinus was simply so he would have the pleasure of deflowering such a fearsome creature. The sensation was fleeting, however, and he quickly dashed it away. At the end of the day this was not the sort of queen he wanted at his side.

A smirk came to his face as Lelinus extended his hand for Ingrid to take. It was plain for all to see. She could easily devour the little bird.

As Patriarch Julius began the ceremony, Brynjar allowed his mind to contemplate over his next move. The corner of his mouth twitched as his focus was not the present. When the festivities died the Fjellboran's would return to their harsh winter land. Ingrid would be left alone among strangers in a strange land. Brynjar would make sure she cracked, and if Lelinus managed to survive the she-wolf, he would make him crack too.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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She wasn't like anything Lelinus had ever seen before. It had been easier to focus on the task at hand when they first met. Trade was to be hammered out if the Fjellborgans were to have any alternative to reaving and destruction. Wereguild had to be paid to satisfy the honor of the Byrdainians slain. He had been able to put her out of his mind until today, but now, as she stood before him, he could not help but marvel at her appearance. She was unlike any maiden he had ever met. She stood there defiantly, unbowed, but wary, like a wolf poised to strike if threatened and Artemesia help him, but she was still beautiful. Curves and muscles met and consummated one another as a noble face looked down upon him. He stood up straighter to meet her gaze.

He knew what everyone was thinking without having to analyze their facial expressions. They looked upon him like a condemned man. Well, that was not exactly new to him. He had struggled and fought against his own body to survive until this day. He doubted matrimony would be so taxing. In fact, he found himself curious about his new wife, Ingrid despite herself. Of all the fine knights, nobles, ladies clergy, and Northmen in this holy place, she was the most unique. He saw Brynjar smirking at him as though he was about to fall into a snake pit. He merely smirked back and whispered to her.

"Let us dance though our enemies fling their arrows."

Patriarch Julius coughed in impatience, but Lelinus merely smiled, motioning with his eyes over to his brother.

"Now then, Prince Lelinus. Do you accept the hand of Princess Brigid of Fjellborg?" Julius asked mildly, annoyance dripping from his voice.

"I do. Now, if only that concluded the ceremony," he quipped. Julius, for his part, ignored his flippancy. He had to give the Patriarch credit. He did not need any tome or scroll to instruct him as he spoke. He supposed the old man was entitled to a little bit of the pomp that laced his voice.

"There is a time for all things under the sight of God: a time to sow, a time to reap. A time mourn, a time to rejoice. A time to heal, a time to wound. A time for war, a time for peace. So it is that it is time for this man and woman come before God to be bound together through His Spirit by the benediction of Artemesia, Our Lady."

He motioned for Beorn to approach them and the young monk approached with a seed placed upon outstretched hands. Having seen this done so often before, Lelinus guided their hands to take the seed.

"This seed signifies new life which shall be nurtured through your marriage, both for your peoples and your children," Julius intoned earning quite a few smirks and stifled laughs that died as King Artos' mighty stare fell upon the perpetrators. The Patriarch himself look annoyed by this irrelevancy. A sycophant he may be, but he was clearly a priest.

"After their vows, together, husband and wife will plant a seed in God's good earth. The wife will give lifegiving water and the husband will shed his blood as a reminder to protect his wife and offspring. Only the husband will do this," he warned sternly. Lelinus inwardly sighed. Yes, this was not going to come off as a challenge to Fjellborgan at all. He glanced at the statue of Artemesia and prayed that something wouldn't happen.

"Lelinus Augustus of Byrdain. Do you take this woman as your wife before God?"

"I do," he vowed.

"Do you swear to take no mistress, to sire no bastard?"

"I swear."

"Do you swear to protect and care for her and your offspring in times fair and times grim? In sickness and in health?"

"I swear."

"Do you swear to meet her needs whatever they might be."

"I swear."

"Will she be as near to you as your own blood?"

"I swear it."

The Patriarch nodded in satisfaction and repeated the same vows to Ingrid, modifying the part about protection be about nurturing instead. From his place at the Patriarch's side, Beorn smiled encouragingly at him. At least he had one friend here.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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"Let us dance though our enemies fling their arrows."

Ingrid looked at Lelinus. Perhaps there was more to him than a pretty face. "Flung arrows rarely land true," Ingrid replied, "I have nothing to fear."

Ingrid listened to the holy man as he spoke, letting Lelinus guide her hand forward. She looked down at the seed that was placed in their hands. Strange little custom, she thought. There was none of this sweet symbolism back home. A red sash was tied around the betrothed's hands to symbolise their bond to one another in the eyes of the Gods. None of this pomp around a tiny seed.

"This seed signifies new life which shall be nurtured through your marriage, both for your peoples and your children," the holy man said, much to the apparent comic joy of the nobility. Ingrid clenched her fist. If the Gods saw fit to grant her a child with this man, they would not be a child to be mocked. "After their vows, together, husband and wife will plant a seed in God's good earth. The wife will give lifegiving water and the husband will shed his blood as a reminder to protect his wife and offspring. Only the husband will do this." Ingrid suppressed the urge to raise an eyebrow at this declaration. Did they truly think their woman so incapable as to be unable to defend their family. Clearly they had never tried to come between a mother and her child. Not for the first time, she wished she wasn't being carted off to such a backwards land.

Ingrid stood silently as Lelinus made his vows to take her as his wife. Then the holy man turned to her, "Ingrid Jorvikdatter of Fjellborg. Do you take this man as your husband before God?"

Do I have a choice? "I do."

"Do you swear to take no lovers and mother no bastards?"

Ingrid bristled.I am not so dishonorable, whatever your people might think of mine, "I swear."

"Do you swear to nurture and care for him and your offspring in times fair and grim? In sickness and health?"

Her gaze flickered momentarily to Lelinus. It was more likely to be in sickness than in health that she was bound to him. It was quite clear to everyone gathered who would be doing the true protecting. "I swear."

"Do you swear to meet his needs whatever they might be."

By the Gods, this was ridiculous, had she not already sworn to care for him? "I swear."

"Will he be as near to you as your own blood?"

No one will be nearer to me than Ull and Tyr. "I swear it."

Ingrid let her gaze wander to her father's face. For the first time, it was unreadable. Did he feel shame? Pride? Did he still grieve for Ull? It was unspoken, but she knew if Ull still lived, she would not be marrying Lelinus. None of this would be happening had Ull lived. She would still be home, among her beserkers, perhaps marrying one of them some day. Instead some Godless man had taken Ull's life and now she was being thrown to the beasts to pacify them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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"Now, let you plant the seed of your marriage together, nurtured by God's good earth and the water and blood of your devotion," Patriarch Julius announced, not even he being able to find fault with Ingrid's words or manner. With a glance at his bride, Lelinus led her towards the jug of dirt and placed the seed within it. At last, he released her hand and held out his hand to the Patriarch who handed him a knife with a silver hilt. Without any hesitation, he sliced his palm open and allowed his blood to fall on to the seed and he waited for Ingrid to pour the water into the vase as well.

When they had repeated their respective tasks, Brother Beorn stepped forward to wrap his wound. He ignored the crowd. He did not care to see the superior looks on the faces of the fighting knights and warriors in the cathedral. At least Beorn didn't fuss over him. That was one of the reasons why he liked the herbalist. He didn't treat Lelinus like he was made of glass. When he took her hand again, Julius spoke again.

"Through the Spirit of God, I pronounce you husband and wife until death parts you. By the Father, Daughter, and Spirit, I bless you. Go in peace," Julius intoned as he strode out, followed by the more important clergy as the others busied themselves with clearing the alter.

"And now comes the march to the keep," Lelinus murmured.

***

The procession felt long and tiring to Lelinus, though, in truth, the Grand Cathedral was not far from the King's Keep. The pace was slow, however, and the crowds were eager to see the finely dressed nobility and the fierce foreigners that had been the stuff of nightmares for years on end. Banners flew high over in the wind and people pressed against the guards lining the streets. Some wanted to wish himself and his new bride. Others wanted spit at the northmen. Still others, mostly merchants, clambered to sell them anything from fertility elixirs to fine silks.

His father had been in his element, stopping every now and then to make conversation with a peasant or small group of peasants. His father was a different kind of king from his predecessors. People loved him as though he were the Father come to reign on earth. He had no doubt that the few able to touch him believed they would be blessed for the next year and a day.

For his part, Lelinus was almost glad when they had settled into the royal gardens where the wedding feast was to be held. Already, long tables were set up with enough food to satisfy the crowds below the King's Keep for a week. The banners of the great Houses of Byrdain fluttered in the breeze, including the banner of House Augustus: a crimson one adorned with a golden lion in the center and the white wings of victory in the center.

Unfortunately, tonight he and Ingrid would be in the seats of honor. With the shieldmaiden at his side and goblets beginning to flow with wine, he glanced at her curiously before his father stood to give a speech.

"Tonight, with this union, the conflict between Byrdain and Fjellborg may at last be relegated to the past. For too long, we have lost too many proud sons and daughters to fire and blood. May Artemesia bless our lands with abundant harvest and security for all time. And may She bless me with grandchildren."

The crowd laughed and he could hear the sound of a hundred conversations over wine and food. Lelinus eyed his own food and decided he was not hungry yet. Nonetheless, he took a bite of roast boar and sipped some wine to help it go down.

"I hope the day has not been too trying for you," he whispered to Ingrid. Silently, he searched for his brother. He doubted the day would end without him trying to make some kind of trouble.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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Katinka gave Brynjar a sharp look, but it lasted less than a second. "I would be a widow within a year," she assured him blandly. Probably within a day if she did it herself, but Tink preferred not to do her own dirty work. "'Tis not going to last," she commented quietly, looking off toward the front of the hall, where the main attraction would soon be going down.

Before much else could be said, they were interrupted by Beorn and the Lady's lips slid into a smooth smirk. She rather enjoyed messing with him on a regular basis, however now wasn't the time. Instead she merely winked at him before taking Brynjar's arm. With a polite smile and bow of her head, she let him lead her through the sanctuary. She walked in her usual manner, with her hips swaying and her smile chaste, yet she never could get rid of that suggestive spark in her eye. She was far too amused thinking of all the impure thoughts her presence would bring to the noblemen and a select few noblewomen, in such an inappropriate place. It was a welcome distraction from her worries about this union.

She was deposited at the front pew, and curtsied her goodbyes to the prince before taking her seat. Soon after, the doors opened to reveal Lelinus's bride. Katinka almost gasped. She wasn't sure if she should be impressed or offended, but she was certainly feeling both at the sight of Ingrid in all those leathers. On her wedding day- the scandal! If not for everything that came with it, the lady might have gained a bit of respect for the princess right then. As things were, though, it only made her worry for Leo more. His bride certainly had some nerve, and she wasn't sure that would be a safe thing for him.

The way Lelinus handled his wedding did not surprise her, however it did concern her. He was taking it all in stride and in a way she was proud of him, but she also feared he was letting his guard down too quickly. She remained silent, respectful, throughout the entire ceremony, but as always she was watchful. Her eye was extra careful throughout the proceedings.

When they moved to the King's Keep, she stayed near the ones she considered family, but it didn't stop her from flaunting herself and taking pleasure in the way she drew lustful gazes. Even the attention of peasants amused her. Still, she was rather subdued compared to her regular every day self; after all, this was a special occasion, not to mention the important company she was in.

She sat beside King Artos, but her eyes kept turning to the seats of honor. The longer things went on the more restless she became. Although the situation might not have been quite so urgent as she deemed it, Katinka really felt like she needed to do something to assure Leo's safety. She laughed at the king's words just like the rest of the crowd, but they churned her stomach.

If she was thinking further ahead, she might have been disturbed by the thought of her family being contaminated with berserker blood. Of course, blood wasn't everything, obviously since her 'family' wasn't actually related to her at all; at the end of the day she was just a young noblewoman, and who knew how long she had left in the castle with them anyway before she was pushed into a marriage. She could pray that her wedding wasn't to a berserker as Brynjar jokingly predicted, but she really wasn't thinking that far. While Lady Katinka picked at her food, smiled and joked with the highborn around her, her mind was almost entirely occupied with the fear that tonight Ingrid would slay Lelinus in their bed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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Ingrid poured the water over the seed and stood back while Lelinus let his blood drop onto the dirt. Now they were bound to one another. This was the man the Gods had given to her to protect. Looking around the room, she saw the faces on the people gathered. His people looked at him like he had been thrown to wolves. In a sense, she supposed, he had. But wolves were not just mindless killers. They protected what was theirs, and, whether she had wanted him or not, Lelinus was now hers to defend. The knights looked too proud. Ingrid would happily challenge them if they dared do anything.

Ingrid felt Lelinus's hand in hers again. She looked down at their joined hands and up to the face of her husband. She clenched his hand for a moment before relaxing the grip. Whatever came, they were allies in a land where they apparently had few.

"Through the Spirit of God, I pronounce you husband and wife until death parts you. By the Father, Daughter, and Spirit, I bless you. Go in peace," the Holy Man said as he walked out, followed by other men Ingrid didn't know, nor cared to get to know.

"And now comes the march to the keep," Lelinus murmured.

The march to the keep meant there would be people. People always lined the streets when an important wedding happened. The marriage of one of the princes of the realm would be important. This would be the first time they saw her as well, their new princess. "Then let us march."

As they made their way through the town, Ingrid let her eyes flicker over the crowd. Many were simply curious. Others were less than impressed by their new royalty. Ingrid kept her head high as she followed Lelinus's lead to the keep. Did one of these people kill Ull? Ingrid pushed the thought from her mind. Somewhere behind her, among the procession, were Tyr and Jorvik. What she did notice was the love the people had for King Artos.




Ingrid sat beside Lelinus and the top table, in view of everyone in the room. Hard, cursory glances flickered over to her. What had Jorvik sold her in to? Ingrid took a drink from her goblet as King Artos stood.

"Tonight, with this union, the conflict between Byrdain and Fjellborg may at last be relegated to the past. For too long, we have lost too many proud sons and daughters to fire and blood. May Artemesia bless our lands with abundant harvest and security for all time. And may She bless me with grandchildren."

Grandchildren. Ingrid looked into the depths of her goblet. Children had been mentioned in the ceremony, but the night had seemed so far away then. Now it was that much closer. She would be expected to bed Lelinus and bear a child to unite their people. Would he even want to bed her? Or was this just a show? She took another drink and signaled for her goblet to be refilled. Ingrid picked at the food before her.

"I hope the day has not been too trying for you," Lelinus whispered to her.

Ingrid turned to look at him. "No, but it is rarely the day that is trying for the bride."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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At her words Lelinus lifted his goblet up yet again, this time draining the goblet in record time. That was the elephant in the room, wasn't it? They were expected to consummate their marriage that night and if Lelinus knew his brother, the crown prince would insist on a bedding ceremony just to humiliate them both. It was another battle he needed to prepare himself for, he noted. After taking a bite of his meal he turned to face his wife.

"If you need to wait, then I will not mind. I confess that I'd be disappointed, but I am not the sort of man who would use force or honor to compel a maiden... Though, I doubt I'd be able to if I wanted to," he joked lightly. Yes, she was certainly different from any woman he had met before. She was beautiful in a fierce, untamed way, as though she had been been crafted by Artemesia Herself. Nor was he was not oblivious from the more lust-filled stares that had been directed her way throughout the day.

He turned his attention to the fine, noble guests his father was entertaining. They were still eating. Good. That meant that the dancing would not start for some time yet.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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Brynjar found the ceremony itself to be extremely boring. It was the participants that he found his amusement in. It was certainly an odd pairing. If there had not been political motivation behind it than it was likely it would have never happened. Brynjar was sure that Lelinus would not have attracted himself a bride on his own. A woman did not want a man that couldn’t defend her.

Of course in this case, Ingrid would be the one defending and he was confident in thinking she had no issues with this. It was terribly ironic for these two to be wed and he watched the ceremony end feeling very satisfied with his hand in their situation. He was positive that this ill match would bring nothing but indifference and disgust.

The focus was solely upon the newly wed couple. The Byrdains now had a new princess. Most were fascinated by her as they exited into the streets and headed towards the wedding feast. None had seen a shieldmaiden before. He could see the awe and fear upon the peasant faces. He scoffed in disgust as their father kept stopping to greet the people. Brynjar had never understood this. These people owed their fealty to the crown. What use was it in stooping so low to speak with them?

He was quite relieved when they made it to the feast. Naturally the new couple was at the forefront of the festivities and sat in high back chairs. Brynjar was sitting a few seats down from them as both kings took their places next to the couple. He ate hungrily and drank heartily to get his fill. He had gone through several cups of wine at this point and was feeling a little fuzzy and warm.

He quickly grasped the young serving girl who had stepped forward to fill his cup again. She had a pretty enough face and even though her dress was plain he could see she had ample bosom. He pulled her close and her eyes went wide with fright.

β€œPerhaps you would like to help entertain me later,” he purred in her ear causing the girl to jump. β€œSurely you wouldn’t say no to spending a night with your future king.” Brynjar had a long line of conquests from his past. He was sure he had fathered several bastard children over the years but he did not care for them or their mothers. He delighted in the supple flesh of a woman, and when he had been satisfied and grown bored of her he would cast her aside. He did not care for them.

Brynjar got particularly bold when he had a fair amount to drink. He didn’t care that this was his brother’s wedding feast. He didn’t care that the young girl looked like a frightened doe about to be devoured by a bear. All he knew was that he did not want an empty bed that night.

He doubted Lelinus could survive such intimacies with his wolf bride. He wouldn’t even be surprised if they did not consummate their marriage that night. Brynjar decided that someone should at least partake in the joys of the flesh.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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Unlike Patriarch Julius, who was seated at the king's table within earshot of the king himself, Beorn did not merit such an honor. As the herbalist and a lower ranked member of a monastic order Beorn stood to the side as the feast began, eyeing Lelinus every now and then to ensure that he was in good health. As his healer, it was his duty to be on hand and normally, he would be eating at the prince's side, but feasts such as these had their own special etiquette. A servant, no matter how valued, could not sit by a member of royalty's side, displacing more worthy guests. Later this night, he would have a place of honor beside the king's steward as the servants held their own feast consisting of the food and drink their betters were unable to finish off themselves.

Doubtless, His Grace would permit me and the other monks to hand out what remains to the poor, Beorn thought to himself before his gaze settled on Prince Brynjar by chance... Along with the poor servant girl that looked as though she was about to be devoured by a predator and she would not be far off with that fear. Beorn had delivered many of Brynjar's bastards after he cast those poor women aside. They faced condemnation from their peers and their children regarded with little more than pity at best. The lucky ones who found a husband willing to care for them and their children with no condemnation or judgment were as rare as Fjellborgan convert. A few disappeared from the city in the hopes of outrunning their shame. Others gave their children away to the Church to forget about them while still others never had the chance to raise their child before Artemesia called them home.

He looked to the Patriarch for guidance, but he was either too distracted by a conversation he was having with another courtier or he feared crossing his future king. Lelinus had not seen this yet, but he would soon. It would be best for them to avoid confrontation, he knew, but someone had to help the girl. With a murmured prayer beforehand, he approached Prince Brynjar and the girl.

"Please, my prince, you have had too much the drink," he said, remembering to bow this time, "Do not dishonor your father's servant or your future spouse."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Katinka Dragomir Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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Brynjar grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled it close. It smelled warm and of fresh bread which made him think she had been helping cook in the kitchen through the day in preparation of the feast. It was a good smell and he always enjoyed it a bit more when his whores smelled pleasant.

The poor girl was about ready to die from fright as well as embarrassment. Brynjar slid his hand down her back and gave her a good squeeze which elicited a frightened squeak from her much like a mouse. His eyes betrayed the hunger he felt and the girl wriggled under his touch.

Of course. He thought bitterly as Beorn approached. What did this worm want now?

Brynjar didn't have a very high opinion of the monks. He respected Patriarch Julius and knew there was value to the holy man's opinion. Beorn, on the other hand, was one fellow for which Brynjar greatly detested. He turned his attention from the girl, still keeping a firm hold on her, and stared the meek monk down with steely eyes.

"How much I choose to drink and who I decide to bed is none of your concern monk." He sneered, and as if to prove a point he squeezed the young lass's waist a little too tightly which caused her to gasp as pain flared under his touch. He took a gulp of the replenished wine in his goblet.

"You are in no place to judge or make suggestions Beorn. I am the crown prince, and you know not of the pleasures of the flesh." He narrowed his eyes. At least the worm had remembered to bow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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Brynjar scoffed as Beorn brought up Artemesia as if she were the answer to everything. It annoyed him greatly. In his mind Beorn was nothing more than an extension of Lelinus. The monk may not have poor health, but he was certainly weak compared to greater men. He was almost impressed that Beorn had grown a spine to approach him during such a public celebration. He began to mull over the best way to humiliate the spiritual man when the chatter of the room died down and Lelinus had approached.

This was no surprise. Lelinus often came to Beorn's defense whenever Brynjar was being particularly cruel to the man. He sighed. Even he knew he couldn't cause a great scene. He released the poor girl who scurried away as fast as her feet allowed. She didn't want to be anywhere near his clutches again.

Brynjar rose to his feet and picked up his goblet. "Ah, baby brother!" he held his goblet high. "Today is indeed a joyous day. Not only have you been united in marriage but you've united two nations that have been at war." There was a hidden edge to his words that not even the alcohol could stifle. Those who knew the brothers knew how much they despised one another. This wasn't a toast of congratulations, this was a jest and slight towards the weaker son.

"May your looms be fertile and spring forth many children. "Surely you are eager to take your new and young wife to bed. The festivities can carry on without you, milord," he tilted his cup towards Lelinus before he winked rather saucily at Ingrid.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen Character Portrait: Tyr Jorvikson

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It seemed that the talk of children made Lelinus uncomfortable as well, if the speed he drained his goblet at was anything to go by. "If you need to wait, then I will not mind. I confess that I'd be disappointed, but I am not the sort of man who would use force or honor to compel a maiden... Though, I doubt I'd be able to if I wanted to."

Ingrid nodded, considering Lelinus's words. It was an odd position to be in. Everyone in the room was expecting them to consummate their marriage. There were probably more than a few who expected her to murder Lelinus in his sleep. At least Lelinus was honorable.

She gazed around the room. Her people were drinking heavily, as they often did at celebrations. Occasional bouts of raucous laughter came from their corner of the room. Ingrid smiled to herself, at least her people were enjoying themselves. Ingrid felt a pang of homesickness. They would be gone come morning and she would be on her own in this odd place. Well, not entirely alone, she had Lelinus on her side. But she would need more allies.

"I can't even get married without my brother terrorizing some poor girl. Give me a moment."

Ingrid looked up and followed Lelinus's movements with her gaze. She sat up a little straighter, poised to act at a moment's notice as the room grew quiet. She briefly looked over to Tyr, motioning her hand for the beserkers to stay down.

"You are drunk, brother mine. I understand. You were overjoyed by the occasion, but this maiden is obviously not taken with you so please, let her go. We can open up a cask of Valois' finest afterwards."

Ingrid relaxed. Lelinus might not be gifted with physical strength, but he was smart enough to handle Brynjar. The girl Brynjar had been harassing scurried away. Ingrid watched, making sure that no one tried to stop the girl getting to safety. Satisfied that the girl had got away, Ingrid returned her attention to the brothers.

"Ah, baby brother!" Brynjar's voice filled the room, his voice slurring. And this was the man who would one day be king? She raised an eyebrow. "Today is indeed a joyous day. Not only have you been united in marriage but you've united two nations that have been at war. May your looms be fertile and spring forth many children. Surely you are eager to take your new and young wife to bed. The festivities can carry on without you, milord." He said, apparently toasting Lelinus and winking at Ingrid.

Even though she had never been on the receiving end of such a wink, Ingrid was familiar with it. She had seen it when a man had wanted a woman. Evidently, the fact that she was his brother's wife didn't matter much to Brynjar. She was just another woman to him. She gripped the arms of her seat. Any other night, she would have dealt with Brynjar sooner, maybe punch him in his ridiculous face, but she was bound not to spill any blood tonight and the last thing she needed was to turn every noble in Byrdain against her. She rubbed her temples and shook her head. This was ridiculous.

Ingrid got up from her seat. "Excuse me," she said quietly. They didn't need her explanation. She left the hall and wandered through the corridors of the keep. The air was cooler out here. Ingrid could feel it curling around her neck, cooling her blood. She heard footsteps following her. "Go away Leli-"

"Not Lelinus," Tyr said as he came into her sight. "Are you alright?" he asked, holding her arms.

Ingrid nodded, "I'm fine. It was just too warm in there. I needed a moment to cool off."

"Is this about Brynjar? I will crush him. He should not-"

"No, it's not. He's drunk, he doesn't know what he's saying. There was no slight meant, not this time. Please, go back in, keep an eye on the others. I don't want there to be any trouble tonight."

"If you're sure." Ingrid nodded. Tyr kissed her forehead. "Take care Ingrid." Tyr hesitated a moment before he left her to her own company.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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"The night is young yet. I wouldn't deprive my wife of the pleasure of the festivities just yet," Lelinus quipped, watching Ingrid leave out of the corner of his eye followed by Tyr. He smiled wryly, "There is a certain bond between siblings, isn't there? I am sure that if I had to freeze to death up north, you would be eager to spend what time you could with me before leaving me there."

From the way he said it, there was almost genuine warmth in his words. It was unfortunate that those who were watching them knew it was a farce, but court etiquette dictated that he and Brynjar had to be semi-polite to one another. He glanced over at Beorn and nodded, the monk making a graceful retreat. Beorn was braver than he realized. Braver than Brynjar would ever be, he believed. Still, his wariness of getting entangled with nobility was warranted. Lowborn did not do well if they annoyed their superiors.

"I only hope, dear brother, that I may be as half as fruitful as yourself. The rumors say that there is a monastery somewhere populated by nothing but your seed."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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"The night may be young, but I doubt your hearty enough to last through the night." Brynjar didn't sugar coat as he flung the insult at his brother. Not just for his health issues, but also as a slight in Lelinus' ability to perform his duty with his new wife. "Truly, a bond that has been predetermined and cannot be broken." There was an edge to his tone as if he wished he knew the way to break such a bond. It haunted Brynjar his whole life. As the years waxed he had tried to derive a way of severing Lelinus from his life. It wasn't until this arranged marriage that he finally felt he had a solid chance at ridding himself of the sickly one.

"Truly, and I suppose we can be grateful for that." He mused and sipped his wine once more. "We know that when the time comes I will be able to produce a robust heir to take the throne. We will have no need to rely upon you dear brother, so I suppose you needn't truly concern yourself with such a performance with your wife." Brynjar was too drunk at this point to mince his words. Usually he had more tact in dealing with Lelinus. On this night, however, it seemed he did not care that his insults were obvious and open.

"Where is your northern minx?" it seemed now was the first time he realized Ingrid had slipped out. "Oh dear," he tutted. "The feast is not yet over and she has already slipped from your grasp. You'll never be able to tame such a wild animal." He finished his wine after directing a new insult to Lelinus' bride.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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"I have a feeling that you disgusted her with your spectacle, brother mine. It seems that your manners put even the northmen to shame," Lelinus snarked. He had seen the disgusted expression she wore when his brother glanced her way and he was gratified. Ingrid would need to be strong given their position. He doubted this would be the last time Brynjar tried to provoke either of them.

"I do not desire to break her like a dumb horse, Brynjar. You may sire an heir in the future, but what good will it do you? A browbeaten mother and an unrestrained father do not raise a good king. Even the best of kings can sire rotten sons or so history tells us."'

He was more blunt than usual, but Lelinus felt he had the right to be angry with his brother at the moment. Brynjar was acting like the fool and if he insisted on acting like the fool, he would treat him like the fool.

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Beorn had decided it was better to leave the feast for the time being. Lelinus could handle Brynjar, but the monk was aware of his low status. If Patriarch Julius had been born a different man, then he might not have to fear the crown prince's wrath, but the Patriarch was a wordly man. He would not risk his future king's ire to defend a lowly, common-born monk. Not after he had tied his fate so close to the Byrdain throne.

So it was that Beorn found himself in the same hallway as the new princess. He eyed her thoughtfully. She was different. There was no mistaking that and Lelinus was correct when he told him privately after the treaty had been signed that she was beautiful. Strong, different, and beautiful. The court was no place for her. He stepped forward with a deferential bow.

"Good evening, Your Highness. I... I am sorry you had to see that. King Artos won't tolerate this. Prince Brynjar is not king yet."'

He paused, awkwardly, unsure of what to say.

"Oh, I'm Brother Beorn of the Order of St. Clemens. I am the Royal Herbalist and Lelinus' personal healer. I hope we might get along in the future. I am at his lady wife's service as well."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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Brynjar eyed Lelinus as his brother hurled quick insults back. They were not fluffed or coated in a pretty covering. The intention was obvious but Brynjar decided on a smile in response. It was a dark smile, one full of secret meanings. "Ah, but I will be king and it is my offspring that shall sit on the throne of Byrdain." He glanced across the faces in participating in the feast. Many had resumed their personal conversations, but a few ears were hanging onto the words exchanged between the brothers.

"Let us not bicker anymore tonight, it is your wedding. You should be feasting, and enjoying your young and ravishing wife." The corner of his mouth twisted in a mocking gesture. "Go find your bride!" he spoke up loudly which earned a few cheers from some of the drunk men in the room.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Beorn Clovermaen

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As the feast continued on, King Artos did not fail to notice the actions of his elder son. Brynjar was many things: a brilliant warrior, cunning, and charismatic to name just a few, but he was also petty and short-sigted in the king's opinion. He did know where he went wrong with his son. His mood seemed to change overnight. He remembered after one particular patrol during the war, he had never been the same. He watched as Lelinus took his leave from the feast in order to pursue his new wife. Beside him, King Jorvik grunted.

"It would seem your boy has had too much to drink."

If only that were so, Artos thought tiredly. He gestured for a servant to approach him.

"Inform Brynjar that I would have words with him tonight. Also, inform Lelinus I would speak to him the next day. I would inform them of the future of the realm."

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As Lelinus approached Ingrid, he caught her words to Beorn. She was already thinking of children? He supposed she would. Their wedding had mentioned children quite often. He did not know how he felt about the expectation that he would become a father in the near year. As he approached, he heard Beorn speak.

"Yes, I would, if God grants you children. You should be able to bear it remarkably well, I think."

Lelinus chuckled.

"Yes, I think my dear brother was green with envy tonight as well as drunk."

Beorn bowed, "Prince Lelinus, thank you for distracting your brother. He was... Worse than usual tonight."

"I fear he will only get worse. Can you inform my father that we won't be returning tonight... Unless you want to brave the crowd once again?" he asked Ingrid. He doubted she wanted to anymore than he did, but it would not be prudent for him to make decisions for the both of them like that if he read her personality correctly.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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It was very late in the night when the festivities finally died down and everyone retired to their homes. There hadn't been much more incident with Brynjar and he seemed to have sobered up. He had watched the rest of the party with calculating eyes. He knew that he needed to strike soon. Now he had a shieldmaiden to contend with. He had originally thought this union would finally break Lelinus but by some small strike of luck it seemed that the warrior princess seemed to like the sickly prince. It made no sense to Brynjar.

He wanted things to go sour between the new couple. It would justify his plan to plunge them back into war and make the barbarians pay for their crimes. It would be no good if the two actually grew fond of one another.

Brynjar had loved his father once. It had been a very long time ago when he was still young and foolish. Now his father was an obstacle. He had to get rid of him. His father was too soft and that would make their country weak. Brynjar was ready to step up. He was ready to assume the crown that was rightfully his. Their father was old and it would not be a terrible leap for him to pass away in the night.

That was why he found himself in front of the king's chambers when everyone else had gone to sleep. He was quiet and meticulous as he entered the chamber silently without making a sound. King Artos would be in a deep sleep. He would not rouse. Brynjar had this moment planned since the union had been decided.

He crept into the room. There was no falter in his step. King Artos breathed very slow and deep. The old man looked peaceful. It seemed that he was grateful to finally be out of the war. What a foolish thought! They would always be at war.

Brynjar gazed at his father for only a few moments. There was a slight twinge of guilt piercing the oldest part of his heart. He smothered it quickly like a flickering candle gone out. Such emotions were not prudent. They would do no good.

"It is my time now, father," he whispered as he picked up a silk pillow and placed it over the old monarch's face. He pressed down hard enough to leave no room for air to press in. He felt a weak shifting under the pillow for a moment until it stopped suddenly. He still waited, the pillow pressed in, until he was sure that the old king had finally passed from this world.

A slick grin slid to his face as he pulled the pillow away and set it back in its proper place. He checked the pulse in his father's throat and found no life there. It was as he had planned. No one would know he had slipped in. Artos would be found in the morning by a servant, and after he was buried and the mourning period was over, he would be crowned king.

Brynjar was surprising silent as he left. For a man so large it seemed impossible he could move without alerting those to his presence.

As he returned to his own chambers he saw a black feather atop his desk. His eyes twinkled. He had paid to have his father's drink poisoned. He had offered the promise of riches to a desperate servant. He knew desperation meant cowardice. Rather than pay the large sum he had promised, he had hired a mercenary to slit the servant's throat as he returned to the city. He had picked a man that did not reside in the castle for this very reason. Now this man looked as though he had been robbed, and he was silenced by his grave. No one would know of Brynjar's hand in two death's that night while there was a good chance that life was being created.

Brynjar changed into his sleepwear and slipped into his bed.

Everything was falling into place.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus

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The first sound that roused Brynjar from his slumber was that of the slow tolling bells. It was a very somber sound and one that was meant to alert the whole city of mourning. Yet Brynjar seemed far from sad or despondent. He lay in his comfortable bed for a while listening to the low ringing with a smirk on his face. This was what he wanted. Every step was falling perfectly in place as he had planned it.

It was rather unfortunate that his father had to die. It was because he was getting weak and soft. The king he had known years ago would have never bent and negotiated them out of the war. He would've fought down to the last Byrdain. Such softness was weak. How did they not know that the Fjellborgan's were planning their own treachery secretly? Couldn't this be a ruse so that they could get a slimy foothold in the heart of the royal family?

Brynjar couldn't see past his blind hatred. He couldn't put their differences aside. He needed them to bleed. He was a warrior. He wasn't built for peacetime.

After musing in his bed he finally decided to rise. He knew the part he needed to play. He would play it perfectly. It was traditional to done oneself in special garments of mourning, an outfit that was solid black. He strapped his sword to his side. It didn't matter if they had signed a treaty for peace. He would never abandon his blade. He would always be prepared. If Ingrid was indeed a snake sent into the viper's den, he would not be caught unprepared.

Once he was sure every piece was situated perfectly he looked into his reflection. He arranged his features so he appeared stoic and sober. His father had just died after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael

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"It had to have been the Northmen! The king...."

Ingrid snapped her head around, searching for the source of the outburst. How dare they suggest such a thing. Her people were not so ignoble that they would murder an old man in their sleep. Exactly what world had Jorvik dropped her in to? Was there truly so much hatred towards them.

"Was old, Ser Dayne. The healers of the palace did a full autopsy and there was no foul play involved. Besides, poison is not in the pagans' modus operandi. If they killed him, we'd have found him cut in half."

Ingrid squeezed Lelinus's hand. They wouldn't have killed Artos in the first place, no matter the method. Despite Julius's attempts to calm the crowds, she could feel the animosity towards her people, towards her. She stood a little straighter, holding her head high. Ingrid's gaze briefly swept over Brynjar. He was staring at her again. She dropped his gaze and looked back to Julius while half the room's attention was on Brynjar.

"Patriarch Julius, is it true? Father cannot be dead."

Ingrid raised an eyebrow. There seemed to be something off. Ingrid remembered her own grief when Ull had died, Tyr's as well. Despite his best attempts to hide it, Tyr's grief had been palpable before he had told her about Ull. His face had seemed to be crumpled. Jorvik was still broken by the loss of his son. Brynjar seemed to be a little too put together, even if he had only heard whispers. Or perhaps Brynjar and Artos hadn't been close as father and son.

The animosity in the room confirmed her previous fears though. Tyr needed to leave Byrdain as soon as possible. In a way, losing Jorvik would not be so bad. That was the natural order, the parent died before the child. But she would do anything to be sure that no more of her family were killed by Byrdains. She needed to get Tyr as soon as possible. The only problem was there was no way to get to him without arousing attention. She could hardly use her old method with Lelinus, he probably wouldn't know what she was trying to do. With Tyr, she had traced the letters on his hand or his back and he had known. She looked around the room, waiting for an excuse to leave.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lelinus Augustus Character Portrait: Ingrid Jorvikdatter Character Portrait: Brynjar Augustus Character Portrait: Julius Gadfael

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Brynjar was lying. Lelinus could always tell when his brother attempted to deceive people, particularly when he was performing for a large audience. His eyes never quite matched his performance. There were no tears or distress in them. Instead, they remained as cold and calculating as ever. Unfortunately, the rest of the crowd seemed to be taking the act even as he cast unchaste glances towards his wife. He squeezed Ingrid's hand back.

"I am sorry, Your Highness. King Artos was as mortal as the rest of us. Within the week, the king will be returned to God's earth and the denizens of the kingdom will pay their respects. Then you must take your father's throne.... That can be delayed until you are ready, Your Highness. No one will fault a son for taking time to grieve," Julius said with a bow.

Lelinus resisted the urge to snort. There was no way that Brynjar would delay the chance to achieve full power. Again, he glanced at Ingrid and seeing the look on her face, he murmured quietly, "Are you unwell?"

If she could warn at least Tyr of the mood in the kingdom at the moment, the Fjellborgan heir could be saved and any war postponed.