Chapter 1: John
I love my village and my castle. It’s a small village. cute, small and utterly in shambles. The shackles of the roofs were literally falling off, the doors so poorly made that if one cared to they would see everything inside and everything the inhabitants were doing weather it be public . . . .or private. The street was made of well trodden dirt and pulverized horse manure. To match the town a mile from the village my small decrepit wood castle was built. It's wood was of the same quality of the village's but it more resembled a small hastily thrown together mansion than a castle. But for all of this the parade I was in marching down the streets was as merry as it could be.
It wasn't much of a parade seeing as it was made of soldiers. but at the forefront There were two riders leading merry progression. one was tall with raven black hair and dark skin to match. he bore a crudely made broadsword on his back with a dagger stuck hazardlessly through his belt. he was stained all up from his boots to his knees in weeks old blood and shit. The other was me. My legs faired the same but the similarities ended there. I'm proud to say that I am monstrously tall with crimson hair and eyes to match the crimson blood on my clothes. I wield a small katana with a gilded hilt. My clothes though would be no different if it wasn't for the symbol of a speared head blazoned on the back and front.
"hey John look at the new castle they made for us while we were out fighting. It's a beaut ain't it?" Said the dark haired man
"Told you it was gonna be good Marc. We had our finest builders working on it for the whole time we were fighting." I said
"Ha-ha sure ya did. Those workers ain't worth crap. By the way do ya think we'll be the first kingdom to survive longer than a week?" Said Marc
I laughed " we might. four days so far. we'll at least make seven since we cleared those bandits awhile back."
Marc snorted " we hardly did a thing you took them by yourself didn't give us no chance to bloody our blades"
John smirked "I'm sure you got a few. But perhaps I wanted some sport. Instead of slaying some bloke who can hardly hold a sword."
" we'll if you would've told us that your so good with a bloody blade then you might've gotten more of a following." Said Marc as he raised his eyebrows.
John sighed " We've been over this already. I don't want followers who would sooner kill me or fear me. If were going to have a lasting empire we need them to trust us not put a knife in our back like every other king so far."
Marc laughed " Half of em would do that anyways. You gonna get yourself killed with these crazy antics. But perhaps you may be able to postpone that with a feast in honor of our glorious victory ?" He smiled wickedly.
I laughed "Of course I do. But your gonna have to pick some unlucky fellows to guard us while we eat. I don't want to end up like king Simon with a sword in my gut while I tumble some lucky wench."
" Of course" said Marc as he called over a few lads a sent them off to the castle with the news " There done. But you better have some roast at the feast. I'm gonna go see my wife and I’m gonna need a full stomach to deal with her tonight. but in any case later king John" He said as he ran off as fast as he could go.
" I told you not to call me that bastard!" John yelled after him to no avail.
" hey John if were going to have a feast then you better go get your brother to set it up!" yelled a soldier behind him
John straightened up and said " I'm not your servant boy." as he rode off to find his brother leaving all his men laughing behind him and with a huge grin on his own face.
Later in the afternoon I approached my castle. It was a hastily made ragged old thing. Wrought of rotten wood and ashened oak. If you would simply look at it you would see a castle of indescribable age. thousands of years old it seemed. Until you got up close that is and saw it was made of old wood indeed but freshly cut old wood. Termites clogged up the gaps and mud was sloppily slapped into the cracks to hold it together with mold grown onto many parts of the wood. Yet despite all of this it had a complete beloved atmosphere. It had a homely feel that made any who stepped into it's halls feel utterly and completely welcome And welcome did I feel.
As I stepped in the castle i saw a servant boy and waved him over to me. " Do you know where Lucian my brother is?" I asked him.
His eyes crossed " I tink he's in the hoffers 'oom couting up ya spoils seh."
"The coffers room?" I asked and when he nodded I said " Thanks but you should stop crossing your eyes and do something about that speech. How old did you say you were?"
" I’m sowwy suh. I'm six suh." he said trying to uncross his eyes but failing.
" oh." I said in surprise " Never mind then." Then he nodded and ran off to a kitchen chef who was calling him over.
I reached the room after a long walk in my castle's narrow halls. The room was small but finely decorated. Well that is if you have a taste in ledgers and such. My brother was dressed in Black and brown. His hair was a light red with a small grey streak in the left side. As he raised his sky blue eyes to me he put his hand on his sword. A small shorts sword with no decoration. My brother liked to get close in fights and we were near equals with me being slightly better.
" What do you want?" He said as he took his hand of his sword and went back to writing on his latest piece of ho-dah or something.
" Were having a feast tonight in celebration of my our first victory" I said
He stopped writing and quietly set down his pencil. " no" he said as he stared at me.
I frowned " What do you mean no. the men want a feast so we shall have one."
he started tapping his foot. a general sign of him being annoyed " I mean no. feasts can wait. we need to save our money for the fighting not some extravagant feast."
I sighed " It's not going to be extravagant. just some food, singers, and wenches"
His tapping got faster " Yes some food for 3,000 people, singers for every table of which there are 260, and a wench for every man who'll get drunk enough to take them. Every wife will come to complain of some "ladies" in they're old beds. You included most likely. I wonder what you'll wife will have to say about that."
I shuffled from foot to foot " Were going to do it. At the very least I mean for it to show that were not afraid of opposition. You know like a sign "
He grunted " Yeah a sign. A sign that we don't no how to handle money and are ripe for the plucking."
"Bu-" I began
"Shut up i'll try to think of something if your so insistent on it." He interrupted as he walked over to the wall and looked at a paper.
I smiled " Thanks I knew I could trust you."
He ignored me so I walked off.
When I got back to my rooms my wife burst out the door and hugged me.
"I'm glad your okay" she said as she stepped back for a second and looked into my eyes. Her hair was a beautiful gold and her eyes were green. she wore a silver gown that looked quite new.
I smiled " So am I. So is it a boy or a girl?"
"Girl." she smiled as she led me into the room. Her voice was like honey.
The room was big and thickly decorated with swords of all kinds. Great swords, Short swords, Katanas which are my favorite, broadswords, and all other kinds. what can I say? I like swords. She walked over to a girl who was sitting in the corner. she looked to be two years of age. When my wife walked her over to me I took a look at her. Her eyes were blue and innocent. White hair and little hands. She wore a small dress and she had a hand in her mouth.
I smiled " She's beautiful. What's her name?"
" Elena" she said and the little girl looked up at her mother.
I laughed and tried to pick her up but she quickly ran back wards and stared at me.
" Salina what's wrong with her" I said frowning
Salina smiled and went over to my daughter " Well you've been out fighting so much that you didn't even know if she was a boy or girl. She doesn't know you so she's scared." she picked up Elena and walked over to me " This is your daddy Elena. see?" Elena took her hand out of her mouth and started to reach towards me but stopped halfway. but silina kissed her on her forehead and told her it was okay. So My little girl reached out her hand and softly rubbed my head.
"Daddy" she said.
I Felt giddy with excitement. I wanted to sweep them both up and twirl us all around and laugh. but I knew it would scare Elena so i contented myself with taking her hand off my head and holding it while I looked into her eyes.
"was That her first words?" I said hoping.
My wife tilted her head and smiled " No she said mommy first"
I laughed softly as I gently let go of her hand and stood up " She's beautiful." I said softly as I stared down at her. As I stared I knew that I wouldn't ever let anything ever happen to her.
My wife laughed " You already said that."
I laughed " I know but it's true. It's also true that were having a feast tonight."
Salina nodded " I heard the whole castle is talking about it. It starts in two hours you better hurry up and get ready if you want to meet marc on the way."
I laughed, got dressed and kissed her for the last time before I left.
I met Marc in the palace gates an hour later. I was wearing a red and silver suit. Most men said it was unlucky to wear red on the first feast of your reign. Because that red is same colour of blood but I didn't care. As for marc, well he was wearing a black suit and had a somber look on his face. It was raining
Nevertheless I smiled a huge smile " Hello marc. You ready for the feast?"
Marc smiled thinly " Yes."
As I turned to go inside Marc said " John can we talk out here for a sec. I got sumthin to tell ya."
I walked outside and stood there as an uncomfortable silence set over us.
Marc cleared his throat " Well first off. Is it a boy or girl?"
I looked up into the rain picturing Elena's face " A girl and she's beautiful. White hair, innocent eyes, she's perfect. I couldn't ask for more. What about your kid? I heard that you named the babe before we left and it was still in the womb too."
Marc looked down. " That's what I was gonna talk about. He was a boy. but I missed him. He's gone."
I was confused " gone? What do you mean by gone."
Marc looked out into the distance " It was yesterday. He was out playing. As for what happened." He stopped talking.
"what happened?" I said
He said three words " Homme mort vueve"
That was all I needed to know. Homme mort vueve was a fancy french way to say " Widows dead man" It was a bandit band. They didn't work like other bands though because they didn't plunder, rape or steal livestock. They sold. They would go into towns and steal little boys or girls and take them in train them, raise them up as one of they're own and then sell them to the bandits that would bid the highest. Of course bandits didn't just buy them for number boosters. There are plenty willing to become bandits anyways. They bought them from Homme mort vueve because they train their "recruits" to be cold effective and merciless killers. Any who don't make the cut get their throats cut while they're sleeping. They are truly deadly killers though. They never train any two recruits the same way so that it's pointless to try to use one pf their styles against any other. I've only fought two but each one gave me plenty of scars and had me wishing I would never meet another. It was the worst fate for any child.
After a long silence I said " What is his name?" That was the only the Homme mort vueve allowed them to keep. their names.
" Pierre." He said.
I looked up into the sky letting the rain fall on my face " It's a good name." I said.
We stood there for a long time just being in eachothers company. Sometimes that's all you can do. To just be there.
After awhile the sky was starting to get dark. " The feast is about to start. We need to go." I said.
Later we were all sitting at the table and I was talking with a healer about how to set an arm in place when I began to get bored.
" -well when you set your arm you need to be careful because th-" The healer was saying.
Interrupting him I stood up and said " Everyone be quiet!" As the hall got quiet I began to speak although a few of the men were to busy kissing their ladies to hear me.
" Is this a party?!" I yelled.
"Yes" they roared back.
" You wanna know waht would make it better?" I asked.
"what?" they asked back.
" A sword fight!" They began to cheer but I hushed them down " But not just any old swordfight. For every match you win you have to drink a flagon of beer and you have to hold one in your hand as you fight. If you spill you beer then you lose!" I was drunk" But here's the best part!" they listened intently" The man to beat me gets a bag of gold!" really drunk. " And you are my first opponent!" I pointed to a couple that was still kissing.
His fellows pulled him up stuck a beer bottle in his hand and a sword in the other and shoved him towards me. He was utterly confused " bottoms up" I said as I flipped his drink into his face with the tip of my sword. The whole crowd cheered.
"next!" I yelled and a huge man stood up with a big grin on his face and a scrimitar in hand
" Lets see what ya got." He said.
He swung his scimitar at me. I ducked under it, hit his knee with my foot and as he fell forward I cut his beer bottle sending it's contents falling all over the floor. He just laughed.
A good hour or to later the fighting began to fie down. I hadn't even taken a scratch and I had beaten most twenty-three men. " Come on" I roared " who'll fight me?!"
Marc stood up " You need ta go to bed and sober up man. you too drunk for this now."
I was furious " Then I guess your my next opponent!" I said as I picked up another beer bottle.
" If that's what it takes to clam you down then fine." He drew his broadsword and picked up a beer bottle.
I lunged forward and tried to hit his bottle. He stopped my blade not even wavering an inch. Even more enraged I tried to beat down his sword by repeatadly bashing it. He didn't even grunt. Furious I tried to hit him anywhere I could. For minutes all that could be heard was the sound of our blades clashing our cups forgotten and on the floor. I still got nowhere near him. I was breathing heavily and tried for one last lunge. He slipped past my blade, smacked my hand with the flat of the sword making me drop it and he kicked it away. All the men were laughing.
" You had enough?" He said as he smiled. Dang I forgot that he was the best fighter after me and my brother. He specialized in defence and counters. I was no match for him when I'm drunk.
I roared with laughter as I said "Yeah I've had enough." I picked up my sword and stuck it in it's sheath. The duel had burned away most of my haze from being drunk. I groaned " This is why I try not to drink."
He laughed " That was a good fight. But your wife is waiting for you. better go before she gets mad."
I smiled " Yeah. see you later."
As I was walking down the halls I thought I heard a squeak. I stopped and when It happened again I stopped and waited till I heard it one more time. I quickly walked toward the sound.
I realized the squeals were actually screams.
from my room.
I ran there as fast as I could. I arrived at the doors of my room and threw them open.
The fernature was all in dissaray. Swords had fallen from the walls from the struggle and My brother had a knife to Salina's throat.
" Hello brother." He said as he slid the knife across her throat.