Allun, Erric, Garrick, Errol, Lilianne.
                The land was stark, under the shadow of Blackrock Veil. From his window, the twin mountains were visible, ending in sheer cliffs where the seas closed in on the land. A handful of leagues away, he could just see where the charm and the chain started, which surrounded this castle and met in the centre of Winstone’s city to create the Pendant River. He knew it all too well.
                Even on the heights of a sheer hill, from his room in one of the castles towers, he could perceive the odd quietness to the night, the few sparse trees shifting lazily in the late summer night air, a cold air that showed early signs of upcoming autumn. And let us hope the granaries hold us this winter.
                Last winter had been harder, when the country had been at war with the Barbarans, Many of our people had starved, we were forced to grovel to the plump Westerners.
                That was hard, watching them savour the moment when so many had died already.
                Allun, Erric, Garrick, Errol, Lilianne.
                The air felt especially cold now, on his bare skin. He did not bother to wear a night gown, he relished the chill bite, it kept him awake.
                In two days he would be marching  five hundred men up the throat and passing the Veil, on the edge of Louenite territory. There he would set up camp and keep guard for a few months, the second time this year. He had never commanded more than a few dozen before this peace-time. Controlling all these people was a thing he neither expected, nor wanted. When a High Lord calls...
                He closed his eyes, and for a moment, their faces appeared, small, red-faced and laughing like childhood. Opening his eyes, he sighed. A whole year, Allun, why couldn’t you have made it? You’re probably laughing at me, even now. It was useless to complain though. He would take his orders, do what he had to do. Yet I can’t help—
                “What’s this, I wake up hoping to see my husband’s face only to find he loves his brooding more than he loves me.” A hand slipped passed his neck, coiled around his chest, and a head propped on his shoulded.
                He turned and kissed her in reply. Even with the soft lump of pregnancy, he wanted her.
                “I do worry, you know. You haven’t slept in days.” He touched the concern wrinkling around her eyes.
                “I cannot sleep, my sweet.” He admitted, grudgingly. He inhaled her scent, memorising her.
                “I could have Khellum come bring you something to—“
                “I don’t need a Physician.” He hadn;t meant it to sound so harsh. He dropped his hand and looked back outside.
                “We only want to help—“
                “We?” The word fell from his tongue. “You’ve spoken to him already then.”
                “Yes.” Her voice had become level. “It just so happens I am having your child. I speak to him quite a lot and he tells me that stress is not good for the child.”
                He did not want an argument, not now that he was going in a few days.

The End

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