|The Four Brother War
Author: Nayrael PM
The throne has been stolen from its rightful heir by his three envious brothers. Prince Darimir leaves for another Kingdom to seek help and one ambitious small noble decides to use the situation for his own ambitions. This s a story of a civil war between the four brothers and their supporters.Rated: Fiction M - English - Fantasy/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 19,065 - Reviews: 2 - Updated: 11-22-12 - Published: 10-13-12 - id: 3065288
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The Four Brother War
1 - The Final Hours
The final hours of my old life...
At that time, my noble house was not far from the bottom of power, its pride protected solely by the fact that I had a good position in the royal court. We did not need to be reminded that our position was temporary, but the people around us did it nevertheless and some, who hated and envied us, plotted our deaths.
Who could have blamed me for feeling desperate? Some may not believe me, but I do not blame myself for doing what I did.
Still, if I could go back to the past and give myself one advice it would be... enjoy another year of what you have. For truly, in face of desperation it was still a very comfortable life...
Winder, 429 of Later Golden Age, a month before the new year
Eliar Aslin-Alin and his fosterling Agnar Revonhart played chess in the early morning while most of the city still slept. Since Agnar will tomorrow reach his fifteenth year of life and will thus return to his real father, this is their last game of chess before Agnar ceases to be his fosterling. Eliar usually wins in this game but Agnar wowed that he will be victorious in their last game.
Agnar was serious: Eliar felt like he played against the entire court that together thinks up different tactics to beat Marshall Eliar.
On top of that, Agnar didn't look tense as Eliar would have wanted him to be.: his young fosterling actually looked like he was bored...
"I see it is not going so well for you." Agnar mentions the obvious.
"I don't know boy, either I am getting old or I am deadly tired."
"You just wish you were tired so you could have an apology." Agnar smiled.
Eliar makes his move. "Alright, than I am getting old." Agnar sent him a vile smile. "What? Nature calls youngster. You will be like that as well one day."
"We will see about that..." Agnar replies like it is something that can be avoided. He also makes his move.
"For the love of God, I never met a more arrogant youngster!" Eliar makes his move. "And I knew hundreds of youngsters and was one myself as well."
"There is always the first time... gramps..." Agnar replies with a move.
"You will regret this soon enough... baby boy." Eliar counter with his move.
"That is still far away..." Agnar replies with words and and a move.
"Not that far. Here, check-mate." Grampa Eliar wins and sends his fosterling a vile smile.
Eliar rises up from his seat. "Yes, I also used to hate it when the old farts were right. Don't worry, you will love it one day... true, not that soon." He pats Agnar on his shoulder and smiles.
"You practically cheated Marshall... is that also how you win your battles? You chat with the enemy general until he realizes that his army has been slaughtered?"
"If he is stupid enough, why not?" Eliar laughs it off and pours himself some tea that a maid left on the table while the two of them waged war on a board. He was pleased to see that the tea was still warm.
"Are you suggesting that I am a fool?" Agnar asked, but sounded entertained rather than insulted.
"If you wish so... everyone is a fool boy, even our beloved King."
"Your beloved King." Agnar corrected him. "I am the Prince of Horlon, not a vassal of Winder father Eliar."
"True, somehow I always forgot about that. Truth be told, few days ago I even forgot that I was a Marshall of Winder... it happens!"
"Yes... I remember that day... the entire court ended up in chaos."
Agnar rose from his seat and went to the balcony. Visit the Marshall of Winder in his private chambers and ignore his balcony is, unofficially, considered a blasphemy.
Prince Agnar decided to change the topic. "You have a good view from here, Marshall Eliar. Even some landed Nobles would envy you."
Eliar joined him on the balcony. "True, the city is pretty... and especially this view. What a victory in chess against a proud King can bring to a man..."
"Chess is a mighty weapon..."
"Oh, that's for sure..." Eliar nodded. "And you have no idea how much..."
The view of the city truly was gorgeous. The Winder Palace was enormous, fitting for the ancient, enormous city which stands on peaks of three mountains (connected via bridges) and the chambers of Marshall Eliar Aslin were located pretty high on that castle thus giving him a good view on a big part of the city.
Winder is a city built even before Falkarons settled on this continent... which was long before both Vulverians and Kantarians arrived. The Kantarian legends say that in ancient times Angels used to live here and while it may sound ridiculous, one view on this city of marble and fantastic architectural wonders makes doubting it ridiculous.
Of course, beauty was not the only asset this city had: it was militarily unconquerable. The enemy armies would need to climb countless steps and travel through countless bridges and the city's fortifications were built in such a way that archers would have trouble finding a place they can't attack. Furthermore, mountain peaks can only be accessed via the palace and the great amounts of fertile lands on them allow the city to have inexhaustible amounts of food so even tactics like sieging until the enemy grows hungry is out of question. If not for the Tian Empire and their inhuman legions, Winder would be in good position to create an Empire that would stretch over half of Kantara. Even like that though, Kingdom of Winder is one of the largest realms in Kantara and the recent victories against the Tian Empire made its authority and prestige even larger.
Of course, it is only impossible to conquer by external enemies... just as Eliar got reminded now that he saw the infamous Knightly Order of the White Lion marching through the city towards the Royal castle "And another Knightly Order has arrived to see your wedding tomorrow sonny."
"Never enough Knights... but I would prefer if Lords and Dukes came, not mercenary groups."
"Not any mercenaries... Knights!"
"Same thing. The only thing that makes them different from normal mercenaries are their holy books and rules while the humble mercenaries have their holy whores." Agnar leaves the balcony and starts leaving the room. "Anyway, arrival of the Knights means work for you which means that you will have to meet them in an hour or two. I'll leave you to your preparations."
"Give my greetings to your wife Agnar." Eliar yelled.
"I won't. I don't want Lady Alvania to misunderstand your countless greetings and start thinking that you fancy her."
"Well I don't say that I don't fancy her... she is a cute girl." Elia joked.
"You have a wife gramps. Let me have one as well." Agnar waved before leaving Eliar's chambers.
Excellent... and now the Knights... why do they always come in morning hours when I want to rest?
And what will I do now. It is morning and the entire court is sleeping... well besides the servants but I don't care about them.
In the end, Agnar decided to walk through the palace. The royal palace of Winder was enormous and the artistic masterpieces in it were not something you can get used to. If I am lucky, I may even meet an awake soul.
The part of the palace where he was currently walking through belonged to House Aslin-Alin whose head, Eliar Aslin, was currently the King's Marshall, the title he earned by his military successes in a series of wars. Eliar and his family, as well as Agnar Revonhart who was his fosterling, lived in this part of palace.
Since he knew this part of the palace as his own pocket, he decided to move somewhere else but...
"Oh, Agni." He just had to meet Elina Aslin, Eliar's older daughter. "You and father played chess again?" she asked in a tired voice, showing that she had probably just woken up.
"Yes... and what are you doing in a sleeping dress in middle of the hall?"
"I couldn't sleep. As for why I am here... well, the stupid old maid forgot to bring me my clothes so I went to mother so she could borrow me one of her own dresses." Agnar just now noticed that she was holding a dress in her arms. "And now I am going back to my room to change."
"Why did you go yourself instead of ordering a maid to do it for you?"
"Because she is nowhere to be found. Come on, I told you a hundred times about how she has a tendency to drink and fall somewhere in the middle of the night. If my mother didn't like her, I'd change her for another maid... a sober maid if possible. Anyway, where are you going?"
"I am going where I am going. Fare-"
"If you have nothing better to do, please do keep me company." she ordered the Prince of Horlon and started to walk towards her chambers.
Knowing how stubborn this woman can get, Agnar just shrugged his shoulders and decided to follow her lead.
"Say, you are reaching your fifteenth year tomorrow right?"
"Yes... the same question you are asking me every day."
"What can I do, I never cease to me amazed at how little time passed and I am used to you as if you were my brother. You were eleven years old when you came, no?"
"Eleven and a half, yes. Thats three and a half year of living with you and your family."
"Yes... and tomorrow we are celebrating your birthday, your wedding and in a week you are going back to Horlon to your father."
"My father is the heir to the throne of Horlon and I am his heir. Thats where I belong." Agnar answered coldly. Elina thought of him as a brother, but Agnar did not bond so easily with other people.
They arrived at the gates to her chambers but she didn't enter. Instead, she set her backs against the wall. "And? Will I be invited to your wedding?"she asked him in an angrier tone. The whole court knew that Elisa Aslin and Alvania Vunilus don't exactly fancy one another. The reason was Agnar whom both of them liked... or Elina just wanted to help her House, which has nothing but Eliar's temporary title, by marrying the future King of Horlon.
Agnar cared little for her reasons tough. No matter what goes on in Elina's head, Alvania is the one whom Agnar loves and he doesn't like Elina's tone when she speaks about her. "Is this where I am supposed to ask ask if you would like to come?" he asked coldly.
"No." She answered with the same tone. "I just don't understand what you see in her."
"So what, I should be seeing something in you?"
Unfortunately for Agnar, Elina didn't look insulted at all. "I am not speaking about that. The King's blood Arturia Winder, Julia Arturias or even Pela Glenhart who asked for your hand half a year ago... all pretty, young and politically useful."
"Ever heard about love deary?"
"I did... but I am not sure if Alvania can even understand what that means."
"Yes, the envious little maiden knows everything."
Elina ignored his remark. "She is a devil in human skin." She said with an actually worried tone. "...and what I fear is that you might even know that..."
Agnar has gotten tired of her and her blabbering. "Please forgive me, but I am in a hurry. This sweet talk of ours woke up a wish in me... a wish to catch her while she is still in bed. You get what I mean?"
Agnar turned without waiting for her answer... and then she suddenly hugged him from behind. "I don't care what woman you will marry, as long as it is not someone who could destroy you..." she kissed him on his cheek and let him go.
Agnar walked quickly away from that annoying woman. He also lost his wish to meet anyone.
Elina enters her room and closes the doors.
"How romantic... are you imitating one of your love novels or..."
The intruder in her room was her older brother, Kalovar Aslin. He laid on her bed and read some book with golden covers.
"I rarely read novels." Elina answered and sat on a stool. "And the love novels make my stomach hurt."
"For now, lets say that true... this book you asked for, Children of Wolf and Falcons, Volume 3, was not a love novel as I hoped... but some boring historical book." Kalovar threw her the book.
"It may be history book to you but to me it is the only love novel that my stomach considers safe." Elina answered as she opened the book.
"How can a book about Vulverian nobility be... ah yes, you are still obsessed with brothey's fiance." Brothey was a nickname that Kalovar gave to Agnar... Elina was not sure if he was aware that Agnar hated it.
"I am a girl madly in love." Said Elina with some kind of pride. "And now, where are..."
"What the hell do you expect to find there? Some ancient legend about how her family fucks with witches? They aren't our cousins from House Aslin-Voral sis... very few are like them."
"I don't really expect to find anything. But I just can't get that woman out of my head. Who knows, maybe I even manage to find something interesting about her."
"You are stupid, you know that?"
"Yeah, I think so too." Elina closed the book as she ain't in mood for reading. "But you can also feel something is wrong about her, no?"
She didn't mean it in metaphorical way. They say that Aslin-Alin's have a sixth sense that lets them feel demons in human souls, the power they supposedly have as the natural enemies of Aslin-Vorals who use demonic magics.
"Agnar doesn't feel right either to be honest."
"But he won't get better with her company... maybe I am just imagining it but I fell that-"
"I love Agnar like brother... BUT I also respect Agnar like a brother." Kalovar turned serious. "He is the one who decides what he will do with his life. And may I ask, just what can you do there? Will you kill her if you don't save him before he returns to Horlon?"
If I need, I will...
Kalovar acted like he could read her mind. "You know, I am starting to think that you are crazier than Brothery's fiancée."
"Maybe I am."
"If you ain't, I am afraid you might become. I saw drunkards more rational than you."
"It is a risk I am ready to take."
"Well, you are mad to at least some extent..." Kalovar rose from her bed and starts to walk towards the doors. "Don't ask me for services like these again. If Agnar accepted Alvania like his wife, my... OUR duty is to accept her as our sister." He went out, leaving Elina with her book... and irritating thoughts about Alvania as her sister-in-law.
Alvania Vunilus Okarius Remus was the full name of the young Vulverian woman who sat on the fountain of one of Winder's underground parks.
Although the light of the sun did not reach this place, it was by no means dark: eternal white angelic fire was burning beyond the park.
White roses were growing everywhere, even on the trees that were growing in this place. All the green and white was, together with stone path and numerous glamorous fountains and decorative pillars, creating an image of heaven on earth.
Agnar was standing behind one such pillar, silently watching the young woman to whom he has fallen in love with. Alvania was the daughter of one of weak aristocratic families of Rem Republic and was sent as a sacrificial goat to heal the wounds caused by Rem's treachery against Winder in a war against Tian Empire that happened not long ago. Agnar and Alvania got close and, thanks to his influence, relations between Winder and Rem got better.
"Don't be selfish my love." Says Alvania, noticing that Agnar came. "Come so I can see you as well."
Aganr smiled and started walking towards her. When he got close to her, he didn't say anything but gently pulled her to himself and gave her a kiss.
After few minutes, Alvania pulled back and sat on a fountain again.
"I thought I would find you in your room, but ends up it was empty." Agnar said as he sat by her side.
Alvania put a hand on his shoulder. "When you dream, I dream. When you are awake, I am awake." Than she raises her hand and puts it on his chin. "You and me, we are one person..." than she kissed him. "...one soul. There is a reason you knew where to find me."
"You left a white rose on your bed. Whenever you want me to come here, you take care I find it. I don't see how..."
"White rose for the Underground Parks, a cup for the City Garden, knife for Elina's company, book for the library, wooden necklace for my room, a candy for your room..." she put her hands around him. "...and you know the meaning behind every one of them, even when you see them for the first time. You think Kalovar or anyone else could find me like that?"
"Oh, are you and Elina also lovers? I know with certainty that she could find you as well using those symbols."
"She can, she can..."she throws him a naughty look. "After all, we are also related, just like you and me."
Agnar smiled to that remark. "I am not sure love is what she feels for you. I'd rather say it is hatred."
"Love and hatred are two sides of the same coin. Both make us think about a certain person. Both make us seek them. And both makes us feel passion towards the person who gives us those feelings. And you..." she stabs her nails into his skin. "...did you forget the hatred you felt for me once? Did you forget the beauty of that feeling... and the beauty of finally sleeping with me?"
Memories... Agnar grabbed her and pushed her down so that now she was the one below and he was above her. Hitting stone caused pain, but pain was what she loved.
"Yes... you killed my best friend and made me drink his blood mixed with water, making me think it was wine."
"And meat I offered to you, you have thrown into my face... although it was animal flesh... either way, I couldn't see your beautiful angry face."
Agnar doesn't answer and instead started to tear her dress off.
"But at least you didn't hide your face while you were stabbing into me."
"Raped you mean... tortured, avenged..."
"Passion is passion, no matter if the source is love of hatred."
"Two sides of the same coin." Agnar smiled.
"Yes... the hatred being the prettier side. What would I give to see Elina like that... would you be jealous?"
"I am the only one who would accept you for a woman you are, you fool."
"True my love.. at least for now, you are the only one."
"Elina? I'll kill her before I let a woman steal my place."
"It isn't she and please don't kill her... I just want to see her tortured face, thats it."
"Face but not the whole woman... that would be even worse. So, who is my rival?"
"I won't say it." She smiled. "May curiosity torture you, may jealousy collect and when you find out, let me feel your loAAAAHHH."
Damn knights got here earlier then I expected! And let me not start on their courtesy!
Eliar didn't even have time to change into more fitting clothes when three Lordites (name for the title of the six leaders of the Order of the White Lion) entered his chambers.
"Well...come to my personal chambers gentlemen... sorry, but would you mind introducing yourselves?" Eliar tried to show that he was only partially courteous towards his guests in golden armors and white decorations.
"I am Ser Vilard Tervin, youngest of the Lordites." The youngest one, whom Eliar wouldn't give even twenty five years, introduced himself first. Lines on his face tough did not show pride and arrogance of youngsters (unlike a certain fosterling) but wisdom and strength. I don't even want to imagine through what this youngsters went in his short life.
"Ser Alfred Morvan in your service." An older man of Eliar's age introduced himself next. He was bald and his face was pretty scarred. Not even most desperate and ugliest beggar girl wouldn't want you, no matter the price.
"Garlos Harvin." Without many words the oldest of the present Lordites introduced himself. He had a long beard, connected in two braids. Actually, it was surprising how someone with such simple tongue can be so richly dressed: rings on every finger, three swords of different lengths (and colors: golden, crimson and silver), a ruby necklace, jewels that hang on his hair and beard... even the clothes he had looked as cheap as the glamorous throne of Winder.
A skilled youngster, nastiest looking warrior I have ever seen and a Duck with ridiculous decorations... what a fascinating circus.
"And I am Eliar Aslin-Alin, Marshall of Winder. But you probably already know that."
Harvin answered that one: "Yes, we know. We were told that we need to speak to you before the King would meet us."
"Aha... do you want to drink something? I have..."
"No." Harvin cut in, short and clear.
Young Vilard added: "What Ser Garlon wants to say is that we are in a hurry and that we would like to finish our business here as soon as possible."
"I guarantee you, drinking some whine won't slow down our conversation. Besides, even if it did to that, the King doesn't accept any guests until noon."
Harvin did not want to give up. "He will meet us!"
"I said NO GUESTS." Eliar repeated. "Please sit, good Knights, drink some whine or mead, lets finish our business and we can all go on to our more important duties."
Harvin doesn't seem to have been satisfied: he turned around and left the chambers, silently muttering something under his beard.
"Maybe I should have offered him something more expensive?"
"Please don't mind Ser Harvin." Young Vilard sat and starts to apologize for the old man. "As you know, the Order of the White Lion was involved in a small conflict on border between Winder and Tian not long ago. Many of our good men died and Ser Harvin did not take well to it... and neither did he take the ceasefire that came soon after." Vilard took both of his swords and put them on the table. "Alfred, show courtesy by leaving your swords on the table."
Alfred, who already started walking towards the Famous Eliar Balcony, returned and put his swords on the table. Then he started walking towards the balcony again.
Order of the White Lion were a Knightly Order made of six thousand soldiers. Most of the Knights of the White Lion were dressed in light but strong (and expensive) armor of Silverine (a rare and supposedly magical material), at least two short-sword and a crossbow (arrows also made from expensive Silverine). These Knights did not value raw strength but agility, reflexes, tactics and discipline. Eliar heard rumors that, without fear and sweat, they walked into a battle against two times larger army filled with heavy infantry and cavalry. From around six thousand Knights, only three hundred died in that battle. From eleven thousand enemies, three hundred of them did not die.
Many call their armies Stormbolts: flashy, quick and deadly. They kill what they need to kill and quickly move to another battlefield.
"I suppose that your Ser Harvin is the reason for your sudden and rude entrance into my chambers?"
Ser Vilard nodded once, drank a bit of whine and started: "Also, we heard that it is a tradition in Winder to let the Marshall take care of beds and food for visiting armies. If that is true, we'd like to ask you for those services."
"Yes, yes, it is true... not like Marshall's have anything else to do but manage hotels..." Eliar takes a book he held near the table and opens it. "Six thousand men I presume?"
"You presume correctly." Vilard confirms.
Winder was an enormous city and since Vulverian Ages it was a tradition for the city to host armies in its own streets (rather than leave them outside the gates). Many wealthy citizens manage hotels where soldiers can get all the luxuries that guests to Winder deserve.
Unfortunately for Eliar, since the inside armies were a big threat, the crown liked to keep these Clients in check and it was the Marshall of Winder who got to decide where one got to stay and make notes on it.
"Good... I am afraid we will need to split your army a bit. Since eight more Knightly orders and few wealthy noble families arrived, we can host four thousand soldiers in the Western City in few hotels and two thousand will need to make do with the Downtown. I really hope you have people who won't mind sleeping near the common townsfolk."
"The soldiers will not mind it." Alfred commented as he stole a view from Eliar's balcony. Vilard just nodded.
"Excellent." Eliar made a satisfied smile. At least these ones do not complain, unlike certain other Knights and Lords... "I'll now make needed documents and you will be free to go."
"Take your time, nobody will rush you." Said Vilard. Eliar was sure he saw Vilard smile for a moment, just before he hid it by drinking wine. What unnatural courtesy...
"Anyway, where are the rest of the Lordites? Hope you don't mind me asking."
"They are touring the city." Replied Alfred and laughed.
"What my friend wants to say is that this is our first time in Winder. You can't blame us for wanting to check as much of this place as we can."
"Yes... especially Harvin can't wait to check dresses for wealthy, old ladies that are being sold in the Uppertown." Alfed said and laughed loudly. Vilard just drank some wine, probably to hide his smile again.
Marion Lorvin sat in the family library, reading Argalian Folklore. He didn't pay much attention to it tough as he was actually awaiting a visitor.
Without any knocking, his visitor Kalovar Aslin-Alin walked into the Lorvin Family Library. He didn't even give a proper greeting and instead just made a foolish smile and waved with his hand.
"Sit." Marion pointed at the stool in front of his desk. "I am apologizing for the lack of whine, the maid brought me an almost empty bottle." That was a lie: Marion didn't want to share a good drink with this fool from the lower nobility.
"Cold as alway Mary." Kalovar sat, using a nickname he made up. "Argal... does that have anything to do with..."
"No, it doesn't." Marion loudly closed the book. Than he took out another book that was sitting on the table. "Here, I found our key."
Kalovar took the book and smirked when he read the title. "Tales of the Jolly Bard Kornelius..." than he opened the book and started checking through it. "Isn't this just some big fairy tale about a bard who pillaged a tomb of some fictional dynasty?"
"Yes, but it also more than that. Did you hear about a Thieves Guild called Beiran?"
"Who didn't hear about them? The most infamous thieves in Kantara who suddenly just disappeared."
"Yes... two centuries ago they used to break into most secretive and best defended places in Kantara. But what is important is that they used to have a specific way of communicating. Read the first letter of the last six chapters of that book."
Kalovar started reading „N... a... r... Narieb... turned around, we get Beiran!"
"Best thieves of Beiran wrote books and hid their secrets and techniques into them, thus making them accessible to their guild members and other ambitious thieves without anyone noticing." Marion than took out a pergament from his pocket and handed it to Kalovar. "Here you have all you need to get the important informations from the book."
Kalovar smiled. "Sounds interesting... I must confess, my blood is boiling from excitement. Yet you are still cold and calm like usual."
"We are breaking into the treasury of the very King of Winder in order to steal some of his mighty artifacts... it is better to stay calm." Marion lied.
"On other hand, fire in one's heart is needed to get results." Kalovar says something stupid and rises up. "I'll read this today and tomorrow we will finish our plans. Give Argal my greetings." He adds and quickly walks away from the library.
Of course, the fool left the doors open. Marion gets up and closes them himself and than walks into neighboring room. His father, Antor Lovrin, sat there and read his own book.
"Seems like the fish took the bait." He said to his father.
"Young fool. Seems like Eliar didn't put any smarts into his head. Hmph, what else can you expect from such low nobility."
"I still think this is too risky. Should the King not trust us..."
"The King will trust us!" his father yelled. "Eliar's lies may have clouded the mind of my friend once, but he won't manage to do it again!"
Marion sighed but he trusted his father: that Antor Lovrin and Klovan II Winder were friends once was common knowledge... as is the fact that Antor betrayed his friend, a betrayal Eliar revealed to the King which completely changed the relationships between these three men.
As Antor's son, Marion knew the truth was a bit different: Eliar, who back than was Antor's bodyguard, betrayed both of them and created a lie that turned two friends against one another... which resulted in Eliar's and Klovan's relations blooming to such extent that Eliar became the new Marshall after the old one, Anthor's brother Tritan Lovrin, died. Fortunately, Lovrins were loyal to House Winder for generations so they were able to stay in the palace, tough they no longer held any prominent titles.
Now, Antor is seeking vengeance and to fix the broken friendship while Marion wants to restore House Lovrin's reputation. Kalovar Aslin, the foolish son of Marshall Eliar, will be a perfect pawn.
"So? When do the two of you intend to start the robbery?"
"Tomorrow... I'll make up a reason to hurry up the plan."
"Wise... Eliar ain't stupid as his son and the longer you delay, the higher chance he notices the trap."