|Princess of Galnia
Author: amobojo PM
Jula has only know life in the savage land of Galnia with her loyalties dedicated to her homeland. But is the motherland truely as just and deserving of her service as she was led to believe?Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 4 - Words: 19,005 - Updated: 01-26-13 - Published: 01-25-13 - id: 3095413
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jula looked out over the northern land surrounding Fort Macadonna. She was perched high in a tree, hidden from sight. Smoke was rising from the mountains where many tribal fires burned, spelling danger to their enemies. She had not seen any activity other then this but she felt it was enough to tell her something was brewing among the tribes. Three days she had been watching, waiting for the arrival of Auken which would be soon. She had seen a hawk searching for food in the gray sky. Careful inspection of the bird told Jula it was indeed Smitta, a sure sign Auken was near.
Climbing down from her watch-tree, Jula made her way back to the Fort where the Sunnox were indeed waiting. They stood outside the Lieutenant's office waiting for their captain. She nodded to them, catching Talon's eye for a short moment before disappearing inside where she found Lieutenant Julius looking over a map of the mountains with Auken. To Jula, the Lieutenant seemed every bit a soldier. Strong with a set face that only seemed focused on his work. His blonde hair was nearly all white from age but he was much too stubborn to let his years slow him down. Though a difficult man, Jula liked him and agreed with Marcus that he was the best man to protect their most northern settlement.
"What news of the savages?" the Lieutenant asked, straightening up.
"Smoke still raises but no more of the Badger Tribe has been seen other then the seven that arrived a fortnight ago." She reported.
"Are you certain there is only seven?" Auken asked.
"Jula has been sneaking about the mountains and has kept a watchful eye upon them." Lieutenant Julius informed him. "They've been burning fires and beating their drums for the past week but no more has been seen."
"How did you get close enough to their village?" Auken inquired.
"There is a hidden path the tribe must use in times of need but they do not guard it."
"Do you believe you can find it in the dark?"
Auken nodded and dismissed her. She was not needed again until nightfall, giving her time to rest. As darkness set in, she led the Sunnox band to the base of the mountains where Auken gave his instructions. Save for Chalang, his men were to remain behind with the horses while Jula led Auken towards the Cougar Tribe's village. Using their hands and feet, they slipped up the mountain as the light of the fire grew brighter in the sky. With rocks to hide them, the three slowly pulled themselves up to look down upon the village. Three large bonfires burned in front of a long wood structure where the natives danced to the beat of the drums; round huts surrounded the area of the building; and the firelight played off a wall of rock that was the village's boundary.
"There," Jula pointed to the long house where two men had just emerged from. The one had long hair pulled back into a tail with a full beard to match; he wore red leggings and the skin of a mountain lion was about his shoulders. His brown hair seemed red in the fire's light and though he was short, he was bullish. This was undoubtedly Chief Quinnama. The giant of a man beside him was the one they did not know. Standing nearly two feet taller then the Cougar Chief, his hair was black with a short beard and mustache. His garments were of animal hide, stating that he was not of the Cougar Tribe.
"He is too young to be Oaktuc." Auken observed the giant.
"I have seen no one matching the Badger Chief's description but all the visiting tribesmen obey him," replied Jula.
"His son then?" Chalang ventured.
"Possibly. I have heard little of Oaktuc's offspring. Let's hope Lieutenant Julius has." Auken stated. They watched the tribe for many hours to confirm the number of Badger tribesmen. When the drums began to die down and the dancers diminished the three spies carefully made their way down the incline to the waiting Sunnox.
Morning light was touching the sky when they returned to the Fort. Julius was waiting to hear Auken's report of last night's events. Jula walked the Fort's wall with Sjurn watching the sunrise. It would be a clear day after days of gray skies. The smoke had ceased in the mountains, making the guards just as uneasy. "What is your thought of this activity?" Sjurn asked his lady companion as he scrapped his porridge bowl.
"I believe we are about to find out." Jula replied. She had spotted the six riders coming towards the Fort before anyone else on the wall. She called to a guard who went running to warn the Lieutenant. He and Auken soon joined the small crowd on the wall to watch the approaching riders.
"There's a giant with him."
"Cougar and Badger." The guards muttered among themselves. Once in plain view of Macadonna, the horsemen slowed to a stop. All at once they raised their palms to show they carried no weapons. "Now what do they want?" Lieutenant Julius wondered allowed to no one in particular before he signaled a guard to open the gate. Jula remained on the wall as Auken followed the Lieutenant down the stairs to greet the Chief. Quinnama rode into the Fort with two of his tribe and two men of the Badger Tribe behind him. At his side was the giant upon the back of an elk. They came to stop before the Lieutenant but they did not dismount.
"Greetings to you, Lieutenant Julius of Fort Macadonna." Quinnama spoke in Asdon.
"And to you Quinnama, Chief of the Cougar Tribe." Lieutenant Julius returned the greeting. "To what do I owe this meeting?"
"I have no doubt that you have had scouts out watching my people for it would make you uneasy or you would not have summoned the half-breed and his outlandish men." Quinnama nodded to Auken. "Nor would there be an army moving towards these lands." Jula was surprised by this though she should have known better. Quinnama had not become a great chief through ignorance. "I have come only to request safe passage for my kinsman, Oakbar and his men for they wish to return home."
"What business did they have here?" the Lieutenant demanded. It was a forward question but Lieutenant Julius was never one to beat around the bush. He didn't like formalities and hated long, drawn out processes.
Quinnama narrowed his eyes at the Lieutenant's snooping. He turned his head to the large Badger man but looked past him to the stairs where Jula stood listening. "Lady Jula, you have grown up well in the image of your father." Jula was startled by his words for no Galnian knew her to be General Cnea's daughter. "I once met you father many yeas ago. He was an admirable foe, carrying the same honorable traits as the warrior we wished well in his path to the other world." The chief studied the young woman for a moment as did the Badger Tribesmen. "You have Cnea's nose and mouth. Has anyone ever told you this?" he turned back to the Lieutenant whose mind was now distracted from what he had inquired. "Do I have your word that Oakbar and his men may return safely to their home?"
Lieutenant Julius seemed as taken aback at the Cougar Chief's address to Jula as she did but he was quick to compose himself. "If they leave at once." The Cougar Chief nodded in agreement and turned his stead towards the Fort's gates.
As he and the others departed the Fort, Quinnama bowed his head to Jula. Sjurn came to her side and watched the natives ride away. "Now how do you suppose…"
"My thoughts exactly." Marcus had always feared Jula's lineage being discovered by the Galnians but it was nearly impossible for the tribes to learn such information. He and Jula had even made sure that not even the half-breeds of Fort Nord learned this for after all General Cnea had slaughtered many Galnians. But how could Quinnama have discovered this information? Had there been some leak through a soldier or commander? Jula could not know and she did not tell Marcus this nor did Auken. Both knew it would bring the Governor more stress then he needed. But the concern haunted their minds as they watched the Badger Tribe journey out of the mountains to head back to their land in the east. Auken insisted that Jula return to Fort Nord with him as to be sure neither Cougar nor Badger tribe lay in wait. Their travels to the Fort proved uneventful, much to their relief. But even in the safety of her room, Jula still found herself dwelling upon the fact that Chief Quinnama knew her to be the General's daughter.
She removed a scroll written about her fathers achievements and works from her shelf. Cnea had been a respectable leader, demanding nothing but excellence from his men. He had never lost a battle even the one that claimed his life. His men had become so enraged by his fall that they were able to beat the Tribe of the Cougar into retreat. It was the only time Asda had a successful battle against the mountain tribe.
If the tribes knew she was Cnea daughter they would take vengeance on him through her.
Jula's eyes fell upon the sketch of her father drawn upon the scroll. Studying this she looked into the polished metal that served as a mirror, trying to see if she did indeed have her father's nose and mouth. But a drawing was not much to go on, and with a sigh Jula rolled up the scroll and returned it to its nook. As she did so her shutters opened and a man lifted himself into the room.
"Talon!" Jula cried more out of relief that it was not a Galnian as she had at first feared. The Sunnox man stumbled to his feet, turning back to close the shutters behind him. "What are you doing here?"
"We had no chance to speak during our travels and I could not go another night without the feel of your lips on mine." His forwardness made Jula blush, her concerns of a mighty Galnian chief knowing who she were instantly melted away. "Quinnama made me so fearful when he named you as Cnea's child. Let us hope the knowledge only goes as far as the Cougar and Badger Tribes."
"The most hostile of the Galnian tribes," Jula could not help but smile. "But I will not live in fear of it. Quinnama has probably known for many years yet he has never attempted to capture me."
"You are a brave one, Jula." Talon commented with a small smile. "I can only assume it is another thing you received from your father."
A smile bloomed upon her face once again at the flattery. "Many have said I am my father's daughter."
Talon stepped towards her laying a hand upon her cheek he studied her face with his eyes. "Any man will be blessed to have you."
"But not just any man could have me." She looked up into his gray eyes. "No ordinary man, that is."
"Certainly not," he agreed as he lowered his head to kiss her as a cool wind slipped through the shutters to snuff out the candles.
The sky had grown lighter but the sun had yet to peek over the horizon. In the corner room of the Governor's House, Talon and Jula lay in one another's arms, whispering as lovers would. Talon was telling her of his homeland where his younger sister was likely married to a clansman now, and his brothers have grown into strong warriors who farmed and protected their lands like their father before them. "You miss them greatly." Jula observed as Talon's eyes looked off, as if he was seeing Sunnoxia once again.
"I still hear my mother's cries in my dreams the day they took me away. I remember my father telling me to stay true to my homeland and always keep trust in the hawks. When a child shares a bond with an animal it brings the clan high honor. That is why my father called me Talon."
"And what is your real name?" For many years Jula had wanted to know this but had never known how to ask.
Talon looked into her eyes as if he were about to share a deep secret with her, "Lindt. It means eldest son."
"And that is why they took you? Because you were the eldest son?" Jula was recalling more for herself. To remember why it was him they took away to be a soldier.
"Any boy that was fourteen at that time was taken. They never told us why we were being taken or where we were going. The soldiers there simply do whatever they wish whenever it pleases them. I remember when I was still a child they came and killed the first five children they saw. They did this in every village across Sunnoxia. They never said why it had to be done."
Jula's heart sank at hearing these deeds her country men caused. "I can understand why you do not care for us. Asda has done you nothing but wrong."
"Not all Asdons." Talon corrected her, staring down into her green eyes. "We have found little kindness here but there are those such as you and Auken that we continue to fight. We will obey no other besides Auken, and we will stake our lives to protect him, and you."
Jula reached up to kiss him, laying her soft hand upon his bearded cheek. Soon after, the Sunnox slipped from her window just as the sun appeared upon the horizon. Though she had slept barely a wink during the night, Jula did not find herself tired. With Talon departed from her rooms, she rose to dress for the day. Her first task, like any other day, was seeing to her horse. Makan was a sole dependent to her when out in the rugged land and so she made sure he was well cared for, spending some time with him each day. It was there in the stable that Anca found her, tenderly brushing Makan's brown coat. "There is a rider coming towards the Fort."
Jula did not look up from her work. "How far out?"
"Um…the length of Fort Nord away." Anca guessed. Jula turned with a puzzled look at the girl. The half-breed had taking to keeping an eye and ear open around the Fort. It worked better for her then it had Jula for few paid her much attention. But the child did not know measurements, a skill Jula would have to remedy.
Summoning the stable boy to finish caring for Makan, Jula left for the Governor's House to greet the rider. She did not have long to wait. The messenger from the settlement Mag Tured came cantering into the courtyard a moment after her arrival. Seeing him surprised Jula (though she did not show it) for Mag Tured was to the southeast where the land was calm and peaceful.
The messenger dismounted and came to the foot of the stairs where he bowed to Jula before handing her the scroll. Servants came forward to tend to the man's horse and show the messenger to the kitchen where Conniya would feed him. Meanwhile Jula took the scroll to Marcus. He was easily found in the Council Room which now served as his office while the Senator occupied his rooms. He gave a glace up when Jula entered. He took the scroll and unraveled it. His brow creased as he read the message. He gave a sigh, indicating that he had finished, and looked up at the young woman who waited to hear the news.
"Farms near Mag Tured have been attacked by the Tribe of the Toad. Twenty are dead with four taken hostage."
Jula wrinkled her brow like Marcus, "But why? The Toad Tribe has not been hostile for years now. They barely venture from their swamps."
"I wonder the same. Perhaps another tribe has caused them to rile up but I cannot be sure. You'll go to Mag Tured to find out the why for me. If another tribe is involved I want the troops to know so they are not caught unawares."
Jula gave a curtsy of obedience before departing from the room. She readied herself for the journey in little time due to always having her things ready to go at a moments notice. She found the messenger in the kitchen, eating his fill as Conniya bustled about, giving orders to her daughters as they prepared a late breakfast for the Senator.
"I will be returning with you as troops follow behind in our wake." Jula informed the rider. The man only nodded in return. She soon learned he did not speak much in general which resulted in a silent journey to the settlement of Mag Tured. The two departed company at the house of the town's overseer Leozio. Leozio greeted her kindly though Jula could see—being use to the covering of emotions—his surprise that the Governor would send a woman.
"When will the soldiers arrive? I must give some assurance to the scared farmers." Leozio asked though he might as well of said 'Please tell me you are not the only thing Governor Marcus sent' for those words dripped in his tone.
"In a week's time depending on the climate. I am only here to learn why the tribe would attack and where Captain Romice can find them."
"I am sorry I cannot answer either of your questions. We have seen little of the Toad Tribe in the past years and have been thankful for it." Leozio seemed as if he spoke the truth yet the situation did not sit right with Jula. She fished about the settlement but learned nothing. The next day she rode out to the farmlands. Keeping a watchful eye on the forest, she came upon the first farm. The man and his wife were nervous due to fear of tribesmen coming for their home next. They told Jula of the families that had been murdered and the four young women that had been taken. They pointed her in the direction where the main attacks had occurred and it was there she traveled onward.
Jula past farm houses burned to the ground. It was a sad sight that spoke of the horrors that had happened. It caused her to drive Makan onward at a quicker pace so that she may learn the reasons that had brought these devastation.
She arrived at a farm that had escaped the attacks. The farmer was found in the barn, tending to his cow. He rose to greet Jula, eyeing her masculine garments. Once she introduced herself as a messenger of Governor Marcus, the farmer grew warmer to speak with her. Welcoming her inside where his brother was found working on a bundle of arrows. "Is the Governor sending troops?" the brother asked when he had been informed of who the woman was.
"Yes, they will arrive in a week."
"We don't have a week!" the farmer thundered in sudden anger. "We don't know when those savages will attack again. We could all be dead by the time they get here!"
"I'm sorry but it takes time for a war band to journey here from Fort Nord. What I don't understand is why the Tribe of the Toad would begin attacking the settlers."
"It's not really a matter for women." The brother informed her.
"Yes but it is a matter for the Governor." Jula told him with narrow eyes which changed their tune.
"About a month ago my brother, Ramth, and Bliro were out hunting when they accidentally shot at little band of tribesmen. They took offence to this and attacked. My brother and the other men escaped after having to kill six tribesmen. Shortly afterwards the first massacre happened." The farmer explained.
Jula had doubts that this story was the full truth but she had no proof of it. Having to leave it at that, she journeyed on to the place where the attacks began. She did not know why she felt the need to see the spot for the bodies of the six dead tribesmen would be gone but her impulse willed her to see it. She found it easily enough, for it was marked by an Asdon arrow lodged in a tree where it would remain until someone wished to retrieve it. She rode about the area for sometime, not sure of what she hoped to find. More then anything she was milling over what she had learned of the event.
As her fingers and toes became numb from cold, Jula brought her stead to the swamp where he could drink before turning back to Mag Tured. Looking out over the frozen swamp, Jula's mind continued to dwell upon the matters at hand until movement distracted her. In an instant, she had retrieved her bow from her quiver and notched an arrow. She was right in doing so for a few yards away stood two men dressed in the rude garments of the Toad Tribe. Their brown hair was decorated with rows of braids, and black tattoos lined their faces. One had a long beard and a hooked nose. It was he who raised a gnarled hand with nails that resembled claws pointing it at Jula, addressing her in his own tongue. "Fire the arrow maiden and bring more devastation upon your people."
The other Galnian kept his spear at the ready, a snarl upon his lips. "Show her no mercy for they showed our women none." His brown eyes burned with anger and hate. The bush of tangled hair and braids that was tied at the nape of his neck made him seem even more frightful. But it did not cause Jula to allow her hand to become unsteady. She held her bow firm, prepared to take these men down if she had to.
"Your vengeance is served. Leave it be." She spoke in a hard tone. Long ago Auken had taught her the language of his mother, and it proved ever useful.
"Our vengeance will never cease when it is our women who are mercilessly murdered!" the second Galnian thundered.
"We have killed none of your women." Jula stated.
"You are wrong, maiden." The bearded one informed her with a calm voice that was more frightful then the angry one. "Men of your large tribe murdered our women who were working here in the swamp. The act will cost your tribe dearly and it is your women that will replace the ones we've lost."
The angry Galnian came at Jula, forcing her to release her arrow. The man fell back onto the ground as the arrow pierced into the shoulder joint. Hurriedly Jula mounted Makan as the bearded tribesman charged. The horse proved quicker, taking to a gallop as Jula climbed on. The spear he threw missed her by a hair. Thus she escaped but what's more, Jula discovered the truth to the attacks. She took no time in returning to Fort Nord so that she could report her findings to Marcus.
The results were not as she had hoped. Standing before Marcus and Senator Anthony in the Council Room, she told of what she had learned. As she spoke the Senator grew angrier until he boiled over. "Enough!" he cried, leaping from his seat. "Galnian word cannot be trusted. They dared to cross the Empire and for that they will suffer."
"It was us that provoked them by murdering their women." Jula reminded, her own anger rising.
"Women or men, children or elders. They all are defying the Emperor by taking up arms against us."
"I must agree with the Senator, Jula." Marcus spoke solemnly, causing the woman to become speechless. "What those men did, killing helpless women, is indeed wrong but it does not condone the tribe for attacking, killing, and kidnapping others. Captain Romice's men will continue on to Mag Tured and sort the problem out."
"By wiping out the tribe?" Jula dared to ask.
Marcus met her challenging gaze with hard eyes. "No such orders have been given." The order may not have been said but Jula knew that did not stop such an action from happening. She stormed from the room, needing to escape from Marcus and the Senator. How could they hope for the tribes to sign peace treaties when settlers were allowed to kill tribesmen who were of no threat? Eliminating the Tribe of the Toad would not bring forth peace in Galnia. Did Asda not realize this?
In the privacy of her room, Jula thought of this. Her father's sword gleamed in the light of the sun coming in through her window. General Cnea had been highly remembered and honored for his iron fist over the Galnians. He had never been one to show mercy when a tribe dared to attack a settlement or rise up arms against a band of soldiers. Would her father have agreed whole heartily with the Senator? What would his opinion be on the half-breeds and the dealings of Hokite? A tear appeared in Jula's eye as she thought of the answers.