NOTE: The chapters have been updated and replaced. (The Anecdote has been taken out). They have been proofread and edited, thus dramatic changes have occurred. I apologize for any inconvenience. The title of the story will also be changed soon. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to PM me. :)
"Are those…Marric, an Iron Knight and a grown man and he cannot pick up his own dirty socks?" Lady Leandra asks me as she disgustingly tosses the socks into a woven basket.
"Men and boys, they are all the same you hear me? I tell you, stay away from them. It is for your own good." She warns me as I keep laughing. "Oh, that brings a tear to my eye." I chuckle while wiping a tear away. She places a small box into my hands, "Here, your mother has been asking for these. I was finally able to find them." She claps her hands together to clear away the dust from her hands. "I'll give this to Mother as soon as possible. I have a lot of chores to do today, but I can squeeze this in for Mother." I say.
"You tell her I said 'hello' and I miss her." She gives a short pause. How is she nowadays?" She asks. "Mother is doing well. I hope she still isn't mad at Luke for going off to war soon." I say. "Oh dear, that must be heartbreaking, but what about you, are you all right with that?" She asks. "I have to admit, I am actually…I just wish he could take me along." I look down at my feet. "You are a very skilled, young girl, Zonitia. You'll be eighteen soon won't you?"
Yes, that's right. It's almost the end of summer. Fall will be here soon. "I-I am not as good as Brother, or Father. It is not proper for a young lady to turn to Knighthood instead of books and practicing tea ceremonies." I laugh, my heart sinking sorrowfully.
"Oh, but that is what makes you who you are, a true Vladmiyr." She smiles at me turns me towards the door. "You should be heading back now. I do not want you suffering any consequences for your absence." She opens the door and the afternoon sun begins to progress towards evening.
"Ah, yes. I should be going now. Have a good afternoon, Lady Leandra." I bow my head to her and she does the same. "May the Maker watch over you." I walk off with the box in my hands, smiling up at the sky.
In the lands of Greycliff resides Castle Vladmiyr, my home. The slate-gray castle looms over the village and stands tall; its towering feature gives it a strong appearance to represent this monarchy and good people. There goes the Baker selling those loaves of bread. I smile at the old man as he offers me a free piece of his sweet bread. And the man that pushes his cart of pumpkins to market. "Good morning, my lady!" The Tailor lady waves at me. "Good morning!" I answer with a smile. Outside of the castle, the market is wonderful and the people are very nice. I have always wondered, however, what was beyond this kingdom's territory.
"Zonitia!" I hear my name and I look up to see someone running towards me. It was the courier, Ky. "Oh, is there something wrong?" I ask. He's leaned over, catching his breath and I could see he ran a long way for this urgent message. "Y-Your mother…Your mother is…" He pants heavily and slowly tries to collect himself. "What about her?" I stand rooted to the ground, gripping onto the box tightly as I wait for his answer.
He swallows hard and finally stands up straight, taking in a deep breath. "Your mother wishes for your return. It is important that you do so immediately." He says with control and perfect performance as if he never ran here at all. Ky is one of our best couriers after all, only sometimes he can worry me. I sigh with relief that she wasn't in any danger or the message wasn't anything bad. "Did she ask you why?" I ask. He scratches his head to think and shakes a no. "She really didn't say anything." He gestures for me to walk ahead first. "If so, then let us make haste." I turn to a slight run, careful with the box in my hands. "Wh-what? Wait! I-I just ran from the castle." He complains but I continue to move on. "Please wait for me, Lady Zonitia!" Ky calls from behind me. What could it be that Mother wants?
I take the short-cut to the Barracks, passing the Courtroom, but at the corner of my eye I see my father in the room with two other men.
I step back and peer inside but I kept behind the doorway. I was quite familiar with one of the guests, but I didn't recognize the other man.
He wore shining ivory armor with a coal black cloth around his waist along with a red leather belt and his weapons hung sturdy. He was fully dressed in body armor and chainmail, but he had no helmet. He appeared to be a little older than my father. He had a rough cut moustache, short dark hair and tan skin. He held a strong appearance and was definitely not from around here.
I see the man turn to me and I quickly hide behind the wall. "Oh yes…that would be my daughter," I hear my father after a short pause. "Pumpkin!" He calls that stupid nickname he's given me when I was a kid and I feel a little embarrassed.
I walk into the room towards my father. I approach cautiously but my curiosity bested me and my current duty was immediately forgotten. "Arl Julian you remember my daughter, Zonitia?" I glanced over at the Arl of Luveria and he gives a tired smile. "I see she has grown up to be a fine young woman, pleased to meet you again, my dear." He says. "As to you too, Arl Julian" I answer, nodding my head. "My son Leroy asked of you, perhaps I should bring him along on my next visit." He suggests and I was struck off guard by the question. "Leroy is a few years younger than I am." I reply and he only laughs. "As you get older the lesser the years will matter, a lesson for you, dear." I wanted to roll my eyes but instead I shrug my shoulders.
"I doubt she will be interested, Julian. My fierce girl has a mind of her own these days, Maker bless her heart." Father remarks and I scowl at him. "Hmmm…it's no doubt because you've trained her as a warrior, how unique." The Arl replies.
"I was about to send for you but it seems I had been occupied with the issues of my troops being delayed. While your brother and I are both away I'm leaving you in charge of the castle." Leaving me in charge?
"Wait…What? Where are you going? Are you sure?" I ask shockingly. "I'll be in charge of Luveria while Julian, your brother and his troops are marching to Eustray. A small token of the force will still be here and you must keep peace in the region. You know what they say about mice when the cat is gone correct?" My father jokes and I shake my head a little as he chuckles to himself.
"Also, there is someone I want you to meet." He holds his hand out to the stranger, "This is Ser Cedric."
With respect, I remembered my manners and quickly I addressed the man. "M-Messere." I hesitate to give a clumsy awkward curtsy to the guest. "Please, there is no need for that." He chuckles and saves me from doing that idiotic gesture.
"Cedric is a Sabre, Pumpkin. We rarely have the pleasure of meeting one in person. Julian was saying how he was at such a disadvantage with someone of this stature." Father introduces me to the man and I had to agree with the Arl. A person with such caliber deserved certain protocols but immediately I was ecstatic. "A real Sabre in person, a guardian from the legendary order stands in front of me!" I gasped. "Now this is something I don't come across very often." Cedric is surprised of my small outburst and I blush a little.
"I've read a few stories that have mentioned the Sabres, but to meet one in real-life is unbelievable. Yet here one stands in the flesh." I only know so little about the Sabres therefore I silenced myself after the Sabre chuckles with either uneasiness or amusement.
"Cedric is looking for recruits before joining Julian and his fellow Sabres in the south. I believe he has his eyes on Ser William." Father explains. "What about Ser Leander? He is a very skilled man and he has grown so much the last time I have met him." Julian recommends. "Ser Leander?" Cedric asks.
"What?" I spat at the Arl and he looks at me in shock.
"If I might be so bold, I would suggest that your daughter is also an excellent candidate." Cedric looks at Father and the words slowly processed into my mind. A Sabre? Me? "Honor though that may be, this is my daughter you are talking about." My father steps in front of me, as if he was shielding me from receiving such words. "I think I'd rather like that idea." I mutter to myself. "I've not so many children that I would be glad to see sent off to battle. Unless you intend to invoke the Conscription…?" My father asks the Sabre who only shakes his head. "There are other recruits out there, your lordship; this is not an issue I will force."
My father lets out a sigh of relief and turns to me, "Pumpkin will you ensure that Cedric's requests are fulfilled while I am away?" he asks me and I happily agree to it. "In the meantime, find Luke and tell him to prepare to head off with Julian."
"Of course, Father, but…is this really a Quake?" I turn to ask Cedric. "Yes, are the Sabres certain this isn't some abyssal raid?" Arl Julian asks the Sabre. "No zoarkdemon has been spotted, but with my entire soul, this is a Quake." Cedric explains. "Rimedi is close to ruins if this Quake is kept up." Julian says.
"Alright now, Pumpkin, you may speak with the Sabre after you find your brother. Cedric, Julian and I need to speak alone for now." He rubs my head and I scowl at him angrily. "Yes, father, but I'm not a little girl anymore." I say through gritted teeth.
"Zonitia?!" I hear my name being called and I swing around, seeing Ky entering the room. "I finally found you, why are you not with your mother?! Do you know that if I do not show up with you she would feed me to the Fyurors?!" He almost wanted to shriek out those words and I had almost forgotten my duty. "Oh yes! I-It was nice meeting you, Ser Cedric! I hope to see you at dinner!" I bow to him on my way towards the door and soon turning to a run, unable to hear what the Sabre said.
The guardsmen pointed out my mother towards the Barracks. She's there? Guardsmen walk by in pairs or triples as they head off to their duties. I open the heavy double doors to the main room and found Mother. "Mother!?" I say loudly. She was speaking with two other noble women, until her eyes meet mine.
"Oh, my daughter is finally here. Now we can discuss this issue much thoroughly," She places her hands on my shoulders after I approach the adults. "Zonitia, you remember Lady Daffe, from the banquet last weekend?" She turns my body to the grey haired woman with dramatic purple eye shadow and red lips. "Er, yes, I do." I hardly remember that night, mainly because I had no interest in it. She smiles at me and then to my mother. "And this is Lady Isabelle." Mother turns me to the other woman with dark chocolate brown hair, dark brown eye-shadow and perfect almond colored skin. She was a really beautiful woman. "It's nice to meet you." I nod my head to her and she does the same with a lovely smile. "What a beautiful daughter you have. She would definitely be a perfect suitor for Isaac." She says to Mother. Suitor? I look up at Mother with a concerned look.
"Wh-what…Mother?" I stutter on my words in horror. "Yes, my son, Isaac. You must have met him last weekend. Do you remember him as well?" Lady Isabelle asks. She calls for her son and I see him by the servants, flirting happily away with them. Actually, I don't remember you at all.. He was dressed in a formal red uniform with gold embroideries and gems.
Isaac had the charming, sharp handsome features of prince charming, masking underneath his charisma was a fake heartbreaking bastard. He is the type of boy who had nothing better to do but chase any big breasted girl around all day or insult those who were below him.
"Zonitia Rhea Vladmiyr," He walks up to me and gives me a to-die for smile. I played a long well, using the wit I learned from my lessons. "It is an honor to finally meet the Teyrna of Greycliff's daughter. I have heard much about you." He bows and I only stand there, but Mother forces me to curtsy. He then eyes me, scanning my body from head to toe and I felt a need to take a bath from the disgust of what I felt. I am sure you have heard about me.
"I'm sorry but I'm not looking forward for any marriage or anything at this moment." I say as briefly as I can, waving a hand. "Now, now, darling, you would have to sooner or later; it is your duty as the only daughter of the Vladmiyr lineage that you get married to another noble. You must keep the title to your children after you." Mother says, patting my shoulders, but I step back a little. Who said I was going to have children? "I want to explore the WakingSeas, Mother. I want to duel in daring swordfights and fight the abyssals next to Luke and end the Quake for good." I whisper loud enough for only her to hear and she becomes angry, but realizes her guests are still around. "Oh my," Lady Daffe gasps, overhearing what I had said. "I apologize. You three must be busy around here. Shall we continue this another time?" Mother asks.
"Yes of course, another time, dears." Lady Isabelle says pushing Isaac away whose attention was immediately distracted by another one of the house servants. "We shouldn't bother you at the moment. We shall continue again tomorrow, maybe in the Green Room?" Mother agrees and they negotiate on a meeting place to discuss this issue further more.
Mother sighs as she watches her guests leave, then turns to me with crossed arms. "Come." She walks off and I follow like a puppy. "It is improper for a young lady to be thinking of war rather than studying your lessons." She says. "Is this what you called me here for? To set me up with a young man-boy I don't even know?" I ask angrily.
"Oh no, it was not for that. The matter is about Luke." We walk outside towards the outside Halls. "Brother?" I ask, keeping up with her fast pace. "He will soon be departing for war. You should see him off before he leaves." She says, turning to me.
"Father wanted me to find Luke actually. Oh, did you hear about the Sabre?" I ask her. "Yes your father mentioned something about that. You haven't gotten it into your head that you want to be recruited?" She slyly asks and I laugh nervously. "There's enough here at the castle to occupy you. You shouldn't be thinking of such things. The softer arts may help you land a husband after all. I don't need you chasing danger like your brother" She explains. Softer arts?
"I know it is difficult to stay in the castle and watch others ride off, but we must see to our duties first as the women. You understand that don't you?" I question my parent's rules and regulations. My mother was strict and very disciplined while my father and I had similar tastes. "Yes, we'll have to cope with it." I sigh. "…I will be going to see Luke now." I walk pass her.
How amazing and lucky Luke is. He would be like the heroes in the stories I have read about. He would be able to charge into battles, destroying Abyssal as if they were only toys. He would conquer the lands and marry a princess…oh wait, Luke is already married.
I walk up the stairs towards Luke's bedroom. "Do you have to go, Father? When you come back will I get to use a sward?" I could hear Kyle in the room. "That's sword, Kyle. Don't worry, Son. When I return, you would become a strong young man, promise me that will you?" Luke asks. I knock on the door, waiting until it is open for my invite. "Come in." I hear Vivian and I enter.
I see Luke knelt down in front of Kyle, Vivian standing next to her son and husband. "Well, if it isn't my dearest sister!" Luke stands up. "Mother informed me about your departure." I smile. "Ah, yes…I would have felt very sad if you weren't there to say goodbye." He says. "Father has sent me to tell you that Julian will be heading off tonight…I wish I could go with you." I look at my feet
"Understood, sister and having you fight beside me in battle would be a sight to see wouldn't it? The Vladmiyr siblings battling beside each other to end the abyssal horde." He chuckles and I had to smile at the humor. Kyle walks towards me jumping up and down excitedly. "Auntie, are you going to teach me how to use a sword?" He asks. He is so adorable. I could not take my eyes off his bright, big blue gaze. "Take that dire rabbit. Fall before my lucky sword, Justice!" He swings his arms around as if he wielded a blade in his hands.
I hide my laughter and Vivian was not happy seeing her son doing that. "See what you have done Luke?" She looks at my brother.
"What did I do?" He was shocked by the remark.
"Of course I would, Kyle. You are my beloved nephew, after all," I kneel down to rub his silky brown hair and he laughs happily. "Your family sometimes pains me, Luke." Vivian sighs.
"Oh…there's a Sabre here looking for a recruit." I stand up, looking at Luke. "Really, even before the soldiers go off towards the Shredded Wylds? I would recommend Ser Leander for that." He chuckles. "Julian said the same thing." I mutter. "I'm only joking; my little sister does have a little crush on the older man now does she?" He gets me into a head lock and I angrily elbow his stomach. He grunts in pain and I shove him away from me. "Th-That is not true, how dare you say such things!?" I argue, blushing.
"The sun is setting soon. You should be finishing your packing." Vivian says. "Oh yes." Luke turns to me. "Take care of my wife and Kyle for me, Sister." He grabs my shoulders. "Why can't you take me with you?" I ask, slouching a little. "I just can't. Don't forget how to use a blade, blades could kill or protect." He warns me. "I will, Luke." I say quietly.
I left their room so Luke can spend his last moments with his family. I walk outside towards the StoneGarden, where Greycliff Embrium Roses grow. They are a bright, ivory rose streaked with sapphire blue designs and they are my favorite flowers in the world of Athynia. They grow in all seasons, no matter how hot or cold, they will grow perfectly and blossom well. "Zonitia!" I hear my name call from the distance and I turn around.
The moment our eyes met, my face grows hot and my heart pounded against my chest. "M-Messere!" I bow quickly, hiding my blush. L-Leander is here. Why?! I can feel his approach inside my soul and my physical reality. "You don't always have to greet me formally. It makes me feel a little lonely." Leander laughs. "W-Well…my mother scolded me about being more lady-like earlier and that it is improper for a young lady to turn to weaponology and war than to study physics and poise." I grumble, finally standing up straight. "But…I find you proper and lady-like anyway." He compliments and I still feel my blush, knowing it wasn't going to leave as long as he was around and I pretend to rub something from my cheek, hiding it.
"Oh…thank you." I say. "I think it is normal for a young lady to think that way, but…you are a noble." He stands next to me to look at the Embrium Roses. "Did you meet the Sabre?" He asks me. "Oh, yes! Cedric!" I say, turning to him. "I think Cedric is going to meet with you sooner or later. You were said to be a good candidate." I say happily. "Really?" He asks me with an exciting voice.
"This is quite thrilling. Me, become a Sabre? It's like a dream come true." For a twenty-three year old acting like this around an almost eighteen year old…he was rather strange.
Ser Leander Windgate, a man with excellent knowledge on weapons and formations of military ideas all burned into his mind and body.
Leander drafted himself into the Iron Knight chivalry a few years ago to provide for his family. He is a kind and brave hearted person and if he was of nobility…what would it be like between us? This is all I know about his past anyways, from what I heard. I never really asked myself.
"It has been a couple of years since we first met, hasn't it, Zonitia?" He asks me as we take a stroll towards the back of the Castle, where the kitchen, the Dining Hall and the servant's corner were located. "Yes…twelve years already." I answer. What a strange question to ask. "It has been a long time…it has been really fun hasn't it?" I smile at his words. "Really? Is it because how well you are treated here? Or is it the food and household?" I chuckle. "No…actually, it is because of-"
We hear a loud scream coming from the kitchen before he could finish, but I react quickly and we dash towards the clattering sounds of pots and pans. We can hear the head chef, Nera, yelling at her workers. "What's happening here?" Leander asks. Nera turns around angrily. Her workers cower in fear in a corner. "You! Your filthy warhound has broken into my food storage once again!" She points at me. "What? No! He's a good boy!" I argue.
"That hound is nothing but trouble around here." She continues. "You don't have any proof that my dog just broke into your storage." I say. "Oh? Go see for yourself then, my lady." She holds her hand out towards the food larder and I walk towards it. "Get back to work, stupid elves." I hear Nera shouting. "They are like you and I, Nera. You sound like a magister of the Sylvre Imperium. They have a job; they are not slaves, but servants." Leander says to Nera. "I don't care! Just get that thing out of my kitchen!"
I enter the storage room, seeing my white Fyuror warhound, staring at large wheat bags full of rice. "Heal boy!" I angrily say. He only growls at the bags and it gets louder each time. "Bandit!" I raise my voice a little and his ears finally perk up and he turns to me, wagging his tail happily, but then, he goes back to growling at the rice. "Is something wrong?" Leander asks as he hurries into the larder. Bandit's growling grows.
Then, we hear a clatter. "What was that?" I ask, grabbing the handle of my twin daggers around my waist. Leander takes out his sword, ready to attack anything that would strike first.
It was silent and I examine every corner, every crack that would shuffle or scurry. I grip onto my daggers and Bandit barks. I see a giant shadow dash out from the rice bags. It was a giant rat and its red eyes glare at us. "There's more." Leander says. I can hear so much more of the critters. They appear out from the dark shadows. They are unafraid of humans and will devour our bodies if they are hungry enough, of course, they travel in packs, just like abyssals. "Damn it!" Leander grunts. "It bit me."
I stab my dagger into a rat's skull, kicking one off the floor and Bandit pounces after the rat. Blood stains the floor, our clothing and weapons. It was a small massacre of dead rats. "They…won't be happy cleaning this up are they?" I ask. "I don't think so either." We both look at Bandit. He cocks his head to the side, panting like an innocent puppy. "Will you clean this up?" I ask him. He barks and soon he begins to consume the rats while we wait for the place to look normal again.
For a while, the storage room was finally clean. "You must be so tired Bandit." I scratch my dog's head and he wags his tail happily. "We should tell Nera she had a rat problem in her storage room." Leander says. "Wouldn't that scare off the servants?" I ask. "Better that than have disease carrying rodents or an angry bat." He opens the door and waits for me to walk ahead.
The kitchen was busy like it should be everyday. The elf maids were cooking under Nera's command while she checks the texture of the dishes and the taste. "We have solved your problem," I speak to her. "Good. Keep your animal out of my kitchen next time." She says walking towards us. "Oh, I hope my flour isn't all over the place." She mutters. "You had a rat dilemma, which is why Bandit was in there." I say. "Did she say rats?" One of the elf servants asks. That simple word created disaster. Dishes were dropped, pots were left on the burner to burn, and food was left in the open unattended. Everyone runs out in fear, except for Nera.
"Look what you did now. You scared off my workers." She crosses her arms. "If it wasn't for Bandit, you would've had a bigger crisis." Leander says. "Yes…you're right." She sighs, looking both ways. "Here you go, Bandit. An apology, but do not speak of this to anyone." There is always a negative and a positive side to everything. Even the purest heart in a person could turn corrupted and horrid. Nera is kind of like that. She is a cold, strict old woman but she can be soft.
She hands Bandit a left over slab of meat and he enjoys it to himself. "Even after cleaning up in there, he's still hungry?" I ask Leander as we walk out of the Kitchen room. "He is a warhound after all. They have quite an appetite." He laughs with me. "You should go speak to Cedric before he goes off to bed tonight. I have to see Luke off soon at the gates…and I'm sure my father would like for me to see off Julian too." I say and give a little shiver. Leander smiles at me and we look at each other for a few minutes before I shift my eyes to something else.
"I should get Bandit cleaned up." I walk off towards the StoneGarden. "Good night." He says. "Good night." I answer. You…would probably leave Greycliff soon to become a Sabre, Ser Leander.
"Oh! By the way," I hear him and I stop, turning my head to look at his distant figure. "Don't let your mother set you up with that fool, Isaac! He's a sack of shit. There is someone else better for you anyway!" He laughs. "Thank you…I'll keep that in mind!" I shout and shaking my head a little. I wonder…why am I so attracted to this fool?