A/N: I'm currently experimenting with a style of writing called a "50 Sentences" challenge – you are given a table of fifty prompts and have to write one sentence to go with each prompt. Naturally, sometimes the grammar gets a bit flimsy, but it's a fun exercise. For 2011, I am writing a series of 50 Sentences challenges (four per month – or, if I miss a month, it will be covered elsewhere) covering many different fandoms and characters. Since I couldn't find a decent category to put the series in (this really isn't a crossover, so the crossover options are out), I am posting each entry separately in its own fandom. This is the tenth through thirteenth ficlets in the series – I'm doing something a little different and combining the four March tables (which I missed during March) into one fandom and making an overarching story or character exploration.
If you'd like to keep track of the series, there's an index in my profile listing the titles and fandoms of them all.
Thanks for reading!
Chronicles of Palaedra, Axeoth, 1267 AS. I have taken upon myself the duties of chronicling the legends and folklore of the world once known as Enroth, the land from which our ancestors fled during the Reckoning. Of particular note and interest are the heroes – the kings and queens, the soldiers and the warriors who did performed great deeds and were far greater than the sum of their parts, in the eyes of their people.
Where shall we begin? Is it possible to chronicle the entire history of a world, a world now destroyed and forgotten in the twisting paths of history? These heroes, these men and women, had once lived, breathed the same air as our ancestors, walked the same mountains and forests.
My own interests lie in the legendary Gryphonheart family of Erathia. The conquerors of that particular land on the continent Antagarich, they became known as wise and kind rulers. The downfall of King Gryphonheart is a myth still told today to those who are wary of the cleverness of necromancers. But it is Gryphonheart's daughter, Catherine Ironfist – once a Captain of Erathia, then Queen of the neighbouring Enroth – who interests me. Flame-haired and spirited, she single-handedly restored her father's kingdom from her enemies.
It is with Catherine and the Restoration of Erathia that we shall begin our tale.
Song of the Queen
Nicolai set a lamp in his window and watched the flickering flame, his practical side telling him it did no use, but his heart hoping his mother would see it when she sailed home.
When Catherine stepped foot on the blood-soaked, barren land of her country, she knew she would not live the pampered life of a royal for the many long months ahead.
The Commander bowed as he took his instructions from the queen herself – his role as the army's scout was an honoured one, but would likely get him and his men killed.
Sandro rolled the die with a skeletal hand and let it drop to the board: though he had been imprisoned by his own puppet-king, the plan had been set in motion and the alliance between Deyja, Nighon and Eeoful had been struck – Erathia would suffer greatly and he would watch gleefully from his prison as the humans were ensnared into the trap that would destroy them.
The servant ducked as General Kendal flung his goblet across the room – the most recent report of armies from Eeoful and Nighon steadily eating up Steadwick's backyard did not improve his already taxed mood.
Duke Winston Boragus licked his fingers free of his dinner while studying the map – taking advantage of Erathia's dire situation was far, far too tempting.
Haart considered himself a crafty man – he had, after all, hidden his necromantic allegiances from the greatest king in Antagarich – but even he had to bow to the skill which Sandro played the long game.
I should be grateful, Nimbus thought as King Vilmar placed the Spirit of Oppression above Gryphonheart's corpse, but this act is sacrilege to our kind – the Erathian King banished us in life, he should not deserve this honour in death.
The Commander could not say where his Queen's inner strength came from – she had already lost her husband to the Eeoful hordes two years previous, and now the very life of her country was threatened, but she continued to fight with a steady hand and a clear mind.
The druid's graceful smile never left her face as she surveyed the remnants of the two armies; raising her arms aloft, she twisted her wrist and ice exploded in the centre of the battlefield, impaling her remaining enemies.
Even with hordes of Nighon and Eeoful monsters snapping at their heels, stranger helped stranger as refugees of all classes fled Steadwick.
Catherine longed for sleep – her unconscious mind was her only escape from the destruction around her, but how long would it be until her placid dreams became nightmares?
In its long and illustrious history, Steadwick had never fallen – and it was Sandro who had the distinguished honour of setting its doom in motion.
Though it was stereotypical the world over to say elves were the greatest archers, it was the truth, and now Catherine desperately pleaded for AvLee's long bowed aid.
When Erathia burned, impenetrable darkness flooded across the Deyjan border, blocking out the sun for good.
"Steadwick is a loss I cannot suffer," Catherine shouted, one hand gripping her sword handle, "and I will not stop until my city is liberated or the Nighon Overlords slay me themselves!"
Other kingdoms required time and effort to train many troops, but Deyja took what others gave them – death was inevitable to all, and the Necromancers always profited.
Wisdom often proved itself over brute force, but when Gryphonheart woke to his undead body, all he could do was scream and thirst for blood – and Finneas Vilmar was the first to receive the force of his undead wrath.
The black dragon reared on its hind-legs and collapsed, felled by an Erathian arrow through its eye – moments later, the earth trembled and part of Steadwick's wall collapsed with a bang.
As Catherine walked the ghostly halls of her childhood home, she held her head high, refusing to shed tears for her broken homeland.
Dorell was plagued by demon scouts all the way from AvLee to Steadwick, their fiery magic and sulphuric stench snapping at his heels at every turn, but the news of King Roland's supposed location was too great to fail deliverance.
"I thank you for your assistance in our time of need, friends," the Queen said, bowing her head to the wizard and elf who stood in her court.
"Those bastards!" Catherine snarled when she discovered her father had been purposefully poisoned – a greater plot was a hand, but she could not see who pulled the strings.
After she spoke to Dorell and considered his message, Catherine went cold as she made her decision – all these years of waiting, of forcing herself to believe Roland was still alive, and now she had to treat his captivity in Kleesive as a Kreegan plot… she could not risk rescuing him herself.
With a heavy, unbeating heart, Nimbus fled Deyja and turned his eyes towards Erathia – the Necromancer's last hope for peace from the mad Lich king who now sat upon the throne.
The combined Erathian, AvLee and Bracada forces cut into Nighon's retreating back, slicing numbers off the underworlders' army in a glorious day of victory.
Though Steadwick was reclaimed, Catherine could not sit upon her father's throne until she knew he rested in peace.
There was no rest for the weary as undead forces swarmed the north-western border and Catherine turned her attention to the next leg of this prolonged war.
There were whispers throughout the camp how the Queen must have been possessed by some powerful magic or blessing – slowly, but surely, the impossible war was being turned around.
It had never fully sunk in that with the death of her father, she was Queen of two countries and a stranger in both.
Gryphonheart's undead form sat upon the Deyjan throne, giggling with mad pleasure as his fingers summoned an inferno to blast the bones of his errant Death Knights to hellish oblivion.
Catherine had not chosen to marry Roland – her father had arranged the marriage to convince her to give up her militaristic life – but now she loved him more than ever, despite his long absence… if she survived this war, she owed it to him and their son to march to Eeoful and wrest him from the Kreegans' grasp herself.
Lich King Gryphonheart's undead armies swarmed over Erathia's borders, carving out graves in the ground as they went to wreck havoc on the ruined kingdom he once ruled.
She had a necklace her father had given her for her sixteenth birthday; she wore it around her neck and felt her father's spirit was with her, even as she went to confront his undead being.
The Necromancers would be crushes beneath the united Antagarich armies, or else they would die and Gryphonheart would create an undead paradise of endless torment throughout the world.
The day she left to march into Deyja, Catherine found a pair of Nicolai's woollen socks in the bottom of her supply bag – she couldn't help but laugh and weep at the gesture, though it had been almost four years since she had left Enroth.
She had no words for her father's poisoner, the treacherous Lord Haart, save a single command – to follow her to Gryphonheart's Necropolis, survive the siege and face the king whom he killed.
When Sandro was released from his prison, there was nothing he could do to save his brilliant hard work – Gryphonheart threatened to destroy all, even the Necromancers… so much for his magnum opus.
The Erathian reserves were low; if they did not complete their mission to force back the undead hordes within three months, Catherine would not be able to feed her armies.
During their long march to Deyja, Catherine kept a tight rein on Lord Haart – she did not want to risk any treachery he could commit, though part of her longed to run him through herself.
Her father was dead – his reanimated corpse sat on the Deyjan throne and would not recognise her as a daughter.
There were days when she wished she had never strayed into the life of a soldier; but then she remembered she was much better at navigating a battlefield than a social function – her words were far more blunt than her blade.
The night before the final siege, Catherine dreamed she had to pull Haart by a chain-link leash to the court of her undead father to receive judgement.
Thunder rumbled in the purple-black sky the morning Catherine led her army to the gates of the eerily silent necropolis.
In Enroth, Nicolai stormed out of his music lesson, shouting that princes did not need music when their mothers could not hear them play.
In Steadwick, Morgan Kendal downed a bottle of wine, as so many men had done before him.
In Eeoful, deep within the caverns of their temples, King Roland lifted his bloodied and scarred face to the sound of violent clashes and howls… something had happened to cause the Kreegans either deep misfortune or ecstatic glee or both.
In Deyja, Gryphonheart sat silently on his throne, the madness fading from his empty eye sockets until he saw Lord Haart's face – then, he sprang, tearing at his murderer with skeletal fingers and plunging his sword into his beating heart.
With Haart's death, Gryphonheart was free from madness, but not from torment – Catherine spoke a prayer for her father as she shattered his undead remains, freeing his soul to paradise.
The leaves were changing colour when Catherine rode into the royal castle's courtyard, battle-weary and drained – peace had been achieved at last, but there was still much to be done… but for now, she would rest.
to be continued