Full Summary: Mornhavon is dead, and Estora broke the marriage between herself and the king. Karigan finds herself running from provincial soldiers when she escapes the castle. Why did she run? And why are the soldiers after her? Where will she go and will the king ever find a wife and produce and heir? Read and find out.
**All characters belong to Kristen Britain**
Chapter 1: After the Battle
Karigan was panting for breath. Her bloodied sword was in her hand and her braid was disheveled because of the battle. Bodies of dead groundmites, mutated Blackveil wildlife, and even other Sacoridians that were part of the Second Empire were lying around her. The smell of decaying bodies and blood was engulfing her nostrils.
She realized that, as she let her eyes wander around her, that the Sacoridians lost many, and that those of the best training or those that were just lucky were still standing among her. One of those few was the king himself. He was walking amongst the dead, lifting helms, looking at those who fought for him and for their beloved country. He was wearing his steel armor that she herself had put on, had tightened, checked over, and then checked again, just to make sure that nothing could get through it.
There were others that Karigan saw as she gazed at the battle field before her. She could see Captain Mapstone, Garth, Alton, Tegan, Fastion, Donal, Brienne, Travis, and Willis. And Ben was quickly moving through the bodies, checking the man's vitals and dressing wounds.
"Water?" Karigan jumped at the voice and accidently brought her sword back up until she realized who was beside her now. King Zachary was looking at her concernedly holding out a waterskin towards her.
She shook her head, "No, you need it more than I."
"Please," he replied strongly, "I want you to have it."
Karigan gulped anxiously at the feelings that had stirred when he said that and then glanced at the waterskin. She inclined her head in silent thanks and hesitantly took the waterskin from him. She lifted it to her lips and swallowed three large gulps before returning it to the king. "Thank you," she said to him. Then, carefully stepping over the dead, Karigan walked away, hoping to calm her racing heart. She found herself walking up a hill where there were less dead. And on top of that hill, she found Westrion himself and his steed Salvistar.
Westrion gazed at her as she slowed to a stop at the crest of the hill. And then she turned away from the death god and looked over the battle field. She crossed her arms over her chest as he came to stand beside her to look over the bloody field himself. "Is Mornhavon actually dead this time?" Karigan asked him.
"Yes, he'll be a problem no longer," he replied, sounding very . . .powerful.
She looked at him, "So why are you here?"
Westrion turned away from the battle field and began to walk back toward Salvistar, as he said, "Because I wanted to give you this." He reached under some blankets that were attached to Salvistar and grasped something silver. And then he pulled the object out gracefully, not even bothering Salvistar with the move. It was a sword; and a beautiful one at that. The double edged sword was made completely out of shining metal that Karigan couldn't identify. The grip of the sword was wrapped tightly in thick, black leather and the pommel was a large, dark green emerald oval. And the guard was of two winged horses. He held out the grip end of the sword, silently offering her to take it out of its scabbard. When Karigan did so, she found that it was perfectly balanced for her; it almost felt like an extension of her arm.
Karigan swung the sword around a few times before looking back up at the death god. "Thank you," was all she could say.
"There's no need to thank me Galadheon, you've done enough already," he replied. He looked up into the sky and sighed, "I'm afraid that I must be going; there are always souls that need carrying to the heavens, so I'm needed."
Karigan inclined her head after she replaced the sword back to its scabbard and took it from the death god. She stepped back and watched as Westrion gracefully mounted Salvistar and rested his hands on the stallion's flanks. He paused, and then pulled something else out. "Here's the belt for it," he said before she took that from him as well. She stepped back again as Salvistar reared up onto his hind legs and leapt up into the air. She watched as they became small dots in the sky until they were no more.
There was tugging on the shoulder of her shirt and Karigan looked to see Condor playfully nipping at her. She smiled slightly and turned to gently stroke his cheek with her free hand. She and Condor had been separated shortly after the battle against Mornhavon began. And Karigan was glad to see that he was well and unharmed. She took up his reins and began her decent from the hill back to the battle field and eventually toward the Sacoridian camp, where she hoped to get the armor that she wore off, and a camp meal; which consisted of biscuits, dried meat, and water. The meal wasn't much, but it would always do for Karigan.
She stepped carefully over the bodies as she moved through the bloody battle field; with Condor's reins in one hand and her new sword and belt in the other. Ben was still working his way through the wounded healing major injuries and wrapping up the wounds that were less serious. Many unhurt Sacoridians were lifting the dead onto makeshift stretchers and were carrying them away. After a while, Karigan entered the Sacoridian camp and tiredly handed a horse-boy Condor's reins, "Make sure that he's fed and rubbed down good," she said to him.
"Yes Rider Sir," he replied, leading Condor away.
Karigan ran her hand through her hair and walked further into the camp, heading for her own tent that was strategically placed pretty close to the king's. She preferred to be closer to her fellow Green Riders, but ever since she was made the Knight, things had changed. It almost seemed to Karigan like the king made her the Knight for reasons other than her good deeds to the kingdom and its king. But there was nothing that she could do about it now. She had lands anywhere in the kingdom and in Coutre Province, but her only real home was in the port city of Corsa in L'Petrie Province.
She reached her tent and silently went inside. Karigan gently placed the new sword and its belt on her makeshift bed and immediately went to the wash basin. She dipped her hands in and splashed the water on her face to help rid her face of the blood. Then, she used the towel nearby to wipe the water off of her face, leaving watery blood stained on the towel. Karigan sighed and reached up to start undoing the braid in her hair.
Right when she shook out her hair and was beginning to run a brush through it, one of the king's servants came through the tent flap. She asked, quite annoyed, "What can I do for you?"
"The king wishes for you to join him in his tent Rider Sir G'ladheon," he said.
"Is he in urgent need?" Karigan asked.
The servant gaped at her for a moment, "No."
Karigan let loose a string of wharf curses, which made the servant's eyes widen. "Fine, tell him that I'll be there in a moment," she told him. And then she turned his back on the servant as he went through the tent flap again. Karigan finished brushing her brunette hair and then began to undo some of the armor that she had on, taking that off eventually.
Finally, with a sigh, Karigan walked out of her tent, turning right to head directly in the direction of King Zachary's tent. Soldiers were moving about busily, some were carrying stretchers, some were delivering herbs for treatments, and some were even carrying the weight of those who could walk, but barely. She smelled the burning flesh of the groundmites and the other Blackveil animals and she spotted the carts that would carry the dead in their caskets back to their loved ones.
When she reached the king's elaborate looking tent, she knocked on one of the tent posts. She heard from inside, "Come in." Karigan parted the tent flap and entered to find King Zachary sitting on his bed with all of his armor still on.
"Don't you know that you have servants that are paid to take off your armor?" she said, putting her hands on her hips.
King Zachary watched her, and then he stood up and said, "I do know that, but I want you to do it, if you don't mind."
Karigan looked at him for a moment, and then she shook her head, "Whatever his majesty wants." She walked up to him and started to arduous task of removing the king's armor. The same armor that she put on merely hours before.
"I saw you going up on that hill after the battle," the king said.
"What about it?" Karigan asked, not taking her eyes off of her work.
"What were you doing?" he asked.
"I was having a conversation with a certain some . . . one," Karigan replied, thinking of whether or not to call Westrion a someone or something.
Karigan finally looked up at him momentarily, and then asked, "Do you really want to know?"
"Yes, I would like to know," the king answered.
Karigan looked back down, trying to hide the fact that she was touched that he cared so much, "I was talking to Westrion." She undid one of the buckles on his armor.
"Oh," he didn't sound surprised, "So, what did he say?"
"He told me that Mornhavon is completely gone. And then he wanted to give me something," Karigan answered.
"What did he give you?" now he sounded surprised.
"A new sword," Karigan answered removing the armor on his back.
"You sure have a lot of questions, don't you," Karigan said, slightly smiling.
"Well don't you think that a king should know why the death god came and talked with his Knight?" King Zachary asked.
Karigan swallowed the rush of feelings when he said that she was his. She cleared her throat, "Well I don't really know why. Just a gift I guess." Karigan removed the last piece of King Zachary's armor and then stepped back, "I'm all done."
"Thank you Karigan," he replied.
"Don't," she said strongly, "Don't say my name."
"But I―" he started.
"NO! Stop you are the king, and I am the commoner. We can never be in a relationship like that. Why can't you get that through that thick skull of yours?"
"Because I love you," he whispered, grasping her arms tightly.
Karigan tried to fight her way out of his grip, but she was only able to get only one of her arms free. "Let me go," she said dangerously.
"No Karigan, I'm tired of seeing you walk away from this. At least tell me if you love me," he said.
Her heart crumbled to pieces as she accidently screamed, "I don't love you and I never will!" Karigan stared up at King Zachary with a racing heart, gasping breaths, and a broken heart. She felt the king's hand slide off of her arm and fall limply to his side. His crestfallen look broke her heart even more than it already was. And she silently cursed society and the different classes. She wanted to tell him the truth so badly, but she was not able to do so. Instead she had broken his heart and lied to him.
King Zachary turned away from her and faced his bed. He said, "You're free to go back to your tent now Rider Sir G'ladheon."
Karigan swallowed the sob that threatened to slip through her lips and bowed. And then she walked back toward the tent flap, stopping just before it. A tear slipped out of her eye and slid down her cheek, and she whispered so that only he could hear her, "I lied. I love you Zachary and I always have." And then she pushed back the tent flap and disappeared before the king could stop her from leaving.
Well, tell me what you think of the first chapter. Reviews are always appreciated and wanted after every chapter. Thanks.