Compulsory Disclaimer: The characters, locations etc. contained in this story belong to the makers of the games "The Settlers: Rise of an Empire", I claim only the artistic license to bend the Knights to my will and ruin their lives entirely.
All featured song lyrics, poems or other written material belong to their respective copyright holders.
Somewhat important note: This story was first published about ... three years ago, and its long overdue for some major updating. It's only due to my completely non-functional computer that I can't afford to replace that there hasn't been an update.
You'll find many funny language related errors and spellos in the current version; rest assured that I'm aware of them, thanks to Parchmentrose and her native British upper class proofreading!
Again, this is not the updated version. It's a slightly de-engmushed original version of the story, not the promised rewrite. Blame electronics and my constant lack of monies to replace them.
Author's Note: It is recommended that you read "Hopeless Sincerity", "Mathematics of Deceit" and "Folly of Flight" prior to this story.
You feel bittersweet when others win
You'd rather see them fall than gain a thing
You know you're too afraid to fail
You're not the one; you're not the one
It had been six months. Six months since the capture. She had thought herself to be invincible, but it was apparent that she was not.
The war with Vestholm had gone badly from the very outset. Not that was surprising to her at all; Her former sovereign's unquenchable arrogance made everything go inevitably wrong and it had been only a matter of time until Vestholm's forces had overwhelmed the notoriously undermanned fortifications of the Red Prince's empire. The Settlers of the towns had welcomed the invaders as liberators instead of resisting them as occupiers.
Her own efforts, ingenious at they had been, had proven little effective as they had been overshadowed by his lingering insanity and reckless ambition. She, his right hand woman and loyal servant had quit the field after her expedition to Janub had turned into a shambles.
Loyal – even the thought provoked a bitter smile, almost a sneer. Oh, she knew full well that her 'loyalty' solely depended upon the power that had been offered to her. Nevertheless, she had been loyal to the Red Prince and his dreams of empire – for a while. His considerations had been valuable and plentiful until it had become apparent to her that her own agenda could no longer be supported by her former master's priorities which were unlike her own.
Needless to say he didn't see it coming when Crimson Sabatt had decided that it would be more beneficial to her to ally herself with Vestholm's forces in time; a pure necessity if she didn't want to be amongst those annihilated by the raging war.
Six months since the war was over.
Six months in the confines of a prison cell.
She thoughtfully recapitulated the events that had led to her downfall: Trusting those mercenaries with the plans for the trebuchets – a grave mistake she definitely would not repeat given another chance. The stupid fools had the plans stolen from right under their noses. Too bad the powerful siege engines were easily used against her own city wall, and the main gate at that.
This time she did sneer. The irony of it all was not lost on her.
At that point, of course, she had still been entirely certain that her plan would work out splendidly in the end.
Let the eager Knights of Darion dwell on their short-lived success of capturing her, only to laugh at their faces once they realised that their own capital city of Vestholm was taken away from them by one of their own, defected to the Red Prince.
To see the look on their faces when she would nonchalantly stride across their former throne room as if it belonged to her. Oh how she would have savoured that moment, watching that nuisance of a knight, Lord Marcus, as he completely lost it.
"Marcus, stop!" cried Lady Alandra. Crimson Sabatt, struck by Lord Marcus' fist, tumbled to the floor from the sheer force of his blow.
"That's what I owed you for Fanshaw!" he yelled, but despite the blaze of fury in his eyes he ceased his attack. Alandra gave him an accusing look, then rushed to Sabatt.
"Figures," commented Lady Kestral, former bandit leader from Gallos, arms folded.
"Oh, you are beyond reason, all of you!" Alandra knelt down beside Sabatt to check on her.
Sabatt sneered, a mischievous look upon her face despite her less than favourable position. She sat on the floor as though nothing had happened and briefly felt her nose. It was bleeding, but not broken. Luckily, Marcus didn't wear his plate gauntlets.
"Indeed, Lord Marcus? You would blame another for your careless mistake? It was very unfortunate of you to fail to properly inspect the lance that was given to you, but there is hardly anyone else to blame but you, is there?"
"You …!" Marcus bellowed, agitated and about to jump at Sabatt once again.
"Marcus!" Alandra scolded, still kneeling beside Sabatt who didn't even acknowledge her presence. It was not that Lady Alandra enjoyed to assist the inveterate enemy of the Darion Empire, but it was her duty to ensure that Crimson Sabatt would not be harmed within their custody.
"I'd turn a blind eye, Lord Marcus, if you decided to go for her," rumbled a deep voice that belonged to Thordal, Viking of the Northern Realms and trusted member of Vestholm's royal court.
"What do we do with her anyway? Let's not forget she tried to kill you guys several times. Among everything else, that is," mused Kestral, her head cocked to the side as she observed the two women on the floor.
"Let us not forget, Lady Kestral," Alandra stiffly retorted, "that these are our Queen's orders and the prisoner is not to be harmed. Do behave like Knights of the Darion Empire for once!"
Sabatt could not help but chuckle. It was almost worth a bloody nose and her bruised ego to watch those models of propriety disgrace themselves by behaving like the mindless fools she thought them to be.
"Oh, come on!" Kestral rolled her eyes and spread her arms to emphasise her following words. "You can't be serious! After all she's done to you!"
Marcus especially had not forgotten his time as the Red Prince's 'domestic advisor'. Another sham; and while he had come to accept his own folly in falling for Sabatt's scheme he never forgave what had happened to Alandra.
The female Knight had by then checked on their captive and stood next to her as both got up. Her accusing glance fastened on each of the Knights.
"So, is there actually one among you I can trust to not try to kill Crimson Sabatt on the way down to the cells?" Her voice was dripping with acid.
The Knights looked at each other.
Kestral shrugged, Marcus was not an option, Thordal looked towards the ceiling and Hakim – well, Hakim was not currently in Vestholm, otherwise he might have been the most sensible of them all, next to Alandra herself.
"Oh, fine then. I'll do it myself." She sighed.
"I apologise for the behaviour of Lord Marcus," Alandra stated with another sigh as she led the amused Sabatt away, hopeless in her sincerity.
Regrettably it didn't look like she would be able to pay Marcus back for it.
Which was, in summary, her current dilemma. Sabatt had been content the first days of her confinement. It had been her intention, of course, to receive an audience with the Queen of Darion and convince her that really, her part in all of this was truly minor compared to her former master's, and surely a wise and powerful leader would understand that she had only been following orders. Of course she had, wasn't she but the unfortunate servant of an insane Prince?
Alas, Sabatt had only been admitted to see the Queen once and that hadn't been exactly … promising. That stupid Red Prince had managed to completely challenge the Queen's rule and thus momentarily ruined whatever chances there might have been for her to worm out of this.
So here she was, stuck in a prison cell for how long she didn't know and eventually understood that this was not going to change any time soon. Nor would any of those 'loyal' to her attempt to bail her out. Such was the downside of the ways by which she had ensured their obedience. How incredibly unfortunate, she mused.
No, not invincible. But not broken, too, she wouldn't give them that. If all she could do was remain dignified then she would, for as long as they decided to keep her here.
Her time would come.
She was Crimson Sabatt and she would not yield.