Welcome back to Maledicturs Terra. This is a Chain Story between myself and @lex-zaiya, meaning that we each write the parts alternatively.
Mary sighed and seemed to sink into her throne. If there had been many onlookers, she might have tried to keep a more stately posture. It was only her children, the Revenant - Mortis, the old Wizard Adiran and Noxus, who Mary had become close friends with.
Guards were stationed outside the throne room. The people inside this room alone would be able to take on an army on their own, even the Prince and Princess were armed and now, unfortunately, experienced in battle.
Mary thought for a moment how she felt that she was a failure to have children who are war seasoned at their age. The near brushes with death that her children had suffered still haunted her.
It weighed on her heavily that the ghosts of Dragonshold had already haunted her children and now it seemed that the darkness in Mary's family would come to visit them as well.
She realized that everyone was still waiting for her to explain. "Do you know about the Green Meadow wars?" Of course there would be a mixed reaction.
The twins nodded and Adiran only smiled, while Noxus shook her head. Mortis answered with a resounding "No."
"Right. I don't suppose you would stay current on recent history while in the crypt." Mary said, looking at her children's ancestor.
The armored figure stood implacably. His helmet and armor generally covered every part of the ancient King's body. Mary was thankful for that. It was hard to concentrate around a knight who was practically a walking cadaver.
Magna spoke up, impatiently. "My apologies mother. Let me explain to Mortis and Noxus to get them up to speed." The Princess proceeded without waiting for Mary's permission. "Before mother and father were married, the two of them were involved in a massive war that lasted around four years where Dragonshold and Clarprati fought over territory in Dragonshold's north. Eventually, peace was negotiated by the Kings of that time and mother and father were arranged to marry each other."
"So this Clarprati is on the Kingdom's norther border?" Mortis asked. "Then why has it taken so long for the Queen's bother to travel the distance? And why did he not send aid?"
"Actually Clarprati is not on our border." Adrian spoke up. "To the North East there is the Kingdom of Skeppshamn and..."
"Skipshavn!" Mortis interrupted. "A seaside village on the Icy North sea!"
"Skeppshamn is a great Kingdom with one of the largest fleets of ships in the world." Mary said, her eyebrow arched.
"A lot happens while you are dead Mortis." Adiran said glibly.
"Perhaps." Mortis replied. "But this does not make sense then. Is this Skeppshamn not on our northern border then? How does Clarprati feature in all this and how did they come to make war against our Kingdom?"
"Well..." Noxus interjected. "I suppose it has to do with the cursed swamp. No-one can go through it so a nation that wishes to expand would need to go around this."
"We've been there." Magna said.
"We have?" Adrian asked. "Not with me!"
"Everyone keep quiet!" Mortis roared. Seconds dragged out as the various members of the meeting stared at the Revenant. Mary felt bone tired.
Mortis came to stand before Mary. "I have noticed a trend in the world. Curses, lies, deception. I remember some of the stories and have heard more stories since. But there is something that you have not told us your majesty. Something about your home Kingdom. Your brother is a Lifedrinker. His honour guard are Lifedrinkers. Yet he is not with Lucien? What is that all about?"
Mary took a few moments to consider her words. "I knew what Lucien was, but I did not know that he was ancient. I would have liked to ask him more questions but then he and the other Life Drinkers disappeared." She shot an annoyed look at Adiran.
The Wizard spread his hands. "My Queen, I have tried to contact Lucien, but he and his people are nowhere to be found."
Mary gave a grunt of annoyance and continued. "Clarprati was suffering a sickness. There were creatures that roamed our streets at night, I was just a little girl when it began. My brother, the heir to the throne and my mother were constantly fighting with these dark creatures. Sometimes our own citizens and soldiers would become tainted, when they were not killed. They were put to the death."
There was silence in the throne room. It gave Mary time to think of her next words. "I was a youngster, it was the way of our people that men and women fight on the battlefield side by side should it be their choice to bear arms. I was not given a choice. Green Meadows was an operation to settle a neutral land not occupied by any Kingdom. Dragonshold saw it as an incoming invasion. Myself and my troops fought the enemy to protect our camps... We attacked back to put them on the defensive to allow us time to dig in until my brother and mother could join us.... We sought to flee the sickness."
Mary could remember the dread of her homeland. There had been a darkness on the land, an oppressiveness that came along with the feeling of predatory eyes always watching and waiting to slaughter the living.
Mary looked up from the marble floor and saw that everyone was starting at her, waiting for more.
"What happened then?"
Mary looked down at her palms, scarred and nicked from dozens of injuries. "And then we had to sue for peace. The whole reason we fought in the first place was due to diplomatic mishaps. Others say it was due to sabotage that our nations came to blows and that once we started, we simply could not stop the fighting. And then... my brother got sick. No relief force would come to our aid. We were alone against Dragonshold and we were far from home and would get no backup."
"I thought that Sebastian had died. While all was well still, my mother made the arrangements for myself to marry the Prince Johnathan and for our survivng subjects to become citizens here. We were the only ones who were not affected by the disease, the sickness that took my brother. My mother did not even attend the wedding, she too, got sick. For at least ten years there had been no talk of them and the way north beyond Skeppshamn or around the swamp was closed off. The swamp grew, Skeppshamn had become belligerant and violent and the ghouls locked the other forest path up as well. Myself and Johnathan soon become King and Queen and we had other things to worry about."
"I get it." Magna said. "We were born. And Adiran and father were working against the forces of the D..."
"Shhhhhh!" Adiran hissed furiously. "Do NOT speak their names in this palace! And yes. I had arrived before all this and had made myself part of the royal family and was here to prevent the events in Dragonshold."
"What about my Kingdom and my brother from your time?" Mary asked, hopefull.
"Its a long story... but lets just say, I do not know your brother or about your Kingdom." Adiran said, folding his arms.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Mary asked.
"Its too complicated to explain." The wizard said gruffly.
"Really?" Adrian exclaimed. "Try ME then. Surely you can explain the concepts to yourself!"
"Now is not the correct... time... for that..." The Wizard suddenly looked frightened. "I need to go!" Adiran turned and began hurrying away without permission.
"Adiran!" Mary called but when the Wizard did not stop, she rolled her eyes and sighed. "Never mind him. We need to prepare our defenses. I have no idea what my brother intends for us."
"How do you know he is a Lifedrinker?" Adrian asked. "You lost contact for ten years right?"
Mary nodded. "That is true. We had lost contact and the Clarpratians had fully intergrated into Dragonshold. We finally received a message from an envoy to tell me that my mother had passed away. There was a curt message from my brother, telling me to never return or send our people back. The envoy revealed himself as a cursed Lifedrinker and that Clarprati had found a way to live WITH their curse. Most of those that had stayed behind were now Lifedrinkers and it was my mother's dying wish that my brother keep away from me."
"And yet, now he comes here with an army and a horde of slaves." Mortis said. "What could he be up to?"
"I do not know." Mary said. "But it is time that we shore up our defenses. Get your Knights ready. They are well equipped."
Mortis groaned but nodded.
"Noxus... would you please stay until this is all over?"
The Mage gave a slight bow. "I would not leave you to fend for yourself."
"What about us?" Magna asked.
"I need the two of you to manage administrative and logistics." Mary answered.
"Just do it." Mary snapped. "We cannot afford to argue right now." She got up from her throne and nodded at each of the remaining persons and left to her own rooms. Two guards followed her once she left the throne room.
In her own room, she slid out a long leather bound case from under her bed. It was covered in designs that was not made by any local craftsman. She brushed her fingers across the surface of the case, wondering if she should take the weapon out after all these years.
She might need it. She needed the cold certainty of its silvered steel in her hands. She unlocked the case's clasps and opened the lid.
And I am stopping it right there! I want @lex-zaiya to choose the weapon that Queen Mary pulls out from this case that is obviously from Clarprati! Enjoy!
|by @zakludick||by @lex-zaiya|
|Part 1||Part 2|
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