Creative Corner

Posted: August 13, 2015 by Andi Pants in creative corner
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Here comes another wonderful writing from Penn! He promises that next month will be even better. I’m excited!

It was an odd sort of night. Lucas was in bed for starters and if that weren’t enough, he was actually asleep. Not a deep sleep, the General of Val Liens rarely ever fell into a deep sleep, but it was a comforting sleep. He could feel the body that slept next to him, and a small smile spread across his lips. While their marriage had been an attempt to keep her children out of shame, and furthermore keep the naysayers away from her rule, Lucas and Delphi had come into an easy love. He knew it would never be a fairy tale. The evening she’d called him to her bedchamber to explain her proposal, he knew it would be much how the nobles arranged marriages all over Thedas. Still, it had been a more fulfilling marriage than he had expected.

Her soft breath was enough of an indication that it was ok. Things were ok, despite the chaos erupting everywhere around them. She had sought his council again discussing what actions she should take. First and foremost, he had said, he was with her in whatever capacity she chose to be involved. Circumstances notwithstanding, he knew her friendship with Honorah was deep and if The Duchess of Val Liens wished to pledge her support to the Inquisition, then The Lion would lead her troops as necessary. Even if she had to relocate to wherever the Inquisition was headquartered, Lucas would be able to remain behind in Val Liens. The city was a marvel to behold for sure, but as a military stronghold, its design was second to none.

A gentle shake was all it took to get him awake. It was his Lieutenant on watch. “What is it,” Lucas asked in a whisper. The man nodded and pointed his head out of the door. Whatever it was, it needed to be told to Lucas before Delphi could hear it. Which meant whatever it was, was meant for the Duchess’ General, not her husband and advisor. Lucas quietly got out of bed and followed the man out into the hallway. “I apologize, sir, but this couldn’t wait.” Lucas’ Lieutenant looked scared. He was a man who’d seen enough of battle to not be so easily rattled.

“One of our rangers came in through the North gate not thirty minutes ago. No one else came with him, he was part of a group, some ten to fifteen men. He said they were slaughtered, he’d managed to escape…but only just.” Lucas was impatient as they began walking towards Lucas’ private wing, but with the way the man spoke, he needed to let out his fears. “It seems…the Templar’s have taken a disliking to the Duchesses choice in support. The ranger he said there were at least three battalions less than a day away.”
Less than a day. There wasn’t enough to time for them all to leave. No…but there would be enough time if someone stayed. “Send two runners. One is to sound the alarm in the city, spread the word that Val Liens must empty, anyone who remains and is able bodied will be provided a sword and shield. The second to the men at the Academy and from there the barracks. The majority will leave with the citizens out of the South gate, I require a token force, volunteers, to remain behind. We will hold them until the people are safely away.”

There was a moment of hesitation from his Lieutenant. “I’ll wake her. Send for the maid…tell her to prepare the children for travel and prepare a messenger raven…I have to send word to Ser Cousland.”

In the few moments that came, Lucas was dressed for war. His shield, for the moment hung heavy and dangerous on his back. His broadsword likewise, silently deadly in its scabbard waiting for its gift of death to be bestowed upon his enemies. He carefully entered her bedchamber even as the first of the alarms began to ring in the city just outside the large window that ran along her side of the bedroom. She awoke with a start, sleep still clinging to her beautiful face. This was what he would fight for, this moment where she was not the Duchess, she was Delphi…and if even for a few years had been his wife. “Why are you in your armor, Lucas? You hadn’t scheduled a false alarm, or did you?” He walked to her side of the bed and gently cupped her face with his rough, callused yet gentle hands. He kissed her head softly and thumbed her cheek in one motion. “No, my little duchess. This is no false alarm. Templar’s are a day away at best…they have taken insult to your choice of support.”

She rose to protest and he shook his head. “The alarm has been sounded, the orders given.” At the same moment her handmaiden walked in with their…no…her children. They were more entangled with sleep than their mother, but they still seemed to understand something was not right. “I have ordered the city emptied. If we all made our way south, they would catch us and slaughter every person.” He took a deep breath and gave his world, his life a small smile. “I will remain behind with a volunteer force. If they break through, or send part of their force after you, you will have protection and the means to repel any attack as it may come.”

Again she made to protest and he calmly put a hand on her shoulder. “You will lead your people to safety. I’ve already sent word to Laurence, the raven should arrive by mid-morning. I’ve instructed him to meet you at this location,” He gave her a small map with the name of a village circled, “In two days time. He will be able to help more than I at that point.” Finally she managed to grab his hand and stare at him fiercely. “You will not remain here, you will come with me and the children.” He shook his head. “For the first time, my love. I must go against your wishes. My first duty is to honor and preserve you and I will not risk your life, or theirs. Get dressed. Your horse is already saddled.”

“Lucas, stop. There has to be another way.” She pleaded and he fought against the urge to just leave. He turned to her and embraced her, closing his eyes and breathing in her scent. “Through one thousand worlds, and ten thousand lifetimes. I will search for you…and I will wait for you in all of them.”

It was the last thing he’d ever say to her.

————————————–

It had taken a few more moments and tears that Lucas could not shed before they managed to separate. The lingering feel of her lips on his would be one of the last memories he carried to the field that day. The Lion of Val Liens fought for his home, for his men and for his Duchess. The Templar army was utterly routed but at the cost of every man who had remained behind to defend the ill and elderly who could not vacate the city in time. They delayed the army long enough for The Duchess to rendezvous with her Serpent and eventually came back to a Val Liens that was still free, where the common folk spoke of how the Lion defended his den from the wolves.

Years later, when sorting through old papers a letter fell out of a stack of things molding and rotting. The penmanship was masculine and she immediately recognized it as Lucas’ hand. It was the letter he’d sent Laurence the night he’d stayed to save them all.

“Laurence, I don’t have time to explain. You must ride out at first opportunity for the village circled on the map below. Delphi and the children will either be there already or meet you there. Templar’s marched against Val Liens, I remained.” There were a few attempts to start, but none legible until he wrote one more sentence. “Your son has a deep love for horses, I’ve encouraged it as best as I could. Your daughter has had an affinity for the bow, another hobby that I have encouraged and assisted as best as I could. They will be under your care now. Take care of them…they are all that will be left of me.”

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