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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Warlord's Daughter

Warning: I have a couple chapter's written, and I know where I'm going, but it may take a while before I get there. When I do, it'll probably be on the short side, lol! This is just the prologue, so the best is yet to come :-)

The Warlord's Daughter
Prologue

The crowd whispered nervously as the King's powerfully built younger brother entered the throne room. He strode confidently to the dais, and then knelt before the King in respect. Unlike other nobles – who dressed up when coming to court – the Prince's clothes were designed for function as well as style.
You wished to see me?”
The King smiled at his beloved younger brother. “I know it is hard to return to the Palace so soon after you have won such an arduous battle, but I have good news. I've found you a bride.”
No one in the crowded throne room could ever remember the Prince showing so much emotion before. He seemed startled, and blurted, “My King?” as if questioning the validity of the news.
Now that you have conquered most of our neighboring Kingdom in my name, their King wishes for peace. To that end, he has agreed to marry his only daughter to you. Once your marriage is consummated, he has agreed to willingly merge his Kingdom with ours, and thus put an end to the war between our Kingdoms.”
The Prince – the King's strongest and most trusted Warlord – never imagined that he would be required to marry at all, much less so soon. He was only 22 after all. He quickly gained control over his unruly emotions, and nodded in agreement. It's not like he had a choice. The King was already married with an heir on the way, so the only man who could marry the neighboring Princess was the Warlord.
I understand, my King.”
Two weeks later, the Warlord stood before the Highest Priest as he waited for his bride to join him. He had never seen her before, their two Kingdom's had been at war for so long that socialization between them was nonexistent. He was utterly nervous, but did a good job hiding this fact from the audience.
The urge to nervously scratch his temple overwhelmed him, and several women agreed that he made a gorgeous groom. They all wished that they could be the wife of this 6 and a half feet tall man. They all wished that they could be the one in his bed tonight. Surely his stamina would be the stuff of legend!
Just when the Warlord was certain that his bride had run off or refused to marry him after all, the doors opened, and the waiting musicians began to play. The Warlord couldn't decide if he wanted to look at his bride, or avoid looking at her until the last possible moment. Deciding that his face might give away his unsteady emotions, he firmly faced the Highest Priest.
The bride soon stood next to her husband-to-be, and her father gave permission for the two to be wed. The Warlord firmly avoided looking at her, but his senses seemed to be giving him the wrong information. Finally, he couldn't take the suspense any longer, and glanced at her out of the corner of his eye.
She's Tiny!
The Princess was only 4 and a half feet tall, if she was even that! This was a difference of 2 feet!He quickly looked away until he could wrap his mind around this information. In practically no time at all, the Highest Priest pronounced them married, and gave the groom permission to kiss his bride.
The Warlord took a deep breath to steady his nerves, and then lifted the veil that hid his bride's face. She tilted her head back to look up at him, and he could feel her trembling.
She's exquisite!
Deciding quickly on the best course of action, he lifted her until her face was much closer to his. She seemed to stop breathing all together, but placed her arms around his neck to steady herself in case he accidentally dropped her. Their lips met, and the world seemed to stop as if frozen by magic.
He could not think; his desire to make her irrevocably his wife took over his body and he carried her straight to his chambers. The crowd erupted in protest. The newly wedded couple wasn't supposed to escape until after a feast and plenty of celebration!
The King chuckled at his brother's actions, and ordered everyone to celebrate without the happy couple.

*******

The Warlord accepted the message with a small smile, and then retreated into his tent to read it in private. Shortly after his wedding, the King had ordered him to turn his attention and army towards the Kingdom on their other side. Now the Warlord was busy conquering a second country in his King's name.
My beloved husband, I'm writing to tell you that the baby has been born. You have a beautiful daughter. She looks just like you, and I can already tell that she will be your pride and joy. I can't wait for you to see her, hold her in your strong arms, and smile at her with your warm face. I look forward to your return. Win the war soon. Sincerely, your anxious wife.
His heart sank as he once again realized that he would not see his wife or child until he either won the war or managed to reach an impasse. Neither option seemed likely to happen any time soon.
I vow that I will win this war as quickly as possible no matter what it takes!”

*******

After three long years, the Warlord was finally able to conquer their neighboring Kingdom. As things stood, with a coast running along one border of their Kingdom, and the two neighbors on either side of them now part of their kingdom, there should be no reason to ever go to war again. Not even his older brother would be crazy enough to try to conquer the vast Kingdom across their southern border.
He went home to his wife, and got busy working on the son he wanted so badly. His wife was overjoyed to see him, and prayed that she could give him a big strong son to follow in his footsteps.
Almost inevitably, just as his wife grew huge with child, the Warlord was summoned to his brother's Palace.
The moment he knelt before his brother in respect, the King announced. “I've decided to conquer the Kingdom to our south. You have a month to prepare the soldiers.”
The Warlord sighed, but did not argue. “Yes my King. It shall be done.”
He returned home to tell his wife the news. He may not have spent much time with her during their marriage, but he was certain that he loved her more than he had loved anything in his life. There was a quiet pallor hovering over everything as he rode up to his large home.
My Prince...” a serving woman wrung her hands miserably as she saw him walking towards her.
What has happened?” He demanded.
My Lady... she's had the baby, but...”
But what?” The Warlord asked in a near whisper, his heart unable to beat.
It's not good,” the woman imparted, shaking her head mournfully.
The Warlord raced to his chamber to find his wife lying completely still on the bed. He felt tears fill his eyes. The local midwife placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
She's resting. The labor was hard, and she nearly died from it, but I'm certain she will be fine... eventually.”
He sighed in relief.
My husband...” his wife called out to him, struggling to wake up and talk to him. She held her hand out. “Forgive me.”
There's nothing to forgive!” He insisted. “We'll have other children.”
No,” she sobbed, unable to hold back her tears. The midwife shook her head, and then explained the situation to him.
We had to remove her womb. She will never be able to have children again.”
I can never give you your son,” his wife continued to sob. Clearly she blamed herself. “You must set me aside, and take a new wife. One who can give you many sons.”
Never!” He vowed vehemently, grasping her hand in his to convey his sincerity.
Just then, a hungry wail interrupted them. The Warlord turned toward the sound in astonishment.
The baby lives?”
Yes, my Prince,” the midwife answered, smiling at the only bit of good news on an otherwise bleak day.
He released his wife's hand and walked to the bassinet. Inside, a tiny baby announced her hunger with a demanding force of will. She beat her fist against the side of the bassinet to emphasize her point.
She is strong,” her father murmured admiringly. He carefully picked her up as if afraid he might crush her.
Like her father,” his wife agreed proudly.
She shall be the son I long for. I will train her to follow in my footsteps!” The Warlord announced.
You cannot be serious!” His wife protested.
I am.”

*******

The baby turned two before her father returned home. The war was at a stalemate, and a temporary truce had been called. The Warlord passionately greeted his wife, and then twirled his 6 year old daughter in the air.
You grow more beautiful every time I see you!”
His daughter squealed as he set her down, holding onto him so that he couldn't let her go so soon.
Where's my son?” He asked his wife as his daughter tried to choke him with her enthusiasm.
His wife laughed. “She's wrestling with the puppies in the stables.”
A smile twisted his lips as he brushed off his daughter and went in search of the puppy wrestler. She was still a tiny little thing, but she had absolutely no fear of the puppies biting her.
He scooped her up, and took her galloping as fast as his horse could go. She squealed with joy, bouncing as if pretending she was running too. After their ride, he gave her a long stick, and watched with a grin as she tried to whack everything in sight.
By the time she was five, she was fairly skilled with a staff and a bow. For her birthday, the Warlord gave her a practice sword, and insisted that she learn to use it.
Ow!” she protested when he knocked to the ground with his practice sword.
As my son, you will learn to use a sword without whining about pain. Understand?” He stated sternly.
Yes father,” she mumbled obediently.

*******

But she's only 12!”
I'm sorry, but this temporary peace is over, and it's time to go win this war,” the Warlord informed his wife. His expression softened just a little. “Don't worry so much. She will be safe as can be. All the pages and squires are kept aside and used as archers.”
His wife took a calming breath. “Even if I set aside the fact that she's still so very young, she's a girl. She doesn't belong among soldiers. She shouldn't be marching off to war! Anything could happen to her!”
The Warlord pulled his wife into his arms. “i know you were fairly sheltered as a Princess, but the reality is that women and girls do travel with the army. They provide comfort and healing to the wounded, and ensure that the soldiers have nourishing food to eat. The only difference is that Adira will be by my side.”
Adira shook off the fearful and teary embrace of her sister. “Do not worry about me, mother, I am strong! I will help father win this war!”
But you're still so very tiny!” Her sister pointed out. It was Adira's only complaint. Her father was so very tall, and her older sister was about average for a woman – 5 and a half at 16 years old – but she took after her mother when it came to height. Her mother was tiny, and Adira hadn't quite reached 5 feet tall yet.
I'm still growing!” Adira insisted. “One day, I'll be as tall as father!”
Promise you'll keep her safe,” Adira's mother begged her husband.
I promise.”

Go To Chapter 1 

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