The course of events, lead Tharon to the city of Tihr. There he will meet up with old friends and will also learn about the aftermath of the last battle he gave under the Swadian banner…
When I woke up, it was already noon. But I needed that sleep. First things first, I went to wash of my left foot. The physician had instructed me to do so, ever since I had been shot. I was lucky not to break a bone or something. The wound was all closed up, but the pain was there, and the stiches were still on. I had been banned from fighting too… The worst possible moment I might add because, we were suppressing revolts at Ismirala Region, that once belonged to the Vaegirs. At least, I would not be useless during all that. After I washed myself and dressed up, a messenger was just outside of my door.
“Follow me, the king Ragnar requires your presence!” he said and waited for me to follow him.
We arrived some time later to the throne room.
“My king!” I saluted as I bowed down before him.
“Stand up, child, no need for pleasantries” said the kind king.
“They say that you need me, sir”.
“That is true, Tharon. I know your situation and the fact that for some time you will not be able to fight. So, I have a request”.
“Whatever it is, I shall do it”.
“For that I have no doubt” smiled the old king. “I want you to accompany my youngest daughter Myra, to the city of Tihr. She has some personal business there. I know the roads these times of the year are swarming with bandits, so I address you. Even if you encounter resistance, I don’t believe that a bandit requires much effort from your side”.
For some reason, I felt my blood rushing in my veins.
“I will do so, my king!” I said, while trying not sweating. “Anything else?”.
“No. You may go”.
Myra, the king’s daughter
Now you may think, why my blood started to rush. Well, if you answer that, you probably have never seen Myra. Although I never had an interaction with her, except in military training or the field of battle, I had briefly seen how see is. A ferocious fighter and yet a fair lady, she was magnificent.
I had sometime to feel like that. I have already written down my story with Elina. Although it was the best year of my life, now it’s a blurry one and kind of a distant memory from me. For all I know, she did not even try to persuade her father in order to help me in battle. Either way, all of that are in the past. And I was ready, after a long time to pursue happiness once again.
She was the most beautiful, with her golden hair and large green eyes. A muscular but still ladylike body, in my eyes she seems like the Valkyries of the songs of the Nords. Although I knew, my chances of actually talking to her, were zero to none. But still, my mind kept racing on.
On the Road to Tihr
We started after two days. I had with me only a few men, four in total, including me, two shieldmaidens and of course, lady Myra. We were all disguised and travelling as merchants, for the fear of bandits and of course Vaegir Rebels. When the king Ragnar’s daughter arrived, I tried forcefully to look the other way, because she was a true beauty, even in the clothes of a commoner. She mounted up and checked her bags and daggers, which she had in case of self-defense.
“Are we ready commander?” she said to me. If I wasn’t lost to my thoughts, I would have answered immediately, but instead I became a fool of myself, by keeping my head forcefully down. Some soldiers started laughing.
“Commander?” she asked again with a playful smile on her face. I immediately snapped out of it.
“Yes, my lady!” I shouted like an idiot. “We are ready to begin!”.
Myra chuckled a little.
“Relax Tharon. We are not on a battlefield. Let’s have a pleasant journey”.
I nodded and gave the command for the small caravan to begin. It took around one day to reach Tihr, so it could become a pretty dull journey, especially for the princess, who started… how to put this… complaining in a kind of cute manner, about the journey. First it was the dust, then the cold, as the day passed. Then, she started asking about when we are going to arrive, like a little child.
“Thank the gods she is beautiful” I thought to myself.
She was a real pain to deal with.
At last, as the sky was getting darker, I decided to make camp 10 miles outside of Haen, according to my calculations.
For the night, we divided the course of night into four time zones, to keep watch. I decided to keep the first watch, because my men were exhausted. They were asleep in mere minutes. But of course, after some time, the princess stood up and walked to my position. She sat on a flat rock, while I was looking into the forest, for potential threats.
“Take it easy, Tharon. It is just a trip to Tihr. What is the big deal about it?”.
“I am a soldier. I have to execute orders to perfection, once given to me”.
“Admit it. You just want to do something, until your injury heals. You want to not be useless. Am I right or am I right?”.
I refused to answer. We both knew she was speaking the truth. She turned her face away from mine.
“What is killing to you? What is the reason of you fighting?”.
I gasped because the question came to me without a warning. I was not ready for that.
“Well… I” I started stumbling on my own words. “I have not really thought about it”.
“If you haven’t, you just do it for you. There is not a worse person who kills without reason. And I do not believe that you kill without reason”.
“When I first came here, I was just a lad. I wanted adventure, to travel a new world, to forget the tragedies of the past. But then I was locked up in the never-ending circle of violence and despair. I fought for survival, of my men’s survival. Then I had to fight for my family, my wife… But after the betrayal…”.
“Your WIFE?” Myra interrupted me.
I immediately blushed and looked away.
“We are getting off topic…” I said but Myra would not get me off the hook so easily.
“You never told anyone that you actually have a wife!”.
I noticed something about her attitude.
“Are you angry on this? Why is this so important to you?”.
It was her time to turn away and blush. I stood in silence. Was Myra, the daughter of King Ragnar, interested in me?
“I am the one making the questions!” she defended herself. “This changes a lot! What if you keep in touch with her, and through her with your friends back in the kingdom of Swadia? We will never know! You may be a dangerous man”.
“I am a dangerous man. That’s why I was betrayed” I replied, calmly. “If I had betrayed you, believe me, the kingdom of Nords would be no more”.
She was stunned by my words.
“Or maybe you are cocky?” she laughed at me.
“Maybe you are right. But too late to find out”.
I think that she was ready to charge on me. To put me down, not entirely sure in a… good way, but instead she decided against it.
“How many miles to go to reach Tihr commander?” she asked, without making any eye contact with me, speaking with a formal manner.
“25 miles if my calculations are correct. Tomorrow we will spent the night in a cozy room in a expensive inn at Tihr”.
I immediately regretted saying that, because she was the princess and not a common soldier and it could get out of context really easy. As I expected, she did not answer. But I was certain, that she definitely smiled.
The City of Tihr
It is said that the city of Tihr had the tallest walls on earth. While I suppose that this was an exaggeration because I knew of a city back home, which was on an island and had like 50 meters tall walls, Tihr was indeed an unimpregnable city. Of course, the construction of the walls was in a way that they could be destroyed by war machines, but the natural barricades that the location provided, were the real deal. The rocky terrain that the city was built upon, was serving as a second natural wall, protecting the city from head on attacks.
It was a rather large city, definitely not like Praven for example, but quite sizeable. It was a home for at least thirty thousand Nords. Also, it had one of the best blacksmith companies in whole Calradia. It also had a palace, two Prison Towers, a Messenger Post, a Marketplace, which was not the best in quality, nor the prices, thirteen inns and also three barrack stations, a home for a two thousand men force. Tihr was more of a castle, than a commercial city.
We entered an inn with the lads and sat at a table at the corner of the building. We had just ordered our drinks when I strong hand grabbed my shoulder. As I was ready to turn around and defend myself, I heard a familiar voice.
“Well, well, look who decided to come back from the dead!”.
It was Fendrel! I did not know that he had survive our last battle that we fought together.
“Fendrel! I thought you were killed!”
“So did I!”
We laughed and hugged each other. After that, we sat just the two of us, to catch up.
“So, Fendrel, how have you been holding up?”.
“Well, after the battle, I woke up in a Nordic military hospital and guess who I run into there. Look behind you”.
I did as Fendrel said. Although at the beginning I could not figure out who she was, but then an epiphany came to me.
“Catelyn!” I exclaimed. “The daughter of Talius! How is your father?”.
“Hello to you too Tharon! My father is well. Unfortunately, he is not here, he is away in a merchant journey. But I hope you will see each other someday!”.
“I am very glad to hear that!”.
“Catelyn works here. And she… helped during my hard time here in the Kingdom of Nords…”
My eyes were wide open.
“Did you two…?”
“We got married last summer. And we had a little one. Fendrel insisted to call him Tharon, after you, but to avoid an argument with my father, we chose the name Eren”.
“I am so happy for you two!” I said, with genuine happiness for my old friend. Then Fendrel asked from Catelyn for two meads and Catelyn got back to work while we continued to talk.
“How are the things back at Swadia?” I asked.
“You really want to know?” asked Fendrel back.
“If I did not, I wouldn’t have asked” I replied.
“Well, I will give you a heads up. It’s not a happy story. When you “died”, Harlaus declared you a criminal that had to be stopped. Everyone that was associated with you had to pay the price for treason against the realm of Swadia. At first, Grainwad, Mirchaud and Despin, were called heroes for exposing you as a dangerous threat. Grainwad became the Marshal of The State, a step below only from the king. Mirchaud got what he always wanted, which was Elina. I am sorry. Would you like me to stop?”.
My eyes were dark. I was expecting bad news, but not that. This was way too much. This was an ultra-defeat, a blow from which there is no turning back.
“As you wish” said Fendrel, while drinking some of his mead. “Despin seized control of Uxkhal, while Delinard became his second in command. A dog so to speak. Rafard, in order to “keep his head on his shoulders”, he was actually exiled at the command of Rindyar Castle, to fight against the Khergits. He fell some months later on the field of battle”.
He stopped for a moment.
“I am sorry, old friend. I did not want to create any pain to you.
“I swear to everything that moves under the sun that I will destroy them. I do not know how many years or how many lives it will cost, but I will make them pay in blood!”.
Fendrel was looking at me, with his gaze being a mix of terror and amazement. He did not say something for a while.
“You did not say ‘by the gods’. Still an agnostic?” he asked, with a smile forming on his face. I smiled back too.
“Yes, I am still”.
“So, Tharon. How do you expect to take revenge on Harlaus and his court of buffoons?”.
“Easy. One way is to spread insurrection to among his people, take with us some of his lords, create an army and storm Praven. I hope king Ragnar and Rothgar help up for that”.
“I think that you were not listening to me just now” said Fendrel with a worried look on his face. “Harlaus is at his peak of power right now. He managed to make you the number one enemy of the realm. Do you forget how easily everyone turned from us?”.
He was right.
“It doesn’t hurt to try. We shall see what we can do. Maybe, when people hear my story, they will follow me”.
“You give to much credit to people. They are easy to manipulate, but if they believe a story that defines their actions and thought process, they will not another idea destroy their previous beliefs”.
We stood in silence, sipping slowly from our mead.
“You did not say what you’ll do if the first plan fails” he continued after some time.
“Then we infiltrate the castle” I said, without any emotion on my face.
“You’ll die” Fendrel replied.
“Maybe. But that is the price of revenge, isn’t it?”.
The Nights of the City of Tihr
We sat at Tihr for a week, until lady Myra could end her business in the city. Every night, I would catch up with Fendrel and Catelyn, exchanging stories of our time apart. I really enjoyed it. We also decided that our last night at the city should go out with a bang. That included heavy mead drinking. To our surprise, Myra herself decided to leave the palace and came here, disguised of course, for the preying eyes, to have some fun with us.
And truthfully, it was a night to be remembered. Also truthfully, I fail to recollect many of the things happened this night. Fendrel told me about the happenings of our mini festival. My memories begun once again next morning. When I woke up… next to Myra. As I later learned, she was not even drunk when she decided to drag me upstairs to spend the night with me. Although, since I did not have this information available for the time being, I quickly dressed up, covered in cold sweat and left the room.
When the time came for our small caravan to leave Tihr, I waited in front of everyone, not daring to even look behind me, when the princess appeared and got on her horse.
“Commander Tharon!” she ordered. “A word!”.
I gulped. With my heartbeat rising by the seconds, I drove my horse beside hers. She leaned towards me.
“Not a word to anyone… Is that understood?” she said playfully. I nodded, terrified.
“Nevertheless, I would like to have such a… fun night again” she said, whispering in my ear, making my skin tingle. She chuckled seeing my stupid face, terrified and proud at the same moment.
“That is all Commander! We shall go!” she ordered, and we began the journey back home from Tihr.