Private Tales You can run...

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Eislyn Gray

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3-4 Days Later

She was tired of being a prisoner. Of the aching weight of the chain around her hands. The aching and dull thrumming of her heart without Rayth and trying to hold back the tide of worry that threatened to consume her.

Was he even still alive?

As they rounded a bend in the road, she saw the flickering firelight that marked the Iron Fortress. Nestled within the mountains of the Spine. Only one way to really lay siege around the natural protective barrier the mountains provided, the road they were on. The whole structure, buildings, castle were built with under layers of iron. And there was something in that metal that made using magic nearly impossible. Which fit a xenophobic king nicely. A king's father's father's father that had outlawed magic long ago, long before Eislyn was born.

But long before the fortress gates, Eislyn saw others on the road. Those bearing the colors of the duke. Her shoulders stiffened and she pressed back into the rider behind her. The leader of the group - that man with the cold, red eyes had never passed her off to ride with one of the others.

Would the duke's men be so bold to attack her so close to the fortress? Had they already taken over the structure? Or perhaps this was all just an other political move.

"Are you going to deliver me to my father in chains?" The princess asked Jarrod, her voice as cold as the tops of the Spine peaks above them.
 
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"That was, in fact, one of his stipulations," Jarrod replied. There was a snicker behind him. Not everyone in the band used four syllable words.

"Ride on, hard," he called out to them. He hadn't missed the Duke's men. They would veer off the road and ride fast. If that small force were actually here to stop them, then he wouldn't trot through the middle of their group and invite death.



Rayth ran. His legs trembled and every piece of his body ached. Some parts hurt fiercely enough that he knew something had to be broken.

There was woodland off the road. Somewhere he could take some of their advantage away. They had so many advantages right now. Swords, horses health and numbers.

Rayth could hear the three riders bearing down at him. He turned sharply. One of the riders was meters away. Rayth darted to his right. It meant the right-handed swordsman had to swing across his body at him. The tip of the sword barely missed.
 

Eislyn Gray

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Eislyn's teeth rattled in her mouth. She clenched them tighter as they took to the surrounding trees. Not many. The king had made sure to raze most of the forest so it gave him a clear view of any invading forces. Would her father really have ordered that? She couldn't-didn't want to believe it.

He was a harsh man.

Set in his archaic ways.

But he'd always been protective - overly so when it came to his daughters. And with the loss of Hannah a few years ago. Had he declined so much to order his only daughter brought back in chains?

There were shouts from the road. The sounds of men and horses rallying. Then a sound she'd rather not hear. The whistle of arrows through the air.
 
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"Ride on!" Jarrod shouted.

This was too bold. The Duke had to think that he was in position to make this kind of move. Not only that, he had to think that the girl was worth it.

If what Eislyn had said was true he had wanted her dead to plunge the region into chaos. Killing her now wouldn't have the dame effect. Which meant that he was thinking she was useful. If he despised the king, but married one of his sons off to Eislyn then perhaps he could keep the lands at peace.

There was a cry from one of the horses. Struck by an arrow it went down, crushing the rider. Merryl had been a keen tracker. Every one of Jarrod's band brought their own skills. He didn't like losing them.

"Light cavalry coming after us."



Rayth jumped up and grabbed at the rider. The jolt to his shoulder was agony. The fall from the horse just have broken his body in several different ways. He didn't have much time.

Rayth dropped his knee onto the man's neck. His hands were still bound, but he managed to grab the sword arm. All he had was grim determination. The desperate determination to see Eislyn again.

The man stopped struggling. There were two riders coming around for him. Without enough time to cut his leather bonds he had to take up the cavalry sabre in two hands.
 

Eislyn Gray

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If Rayth truly was dead or lost, Eislyn thought it might be better to take an arrow now. Die by the duke's hand. But her mind was already thinking along the same lines as Jarrod's. And she'd rather see her father in chains than be taken to the duke if he wanted her alive.

Neck craned and she tried to look over her shoulder. Over Jarrod's. "The horn. Don't you have the horn? If you blow it now they might hear along the wall." They were getting close enough. And sending that signal? Those fortress walls would open up and her father's soldiers would know what to do. They would have a better chance than they did now.
 
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"We don't have a horn. Hopefully one of the lazy fucks on the wall looks out to see us."

The curse was a rare break from Jarrod's usual calm demeanour. He hadn't predicted they could be attacked this close to the city walls. He was not confident in being able to outrun them with the girl. If he threw her within sight of the walls then the city would not be his salvation.

"Another pair of riders from the woods!" came a cry.

It was just what they needed. There were a dozen riders on their tails and another pair looking to cut across their path.



One after the other they came for him. He had to turn and make a stand. The woman he had stabbed with the knife came first. Her sword came swinging down as she passed.

A clash of steel rang out and Rayth stopped the blade. He dropped to his knees and the second horse thundered towards him. His hands were shaking.

He took up his sword and dashed forwards, keeping low. He didn't try and block. He took his chances and swung at the horse's leg.

Horse and rider went tumbling down and he felt a flash of relief. It lasted a few seconds, rudely interrupted by the crossbow bolt striking him in the back.
 

Eislyn Gray

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If only Eislyn was really tied physically to Rayth. Because a few days ago she might’ve passed out or cried out as he took these painful blows. It would’ve been worth it to see the worry on Jarrod’s face at failing her father. And what wrath her father would’ve brought down upon the man.

More thwacks of arrows as they buried into trees and branches just to their right and left. Wood lifted and flew through the air, splintering along her face. She squeezed her eyes closed.

“You are a fool for keeping these chains on me,” she hissed to Jarrod. She wished she had her sword. She wished she had Rayth.
 
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Rayth didn't even try and run this time. There might have been enough time to make for the trees. It just felt as if he had found his corner for making a last stand.

Rayth raised his saber high. Both of his hands were shaking, the blade rattling over his head. The last rider was closing the distance rapidly.

He let his arms fall, dropping as low as he could. The point of the blade was set at the height of the rider's belly. The impact was jarring. At the same moment as his blade struck home, he felt the hot kiss of steel across his unprotected back.



"You're hands are staying there," Jarrod said bluntly. The arrows had stopped. The pounding of hooves was closing in on them.

One of the group dropped behind. A flash of steel and they had killed two of their pursuers. The Duke had more men on their heels.

"Those are the Kings men!" called another of Jarrod's riders.

The two coning from the woods didn't try and cut them off, instead angling for the riders at their heels.
 
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Eislyn craned her head back, trying to pick out the two men that fell in behind to protect their retreat. The walls loomed ahead. She heard shouts from above. As they broke from the trees she saw the gates were opening. There was another whistle of wood through air as arrows shot down from the walls but beyond herself and the mercenaries.

Screams resounded somewhere further down the road.

They were going to make it.

Her chest tightened.

They were going to make it.

Would this be the last time she'd see outside these walls? She gulped. as the horse hooves clattered on the cobblestones of the road. Ducking beneath the gates before they lowered behind their group with a resounding THUD. Sealing her fate.

And for a moment, the iron running through the city, beneath it, was overwhelming and she had to blink back the blackspots that threatened to take over her vision.
 
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"Sit still," Jarrod growled. He presumed her going slack was another attempt to try and look behind them. Even now as he was slowing down he didn't want her throwing him off balance.

Jarrod was breathing hard from the ride. He turned them around sharply as soon as the horse came close to a stop. He had lost two people. They were not common soldiers, each was hard to replace. There was always risk.

If her father had not been aware of the duke's plans then he would be soon. The fighting was still going on beyond the walls.

Jarrod was far more concerned about being trapped in a siege than having lost people. They could go on for months.



No one was making any noise. Not the fallen riders and not Rayth. He remained with his face in the grass, breathing slowly. His own blood had spread all across his back now. He had no strength left to lift his head.



A troop of foot knights arranged themselves in the road ahead of them. Jarrod had his horse take a few steps ahead of his band.

"Time for us to part ways your highness."
 
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Eislyn Gray

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Eislyn bit down on her lip until she tasted the tang of blood, blinking rapidly against the darkness. A sharp inhale through her nose followed by an eerily calm, regal sounding voice. "You will regret this and if I find out that you've hurt him, so help me your entire company will regret this."

A line of soldiers stiffened and snapped to attention.

A towering figure of a man dressed in black armor with a sword to his hip and several axes at his back. An equally black crown sat glittering atop his salted-haired head. His eyes were sharp and green, ones that matched his eldest daughter, Eislyn. They snapped to her, noting the chains and lingering on Jarrod.

"Well done," his voice boomed out, over the fight beyond the walls. Bodyguards flanked the formidable man as he stepped to Jarrod and held out a gauntleted hand for his daughter to take. He did not yank or pull her down. Though he might as well have with the stare he leveled on her.

And just like that, her feet were on the familiar ground of the Iron Fortress.
 
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"Thank you your highness," Jarrod said with a subtle bow. This man was not his king anyway.

"She spoke of some plot and I would have offered to look into the matter. However it already seems she was telling the truth given that the Duke's men are outside your own walls right now."

A pause. Small, yet somehow carrying a weight of its own.

"She had a travelling companion," he said, choosing his words very carefully in public. "They have been disposed of."

So much for the magic.
 
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Eislyn Gray

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Her feet hit the ground and she suddenly went numb at Jarrod's words. A strangled keen left her throat and she felt her knees collapse. Her father's grip tightened beneath her arm. His eyes narrowed on the mercenary and he gave the man a nod but didn't say anything on all the other matters.

"The Captain will settle up with you at the gates when you are ready to leave."

"Come daughter, we have much to discuss." Pulling a key from his pockets, he undid the chains around her wrists, letting them clatter to the iron beneath the rocks. And for someone else to pick up. He half-dragged and half carried her up the walkway. Up the steps. And into the castle.

If Eilsyn was any other woman she would've fought. Would've clawed a hand down Jarrod's face or slapped the dung out of him. But she wasn't any other woman. She was noble bred and born. She'd always been better at using her words and strategy than physically fighting. And her heart was severed. And she found she had to work ten times as hard to breath and wondered if the energy was worth it at all.
 
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"Now what? That wasn't much of a plan."

Hogarth was cleaning blood from his blade. They had ridden hard back into the trees. The duke's men had been more interested in to the riders carrying Eislyn for the gates.

"I didn't think anyone would attack them this close to the city," his partner replied. He got down from his horse awkwardly. He only used his right arm on the reins.

"So it's all fucked then?" Hogarth asked. He clearly the blade with the same calm disinterest he had cut down the duke's riders.

"No," replied Rayth. "We need to get into the city before the siege starts"
 

Eislyn Gray

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The doors closed with a bang. The great hall was dark and smelled...sterile. Her father's grip on her arms didn't release, instead he gripped both her arms and turned her to face him. He gazed down at his lose daughter as he dismissed the servants and guards in the room with one cold, sharp word.

"I thought I lost you," he rumbled and pulled her limp form into a tight hug.

A crushing hug.

She trembled against him, anger and anguish heating her face.

"Father," she whispered hoarsely and he finally eased his grip. "What have you done?"

He frowned. "I was only trying to protect you. I thought I lost you."

Her hand tightened to a fist as she brought it up to her chest and took a step back. "Why did you...the companion I was traveling with."

He took a step toward her. "Why did you not come back?"

"The duke and his men. It was too dangerous!"

"The one you were with."

Her voice cracked. "I love him. You...," she sunk to the floor. "The duke will not give up father. You've killed me by bringing me here."

The king winced as if his daughter's words were slaps. "You will be the safest here than anywhere. You always have been. Why do you think I fetched you back? It's too dangerous out there."

Arms wrapped tightly around her legs as she curled into a ball on the floor. Her chest heaved as she looked up at him. "I'll never forgive you!" A burst that rang through the empty hall.

The king was quick to hide any pain that shadowed across his stern face. He called to the guards. "Take her to her room and watch her. I have a battle to oversee."

Eislyn didn't fight it was she was pulled to her feet and dragged away, deposited in her chambers. Being left alone was a small mercy as she finally allowed the tears to come. She'd think of something. Be strong. Talk to her father again. At least, that's what she told herself as she fumbled to repair something that she couldn't fix inside of herself.
 
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"And how do we do that?" Hogarth asked.

"Well I haven't exactly worked that part out yet," Rayth replied. He turned and walked to the edge of the treeline. The counting force had retreated from the walls, well beyond the range of arrows and ballista.

Rayth watched them travel beyond the line of sight. He knew the truth. He didn't know if Eislyn's father did yet. Just beyond that horizon was a force for war. Rayth's own father had taken to the field, if the banners were to be believed.

No matter what happened, his father could not capture Eislyn. Her father could not capture him. They would be held hostage in either case.

"We'll have to give up our weapons and head for the gate on foot before it is closed for good," Rayth said.

"We look like trouble."

"I know."
 
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The king looked along the walls and tugged at his beard. His sharp, green eyes looked to the numbers parked outside. Betrayed by the duke. Invaded by another kingdom. He’d faced war many times by the surrounding elves and orcs in the mountains. But from his fellow humans?

They must badly need these trade routes through the mountain pass.

“Sir, your request for negotiations has gone out per standard procedure. Now that your daughter is back...”

“She will not be involved.”

“But sir, she’s the best we have.”

“Do I need to repeat myself?”

“No-no sir.”

“Prepare for war. I doubt they will send anyone.”

Eislyn remained on the floor, curled tightly into a ball, unable to find the will to stand.
 
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Soldiers running in a rough semblance of a column made a ferocious noise. Rayth and Hogarth watched them go. They had made it through the gates before they were closed. Now they were without weapons and horses and armour. What they had left behind would surely be taken by scouts of the approaching armies when found.

"Next step of the plan? I hope there is a next step because - I don't know if you've been in a siege before Rayth - they're fucking terrible."

"Blockaded a port once on the Paragon."

"Ever set foot in the city after the starvation kicked in?"

Rayth didn't answered the grizzled old mercenary.



"Is he dead?"

"Near enough."

"Nice clothes, shame they're torn up."

"And covered in blood."

"Blood washes out. Always does."

"Ah shit he's moving."

"Finish the job?"

"Roll him over."

"Oh. Fuck me. Rayth?"
 
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Eventually, as the light through her window faded, she managed to roll on her back, staring up at the beams in her room. There were trays of food untouched by her door. She didn’t even remember anyone coming in. Or knocking. She looked at the dully. She was surrounded by the iron and it was a suffocating, familiar feeling.

When her sister died she’d been broken. Now with Rayth? She was shattered. Too many pieces to find or move or pick up again. Perhaps one of the nine levels of hell would take her because that’s where she deserved to go. If he’d never met her....if she’d pushed him away like she should have...maybe he...he would be...

Eyes closed as the beat of war drums picked up somewhere outside.

Good. Let them come and end her misery. Let them end the pain that was spreading out from her chest. Weighing her down.
 
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"Now, I just want to get this completely straight. Your plan - if it can be afforded a plan - is basically surrender?"

Hogarth was hunched over the table, a flagon of ale cupped in both hands. They hadn't brought weapons with them, but they had enough coins to put up for a night at an Inn. The place was overcrowded, people staying longer than expected due to the gates being closed.

"I can't sneak past the guard now. There's no...swinging in like a hero with how my arm is, no weapons and the city on a war footing," Rayth replied. His left arm stayed under the table and he ate stew with a spoon in his right.

"Why bring me then? You said yourself they might just make you a hostage. If they don't play you know your head will be on the wall," Hogarth replied. He was an old war dog. He'd served on the Paragon for a couple of years with Rayth, back when he was young. He'd been working with a small band of mercenaries on land since. He had stopped them from stripping Rayth for every item of value.

"I shouldn't have and I'm sorry but look...the Duke is only here because my father is supporting him."

"He's one of the Duke's bannermen?"

"No...he is an ally of the Duke. Technically...a king. His are the forces that give the Duke enough manpower to even think of this siege."

"Fuck. Off. You are not a Prince."

"And as I'm technically married to the Princess then maybe he'd honour that as an alliance instead of joining the siege."

"Seems we're in the wrong place."

"Petition the king to honour the marriage first. He won't let me take Eislyn until the siege is over."

Silence fell for a little while. Hogarth was a pragmatic man. He wasn't angry at Rayth for dragging him into the mess, but he wasn't pleased.

"You can't have been happy in this life if you were sailing the Paragon. You want to go back to it?"

"Want to do what it takes."
 
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Eislyn Gray

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“Princess Eislyn,” there was a shadow over her head. The candles were lit in her room. Beyond her window she saw the flickering orange glow of war campfires lit along the hills and woods in the distance.

A small frown on her drawn lips.

“Your father wishes to see you,” the handmaiden looked to the young woman who had not left her spot on the cold stone and iron floor since she’d gotten here.

Eislyn closed her eyes again.

“He knows where to find me.”

the servant hung her head. “Miss, he sent me to bring you to him.”

Eislyn knew there was a danger and chance that she’d be punished for her insolence. And her father knew that she knew. Damn him. Slowly, she stirred and peeled herself from the floor.

“Miss. Let me brush your hair. Draw you a bath and some new clothes...”

“No,” Eislyn said in a dull voice. “Take me to him.”
 
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She wasn't lead to the throne room. At first she was being walked towards the council rooms. That made sense. On a war footing her father would be stood around a table with his advisors planning out the defences.

The King was not in the council chamber. There was an ante chamber where guests were entertained. Thick walls between visitors and the rooms where the largest decisions were made in the land - other than those decreed by her father when he sat atop his throne.

As she was led in her father had just one word for her: "Explain."

For a moment, it might have been hard to tell who the man stood in front of him was. He turned sharply to look at her. A great wound ran from his brow to his chin, fresh and red and hastily stitched. The dishelved looking man with one arm in a sling was Rayth.
 
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She nearly fainted. Verdant eyes like her father’s snapped to the man. It didnt matter how disheveled he was. What he was wearing. If he dyed his hair or lost it all. She’d always know him. Because he was hers. And she was his.

“Rayth,” she nearly choked and sobbed on the name. “They said they’d...that you were.” She strode forward. There was no one that could stop her. Not even her father as she stopped right in front of him, hands coming up to gently cradle his face. Thumbs brushing across his cheeks. Around the new wound. She has to feel him. See him. Breath him in to convince herself he wasn’t a specter.

The entire time she could feel her father’s calculating gaze on her.
 
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It broke him a little bit to see through her soul and into the pit of despair she had thrown herself into. Even though his escort hadn't returned they must have told her they had killed him. They had certainly tried.

"Very nearly was," he replied. There was a slight lisp to his voice where the stitches tugged at his lips. He smiled at her, eyes glistening in the flickering light of the torches.

Rayth started to reach for her with just one hand, the other stayed at his side. The blade had cut deep into his left shoulder and across his back. Even after seeing a town healer the wounds still weeped at night.


"Explain," hissed her father at Eislyn through gritted teeth. Only a few men stood around the room but this was the kind of scandal that could cost him.
 
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Her power thudded against the iron around her, like an animal yearning to break free of the cage it was put in. She wanted more than anything to heal him. Take that physical pain that glinted in his eyes away from him. Finally, her hands dropped to her side. Slowly releasing her love.

She turned to her father a step to him, then another. Her head had to tip back to look up his massive frame to find that stern face and calculating gaze staring down at her. She'd never seen him struggle to hide his emotions more so than now. Not even when her mother disappeared or during Hannah's funeral.

Hands clasped in front of her.

"Father, this is Rayth," she left off his last name on purpose. It would be Rayth's to tell. "He saved my life from the Duke's assassins. We were to journey back here but...," her voice trailed off as she paused. "The Duke's patrols blocked the way."

She held up her hand, showing the king, her father, the ring on her finger. "I love him. We married. He's my husband."

The king gazed at his daughter, eyes turbulent. "What have you done? You were not to marry him. Is this how you reward me for letting you leave so freely?!" His back straightened and his fingers curled into fists at his sides. His gaze snapped to Rayth. "You will not see her again or go near her again." He looked to his daughter. "And you, you will never leave this fortress again."
 
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