Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Dirge of the Iskandariel, Part One of Four

This is the hero-dirge of the Iskanderial, of the same line of tales as told of the Century's Stand against the Southron hordes, who died but slew three thousand foes in their apssing, or the battle of the Burning Waters, where Jahn Onehand leapt from ship to ship, setting nearly three-score ablaze before a ballista-shot struck him by chance. Here we tell the core of the (much longer) Dirge of the Iskandariel, the tale of where the eponymous heroes earned their fame, in the city of Oxdale.

For three generations, the nobles of the Orindell family and of the Pettyham family had waged a bitter and essentially baseless rivalry. In all this time, the famed (infamous?) King Olgraf XVIII, also known as "The Pitiless", had ruled from the Velvet Throne, and had kept too close a watch on the Orindels and Pettyhams both for them to take any action more overt than inecessant bickering and the occasional expensive assasination. Upon the death of Olgraf XVIII, the rather less intimidating Virhush III had taken the throne, and the Baron Pettyham and Duke Orindell found a long-awaited opportunity to take revenge for all injustices, real and percieved.

But so too was it an opportunity to finally make peace; or so said the Baron's envoy to the Duke. He argued that they should be natural allies, by virtue of their close relationship (for indeed, so close were their blood ties that the Duke, lacking an heir, would upon an untimely death find his title inherited by the Baron!). Negotiations began the very week after Virhush III's ascenscion, but swiftly stalled; the envoy proposed that a direct meeting between Baron and Duke, in the neutral city of Oxdale.

The Duke agreed; but before he departed for Oxdale, he hired two foreign mercenaries of whom he'd heard good things. Their rates were absurd, and his advisors clamored against the purchase of their protection; but their reputation, that of the Iskandariel, was known to the Duke, and he considered their fees acceptable. It was in their company that he travelled to the meeting with the Baron; and it was well that he did.

(The remainder of this series will be syndicated over the next three days.)

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