At some point, I intend to get some fanart done of my MC.
However until then, I had a bit of fanfic in my head. I won’t pretend to have writing as good as Havenstone, but this was my indulgence at taking a brief look at the doings of my noble MC from the perspective of her cousin.
There are no spoilers for anyone who played the game, and I did take some liberties (especially for time, etc.)
Location: Keriatou fields
Calea pulled the reins back, and brought her horse to a stop as she looked off toward the Rim. It had only been two weeks since she talked to her cousin, reluctantly giving Alya detailed information on all the nobles who escorted Hector on his hunts.
You better not die on me, Calea fumed silently, At least until you’ve served your purpose.
She gritted her teeth at the thought her family was at the mercy…and survival…of her rogue cousin.
Shaking her head, Calea tried to banish those thoughts by scanning the field. Her lips quirked upward as she spotted one or two helots who might provide her with some diversion, at least until they inevitable bored her.
Her musing came to an end when she heard a loud rustle coming from the wooded brush. Her hand dropped to her sword, and she got ready to make her horse flee in the unlikely event a bear emerged.
Instead, a male figure emerged, his once richly tailored clothes practially torn to shreds. The broken shaft of an arrow poked from his shoulder. He glanced upward, and groaned, “Calea?” before collapsing onto the ground.
Calea felt a surge of surprise fill her body since she had never seen her brother in such bad shape before, even after their weapons training. However, she quickly regained control of her emotion, and slid off the horse. She kneeled at Hector’s side, and quickly assessed his health. Other than his wounds, and exposure, he was still breathing regularly.
“You and you,” she shouted at the two nearest helots, “put my brother on the horse…carefully you clods. Well, what are you waiting for? Get to it.”
Quickly, the chosen helots draped Hector onto the horse’s back. A low moan escaped his lips, but Calea paid it no mind as she quickly headed home.
Keriatou Castle - 3 Days later
Hector was propped up in bed the next day. The physician had spent the better part of the night caring for Calea’s brother, and managed to remove the broken arrow, stating that Hector would retain use of his arm, but it was a near thing.
Calea bit her lip, as she remembered her cousin’s words at their fateful meeting: I will spare Hector if I possible; that’s all I can promise. Calea had to admit Alya had kept her word, even if it nearly cost her brother his arm…or worse.
Calea marshalled her thoughts, as her father and brother talked. Hector was propped up by a number of pillows, though his face was still rather pale. Her father, Lord Keriatou, was almost like a statue in his demeanor.
“Where are the others?” Hector asked, “There were at least three behind me as we retreated.”
“Dead,” Lord Keriatou said, a stern gaze settling on his son.
“Dead? That’s impossible, they were just a bunch of…” Hector stammered.
“Of what? Just a bunch of helots?” Calea growled, knowing that the only way she might get through Hector’s pride and stubborness was with the plain truth delivered as coarsely as possible, “Maybe it has escaped your notice…brother…but Alya is more capable than any of us gave her credit for.”
Xthonos forbid Hector finds out I helped her Calea thought.
Hector’s face reddened, and made a fist with his one good arm, “I will be better prepared the next time…”
“There will be no next time,” Lord Keriatou said.
Hector lurched forward, another grimace of pain contorting his face, “You will deny me the right of claiming her head?”
Lord Keriatou’s fist slammed against the wall, and in a voice as cold as the grave, “If you disobey me in this, I will personally have you whipped thirty times in Rim Square. Do I make myself clear?”
Hector bit his lip, but quietly said, “Yes, father.”
“Funny you should mention heads,” Calea said, trying to steer the conversation, “Alya left us a little present two days ago. That’s how we know none of your veneurs left the wood alive.”
“Calea, I’m too tired to play your games,” Hector groused.
“Fine. She left a neat stack of heads in Rim Square arranged into a little pyramid. Every single person who rode out with you…was there,” Calea said. Silence filled the room, since Calea was the one who had to go see the gruesome sight. Though she was quite used to the casual spilling of blood, even she felt a little uneasy by staring into the lifeless eyes of the women and men, fellow nobles she had grown up with and commanded and in one rare or two cases, considered friends.
“You’re…you’re lying,” Hector said in disbelief.
“Your sister is telling the truth,” Lord Keriatou said, “The fact only you survived…well, the other noble houses are demanding a reckoning. Your little jaunt has cost us dearly.”
“Already Lady Pelemetou is making her insinuations,” Calea added, “Since only you survived…maybe you made an arrangement with Alya de Eramant which saved your life, but at the cost of your veneurs.”
“I would do no such thing!” Hector howled, then screamed as another bout of pain tore through his body.
Lord Keriatou gave a sympathetic glance at his son, “Which matters little in the court of public opinion.”
Hector’s father sat on the edge of his son’s bed, and placed a warm hand over Hector’s colder one, and added, “However, at least this…failure…convinced Archon Leilatou about the seriousness of the matter. The Phalangites will march this summer. That will be the time to reclaim our house’s honor.”
Calea looked toward the mountains, and she wondered what was happening in those craggy peaks. At great cost to herself, she sent word of the forces which had ammassed in Rim Square.
Six hundred people she thought Four hundred of them Phalangites. She shook her head for even with her help, she saw no way that Alya could survive against such a force, especially considering they were supplemented by five Theurges.
Calea took a deep breath as she remembered her brother’s boast, a promise that he would bring back their wayward cousin’s body, and have it paraded through the whole of Shayard.
That was one time she didn’t dare to change her father’s mind of letting Hector go since it was expected the nobles would provide support, and if a Keriatou wasn’t there, tongues would wag.
Not that worry for her cousin and brother was the only thing on Calea’s mind. A rumor was circulating among the helots and the yeomen…a rumor which the replacement Ecclesiast for Zebed would deny if he heard it…a rumor that an Eclect was in Shayard once more. Calea would have chalked this up to wishful thinking until another name surfaced as well…one Alya de Eramant. Officially, Alya was being held responsible for the murder of the Archon’s beloved cousin and his loyal retainer…unofficially, why would an Eclect kill the Ecclesiast who proclaimed her?
Calea remembrance came to a halt when a bright flash of light flared from the mountains.
“By the Angels,” swore one of her attendants, making the sign of the helix, “what…what is that?”
Calea felt a visceral chill flow through her, and for a brief moment, she wanted to make the sign of the helix herself. “If I had to bet,” Calea answered, “That was cousin Alya.”
Several days Later…
It was four days later when the first stragglers started to come out of the woods. Among their number were the remnants of the yeomen, peasants, and nobles who went along with
the main body of Phalangites. Calea was present when a lone figure separated from the returning survivors, almost as ragged looking as the day he returned in the spring.
“Hector,” Calea said quietly, “What…what happened?”
“Alya,” Hector said, spitting on the ground, though his tone was much more subdued than normal, “She was waiting for us.”
Calea crossed her arms, and Hector quickly added, “And before you say ‘I told you so’…you were right. The whole area was trapped…rock slides, hidden pits, sharpened stakes…if you can name it, she had it.”
Hector got a far away look on his face, “I don’t know…but I think I saw her. Just as I was trying to get our war-party out, I saw someone on a ridge. She pointed down at me, smiled, and drew a thumb across her throat.”
Remembering the amount of abuse she and Hector heaped upon Alya, Calea readily believed it was their cousin.
“Then…there was a flash,” Hector said swaying uneasily in his saddle from tiredness, “I…I don’t know if you saw it…”
“Everyone halfway to Shayard City probably saw it,” offered Calea.
“That…that was the baggage train,” Hector explained, “Alya hit the Theurges first. Killed two of them with no problem…”
“But how…” Calea said quietly, and then her mind gave her the answer before Hector could reply, “Goety?”
“That is my assumption,” Hector said, “And the reason I’m back here. The Tagmatarch ordered me and the others back, saying it was time for the professionals to do their job. She called us a drain on the food they did have left, that she didn’t need us as a distraction.”
“And that’s why you’re back,” said Calea quietly.
Hector grinned, “While I won’t have the pleasure of seeing our cousin finally die, her days are numbered. They were talking of unleashing the Plektoi before I left.”
3 Weeks Later:
Calea wrinkled her nose slightly in disgust at the skeletal figures standing before her, especially the Tagmatarch. Calea remembered the fit, muscular woman who led the Phalangites into the woods, only to see a stick-thin person return with a small handful of people.
“Thank…thank you…for the hospitality” said the Tagmatarch, eagerly eating the food arrayed before her, “I’ve been living on leaves and berries the last two weeks.”
“What happened up there?” asked Lord Keriatou.
“The stuff of nightmares,” the Tagmatarch said, “You…you know about our baggage train?”
Calea and Lord Keriatou nodded slightly.
“We had three Theurges left,” the Tagmatarch continued, “While surprised by our foes display of Goety, they assured me they could handle her. They raced on ahead to corner her and her followers…”
“Then what happened?” asked Hector.
Wiping crumbs from her chin, the Tagmatarch said, “I…I didn’t see it first-hand, but a survivor said she took on at least one Theurge and one Plektoi simultaneously. She killed another Plektoi by dropping part of a mountain on it, and her followers took care of its handler. After the last Plektoi was killed did its Theurge come back to us.”
Shaking her head, the Tagmatarch finished, “We advanced on their position…only to be attacked. Alya must have killed thirty-five soldiers herself, a third of my surviving force…and her rebels…pardon me, her thieves…took care of the rest.”
“And the last Theurge?” prompted Lord Keriatou.
“Dead, though I couldn’t tell you how,” answered the Tagmatarch, “The last time I saw five Theurges get defeated was by the Hallasurqs. And tracking her won’t work.”
The Tagmatarch pulled out a small device, one which bore a red arrow which continued to spin around in a circle.
“We…we are unable to track her further,” the Tagmatarch said, “Probably more Goety.”
“So what do you intend to do now?” inquired Calea.
The Tagmatarch took a deep breath, “Return to Shayard City and report my failure.” Though the woman didn’t say it, Calea could read the fear on the woman’s face of being Slow-Harrowed for her failure.
“I…I don’t know how it came about, but this Alya de Eramant…she is the most powerful servant of Xaos I ever met,” said the Tagmatarch.
Evening of the next day:
Calea brushed her hair as she made ready to go to bed. From the corner of her eye, she saw a small scroll awaiting her, a piece of tendon wrapped around it, a small stag’s head drawn on it, the symbol of the de Eramants. Out of habit, she glanced around to make sure no one was present before unrolling the scroll.
Hello cousin, Calea read, recognizing Alya’s handwriting, Normally I would wish the recipient of one of my letters good health, but considering our positions, I will forgeo the pleasantries. As of the time you recieve this, I will be on the move again…and with this, I consider our debts quit. Thanks to your assistance, my band survived the spring, and triumphed in the summer. This alone should keep the Keriatous on their precious aristarchate.
For that matter, I went one step beyond my word. I kept Hector alive, not once, but twice…one more beyond our agreement. Consider his second chance at living a sign of good faith; if he crosses my path again, there will not be a third time.