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Journey's beginning

Alysande's picture

La’agerthja stamped her feet to shake off the snow as she entered the great room of the lodge. She had been riding along the border of Skaarihn, watching for any signs of raiders.

She was cold and hungry as she made her way across the room to find food, mead and warmth by the fire.

La’agerthja knew that the raiders had been raised by Erikk Thaanos to challenge the right of  the Lady Aly’sande to claim and eventually exercise authority over Skaarihn.

The fact that Aly’ had felt it necessary to defend herself, killing her abusive husband and taking flight from those who would have sought to avenge him, complicated matters.

Ragnor, Aly'sande's own father,who was openly supportive, had not only announced that the Lady Aly’sande would be returning, but that she had consented to a marriage between herself and Erikk.

This was a blatant attempt to ensure Erikk’s claim.

La’agerthja knowing her cousin as she did, knew this was a lie.

After Ragnor's astonishing announcement, La’agerthja’s father Rannulf had taken up arms and an open position of opposition, rallying the majority of banner houses in Skaarihn, against Thaanos.

All of these banner houses were willing to swear fealty to Lady Aly’sande and throw off the burden of the Thaanos family.

Only a few threw in with Erikk to try and protect their tenous positions.

Aly’sande had gained the respect of these hardened Nords, unknowingly,  by defending herself and besting “ The Destroyer.”

They were willing to stand against Erikk and his forces until the Lady Aly’sande could be located and coaxed to return from exile to take her place as their leader.

For months, the houses had been watching each other uneasily as the drama played itself out. Erikk lacked the strength to take by force what he claimed as his and the banner houses would not swear to him over her.

And so a standoff had been established, each side waiting and warily watching the other.

That was until a few days ago, when something had drastically altered the situation.

Over the last several nights the raiders, followers of the “usurper”  had grown bolder.

There had been incursions into the hold, resulting in some outbuildings and crops being burnt. Testing and tempting the defenders, seeing how far they could be lured away from the stronghold. So far these attacks had been merely a nuisance.

La’agerthja guessed that Erikk was trying to see how large a force he could expect and what kind of weapons were available.

What she could not guess at was why Erikk who had been so patient for so long was now so anxious.. What had changed?

She scooped some stew from a pot and took the bowl to a long table to eat, the steam from the bowl curling and floating up into the gloom in the great hall.

There were men and women laughing and eating in the shared warmth of the hearth, none seemed concerned by the change in the situation.

La’agerthja was uneasy though.

The Stew was hot and she savored the taste as she ate by the fire, crackling loudly in the large hearth. A blast of cold air cut into her and she turned to see who had entered the lodge  and recognized her father Rannulf.

He scanned the room quickly from the door, pulling off his gloves as several men followed him into the room.

Seeing La’agerthja he crossed to her with purpose and sat unceremoniously on the bench next to her.

Rannulf, a large man even by Nord standards, sat next to his daughter and leaned down as if trying to be less noticeable.

“ Belle, I need you come with me now.. It is important.” He said in as low a voice as he could without actually whispering.

La’agerthja swallowed and looked at him with a startled expression.. “ Father.. What has happened.. ?’

“ Not here… come with me now.. Ja”  he hissed and stood to his full height and strode toward the door, turning to see that she had followed

La’agerthja jumped up her food for the most part forgotten, a roll in hand she followed him to the door.

With a nod Rannulf opened the door and made his way outside, La’agerthja following close on his heels.

Once outside Rannulf led his daughter to the stable and after shooing the stable hands away and making certain they were alone, he turned to her his expression grim.

“ Father … what has happened ?” She repeated, a cold knot forming in her stomach. Fear prickling her neck as she watched an array of emotion cross Rannulf’s face..

“ Ragnor is dead. “ He said bluntly continuing quickly before La’agerhtja could from a question

“ I believe Erikk killed him or had him killed.. “

La’agerthja gaped at her father stunned at his statement, sitting hard on a nearby crate, the rough wood scratching and lending some reality to her world.

“ But father why? What reason could Erikk have to Kill Uncle Ragnor? “

Rannulf ran his huge hand over his face wearily, his face tired and pained as he formed a response to his daughter

“ I don’t have that answer, yet, Belle. But I will. Your uncle had sent me word a few days ago that he wished to meet. That he had made a mistake and that he wished to make it right. He was withdrawing his support for Erikk.”

As he spoke he reached into his pouch and withdrew a small letter, and he handed it to La’agerthja

“ I Only wish that he had put in this what made him suddenly want to withdraw his support. It does say that the marriage agreement was untrue.”

La’agerthja took the letter and quickly read it’s contents, a frown furrowing her brow. After she read the letter she looked back to her father with a question in her eyes . Rannulf sensing her question raised a hand to quiet her.. “ La’agerthja, my treasure, I want you to ride to Aly’sande and give her the news. I want you to tell her that the people of Skaarihn are loyal to her. We will stand with her against him. She does not need to be an exile. I fear that this betrayal of Ragnor’s  has made Erikk desperate and reckless.”

La’agerthja sat for a further moment stunned at the revelations. The letter held tightly in her hand “ Yes.. I will father but where will I find her? “

Rannulf allowed himself a slight bitter smile, putting his hand on her shoulder and taking a knee to speak to her in a more confidential manner.

“ I have known where she is for a few weeks. I was waiting to be certain  we could ensure her safety. She has been in Bangkorai and Wayrest. She sought asylum with her mother’s King. We need to let her know she can come home. I know she has informants here and there but I want her to hear it from her family that loves her..Ja?” Rannulf said in a soft voice, taking a finger to brush a wayward hair from his daughter’s brow in a moment of indulgence, then as if feeling self conscious he rocked back on his heels and took on a more serious tone

“ You will be able to travel with less notice than I or any of your brothers. You must leave today. we will keep everything secure here. Send me word when you have spoken with her. Convince her ”

Her father stood then drawing La’agerthja to her feet and giving her a quick embrace, he turned and walked away.

La’agerthja followed tucking the letter into her pocket and biting into the almost forgotten roll to start her journey.

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