Story by The Nimrodellian Tale-Spinner
“Greetings High Lord Morianart,” Gwindaelin spoke with dulcet tones, curtseying low. “The splendor of your court is spoken of all the way in Dale, though I see now that they are but images of the truth.” With a smile she finished, eyes shining like starlight, and resumed her place at Lord Almavar’s side.
Vasper leaned forward on his throne, still enraptured with the pleasing creature before him. The supports of his great seat groaned under his weight as he bowed on his throne, flattered by Gwindaelin’s greeting. Lustful thoughts flitted through his mind as he gazed at his advisor’s daughter, but he disassembled them and returned her fair greeting.
“The splendor of my court pales in comparison to the splendor of Lord Almavar’s daughter, whose countenance outshines the brightest jewels of the earth. The rumors spoke truly that Lord Almavar had a treasure in his household.” Gwindaelin beamed and gave a polite nod as Vasper looked to his advisor. “I had not known that you had a daughter Lord Almavar and I am sure I would have heard of such a beautiful young lady before.”
Lord Almavar responded, “She has been living in Dale with relatives of mine for some years getting her education. If I had not mentioned it before it is merely because matters here in Riverwatch have occupied all of my thoughts these past years and the subject had never been brought up.”
High Lord Morianart drank from his large flagon of wine and wiped his lips, his eyes fixed on Gwindaelin. “Yes, I suppose I have kept you quite busy Lord Almavar, perhaps you have earned some time to rest and recuperate from matters of state. But I am curious, how comes it that the pretty lady was so close at hand?”
“Ahhhh, well,” Lord Almavar began. “My daughter has been so enamored with the stories I have told her about the magnificence of the High Lord’s court and the benevolence of High Lord Morianart himself that she wished me to present her as a potential Lady-in-waiting at the first opportunity.”
Vasper smiled absurdly, the flames of lust rekindled in his dark heart as he looked down on the pretty girl who blushed crimson under his gaze. “Is that so? Well I would be delighted to have such a lovely young lady at my side if it pleases her. There are many tasks at court and I am sure we can find something befitting her particular talents.”
Lord Almavar felt his stomach clench, he knew quite well what tasks Vasper gave to his female servants, and it took all of his inner fortitude and discipline to not show the disgust he was feeling. He regretted now the path he had set his servant Gwen on and would have considered scuttling his plans if they were not already too deep in.
“Then it is settled then,” Lord Almavar managed finally. “I will make the preparations and present her officially at the palace tomorrow. Gwindaelin is quite the songbird, I am sure the High Lord will be pleased with her.” With that the two of them bowed low and departed and Vasper watched the young girl with greedy eye as she disappeared through the door.
The next day Gwindaelin was officially presented as a Lady-in-waiting to the court and proceeded to charm the High Lord with her singing and graceful demeanor. Never was she far from his side and often she would sit at the foot of his throne as he attended to Riverwatch’s business. There he would he run his fingers through her hair lecherously and make lewd comments as she gazed up to him affectionately as her Lord. It was in just such a position that she sat when Endhorg returned from his mission days later.
Endhorg was in a sour mood when he entered the palace doors and attendants gave the large warrior a wide berth. The hunt for Meragil Quickblade and his band of mercenaries had been fruitless and Endhorg and his soldiers had found nothing but rumors of their passing.
Endhorg longed for battle and to prove himself to everyone once and for all that he was the greatest warrior in the Dale-lands. It gnawed at him that anyone would think some young upstart like Meragil could defeat him and it was with a surly grunt that he pushed open the doors to the palace’s main room.
Inside he found his adopted father, chuckling and giving his attention to a girl that Endhorg did not at first recognize. But as his presence became known, Vasper grinned at his son, greeted him and showed off the girl at his side. As she lifted her head and Endhorg became aware of her, he stared with wide eyed shock at the woman that Lord Almavar promised would be his. His discipline almost broke down but he managed to maintain his composure as Gwindaelin shot him a quick sad look. Morianart misinterpreted his son’s expression and laughed with glee.
“Quite the little prize is she not?” Vasper Chortled. “Newly acquired from Lord Almavar.”
Endhorg jaw clenched and he stared hard at the girl who averted her eyes so as not to meet his gaze. He knew as much as Almavar, what Vasper did with the ladies of his court. “Very nice,” he responded. In his mind his rage was building and he wanted nothing more than to hunt down Lord Almavar and get revenge for the insult and effrontery of the merchant noble. But stone-faced he gave his report and High Lord Morianart frowned mightily upon hearing that Merigal had slipped from his son’s grasp.
“Troubling news indeed, my son,” Riverwatch’s tyrant said. “But Merigal will show his nose eventually and when he does, we shall cut it off and hang his body from the palace walls as a warning to other aspiring heroes.” Endhorg nodded with barely controlled anger as Vasper laid his hand upon Gwindaelin. “In the mean time I would like to host a dance with my newly acquired Lady-in-waiting as the main attraction. She is quite the singer and I want all the nobles and their families to be there to admire my latest treasure’s talent.”
Endhorg nodded his assent and dismissed himself from the High Lord’s presence. His rage had reached a boiling point and he quickly mounted his steed and made his way to Lord Almavar’s residence.
Lord Almavar heard a loud banging on his door but before he could react, the hinges were shattered and the doors were flung open haphazardly and he stared terrified as the massive giant stood enraged upon the threshold. Before Almavar could speak, Endhorg, his face red in anger, grabbed the merchant and flung him up against the wall. Lord Almavar feared for his life as the bloodshot eyes of the deadly warrior stared him down.
“I should kill you now foolish little man,” Endhorg fumed. “How DARE you give your daughter over to High Lord Morianart after promising her to me. Did you think that such an insult would go unpunished?” The muscles of the great man bulged as he held Almavar clear off the ground and Almavar winced in pain as he was slammed again against the wall.
“It was not my idea!” Almavar managed to gasp when he had caught his breath. “The High Lord takes what he pleases, you know this none better. When he heard rumor of my daughter, he sent for her and before I could protest, the deed was done and she was made a Lady of his court.”
Endhorg eased his grip slightly as he considered Almavar’s words. He knew indeed the possessive greed of his adopted father. How many lands had he helped seize in his name? How many farmer’s daughters had he made off with that had caught the High Lord’s eye to become nothing more than toys for his insatiable, lustful appetite? Images of Vasper’s bed and of fair Gwindaelin upon it haunted him as he looked at the frightened man’s neck held firmly in his hands.
Endhorg needed time to think. Unceremoniously he dumped Almavar on the ground and the noble crumpled on the floor, gasping for air. The giant warrior left without a word, pushing what was left of Almavar’s door away before heading off to consider how he would next act.
Lord Almavar lay on the floor and caught his breath as his servants came out of hiding and attended to him. He was still in a state of shock at how close he had come to death at Endhorg’s hands and thanked the gods that the deadly warrior had not acted before he could speak. Almavar drank a glass of wine to calm his frazzled nerves as he summoned one of his trusted servants to his side.
“This is very important and must be done as secretly as possible,” he confided to his servant. “Ride out and see if you can get word to Merigal Quickblade or one of his people and give him a message. Be careful for the spies of Vasper Morianart are all around” Lord Almavar whispered his message and the servant nodded before departing. His plan was approaching its conclusion and Almavar brushed himself off and collected his thoughts as night came on.