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The Black Archers

By Quinton12 All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy

Prologue

The Riders had returned only moments before. Several dismounted promptly, the steeds quickly covered in blankets and the men swiftly removing the armour and swords. The stable hands reined the horses, the mares unsettled and butting against the gates.

'Lively.' Ser Alfred acknowledged. A stable boy, no more than eighteen and with skin as brown with mud as ever was seen, nodded in agreement.

'Aye, both beast and wind.' returned Ser Ramon. He was tall and well-built, the second son of Lord Glindale and sworn into the Knights Guild at barely twelve. He had shown a talent for riding early in his life, ever since he had ridden with his brother, re-enacting The Siege of Ceraborn and had broken a destrier just several weeks later. Ramon was the image of his father, soft speckled skin with amethyst eyes and a frame as thick set as could be. Ramon remained on his horse, a great black steed and the colt of the his original steed.

The gates were locked and barred and Ser Alfred's men dismounted and made way towards the Lower Halls. Ceraborn was the eldest of all Western Kingdoms, the first to be built by the New Folk after Brodon Westermann's conquest over a thousand years ago. And still, yet with walls and lands slowly decaying, it was the crown of power within the West. Ser Alfred sighed heavily as he took the mares from their masters and put them in the stables, they seemed worn and scared- he had seen mares act like this before, even if those whom he told did not believe him. His mind however was on other things that evening, he thought of his son Aeldard out on his first ride down to Fildron. The road was secure and the party full of good strong riders, yet a father must worry for his son, if he does not then the title of father is as worthless as a blunt sword. The mares wouldn't calm, he threw in hay and cooled them with water, yet all stared towards the gate and bashed their hind legs upon the stone floor. This night indeed was full of a great unseen darkness.
He closed and barred the stable doors but the mares continued to whimper, he decided it best to ignore them. Perhaps it was just the ride that had wearied them. Ser Alfred walked into the Lower Halls and took off his cloak.

'Ramon, tell the guard's to mind the mares.' He ordered, his words carried by the winds that swept through the stable yard and smashed against the gates.

Ramon dismounted, the stallion keeping close behind him. He bolted the gates behind him and patted the horse on it's thick neck, its beaded mane soft and smooth.

'Boy,' Ramon called, the stable boy ran to him, 'tonight shall be hell for the horses. I want them guarded at all times. We cannot afford them to bolt or be scared. Is that understood?'

'Aye sir.' The boy replied.

The Duke of Tyburn unsheathed his sword and handed it to the boy.

'And ask the blacksmith to sharpen my blade, it is blunt.'

'Aye Ser Ramon.' the boy replied.

The Duke turned and faced the moon, the light hitting his face and chilling his skin. He shuddered slightly and made way to the Lower Halls.

The Lower Halls were The Great Halls were beyond imagination, the floor was marble and great pillars of black and gold stood in rows of six from the north to the south end of them. There were six long wooden tables, held now for over one hundred years, which were engraved with the sigil of the house. The house was Haurr, the great Lords of Men since Brodon III. But now a new king sat upon the Old Throne, his name was Giraud, second of his name and his reign was now in it's tenth summer. The sigil, a great speckled Mouse-hawk soaring through the scattered golden beams of the Southern Sun. The colours gleamed even in the candle dark of the hall, a choice made by the First King as a sign of the light that would shine upon his house and name until the sun sank forever-more. About the halls were flung the other sigils, several in all of the so-called Higher Houses- The pouncing cat of Greygor, The Trout of Telk and The Trees of Bridge-end. Ramon made his way through the servants and lords and but stopped short of bowing before the king, he looked upon the throne, the long skirts of the throne swayed slightly, all beaded with small hand-cut jewels of crimson and sapphire. Ramon looked about him, the air thick with the smells of meat, bread and ales.


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