The Gatherings of War

All Rights Reserved ©

Soshii - I

Soshii took a deep breath, examining the Feasting Hall from her seat at the High Table. To her right, she could see her father, Summerlord Jin Ligen, engaged in a conversation about the history of House Ligen with her brother, Ser Shun Ligen, and her cousin, Ser Ino Ligen. Seated to her left was Princess Senya Sidlogn, who seemed absolutely appalled as she stared at her father, King Ludios, who was engaged in a drunken show of shamelessness as he butchered “Soya the Dragon Knight” with his pitiful singing, alongside a few serving boys next to the tables meant for the castle folk. Opposite of the King were Jin Ligen’s knights, exchanging stories and jokes while drowning themselves in ale.

In contrast to King Ludios, Princess Senya had only sipped her wine twice throughout the night. Soshii had the impression that while Senya enjoyed the music the bards were playing, she would have preferred to be anywhere in Rosehall, over watching her father humiliate himself in front of his vassals.

Soshii, much like Princess Senya, felt slightly bothered by the current state of the feast. Soshii had humbly asked her father to allow her to accompany him and his traveling party to Westlord Gerron Seise’s tourney at Speartip, and although he had consented, he had made the choice of hiring a group of inhuman mercenaries from Bluewatch to ‘escort’ them to Saltsprew. The inhumans had arrived that same morning, and Soshi had been forced by her father to courteously greet them and bow before them. How humiliating, Soshii bitterly thought, a highborn Lady does not bow before a group of repulsive heretics. Soshii could see the inhumans in the feasting hall; their leader was a wizard named Han, who had the creaseless eyes typical of western Shesmaer; black and shiny in colour, complemented by the equally black and shiny, very straight hair, completely shaved at the sides. Soshii had overheard that his companions called the inhuman “Whisperhand”, but she didn’t understand the reasoning behind the moniker.

To increase Soshii’s frustration, her mother, Lady Shesan of Rosehall, had left the castle several days prior to make for her father’s keep in The Three Gates, leaving Soshii with no one to converse with, except for Princess Senya, who only seemed interested in silently disapproving of her father. Soshii took another glance at Senya, and the princess seemed to notice, as she turned her attention to Soshii and gave a false, awkward smile.

“Forgive me, my lady… My father; he is… Well, I’m afraid he’s starting to feel his age,” Senya told Soshii with a calm, gentle voice.

“They say that only a King may drink too much in another man’s castle, there is nothing to forgive” Soshii responded, keeping her courtesies as much as she could.

“This is my first time in Rosehall,” Senya told her, quickly forgetting her intentions to apologize in behalf of King Ludios, “It’s truly a wonderful castle. A sight to behold.”

“Is that so?” Soshii faked surprise and humility. Indeed, it is, she thought. “In that case, I believe you would get along wonderfully with Scribe Fioren, my Princess.”

Senya faintly smirked. “I am not a princess; by oath, my lady,” she corrected Soshii, “Please, do not give me honours I do not deserve, I am a Dame; a Swordmaiden, not a princess.”

“I didn’t mean to offend you—” Soshii hurriedly said.

“And you haven’t,” Senya interrupted her, “Truly, it is a common mistake to make.”

A mistake, is it? Soshii thought, I could never understand her position.

“Anyhow,” Senya continued, “I’m afraid Scribes and scholars are simply too… Dull, at least in my experience. Perhaps you could share some of his knowledge.”

“As you wish… What would you like to know?” Soshii asked reluctantly.

“Your walls; they’re a wonderful craft… How tall are they, exactly?” Senya inquired.

“The outer set surrounding the moat are ninety feet tall and twenty feet thick. The inner set surrounding the castle complex are a hundred and ten feet tall; twenty-five feet thick.” Soshii explained.

“Impressive,” Senya responded, “I would have never thought you would be so interested in castle fortifications to remember the exact details of them.”

Soshii slightly bowed her head, proudly. “This is my home, after all, it is only natural for me to understand the place I live in,” she lied.

In reality, Soshii was highly proud of her name and heritage. ‘The most beautiful Ligen in a hundred years,’ they call me, she thought, trying to not let her self-approval show through. Soshii was fond of her family and the realities being a part of it brought to her. She was one of the youngest, most suitable brides in Shesmaer, and as she and many others would have it, the most beautiful as well. Soshii had carefully kept waves of long flaming red hair that reached her mid-back; her skin was very light and unblemished, without reaching the extreme of looking pale; her cheekbones were high and her creaseless eyes had a vivid, charming green colour that was unique to her family. Soshii had hoped to be able to infatuate Prince Ellos with her beauty, so that her father would approve of a match between House Sidlogn and House Ligen; however, King Ludios had told his hosts that the prince had chosen to remain at Royal Bay, deeply disappointing Soshii.

Soshii noted that Senya herself was also pretty, albeit unladylike at first glance. Senya had an oval shaped face with deep blue creased eyes; “As blue as the Stormsea,” Soshii’s brother had told her in privacy, seemingly enamoured by the princess. Senya had thick dark chestnut hair, as long as Soshii’s, although she apparently enjoyed keeping it tied in a bun most of the time; Soshii thought it was fitting for the princess to keep her hair down for the feast, and even though she didn’t mention it, Senya agreed, as she arrived in the feasting hall a completely different woman from the one that had greeted Soshii during the day. Senya wore a silken gown of light lavender colour; with long sleeves and baggy cuffs that kept her hands hidden and the silk white sash tied around her waist gave the princess a slim, womanly figure.

Soshii wondered why a young princess of marrying age would serve in an order of warrior monks; and, being unable to keep her curiosity hidden despite the rudeness of the question, she asked, “Might I ask what led you to swear an oath to the Swordmaidens?”

The question seemed to make Senya happy. “Well, I assure you it was not because of the songs telling me it was ‘The biggest honour for a young Lady,’” she said, stopping to ponder her words for a moment, “I believe in my House. I believe in myself, I wanted to make something out of my name and my life. Being remembered by history codices just as ‘Senya, Mother of a Sidlogn King’ isn’t too appealing to me.”

Weird way to look at it, Soshii thought. “The Swordmaidens are all women, how do you cope with leaving behind the thought of your House’s legacy?”

Senya smirked, “Our oath enforces celibacy and tells us never to marry. I knew that when I said the words, and so did my Oathsisters. We made a choice. I made a choice, and I stand by it.”

Soshii turned her sight away from Senya, back to the inhumans, feeling confused about Senya’s reasoning. Soshii had noticed that several times through the night, the inhumans, particularly Han Whisperhand, had been staring at her at several points, and turning their look away when she seemed to notice. Senya seemed to notice as well, as she joked, “It seems you have quite the admirers over there.”

“I’d much rather not to,” she responded bitterly, “I can’t comprehend what went through father’s head when he brought them here; even more so when he allowed them into the feast.”

“Perhaps he wants to be in friendly terms with them,” Senya said, “It’s not like most inhumans are too fond of their lords, let alone a foreign one.”

Soshii kept looking at the inhumans, paying no mind to courtesies when talking to Senya for the first time. I don’t like them, she thoroughly decided, I despise them; I don’t want them close to me.

Soshii turned her head to her father. “Father, I’m feeling tired now, would you kindly excuse me?” she asked.

Her father looked at her eyes, more likely than not, trying to not yell at her for trying to escape her own feast. “Dame Senya seems to be enjoying your company, it would—”

“Oh, in that case, would you show me the way to my chambers, my young Lady?” Senya jumped, interrupting Summerlord Ligen, “The vintage of the Summer Fields is simply too good; I lost track of my senses and I’m afraid I feel a little lightheaded,” she added, discretely moving her goblet away.

Soshii’s father grunted, “Aye; Soshii, show Dame Senya to her chambers at the Tower of Bards, then you can go back to your own chambers.”

Soshii stood up and bowed to her father. Senya followed her out of the feasting hall. “Thank you, truly,” she told the Dame.

“Oh, I’m just glad I don’t have to look at my oaf of a father anymore. It was nothing, I wanted to leave as well,” Senya answered.

Soshii took Senya to a spacious room in the Tower of Bards; a tall free-standing tower where most of the guests would sleep in Rosehall. “I hope everything is fitting, if you’ll excuse me, I will go now,” she told Senya, who lightly bowed in gratitude.

Soshii made her way to her bedchambers, at the top floor of the Tower of Bards; a very large, round room with plentiful windows, perhaps more than what was wise for a castle. Her two handmaidens; a pair of black-eyed and dark-haired girls named Iri and Rezu had been waiting for her inside. “Iri, fetch Cloud Poppy Essence from Scribe Fioren’s dwellings, please,” she told the quicker handmaiden immediately, the girl nodded and ran off to fetch the concoction. “Help me out of this gown, Rezu.”

Iri did not take too long to return with the cloud poppy essence. “Scribe Fioren assured me that merely two drops of the vial in Wildswood tea will give you a full night of dreamless sleep, my Lady,” Iri told Soshii.

After drinking the tea and dismissing her handmaidens, Soshii quickly felt the effects of Scribe Fioren’s concoction, barely managing to messily lie in her bed, covered under the thick blankets, however, contrary to what she had been promised, Soshii dreamt of images she could not comprehend, and of a few that she could. She successively saw herself in the middle of a vast, flat desert; floating in the sky, dangerously close to a dark comet leaving a light blue tail on the sky; standing in regal dresses over a crowd of people knelt before her and lastly, standing over a void of nothing, and yet at the same time, a void of everything. She could see strange things floating around her; resembling wind gusts, flames, sea tides and collapsing rocks. Through it all, Soshii could hear strange, terrifying whispers that had no meaning to her; words such as “Weaving”, “Deicadea” and “Isseir”.

When she woke up, her breathing was ragged and violent, her thoughts incoherent and her legs weak. When she finally managed to get her strength back, Soshii hid her discomfort and went through the preparations to leave Rosehall as if she just had the best night of her entire life.

Continue Reading

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.