“The Foolish Prince”
“The Foolish Prince”
This is a story about a foolish Prince, an evil sorcerer, and the misuse of a magical artifact of great power . . . mischief and chaos ensue.
** The battle is joined. Will the forces of good prove victorious? Or will the Stygian Sorcerer win out? **
** The battle is joined. Will the forces of good prove victorious? Or will the Stygian Sorcerer win out? **
*** Chapter Eleven ***
Steel rang on steel as the force of Northmen led by Duke Alaric smashed through the few guards on duty. Looking down at Kyler, his sword drawn and bloody from opening the gate, Alaric grinned. Then looked at one of his House Carls, “Take the first troop up onto the walls. Secure the towers and the outer wall!”
“Aye my lord.”
Looking at another warrior, “Take the second troop and storm the barracks. Even now the King’s Guard will be arming. Don’t let them. Take them prisoner if you can, kill them if you must!”
“Ay my lord, but what of the garrison in town? They must have heard the horns. Shall we secure the gates?”
Suddenly, three short sharp horn blasts rang up from the river piers. “HA! Old Baron Turvasatama and his boys have arrived.” Looking down at the warrior who’d spoken Alaric shook his head, “Nay, Jaegar, the Baron will deal with them. Hold the gate open. If the King is still alive he will try to rally his guards. This fight isn’t over.”
It took a moment for Nefertari to understand the significance of the horns ringing around the castle. “What?” she gasped her cock buried in Gunter’s mouth.
“They are blowing the alarm, my lord.” Viveca announced, in her soft, little girl’s, voice, her wide blue eyes filled with worry helped to clear Nefertari’s head.
“I must go to the Great Hall. My Master-at-Arms will meet me there.” In that moment she realized that she’d not gotten around to replacing Gunter. “Damn, get off me wench.” Nefertari said pushing Gunter away. Having a cock had been one of the greatest experiences of Nefertari’s life but stuffing her still hard member into her cod piece and then climbing into a set of trousers taught her that at times dealing with it was less than fun.
Grabbing Oberon’s sword still only half dressed Nefertari rushed to the Great Hall summoning warriors as she ran. The training of a life time, that Oberon had drilled into his body, came to her easily and she started issuing orders. “Use the servant’s stairs, get to the barracks and rally the guard and bring them to the Hall!” she ordered one of the four guards she kept outside her suite. “Find Prince Caspar, he’s either in Horus’s tower or with his wife. Move!” A second guard darted away.
Nefertari took off at a run for the Hall. She arrived to find light streaming in from the skylights in the roof and half a dozen guards barricading the great doors. “What’s the situation, sergeant!”
The man with strips on the sleeve of his uniform turned and snapped a quick salute, “Unknown. A force of Northmen raced through Castletown at dawn. The gates to the castle were opened from within and the draw bridge lowered. There was nothing to slow, much less stop, the Northmen.”
“You’re sure it’s Northmen? That means Duke Alaric has turned traitor!” The Nefertari looked around. “We must hold the hall. Duke Alaric’s warriors are strong and fearless, but once we’re reinforced we’ll have them out numbered. Warriors from the Garrison will have heard the alarm! Soon we’ll have them between a hammer and anvil!”
Nefertari’s confident words echoed around the hall and the warriors lifted their swords cheering. Stepping away from the Sergeant Nefertari looked around trying to figure out a way to escape. Her words had been meant to lift the spirits of the men defending her, but Oberon’s memories told her that it would be a hard fight. Alaric was no fool, for him to try this, he had to have help. ‘Which of the Great Houses have aligned with Alaric?’ she wondered.
Suddenly an inner door to the hall burst open and the Crown Prince, wearing armor and carrying a sword rushed in followed by a troop of warriors he’d made into his personal guard. The nine warriors moved forward to pitch in with securing the hall while Horus strode over to Nefertari.
“What has happened?”
“It looks like Alaric is attempting to take the throne.”
“Damn Prince Caspar!” Horus whispered. At the strange look from Nefertari he shook his head, “The Prince has given the Duke sufficient reason for this assault.”
As they spoke more warriors flowed into the hall from side passages. Then a heavy blow caused the great doors to shiver. For a moment the hall went silent. Then a soldier raced in from the still open side passage.
“My lord, they are attacking the barracks. Captain Ranulf is trying to hold them.”
“Close the side doors. Secure this room!” Nefertari boomed out using Oberon’s battlefield voice. “I’d wager, Captain Otto has mustered the Garrison and is marching to our relief.”
“My, lord, I do not know if that will happen.” A warrior who’d just entered the hall said, skidding to a stop a few feet away. “I was stationed in the north tower and when the horns were sounded I remained where I was until Sergeant Coen ordered me to report.” At this he gulped for air and Nefertari put one hand on his shoulder, “Take a deep breath and give me your message.”
The man nodded looking relieved to see the King so calm. “The Garrison, it is burning. As best as we can tell, hundreds of war boats came up the river from the coast overnight. They were flying the Red banner with the Black Eagle of Turvasatama.” Then he continued in a rush, “Sergeant Coen said to tell you that in addition to Turvasatama’s warriors, it looks like the Baron brought at least one mercenary company with him.”
“Goodman, now go report to Sergeant Horst.” The warrior saluted the man he thought was his king and hurried off.
Turning to Horus Nefertari whispered in a panic, “What will we do? Duke Alaric of Northumbria has, although few in number, the best warriors. Alone, we might have overcome them, but that old fox, Erick, is rich. He has almost as many Banner-men as I do. If he’s hired a mercenary company from the south, then we are outnumbered and outclassed.”
“How did they get into the castle? If we still held the walls, then we might have a chance.”
Nefertari shook her head, “I don’t know, but if Baron Erick is involved, then you can bet it’s been thoroughly planned. We need to escape.”
“Perhaps there is a way.” Horus said, looking at the doors and around the Hall. They now had five full squads of warriors, half a company. “I have a plan.”
Caspar followed along behind the warriors in the Prince’s personal guard. She ran just a bit slower than the others and when they rounded a turn in the passageway she stopped. The false Prince had swept by his wife’s suite trailing a string of soldiers and ordered the guards to fall in. The woman in Jung’s body had instantly complied, but Caspar knew that she needed to hold back. There was no doubt in her mind that the horns sounding the alarm merely heralded the arrival of her father and brothers.
Now out of sight she turned and raced back to the princess’s apartments. When she arrived, she saw that the door was still closed. During times like this, it was common for servants to settle scores or to attempt a little murder to gain favor with the new King. Caspar didn’t want her body to die uselessly while she possessed the body of another. She opened the door and saw her body sitting undisturbed.
Quickly she bolted the door behind her. Then she picked up her body and carried it to the bedchamber. She lay her body in the bed and whispered, “Soon, I’ll be home and Sanja will be the Prince. Then this will all be over.”
Gunther raced through the streets. Behind him a troop of over a hundred handpicked warriors from his father’s Banner-men kept pace. Erick and Alaric had met and planned this assault weeks ago, or more precisely they’d met and Erick had instructed Alaric on the best way to take the castle. The plan hadn’t been finalized until Kyler had joined the cause. The rumors of foul magic had slowly spread and Alaric already knowing that Caspar had used magic assume his likeness, and take his wife, had been eager to form an alliance when Erick approached him.
The rumors of dark magic had worried Erick and then Princess Sanja had sent her cry for help and Erick had known he had to act. The key to the plan was Kyler. He’d come to Erick of his own accord with a tale of evil magic. Kyler knew every nook and passage of the castle. He’d grown up with Caspar and they’d played in them together. He knew that the main sewage was poorly guarded and once through he could bring a small force to the gate. The force must take the Guardhouse over the drawbridge, lower it, secure the barbican, and open the gate. Once open a second, fast moving, force needed to enter and hold the courtyard before it became a kill zone. Then if possible they had to take the curtain wall and secure each of the towers while attacking the castle guard’s barracks. Duke Alaric’s warriors were known for their ferocity and skill. He’d readily agreed to this bold plan.
Erick had explained that the King would move to the Great Hall in the Keep to make his stand. They didn’t need to assault the keep until the rest of the castle had been taken. Then they would take their time in subduing the Hall and following that, execute the King and Prince together.
However, Erick didn’t totally trust the Duke and had kept aspects of the plan hidden. The fact he’d hired a thousand warriors of the Iron Hand Mercenary Company was something he hadn’t shared. He’d also sent Gunther ahead of the main force. Gunther had beached his boats before dawn and with a hand-picked troop raced on foot through Castletown, unnoticed. Arriving at the castle just behind Alaric, Gunther’s job was to enter the Castle proper and find Princess Sanja. They were to keep her, and her mother Queen Viveca, safe. If possible.
Gunther, as his oldest son, had been given command of this mission and he led the troop with Ludwig, the youngest brother, as his second in command. Ludwig matched him stride for stride. Soon they raced over the drawbridge into the castle. Gunther looked around and realized that Alaric had brought more warriors south than he’d said he could muster. The assault on the barracks was proceeding but the Royal Guards were giving a good account. The remainder of Alaric’s force looked to be assaulting the Keep and the Great Hall.
“Gunther, Duke Alaric, breaks faith with us!” Ludwig said, pointing with his sword toward the Keep.
“Nay, brother, he simple has his own agenda. As do we. Come, let Duke Northumbria carry out his grudge against the Royal family. Our task is to protect our sister!” With that Gunther started jogging toward the castle proper.
The messenger raced up to Duke Alaric, “My lord, the men of Turvasatama have arrived.”
At this Alaric turned away from watching his warriors as they used a ram to smash through the oak and iron doors of the Keep. “What is this you say?”
“My lord a troop of men in Turvasatama colors have entered the castle. They are led by Baron Erick’s oldest son Gunther.”
Duke Alaric nodded, “Where are they? Has Turvasatama already taken the town?”
“Nay, my Duke. There is fighting and smoke at the garrison. Gunther is assaulting the castle.”
At this Alaric shrugged, “The old man doesn’t trust me. He looks to secure his daughter. Well, in his boots, I wouldn’t trust me either. Pay it no mind.”
Suddenly, there was a loud crack and Alaric heard his warriors shouting then he watched as the doors were broken. Not willing to wait, to see the king’s dead body, he leapt forward holding his war ax over his head he raced into the hall.
As soon as Alaric cleared the ruins of the doors he saw that a troop of soldiers from the royal guard had formed a shield wall and stood facing his Northmen. He laughed and moved to the front of his men. “Prince Caspar, come out! Fight me you cur! I demand satisfaction for what you did to my wife.”
To his surprise the men parted and the Prince strode forward. He was armed in his full armor and carried a shield and sword. “Is it my fault if your slut of a wife can’t keep her legs together? Old man, I name you traitor and curse you. Come let us fight!”
At this Alaric snarled a curse and jumped forward intending to kill the insolent pup. To his surprise, Caspar dropped his sword and lifted a hand palm out and shouted a word he didn’t understand. Impossibly fire blossomed around his hand and then like a wave it rushed toward Alaric. Alaric’s last thought as the fire consumed was of his pregnant wife, ‘Annika, I’m sorry, I’ve failed.’
The fire rolled forward cutting a swath through the Northmen and sending a back blast of heat toward the royal guards. Horus endured the back blast of heat and it took all his self-control not to buckle to his knees. He’d used up his entire magical reserve in one blast. He only hoped it was worth it. Looking back over his shoulder he shouted, “Forward!” and then put words to action. He picked up his dropped sword and charged the few soldiers who’d survived the blast.
Using the skill he’d stolen from the real Prince, Horus rushed forward. The first warrior he met was still dazed and he cut him down easily. Then he heard Nefertari boom out in Oberon’s commanding voice, “Follow the Prince! Forward, for Vannaheim! For the Crown, kill them all!”
The avalanche of steel was more than the dazed Northmen could deal with. In a flash, they were out of the Great Hall and into the courtyard. Horus wasted no time in racing to the drawbridge and fighting his way over it. Supported by the royal guard they were soon at the barbican.
Abruptly, Horus felt a sting in his neck right above his breast plate. The force of the blow caused him to stagger back a half step. He looked down without being able to comprehend the red and black feathered shaft of a crossbow bolt protruded from his neck. Then a second shaft joined the first and a third. He tried to breath but blood filled his lungs. The world started to fade and he felt his knees hit the wood of the bridge. As he fell forward he felt magic burn through his veins, and he spoke a word of power and felt the ring on his finger pulse, and then darkness consumed him.
Nefertari saw Horus fall as the scouts holding the barbican loosed a volley of crossbow bolts at him. She rushed to the Prince’s side and when she arrived she saw it was too late. Not knowing what else to do she pulled the ring from his hand and then stood up. She looked around and saw that her force of fifty Royal Guards had been reduced to just over thirty. “Follow me!” she shouted and ran forward. Charging the scouts before they had a chance to reload their crossbows.
Fighting through the barbican was hot, fierce, work and then she was through. Glancing around Nefertari darted down a side street. Oberon had never been the trusting type. There was a stable just inside the west bridge, with more than fifty horses, kept there by order of the King. If she could make it there, those horses would give Nefertari a chance. Oberon’s ancestral lands were west of Castletown. In a day, she’d be among his people. She could send out the Red-Arrow and the clan would respond. If it was to be civil war, Oberon was ready, and Nefertari planned to make good use of his forces.
Caspar heard the approach of armored men long before the pounding on the door. Drawing Cord’s sword she moved to the door, “Who approaches?”
“I’m Gunther, son of Duke Erick of Turvasatama, I demand that you open this door.”
Caspar threw open the door and dropped to one knee. “I am Cord, and I’m your prisoner.” Then she extended Cord’s sword hilt first. “Your sister is in the inner chamber.”
Gunther ignored the guard and rushed to the bed room. As he did he thought he heard the guard murmur, “Reditum.” He threw open the door in time to see Sanja sit up. “Sister?” Then he rushed to her side.
“Gunther, brother, thank the gods!”
*** Epilogue ***
The crescent moon glistened on the water as Caspar looked at the waves. The long boat rose and fell under the power of wind and wave as it made its way south. Without thinking about it she ran her hands slowly, protectively, over her belly. The babies in her womb had gone to sleep, yet her mind was too busy for sleeping. So much had happened over the last day and a half that Caspar had a hard time grasping it all.
The fall of Castletown to the Duke of Northumbria and Baron Turvasatama had left her feeling conflicted. She was the Son of Oberon and the rightful ruler of Vannaheim and to see her line overthrown was difficult to watch. Yet, Erick had come at her bidding. Then there was Kyler, her one true friend, who’d led the force that had opened the castle. He’d learned of his father’s disappearance and had decided that some fell magic was at work and had gone to Erick.
The fact that he’d been jealous of Kyler and had used the necklace to hurt him, in a petty revenge, left Caspar feeling ashamed and guilty. Then there was Northumbria. He’d just discovered that Alaric’s younger brother, Rolf, had been named regent before the Northmen had come south. The Duchess was with child and based on the timing Caspar didn’t know if it was his or Alaric’s baby.
“Are you well, sister?”
Caspar turned and saw that Ludwig had come to stand behind her and to one side by the railing. “I’m fine. It is difficult to sleep. Once we are home I will feel better.”
“Mother will be happy to see you. She has wished that she could be with you during your pregnancy, but father refused to allow her to visit.”
“Father is wise.” Caspar said then added, “Was there any word about the King?”
The King had escaped. With Alaric dead, the Northmen had returned Northumbria leaving Erick in control of Castletown. Caspar hadn’t been included in the war council but she wasn’t stupid. The troops of soldiers that had ridden out must have been sent to either hunt down the fugitive King and to bear the news of the conquest to the other Great Houses.
After Gunther made sure she was safe, Caspar had insisted they find the Queen and the ladies of the court to ensure their safety as well. She’d been a little surprised when Gunther agreed to her request. By noon, once the town had been secured and the fighting ended her father, Baron Erick had come to her. She had been sitting in the garden with the ladies of the court and the Queen. To her surprise her father had gone down on one knee and bowed to the queen and then to her. “Queen Viveca, daughter, my heart is lifted to see that you are safe.”
Caspar waited for Viveca to speak when she kept silent Caspar answered, “Father, I’m so glad to see you. Thank you, for the timely rescue.”
“I will always lift my sword to defend the weak and to rescue my family.” Erick stood up and offered his hand, “Walk with me daughter.”
Caspar had taken his hand and soon they’d left the members of court behind. Walking next to Baron Erick, Caspar was struck by the fact that she was only a little shorter than the Baron and the fact that in the time since Sonja had been his wife, the Baron had aged. The Baron’s hair was snowy white yet there was still a vitality about him. After several moments of silence Caspar asked, “What will you do next father?”
At this he laughed. “I will forge alliances with the Great Houses who are willing. I have gold, and soldiers, most of the Houses will join me. Then I will hunt Oberon and I will unite Vannaheim under my rule.”
“Can this be done?”
Erick paused and turned Caspar to face him, “Yes, daughter. I will name myself regent until your children are of age. This will bring the more traditional Houses in line. They’ve all heard the rumors of fell magic and think Oberon unfit to rule. The other Houses I will buy with gold or bring to heel with steel and fire. The only concern is Oberon. I’m sure he’s fled to the Red Hills where his clan lives. His people will come to him and they are tough fighters. If we are forced to take the fight into the Hills, it will be a long difficult campaign. I will offer him amnesty and exile if he abdicates in your favor. But enough of State, how are you? Your mother is anxious to see you.”
Caspar shook her head to drive out the memories. She hoped her father, Oberon, took the offer of exile but she doubted it. He had always been a proud man. But people change, Viveca, had agreed to go south with Caspar and it was a comfort to have her former mother with her. Even if she looked more like a sister than her mother. She still had questions, where was Gunter? What had become of the real Sanja? Why was the Queen so attached to her slave Unna? Then she felt the babies in her womb move and she sighed. Perhaps she’d have answers someday. At the moment, they didn’t matter. Without looking at Ludwig Caspar pulled the necklace, that had been the tool of so much chaos, up over her neck. She looked at the crystal for a second and then tossed it into the ocean. ‘I’m Sanja, now and forever. I pray that my wife is happy wherever she is.’ Even as she thought it a part of Caspar knew that Sanja must be dead.
Nefertari looked up at the falling snow. An autumn snow storm in the Red Hills, was unusual and had reduced visibility to a few yards. Nefertari forced her warriors to keep moving. To stay in one place meant death. They had fought one skirmish with the mercenary riders Turvasatama had sent after them. Now with the snow falling she thought they had a chance.
“This way my lads.”
Nefertari turned from the road up a hunting path into the hills. The path would lead to a lodge King Oberon used from time to time to hunt. It would easily accommodate her remaining twenty warriors. Once out of the snow she’d formulate a plan. Sending messages to each of the remaining five Great Houses was the first option. Next, she’d gather the Red Hill Clans then she’d take back Vannaheim from Baron Erick and teach him what happened to those who crossed Stygia!
The two hours it took to get to the hunting lodge left Nefertari colder than she’d ever been. The snow and the wind had made the trip miserable. Once within the lodge she saw that Oberon had had plenty of foresight. The lodge would easily hold all of her men and the barn had been filled with hay and oats. The horses were her life, at this point.
“My lord, my daughter and I hadn’t known you were coming. We can have a meal ready within the hour.”
The old man who spoke was the care taker of the lodge and his name came to Nefertari from the depths of her mind. “Thank you, Tyr, today has been difficult for all my men. Is there any beer left from my last visit?”
“Aye, my king. There are several barrels in the cellar. If I could have the use of a few of your strong men I will bring them up.”
“My sergeant will see to it. The men deserve a drink.” Looking around Nefertari added, “Is my room ready?”
“Yes, my lord. Although, it is just a bed chamber.”
“That’s fine Tyr. Please have a mug of beer and some food sent to me.”
When she retired to her chamber Nefertari couldn’t resist playing with the ring she’d taken from Horus dead hand. There was something about it, something that called to her. The knock on the door startled her. “Come in.”
The door opened and a tiny, timid looking girl came in. She offered a quick curtsy and brought a tray to Nefertari. “O king, my father sends his regrets. He is serving your men. He asked me to bring this to you.”
The tray held a mug of beer, bread, and what looked like a vegetable soup. The smell of the soup made Nefertari’s mouth water, and then she felt a burning from the ring.
“Girl, what is your name?”
“Brigit, my lord.”
“How old are you Brigit?”
“I’ve seen fifteen summers my lord.” The girl said eyes looking down. Her long blonde hair hid her face. Nefertari looked closer and saw that she’d developed a sizable chest even though it was hidden by the baggy dress she was wearing. Nefertari felt her manhood stir at the thought of another big breasted blonde barbarian to conquer.
“Brigit, this ring is enchanted and is important to me and the kingdom. I need someone I can trust to wear it and keep it secret until I return for it. Can you do this for me?” Nefertari said holding out Horus’s ring.
“I-I can my lord.” Brigit reached out, took the ring, and slipped it onto her hand. Then she offered another curtsy and as she stood up a ruby glow burst from her eyes and the crystal set into the ring. It only lasted for a few seconds and then the girl collapsed to her knees.
Nefertari stood up and moved to her side, “Brigit, are you alright?”
The girl looked up and met Nefertari’s eyes, “Do you not know your master, slave?” The voice was the tiny girl’s but the inflection was Horus and Nefertari smirked.
“Horus, how have you survived? I saw you cut down.”
“I paid the price to the lords of the Underworld. They did not come for my soul, instead my spirit went into the ring. I only needed the rise of the moon and a new body to act.” Then as if realizing he was in a new body Horus looked down. In surprise, he reached up to rub his enormous, soft, breasts and then he looked at Nefertari. “You fool! You gave the ring to a girl! A girl with no magical talent! I should send you screaming into the abyss for this!”
Horus world exploded and then he was looking up at the very large form of Nefertari standing over him. “Fool! You have no power over me. I’m the King! You’re a peasant girl with no magical power.” Slowly Nefertari pulled a small flask from within his robe, “Drink this.”
Horus scuttled back eyes wide in horror, “I-Is that what I think it is?”
Nefertari grinned evilly down at her former master. “Yes, little one. Soon you will know a woman’s pleasure. I think I’ll train you as a pleasure slave, just as I was once trained.”
Horus tried to fight but he was too small and too weak. Nefertari forced the burning potion down his throat and he shuddered knowing what would come next.
“Oh, and I’ll take that for safe keeping.”
Horus tried to fight to keep the ring but Nefertari pulled it from him and then hung it from a chain. Then she draped it around her neck. “For safe keeping until the full moon.” Slowly, Nefertari discarded her clothes while Horus watched. Nefertari’s manhood was already rampant and Horus licked his soft puffy feminine lips unable to look away.
Nefertari caught him looking and smirked, “We are going to have so much fun. I’m looking forward to teaching you how to be a pleasure slave, Brigit.”
*** THE END ***
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