King Barlemere Sebastian Edwards IV
In the heart of Castle Gallen, King Barlemere Sebastian Edwards the fourth stood on the balcony of his study overlooking the palace courtyard. He watched as his subjects scattered around like ants on a hill busy at work, keeping his kingdom running. To his dismay, he had a rough time trying to name the individuals bustling to and fro beneath him. In his youth he made it a priority to know the names and faces of every man, woman and child who entered the palace. Lord or not he would show all of his subjects the same degree of kindness and respect.
This was a far cry from his father who garnished animosity from his subjects until the red worm finally took him. He heard the whispers about his father and was determined to be a better king. He wanted his people to love him not fear him. Love would keep the peace whereas fear may spawn anger, upheaval, and unrest. As a young king he worked hard at building good will and trust between he and all that dwelled within his borders.
Now, twenty years later he is more hated and reviled than his father ever was. This broke his heart in ways he could never show of speak of to any one for none could understand his plight. Not even his beloved queen or his children knew how the people’s angst affected him so.
In his youth he thought his father was out of touch with his people. Can he not see what they truly think of him? With the crown comes an understanding, of one's place in the realm. Though he loves the people of Gallendale more than they will ever know, they hate him in return for the actions he takes. They despise him for doing the very things that keep them safe and allow peace to reign in his borders.
After sometime he stopped learning the names of those around him. Not unless they were vital to his day to day duties. It was easier to deal with those who think ill of you when they don’t have an identity. Distancing himself from his subjects was the only way he could be a good king. It was the only way he could be the king Gallendale deserves.
The grand doors to the study swung open as King Barlemere heard the voice of his son Alexander attempting to calm someone down. Barlemere took in a deep breath as he prepared himself to deal with whatever problem had just barged into his study. Barlemere put his thoughts of years gone to the side and slipped into his kingly demeanor.
“Father,” Prince Alexander called out. “I’m afraid Count Marcellus—”
“What is the meaning of this?” Count Marcellus Ducard’s voice instantly agitated the king. Barlemere left the balcony to see a red faced Marcellus storming towards him with the crown prince following. Behind the prince were two knights of the Royal Shield dressed in full armor with their silver cloaks flapping as they approached. Over their chest plate they wore a green slash embroidered with the the golden crown behind the image of clashing swords. Green was the color of Prince Alexander as these were his personal guards.
The Prince and Marcellus alike were dressed in white dublets. Where the prince wore a simple vest with his family’s crest on his left chest Marcellus looked as if he were heading to a ball. A thick gold chain with rubies and diamonds bounced against the hefty man's chest. Each finger of his hand carried jewelry that sparkled against the sun light from the windows.
“What is the issue now Marcellus,” Barlemere raised a hand to his son. Marcellus had become quite the nuisance over the past couple of years. It seemed as if there was always one thing or another for him to complain about. The Count has visited the king’s court more than any other lord in Gallendale and he never failed to make his concerns heard. He had become to familiar with the king but it seems now he has reached a new level of boldness. Barlemere stood behind his desk but did not take a seat. Instead he eyed Marcellus as he approached in an attempt to remind him who he was speaking to.
“Your Highness,” Marcellus began. “The prince has informed me that castle Gallen’s summer tournament has been cancelled and I demand to know why?” The sweat from the summer’s sun was apparent on Marcellus which made his short brunette hair stick to his forehead.
“Demand?” Barlemere raised an eyebrow.
“I have waited over the last seven months for this tournament. I have stayed my blade against the acts of aggression against me, so justice could be found at the tournament. But if there will be no tournament then I will have to call upon my banners and seek justice myself.”
Barlemere did not hide the look of confusion on his face as he hadn’t the slightest idea of what Marcellus was referring too. This look caused his son to fill him in on the details.
“Father,” the prince said as he pushed his long blonde hair over his shoulder. “Count Marcellus was hoping to settle his dispute with house Saunders during the tournament. There seems to be a dispute over a mill.”
“There is no dispute,” Marcellus interjected. “There are just facts. The mill belongs to me. Yet Lady Amil’s farmers have used it without paying me with coin or grain.”
“Some of Lord Marcellus’ men put the wood to one of the farmers.” The Prince added.
“It is my right to protect my lands, is it not?” Marcellus asked. “I acted within my rights. Well that disgusting, blackhearted, despicable wench, then burned the crops of one of my farms.”
“She claims she played no part in the deed,” said the prince.
“She is a liar like her late husband was, like all of her bastard children are. She is a witch I tell you. Black to the core, with rot in her bones. I demanded retribution! I demanded that we settle this dispute in the melee to which the hag accepted. My four champions have been selected and are ready to right the wrongs committed by that despicable shrew. A purse has already been submitted to the Bank of Avril.”
“I see,” Barlemere said as he now understood why Marcellus was steaming.
“So,” Marcellus continued. “Either we have our melee at the tournament or I will be forced to muster my forces and march upon that evil witch.”
Barlemere fully accepted Marcellus’ argument and understood why he was upset. Since before the fall of the gods, tournaments were a way to keep the peace between the lords. Castle Gallen’s Summer Festival always started the tournament season. It was the biggest festival and usually the one where most would pick to settle their disputes. Unfortunately for Marcellus, this was not the time for lords of Gallendale to fight amongst each other as every able bodied man was needed elsewhere.
“The festival will not take place this year,” Barlemere pointed at Marcellus. “You along with Lady Amil and the other western lords will provided men from your lands to aide in the war effort.”
“Are you mad?”
“Five hundred men at arms, one hundred calvary and twenty archers will be supplied from each territory you govern.” The king allowed his words to sink in as he watched Lord Marcellus’ face morph from astonishment to anger.
“I have no more men.”
“You will provide—”
“I have no more men!” Marcellus voice echoed throughout the study as he slammed the palms of his hands on the kings desk.. The Knights of the Royal Shield grasped the handles of their swords and took a step toward the frustrated lord, causing the king to raise his hand to back them down. “The Empire has already raided our farms and took more men than we could afford to give.”
“The Emperor does not want farmers or merchant sons. He blames the failures against Bravengard on the lack of commitment from Gallendale. As such he is requesting any Lord with at least two sons; must send one with this next group of men as long as he is of age.” The words chipped at his heart as soon as the king said them. The look of horror that swept across Marcellus face as he realized what this meant for his sons further tore at the kings emotions. The Count looked at the king for empathy for which the king showed none. It pained Barlemere to do this to his people but he could never show it. Marcellus turned to the Crown Prince who was clearly confused and in shock by the news as well.
“Father,” the prince said. “We can’t do this. The Emperor has gone to far. This is not our war.”
“Silence!” Barlemere yelled at his son before eyeing him down. “Do not speak against your emperor ever again.” The king’s stare did not leave the prince until well after his son lowered his head in concession. Barlemere watched Marcellus’ brow wrinkle as he grit his teeth. He made fist with both of his hands until his knuckles turned completely white.
“What have you done?” Marcellus said under his breath. “I will not send my boys to go off and die in a foreign land against an enemy who means them no harm. They will not die for an emperor they have never seen and an empire across the sea.”
“The empire is all around us,” Barlemere waved to the air. “Gallendale has been apart of the empire for centuries and we have flourished because of it. Now it is time for us to do our part.”
“Is it?” Marcellus stood up straight. “So which of your sons will you send to fight the savages of Bravengard?”
“Mind yourself Lord Marcellus,” the king warned.
“I will go,” Prince Alexander announced. “We can not ask our people to make sacrifices that we are not willing to make ourselves. You have taught me that father, have you not? I will go to Bravengard and lead our people to victory against the savages. We will show the Empire and the rest of the realms that the men of Gallendale are to be feared by all who oppose the Empire.” Marcellus looked at the young prince and placed a hand on his shoulder nodding his head in approval.
“You will be a great king one day,” Marcellus said. “We can not lose you to this foolish war the way we have lost so many others.” Marcellus face went cold as he turned back to the king. “There are many brave boys like your son here. Many who are the future of our great kingdom. Everytime we send troops to fight these savages we are weakening our kingdom and our future. Always remember, Sangora watches. Three Warden watches. Bravengard will not lose this war to us or the empire cause they fight for something we lost as soon as your bloodline knelt to a foreign ruler.”
“My patience with this conversation has been exhausted,” Barlemere said as he waved off Marcellus’s comments. “You and the other lords of your region will do as the Emperor instructed.”
“I will not send my—”
“You will do what your king demands!” Barlemere’s anger surfaced as he slapped the desk in front of him. “I am your king, and I am demanding this from you and the other western lords!” Barlemere pounded the table again. “Fifty men at arms, twenty calvary, and twenty archers with high born sons to lead them. I demand this from you, Lady Amil, Lord Parrish, Count Barmont, House Parcel and Lord Aron! I demand it from every western count, viscount, marquess sheriff and governor!”
“Father,” The prince raised his hands and stepped toward the desk.
“All of the lords,” Barlemere continued. “You will do as your king demands or you will face the judgement of the crown. Now leave from my presence until you remember yourself.” Marcellus stood in front of the king visibly shaken and red faced. Barlemere anticipated a hostile response and even welcomed one as he feed into his anger. Instead Marcellus did his best to calm down and replied with a simple.
“As you wish your highness.” Marcellus made a sharp turn and stormed out of the kings study. After his departure silence fell upon the room which prompted Barlemere to address the Royal Shield.
“Leave me with my son. He will be out to join you shortly.” The knights clicked their heels together and placed a fist over their hearts before taking a bow and walking in unison out of the study, closing the door behind them.
“Father,” Alexander said before the king gestured for his silence.
“I am not going to lecture you or tell you how to think. You are past that now.” Barlemere walked from around his desk to stand beside his son. “Many of the lords of Gallendale think I am weak. They think we should do as Bravengard has done and break away from the Empire. They think we should fight for our freedom like they have done. What do you think? What would you have us do?” The prince stood silent for a moment before reaching his conclusion.
“I would do what you are doing.”
“Why?” the king asked.
“Bravengard was conquered, we were not. They lost their freedom to the empire while we joined the empire to make us stronger. We needed the Empire to fight off the armies of Sanogra. To go against the Empire, we would have to break the oath we pledged to them.”
“A war with the Empire would leave the west open to attack from Sangora as it did before.”
“We learn from our past, so we do not make the same mistakes in our future.” The king wrapped both his hands around the arms of his son. “The fight against Bravengard will end sooner than later. That is a fight we can win. A fight against the Empire and Sangora would be the end of our great kingdom.” Alexander nodded his head in agreement.
A knock on the door interrupted them before the door slowly opened. Midnight hair peaked its way through the slit of the door before squinty hazel eyes followed it. Jacquees the king’s advisor slowly revealed himself. Dressed in his usual black attire he softly closed the door behind him.
“Your highness,” Jaquess said before noticing Alexander. “My prince.” Jaquess bowed his head then darted quickly toward the both of them. “I have news your highness.”
“I am speaking with my son,” Barlemere waved the man away.
“This is urgent, I am afraid the news cannot wait your grace.”
“It is alright father,” Alexander said as he grabbed his father by the shoulder. He grew into his man strength now as his father could feel the power in his touch. “I should catch up to Marcellus before he leaves. I maybe able to calm him a bit before he returns west.” Barlemere nodded his head in approval as he saw no harm in trying. No need for the people to hate Alexander the way they did him. That burden will fall on him one day and there was no need to rush it. The prince exited the study as Jaquess remained silent until the door was completely closed.
“I have knews.”
“You have said this,” Barlemere said as he walked back around his desk.
“Dalvin Longsfeer has been captured.”
“What?” This was news the king was not expecting. “Where? When?”
“Riders delivered the message today. He is being held in a jail at Avril Bay.”
“Dammit!” The day was still early and the king wanted nothing more than for it to be over already. “Why couldn’t he just stay away. Who knows of this?”
“Word has spread through Avril Bay for sure,” Jaquess replied. “Outside of that there is no telling.”
“He has forced my hand then,” Barlemere gripped the edge of his table and squeezed in an attempt to release his frustration. “Send riders to Avril Bay. Dalvin Longsfeer will lose his head for once again defying his king. Write up a letter and I will seal it.”
“Well,” Jaquess raised his finger. “I think we have an opportunity your highness.” The king raised his brow as he was not sure what Jaquess could be referring to. “Do your sons know, or is the secret still between you, the queen and I?”
“The pact remains.”
“The attempt on your life was only months ago your highness,” Jaquess began to pace towards the edge of the table. “We would be fools to believe the culprits behind it would only make one attempt.” Jaquess continued to outline the desk until he was face to face with the king. “I find it odd that after all of these years of being banished, Dalvin would attempt to sneak into Gallendale now. What if he was sent here? What if your enemies sent him?”
“What are you getting at?”
“Have him brought here your grace. We can interrogate him. I will oversee the matter myself. With him here it may cause those who sent him to panic. Afraid he may name them and force them to unwittingly reveal themselves. If he dies in Avril Bay your enemies will just replace him with another. If he is brought here alive…”
Barlemere saw the wisdom in the plan. Jaquess has been his advisor for the last sixteen summers as his father fulfilled that role before him.
“Dalvin,” the king said under his breath. “So be it, have him sent here.”
“As you wish your highness,” Jaquess bowed before quickly sprinting toward the doors. What Jaquess said was true and could help him find out who was plotting against him. There was something off about it. He knew Dalvin. When Dalvin was apart of the King’s Shield the two men spent many days and knights in each others company. Dalvin wasn’t an assassin or at least he wasn’t then. Being exiled and stripped for your rights, title and dignity could change a man. Barlemere could understand why Dalvin would want to see him dead. But, an assassin?
“Wait!” The king shouted just before Jaquess was able to open the grand doors. Jaquess turned abruptly, eyes widened as he waited on Barlemere’s demands. “Do not have him sent to me. Call for my party, I will go to him.”
First I have received a lot of request for this, so I am happy to announce the audiobook for Gold For Steel will be out this month. When more details to come on that soon but it is coming and soon.
Book 2!!!! (Maybe book 3?)
Yes, book two is coming along nicely. Hope to release it this year, but we will see. It is pretty massive, so I might split it in half and release book two and three at the same time. In either case, it is on the way, and I promise questions will be answered.
You will not break me! Kastriel met the judgmental stares of his kin with a look of defiance. He would not be shamed nor would he beg for amnesty. Instead, he would force them all to look into his eyes and see no fear lived within him. They thought binding him in ebony shackles; blocking him from the source, would somehow frighten him. They thought by forcing him to his knees in front of the mortals who once showered him with devotion, would humiliate him. Kastriel would show them that they were wrong on both accounts. Even bound and on his knees, he was still a god. No matter what they did or said they could not take his pride nor break his spirit.
In the words of Master Scribe Sorrean from the book of The Palladome in the year of Isaac 987.
East of Baywhick at the base of the great mountains resides a well of wealth that has spawned two of the great houses of Gallendale. Though it is debatable who first found the copper veins that nourish the land, there is no debate on who lays claim to the mines now. Relishing in the wealth of copper the mines provide; House Garren and House Carnack share the mines and in return have been granted vast fortune.
The Penny Lords was a title first thrown at a member of House Garren as an insult. Both families would come to embrace that insult and adopted the title as a badge they wear with pride. Not only did the two houses seal their alliance with official papers by the king granting them both ownership of separate halves of the mine. They also merged the families through marriage. It is said that there is little difference between the blood of a Garren and the blood of a Carnack. Even between the families, it is common for a Carnack to great a Garren as "cousin" and vice versa.
The Penny Lords are known as two of the wealthiest families in all of Gallendale and have even sponsored the crown during times of economic turmoil. As individual houses, they are not technically the wealthiest families in Gallendale, but as a combined unit they are only overshadowed by the Bank of Avril.
The Penny Lords rule over the eastern shores with wealth and influence. Their unity is one that has become a staple of Gallendale and all of Bayleah. House Garren and House Carnack share the title of Penny Lords and the wealth of the copper mines, but this was not always the case. For like all things, before there was peace their was war.
DALVIN WIPED THE SWEAT from his brow as he made his way down the beaten trail. The sun was especially angry he thought as he prayed for the clouds to give him a moment of reprieve. With his left hand, he grasped the reins of his newly acquired steed as he reached for his leather water pouch with his right. He took a couple of gulps before turning back to his hostage, who was on foot trotting behind him. He had bound the man’s wrists and tied the other end of the long rope to his horse’s saddle. He motioned to the man, lowering the pouch, but received no reply. The restrained man simply turned his head away and continued trotting, trying his best to keep up.
“You must be thirsty,” Dalvin said to no reply. He tucked the pouch away and decided to let it be. Why should he feel sorry for this man when it was his own fault he had to walk back to Unthar’s Keep? The captive had speared Dalvin’s horse during his pursuit, impaling the steed through the base of its neck. In return Dalvin simply took the captive’s horse and made the man walk behind him out of spite. At the time Dalvin had no problem with the man walking the entire way back, but after traveling for more than half a day he realized they could have been back by now if the man was on a horse.
For a moment he thought of binding the man’s feet together and throwing him over the back of his horse. We would reach home before sunset, he thought. It was an idea that he knew might be more hassle than it was worth. The man would surely put up a fight once Dalvin attempted to tie his ankles together. He could knock the man out and then tie him up, but that was a risk too. Transporting unconscious men could become a liability in Three Warden.
The trade roads were safe for the most part, but they were not guarded like the roads in the Empire or Gallendale. Lords would protect their lands, but soldiers would seldom enforce the laws on the main roads. Cities were independent of each other and city guards rarely left the outskirts. In a prior age the main roads had fallen under the warden’s protection, but even this was a custom no longer practiced.
Dalvin protected many trade caravans as a sellsword. He knew that bandits were a true threat, especially in the south, but he was pretty confident no bandits would waste their time on him since they usually looked out for traders. Although a clever bandit would see his hostage and realize he was collecting a bounty. In any case, he was fully capable of handling a couple of bandits. What kind of knight in heavy arms couldn’t handle a couple of bandits? Then again, I am no longer a knight. He was a sellsword now, far removed from his days of chivalry. He was not ashamed of his current state by any means. Yet he still cherished his time as a knight of the Empire. He did not miss serving a king, but he did miss standing with his brothers. He missed fighting alongside his old friend Sir Gareth Marshall.
Over the hill Dalvin could see a figure on horseback. Though quite a bit of distance between them, he could make out the man’s bear like frame. At first he thought the man might be wearing armor, but as the rider came closer he realized the man was just extremely muscular. He made no threatening movements and trotted at a casual pace, but he was definitely heading straight toward Dalvin. Out of habit Dalvin reached to the left side of his saddle where his crossbow would normally be but remembered it was with the blacksmith once he grabbed at air.
“Do you know that man?” Dalvin said to his hostage, who was already staring down the large traveler. Dalvin half expected to once again receive no reply.
“That ain’t no man,” the hostage said. Dalvin squinted his eyes as the figure came closer.
“Who goes there?” Dalvin yelled out. “I am transporting a dangerous man. If you are no threat, then make your intentions known.”
“I am no threat,” echoed the strange figure in a thunderous voice. Upon hearing his voice, Dalvin knew it was a demon, an orc to be exact. What Dalvin had originally thought was a helm at a distance was clearly the demon’s head. The orc slowly pulled up within twenty yards before bringing his horse to a halt. He wore a brown cloak with a leather breastplate and sported leather gauntlets and boots as well. On his back he carried what appeared to be two dual-bladed battle-axes. For Dalvin just one of the axes would be a two-handed weapon, but that clearly was not the case for the demon. His ears were pointed the same as most demons, but his skin color carried a plum complexion. Dalvin had never seen an orc with such skin before. It was clear the orc was dangerous, and judging by the scars on his face, he had been tested. Dalvin was not sure if the demon was here to claim his bounty for his own or if he truly meant them no harm. The demon had not made any threatening movements, though it was difficult for an orc of his size not to look threatening.
“How can I help you?” Dalvin was wary of the stranger but did not want to show it. Out of the corner of his eye he kept track of his hostage but knew he could not afford to take too much attention away from the orc. He was big, but that size should cost him in speed. The demon grinned, revealing his bottom fangs. He slowly lifted his hands, palms open.
“I am a traveler new to these lands,” the demon replied. “My name is Orrick. I am a warrior like you.”
“I am a sellsword,” Dalvin corrected the demon.
“Yes.” Orrick nodded. “We are the same. We are brothers in steel. Like you, I am looking for someone who I must bring to justice.”
“Hey,” the hostage said as he raised his bound wrists. “Big fella. You look hard enough. Free me and I will make it worth your while. I will pay you. I have gold.”
“Quiet!” Dalvin snapped at the man.
“I will not,” the hostage spat back. “Take one of those axes and set me free. I have gold. I have women too. I can get you some demon wenches if you like. Just free me. Slay this bugger and free me.” The demon looked at Dalvin as he sat up straight. Orrick’s grin now appeared sinister in nature and he locked eyes with Dalvin, never flinching.
“If I free you, will you take me to Unthar’s Keep?” Orrick said as he kept his sight on Dalvin. Dalvin grabbed the handle of his sheathed sword in preparation to defend himself.
“Bugger that,” the hostage replied. “However, I can tell you exactly where it is and still give you gold. Now hurry. Kill this false knight and let’s be on our way.” Dalvin and Orrick continued to eye each other, but no words were spoken. Dalvin knew Orrick was sizing him up and calculating his odds of victory. In fact, Dalvin was sure Orrick had already done this before he approached. Orcs were known to have excellent eyesight and could see greater distances than men.
“What is your name?” Orrick asked.
“My name is—” the hostage began.
“I was talking to the sellsword.”
“My name is Dalvin Longsfeer.”
“Luckily for you, Dalvin, I am not a sellsword,” Orrick responded. “I am a warrior, an avatar of justice. If I was a sellsword like yourself, then this situation would end badly for you.”
“Maybe,” Dalvin replied.
“I assume you are making your way to Unthar’s Keep. If you can take me there, I can help you with this one.” Orrick nodded toward the hostage. “In case the next traveler you come across is not so honorable, I will place my steel beside yours. I will do this until you are safely to your destination.” Dalvin did not like the idea of traveling with a stranger, especially one who looked as dangerous as Orrick. On the other hand, if Orrick meant him harm he could have taken the hostage up on his offer. The scars on his face and the battle-axes strapped to his back showed that the orc was not afraid of open combat. Besides, Dalvin thought, it would be nice to have another blade by his side in case they did come across any trouble. Unthar’s Keep was not that far away, but Orrick clearly did not know that.
“Thank you, Orrick,” Dalvin said. “It would be nice to have someone to talk to on the way home.” Orrick nodded his head in agreement while the hostage threw up his hands in frustration. “But before we can move forward, I need to know your intentions. You are headed to Unthar’s Keep, my home, where I have many friends. By the looks of you, something tells me you will not be taking any hostages like I have. So before I can lead you to Unthar’s Keep, I need to know your intentions.” The hostage muttered something to Orrick, which both mounted men ignored.
“I promise you I do not mean any harm to any citizen of Unthar’s Keep,” Orrick said. “I am looking for an ebony-skinned Valikaarian woman. She is traveling with a demon and a child. I was tasked with the duty of tracking and finding her. I have followed her from the Marsh Coast of Valikaar to Three Warden. She is dangerous and must be brought to justice.” Orrick gave a slight pause. “You are correct when you say I will not take any hostages.”
“You mean to kill a child?” Dalvin asked in astonishment.
“No!” Orrick declared. He was clearly insulted at the accusation. “I am here to free the child. This woman took the babe from her kin. The child believes she is a friend, but she does not know any better. The child is in danger. I will kill the woman along with the demon. Then I will take the child back to her kin in Valikaar. But no other bloodshed will take place in Unthar’s Keep. I give my word—no one else will be harmed.”
Dalvin took a moment to think it over. Though he did not like the thought of killing a woman, he did not want to keep a child in harm’s way. Orrick could have lied about his intentions, but instead he told Dalvin what he could only assume was the truth. In any case, this did not involve Dalvin. He was not a knight anymore. Why should he care about some woman he had never met? Why should he care about some child? That being said, he still did care, which irked him. No, he thought to himself. He was a sellsword now and did not need to worry about anything other than the reward for his bounty.
“Okay, then,” Dalvin finally replied. “Follow me and I will show you the way.” Before heading out, Orrick helped Dalvin bind the hostage’s ankles together so that Dalvin could throw him over the back of his horse. With no one on foot they would make better time.
Even though there was no slavery in Three Warden, it was rare to find a demon as far west as Unthar’s Keep. Sailor’s Port was known to have the heaviest population of demons, followed by Lorig’s Trade. Demons had intertwined themselves in the culture of the Ballek people. They found a life in Three Warden with the only threat being slave traders. Though it was illegal to sell slaves to the Empire, it was still done on a regular basis. If a demon came up missing, it was assumed slavers had taken him. Smaller demons such as goblins were easier to capture and transport. Orcs were taken too if they were caught traveling alone, though not as frequently. Wealthy lords from the northern kingdom of Gallendale would pay top coin for a goblin to serve them and even more for an orc who could work the fields or fight in the Honor Rings. For a moment Dalvin thought he should warn Orrick about the slavers, but then he realized any slave trader who confronted Orrick would not be a slave trader for long. Dalvin could only imagine the strength it would take for Orrick to duel-wield his battle-axes. They were monstrous, to say the least. Dalvin’s thoughts drifted to what it would be like to face such a demon in battle. He did not want to find out how skilled Orrick was, yet he felt a bit of curiosity there as well.
“What type of a name is Unthar’s Keep for a city?” Orrick asked out of nowhere.
“I’m sorry?” Dalvin replied, a bit caught off guard by the random question.
“The names of the cities in Three Warden are quite confusing,” Orrick continued. “Unthar’s Keep, Lorig’s Trade—these names suggest there is a history behind them. If you know the history the names may not appear strange, but for one like myself they are odd names for a city. Will I even find a keep in Unthar’s Keep?”
“Ha ha, no, I am afraid not,” Dalvin answered. “I never thought about it, but you are certainly correct. They are peculiar names for cities.” Dalvin wondered for a second if he should provide some of his land’s history to his newly acquainted companion. He normally was not much of a talker, and the details of Unthar’s Keep could be a bit more than he had the energy to go into. “Well, I will try my best to not bore you with too many details, just know a castle used to stand where Unthar’s Keep is now. When the Ballek sacked the Kray castle, a man named Unthar made a final stand. Scholars say he was only a young squire, not a knight or seasoned warrior. He sheltered women and children along with other patrons in the keep that overlooked the castle courtyard. When the Ballek soldiers came to the keep, he pleaded for the lives of those he protected. The Ballek could’ve taken the keep by force, but one of the officers in his arrogance decided he would toy with the young squire. He told Unthar for every Ballek soldier he could defeat in battle he would let one Kray survivor leave freely. Of course the Ballek had just sacked this well-fortified castle and their men were proven soldiers, so they thought nothing of this young squire. It is said that Unthar defeated soldier after soldier after soldier until he won the freedom of everyone who sought refuge in the keep. As a result, the Ballek lord leading the assault was so impressed by Unthar, when they burned down the castle the only thing they left standing was the keep. As time passed, a town emerged as my people settled there. When people traveled and spoke of the settlement, they would simply refer to it as Unthar’s Keep. Also, to answer your original question, the keep is no longer there. It stood up until the Sahgrin attacked after the Banner Wars. The keep was destroyed, but the name still remained.”
“What happened to Unthar?”
“He died from his wounds. The story says that before he took his final breath the Ballek lord who had sacked the castle granted him his knighthood and gave him to the flame for a warrior’s death.”