“You sold her like livestock!” Mar yelled at his grandfather.
“Do not raise your voice to me!” Cain yelled back. “I did what I must. I do not expect you to understand, but I do expect you to obey me.”
Mar looked at his father with rage in his eyes. “You just allowed that lunatic to take your only daughter. How could you?”
“Your grandfather is right. There has been too much death on our home shores. Our clan is suffering, not being able to sail, not being able to replenish our wealth. This war has cost us all far too much. It has to end. This union will unite us. It will bring much-needed peace and allow us to get back to what we should be doing. We all make sacrifices, and this is Savea’s to make.” Tait snapped at his son.
“Thank you, Tait,” Cain said with appreciation. “I am glad I am not the only one to see the wisdom in this union.”
“I will not let this stand,” Mar growled. “It is not fair.” He hissed as he stormed out of the room. Mar marched his way to his chambers, where he strapped on his armour and grabbed his sword. If they would do nothing, then they left him no choice. Mar would go to Grangely and fetch his sister. He refused to stand by and watch as Savea was traded like she was property.
Savea rose from her seat at the table when she heard the lock slip and the door open. She picked up her fire poker and prepared herself to swing to kill. A man walked in. He must have been in his 40’s from the look of him. He was not a bad looking man for his age. He stood tall, but then to her anyone was, his head was shaven on either side, and the rest was tied back in one tight braid that ended at the nape of his neck. His strong jaw was covered in a very short beard that had streaks of grey in it. He looked strong with broad shoulders and muscular arms. On his hip a sword but he did not attempt to reach for it, which told her he did not consider her a threat even with her brandishing the fire poker.
He had a stern gaze. Despite the hard look on his face, his blue eyes were almost kind. “Who are you?” Savea demanded.
“I am Hoth, the right hand of the King and his chief advisor. I have come to fetch you.”
He smiled. “The King wishes to introduce his Queen to the people. So you are joining us all in the great hall for dinner.”
“You can go back to the King and tell him he can drop dead. I have no intention of having dinner with him or anyone else in this clan.”
Hoth sighed. “I have orders to bring you bound and gagged if I must. Please, Your Majesty, do not make this harder than it has to be.” Savea watched Hoth for a long moment trying to decide if he would follow through with his threat. She did not know him well enough to judge. Though something about this man told her there was more to him than his calm, collected demeanour. She was not sure what it was about him, but she decided she was not going to test him.
Savea returned the poker to the iron stand by the fireplace. She figured she was safe enough, provided she did not stir up any trouble. Plus, this got her out of the room. Perhaps during dinner, she might slip away in the confusion and be halfway home to Vremore before anyone realized she was missing.
Savea walked over to the door. “Lead the way.”
Hoth turned exiting the chambers with Savea at his back. She walked four steps behind him. He took long strides, and it was difficult for Savea to keep up with him; her legs were not nearly as long as his were. He had such a commanding air around him as most men did. Warriors were proud and slightly arrogant, and she understood why. They often had to make their name on the battlefield, and those who survived have proven themselves and earned the right to be arrogant.
His was the kind of arrogance that came from a lifetime of domination on the battlefield. Young warriors were often bold and eager, still learning their way, whereas old warriors were more reserved. They had the experience and skill that came from years of sailing and fighting. They did not have as much to prove as young warriors, and most of them, so long as they did not dishonour themselves or die cowardly, were confident that they had earned their spots in the God King’s army. Old warriors were feared and respected more so than young warriors because old warriors had to shed a lot of blood to make it to that age.
They walked through the palace and out into the great hall. It was much like the one back in Vremore. Tall stone walls with wood rafters. There was an enormous iron chandelier hung from the rafters with the antlers of various kills and torches to light the room. It was suspended from a large iron ring in the rafters and held in place by a thick heavy chain that was anchored to the wall. It must take four or five strong men to lower it, light it, and pull it back up each night. There were two large hearths, one on either side of the vast hall. Each large enough for six grown men to stand inside. Enormous fires were burning in both to heat the great room.
At one end, tall wooden doors. At the other, the throne which was carved from one solid piece of wood. Furs were draped over the back, and the seat for comfort and at the top of the back were horns for decoration. Lining the walls were huge wooden barrels filled with ale that everyone tapped to refill their mugs. The middle of the room was filled with long wooden tables littered with food. Men and women filled the room, eating and drinking themselves to excess, just like back home. Dixon was already seated in his throne lazily as he drank his ale and watched the festivities. On either side of his throne were two small chairs with two small wooden tables designed for one person. In one chair was Kerrigan, and the other was empty. Hoth gestured to the empty chair at Dixon’s side and told her to sit.
Reluctantly Savea sat down. Hoth walked over to Dixon and whispered in his ear. Dixon nodded and then Hoth walked away. He returned shortly and dropped a platter of food on the table in front of her as well as a large mug of ale. “Enjoy.” He told her then he stood next to her as if on guard. His large wind burnt hands folded in front of him.
“Would he not prefer to take a seat and eat something?” Savea asked Dixon, drawing his attention to her and his man.
“Sure, I believe he would, but then you would run away,” Dixon said. “That is unless you have changed your mind about marrying me?”
“Not a chance.” She hissed, reaching for the large leg of some bird on her platter. She was not sure just what it was, but it smelled good, and she was hungry, so she took a big unladylike bite. Whatever it was, it was tasty.
“I had hoped sometime alone after our little talk today would have had you seeing reason.”
“You could drop dead for all I care, I will not marry you.” She said, reaching for her ale.
A commotion at the doors drew Dixon and Savea’s attention. Dixon stood up to get a better look. Savea jumped to her feet when two of Dixon’s men escorted Mar to the throne. She was so pleased to see her brother. He had come to rescue her. “I see we have a guest. The Prince has graced us with his presence.” Dixon said, his tone cocking and almost mocking.
Mar glared at Dixon, then he looked at Savea and then his gaze drifted to the man standing guard over her. Hoth had already drawn his sword ready to defend his King should the situation call for it. “I have come to collect my sister,” Mar growled. His gaze drifted back to Hoth, who had stepped down from the rise and come to stand between Mar and his King.
“Have you now?” Dixon chuckled. “You have come a long way for nothing. She belongs to me now.”
“I belong to no man.” Savea snapped. “I have told you over and over; I will never marry you. There is nothing you can do to change my mind. Without my consent, there can be no union.” She growled at him as she came around the corner.
Dixon walked over and stood toe to toe with her glowering down at her, but she stood her ground. “Is that so?”
“You will not reconsider?”
Dixon grinned. “Very well, then. I accept your refusal.”
He turned to face his people. “Savea refuses to honour her grandfather’s agreement. No marriage means no peace. No peace means we are still at war. If we are still at war that makes the Prince an enemy in my territory. Which means he does not get to leave alive. Kill him.” Dixon said casually as he sat back down on his throne and picked up his ale. “Cut off his head. The Princess can carry it back to Cain.”
Hoth kicked Mar’s legs out from under him dropping her brother to his knees. He then grabbed Mar by the hair and forced his head down as he lifted his sword, making to behead her brother right there before her eyes.
“No!” Savea screamed, and Dixon raised his hand to halt Hoth. Hoth held Mar in a way that her brother could not get free. He was at the warrior’s mercy. The warrior waiting for the command to kill.
Dixon looked at Savea from his lounged position on his throne. “Do you wish to say something?”
Savea’s gaze locked with Mar’s, and she was doing her best not to cry. She was trapped. She could not stand by and watch her brother die. “Do not do it, Savea. I am ready to die.”
“How brave.” Dixon drawled. “But, are you ready to live with his death on your conscience?”
Savea turned to the King. “If I marry you, will you let him live?”
“Of course. He would be kin; I would never kill kin.”
“Savea… no, not for me. I am ready to die.” Mar assured her.
She was sure he was, but she was not ready to lose her best friend in the world. Save looked at Dixon once more. “I will marry you. I will honour the agreement.” She said.
Dixon rose to his feet and came to stand in front of her. “Do you give your word?” He asked.
“Yes. May I spend eternity at Hel’s table, should I renege.” She vowed on her very soul.
Dixon looked her over, weighing her vow. Trying to decide if he could trust her word. “Let him up.” Hoth stepped back. He grabbed Mar by the arm and hauled him up onto his feet but did not release him. Dixon looked at Mar. “Now, get out of my territory. I do not wish to see you again until the wedding. Begone from my sight. Hoth, escort the Prince to our borders. Be sure he does not double back.”
“The Princess?” Hoth asked.
Dixon turned and looked at Savea. “I believe she will not require further guarding. She has given her word, and I trust she will honour it.”
“May I say goodbye to my brother?”
Savea turned to watch as Hoth forcefully removed Mar from the room. She would not see him again until she wed Dixon. Savea felt a great loss. She looked at Dixon. “If it pleases the King, I wish to return to my chambers?”
“It does not please the King.” Dixon snarled as he sat down in his throne once more. “Sit down.” He ordered. Savea watched as Kerrigan leaned over, tapping her brother on the shoulder. He leaned over, and she whispered in his ear. He pulled back slightly and looked at her; then, he allowed her to whisper in his ear once more. He sighed and sat up straight before looking back at Savea; his tone was softer. “You may go.” He finally said.
Savea turned and walked away. She could not bear to sit next to that man at the moment.
Mar walked through the woods with the older Warrior behind him his sword in his hand but relaxed next to him. He was not anticipating Mar giving him any trouble. Neither of them spoke as they walked. Mar had glanced back at Hoth over his shoulder a few times to find the warrior watching him very closely.
Mar thought he might turn and punch him then make a run for it when the man was dazed. He turned back and looked at the man once more. Then again, the man was very big and old warriors were usually more skilled in a fight then young ones. Mar was not completely sure he could land a solid punch before this man knocked him flat on his ass dazed and bleeding.
He looked back one more time at the man tailing him. The slightest of grins tugged at the corner of his mouth. For the enemy, Mar had to admit; he was attractive. The smiled faded as Mar silently chastised himself for the thought. What was wrong with him? Why was he like this? It was not right; he knew it. Men were supposed to be attracted to women. If any man knew the sick thoughts that went through Mar’s mind, they would no doubt kill him where he stood. It was thoughts like this that made Mar loath himself.
“Halt.” The man behind him ordered. Mar stopped and turned to face the warrior who was scowling back at him. “This is our borders. If you are wise, you will not cross them again without an invitation.”
“Understood,” Mar responded when he noticed the warrior had not walked away immediately.
Hoth stepped forward until he stood toe to toe with Mar. “You have guts, boy; I will give you that. It takes some real iron balls to march into an enemy’s throne room alone and demand the King give up his prize. The mark of a true warrior, I can respect that… even if you fight like shit.” Mar’s eyes lowered in shame. He knew he was a lousy warrior, but it was still shameful to hear. Suddenly Hoth’s hand shot up and caught Mar by the hair at the back of his head and jerked Mar’s head back, forcing his eyes upward. “Do not ever look away when faced with an enemy. Men look men in the eyes. Only women and children submit… understood boy?”
Mar looked Holt dead in the eye. “Understood,” Mar whispered back. Suddenly Hoth leaned forward, and his mouth was on Mars, his tongue invaded Mar’s mouth and drew him in. The kiss only lasted a moment, and then Hoth stepped back and looked at Mar like nothing had happened.
Mar was so confused. This man had just kissed him. He did not know how to react, so he stared wide-eyed at the older warrior. “You are not the only man with secrets, boy.” Hoth then turned, giving Mar his back as he sheathed his sword and walked away.
Mar stood at the border alone and uncertain.