Chapter 1 - Marriage and Meetings

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Years later, somewhere south of Corona...

High upon a cliffside, overlooking a lake, was a large castle, its walls and towers made out of brown stone blocks. People came and went among the walls and the keep, traveling across the stone bridge that gapped the moat surrounding the structure. A light snow fell upon the castle, caking it and the surrounding forest in white while the lake was cast in a dark blue.

Moving about the bustling people as naturally as a fish through water, was a girl no older than sixteen. She had a wild mane of bright, curly red hair that if straight would have most likely touched the ground, but instead stuck out in every direction. She had a slim build, fair skin dotted with freckles and icy blue eyes. She wore a dark blue dress with white trim along with a black cloak and leather riding boots. A quiver filled with white fletched arrows was strapped to her hip by a leather belt while a wooden recurve bow was slung around her shoulder.

She moved through the crowd before entering the castle through a pair of wooden doors. She paused to shiver off the cold as she shook the snow from her hair and stomped the mud from her boots before making her way through the stone hallways, her way lit by torches set in scones along the walls.

Eventually, she came to another set of large doors from which the sound of muffled voices could be heard through. Entering, she found herself in a large two-storied meeting chamber. At the center of the room was a large wooden table, on which dozen of plates filled with delicious looking food sat. Above, a wooden chandelier hung from the stone ceiling while two sets of wooden stairs flanked the entrance she came in through. Against the opposite wall were six stone thrones of various sizes which sat facing the door.

At the table, five people had gathered. At the head of the table, facing the door, was a large middle-aged man. He had wild red hair like the girl's, though his had begun to grey with age and was held in check by the iron cap he wore. He also sported a trimmed goatee and a massive mustache that stuck out perpendicular to his nose. He had icy blue eyes that peeked out from underneath his massive eyebrows. He wore brown leather and grey chainmail armor over his large frame, over which he wore a green and grey tartan held up by a large brown leather belt. He wore brown leather bracers and a black bearskin cape hung around his shoulder. His right foot was covered in a brown leather, fur-trimmed boot while his left was replaced with a knotted wooden peg leg.

Next to him sat a woman about the same age as him, looking over some letters. She had very long brown grey-streaked hair that almost touched the ground, tied back in two braids, and woven with golden colored thread that kept it out of her brown eyes. She wore a green and black colored dress with gold trim and billowing sleeves over her fair, slim frame along with cloth slippers on her feet. Around her waist hung a belt of interlocking gold circles and on her head sat a golden tiara imbedded with an emerald.

Next to her sat three young boys, each identical to the others. They had fair skin with rosy cheeks, curly red hair and bright blue eyes. They wore the same green and grey tartan robes held up by large brown leather belts. They also had identical brown leather shoes on their feet.

As the girl entered, she saw that the man was in the middle of telling a story, which none of the others seemed particularly interested in.

"He was the biggest bear you've ever seen! Stood twelve feet tall, he did," the man said as the girl snuck in, apparently unseen by all, "His hide littered with th' weapons o' fallen warriors." The man continued, not noticing one of the boys had fallen asleep, another was picking at his food in boredom and the third was perfectly lip-synching with the man's tale, "His face scarred with ane deid eye! Ah drew ma sword and-!"

"Slash!" the girl shouted, jumping in between the boys and startling them, "One swipe, his sword shattered! Then chop! Da's leg was clean off! Down the monster's throat it went."

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