Life is hard at times among my people. Our land is cold, unforgiving and bleak in winters, but in the summers there's nae more beautiful place, trust me! My name is Lady Meghyn Carrolwyn. I'm called "Lady" because me mother died a few years ago, so it's up to me to be called such, except, well, I'm not much a lady it seems. Just ask me father. He's Lord Patrick Carrolwyn, and no stauncher supporter of the King is there.
Our land is called Nargarallin, and in the old tongue it means "Garden Of The Gods". We're good supporters of King Anglar, but as we live in the southernmost part of the country, we're right on the border, and that means we see an awful lot of the stinking Bordren, who are our, ah, 'neighbours' to the south. They're cruel, vicious, and for the most part, total barbarians. We've been at war with them many times over the last 300 years, but our natural defenses combined with our better weapons skill make us just about impossible to conquer, and there's just too damn many of them to overrun. So it goes, constant clashes, no major battles, and a lot of nervous people on the borders.
Now me title is "Lady", but as I said, I'm nae much of one at times. Oh, I can wear me prettiest dresses, do things with me hair and impress many of my father's supporters at a banquet, but truth to tell, I'm more comfortable with me tunic and trousers, with my bow over my back and my rapier at my side. Oooch, did ye think I wasn't a warrior? I am. General Danlyn rules me father's troops, but I'm part o' the staff, and I'm ranked as a Knight-Captain when we ride with the King's Own.
Now on this fine morning, I was riding far patrol to very edges of our borders. Me an' Rory, he bein' my fine bay gelding, were enjoying the God's own sunshine as the bits of snow were starting to melt an' spring wasn't so far off. We're among the greatest riders in all the world, don't ye know, so we ride by ourselves, having the ability to be fair quiet when we need to be.
Things looked quiet, but I knew that less than two leagues from the actual border, there was a keep owned by a Baron Thrawn, he bein' a filthy Bordren swine. His men rarely got too close to the border unless he was riding among them, because for some reason, any one o' the filthy Bordren who got too close had a tendency to get himself pierced with an arrow or two for poking his nose where it wasn't welcome. I'm a crack shot meself, and can take a man out of the saddle from three hundred feet with my longbow. 'Tis nae ladylike I've been told, but I'm not for caring. If something should happen to me younger brother Padraic, I'll be all that's left to carry on our estate. Better to be thought of as not ladylike than dead, I always say.
I scanned from me ridgetop, knowing the sun'd shield me from anyone looking up, but I had full view of anything below. And what did I see but a patrol of the swine, six of them, and while they weren't 'cross the border, they were too damn close for my tastes. Nae, it couldn't be, but it was, Baron Thrawn himself, leading his men, and bad enough he was a filthy Bordren, but for some reason he was dressed as foolishly as any courtier, with some frilly hat trailing behind him. If the fool had been wearing his armor properly, I'd nae have done it, but I nocked an arrow, took me time, and fired, ripping the silly thing off his head and not even changing the cut of his hair in the process!
Then I screamed out in my loudest, deepest voice,
"RIDERS OF CARROLWYN! CLEANSE OUR LAND OF THE SCOURGE! ATTAAAACK!"
I was rewarded by them scattering like quail, with much screaming and yelling amongst them, and they all couldn't even run in the same direction! Five o' them managed to get control and ride back towards the road, but one of 'em had gone into the brush, getting CLOSER to the border! Damnation! That wasn't part o' me plan! Best go run him off.
As I rode down the ridge, I pulled me hood up so as not to make it obvious I'm a woman. Quite frankly, if I've to fight, I'd rather it be with the bastard wanting to kill me, not knock me down so he could do far worse.
Ah, there was the spaleen, looking lost indeed. His helm was off, and I could see he had a thatch of red hair, looking more like one o' my people than the usual Bordren scum. Now, If I'd simply sighted him and put an arrow through his throat, no one'd blame me. For some reason though, he didn't seem all that threatening, so I just tracked him.
He was lost indeed, and I noticed his helm was dented, perhaps he'd hit a branch as he was running. Maybe he'd dented his thick skull as well, that's why he didn't know how to get back to the border and safety.
I gave the screech of an owl, and saw him look around frantically. He was alone, and clearly spooked by being lost with a whole battalion of Carrolwyn perhaps coming through the woods for him. This ought to be fun for me morning. I aimed carefully, and shot behind him, sinking me arrow in the tree not one foot from him. He bolted, further into our lands! Now he was my trophy to be taking, but I'd do it in me own way.
After an hour or so of tracking him, he was hopelessly lost, and to make matter worse, my last shot had unhorsed him. Now he was on foot, so t'be sporting, I tied Rory to a tree and told him t'be silent. Then on foot I tracked my prey.
He came along Cartan Creek, and stopped for a bit of water, looking around every other second, waiting to be skewered by our entire army. I gave a dark cat yowl, which caused him to run right towards me position, time to take him down!
As he ran by me, a simple trip line sent him tumbling, ass over tip, and he was dazed, so I pounced! My knee took him in the gut, and I heard his breath whoosh out, and I'd no need to use my knife as my left caught him on the chin once and he stopped moving, but I gave him a pair o' rights, just to be sure.
Aye, he was out. I tied his hands, and went to fetch Rory, and had the best laugh of me morning as his horse had found Rory and was grazing next to him. Why couldn't our people get along this well? I tied his horse, a fine mare behind Rory, and went to go get him. When I got back, he was still out, but I got a better look at him, he was a handsome lad. Perhaps a year or two younger than my eighteen summers. With his red hair, he did look like one of us, but his filthy armor I removed and left it to rust in the forest. He was a bit heavier than I'd like, but I got him up on his horse and led them back to Carrolywyn Keep.
When we were ten minutes or so away, he came 'round.
"You've got me, Nargarallin, you might as well kill me, as I'll tell you nothing!"
I'd put a hood over his head, so he had no idea he'd been captured by a woman as far as I knew. So I slapped the back of his head.
"SILENCE! BORDREN SCUM!" I tried in my deepest voice. "You've been captured by the Terror 'O Carrolwyn Keep, and in our dungeons, you'll know suffering enow to make any man talk! Hahahaha!"
My laugh wasn't that convincing, but the way he squirmed told me he was plenty nervous.
As I approached the keep, people greeted me by name, and I returned their greetings with good humour. Then it was time to drop my prisoner off.
"Aye! Tomas, I've a Bordren who thought the border was a bit further north than it is, so throw him in our dungeon. He's a nice enow lad, so don't be beating him, an' feed him well. Da'll soon talk with him."
Our man went to pull him off, but I waved him away to do it myself. Ripping the hood off and seeing the stunned surprise on his face when he realized he'd been captured by a woman made my day complete. Everyone around laughed at him, and Tomas was laughing so hard he could barely help me unhorse him.
Now I'd nae tell anyone, but I felt bad for the lad, he was being humiliated. In front of his mortal enemies.
"Milady, your father's not here, he an' Padraic rode away to Lord Brangley's keep. You're in command of the keep."
A stab of panic struck me. Father and me brother? That could only be something serious.
"Both of 'em? Are we mustering to kill some more Bordren?"
"Nae, 'tis a social call. Brangley's got a niece, and your Da, well, he figures Padraic's gonna be needin' a bride one o' these days."
"Ah, that'll kill the better part of a few days, so I'll be in charge. Good. Call the captains. We're needin' to up our patrols to the south. I found Thrawn himself ridin' too close for comfort. If he sees a dozen full patrols, he'll back off."
I've the rank of Knight-Captain, which is far below General Danlyn's, but when Da's not there, I'm t'be obeyed as Lady o' the Keep. Not that I'd step on his toes as such. I respect him very much. So much that I stop by his office before I head up to the hall.
"My Lady! Glad to see all is well, how went your patrol?"
I saluted him and he returned it with a smile. As Lady, I don't have to salute him, but I do.
"Well enough, Thawn himself was out, and now he's left behind a dandy's hat with one o' my arrows through it. Ye should have seen him running so fast as though all the warriors o' the Nargarallin were upon him."
He laughed loudly.
"That'll teach him to stick his pointed nose too far into our lands!"
"I've ordered an increase in full patrols, uh, with your permission, General."
"I'd have ordered it myself, you've merely saved me time. Ye'll be kind enough not to say it, but if your brother's got any sense, he'll keep you on as my eventual replacement when he ascends to the title."
"Now, I've a prisoner, but I'm thinking he's a mere boy, with nothing useful to say."
"Bordren are tricky enough, let me question him first before we just assume he's harmless."
That sounds good to me, so we head into the great hall where I take some refreshment, and we go down to our dungeon. It sees little use as we rarely take prisoners, and it's seen more drunken soldiers from pub brawls than enemy soldiers. The lad looks miserable enough. He's sitting on the bunk, the perfect picture o' miserable.
"Oi, lad! Look alive, you're in the presense o' General Danlyn! The man who crushed your people at the Battle o' Maddwyn Fields! Stand at attention in his sight!"
He jumped to attention, and we could barely stop ourselves from laughing. He wasn't so tough as he'd claimed to be. He'd tell us anything.
For a bit, he did, he was a distant cousin to Thrawn, name of Harald. No keep of his own, no prospects, he'd been sent to Thrawn to possibly earn a little glory or make a decent marriage. Being captured meant he was a total failure. If he returned to his people, he was a dead man. They'd hang him as a coward. I felt a bit bad for him. His best hope was to maybe one day be freed to serve as a crofter or servant on my father's lands. Outside of my father's protection, he'd be killed by anyone else for simply being a Bordren. The same fate awaits our warriors who are captured.
The General got everything he felt the lad could give and left him to my mercies. Now I'm a warrior, and in battle, I'll kill a man who opposes me, but a lad sitting in a cell? No armor, no sword, no nothing? To just hang him or kill him with my own blade? That's....hard to do. I had an idea though, that as a possible replacement for my father should anything happen to Padraic, I'd be best served by knowing my enemies as best I could. I determined to know everything I could from this boy.
"Roddy, throw a pair of manacles on the lad." I motioned to the guard. He did so and Harald stared at me with barely disguised hatred.
"Now, laddie, follow me, I'm going to talk with ye, as I want to know more of the Bordren. Ye'll tell me anything I ask if you've a lick o' sense."
"I'm your slave?" he said with a grimace.
"Nae, you've not the woodsense of a mouse, so you'd be useless to me there. You didn't show much as a warrior, so what use would you be to me? Maybe a dancing master?" I joked.
He didn't laugh. He looked ready to tear me to pieces, without the customary ravaging his people usually practiced on our women.
"Come along, we'll find some way of not killin' ye. Ye don't look dangerous enough to worry me."
He followed, indeed the picture of misery. Roddy stood, glowering at him, letting him know that while I might not kill him, Roddy'd be happy to do it for me. They waited a few minutes outside my rooms as I changed into something a bit more feminine and washed a bit. When I came out, he looked a bit more miserable, because being captured by a woman was bad enough, getting captured by a pretty one was worse.
I motioned him to sit, and told Roddy to fetch some wine and food. When he returned I ordered him back to his duties.
"If he should attack, milady?"
"I'll kill him meself. Don't worry."
He would worry, I knew that, but I was fine.
"So, Harald. How many of my people have you killed in battle?" I asked pleasantly.
His eyes were downcast.
"Such pleasantries? I'm shocked. So ye've no deaths to brag about? No brave warriors you killed to show how manly you are?"
"No, I've a decent hand for a sword, but one of the reasons I was sent to Thrawn was to be taught that my thoughts of being peaceful with Nargarallin were foolish, and that you could never be trusted enough to make peace."
I was shocked.
"Ye don't want to kill all my people, and take our beautiful lands to the torch?"
"No, why should I? My family is from the far south of Bordren. It's...very different from this area. The sea is warm and our people fish it, and trap lobsters and crabs, and we're not all so warlike as our northern brethren."
"I've heard that about the southlands. There'll be no peace though, as long as Thrawn and his kind exist. Four times we've tried for peace, all four were betrayed by Bordren. Now we've no desire to see peace, just to keep your people as far away from us as possible. If Thrawn had any brains, he'd simply leave us alone. We'll no bother him if he'll no bother us."
"Just the sort of thoughts I was sent to him to be purged of. If we cannot be peaceful, then let's simply agree not to butt heads along our borders. In time, we'd all come to see that we can get along, trade a bit, and see that we might not be so different."
"You're an odd one. Most Bordren I've ever met are fanatics."
"Go south, you'll see we're much less violent. However, the King is from the north, and he demands that we all hate equally. I've no desire to hate anyone. I'd just as soon be your friend."
"I know what you'd like to be doing to me, and it'll no happen, or I'll cut your throat as soon as look at you."
He shook his head sadly.
"I'd do nothing to you that you didn't ask me for. If I can confess a truth, I find the few women I've seen of your people to be more attractive than my own. I'm not one for dark women with hard looks to them."
I waved my dagger under his face.
"Ye think me some soft fool to take by your wiles? I took ye down, laddie, that's clear enough. You're no enough of a man to be with me."
"I was...disoriented. Out of place, and I'd hit my head. In a fair fight, I'd not be so easy."
"Right. Like I'll give ye a chance to kill me or worse? I'm not stupid."
"I didn't expect you to offer me a rematch. I was just pointing out that in your country, in the woods where I've rarely been, in fact I've only been with Thrawn's forces for a few weeks, you had the clear advantage. In the south, with no woods to hide in, you'd have fallen to me."
I laughed loudly.
"Laddie, when you tripped and fell, it took one punch, and you were done. It'd be the same, anywhere. You've courage, I'll give you that, though, to talk so tough in the face of the enemy."
With that, I yanked his hair back and kissed him roughly.
He looked surprised, but pleased.
"I had imagined my treatment at your hands to be much worse."
I slapped him across his smiling face.
"Ye've no idea what you're in for lad. I promise you that."
I let him spend a night in the dungeon and then brought him back up for more talk. I found him to be so unlike his fellow Bordren that it was hard to believe he was one. After several days, I made the controversial decision to remove the manacles when we spoke, but we'd always be within shouting distance of a guard, and I'd have no weapons on me. I felt I could handle him in a fight with my fists if need be. We argued, we laughed, we teased, and I found myself to be liking him more than I'd ever dreamed possible. One day I took him for a ride with his horse trailing Rory. We stopped for some water by a creek, and he was so very close to me, that I never saw the move. He simply swept his foot under mine and pushed and I was lying on my back in the dirt, but instead of the violence I expected, I received only a soft kiss on my cheek. Then he gently helped me up.
"Had you at my mercy?"
"Yes, but you didn't...."
"Act like you expected me to? I've told you, I'm not like my countrymen. While the kiss may not have been wanted, I felt I showed you that that I could take you down in a fair fight," he said with a grin.
The grin vanished as I struck quickly with my left and then my right went to his stomach and he doubled over, where I hooked his leg and threw him as hard as I could! He landed with a grunt and a thud in the dirt. Then I pounced upon him, and pinned his shoulder with my knees as I'd been taught to do. I slapped him hard, and laughed at the astonishment on his face, but then...well...I kissed him, roughly, proudly and passionately.
After a moment, he pushed me away.
"D'ye think I'm ugly then?" I asked, angrily.
"No, quite the opposite, but is this my punishment or something? I'm sure my soldiers would all surrender if they were treated like this."
He got another slap and a lot more kissing before we came up for air.
"Lady....we are enemies, I would not do this thing if I felt you didn't want it."
"Laddie, I'm the Lady of my Clan, Mistress o' the Keep while me Da's gone, and I'll do as I damn well please to interrogate a prisoner! Now talk, damn you, or do I have to resort to further measures to get what I want to know?"
Further measures might well include anything, while I'm the lady of my house, and I'll one day be married, our women, we're well, freer than other women. I've had some fun, and while I've enjoyed meself, I've never really found a man who made me want it, but this one...well....he was different.
Our kissing went from rough to sweet, and from mad clutching to sweet embraces, and I found his touch to be as gentle as any I'd ever known, if not more gentle. Then our clothes began to fly off, and soon were frolicking naked in the grass. It was a bit chilly, but our heat was rising to the occasion. I prepared myself to take him in my mouth, as all women were used to, but he surprised me by kissing me all over, instead of trying to shove it down my throat!
Then I was shocked to have him push my legs apart and put his lips to me, kissing and licking me with sweet tenderness! It felt so gloriously wonderful! No man had ever done that to me, indeed, a man's manhood was questioned should he put his woman's pleasure before his own, but who knew what this southlander might do that I'd never known about?
He kissed me, stroked me, licked me, coming up several times to kiss me lips again and again, and taking the time to savor me breasts, and teasing my nipples, before going back down to continue his pleasuring me in new ways. I'd never known passion like this, never, and although it didn't happen so often, I climaxed with a yowl of animal-like pleasure! I forced his head to stay where it was, and he continued to lick me again and again, and I arrived again! Twice? I'd ne'er done such a thing!
Finally, the waves of pleasure subsided and he came up to kiss me again.
"Harald...no man has e'er done such to me, it was....magical."
He smiled, and he was indeed handsome in the morning sunlight, although his face was a bit damp!
"I...enjoyed pleasing you milady. I've always enjoyed making sure my lady's pleasure was assured."
"No man up here'll do such, they think it's not manly. Do that to any woman, and she'll do whatever you ask, any time you should ask."
"Then your men are fools. I took nearly as much pleasure as you did. What harm is there in that?"
"I'll.....do the same for you, should you wish it..?" I said shyly.
"That would be nice, but I've no desire to have you do so...as I've someplace else I'd rather put it," he said with his grin.
I flipped him over and climbed on top of him, and he was obviously wanting me, and freed from the obligation to take him in my mouth. I wanted it the more, so I took him as deep as I could, and licked it up and down for a few moments. His groans of pleasure told me he was enjoying it, but he wanted other things, and truth be told, so did I! It'd been several months for me, and I'd never seen one so big, so I raised myself above him and drove myself onto it as hard as I could!
I let out a squeak as it was so much bigger than any I'd ever had, but it felt sooo good. Truly a man among men! I rode him hard and fast, and as I'd been warmed up, I climaxed again, and seemingly a moment later again! This was something I'd never known! Then he showed me his strength by flipping me over and taking me in the usual way, but far more gently than I'd ever done it. He went deeply and softly for several strokes, then hard and fast, and I was squealing with pleasure the whole time!
Then he pulled out of me and directed me to get on my hands and knees and then he carefully entered me from behind!
"Harald, I've ne'er done it like this, but it feels so fine!"
"Ahh...I"m enjoying myself too!"
In that position, I was pleased twice more, and then he began to grunt loudly, but instead of releasing his seed in me, I felt him pull out and shoot it upon my back!
We collapsed into each other's arms, but I had to know why he'd done that.
"Men usually just....spill their seed in their women. You didn't. Why?"
He looked pained.
"Please, Harald, tell me, I'll no say a word to anyone."
"Some women, of....easy virtue have means to make sure they don't get with child. I've...no desire to cause you problems that way."
"Harald, in case ye haven't noticed, you're not the first man I've been with. I know how to wash careful to make sure I don't get pregnant."
Actually, it wasn't perfect by any means, but in the year or two I'd been having fun I'd not gotten myself with child yet so I assumed it worked well enough for me.
"That's true, but why...take chances? I enjoyed myself immensely. Other than a bit of a mess, there's no risk of a child."
I kissed him very deeply.
"You're a good man, Harald. The finest damn prisoner I've ever captured," I said with a giggle. "But there's information ye've not given me, and I'll have it from you! Any...way...I...can." I said with a saucy smile and I took him in my mouth. It was much smaller now, but I suspected it'd be growing soon enough.
It didn't take long, and he was hard as a rock in my mouth, but I thought of all the time he'd taken to please me, and took as long as I could. I teased him up and down, played with his balls, ran my fingers across his muscled chest, and came up from time to time to kiss him. While I'd done the deed before, I'd not taken any pleasure from it, but this was new. It felt good to see his body tense up, almost to the point of release, then I'd go to a different area, and tease him again. It usually was the work of a few minutes at best, but I pleased him and pleased myself with my free hand for over half an hour, and then with a yell he released into my waiting mouth! It seemed a great amount, but I swirled it around my mouth for him to see, and then I swallowed it with a smile.
Usually, I'd hold it and then spit it out as soon as I could, but this was...different. I enjoyed making him feel good, and I enjoyed his making me feel good.
Damn it, was I falling in love?
We washed in the creek, which was cold enough to make short work of cleaning up, and I teased him about his mighty sword not appearing so mighty in the cold water, but then he dunked me with a laugh, and we started kissing again. We finally clambered out and set ourselves to dry in each other's arms.
"Milady....what happens to me now?"
"What do you mean, Harald?" I replied, afraid that I knew the answer.
"I'm....a prisoner. I'll be hanged if I return to my people, and I'm no better than a slave to your people."
"You're no a slave. Well, as long as you're on me father's lands you're not. Are you so dedicated to your king that's ye'd rather die than renounce him?"
"I've already seen that most of what I've been told about Nargarallin are lies. Let's just say my loyalties aren't so strong that I'd be willing to risk my head for him."
"Then, me lad, we've hopes. Let me talk with my Da, and we'll see if we can't find you something else to be doing than laying about our dungeon and eating our food."
We made love once more, and then rode back to the keep. Upon our arrival, several of my friends couldn't help but notice my dazzling smile, and I knew that the rumours'd be out in force within minutes. I also noticed my Da's banner o'er the keep, which meant he was home. As I dismounted, Harald pulled my arm back.
"What are ye doing?"
"Asking to be put BACK into the dungeon!"
"Ye've been no trouble, and I said ye don't need to be there."
"If it's all the same to you, I'd rather have a set of bars between your father and I, if I'm reading the situation correctly," he said with a smirk.
"Ye're right, Roddy! Lock this thug up!" Then I kissed him passionately before he was led away.
Once back in my father's hall, I ran to embrace him.
"Da! All is well for us?"
"Ah, my favorite girl!" he returned the embrace with warmth.
"All is well, and your brother is betrothed to Lady Belderin, niece of Lord Angley."
My little brother beamed with pleasure as I hugged him tight.
"Is she as pretty ye'd hoped, Paddy?"
"Prettier!" he said, excitedly, "She's got the most lovely golden hair and the biggest pair of-"
"BOY!" boomed Father, "remember your sister's a lass herself, so be having some class and manners in discussin' your future wife."
Paddy turned bright red at that, but was still smiling. I didn't need the words to figure it out, but one look at Da and he cracked up laughing. All was indeed well. At least until my news came up.
"Now what's this about your capturing a Bordren Lord and making a tame dog of him?"
I explained the situation, and about my wanting to know the enemies of our people to fight them the better. I left out the sex, but Da's no fool. He saw right through my explanation.
"Ah, now we've a bit of a problem. Ye can say what ye want, but I know what's in your heart. You're set on him aren't ye?"
"It's nae really like you're thinking, he's a good enough man, but I-"
"Enough, lass, I'm no fool. Bring him up to me."
"I really think that he-"
"Me temper's not getting better for waiting, bring him to me!" he roared.
When Da raised his voice like that, no one refused him. Several men sprinted to the dungeon to get our prisoner, and in a few moments, he was in front of my father, bowing.
"Harald of the Bordren, son of Larat. Ye've come to my lands by mistake, I'm thinking?" he said, pleasantly enough, but father was a man who often surprised people with his easy going ways.
Harald seemed stunned.
"You know of my father, my lord of the Carrolwyn? I had no idea. Yes, my mistake was when I was being pursued to have not run as far south as I could."
"Aye, lad, many years ago, there was a delegation of your people who made contact with good King Anglar, proposing peace in the event of your king being deposed, but nothing came of it as several of the plotters were betrayed, and hanged for their troubles."
"Aye. My father was among them."
"And the Bordren, being the murderous curs they are, took everything from your family, didn't they?"
Now Harald seemed nobler than ever, and his dislike for his king was quite plain to see.
"Now you're in Carrolwyn, and it seems you've captured an important part of our lands."
"I'm sorry, my lord, but I'm a prisoner. I've captured nothing."
My father grinned at him.
"Are ye so sure o' that? Take his manacles off of him, and fetch me two practice swords."
One of the guards removed the manacles while another sprinted back with a pair of wooden practice swords. It was hard to seriously injure someone with one, but cuts and bruises were the standard with them. My father took one and handed the other to Harald. He then stepped away from Harald, turned and bowed, and Harald did the same. Then father signaled with his free hand and attacked.
Da was one of the greatest swordsmen ever in our land, but Harald was proving to be a fair match for him. Damn. Had we been on open ground, I'd not have taken him so easily. They sparred for several minutes, the object being to disarm the other, but Harald was quick, which was his saving grace, as Da's skill was showing itself as the bout went on, finally Harald over corrected and Da slammed the flat of his blade into Harald's chest and knocked the wind out of him. Da was not known for his mercy on fallen foes and I feared the worst as Da approached him.
"Hurts does it?"
"Aye," gritted Harald, through clenched teeth, "hurts like the Devil."
Da reared back and kicked him in the stomach. Not as hard as he could have, not none too gently.
"I'll tell you once, lad, and once only. If by word or deed, you ever cause my daughter one bit of pain, you'll feel a thousand times worse. Do you understand me, Bordren? Do ye?"
"Aye, I'll cause her no pain. I swear upon my mother's soul."
Da looked surprised by that, and helped him to his feet gently.
"D'ye mean that?"
"Then, you're a good man, Harald of Carrolwyn. Kneel before me."
Grimacing in pain, Harald knelt in front of Da.
"Repeat after me, 'I Harald, do swear my life, my loyalty, and my honor to good King Anglar, and Lord Patrick Carrolwyn, until the end of the world or the end of my life, whichever comes first."
"I Harald, do swear my life, my loyalty, and my honor to good King Anglar, and Lord Patrick Carrolwyn, until the end of the world or the end of my life, whichever comes first."
Then Da took a small knife and cut the edge of his hand and indicated the Harald do the same, they clasped hands and the blood mingled. Then Da embraced him roughly, and turned him to face our small court.
"This man is now a man of Carrolwyn, his loyalty is unquestioned. He who does question it, will answer to me. Hail Harald!"
"HAIL HARALD!" we all shouted. This was unexpected. Da dismissed his court, and motioned for me, Paddy and Harald to stay.
"Well, lad, you're now one o' us, your vow on your mother's soul was something I hadn't thought you'd do."
"Da, what does it mean?" asked Paddy.
"Tis the most binding oath a Bordren can make. It means he'll see his mother sent to hell before he'll break oath. I've already seen the kind of man he is, and the courage his father showed. So I took him to service as well."
Then he grabbed Harald by the front of his tunic.
"On the other hand, laddie, though you're now one of my men, it doesn't mean you've free leave to court my daughter! It means you've have to be the most honorable, strongest and best of my men if you hope for her hand! Some other noble'd have an easier time of it, but you've a tough row to hoe, laddie, you'd best be worthy of her!"
"I'll do all I can to be worthy of the honor." he said softly.
"You'd better, lad, you'd better."
Harald was installed in the barracks among the other men and they were told that he was an honorable man. He was given tunics and trousers and the lightweight leather armor our people wore. His sword was returned to him, but he insisted on gouging the Bordren insignia from the hilt to show he was no longer one of them.
The men seemed to accept him, but I knew my people, there'd be at least a few fights until he'd proved himself to them. Let's see what I could do to speed that up.
"He took our lord to a long fight with practice swords, so he's a decent enough swordsman, but I'm betting he knows nothing of a good tavern brawl, in fact, I don't think he's ever had any of our own God's Nectar."
God's Nectar is anything but nectar, it's a home-brewed whisky that burns like hellfire going down. A sip or two of that, and Harald would inevitably say something, and whichever soldier had brewed it would be offended and the fight would start. A few of our men would take his side because there's always petty feuds going in the barracks and the men would be that much closer afterwards. They might take a poke at our new man at arms, but no one else would without a brawl starting.
Sure enough, he gagged on it, and questioned the sanity of whoever made it, which was...Martaugh's wife. Martaugh had a hair trigger temper, and as expected, the fight broke out. I let it go for a few minutes before I asserted my authority and broke it up. Harald had handled himself well, but took Murtaugh's offered hand and apologized for his comments, and they settled in for the night. I, uh, gave a few orders for a slightly different watch that had Harald patrolling the battlements on the north tower, which backed right up to the mountain, and certainly needed no patrolling, but the north tower was where my chambers were, if ye know what I mean.
Well, I'll be tellin' ye THAT story at a later date, dont' want ye knowin' everything, do I?
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