Barbarian Wall

One night, Henry Lockhaven told his daughter Aura this tale …

The warriors Iryndelle, Yveramore, Tannerra, and the sorceress Lunambyra, rode into the ancient realm of Phrathia looking for adventure. The young Queen Theda hired the easterners to be her auxiliary guard. Theda liked that the Sarethians wore almost as little as she. Their stories of battles, magic, and treasure delighted the queen, who had never stepped foot outside the capital.

At first, the Sarethians weren’t sure what to make of this nineteen-year-old barefoot monarch who wore less than they did and dyed her hair purple. And she called them barbarian! They had no complaints, however. Theda paid them well, fed them even better, and demanded little except to hear more tales. The friends liked sleeping in real beds with a solid roof over their heads.

On the first morning of summer, Theda entered her throne room. As usual, her uncle Varman, who served as her chief advisor, greeted her. Unlike other mornings, Varman drew his sword. Her regular guards, led by Captain Mustelon, also drew their swords, and stood behind Varman in a semicircle of nonchalance. It took Theda a few moments to realize that her uncle meant to assassinate her, with the full support of her own troops. The prince bore down on Theda, backing the terrified girl up onto the dais.

“What are you doing, Uncle? I’m your niece,” Theda stammered. “I’m your queen!” She looked at her guards, who simply stood by. She shouted to them, “Help me!”

Mustelon shrugged. He said, “His gold’s better than yours, Your Majesty.”

“You look too much like your mother,” Varman snarled. “I told my brother not to marry a Beryt princess. No dark skinned halfbreed is going to sit on my brother’s throne!”

Surrounded by people she grew up with, yet alone in her own court, Theda, the Queen of Phrathia, screamed.

As Varman readied his sword to strike his niece, the Sarethians stormed into the throne room. The barbarians had heard the scream. It took Iryndelle only seconds to disarm Varman, while Lunambyra sent him to the floor with a well placed spell. Yveramore and Tannerra forced the guards to retreat from the dais. The Sarethians built a formidable wall of taught flesh and iron will before the queen.

“There will be no assassination, today!” Iryndelle shouted.

Upon seeing barbarian steel, Mustelon bolted from the throne room. Varman looked up at the resolute sorceress standing on his chest. The ball of lightning crackled in her hand. He whimpered.

Queen Theda was not sure what shocked her more, the treachery of her own people, or the loyalty of these “barbarians.”

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