Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. They belong to their rightful owners.
Warning: The following chapter contains: coarse language, and suggestive adult themes, YOU have been WARNED.
Chapter 1: To The Festival!
In the year of our lord 215, patriots of Wawanakwa, starving and outnumbered, led by the dashing young prince Chris, won their freedom from the Muskoka Empire.
With the birth of a new nation, King Chris, was tasked with pleasing the six competing lords who participated in the campaign. Each was given a due piece of land. But the lords' greed grew strong, and soon they demanded more. Tensions between the lords began to build. Civil war seemed imminent only a few short years after the nations founding. Desperate, Chris tried to think of a solution to appease the lords and bring peace to the land, the future of Wawanakwa depended on it.
The solution came in a most unexpected way. In the summer of 218, each of the Lords' wives gave birth to their first borns, three boys and three girls:Noah, Duncan, Alejandro, Courtney, Heather, and Izzy. Chris capitalized on the opportunity celebrating it as a gift from God, a miracle for all the land. For there to be an equal number of each sex meant God wished peace and cooperation. He decreed that the six heirs would marry each other to help unify the lands of the lords. Chris also decreed that he would be the one to decide who they married. This brought a fragile amount of stability amongst the lords, their houses, and domains, as they did not know who they were going to be connected with through marriage.
As the children grew up, they became symbols to the people. The people were able to ignore the rampart poverty, wide spread starvation, and casual racism that was prevalent throughout society, and did not change much after they won their 'freedom'. Every year at the Holy Festival on the summer solstice, the six children were brought together and presented to the people as symbols of the current peace and a brighter future.
Now, in 235, the six children, about to turn seventeen years old, travel to the Holy Festival where they will finally be told which amongst them they will have to marry. They will be presented to the people for the first time as couples. Then, in a year, on the next summer solstice during the next Holy Festival, they will be married.
Heather of House Strathclyde
On the road to the capital, a small camp was pitched in a nearby field for the night. The array of tents were lined in rows; torches were lit on small pikes along the edges. In the middle of the camp, a small table was fitted. A young woman with black hair sat with a long red satin dress. Around the table, guards held candelabras; the dim warm light swayed in the wind.
Heather slowly cut her knife into the steak. She peeled it open with her fork and took one look at the insides. In disgust she slammed the utensils onto the table and stared straight at a short cook standing opposite her. "What is this?"
"It is a rare steak, just as m'lady requested." The cook explained holding his hat tightly to his chest.
"This steak isn't rare. Make it again." Heather spoke in a quiet voice.
"But m'lady, you haven't even tasted it."
Heather jabbed her fork into the wood table."Do you think I'm fucking blind or something? When I ask for a rare steak, I expect it to be red! Come here," she demanded, waving her hand. The cook hesitated. "Come here," she insisted. The cook took cautious steps forward, until he stood next to her. "What colour do you think this is?"
"I..I..." he stuttered.
"I asked what colour do you think this is!" Heather grabbed him by the back of his head, and shoved his face into the steak. "What colour is it? Does that look red to you? Huh? Does it? Cause it doesn't look like it to me! That is clearly burgundy!" She yelled.
"I'm sorry m'lady," he said, his words muffled by the steak.
Heather pulled his head back, and pushed him. He fumbled backwards onto the ground dropping his hat at Heather's feet. "Now go, make it again and make it right or so help me God you will be spending the entirety of the Holy Festival in the stocks where you can't fuck up anymore food!" She reached down and picked up his hat and threw it at him. The cook stumbled to his feet and quickly scurried away. Heather settled back into her seat. She sighed, and looked up towards the sky.
"Wow," said Gwen, a servant girl with blue and black hair with tattered black clothing. "You're even more of a bitch than usual today m'lady. Feeling some stress?" She moved to the table, and pulled out the fork from the table.
"Eat shit and die Gwen," Heather spoke stoically. "I'm not feeling good." She stood up from her seat. "You know, this might be my last night of happiness, and I feel miserable. You know you're lucky Gwen, you're life's supposed to be miserable. It must come so easily." She took a deep breath. "I'm going to bed." She turned away and headed towards the largest tent.
"What about your steak?" Gwen asked.
"Feed it to the dogs."
Gwen smiled. She started to clear the table, and hummed a tune.
Duncan of House Galloway
Duncan rode atop a horse during a cloudy day. His black hair was shaved into a mohawk. He wore a thick dark brown leather sleeveless shirt. His longsword dangled from his belt. He rode in a long line of horses down a narrow road with forest on either side. The caravan rode at a snail pace as there were many on foot walking next to the horses.
A horse trotted over so it was right next to Duncan's. "How are you m'lord?" Geoff asked, a dashing blonde knight in shining steel armour.
"Bored." Duncan said.
"You're not excited for the Festival?" Geoff asked.
"Please, nothing gets me more excited than discovering which of those broads I'll be chained to the rest of my life." Duncan rolled his eyes.
Geoff adjusted himself on his horse. "Well I'm looking forward to it."
"That's easy for you to say, you're a high knight. It's a weekend of competition, women, and drinking. I'm stuck being held up in a castle making formal greetings and trying not to punch any of those other smug lord bastards." Duncan complained.
Off to the left side, the forest ended exposing a large field with cattle grazing. Geoff caught sight of it and gave Duncan a nudge. "Speaking of competition." A smile grew on Duncan's face. They both exchanged a glace before breaking away from the caravan. Their horses began to sprint off passing by everyone else in the caravan. Geoff and Duncan raced towards the field as they each reached behind to their packs on the back of their horse and pulled out large stretches of rope.
"Loser has to eat slop for a week when we get back!" Duncan called out.
"Which calf we wrangling?"
Duncan pointed to a calf off on the far side of the field. "That one." Geoff's horse sped up past Duncan's and towards the calf. "Hey!"
"You think that little filly can kept up to this stallion?" Geoff taunted. The calf became aware of the two teens galloping towards it and began to run away. "Get over here!" Geoff positioned himself to jump off his horse. However in readjusting his position Geoff miscalculated the weight of the armour and he slid off his horse onto the ground with a thud.
"You're the worst knight ever!" Duncan yelled. He made sure to have his horse go by Geoff on the ground as close as possible. "Later loser!" The calf was now in his sights. Without the heavy armour like Geoff, Duncan was easily able to position himself to jump. He waited for the right moment before leaping off his horse and on top of the calf. Duncan grabbed onto the horns and wrestled the calf to the ground.
As Duncan was tying the calf up with his rope, Geoff walked over. Geoff's armour was now completely covered in mud. Geoff was all smiles though, he patted Duncan on the back. "A deserved victory. Nicely done!"
"It was easy. I just imagined the calf was Noah."
Courtney of House Grampian
It was a clear night at sea. A group of large ships travelled together. Those still up on deck were a skeleton group of necessary crew members manning the ship. The lone exception was a young women in a slender green cloth dress. Courtney sat on deck looking over lists of inventory and supplies. Directly above her was a lantern hanging off the mast, the lantern swayed ever so slightly as the ship rocked back and forth.
Rising up from the hatch below deck came Bridgette. She wore a simple brown cloth outfit designed to be worn under steel armour. She was holding a candle looking around when she quickly spotted Courtney. "There you are M'lady, why are you not in bed?" Bridgette asked as she approached.
"I'm double checking all the paperwork to make sure everything is set and correct." Courtney continued to flip through the different sheets, checking a number, referencing it on another page, then double checking again.
"Must it be done this late? You should be getting some rest. We arrive at the capital tomorrow."
"Even more reason for me to make sure everything is correct. My father entrusted me with organizing this expedition on his behalf and I refuse to disappoint him by failing my first major task!"
Bridgette grabbed the nearest crate and dragged it over for a place to sit. "The only reason your father gave you that major task is because you begged and pleaded with him to give you it."
"I'm supposed to be running an entire domain soon, I should at least be able to organize a few ships!" Courtney pleaded.
Calmly Bridgette reached her hand out and placed it on Courtney's shoulder. "M'lady, Courtney, why are you not in bed?"
Courtney stopped fidgeting with the different pieces of paper and rested them on her lap. "How can I be so intimidated by the prospect of marriage. I mean I've known about it my whole life. It's been apart of who I am. Yet the idea, that I might have to spend the rest of my life with one of them, a womanizer, a coward, a fool. It just doesn't seem fair!"
"You sometimes talk favourably of lord Noah."
"Well he's the only one who has half a brain, too bad he has no ambition or drive. Not to mention the fact that he's a snivelling rat who would run with his tail in the air from the first sign of danger. Who's to say I'll even be paired with him? The others are even worse!" She hit her arms against her side. "It's just not fair," she repeated.
"I hate to break it to you m'lady, but life isn't fair."
"I know, I know, but I have an entire population that will depend on me! Not only do I have my own people to look after, I'm also going to have to look after one of their Lordships too because none of them are in any way fit to lead."
"You're young, they're young. Not every leader is fit to lead so young like his Majesty King McLean. Give it time, relax. Come to bed, you're going to need the rest. No sense weighing over what can't be changed." Bridgette stood up and walked right up to Courtney, grabbed her by the arms and lifted her up off her seat.
"You're right Bridgette. Thank you." The young women exchanged a hug before heading down below deck.
Alejandro of House Lothan
The carriage shook violently as it trudged along the road on a foggy morning. Two horses pulled the black enclosed carriage along a dirt road. It travelled near the middle of a long travelling caravan made up of horsemen, carriages, and people walking at the rear.
In the carriage, the quarter lights were covered with thin dark drapes. Alejandro laid along one of the benches. He wore a long black coat over a satin vest. Pieces of lace adorned his collar and his cuffs. Across from him Trent lounged back, wearing a green cloak over a loose tan shirt, lightly plucked the strings of a lute.
"I've got to think of a way to escape the castle. I'm not going to miss the chance to meet so many beautiful capital women. I've heard they are the fairest of the nation, and the easiest too." Alejandro stared up at the ceiling of the carriage.
"M'lord, you've got to stop listening to those drunk retired soldiers at the Shank and Drank! I don't care how convincing their stories sound or impressive their beards are, they are all full of shit. Women in the capital are as stuck up as everyone else." Trent spoke. "Doesn't matter though, you'll probably be put under lock and key until you're presented to the people."
"We can sneak out," he began, but then he shook his head. "No, that'd be too much of a risk when I could just send you into the town, and pick one up for me. You can get one for yourself too. Just tell them you have a wealthy patron. They won't be disappointed."
"You want me to pick you up a whore?" Trent asked. "You'll have to give me some money first then," he spoke matter of fact.
"No, I don't want a whore! There's no fun if there's no game. Of course you'd have to play for both of us. But I have faith in you. Play one of your songs, and they'll fall in love with you."
"I'm not sure I like this plan. Are you that desperate?"
"Of course I am! You know why we're going to this stupid festival. It would make anyone desperate."
"Do you dislike those girls that much?"
"Yes," he paused. "Though, it's not even the thought that I'll have to marry one of those hags. It's the whole concept! Can you imagine only being allowed to sleep with one person for the rest of your life?" He threw his arms in the air. "Sounds like a fate worse than death."
He breathed deeply. "Enough about this. Play me a song."
"Which would you like?'
"The one about spring time."
"Here Comes the Sun?"
Alejandro snapped his finger. "That's the one."
Trent cleared his throat, and ran his fingers through his hair. He plucked a couple of strings to check the tuning. Alejandro stayed laying on the bench. His head was flat, staring towards the ceiling. Finally, Trent started to play the song: "Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun, and I say it's alright...
Noah of House Fife
The ship swayed slightly back and forth. Below deck Noah laid in a hammock reading a book. Next to him was an open window that illuminated the area around Noah. He wore a white shirt with puffy arms and a brown vest over top.
The hatch to the deck opened and Eva descended. She wore a tattered chainmail shirt, with a black cloak over top. "There is a pigeon from your father m'lord. He requests your presence on his ship as soon as we arrive."
"And what do I owe for the pleasure of my fathers attention?" Noah asked not taking his eyes away from the book.
"He will be holding a meeting of his advisers to discuss strategies on dealing with House Galloway and wants you to participate." Eva explained.
Noah closed his book. "Strategies on dealing with House Galloway? It's not like I'm going to marry Duncan. How much longer till we arrive?"
"Very shortly m'lord, we're just arriving in port now."
Noah peered out the window next to him. He could see a bustling harbour filled to the brink with ships of all different sizes. The docks were full of people loading and unloading goods. "So we are." Noah dropped out of the hammock. He then proceeded to head for the hatch with Eva following closely behind.
Eva moved quickly ahead to open the hatch for Noah. "You seem to be rather relaxed m'lord baring the circumstances. You've always seemed very apprehensive about the prospect of finding out the name of your partner. You know, how you'd rant into the night about getting married against your will, the oppression in the system and something about class consciousness. Oh! And the parade; you had a lot to say regarding getting paraded around the capital for everyone to see..."
"Right! I know Eva!" Noah spoke up, cutting Eva off. Once on deck Noah gave a quick wave to the captain before moved towards the front of the ship. "See, I figured out that the main problem has always been not knowing," Noah tried to explain. "But, I realized, why wait? The king must tell his lords before the festival. I know we're not that special to be the first to learn his decision. I had an agent monitor my father's messages and sure enough I got a hold of the list."
Eva was shocked. "Then you know who you're going to marry?" Noah walked right up to edge of the ship and looked on at the harbour without answering. "Who is it?"
"I'd rather not say."
Thank you everyone for checking out this new story. Please leave a review and let me know what you thought. This is co-written with the help of member Bardic Jester. BJ's profile can be found in my favorite authors list.
Also check out my older TDI stories: Fake Empire (A completed action adventure tragedy), Objects of My Affection (highschool story on hiatus), and Random Encounter (a oneshot with a big twist).