Universe: A Warlord’s Armistice
Characters: Renate Volker, Askel Zoric, Elsbet Resnik, Aldarich Meir, Aurel Meier
Prompt(s): Orange 6. Take me to your leader. Sangria 16. We all look the same when we turn off the light. Apple Cider 1. The men will cheer and the boys will shout.
Notes: The first piece I’ve written in this ‘verse. I think I posted my intro some time ago, but in any case I would like the tag "tiraen," please. Thank you!
Summary: Renate meets the Dragon King.
Novus Pacem was always a busy port, but the amount of ships Renate saw was extraordinary, even for the most popular port of call in the world. Her three longships would be lucky to find a decent place to weigh anchor. Leaning against the bow of her flagship, Ice Edge, Ren took a moment to take in the sight of solid ground again. It had been a month since they had left their island, and she knew all of her crew were ready to take in the delights of land.
“Milady! We’re being hailed.”
Ren turned at the call, raising an eyebrow as her aide appeared at her side.
“Are we, Askel? Well, ensure that we answer. It won’t do to be impolite.”
“Yes, ma’am,” the young man said, saluting before turning around, shouting orders.
Renate leisurely made her way down the bow of her ship, hand resting on one of the swords at her waist. It was good to be at a safe port. And her purpose at Novus Pacem was one to be proud of. As appropriate for it’s name, Renate had arrived in the name of peace.
Being a warlord, peace wasn’t exactly a lofty goal of hers. However, the Dragons had called for a peace conference, and who was she to refuse the most ancient of races? Besides, it was interesting. There had been war in Hallvardr for far longer than she had been alive. Perhaps it was time for peace.
As the most powerful sea-based horde, and one of the most powerful of all, it was natural that she be called for such an attempt.
Ren was jerked from her thought when Askel returned.
“Milady, a port has been reserved for us. Shall I direct the men to weigh anchor?”
“Yes, Askel, see to it. I’ll be in my quarters. I have a few things to prepare before I go ashore.”
“As you say, milady.”
Passing by her loyal warriors, Renate made her way down into her cabin, shutting the door firmly behind her.
Slipping out of the sturdy cotton trousers and blouse she wore aboard the ship, Ren pulled on a pair of supple leather trousers, pulling a simple blouse on over it. Knee-high boots were next, polished to a shine. She laced up a black silk underbust corset, tight enough to show off her figure, but not tight enough to restrict movement. The corset had the added bonus of provided a small amount of protection, the steel boning strong enough to deflect a blow from a knife.
Over all of this she pulled a black and gold brocade coat with flared sleeves. A waist-cincher doubled as a belt, and allowed her to hand twin swords from her waist.
Opening a small mirror, she checked her appearance. A rather disfiguring scar ran down the left side of her face, but Ren was quite proud of it, believing it made her look fearsome.
She pulled out a black box from under the mirror, and opened it. It contained the small amount of make-up she owned. A touch of kohl around her eyes, a dash of rouge on her cheeks, and of course the dark red lip stain. It contrasted quite nicely with the scar, and she gave herself a roguish grin.
Gathering up a few trinkets that she would not be caught without - a dirk and a purse full of gold included - she left her cabin, climbing the stairs up to the deck of her ship.
Askel immediately appeared at her side.
“Milday, we’ve docked. An escort is waiting to take you to the meeting place. She says you can bring three men, but no more.”
“Thank you, dear. Now, you’ll come, of course, and I think Anneliese and Jakob. Leave Rolf in charge of things.”
“Yes ma’am,” Askel said, snapping off another salute, and taking off, shouting orders again.
A woman and a man soon stood behind her.
“Anne, Jake. Good to have you with me.”
“Aye, Captain. Thank ye for t’ honor.”
“You’ve earned it, Jakob, and you know it.”
The young man blushed, looking away. Renate was beginning to think he fancied her a bit. What to do about that… ah well, a problem for another time.
Askel soon returned to her, reporting that Rolf had been made aware of his responsibilities.
“Right, then. Off to our escort.”
Departing her ship was as disconcerting as Ren had expected it to be. Her true home was in the sea, or so she liked to tell herself, and she always had a hard time getting her land legs. She had become decent at faking it, as she had to - no one respected a sailor who walked like they were drunk on land.
Askel, on the other hand, had no such grace, and stumbled from the off.
Anneliese and Jakob both had to smother their laughs, but Renate had no such compunctions, letting out a bellowing laugh that caused a pink tinge to appear on her aide’s cheeks.
“Too long at sea for you, Askel? Ah, you’ll learn in time. Lean on Jakob, if you need to, he seems to have his balance.”
Jakob took Askel by the arm, and the younger man leaned gratefully on him, if a bit embarrassed by the who affair.
As they disembarked the ship, Renate immediately noticed their escort, instinctively placing her hand on one of her twin swords.
Their escort was dragonkind.
In hindsight, Ren really should have expected it. Dragons had, of course, organized the peace meeting, so it was likely that they would have a part in it. Still, in the majority of her past encounters with dragonkind, she had been fighting them, so it was easy for her to slip into a defensive mindset. But this was not time for such things. Deliberately, Ren removed her hand from the sword, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Lady Renate Volker, I presume?”
The dragon’s voice was soft, but it carried easily over the loud din of the port.
“Aye, that’s me.”
Ren did her best not to stare as the dragon smiled, revealing pointed teeth.
“You honor us by agreeing to come, Lady Volker. I see you have chosen your three escorts. My name is Elsbeta, and I will be your guide. Now, please, come with me. King Aldarich is most eager to greet you. We have set up camp just outside of the port. Your, ah, men, are welcome to camp their as well, if they would like to leave your ships.”
“Thank you for your kind welcome, Elsbeta. Once I meet with your king, we shall speak of arrangements for my crew.”
“Come with me, please.”
With Askel, Jakob, and Anneliese behind her, Renate followed the dragon through the port. While normally she would enjoy the sights of Novus Pacem, she was lost in thought.
Hallvardr had been at war for centuries. Her father had told her that once it had been a great kingdom, with a kind king. But the king had died with no heirs, and the nobility had begun to fight over who would inherit the throne. Eventually, the nobility and their armies had turn into different factions, and that left Halvardr as it was in it’s present form, ruled by fighting warlords.
There were three races in Hallvardr, the humans, of which Renate was a member, the elves, and the dragons. Hallvardr had been ruled by human, so the warlords were primarily of that race. The elves had their own city, called Aelfdruht, that was a part of Hallvardr, however they didn’t bow to the warlords rule. The dragons, on the other hand, always considered themselves above the humans and the elves, and as a rule, refused to join the fighting unless they were offended.
So why was King Aldarich calling a meeting for peace?
It was a move that no one could have expected. And what choice did Renate have but to agree to come? Her reign was prosperous, that was true, but constant warfare took it’s toll on her and her people. Would peace not be better? The least she could do was to see what the dragon king had in mind.
Outside the port, Elsbeta had four horses waiting for them.
“How far is the encampment, anyway?” Anneliese had asked, voicing what they were all thinking.
“Only a mile or so. We didn’t want to interrupt the port’s day to day life.”
Ren mounted her horse, a brown and white mare. Despite spending most of her time at sea, Renate was a decent rider, and easily fell into the habit again.
Elsbeta lead them through a dense forest, where the trail was near invisible to Renate, who’s skill lay far from land. They soon emerged from the forest, and the three humans mouth dropped in shock. Ren didn’t really know what she expected of the encampment, but certainly not what she saw.
It appeared that a small city had sprung up in a large clearing, tents and wooden structures covering the grass. Humans, elves, and dragons alike roamed the encampment.
“Come, Lady Volker. King Aldarich is waiting for you.”
Ren and her escorts dismounted their horses, which were taken by several young men to an area clearly designated as a stable.
Following Elsbet, the foursome made their way rather warily through the encampment, not knowing who was friend and who was enemy.
In the middle of the make-shift city was a grand red and gold tent, surrounded by dragons. Scales, armor and weapons glinted in the sunlight, and Renate felt distinctly overwhelmed. It would be the perfect place for an ambush, if she was among enemies.
They stopped in front of the huge tent, clearly the main seat of the camp, and Elsbet turned to them.
“Please, wait here. I’ll announce you.”
“Thank you for escorting us here, Elsbet.” Ren said, knowing that it was important to be polite if she wanted these peace talks to have any effect. It wouldn’t do to offend.
The dragon gave her a small smile, before disappearing into the tent.
Renate turned to her three companions, noting that they had taken a defensive formation around her, clearly ready for any attacks.
“Relax, my friends. It would not do to provoke our hosts,” she murmured, resting a hand on Askel’s shoulder. He was the youngest of the group, and the most easily excited. He inclined his head, sheathing the sword that had come part way out of it’s sheath.
They only had to wait a few minutes more before Elsbet returned.
“The king will see you now. Please, follow me.”
They five entered the tent, and Ren could feel her three companions shifting nervously behind her. Siting on a pile of furs in front of them was the dragon king, Aldarich. He was a tall, broad man, nearly twice Renate’s size. Standing next to him was a younger man who looked very like the king. Renate surmised he must be the kings son.
“Lady Volker, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to our humble camp. I’m pleased that you saw fit to respond to my invitation,” the king rumbled, inclining his head.
“King Aldarich, it’s an honor to meet you. I was most pleased to receive your invitation, and I am eager to speak of peace.”
Renate stood with her back straight, internally praying that her companions would show the proper respect. She should have given them instruction before they had arrived. But it was too late.
Askel, bless him, bowed, and the other two followed suit.
Aldarich laughed, and Ren felt rather as though he was reading her mind.
“Indeed. May I introduce my son and heir, Aurel?”
The younger man inclined his head.
“’Tis a pleasure to meet you, my lady.”
“And you, highness.” Ren replied, bowing slightly.
“That’s much more respect than I deserve! I’m just a soldier in my father’s army.”
This drew a genuine smile from Renate. Behind her, she could hear Jakob and Anneliese growing restless. She knew that they didn’t trust the dragon king at all, and were anxious to be away and back to the safety of their ships. Part of her agreed. This was a tricky situation, one that required political maneuvering. While Ren had been taught such things, she was a woman who preferred action to words. If there was to be a war for peace, then let it begin. Posturing and showing off power would get them nowhere.
The dragon king didn’t look to pleased at his son’s words, but when he spoke he was all business.
“We are still waiting for the elves and humans from the nearby settlement to join us, but they should be here within the week. Once they arrive, we shall begin our talks. Until then, you and your men are welcome to camp here with us.”
“Thank you for the offer. I’m certain at least some of my crew will be pleased to spend some time on land. I look forward to the peace talks. It has been too long without such.”
“I will send for you once the others have arrived.”
Ren inclined her head.
“I shall see you then, King Aldarich.”
“And you, Lady Volker.”
As Renate left her tent, Elsbet was waiting for her to escort her back to the port. Mounting her horse, she couldn’t help but think that, though she didn’t trust the dragon king as far as she could throw him, it would be good to do something in the name of peace.
She only hoped that the others factions felt the same way.