Hey it´s me. Sorry for the delay but university has caught me and I wasnt able to write much and afterwards my editor went MIA.
The chpater has the nearly length of the entire prologue (I-V; 3000-4500 words), its roughly the standard for every chapter when everything goes well.
I also hit my first challenges with the description of the character that is showing up in this chapter, I´ve some options open for later chapters but I will think about what to do.
Hope you enjoy and see you next (maybe this) week again.
============================= -> Indicates a place change, didnt want to spoil the location but is shortly revealed later
2 years later
Outskirts of the royal capital
In the outskirts of the royal capital there are multiple mansions, owned by various lords or rich merchants, only used for their leisure or to escape the daily businesses.
One of these belonged to Ruck and he used it for his private amusement with his toys. If he was recognized, it would surely damage his reputation and the king would strip him of his chancellor title.
In the public records the castle was owned by a minor merchant, but no one knew that he was a pawn of Lord Fiven.
From the outside, a normal mansion was maintained with servants, maids and other attendants, but from the inside it would only find equals in the districts of towns where people offered their bodies for a price.
The various toys Ruck used for his leisure were always the same, so his friend knew when to contact him.
2 years ago he was offered his current toy and even after hearing the price he willingly bought the young girl.
Besides her anomaly of not being able to use any magics, she was really to his liking and he immediately brought her back to this mansion.
She was unconscious during the transport but after she woke up again she was as livid as when he entered her cell.
He didn't immediately use a binding spell to make her obedient, preferring instead to break her mind and body first.
One part after another, she slowly broke down but he still continued and went further and further.
Every bruise was healed after he was finished, only to continue the next day, repeating it so often that a normal person would go insane. Her slightest resistance made him go even further.
He didn't stop for any part of her body and after half a year it was the point where she laid down in the cell, not resisting and not even a small hint of the girl in the cell remained.
Only after that point, when her eyes went dull and not even the smallest glimpse of hope remained, he used a binding spell. She was already obedient to his commands but he liked to have total control over his toys.
Snapping out of his daydream, he watched the scenery beyond the windows. It was currently the coldest part of the year and not many travellers were on their way.
No one would be able to seem him anyways, thanks to the magic enchanted windows, since they only allow a one-sided view.
Turning back to the room he called the girl, who was standing beside the room door.
The girl, wearing a simple maid apron, was a beauty in her own category. She wasn't even blooming into her teenage years, the passing of time that would show her true beauty, the years that would allow her to charm most of the people that looked at her. With simple dark brown hair and a gorgeous face, it would be impossible to think of her as a simple maid. Would someone see her in public, she would be undoubtedly mistaken for the daughter of a wealthy lord or merchant.The only flaw were her dull eyes, void of any liveliness and joy.
“Come here and entertain me”, he ordered, to what the girl instantly replied,
The girl came closer and started to leave a trail of clothes behind, showing more and more of her gorgeous beauty to the extent of her whole body. In the past two years it made a decent development, bordering the utmost limits of her age.
Every man would be unable to stop staring, but for Ruck something felt wrong.
“I guess it's time to visit Adlen again. I'm getting tired of this girl. Every toy I had was an achievement, to break their struggle and bind their Mârdens. Not this girl, though. It was far too easy to make her submit, she didn't put up any resistance.
To bind a Mârden, you need to invest time and it was always an enjoyable fight when the will of the girls flared up to defend themselves. That's the real thrill, the sweetest cry of their souls when they can't help themselves anymore.”
Ruck revels in these sweet memories and his son was caught uprising in the girl hands. The girl was doing her part, after 2 years she knew how to please her master.
Suddenly, the door opened.
A well-dressed servant entered, holding some papers in hand.
Other servants would be punished by death if they dared enter the Lord’s private chambers, but this one was different.
He was the longest serving butler in the services of Ruck, not bound by a magic to serve. It was his own will and he shared most of Ruck’s politic and social views.
“Aldrison, good to see you! What happened to bring you here? I hope you bring great news.” He left the girl at his side and stood up to receive the papers.
Aldrison averted his eyes from the situation in the room and looked outside the window.
“The last report of our spies came in. Everything is prepared and we are ready to move on.”
“Great,it finally pays to have patience. The princess is a nuisance, but she’s clever. If she discovers any traces of what we have planned, it will be much harder to succeed. Call back every spy and dispose of them without making any ruckus.”
With a single sentence he executed a dozen of spies, but he didn't care. They were pawns in a much bigger game and they just lost their worth.
“Surely, my lord.”
Aldrison bowed and left the room as fast as he entered.
Thinking about the coming events he looked behind on the girl who was lying on the bed.
“Now back to us, my love”
During this night, many spies disappeared throughout the empire of Escos.
The spies thought they reported to the crown and their king but it was a farce even the king didn't know about. The one behind the spy network was the first and only princess of the empire, Roxanne, and her most trusted captain Laruth.
Such a scale of movement didn't go unnoticed and an intel paper was prepared by the military of the kingdom. The princess was trying to cover the spies with their own but couldn't keep up. She was fighting against a stronger faction, with multiple backers, alone. The most of her spies were also hired recently and didn't have sufficient knowledge to perform their best. Only a small percentage provided reliable information and even less worked officially for the crown.
Roxanne was a sharp-minded person with a lot of intellect. She was hailed as a prodigy since her childhood and excelled in every challenge she encountered.
She was also loved by the commoners because of her decrees that helped them against the lords that exploited them.
She tried to help them as much as she could with public food donations and basic necessities but the demand was overwhelming and not everyone was able to receive the aid. The lords also made her work harder, they tried to block her or demanded that she moved somewhere else after a few days. It was impossible to open a long-lasting magazine or hospice.
Always by her side was the captain of her royal guard, Laruth. He was a commoner that was rising through the military ranks until he was commanded by the king to guard his only child. The following years he cared about the princess as if she was his own daughter and watched her grow. After the princess surpassed her teachers and was old enough to stand her own, he was recruited by her and served as primary captain of her guard. She outsmarted most of their rivals and continued to do as she pleased. He was the person she trusted the most and was involved even in the most private matters of her life.
Laruth was presenting an intel paper to the princess. They both were in her private rooms and no one besides him was allowed to enter.
Nothing would give a hint that the princess resides insides this room. You could see the entire room from the door and the simplicity was stunning. Nothing childish or princess-like, only a carpet leading to a desk in front of a window you could only see in churches. The desk was stacked with papers but everything was in order and neatly sorted. A small and plain canopy bed with a wardrobe and vanity were filling the room to the left and right.
A person was sitting behind the desk, reading papers with an astonishing pace. Wearing plainless clothes, suited for work and not for leisure, the princess of the empire was reading the intels.
Laruth was thinking about the princess while he watched her.
“She surely has changed, I watched her growing up and now she is the most sought noble in the empire”.
The princess was never like you would expect her to be. Freeing herself from her teachers she taught herself in the royal library and after she satisfied her mind she began training her body.
The following uproar, the news of a female combatant in training, were growing proportionally with every day after the majority learned it was the princess that visited the training grounds. Only the king was able to calm down the lords after he proposed the deal of her training with private tutors.
She trained herself with the sword and other weapons, only to master the majority of them.
After she finished the training of body and mind she went to participate in the political playgrounds. To this day it was her most challenging task but she never backed down, growing faster with every setback to get rid of the corruption inside the empire.
During all the time she grew into a beautiful maiden, her long black hair plaited into a side plait. She wanted to cut it multiple times but her chambermaids and the emperor insisted at least for her to be a princess in public affairs and political meetings.
Her face was distinctive, making her beautiful traits even more visible but one thing made nobles and males fall before her like helpless children.
The red eyes were gleaming like burning ruby, a stare was rendering you unable to look away. A single heartbeat would be enough to make you fall for their beauty. If you were able to look behind the dazzling fire you would see a genius that will only appear once a century.
“So most of the spies we had our eyes on suddenly disappeared?”
“Yes, your royal highness.”
“I told you to stop calling me with my royal title when we are alone.”
“Yes prin- Roxanne. Our spies, even the most inexperienced ones, discovered that the spies they were supposed to supervise disappeared. The best spies under your command confirmed this and reported to me.
I'm glad these eyesores are finally out of our sight.”
“I'm actually afraid that this means a lot of trouble is ahead of us.”
“What's the cause for your worries.”
“Even after a long time of surveillance we never found the receiver of the enemy intels. And since they are now on the retreat it can only mean two things. Either they accomplished their goal or they decided there is now valuable information to gain and relocated their resources.
Since most of their spies were focused on the royal business and our most faithful lords I don't think they decided they can't gain any information on the crown. I like to be prepared and now I've got nothing on my hands.”
“You always had a plan when it was needed. Your will master this situation like everything else before since you are the prodigy, the first and beloved princess of the empire.”
“Stop with the flattery, I don't like the nicknames the commoners give me, I only want them to be treated rightfully. Never wanted to be their saviour, only equal rights in front of the crown and court. My father is a little bit afraid to act against the higher lords and they reap like wolves in a sheep herd. He tried his best but got betrayed when he accepted the crown.”
Her father, Elaith, was crowned after his father died. He dreamed the same dream as her, but after he issued his only Mâgna he was powerless against the council and the mightier lords.
After a new emperor or empress got coronated they could issue a Mâgna. An absolute decree that had to be followed by the whole empire.
The power to back this decree up was an ancient relict that was in possession of the empire since its founding times. The ancient relic was from a time beyond the scrolls of history and it was only available to the royal bloodline. It was impossible to replicate and its working mechanism is unknown. The only thing that researchers were able to determine was the nearly unlimited magic ressource. The relict was in a chamber and they only felt the power’s immense pressure.
Even with this much power at hand, it wasn't omnipotent. If it was used against an older Mâgna it wouldn’t work and you wouldn't be able to remark it. Also, the first emperor made the founding Mâgna be that it could never be used against the empire’s own inhabitants or for evil deeds.
The following emperors and empresses could only see the Mâgnas when they entered the ritual chamber. Only they were allowed to enter, making it impossible to counterfeit or manipulate the process. They couldn't pass down their knowledge as the memory was sealed, only a scroll documented their Mâgna.
In the end, everything besides the relict and his powers were legends and myths.
Elaith, as the young naive young emperor, wanted to stop the slavery and consulted, in his credulity, the lords. Some foul lords didn't want their toys to be taken away and added some loopholes to exploit the commoners even after the Mâgna.
His Magna Carta Libertatum freed the slaves but bound him to the political plays of the council. An emperor doesn’t have unlimited power, he can only wield his power when the council decides it so or in times of war to make emergency decisions.
As the emperor grew older, he saw his mistakes, but was unable to do something without risking a major uproar in the council and an imminent civil war.
Behind the scenes, some higher lords exploited the loopholes quite heavily but were never punished because of the political power they held.
“Sigh, I wish I could issue a Mâgna right now to solve all of my problems.”
“You will surely make a splendid one that will bring great prosperity for the empire. But what to do about the missing spies? I know you don't like risks, but should I give the command for our best spies to hunt after them?”
“Send only the best of the ones under our command. Remind them to retreat in case of danger.”
“By your command! What about our remaining spies?
We could use our resources for much better causes now. I received multiple reports about lords that still gravely ignore the laws your father passed after his coronation to abolish the slavery.
We turned a blind eye on them because they held a lot of power in the council, but they got reckless and it's starting to get worse in multiple cases.”
“Investigate without alerting them. If it's impossible to do something let them retreat. We don't need any more ruckus at your hands right now. The lords tolerated my helping the commoners since I have the influence of the crown and only acted in the royal capital and surroundings, but they always held grudges. My father backed me up but can't protect me against the entire council.
The spies may have come from some higher lords that always acted against the crown and hated my doings but I don't have the proof to bend them into a direction I can control.”
After a short moment of silence
“Leave for now; I need to sort my thoughts.”
“I´ll depart then”
After the door was closed, Roxanne walked towards the window and started to watch the horizon.
The room was empty now and no one was able to see the black clothed person that hid themselves all the time in the shadows of the room. Even the royal guard, in front of the door, didn't detect a single glimpse of mana or the person. Not a single ounce of killing intent or magic was leaking, comparable skill would only find equals under the best assassins of the underworld. Nothing besides the eyes was left without clothing, making it difficult to gain any information about the person.
“You can come out now.”
The shadow didn't reply but moved behind the princess and kneeled.
“You heard our discussion, go back to your post and hurry. No need to protect me any further. Laruth is surely looking for you to issue the commands.”
Again the person didn't reply, but simply nodded and fused with the shadows to be gone in the next moment.
“A storm is coming and his might will shake the lands. What will remain when the sun comes up again?.”
The sun was setting behind the horizon, the night fell upon the lands of Escos.