Santena followed his king towards West Region’s border, where a tall pinnacle of rock shot up towards the sky. Gethnoel had utterly refused anycreature to accompany him besides Santena, and even that precaution was begrudged hesitantly.
The pair walked over the snowy, rocky ground with little difficulty. Santena’s paw rested on his broadsword, ready to draw it if the need arose, but Gethnoel didn’t let any part of him stray anywhere near his sword and shield. Noticing this, Santena protested, “Your Majesty, you must be prepared for anything!” They were nearing Highlord Rock now.
“No, I won’t show any sign of hostility,” the king replied evenly. He even wrapped the sword in his cloak! Sometimes, Santena thought, you can be such a royal idiot. Nonetheless, the tall black wolf said nothing.
When they arrived, nobeast was on, around, or near the rock. “What the . . .” Santena muttered. “Pompous fool, making us sit here.” Gethnoel rolled his eyes and sat down by the pillar. “You’re just going to wait?” Gethnoel nodded coolly. “You’re not upset?” The king calmly shook his head. Santena huffed, then plopped down beside his king.
They sat there, side by side, for about ten minutes. Finally, a trumpet sounded from somewhere on the other side of the rock. Santena jumped up before Gethnoel and dashed around to see.
A procession of rabbits and lemmings marched towards the pillar, carrying with them on a high throne a self-important looking fox with bright white floor, a red cloak, and a tall, golden crown. Beside him walked a beautiful young female fox, headfur braided in many strands down her neck and a silver circlet on her brow. She wore no fancy clothes, only a simple tan dress and leather boots with belt.
Gethnoel stood behind his general and wrapped himself in his warm grey cloak. He had left his crown at the palace, Santena noted. Again: royal idiot. The general fell back and stood beside his king, drawing his sword and planting the tip in the rocky ground.
The Westerners reached Highlord Rock in another two minutes. A little group of mice carried the throne to Santena and set it down in front of him. The prideful fox stood and walked to the general. “I was told that you were a FoxWolf, but perhaps my intelligence was incorrectly gathered,” he sniffed.
Santena looked down his nose at Tiren Letren. “I am not King Gethnoel. I am General Santena Ironpaw, and my master stands beside me.” He gestured respectfully towards the shorter FoxWolf beside him.
“Where is his crown, and robes?” The pompous fox snorted. “No king wears the garb of a peasant.” He pointed at the grey cloak.
Santena looked at Gethnoel, and the king took off his hood. His silver eyes stayed calm. “You doubt that given by Doran?” he asked quietly. Tiren rolled his eyes. One of his servants whispered in his ear, attempting to soothe his ego, but the proud Spokesbeast shrugged her off.
“Of course I doubt some make-believe god. Your eyes prove nothing.”
Gethnoel quickly became angry. His eyes literally grew brighter, flashing in the light of the grey sky. “Doranfather is anything but false!” he roared, and threw off his cloak. The white and silver of his bright clothes matched Santena’s identically, but for the white hood and fact that his seemed far more brilliant. Santena bowed.
Tiren took a full step backwards. “I . . . uh,” he stuttered, then made a valiant attempt to compose himself. “Well . . . it seems that I was mistaken.” He sniffed haughtily. “My most sincere apologies, young man. Shall we continue with our business?”
Santena was tempted to explode at the old fool, but Gethnoel had calmed down as rapidly as he had grown enraged. “Yes, we may keep speaking of your wishes for your daughter,” he said. He invited Tiren to sit on the ground.
In the keeping of old customs, Gethnoel and Tiren sat cross-legged across from each other, passing back and forth a vial of old, good wine. Once that was done, Letren started talking. Standing at attention behind Gethnoel, Santena got the impression that the fox didn’t care about his daughter, only viewed her as property, had a high opinion of himself, and thought of this whole exchange as a “business opportunity”. In short, everything that he had already gathered about the Spokesbeast from the message.
Finally, Gethnoel said something. It was so low that Santena had to strain his ears to hear it. “Let me speak to your daughter.” Somewhat astounded, the Spokesbeast hesitated, then Santena watched as he gestured to a servant, who nodded, ran back to the caravan, and whispered in the princess’s ear. She pointed her nose in the air and shook her head. The fox servant huffed and pushed her along towards the three standing beside the rock. She grudgingly obeyed.
The princess stood angrily in front of Gethnoel. She was furious. “What? What do you want, ‘king’?” she demanded.
“What is your name?” the king asked softly. She didn’t say anything at first. He repeated the question.
“Kaytlen,” she said hesitantly, but still casting furious glances toward her father.
“Kaytlen, let me ask you something. Do you want to marry me?” She quickly shook her head. Gethnoel shook his head. “Absolutely! Your wish shall be granted. We won’t get married!” he exclaimed cheerfully, then spun on his heel and walked off towards Karenian, his capital city.
Santena stayed for a moment to watch Letren’s reaction. The fox sputtered indignantly, then yelled after Gethnoel, “Don’t turn your back on me, you young pipsqueak!” Gethnoel ignored him and kept walking. “You’ll regret this! Listen to your superiors!”
Santena chuckled and jogged after Gethnoel, his chainmail jingling.
The next day, while Gethnoel set about planning what to do about the forgotten possibility of a treaty with East Region, Santena was busy someplace else.
The castle had been built at the border between North and South Regions, placing it strategically in the way of any war-seeking Westerners or Eastlivers. A temple built to honor Doran, at His command, had been built right beside Karenian. The castle paled in comparison to the golden temple, but it is not here where our story focuses.
At the southern edge of the main palace, a small courtyard was spread out. The marble stones were scuffed and dirtied, but this mattered not to those creatures who used it now. Here, Santena fought.
He wore a different set of armor: it was black, and had no markings. His visor covered his ears and came forward over his snout. Instead of his broadsword, the wolf wielded a long, thin rapier. It felt odd in his paws, but that was only because he was used to something bigger. Across from him, on the other side of the courtyard, a smaller wolf stood, with the same gear. Both were sweating profusely. “Do you . . . claim a respite, sir?” the other wolf gasped, smirking.
Santena shook his head. “I may . . . be ten years your . . . elder, Ithiniel, but I am . . . still your teacher, and can still defeat you with all ease! Still . . . I cannot see why you chose this to train with, of all weapons,” he added. He leaped at the younger wolf, his sword flashing in a dazzling figure eight pattern, then darting forward, flipping Ithiniel’s sword back, and ending on the student’s neck.
Santena’s apprentice grinned and dropped his weapon. “Once again, master, you gained the better of me in this engagement,” he admitted ruefully. He and Santena both removed their helmets, sweat dripping from their fur.
Ithiniel’s appearance had obviously influenced his name, which meant “light” in the old speech. His fur was blindingly white, the same as Icefurr had left behind when his eyes and fur turned silver. His teeth were also perfectly white, and his eyes were a bright blue. Around his neck hung a pendant in the shape of a flame. Directly contrasting the rest of his attire, at his side, hung his black-steel rapier. His ears perked and turned attentively to everything that his master said. “I saw an opening in your guard. I had left plenty in the way I was holding my sword, but you must learn to look for them!” Santena sighed. His apprentice was still grinning like an idiot. “All right. Pick up your sword, and we’ll do it again. Unless, that is, you claim a respite?” He chuckled at the indignant look on Ithiniel’s face.
“Only if you need one, sir! On your guard!” He put his helmet back and picked up his rapier. Santena laughed at the younger wolf’s enthusiasm and stepped back into a defensive position. The pair was about to lock swords, when a scream sounded from outside the courtyard. It came from the south wall!
Ithiniel was too startled to do anything. Santena smacked him in the back of the head and dashed to the little wallgate where the scream had sounded from. The black wolf whipped it open, then stepped outside, followed closely by his now alert student. “Who’s there?” Santena called in the dusk light.
Two grim-faced hooded otters bearing the Old Clandon symbol on their cloaks were carrying a young female fox away from the castle. Her pretty green eyes were frantic, her limbs thrashing. One of the otters had a dark paw over her mouth, which was already covered by a grey scarf. “Stop! Stop in the name of the king!” Ithiniel shouted, and drew his dark sword, running at the two gang members. Santena followed close behind.
At the sudden interruption, the Old Clandoners dropped the fox and drew their own S-curved swords and kite shields. “Stay back, if you know what’s . . .” one started threateningly. Ithiniel stopped him by quickly snaking his flexible blade through both curves of the sword, flicking it out of the otter’s grip, then slicing his throat open.
The other otter fared no better. He soon laid on the ground beside his partner, dead by the master’s steel. Santena rushed over to the fox. She laid face-down -- she’d fainted. Santena bent over and picked her up, rolling her over to see her face. “Ma’am, are you alright?” he asked. She didn’t respond through the veil. Santena pulled it down to see her better.
“What in Doran’s name . . .!” he exclaimed. Laying in his arms was the Spokesbeast’s daughter, Kaytlen Letren! “To the king!” he ordered Ithiniel, and both hurried back into the castle courtyard.
A Note from the Author: Some of you may have wondered: what in the world do all these strangely foreign words mean? Well, here's a dictionary, which has all the words that I've currently used, for Old Clandoranian language. I'll put it up separately in the White King Archive.
Doran: all, or abbreviated form of Doranfather.
shantali: an ancient greeting.
I love fiction, fantasy, roleplaying, and reading. Nice to meet you too. All of my tales are little kid-friendly, except perhaps a few stories in the Rogue Captain universe. Those are more geared towards teens. Check with your parents, just in case.