The Three Kings
by Slawomir Rapala
part 5 of 9
Iskald, son of a powerful duke of a Northern Realm, is mentored by an aging General Aezubah. The duke is murdered, and Aezubah cannot rescue the boy from the clutches of the Tha-kian slave traders. Years pass before a princess, Laela, saves him from his masters’ whips.
Iskald is then torn between love for his home and the passions stirred by the princess. On the deserts of the Southern Realms he seeks to bury his life as a slave and soothe his tormented soul. In the process, he becomes a warrior.
Two powerful Viking Kingdoms vie to conquer Iskald’s homeland. His people, led by Aezubah, have mounted an impossible resistance. Iskald’s life is henceforth shaped by the swirling challenges of love and duty.
Much could be said about the great battles that took place in the Far North between the Lyonese and the vicious Northern invaders. Much could be said about the heroism and bravery of the Lyonese who were not intimidated by the sheer number of the foes before them; a sea of enemies blackened the earth but the Lyonese ranks remained undisturbed.
Just as much could be said about the audacity and the resolve of the Vikings who, although forced back by the unstoppable and crazed waves of Lyonese warriors, though forced to retreat and to return each bit of soil taken before, though their army was decimated day after day by the skilled hands of Wolves, they nevertheless fought long and hard before being finally pushed back.
They fought though they bled terribly, though their hands could no longer hold the swords and the shields up in the air, though their leaders were being assassinated by the skilled Izmattic bowmen, though the Lyonese, determined to rid their Kingdom of the last one of them, spared no one and murdered all men bearing a beard and a horned cap. They fought long and hard, but could not mach the determination, the resolve and the resilience of the Lyonese, whom they outnumbered ten to one.
Even more could be said of the courage of the Lyonese leaders: Iskald, Aezubah, Jasper, and others; of their military genius and their audacity and relentlessness in battle. Many times they could be seen fighting alongside simple soldiers, the warriors that they were, born and bred on a battlefield, among the cries of living and the wails of the dying.
Old Yyta’s heroic death could be mentioned here as well because had it not been for his courage in the face of an impossible task, Iskald’s plan would never have succeeded. He held the Vikings for as long as he could, giving the rest of the Lyonese army enough time to move into position. He died trampled by the heavy boots of the invaders, but there was song on his lips and joy in his lifeless eyes.
He knew he had succeeded.
The Vikings were defeated, but the Lyonese paid a heavy price for the victory, a price in pure blood. Many valiant warriors lay dead on the fields before the invader was finally forced to retreat, while those who survived would for years on tell the next generations that such battles and such carnage had never before been seen, nor will the world ever see again.
The decimated ranks of the Great Northern Order, leaderless after Irvinn was killed in one of the battles, were left in a state of total disorder and chaos, terrified and fleeing for their lives back to the North, far up North, back to their ice castles and glaciers glistening in the frozen sun.
They fled, leaving behind not only the lands formerly occupied by the Estate of Lyons, but much of the lands of the former Biyack as well. Iskald tracked them and he followed them relentlessly far North along with hordes of blood-thirsty Wolves, stopping only on the borders of Arynos, the Kingdom of Eternal Ice, where the horses sank into the snow, where the glow of ice brought blindness, and where the air was so cold that falling water froze before touching the ground.
There he turned around, but not before deploying General Jasper and a large portion of the Lyonese troops to the Ice Fields of Arynos where the Viking fleet was still locked in ice. Iskald and Aezubah in the meantime, turned their horses around and made the trip back home, back to the ruins of what was once the beautiful Estate of Lyons, but what was now destined to become a powerful and magnificent Kingdom.
The great Lyonese wolf had risen from a lengthy sleep, and upon hearing his terrifying roar, dread crept into Viking hearts, they lost their resolve and fled back to their homes. Lyons rose anew, great, mighty and strong, and spread fear into the hearts of her enemies.
Now that the war was over and peace came to the land again, there was finally time to think of rebuilding the devastated and shattered Kingdom. The entire Realm suffered tremendously. Fields were covered with thousands of rotting, mutilated corpses; the earth was soaked with blood and the rivers ran red with it.
The smoking remnants of villages, towns, and cities, spoke for themselves. Though most of the people had managed to flee the aggressors and hide in the impassable woods and mountains of Lyons, many were caught nevertheless, and their tortured and mangled bodies were left for display, hanging on trees by the roads, on city walls and gates.
Those that survived were slowly emerging, but only to return to the ruins of their former lives, only to bury their loved ones and to sit on the burned and charred remnants of what were once their homes. And it would take years for the wounds to heal, though the scars would never disappear completely.
The Jewel had been utterly destroyed along with the city at its feet. The glorious palace, the pride of Duke Vahan, was leveled with the ground and there was literally nothing left on the place where it once stood, save for piles of smoking rubble.
Treasures and riches that the Lyonese could not carry out of the palace and only hid as best as they could, riches beyond any measure, collected for years by Vahan and other nobles, all fell into the greedy hands of the Viking and the vagabonds, deserters, and other drifters that came after the invaders retreated.
The Kingdom was a twisted wreck where only wild animals and birds of prey enjoyed life. But Iskald wasted no time weeping over the ruins of his home. The Vikings were gone, and although the victory was overshadowed by the heavy price it was bought with, it was a time to rejoice nevertheless.
Iskald had proved to all those that doubted him that he was indeed a skilled military leader who could defend his land even if it meant enduring great personal sacrifices. Now came the time to prove to his people that he was also the one person that could heal the wounds of the Kingdom, to rebuild Lyons and to lead it into a new era, an era of greatness that the land had never known or dreamed of before.
With the aid of the relentless Aezubah, who now never left his side, the young King rapidly began to restore Lyons to its former glory and then to expand and increase her lands and wealth. He realized that the process would take a long time, years probably, but he had to start somewhere. If Lyons was to be a great Kingdom as he had envisioned, now was the time to act.
The world was still frozen in horror following the events that had taken place in the Far North and was only now realizing just how close it had come to being flooded once more with waves upon waves of barbaric Vikings. And now the world watched as out of the ashes and the carnage of the vicious war, a new Kingdom was rising, a new power that was to play a key role in restructuring the North.
The first thing that Iskald did was rid the Kingdom of the remaining small bands of Vikings, Biyackian deserters, vagabonds, drifters, robbers, and murderers, all of which feasted on the wounds of Lyons. Smoke still hung over Lyons when he signed a pact with the Izmattic Isles, one that swore the two Kingdoms to eternal friendship, loyalty and aid, whether military or other.
The treaty secured immediate help from Izmattia in the form of building materials as well as skilled workers and architects who were to aid in the reconstruction of the Realm. At the same time Iskald sent word to Jasper, who was still ravaging the lands of the Vikings with fire and sword, to make peace with the former invaders.
The stipulations were steep and harsh, however: the Great Northern Order was to be abolished and never formed again, Arynos and Othar were to lay their weapons down, hand over their Southernmost provinces into the hands of Lyons, and it was to reimburse her for the damages sustained during the war.
Moreover, the Vikings and the Lyonese signed an agreement, binding them both to cease hostile actions for the next decade. There was to be no war between them. The Vikings, feeling Jasper’s heavy sword hanging over their heads, readily agreed to all the stipulations and the Far North was once again in peace.
Copyright © 2008 by Slawomir Rapala