Bretonnia Prelude Part II
When the courier arrived from Quenelles with word of a large beastmen warherd moving in from the Drakwald over the Grey Mountains, Duke Cassvon of Parravon had his doubts. Old Duke Tancred II had been battling the minions of Chaos for decades now and no doubt his brain had been rattled. Had it not been for the second letter sent to Tancred’s daughter, the betrothed of Cassvon’s son Theodius, then Cassvon would have brushed the threat aside and given it to a lesser captain to deal with; however, Tancred requested that his daughter return to Quenelles with all haste where she would be safer. As the first snows began to fall he quickly dispatched riders to the posts in the Grey Mountains and to Montfort. Duke Cassvon sat high in his keep looking out his window at the majestic mountains surrounding his equally majestic city. The city was only assailable from one direction, with the mountains surrounding it on three sides. Cassvon smiled to himself knowing that his city would be safe from impending onslaught, that is if he chose to sit idly by and let the beastmen pass by. Tancred had stated the dire need to halt the beastmen march south by any means possible – they could not hit Athel Loren during winter. At the thought of this he snorted to himself, so he was to break his lances in the dead of winter to save the Wood Elves? All for some promise of aid against vampires. What vampires, he thought. Nevertheless if the beastmen warherd passed through Parravon it was his duty as protector of Parravon and its lands to face them. Sitting in his high tower he noticed a wagon being loaded with haste, servants rushing to an fro. The first snows were falling and someone thought it prudent to begin a journey? He donned a heavy cloak and descended from his lofty perch to investigate.
Duke Cassavon reached the inner courtyard of his keep and grabbed a servant boy by the arm to halt him. “Boy, what is the meaning of these preparations for departure?”
“My lord, Lady Ryalle commands us to prepare her belongings for the journey south,” the boy stammered.
“What?! The betrothed to my son fleeing?!” The Duke’s anger began to rise as his face turned red. He spotted the Lady directing her servants at the entrance of her tower and approached her. “Lady Ryalle what is the meaning of this rash flight? You are to be married to my son next spring and here I see you are preparing to return home. Does the marriage proposal not sit well with thee?”
Dreading this encounter, Lady Ryalle curtsied and replied, “My Lord, you have no doubt received the letter from my father. Parravon is not safe, he requests that I return to Quenelles with haste until spring.”
“Your father writes of unseen armies looming over Bretonnia threatening to tear her apart as they hunger for Wood Elf blood. He writes of the need to rise to the defense of the faerie folk. I have sent scouts to Axe Bite Pass and our outposts in the Grey Mountains and no word has come back yet of any host nearing our province. Even if there was, you are in the safest place you could be within the walls of Parravon!” He spit at the ground, “Woe unto Bretonnia if we are riled by the ramblings of Wood Elves!”
“My Lord, history tells of tales when the Wood Elves came to our aid. Though they lie outside the realm of the Lady of the Lake, I believe that they are friends of Bretonnia and the noble deed would be to rise to their aid,” Lady Ryalle stated knowing that driving at Duke Cassvon’s noble duty was the way to bend his steel resolve.”How better to fulfill our duty to the Lady than by defending the defenseless, rising to aid the weak in their time of most need.”
The Duke clenched his teeth knowing he could not turn down honor and duty. “Should the enemy fall upon Parravon’s walls then Parravon shall face her enemies. I cannot say that I will hastily muster my forces to face an unseen foe.”
“My Lord, perhaps my father divulged more to me than he did to you. The Wood Elves have the gift of foresight and entrusted us with vital information – information which if heeded can save Bretonnia. The beastmen march south driven by the bloodlust of Malekith. They march in allegiance with the hosts of Destruction. It is said that Malekith’s plotting knows no ends and that he has sent a vile sorceress to Slyvania. Castle Drakenhof is astir. Corruption spills forth from Mousillon. The world of men, dwarves, and elves is being besieged from all sides by death and corruption and you would sit by idly chewing on childish mistrust and hate of the Wood Elves?!” Ryalle said in a commanding voice, a voice the Duke knew would one day rule over Parravon.
The Duke stood silently, brought to shame by the words of the young damsel. Fate could not have been more timely and coincidental as a courier rode through the keeps gate, cold and exhausted from his journey. His steed bore the coat of arms of Couronne. “From King Louen Leoncoeur. War!” the courier stated with his last gasp as he collapsed exhausted on his horse’s neck. The Duke took the sealed letter from the couriers hand and motioned to a steward to take the courier indoors. He broke the seal and read the letter to himself.
“What news from Couronne?” Ryalle asked.
“Foresight you said,” Duke Cassvon said with a snort. He read the letter aloud with his booming voice, “By order of King Louen Leoncoeur a Gallantry War has been announced! All knights of Bretonnia are to rise to the call of arms and ready for war! Tides of Chaos wash upon the shores of Bretonnia! Bretonnia has entered into an alliance with the Empire, Ulthuan, the realm of Dwarves, and the realm of Wood Elves! All provinces are to enforce strict night curfews and keep their cities in the most sanitary condition as possible. Death and corruption wrap their hands around Mousillon, all efforts must be taken to prevent the spread of plague! By order of the King, Axe Bite Pass is to be sealed and garrisoned under war regulations. By order of the King, all ports are to be closed to vessels not flying flags of allied powers. By order of the King, all Grail Knights are to report to Couronne for mandatory rearmament. By order of the King, all animals displaying erratic behavior are to be put to the sword and burned. By order of the King, all yeomen are to rise to the call of war or face the penalty of desertion and betrayal of the realm. By order of the King, all graveyards are to be put under night and day watch. Bretonnia has risen to war, may the Lady protect her lands!” The Duke added quietly to Lady Ryalle, “It would appear your father’s war is now official. My he acts fast.”
“This war was not of my father’s construction Duke Cassvon. These events were set into motion beyond the will of any mortal.”
As if one messenger was not enough, a Pegasus Knight circled over the court blowing a horn signaling distress. He landed on a high parapet and yelled down, “My liege! Montfort burns! Hundreds of harpies descend upon Parravon from the north! A massive Greenskin army marches from Massif Orcal due east to the Upper Grismerie!”
For a moment it seemed as if the light snow flakes that were falling around him had suddenly turned into boulders. Bringing himself back to the present, Duke Cassvon shouted, “Sound the call to arms! All able bodied men to the walls of Parravon. Muster the Pegasus Knights!” Putting his hand on Ryalle’s arm he quietly added to her, “It would seem you weather this storm behind the walls of Parravon after all. Whatever ill came between us, may it be washed away my daughter. War is upon us and we shall all need your blessings.”
Lady Ryalle lowered her eyes, “My brother was in Mousillon pursuing his Grail quest in the tombs of the undead. It seems the House of Quenelles is safe no where. I shall do my duty to Bretonnia, my liege. Swear to me that Parravon will strike out against the hordes of Chaos so long as there is snow on the ground. Swear to me that until a blade of green has breached the frozen earth we shall not cease to struggle.”
“By my vow as a Grail Knight, Parravon will answer the call of Athel Loren and upon her walls will the hordes of Chaos be broken and battered,” Duke Cassvon said solemnly.