Fealty, Preview

You’re early! Thanks for dropping by, but we’re still getting sorted out around here. First story will be up June 1st.

Here’s a quick (and unedited!) preview:

The baron, my husband, is dead. I am fighting to secure these lands and title in my own right as his widow. If you still feel as you once did, come to me now. I have need of you and your sword both.
With all my love,
Myrtle, Baroness Fireridge

Eryk folded up the well-worn letter and tucked it away in his jerken. For the hundredth time since he had received it six months earlier, he thought of burning the letter. Anyone who found it on him would, with reason, question his loyalty to Baron Balmont. His fingers absently rubbed the place where it rested. The last piece of Myrtle he would ever have.

Three weeks. If Myrtle’s letter had reached him three weeks earlier, he would have ridden for her as if his life depended on it.

But Baron Balmont of Cliffside had invited him to swear fealty and become one of Balmont’s knights. For the bastard son of the hated Black Baron it was a chance to belong and a dream come true. He accepted the lord’s invitation without a moment’s hesitation. Three weeks later, Myrtle’s letter had finally reached him.

He stood and stretched, forcing his thoughts to the future. His patrol would start soon, he needed to take the time to check his equipment. The border with the Cirisian Empire might be quiet, but it still needed watching.

A few hours later, he and his detachment of men at arms road out from the castle. One of several fortifications on the Baron’s lands, this castle overlooked one of the few roads to cut through the mountains between the Westerlands and the Empire. The constantly warring minor lords of the Westerlands didn’t worry about the Empire engulfing them, because the mountains blocked any large invasion – and because the Empire knew if attacked those feuding lords would band together until the intruder was driven out.

So the trade caravan Eryk saw passing by as they exited the gates was the most common traffic on the road. Still they guarded, just in case.

The patrol was simple routine. When they stopped halfway through their circuit to water the horses, Eryk set sentries more by habit than need. Or so he thought.

Eryk was checking his girth when he heard the first of several strange “thuds”. He whirled around, to see the men of his detachment falling off their horses without a sound. He had barely taken a step when exhaustion swept over him, and the world went black.

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