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Mists of the Caer

Posted on Wed Dec 7th, 2016 @ 5:45am by Anastasiya Windwalker

Chapter: The Hornbook
Location: Stormholm Caer, Harkania March, Cymeria
Timeline: Spring 3550

As was usual at such an early, barely past dawning, heavy mist shrouded the great hold of Stormholm Caer hiding it from the valley below and likewise shielding the valley from its sight. This left the tall, powerfully built High Lord of Cymeria staring at a blanket of white instead of a silvery river and green farmlands. He sipped at a hot, fragrant tea from a heavy pewter mug, carved with pagan emblems of protection, the corners of his fine mouth turned down slightly as he considered Stormholm’s immediate future.

Winter came early to the mountains, especially at the altitude that the Stormdanovich chose to live. In a few weeks, snow would blanket the ground and close the passes up to the hold and out of the valley to the lower lands. Only those very determined and with prodigious winter survival skills would be able to come and go until the spring thaw. Of course, the long severe winters were yet another measure of protection for this remote mountain fastness. The winter was traditionally a time to withdraw, take stock of one's life, and prepare for the coming of the spring. In winter, the Light dwindled and was reborn.

All these thoughts rambled through Mikhael Vladimir Stormdanovich's mind as he gazed at the blanket of mist. The pressure of a strong, yet delicately feminine hand turned his attention outward. Eyes the color of arctic ice slanted toward the woman that had silently stepped onto the balcony outside his private study chamber. As usual, much to the dismay of his other sisters, the realm's Seneschal, Anastasiya Valeria Windwalker, was clad in a form fitting tunic and breeches, supple and cut for ease of movement. She was not wearing her battle sword. Instead, a long dagger with a plain, practical hilt hung in a worn scabbard from her wide belt. Her flame colored hair with its glints of gold, hung in a long thick braid down her back and eyes as blue as the depths of Lake Bakal, gazed at her younger brother.

The role of Seneschal was, traditionally, that of both military commander and adviser, answerable only to the High Lord or his chosen deputy. That it was currently held by a woman was not unusual in the long history of Cymeria and the reigning Stormdanovich clan. That it was one of the daughters of the former High Lord was a departure from the normal. Power had to be balanced, dark against light, masculine against feminine. It was in balance that all things thrived.

"You frown, brother," Anastasiya commented, giving the powerfully muscled shoulder a squeeze before letting her hand drop to rest on the hilt of her dagger. "Are you contemplating the ways and whims of the universe itself or has young Vasily eluded his keepers again?" Stasya arched an eyebrow as she mentioned her brother's five year old son and heir who was almost as adept at eluding his guard as Misha had been at that age. "Or have you quarreled with the Chatelaine again?"

Briefly, a smile lit the cold eyes of the big man, followed by its faint echo on his lips, "No, Oksana and I have not quarreled and Vasya is still asleep, thank the Light." His eyes warmed at the mention of his small son. "As for contemplating the ways and whims of the universe, not at all, Stasya. Merely considering all that needs be accomplished before winter and if it is worth risking traveling to seek the missing Mages."

The woman nodded, a frown now marring her features, "Jorth and Jalael." She identified the ones that had yet to return from a sojourn across the plains. Twins, Jorth and Jalael complimented one another's skills and talents brilliantly. They had been found and brought into the Theurgy’s creche by the former Seneschal, Thor Windwalker. The twins had not been on a quest, but an intelligence and fact finding mission. They were now close to a month overdue. Stasya knew the High Lord kept abreast of which mages were on quests for the Theurgy and while not their commander, he would be concerned over their silence.

"Do you sense something wrong...are they in danger?" The Seneschal now asked.

"No, not really and most likely they have just become sidetracked," Mikhael responded. "But, I should ride out soon anyway...if I wish to return before the pass closes." The winter closing of the pass from the valley, through the mountains and foothills to the plains, was a bigger issue than the treacherous pass from the valley to the hold. It could be traveled if one were prepared, but it was not a simple task and Mikhael considered it an unnecessary risk of life and limb...normally.

"And your tasks for today?" Anastasiya took her job of protector quite seriously. Fortunately, her brother understood how valuable his life was to the land with no other to replace him.

"Thor Windwalker says the southernmost levee appears to be weakening," Mikhael answered affably after taking a long drink of the now cooling tea. "Care to ride out with me to inspect it as you will have to detail the manpower and engineers for its repair?"

"I would indeed," Stasya answered. "In two hours, after the mist lifts?"

"I will meet you in the courtyard two hours hence," Misha confirmed as he resumed his steady regard of the mountain mists.

Stasya nodded and, as silently as she had arrived, departed to find her breakfast and tend to her morning's duties.


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