Ties Unbroken

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    The Wittacre family had long ruled in the North, capturing mountains and valleys alike in a mass construct of fortune to put forth their claim to both Lordship and Kingship. It worked, long in the past when legends seemed truth, and for many a century the famed Wittacre lineage was praised for their mastery of the harsh climates. They moved on from the tall fortresses up in the mountains down to the river valleys at their feet, and build a stone castle of the greatest mankind had seen for many a millennium. Great Kaehr of the North, the Mountain Fortress some called. Many families wanted to marry off into the line, knowing that whomever they sent would be in good hands until the day they died. Others were jealous, and sought to steal what the family had earned through their ancestors bravery and strength. It is here the story begins, when the intimidating Great Kaehr was assaulted by a group of unnamed men. Assassins, they said, sent my a nameless master. The slaughter was endless. The Wittacre family was thought to be lost, but there was hope yet in the two daughters who outlived their father, mother, and brother. Catherine and Ellara Wittacre were the hope of the future. In time, they would reclaim the lost Great Kaehr Castle their bloodlines had built before them. They would rise from the ash of their failures and crush the force who dared to smite them.
    If only they knew who.
    If only they knew how.
    Taken in by the Roivas family, this is the true start of the story, where the sisters are nurtured by the caring family to the South. They learn here of new things, new Gods and new courts to entertain. The past trauma of their family was a distant thing, nine years passed. Some day, they believed, they would be able to go home.

    Color Codes (open)

    Alexander #XXXXXX
    Arlo #090970
    Catherine #ada317
    Ellara #b84265
    Maeve #a46fd9
    Sir Duncan #23912e

    Just A Dream, #b84265 A cry pierced the night like a sword against the throat of a mortal man. All manner of beast and human ran scrambling from the innermost heart of the royal palace, but not one made it past the entryway steps. One by one the collaborated screaming trickled to a sole voice among the masses. Soldiers waited with tall pikes in hand, backed by rows of archers ready to take aim. The sounds died out, the hollow ringing of fear left a stain deep against the black canvas of the sky, everything else stained red with the blood of the house Attacre. The cry was there, and all at once silenced by an unnamed hand.

    She was running, the handmaiden by the name Maeve cradled a redheaded child in her arms, she being not so old as to see her first days of womanhood. Tears as well as blood streamed down the front of the child's nightclothes. Maeve prayed to every God she knew, starting with those of her country. The Life Giver Daitel, the Life Taker Chale, every other name slipped through her tongue with no great amount of significance. They had nothing to do with the slaughter of innocents, and only life mattered now, so she prayed.

    "Hang on my sweet." Maeve cooed the child but only received desperate spouts of gurgled blood from the edges of her lips. Little Ellara Wittacre was dying in her arms and there was nothing she could do to stop the slaughter around them.

    "Duncan, get your ass over here, before someone finds us!" Maeve hissed back at a shadow darting just behind her hurried steps. There were four in their party total. One handmaiden, one knight, and two terrified little girls with no imagination left as to what was lurking in the halls of their home.

    The man had no reply for the angered handmaiden. He busied himself with another child, older than the first. Her blonde hair was thick with matted blood, her eyes wide in horror, never once did they leave her sister's face. Little Ellara was stunned and bleeding, Catherine could do nothing but watch.

    "Miss Maeve, where is Edward?" Catherine asked. "Where is mother, father, why aren't they with us? Who hurt Ellara?"

    "Quiet, child, we need to run. No more questions." Duncan, the knight of the group hushed Catherine with a jolt of his hand forward. In his opposite was a great long sword meant for two hands. The one would do, adrenaline left him with great strength. Catherine complained against his grip but didn't ask anything else. The girl was smart enough to figure when to hold her tongue and when to speak, court had taught her that.

    Only, this wasn't the court. The Lords and Ladies she was used to speaking with were dead on the steps of the grounds, the lone opposing voice was an arrow in their chest, and it was best Catherine never spoke up unless she wanted to join the popular opinion.

    Fire rained down from the sky and set whole rooms ablaze with such ferocity the stone itself began to melt off the high rising spires. This of course, was where the memory and the dream differed. Poor Ellara could barely discern from the truth of the reality and the false memories any longer. In truth, the buildings were never on fire to begin with. There was no mage summoning forth hell to burn their home, only torches to catch to the tapestries around the grounds. Those were more susceptible to the element. Stone didn't burn, wouldn't burn, not unless it was by dragon fire.

    Death was at her door, and only wanted to ease the pain with memories which seemed more grand than what lay in ruin around her.

    From what Catherine said, as Ellara never remembered, they fled to the main road with nothing more than the very clothes on their backs. For Catherine, it consisted of her pale rose colored nightgown and a pair of mismatched slippers. Her hair was all tousled, but she insisted she'd looked good in her apparel. She feared more for Ellara's safety than what she was wearing, and she always made sure to say so.

    The dream only continued in fire until the woods around them were red and distorted. Soldiers screamed after them, wolves sniffed the air to catch a taste of the royal bloodline, eager for the easy kill. None of it was real, the memories weren't there to justify the feeling of pain against her skin. It was burning, hot and cold all at once, the skin at her neck was cut jagged from a would be assassins shot at taking an eight year old girl's life.

    He'd failed, to Sir Duncan Kelly's great liking.

    Ellara woke with a start. Her hand slapped hard against her neck, only to meet the pink flesh of the botched attempt on her life. Tears started to spring from the corner of her pale blue eyes but good Maeve was there to stifle the familiar cry of pain which she long associated with the nightmare. The handmaiden's soft hands wrapped around the girl's mouth, knowing that a slip of the finger meant waking the entire Northern Wing of nobles. Ellara's shaking shoulders was enough to make her sigh with pity.

    Even in disarray she was an image of beauty, no matter how many times she dissented. Her red hair was an uncommon sighting, even among the best bred nobles in the country. She was slender but not for lack of some form to her hips, now that she'd blossomed into a proper young lady. Ellara always compared herself to that of her sister. Tall, blonde, and sociable. They felt like stark opposites despite their relation by blood.

    "It has been nine years and yet you still dream." Maeve's accent was slightly reminisce of a Mountain dwelling tribe, her words felt thick, like her tongue didn't have enough room in her own mouth, but it wasn't an unpleasant sound. While cumbersome, it was warm and filled with good intent with each syllable. "Do not weep."

    Ellara did her best not to cry, as she did when the nightmare struck. The anniversary was coming closer and the dream only got worse with each passing night. It was the fourth time Maeve had to intervene that very week.

    "Your sister is alive, you are alive, that is all that matters." Maeve removed her hand from the teen's mouth and used it instead to brush her fingers against her soft red hair. Ellara leaned heavily into the touch with her hands still grasping around the wound at her throat.

    "Would you like some ribbon?" Maeve asked. Ellara's only response was a nod of her head.

    It was a silly solution to a long festering problem. Ellara hated to go out in public with anything less than a high collared vestment. She was embarrassed of the mark, even though it represented much more than a close study of death. It stood for, according to Catherine dearest, for survival and a long lasting family lineage. Others called her brave, some thought her a miracle, but Ellara couldn't allow herself to let them see the mark which had almost been the end of her. It brought about too much pain.

    Maeve tied a thick black length of silk around Ellara's throat and she felt better somehow. The handmaiden kissed the youth against her temple before standing to leave.

    "I will return when you wake, alright?" She cooed. "Do not fear, my Lady Ellara. you have nothing to fear from anyone."
    #1 Lillian Gray, Nov 15, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
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  2. The Daydreamer, royalblue
    He had been but a boy of ten when they first came to his household: the knight, the maid, the two girls. From the window of the guard tower, he'd watched them speak with his lord father and mother at the gates, their household guard with their voulges and their crossbows behind them for security. The knight in the heavy armor looked more than capable of dispatching them all with ease, and yet it was the dark haired woman who appeared the most fearsome of all, how passionately she spoke to his parents, an argument he was not quite close enough to hear in detail.

    The older of the two girls was pretty, he'd thought, but in truth, he could not tear his eyes from the child closer to his age, the red-headed youth that clung to the maid constantly. While the majority of the time she'd kept her face buried in the woman's dress, she did once dare to look up; the two locked eyes for the first time at that moment, and he would never forget how his heart jumped.

    Perhaps it was just the folly of his youth, but indeed it did feel like love, as in the tales of romance and chivalry his father oft told to him; how the noble warrior and the beautiful maiden who laid eyes on one another fell hopelessly in love at first sight, how the knight would do anything to protect her, and love her to the end of his days. That was how he felt at that moment, like he needed to protect her and care for her, obvious as it was that she was in great pain. In time, he would reel his emotions in, but that feeling in his heart, whenever they would gaze into the other's eyes... it never truly disappeared.

    The Roivas family took what was left of the royal Wittacre bloodline into their home, not without trepidation. They kept their identities concealed to protect not only the two heirs, but their own family as well. They would be under the guise of distant cousins who'd lost their family in a terrible accident, which was not exactly far from the truth. There was difficult adjusting on both sides; and while lord Enton Roivas eventually began to see the two as his own daughters, his wife Myra had always been cold and standoffish to them, though she maintained appearances in public, political animal that she was.

    Catherine was sorrowful at first, as she rightfully should be, but she was quick to adapt to their new life. Ellara was less inclined, unfortunately, the memories of that night haunting her unceasingly throughout her days. She was an introvert compared to her sister, usually shying away from anyone but the scant few she trusted.

    They were alike in that regard, she and the boy; when he wasn't learning to ride, being trained by their master-at-arms or learning to perform other lordly functions, he would usually sit beneath the great bluebark tree in the courtyard, reading the tales he so loved in quiet solace. On one occasion, the boy happened to, by chance, bump into Ellara at the book repository in the household.

    They shared an awkward silence, but the boy noticed the tome in her hands, recognizing it as one of his favorites. It wasn't long before the two were sitting beneath that tree together, passing their books back and forth as they read one chapter to another, discussing the events that took place within those pages, timidness shed and replaced with excitement. The two grew close over the years, and the boy was slowly working up the courage to tell her how he'd felt.

    Fate hate other plans in mind. Some few weeks after his fifteenth nameday celebration, Lord Enton Roivas fell prey to an illness that had plagued him for months. After his father's passing, something changed in the boy. He became distant, avoiding her at all turns, never again sitting under the bluebark to fantasize as he did in his youth. Eventually, he departed from the castle altogether, finding tutelage under a venerable knight in the Oathsworn Defenders, an ancient order of honorable warriors. He never took the time to say good-bye to her before he left.

    Nearly four years later, he returns now, a boy no longer. Hardened by the realities of war, his skin tanned and scarred where it had been pale and flawless, hands calloused where they'd been soft, stubble on his chin, hair on his chest. He resembled that wistful child very little now, a fact that was reflected in more than just his appearance.

    He stood at the threshold of the gate, mind consumed by the memories that flooded back to him as he stared up at the high towers and battlements of his family's keep. It wasn't until he glanced down that he realized there was someone trying to get his attention, deaf to the world as he was during that spell of reminiscing.

    "My Lord Alexander?" An armored gate guard inquired, staring at the Roivas son with his head tilted.

    Alexander shook his head, clearing his thoughts of all but the present. "Apologies." He couldn't afford to live in the past; he had a meeting with his mother to attend. Of all the terrible battles he'd been in, he'd rather relive them again tenfold than go through with this... but when the head of the household summons you, you must obey, whether you like it or not.

    Stepping through the drawn portcullis, he could only hope this business of hers would be over quickly. He wanted to spend as little time home as he could.
    #2 Voices of Nerat, Nov 16, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
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  3. Scars and Liars, #b84265 It wasn't long before the city was in a small uproar over Alexander's return, they'd known for a short month that he would indeed be returning to the city, but that didn't stop the masses from celebrating. Long banners trailed from distant rooftops down in the streets of the town, not stopping even as land turned to sea. Some of the vessels changed their flags to match the house colors of Roivas in the same celebration.

    Ellara sat in the tower of her sister's bedroom, gazing out into the crowd and trying to spot the man she'd known as a young girl. Back then, he was just a boy himself, reading stories about knights instead of acting the part. Would he return as brave as the well known Sir Porter of old? A man once said to have saved three Kings from death in battle, and uniting the countries in peace forever. Or would he be cold as Sir Haemon the Brutal, a soldier at heart, and nothing more. His sword was legendary, said to have been able to cut three men down with just the first half swing. She feared to say he had changed too much, and the boy she knew would have been locked away for good.

    A scoff caught her in her daydreams, as her older sister approached her from behind. Catherine Wittacre cared not about the stories of old men and their swords. She cared more for the seasoned court of her new home, and finding the company of refined Ladies to be more entertaining than the knights of the realm. To her, all the fighting was so pointless. At least Ellara could agree that blood was best not shed on any battlefield. Catherine held the notion that all problems could be solved through words, and her twisted tongue was quite talented at getting what she wanted.

    "So he's returned then?" She turned Ellara's head until her eyes found the one boy she'd been searching for. He'd grown taller, tanner, and she hadn't expected him to change so much in just a few short years, but he had.

    "It would seem so." Ellara nodded her head once. Catherine took up her shining red hair to brush it, their presence had been requested with the Queen, and the younger of the two sister's hadn't figured out why. It was still best she look exquisite for Alexander's return. They still had to act the part of cousins, after all, and going to see their recently returned family was best with proper gowns and well combed hair.

    The two sisters stood in the window of Catherine's chambers, the eldest all too content in staying quiet while she brushed through the tangles of red at her hands. There was a small, but sure, smile on her face. Like she knew something that no one else did. There was a secret, and she simply had been dying to tell it to someone.

    "He's going to marry me." She blurted.

    Ellara did the only thing she could, and tried to deflect the painful proclamation with her own words. "No he's not. You're supposed to be his cousin, Betty Thestral, and what would his family gain by marrying a cousin when there are so many other families to tap into?" She wasn't as good at contorting her words as her sister was.

    "Because we're not cousins, it will be advantageous." She asserted with a yank of Ellara's hair. The younger grumbled a protest. "Come this afternoon and everyone will know we are certainly not cousins."

    "You wouldn't tell them." Ellara grimaced at the thought. She rather liked being stowed away inside the castle. It was easier to imagine their families killer had no idea where they were such with fake identities to go by. They were assumed dead, lost to the tragedies at Great Kaehr, their home and their birthplace.

    "I'm not the one who'll be saying anything." Catherine leaned down and whispered into her sister's ear. "But the Queen will be, to everyone in attendance. The Wittacre's are not gone, we are strong, and we will return for what was lost. Our home, don't you want that?"

    Ellara said nothing to argue her sister. Her words were laced with venom and hate for the youth, who wanted nothing but to stay put, to hide from the past they had crawled from.

    Catherine pulled away the ribbon around Ellara's neck, and she did nothing to stop her as she wrapped one pale and slender hand around the scar. There was an anger in the way she took hold of her sister's neck, but a gentle touch at the edges of pink, raw flesh. She wouldn't dare hurt her sister, but reminding her of the tragedy was a favorite pastime of hers.

    "Don't you want to know who did this to you, to us?"

    "Yes, sister." Ellara murmured. The hands slipped away and she could hear the click clack of her shoes as they paced away from her, and out the door. It slammed shut behind her and she could hear the same steps echo down the long hall. Ellara wiped at the tears which had rolled down her face.

    It was all a lie. She wanted nothing more than to never know who had destroyed her life.

    Welcoming, #23912e "Did you know I trained under the Oathsworn, Arlo? Ah, I do suppose it is Sir now." Sir Duncan Kelly was in a jovial mood after hearing of the return of the young Alexander. He'd had the pleasure of training him, as an exotic swordsman from a supposedly far away land. If only the little Lords and Ladies of the town knew it was simply one country over from Great Kaehr of house Wittacre, their tiny heads would be spinning with revelations.

    "You jest, an old codger like yourself?" Arlo slapped the knight hard against the back and they laughed as they strolled with ease down to the front gates of the city. The both of them donned thick suits of plate, especially for the return of the young Lord Roivas.

    "I swear it, it's true." Sir Duncan slapped him right back, and Arlo tumbled over the cobblestone street at his feet. "Do I really look so old?"

    Arlo was a curious find, Duncan had said many times. While the night of the massacre had gone on, Arlo was supposed to have been training in the courtyard as punishment for crossing swords with his master, reckless fool. Instead of that, he'd gone off to play pretend guard with one of the other knights on the high battlements of the castle walls. It was the only thing which saved his life that night, and disobedient as he'd been, Duncan would always say it was the best decision of his life. Otherwise, it would have been his last. He was only sixteen the night of the slaughter, and had grown quite graciously as time permitted. That wasn't to say he still had a stubborn side to him, just as the old Kelly did. They worked quite well together.

    The younger knight had stumbled onto the same road as the four, but they never met, no. He arrived in the city some time later and it was Duncan who recognized the insignia of his house emblazoned on his coat. Before the fool could say which city he'd come from, Duncan had ripped the insignia away and instructed him to pick a new name.

    He still decided Arlo, his rightful name, was best.

    They approached the crowd, and easily slid through the ranks because of their knightly armor. Sir Duncan led the way as Arlo followed suit, until they reached the man they assumed to be Alexander. Duncan's eyes widened in surprise at his growth but that didn't stop him from extending an arm to pull the boy into a welcoming embrace.

    "My Lord Alexander, it is good to see you've grown." Sir Duncan patted him on the back, and they walked in stride up towards the main level of the grounds. "I do apologize I was not able to attend to your side, but the girls, I took an oath you understand."

    He had sworn to stay by the last remaining family members of the Wittacre name. No other oath could break what promise he'd made to the children the night their parents had been ruthlessly murdered.

    "He hasn't grown much." Arlo teased. "But I still welcome you, as Sir Duncan has done. It is good to see you once more, my Lord."

    Up in the tower where Ellara sat, her eyes connected briefly down to the young Lord, wondering if he cared for her presence again. After all, he'd left without saying so much as a word goodbye. Just as soon as her eyes were on him, she was gone in a whirl of red.

    Duncan pulled Alexander away, the moment lost to his thick hands.
    #3 Lillian Gray, Nov 16, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
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