Region: Arkonos

A Challenge of the Heart
Copost with Eskeland

It was a day like any other, Karl was in his study writing a letter, it was directed to the ruler of Volgaro, Reichsfrau Isabella, after reading many books and listening to many stories about Volgaro and the supposed ancestral connection that his father used to talk so much about, Karl became infatuated with learning more about it and with it came he desire to invite her to Eskeland, he felt this was the time to reconnect again with his cultural cousins, to seek better relationships, maybe even learn something more about this common ancestry. He wrote a letter to Isabella and it said the following:

“To Reichsfrau Isabella, Ruler of Volgaro,

It is with much regard that I write to you, I have been pondering for many days now a meeting with you, I want to reconnect with my cultural cousins to the north, that is why I invite you to come and visit Eskeland where I shall receive you with open arms, there is much I wish to talk to you about regarding the future relationship of our countries.


Karl Johann av Varberg
König of Eskeland “

It was a short letter, but it went straight to the point. It would take some time to arrive. Karl was excited, and he was hoping for a positive response, the last time a Volgaro ruler came to Eskeland was during the reign of King Alderik, and that was centuries ago.

This letter would reach Isabella shortly before she departed southward towards Serulea, within the months she had stayed within the embrace of her new husband she had kept it in the back of her mind and wrote a short response to the Southern King.

“Dear King Karl av Varberg

It is with great pleasure that I have received your letter, for I have been spending these past months in travels and foreign courts, what would one more be for our southern cousins.

A Torsenic reunion, let it be known I will be traveling towards your lands post haste after spending some time with my new husband and restocking my caravan for travel.

With the Warmest Regards

Isabella Von Reinhardt
Reichfrau of Volgaro”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Karl was in his throne room holding court, when he got handed a letter by one of his couriers, he told him it was from Isabella, Karl gave it a read and then finished holding court before moving on towards making the preparations for her arrival, he expected her to come accompanied, since he heard she was traveling with an entourage.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Sokos, Isabella was bidding Sebastien farewell for the time being before departing. She would sail off around the southern coast of Sokos and towards the Eskelian port and capital of Tidahamn. They would stop in the elven port of Mithranus, the Aelythian port of Myranthos, and the Tong colony of Tsokhai to rest and restock along the way.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Finally after a long voyage the royal flagship would approach the port of Tidahamn. There, Karl, his wife and some of his most trusted nobles waited for her ship to dock in port. Once docked, down came Isabella, together with her cousins and the famous Straki Guards, renowned throughout all of Eskeland for being one of the fiercest warriors in all of Sokos. The Royal Guard lined up the way to the carriage that would transport them to the palace, Karl wasn’t about to let a foreign ruler travel on foot or on horse.

Karl greeted Isabella with a bow and a kiss to her hand, “I'm delighted to finally make your acquaintance my lady and it seems like the rumours about your beauty are true, your husband Sebastien is very lucky”

Isabella curtsied smiling “Thank you for inviting us King Karl, I am happy to see what our southern cousins have to offer.”

“I must certainly apologise for inviting you here, I know it’s a long voyage, so I hope there were no inconveniences along the way, but anyhow, I bid you welcome to my city and to my country”

Isabella and her party began to follow the king, Wilhelm muttering under his breath to a couple of the Straki guards.

“I want to present to you my wife, Raewyn, the love of my life and the brains of the family” Raewyn couldn’t stop herself from letting out a soft laugh at her husband’s remark, before bowing courteously towards Isabella and her family “A pleasure to meet you all”. Karl proceeded to introduce the rest, “And finally this is Frau Ellinor av Kovalev, daughter of the Duke of Apenstad, who unfortunately could not be present here today, he’s sick, but she was kind enough to be here today to represent him.

Alexsander looked at Elinor bowing. “My name is Aleksander Von Dreni Reinhardt, my lady, a pleasure to meet you.”

Ellinor responded kindly by also bowing “Ellinor Emilia av Kovalev, it’s a pleasure to meet you too”

Wilhelm also bowed to the King and Elinor “Thank you for inviting us all.”

Karl kindly introduced himself to the rest and motioned them to follow him to their respective carriages, Isabella, Karl and Raewyn would travel together in the first one, the rest would follow in the others. On their way to the palace, the three of them talked about many things about their respective homelands ,while Karl showed Isabella the many interesting places Paradis had to offer.

Their arrival at the palace was met by the servants, who helped carry their belongings to the guest rooms where they would stay during their visit. Isabella and her cousins marveled at the sights of the palace, beautifully decorated, it would make any king jealous or so the people said. Karl showed them the way to the dinning hall where a welcoming banquet awaited them, the best meats, the freshest fruits, and drinks, a meal fit for a king.

Isabella took her seat near the king and queen chatting to them as dinner was served and Wilhelm sitting on the far end with the guards. Aleksander himself chose a seat near the middle of the table drinking and chatting happily to those around him, glancing every now and again at the Lady Ellinor before returning to his conversation or meal.

Ellinor couldn’t stop herself from noticing, she wondered what could have caught his attention. After the banquet, Aleksander quickly left towards his room, Ellinor decided to follow him, catching him on his way to his room, she tapped him on his shoulder and asked him “What got you looking so much in my direction back at the table?”

Aleksander turned around a bit stunned at the lady's bluntness, causing him to chuckle nervously. “Well to be honest Lady Ellinor I can't help but be intrigued by your unknowing charm, I do apologize if I have offended you in any way.” He said, giving a small bow.

“Not at all, no man before has ever looked at me so much, so I imagined something caught your eye.” Said Ellinor, with a soft smile, “You look like an interesting person, I’d like to know a bit more about you and your home if you don’t mind.”

Aleksander chuckled. “It would be my pleasure to enlighten you about my people and home.” He held out a hand. “Perhaps over a walk my lady?”

“With pleasure” Said Ellinor grabbing Aleksander’s hand, they both left the palace for the back gardens where they conversed, after some time walking around they sat by the fountain, where they would spend the remainder of their time, unfortunately their afternoon was cut short, when an unwanted guest arrived, from the distance they kept shouting Ellinor’s name, walking fast towards her, Ellinor tried to cover her face, but it was of no use. “Ellinor! Ellinor! Here you are” said the guy.

“Oh, Halvar, how did you know I was here, I thought you had business to take care off back in Helsingstad?” Aleksander could notice the displeasure in Ellinor’s face when she spoke to him
“Business?” He laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous, you told me to meet back at the plaza, but then I heard you departed for Tidahamn with urgency, so I quickly packed my things and went after you, when I arrived, they told me you were receiving some foreigners, you had left the docks by the time I arrived, so my next thought was the palace, I came and the guards told me you were back here, come here give me a kiss I missed you so much my love.” Halvar went for a kiss.

Ellinor stopped him, “Halvar stop,not now and much less here in front of our guest.” Ellinor proceeded to introduce Halvar to Aleksander, “Halvar, I want to introduce you to Aleksander Von Dreni Reinhardt, Prince of Volgaro and cousin to the ruler of Volgaro, Isabella, he’s here accompanying her.

Halvar bowed “Sorry friend, I hadn't noticed your presence before, I’m Halvar av Gylle, Lord of Gylle Castle, a pleasure to meet someone of such stature around this parts”

Aleksander bowed in turn. “The pleasure is all mine Lord Halvar.”

“Anyways friend, I hope you don’t mind if I take her away, she and I sort of have something pending to take care of beforehand, I am sure she had a lot of fun spending time with you, as a matter of fact allow me to thank you for taking care of her for me, now let’s go Ellinor, we have a lot to talk about” Halvar went on to grab her hand.

She pulled it away.“No Halvar, I’m here entertaining our guest, I can’t leave and please treat him with the respect he deserves, can you please leave us alone for a moment, we can speak afterwards.”

Halvar felt offended by that and responded back “Ohh is that so? What are you two, lovers? I leave you alone for a day and you already flirt with the first foreigner you see, you harlot!” Halvar tried to slap her but Aleksander stopped him.

Aleksander scowled. “Take care you do not make a decision you will regret Lord Halvar.” He said, pushing the lord's hand aside.

Halvar regained his composure and just laughed, “It’s getting late anyways, I’ll allow you to spend some more time with him, Ellinor, but I hope to see you tomorrow in the main plaza, we are going back home, together” With that last remark Halvar left.

She looked at Aleksander in the eyes, “Thank you, it's not the first time he’s tried something like that, he’s been trying to court me for months now, but I don’t like him, he tends to be very jealous as you already saw”

Aleksander gave a bow. “It was nothing, Lady Ellinor, I would be abandoning my oath as a member of the Drunaran Guard if I had allowed such an act against an innocent woman.” Aleksander smiled for a second. “Perhaps you would be interested in a morning walk tomorrow? Since this one was interrupted so abruptly.”

Ellinor replied with a warm smile, “How nice of you, of course I would be, maybe it will help me get the memory of this displeasing encounter out of my head, but let’s go somewhere where he can’t find us, I would hate to see his face once more.”

Aleksander smiled. “Then it is settled, shal I walk you to your quarters in case Lord Halvar decides to try again?” He said bowing with his hand out towards Ellinor

“Please do.” Said Ellinor giving him her hand

The Prince happily took her hand, chatting with her as they walked. Inside the palace once he took her to her quarters, they parted ways, but not before Ellinor gave him a goodbye kiss on the cheek, Aleksander was left a bit startled by that, deciding to take a walk and explore the palace a bit more, remembering the kiss he felt some emotions he hadn’t before, “A most interesting woman indeed” he said with a hint of blush in his cheeks, he returned to his quarters visions of Ellinor clouding his head.

As the new day dawned, Aleksander was already preparing himself to go out with Ellinor, he had no idea where would be a good place to take her where no one would bother them, he wasn’t from there after all, he thought that asking some of the locals might be a good idea and that he did. He would put on his ceremonial straki armor, along with a half cape with the Coat of Arms of the Drunaran guard and House Dreni Reinhardt.

Aleksander would speak with one of the servants tending to his quarters. “Madam, would you happen to know where one could go to have some privacy?”

She looked at him, eyeing him from head to toe, “Privacy you say… a man of your looks draws much attention around this parts,and with the recent happenings the city has been more busy than ever, but I do know of a place, where one could get some privacy, outside of the city, to the left, there is a hill called Solitary Hill, no one will bother you there.”

“Thank you very much.” Aleksander said bowing and leaving to retrieve Elinor. She greeted him with a compliment and another kiss to the cheek and then they left. Ellinor looked excited to know where he was taking her, but Aleksander kept it a secret. Walking through the streets, many looked over, when they saw the gallant foreign prince, with his shining armour, walking hand in hand with the well known Ellinor, many of the girls of the nobility watched in jealousy, wishing they were her. It would be a bit of a walk, Aleksander decided to purchase a horse and ride with her to their destination.

Aleksander rode to Solitary Hill using the directions that the servant had stated. Once getting to him, he helped Ellinor off the horse and looked at her with a smile. “So where did we leave off last evening? You wanted to know about Volgaro, yes?”

Ellinor chuckled, “And maybe about us.” Aleksander carried her to the hill where they laid down.
Meanwhile, back in Tidahamn, Halvar furiously began looking for Ellinor all over town, but when one the palace servants told him she had gone out with Aleksander to Solitary Hill, he couldn’t take it anymore, in a fit of jealousy, he took his longsword, mounted his horse and rode all the way over there too meet them. When he arrived he saw them both too comfortable for his liking, then he interrupted them “I knew it! I can’t believe this betrayal” Said looking over at Ellinor, “And you!” As he pointed at Aleksandr, “You come to the country for a few days, then try to steal my woman, you… you lowlife!”

“And you sir are a marvel of the Greatest’s vast sense of mercy towards the dull and soft headed!” Aleksander said standing.

The situation started escalating as Halvar and Aleksander kept at it for a bit, Ellinor tried to stop them, but her words fell on deaf ears. Eventually Halvar had enough of it, drawing out his longsword he pointed it at Aleksander neck “Listen here, I’ve had enough of you, nobody steals my woman like that, I demand you to duel me to the death! Take out your sword and fight me! Show me what a son of the so-called Greatest is capable of!”

Ellinor protested Halvar’s challenge of a duel to the death; she called him deranged for the decision. She begged Aleksander to not accept the challenge but he just told her. “I apologize Lady Ellinor but as a Straki I cannot refuse this challenge.”

He looked to Halvar. “I accept you challenge you Whoreson, let it be known I did not start this but I will happily put a southern pup down.”

The men cleared the area around them and positioned themselves.

“So you say you’re a Straki? Pfft”, He laughed “I’m an ex-member of the Winter Guard, our skill with the longsword is unmatched, you better prepare to die!” Halvar charged with his longsword, ready to deal the first blow.

Aleksander merely stepped to the side, scratching the leg of Halvar with the tip of his Szabla before taking a defensive stance.

Halvar quickly regained his stance, this time he took his time to analyze his surroundings, refraining from doing any moves while keeping his longsword up in a defensive position. He slowly began approaching Aleksander, before swinging his longsword towards his head in hopes of making him tumble.

The Prince scoffed before stepping aside once more before catching Halvar’s leg once again. “Your Winter Guard trains in brute force I see, I would surrender before you meet your maker.”

This one made Halvar almost stumble, the remark made him angry, but for once he maintained his composure “You dare taint the name of the guard, but yours seems to train in cowardice, let’s see how you fare at the offensive, come at me if you have any bravery in you.” Halvar took the defensive stance with his longsword raised ready to deflect any attack.

Aleksander took a stance as if he was going to attack before reaching into his cloak and throwing a dagger quickly towards Halvar’s chest.

Unable to avoid it in time, the dagger went straight through his chest, he fell on his knees bleeding out and eventually falling face down, he laid there, defeated and dead. Ellinor was in shock at such an unexpected move, she had no idea what to think, she found it to be a dishonorable move, even if Halvar deserved it.

Aleksander walked to Halvar’s body, kneeling and praying for a moment. “I apologize Ser Halvar but while I am a Prince, I am also a Volgar, I could not allow myself to lose. I hope you find peace with the Greatest.”

He then looked to Ellinor. “I also apologize to you Lady Ellinor if I have caused you to hate me. I understand and shall return you to your quarters and shall give myself up to your judgement.” He said a tear falling from his eye as he picked up the body of Halvar and placed it on his horse. “He deserves a proper warrior’s burial, he died in a honorable duel that any Volgar would be proud of despite it being over a misunderstanding.”

Ellinor put her hand on his back “He’s in the hands of Menia now” She said referring to her own goddess, “But you’re a good man, don’t mistake my surprise for hate towards you, it was just unexpected, although not the most honourable thing, Halvar would have tried something similar sooner or later, except he wouldn’t have even cared to bury you. I should tell you something about him, he was in the Winter Guard, but he was fired for bad conduct, not deemed proper of a soldier, and not sticking to the proper training, he always acted before thinking.” She cleared the tears off of his eyes “Let’s go bury him, together.”

They went to bury him in the ancient Warrior’s Mound, no longer in use, but open to anyone to still bury people there, to give Halvar a proper burial as Aleksander wanted, afterwards they headed back to the palace. The couple next days they would spend them without talking much, both feeling a bit awkward after all that happened and when they day of the Volgars departure arrived everyone gathered up in the great hall for the departure ceremony, but Aleksander during those days came to terms with his feelings and no longer wanting to keep quiet decided to approach Ellinor.

Aleksander made sure the two of them were alone before speaking. “Lady Ellinor before we depart I wanted to tell you that you have made this visit an enlightening and enjoyable experience that I shall not forget, I only regret we do not have more time together.”

Ellinor looked at him, a tinge of sadness in her face, “I also regret it, despite being short,my time with you has been unforgettable, I wish we could spend more time together, but I guess…time has runned out”

Aleksander’s eyes brightened for a moment before he spoke. “But what if it did not have to?” He grabbed her hands. “What if by the Greatest’s will we were brought together?”

"What do you mean by that?" She asked.

“If you would have me, Lady Elinor I, Aleksander Von Dreni Reinhardt would gladly ask to take your hand in marriage.” He said, taking her hand.

Ellinor's face blushed, a tear could be seen going down her face, "I-I, yes I accept" She hugged him.

He held her for a moment before looking at her and smiling. “My cousin will be overjoyed to hear this news. We must tell her so the proper preparations can be made.” He said excitedly.

Aleksander and Ellinor returned back to the hall, where Karl and Isabella where, interrupting their conversation, he explained what had happened recently between him and her. Isabella seemed pleased, Karl gave them their blessing and assured that Ellinor's father would be pleased as well. The only thing remaining was the matter of the wedding. Aleksander suggested having it in Tidahamn, it would be easier since they were there already.

Karl had no problem with that, and Isabella agreed to extend their visit for a while longer, and so it was that the wedding would take place a week from then, to allow time for the preparations and to not take too much time away from them. The ceremony was celebrated in the Eskelian way, everyone had fun. At the end Karl gifted Aleksander a beautiful Eskelian longsword with engravings around the hilt with ancient Eskelian runes, translating to words of luck and a fruitful marriage, as per tradition.

After the ceremonies were finished Aleksander and Ellinor quickly packed what they could aboard the Volgar ship before bidding her father, Karl and his court farewell, before sailing back into the distant horizon bound for Serulea once more.