At twilight on the king's road, a rider dressed in a red velvet coat with a cap over his or her head and riding an ink-black horse was galloping towards a fortified mansion far away in the distance. The horizon coloured a strange purple, as the sun went down. The road was empty. The old dark trees made it look like the king's road was haunted by terrifying shadows. They passed through a village where all the lights in the houses were dimmed. Not a single soul was in sight. Only in the local tavern were candles lit and was music playing out loud. As they passed through the village, the road got darker. The strange colour that the sun gave as she went down made the evening bright enough to see where the horse and his rider needed to go. The road ahead was still long, and it seemed like the mansion never came closer. Yet the rider did not give up. He or she gave the horse a simple command by two tongue clicks. It was like the horse understood it's command because he started to go even faster than he already went. After a while, the outer gate of the fortified mansion seemed to come closer. Finally, they arrived at the guarded gate. It was made out of giant wooden stakes with very sharp ends to keep enemies and wild animals out. The guard just stood there like he was a statue. As the mysterious figure on the horse got closer to the gate, the guard still did not move a single muscle. The rider took a halt and looked down. From his little guard shed, the guard was not able to see the face of the mysterious person. Without hesitating, he started to move and opened the gate to let them pass.
In full gallop, the horse raced to the inner gates of the mansion still carrying his master or mistress. The sun was now completely set. Right on time, they arrived at the entrance of the large mansion. From the outside, the mansion looked like it had been plucked out of a fairy tale. Fire pitchers lit up every corner, so it made the house seem more massive than it already was. The guards were undoubtedly present. At every crook or split in the wall, you could see a guard standing or doing his round. After all, these were difficult times for the kingdom.
A squire dressed in a brown tunic, red trousers, muddy boots that went up to his knees and a green hat with a white feather on top of his weary red hair stood waiting. The rider called the horse to a halt and jumped fluently out of the saddle, right in front of the squire. The squire his face looked annoyed as he took the reins of the horse and led it to the stables. The rider made it up the stairs and stopped in front of a giant wooden door made of the sacred black oak. Literally a family tree was carved into the outside of the door. You could see the full history of the family who lived here. At the base of the tree, the faces were starting to get dark and faded by age, but when you looked at the top, you could see the most recent members of the family.
The giant door swung open, and the rider entered the mansion. In the hall, a giant pair of reinhound horns hang from the ceiling. They were used as a chandelier to lit up the entrance hall. The walls were covered with paintings of members of the family. The mansions' walls had a certain red glow because they were built with the oldest brownstone. One of the family’s forefathers started to construct this fortified mansion with these brown-red stones and was named after it. Since those days the house of Bronestone lived here. The rider was able to feel the warmth that radiated from the house. A servant, dressed in the same outfit as the squire, only less dirty and with brown hair took the coat.
From underneath the coat came a beautifully well curved, blond-haired woman, about eighteen years old, give or take a year. She was wearing a dark red gown that embraced her curves. Sown on the bottom of the dress you could see tiny golden leaves and flowers. Her long blonde wavy hair flowed over her shoulders and back. With her fingers, she put a lock of hair that was hanging in her face, behind her right pointy elvish ear. Her face looked very elegant, and with her blue-green eyes, she seemed like she just walked out of a fantasy book. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a female voice called "How is it possible for you to always arrive right on time, Elyanna?" The curvy blonde answered in a queen-like voice.``I just hate being too early or too late Maerwynn. And if I was too late, I would miss the most important feast of the year, and you would never forgive me. " Her voice sounded so warm and inviting.

On the right, was a wooden staircase that had a hand-carved grapevine guardrail that writhed upward to the chambers of the family. Walking down from that staircase was Maerwynn aged nineteen, dressed in a sunset coloured gown, embroidered with white roses that embraced her model-like body. Her dark brown curly hair hung loose down her back and was decorated with tiny golden suns from the top down. Her eyes were as dark as the oak where the front door was made out of. Her cheeks were plump, and her smile made her face look perfect. She walked elegantly down the stairs.
Elyanna walked toward Maerwynn, and they hugged each other. After all, they were best friends. Maerwynn started nervously to talk in her elegant way while playing stressfully with a lock of her hair. "Well, Rulf, my fiancé and I are ready. Oh, I love saying that, my fiancé. It makes my heart jump with excitement, and Marcus, well you know how younger brothers are, right? He’s always a bit late with getting ready. Wait, I'll call him. MAAAAAARCUS, Elyanna has arrived." Out of an upstairs room, Marcus answered: "Fine, just give me a few more seconds!"
The kitchen door swung open, and there walked Rulf, a muscled young man aged eighteen, with brown ginger hair and a slightly ginger beard. He was dressed in formal armour with a blue cape that hung on the back. Around his middle, a belt with his sword was fastened. Rulf was an officer in the king's army and always carried his sword with him, in case it would be needed "Typically, Marcus is never ready when he has to be," Rulf said with his big rough voice and accent that was sometimes difficult to understand while chewing his apple. Maerwynn looked annoyed at her fiancé because he was talking with his mouth full. Rulf leaned closer to Elyanna and gave her a welcoming kiss on the cheek. "Hi, Rulf, nice to see you stuffing your face with food again." Rulf Laughed and pieces of apple flew out of his mouth. Upstairs a door slammed, and a handsome young man ran down the stairs. Marcus was one year younger than Elyanna.
Elyanna knew Marcus now for over 5 years, and they had a lot in common. He could be stubborn and protective, sometimes a little too much. When he started to tell stories about past kings or a book that he read, she was able to listen to him for centuries. He was very chivalrous. Sometimes he could be a real ass, but that most people could forgive him. For the Reading that he never meant anything, he said or did. Elyanna was daydreaming while Marcus rushed down. Before They knew it, they were lying down on the ground with Marcus on top of Elyanna. "Damn! Sorry, Elyanna, I didn't see you. I came to fast down from the stairs. Let me help you." Marcus stood up and held out his right hand to help her up. "Thank you, and it's no problem, shit happens, my mind was somewhere else." She awkwardly admitted. "Okay I see everyone is finally ready, now let's enter the party."Said Maerwynn, excited and completely stressed-out.
Elyanna grabbed Marcus by his arm, he looked surprised back and let a small but gentle laugh out. Mearwynn did a quick check. She put Marcus his hair back in place and licked her finger to wipe a black spot away that she saw on his chin. Marcus slapped her hand away. She checked if Elyanna's dress wasn't dirty from her ride, but she saw nothing. Then Mearwynn went to Rulf and completely tossed his hair in the other direction. At last, she checked herself and said. "Yes, now everything is perfect, let's do this." She grabbed Rulf by the arm, and they went to their spot. Marcus and Elyanna walked in front of the engaged couple into the great hall. Slowly, step by step, they moved forwards. They walked like they were entering the spirit-temple when people got married.
Tonight was the night of Maerwynn and Rulf, their engagement feast. A night to remember, all of the couples closest friends and family were invited. When Elyanna entered the Hall, she could see at the end a majestic fireplace with a big boar roasting in front of it. Above the fireplace hung the shield of the family Bronestone. Their family shield was a big bronestone with a grey boar standing on it. Elyanna sniffed the air, and the smell of the roasting boar filled the room and did her mouth water. The tables were placed in a half-open circle, so everyone was able to see and speak with each other. In the middle was an open space, that was meant for the entertainment of the night.
The tables were decorated with foods that looked and tasted like anyone's wildest imagination. There were towers made of cream puffs with chocolate on top, plates filled with the craziest vegetables in all different colours, roasted ducks, pheasants and many more. The walls were draped with Flags and shields of the houses who were present at this feast. The flag of Elyanna's family house Laster, hung closest to the Bronestone shield. The symbol of house Laster was a bow and arrow in front of an upcoming Sun. The words of her house were 'save a life, and you might protect a kingdom'. The symbol of Rulf's family, the house of Vonbraser, was a joker's hat with a crown floating above it in a godly glow. Elyanna could see even more flags that she recognized.
Like the black dead tree on a blood-red background which represented the house of Acermortu, the big Gondor with full wings spread open and a red rose in its beak that was for the house of Avimagnus and many others. From the ceiling were giant fire scales hanging on chains to lighten up the room. Statues of the forefathers were standing along the walls to watch over their family and guests. As they entered, the guests were standing in the middle of the hall. Everyone who was invited was there to see the newly engaged couple. Elyanna released Marcus his arm, and they each went to stand by a side of the door. At the same time, Marcus and Elyanna presented the couple: "Ladies and gentlemen, Elves, humans and in-betweens, here they are the two love birds you have been waiting for, Maerwynn and Rulf!."
A loud applause filled the room as the couple entered. The guests pushed forward to greet and congratulate them. While they pulled Elyanna to the back. She almost fell against one of the tables, but she was able to hold herself up. The feeling of being invisible crawled up in her. It has always been like that. Elyanna knew she was not the most talkative, interesting, sociable person but she liked to be noticed sometimes. But everywhere she went, and at every other occasion, she got pushed to the back. Like she wasn't even there. Finally, a servant made it clear that everyone was invited to sit at the tables for dinner. Each guest was given a specific place to avoid conflicts. Like a member of the house, Noxflos (the symbol is a yellow flower underneath a starry night) was not to be placed next to a member of the house Reinhonde (their symbol was the reinhound. A reinhound was a wild dog who looked like a big old Rottweiler with horns on its head. how older the dog was, how bigger it grew and how larger the horns became). But Mearwynn and Rulf did not have to worry about that tonight.
Rulf and Maerwynn were placed in the centre. At the left, sat Marcus next to Rulf, and Elyanna on the right next to Maerwynn. Marcus stood up and raised his glass filled with red wine into the air. "May I say that I am delighted and proud that my sister and my best friend have found true love. May I congratulate and bless you both. Let's toast to Maerwynn and Rulf!" Everyone raised their glasses and said at the same time "To Maerwynn and Rulf."
While eating a nicely roasted slice of boar with a hot piece of pumpkin and gravied potatoes, Elyanna started to feel uncomfortable. She had a feeling that people were staring and laughing at her. In the back of her mind, she knew that this would happen because not all of the guests approved that she was or should be Mearwynn's best friend or that she would sit next to Mearwynn. Her feelings were right. At the end of the left side of the table, three girls were whispering and pointing at her. Elyanna's thoughts started to drift off. "What are they saying? Is it my looks, is it because I am not the skinniest of everyone here. " Quickly she noticed that the girl in the middle, the girl with the dull brown gown with a v-neck cut down so deep you could see her belly button, short black hair, a crooked nose and grey eyes was the girl that Marcus had a crush on not so long ago. She was Agnes of house Hasslic (their symbol was an old ugly crone's face on a stake with blood dripping out), she was nineteen years old. But that girl had been cruel against Elyanna.
When Marcus found out that Agnes was threatening and bullying one of his closest friends, he made his choice and chose to protect his friend against the cruelty of his crush. Elyanna would never forget what Marcus had done that day when his crush was about to hit Elyanna in the face with a kitchen pan. She remembered how he jumped in between them and blocked the pan with the hold of his sword. How he took Agnes by her short black hair and pulled her out of the castle. How he came back in, slamming the big black sacred oak door shut, walked back to Elyanna and asked how she was.
But Elyanna didn't understand what that girl was doing here. She thought of many reasons, but not a single one was good enough for her to see why Agnes was invited. Suddenly her thinking process got cut off.
The door of the great hall swung open, a vast blaze of wind rushed in the room and put all the fires out. The gathering room turned dark. Smoke started coming down like a waterfall from the fire scales that were hanging from the ceiling and gave the room a dark, horrifying feeling. Only the light of the giant fireplace in the back of the room gave everyone enough visibility to see that strange figures were entering the room. A group of knights entered, they were completely dressed in black armour. Marcus and Rulf stood up from their chairs. "What is the meaning of this!" said Rulf loud and clean. Quickly his face turned pale, he jumped over the table, kicking over a roasted pheasant. And right in front of the knights, he kneeled. At first, it was not clear why Rulf kneeled, but then Marcus did the same. Mearwynn stood up and bowed. “What is the honour for your visit, sir?” Mearwynn asked calmly. Elyanna was after adjusting to the darkness, able to see it too. The knights were wearing the symbol of the king’s house on their chest-plates. The shield of the house Vulpes, two big red foxes bowing down to each other with a crown on their heads. Everyone stood up in seconds and bowed down. One of the knights stepped forward. He took off his helmet, and a sudden shiver ran down Elyanna's spine. Standing in front of them, a tall young man around the age of sixteen. He had a round face, blond very short shaved hair and blue-green eyes. There he stood in front of them, the commander of the king's guard in person. Elyanna's brother Damos of House Laster. Her heart started beating out of her chest when she saw that he had noticed her. His stare was strict and cold. Damos reached to his right side and out of a leather pouch, he took a scroll. He unrolled the scroll and started to read. "In the name of the king, Malcolm the forth, king of Kaindran, ruler of the enchanted lands and protector of the kingdom. Hereby summons Rulf from house Vonbraser and Marcus from house Bronestone to represent themselves as soon as possible in the palace. The king himself will inform you why you are summoned." He said with a cold, low scraped voice. Damos walked towards Rulf, commanded him with a single hand sign to stand up and gave Rulf the scroll. Rulf's face looked like he had seen a ghost that came from the forgotten forest to haunt him. He took the scroll and handed it over to Marcus, who also looked very pale like he was about to vomit. Rulf crawled back over the table, kicking over many other plates, drinks and foods, and fell into his chair. Next to him stood Mearwynn still acting strong and brave. But she did not move, she was not able to do a single thing. Quickly servants came to their masters and took Rulf and Mearwynn to their private chambers, out of sight from all the guests. Elyanna couldn't help herself from noticing that her brother's pouch was filled with even more of those scrolls. As he was putting his helmet back on and made his way out of the mansion, she stood up and went in a fast walking pave after him. "Brother, Damos, Damos!" She whispered loudly. As Damos almost reached the sacred black oak door, Elyanna grabbed his arm and pulled him around, so he had to face her. "Why did you do this? You knew tonight was their engagement feast! Why do you have to pull her fiancé and brother away in these times?" Damos pulled his arm out of Elyanna's grasp. His eyes looked cold, empty and insensitive through the holes of his helmet. "Dear sister, strange things are happening in the kingdom and strange things never arrive with a warning." Elyanna took a step backwards. She stared back into her brother's cold blue-green eyes, a tear started to form in the corner of her right eye. He took her hand and said in his cold low scraped voice: "I hope this isn't true either, but this one is for you." He opened her hand and laid a scroll carefully down in her hand. Her body started to shake, this can't be true. She turned the scroll over, and yes there it was the seal of the king. "I have been summoned too. Why? I am nothing to the king."
The scroll fell on the ground, the lights in front of her started to fade. As she felt her consciousness slip away, she saw one last glimpse of her brother while he left the mansion. Her body lost control and fell to the ground. Marcus saw it happening. He ran, pushing guests aside who came from behind their places to see what was going on. He ran towards Elyanna, yelling for the mother nurse in his gentle soft voice. "Nurse, Nurse, we need the mother nurse, please get her now!". When he arrived, he fell down on his knees. Elyanna was twitching her arms and legs. Her eyes were open but completely rolled up so you could only see the white with red veins. White salvia came foaming out of her mouth. Suddenly the twitching stopped, her eyes closed and as quick as Marcus could he grabbed her tight into his arms...

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