Missing

It was a cold winter’s day and Alfred noticed that his son, Ulric was not in his room. It was unlikely he was out in the snow. Alfred saw no sign from the window.
“Have you seen Ulric?” he asked Virginia.

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“No, I thought he was with you.”

Alfred went outside and circled the house.

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He called for him, but got no answer.

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Virginia came out, worried.

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“Is there no sign?” Alfred shook his head. He returned inside. It really was a cold day.

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“Where could he be? What do we do?”

Alfred said he’d wander up the road and ask anyone he met. Til lived up the road and might have seen Ulric.

“Have you seen my son?”

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“Come inside out of the cold…  When did you last see him?”

Alfred explained and began to feel worried. Til shared his concerns.

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“I hate to say it, but I fear your son may have been kidnapped. You must inform the king.”

Alfred felt distraught. Surely Hivera wouldn’t have taken him, would she?

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Making plans

Hivera hadn’t given up on seeking support from her family. She knew her sister would be against any plan to put their brother or his son on the throne, so she had a chat to her niece, Edwina.

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Edwina seemed interested.

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Encouraged, Hivera outlined her plan and asked if Edwina would carry out a part of it.

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Edwina agreed.

Meanwhile, Til met Miriana while out walking and surprised himself at how happy he was to see her, and she him.

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Never thinking he would ever find happiness again after Arya’s death, he felt a stirring of love for Miriana.

She invited him into the wives’ cottage to show him the new abode.

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Miriana very much wanted Til to move in with them, but he felt he should be at the barracks with the men, training the new recruits. No decision was made, but they wanted to see more of each other.

Erina noticed that Miriana suddenly seemed very happy and wondered what had caused it. Perhaps it was just because of having company…

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A discussion

Jarl had been out when Haldus called. Instead he informed Sir Maynard of what he observed then left, saying he would consult… Sir Maynard did not hear the mumbled words Haldus said as he walked away. He hoped the king would be back soon.

Jarl was glad to be back after a few days surveying lands and buildings.

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Sir Maynard hurried to see him as soon as he was able.

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He briefed Jarl on Haldus’ observation of the meeting between Hivera and a warlock.

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Jarl had no idea what could be done. He had only ever heard about warlocks, as you hear about unicorns. What did it mean?

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Sir Maynard said Haldus would consult something but didn’t know how that would help. Neither of them had any idea what Hivera wanted with a warlock. Would she get the warlock to make the king act inappropriately in public? Or something worse?

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“I think you should stay in the castle, majesty.”

Jarl sighed. “Send for Haldus. I want his opinion and advice. And see if you can find out more about this warlock.”

Sir Maynard nodded and left.

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A stranger

A dark stranger appeared in the village shops one day. He was interested in what the alchemist had to offer.

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He had some sort of magical powers…

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making people do ridiculous things which they couldn’t control. Word had it from Braavos that someone just like him had sent stinging bees after a customer in the public house. Was it the same person in this pub?

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His antics were not appreciated by anyone. Who was he? Where had he come from?

The man’s spells had not gone unnoticed. Nor had a meeting between him and a local woman.

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This troubled Haldus. It could not be good news that Hivera had been talking to a warlock.

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He must inform the king.

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Birthdays

Richard continued his training, even in the snow.

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Hivera tried to encourage Charles, but he seemed a hopeless case. At least she was giving him some attention, thought Charles.

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Charles is looking a bit tubby – must be all that fish.

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Hivera took advantage of her niece’s visit to see where her loyalties lay.

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“Imagine the power the family would have”

No joy there though. Ella was a pacifist. She would go to the monastery soon.

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She hung out with her cousins for a bit before going home.

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The twins grew to adults. No university for them – there wasn’t time.

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Charles was quite upset about that.

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Then it was Hivera’s birthday. It had come around so quickly. It only felt like yesterday that she was a teenager in this very house.

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Changes at the barracks

In order for new warriors to be recruited, room had to be made for them. Miriana had already departed, moving into accommodation behind the barracks.

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She was a little lonely but knew that the Lady Erina would join her with Ashera.

Things were quiet at the barracks.

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But another recruit had arrived – Cynric Trond.

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Brom was eager to greet him.

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But hey, they’d only just met. This was a place for military men, right?

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Not a good start.

Cynric was pretty fit,

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so Yohn thought it might be an idea if Erina and Ashera left as soon as possible… just in case. She’d been attracted to Bard who was an old man…  Ashera wasn’t getting the attention she deserved anyway,

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often relying on visitors to do things for her.

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Ashera clings on to teenager, Ella Guevara, who doesn’t bother actually carrying her

So Erina and Ashera moved out. Erina said her goodbyes and thought she could hear a noise behind her.

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Poor Yohn. Any dreams the couple had for living in the castle in luxury were dashed. Now they wouldn’t even be living together.

The noise behind her had only been the new recruit, Erina thought, and kept walking.

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Cynric comforted the prince.

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He still wasn’t sure about Brom,

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but they put aside any differences there might be and trained side by side.

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They actually ended up being good friends.

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The barracks also had other new residents – horses.

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Erina and Ashera arrived at their new abode.

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It was marginally better than the barracks – at least there was more space.

Miriana was happy to see her and did a little song and dance in celebration, which Erina did not appreciate. Miriana was not talented in that regard.

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Erina did like the peace there, but missed Yohn.

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Miriana was much happier in any case. She liked company.

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Death

Ignatia thought about her life in a moment of quiet contemplation at the monastery. Her mother, the abbess, was showing her age. What would become of them? Yohan didn’t seem mature enough to become abbot if her mother died.

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Ignatia’s fears were realised. Silencia died at the age of 69.

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Silencia was at peace with herself. She was ready to go. She would join the late queen, her sister. Only Arya was left of the three of them.

But Arya didn’t have long either. The Grim Reaper came for her at the age of 70.

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Til was devastated.

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He was all alone in the house he’d never quite warmed to.

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What would he do now?

 

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