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Frozen heart

Frozen heart

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Princess Ayla is given to King Rhobart as a war prize, to be his personal slave. When she arrives in Nordmar, her new home, she is ready to do anything in order to survive. She will soon learn that King Rhobart is a man cold like the ice and haunted by demons. ********************** "I am going to pay for the dress. And everything else," Ayla said. "Ohh," Rhobart said and arched an eyebrow. "Do you cook?" "No, but...." "Clean?" "No." "Make clothes? Knit? Stitch? Take care of animals? Hunt? Fight? Anything?" Ayla's shoulders slumped forward, "No." "Then you are useless."

Chapter 1 Nordmar

Of all the kingdoms from the Uzhor Continent, Nordmar is the biggest, the wildest kingdom, and is covered almost entirely in snow. Up in the vast mountains of Nordmar, it is always cold. The peaks of the mountains are so tall that one can think they reached the sky. Big forests of winter oaks and evergreen trees cover the plateaus of the Nordmar mountains.

Scattered across all the land are villages inhabited by men that the other Kingdoms called barbarians. Tall and strong, the Nordmanders are born to dominate the cold land they live in. But the strongest of all the barbarians is King Rhobart.

After a long absence from the Kingdom due to a war that lasted for thirteen years with the Kingdom of Myrthana, King Rhobart returns home. But he doesn’t return alone; he returns with Princess Ayla, the daughter of King Amul, former king of Myrthana. A war prize. His new slave.

When Nordman won the war, Prince Galian, now King Galian of the Kingdom of Myrthana, gave his sister, Princess Ayla to King Rhobart in an attempt to make peace between the two kingdoms. Rhobart wanted to kill Galian like the coward he was, but he was so tired of war and he wanted to take what was left of his people and go home. So he signed the peace treaty, grabbed Ayla, and left Myrthana.

From the day Ayla left behind Myrthana and what she called home, all she ever saw from the small window of the carriage that is bringing her closer and closer to her new prison, is snow, snow, and more snow. If she stared too much at it her eyes would hurt. Ayla loved the snow, it was the cold that she couldn’t get used to. She has never been so cold in her life. Myrthana is nothing like the cold Nordman; it is full of life and always so warm. Ayla was sure she would have frozen to death if not for the Fire Mage, Milton, that had been so kind to buy her a warm dress, boots, and a cloak.

Ayla’s fingers stroke absently the warm fur of Kerra, the snowcat that was sleeping on her lap. From time to time, Kerra would purr softly. The snowcat had been the only constant companion for the last three weeks, and Ayla grew fond of Kerra.

While her eyes surveyed the forest, Ayla pet one of the two tails of Kerra. From what Milton told her, the day that Rhobart left Kerra with Ayla, she is not an ordinary cat; Kerra it’s a magical cat. Kerra has two forms – one of a normal cat while the other is her fighting form. In her fighting form, Kerra is as big as a pony.

Ayla had never seen a snowcat before Kerra, and certainly not a magical one, but she read about them. In the past, they have been common in Nordmar, but a strange disease killed almost all of them. Very few magical cats lived in the wild. And from what Ayla read, magical snowcats are completely white with green eyes. But Kerra's ears and tips of her tails are black, while her eyes are red. Milton said it is probably that Kerra was the runt of her litter. Rhobart found her, almost frozen to death, fifteen years ago, and since then Kerra has been Rhobart’s constant companion.

An abrupt stop almost has Ayla fall from her seat. Kerra jumps from Ayla’s lap and moments later the door to the carriage opens, and Rhobart enters the carriage and sits across from Ayla.

It was the first time she was seeing him since the day he grabbed her by her arm and dragged her all across the way from the council room to the carriage and threw her in. Ayla didn't think she would ever get used to how big King Rhobart is. Almost 6’7, with strong arms and legs, beard, long black hair, that he keeps braided in a Nordmarian style, Rhobart made her shiver. And this time not from cold.

For a few moments, Ayla studies his face. He looks so tired. And older than his twenty-six winters. She wants to study him for hours, to see and learn who the real King Rhobart is, but when his black eyes stare at her with burning hatred, she lowers her gaze.

A grunt and a mumble make their way to Ayla’s ears.

“I am afraid I didn’t understand you, my King.”

“I am not your King! Don’t call me that!” Rhobart said in a harsh tone and Ayla flinched.

Rhobart opened his mouth as if to say something but no sound came out. Seconds later he closed it.

“Wh-What should I call you, then?” Ayla asked. “Your majesty.”

Rhobart pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes and took in a deep breath.

Moments later he said, “King Rhobart is enough.”

When no one said anything more, silence fell between them. But Rhobart didn’t linger too much, so the silence didn’t become uncomfortable.

Before he exited the carriage, with his back at her, Rhobart said to Ayla the words she dreaded since this journey started, “ We are here.”

Ayla looked out the window, but all she could see were trees and snow.

Frowning she asked, “Here where?” But Rhobart was already gone.

When Rhobart didn’t close the carriage door, Ayla knew she had to follow him. In to the cold. Into his castle. To serve him. Now. And forever.

A slave. This is what she had been reduced to. Not that before she was better. But while she was still a “princess”, and kept in her golden cage, there was no King of Nordmar with onyx eyes full of hatred to order her around.

Not that she blamed King Rhobart. After all, it was her father that started the war, by attacking and burning to the ground a village from Nordmar that was closer to the border. Thirteen years had passed since then. Thirteen years of war, pain, and death. Time in which Rhobart lost all of his family members and was forced to become King at only fourteen years old.

Ayla was only nine years when the war started – a child. Just like Rhobart. Both have paid for something they never wanted. Or started. Rhobart with his family's life, and Ayla with her freedom. Well, she has never been free, to start with, but at least back in Myrthana, she knew what to expect from her father and brother.

And all this war started because his father wanted to control Nordamar’s magic ore mines. That would have made her father the most powerful man on the continent. But no one expected King Rhobart. Even from her golden cage, Ayla heard rumors of the barbarian king who killed countless men without even blinking. And if the rumors are right, no one has managed to hurt him. Not even a scratch.

Inhaling deeply, Ayla put her left hand under her cloak, her fingers wrapping around her mother’s amulet and she sent a quick payer to Addanos – the Water god.

When she got out of the carriage, Ayla was momentarily shocked to see so many faces. In the last three weeks, the only person she has ever seen has been Milton. She was never permitted outside, except to take care of her needs. And in those moments, Milton always cast a shield around her, to hide her from privy eyes.

Most of King Rhobart's men made it home days ago because the carriage was slower than their horses, but his loyal Paladins and a few knights remained to protect the carriage.

“My lady!” Milton said the moment he saw her. “Over here!”

The Fire Mage was standing next to King Rhobart, the seven Paladins, the remaining knight, and the horses. Ayla’s eyes landed on Kerra, that was now in her battle form. A scream almost escaped her lips, but she swallowed it. In her battle form, Kerra is as big as a shadowbeast, and with long, saber teeth, she looks every bit the predator she is.

Shivering from the cold, Ayla started walking towards Milton, and King Rhobart. She fisted her hands, in an attempt to hide how badly she is shaking. She kept her eyes on the frozen ground.

To soon, she made it where Milton stood.

“We still got around twenty minutes left until we arrive at the castle. From here we will take the horses,” King Rhobart said in a voice cold as ice.

Ayla jerked her eyes first to King Rhobart's face, then to the horses, then back to King Rhobart.

“I haven’t had much practice with a horse,” she said, fear creeping down her spine.

If she was to be entirely honest she had never been on a horse before. Seeing one so up close intimidated her. But she wouldn’t say that aloud.

Rhobart narrowed his eyes, “You either get on the horse, or you walk. Either way, you will make it to the castle, t’xoria.”

Several Paladins and knights laughed, while she swallowed loudly.

‘T’xoria? What in Addanos’ name does that mean?’ Ayla thought.

She tried to protest, “But…”

Before Ayla could finish what she was about to say, King Rhobart turned his back to her and got on his horse.

“Come, Kerra. Let’s get home,” Rhobart said before leaving.

Kerra looked one more time at Ayla before following her master to the castle.

One by one, the Paladins and the knights got on the horses until the only one standing next to her was Milton.

“Let’s get you on that horse, Princess Ayla.”

Ayla laughed bitterly, “I am not a princess, Fire Mage. Not anymore.”

“Look at me, Lady Ayla.”

Ayla didn’t want to look at him, but when Milton waited patiently for her to look at him, she finally looked into Milton’s soft brown eyes.

“No matter what happens, don’t you ever forget who you are. You are and forever will be a princess. And as for Rhobart. He is not a bad man. And I promise you he will never harm you.”

“There’s no way you can know what King Rhobart would do to me.”

“Yes, I do. I’ve known Rhobart all my life,” Milton said in a soft voice.

“But my father….”

“And you are not your father. Now get on that horse. The sun will set soon and you don’t want to be out here when that happens. Trust me.”

Ayla looked around the forest, expecting a shadowbeast to emerge from it. Or worse – an Orc.

“Milton?” Ayla said while her eyes still scanned the trees. When Milton didn’t reply, she continued, “I have never ridden before.”


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Latest Release: Chapter 125 Milton II   02-14 11:38
1 Chapter 1 Nordmar
2 Chapter 2 Ice wolves
3 Chapter 3 Aylarra
4 Chapter 4 Dragon-root
5 Chapter 5 The dinner
6 Chapter 6 The library
7 Chapter 7 Guests
8 Chapter 8 Guests II
9 Chapter 9 Departure
10 Chapter 10 Tea
15 Chapter 15 The Seer
16 Chapter 16 Escaping
18 Chapter 18 The cabin
19 Chapter 19 Learning
20 Chapter 20 Daya
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