Fantasy & Sci-Fi
Albinor Chronicles Chapter 8
"The Ride of Karnack"
By Marcus Pan
March 3, 003
Karnack rode swiftly towards the castle of
Krakatos. Down the trail from Threshold, heading south, he rode to meet his
lord, Duke Stefan Karameikos III, duke of the Duchy of Karameikos. He has
called for him. Just days ago he received a message from one of the duke's
travelling messengers that bade him to come to the castle of Krakatos, where
the duke resides, and come quickly. He has been on the road for nearly three
days now. The sun was beginning to set as Karnack approached the castle, seen
from the distance as a lonely keep on the trading route between Specularum and
Kelvin. Onward he rode.
Reaching the castle, his mount was lead away be a teamster
of the castle and Karnack was lead to the common room. He washed himself in a
basin of clean water and was served a fine meal of bread, venison and
vegetables. After eating, he was lead to the council halle of the duke on the
same level as the common room. Krakatos is a small, one- level dwelling,
perfect for the duke's simple and solitary ways. He was led into a chamber
where the Duke of Karameikos sat at the end of along table. They were left
alone. Karnack knelt before the red-headed and bearded man and said honorably,
"Good eve, m'lord. I have come within an hour of receiving your summons and
rode swiftly like the wind."
"Good to see you yet again, Karnack. Rise. I heard you have
taken off with three others, Mo-Mo one of them I'm sure, and rode off for the
Broken Lands. I feared you would not return and indeed you haven't for some
time. A lot has happened in your absence. Many important items of business I
must tend to and that is the sole purpose of your summons. I feared I had lost
you, Karnack, one of my most trusted and loyal followers and friends. But come,
sit. Let the table be laden with bread, butter and tea." The duke rang a small
silver bell that lied on the table before him. Servants entered to lay out
baskets of bread, butter, jam and marmalade. Cups of hot tea were served and a
steaming pot of it placed beside the bread. Then again they left the two men
alone to speak of business of the duchy. "First, tell me of your journey to the
lands that are broken, away to northwest. Are they not as evil and dangerous as
they say? And do the ancient walls of the castle and tower still stand?"
Sipping tea and tasting bread, the two men talked. Karnack
recollected the story of Castle Skarda and indeed agreed the Broken Lands are
as evil as legend has it. After nearly an hour passed, still they talked of
great deeds and legends, for the duke was not one without stories of his own.
It was he, himself, who first came to this strange and wondrous place to settle
the lands of Karameikos. And a man of honor and strength in battles of arms he
was. "But now it has come time to speak of your reason for being in Krakatos
and why the message seemed so urgent. I have learned of the plans of the Duke
of Death. Have you not heard of him?"
"I have, aye." said Karnack, still wondering what this would
have to do with him. "He is the one who has taken and still keepeth lands to
the southeast which actually is part of your grand duchy, m'lord. I hear you
have let it be, for you have not had time and had business to tend to
elsewhere. But I still do not understand why you have summoned me, m'lord."
"This man, the Duke of Death they call him, has cause enough
trouble for me to stand. He corrupts the minds of the people he takes as his
subjects and treats them like dogs. Luln has been corrupted by his evil arm and
they say Fort Doom, his castle, is filled with poor souls who have somehow
raged their lord. They say it is a terrible place. But that not being the worst
of it I fear. He is beginning to amass an army. And there is no doubt he seeks
more of my land, thinking I have let him get this far, I would therefore not
mind if he swallowed me up whole. It as gone too far and a stop must be put to
"But still I can not understand my part in all this, m'lord.
I am getting more confused by the moment."
"Karnack, you are famed to be the most strong-willed and
honorable fighter in all my land. Sure of heart, braver than normal men and
loyal to the very last. A true lord they call you." said Stefan Karameikos.
"Me? Who is it that hath said this?"
"No matter, but everyone hath sayeth. And I can see it in
your eyes, Lord Karnack. I can see the loyalty and the bravery. I see the deeds
of power, far beyond those of a normal man. I believe you are a true lord,
Karnack. And I need a lord. I need a captain, Lord Karnack. And you are my
finest choice. Ride before my men in victory of thine and mine over the Duke of
"I have much to do, 'lord. Really I do. Threshold needs me
to protect them from the surrounding creatures that stalk in the night."
"And what will you do when a thousand men-at-arms blowing
the livery of death in the air come to shake down the walls of your fair city?
Stand and fight alone? I see it in your eyes, Karnack. You want more."
"M'lord," Karnack said, shifting his weight in his seat. It
was true. He wanted more. He wants to rule. And the duke knew this.
"You can have the lands to the east, those currently under
claim by the Duke of Death and his castle if your lordship wishes. But you must
fish him out and rid ourselves of this menace that resides in that hole before
you can do so. Rid the stench of evil from Specularum, from Kelvin and from the
air which I, you and your fair lady breathe. Rid it from Threshold, Lord
Karnack. My men await your command to ride into battle beneath the livery of
their duke and crying the name of Karameikos. Strafe this evil bastard from our
midst!" the duke finished, standing.
"I will, m'lord. I will lead them." Karnack knelt once again
before the standing figure of the duke. He felt the tap of cold steel on his
right shoulder, yet did not flinch. Without fear, without worry. With total
"I knight thee, Lord Karnack, as Captain of Karameikos. To
bring forth and lead all soldiers of Karameikos, the livery of which you shall
wear on your breast." And the duke slowly rose the edge of his blade and
knighted the lord as he knelt before him.
The above item may have been edited by the author
since its first appearance in Legends No. 15.