Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Albinor Chronicles Chapter 8
"The Ride of Karnack"

By Marcus Pan

March 3, 003

KarnackKarnack 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 it."

"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 Death."

"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 loyalty.

"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.