Stories Hub / Sci-Fi & Fantasy / A Dream of Empire Ch. 002

A Dream of Empire Ch. 002

by WhimsicalRepertoire 01/13/18

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Alanna

Imperial County of Catriona

9th of Zenith, 1282 D.f.

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Dawn came early in the Catrionan wilderness this midsummer day, the endless chirping of crickets being replaced with the playful tweets of birds in the oak and birch trees dotting the hillsides. A man and a woman laid together under the linen canopy of their shared small tent, wrapped within the comfortable fur blankets of a shared bedroll.

The man awoke first, as he was accustomed to do. The woman had been getting better at not sleeping through half the morning, recently, due to her fresh occupation as a young mother. She perhaps may have even risen first this day, had she not been utterly exhausted from the raucous events of yesternight.

Her breaths eventually became irregular anyway, and her eyes fluttered open to meet the day. She was instantly met with the gaze of her love staring back at her, a sight which would have come to a shock to her not a quarter-year before.

She laid entwined with the man, one leg each wrapped above and beneath his. The man's arm had been used by her as a makeshift pillow throughout the night, and he had succumbed to the stinging pricks of a tired appendage hours ago. He dared not shift though, lest he wake the sleeping beauty laid entwined. He was content to merely watch her sleep for the hour or two it had taken for her to awake naturally.

"Talos..." Alanna greeted softly, a dreamy smile forming on her face at the sight of him. Talos leaned in to peck her lips gently, but did not reply with none other than a grin.

The sorceress had meant to say 'good morning' to the man. But how was she supposed to think straight at such a wonderous sight? How could she form a proper greeting when all her dreams had come true? How could she-

Alanna shook Talos gently, imploring him to rise.

"I need to pee," she whispered to him hastily. He smirked, slightly, thinking his reply to her instead of speaking.

You're on top of me.

Oh. Alanna smiled sweetly, releasing the man from her grasp. She then stumbled to her feet, half her body asleep while her entire being was sore. She hurriedly left the confines of the tent, squinting as her gaze met the cloudless sky of Catriona. The region would see only roughly fifteen days of rain for the entire summer, and today certainly wouldn't be one of them. She knelt beside the ashes of a consumed firepit, relieving herself as she awoke.

Talos rose three moments later, slapping his tingling arm against the ground roughly. He groaned as he made his way to his feet, ambling about the area to collect his clothes and equipment from the previous day. He looked about, finding Alanna's horse and his own nibbling contentedly ten yards away from camp. For all the abuse Talos gave his mount, she certainly was loyal to him. He had forgotten to tie her up last night, after all.

Meadow, Alanna corrected him, her back turned towards him as she rose from her crouch. Right, and the horse now had a name.

Alanna joined the man as he fastened his gear onto his person once more. Her sheer white dress was utterly ruined with the stench of sweat and seed from the previous night, and she removed it to change into a new outfit for the day. One that she hoped Talos would recognize from the night they had first met last year.

"No peeking, Talos," Alanna chided sweetly when he noticed her eyes fixed on her naked form. She spied the man shrug, then watched him as he turned away from her.

She let him gaze upon her ten minutes later, spending half the time combing her hair in hopes that it remained straightened.

"Is that...?" Talos asked her, Alanna nodding immediately in wordless reply.

Alanna had reequiped her copper-and-ruby circlet, which had been no surprise to the man. What had surprised him was the long black skirt she had donned, slitted on both sides to display a obscene amount of her rich alabaster legs as she moved. A constrictive red corset was worn above that, pushing her massive pair of distractions up and together, with a red cloak worn atop that.

She strutted towards him with as much grace as she could muster atop the soft grass, her legs making all manner of interesting shape under her flowing silk skirt. Alanna halted three feet away from the man, placing a mockingly-contemptuous hand on her hip.

"Remember this? Mister 'no traveler would wear such a ridiculous outfit'?" she asked playfully.

"Alanna, no traveler would wear such a ridiculous outfit," he repeated with a grin. He was, truthfully, very excited to see her in such attire. More excited than he should have been given the events of yesternight.

"I can't believe you still have it," he added a moment later with softer voice. Alanna swayed towards him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"I knew you'd like it," she whispered before kissing him deeply on the lips. She released him two moments later, giggling as she stepped away from him. "I know I, um, dress far more maturely nowadays. But what the heck, right? We're on an adventure!"

Talos nodded enthusiastically in agreement, then moved to the tent to begin packing camp. They had quite the distance to make today, at least compared to the leisurely pace they made the day before.

"Speaking of, Talos. Where are we headed this fine morning?" Alanna asked, knowing the answer would appear on his mind automatically as soon as she brought it up. "And what's so interesting in Featherton?"

"Nothing," Talos replied dryly to meet the sorceress's giggles. "Now stop ruining all the fun, Alanna."

Talos had wanted to surprise his lover, to see her wonderous reaction towards sights yet unseen. Living in Catriona for two months with her and Casiama had steadied the man with the comfortable stability of city life, but his heart would always be set on the unknown.

You can take an adventurer away from his wanderings, after all, but a wanderer would never lose his sense of adventure.

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Alanna and Talos arrived at a single-track dirt road headed easterly an an hour later. Fifteen miles down the pathwould lay the small village of Featherton, which was merely seen as a resting point for Talos, before he could show the young enchantress beside him the greatest natural treasure he knew of in Catriona the day after.

The trail was lightly traveled. Besides the pair of veteran adventurers, only peasant families would be seen here, either traveling to Catriona to sell their produce or lumber, or traveling from Catriona having purchased everything else their simple lives required.

Alanna's thighs were, unfortunately, on lascivious display for all men traveling past them. She hadn't particularly thought of the vulnerable position she would be in while mounted atop a horse, her legs dangling freely to either side of the saddle. She absentmindedly overheard the lewd thoughts of all those who passed, and only last year would those thoughts have made her wet with desire. She instead paid them little attention and instead rocked in the saddle with a smile, content with the peace of another beautiful day, overwhelmed by her luck to be traveling with such a handsome man.

At least, until the pair came across an odd fellow wearing bright greens and golds, laying on his back and atop his folded arms alongside the trail. The man's horse, loaded for bear, nibbled on the infinite grasses beside him. The stranger sang in tune as Alanna passed him by.

"And what is this that I spy, but a gorgeous maid's uncovered thigh?"

Talos abruptly stopped Meadow in her tracks, and turned his head towards the man in green-and-gold. Alanna charmed her own horse to trot just behind Talos, her face unreadable.

"Say that again," Talos challenged the stranger coldly. "I dare you."

The man beside the road smiled, then hopped to his feet in a bizzarely-flamboyant fashion.

"Perhaps I shall sing instead of the maid's breasts, or does the man care not for any of my jests?"

Talos, annoyed that his scornful intimidation had failed to stop the stranger, dismounted his horse and strode towards him, halting ten feet from the man and crossed his arms with a squint. The stranger, undeterred, folded his own arms mockingly, yet his eyes were wide with playful enthusiasm.

Talos sighed after a moment of silence, then opened the palm of a hand.

"What are you, some sort of jester?" he asked gruffly.

"The grouch should know I'm a bard by trade, although I s'pose that rests on how well I'm paid."

"He hides much," Alanna said stoically. Talos smirked, tilting his head just an inch.

"The maid you sing of is a famed enchantress of Catriona, bard," Talos explained. "I'll ask you to apologize only once." The stranger's eyes flickered briefly between his and hers, then he took a step away, unfolding his arms with a smile.

"I'm each penintent and regretful, repentant and remorseful." The stranger turned away from Talos, pausing abruptly, before spinning around a second later and continuing his song with arms outstreched.

"But may I ask what man doth not lie, having not known the maid probes and pries?"

Talos groaned, rolling his eyes. "There will be no... probing, bard."

The stranger grinned, waving his hands about ridiculously through the air. "Doth the grouch not understand my banter, even when I perform-"

"Stop that," Talos interjected. The stranger sighed, pursing his lips.

"... Fine," he conceded sullenly. The bard extended one leg behind himself, bowing low and pompously. "Emmanuel, at your service."

The bard known as Emmanuel was famous for his ballads in many regions of the vast Empire of man, from the whimsical vinyards of Santaria to the imposing highlands of Hayades. Catriona, however, was not one of those regions, and Talos and Alanna had never heard of him.

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