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All The King's Men by Alpha Ori

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Table of Contents

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Story notes:
Welcome to this new story within The Protege universe, entitled All The King's Men. If you enjoy it, please let me know - it will make all the difference!

For the moment, I have rated the story 'teen', but for any of you that know me, you will not be surprised if this rating soars a little later on!

Beta reader: The fabulous Curious Wombat.

Chapter notes:
This is a little teaser prologue to All The King's Men. Please let me know if you enjoy it!


Her heart hammered in her chest and she moved her hand to cover it, to protect it, that the thumping vital rhythm never leave her…

Her eyes were drawn to them all, as if some unseen force had taken control, moving them at will, and she was unable, or unwilling, to wrench them away; the sensations that coursed through her now pulsing veins were too intense, too pleasurable, and too agonizingly stimulating to even try – every nerve end alive with the thrill of life – and love. Velvet encased their strong, hard bodies; caressing booted ankles, softly brushing arms embraced by leather and metal, protected by age-old words of mystic wisdom. Some wore deep blue or grey, others a familiar moss green, and yet another, a rich burgundy that brought to mind other times no less splendorous.

It was fitting, she mused, for velvet was a hardy cloth, difficult to break unless cut. It was beauteous fragility, yet also hard, unbreakable fibre – just as they were… It was almost as if their hearts, their noble, hardened, hearts were of velvet. Their beauty, sacrifice and friendship, their soft words spoken in love, and their yearning for peace and harmony that only war craft and death could bring about – all this was velvet. The hard smoothness, the strength behind the façade of exquisiteness and fragility – thus was velvet. Thus were the King’s men.

Her eyes traveled over their shoulders, down to their hips and the tips of their boots. Steel … It was cold and hard, forged from the heat of fire – the very soul of passion. Frigid, in spite of its origins - born of warmth its strength was cool – and yet so feeling. Liberator of the oppressed in its compassion, sharp ice before a flaming, righteous heart. Steel is their resolve, their fist, their determination.

Sparkling chestnut eyes moved to their hair; pale blond, silver blonde, chestnut, raven black. Rivers of silken hues that lay upon their velvet cloaks; it teased their biceps, caressed the pommels of their legendary blades that sat high upon their strong backs, and even brushed the silken waistband of him, the one that so drew her, that she had so longed to see.

Silk… such sacrifice for but a minute square of coveted cloth. Sacrifice they had suffered so many times, would continue to endure until their mission was done. And yet what madness would lead one to liken silk with the traits of a warrior? Nay, not madness – understanding. Silk is what makes the heart feel when reason dictates it must not. Silk is elegance unparalleled – it is quiet understanding, it is beauty in fluid movement.

The Sylvan woman’s eyes now moved to the powerful war bows that crossed their shoulders. Wood…the living substance of her beloved forest home – its essence. It was hard, yet pliant, flexible, deadly when wielded, vulnerable when burned – just like their hearts, she mused. It was a perfect combination most of the time, save when too much weight would snap it, or infection would hollow it out unto slow, but unavoidable destruction.

Her eyes focused once more upon the whole, aware that this vision would not last forever… just a little longer, she smiled and hoped

These peerless warriors were all these things. The softness of velvet was protected by steel, and its own, intrinsic coldness was ameliorated by the smoothness and warmth of silk, whose sacrifice is countered by the steadfastness of wood. None were perfect in and of themselves, but together, they would be unstoppable, the perfect balance of all these things, invincible before the darkness that was now encroaching upon the kingdoms of light, the same darkness that they would stand against, before it was all over.

She chanced a final, loving glance at the one she had not seen since he had been a child, and the vision began to waver, in time with her quivering lips and her still thumping heart. A single tear escaped her eye, and the objects of her devotion blurred until water covered them, and they were gone.

Turning her head slowly from the life-sized tapestry to the fascinating visage of Väire, she smiled in utter awe, yet a hint of sad acceptance tempered it.

“Thank you, my Lady. Thank you for this fleeting glimpse…,” she whispered.

“You are welcome, both to my help and, soon, to Valinor at last, amongst the living once more – proud mother.”

Her heart hammered in her chest and she moved her hand to cover it, to protect it, that the thumping vital rhythm never leave her… never again.



END



Coming soon: All The King’s Men. Join the new High King, his Herald and Constables, on a perilous journey towards knowledge and understanding – a journey into the lands of men.