The Castle Of The Ice Maiden I Gustav Braiden Prina

The Castle of the Ice Maiden I

Characters: Gustav (Braiden), Prina
NPCs : Anna (Prina)

January 10 2005

On the road towards the Castle

Gustav sighed and shifted the furs on his shoulders. They had been travelling for nearly a week now and had finally passed the "climate line" as one man in the last town had called it. Simply put, it was bloody cold. Not for the first time, he wished he'd brought just a few more furs and left his chivalrous nature behind. He'd given a few to their charges when he'd noticed the girl's attendant shivering more than most. If the pink on her cheeks was any indication, he'd certainly done the right thing. [Braiden]

Prina pulls the thick robe around her and leans against the horse for warmth and strength as the horse lumbers through the deep snow. Her handmaid stays close to her side, fearing for her health. The winds blowing so cold almost freezing her hands to the reigns. [Prina]

With a surreptitious look around, Gustav fell back to join the two women. "We'll be making camp soon so just let the thought of the fire to come warm you." He couldn't help but wonder what the two were still doing with them. They'd left the last town a day ago and they were heading in an entirely different direction from the next closest village. [Braiden]

Prina raises up and looks at Gustav. "Where are we heading now?" She gazes across the landscape, seeing snow as far as the eye can see. She pulls on the reigns a bit, steadying the horse as it moves through the snow. [Prina]

"We're heading to an abandoned castle about another day south of here. They say it used to belong to an Ice Maiden. We're going to hunt around there for a day or so and then go in search of something Mr. Richbreeches won't tell us about." [Braiden]

"That sounds intriguing." Prina continues, "But surely there is a village or something near the castle. If it is abandoned there will not be much in the way of shelter." [Prina]

He chuckled, "Aye, but a few crumbling walls beat a few ratty tents any day. The next village is 2 days west. Human settlement I believe." [Braiden]

"Hmm, Human. You mean there are other varieties of beings in this region?" Prina looks through the treetops towards the sky, so bleak, so gray. She shivers as a gust of wind comes up, causing the horse to fuss and pull at the reigns as he clicks the bit in his mouth and moves forwards through the snow as it grows deeper. Anna follows along closely, listening intently and watching Gustav. [Prina]

"Of course. Humans are actually scarce around here. We're more susceptible to this extreme weather you know." He reached under his furs and pulled out his trusty flask of brandy. "There's a band of elves around here somewhere that have adapted so much that their skin is supposed to be stark white." He waved the flask around as he spoke before taking a quick swig, "Then there's the sprites. We'll probably run into a few frost sprites here and there." [Braiden]

"At least the air is fresh and clean here. It sure beats the hot stuffy city. I have seen many types of elves, but never the ones you speak of. Just so there are no brownies, they can be annoying to say the least. I used to be able to tolerate the cold so much better than this." Prina shivers, pulling the robes tighter, Anna moving to her side only able to offer a smile as comfort. [Prina]

Gustav smiled and nodded at the women, "Indeed. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to catch up to our, "noble leader" and keep him from getting lost." He gave his horse a squeeze with his knees, urging it forward to catch up with the rich boy, "Make camp here! We'll be at the castle tomorrow morning!" [Braiden]

Anna watches as he rides away and sighs. Prina stifles a giggle as she watches the woman's gaze follow him as he rides off sputtering about the noble leader. "Quite a man that one" Prina says. Anna only sighs and adjusts her position in the saddle. [Prina]

Less than twenty minutes later, all the tents are pitched and their camp is raised. It was obvious that everyone desired a refuge from the cold. It didn't take long before the men had their flasks out and were sitting around the fire. The nobleman looked fit to be tied, angry at having been forced to stop again. His interest in their journey had risen steadily until it had almost become an obsession. Now, they all say around the fire, drinking and carousing, leaning against their horses to share the warmth. [Braiden]

Prina and Anna huddle next to the fire for warmth. Prina does her best to tune out the nobleman's ranting as the men talk about the journey and the cold. Prina cradles a cup of warm coffee to her, drinking deeply. [Prina]

Gustav joined Prina and Anna after a bit of drinking with the boys and groaned as he sat, "Evening ladies. Warming well?" He sipped from his flask again, his cheeks already rosy from both the drink and the wind. [Braiden]

Prina smiles and nods as Anna stammers over her words finally blurting out "Yes." Prina drinks her coffee and says, "Indeed, much better than earlier. I am just glad that cold wind stopped." [Prina]

He nodded and looked up at the starry sky, "Doesn't look like there'll be any storms for a while but you can never really tell. We'll just cross our fingers." He sipped his brandy again and then looked at the women. "Care for a snort?" [Braiden]

Prina smiles politely up at Gustav, "Yes, I would not mind trying it. What is it?" [Prina]

Handing the flask to Prina, he grinned, "Brandy and a rather strong batch too. Just sip. Gulping will burn like hell." [Braiden]

Prina sniffs the flask, wincing she pulls it to her lips, ending up drinking a bit more than she had anticipated, she coughs and passes it to Anna. Prina blinks back at the strangeness of it as Anna sips and hands it back to Gustav. "Strong, very strong" Prina manages to say. "My mother would like that, I was never one for the strong drink." [Prina]

"Warms you to your bones though," he laughed as he took back his flask and tucked it away once more. He looked around at the camp and scrunched his brow in thought for a moment before rising, "Anyone seen Thomas?" [Braiden]

"That it does, and more." Prina relaxes a bit beside the fire. Her eyes turning to the dancing flames as Gustav moves to his duties. [Prina]

Gustav asked of the men in turn, all of them shaking their heads. This wasn't like Thomas. He was the most careful of the group, often checking on everyone before allowing them to move. Even the sprites wouldn't be out on a night like tonight so he doubted it was a prank, "Angus! Get over here and try one of your spells. See if you can find him anywhere."[Braiden]

Prina leaned up and watched from the side of the fire, finally standing up to get a better view of the landscape. She raised an eyebrow at the talk of spells, shaking her head as she ponders all the stories her mother and grandmother told her through the years. Having taken a journey so far, to find this out saddened her. [Prina]

The burly looking man named Angus knelt by the fire and tossed a handful of powder into the flames, suddenly turning them green. A few words chanted and another toss of the powder and the fire was suddenly gone, leaving a very surprised looking Angus still kneeling by the fire, "That's odd. He's….nowhere." [Braiden]

Prina backed away from the fire as the man wielded his magic's. As she bumped into Anna, who steadied her with a comforting pat on the shoulder and smile. "How can he be no where?" Prina said flatly. [Prina]

Gustav looked at the man and then at the others, "No one goes anywhere without company. No one! We'll have to wait til morning to look for him. Until then, get this fire going again. I want double watches tonight. No exceptions." After he finished giving his orders, he turned and looked out over the barren, white lands all around, "If Angus' magic can't locate him, there's only two possibilities. Stronger magic is interfering or…" [Braiden]

Raising an eyebrow, Prina starts to speak only to have Anna place a hand on her arm and motion towards the tents. Prina closes her mouth, and heads off with the handmaid that is more of a second mother to her in silence. [Prina]

Sitting down and leaning against his horse, Gustav takes the first watch with Angus, his senses on the utmost alert the entire time. [Braiden]

51] Prina and Anna settle into the tent. Anna keeps going to the tent to peer out at the fire and further to Gustav and Agnus. Prina finally says "Will you stop that, leave them to do their work. I don't know what is going on, but if it is anything like the stories my gram used to tell me we need to behave ourselves and let them do their jobs." Anna was taken aback by the sternness, the first she had seen in Prina since they met. Anna sat down behind Prina on the makeshift bed and began to nervously braid her long red trusses for the night. [Prina]

next day

Morning dawned to find Gustav pacing back and forth in front of the women's tent, "Time to get up, ladies. We have to get moving right now." He tugged on his furs and folded his arms as he waited. All around, the camp was being packed up at a hurried pace and everyone's faces seemed devoid of color. [Braiden]

Prina and Anna woke in a start at Gustav's words. They jumped up and all but froze, not from the cold but from the lock of hair hanging from the top of their tent. Anna let out a blood curdling scream and fainted. Prina ran to her side, and screamed "Gustav"! Gazing upwards she watched it swing for what seemed like forever. The twisted lock of Anna's hair having been cut now hung in the form of a makeshift cross from the top of the tent. [Prina]

Gustav dashed into the tent, daggers in each hand, "What's wrong!?" [Braiden]

Prina pointed up towards the top of the tent where the long log of Anna's hair hung in the form of a cross. "There! It's Anna's hair, she fainted." Prina continued as she shook Anna, trying to wake her. "Who did this, and why?" [Prina]

Gustav stared at it for a long time then stormed from the tent, "Where's that pompous ass!?" He tore through the camp, straight toward the young lord's tent. Moments later, he dragged the man from his tent by the high collar of his shirt, "You tell me what the hell is going on. First, Thomas dies and now someone left a cross in their tent. Tell me we're not chasing after that…that THING!!" [Braiden]

Anna murmurs as Prina comforts her. Prina rose and took the woven lock of hair down. She placed it into her pocket and quickly dressed, helping Anna to do the same. "I am sure it was nothing, perhaps it was something to protect us?" Prina tried to reassure her. Anna pulled her once long hair around, gazing at the place where it was a good 10 inches shorter and all but cried. [Prina]

The little lord didn't even give him an answer, he just grinned snidely and shook his head, "You're being paid too well to complain. Now shut your mouth and do your job." The already enraged Gustav roared at the man and tossed him bodily back into his tent, "You are no longer my concern, you bastard. I stay to escort Lady Prina and Miss Anna only. Speak to me again, and you will never return from this expedition." [Braiden]

The ladies stepped from the tent, finally ready to continue their journey towards the castle. A bit frazzled, but ready as they approached the fire Anna absent mindedly poured coffee for Prina, handing it to her, then pouring her own. Anna's mind in a daze. [Prina]

Gustav strode toward them, far more calm than he felt. He was terrified but he didn't let a thing show on his face other than an easy smile. He came up to Anna and rested a hand on her shoulder, "Don't worry. Nothing more will happen to you while I'm around." Get your things together. We'll be leaving shortly. The castle is only an hour from here." [Braiden]

[21:19] Anna smiled up at Gustav, her eyes finding the reassurance she needed to continue. Prina smiled at the two and made her way back towards the horses. She gazed up at the beast, her hands instinctively rubbing her already sore bottom before climbing on boulder to aid herself in mounting. [Prina]

Gustav hovered around Anna until she was ready as well. He even helped her mount up before hopping onto his own horse. They were ready long before the others and Gustav nodded, "We'll leave now since we're ready. They'll catch up." He turned his horse to the south and urged the animal forward, ready to get moving right away. [Braiden]

Anna lingered as long as she dared with Gustav, feeling his strength and comfort as she was helped onto the horse. She smiled down at him, so tempted to reach out and caress his face before catching herself and withdrawing her hand. The ladies followed close to Gustav as they headed towards the castle ruins. Prina kept glancing back over her shoulder to see if they were getting close to catching up. [Prina]

The wind began to pick up steadily as they rode, blowing the snow all about. As he rode, Gustav could just make out what appeared to be footprints in the snow. Only, these footprints had to be about as long as him. What the hell could have made prints so large? The Yetis in the area were large but their footprints would only be double the size of a man's. [Braiden]

Prina pulled her robes about her as they made their way closer to the castle. The wind whipped and moaned as the wind picked up, all but knocking her off her horse as it made its way through the snow. She watched Gustav gaze at the snow as if he saw something, she looked down only seeing snow. [Prina]

Finally, nearly two hours after they'd left, the castle came into sight on the horizon. Not a moment too soon either as a storm loomed at their backs. "Ok. We'll set up camp inside there before we head east tomorrow. We'll try to make the human settlement and if that doesn't work, I'll see about finding the elves, though it will be expensive to get their aid." [Braiden]

The ladies dismounted and lead their horses as they followed Gustav towards the castle. Prina could not but help brushing her fingertips over the stones, "So ancient" she whispered. "Who lived here?" [Prina]

"Legends say it was the Ice Maiden. A being born of these lands. In fact, this entire area was her domain for hundreds of years." He tied off his horse and pulled the last of their firewood from the horse's pack, "Though it's said the castle was razed before the great catastrophe." [Braiden]

She listened intently as Gustav spoke about the maiden and the castle. "I feel so silly always asking you questions." Prina continued, "Why would the elves charge us for gaining their help? I am still not sure why we are here in the first place. Even with the crazed guards in Sanctus Irae, at least it was warm." Anna cast a glance at Prina that chilled her more than the cold weather. Prina bit her lip and began to fuss at her horse, unfastening the cinch and loosening the saddle. [Prina]

Gustav smiled, "Don't worry your head. How else are you to learn, hmm?" He turned his head abruptly and held up his hand for quiet. "Stay here," he whispered before hurrying outside the wall. [Braiden]

Prina brushed her hand over the side of the horse, leaning forward to take in its scent. She smiled, the scent of a good horse was to be admired. Anna looked at her curiously. "My father would be impressed with this horse. He has good tone, form. We gypsies have a way with animals, we live close to them than civilization." Anna turned her gaze from Prina to watch Gustav vanish behind the wall. [Prina]

Nearly half an hour passed before Gustav returned, carrying on his back the spell casting man from before. He set Angus down on the ground and immediately placed his furs over the shivering man. If the blood running from the wound on his head was any indication, the man wasn't shivering from the cold. [Braiden]

Prina gasp and ran to the side of Gustav and Agnus. She handed her scarf to Gustav in an attempt to help while Anna quickly began to build a fire. [Prina]

Angus tried to speak, his breaths coming in gasps. He wasn't going to live much longer and Gustav knew it. Closing his eyes, he spoke a soft prayer for the man and held his hand, "Heaven awaits you, my friend. You lived well." A small smile came to the dying man's face before his eyes closed and his hand went slack in Gustav's grip. [Braiden]

Prina gazes at the man before backing away, letting the two men part in peace. She retreats to the far side of the fire where she stands gazing into the already growing flames. [Prina]

He stepped back and sighed, "Giants…we're dealing with some sort of giants. I saw them as they were carrying off two of the horses and a few of the men. Angus was the only one left alive, though it looks like that snivelling coward of a lord fled." He sighed and shook his head, "All of this just to come here and search for some stupid hole in the ground that an old Vampire built. I should have wrung his rich little neck." [Braiden]

Prina backed away from the fire as the words escaped from Gustav's lips. Flashes of her being bitten, all which had happened in the past several days catching up with her. Her strength all but returned, yet her heart sank. She shook her head as she felt the cool wall against her back. She slowly slips downwards against the wall into the frozen snow. [Prina]

Taking her reaction as fear for her life, he looked at her seriously and shook his head, "Don't get too comfortable. We're going to move straight through the evening. There's no way we can stay here." [Braiden]

"But with that storm, we have little choice." Prina said as she gazed across the frozen courtyard at the fire. [Prina]

"I know. We'll be leaving the moment it lets up, if not sooner. " He paced toward the fire and warmed his bloodstained hands, "Maybe I can bribe some sprites to come help us out." [Braiden]

"What do we have to bargain with?" Prina began to rise as Anna came to her side to help her up from the snow. Prina shook her head and steadied herself, wanting to do it herself, her strength returning to her. [Prina]

Reaching into his pocket, Gustav pulled a small pouch and emptied it into his hand. Out poured several stones of varying colors but none of them precious, "I was told that they loved baubles. I grabbed these just in case." [Braiden]

Anna smiled at Gustav, her gaze lingering as the two women huddled close to Gustav. Prina nodded and turned her eyes to the fire, then to the storm as the dark clouds rolled closer. [Prina]

He stared at the castle entrance, rattling the stones in his hand, "The question is, how would we even let them know we want their help?" He sighed, lowering his head. Things were all but hopeless now and he knew it. Still, he would be strong for them. [Braiden]

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