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Lia's Side Quest; Lia received an urgent message, what did that entail?
Topic Started: Aug 30 2017, 09:13 PM (596 Views)
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Galiana Koren rushed out of Imrus Laszlo's estate, clutching the letter to her chest with one hand and holding her hood over her face with the other. She was leaving without saying goodbye, she didn't have the time.

She wished she could say goodbye to Phaedra, and Imrus, and Janos. And the other Ladies who had become her friends.

But the message was too urgent.

"Lady Galiana Koren,
I know this letter comes to you in an unfamiliar hand. There has been an unfortunate accident involving your mother. She was riding one of your family horses when her steed was spooked by a snake and she was thrown from the saddle.
Your father is beside himself, and asked me to write to you on his behalf. He begs of you to return home. The blow she suffered to her head makes all of us unsure of her continued well being.
I pray that your journey home is both swift and safe, my Lady.

With fond regards, and the deepest concern,
Lukas Bauer, Duke of Austria."


She read the letter again as she made her way to the carriage. Lady Diana, her governess, followed closely at her heels. Diana's face was pinched with worry.

Lia pulled her dark blue cloak tighter again, anxiously wishing to be home already. She climbed into the carriage with Diana right behind her. The staff quickly loaded the carriage with her things, and they were on their way.

"Everything will be alright little dove... I'm sure she will be fine by the time we return home." Diana said softly.

Lia looked at the older woman, worry in her emerald eyes.

"I hope so." She murmured.

And the carriage finally set out, on its way back to Italy.
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[ *  *  * ]
Several days passed on Lia's journey; fair weather all. On the third day of her overland trek, Lord Bauer spotted the carriage's approach from the crest of a hill. Dressed as he was, and his men similarly so, (and safely off of the Black wolf's lands, thank you very much) they looked nothing more than common bandits.

He raised a hand and gave the signal to advance. Twenty men would make short work of any guards accompanying the Lady, and they would be sure to kill none.

The last thing they needed was some embarrassing incident. It usually involved duels and those were always messy business. Part of him felt badly for the deception; forging the letter, the couriers ...

But if that Stinking Hungarian had the pick of any bride he wanted, he sure as hell was going to take advantage of the eligible bachlorettes in the area. And he just so happened to know the Korens. Distantly. They were Italian.

He hated Italians. But they were wealthy. And he was stock broke, his lands were slowly going to put, and all the able bodied men he had had gone off to war with someone or other. He was a Duke of an empty land and the best thing he could do for himself was catch a bride.

This time it was going to be literal.

He signalled the attack and some of his men let out yells as instructed.
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Lia, still clutching the letter, jumped at the sound of the attack being launched against her small group. Diana immediately threw herself between her Lady and the door of the carriage.

Lia had hardly slept the last couple days, so she was jumpy and tired. She still looked as lovely as a summer day though. A gift, her mother would always say.

She wasn't dumb. As soon as the attack launched, she looked at the letter and crumpled it up in her hands, shaking with fear and anger.

Someone had played on her gentle heart.

"Stay behind me my dear, I won't let anyone touch you." Diana said fiercely.

The Governess was holding her knitting needles like they were weapons. The sounds of battle was like a painful ringing in Lia's ears. It was a sound she would never get used to.

The door to the carriage was flung open and Lia shrieked as a masked man came rushing into the carriage holding a long knife.

Diana wastes no time and stabbed the man in the arm with her knitting needles.

"You'll not lay a single dirty finger on my Lady while there is breath in my lungs!" The brave governess yelled sternly.
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[ *  *  * ]
As Bauer approached, flanking the initial attack, he witnessed something that made him frown. Very deeply. And draw his blade.

The man with the long knife yelled as the knitting needle sank into his arm, and impulsively he jabbed forward with his knife, sinking it into the poor, fierce governess protecting her beloved ward.

"Get Him." He indicated in Austrian to the rest, and they dragged the offending man from the carriage. He cussed loudly at them, pointing at his arm, and gesticulating angrily.

Bauer didn't even wait for him to explain. He sank his blade into the man's throat, cutting off his protests and ending his life in an instant. "That's what happens when someone disobeys orders.
Get he carriage, we go now."


And the men circled the carriage and left the soldiers bound and tied on the side of the road. No one dared enter the carriage until they had crossed the border.
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Time seemed to freeze for Lia as the bandit sank his knife into Diana. The only things she perceived was the crimson blood pouring from the wound in Diana's chest; Her heartbeat roaring like drums of war in her ears, and the cold feeling of the blood draining from her face.

She didn't feel the carriage start moving a moment later. She barely caught the echoes of sound as a man spoke Austrian outside the carriage. She knew the language. She knew nearly all of the languages of Europe. But her mind couldn't translate it right now.

"Diana... Diana.. please no." Lia said, tears filling her eyes as she clutched the governess' hand.

"I'm sorry my dear. I'm so sorry. Please stay safe my Lia. Don't let them hurt you. I know the Marquis will send aid. He cares very much... Your parents will...
Send aid. It'll be alright..."
Diana said, her voice getting weaker and weaker as she spoke.

Blood started leaking from the corner of her mouth, as she looked at Lia one last time. The light faded from her eyes and Lia felt her heart crumble.

Tears poused from her eyes, and she whispered frantically "Diana please... no... please come back. Please."
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The carriage traveled for maybe ten minutes. At that point, Duke Bauer gestured impatiently for the others to fetch the governess.

They opened the door, and with surprising gentleness they pulled the older woman from the carriage and shut the door. Before they started up again, they shut the woman's eyes and wrapped her up in the offending bandit's fur cloak. One of the others put her on the back of a horse (now vacated) for proper burial services once they reached the Keep.

Several hours later they crossed the border into Austria. That was the first time they ceased since, and one of the bandits, no longer masked or hooded, brought a bucket with cold water and a rag to the Lady in the back of the wagon.

Duke Bauer was busy shouting in Austrian to the men he'd brought with him, asking what MORON had brought Hans along? Did they WANT an excuse for him to kill the man, because it worked and NOW they had killed his stolen wife's friend. Excellent work everyone, dock in pay for all of you imbeciles. Now get the wagon moving again and I don't want a damn work out of any of you!

And he spurred his horse forward.
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Lia stared at the man who took Diana from her. Her mind... It couldn't comprehend that the woman who had been there her entire life... was no longer.

She felt numb... But she also felt cold. She pulled her shawl tighter around herself after the man left with her governess.

After they crossed the border - though she didn't know that, she wasn't looking out the carriage window - she came to her senses a little.

I need to get a message to someone... Otherwise it will be weeks before anyone knows I'm missing... Unless one of the guards made it. I hope someone comes soon... She thought to herself.

She would not scream or beg for mercy. But she would not allow them to touch her either. She was the sister of three of the greatest soldiers this world has ever known. Heroes. She wouldn't shame their memory by being weak now.

Lorelan... Elias... Kayle. If you still linger, even a little, please help your little sister stay strong.... She thought, gripping the edges of her shawl in her fist.
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[ *  *  * ]
Duke Bauer rode them for hours. As soon as they crossed the border, he made the order to break for camp, and they did so without complaint.

He removed the mask and changed as soon as his own tent was assembled before he made his way to the carriage. As unorthodox a method for finding a bride as it was - it had gone extremely well. All things considered.

He strode to the carriage and rapped on the door before he had someone open it and he slipped in. Hesat across from Lady Galiana, unmasked and stoic faced.

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Lia's beautiful emerald eyes, rimmed by their long, dark lashes, followed this man as he just entered her carriage without permission.

Despite the ordeal, her appearance was still immaculate. Not a single strange of her raven black hair was out of place - it was currently in a half ponytail. It's luxurious length was apparent, but it was out of her lovely face.

The only crease in her gorgeous silver dress was from sitting in this carriage for the entire day, but that could be easily fixed as soon as she stood.

She looked like a princess out of a fairy tale, just without the crown.

Lia stared back at him, meeting his stormy blue eyes. If she wasn't so afraid of him, despite the bravado she was showing in meeting his gaze, she would note that he was probably one of the most handsome men she has ever seen.

But the man had kidnapped her. Even if he punished his own man for killing Diana.

She was grateful for that.....
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Duke Lukas Bauer stared silently for a moment at the woman he had chosen for his bride. He hadn't actually ever met her in person, but he had knowledge of her family. Fine breeding, Heroic blood in her veins as evident by her brothers, wealth and power. Everything he needed.

It was just exceptional good luck that she was as beautiful as the stories about her professed. He silently exhaled in relief. He had really REALLY not wanted to marry a cow.

He folded his hands casually in his lap. "Good Evening,
My Lady. Allow me to apologize for the earlier messiness. They were instructed to do no injury to the inhabitants of the carriage. I imagine it is painful for you, but I hope my own discipline of the man is a step towards reconciling the affair."


He had the crisp Austrian accent but he was speaking in a clinical, formal Italian to her. His tone was contrite - but sort of hollow. He didn't smile either And his stormy blue eyes were harsh and cold.
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Lia continued to stare at him as he spoke. His voice would be much nicer if he added a smile to it.

She wanted to give him a harsh response, but a lifetime of etiquette lessons and the fact that this man was most definitely in charge of her current situation made her response much more polite.

"You disciplining your man was... much appreciated. I am Galiana Koren, daughter of the Earl of Milan. Though I suspect you already knew that." She paused, her delicate hands clasped in her own lap.

She didn't offer her hand to be kissed, as was proper when a Lady greeted a nobleman. She didn't want this man to touch her.

"May I know with whom I speak?" She added, still meeting his gaze.

Her heart was pounding, and it was apparent in the slight shaking of her hands and shoulders. Other than that, she was putting in a monumental effort to keep her face neutral.
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Lukas Bauer nodded simply when he was off-thanked for his discipline. T least it seemed like it wouldn't be some long standing grudge, that would make things all the more inconvenient. It was only a servant woman anyway, wasn't it? He would get her another one.

Lukas bowed his head in relaxed imitation of a bow. "Lady Galiana Koren. I am Duke Bauer of Austria." He doubted she had heard of him. But... if she was as well schooled as was rumored, she could have. The Austrians tended to stay out of many of the political issued; staying clear of courts and intrigue. They were warriors, and many Astrian Lords enlisted their troops as Mercenaries. In fact, Lord Bauer went bankrupt sending his own troops to fight the turks in one of their many inane battles.

Fortunately, the Bauer name was a good one in Austria, and the men were loyal if underpaid. With the Korens at his side, he could easily rebuild the family name.

"We should arrive on my lands in a few days. For now I have had a tent erected for you with some comforts, if you prefer."
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He seemed so uncaring about Diana's death, that it made Lia's heart hurt. At his nod, she broke her gaze away from him and looked down at her lap.

That was only for a moment though, before she looked at him again. She absentmindedly played with one of the rings on her fingers.

Duke Bauer of Austria... Duke Lukas Bauer. She had heard of him. He was more like a Mercenary Lord. They sent so many soldiers, who were all rumored to be like berserkers, to fight the Turks that they were a huge factor in turning the tide of the war.

She wondered if her brothers had ever fought alongside this man.

Then she looked at the note she had been carrying since she left the Marquis' estate, and then back at Duke Bauer.

"I know of your name and your family, Your Grace. My brothers fought the Turks alongside Marquis Imrus Laszlo." She said.

Then she held the note out to him.

"I take it my mother is fine." She said, a bit of sharpness to her voice.

Though sharpness in Lia's voice was still soft. She wasn't good at being anything other than kind.

She ignored his offer for the tent - for now. She wanted information first.
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Duke Bauer knew about the Marquis. Of course he did, his name was along the lines of the Impaler himself; fearsome, dedicated, patriotic. Had more money than he did.

"Yes. The Marquis. I know of him." Was all he said. His mercenaries were rarely sent to where the other nobility was. They were front liners, skirmishers and berserkers. Didn't realy want them around the soldier types.

When Lia held out the note, Lukas glanced at it and nodded. "Yes, to my knowledge she is fine. It was the easiest way to draw you out, you understand." He explained with over simplicity.

"The deception was necessary to meet my ends, but I am certain your esteemed parents will come around to agreeing to my proposal."
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"And what ends are those, Your Grace?" She asked softly, her fear coming through in her voice a little.

She set the note down on the seat beside her, and watched him carefully. He was not a very warm man, for sure.

She was glad to know that her mother was okay, but now she was concerned that she was going to be held for ransom. Her parents were rich, and very much would - and could - pay it, but she didn't want that worry on them.

Then her thoughts turned to Imrus. When he found out she had been taken... Oh the poor Marquis would blame himself. That made her heart hurt as well.

The Marquis had been through enough. He didn't need the guilt of this too.
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The Duke blinked at her as if he didn't understand what she was asking. Then he furrowed his brow. "Proposal of marriage of course." He stated simply.

That course of business being completed he moved to the door and opened it, exiting the carriage in two great steps. He pushed his coat behind him as he turned to address the lady once more. "If you want to remain in the carriage that is fine, but if you prefer the comforts of a pallet and furs, your tent is this way."

And he held out his arm.

No. No he was not a very warm man. And he had yet to smile in any capacity.
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A marriage proposal? Was this man mad?

She had been sent to this part of Europe to potentially marry the Marquis. Didn't he know that? He knew so much else about her.

"Marriage? I was sent here to potentially marry the Marquis."
She said, surprise lacing her tone.

"And this is hardly the way to win a bride, Your Grace." She said, almost in a scolding tone.

When he swept out of the carriage - goodness he was imposing - she did relish the idea of getting out and stretching her legs.

She hesitated at first, and then took his arm so he could help her out of the carriage. Once she was free of the carriage, she released his arm though. At least temperature wise, he was quite warm. He must be much more used to the cold than she is.

In the evening light, her dress looked like liquid silver that hugged her slim but womanly form. It made her hair appear all the darker.

Her scent, a light airy thing of Jasmine and Lavender - it was a calming, but not overwhelming, scent - drifted around her in the cool breeze.

She adjusted her shawl and looked around, but stayed close to the Duke. She didn't know his men, nor did she trust them. She didn't trust him either, but if he had wanted to hurt her, he would have already.
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The Duke helped her down and didn't seem to mind that she withdrew as soon as solid ground was beneath her feet. He scoffed; which was more like a 'hrmph' in his throat, warranting no actual smile. "And having a competition for best bride is appropriate? I think not. It may be unorthodox, but at least I made a decision." And then he started to walk towards the tent. It wasn't far. Maybe ten paces to the left. It was made of animal skins, and was smallish.

She could basically duck inside, and find a metal bowl and pitcher with fresh water, a plate of bread and cheese with dried fruits, and a pallet overflowing with thick, soft furs and blankets. For really, that was all that would fit in the tiny space. The last touch was a small brazier on a tripod of wrought iron tucked in the center, emitting a gleaming heat.

The Duke gestured to it. "You will be well protected of course, and we will be leaving early. Good evening." And then he bowed - and walked away. Sure enough, there were guards posted at each corner of her tent, who very carefully made absolutely NO eye contact with the lady.
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Lia furrowed her brow at him, and loosely crossed her arms. It was partly from the cold, and partly her frustration.

"And you couldn't have just come and visited the Marquis and met me instead of kidnapping me?" She said, and then pressed her lovely lips together.

That was unladylike, and an apologetic look appeared on her face, though she didn't direct it at the Duke - despite him being higher status than even her father.

After his response, or after a moment if he didn't give one, she ducked into the tent and splashed her face with water to try to calm her nerves. At least she had her things. She would be able to change.

Though she would have to choose one of her simpler, though still incredibly lovely, dresses. One that she could dress herself in.

She didn't think her oh so gracious host would be willing to have someone help her dress.

Once inside the tent, and a bit refreshed, she sighed and removed her dress, so she was in a shift she could sleep in. Then sat down on the pallet, still holding her shawl around her shoulders.

She laid down and closed her eyes. A few tears fell from them before she fell into a drained, exhausted sleep.
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Duke Bauer merely quirked an eyebrow in response to her protest, implying 'No. No I couldn't have. Obviously.' And then he turned and went on his way.

In his own tent, he removed his cloak and he too stripped down, scrubbing off any road dust on his hands and face with meticulous ease. Once he too was refreshed, he ate the food provided and slept soundly and without guilt.

In the morning, he rose early and went out into the cool summer morning and ran a short set of drills withhis men, shirtless and barefoot. He did a few exercised and then freshened himself up all before dawn. He dressed again and donned his fur cloak once more before going to the Lady's tent.

"Time to go, Lady Galiana Koren. I have breakfast waiting in the carriage." And then he waited.

He decided it might be better in the long run f he spent the rest of the journey in the carriage, at least for part of it. There were two more days of road weary travelling to go before they reached his lands, and he was hoping that they could at least come to a sort of understanding before then.

His own parents had been arranged. They seemed perfectly content. Sort of.
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