The Price of Freedom, Prologue

The blare of golden trumpets accompanied the thunder of hooves as Lord Jasper Tenegrin made yet another circuit around the tournament arena. The powerful, white destrier snorted and tossed its mane and the nobleman tugged hard on the reins with his free hand, digging steel sabatons cruelly into the beast’s flanks. A sword was grasped in his other gauntlet, the sunlight flashing from the blade as he twirled it skilfully. It felt good, to have won again. He had not even broken his lance and had thrown his opponent from the saddle. A sneer of contempt twisted his aging features as he surveyed the crowd. Only a few people were cheering. They were all beneath him anyway, the peasant scum, worthy only of serving the nobility and heaping adoration on their lords and masters.

From his viewing stand adorned with brightly coloured banners, King Brock ran a hand through his greying hair as he watched Lord Tenegrin strutting. The nobleman’s scrawny, grey hair flew out behind him, his chest thrust forwards, displaying his family’s white boar heraldry upon a sapphire tabard. He was the perfect picture of arrogance, a stuck up rooster lording it over his fellow Galladorians. The man was skilled though, Brock reflected. As reigning champion for three cycles in a row, this time it didn’t look like anything was about to change. He had already won every contest he had entered.

Finally, with an upward lunge of his sword and a gleeful exclamation of his own superiority, Tenegrin cantered towards the king’s viewing stand. The permanent sneer fixed on his thin face irked Brock, and with a sigh, the king leaned forwards on the wooden throne’s arms.

‘Lord Tenegrin,’ he began, his deep voice resonating with authority. He watched the nobleman dismounting to stand firmly on the hard-packed earth. ‘It is with great…respect that I present you with this trophy.’ He motioned casually for the small, golden statuette to be brought forward. ‘I announce you as Champion of the Joust.’

There were a few half-hearted cheers from the crowd. A boy dressed in the red and gold livery of the king’s personal servants strode down the steps and offered the trophy to Tenegrin. The man loomed over him like a dragon about to pick up a tasty morsel. Then he snatched the statuette roughly from the boy, pushing him backwards as he did so. He was about the address the lad, but then paused. Why should he waste words on such peasant scum? Instead he ignored him and turned back to the king.

’I’ll be in my pavilion, if anyone needs me,’ he snapped, before remounting with a clank of armour. ‘Yar!’ Turning his steed, he kicked it into motion and galloped away across the grounds.

‘If I may speak freely, your Highness,’ came the voice of Captain Gareth from the king’s right.

‘Captain?’

‘Are you sure you would not like to…’

‘As much as I would like to ban him from the tournament, I cannot. But you do have a point. How many contests has he won today?’

‘Swords, Axes, Claymores, the Melee, oh and of course, the Joust.’

‘Hmmm…’ Brock rubbed his silvery beard with a bejewelled hand. ‘If only someone could just beat him.’

The Price of Freedom, Prologue

Andy Bain

Hobart, Australia

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

Summary : The first adventure of Aefion Bloodclaw, in which he must rescue a princess from the clutches of a satyr warband.

Genre : Fantasy but with a bit of Romance and Comedy thrown in.

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