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Chasm

Ionathar reached Meador when the first snow of the year fell. Great, the second of his negotiations would also begin with him outside in bad weather, first that heavy rain in Aorelia, now this.

While Jon rode through the city, he could see the castle, which was built on top of a rock formation like the nest of some gigantic bird. People called it the Eagle's Nest for a reason. Its walls were built as an extension of the vertical rock faces, which looked near impossible to climb. The only proper way up was a road winding around the base, ending outside the gates.

As Jon looked up at the castle from the foot of the hill, he wanted Lona at his side for the first time since he’d left Angeleor. One of her sarcastic comments would have lightened his mood a lot. He took a deep breath and started his ascend. The two guards, who warmed themselves at a small fire, watched his approach with grim faces. They only moved, when he dismounted right infront of them.

"Who are you, young man, and what are you doing out here in this weather?" one of them asked.

"I’m Ionathar Angeleos, King of Eleonis and I have urgent business with King Maorcas." Ionathar said. The guards laughed.

"Anyone could claim that. I don’t know how you do things in Eleonis, but in Aguilear, we want proof." the guard said. Ionathar sighed and handed his sword and a sealed letter to the guard. The man examined both closely.

"Is that the sword of the lion, the one from the tale of Riarcos?" he asked.

"That’s the one." Ionathar confirmed, "So, are you going to let me in or would you like to have a powerful potential ally of your country freeze to death outside your gates?"

"We’d let you in, your Majesty, but the King doesn’t welcome unannounced visitors." the guard said, giving back the sword.

"Go and announce my visit then, you already have my letter. I won’t leave until I spoke to him." Ionathar demanded.

"Your Majesty, we really can’t do that." the man insisted.

"Did I stutter?" Ionathar asked sharply, unsheathing a bit of his sword. The man backed away and disappeared into the castle moments later. Ionathar joined the other one by the fire. The man scuttled away from him uncomfortably.

"Don’t worry, I just had to get him moving." Ionathar said, "My hands and feet are too cold to actually do anything to anyone." The guard didn’t look reassured and stayed on alert until his companion returned with a pale young woman with ginger hair and a face full of freckles.

"The King will speak with you. Her royal Highness Crown Princess Ilea Meados will bring you to him." he said. Ionathar thanked him and followed the Princess. She walked quietly for a while, before she adressed him.

"You’re quite young for a King." she said, "Your father was murdered a few years ago, wasn’t he?"

"I see you’re well informed." Ionathar replied, "And you’re Crown Princess? That's unusual too."

"Only because my father couldn’t find a single male relative to be his successor." Ilea shrugged.

"So he’s the type that’s afraid of a powerful woman?" Ionathar asked.

"And you're not?" Ilea asked back.

"I am, but I think I am for the right reasons. My mother is general of my army and the most intimidating person I've ever met, and my sister positively fearless. Also, not too long ago I saw a woman beat a man to death with her bare hands because he betrayed her and raped her. That was terrifying." Ionathar replied casually.

"Sounds like three women I’d like to meet one day. The stables are here, leave your horse here if you’d like." Ilea said. Ionathar handed the reigns to a stable boy.

"Who knows, maybe you will." he said.

"For now I wish you luck with my father, you’ll need it." Ilea said, nodding towards the keep, where the king stood outside the door, looking at them serenely.

"Thank you." Ionathar said. He inclined his head slightly towards Maorcas in greeting. The King beckoned him forward, and as Ionathar followed him up the stairs outside the keep, he realized, that they doubled as a bridge across a deep chasm that seemed to be a natural part of the rock formation the castle stood on.

"King Ionathar Angeleos of Eleonis himself, what an honour. I wasn't expecting you." Maorcas said. His grey eyes watched Ionathar with interest.

"Your Majesty, please excuse my sudden appearance. I couldn’t risk sending a letter in advance. I don’t know who to trust these days." Ionathar replied. He avoided looking at Maorcas directly. His intense grey eyes were quite unnerving.

"Let’s continue speaking inside before you freeze to death on me." Maorcas decided. Inside the throne room, he made Ionathar sit down in a comfortable chair near the fireplace and sat down across from him.

"Warm yourself for a bit before we talk." he offered.

"Thank you, but that won't be necessary." Ionathar said. Maorcas nodded. According to everything he’d heard about the young King, this answer matched his reputation.

"All right then, why are you here?" Maorcas asked.

"The brief version: war. The longer one: as you might have heard, my uncle, Iohan, who was exiled from Eleonis four years ago, has found refuge in Urtheon and conquered Baitha and Valeor as well as some countries north of the Icy Mountains. Last summer, I was informed of his plans of attacking Eleonis. We tried to prevent his attack, but we failed. Four weeks ago, he attacked Angeleor. We were able to defeat him this time, but he will be back soon with a much larger force. Then we’ll need all the help we can get to defend ourselves. He isn’t going to stop until he won or he's dead, and if he overruns Eleonis, he’ll turn on you next. And either of our armies alone won’t stop him. The only way to victory is for us to work together." Ionathar explained.

"Just so we're clear, you’re asking me to help you defeat your uncle, because your army isn’t strong enough? The large, excellently trained eleonian army isn’t strong enough to defeat him? Sounds like you got yourself into quite some trouble." Maorcas concluded.

"I’m afraid that’s exactly my problem." Ionathar agreed.

"Who else is with you?" Maorcas asked.

"Lupear and a small group of baithan rebels, who fought back when Iohan attacked their country and survived. I’ve spent several months with their leader, they’re with me. There aren’t many of them, but they are headstrong and training for this at this very moment." Ionathar said.

"How come you have a connection to the leader of the baithan rebels?" Maorcas asked.

"That’s a long story and not really important right now." Ionathar said.

"Fine. So you’re saying that your uncle would attack Aguilear, if he defeats you." Maorcas said.

"Maybe he’d go to Lupear first, but he’d end up at your gates sooner or later if we don’t work together and finish him once and for all." Ionathar agreed. Maorcas nodded and watched the flames in the fireplace thoughtfully for a while.

"Allright, send me a messenger when the time comes." he decided.

"Thank you very much. I’m in your debt." Ionathar said relieved.

Completion Date
November 19th, 1217

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