The dawn’s light pierced through the cracks of the shutter, the multi-colored panes creating a shimmer of rainbow across Theris’ face.
He stood straight and true, his armor bounded tightly across his chest with the Lions of House Duranan perfectly cleaned to a bright sheen. His light brown hair was long, draping across his bowed face with the slight wisps of curls. His cheeks he shaved cleanly this day, and his servants groomed his face, and his handsome, thin face was beset with great sadness as he looked upon his Lady Fera.
They held hands, Lord and Lady, as was their personal custom before any great occasion. Lord Theris gazed long upon the clear green eyes of his wife and held her hands close to his heart. And thus they were for the better part of an hour, for this great occasion was one of battle.
House Tybris, of House Conrath, had crossed into Riverman lands and made their march straight and true to the Trident, the city of Three. Lord Riverman had not yet called the banners, but Lord Theris knew that any gesture now would have been futile. Too little time remained before Lord Kyle’s men, numbering a full legion or more, would have reached the city. More, it was said, were marching from other directions—a simultaneous assault on all orders of Riverman territory. Routing the enemy columns before they reached the Trident was the only chance the city had, for the city, itself, was too large to withstand a concentrated assault, and the populace would be at the mercy of the invaders. And so, as quick as they might, the lords of the southern Riverman lands summoned their strength to drive the Conraths back.
Dragonfell, they were told, could not come to their aid. Matters of Court and succession had robbed them of any political and military powers of support.
Theris was a young lord, married to his lovely Fera only three years hence, just after his faithful return from the Ogre Campaigns. However, the ferocity of the battles that he and his men faced had scarred his youth and conquered his lust for battle. He had prayed to Draenor for a life of peace with his young bride, but such wishes were not to be, it seemed. Battle was calling to Theris with the familiar cacophony of chaos and death, and failing to answer its persistent wailing would mean the doom of his patron house.
After long silent moments, Theris felt that he must say something, and so cleared his throat.
Fera smiled and interrupted him. “You know, my Lord, that you do not have to say what it being said by your heart.”
Theris, too, was compelled to smile as well. “Fera… you know, I can’t…”
“I know,” his lady said. She looked up at him and kissed him softly on the lips before leaning her head against his neck. His armor felt uncomfortable to her when she embraced her husband.
“I swear to you that I will return. The gods will grant me this favor, I know it,” Theris said resolutely.
“And I believe that Draenor will grant you this too, love. Nevertheless, make certain that your shield is up and your sword strikes true.”
“I… will…” Theris knew then that any words he spoke would be fruitless to express his affection and how he felt, and so let silence be the better judge of expression.
Melinda, four and a half years of age, peeked timidly from the archway of the chambers. Theris, still resting his cheek upon the head of his ladylove, only smiled and waved a gloved hand to his oldest child, gesturing her to come. Melinda speedily crossed the chambers and embraced her mother and father at their legs.
Before long, Captain Darryn cleared his throat, but not before waiting a few minutes in respect for the moment.
Theris closed his eyes and sighed once more before ending the embrace.
“Be brave for me, my beautiful one.” He kissed Fera gently on the lips.
“And be brave for our men, my handsome lord,” she answered after they had kissed.
Theris kneeled and kissed his daughter on the forehead. “And be good, little one. Mother will be expecting you to as brave and as behaved as you can while I am gone.”
“Aye, papa,” she replied obediently. Theris smiled and stroked her cheek gently with his finger, then kissed her on quickly on the lips.
Theris turned on his knees then and also kissed Fera’s stomach reverently.
“Both of your children await your return, my love,” Fera smiled, stroking his hair.
“Aye,” he responded, before standing and kissing his lovely Fera one last time.
“My lord, your banners await your command,” Darryn said quietly.
“Aye…” Theris said, he took Fera’s hand, kissed it respectfully, then cloaked himself in his furs and colors and walked hastily away.
Fera and Melinda spent the better part of the morning watching the departing army of House Duranan from the tower; they crossed the keep gates and faded into the roads to the east below the rising sun. The banner of House Dragonfell was held proudly above the head of Lord Theris.