Ch. 17 Fort Steel (Kaitlyn)
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Though their destination was only a half day's ride away from Brynville the break they took along with rough terrain meant that Kaitlyn and her two companions didn’t arrive at the border fortress until night had already fallen. Unlike the goblin filled town that they had just fled from, Fort Steel had lit torches and sentries visible on its high iron plated walls. The defensive position sat along the edge of a forest that bordered the plains to the west. A large half circle of trees had been clear cut to ensure the fort had clear lines of sight all the way around so no force could hope to approach the structure unseen.

 

“It’ll be nice to finally be on even ground. Shame it’s only for the last mile of our trip.” Devin commented with a tired sigh as the group spurred their horses out from the trees and up onto the road leading to the fortress.

 

Kaitlyn nodded but remained silent. It had been her call for the party to stay off of the main pathways. That decision led them through difficult ravines and unstable footing for their horses, but Kaitlyn had felt it was important to try to avoid whoever sent that familiar that upset Cecilia in her dreams.

 

Kaitlyn glanced back at the princess to confirm she was still following along behind her. As usual Kaitlyn felt her heartbeat quicken and a tingling sensation fill her body and mind. The princess may be confident that the raven had been there to find the summoned hero, but Devin wasn’t the one whose dreams were invaded. Kaitlyn felt a fierce determination to keep Cecilia safe from whoever had taken an interest in their little adventuring party.

 

“Have you ever been to Fort Steel, Kaitlyn?” The princess asked when she noticed Kaitlyn’s gaze on her.

 

Kaitlyn shook her head. “I’ve never been out this far in the few adventurous expeditions I’ve been a part of. I know the commander of the garrison is held in high esteem. Supposedly he’s the youngest soldier to ever make the rank of commander.”

 

“What’s so great about that?”

 

There was something inside Cecilia’s question that caught Kaitlyn’s attention.

 

Was that… A hint of jealousy? Kaitlyn thought as she peered at the princess’ face.

 

Cecilia sniffed and looked away from Kaitlyn’s watchful eyes. Whatever it was Kaitlyn needed more of it.

 

“The commander is an accomplished warrior and is said to be a great leader even at a young age.” Kaitlyn bragged a bit more while staring eagerly at Cecilia. “Some people say he was so skilled and handsome that he was briefly thought to be the summoned hero of legends.”

 

Cecilia frowned grumpily. “Yeah, well… he obviously wasn’t.”

 

She shot a glare at Devin who was busy watching the road behind them as they rode towards the fortress.

 

“Why are you so quiet? Don’t you have anything to say about this scam artist stealing your identity?” The princess asked with a note of heat in her voice.

 

Devin turned back and looked at each of them in turn. He shook his head.

 

“Not really. Kaitlyn clearly said others thought that about him, not that he made those claims himself.” Devin shrugged and turned back to check behind them once more.

 

“Why do you keep doing that?” Kaitlyn asked. “There’s no chance those goblins could have caught us on foot.”

 

Devin nodded, but maintained his gaze back there. “I know that, but… something feels off about this whole situation. I can’t quite put my finger on it though.”

 

“Well we’re almost at the fort anyway. I’m sure the commander will protect us just fine.” Cecilia put a weird emphasis on the word ‘commander’ while shooting a glare in Kaitlyn’s direction.

 

Her worry and surly attitude was delicious to Kaitlyn’s soul. The bodyguard was confident that before this trip Cecilia wouldn’t have batted an eye if Kaitlyn would have made a compliment towards a potential love interest. They had already developed so far in such a short amount of time that even despite the danger they faced Kaitlyn was still glad she had convinced the king to let his daughter travel with this party.

 

“Just remember to keep my identity as crown princess a secret.” Cecilia glowered at her traveling companions. “My father said it would be better and draw far less attention if we kept that between our party if possible. So I expect you two to honor his wishes.”

 

Kaitlyn and Devin nodded. Up ahead, the first shouts could be heard from the fortress ramparts and the large heavy doors that lead into the fortress creaked open. A dozen armed soldiers exited and quickly fanned out to make a loose line directly between Kaitlyn’s party and the fortress. A blond haired young man stepped forward from the center of the line and held a hand up to the approaching trio.

 

“Hold there.” He shouted. “Identify yourselves.”

 

“Adventuring party.” Kaitlyn called back. “We traveled to Brynville to establish our group, but were driven out by a horde of goblins.”

 

Judging from the lack of surprise on their faces Kaitlyn deduced the garrison was already aware of the town’s fate.

 

“You’re a new group then?” 

 

Kaitlyn nodded. The blonde haired man sighed.

 

“I’m sorry you weren’t warned about Brynville having fallen. We’ve sent messengers to report back to the king but we don’t think they’re making it through. These are strange and dangerous times.”

 

He straightened slightly. “I’m commander Larze. Leader of this fortress. Though our supplies aren’t as rich as they once were, you're welcome to seek shelter here. The citizens of Brynville who managed to escape are inside-”

 

Commander Larze froze when he made eye contact with Cecilia. At first Kaitlyn was afraid he recognized the crown princess, but those fears quickly dissipated when the young commander blushed and stepped forward.

 

“My fair adventurer.” He reached up gently and pulled down one of Cecilia’s hands from her horse’s reins.

 

He lifted the hand and gently kissed her knuckles. “If there is anything I can do to help you during your time here, please, let me know.”

 

“That’s a bit brazen and outside of your job description... Commander.” Kaitlyn spat the last word out like venom, her opinion of the young leader souring in an instant.

 

Cecilia looked a bit concerned from the exchange until she saw Kaitlyn’s face and immediately put on a fake smile.

 

“Why thank you commander. I must say your glowing reputation didn’t do you enough justice. You’re much more incredible in person.” Cecilia giggled and hid her mouth behind her hand while shooting Kaitlyn a smug look.

 

The commander beamed and helped the princess down from her horse while one of his men snagged the reins from her.

 

“Is that so? Then perhaps you’d like to join me for a meal and give me the chance at clearing some of those discrepancies up for you.” He offered with a chuckle.

 

Kaitlyn was physically unable to stop the next words out of her mouth. 

 

“How about I slaughter you where you stand man whore!”

 

The group of soldiers, Cecilia, and Devin all stopped in place as her sudden outburst was processed in their minds. Devin was the first to recover.

 

“Okay! We’re all pretty tired so maybe it’s best if we find a place to rest up. We can discuss more of what we say in Brynville with you in the morning commander.” Devin positioned himself between Kaitlyn and commander Larze. “Our horses, if you soldiers don’t mind.”

 

Devin tossed both his and Kaitlyn’s reins to a pair of dumbfounded soldiers while he directed both she and the princess towards the fortress gates.

 

“Right.” Larze cleared his throat and let Cecilia slip out of his gentle grip. “Of course. You’ve all had a long day of travel so I can understand burning hot on a short wick. My men will find a place for you so head on inside.”

 

When she was within arms reach Kaitlyn snagged Cecilia’s shoulders and protectively pulled the princess in front of her. Kaitlyn wrapped her arms gently around Cecilia’s shoulders and chest and kept her there as they walked inside.

Mine. Kaitlyn growled internally as she kept a scornful eye on anyone that dared look Cecilia’s way.

 

As always thanks for reading and check back later for more.

On a separate note I do have an idea I'd like to hear back from readers about. So I often get stories/specific scene ideas that I'll make a note of and keep for potential use later. Many times these ideas don't see the light of day cause it was a spur of the moment thing and I'm busy working on current stories and don't want to distract myself. If I were to take those flash in the pan ideas and put them into "demo chapters" and have a designated series that was a compilation of all of them, would you be interested in reading through and voting on ideas you would be interested in seeing developed further in the future? I'll add a poll , but expound your thoughts in comments if you want.

Also yes, most of them are Yandere themed.

Would you be interested in a separate series created to house "demo chapters" of ideas I've had?
  • Yes Votes: 7 41.2%
  • No Votes: 2 11.8%
  • No opinion Votes: 8 47.1%
Total voters: 17
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