It's been a while since I posted, sorry! With the holidays I have been busy. In my absence, I have created a new paper doll though (as well as a new layout, let me know what you think)! Please welcome Coridel, princess of Taglyn. She is an accompaniment to a story I wrote a few years back.
If you are curious about Coridel's story (and dare to risk being bored by my writing) then continue reading:
Taglyn is a beautiful country sitting below a mountain range. The majority of the territory is lush cropland, well irrigated and exploding with growth. Up in the mountains, however, the environment is not so hospitable. The soil is rocky and it takes much effort to make anything grow. Klevar raiders, from the country on the other side of the mountains, often make life difficult for the mountain peasants. And, in recent months, a new terror has afflicted this poor area.
Stories of a dragon have become more frequent. Many travelers swear they saw a hideous beast with smoke bellowing from his lungs and fire snapping at the end of his tongue. The dragon waylaid travelers and stole their goods. As of yet no one had been injured and no official report had reached the king, so many people treated the tales as mere fantasy.
The king of Taglyn was father to three daughters, each beautiful in their own right. The eldest was named Coridel. She was a rare beauty of dark brunette hair, smooth pale skin, and clear blue eyes. She also was intelligent and very clever. For the past three years she had been studying politics and economics and diplomacy.
Now, a week after her eighteenth birthday, her father was sending her on a mission to Klevar. The neighboring country of Taglyn was usually one good terms with them, or so the king believed. News of the border raids never reached the Taglyn palace. Coridel’s goal on this trip was simply to review the terms of peace between the two countries.
However, it wasn’t long before the Dragon, so feared by peasants, set upon Coridel’s troupe deep in the forests of the mountains.
It is here that we join her plight:
The princess gave them all an acid glance. One by one she stared down each man in the group. Then she turned her glare on their leader. Like two cats about to fight they stood facing each other, arms crossed and heads held high. The lady spoke first.
“This is the Dragon?” She asked in scornful disbelief. She nodded her head toward the party of men. “Ha! After all the stories of massive beasts and cruel cunning, I expected more than miserable peasants and petty thieves.”
Her opponent grew red in the face. “Apparently you did not prepare for more, or my men could not have taken you so easily.” He retorted.
“Oh, aye.” She agreed, “You took my party easily enough with your theatrics and tricks. Few people, even if they be royal guardsmen, remain with their wits when it appears that a real dragon is attacking. Had they known it was but a handful of miscreants with smoke boxes then you and your men would have been cut to shreds before you even realized their swords were drawn.”
“I will warn you once, madam, not to insult my men.”
“Is it an insult when it is the truth?” She questioned, her voice deceivingly sweet. “A great man once said that truth, in any form, is truth indeed. Perhaps you should take my words to heart and surround yourself with better men if the reality of their stations in life offends you so.”
He strode forward and grabbed her hands. “There are no better men than those that stand before you.” He snarled, pulling her towards his horse. To his men he called: “We ride for camp.”
“Running away from a fight?” Coridel tried to provoke him. He tossed her up onto the black gelding. “Have you no words to fight me with? I would have thought you to be intelligent enough to last at least a little longer.” She taunted from her high position.
He pursed his lips and swung up behind her.
“Or are you merely a man of action?” She laughed at him, “All strength and muscle, but with very little thought behind the brawn.”
A strong grip strangled her arm and twisted it behind her back. “Today would be a good time to learn to curb that tongue of yours, madam.” He growled quietly in her ear.
“You don’t frighten me.” She gasped bravely, biting her lip against the pain. “You are like a bully on a playfield. I have no way to fight you except with my words; and you have no way to fight me but with your strength. Someday my cleverness will win, for intelligence always ends as the victor.”
The hand moved from her arm up to her neck. For a moment Coridel was truly afraid as she felt the power behind the gentle caress. “Are you so sure? I see no clever way for you to escape my breaking your pretty little neck right now.” His fingers spread to span her throat; her arteries pulsated vigorously against his warm flesh.
“But,” The hand was removed and she breathed deeply. “I am smart enough to know that by keeping you alive and in good condition I will be more likely to get what I want.”
“And what is that?” She snarled, refusing to be cowed by his threat. “Buckets of gold? Women falling at your feet in worship? Or thousands of men, decent and honorable men instead of thieves and backstabbers, at your command?”
The man sighed and ignored her barbed question. “I have a feeling that keeping you in prime condition will be hard when you deserve to be thrashed for half of what you say against my men.”
They arrived at the camp in early evening. The men had already arrived and a deer was roasting on a spit. Coridel sniffed as she glanced around the encampment. “A decent place, I suppose.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Did you poach the deer or pay honestly for him?”
“Do you ever stop?” The Dragon leader asked, pulling her off the horse. “You will sleep in the large tent. I have men guarding all sides and if you try to escape you will regret it.”
“Really?” Coridel responded with a raised eyebrow. “What could you do to me? You have already said that you will not harm me.”
He glared at her. “I will tie you to my side and you will be required to follow me in all my duties, day and night.”
This caused her to blanch slightly. “I suppose I will just have to make my first escape attempt successful then.”
That night, for all her bravado, Coridel slept poorly. The sounds of the forest frightened her. She had never slept so near nature and several times she believed that she heard a bear or a lion. The sounds of the men also scared her. There were many more of them than she had seen previously. She could hear the guards talking quietly outside her tent. Several others were snoring loudly, creating a chorus for the frogs and crickets.
At dawn her tent was flung open and the leader of the group stalked in.
“Wake up.” He roughly pulled her from the cot. “If you want to have breakfast you’ll get it now.” He ordered.
Coridel blinked her eyes blearily. “And may I ask what is on the menu, kind sir?” She asked sarcastically.
“The only food you will get until noon, so I suggest you quit the smarmy comments and find a bowl.” He left abruptly.
Coridel ran after him, refusing to let him have the last word.
The sun was not yet up high enough to penetrate between the trees and the woods were dark. A mist hung over the campsite, causing it to look even more eerie. Several men were huddled around a fire with a large cauldron hung over it.
Coridel grabbed a wooden bowl from the ground and held it out for the portly cook to fill. In slopped a lumpy mush that smelled sweet.
“What is this?” She asked.
“Roasted pheasant in pineberry sauce.” One man joked.
“Squirrel in mud and swamp juice.” Another said.
“Whatever Honson dumped out of his boots.”
“Or it could possibly be thin gruel with venison.” A grizzled old man sniffed the porridge, “Yes, m’girl, I believe I do smell some mangy old deer in this.”
Coridel flinched away from him and found a rock to sit on well away from the men.
From her vantage point she took the opportunity to observe her captor and his men.
She quickly noticed how much the men seemed to admire and respect their leader. Of their own accord they gave him the best seat, the cook gave him the largest portion with the choicest pieces of meat, and the young men gathered around to simply listen to him.
They called him Rastruan, she found out after hearing the name several times in context. The older men also called him Lord or Sir. Coridel found that odd, because no nobleman would deign to lower himself to an outlaw, or even to interact with such men. She decided he mush have raised himself above his station and despised him for it.
Her first day as a hostage was uneventful. And the days following were calm as well. She was woken each morning at dawn by Rastruan, took her breakfast and retreated to her rock. The men learned to steer clear of her. Whenever one of them chanced to come near she would have a barbed comment ready. Her sharp tongue seemed to never lack arsenal.
In the face of her biting words and quick replies the men turned into bumbling, blathering idiots. Due to this, Rastruan found himself to be the one dealing with her the most often.
He approached her rock slowly, struggling to form a sentence that would turn away any harsh words. “Excuse me, miss.” He began timidly, hating how he sounded like a repentant schoolboy.
“Princess.” She corrected.
“I beg your pardon?”
“By royal decree you must address me as princess.”
He laughed at her confidently, “There was no princess on the caravan we attacked.”
“Except for me. Why do you think there were so many royal guardsmen? Just out for an afternoon stroll?”
“The only person of importance in that group was the diplomat to-“
“I am the diplomat.”
“You said you were the princess.”
“And I cannot be both?”
Dumbfounded, Rastruan stared at her.
“That’s not possible.”
“Why on earth not?”
“I can’t have captured a princess; my men will be killed for my mistake! Prove that you are a princess.”
She sighed and stood to curtsy daintily to him, “Princess Coridel Aryvuen Janise Kelmara, Princess of Taglyn, daughter of the High King, and Diplomat to the regions of Klevar, at your service. You may kiss the royal ring.” From her pocket she withdrew the gold signet and placed it on her finger.
Rastruan was speechless.
Finally he sputtered, “I beg your pardon, highness. I was not aware.”
“Will you release me now?” She asked.
“Yes, I suppose so.” He stopped and looked at her shrewdly, “On the other hand, the king would do anything to get his daughter back. Perhaps this mistake will be profitable after all. Princess Coridel, I apologize but, for the sake of my men and people, you will remain here until our demands are taken to the king.”
“What?” Coridel screeched. “I command that you release me! Take me to my father at once!”
About the Artist
I'm a full time veterinary technician who enjoys winding down by creating beautiful costumes and recreating historical outfits on paper.
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Stories of Life