The Tales of the Silver Prince is a text chronicling the life and deeds of Prince Kassardis. So far only one story, "Prince Kassardis and his Three Wives", is known.
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“And Prince Kassardis was given three vessels of wine, and three wives, and three rings to gird his ring-fingers. But Kassardis’ heart was heavy at his wedding ceremony, and no amount of wine could float it up from the depths it had sank to. For this ceremony held with it deadly promise, for it was custom in that part that the prince, within a week of his wedding, should choose a favorite wife. This was a marker, a battle drum of sorts, between the three wives of the great house of Ium-Am. The battle only ended when one wife stood, scarred and bloody, and the remainder were dead or exiled.
Kassardis was sick of this slaughter, and the hollow wreck of a man he called his father. His three wives were very pretty, but they were cruel as hawks. Even as he stood there besides the marriage pool, he could see the bloodlust glow behind their veiled eyes. It was for that reason he took his naming dagger and traveling cloak and fled his tower one summer night.”
“Vastoki was Prince Kassardi’s first wife, and the youngest. She wore only one ring and kept her fingernails expertly trimmed. Her dress was a short cut, her vela plain and good for traveling, and she wore eye glasses. Her teeth were filed to points, and she kept sparrow feathers tucked behind her ear. She was a master marksmen with the long rifle, with which she had trained her whole life, so that on her wedding day she could swiftly assassinate her rivals. By the time it had reached her wedding day she had hunted five men in practice and was thirsty for blood.
It was for this reason she was the first to set out in search when the prince was found missing.”
“Littari was Prince Kassardis’ second wife, and though she was not quite as young and vigorous as his wife Vastoki, nor as patient and wise as his wife Ipreski, her bloodlust was the strongest by far. Where Vastoki was thin and lithe, and favored traveling clothes, Littari wore a full set of eidolon-wrought armor, which she cleaned and polished constantly, and gave her the appearance of a gargantuan demon. She was twelve spans tall, and had enormous teeth. Her bulging muscles meant tailoring for her was a nightmare for her maids, so she spurned their service, and preferred to travel with her cook, sandal bearer, and sword-master only.
Littari was far too strong to use a sword, for any normal weapon would break and shatter with the immense force she put upon it. Instead, she dragged around with her a great and heavy iron cauldron, with which she would beat opponents to death quite savagely. It was to this pot which the prince’s other wives had promised to chain her and force her to serve as a scullery slave, and so she had taken an oath of revenge to pulp, cook, and eat them.
Littari was by far the least popular of the prince’s three wives, and so she only learned of his escape after the young Vastoki had started her pursuit. Nevertheless, by the second day, she was not far behind her quarry, and her steps shook the dust from the eaves of peasant homes as she passed.”
“Ipreski was Prince Kassardis’ last and oldest wife, though barely by a few years. Despite her relative youth, however, her hair had already become white as snow. Some gossiped about how it was a curse from a vengeful sorcerer, for the offenses of the princess Ipreski’s family were broad, and no less horrible for their breadth.
Ipreski kept her white hair long, and bound up in coils that wrapped around her waist five times. She was exceedingly lazy, and would rather order one of her numerous and weary servants to fetch something than walk a mere five paces. She was pampered and fond of food and wine, and complained loudly if there was no place for her to lounge about.
This laziness of hers was a clever mask, for Ipreski kept all her energy coiled up inside of her like a spring. She was a master swordswoman, in the old tradition of her family, and her muscles were like steel cables. Such was her skill that she could kill a man and sheathe her sword before the first drop of his blood hit the ground. She had no need to pursue her opponents, for they could not touch her, and was instead content to wait until they came to their slaughter. This was the source and secret of her arrogance. She loudly mocked Kassardis’ other wives, especially the large and slow Littari, for she believed there was no chance they could beat her in open combat – and it was true.
It was only fitting, therefore, that the languid Ipreski was the last to set out in pursuit of the young prince in her palanquin, with her full retinue trailing after her.”
“Prince Kassardis knew his three wives were cunning and vicious in equal measure, and the journey ahead would be hard and grueling. Therefore the very first thing he did was to seek out the Very Wise Frog, which lived on a nearby hill known as King’s Rock. The road to the Frog was well worn by pilgrims, so it was not a hard climb for Kassardis, who wore his fine leather boots, but it was steep.
“Very Wise Frog,” said Kassardis, when he reached the summit, “This brutal life is like a steel cage. My father’s kingdom is built on the stacked bodies of his officers. He sups on blood. His surviving wife picks his gray hairs and pushes toy soldiers around from her sedan.”
“Your father’s kingdom is very large,” said the Very Wise Frog.
“I will escape my own blood,” said the resolute Kassardis, “And flee to the land of Samura, where their cities are built on covenants of peace and no blood is shed unjustly. The journey is long and hard, so please give me some advice, as my family has treated you well.”
“Samura is a myth told to small children to comfort them,” said the Very Wise Frog, “Your wives are much faster than you and will catch up to you, then beat you savagely before returning to the time honored ritual of trying to murder each other.”
The Prince was aghast. “I refuse this life of violence!” he said.
“Violence is inescapable,” said the Very Wise Frog.
“Don’t gloat at me, frog!” said the Prince, “My trial is only just beginning. Surely you have some other advice for me?”
“No,” said the Very Wise Frog.
“Frog!” said Kassardis, growing panicked, “What do you mean by ‘violence is inescapable’?
“It is,” said the Frog.
“You’re a liar!” said Kassardis.
“No, I am not,” said the Frog, “Nor have I ever been. Violence is inescapable. Inseparable from life itself. Permanent. It is fixed in your cosmology. Forever. I could go on, but that’s besides the point.”
At this Kassardis was so enraged that he threw the Frog off the summit of the mountain. It bounced of a cliff and split like a wet melon, dying instantly, and posthumously proving its point to Kassardis.
Kassardis, for his part, wept.
“Prince Kassardis was swift, and he was young and his mind was honed. The land about his kingdom was barren but not fierce, and the roads were well kept. Even so, the sun had barely dipped below the horizon before he knew he would soon be caught. For as he glanced back over his shoulder, he saw the cruel glint on Vastoki’s eyeglasses as she traversed the bluffs behind him. And a little further back than that, even for all this distance, he thought he could hear the awful grinding of Littari’s cauldron as she dragged it across the bare earth. And even further back, just cresting the horizon, were the bright and lazy banners of Ipreski as her palanquin was borne along into the desert.”
“Prince Kassardis struggled mightily to rid himself of his pursuers, for despite what the Very Wise Frog had told him, he still held within his heart the vain hope that the peaceful land of Samura existed and he would someday find himself upon its gleaming shores, free of his wives and throne.
First, he fled the road, and spying a low and reeking gully hurled himself therein. There, the mud and brambles were so thick that he could barely move, and the fetid water was choked with the corpses of animals that had become trapped in the muck. Thick clouds of flies bit at Kassardis as he struggled heroically onward, until at last he heaved himself from the mud, his trail almost completely invisible, and made for higher ground.
Indeed, when the clever and keen Vastoki came upon Kassardis’ trail disappearing into the gully, she was taken aback by his cleverness. But with her specially made eye-glasses, Vastoki’s eyesight was keener than a hawk’s. She picked out the shining pieces of thread from Kassardi’s silver waistcoat clinging to the brambles, and was back on his trail in scarcely an hour, her fellow wives close behind.”
“Seeing his three wives draw ever closer and that his first plot to foil them had failed miserably, Prince Kassardis doubled his pace. Knowing he would never outrun the cruel Vastoki on open ground, he hurled himself into a sea of dead grass, and used up all his water trying to escape her grasp. A night and a day later, he emerged on the shores of the river Dal, and spent the last of his money hiring a fisherman to take him downriver.
The fisherman’s boat overturned in the town of Kol Varas, and there Kassardis did a very shameful thing. He sold to the first rich man he could find his fine silk headwrap, and his father’s silver dagger, and his waistcoat lined with sparrow feathers, which were marks of his lineage. With his sack of foreign coin he hired six strong men, belligerent knights from the wars of conquest, and hid himself in a wheelbarrow, hoping against hope that his ploy would be enough.
Vastoki arrived in the dusty town not hours later, and she was almost immediately set upon by the mercenaries that Kassardis had hired. From his hiding place, the young prince watched as Vastoki was caught in their ambush and fought desperately against stave and sword.
Vastoki was very fast, but also very slight, and no match against the six knights in close combat. Though beaten, she merely retreated to lick her wounds and set camp outside of town. One of the knights nearly lost his head to her long rifle when he ventured out to confront her, and that was that for a while.
As night fell, the knights returned to Kassardis. “Where wandereth thee, young one?” they said in their foreign dialects.
“To the land of Samura, where I may find peace and an escape from violence,” said the exhausted Kassardis, from his hiding place.
“Violence is inescapable,” guffawed the mercenaries, and robbed Kassardis of everything remaining that he owned, for they had seen he was a fool from the start. They threw him naked and beaten into the street, and spent their winnings on drink.
Kassardis, his swollen eyes full of tears and knowing his time was short, stole a woman’s garb from a washing line and a small hunk of bread and fled into the desert, the final words of the Very Wise Frog echoing in his ears.
The belligerent knights, for their part, died not hours later when they were squashed into a pulp by Littari’s iron cauldron. ”
“Kassardis knew his time was running short as he fled into the wastes around the town of Kol Varas. Instead of his naming knife, he had a stale hunk of bread, and instead of his prince’s garb he had only a stolen woman’s garment, thin and nearly useless against the freezing cold of the desert nights. He knew his three wives were not far behind, and despair was his constant companion. But still, he pushed on, wholly consumed with the conviction that he would find the peaceful land of Samura, or die in the process.
By the third day, when the desperate prince’s wives were closing in rapidly, the scorched and tortured soles of Kassardis’ feet felt stone and not sand beneath them. Kassardis looked up and saw that he had stumbled upon a mighty road, broad and sweeping, that passed through enormous stone arches into the distance. The road was crumbled with age, but Kassardis recognized at once that it was the famous Arched Road of Samura, and a great burst of hope filled his heart.
Kassardis followed the road until it was dark, and lightness filled his step, so that he did not even notice when the sun had gone and the nightmare chill of the desert began to grasp at him. All through the night, he followed the road, and the night itself could not touch him. And when the sun grazed his face, Kassardis was still walking, but he still had not found the kingdom of Samura. It remained like this for a day longer, until Kassardis, sustained by hope alone, and dying of thirst, stumbled across a battered old sword master encamped by the side of the road.
The sword master was aghast at Kassardis’ dreadful condition, and at once tended to him, and gave him water. “Young man,” said the old sword master, “I am Ket Amonket, the gate keeper of the kingdom of Samura. There is nothing for you here. Turn back.”
Kassardis was shocked. “Uncle!” he gasped, ” If you are indeed the gatekeeper of that mighty kingdom, please take me there at once. I am fleeing from my three wives, who wish to drag me back into a world of bloody tyranny!”
“You are here already,” said Ket Amonket, and motioned to the desert, “This is the kingdom of Samura, burned to ashes and ground into dust for decades.”
Mortified, Kassardis could only gape at the empty desert. But here and there, the young prince could see what he had been blind to while hope had still filled him up: the corroded remnants of great and stately buildings and fluted columns poking out of the desert like bleached ribs.
“Samura was founded on the principles of peace,” said Ket Amonket, “So it was sought out by many across all the ten thousand realms. Those that sought to flee from the world of violence.”
“Violence is inescapable,” moaned Kassardis.
“Yes,” said the old man. “Very wise words indeed. Soon this land contained more people than it could sustain. Violence once again began to grow in the hearts of its people, like a foul disease, until it blossomed into destruction. It was a foolish hope.”
“Then there is no hope for me,” said Kassardis.
“There is still yet,” said Ket Amonket, resolute. “Let me do one favor for you, young man, as one who has already lived too long. You must flee to the canyon south of here and hide yourself there as best as you can, until the sun sets. I will tell your wives you vanished into the desert a day past, and throw them off your trail.”
“Thank you Uncle,” said Kassardis, “I will hold on to my hope a little while longer.”
“Hold on to this,” said Ket Amonket, giving Kassardis his sword, “It will protect you a lot better than hope.”
Kassardis took the weapon very reluctantly, and would have thrown it away at the first chance he had, but the words of the Very Wise Frog continued to tear at his mind, so he clung on to it as he fled for the canyon.
“At the very least I’ll give the boy a good head start,” Ket Amonket assured himself as he watched Kassardis’ three wives trek over the dunes a little while later.
The sword master was wrong. Ipreski severed his wind pipe before he could get a single word out, and all that passed his lips was a spray of blood . Kassardis got a head start of about ten minutes.”
“Kassardis, for his part, could do little but flee to the canyon, carrying the old swordmaster’s weapon and clad in near-rags. Once there, he hid himself among the reeds in a low pool in the bottom of the canyon. It was cool, and shady there, and the coming evening began to wash over the land, and Kassardis felt, for the first time in days, peace enter his heart.
It was with dread then, that he heard the footfalls of his three wives entering the canyon not an hour later, and knew that his time had run out.”
“Kassardis knew instantaneously that the words of the Very Wise Frog had come true. For the canyon had three entrances, and down each came one of his wives, armed and thirsty for blood. First, small and cunning Vastoki with the glint of her rifle sights, then enormous and brutal Littari, dragging her iron cauldron, and finally the refined Ipreski, languid and resplendent on her palanquin. And one after the other, all three of their cruel and lusty eyes fell upon Kassardis.
Kassardis tried to pray, but found no sound would come out of his lungs. He tried to hide deeper in the reeds, but he found the mud unyielding. He tried to shut his eyes, but his heartbeat drowned out his thoughts. So instead, he clutched on to the old swordmaster’s weapon like a good luck charm, its cruel metal cold against his bare chest. A strange thought entered his mind and gripped his tendons like a vice.
And as this thought gripped Kassardis, it was then that the truth of the Very Wise Frog revealed itself in its full glory. For violence truly was inescapable, and the three wives were inundated with it. They had no other language with which to negotiate their hard won spoils.
“Stand aside,” said soft Ipreski, “As oldest wife the Silver Prince is mine by right.”
“Move an inch further,” said Vastoki, “And I will put a bullet through that milky throat.”
Littari, for her part, said nothing, but rather hefted her cauldron into the air with a tremendous roar, and charged. Kassardis watched as the words of the Very Wise Frog came perfectly true, and a brutal combat unfolded.
Realizing the danger that Vastoki’s rifle presented, Ipreski slid off her palanquin and behind an enormous boulder. But that boulder was shattered a moment later by the tremendous force of Littari’s iron cauldron, sending her flying. Ipreski’s servants and retainers were pulped a moment later against the heavy bottom of the cauldron and spread across the rock, and Littari advanced on the eldest wife, frothing at the mouth.
She would have crushed Ipreski as she had promised, but in a mere second there were three cracks of Vastoki’s rifle, and Littari’s skull blossomed in gore, her cauldron smashing to the rocks below as she slumped forward. Ipreski sprang to her feet, her fine silks tearing, and drew her blade, dashing at Vastoki before she could reload.
Vastoki was impossibly agile, and even though her fingers were slick with grit and sweat, she chambered a round and fired it right at the smooth face of the eldest wife. But Ipreski had anticipated this for years, and had practiced a blade art specifically for this purpose, which she called Ego Ballistics. With impossible speed, she cut through possibility and cleft the bullet in two before it could touch her flesh.
Vastoki was taken aback. Such was her speed, however, that the incoming blow merely severed her nose from her face and cleft her glasses in two, instead of separating her head from her shoulders as was intended. Blinded by gouts of blood and shrieking in pain, she crawled away. But Ipreski, caught in the moment of victory, was blinded in her own way to Littari, who had survived three bullets to the head by the virtue of her enormously thick skull and was now staggering up behind her with cauldron in hand.
The first blow of the cauldron cracked Ipreski’s’ back and sent her sprawling, the second crushed her shins and feet to splinters. The third did not come, for Vastoki, acting on instinct, loosed three more shots, which blew the throat out from Littari and sent her reeling backwards.
This gory sight, and the ruin of his three wives, Kassardis beheld, and his resolve hardened into ice. He emerged from the pool, his blood cold in his veins, and the old swordmaster’s blade clutched tight in his hand.”
“As Kassardis approached his maimed and mangled wives, they scrabbled for their weapons in whatever way they could, clutching their gory injuries. For Kassardis was a ghastly sight: malnourished, clad only in rags, and with a terrible light in his eyes. They should have known then that the fate Kassardis had chosen for them was far worse than they ever could have expected, but they were fools with little imagination, and so chose to fight anyway.
Kassardis took the pommel of his blade, and with all his strength struck each of the wives across the head, knocking them unconscious. It took four blows from the great enameled hilt of the sword to fell Littari, but eventually the pints of blood she had lost stopped her struggle.
With great fierceness, Kassardis drove off Ipreski’s retainers, and tearing scraps of cloth, bound the gushing wounds of his wives however he could. He knew however dire their injuries seemed, they would likely survive, having been bred for generations for thick blood, tough skin, and other valued traits to place them above his other potential wives.
Exhausted, the silver prince finally dragged himself to the road, where he waited for a merchant’s cart, and went to a hard-scrabble town to find an apothecary. There, he bartered the remainder of the old swordmaster’s belongings for medicine, keeping only the blade and the old man’s boots, which he put on.
Finally, there in the gulch, Kassardis made camp, and over the next few days tended to his wives with incredible care. He sewed up gashes, blotted dried blood, and fed them water as they suffered. And though he tried his best, Littari would surely never speak again, Ipreski surely never walk again, and Vastoki’s nose had long since disappeared into a pond.
On the third day, Vastoki, the youngest and most calculating, could finally speak, and when she did she was astonished.
“You fool!” she croaked, “Do you seek to garner my sympathy? When I am well again, I will subdue you, husband, and take you back to our great kingdom and our rightful throne. This changes nothing!”
“Of course,” said Kassardis, “Violence is inescapable. The Very Wise Frog was right.”
And to Vastoki, something had changed in Kassardis. He was more relaxed, and more tense at the same time, like flexible steel. A great truth had settled into his flesh, and his calm was a terrible thing to behold.
“I came to find the land of Samura, where peace is eternal,” said Kassardis, “But instead, I find that I must carry Samura with me.” And he grasped the hilt of his sword and stood, and Vastoki finally realized how tall he was.
“None of the three of you will ever agree to share me, and none of the three of you can best the other,” said Kassardis, “You are already too poisoned by violence. I will run from you, and you will find me, again and again, and again and again you will destroy yourselves in trying to claim me. And again and again, I will tend to your wounds, and flee, knowing that I will never truly escape.”
“Again and again you will destroy yourselves until you are mere hunks of flesh, crippled wrecks of meat. And there will come a day when you have become so ruined that even I will be able to best you in combat, and you will submit to my peace.”
Vastoki did not believe Kassardis at first, for she was a fool, but she humored him anyway. “And what then?” she scoffed, “Your kingdom, my silver prince, will ever await you. It is worth a hundred thousand cattle, and half a million sheep. They will send more wives. Ten thousand of them!”
“And I will tend to them too,” said Kassardis.
It was then that Vastoki knew the truth of Kassardis’ words, but she could do nothing about it, for violence was inescapable. She knew she could not turn from her fate, for the vain hope that she would still win grasped her beyond all reason.
“You will never rest!” she spat, and her missing nose wept blood, “You will flee for all eternity!”
“Such is the cost of peace,” said Kassardis, “Even if I should care for ten thousand maimed wives.”
Then he tightened his wives’ bandages, and soothed the struggling Vastoki, and left them ample supplies. And though his wives spat and cursed at him, they could do little but let him leave, his countenance calm and resolute as he said one last thing:
“I will see you in Samura.”
Tale begins in Seeker of Thrones 5-36.... concluding in Seeker of Thrones 6-61