Become a Fan
Flames of Madeoc #3
By S G Cardin
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
This is chp. 3 in a story I am developing for Young Adults.
Amery Rambert left the Keep and headed in the direction of the training field. It was a mock battlefield that his soldiers trained on. He was converting it to house the jousting tournament and festival for his daughter’s birthday celebration. The festival would have the finest merchants, musicians, and jesters from all of Somerland. Extra servants were hired from Parrin to Pecs to staff the event.
He smiled as he ambled up to the craftsmen who were in the middle of constructing the royal reviewing booth. Loud hammering pierced the air. Watching closely, he saw them place a purple tapestry with gold tassels and Somerland’s griffin onto the front of the booth to act as a skirt. Amery crossed his arms and smiled in approval.
“Sire! May I have a moment of your time!”
Amery turned around as the hot wind did little to cool him down. Martin Holley, his trusted second, and captain of his personal guard, approached. Martin was tall and lanky, his hair also sprinkled in gray. His sword hung at this side sheathed, a sister sword to Amery’s own.
“Martin, of course,” said Amery, clapping his hands.
Martin gestured toward the end of the field, indicating he wanted some privacy. Amery fell in step beside him.
“Sire, there is a rumor I wanted to personally address with you,” Martin began.
“Oh?” Amery asked, nothing that Martin’s hand slightly trembled. He was not a man who put much merit in rumors.
“You are going to announce a consort for the Crown Princess?”
“Rumor is it is to be my son, Robert,” Martin stated.
Amery stopped, crossing his arms, as the heat of the day began to irritate him. He looked around, observing they were far way from prying eyes and curious ears. In fact, a patch of maple trees hid Lothair Keep from view.
“Martin, I’m sorry, no. While your son’s name was mentioned, it is Theodore Stratham I intend to wed her to,” Amery said compassionately.
“I see,” said Martin, his voice dripping in disappointment.
Amery placed a hand on Martin’s shoulder and squeezed. “You are disheartened…”
“You are. You have been loyal to me. You fought by my side early in my reign during the Magyar squirmish, and you provided support to the border when the Danish wolves overran Madeoc. I have done little to repay you, Martin, I know. Your family deserves more.”
Martin hung his head, drawing in a loud breath. “Your friendship is enough for me, Sire.”
“Rosalind is right. It is time I honor our friendship,” Amery said, withdrawing his hand. “A fortnight after my daughter’s birthday celebrations have concluded, I will do the honor of knighting you.”
“Sire, no! It is not needed!” Martin protested, shocked by Amery’s proposal.
“Martin, you deserve it,” Amery added. “And if you will be patient just a little longer, I will grant you land to control, which you may pass onto your children.”
“Sire, I don’t know what to say,” Martin’s eyes grew wide.
Amery smiled. “I trust this will satisfy what I owe you for all you’ve given me. As for Robert, I’m sure a young maiden will make him a fine bride. Norbert has a daughter, Sophia, who will be of marriageable age in two years. By then you will have your own land and the marriage will that of peers.”
“I cannot thank you enough, My Lord.”
Amery grinned, pleased to do this for Martin Holley. He should have done it sooner. Hopefully, these actions now would also appease the Sons of Somerland. Once they saw how Amery took care of one of their own, it should temper their patriotic fever.
“Martin, for now, please keep what we’ve discussed to us until the knighting ceremony. I do want to give your knighthood proper attention and it won’t receive such until the birthday festival are over.”
“Aye. I will, Sire.” Martin got down on one knee, genuflecting before Amery.
Amery bid him to stand, firmly intent to keep his promise.
Robert Holley spied his father talking to the king from across the busy training field. No doubt they were discussing the marriage of the Crown Princess. His lips curved into a sly smile.
“Come on, Robert! I need some help with the horses,” his friend, Dalton cried, from the stables.
Robert ignored him. It was beneath the elite guard to have horses fitted for riding frocks.
He wiped a bead of sweat from his temple using his hand as he wore a light, short-sleeved shirt. Was his father making his case as a suitor for Princess Edana? He must! After all, King Amery could ill afford to insult the House of Holley anymore in favor of the weasely Strathams. The Sons of Somerland wouldn’t allow it, and while his father did not belong to that faction, he did.
Pivoting on his heels, Robert took off in the direction of the horse field, mounted his steed, and headed toward Lothair proper. With all the other soldiers doing menial work, he wouldn’t be missed. The wind tussled his blonde hair as he rode with purpose. If he had his way, his family would not be slighted again!
Oh, to be the Princess’s husband! She was fair of face and totally subservient to her parents. No doubt she would make a submissive bride, and when she was with child, he would be free to rule Somerland – as king of course. He chuckled at the thought.
The green leaves seemed to glisten in the hot sunlight as he rode down the dirt path. Lothair came into view and soon Robert trotted down the main road, passing various wooden shops and stone built establishments. He drew his horse to a standstill and dismounted in front of the seamstress’s shop, tying his horse to a nearby hitching post. Robert needed reassurances. After all, he knew his father had good intentions, but King Amery’s powers of persuasion were great. He wouldn’t let the King cheat his father anymore all in the name of friendship!
He stopped in front of a dirty clay house, pounding only once on the splintered wooden door before entering.
The lighting was dark, but he could still see through the shadows. A candle burned on a small table near the fireplace.
“Crone! Where are you?" Robert barked.
An old woman dressed in a black monk’s robe ambled out of a rear room. Her nose was old and crooked with a green wart that oozed puss. When she smiled, a row of black teeth were on display. While her appearance never ceased to disgust Robert, she was loyal to him and he trusted her completely.
“Bite your tongue, Holley. No need to shout. I hear you just fine,” her dry voice cracked.
“There is talk I am to be betrothed to Princess Edana,” he began. “I want to know if it will come to pass.”
She picked at the scab on her chin as she thought. “You want it to be, don’t you?”
“Of course I do! By marrying her, I will be King one day!”
“Greedy little boy,” the crone hissed, flicking her scab onto the hay that covered the dirt floor. “Your greed will be your undoing.”
Robert pursed his lips as he crossed his arms. “Tell me it is I the King will pick to be the Princess’s consort.”
The old woman held out her brittle hand. “Give me a possession of the Princess’s and I will tell you.”
“What? I didn’t bring anything!”
She withdrew her hand and swatted at him as if she were swatting a fly. “Then get out and don’t come back with your request until you have an item belonging to the Princess!”
Robert shuffled toward the door, trying to swing at the crone to make her stop swatting him, but she kept it up. He stumbled out the door and stood up straight, flicking the dust and dirt off his uniform, which covered him. If she needed something belonging to Edana he’d be sure to fetch it. Still, she could have been nicer about her request. Probably picked the wrong scab. He jumped on his horse and rode off.
Just after lunch, while all activity was focused on preparing for her birthday, Edana and Mae went to the stables and mounted their horses. Edana told her horse’s groom she had the time allotted to practice what she’d learned on her last lesson and Mae was going to accompany her. That was all it took. Within minutes they trotted past the keep’s gate and past Lothair proper.
Edana had packed a snack and book to read. Still, she didn’t know if she’d get much accomplished on this first trip because Mae liked to talk – a lot. Even now she was rambling on that they needed an escort, just in case. Edana ignored her. She may not know how to weld a sword, but a dagger could be just as effective.
As their horses trotted down a winding dirt path, Edana admired the beauty of nature. The breeze made the lighter oak limbs sway around, loaded down by the weight of the leaves. Full shrubs lined the road, cutting a neat path and the sweet chirps of robins seemed to guide the way.
Finally, her mare, Andromeda, trotted up behind Mae’s horse into a pleasant smelling meadow. Edana smiled, hardly able to contain her excitement. A gentle brook trickled into a small pond. Nearby, wild lavender bushes grew. A tall oak tree near the grassy shore provided cool shade. Edana and Mae dismounted, tying their horses to a nearby birch tree from the direction they came.
“It’s beautiful, Mae! So peaceful!” Edana exclaimed.
Mae smiled. “Aye. It is.”
Edana slipped off her riding boots and let the soft blades of grass tickle her toes. Mae sat down by the oak, under the cover of its shade, and watched her. This was paradise! After a couple minutes, she went to her horse and unpacked two apples, one for her and one for Mae. She brought two cups for water to her maid, and Mae scooped some up out of the brook that ran into the pool.
Edana sat down enjoying her snack. “Thank you for showing me this, Mae. I feel like I’ve found my own private hideaway.”
“Yer welcome, My Lady,” said Mae sweetly.
Edana took a bit of her apple, her eyes drifting out over the clear water of the gentle brook.
“And who do we have here?”
Edana spun around only to find a man holding the reigns of his horse as he walked in front of it. He was tall with long, wavy tresses of blonde hair, and he wore a light short-sleeved shirt, yet his pants hugged his legs. He had a broad chest, and the top buttons were undone, hinting at a nip of finely layered hair. This was her fantasy man come to life! Her eyes cut to his and she felt a warm, exciting, yet nervous sensation tickle her stomach. His lips curved in a sweet smile.
He walked up to her, his grip firm on the leather reigns. “So…who are you?”
It was then she spied the crest on the hilt of his sword. He was a wolf! She would show no fear, despite the fact he was from Madeoc! Jumping to her feet, she held out her chin and met his curious expression with regal composure. “I am the Crown Princess Edana Rambert of Somerland.”
“My Lady!” Mae shouted, getting to her feet and joining Edana.
The man opened his mouth to say something then closed it. She could tell the shock of her announcement gave way to surprise then a pleasing grin. “I am from Madeoc,” he announced.
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|Reviewed by Gia Swenny
|Hmmm there has to be more! I love it is a great read. I am lost in the story and yearning for more.......So just let me know when u put it up.
Keeo it Up,
|Reviewed by Sandra Mushi
|I'm guessing Robert is going to cause trouble. Ooh, I can feel it! When is the next installment, Steph? Captivating write! I'm sitting at the edge of my seat biting my nails
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead