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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| June 5, 2016 Views: 66|
Chapter 3 of the book The Search
Lord Jonathan offers his assistance.
"Aiding In the Search"
by Catherin Elizabet Belle
Lady Lenore traipsing through the woods at night became lost. Stumbling upon a cabin she is discovered by Lord Jonathan, who offers to return her to Black Shadow Castle. She adamantly refuses.
Leaving the cave and returning to the cabin I mount my steed riding toward Fantasia. I will have to hurry if I am to take food to the Lady and get to Black Shadow before they continue the search.
Riding hard I arrive at one of the outlying villages stopping at the blacksmiths. "Gaylon!"
Rushing from the interior, "Yes me Lord, What is it you require?"
"A fresh mount; and make haste."
Gaylon sprints to the corral bringing a sorrel to replace my black. Switching saddles I'm soon riding at a gallop trees gliding by in a multifaceted blur of green. Switching mounts four more times before arriving home where my groomsmen meets me at the stables. "Sawyer, have four mounts ready to travel at once."
As Sawyer goes to prepare the horses he asks, "Me Lord, will you have need of my company."
I reply, "Nay" as I rush toward the kitchen. Entering through the back door I encounter Mary at the counter kneading bread flour up to her elbows and a touch on her cheek. "Mary, prepare food for two weeks journey! Quick lass!" Turning I say, "and blankets for my journey."
"Yes, me Lord," as she scurries to do my bidding.
Dashing up the stairs to my chambers, with haste I pack a knapsack of extra clothes; going to the arsenal I pick out my weapons. When I return to the kitchen Mary is finishing the required food.
Gathering them I return to the stables where Sawyer has brought the mounts I require. "Sawyer, place these items on the black. I'll ride the bay."
"Aye, me lord." Attaching the three horses by their reins he leads them out of the stable.
Mounting I speak to Sawyer, "If anyone is looking for me, I am own my way to Black Shadow Castle to aid in the search for the Lady of Black Shadow." Touching spurs the bay gallops across bridge into the forest.
Switching horses along the way I am soon back at the cave. Circling the area for any unwanted visitors I take the horses behind the falls into the outer chamber of the cave. Unloading the packhorse, I carry the packs into the inner cavern where I left the Lady Lenore calling, "My lady, Lady Lenore, I have returned."
Rising from the dark corner of the room she says, "My Lord, you came."
Moving to the small fire burning in the center of the room, I sit, the radiating warmth taking the chill from my bones.
Lying the packs near the table, "My Lady, I brought supplies for two weeks. I should return in that time. I must travel at once if I am to reach Black Shadow before the Lord returns to the search." Taking a pack of jerky he continues, "Stay in the cave, you have wood and for water there's the falls."
Moving to the edge of the cavern I hear her say, "God speed, my Lord." Doffing my hat I move into the outer chamber taking the horses with me.
The horses are frisky as we exit the falls touching spurs to his flank we ride toward the Black Shadow Castle. The Lord may not welcome me, but protocol demands he offers me lodging. Lady Lenore's wandering took her about two leagues from the castle moat. With luck I will arrive as they are ready to leave.
Knowing the boundaries of the lands attached to Black Shadow, I am about two leagues from the castle gate. There's a chill in the air as I approach the castle riding down the middle of the road I halt at the edge of the moat. A guard on the parapet calls down, "Who goes there?"
"Jonathan, Lord of Castle Fantasia, I request an audience with Lord Darwin." Sitting in plain view I wait for a reply from within the stone walls. I hear no words, but the drawbridge is lowered for my crossing. As I pass through the gate, Lord Darwin sits his steed twenty feet forward.
Moving his horse near mine he asks, "What do you wish here, Sire?"
"I heard in yon village of Kent that Lady Lenore was missing. Lord Darwin, I came to offer my services."
As he steps from his horse he says, "Dismount, Lord Jonathan and join me in the dining hall." Turning to his companion, he continues, "We'll be ride within the hour."
Stomping into the hall he yells, "Winch, bring drink and a small repast." She curtsies scurrying to obey his command.
"Sire, how long has the Lady Lenore been missing."
Motioning to join him at the table and waiting until I am seated he replies, "Three days; Lara her lady-in-waiting said she went to the garden before retiring after dismissing her." Receiving the mead and slices of cheese and bread he continues, "We searched the castle without finding her."
"Lord Darwin, would anyone dare to steal her away?"
Rage darkened his continence as he jumped to his feet his hand on the hilt of his sword, "No one would dare."
"Please accept my apology, Lord Darwin, a man of your stature offers the lady a fine castle and riches of fine silks and jewels, it doesn't seem like she would wish to leave."
As the anger leaves his face, he removes his hand from his sword sitting, "Lord Jonathan, nothing is impossible; an enemy could have taken her away." Calling his attendant, "Gordon, send for Lady Lara at once."
The lady enters the chambers her eyes red from weeping she courtesies, "My Lord you sent for me?"
"Yes, may I present the Lord of Castle Fantasia he inquires if the Lady Lenore might have left against her will?"
She burst into tears anew, "I don't know me Lord she spent most of the day in her room; and no one came to call." Wringing her hands she stood waiting for him to dismiss her.
Gordon burst into the room, "My Lord you're needed in the stable."
Lord Darwin rose at once, "Lord Jonathan, wait here for my return." Following close on the heels of his man he exits the room.
Glancing at Lara in a low voice I say, "Move close, Lady." I saw fear cross her face, but she did as bid.
Taking the ring Lady Lenore gave me, I place it in her palm, touching my finger to my lips for silence.
Recognition glowed in her eyes and I could see a thousand questions. I speak in a low voice, "The Lady is well. She got lost in the woods and begged me not to return her to the castle. She has need of clothes... simple things' nothing too fancy; and food until I return."
Hand on her breast she sighs in relieve then asks, "Will he find her?"
Hearing the lord of the manor returning I reply, "She is safe."
Moving away from me she says, "Lord Jonathan, I'm sure Darwin will appreciate your offer of help. He is most distress over the Lady Lenore's absence, as we all are." As the Lord of the Manor approaches, she curtsies asking, "May I return to my chamber, Lord Darwin?"
He snarls his reply, "Yes. If we do not find her you will return whence you came. I will have no need of your services without the Lady Lenore."
Lara moves toward the stairs her head held high places her foot on the first step turns she glares at the Lord. But I see a dark shadow flash across her eyes as she moves with grace and dignity one step at a time until she reaches the landing where she touches the ring I gave her and with a slight nod continues on her way.
Turning Lord Darwin says, "Jonathan, Your help is welcome. You say you came by Kent. Did you notice anything a stir?"
Following his informal address I reply, "Nay Darwin. No unusual activity." Wondering if I should pose the question in my mind, I ask, "Sire, Do you think her lost in the forest?"
Straightening to his full six feet and wide girth his face turns a crimson with rage as his hands fisted at his side he replies between his clamped teeth, "Must be true, the guards report there were no visitors to the keep." His features relax as he continues, "Jonathan, you came through the forest from Fantasia, did you see anything amiss."
"Nay, Darwin, a couple of trails where deer trampled through to a small pond. No sign of man's presences."
Striding toward the door he calls, "Gordon, it's late we shall ride at first dawn." Turning he addresses me, "Jonathan, you will stay the night and join us in the hunt."
Internal I breathe a sigh of relief and reply, "I'm honored, Sire. I've had a long ride, may I refresh before the evening repast."
Going to the corner he pulls the bell and a young maiden appears at once, "Tillie show the Lord of Castle Fantasia to the guest room at the end of the landing." Turning, "We sup at nine."
I move toward the castle entrance to retrieve my raiment when Darwin speaks, "Gordon retrieve Lord Jonathan's things and stable his horse."
Retracing my steps toward the stairs following Tillie, I say, "Thank you, Darwin."
She shows me to a large room of elegance allowing me to enter she asks, "Will there be anything you require, Lord Jonathan."
Looking around the room I discover a water closet smiling with satisfaction I open and see a tub, "Tillie, hot water for a bath would be nice."
As I pull my boots off Gordon enters the room with the foofaraw from the barn. "Sire, your horse has been grained and given a rubdown by the head groom. Will there be anything else?"
Within the hour I had a tub of steaming water to wash the dust off, it had been a long dusty ride. Refreshed with clean clothes I hear a commotion below and look out to see what causes the ruckus.
Below a rider dismounts as the Lord approaches him asking, "William, what brings you here at this hour?"
He doffs his cap, "Lord Ranier, wishes to know if the rumor is true that his daughter is missing."
I watch as Lord Darwin's shoulders sag and in reply, "Yes Donald! Come with me." Turning he says, "Gordon, ask Lord Jonathan to join us in the main room."
Hearing a rap on the door, I wrap a robe around me answering, "Enter."
As Gordon steps into the room he says, "Lord Jonathan, Lord Darwin requests your presence in the main room at once."
Turning, I pick up sword buckling it around my girth and reply, "You may tell Lord Darwin, I will be there anon." As I dress Gordon exits the room. That takes care of my rest this afternoon. He must have word of the Lady Lenore. Descending the staircase I go to meet with the Lord of the Black Shadow Castle.
Approaching the door, I hear angry voices taking a deep breath I enter saying, "Lord Darwin, you sent for me?"
Turning toward me his face flushed with anger with a calm voice says, "Yes, Lord Jonathan, Let me introduce Lord William Ranier of Devon Shire Castle. Lord William is the father of Lady Lenore."
Stepping forward with a proffered hand, "Lord William, a pleasure to meet you, Sire."
William accepts the offer of my hand asking, "Where do you hail Sire?"
Seeing a dark shadow of concern cross his eyes I reply, "Sire, I am Lord of Castle Fantasia. My lands abut Black Shadow ten miles to the east."
Smiling he says, "Yes, I recall. Your father was Lord Duran was he not?" As I nod in the affirmative he continues, "What brings you to Black Shadow?"
Letting a grave look cross my brow I reply, "A few days ago, I was stopping in Kent and heard that the Lady Lenore was missing. I came to offer my assistance."
Turning to Darwin he asks, "What are your plans to recover my daughter?"
Without hesitation he answers, "Gordon and my soldiers are ready to ride. We leave at dawn." Pulling the bell the maid enters, "Tillie, bring mead for my guest."
Curtseying she leaves the room to obey his command. When she returns we are seated with a fire burning in the hearth. Taking the goblet sipping the sweat elixir my thoughts turn to the Lady Lenore hidden in the cave awaiting my return. Somehow I must get the Lady Lara to her ladyship, but how without arousing suspicion from the Lord of the Manor or her father. Night has fallen and soon the servants bring food to the tables. The soldiers gather at the tables below the Lords.
Lord Darwin stands, "Gentleman you will join me at my table." As his custom he seats William and I on either side of him and Lady Lara to my side. What a bit of luck. The meals of the castle are a time of gaiety, tonight a gray pall shadows the feasters. The food is abundant and well prepared.
About midnight Lord Darwin rises and says, "Gentleman, I will check on preparation for our departure at dawn, please continue to enjoy your repast. Gordon, join me."
Turning as he reaches the corner of the table he says, "Lady Lara, when Lord William is ready to retire, show him to the blue room."
Lord Darwin had only left the chamber when Lord William ask, "Lady Lara, it has been a long hard day, would you please show me to my room for the night."
"My Lord, come with me, please." As she starts up the stairs she turns saying, "Lord Jonathan, a word with you when I return."
Rising, I reply, "Yes my Lady."
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