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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| June 5, 2016 Views: 73|
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.
From the cave, he returns to the cabin. Mounts his steed, rides toward Fantasia. He knows he must hurry if he is to get food for the Lady and get back to Black Shadow before they continue the search.
Riding hard, he arrives at one of the outlying villages. There, stopping at the blacksmiths, he calls out, "Gaylon!"
Rushing from the interior, "Yes me Lord, what is it you need?"
"A fresh mount; and make haste."
Gaylon sprints to the corral, bringing a sorrel to replace my black. Saddles switched, I'm soon riding at a gallop, as trees gliding by in a multifaceted blur of green. I switch mounts four more times before arriving home, where my groomsmen meet me at the stables. "Sawyer, prepare 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. I enter through the back door and meet Mary at the counter kneading bread flour up to her elbows and a touch on her cheek. "Mary, prepare food for two week's journey. Quick lass!" turning, I say, "And blankets for my journey."
"Yes, me, Lord," and scurries off to do my bidding.
I dash up the stairs to my chambers, and with haste pack a knapsack of extra clothing. At the arsenal, I pick out my weapons. When I return to the kitchen Mary is finishing the required food.
With my hands full, I return to the stables where Sawyer has brought the mounts I requested. "Sawyer places these items on the black. I'll ride the bay."
"Aye me lord." With the three horses held by their reins, he lead them from the stable.
As I mount, I say 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, he and his bay gallop across the bridge into the forest.
Switching horses along the way, he soon is back at the cave. There he circles the around the cabin for any unwanted visitors. He takes the horses behind the falls into the outer chamber of the cave. He unloads packhorse and carries the packs into the inner cavern where he left the Lady Lenore waiting. "My lady, Lady Lenore, I have returned."
From the dark corner of the room she says, "My Lord, you came."
I move to the small fire burning in the center of the room, and sit, the radiating warmth taking the chill from my bones.
With the packs placed near the table, "My Lady, I brought supplies for two weeks. I should return in that time. If I am to reach Black Shadow before the Lord returns to the search, I must leave at once." He picks up a pack of jerky and continues, "Stay in the cave, you have wood and for water there're the falls."
As I move to the edge of the cavern, she says, "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 offer me lodging. Lady Lenore's wandering took her two leagues from the castle moat. With luck, I will arrive as they are ready to leave.
The boundaries of my lands adjoin to Black Shadow, I am two leagues from the castle gate. There's a chill in the air as I approach the castle, riding in the middle of the road until I halt at the edge of the moat. A guard on the parapet calls out, "Who goes there?"
"Jonathan, Lord of Castle Fantasia, I beg an audience with Lord Darwin." Sitting in plain view, I wait for a reply from within the stone walls. There is no response, but the drawbridge lowers 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?"
"In yon village of Kent, they said Lady Lenore was missing. Lord Darwin, I came to offer my services."
As he steps from his horse he says, "Dismount, Lord Jonathan, and joins me in the dining hall." Turning to his companion, he continues, "We'll be riding within the hour."
He stomps into the hall and yells, "Winch, bring drink and a small repast." She curtsies, scurrying to obey his command.
"Sire, how long has the Lady Lenore been missing."
He motions for me 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." As we receive the mead and slices of cheese and bread, he continues, "We searched the castle without finding her."
"Lord Darwin, is there an enemy, anyone who dare to steal her away?"
Rage darkened his continence as he jumped to his feet. He places his hand atop the hilt of his sword, "No one dares."
"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 appear she wished 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." He calls 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 has inquired if the Lady Lenore may 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." 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 I bid.
I placed the ring lady Lenore gave me 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 became lost in the woods and begged me not to return her to the castle. She has need of clothing... simple things, nothing too fancy; and food until I return."
With a hand at her breast she sighs in relief then asks, "Will he find her?"
Noise of the lord of the manor returning, I reply, "She is safe."
Lara moves away from me and says, "Lord Jonathan, I'm sure Darwin will appreciate your offer of help. He is most distressed over the Lady Lenore's absence, as we 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 as she places her foot on the first step. She turns and 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 a stir?"
After his informal comment
s 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?"
He straightens 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, "This 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 an unusual disturbance."
"Nay, Darwin, two trails where deer trampled through to a small pond. No sign of man's presences."
As he strides 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 this search for my Lady."
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."
He goes to the corner, he pulls the bell, and a young maiden responds at once, "Tillie show the Lord of Castle Fantasia to the guest room at the end of the landing." He turns to me and says, "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 you require more, Lord Jonathan."
I glance around the room to discover a water closet smiling with satisfaction I open and see a tub, "Tillie, boiling water for a bath, please."
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?" I dismiss him with a shake of my head.
Within the hour, I had a tub of steaming water to wash away the dust. It had been a long, dusty ride. Refreshed with clean clothes, I hear a commotion below and look 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 premier room."
Hearing a rap on the door, I wrap a robe around me before answering, "Enter."
As Gordon steps into the room he says, "Lord Jonathan, Lord Darwin requests your presence in the inner ward 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. Turning, I buckle my sword around my girth and descend the staircase to meet with the Lord of the Black Shadow Castle.
As I approach the door, angry voices echo from within and as I take 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."
I bow, then step 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?"
As a dark shadow of concern cross his eyes, I reply, "Sire, I am Lord of Castle Fantasia. My lands lay ten miles to the east of Black Shadow."
With a smile 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?"
As a grave look crossed 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 services and those of my men."
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."
With a courtesy, she leaves the room to obey his command. When she returns, we sit 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. I must get the Lady Lara to her ladyship. But how without arousing suspicion from the Lord of the Manor or her father.
Soon night has fallen; as 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 of luck! The meals of the castle are a time of gaiety, but tonight a gray pall shadows the feasters. The food is abundant and well prepared.
Near 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 asked, "Lady Lara, it has been a long hard day, 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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