Loyal and Free Chapter 11Charmia, Alfreda and Arabella were petrified as they were pulled along by the rough ropes wrapped tightly around their wrists. They saw nothing, for the scarlet stranger was cautious and insisted that the girls be blindfolded and gagged. Every now and then, the pirate that held onto Charmia's rope would pull her hard, not because she was lagging but because she was their hostage, nothing more.
The scarlet stranger watched them from behind as Arabella once more fell sobbing to her knees. Cook, a small man in both stature and position, walked back to her, feeling her small body collapse on the end of his rope. He pulled the young girl's plait hard, making her cry louder. The crew laughed, the captain among them, but the stranger strode forward, unsheathing the small dagger sleeping amongst the scarf that they wound around their face.
"Put the girl down," the stranger said positioning their body behind him, the dagger at his throat until the man dropped the little girl to the cold forest
Loyal and Free Chapter 10The camp was silent but for a few of the screaming injured. There were no tents left, for they had all been burned to the ground. Knight and soldier slept side by side, each as dirty as the other. As Carter looked around at the mess that a small night attack had caused he feared what would happen if Dudley had sent the whole of their army to attack them.
He was as filthy as the rest of them, the white linen shirt that he had worn since they had fled from Springford covered in the blood of both his enemies and himself. His cheek bled where a soldier had sliced him and his side hurt where a fellow knight had tried to cut him down, but they were not wounds to fear, unlike some. There were men lying prostrate as their bodies weakened and death grew near. Carter stopped by each other them. Some smiled and joked about their fate, but others turned away from the knight.
"My lord," Hubert, the physician's apprentice, said as he wiped his bloadsoaked hands with a cloth that had originally been
Loyal and Free Chapter 9Burne sat closeted alone in his study, staring out at his daughter as she read in the rose garden with her maids. He hardly moved when an armoured guard entered solemnly, but the young man, new to his position in the king's household, practically dropped the sealed letter on the king's desk and retreated. Burne glanced at the black seal of two clashing swords of Lord Arakash before snapping the thick wax.
Your Grace, the letter began, the front has been secured in Your Name.
Burne barked a laugh, knowing full well that the Black Knight fought only for his own advancement and because blood was the only thing that he craved.
A quarter of their force, the letter continued, was killed or captured in the battle, but I regret to inform Your Majesty that the usurper Cuthbert and his close guards escaped. As for his sister, my men search for her presently and she shall be brought to court immediately.
Burne stared for a long while at Arakash's signature that had been hastily scratched into the
Loyal and Free Chapter 8Garret stood hunched over the large leather parchment on which he had sketched a map of The Dunes when he had been a young lord of that land. Flynt had sent word that Cuthbert and his companions had fled the capital, but that had been over a week ago, and the old knight began to fret for their safer return to his care. His straining eyes searched the designs before him as though their dark ink could give him the answers, could tell him whether his son was truely safe.
"My lord," Harkin said gently as he lay a pale, gnarled hand on the shoulder of Garret's silver armour, "you have nothing to fear. They shall find us."
"How can you be so sure, old friend?"
"Because, my lord," the albino replied, "the young man that I met in the tavern was the spitting image of his father, the brave young knight that showed me that the world still had something to fight for even though my wife and daughter were dead. He will return, for that same strength and courage is within him."
Garret closed his wrin
Loyal and Free Chapter 7Chapter 7
The fire cracked and spat in the black hearth, a blissful sound compared to the whipping of wind and rain beyond the small cottage of Flamineo Wood and his young family. His two children, Flamineo and Arabella, huddled together underneath a thin homespun blanket in their small bed beside the glowing flames. The little girl of five screamed as thunder roared in the heavens above and hid her face in her straw pillow. Her father laid down the rabbit that he had been skinning and sat beside her, running his hands through her knotted black locks.
“What’s wrong, Bell?”
“She’s scared of the thunder, Papa,” her brother whispered, pretending that he was unafraid as the wolves howled outside.
“Ah, and well she might be. When the dragons that sit on the clouds have arguments and fights, they roar so loudly that we can hear it down here. They shoot lightening at each other and flap their wings. You don’t want to be in a mountain when they
Loyal and Free - Chapter 6Chapter 6
Alfreda knocked cautiously on the heavy door, her sharp ears listening intently for a noise from her mistress within. When no such sound came, the maid slowly pushed the door inwards, the well-oiled hinges making not a noise. The thick black curtains had been closed and Charmia sat beside the unlit fire, her thin arms wrapped around her naked legs as she rocked back and forth. The beautiful gown that she had worn for her stroll with Princess Edlyn was strewn across the cold floor, the undergarments ripped in half beside them. The maid quickly closed the door as she heard laughter approaching down the corridor before rushing to light the fire in the freezing room.
“My lady, are you well?”
The girl turned her pale face to her loyal servant. Her blue eyes stared blankly in Alfreda’s direction as her full lips quivered.
“He knows.” Alfreda knelt beside her mistress, throwing Carter’s fur coat gently onto her naked back. “He knows, Alfreda