Wednesday, March 30, 2005

And Chapter 2

A Knight’s Chapter Two

Julia closed the door on the swirling snow and the curious steed. The gloom of the evening settled once again over the tiny cabin, the only light coming from the fire. She shivered once before turning to the unmoving man on her floor. She nudged him with her shoe. He didn’t even moan.

“What am I to do now?” she wondered at her guest. The cold crept under the door catching at her ankles. “Right,” she complained to the night and set about doing what she was doing before being interrupted by—she looked over her shoulder—a very unnerving thing. She shoved the braided rugs against the bottom of the door and fed pieces of flannel into the larger cracks between the boards of the rough door. Only when she was confident she could detect no further drafts did she worry about the man on the floor.

“Come on then,” she shook him roughly. “I can’t help you up by myself. Your armor weighs more than I do!”

He groaned.

The snow had melted into his surcoat, leaving it a dark blue stained here and there by…Julia closed her eyes on the thought. Of course men bled on the battle field. She knew that! But why did that blood have to be in her cabin?

Forcing her mind back to the matter at hand she tried to remember what colors were associated with what knights in The King’s army. She was sure Father had mentioned it before he left… His voice came back to her, “Remember, my precious Jules, green is for His Majesty’s archers, red for his guard and brown with gold braid for the Royal Cavalry. Any other color, you must be cautious of. The Lady’s men are not known for their chivalry!”

She looked closer. The blood covered the crest on his chest. A knight of the Realm might wear his own colors, but the crest would show where his loyalty lay for certain.

Julia shook the man harder. He groaned louder.

There was nothing for it. She couldn’t go to sleep with an unconscious man on her floor. She walked over to her small pantry and took a dipper of precious water. “You’re wet anyway,” she explained to the man before pouring it on his face.

Jared sputtered, waving away the annoying drips of water. It must be raining, his foggy brain informed him. He turned over and reached for the accustomed warmth of Socrates. However, the flow of water increased and a shod foot prodded his leg. Years of campaigning woke him with a start. He sat up, his dagger in his hand as he tried to focus on his enemy.

Julia jumped back, the heavy sword she took from his side scraping the floor. “Goodness me!” she squeaked.

Jared blinked several times as he attempted to decide which of the seven or eight men in front of him was armed with his sword. He made the decision to move now and question later, settling on the most solid form to his left. The dagger flashed left in a feint designed to make his target move. When it did, he tackled the man.

The man screamed.

The fog cleared immediately from Jared’s mind. “Blessed be, you’re a girl!”

She looked at him, quite scared out of her wits he thought. Only when she turned an alarming shade of blue did he realize that he was squashing the air out of her. However, she was still hanging onto his sword.

“Just give that little toy to me, me dear, and then we’ll talk.” He pressured her fingers to release the weapon. She gave without much of a fight. His mail probably bruised he thought with a grimace.

He stood up. “Where the blazes did that horse leave me now?”

The girl lay on the floor gasping. Looking down at her, Jared felt dizzy. He spied a small cot behind him and sat abruptly. While the girl collected herself, he proceeded to carefully remove his gauntlets, surcoat, boots and mail shirt as he took stock of his injuries. While his ribs ached abominably, the worst pain resided in his head.

Reaching up, Jared found a goose egg behind his ear. His hair was sticky and wet. Fighting back a wave of nausea he asked, “Who got me?”

The girl heaved herself up on her elbows and glared at him. “It looks like I do.”

Jared stared at her for a moment, wondering why she would be so angry about that. Then passed out again.

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