Because today I’m fresh out of blogging juice, I thought I’d post an excerpt from my novel in progress: Prince of Herongarde. This chapter, for the moment anyway, is called Immediate Care.
Trey felt himself being lifted from Garnog. Familiar voices comforted him and he relaxed. He opened his eyes again and stared at the wood slatted ceiling over his head. They had carried him into the castle, but he didn’t remember the move. The bed was comfortable. He drifted off again.
“Trey?” A rough hand stroked his cheek. “Trey. Please wake.” Trey opened his eyes and met the gaze of his father, King Anthony. “Thank God you yet live,” breathed Anthony.
“Aye, Majesty,” mumbled Trey.
“Gilbert is here. He will care for you,” said Anthony. “And Arin.”
“Aye,” groaned Trey. “Aye!” he said louder. “Aye, your Majesty. Tis Falgarth. Falgarth did this.”
Trey shut his eyes to focus on speaking. “There is… I have in the saddlebags. Garnog.” The effort was exhausting.
“We know, Trey,” came Gilbert’s voice. “Rest yourself, aye?”
“How is it?” asked Anthony.
“It must be cleaned first, your Highness. Then I can tell you,” replied Gilbert.
Anthony patted Trey’s cheek. “Rest you, then.”
A shuffle at the door announced Markus’ entrance, followed closely by Kevin. In his hands were the saddlebags off of Garnog’s saddle. A table was quickly cleared and the contents of the bag were spread out.
Markus immediately picked up piece of fabric which bore the insignia of Falgarth. “There it is,” he muttered.
Anthony took it from Markus and frowned at it. “I have been blind.” His eyes fell upon Kevin, his closest friend since the day he entered training to earn the Mark at the age of six. “Aye, Kevin. I should have listened.”
“None would hear him, your Majesty. How could you know?”
Kevin had returned the previous day with the grim news. He had spent several days patrolling the border with Falgarth and had himself discovered evidence that Falgarth mean to invade Herongarde, validating the claims that Trey had been making for more than a year. Anthony, upon hearing this news, had sent pages to summon the Lords and Mark-bearers of Herongarde to the castle for council and, most likely, to discuss defense.
Anthony looked at Trey lying helpless on the bed. Tessa was bent over him, caressing his face. “I would that I could have known before this happened.” If Trey were to die, there would no longer be an heir from Anthony. The crown would pass to Markus, and then to Balayn, as Trey’s closest relative. Anthony had hoped that Trey would remarry and bear an heir himself. On this day, it did not seem likely.
“Do we know what happened?” asked Kevin.
“Attacked by men of Falgarth,” muttered Markus, “but we know nothing else. He traveled with a woman.”
“Where is she?” asked Anthony.
“I know not, but Balayn—,” started Markus. “Speak of the Devil.”
Balayn walked into the chamber and looked around. He caught Markus’ gaze and approached, wearing a smirk.
“We were just speaking of you, Balayn,” said Anthony. “Know you where the woman is now who traveled with Lord Trey?”
“I put her in the dungeon where she belongs,” Balayn boomed.
“What? This was not my instruction,” said Markus.
“She bore the weapon of a Mark-bearer. She should be put to death.”
“She what?” asked Kevin.
“She had Lord Trey’s sword on her hip,” growled Balayn.
“She also said Trey bid her bear it,” said Markus.
“I think she lies,” muttered Balayn.
Anthony looked back at Trey. Tessa was looking up, listening to the men’s conversation. Anthony walked to Trey’s bedside and leaned close to Trey. “Trey? Remember you a woman with whom you traveled?” Trey moaned in response. “Trey. Do you remember?”
“Aye,” breathed Trey.
“She had you sword, Trey.”
“You bid her bear it?”
Trey was silent. He couldn’t remember. He didn’t remember much at all. The pain in his leg was a terrible distraction.
“Did you bid her to bear your sword?”
“Aye.” He honestly did not remember, but he did know she had helped him. And she could wield a sword. He might have told her to carry it. “Aye,” he repeated, not sure if he had said anything the first time.
Anthony straightened. “Fetch her to us. I would speak with her.”
“I will go,” volunteered Tessa.
“As will I,” grumbled Balayn, casting Tessa a stern look. They walked together out the door.
Anthony watched them leave. Markus came close and put his hand on Anthony’s shoulder. “Trey is strong, brother,” he said. “And Gilbert is an excellent care-giver. There is little doubt of Trey’s survival.”
A poker was jammed into the fireplace, below the coals. Anthony eyed it sadly. “Aye, he will survive, brother. But with what manner of lasting injury?”