25 Days of Writing – Day 24

Day 24: Write, in second person, a dream your character is having. Whether it be a nightmare or something happier, describe the dream in it’s entirety.

——

It’s dark. You’re soaked to the bone because it’s raining. And you’re lost.

Where were you? How did you get here? It wasn’t raining when last you remembered. It was still cold. It should be snowing. But you’re not shivering, yet. This is a late summer rain.

A familiar smell comes into your nose. You know it. That smell when the lightning lashes out.

Then a brilliant green flash blinds you, driving you to the ground. You flatten yourself, shrinking away from the flash, burying your face in the mud. The flash reminds you of something, but what that is you don’t know. You grip the ground, trying to hold fast, but the mud oozes between your fingers.

The only thing you feel is the rain pelting on your back. You peek over your arm into the darkness.

A fire burns some distance away, and a strange white light shines up into the sky. Something beyond the fire is glowing. Suddenly, a dazzling green fireball erupts, momentarily illuminating towers and wires before you are forced to shut your eyes again in its brilliance. You hide your face again.

You realize you’re crying. You expect to be torn away from the ground and hurtled elsewhere. You dig around with your hands, desperately trying to find something solid to hole onto. There is nothing there but mud.

The rain continues to beat down. You look up again. There is a human figure moving near the fire. A man.

He speaks: “Protect her.”

You get up and walk to him. The glow beyond the fires begins again. You point at it. “Look out!”

Another green fireball alights behind the man. By his silhouette you see he is malformed. You duck and cover your eyes. You examine the burned shadow of his silhouette behind your eyelids. He’s not malformed. He’s injured. Mangled.

You look up again. He still stands there, back-lit by the fires. “Protect her,” he says again.

You rise and stumble toward him. “Who are you?”

“I love her,” he said. “I will miss her.”

“I don’t understand,” you say.

“Love her, please.”

“Who?”

As you’ve gotten closer, you see that his arm is dangling at his side. Ribs jut out of his chest. His leg is bent and broken, yet somehow he still stands.

You can’t see his face. It’s obscured in the darkness. But you are certain he is hideously disfigured.

“I give her to you,” he says.

“Who?” you repeat.

“My Hanna,” he says. “Love her.”

“I do, but—.” Suddenly you understand, as a green fireball lights the sky once more. You fall backwards into the mud. You lay there for a long time, looking up into the rain. It hurts your eyes, so you shut them.

The rain is gone.

A hand strokes your cheek. It is warm. And you are dry.

You try to open your eyes, but the hand covers them. “Sh-sh,” a woman whispers in your ear. You know that shush. You smile.
“I love you, but you can’t see me yet,” she said.

“I want to,” you say.

“No. Not yet, love. Stay. Be at peace. I am at peace.”

“There is peace here,” you say.

“But one who needs you most is there.”

“No. Let me stay.”

“I love you. So does she. Your nation needs you. And her. Together.” The woman was suddenly stern, though she still strokes your hair.

“I have betrayed you.”

“No. You honor me.” She kisses you softly on the mouth. “Go home. I will see thee soon enough.”

You gasp. Coldness floods over your body. And you awake.

25 Days of Writing – Day 23

Day 23: Write a scene between your character and another character of your choice (whether brought up previously in the other scenes or not) using only dialog. The setting and situation is up to you, but you cannot not use descriptive exposition, only dialog.

——

“You’ve been talking in your sleep, woman,” said Trey.

“Oh dear,” mumbled Hanna.

“You were weeping.”

“Oh. I was having a bad dream, my Lord.”

“You have had a most difficult day, woman.”

“Yeah.” She sniffed.

“I am really quite pleased with your performance this day, woman. You fought well.” He paused briefly. “You should be proud. Not many would have fared so well.”

“I got my face smashed in.”

“Ah, but you were there. And there’s little doubt that Jason would be lost but for your quick action.”

“I killed a man.”

“Aye, a man of Falgarth. Hardly human,” Trey snorted.

Silence.

“You really think that way, my Lord?” Hanna asked. “His life is less that yours because he his from an enemy nation? He probably thought the same of you. Is that fair?”

“It is war, woman.”

“But is it fair?”

“In war, all is fair.”

“So life has no meaning?”

“Now—”

“That guy could have been someone’s father, or brother, or son, or husband, or whatever. He could have been the world to someone, and I killed him.”

“We accept such risks when we raise weapons in war,” retorted Trey.

“Yeah, you do. What about the people who love you? You’re not an evil man, but you kill. He probably wasn’t an evil man either. He might have been your friend, under different circumstances.”

“If he was truly a good man, God will sort him out.”

“Not much comfort for those left behind.”

“They would be together again in the afterlife. We worry not for such things.”

“Yeah? Well what if there isn’t an afterlife? What if this is all we have? What then? The man is dead and gone forever. And because of me. I don’t know if I can live with that.”

“Surely you jest. There must be afterlife. Where would we have come from?”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Don’t believe?”

“I don’t believe in the afterlife. I never have. I’ve hoped for it, but I don’t believe it.”

“So God would just snuff us out? That makes no sense, woman.”

“I don’t believe in God, either,” said Hanna softly.

“How could you… not?” asked Trey.

“I could never explain. I have tried, but I can’t.”

“So you think me mad?”

“No. I’m glad that God offers you comfort. I envy you for it. But that doesn’t make me believe.”

“No God. No afterlife.”

“And I took a man’s life today. And I never want to do that again.”

Silence again.

“If you had not slain him, Jason surely would have died,” Trey said softly.

“I’m glad Jason is alive. I’m glad I could help him.”

“None of us who bear the Mark enter into a battle planning to kill the greatest number. We fight to protect our nation and our King. Men must die to do that. We accept that in fact we ourselves may be the men who die.”

He paused. “I hope you can forgive for the lives taken, and those that will be taken, in the defense of Herongarde.”

Hanna sighed, but said nothing.

“I pray you will forgive yourself for this life you have taken, and others you may have to take later, aye?”

“I hope so too, my Lord.”

25 Days of Writing – Day 22

Day 22: Today is the end of an era in your character’s life. How do they feel about this? What is happening today? Write a scene of your character on this day.

——

Trey stood unsteadily in the center of the tournament grounds. He gazed sadly over the bodies of the dead, lain neatly in two rows, one to each side of him. Each of these people, men and women, had died to protect him, the King, and the nation of Herongarde.

The bodies of the dead lined a path toward one last body, lain on a raised platform before him. His father lay there, having sacrificed his life to find peace and freedom for Herongarde, and to preserve the country over which Trey now reigned.

Trey raised his eyes and scanned the crowd gathered here. Hundreds of people covered the hill slopes, stood on walls, and sat in trees to observe the proceedings. The people of Herongarde mourned the loss of good King Anthony.

He looked to his side at his mother. She stood looking on stoically, her face emotionless aside from the tears streaming down her cheeks. Trey’s heart ached for her. She and Anthony were to enjoy their remaining years in peace – a peace shattered by the renewed attack of Falgarth.

He swayed, nearly falling. He felt a hand grip his other arm, supporting him. He glanced to see Hanna holding him, a look of deep concern on her face. Hands touched his shoulders as well. Markus stood behind him, ready to catch him, should he fall.

Trey nodded, and they began to walk forward. Trey gazed down on each face as he passed. He knew them all, though some touched him more than others. Elsbeth, who captured the heart of the confirmed bachelor, Dean. She was a good woman and an asset to the nation. Trey bent and touched her face.

He moved on. Three women and five men – five Mark-bearers – dead by the steel of Falgarth.

Trey paused lastly at the body of Kevin. Anthony’s oldest friend, ever the skeptic, but he loved his King and his country. He fought fiercely for justice and the defense of the codes of Herongarde. Few Mark-bearers had more experience. He would be missed.

A few more steps brought him alongside the body of his father, King Anthony. He took his father’s hand and dropped to his knees. Trey leaned his head upon his father’s shoulder.

“I know not if I can do this, Father. Please guide me.”

All was silent.

Trey felt a hand on his back. His mother knelt beside him, holding him. He leaned upon her and allowed his emotions to flow. He shook with tears for a few minutes.

Slowly, he regained himself. He rose, with the help of Hanna and Markus, who remained close by.

He looked at his mother, who returned his gaze. “We must continue,” he muttered.

“Yes, my son. We move on.”

Trey drew a deep breath and nodded. They walked back to the platform where they had started their walk, upon which Trey stood and faced the crowd. He held up his hands.

“Let it be known this day that not one of these fine warriors gave their lives in vain. These are noble men and women of our nation. Their sacrifice will be remembered evermore and we shall celebrate their gift to us.”

Trey drew his sword and held it aloft. “Herongarde lives on!”

Every sword, staff, rake, or cane possessed by those who observed rose up. A great shout filled the air. Cheering. Trey was King. And the people loved their King.

 

25 Days of Writing – Day 20

Day 20: Your character is in a new place. What brought them there? Why are they there? How are they reacting to this change of scenery? Write a scene of your character in this new place.

——

A light shown in his eyes. Trey forced his eyes shut from the onslaught, and tried to turn his head when that failed. His head wouldn’t move and the light came again, this time in the other eye. He thought the sun was behaving strangely.

Voices were surrounding him. He didn’t quite understand what was being said. It sounded like orders and instructions. He tried to speak by something was in his mouth and throat. He reached toward his face and quickly found his arm restrained.

People touching him. He tried to pull his arm away again but it was held fast. Something was around his neck and face. A pillory? He couldn’t move. A light moved over and past him. No. He was moving.

There was a bump and pain shot through him. He tried to cry out. Nothing. He began to recognize pain in his body. Everywhere.

Someone touched his hair and said something soothing that he didn’t understand. He opened his eyes and saw a masked woman bending over him. She was speaking the soothing syllables. His eyes rolled and he saw himself surrounded by people in masks and thin blue robes.

Another bump. He shut his eyes.

The motion stopped and the discussion rose. Trey opened his eyes again and saw the robed men in discussion with others dressed in solid black. Nods were exchanged and he was moving again. The men in black were left behind and there was another bump.

Brilliant light blinded Trey. He squeezed his eyes shut. He felt himself going light and the noise of discussion quieted. He was lifted up.

The hissing sound repeated, over and over. Trey found it comforting until he started to wonder what it was. He heard footsteps and the gentle humming of a woman. She was speaking to him. He’d heard that accent before.

Hanna? He wanted to speak, but still something remained in his mouth and throat. He tried to reach up, but found that his arms were restrained. He fluttered his eyes open, but closed them in the uncomfortable brightness.

The hissing sound continued.

Trey felt his arms being touched. “Let’s see how you’re doing,” said the woman. It wasn’t Hanna’s voice, but it was her accent. He tried to open his eyes again, blinking in the brightness.

The woman didn’t see that he was awake and watching her. She lifted the blankets off his body and looked at the multiple bandaged wounds on his body. She seemed to be a nurse-maid of some sort, dressed in a brightly patterned tunic and… hose?

He could barely see the bandages she was attending to. Whatever was in his mouth was blocking his view. He again tried to reach for his face. The nurse-maid saw him moving and looked up at him.

“Well, look who’s awake!” she smiled.

Trey pulled again against the restraints on his arms.

“It’s OK. It’s OK. Shh-hh-hh,” said the nurse-maid, stroking his hair.

He felt panic creeping in. He struggled weakly to free his arms.

“Shh-hh-hh,” said the nurse-maid again. “Let’s get a doctor in here.”

In moments, the room was filled with people, and Trey felt full-blown panic set in. Several people were now leaning on him to keep him still.

“Easy. Easy!” said a man who had entered. The man looked at the nurse-maid, and nodded. “Let’s get him to relax.” The woman did something, and Trey felt his body grow numb.

The hissing sound continued.

25 Days of Writing – Day 19

Day 19: Today is a day that will change your character’s life forever. What course of events occurs? How does your character react? Write a scene from this day.

——

Trey stood as his mother fussed about his gowns. He stared at her, watching her, without quite registering what was happening. It was all like a dream to him.

“Trey?” his mother asked.

He blinked and looked at her. “Hm?”

She smiled at him. “Where are you right now, son?”

“I don’t know, Mother. I feel lost.”

“This nation is ready for its new King, aye,” she smiled softly at him. “And your father and I are ready to enjoy our waning years ignorant of politics.” She winked at him.

“Aye, you deserve thus, Mother.” He puffed his cheeks. “But am I ready?”

“You are more fit than you ever have been, Trey.”

Trey gazed upon her with a smile. She looked radiant and happy. He was glad to see joy on her face. He bent and kissed her softly on the cheek. “I shall not disappoint you, Mother.”

“You could never disappoint me,” she said softly as she stroked his cheek. “I am proud of you.”

Sunlight streamed in through the stained glass windows and poured over the people gathered in the chapel. Despite being crowded with noble men and women, and being surrounded by heavily armored bearers of the Mark, the room was completely silent.

Trey was aware of his own breathing. He heard his heart beating. He looked at the older man who stood in front of him. The King – his father – Anthony of Herongarde, looked upon him warmly. Slowly, Anthony removed the ornate crown from atop his own head and carefully set it upon Trey’s. A look of sadness passed across Anthony’s face as he stepped back, then softness and love.

“You now are sovereign King of Herongarde, Trey of Herongarde, my son. And now, I serve you.” Anthony bowed to Trey, a gesture that Trey returned gently.

The crown felt heavy to him. His head and shoulders now bore the responsibility of direction and protection of an entire nation. He wondered if he could do it.

Anthony presented Trey to the crowd. All stood and cheered, but Trey didn’t hear it. He looked around at the joyous faces. His brothers of the Mark were cheering. He knew they would support him. He would have to ask a lot of them.

Then his eyes fell to Hanna. She smiled back warmly, tears fresh on her face. He felt a smile parting his own lips, and suddenly he felt strong. She would be beside him. He would ask more of her than anyone else, but he knew she would ever be at his side. He loved her.

He looked over at his mother and father, now no longer reigning King and Queen of Herongarde. Their relationship had survived the death of two sons and brutal wars. Here they stood now, embracing each other and gazing with pride on their last living son. This is what he would strive for.

Trey looked back to Hanna. Yes, with her, he could do it.

Trey grinned broadly, nodding as he looked around at the beaming faces.

Suddenly, he thrust his fist into the air. “Herongarde forever!” he shouted.

His fist was joined by a hundred others in the chapel, then by thousands from those gathered outside the walls. “Herongarde!” shouted the people. His people. He was King.

25 Days of Writing – Day 18

Day 18: Your character has a conversation with an influential person in their life. It can be a parent, a teacher, a mentor, anyone your character looks up to. Why are they having the conversation? Write the scene.

——

“Markus! You—,” cried Trey.

“Why suddenly concern yourself so with that woman, aye?” returned Markus. “What in God’s name was she doing on the battlefield?”

“Markus, please.”

“What fool are you for this? Think you that she is a proper warrior?”

“Her orders—.”

“Orders, aye? In what fevered delusion did you deliver such an order?”

“I made not the order, Markus.”

“No woman has business on the battlefield! Your bodily desires are best served in your chambers!”

“I never!”

“I truly pray that her presence did not result in the unnecessary death of our own men, aye.”

“Uncle! Surely I would be dead were it not for her actions!” cried Trey.

“Iain could have shielded you.”

“Hanna is a better swordsman.”

“How can she be better, aye? A woman?!”

“Uncle, please! Hear me! Her orders.”

“What orders!” yelled Markus.

“You know,” said Trey. “Don’t you?”

The men stared at each other, breathing hard from the angry exchange, trying hopelessly to read each other’s thoughts.

“What order?” asked Markus more calmly.

Trey looked around, checking for curious bystanders.

“We must talk, Uncle,” Trey said trying to regain his composure. “We must speak privately.” Trey put a hand to Markus’ shoulder and pointing down the hall toward the King’s Hall.

They entered, and Trey shut the door behind them. Markus turned abruptly.

“Now you’ll explain? Why was she with you?” Markus carefully pronounced each word of the last sentence.

“Uncle,” said Trey, making great effort to remain calm. “You recall the order given her by His Majesty?”

“Of course! She was to attend to your injuries, then serve with the other Ladies.”

“Is that all you know?”

“What more is there to know, Trey?”

“Surely, His Majesty told you.”

“Told me what?” Markus was growing impatient.

Trey drew a breath and straightened up. He didn’t know how to say what needed to be said, so he decided to just spit it out. He looked Markus in the eyes. “Neither His Majesty, nor I, nor Lord Gilbert was confident that Balayn would adequately protect me.”

Markus sighed. “Yes, I felt the same,” Markus replied, feeling shame that his own son would be considered untrustworthy. “But you were fit, aye?”

“No.”

Markus frowned and regarded his nephew. “No?”

Trey shook his head. “Though I may be fit now, it took many weeks to recover well enough.”

Markus looked away, examining the tapestries that hung in the hall.

“I am surprised that His Majesty did not share this with you,” said Trey softly.

“What order was she given?”

“She was tested for skill with the sword,” said Trey. Markus looked back at him shocked. “It was decided that she should remain close to me, and defend me — with sword, if need be.”

“Her?!”

“She has a talent, but had no training. I—.” Trey hesitated. “I have provided her some training since. She’s a fair fighter.”

“Training?!”

“By order, Uncle. Only by order of the King himself.”

Markus looked away. He began to walk around the room.

“Uncle, please. The decision was difficult to make, but seemed the best in the interest of our nation. That, and we did not wish to insult the honor of Lord Balayn, nor your own. Perhaps this is why my father has not told you.”

“So she is your protector?”

“Yes.”

“Then why do you act as though you love her?”

Trey was stymied, momentarily. “Wha—, I do love her.”

Markus turned to Trey, raising an eyebrow.

“These are unrelated things, Uncle.”

“Unrelated?”

“I have grown to love her, these months. But her duty has been to protect me, and that is what she has done.”

“Jason told me of the attack near Maldok.”

“Yes, and she killed many last night. In my defense, of course. I owe her my life!”

“And how do you know you love her?”

Trey paused. He drew a breath and closed his eyes. “I love her,” he stated. “I wept when I thought her dead. I wept when I thought I’d not see her again.” He sighed. “And when I found she had survived, I thought I could fly.”

Markus smiled.

“I fear for her now, Uncle. Where could she be? She was with me. Right beside me! But she was injured.” Trey looked around the room. “And now she’s disappeared and no one cares!”

“Jason has expressed concern,” remarked Markus. “Does he know of this order?”

“No, Uncle. Jason knows not. Of course, he is aware that Hanna is not helpless with a sword.”

Markus nodded. “Your father would not approve of this – er — relationship.”

“I would be dead without her, Uncle. I assure you.”

“Aye, Trey. Your loss would be terrible. Then I pray she is found. But you must not forget your duties to Herongarde, Trey.”

“Yes, Uncle. I know.” Trey looked at the banner of Herongarde hanging over the head table. “I swore to her I would ever remember my duty and my place in Herongarde. She would refuse my love otherwise.”

“You have professed your love to her?”

“Aye, Uncle. And I will honor her convictions. But, please God, let her live!” Trey’s eyes were moist with tears.

Markus smiled warmly at Trey, approaching him then embracing him. “Here is the man I knew once. Our future King.” He gripped Treys shoulders and looked him in the eye. “I will pray for her safety, and will advocate for you to your father. But you must be strong and remember your duties, aye?”

Trey smiled and nodded wearily. The men embraced again. Then with a heavy slap on the back, Markus reminded Trey that they had duties yet this day. They left the King’s Hall, both happier, returning to a world of war and chaos.

25 Days of Writing – Day 17

Day 17: Your character has fallen in love. With who? Is it serious? Are they in a relationship with this person? How did they meet? Write a scene of your character either contemplating this significant other or directly interacting with them.

——

Trey was overwhelmed. Each of his arms was gripped by at least two men. His sword was wrenched from his fingers. A blow came from behind and he dropped to his knees. His arms were pulled back painfully. He bent forward, trying to fold over and protect his exposed belly. The mail coif covering his head was torn off. It caught his ear and he felt his flesh tearing. A huge fist then gripped his hair and yanked him backward. He was forced onto his back, with his legs still bent beneath him. He felt his thigh muscles stretching. Firey agony radiated from the older stabbing wound to his leg.

He cried out, as he continued to struggle. He managed to twist his legs out from under his body, but was immediately restrained once he tried to push up with them. The weight of at least one man crashed down across his knees.

Trey cried out again. He heard the men laughing. He tried to pull his arms free and felt the sole of heavy boots crush his hands. Bones broke. He stopped fighting. Stillness surrounded him.

From afar, he heard the sounds of a sword fight, and the grunts of the opponents grappling in mortal battle. One of the fighters was a woman. It was Hanna. He could tell from her voice that she was struggling. He heard her cry out. Her opponent’s sword had met its mark. A couple more clangs of steel on steel and she screamed. There was a distant thud of a body falling. There was silence.

She was dead. Trey screamed for her. “Hanna!—” He was cut off by a sharp kick to the neck. He remained still for a moment, regaining his senses.

“And good riddance,” commented one of his attackers.

“His sword, my Lord,” another voice.

“A man of the Mark, aye? Is this true?”

Trey felt his hands being crushed further by heavy boots. The sleeve of his right arm was pushed up and his flesh twisted to expose the tattooed Mark on his forearm.

“Aye, indeed.”

Trey felt a boot stomping down on his hair. It pulled painfully. A slap came across his cheek. His eyes snapped open. A filthy grizzled old warrior bent over him, sneering. “Mark-bearer, aye? See? You are nothing.”

Trey renewed his efforts to escape the grasp of these men, but it was futile. He couldn’t move. Trey cried out in frustration and shut his eyes once more. He listened as the men moved around him, discussing his fate. His mind wandered to Hanna. He realized he was crying.

Hanna was gone. Really gone. She didn’t believe in the afterlife, so she was gone forever. Trey found himself praying. He prayed to God; he prayed to Rosaline. Please, take her in and keep her safe.

A kick in the ribs brought him back to his situation. The men stood over him and laughed. Trey’s eyes rolled. He would be dead soon as well. He must pray for his own deliverance.

But his mind traveled to Hanna again. He realized that he had wronged her. He treated her so badly. She had never done anything but care for him and he treated her like a dog. He had forced this situation upon her, and she had died. It was his fault. That was two women he had killed. Another cry escaped his lips.

Oh, to have the chance to make it right! She had trusted him. He had killed her. His tears flowed freely. He knew now that he had loved her for a while – maybe since the moment they had met. It all made sense to him now. He had held her that whole night after she killed the man of Falgarth and had discovered the plans for this battle. Of course! Why else would he have held her so? He had ignored his feelings, though. He blatantly refused to love her. He lied to himself and he treated her like garbage. He was worse to her than ever after that. Maybe.

He did give her that necklace, and the coins she needed for a new dress. His desire to do those things had surprised him. The clues were all there, but he denied them.

And now she was gone. He wanted her safe. He regretted dragging her into this war. But she served her duty. Valiantly. And she was dead. He killed her.

He prayed again. He prayed that he would see her in the afterlife. That she and Rose would know each other and be friends.

Suddenly, he could not breathe. A great weight was upon his chest. His eyes snapped open. The old warrior stood over him, with one foot firmly in the middle of Trey’s chest. The man held Trey’s own weapon, dangling it over Trey’s face.

“Too fine a weapon for the likes of you, boy,” grumbled the man. Then he laughed. The others around him laughed as well.

“Tis fitting that your own weapon shall be the one to kill you, aye?” laughed the man further.

Trey groaned and tried once again to pull away. It was to no avail.

“Let’s see here,” growled the man. He pressed the tip of Trey’s sword to Trey’s cheek. “Who do you belong to?” The man cut into Trey’s flesh, starting to carve out the letter ‘F.’ Trey jerked his head to the side. The blade cut his cheek to his ear.

“Damn!” exclaimed the man. “Hold him!”

Trey’s head was turned and held in place by a younger, brutish warrior. The old warrior began to carve into Trey’s other cheek. Trey lurched, and the blade slipped again, this time not just cutting into his own flesh, but into that of the man holding his head. A minor victory.

The old warrior pressed more of his weight onto Trey’s chest. Trey found he couldn’t breathe. The tip of the blade was pressed against Trey’s throat, just under his chin. “You die anyway boy,” the man growled.

Trey squeezed his eyes shut. He felt the blade digging into his neck. He knew that it was sharp enough that if the man simply let the weight of the sword press on his neck it would pierce his throat. He was dead.

His head swam. He searched for prayers but thought of Hanna. Please God!

“Please, don’t,” an angelic voice said. Trey cried loudly. In his mind he begged for swift passage into the next life.

“Please don’t kill him. I love him,” said the angel.

Those words echoed in his ears. He recognized the voice. It was Hanna. He was relieved. The weight on his chest lifted. He knew he was dead. But she was with him, and he was happy.

25 Days of Writing – Day 16

Day 16: Your character is going on a trip. Where to? Who with, if anyone? Why are they going on a trip? Write a scene of them either getting ready or departing on their journey.

——

Trey walked into Hanna’s chamber. Lord Dean sat with her, staring confused at the needle and thread he held in his hand. Hanna wore a weary smile. Trey felt his heart warm. It was good to see her smile. She looked up, noticing him in the doorway. She continued to smile, but behind her expression was pain. Trey smiled back, softly.

“Aye! Lord Trey!” exclaimed Dean. “Come you to relieve me of this struggle?” Dean held up the sewing he was attempting to do.

Hanna glanced over at Dean. “Real men can sew,” she muttered with a slight smile, then turned her attention to her own hands.

“Aye?!” roared Dean. “Then I am not a man!” He laughed loudly and was joined by Trey.

“We are only men by your graces, my darling,” said Trey. His smile faded. He bored heavy news.

“Aye Dean, I do bring you respite from your stitching,” Trey said. “His Majesty sends us to Taryn. We depart in the morning.”

“Taryn, my Lord?” asked Dean.

“Aye, Dean. Lady Marta has passed. Lord Donnal retires his seat to his eldest son and requests to spend his remaining days here in Herongarde serving his King. We travel to Taryn to deliver Donnal safely to his new home.”

Trey turned his gaze to Hanna. She was looking up at him, gaping in shock. “You must leave?” she whimpered.

Trey sighed. “His Majesty’s order is that I, Dean, Orrin, and Balayn travel to Taryn on the morrow and return as quickly as possible.”

Hanna looked away, tears filling her eyes.

Trey sat beside Hanna. “His Majesty also instructs,” Trey spoke softly into her ear, “that you should travel with us.”

Hanna turned and looked at him. “He does not make an order. It is your choice,” continued Trey. “However, should you travel with us, His Majesty does order that you carry your weapon, and serve Herongarde as you have in the past – with steel if needed.”

Hanna looked at Trey in silence. She was uncertain how to respond.

Dean moved awkwardly. He realized that he should probably leave. Hanna and Trey seemed quite oblivious to his presence. He stood and set the sewing he was holding onto the table. “My Lord. Hanna,” he said politely as he prepared to leave.

Trey looked up. “Aye Dean. Prepare for the journey.”

Dean bowed and left.

Trey turned his attention back to Hanna. She sat hunched over, with her face buried in her hands. “My darling?” he said to her. “It is with heavy heart that His Majesty gives this order.”

Hanna nodded.

“Lord Donnal is Rose’s Father, Hanna. We are kin.”

“I know, my Lord,” Hanna muttered.

“I would have you with me.”

Hanna sighed, and nodded again, turning to look at him. “Then I will travel with you, my Lord.”

Trey smiled faintly. “Please, my love. Call me Trey.”

“It has been a trial.”

“I know, love.” Trey paused. “You— You will travel with us?”

“Aye,” said Hanna “I will.”

Trey smiled, more broadly this time.

“My love,” whispered Hanna as Trey wrapped her in his arms. They sat in that embrace for a long time, sitting in silence, breathing in the scent of the other.

Shuffling in the hallway broke the silence. Their embrace broke and they straightened up to look at each other. Trey kissed Hanna softly on the lips.

Balayn cleared his throat. He was standing in the doorway. Trey looked up. “My Lord Balayn,” Trey greeted.

“Lord Trey. Hanna,” greeted Balayn in return. There was silence as the men looked at each other.

“Balayn,” said Trey, “Hanna will travel with us to Taryn.”

Balayn, bowed slightly and smiled. “Excellent, my Lord. We will enjoy her company.”

Trey nodded.

“I come to ask for how long of a journey I shall collect provisions? Also, I suppose, I might as how we might arrange camp?” asked Balayn.

“Ah, aye,” said Trey, still sitting with one arm around Hanna. “We will make haste on our travel there. I believe we can make the journey with only one night spent camping – though it would be wise to bring provision for two nights.” Trey turned and looked upon Hanna. “For sleeping, well I know not. Perhaps it best to conserve heat and all share a single tent.”

Hanna shrugged. She had spent many nights camped out, sharing bedding with Trey and Jason or Karrick, and most recently with the King himself. It didn’t bother her too much – as long as the men weren’t bothered.

Balayn nodded. “Aye. T’would seem most reasonable. I have spoken with Lord Orrin, but not Lord Dean.”

“I have informed Lord Dean of his duties myself,” said Trey.

“Excellent. Then we leave at first light, my Lord?”

“As soon as we can, Balayn.”

“Then I shall attend to the preparations, my Lord.”

“As should I,” said Trey. “And you, too,” Trey said to Hanna.

Balayn bowed. “My Lord,” he said, then he left.

Once again Trey turned his attention to Hanna. “Then gather your things, my dear.”

“I fear I may be ill prepared for cold weather,” Hanna said softly.

“Speak of this to my mother,” Trey said. “Surely, she can offer help.”

Hanna rose, then squatted beside the bed, reaching beneath it. “I guess I’ll need this,” she muttered as she withdrew her sword, in its scabbard attached to its belt, from under the bed.

“Aye, Hanna, you will need that,” said Trey. “I would that you would hang it proudly, rather than hide it shamefully.”

Hanna looked at the sword, drawing it partially from the scabbard. “I despise this thing,” she muttered. “And yet, I continue to bear it. It is like a sad addiction.” She sighed.

Trey stood up beside her. “You are a swordsman – er, swords-woman, I guess – but you are good and should bear this weapon proudly.”

Hanna shrugged. “Maybe one day.” Hanna set the sword on the table beside her sewing and scratched her head, looking at the disarray in her chamber. “What a mess,” she grumbled.

Trey came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, leaning forward to speak into her ear. “Gather your things. Speak to Mother about preparations for the cold. Provisions will be gathered by Lord Balayn. You need not worry about that, aye?”

Hanna looked up at him over her shoulder, smiling slightly. “OK.”

“And polish that sword,” Trey said. “We will meet to ensure all is in order this night before we rest, aye?”

“Aye, my Lord.”

Trey frowned. Hanna smiled. “My love,” she said. “My Trey.”

Trey smiled. “My darling.” He kissed her then bowed deeply. He turned smartly and left, with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. She would come with them. He was happy.

25 Days of Writing – Day 15

Day 15: Your character is upset. What about? How does it affect them? Does anyone come to comfort them? Write a scene where your character is distraught.

——

“Where is she?” Trey asked wearily.

“My Lord?” asked Kevin.

“Hanna. Where is Hanna?”

“I know not, Lord Trey.”

“She was with me, Kevin. Where is she?”

“I know not. My concern is for you, not for her.”

“My concern is for her. I told you to care for her. Where is she?” Trey’s voice was getting louder.

“My Lord. Trey. I’m sure she is fine. We’ll find her,” assured Kevin.

Trey collapsed back onto the pillow. “You had best.”
Kevin stepped back and looked at Markus who stood beside him. The two men exchanged glances expressing their shared wonderment at Trey’s deep concern for this woman.

Jason stepped close to the two Lords of Herongarde. “I will seek her. Where was she last?”

“I found him on the north side, under an enemy trebuchet. He says she was with him, but injured,” muttered Kevin in a low voice.

“Aye, I will find her,” said Jason as he turned and quickly ran off. Jason knew that neither Markus nor Kevin were aware of the love that had been growing between Hanna and Trey. Jason had become aware of it two weeks past when Hanna’s nose was crushed by that warlord of Falgarth. Trey had been deeply concerned for her, though he tried to mask it. Jason could tell something was brewing in the tired heart of Lord Trey. Trey was a changed man, much more like the man Jason idolized as a boy. Trey seemed happy and interested in life, not so dark as he had been in recent years. Apparently, Trey himself was now aware of his feelings toward Hanna. Trey was urgently fearful for her.

Jason also cared for Hanna. She was a good woman by his estimation – thrust into an unfortunate circumstance, in which she was actually performing quite well. Jason had worried for both Trey and Hanna when to battle seemed to be gathering toward the tower where they had hidden themselves. It seemed that the battle found them. Jason prayed that Hanna was not lost. Not only would it be a loss of a friend, but he feared that it would be a fatal blow to Trey’s new-found inner peace.

As Jason rushed from the room, Trey’s mother, Queen Tessa, entered. She regarded the scene in front of her. Trey lay with his hand over his eyes. She could tell he was near tears. His mouth was stretched into an uncomfortable grimace. Markus and Kevin stared as him, arms folded defensively. Kevin was annoyed and Markus looked perturbed. Something was happening.

Markus looked up at the Queen as she entered. “Your Highness,” he greeted.

Kevin bowed to her, but said nothing. He was clearly troubled by Trey’s behavior.

“What happens here?” asked the Queen.

“What is this concern he has for this woman Hanna?” demanded Markus. “I worry that his priority is not with Herongarde.”

A small sound escaped Trey’s mouth. The Queen could tell he was very upset. “Well, where is she?” she asked.

Kevin straightened up, exasperated. “I know not!”

The Queen shot Kevin an angry look for his outburst.

Markus spoke. “Jason seeks her now. Apparently she was with Trey when Kevin found him. Kevin’s priority was with Trey and got him safely here. Others were left to deal with the remaining survivors.”

“Ugh!” cried Trey. “She’s not just some… ordinary—!”

“Was she injured?” asked the Queen calmly, cutting off Trey.

Trey uncovered his eyes and looked at his mother. “Aye, Mother. She was hurt. Badly.” He turned away again and shut his eyes. A tear dripped down his face. “I fear for her!”

“Then we will find her,” said the Queen calmly, pointedly making eye contact with both Markus and Kevin. She bent over Trey, stroking his cheek. “Do not condemn Kevin for his actions, Trey,” she said soothingly. “He acts only in the best interest of Herongarde. He knows not of you affection for her.”

Trey drew a deep breath. “Aye, Mother.”

“Jason seeks her,” the Queen continued. “I shall send others to look for her. She will be found and cared for, aye?”

“Thank you, Mother,” whispered Trey. He put his hand back over his eyes as fresh tears dripped from them.

“Now, my son, you must turn your focus to Herongarde, though it be difficult,” the Queen said softly. “Your countrymen need you.”

Trey nodded. “Aye, Mother. I know.”

“Rest for a moment and gather yourself,” she murmured. She rose slowly and turned to Markus and Kevin who looked at her in disbelief. “Do not mock his affection for Hanna. He has a great fondness for her.”

Markus screwed his face up, about to argue with her. She cut him off. “Now is not the time, Markus,” she hissed. “Trey loves his country, and will do his duties. But do not mock his affection!” She pointed her finger first at Markus, then at Kevin. “Just do not do it, aye?”

Markus and Kevin exchanged glances. “Aye, your Highness,” agreed Kevin.

Markus gazed sadly at his nephew, without speaking. He wondered what had happened in the months since the war had started. He returned his gaze to the Queen. “Aye, your majesty. We have much to do.”

The Queen smiled. “Thank you Markus.”

“I do pray I will get an explanation at some point before returning to the battle front, aye?” said Markus.

“That is a fair request, Markus. At a better moment, we will speak of it,” replied the Queen. “Now, my son must rest for a few moments, if you can afford him this?”

“Of course, your Highness,” replied Markus. “I will gather reports then return.”

“Thank you, Markus.”

He bowed and left the chamber. Kevin followed suit, leaving the Queen with her son.

She bent over Trey and stroked his hair. “They are gone, Trey. Talk to me.”

Trey’s hand still covered his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak but his lips shook. His face contorted and he burst into sobs. The Queen took her son in her arms and held him as he wept. As he calmed, he spoke. “I love her, Mother. I love her. Please God, let her live.” He repeated these words over and over.

“God willing, she will be found safe, Son,” she whispered in his ear. “I know you love her. I pray for her as well.”

25 Days of Writing – Day 14

Day 14: FREE DAY! Write any scene you want!

——

Trey looked back over his shoulder. Hanna was following along quietly. He smiled at her, a gesture that she warmly returned.

“This way,” he said, turning his attention back to the path that twisted through the dense forest.

“Where are you taking me?” Hanna asked.

“A special place,” he said.

Hanna rolled her eyes. That seemed to be his preferred response. It didn’t tell her anything useful.

Soon the sound of flowing water came to her ears. A stream was nearby. The sound grew louder, and she realized they were approaching a small waterfall.

They stepped into a clearing. In front of them was the waterfall that Hanna heard. It stood perhaps ten feet tall. At its base was a deep clear pond. The area was open around the pond. The sun shown in between the trees, lighting up a luxuriant patch of grass.

It seemed that this special place had been shared by many people over the years. At the moment, however, Trey and Hanna were the only ones there. Trey guided Hanna to the sunlit spot. He spread out a blanket upon which they both sat down. He smiled at her broadly.

“This is a lovely place, my Lord,” said Hanna, also smiling.

“Oh, Hanna. Call me Trey,” he murmured.

Hanna blushed. “I forget.”

Trey leaned close to her. “My love,” he whispered.

“Love,” she echoed.

He kissed her softly. “Love,” he said again, as he settled back. He reached out and took her hand. “Aye, I came here often as a boy, ever hoping I could get Rose out here too.” He rolled his eyes flirtatiously.

Hanna clicked her tongue. “Bad boy,” she teased.

“Aye, but I kept her honest, you know.”

“I know.”

“Something about this place is just so calming,” he said, leaning back on his elbows. He shifted again and leaned his head against her arm. He shut his eyes and savored her scent. This felt so good to him.

Hanna stroked his hair. He was, in the end, a good man. He had a good heart, though he did have a tendency to be overly aggressive and oftentimes came off as brooding and angry. Somehow, she had found a path past his darkness and met this deeply loving man.

She sighed. It was difficult for her. She had a husband – somewhere – and felt that to love another would be unfaithful. However, she was quite certain that Davin was lost to her. If he lived, he was out of reach. She didn’t think she’d ever see him again. She was torn. Should she love Trey and abandon Davin? Or should she be faithful to Davin and keep Trey at bay.

Trey knew of her dilemma. It saddened him. He had finally begged her to simply let him love her. If she would let him love her, he would help her seek her husband. Trey would never force her to break faith with Davin. He would accept that she would never be fully his. This he agreed to because he loved her that much. To be able to take comfort in her arms when he needed it was worth the lack of complete monogamy. He knew that what he needed was her – the woman, the friend, the companion – not her – the body, the fornication, the sin. It wasn’t to say he didn’t want that, but only that it was not what he truly needed.

He reveled in her touch. Her fingers in his hair swept the stress of leadership out of him. Her hands on his cheek pressed life into him. At this moment, he felt complete. He sighed. He felt whole and safe, a way he hadn’t felt since before Rosaline was lost. At this moment, he felt as if he could handle his future as King of Herongarde – so long as Hanna was at his side.

They sat for a long time saying nothing. Hanna enjoyed watching the water flow over the stones. Trey alternately watched the water, then watched her. He pulled a bladder of wine and a couple of cups from his satchel and poured them each a drink. He her a cup as he held up his own. “To everlasting peace and love.”

“Peace and love,” Hanna echoed as she tapped her cup against his. They drank together. He leaned close to her again, pressing his lips against hers. She returned his kiss, enjoying the texture of his mouth against hers. After a few moments, they separated. Trey gazed upon her, his eyes full of adoration.

“One day,” he whispered.

Hanna smiled. “Yeah.”

They sat together the better part of the afternoon, occasionally chatting, kissing, and wrestling a bit. They drained the entire bladder of wine and completely enjoyed each other’s company.

A distant bell rang out. The evening meal was prepared. They would be late to the table. They exchanged knowing glances.

“Oops,” said Hanna.

Trey grinned. “We should hurry.”

“Aye,” Hanna agreed.

Hastily, they collected the items they had brought and stuffed them back into the satchel that Trey carried. He slung it over his shoulder and looked at Hanna.

“Shall we go?” said Hanna.

Trey stood close to her, taking each of her hands in his own. He bent and kissed her hard. Passion filled him for a fleeting moment, which she returned with an equal fury. All too soon, they stepped apart again, knowing that they could not continue though they both wanted to.

Trey looked on her with a smile. “I love you, Hanna.”

“And I love you Trey,” she replied reaching up and stroking his cheek.

Trey drew a deep breath. “We must return.”

“Yes, I know.”

Trey stepped back from her, looking rather sad. Then a grin spread across his face. “I’ll race you!”

“Wha—?”

Trey turned and starting running back along the path. Hanna took up pursuit, and they both laughed as they jogged back toward the Castle keep. For a moment, the world’s pressures were lifted from their bodies. They both felt terrific.