Chpt - 2 The Littlefield ChroniclesA Chapter by Tegon Maus
The constant pounding of the horse's hooves drummed deep into my head, repeating itself over and over, Bridgehaven... Bridgehaven... Bridgehaven.
My head swam. I struggled to open my eyes and there before me, an angel.
"Back among the living are we?" a strange female voice asked.
I searched the room for anything familiar. It was dark and unyielding. A candle flickered on the stand next to the bed I lay upon. The covers were smooth, warm, and extraordinarily clean.
"Can you hear me, Mr. Littlefield?" the angel asked.
"Where am I? Who are you?" I asked.
Her face was round, attractive. Her hair was silver, with skin as smooth as a baby's. She appeared to be five, perhaps six years my elder.
"Mr. Littlefield, listen to my voice," she snarled, grabbing me, pulling me upright in the bed. Her face filled with sudden loathing and hovered inches from my own. "Are you listening, Mr. Littlefield?"
I nodded weakly; my eyes open in full bewilderment. My angel had suddenly become a fiend.
"Good. First, my Mistress and the King think you a hero. But I know you, Tucker Littlefield. There is talk of you, and I, for one, believe every word. I will not let you worm your way into this house or that of the King. Do we understand each other, Mr. Littlefield?"
"No, I'm sure there must be some misunderstanding. I..."
"Let me make it perfectly clear. They have my baby and you will bring her back," she said, yanking the covers, forcing me to tumble out of the bed to the floor.
"Who is they?" I asked, trying to collect myself.
"Those Jonda, Mr. Littlefield. They have
"Good, if anyone can bring her back, I would think it to be him." I pulled the blankets from the floor and tried to assemble the bed and return to its comfort.
"Oh, no you don't. You have two days to reach Bridgehaven."
"You must be insane. I would have to ride night and day to make Bridgehaven in two days. Besides, I have no interest in going anywhere," I said, slipping under the covers again.
"Really? Let me tell you your future, Mr. Littlefield. In less than five minutes one of the King's guards will be here to check on your well being. The King wishes to give his personal thanks on behalf of my mistress. When he arrives, I will tell him I overheard you talking in the garden with the Jonda leader before their attack."
"You are insane. I never saw a Jonda before last night, nor have I ever been in the King's garden." I couldn't hide the panic in my voice.
"Under the circumstances, sir, who do you think the King will believe? Chancellor Grimwell has convinced the King that Enon was involved, part of a plan to kill him. Convinced him Enon allowed them to take
"My Goddess, woman, what does all this have to do with me?"
"If Grimwell gets the chance he will kill Enon and my Ruthie loves him. Such sorrow could only be surpassed by the loss of
I will not allow that to happen. I will do anything to save them, even if I have to sell my soul to the devil, and Mr. Littlefield, yours as well."
"Why involve me? I've done nothing to deserve such ire."
"You have the King's favor. You will go and save my
Softly, there came a knock at the door. I stared at it as if the Dark Lord himself waited on the other side. This woman glared at it and then at me. Her chest heaved and her nostrils flared in an unnatural manner. My heart had jumped to my throat and I could not swallow.
"You are an evil woman," I whispered harshly, suddenly filled with anger. "Evil, pure and simple, just evil."
The knock came a second time.
"Pray, sir, you never have need to find out how evil. You have seen but a blade of grass in a whole world of fields," she hissed and yanked the covers, pulling me to the floor again.
"Come in," she called after a third knock, making no effort to disguise the irritation in her voice.
"Sorry, Governess, the King is asking for Mr. Littlefield again," a guard said, poking his head into the room.
For a moment, I had visions of escape, of salvation from this harridan. He didn't look at her; he just stared at the floor. His face twitched with fear. His eyes darted nervously as if looking for an escape. He was more afraid of her than me, and my heart sank. His frightened expression brought me to full belief of her threats. I hung my head in resignation.
"Tell the King he will be there shortly," she ordered firmly.
He nodded and quickly scampered away, happy in his retreat.
"Get dressed, Mr. Littlefield. Enon will be waiting for you in Bridgehaven."
"But the King..." I stuttered.
"I'll make your apologies for you," she said sternly.
"Goddess, how did I ever get here? Do you have a name? If you're going to haunt the balance of my life I'll need a name, I would like to curse it," I asked, suddenly filled with disapponitment.
"Eloise, Governess Eloise,
"Perfectly," I replied, fingering the edge of the sheets, hoping to return to their comfort.
"Bring her home and I promise you, you will never have to work another day for the rest of your life. Ale will flow like water, food will have no end and you can sleep to your heart's content."
"Really?" I asked, wanting to believe.
"It's the best I can do to balance the scales, Mr. Littlefield," she said. Her shoulders slumped as if in defeat. Her face suddenly looked worn, with deep furrows dividing her forehead. Worry had taken its toll on her pleasant face.
"How is Princess Ruth?" I asked, hoping she wouldn't start to cry. I could handle the threats, the anger, anything but crying.
"Devastated. They found her this morning, wandering in the forest, half dressed, half crazy with grief, calling Elizabeth's name."
The tone of her voice stabbed at my heart, pushing it to my throat. There was nothing I could say.
"Get ready. I'll be back shortly," she whispered, fighting back her tears.
I nodded softly and did as she asked, seeking my clothes in the darkness. I sat on the bed to pull on my boots and sank in its comfort. It beckoned to me and my body sought to answer its call but my mind raced with images of the Jonda and of
For the first time, I looked about the room. It wasn't very large but well appointed. The furniture of rich cherry wood reflected the candle's light and the dying embers in the hearth. The walls were an array of dark stones, worn with time and the many lives that had passed through the room. As I sat at the end of the bed, the wall facing me was littered with parchment, the creations of a child, some from
Flowers tied in bundles with sewing thread, hung upside-down from the ceiling, adding to the room's aroma. It was a pleasant, soft mixture of wood smoke and perfume. Somehow it fit this woman. The room spoke volumes of the love she held for both Elizabeth and her mother. I liked it here. It was safe, warm.
"Ready, Mr. Littlefield?" Eloise asked, pushing the door open quietly.
"I suppose I am," I answered.
She lit a candle and gestured for me to follow her. We passed through several corridors and finally through the kitchen.
Four pleasantly plump women, dressed in gray blue tunics and crisp white aprons, paused in their work to touch my arm and shoulder as we passed. They wiped their faces of tears and nodded their encouragement to me without saying a word.
I followed her outside where the air was cold and damp. We made our way through the darkness to the stables.
A young man held the reins of the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. Steam bellowed from its nostrils as it stomped the ground, eager for the ride.
"Take this. You'll need it," she said, handing me an envelope.
"What is it?" I asked.
"A letter, Mr. Littlefield. It's an open hand from the King himself. It says you are on the King's business. His money is your money, his authority is your authority."
I was shocked. My head swam. Suddenly, the weight of the world settled on my shoulders. I hesitated to take it. If I did...
"Take it, Mr. Littlefield. With it you become a hero, or in two days it becomes your death warrant. It's your choice." Her voice trembled before trailing off.
"I don't want it. I really don't," I protested.
"You will, I promise," she said, slipping it into my coat pocket.
I pretended it wasn't there. I tried not to look into her face as I mounted the horse.
"His name is Escalan, sir. No finer beast exists in the entire Kingdom. He belongs to the King himself," the young boy said with pride.
I barely heard him speak. I don't know what made me look at her. I told myself I didn't want to. I only needed to ride into the darkness and I wouldn't have to see her face. Her tears reflected the candlelight as she looked up at me. Her face, round and flawless, was angelic again.
"Go to the eighth bridge. Enon will be there. If you're not, I'll know, Mr. Littlefield, and hell itself won't be able to hide you," she threatened softly.
"Wish me luck," I said.
"With all my heart." She whispered.
The horse exploded into the night and I let the darkness overtake me. I tried to convince myself this was all a dream, a terrible, terrible dream. But the tears burning my face and the rustle of the paper in my pocket made it all too real.
The constant pounding of the horse's hooves drummed deep into my head, repeating itself over and over, Bridgehaven, Bridgehaven, Bridgehaven.
© 2012 Tegon Maus
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on January 12, 2012
Last Updated on July 4, 2012
The Littlefield Chronicles
Cherry Valley, CA
AboutDearheart, my wife of forty three plus years and I live in Cherry Valley, a little town of 8,200 in Southern California. In that time, I've built a successful remodeling /contracting business. .. more..