Two

Two

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
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As he begins his quest, Sir Gevin reflects on the failures and frustrations of his life.

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2.

 

‘Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these God will bring thee into judgment.’

-- Ecclesiastes 11:9

 

The nearly full moon gave a ghostly silver light to the western road as Sir Gevin pointed his horse toward his destination.   It was surprisingly difficult for him to forget the reaction of the Halfling girl to the realization that he was leaving.   Yet experience told him that you could never judge the true feelings or heart of a woman -of any race- by how she reacted on a specific occasion. 

Lyssa was of course the first example that his mind summoned up, for she had been the earliest and probably the most painful memory.

Soon after his mother had committed suicide, he’d been sent to Shellington, an old, rather rustic duchy in the northeast of Greidour, which served as what was known in these lands as a Royal Bastardry.  Shellington served as a home for the unwanted or at least unintended offspring of the royal family and most of the noble families of the royal court.   In those days, over a hundred and twenty years ago, an affair that ended in a pregnancy was seldom ended by a dangerous and savagely evil abortion.   Instead, once the pregnant woman emerged from her seclusion, her baby (if she did not want to raise it herself, and most noble women did not) would be sent to Shellington to be reared by the strict and dour Duchess Irene and her sour husband, Duke Tom Shellington.

It was a loveless place in a somewhat harsh, ugly environment in the colorless northlands where moss and gray rocks doted most of the landscape, but at least it was a chance for about ten to fifteen unwanted children to receive something resembling a noble child’s life.   If you obeyed without questioning and were efficient in the many chores given each child when they were old enough, it wouldn’t be too bad of an existance.

Gevin had learned early to obey ‘Dame Irene’ (as all the children were instructed to refer to her instead of her more regal official titles) and stay out of the way of Duke Shellington.   He’d arrived as a half-Elven baby who seemed to have some sort of curse attached to him to have lost both of his parents before his first year of life.    The northern folk were suspicious and perhaps slightly scared of fae races and so he was frequently shunned by the other children and Dame Irene.   She didn’t actually abuse him and he always obeyed her, but he could tell that she loathed having to deal with someone with Elven blood.    But he was also the son of the beloved half-brother of the King, who was still grieving the loss of his most devout subject, so Dame Irene made certain that he had all that he physically needed, even if he starved for true emotional connection.

For five years he lived there, lonely and scared to even consider what his future might hold.    But during this grim period of time, King Corston I extracted revenge on his enemies for the death of the Black Duke.   During one of his campaigns, he passed through the outskirts of the region of Faeliea, where it was said that many exotic races lived, having been pushed to the uttermost wilderness by the encroachment of the advancing human kingdoms.

As he passed through, the fringe of Faeliea, his advanced scouts, watering their horses at a clear natural spring, stumbled upon a Nymph.   Nymphs were one of the rarest of the fae races and were few in number as there were no males of their species, for Nymphs would only mate with humans or Elves and all of their offspring from these unions were females that would grow to be Nymphs like their mothers.    But Nymphs were also irresistibly beautiful and intoxicatingly beguiling to most men who encountered one.  Due to the obsession they stirred in men, the shy race lived on the edge of society, keeping to themselves in small groups of related women.   

The vast majority of them were terrified of the men that were driven wildly passionate for them and did not seek out unions with males of any of the humanoid species, as like most fae folk, they did not age past young adulthood and would only die from accidents or murder.

But when his scouts brought a beautiful blue-eyed Nymph to their King after capturing her as she collected water at the spring, King Corston was consumed with desire for the Nymph maiden.

Bringing her back to his capital, he kept her hidden from his wife, Queen Maeyl, who knew of her husband’s infidelity and had agreed to overlook it as long as he kept his indulgences secluded from the royal palace and would not acknowledge them (or any offspring these mistresses might give him) to any member of the royal court.

For many months he worked on satisfying a seemingly endless hunger for the Nymph woman.    It came as no surprise to King Corston or the few that knew of his daily rendezvous with his prize captive when the Nymph grew big with child.

But as she neared the time of her delivery, Corston’s queen grew more and more jealous of the fae woman and the Nymph daughter that she carried, who would, she feared, be proclaimed as the prized jewel of all of his children and the most beautiful of any daughters he would have by her or any other mistress.

So Queen Maeyl, it is said, plotted to have the baby killed by the midwives when they delivered her, as well as the Nymph.     They would tell the King that both died in childbirth, which could be attributed to the danger of a fae woman giving birth to the child of a larger human man.

Rumor of this scheme made it to the King, but only as the Nymph was on the delivery couch in labor.   Quickly, he’d sent guards to protect his newborn daughter and her mother, but the midwives had already slit an artery of the Nymph and she’d quickly bled to death as the other midwives glanced at the Nymph baby and prepared to smother her so she would appear to have been stillborn.

The baby was rescued and the midwives were tortured so that they would confess everything, including indicting Queen Maeyl.   Two of the three chose to die rather than expose the queen’s role in the plot, but the third midwife confessed and in a rage, King Corston had Maeyl drawn and quartered, which enraged her father, Archduke Basil Hathburne.    The Archduke led a rebellion against Corston which led to a long and bloody civil war that took four years to resolve.    When Corston had executed all the rebels and secured his reign over all their confiscated lands, he found himself now grown bitter at the cost in lives that the Nymph and her daughter had caused.

So on the eve of his marriage to a new queen (Wesse, daughter of the Duke of Campepike) he decided to remove the Nymph child from her place in the palace nursery and had her shipped off to Shellington with the other b******s, where she would not disturb his new royal bride.

Princess Elyssabeth - or Lyssa as Gevin called her- arrived as a terrified little girl, abruptly rejected by her human father and without any memory of her Nymph mother, in a location where she’d be treated with the same cold disdain projected at the other children.    Like Gevin, she was considered to be a jinx, for her birth had caused terrible suffering in the kingdom.

Dame Irene had introduced her to the other children as simply ‘Elyssabeth’, for she was no longer considered a princess.   However, Irene, perhaps sensing that they were both equally accursed, had privately told Gevin that Elyssabeth was his cousin and the unwanted Nymph daughter of the King.

That first night, Lyssa had cried and wailed when Dame Irene put her to bed alone in the dark in the room down the hall from Gevin’s room.    She was terrified of the dark and Irene beat her to get her to shut up and go to sleep, but the poor scared little girl was hysterical with fear.    Finally, not wanting to beat her too badly (for she was the King’s daughter and sometimes his opinion of someone would change) she finally just locked her in the room by dropping a bar across the door from the outside.

“Just cry yourself to sleep, then!”  The old hag had screamed through the door to the terrified four year old before she’d stormed down the hallway and upstairs to her much more lavishly appointed quarters.

Gevin had listened to Lyssa pitifully pleading for somebody to come to her for only a few minutes before his sympathetic nature overcame his fear of the wrath of Dame Irene and he left his room and went to rescue his newly found cousin.

She’d clung desperately to him, crying and trembling for several hours.  He took her back to his room, held her and comforted her, rocking her back and forth until she finally fell asleep.   The next morning Dame Irene was not too happy, but when Lyssa had the same outburst the next night, the strict old duchess told him to ‘go get that screaming brat and take care of her’.    He’d brought her back to his room again and quieted her.   

It became a nightly procedure, for the poor little girl would not go to sleep alone.   She grew desperately attached to her cousin and was inseparable from him.    As the only two half-fae children at Shellington, they were united by more than just the common ancestry of their fathers.   Lyssa, as he called her, slowly began to bloom into a lovely little girl.   She remained shy and unsure of herself, but when he was around she would smile and did not irritate Dame Irene.   

She was a surrogate little sister for him and for five years he felt that he actually had some family.    He loved Lyssa fiercely and protected her from any bullying from the other children.    Lyssa adored him and grew into somewhat of a tomboy (much to Dame Irene’s frustration) due to hanging around him while he learned the duties of a page.

Even when she grew older, she would not sleep without him near her, protectively wrapped in his arms.   Gevin was so thrilled to have a kindred spirit that he never minded taking care of little Lyssa.

But at age fourteen, the Duke decided that he should be squired to Sir Meltonne two hundred miles to the south in the borderlands where a large detachment of the king’s knights kept the border from the frequent raids by the Parsi bandits.    It was a great opportunity for him to get the very best training in a somewhat dangerous environment, and of course Lyssa would not be allowed to go with him.   Instead, Dame Irene had orders from the King (who had not seen his daughter since she came to Shellington) to ‘turn Elyssabeth into a proper Princess’.    Gevin knew that the King was already thinking ahead, for his daughter would soon mature into a full beautiful Nymph and he could use her by offering her in marriage to secure some political connection that he needed after years of Civil War.

Lyssa was absolutely devastated by the changes and pleaded pitifully to be allowed to join Gevin.    Then she begged him not to leave, for she felt she would simply die from a broken heart if he left her.

“You’re the only one who cares for me,” She had told him as she wept bitterly in his lap the night before he was to leave.    He apologized to her over and over and reassured her that she would be alright.   He spent the last night with her giving the terrified little girl his best pep talk, but a sense of impending doom came over her and she had the sad hopeless expression of one resigned to her fate.

He would never forget the tears in her big crystal blue eyes as she sadly waved to him from the parapet as he rode away with the convoy heading southward.   The expression on her sweet face was that of one saying their final farewell.    He wrote her several times a week, but a reply never came back with any messengers from Shellington.  

Sadly he wasn’t able to return there, though he heard that she had quickly blossomed into a beautiful young woman by the time four years had passed.

Finally he was eighteen years old and neared the ending of his time as a squire.   It was early spring and he received word that Lyssa had been recalled by her father to the royal court in Whiteberry on the eve of her fourteenth birthday, and would arrive there in time for the yearly accolade ceremony where he (along with fifteen others) would become a knight.

Gevin had been extremely anxious to see her again, determined to mend any friction between them, for he still considered her more than just his (half) first cousin, but his adopted sister.    Four years apart had made him long for the feeling of kinship with her and he planned one way or another to restore their sibling-like bond again.   He suspected that she needed support and comfort more than ever as she was thrust once again into her father’s court after being cast out.   With Queen Wesse only giving her husband one child -a son- in nine years of marriage, she would no doubt look coldly on Lyssa’s return.

So Gevin was full of anticipation when he hurried into the outer audience chamber three hours before the accolade ceremony to find Lyssa and reconnect to the only kin he’d ever known.

But it had been worse than a disaster.   Lyssa had been surrounded by all the young (and not so young) women of the royal court, who now, knowing of the King’s change in attitude toward her, were attempting to befriend or at least endear themselves to her by shameless groveling.   He had stood in line for an hour, the only knight candidate in attendance in the hall, and suffered the arrogant glares from the ‘pretty people’ who were hovering around trying to gain something by kissing up to the king’s daughter.   So many people were around her that he had not even been able to see her until he finally grew tired of waiting and simply pushed ahead through the throng of courtiers to where she sat with some ladies in waiting in the center of attention.

What he saw, he would never forget, no matter how long he lived.   At first he could not find her; there were four lovely noble girls in fancy, fashionable dresses seated around a radiant blonde woman with very long, neatly braided golden blonde hair.   The blonde was incredibly gorgeous, tall, shapely and wearing an extraordinarily regal dress covered with sparkling blue and white gemstones.   The neckline of the dress plunged almost dangerously low, revealing a perfectly sexy bosom.   She was breathtaking to behold, but Gevin only glanced at her for a moment as his eyes darted around trying to find Lyssa.

Realization hit him like a hammer to the head when his gaze crossed back over the shapely woman and their eyes locked for an instant.    Beautiful crystal blue eyes for only an instant flashed recognition of him and then her gaze went aloof and frigidly icy.  

He stood there, thunderstruck that the sexy woman was -somehow- his fourteen year old cousin, Lyssa.    He stared at her dumbly, his mouth open like a simpleton.   He could not fathom how she could possibly look so mature at such a young age.   Years later a sage informed him that maturity crashed down on Nymphs earlier and completely around their fourteenth year and they were considered grown, at least physically, at that young age.

But that day in the audience hall he had not understood that and he’d stammered when he’d finally been able to speak.

“Lyssa?   It’s…it’s me, Gevin!” he’d said, overwhelmingly nervous as all the cold eyes of the other nobles around her glared at him as he presented himself before her.

She snorted slightly, a snide smirk on her face and lifted her head back to look disapprovingly at him.   Her eyes were as cold as death.

“I do not speak to squires, go away boy!” She said coolly with a wave of her hand in disgust as if he were a peasant child in the presence of a great queen.

“But…I-I thought…”

“I doubt you’ve ever done much thinking, squire boy!   You’ve seen me, now be gone before I have you thrown out.   You don’t belong here.”  Without as much as a glance, she’d turned from him and rolled her eyes to convey to those around her what she thought of him.    They broke into mocking laughter and he’d felt his face burn with embarrassment as he fled from the hall.   The laughter haunted him as bad as her cold look of disgust upon seeing him.   Never had he felt so betrayed and alone.

He endured the accolade ceremony numb and heartbroken.    Lyssa had attended the event, but was seated on the royal dais next to her father, step-mother and baby half-brother.   She’d danced with several new knights, but only those from families close to the King.    He’d watched her from afar all evening as she’d enjoyed herself as if she’d been born into this lifestyle.   

He’d had an epiphany that evening as he’d watched her sitting regally next to her father; she had finally been accepted by her father and she’d transferred her affection over to him and her half-brother (and perhaps even her step-mother).   She didn’t need him anymore and so she’d treated him no differently than she’d been treated as a young child.

She’d used him to survive and moved on.

In his mind, he still would always see her hateful eyes that day and it clashed harshly with the helpless little girl that he’d loved and protected.

 

After she brushed him off, the Princess lived at court for a few months before her father gave her hand in marriage to Sanwell Morric, second in line to the throne of Stuizaerron, a neighboring petty kingdom that was playing both Greidour and the Acadian kingdoms against each other to gain power and wealth.

Elyssabeth had an elaborately glorious wedding, held in Whiteberry, but Gevin had not received an invitation, and instead was assigned to a band of knights patrolling the roads into Whiteberry during the wedding.

He had not been offended at the omission at all.   She’d moved to Stuizaerron with her new husband after the ceremony festivities ended and for three years he’d not heard much about her.

Then, in the early winter, word moved across Greidour that Elyssabeth had been executed by her husband upon finding his wife of three years in bed with his older brother, the heir apparent to the Stuizaerron throne.   Yet the older brother of Sanwell was not punished by his father, King Morweck III, nor was the murdering husband disciplined for the crime and this had infuriated King Corston, who sent his army south to destroy the tiny kingdom that had ended any hope of future treaties against Arcadia or the Parsi with Lyssa’s murder.

Gevin had ridden with the thundering charge of 100 knights into a glittering defensive sea of thickly packed pole arms surrounding King Morweck III and his heirs.

As the Greidour forces charged through the wet snow onto the tight shield wall, Gevin saw rapid memories of Lyssa in his mind.   The innocent, scared girl that loved him so much, the icy woman whom she became and the thought of her adulterous shameful end.    Frustration led to mounting rage as they rode down on the schiltron until it boiled over into white hot fury as they crashed into the spears and poleaxes that they’d positioned to stop them.

At that moment he no longer cared if he lived or died; his whole purpose was vengeance.    The enemy spears was repelling their charge, but lost in a berserk state that he was told afterwards reminded the older knights of his father’s battle fury, he broke his lance against the wall of shields, yet instead of reining up and riding off to the side, he’d forced his poor horse straight into the enemy.   He vaguely remembered snatching up his horseman’s mace to replace his shattered lance and swinging it wildly like a mad reaper with his scythe, against pole arms, shields or spears.    His horse was pricked in several places and reared up, knocking down some of the men trying to impale him directly ahead of them.

But Gevin clubbed ruthlessly at them, batting the long spears and pole arms out of the way and spurring his warhorse to ride over the enemy forces.    For an instant he’d felt he’d fail and would die on the field of battle, but his bravado unnerved the discipline of the Stuizaerron foot soldiers and they parted and fled at his approach.   

Consumed with violence, he’d not stopped but wheeled to the side, ramming across the shield wall through the middle before they could bring their weapons around to stop him.    Unknown to him, the other knights rallied upon seeing the Raven of Red Rock breaking up the Stuizaerron formation as his legendary father had in numerous battles years before.

Soon the entire Stuizaerron line crumbled and they fled in all directions as the Greidour cavalry assaulted them.    He sighted the enemy prince that had murdered Lyssa, and nearby with their back to him was his brother and father.   Gevin zeroed in on the murderer and rode over men to get to him, pushing aside the terrified royal bodyguards that were failing in their desperate endeavor to defend both King and Princes.   

He found a horrified boy of probably no more than twenty years of age, wearing ornate plate armor that was not meant for serious battle, holding the reins of his rearing horse tightly in one hand and the hilt of a drawn sword in his other.   He’d weakly raised the weapon, but Gevin had knocked it out of his hand with a mighty blow from his mace, and then with the return stroke sent the murderous prince sailing from his saddle with a bashed in skull.   Lyssa’s husband broke his neck in the fall, but Gevin did not stop even then, for his own fury was not satisfied.     As the royal bodyguards turned and fled, he rode down on King Morweck, who was hunched down over the saddle of his horse as he wildly tried to escape.

He hammered at him with his mace, keeping pace next to his horse until the king’s poor mount stumbled over a body on the field of battle and sent the king sprawling end over end.    Morweck leaped to his feet just in time to receive Gevin’s mace head squarely into his face, killing him instantly.    The adulterous prince escaped Gevin’s rage along with less than one hundred of the Stuizaerron forces.   It was a complete rout and three days later, King Corston accepted the surrender of the Stuizaerron prince and the kingdom was annexed into Greidour.

Gevin was heralded as the hero and named King’s champion, which was a title he held continually through the reigns of Corston I’s successors.

Suddenly he was the most popular knight at the royal court and overnight everyone wanted to be his friend and most of the ladies of the court flirted and tried to become his lover.    Though it had boosted his ego, he had turned them all down, for the memories of Lyssa and what she had become had soured him toward any of the noble women, no matter how attractive they might be.

He was polite and chivalrous toward them, but he focused on being a warrior for the king first and the best knight possible.    For many years, many women - especially the young noble women who had just arrived for the first time at the royal court- tried to win his heart (or at least tempt his lust).   He was considered the unwinnable knight which made him more interesting to them.    Yet he never gave in, for his relationship with Lyssa had greatly tainted him toward women.

However, it was only one of two relationships that had colored his opinion on having strong feelings for the fairer sex (or anyone for that matter).



© 2020 Eddie Davis


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Added on November 11, 2020
Last Updated on November 11, 2020
Tags: Synomenia, Nihility_Gate, elf, fantasy, sword_and_sorcery, magic, knights, Halflings, Drow


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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