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12 November 2008 @ 08:28 pm
The Gauntlet Thrown Chapter Twenty One  


    Prince Amerryn’s guards marched Brydon through the ornate gates and into the castle.  To his surprise, he was led directly to a large bedchamber where a steaming bath had been prepared.

    “You will bathe and dress properly.  We will return for you in one hour,” said of the soldiers before he departed.

    Puzzled, Brydon looked at the tub and shrugged.  Strange or not, the bath was inviting and it did not take him long to leave his dusty clothing for the hot embrace of the water.  He scrubbed himself clean and soaped his hair, reflecting that it needed to be cut.  It was beginning to curl around his shoulders.  He fingered the fine blond hair on his chin and decided a shave would be nice, also.  He started when a serving girl entered the room without knocking.  She headed for his clothing.

    “I wouldn’t touch those,” he warned.

     She looked at him fearfully.  “I was ordered to take them,” she protested.  She gestured to the bed.  “Clothing has been provided for you.”

    He glanced at the bed, then back to the girl.  “I will wear those, if necessary, but I have few enough possessions. I should like to keep those.”

    The girl bit her lip in indecision before she curtsied and hurried out, leaving his clothes.  He grabbed a towel and climbed out of the cooling water.  A pair of snowy white breeches lay on the bed.  They were stitched with wide scarlet embroidery in a wide pattern.  He put them on just in time as the girl returned.

    “Would you like a shave?” she asked.

    He nodded.  “That would be excellent.”  He smiled.  “And perhaps a trim?”  He fingered his shoulder-length hair.

    She nodded, went out once more, and returned with a bowl of warm water and shaving supplies.  After the first touch of the razor to his neck he relaxed, glad that she had not been sent to slit his throat, although it would have been redundant when he could have been killed a dozen times since then.  When the task was finished, she sheared his hair to his specifications and looked at him with interest.

    “If there is anything else you desire...?” she asked in a throaty voice.  He shook his head.

    “No.  They will return for me soon,” he said.  She sighed deeply, but helped him finish dressing without another word.

    He donned the scarlet shirt and the billowing sleeves flowed softly as he moved.  A white jacket followed; its embroidered sleeves were sliced open to expose the scarlet beneath.  Brydon polished his boots as best he could with his old shirt and pulled them on.  He buckled on his sword belt, glad that they had left him his weapons, at least.

    The girl sighed in approval and the door swung open to admit a different group of soldiers; these were dressed in scarlet livery and draped with white chain mail that looked more decorative than useful.  Brydon followed them out.

    A short walk led him to the opulent throne room, which was far grander than that in Falara.  Brydon had to admit that the southern kingdoms were excellent at architecture and decorating, especially in the area of making visitors feel inferior.  The place was aglitter with white marble, scarlet tapestries, and patterned mosaics on floors, walls, and even ceilings.  Brydon was was presented to Prince Amerryn, who had an unruly thatch of auburn hair and hazel eyes glinting with curiosity.  He wore immaculate royal blue robes with a dazzling ermine cloak lined in scarlet silk.  His royal coat of arms, crafted upon a gold medallion, clasped his cloak loosely upon his right shoulder.  Brydon was extremely glad that he had been forced to dress appropriately.  The Prince seemed very young, barely of age, but he might have merely had deceptive features.

    Two scarlet-clad guardsmen flanked Amerryn’s throne.  They looked highly decorative, but for the serviceable halberds they gripped in mailed fists.

    “Greetings, traveler.  Might I interest you in some wine?  Bodorii Burgundy?  Tar-Tanian Crystal?  An Akarskan white wine?  Or perhaps something from the Islands?”

    Brydon wondered at the odd question, especially after the unexpectedness of his “invitation” to the palace.  He was willing to play along, however, at least for a while.  He was no idiot when it came to wine; having had many lessons thrust upon him by Eryka, the Falaran princess.  She had been trying to “improve” him since he was a boy.

    “You have, perhaps, a Corona Dragonsong?” he asked.

    The Prince sat up and a smile played about his lips.  

    “You know wine?” Amerryn asked.

    Brydon shrugged.  He wanted nothing more than to know why he had been brought here, but realized the young prince would take any rudeness as insult.  “A bit,” he admitted.

    Amerryn motioned to a servant, who listened to the Prince and trotted away.  He returned a moment later with two goblets upon a tray.

    “Taste them,” the Prince urged.  “And tell me which one is the Corona Dragonsong.”

    Brydon looked at the goblets.  Both were filled with identical-looking liquid, a lovely deep red translucent color. He lifted one and took a deep breath, inhaling the fragrance of it.  Its heady scent was mellow and warmed his lungs pleasantly.  He smiled, but made no comment.

    He took a small mouthful and let it flow across his tongue, held it for a moment, and then swallowed.  It was smooth and very dry, full-bodied and just a bit fruity.  It was delicious and it was not until that moment that he realized how much he missed the taste of excellent food and drink, along with the time to relax and enjoy them.  A wave of homesickness washed over him.

    He picked up the other goblet and repeated the process, surprised to find them both very similar.  A puzzled look crossed his face and he tasted them again.  He looked at the Prince and found a delighted smile on his face.

    He set both goblets down.  “They are both Corona Dragonsong,” he stated.  “Two different vintages, but the same wine.”

    The Prince raised a slim brow.  “And the vintages?”

    Brydon shrugged and grinned.  “I am not that well-versed in wines, your Highness.  The vintages are a mystery to me.”

    “I am impressed, anyway.  You must be highborn even to have tasted Corona Dragonsong.  Few men would have realized what I had done.  The vintages are from the 74th Year of the Ring and the 73rd Year of the Shield.”

    Brydon nodded politely.

    Amerryn sighed.  “Now that the pleasantries are complete, I would like to know who you are and what business you have here in Shimmer.”

    “I am Brydon Redwing, of Falara.  I am on a Quest.”

    “Ah!  Then, you are of noble blood!” Amerryn exclaimed.

    Brydon shook his head, amused, but taking care not to show it.  “Not exactly.  Falara only grants the title of royalty when the Quest is completed.”

    Amerryn waved his protest away.  “It matters not.  Do you seek this item from my brother, Berikon?”

    The question was not idle curiosity.  Amerryn obviously knew Brydon had been in Kaaza.  Was there anyone in Silver who did not know it?

    “No,” Brydon said.  “I don’t believe Berikon has it.”

    “You think that I do?” Amerryn asked.

    “No,” Brydon said.  “It was in the possession of a caravan of merchants dressed in the livery of Ven-Kerrick.  They were selling melons.”

    Amerryn looked puzzled.  “You are on a Quest for melons?”

    “No.  I think the merchants are carrying an item of value, hidden in their wagons.”  He admitted it carefully, not willing to admit to the Gauntlet’s disappearance.

    “What might that be?”  Amerryn’s tone was pleasant enough, but his gaze was far too sharp.  He could not have retained his principality without an element of shrewdness.  Though young, he had to be wise enough to command respect.

    “I’d rather not say.  It could be dangerous if the news got out.  Too many people know about it, already.”  Brydon winced and wished he was more skilled at making up tales.  Where was Toryn when he needed him?

    “Know about what?  I demand to know.”

    “If you knew, you might go after the thing yourself.  Frankly, there is enough competition as it is.”  After that statement, Brydon decided never to take up diplomacy.  He might as well have given Amerryn a gilded box and admonished him never to open it; he was nearly guaranteed to want to seek out the Gauntlet now.

    Amerryn sat back, eyes narrowing dangerously.  “Why would I want this item?”

    Knowing it was far too late for evasion, Brydon admitted, “I’m not sure, but I think Berikon is seeking it at this moment.  He sent out a contingent of riders from Kaaza before we left there.”

    Amerryn’s face disclosed no expression.  Brydon, questing lightly, could feel excitement jump in the young man’s mind.  “I see,” Amerryn said casually.  “And, why does he want it?”

    Brydon shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I only want it to fulfill my quest, but at the moment the item is highly sought.”

    Irritation crossed the Prince’s mind, though not his features.  “I could have you tossed into the dungeon and tortured.”

    Brydon smiled without humor.  “And Berikon would have the object with no one to stop him.”

    “If you tell me what it is, I might be able to stop Berikon,” Amerryn proposed.  The eagerness in his mind began to stir Brydon’s own emotions.  Brydon was not certain of its source, but he thought it might have something to do with an ongoing feud between the two brothers.

    “I cannot not ask you to do that,” Brydon said.

    “I am offering.”

    “You don’t even know what the item is.”

    “That would be helpful, but the fact that Berikon seeks it is enough for me.  He is a power-hungry arse and I would like nothing better than to thwart him.”

    “Berikon probably has a sizable force crossing your borders already,” Brydon admitted.

    Amerryn glared and got to his feet.  “What is it?” he snapped.  “What is so important that he would risk war to obtain it?”

    Brydon sighed, knowing he had no choice but to reveal the truth.  He glanced at the two guardsmen, who had remained utterly impassive during their odd conversation.  Amerryn ordered them a short distance away and Brydon leaned closer.  In a voice only the Prince could hear, he confided, “The Gauntlet of Ven-Kerrick.”

    Amerryn’s eyes widened.  He threw his head back and laughed.

    “What a fool he is!”  He chortled.  “The Gauntlet!  Is he mad?  Only a Kerrick can touch the thing, much less use it!  What in Sheol does he plan to do with it?”  He resumed pacing, his mind darting along paths too quickly for Brydon to follow.  “Oh, I shall have him!”

    “Am I free to go?” Brydon asked tentatively, inwardly cringing at the Prince’s haphazard bellowing of the news.  He wondered how long the news of the Gauntlet’s theft would remain unknown by the general populace.  Amerryn looked at him again, as if surprised to still find him present.

    “Continue on your Quest, Falaran.  I shall have sport with my brother and I thank you for bringing him to my attention.  He shall be detained and not even know it.  What wonderful luck!”

    Brydon, confused, bowed low and hurried out.  He received his clothing from a servant in the hallway, and was informed that he could keep the items that he now wore.  He headed for the main doors had nearly exited when was arms grabbed him and dragged into a dark corner.   A hand clamped over his mouth.  He reflected that this sort of thing happened far too frequently.  Just as he was about to jab an elbow sharply into the assailant’s gut, he heard Toryn’s voice in his ear.

    “Brydon?  Do you need rescuing?”

    The hand fell away and Brydon turned to see the black-haired Redolian grinning at him.  His green eyes sparkled with amusement.

    “Yes,” he said dryly.  “I am on my way to the dungeon.  I thought I would save them the trouble of dragging me there.”

    “Well, how was I to know?” Toryn demanded.

    Brydon chuckled.  “Thank you for coming to save me.  I may have needed it, but things went smoothly, oddly enough.”

    “Well, we had better get out of here before Alyn sets fire to the barracks.”

    “Before she what?”

    “I thought we might need a diversion, so I told her to wait for a bit, and then set fire to the barracks.”  Brydon could see him itching to make a comment about his clothing.  He spoke quickly to forestall it.

    “How long is a bit?  Never mind.  Just get over there and stop her!  If I don’t show up at the front gate soon, they will start combing the palace for me.  Where is Shevyn?”

    “With Alyn.  It would have taken me half a day and a new set of lungs to get them to stay put while I came to get you.  Women.”  He paused and then added, “Were you auditioning to be the Prince’s new concubine?  Nice outfit.”  He dodged Brydon’s fist with a chuckle.

    “I’ll meet you at the tavern.”  Brydon said, laughing in spite of himself.  “If you’re not there, I’ll come back to get you.”

    “I might be inside.  Auditioning.”  Toryn’s chuckles followed him as he went out.


Lunalunasky3 on November 14th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
“I might be inside. Auditioning.” Toryn’s chuckles followed him as he went out.

Psh. He so is :)
Faithfaithwood on November 14th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
Brydon was was presented to Prince Amerryn, who had an unruly thatch of auburn hair and hazel eyes glinting with curiosity. He wore immaculate royal blue robes with a dazzling ermine cloak lined in scarlet silk. His royal coat of arms, crafted upon a gold medallion, clasped his cloak loosely upon his right shoulder. Brydon was extremely glad that he had been forced to dress appropriately. The Prince seemed very young, barely of age, but he might have merely had deceptive features.

I like him. :D

A hand clamped over his mouth. He reflected that this sort of thing happened far too frequently. Just as he was about to jab an elbow sharply into the assailant’s gut, he heard Toryn’s voice in his ear.

“Brydon? Do you need rescuing?”

Not slashy at all. Nuh-huh. *shakes head*