Avery is back for this edition of Wednesday Briefs! I hope you’re ready for some medieval flash fiction. Right now, the story is a standalone piece, but if she get’s motivated, it has the potential to turn into more.
Remember these flashes must be 500 to 1000 words. Additionally, they are to be based on a prompt. Avery used a picture prompt this week.
Hope you enjoy the story!
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Hearth & Heart
by Avery Dawes
Desiring to reach Castle Wellington before dark, I pushed my horse harder, despite the fact we’d been riding since break of day. With winter’s approach, the sun now set earlier, and I doubted we’d succeed. I had to get back and see my love, my cherished Rowan. I strained my ear, listening for the sound of waves crashing on jagged rocks that would signal we were home.
Alas, nothing yet. I slowed Fury, my brilliant black destrier, and motioned my squire forward.
I knew Rowan would be worried. The man constantly fretted. He had utmost confidence in my skills, but he’d lost his family at a young age. To make matters worse, I had no doubt the tales of our last battle had already reached the castle. I needed to reassure him that I was of good health, not to mention I couldn’t wait to hold his lithe body in my arms again or taste his sweet lips against mine.
“William, ride ahead. Instruct the guards to keep the drawbridge down, and the portcullis raised as well—”
“Of course, my lord, as you wish,” William replied, winded.
I raised an eyebrow and waited. William was always so eager to please that more often than not he interrupted my instructions. I’d been working with the young lad, but apparently in the excitement at returning home, he’d forgotten his manners.
Deciding not to chastise him, I continued with my instructions. “Secondly, and more importantly, seek out Rowan. Let him know I will see him before the moon rises to its peak this night.”
“I shall carry out your orders with the utmost haste, my lord.”
“Thank you, William. Go now.” The words were barely out of my mouth before he put his horse to a gallop and headed down the Great Seaward Road, which led to the castle.
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Poor Fury. I’d pushed him harder on this homeward ride than I had in our last fight. That horse had never let me down. Smarter than my faithful dog, it seemed as though Fury could read my emotions, even my thoughts. Many a time in battle, he anticipated my next move, saving us from harm. I had no doubt he would enjoy a return to the stables as much as I would enjoy a return to my chambers. And to Rowan.
I slowed our group as Castle Wellington came into sight. The massive stone structure never ceased to impress me. Perched on a cliff, it was more secure than the other castles dotting the countryside. The breeze off the water and sound of the mighty waves reinvigorated my tired, sore body.
Fury pranced across the drawbridge and into the lower bailey. Given the late hour, not many greeted us. I wasn’t worried that I didn’t spy Rowan. I had no doubt he was waiting in my chambers, nestled naked under a pile of furs. A great fire would be burning, casting warmth throughout the space. With any luck, he had saved me a plate of dinner.
“My lord, welcome home! So good to see you in one piece.” Mercer, Fury’s caretaker and lead stable hand, greeted me.
“Did you doubt my abilities, Mercer?” I teased. He was much older than I, having first served my father. Upon his death, Mercer had continued to serve me. And Fury. I swear he spoiled that horse as much as he did his grandchildren.
“Oh my, no! Word spread as to the ferocity of the battle. I knew you’d survive, I…well…I expected a couple of bruises and scrapes.” He bowed his head, as if embarrassed by the honest confession.
I belted out a hearty laugh. Dismounting, I handed Mercer the reigns. “You’re a good man. Make sure Fury gets an extra treat tonight. He did well getting me home.”
“As you wish, my lord.” Mercer lowered his voice. “Now, get your arse to Rowan. He’s been fretting the entire fortnight you were gone.”
Unfortunately, all my subjects weren’t comfortable with my relationship with Rowan. One night, I scarce can remember how long ago, Mercer caught Rowan and I in a state of undress in the woods behind the springhouse. We figured it was a safe place as no one wandered so close to the castle wall. Apparently, the sounds of our lovemaking were louder than normal, and Mercer dashed through the trees, yelling as though intent on being a savior.
Upon spying us, he turned redder than a fall sunset. Needless to say, shock and surprise left us all temporarily speechless. When I later spoke with Mercer alone in the stables, he assured me that who I loved was up to me. It mattered not to him that Rowan held my heart. Since then, I’d adopted Mercer as my confidant. In fact, he was probably closer to me than my own father had been.
A shove to my back brought me out of the memory. “Go now! Time’s a wastin’!”
With a wink and an easy grin, I jogged toward the main building. Not caring how much noise I made, I took the stairs two at a time. I had to get to Rowan. If I dallied any longer, I’d break my promise to him.
I tapped lightly on our chamber door before entering. I had barely stepped into the room and closed the door behind me, when Rowan bounded out of bed and launched himself at me.
“My lord and lover, ‘tis so good to see you.” He peppered my face with kisses.
I wrapped my arms around him. Never had he felt so good. “I missed you so much, my dear Rowan.”
He brushed his nose against mine. Whispering against my lips, he said, “You don’t know how happy I was to get William’s message.”
“Mmm…I’m glad.” I gave him a light swat on his bare bottom. “Too much talking, love. I need you. Now.”
He smiled brightly before his lips descended on mine.