FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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MARDICHI - The Court

Wilhelm Kingdom, Dread Country

MARDICHI

Mardichi had barely arrived back at Wilhelm when King Jonis summoned them.

He’s tired of waiting on me.

In all fairness, Mardichi had stalled far beyond the king’s patience.

He was indulging me.

But from the look on the king’s face, he was done with all that now.

The procession was led in.

Numerous King’s Guard flanked them. Opening the huge oak doors with a resounding creak. Exposing the entryway to the throne.

People filled the room. Everyone turning to watch them enter.

Anticipating watching the audience.

“Apparently word got around town that you are seeking to claim the king’s prize.” Norris whispered.

Apparently. Only one way that happened.

“And how do you imagine that got around?” Mardichi’s eyes narrowed on him.

“What are you implying?”

That you did it.

“I’m implying tha’ perhaps a chubby man imbibed too much ta drink an’ confided in strangers tha’ his brawny friend wouldna tell ‘im abou’ some mysterious claim.”

“That does sound distinctly like something I could have said. Not that I’m saying I did…”

Yes, you are. Mardichi gave him a knowing look.

“Of course not.” Mardichi’s eyes were drawn to the right side of the room.

Nearly tucked behind the dais were a couple guards holding a struggling bound Raven.

She was swearing at them with the vocabulary of a sailor.

She looks none the worse for wear. Just pissing mad.

Her green eyes flashed with rage as she looked from one guard to the other. Still shaking her head so hard as she struggled, that additional pins flew from the tangle.

She’s like a wild mare. Ready to kick and rail and bite until no one could hold her.

Nor want to try.

Spotting him she froze, and rage turned to hate in her eyes.

Do you hate me now? He wondered. Just precisely how does that work?

They’d managed to force her in a dress of soft green muslin. With white lace trimming. Its low cut exposed high rounded mounds. Feathered earrings dangled from her ear.

Making her damn near irresistible.

Someone had attempted to do her hair, but she defied them by knotting a warrior’s braid at her cheek.

Did you earn that right, My Dear, or is it for show? We’ve much to talk about when I get you alone…

Providing the king does not elect to kill us both. Averting his eyes from her he stared forward pasionlessly. Making his way between the seats toward the throne dais to speak to King Jonis.

Joy.

Norris prattled nervously next to him. Tugging on his sleeve anxiously.

Like a lost child.

“Are we going to die?” Norris’ voice cracked.

“Yea, if’n ye keep acting scared witless.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Speak ta the king.” Mardichi gestured in frustration.

Another look back at The Raven confirmed she still watched intently. Lips compressed and eyes sparking with something he couldn’t define.

I wonder if they’ll be shining like that later? When I have her to myself. He checked his arrogance. He needed to feign at least some humility to get the king to turn over his prize.

He felt her eyes on him. I clean up rather well.

He was confident in his appearance. Dressed as a man prepared to confront a king.

Thin leather armor was fastidiously fitted. A silver wolf’s fur draped down his back and over one shoulder as ornamentation of his prowess. He’d washed well and shaved for this meeting. Softening his rough appearance into something more approachable. Someone people were inclined to speak to. Rather than steer clear of.

The king was paying attention. Bleary brown eyes wide with interest as he assessed Mardichi’s baby smooth face.

But Norris recognized the severity in his clenched jaw and ice in his light blue eyes.

I’m ready to fight for this. For my claim to her. Mardichi thought, reading the king’s assessment from the king’s mind.

“So, My RedBayne,” Jonis announced, making the crowd gasp.

Shit. Good luck getting ale in this realm now. Mardichi’s nose twitched in distaste.

“Tell me how you think you hold rights to this thief?”

“It isn’t a matter of how me think, My King. I know.”

“Explain.”

“Tha’ lass,” He pointed to where her shadow tucked behind the dais.

Seeing his finger go up, she edged back a few steps. Tugging the guards with her as she tried to evade dancing candlelight.

“Is me wife.”

“How is this?” The king leaned forward in interest.

“We’ve been wed now, nearly seven years. Is it not, My Dear?” He called more loudly ceasing her panicked scanning for an escape.

“Let me go!” She commanded from the guards. Struggling to flee the Throne Room.

“We even ’ad a wee one together.” He added.

“How dare you!” She gasped from the corner.

The King twisted to see her fighting the guards like a wild cat. Then looked back at Mardichi with stunned eyes. “She seems to disagree.”

“She does no’ disagree. She knows better.” He shot her a dark look.

Don’t argue. I’m trying to save your skinny arse.

She stared back at him, expression hateful.

His lip jerked in agitation. “She’s simply angry me mentioned our deceased son.”

Her face crumpled and he was instantly contrite.

It’s necessary. Or he’ll not be letting you go, Lass.

“Deceased?” The King asked incredulously.

“He left us as a mere infant.”

Stolen from us. Somehow.

“From lack of care?” The king expostulated shooting her a venomous look.

“Nay, My King. From unknown cause. However, she,” Blue eyes set on her, trying to cower back from the crowd’s view. “didn’t remain ta stand by me in me grieving. Ta support as a dutiful wife.”

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