Riding, ’twas one of my favourite activities, but today, it was not as pleasing. the feel of the wind as it tingled my skin, the addictiveness of the thrill while riding, all of it could not lessen the rage I was feeling. tightening my knees around Snow, I urged my horse into a greeter gallop. making the earth crack at my way and the wind scream at my pace.
the taste of betrayal felt bitter in my mouth. the reminding of father’s decision was like a nightmare I couldn’t get ride off.
Halting at the cliff edge, I welcomed the sight of the sea and contemplated my situation. as the eldest daughter of lord Arlys Anson, I was to become his heir. trained in the art of combat, riding and even war strategy, I had nothing of a lady. my father made sure of it, I was clothed in male attire, treated as a young lord and even addressed as one.
To him I was a man who could preserve his lands and folks. as a child, the thought of his acknowledgement and pride was the reason I worked so hard to become what I have.
I wished to show father that he was right, I was to become a greet lord. I thought that even being a woman, Tenby and it’s folks would show pride in their young lord and after years of practicing, fighting along my fellow, I can say that I’ve gained their respect, I thought that I’ve gained my father’s respect but I was greatly mistaking.
having protected, provided and respected my folks, I believed, I was more than ready to take over the lord’s duty, except that father had other plans. I’ve come to learn that in the end I was but a woman in his eyes, a woman he so simply offered to the heir of Lord Gareth Manton.
Roan future lord of Goldenleaf, my friend and future husband, was a fine man. he was strong, handsome, smart and gentle but neither of his qualities made this union less insufferable to me.
the thought of submitting to him as a husband was not a pleasing one. I was not some shy lass, I was a strong and smart woman. A woman who needn’t a man to be safe. I was a capable person be it in sword skills, archery or even hunting. I was capable of providing for myself and for all of it I don’t deem necessary to have a man, I would do his works even better than he can.
It is right that being a woman made me physically weaker than a man, but I’ve trained hard and gained valuable experience....
disturbed by the sound of a galloping horse, I turned to see the man I refused to submit to riding in my direction, Roan was a sight to look at, with a face that offered a gentle expression, skin tanned by the summer sun giving him even more charms, brown heavy-lidded eyes dancing as they took into me, full beaming lips offering a set of white teeth, brown short lustrous hair making it tempting to the hands, smooth beardless face giving off his youth and showing a strong jaw line, he had a tall, defined and strong body giving him even more appeal. overall, he was a dark beauty with gentle expressions on his face.
but to me, none of it was alluring. the man represented the end of my convictions. the man, as I thought would strip me of my title and spirit, he’ll fight me into submission and show my weakness to his kind. Roan was the end of my dreams.
“So here you were, my lady.” came his deep voice, “Roan.” I acknowledged before staring back at the sea.
“Your lord sent you so you can warm to me, not flee at my sight.“ his tentative at lightness, only aggravated my mood. “You know how I hate being confined.” as a friend he should have refused my father and tried to make him see sense. what will happen of Tenby after the wedding, what were the use of these years of training if in the end I was to become the birthing tool of a lord, I cannot accept my faith and forget my dreams this easily.
After a long moment of silence, he dismounted his horse, marched to me before closing his arms in a warm embrace,around me.
“I can’t stand your coldness my love.” in a pained tone, he whispered to me.
“you have given me no other choice, Roan,” sighing, I tried to get his hands off me with no success. “I can’t understand why you wish to wed me. is it my land you wish so much?” I knew the truth behind his actions. the accusation was but a mean to displease him. I believed that if I kept acting with coldness, the lad would tire and find himself another lady to wed, but he didn’t seem to get off with me.
all of a sudden, he turned me in a quick gesture and searched my face before piercing me with his stare, “how long will you be blind to my feelings. I...,” his voice was so loud that I trust all of the villagers miles away have heard him. closing his eyes, he took a deep calming breath before once again looking in my eyes, “do not doubt my love Verona, you know me. I would never lie to you.” he finished with a gentle smile, the one he used to give me as a child.
when we were younger. Our fathers’ being friends, we have seen each other quite often, at that time being a woman was not disadvantageous to me. I would win against him no matter what the contest.
time passed and he grew stronger, rending the difference between our sexes more obvious. In secret I hated him for it, it felt unjust for him to grew this strong just because he was a man, while I trained daily only to be weaker.
“why have you come ?” Sighting he put space between us, “I was afraid you would starve yourself, you didn’t eat this morn” getting something from his horse he came back with cheese, dried meet and wine goblets, “so I thrived to feed my lover.” he finished with a smirk.
“you shouldn’t, I was about to return” leaving him behind, I mounted my horse and ridded back to the village without giving him the chance to stop me.
“My lady please, think of wearing a dress.” Edla offered me a look of disapproval.
“Why should I change, pants are more handy for me.”
“Handy or not I’m sure lord Roan will be pleased to see you in feminine attire, he has only seen you in pants.”
“And that won’t change, he better comes to accept it” I huffed and walked to the window.
“You’re being unreasonable, the lad is working hard to please you, you must give him a chance, he’ll do a good husband, of that I’m certain.” Edla’s words pained me, so what if he’ll do a good husband, I never asked for one to begin. but it seems that my thought on the subject were not essential as no one seemed to ask.
“I miss Tenby” I confessed after a heavy silence reigned between us two. I miss Silvia, I miss my land, I miss my people and even my father whose betrayed me.
“I know child, we will return to your sister in the morrow, it’s but a matter of days before you two get reunited again.”
“Silvia must be crying at your separation at the moment,” sitting in a chair beside me, and with a silken caress, she soothed my anxiousness. “The child has never been without you for a day” the mention of my sister almost brought tears to my eyes, how can I leave her and marry Roan? Silvia will be pained, and I can’t bring myself to hurt her. Mayhap I can ask Edla to stay and keep her company.
Edla is my servant, she’s been with me from when I was a babe but to me she was more like a mother, with her round face and greying hair, she was a calming presence. she’s the one who take care of me, who support me, the one who cry at my hurt; smiling, I remembered when I was young and father started teaching me the use of a sword. at the end of the day, I’d return with scratches all over my body, and so she’d start crying, accusing father of being a cold heartless lord, aye she acted the mother and still does.
she has been a constant presence in my life and so the thought of separating from her was hurtful, but I couldn’t bring myself to take her away from Silvia. she too was attached to the old Edla, keeping in mind that my sister was in addition to that oversensitive, she’d surely be heartbroken at our departure, sighting I took my decision; if I can’t stop this ridiculous wedding, I at least can spare her the loss of Edla.
hearing the knocks at the door, Edla went to answer it, “good evening Edla, are you and my promised ready for the feast.” came Roan’s voice, the lad was being persistent, I must give him that. I’ve been acting as a spoiled little thing only for him to show more determination.
“Lady Verona, can I have the pleasure of escorting you to the banquet ?” asked Roan offering me once again his smile and hand. Behind him Edla gave me a pleading look, surely she sensed my fierce replay and wanted to prevent it. keeping my mouth close, I nodded to him before looking away, offering my hand and walked beside him.
he seemed pleased at my action. it made me see how starved for my attention he was. as we walked down to the banquet, he kept a radiant smile on his face in contrast of the glare in mine.
greeting the lord and his wife. “lord Gareth, lady Mary.” the man was an older version of Roan, the only differences were, his eyes colour, while Roan’s were brown, the lord had green ones and the other difference being his hair being a light brown. Roan had inherited these features from his mother, having long dark brown hair and a pleasant face, she still showed beauty and grace at her age. assessing me, I could tell that she was displeased with my attire, the woman even if respectful wasn’t really found of me. not paying attention to her displeasure, we went to our assigned places and greeted the rest of the guests.
At the table, everyone but me seemed to enjoy. Lord Gareth and his wife Mary, have been welcoming but I couldn’t bring myself to be civil and enjoy their presences.
“My mother must be disappointed, she wished to see you in a dress.” Roan interrupted my thoughts with his comment. I was the only to hear it with all the noise in the hall, turning to him with a neutral face, “Is this your way of asking me to dress properly Roan ?” I asked.
“even if I wish to see you in a dress, I would rather have you in pants, ” laughing he closed to my ear before whispering “I wouldn’t wish to kill someone for being too flirty with you, they already are tempting my patience with their bewitched stares my love.”
my love, I don’t appreciate these titles he gives me, it reminds me of my future and all I will lose. “Roan, I would rather have you using my given name.”
taking my hand without asking, he kissed the front of it, before meeting my eyes.
“You must get used to it, for I have silenced my feelings for a longue time.” glaring at him openly, I withdrew my hand and ignored him and his attempts at conversing with me.
“my, Sir Roan, you sure have found yourself a beauty, I’m deeply envious” said one of lord’s Gareth commanders.
“isn’t she Thomas, I’ve heard of her dexterity as a commander but nothing have prepared me at such a sight. how did they forgot to praise her beauty, I wonder ?” answered him another old man, “dexterity as a commander ?” asked Thomas incredulously. “aye, her father had the ridiculous intent of making a lord of her, a woman, can you see the silliness of such a thing.”
hearing him mock not only me, but my father as well, I was ready to challenge him and show him his place only to be stopped by Roan’s hand on top of mine.
“I must contradict you, sire Elwyn, Verona is indeed a woman, but she has more skills then any lord I’ve known. most of you do not know of it, but Verona was the commander of Ferliss battle, when most of the western lords were hiding of the Danes, she was the one to defeat them,” as he looked at me, I’ve glimpsed his prd and admiration, “she have before it won my heart but once I’ve heard of her achievement, she won my respect too.”
turning to his fellows, “I’ve came to understand that the worth of a person isn’t by its gender but by his achievement, don’t you agree with me” even if he was smiling, we all understood his meaning. what have you achieved you who are so proud of being men.
“Son, I’m sure sire Elwyn didn’t mean it that way, for a woman to be in a battle field isn’t right, a woman is too gentle for that gruesome sight.”
“a... aye my lord, even if she was but commanding the men. what if they lost and she fell under the mercy of these savages.”
" only fools who didn’t see Verona fight would take her so lightly. hear my warning, if you ever comes to fight against her then run for your life...” started Roan only to be cut by his father. “enough of this folks. to end it I’d say that my son is indeed right, Verona should have born a male, even I admire her skills but she’s bound to be a lady so there is nothing to speak of.” I wanted to respond to that statement but I choose to leave it be. afterward, the discussion turned into more pleasing topic, as the lord started telling about his last hunt.
at the end of the feast Roan escorted me back to my room in silence. I was still ignoring him even after he faced his fellows for me. as I went to open the door, he took hold of my left arm. “Verona, won’t you speak to me.”
“if you are waiting for my thanks, then know that I won’t, I could have handled them without your help.” my right hand was at the door, my back to him when for the first time since I’ve known him, I’ve heard him swear in my presence.
“why are you treating me more severely after all I’ve said, it’s as if all I do only gets you more displeased, how did we come to this. we were close before, have you forgotten” he screamed at my back for answers. turning to him, I met his angry stare, “as a friend, I’d support you but not as a suitor.” as his breathing was raged and his posture tense, mine was of calmness, was it finally the end of this masquerade ?
my left hand still in his hold, he took me by surprise as he pressed me to him and his lips connected to mine in a punishing way, he wasn’t gentle as women told me of their first kiss, no he was harsh and demanding but it wasn’t displeasing, his show of strength was... appealing in a way until I reminded myself of what I would lose if I gave into him.
pushing him off, my hand found its way to his face leaving a reminder of what happened. my calm forgotten, I joined his raged breathing unsure of what should be done, do I apologise for my improper act or do I slap him once again for his improper act, to my believe that dilemma had no reasonable answer so I ended up taking my leave and closing the door behind me.
Patting my mare, I acknowledged lord Gareth and his wife as they approached me.
“My dear Verona, I have not seen the days pass with your presence.” said the lord.
“aye we were delighted to have you,” smiled Mary “it will be hard to wait until your wedding to Roan.”
“aye my son won’t settle until you come back,” looking behind me, he laughed, “see. he can’t even let her out of his sight” turning, I almost swore at Roan, “lord father, mother,” turning his mare in my direction, he smiled and bowed his head, “Lady Verona.”
“Roan” the man was prepared for a travel and his destination I feared was no mystery.
“My lady, I’ll make sure that your journey goes well.” why bother you already made it distasteful with you presence, I thought.
“’tis time for us to return to Tenby, thank you for your generosity lord Gareth, lady Mary.“, mounting Snow, I bowed my head to them and agreed to send the lord’s well wishes to my father.
Making a tsek sound and using my knee, I raided to the front of the group followed closely by Roan.
“Roan, don’t you believe that we’ve seen each other quite often these last days.” I asked irritably, the lad was acting as a puppy running after it’s mother.
“I’m aware of it, as much as I’m aware or your disdain to our union”.
“Then why are you so unyielding on making me your wife.”
“I won’t keep on denying my feelings,” looking at me, “tell me, what is it that displease in me this much, Verona ?”
“Nothing Roan, I would act the same toward any suitor.” I smiled. Yes, any man who kept me from my position as lord was an enemy, after all it’s not his title that is threatened but mine.
The days of travel have been hard ones, between Roan who insisted on showing me how great a husband he’ll be, and Edla unrelenting compliments on the lad, I was more than ready to run away. Fortunately all of this was coming to an end today, for our journey has come to an end. Once we reach home I’ll stay in my quarters with Silvia and pretend to be sick, with luck Roan will leave without seeing me.
sighting Tenby in the far, I felt excitement urging me to speed, thinking of my home, my folks, my sister, the noises of the women chattering while tending to their duties, the men working to feed their families, the children running around while misbehaving. I missed all of it, missed the roads, the greenery of Tenby and even the rocks of my land.
I urged Snow and felt the distance between me and my home diminish while my excitement grow. oh I was but miles away of my Tenby and I could almost see the happy faces of my fellows once I returned. maybe Mira would let me taste her scrumptious pudding, father would prepare a feast at my return and my sweet little Silvia would beam at me and tell me of all that happened while I was absent.
at first, her big green eyes would water at my sight, her full red lips would tremble and her face morph into sulkiness before her long, black hair would swing as her petite body would run up to my outstretched arms.
she’d cry until she can no more, then she would tell me that she missed me and that she refuse to part with me ever again. at the thought of it, my face brook into a grin and I could hear the laughter of my men behind me at my childlike act. aye, I was acting as a child, a child who missed it’s mother’s comfort, Tenby’s comfort. Snow too seemed pleased at our return for it rode even faster, bringing me closer and closer of my destination.
however my happiness was short lived, the cold took hold of my body as I neared my land, my heart was breaking inch by inch, my smile turning into a gasp and my happiness to sadness.
“please let it be a nightmare” I murmured as I dismounted Snow and walked with dizziness to the open gates.