Rare Things for a Rare Life

The Knights of J'shua Book 2

by Tiana Dokerty ©2023

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Updated 5/26/24

Part 8

 

Chapter 36

Jonathan - 136

After the ceremony, Jonathan suppressed a chuckle at Drake’s excess. He moved through the crowd two steps behind and to the left of James, who dressed as a wealthy merchant. A third man accompanied them. Like Jonathan, he wore the face-covering cowl of a mercenary, dark brigandine armor, and a sword at his belt.

The haughty expression on James’ face was so believable. Yet, that and pouches of baden had seen the two mercenaries find a place in the hall’s rear, where they had stood silently, observing the ceremony and James.

Jonathan scanned the room as if searching for threats to the merchant he was protecting, but if Rebekah was in attendance, he could not find her.

Could she be disguised as well?

No, that is absurd. What would Rebekah know of changing her appearance?

 

Chapter 37

King Edal

Farr Castle

The Royal Court was in residence at Farr Castle. Everyone was invited to the annual Great Hunt in the King’s Forest. Every noble that could attend did, no matter how far they had to travel. Merchants, traders, and street performers congregated too. Even commoners came to cheer on the hunters from afar.

King Edal, beloved by the people, waved to spectators as he rode out for the first hunt. Farrling Wood was full of riders. With banging drums, the beaters in the distance drove the swine toward the hunters. King Edal headed toward his tent. Before it, nobles and their servants loitered about.

“You lot are too noisy. No boar would come this way,” the king complained to the large entourage with him. “Remain here.” His attendant and cousin followed as he found the perfect spot, a clearing with a thick forest behind him providing a yard of shade. “It will probably be some time before we see any movement.”

“Shall I bring more wine, Sire?” his attendant asked.

King Edal raised a hand. “I’ve had enough.”

“Of this swill?” his cousin added. “I couldn’t agree more. It’s ghastly. How could your man serve this? I’ll be back shortly with something drinkable. You,” he snapped at his own servant, “come with me. I can hardly trust you to select a wine suitable for the king.”

“You’re going to ride off without my leave, cousin?” Edal teased.

“I apologize, Your Majesty. I forgot myself. I—”

“Go! You aren’t good company without a fine vintage within. It will be a pleasure to have a few moments of peace.”

Some time passed, ending with a telltale rustling in the bushes.

King Edal smiled. Luck was with him. He’d chosen his spot well. Perhaps the first kill of the day. Lowering his lance, he seated it betwixt elbow and hip.

The boar attacked.

He spurred his horse forward.

The lance struck true, mortally wounding the beast. Yet, it wasn’t done.

A fine specimen, it tore free and turned to face the horse now behind it.

Edal looked for his attendant, who should have been making his own pass at the boar. There was no sign of the man; blast him. Not that he needed him. The creature would bleed out in only moments.

With a smile on his lips, King Edal drew his two-handed sword and waited.

The bleeding boar charged.

The king had his horse dart backward out of the way as he brought the blade down. Its tip effortlessly cut through the animal’s spine, killing it instantly.

Edal circled slowly, inspecting his prize. It was indeed magnificent.

His only warnings were a soft footfall and a glint of light. Then only pain and darkness.

 

Chapter 38

James - 487

Jonathan and another bodyguard dressed@@@James gave his invitation to the porter, James gestured for his bodyguards to make way for him through the crowd of wedding guests pouring toward the outdoor feasting tables. The happy couple would attend in half an hour, after everyone was in place.

He was pleased with his cleverness. He chose the name Albertus Bekh for his persona today. He knew enough about Tommas Bekh to be sure he’d never visited this castle himself. He had underlings for such deliveries. He always avoided people of high rank. Since it was common for merchants to attend public weddings, it was a perfect disguise.

To show the Earl’s love for his people, everyone would enjoy the feast, regardless of their station. But prominent tables for dignitaries were reserved.

James planned to leave well before the meal. All he needed was to make an inconspicuous exit. And not vomit. Drake was exceptional. An exceptional hypocrite. An exceptional bore. And exceptionally blind to his wife’s misdeeds. Whereas she was notorious and dangerous to cross According to boys he’d met in the town who served in this castle.

He thought things were going well until a maid intercepted him. “Sir, my mistress, Lady Shussel, requests a few moments of your time. She apologizes for interrupting such a joyous day but has an urgent matter that only you can address.”

James did not recognize the name. He tried to scowl. But the girl was extremely pretty, and he had little experience dealing with such creatures. Tongue-tied, he searched for something to say.

“Excuse me, sir,” another equally lovely servant girl intruded. “Earl Caswell has requested that you join the wedding party at one of the high tables. You won’t say ‘no,’ will you?” She clasped her hands.

Lady Shussel’s maid stamped her foot. “I was here first. Lady Shussel—”

“But I serve the Earl. Whatever message you have can wait,” the second snapped back, frowning. “Wait…did you say Lady Shussel? Then this is easily solved. Both are to be seated at the same table. I can arrange for them to sit side by side. Would that be acceptable to your mistress?” the second maid said.

The first girl nodded and dashed off.

James stared at the beautiful maid that remained, trying to think of a way of refusing. Yet, Jonathan nudged him, whispered, “Go along.”

“One of your bodyguards can stand behind you,” the maid continued, “if you feel it is absolutely necessary. The other can eat with the rest of the servants. Or can you send both away?”

James had finally found some words “My father, would think me foolish to send both away. It would be impolite to describe his anger to you, miss.”

The girl averted her eyes and then pointed toward a tent beyond the courtyard.

James motioned for Jon to leave as she led him and his remaining protector to tables that were all too close to the place of honor, where the earl and newlyweds sat.

It seems my bribes were too large.

 

Parynna - 168

While keeping a pleasant expression on her face, Parynna slipped into a quiet alcove where three of her maids waited. They each had brown hair that had been cut short as punishment for displeasing their mistress. “I have a reward for whichever of you succeeds in the following task. I require dirt on the dowager Lady Shussel. She has offended me. The winner gets the new groomsman as husband, plus four thousand baden, and choice of her new assignment within Caswell. Or, liberty to leave my domain and one thousand baden. I know all three of you wish to leave me. However, you are mine until I release you.”

The three young women bowed. Two of them openly showed fear. The last, Shadaya, glanced up with a flash of defiance until she locked eyes with her ladyship. Then the girl gulped, dropping her head again.

“I see you are sensible. The incriminating evidence I require must be significant enough that I can blackmail that old harridan. Go!”


Chapter 40

The Assassin

The assassin twisted his boar spear within the gap in the king’s brigandine to maximize the damage. Not that there was any need, but for the joy of it. Hunting animals was so much less gratifying than hunting men. And to hunt a king? It was a good day indeed.

Bracing himself, he withdrew his spear from its entry point. Blood gushed from the king’s armpit, soaking the horse and ground as the king’s lifeless body toppled from the saddle.

Snuffles from the bushes indicated more wild boar. Scooping up the king’s sword, he slid his spear deep into the underbrush. It was perfect against the monarch but was too unwieldy against multiple beasts. The long sword would serve better.

The killer-for-hire struck the king’s horse with the flat of the blade and it gallop off.

He ran to his mount, relishing the thought of what the wild animals would do to the king’s body. There’d be no signs the assassin had ever been there. It was a good day indeed.

He even had a trophy to remember it by, at least until he returned to Lorness, where Earl Melazera would claim it. He hooked the king’s long sword in his belt.

 

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