Rare Things for a Rare Life

The Knights of J'shua Book 2

by Tiana Dokerty ©2023

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Updated 5/18/24

Part 10

 

Chapter 46

Gaelib

Screams drew Gaelib and many others. Those of man, horse, and boar. But he was not soon enough.
What confronted him was grisly indeed. Blood covered the ground.
The king had killed one boar, but it hadn’t been alone. Two sows had mauled him, one ripping at King Edal’s face, the second at an arm. All were dead now.
The ferocity of the scene mesmerized Gaelib.
No one will doubt what happened. The nobles will blame themselves for leaving the king alone, so they could be the first to kill a boar. People are so predictable.
He maintained his façade of grief as he slowly walked his mount away.

 

Chapter 47

Jonathan - 299

Jonathan found himself—still hooded—walking amongst the servants of the visitors. Watching them posture and compete, depending upon who their masters and mistresses were, would have been humorous if he was not afraid of being discovered.
There had been no time to discuss the matter. When the maid limited James to one bodyguard, he had ordered Jonathan to the back of the hall so Jonathan could slip away as if carrying out a task for his employer.
As a mere mercenary, every retainer thought themselves better than him. That suited Jonathan. He had almost worked his way to an exit when an old woman beckoned to him from a dark passageway.
“I must talk to you,” the woman whispered. “Your master is in danger.”
Jonathan turned away from her but eased closer.
Then the woman continued, “Lady Parynna believes he’s a provider of carnal pleasure. She intends to ruin him, blackmail him, or worse. If you have any loyalty to your employer, you must warn him. And leave immediately.”
Jonathan almost laughed. Considering all the things  James could be accused of, peddling flesh was beyond ridiculous. There must be a mistake. Yet that would not stop the young man from being harmed. “What do you seek in return for this warning?”
“I…we, my granddaughter and I, would leave Caswell but cannot without Lady Parynna’s blessing. Get us out. That’s all we ask.”
“I cannot make promises on my employer’s behalf. But I will do what I can. Do you wish to accompany me or—”
“We cannot. If seen with you, it will bring down the lady’s wrath. Is there somewhere we can meet you?”
“Go to the stables on the south road.”
As he strode away, the old woman whispered again, “Thank you, sir. Thank you.”

 

Chapter 48

James - 232

James stared at the silverware, three forks, two spoons , and 2 knives. Too many choices. Copying the man across the wide table, he fumbled with the most outside fork and stabbed the green lettuce before him. He’d just relaxed a bit when the plate was removed and a bowl was placed before him. He looked at it and sneaked a glance at the man who easily scooped up a spoon. Seeing the pattern, he set into the soup. He wouldn’t be fed like this again any time soon.
The table conversation fulfilled all that James dreaded. Although he had little experience with gossip, careful slights, and small talk, those annoyed him. Yet, almost worse, was the growing feeling that he recognized Lady Shussel’s voice. He forced a smile as she and the other ladies prattled about daily life. It was maddening.
Then his eyes widened as he gasped.
For the third time, she mentioned his “father,” Tommas Bekh. It was the way she emphasized the name.
James snatched up a napkin and used it to wipe his mouth clean of the juices that threatened to stain his tunic. Or so he hoped anyone watching would interpret his actions. He did so to hide his grin.
She’s Tommas Bekh!
A revelation that raised more questions than it answered. He … or she…could impersonate an influential merchant and a dowager with equal believability. And he wasn’t going to get any answers while at table.

The dowager, Bekh, leaned close to James to whispered, “While I’m thinking of it, you must not mention the commission or who it came from. Not to anyone. Ever. It would cause all sorts of problems. Worse, it would spoil a very special surprise for Melazera, who tends to react ever so poorly when disappointed.”
James was even more confused, but he nodded in agreement.
“Is anything wrong?” she asked with a too-knowing smile.
She’s enjoying this.

 

Chapter 49

Rebekah - 275

Rebekah had wondered how many clues she’d have to drop when the light of understanding finally flashed in James’ eyes. She hoped no one else had witnessed it. Or, worse, misinterpreted it. Otherwise, one might think she’d indecently propositioned him, as the dowager seated on her other side had hinted at doing.
“I…no, just eating too fast,” he said as a servant delivered a small, rolled parchment. “However,” he flashed a dazzling smile, “I’ve just been informed of a matter that I must attend to. After which, I must depart immediately. Therefore, would you walk me out?”
He stood and helped her from her chair.
Drake cast an annoyed glance at them.
“I’ll be right back, my Lord,” she said with a curtsey. Drake gave a nod and turned away.
The bodyguard followed.
Once they were beyond the feasting commoners, and walking toward the stables, the second bodyguard took his place behind them.
Rebekah whispered, “What’s going on?”
James leaned close and winced. “I have somehow offended our hostess, Lady Parynna.” They continued to stroll, the two bodyguards following close behind. “She intends to frame me for unseemly behavior and then blackmail or defame me. As I’ll never again pretend to be Albertus Bekh, it’ll cause me no trouble. If I leave immediately. The same may not be true, however, for Tommas Bekh, my ‘father.’” He grinned.
“How do you know of this scheme?”
“A servant told my bodyguard that Lady Parynna thinks me a flesh peddler. And that you are my latest customer. Thus ensnaring you as well. We must both flee.”
“Thank you for the warning. If there’s anything I can do…”

 

Chapter 50

Jonathan - 273

Her voice cut through Jonathan. “…anything I can do…” His breath caught. They were the first words the dowager uttered clearly, and they could only belong to Rebekah.
He stared, marveling at her disguise. Although it had been many years since he had seen her up close. This old woman bore no resemblance to his wife. Except her eyes.
Jonathan shook himself back to the current predicament. He evaluated each person they passed. They must keep a leisurely pace toward the stables and the gate.
He followed them closely.
James spoke quietly to Rebekah, “I must help the servant and her granddaughter get out of Caswell Castle. Lady Parynna is forcing them to stay. Without her warning we would have been easily surrounded. I’ve only horses for my bodyguards and myself. Riding double would slow us down, not to mention draw attention.”
“Leave them to me,” Rebekah said. “I have resources nearby.”
Jonathan smiled. You are amazing, dear wife.
Then James strolled on with Rebekah on his arm.
Jonathan noted a commotion back at the feast. A man pointed at them.
He whispered to James, “We’ve been noticed.”
Jonathan continued to scan the area. A group of armed men formed up and marched quickly into the street.

Jonathan whispered, they’re coming fast.”

 

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