Rare Things for a Rare Life

The Knights of J'shua Book 2

by Tiana Dokerty ©2023

Home | Part 16

Updated 6/4/24

Outtakes

 

Chapter 9 - 1563

Owakar

Owakar had kept up on all the Otuals even when they moved out of his area of Lorness Province. He could not watch them directly. Well, sometimes he skipped off to visit another watcher to take a look. Although his employment as a watcher was not tentative as it was when he was an apprentice watcher, he still had to follow the rules to keep it. That’s where the fact that angels don’t sleep came in handy.

When all of Lorness slept, he could find the location of one of his interests in the luach and linger with the Watcher there, beseeching for firsthand information. In the Density, they usually slept, but he could lay a hand on them, giving them a more peaceful, healing sleep. Now Sarah was fourteen and David, seventeen.

As for Jonathan Otual, his wanted posters were everywhere in Lorness. According to the luach, he continued to evade the earl of Lorness’ soldiers, staying out of Freislicht for the most part. When he did travel through Freislicht, he stayed near the Shining Mountains so that he could run there if necessary.

The daikons of the Knights’ School, Crispus and Baxter, now taught the novice knights on Bowing Sister. That area had no watcher; it was not populated enough, mostly forest and mountain. Owakar could go there without stepping on any angel toes. He checked in on them and their rambunctious boys almost every night before visiting others. They had five or six students in each year of the program, all sleeping soundly in the caves of the Kneeling Queen’s Skirt. While he watched and prayed for them, he tapped through the luach for the latest updates that the God of Truth had revealed.

Owakar - 62

Amidst the Atmosphere of Lorness

Owakar stirred through the updating facts, marveling at Jonathan and Rebekah Otual. Each continued to pray as the Writings had shown them. And who is this Albertus Bekh boy? He poked a link. So many trails to follow.

[Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.]

Old Chapter 12

Blackhawk

The castle halls channeled a cool breeze as Blackhawk watched quietly, completing his guard duties. All the usual suspects strutted and performed their roles as expected. Under Gaelib Melazera’s control, his officials and servants of Farr Castle hummed along as if nothing had happened except for an abundance of quiet voices and furtive glances.

That Melazera was behind King Edal’s assassination was ever clearer to Blackhawk.

Several of the new king’s closest friends suddenly left Farr Castle to attend to family matters. This further isolated Sagen while increasing his dependence on Melazera.

Blackhawk couldn’t stop what was happening, nor could he act openly. Instead, he undermined several of Melazera’s pawns using tactics he’d learned from the earl himself as his squire.

For example, a moneylender on Melazera’s payroll found himself inundated by people demanding repayment of their investments after they learned the fellow was skimming their profits. And a prominent courtier found himself without funds or political backing after his wife and her wealthy family learned of his repeated infidelities.

Most dangerous of all, Blackhawk set himself up to be accused of being one of Melazera’s agents. His aim was simple: to control the stories circling him. So that any future actions attributed to him would be easily dismissed as falsehoods.

Only days later, he was summoned to his commanding officer’s rooms late at night. Entering, he stood at attention.

Commander Taelor spoke to Major Blackhawk, his face showing his disappointment. “I’ve heard some disturbing news. Things that I find especially troubling given what you brought to my attention about the late king’s death.”

Blackhawk frowned. “I’m aware that there’s been some gossip about me lately. I usually ignore such things. Is this about Fortuch blaming me for his demotion to lieutenant again or his banishment to the outskirts of Farr? Or perhaps about my excessive gambling winnings? Maybe it’s someone who’s taken offense at my being a major so young? Of course,” he mused, “it could be one of the more insane rumors.”

“Such as…?” Taelor’s tone was still neutral, but his face had become inquisitive.

“Let’s see…how extreme do you want?”

“Get carried away, Major.”

“As you command, sir. The more common of those rumors suggest I’m secretly spying for Gaelib Melazera. Others suggest I was King Edal’s agent. There are tales that I’ve acted as an assassin…for one or both of them.” Blackhawk snorted out a laugh. “As if the late king used hired killers. He was a good man.”

“That he was. Is there more?”

“Oh, yes. I seem to attract all sorts of unlikely speculation, such as, I’ve bribed and blackmailed people, ignoring the fact that I have neither the funds nor access to anything more than gossip. Once, I heard I am Earl Gaelib Melazera’s bastard son, despite there being no physical resemblance between us except the color of our hair. What else? Oh yes, that I’m Caileagh Melazera’s lover, and have had her in my hand ever since. Should I continue?”

“Is there more?” Taelor chuckled.

“It gets ever more ridiculous. For instance, I’m Gaelib Melazera’s adopted son. Yet if that were true, his patronage would have opened doors for me that have remained shut in my face. Not to mention that, as he has no heir, my status would free him from what must be endless harassment from relatives to produce an heir or nominate one of their sons…if he can’t or won’t.”

Taelor shook his head as a smile spread across his face. “This talk did not go as I expected or feared. If you’d given me the slightest reason to link you to Melazera, my only option would have been permanently assigning you to the remotest outpost. As it is,” he gestured to a seat, “will you have a drink? Are there yet more?”

“That depends entirely on how debauched your interest is. They have said things about me that…let’s get drunk first, shall we? I don’t like to discuss them sober.”

Taelor rose and fetched a bottle and two glasses. “Now you really have me intrigued…”

 

Chapter 22

Sarah - 277

Locke Estate, Lexandria

Sarah leaped from the wagon and ran into her friend’s embrace. It seemed like she’d been away for moons. But it had only been one.

Melyssa pulled her into the shadow of the doorway and pointed toward a man as dark as ebony with long braids entering the gate. He was tall and had bright-colored feathers coming from the crown on his head.

“That’s the son of Clan Ush’s headman from south of the mountains. His name is Kel’shan.”

Sarah gasped. “Is he a prince?”

Melyssa smiled dreamily at him. “Yes. Of a sort. They call it something else.”

Looking from her friend to the handsome man who disappeared into the castle, Sarah bumped Melyssa’s shoulder. “Come, silly; you are truly smitten.”

Melyssa sighed, “He will be here for a week.”

Sarah rolled her eyes. “Everyone’s gone daft lately. Ned looks at me like that sometimes until I hit him with my practice sword.”

Finally, she was home. At least, it felt like home. Here, she was a midwife. Almost a midwife.

Ma still attended births in the village, so she often left Sarah here when any of the Locke wives were expecting. Sarah was her ma’s assistant, and she knew everything necessary.

Midwifery was all about waiting. Waiting for the mother to look pregnant. Waiting for the baby to kick. Waiting for the baby to come out. And then hoping the baby would cry.

Ellyth Locke, the Duchess of Lexandria, wanted Ma to stay in Lexandria. Someone was always pregnant. But Ma devoted herself to the women of the village as well, so she regularly traveled between the two locations. Sixty miles each way. As a compromise, she left her daughter to take care of the normal complaints of pregnancy and to attend to labor if Ma did not make it back in time.

If that happened, they sent for other local midwives when contractions began. They couldn’t trust a mere girl. And they shouldn’t.

I understand that. I don’t want to be in charge, either.

This time, no one came. Oh, the family was there, all the old aunts and the sisters, looking at Sarah. Melyssa watched, too, from her place beside them.

At first, they all chattered lightly to each other at the borders of the room. But as Aleyn groaned louder and louder, they moved closer. Finally, the water splashed out.

Now, they’re all around watching over my shoulder as I look beneath Aleyn’s skirt. The baby hasn’t come down.

After the water, the baby came, usually. She prayed in the spirit.

“Lady Aleyn, please rise up to a squat.” She helped her up and waited a bit longer. More loud wails. Still no baby.

Oh, J’shua, please tell me what to do.

My skin’s buzzing like bees. Where is that blasted midwife? I must do something. They’re all looking to me. I’ve seen Ma do it many times. She taught me exactly what to do, but… this is my first time.

Aleyn cried out.

Sarah felt for the head of the obstinate child, pushing it up, hard. She groaned, turning, turning. Her fingers hurt.

No. Push, then turn.

She felt it move. Oh! And drop.

The babe’s crowning.

With an almighty grunt, Aleyn delivered a squalling boy.

Praise J’shua!

After Sarah placed him in his mother’s arms, she wanted to collapse. But there was still work to do.

When both mother and babe were nursing well, she retreated and watched the family surrounding Aleyn.

Leaning against the wall, smiling, she sighed. My first birth, alone.


Chapter 24

Rebekah

Fairness Crossing

It was two years since Rebekah last met Daikon Crispus. Finally, some orphans adopted by Licht Gegen reached twelve years old and wished to become knights.

Their adoptive parents brought five of them to the inn at Fairness Crossing to meet Tommas Bekh. He gave them a test. They would travel to the Kiss on Shining Mountain, relying on each other and J’shua.

Rebekah gave the boys instructions and bid them a good journey.

After they left, she followed at a distance to make sure they reached their destination unmolested. It was at least a three-day journey on foot. She was pleased to see them work together to gather herbs to eat, decide which way to go, and keep watch as they took turns sleeping. When the Kiss came into view above them, they began singing.

The God of Truth extends his mighty scepter.

You will rule in the midst of your enemies.

Your troops, J’shua, will be valiant on your day of battle.

Arrayed in holy majesty.

The God of Truth has sworn and will not change his mind:

You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.

Daikon Crispus met them with a big smile. He pointed to the Kiss, where another knight stepped into view. “Follow Daikon Angus.” He watched them bound away.

Bekh stepped from cover, grinning at the old knight.

Crispus embraced her. “Jonathan has been here.”

“Is he well?”

Crispus nodded. “I passed on your message. He understood and wished you well with your mission. As you requested, he’s heard nothing of Tommas Bekh from us. He left letters for you. I’ll fetch them.”

Rebekah smiled forlornly as she watched him walk away. She was eager to read anything Jonathan might write. Any word from him would be a welcome relief from the tedious missives she had recently passed on to Licht Gegen. Her daily meditation of late was her guidepost:

[Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.]

 

Chapter 28

Crispus or David?

Mestelina

Verner Thorgar, the leader of his chieftain’s best warriors, signaled his second to carry on without him. Then he left his hunters to follow the odd man. The clothing the outlander wore seemed familiar but ragged and worn. As were the tales the man told as he walked from village to village sharing the fire in each chieftain’s long house. Tales that Verner heard as a boy from a strange friend of his father’s.

Crispy, Crisp, Cris-something…

The name would not come. It could not be important. Yet, letting his chieftain know of this foreigner’s activities was vital. There were already problems with raiders coming from Freislicht in the east. This man might be gathering information for them, his storytelling merely a ploy.

A day later, Verner Thorgar approached Chief Draven Bjorn. “There’s a man—”

The chieftain cut him off. “Tall, pale hair, dressed in a navy cloak, with a sword on his hip, and a baldric across his chest?”

“That’s correct. How did news of him reach you so quickly?”

“I have a guest. A friend of your father’s, who is seeking that man.”

Verner Thorgar grunted.

“You may remember Daikon Crispus.” Draven Bjorn pointed to an old man dressed as the outlander, surrounded by children in the distance.

Verner Thorgar grunted again.

“Take him to meet this newcomer.” Bjorn put his hand on Thorgar’s shoulder, pointing to Crispus. “Make no bets with him. He’ll win your horse. I still owe him a mare, which you are to take to the newcomer. Her name in his language is Ruby.”

 

Jonathan

After his all-too-short encounter with Rebekah in late spring, Jonathan left a letter for her with Daikon Crispus. He’d just missed her again. He was perplexed. She’d said she had resources nearby in Caswell. What could she be involved in? She has influence and some great work to do.

Again he had traveled into Mestelina to the tribes there. He shared the Writings and made more friends, establishing the family of the God of Truth in the West.

He’d heard of the raids across the border—from Freislicht into Mestelina. The soldiers of his homeland were the aggressors, which worried him. Either King Edal had not heard his words or was unable—or unwilling—to act upon them.

The Mestels still wanted peace.

Freislicht was fomenting war. A war that more and more Mestel chieftains were likely to give them. His task was to prevent that.

Then the news came. King Edal was dead, and Jonathan knew it was time to return home.

 

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