Welcome back to WEEK 2 of the Rule of Three Blogfest where we are dropped into the town of Renaissance, population 333. Everyone has a secret! Details of the blogfest and the rules can be found below. For now, I give you my second installment: King Ansel’s Tale. Enjoy!
Part 2: King Ansel’s Tale
|source: google images|
After three days of hunting in vain for his runaway sister, King Ansel reluctantly followed the advice of Sir Willem, his only remaining advisor, who urged the King to seek help in the tiny outpost of Renaissance.
He couldn’t tell the people that it was their Princess who had escaped. Even though they’d never know her by sight, it wouldn’t do to admit her identity. That would require more explanations than he was willing to give. No, the story of the midwife and the kidnapping was the only way. His pride demanded it.
He’d been surprised when the old witch had come to him last winter with the prophecy.
“The child is quick in your sister’s womb,” the crone’s voice was small, childlike. “She will bear the kingdom a son. A king. Beware your majesty! For this child shall strike you down and take your throne before he comes of age.”
Foretelling the death of the King was treason enough. Predicting his sister would bear a bastard heir who would strike the death blow crossed the line into treachery. The King smiled as he wondered if the old crone’s ability warned her she’d pay the ultimate price for her gift. Her head would remain on its pike at the Kingsbridge until well after the thaw.
They left the castle the night the witch told him his dark future. He sent Sir Bonacre, his most trusted advisor, to remove Cassandra from her chambers. She was bound hand and foot into the royal coach. The King would be away visiting the far reaches of his realm, ostensibly to connect with the leaders of these rural communities. The other plan—to await the birth and then dispose of the child’s body in the vast Schiavona Desert—was known only to himself and Bonacre.
It was Bonacre who suggested the old route through Heriot’s Pass. The King should have known then that Bonacre could no longer be trusted. Of all the routes through the mountains, Heriot’s Pass was the least secure. Which also made it easy to flee. He wondered how long his sister had been taking Bonacre to her bed. He’d been blind.
After several skins of wine, Bonacre continued to serve the King and his men until they were so far into their cups they slept well into midmorning. When they woke the next day, groggy and head-sore, they found Bonacre dead in the woods, having fallen on his own sword. Princess Cassandra was long gone.
The woodsman, a quiet, brooding fellow named Godwin, was willing enough. But damn if that man wasn’t the worst tracker in the realm. If the King didn’t know better he’d swear they’d been traveling in circles through the Culdees Forest.
The King insisted they return to where Heriot’s Pass spilled into the Upper Culdees and begin tracking from there. For all his stealth, it seemed the master woodsman was good for tracking pheasant and nothing more.
“It’s been a fortnight, Your Highness,” the woodsman said. “Are you sure the midwife traveled as far as the forest? There are many routes along Heriot’s Pass.”
“Aye, I tracked her myself. A wet nurse in the Heriot village claimed to have fed the child on the first night.”
The King saw a shadow pass across the woodsman’s face.
“You doubt your King.” It wasn’t a question.
“No sir, it’s just that there has been no sign.”
“Carry on, woodsman. There are always signs. Our search will cease, and you’ll be released from your duty, when your job is done. We must find the child.”
Word Count: 599
Week 2 Prompts:
• Someone is killed or almost killed
• One of the characters is revealed to be not who he or she is
• A character lies to another on an important matter