Rule of Three Blogfest: Part Four

This week is Part Four, the final entry, of the Rule Of Three Blogfest. Each Wednesday in October, I, and the other participants, will post a portion of a story set in a shared world called Renaissance. Other than the shared world, there are only a couple of other rules: there must be 3 characters, there is a 600 word limit for each part, each week’s entry must be based on one of several writing prompts from the organizers, and the entries go up each Wednesday or Thursday.

This week’s entry is really late going up. It would have been late, regardless, but at the last moment, I decided I didn’t like it, and hit delete, giving myself about four hours to write, edit and post. Made it with ten minutes to spare. 😀

If you haven’t already, check out my Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Please take the time to visit the organizers’ blogs: Damyanti, JC Martin, Lisa Vooght, and Stuart Nager. Check out the rules, and visit the other participants’ blogs.

Participants were given the following prompts for Part Four:
The misfortune is resolved/accepted.
Relationships mend/ are torn asunder.
The final event becomes another secret for generations to come.
There is a new arrival in town.

I chose the first: The misfortune is resolved/accepted.

Visible anger reddened Londehen’s face, warning of an impending explosion. Eriahne figured she would be the first target. Her marriage would be a betrayal, though there had been no commitment from her.

Londehen raised his hands above his head, and a tiny pale glow appeared, growing and brightening. With a flick of his fingers, the glow flew toward Teguere’s head with lightning speed.

Teguere dodged, and bark blasted from the tree behind him. With a twist of his hand, a shimmering wave flowed toward Londehen.

The wave hit Londehen, staggering him, even as he built another light ball to hurl at Teguere. Before he could finish, another wave hit him, nearly knocking him over.

“Give it up, Londehen.” Teguere punctuated his statement with a blast of light that left Londehen scorched and singed.

Londehen stepped back, his handsome face ugly with fury. “Not bloody likely.” He twirled his hand in the air above his head, then flung an invisible something.

A heavy gust of wind from nowhere buffeted Teguere, but he stood his ground. “Enough.” He raised his hands and fire danced between them. “Last chance, Londehen. As King Thoranak’s Wolf, I will bring you down. One way or another.”

Londehen stood silent a moment, then began to chant aloud. Overhead, a smallish dark cloud began to gather, and wind picked up dust.

Teguere launched his fire.

Londehen screamed as flames engulfed him.

Sudden silence. Nothing. No fire. No Londehen.

What just happened? And why? Eriahne carefully climbed to her feet.

Teguere looked back. “You okay?”

Eriahne took a deep breath to calm herself. “I’m okay. What was all this about? Is Londehen okay?”

He helped her sit back down and sat across from her, arranging wood he’d gathered earlier. When he had a healthy fire going, he spoke. “He’s dead. There’s no body to be found. People will ask, then assume he just left.” Raising his head, he met her gaze straight on. “Let me tell you all of it before you get angry. I’d hoped to before Londehen took action, but there just wasn’t time.”

Eriahne considered a moment, then nodded permission.

“A few weeks ago, we, the King’s Wolves, caught Rehdevek, the sorcerer who tried to assassinate the King with magic. Our investigator learned that Londehen sought training from Rehdevek, for, among other things, a spell to allow him dominion.” Teguere went on to explain that, by doing so, Londehen became a traitor and a danger to the throne. Part of the spell required the complete subjugation of a virgin within the sanctity of a new marriage. Meaning Eriahne would have been raped as part of the plan.

Which reminded her. “What about our supposed marriage?”

“You are my wife, by order and decree of the King. It was his idea, so there’s no way out of it.” Teguere paused, looking down at his hands. “I’ll see that you’re provided for, and if you prefer, you’ll never have to see me. I won’t object if you take a lover, have children.” He looked back up. “Unless…” He shook his head. “Forget it.”

All during their conversation, Teguere’s mouth and hands had drawn Eriahne’s attention. An unaccountable urge to touch him overcame her better judgment. She scooted around to his side of the fire, knowing she shouldn’t.

When Teguere faced her, she tentatively touched his cheek, surprised at the smoothness of his skin. He moved slightly and her fingers encountered the rough stubble of his beard.

“Eriahne…”

Something about his tone made her draw her hand back.

He groaned, as if in pain, then reached to touch her cheek.

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Rule of Three Blogfest Part Three

This week is Part Three of the Rule Of Three Blogfest. Each Wednesday in October, I, and the other participants, will post a portion of a story set in a shared world called Renaissance. Other than the shared world, there are only a couple of other rules: there must be 3 characters, there is a 600 word limit for each part, each week’s entry must be based on one of several writing prompts from the organizers, and the entries go up each Wednesday or Thursday.

If you haven’t already, check out my Part One and Part Two.

Please take the time to visit the organizers’ blogs: Damyanti, JC Martin, Lisa Vooght, and Stuart Nager. Check out the rules, and visit the other participants’ blogs.

Participants were given the following prompts for Part Three:
• The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it.
• Betrayal is in the air.
• Relationships unravel or strengthen.
• A long-kept secret is revealed.

The Storm: Part Three

I chose the first prompt: The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it.
When the ferocious storm abated near mid-morning, Londehen left the only stone building in Renaissance. It housed the jail and Constable’s office, and as Constable, he kept living quarters in it.

Navigating through heavy storm debris, he headed for the Post. He rounded the corner and stopped. The Post, the old tavern his father ran Renaissance from, had sustained serious damage.

Inside, fragments of the roof and one wall haphazardly covered the floor. Finally, he spotted the old bastard slumped against the heavy wood bar. Dead? His father’s body was cold to the touch. Dead.

Renaissance belonged to him! First, a tax to increase his salary. After that, he had a list.

Still smiling, he turned to leave, and tripped over another body. Well, now, imagine that! Robehr, Eriahne’s father. She belonged to him now, too!

Riding to inform Eriahne of her good fortune, Londehen encountered a few citizens, out surveying damage. The short distance, less than a mile to the other side of town, didn’t justify using the horse, but Londehen liked the sense of power.

At the little farmstead, a moment of apprehension assailed him. Only the hearth remained to mark the presence of the shack. Had Eriahne perished in the storm?

“Stop right there, mister,” a disembodied voice growled.

“Show yourself, coward.” Londehen searched, but didn’t see the speaker.

Just feet away, a man melted from the background of sodden soil, a boulder, and a downed locust tree. “What do you want?” The handgun pointed at Londehen’s chest didn’t waver.

Shit! His gun sat useless in his desk drawer. Annoyance clenched Londehen’s fists. “Put the weapon down before I arrest you!”

“Try.”

“No, Teguere.” Eriahne’s voice sounded weak from behind the outlaw, where she reclined against the boulder, a large bandage on her head.

“Eriahne, what did this man do to you?” He’d kill the son-of-a-bitch if he’d touched her.

“He saved my life.” Her eyes closed for a moment. “You can go now.”

Had she dismissed him? “Thought you might want to know, Robehr died in the Post, with my father, during the storm. We’ll be married later today, after you’ve rested.”

“No.”

“You don’t have a choice. No one will take care of you. You don’t have the money Robehr owed my father. Our marriage will settle the debt.” Satisfied with his victory, Londehen dismounted.

“Stop right there.” The stranger took a step. “Move, and I’ll kill you with my bare hands.”

“I’m taking what’s mine.” A blow from nowhere staggered Londehen, though the stranger hadn’t moved.

“Speak of my wife like that again, and I will geld you. Now leave before I change my mind.”

Wife? “She isn’t married.”

“She and I wed a month ago.” The man’s unreadable expression gave nothing away.

“She would have told me.” Panic edged Londehen’s voice.

“The priest came with me. No one knew.”

“Bullshit. Prove it.”

The man took a sheaf of parchments from inside his coat, and extended them to Londehen.

The official seal looked authentic. Even with careful scrutiny, the marriage contract and record seemed legitimate. Defeat soured Londehen’s stomach. Eliminating the stranger would make Eriahne his, but it wouldn’t work. Another man had already possessed her.

As the only virgin of marriageable age in Renaissance, Eriahne had been key to the spell Londehen planned to ensure his absolute power over the town. He would have to find another way.

Rule of Three Blogfest Part Two

This week is Part Two of the Rule Of Three Blogfest. Each Wednesday in October, I, and the other participants, will post a portion of a story set in a shared world called Renaissance. Other than the shared world, there are only a couple of other rules: there must be 3 characters, there is a 600 word limit for each part, each week’s entry must be based on one of several writing prompts from the organizers, and the entries go up each Wednesday or Thursday.

If you haven’t already, check out my Part One. I’ve finally settled on a title for my story, which is nearly impossible for me to do before the piece is finished. Telling myself that I’m conserving creativity, I decided to call it “The Storm”. 😉

Please take the time to visit the organizers’ blogs: Damyanti, JC Martin, Lisa Vooght, and Stuart Nager. Check out the rules, and visit the other participants’ blogs.

 

The prompts participants were given to choose from this week are:

Someone is killed or almost killed. 

One of the characters is revealed to be not who he or she is. 

A relationship becomes complicated. 

A character lies to another on an important matter.

I selected “Someone is killed, or almost killed.”

“The Storm” Part Two”:

Despite his fatigue and the bone-chilling wind, Teguere wiped the sweat from his horse’s back while it munched grain from the packs. The nanny goat tethered to one side of the shed bleated pitifully, and he gave her a small measure as her kid butted at her udders.

After a half-second’s debate, he hoisted his saddle to his shoulder, and headed toward the shack. Probably wouldn’t be much drier than the shed, but the goat kid would wreak havoc on the leather.

Low light flickered in the gaps between the plank walls. The door blew open just before he reached it, and he quickly ducked inside, pulling it closed. The low roof forced him to remain stooped, but he ignored the discomfort. Depositing his saddle and packs on the dirt floor next to the door, he removed his hat.

Silhouetted against the fire in the hearth, Eriahne smiled over her shoulder at him, and went back to filling bowls. “There’s a bench here by the fire if you’d like to sit.”

Teguere crossed the little shack in three strides and lowered himself to the low bench. His belly growled as she removed the spitted rabbits from the fire. “It smells wonderful.” Should he say something else? It seemed like he should. Lack of experience in female company left him at a loss.

“I hope it isn’t too plain for you. Or too little.”

They ate quickly, the shack shuddering around them. Would it withstand the coming storm? Teguere had his doubts. Windblown objects struck the wall with growing frequency, each harder than the last. Perhaps he should have continued on the Villein into the heart of Renaissance, or even halted earlier in the Kastanes caverns. He’d have been warmer, at least. Which reminded him of Eriahne’s thin dress. She had to be freezing.

As soon as the remnants of the meal were stored in the cook pot, Teguere crossed to his gear and unrolled his bedroll to take out his spare coat. “Here, put this on.”

Eriahne shook her head, pride sparking in her eyes. “I’m fine, thank you.” Cold-hardened nipples clearly apparent despite the shapelessness of her dress proved she lied.

Before Teguere could insist, the end of the shack quaked, then screeched as the planks parted from one another. The roof sagged sharply, then peeled back, and the remaining walls gave way.

Eriahne stood, guttering firelight from the still-standing hearth illuminating her horror.

Teguere dove to shield her, but a missile knocked her to the dirt floor first, and he dropped on top of her. Trying to protect her, he ran his hands over her, searching for the source of the blood he smelled. Finally, he found it. A long gash over her right ear bled too freely.

She would bleed to death if he didn’t do something. Reaching inside his shirt, he tugged out the cotton square he tied over his mouth and nose when he met strangers on the trail. It had saved him from recognition, maybe it would save Eriahne’s life. He bound it over the wound and wished he could do more. Stretching out his hand, he found the corner of his bedroll, and pulled it partly over them.

A cold rain joined the wind, plummeting the temperature to near freezing. The cold was brutal, but pooling water posed more danger. Cursing, he half-carried, half-dragged Eriahne and the bedroll a few yards from the low floor.

The storm continued to rage as Teguere struggled to roll them both inside the protection of the tarp. Before it stopped, exhaustion claimed him.