Mevralaud pushed Finiadd to his limits. He knew he was seriously pushing his luck with the temperamental beast, but he was in no mood to be rebuked by anyone, least of all by an animal destined to be under his command. Oddly enough, if he didn’t know better he would swear the damned creature was actually enjoying this all out, full tilt run. Mevralaud knew he left his brother and Amrieux in the dust. He could not even hear their yelling anymore. He knew his father will not be pleased at all with his current behavior, but for these brief moments he would try to enjoy this rare moment of complete solitude.
When last had he a moment all unto himself in the daylight hours? In the nighttime hours? The moments lying in bed before sleep envelopes him? Surely that cannot be considered a true solitary moment. Even his time in the privy chamber was subject to interruption if deemed he was taking too long to conduct his business. Not for the first time he wondered what he would be were he not DarkraSeco. At ten and three reaagons, only a member of Lead Court seemed remotely appealing. All the glory of royal court, without feeling as though the entire kingdom will fall into the brimstone pits of Briellekok should he so much as sneeze in the wrong direction.
Mevralaud reigned Finiadd in to a slower run as he headed towards the watering hole. Both he and Finiadd could benefit from a cool sip. He noted the pull of the material around him as he shrugged his young shoulders. He was outgrowing yet another coat. His mother had jokingly predicted Mevralaud would be larger in stature than the Darkran himself one day. At the rate he was growing, he was not entirely sure it was a joke anymore. It certainly was not to the seamstress, who had presented this very same coat to Mevralaud barely a half-reaagon ago and it fit quite loosely then. Though he knew from experience his father would never allow something as trivial as a man’s size to belittle him in any manner, the thought of one day having mass and height greater than that of his father did bring a fleeting moment of amusement.
Sudden sounds of female shrieking caught his attention as he neared the watering hole. The watering hole was actually an extension of the massive M’Kairoo River to its east. Its waters were much tamer than the M’Kairoo, renowned for the lives it has taken. Many of those unsuspecting lives were fooled by the calm top waters that disguised its powerful undercurrents. Ydarkrans know to stay within certain bounds of watering hole; for it will willingly feed you to its more powerful sibling should you stray too far from the shore. Locals occasionally swim there on hot days. From the shrieking sounds it seems the current locals were all female. He pulled Finiadd to a slow trot as he passed the copse of trees that surrounded the watering hole. Slight glimpses of running skin flashed in the distance. Females and apparently very naked were in the cool waters of the watering hole if the one or two stray articles of clothing are any indication. Belatedly he realized they had spotted him before he spotted them and were running away.
All but one of the females had made it to hiding in the dense trees. She immediately dropped to the ground, curling upon herself to hide as much of her body and face as possible. Her dark, thick curling hair, wet and hanging about her back and head helped considerably. Still the curve of her spine and rear were in full view. For once he actually wished Waidelm was with him as he dismounted, walking the rest of the way towards her until he stood in front of her. She was younger than he, but not by much. Ydarkra! Why could she not have been a full woman? Now, that would have been an interesting sight to behold! Still what he could see told him she was tall for her age.
“Hello, there.” He stood in front of her. She did not answer. He called to her again, still no response.
“Are you aware that it is unlawful to not acknowledge a greeting by one of the Royals? Not to mention just plain lacking in respect from Ydarkran to another.” He asked bemused. A deep racking sob was his response as the tears she had been obviously holding back came out in force.
“By Ydarkra girl you can at least look at me!” Mevralaud’s amused state was quickly fading as the girl adamantly shook her head in the negative.
“My, my, my, what is this?” Waidelm’s voice boomed in the opening. Mevralaud groaned inwardly, knowing he would never hear the end of this! Have caution for when what is wished is granted – indeed!
“Captured a maiden have we? And a wet one at that.” A very amused Amrieux pulled his horse along beside Waidelm’s. “She is not a mermaid from the looks of her. No fins that I can see.” Mevralaud bit his lip to keep from snickering as his best friend made rounded gestures with his hands approximating the girls exposed buttocks.
“You can speak can you not?” Mevralaud asked, “You cry quite well for one presumed voiceless.”
“Yes, I can speak and mocking me does not bode well on your insistence of respect.” Came a hissed response.
“Alas! The maiden does have a tongue and a stinging at that!” Mevralaud smirked. “Now that you have graced us with the melodious tones of your voice, perhaps now you can explain your total lack in response to one of the Royal Court.”
“I do not know if you are in fact one of the Royal Court.” The girl replied.
“You would know, if you would simply lift your head and look.” Mevralaud chided.
“I am sorry I, I cannot do that.” She shook her head.
“Lyishar!” Waidelm gasped “Is the little nymph denying a direct …”
Mevralaud made a quick motion with his hands silencing his brother. Waidelm looked at Amrieux in surprise.
“Explain yourself.” Mevralaud gently ordered.
“I have never been to the Ydarkra Rohn proper. Nor have I been to Festival; my Adonii says I cannot go until my fourteenth reaagon. I have only seen the Darkran himself on the times he sojourns this far. I have not seen anyone else of the Royals. Therefore looking at you would not necessary prove who you are.” The girl explained matter-of-fact, head still downcast.
“It is safe to presume, you are at least familiar with the Ydarkra Honrae Dresht, is it not?” Mevralaud asked.
“It is” Even through her quiet tears, her reply was in a tone that indicated it was an incredibly dumb question. Even Waidelm barely contained his snort of derision at the asking.
“And you are aware that only the Royals can bare the Ydarkra Honrae Dresht?”
“Yes. However, I cannot verify your wearing of the Ydarkra Honrae Dresht without looking at you.”
“So why won’t you look at me?” Mevralaud asked a lot more politely than he actually felt; still the effrontery of her actions intrigued him.
“For you will then see me.” She responded as though it were obvious.
“And why is that a problem?”
“I have already shamed myself by being caught like this and that is on me for taking the chance. Must I be further shamed by having witnesses to my lack of discretion?”
“There is no one here but us. Who would know?” Mevralaud asked
“We would.” Amrieux replied. Mevralaud gave his best friend a withering look.
“I am simply curious. Upon my word, I will not tell of this.”
“I do not know of you to know whether your word is trustworthy EnCourt.”
“If I am presumed worthy of being addressed as “EnCourt”, should not my word as EnCourt be as worthy?”
“You sound young, but you also sound old enough to know that the integrity of a man’s title and the integrity of a man’s word are not one and the same.”
Mevralaud could not help but acknowledge the truth in her logic.
“You realize we could simply just snatch you by your hair and simply take a look at you.” Waidelm offered.
“No!” The panic returned to her voice and if were possible, she shrank further into herself. She truly did not wish to have her identity known.
“Why should I not?” Mevralaud came to one knee before her. He would have sworn upon the Ydarkra soul itself that she somehow shrank even more at the closeness of his voice.
“The greater shame would then be on you.” She had not otherwise moved since she dropped to the ground. Mevralaud realized she was holding a perfect PlearKesk form. She was being well-trained in the forms of Ombeyant and could easily outlast his patience from that position.
“And how do presume that to be so.”
“You can force me to do that which I do not desire. You claim to be of the Royal Court, it is well within your right to do so. However, so bold a move would make you considerably less than a gentleman and even less of one as one EnCourt. It would be a sin against your people as one of the Darkran.”
“What makes you think I am of the Darkran?” Mevralaud asked.
“You stated earlier that you could show the Ydarkra Honrae Dresht. Unless it was an empty threat to trick me into exposing myself, I presume you are one of the sons; for you definitely do not sound old enough to be the Darkran himself.”
“Yet you risk insulting a Darkran then? For what? Vanity? Pride?”
“Family honor.” She was crying anew and shivering more. “For now, I have only shamed myself. To expose my face and make myself known brings that shame upon your house for sharing in this with me. It will also bring shame upon my family and that is not a price I am willing to have them pay.”
“Perhaps you should have considered these possible ramifications beforehand.” Mevralaud chided.
“The look backward is always more clear than the look forward EnCourt.” She admitted grudgingly.
“So the question becomes: how do I satisfy my curiosity and you keep your family honor?” Mevralaud mused. “What if you closed your eyes and look up? Then you still will not honestly know if you have personally insulted a Darkran.”
“But if you see my face, you may recognize family semblance and thus know who I am now. If not so now, should we meet again in the future, you may then know who I am and my family is still dishonored. Moreover, with my eyes closed I cannot prove true of the identity you claim.” She sounded almost smug near the end of it.
“Ydarkra! Do you have an answer for everything girl?”
“No, EnCourt.” She sniffled. “You simply have asked questions I have answers to.”
Amrieux snorted in mirth.
“Deyvra! Enough already!” Waidelm started to come towards her. “Let’s just have a look at her and be gone!”
“NO!” Mevralaud and the girl cried out in panicked unison.
Everyone momentarily froze as a large bolt of lightening followed by an appropriately loud crack of thunder broke upon the quickly darkening skies.
“It is going to rain and soon. How long will you stay like this?” Mevralaud stood.
“Twice I have held SittanKesk outside from mid-rise to mid-fall in full storm these past rains.”
Mevralaud whistled at her response. He could tell from the tone of her voice that it was not a boast on her part; just a simple statement of fact; even Waidelm eyes widened in appreciation. If she could hold the SittanKesk from the middle of the day to the middle of the night in a full storm, her current position was much easier to bear. Mevralaud could not help but be impressed, but he simply had to know who raised such a young girl with such quiet and fierce dignity.
It was starting to rain and heavily. The girl’s full head of dark curls were now plastered flat to her back and head. Mevralaud took off his coat, tossing it to Amrieux and removed the symbols of his status from his shirt before gently laying it across her still bent back. It was a symbolic gesture at best. The fine material would be no match for the sudden storm, but he knew she understood.
“Thank you EnCourt.” She her voice was barely audible, using one hand to reluctantly slide the garment from her back and held it out to him all without moving her head, so not to be seen. “You are most gracious, but I cannot accept this.”
“You truly test the limits of your fortune, do you not girl?”
“I am sorry if I offend, and I know I do by now, but to accept this only worsens my shame. I could never be as ungracious as to discard this, but to keep it means I will have to explain how I came about it. As you will have to explain its absence and your complicity in this matter, such as it is.”
Mevralaud shook his head as his brother grinned at his obvious frustration with this girl.
“If it is destined for us to know each other, nothing we do will keep the knowledge from us.” The girl continued her reply. “All that is meant to be known to us, Ydarkra will make known to us, in a time of His own choosing.”
“So what are you going to do EnCourt?” Amrieux teased, his voice dripping with sarcasm on the use of the lower title.
“We’re going to leave her be.” Mevralaud shrugged. “She will stay like that as long as we stand here. Look at her form. It is a perfect PlearKesk. She is young, but already she shows skilled. She will not move. She will catch her death of ill in this rain. Do you want to be the one to explain how this occurred? You know something like that would surely reach Father. Her current shame will be nothing compared to ours then. We will not touch her and we will not let her suffer more than I have already put her through.”
“Then can we please depart?” Waidelm gave a much exaggerated yawn.
“Lyishar! Let us go then.” Mevralaud walked to Finiadd, mounting him. Amrieux followed suit with his mare.
Waidelm paused for a moment too long looking at the girl.
“Brother…” Mevralaud’s voice held clear warning.
“We’ve stood here watching this insipid exchange between you two. I want to see who she is to bare such insolence to us.” Waidelm walked toward her.
“You will not touch her!” Mevralaud dismounted, his voice holding no room for compromise.
“I am eldest!” Waidelm turned on Mevralaud. “You dare to command me!”
“I dare heed the covenants that we all honor the heart and soul of Ydarkra Rohn, which are His people. To force her to expose her identity betrays the spirit of that covenant in every way!” Mevralaud stood directly in Waidelm’s path. “Brother or no. Title or no. I cannot in all that we are vowed to uphold allow this!”
For the first time Mevralaud noticed he was exactly his brother’s height. He used it to full advantage. The effect was not lost on Waidelm. Amrieux watched with interest at the unexpected change of events until Waidelm shoved Mevralaud to the ground and headed towards the girl.
Mevralaud brought Waidelm down before he could touch the girl, but his efforts caused both brothers to crash into her. To her credit, she righted herself and had re-assumed the PlearKesk before either brother could stand, but not before the spur on Mevralaud’s heel scratch her arm. Both brothers stopped cold when she cried out in pain.
“Ydarkra! Are you hurt?” Mevralaud touched her back. She shrank from the touch before realizing which brother touched her. She held out her injured arm and showed the small wound.
“Deyvra! You’re bleeding!” Mevralaud cursed “Hold still.” He inspected the cut just inside the crook of her arm. It wasn’t very deep, but it felt it might scar. Spotting his shirt that fell in the tumble, he pointed to it, visually ordering Waidelm to give it to him. Surprisingly, his brother complied, by throwing the shirt at him as he walked to his horse and rode away. Mevralaud ripped the shirt, making an impromptu bandage, apologizing for their very un-EnCourt like behavior. Her thanks came out hoarsely. She was indeed going to be ill. He started to offer her the rest of the shirt again, but it was dripping wet itself and she had already stated her wishes, so he took it with him.
“We will leave you now so that you may tend to yourself.” Mevralaud stood and bowed to her.
Her head was as close to the ground it could possibly get without actually touching it, yet somehow he knew she saw him and returned the bow via a deep single nod of her head.
He ran to Finiadd, leaping into his mount, slipping on the leather coat he had removed to give the girl his shirt. It fit much better against his bare, albeit wet skin.
“Let us go and get the truth to Father before Waidelm can twist it.” He called to Amrieux before goading Finiadd into another full run. He gave the girl once last glance and as he suspected, she had not moved. He prayed for her well being and Ydarkra’s forgiveness for his folly in this before crashing through the forest after his brother.
30 Stories in 30 Days | Day 3 – Okay, I’m done with this scene, but these characters will return later.