Friday, July 19, 2013

Preview: Damnation (Maiden-At-Arms #2)


By A.Rosaria

This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Christine sat down at her room‘s window and started combing her long sleek black hair. She had just turned sixteen last moon, but none of the many presents she got gave her what her heart most desired. Christine sighed and looked out the window. It was the only window in her room; Claudette, her eldest sister, had two in a larger room, and so did Aaron, her younger brother. Only Lyna had a smaller room than hers. Was this why she loved Lyna the most? And Lyna loved her in return? Because both of them were the least loved?

Christine shook her head while she stared thoughtful ahead. Lyna, two years her elder, understood her best of all and was the only pillar of support she had at the castle. She smiled. That was why she loved Lyna the most. The tip of her tongue burned to tell her everything, but this time she didn‘t feel comfortable doing so. She wanted first to be certain about what she felt before sharing it with her sister. In the meantime she shouldn‘t, couldn‘t, and certainly wouldn‘t tell her a thing.

The wall and the battlements stole most of her view; she could see the birds flying in the sky. The rest, hidden from view, she imagined: the trees standing tall from the ground up, rows of them, and hidden on the many branches among the millions of leaves the birds sang their songs. Farther down, beyond the trees, the fields and farms stretched out to the horizon, and beyond those, villages spread across the land, and farther yet the great cities. But most of all she thought about one particular village, the one closest to the castle, where not so long ago she saw a farmer boy whose face had stayed branded in her mind.

He was a tall, broad-shouldered, young man, with wheat-colored hair, a sincere face, and strong blue eyes. Remembering the way he walked with self-confidence made her feel warm from within, a new sensation she had not felt before, and she had seen many men walk in many ways before. However, it was the mannerism this young man had that did things to her she could not voice or dare to explain.
Christine blushed and felt warm all over. She was sure she would not survive telling about it without crumbling into a withering fool and uttering gibberish, and this all for a boy she saw once. Was this love? If it was, she wanted nothing else for the rest of her life and would wish the same love for everyone, even her father, especially her father. While combing her hair, she swooned away in thoughts of flowers, love, and everlasting summer.


The next day she stood in front of Lord Robert‘s door, fumbling with her fingers, unsure whether to knock or just enter the room as Aaron would. Christine knocked. Her father‘s gruff voice answered from the other side.

“Papa, it‘s me, Christine.”

“I said come in already. Don‘t make me have to repeat myself, child.”

His voice came nearer with each uttered word. He pulled the door open, towering in front of Christine‘s little frame. She straightened her back to make herself a little taller. She didn‘t reach above his shoulders, not even standing on her toes. Lyna, the tallest of her siblings, did reach above his shoulders, and she was the most like him. It was a wonder he didn‘t love her the most.

“What do you want?” he said.

Christine looked past him and saw a wine decanter on his table surrounded by scrolls.

“Out with it. I‘ve more important things to attend to.”

“I want permission to go to the village; there will be a fair soon, and I—”

“No. You are not to mingle with common folks and certainly not with peasants. You are a lady after all and never forget your standing or you‘ll bring our name down in shame.”

“Please, send me with an escort if need be. I will not talk to anybody.”

Lord Robert sneered at her. “You thought I would allow you to go alone? Has sense left you? Escorted or not I will not allow you to go. Go back to your room and do something worthy for a change.”

“Papa, please I beg you.”

His face got redder and his nose flared. “Stop calling me papa, call me by my title and name. And be gone now.”

She bit her lower lip to keep her mouth sealed and her tongue from lashing out and making her regret it later. She curtsied and said, “Sorry, my lord.”

Lord Robert slammed the door shut without a goodbye. Holding in her tears she ran for Lyna‘s room, but halfway she hesitated and turned back to her own. She threw herself on her bed and cried. For a long while she stayed with her face buried in her cushions, soaking them with her tears, and then with a start she sat up at the sound of nearing footsteps. From the hallway someone approached her door. She jumped up, ran to the wooden bathing tub, wet her face, and washed the tears away. She quickly dried her face and straightened her dress. It was probably Lyna wondering where she‘d been. She smiled the warmest smile she could muster and waited for the knock to come, but instead the door was pushed open. Her smile faltered. In came barging the young knight, Eadric, Lyna‘s suitor.
He was tall, normal build, with shoulder-length blond hair and a strong jaw, which was the only redeeming quality to his plain face. He had a cruel smile planted on his lips, one he always hid from Lyna but liked to show to those he thought didn‘t matter. What does Lyna see in him? she thought. Lyna deserved a just man, a man that could call himself a hero, and not this two-faced excuse of a man standing in front of her. Inadvertently she pictured the young farmer, a man chiseled for greatness but marred by birth. She thought how he carried himself with an air of virtue despite his low station in life. Christine couldn‘t help to smile while thinking about the farmhand who she wished was a knight instead of a farmer.

“You seem happier than usual,” Eadric said. “Must be my sudden presence that has lightened your heart.”

He walked up to her and got a little too close; she backed away from him while her smile faltered.

“What‘s the meaning of this? My father, your lord, will not approve of you coming into my room uninvited. Please leave right now.”

He flashed his cruel smile and backed away from her while raising his palms toward her. “Ease down. I‘m just looking for Lyna, your dear sister and my dearest beloved.”

“I haven‘t seen her this morning. Maybe she‘s in her room. Now go before I tell Lord Robert about this.”

Eadric laughed. “Go ahead, go tell him. It‘s not like he cares for you or Lyna. She told me so herself, and I noticed he loves his knights better than the both of you.”

Eadric briskly turned around and left the room, leaving her shaking behind. She ran after him and on her way she grabbed a bowl with dirty water. The water sloshed out as she ran, making her gown wet, but she didn‘t care. Christine saw him walking away, leisurely whistling a tune, his back turned to her.

“Son of a whore,” she yelled.

The moment he turned around, and she saw his angry face, she threw the bowl at him. It flew through the air, spilling a water trail behind it, and hit him square on his forehead, spilling the remaining water over his face and down his armor. Eadric furiously spat water. She laughed, taunting him. He chased after her, one hand on the pommel of his sword. Laughing, she ran back inside her room, closed, and bolted the door behind her. Eadric thrashed against the thick oak door and started kicking it, but it didn‘t give way.

“I‘ll get you for this, you little...”

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