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An Unexpected Knight

10/9/2006

Bernard carefully opened the door of his small room; he
looked both ways down the dim hallway, making sure that
there was no one about. He silently walked along the dank
passage until he came to a small door. Reaching into his
robe he pulled a large key from his pocket, he cringed as
he turned the key, the sound of the lock turning could have
awoken the dead.


He opened the door and stepped outside. The sky was just
beginning to show a glimmer of grey on the eastern horizon.
Bernard pulled a piece of parchment from his robe, and while
looking at the tower he began reading from it softly.


It is a love story, sweet and tender, and as he finished there
was a small tear in his eye. As he does each night he whispers,
"I love you Danielle, " and then scurries back
into the passageway, locking the door behind him.


His last act before he crawls under his thin blanket is to
burn the parchment. Sleep comes swiftly for Bernard, for
he dreams of his love, locked away in the tower.


Bernard has been in love with Princess Danielle since the
first day she was brought to the castle. He was the one that
had to draw up the nuptial agreement. All it took was one
look at her and he had become smitten. Her eyes had looked
so sad when they had locked for only the briefest of moments.
Her hair was the color of the setting sun, half liquid gold,
and half evening fire. Bernard saw so much in that briefest
glimmer of time, he saw beauty like he had never seen before,
and he saw the depth of her love.


The wedding had been a sham. Princess Danielle had been
captured at sword point, and forced into Prince Drake's
carriage. Yes, they had been married that very same day;
the Bishop performing the ceremony had had the tip of a rapier
held to his throat to convince him to marry them.


The marriage had never been consummated on the night of
the wedding, or at any time after. Prince Drake didn't
care about that, he had women that would quench any carnal
thirst, or depravity that he had, and enjoy it. What was
important was that as long as Princess Danielle was captive
in his castle, and at the thinnest of legalities, as his
wife, he had no fear that her family, or neighboring kingdoms
would take action against him.


Weekly Princess Danielle had to go through the indignity
of having Prince Drake's crone of a mother examine
her to ensure that her maidenhead was still intact. If nothing
else, Prince Drake could demand a high price for a virgin
Princess at some time in the future.


She spent her days locked in her room with one lady in waiting.
The only time she left her room was at the Prince's whim.


Bernard had never felt love before, but he knew he was in
love. He swore that some day, some how he would free his beloved
Princess from the grip of Prince Drake. Each night he would
sit and write, he wrote beautiful love stories, and in some
he even dared to write himself into the story. After hours
of writing Bernard would walk to the door at the end of the
hall, go outside, and quietly read the story out loud while
looking at the chambers where the Princess was kept captive.
Before retiring for a few hours sleep Bernard would then
burn the story, to keep it would risk discovery, and discovery
would mean only one thing, a meeting with the executioner's
axe.


At first he was saddened that he had to burn the stories,
but not anymore, he tried to make each one better than the
one before, he drove himself to find the perfect story.


One evening as he was getting ready to leave the tiny warren
that served as his office he found an odd colored piece of
parchment that had been discarded. He quickly snatched
it up and hid it in his cloak; this would serve as the writing
material for the tonight's story.


His eyes strained in the dim candlelight as he crafted his
newest story, his hand ached from all the writing, but that
didn't matter. The hours flew by as he lived another
life with the woman of his dreams. Finally when it was finished,
he crept outside and read it to the Princess.


Calamity struck on this night, one of the Prince's
guards happened to be in the passageway when Bernard had
stepped back inside.


"You there! Stop!" the guard commanded.


Bernard complied and faced the guard; he could feel the
parchment slipping through the folds in his robe.


What Bernard felt, the guard could see, "What's
this?"


As the guard began to read the parchment a cruel grin spread
over his face, "I think you need to come with me. I think
the Prince might like to read this."


Bernard was forced to stand for hours in the Great Hall of
the castle. Finally when the Prince arrived Bernard was
shocked to see the Princess with him. There was a look of
bewilderment on her face. He stood straight and tall, he
knew his doom was sealed, but at least he could go out with
his pride and dignity intact.


"Do you know this man, " Prince had a sneer on
his face as he pointed at Bernard.


"No milord, " Princess Danielle replied.


Bernard's heart leapt, he had never heard her voice
before.


"Well, my dear, " his voice dripped with sarcasm,
"He seems to know you, " the looked at the parchment,
"He has written you a love story."


Princess Danielle's eyes locked on to Bernard's
eyes for a moment, Bernard could feel the warmth in them.


"What gave you the right to write this story about
my wife, " Prince Drake sneered at Bernard.


Bernard stood straight, he knew he was a dead man, there
was nothing that could save his life now, he looked straight
into the dark, menacing eyes of the Prince with the quiet
calm of a man who accepted his fate, "Because I am in
love with her."


Prince Drake laughed, it wasn't a laugh born of humor;
it was a sadistic laugh, "As you heard she said she
didn't even know you, so how long have you been in love
with her."


"Since the day she arrived here, " Bernard
now looked at the Princess.


"You've loved her for over five years, and she
doesn't know you even exist, how pathetic, "
Drake was obviously enjoying himself, "And now you
have written her a love story. Did you hope she would somehow
read it?"


"No, " Bernard replied, "I read the story
to her, well, I stood outside and looked at the tower while
I read it."


"What prompted you to write her a story tonight?"
The Prince asked


"I've written her a story every night since she
came here, and I've read it to her every night, "
Bernard continued looking at the Princess.


"That's, uh, " Prince Drake thought for
a moment, "That's over eighteen hundred stories,
where are all of these stories?"


Princess Danielle gasped and looked at Bernard, he was
looking at her, looking tired and disheveled, but his eyes,
she could see no fear in them, she could see the love in them,
and she was touched.


"I burned them, " answered Bernard, "Each
night after reading the story, I would burn it."


The Prince looked over at Princess Danielle and waved the
parchment at her, "It's really quite good, too
bad you will never have a chance to read it."


"No one will read it, " the rage in the Prince
began to rise; he walked to the fireplace and tossed the
parchment into the fire.


Flames leapt from the parchment, but it did not burn, instead
there was a bright flash of white light.


An ethereal woman with hair down her back and almost to the
floor appeared wearing shimmering robes of pure white.
The white of her robes was so bright that it almost hurt the
eyes to look at it. She carried a sword at her side that had
seemed to be on fire. Everyone in the hall was frozen, whether
by magic, or by fear, it was hard to tell. The woman walked
to the fireplace and pulled the parchment out of the fire.
It still burned with white flames, but the parchment wasn't
consumed.


She walked to Bernard and placed the sword against his heart,
the sword flamed a brilliant white.


Her voice was like a host of angels, "Are you the writer?"


Bernard nodded, cleared his throat, "Yes."


She looked hard into his eyes, "There is truth and
virtue in you, and in your words."


Bernard watched as she went over to the Princess and heard
her say, "Read these words."


As Princess Danielle finished she looked up at Bernard,
there was joy in her eyes, tears of happiness flowed down
her cheeks and to the floor.


As she had done with Bernard, the woman touched the Princess
with the sword, "There is truth and virtue in you.
Do you agree with what has been written?"


Princess Danielle nodded, "Yes."


The Prince began to speak, "This is my..."


The woman touched Prince Drake with the sword, and the flames
burned black, black as a night in hell, her voice roared,
"You are not true...you have malice and evil in your
heart, you have no say."


Prince Drake shrank back to the wall in fear.


She addressed Bernard, her voice soft, "You have
written what you want to be true, you have written your words
upon this parchment with truth, and virtue. I have the power
to give you the chance to make this true, is that your wish?"


She looked at the Princess, "Is it your wish that he
be given the chance to make this true."


Bernard though he would melt as the Princess looked at him
and softly spoke, "Yes it is my wish that he be given
the chance to make this true."


Bernard saw a flash...and then nothing....


*****


Slowly the light returned as did the woman, Bernard felt
different, he felt younger, taller, and stronger.


"How?" Bernard began to question.


"The parchment is Elvish Parchment of Being, when
something is written on the parchment, and subjected to
flame, it then becomes truth, " her voice was soft
now.


"I don't understand, " replied Bernard.


She thought for a moment, "This parchment was used
at the dawn of time to describe laws, such as fire is hot,
ice is cold. If you had simply written Princess Danielle
is free, she would have been free, or if you had written Prince
Drake is dead, then he would have died. To my knowledge,
this is the first time a story has been written, and then
submitted to the fire."


"What happens now, where am I?" Bernard still
felt a little confused.


"You are at the point just before your story begins,
and what happens now is up to you, you have the opportunity
to make your story truth, " she replied.


"Will she remember the story?" Bernard asked.


"No, because it hasn't happened yet, but, she
does know someone loves her."


Bernard nodded, "What is your name, what do I call
you?"


She softly smiled, "I do have a name, but not like yours,
it's not something you can pronounce, I will sing it
to you"


She opened her mouth, and began to sing.


Bernard had never heard, or felt anything like it, he felt
the power of truth; truth was undeniable; unbending; unrelenting;
unchangeable, this was absolute truth in it's purest
form. He had never felt so humbled before in his life. He
knelt down on one knee, his head bowed.


Her song ended, her voice was gently, "Arise Bernard,
now I can grant you three gifts, name them, and they are yours."


Bernard thought, "I wish for courage, strength,
and wisdom."


She touched Bernard on the shoulder, "I cannot grant
you things you already have, you showed courage for daring
to love the Princess, strength when you stood before the
Prince, and wisdom when you made your wishes."


A smile formed on her face, "Take this sword, as long
as it is used in the pursuit of truth it will serve you, take
this mail armor to protect you, and my final gift, a Lady
needs a Lord, so as you kneel now before me Bernard, do you
Bernard son of Gordon accept, and agree to abide by the edicts
of the Brothers of the Eternal Tree?"


Bernard with his head bowed, with both hands on one knee,
"Yes, I agree."


She took the sword and placed at her forehead, she lowered
the sword, and touched him on each shoulder, and then let
the blade rest on his head, "I dub thee Sir Bernard,
a Knight, your standard shall be the Tree of Truth. Arise
now Sir Bernard, of the Order of the Tree, your quest awaits."


There was a flash of light, and then suddenly Bernard was
standing on a road, holding the reins to a horse. He looked
down and saw the sword sheathed at his hip. He knew the name
of the sword, Judicium, the Sword of Justice.


*****


Princess Danielle awoke slowly, she felt strange, hadn't
she just waked up a few minutes ago. Why was she back in bed,
hadn't her husband just summoned her to the main hall.
She lay there staring at the all to familiar wooden beams.
After five years in this room she had just about memorized
every detail of each of the beams.


There was something else that hadn't felt since her
arrival, hope, she didn't understand, why should
she feel hope? Someone was coming for her, but why should
someone be coming for her? Love, she felt love, she didn't
love anyone, why would she feel love, who did she love?


She rose out of the pallet that served as her bed, it was chilly,
and she walked over to the small window, and stood on her
tiptoes, and looked out. She didn't know what she was
looking for, but she knew she should be looking for something.
Princess Danielle was perplexed, what kind of magic was
this, what kind of spell had been cast upon her?


The lock on her door turned, and as it was every day it was
Dame Eustace, first lady to the Prince's mother, behind
her was a servant carrying a tray containing a cup of watery
tea, and a bowl of thin porridge, breakfast for the Princess.


Almost immediately Dame Eustace's eyes narrowed,
"What have you been up to child, there is a glow to your
face this morning, " she turned to the servant, "Go
summon the mistress."


Looking back at the Princess Dame Eustace, her voice accusing,
"Have you had a man in here?"


Princess Danielle was bewildered, "No milady, there
has been no man in this room."


A malicious grin spread over the face of Dame Eustace, "No
point in lying child, we will know soon enough."


Mistress Brunetta entered the small tower room and looked
at Dame Eustace, "Well, what's going on here?"


Dame Eustace pointed at the Princess, "Look at her
face, she's almost glowing."


"Come here child, so I might see you better, "
ordered Mistress Brunetta.


Princess Danielle walked slowly towards the Prince's
mother, her hands were trembling, either from fear, or
from the chill of the dank tower.


Mistress Brunetta nodded, "I see what you mean Eustace,
we will have to do the examination to make sure that she is
still intact."


Princess Danielle closed her eyes; this was the worst humiliation
of her bleak existence in the castle, the constant poking,
and prodding of her most feminine parts, ensuring that
her virginity was still intact.


*****


Bernard rode slowly down the road contemplating his plan;
he wished that he had asked how much of his story would be
true. After a couple hours of careful contemplation he
decided that he would stick to what he had written, and take
his chances.


He was enjoying being outdoors, after years of working
as a bonded scribe, which was little better than being a
slave in the castle; he had forgotten how beautiful the
daylight was. Bernard had spent more than ten years of his
life working in the scriptorium in the bowels of the castle,
and his quarters were small, dank, and windowless. Months
would often pass between sightings of the sun.


The sun was still high in the sky when Bernard came in sight
of the castle. It was too early for him to make any attempt
to free the princess. He would have to wait until after nightfall
to try to make his way into the castle.


After he found a suitable spot to remain hidden, but where
he still commanded a view of the road he dismounted, and
tied the horse to a bush.


"Well, " he spoke to himself, "Let's
see what we have in the packs."


He pulled the packs off of the horse and sat down with his
back to a tree. He found everything he had written in the
story, and more. Two long brown cloaks with large hoods
similar to the ones worn by the acolytes of the bishop, food,
sensible travel clothing for the Princess, and a courier's
pouch.


Bernard removed his short surcoat, he had never seen a garment
so white, and it almost shimmered. Emblazoned upon it was
a tree with sword through the middle, pointing down. After
a brief debate with himself he removed the chain mail. He
carefully packed his surcoat and mail into one of the packs.


His plan was a simple one; he would don the brown cloak about
sundown and ride towards the castle with the courier's
pouch draped around his neck. The guards at the gate would
simply assume he was on the Bishop's business, and
let him pass. He would stable his horse, and then proceed
towards the Bishop's office in the castle. All he had
to do was pass the bishop's office, head down the stairs
and hide out in his old quarters. Bernard would wait for
a few hours past the last guard change, the guards would
be sleepy, and the element of surprise would be on his side.



The one thing he didn't know, and had never been able
to find out was if there was a lock on the door to the Princess's
room. He had to assume that there would be, he was confident
that the sword on his hip would make short work of any lock.


Bernard stood and pulled the sword from its sheath, it felt
so light, and so perfectly balanced. It felt so natural
in his hand, he parried, slashed, thrust and stabbed with
it, his feet felt as light as a feather as he moved back and
forth fighting invisible foes.


When the sun began to set Bernard donned the brown coat,
mounted his horse, and began to ride to the castle. His first
instinct was to ride hard, and fast, traveling quickly
through the gate past the guards, but he soon abandoned
the idea. Questions might be asked, unneeded rumors could
spread, and reach the wrong ears. Riding slowly in at walk
with a nonchalant wave to the guards might be the best plan,
the bored guards probably wouldn't even glance in
his direction.


*****


Princess Danielle felt something when Bernard entered
the castle; something told her that he was here. But just
who was he? She had no idea, but whoever he was, he was here.
There was a joy in her heart that she had never felt before
in her life. Could it be love? She had never felt true love
in her life. Danielle wanted to jump from her chair and sing,
and dance. To do that might invite another unwanted examination.
She sat there quietly under the supervision of Dame Eustace,
sewing a red silk dress, with a black lace front.


That was the one freedom she did have, sewing, she got lost
as she sewed, imagining a different life, one of happiness,
and gaiety. A life where a handsome Prince would dance with
her as she wore the dresses she sewed.


Each of her dresses were a work of art, even Dame Eustace
who liked nothing, at least Princess Danielle knew of nothing
the crone of a woman liked, had enjoyed the dresses that
Danielle had sewn for her. She had blushed when she heard
a man make the comment, "Her dresses are like works
of art, and she does with cloth, and thread what an painter
does with oil, and canvas.


This dress was special; this dress was for her, and her alone.
Not that she expected to get a chance to wear it. As she finished
sewing the dress her fingers trembled with excitement.
She knew he was here.


After Dame Eustace had locked her into her room Danielle
quietly emptied the bag that contained all of her sewing
supplies. She began to pack the few possessions she owned,
a mirror and brush that had been her mother's, a book
that had been her father's, and what clothes she had,
including the red silk dress, with the black lace front.


Danielle put the bag back in the small wardrobe and climbed
into bed, her heart was pounding as she tried to fall asleep.
He was here!


*****


Bernard picked up his courier's bag and slung it over
his shoulder, his sword remained hidden under his cloak.
It wasn't until Bernard was in his old room that he realized
that had no access to his sword with the cloak on. Bernard
had carefully cut a slit in the side of the robe to allow him
to reach in and unsheathe the sword.


When it was time Bernard quietly made his way from bowels
of the castle up towards the main hall and the tower. He could
hear no noises emanating from the main hall; everyone must
be sound asleep, and in bed. There was no guard at the passageway
to the tower; burning lanterns hanging by chains from the
ceiling lit the way. A guard was sleeping on a chair at the
entrance to the stairway; Bernard quietly pulled his sword
from the sheath and with stealth walked to where the guard
sat, snoring the night away. He brought the pommel of his
sword down hard on the skull of the guard, rendering him
unconscious


Bernard pulled the unconscious guard under the stairs,
bound, and gagged him securely. Quietly Bernard began
to ascend the stairs, he stepped like a cat stalking a bird,
softly, and slowly, making no noise at all.


He was sure the whole castle should be able to hear his heart;
it was pounding in his ears like a man beating on a kettledrum.
Boom...Boom...Boom. Bernard carried his sword with both
hands, at the ready. As he reached the landing he could see
the guard, sitting on a stool, busy gnawing at the remains
of his supper. The guard's back was turned to Bernard
as he slowly approached. At the last minute the board on
the floor let out a squeak, that to Bernard sounded like
the screeching of the banshees in Hell.


The guard turned, and his jaw dropped at the sight of Bernard
holding the sword, he reached for the rope that would sound
the bell to raise the alarm in the castle. Bernard's
sword came down in flash, severing the rope before the guard
had the chance to pull on it.


"Yield, and you might live to see the dawn, "
Bernard's voice was menacing.


The guard thought for a moment then placed his hand on his
own sword, yes he might live to see the dawn, but not long
after if the Prince found him alive and the Princess gone.


The sound of cold steel rang out as his pulled his sword;
he bared his teeth, "Prepare to meet your doom."


The Princess woke with a start as she heard the commotion
out side of her door. She could feel his presence just beyond
the door. Scarcely breathing she held her thin blanket
to her chest.


Bernard watched the tip of the guard's sword, he knew
not to look into his eyes, the guard's eyes could go
one way, and the tip another.


As the guard lunged towards Bernard he brought his sword
down. Bernard stepped quickly to one side, and then whirled
around backwards, his own sword at waist level.


The guard's face froze in a look of shock as Bernard's
sword cut through his stomach clear to the spine. His mouth
opened and emitted a brief gurgling sound before falling
backwards.


Bernard tested the door; it was locked as he expected it
would be. With all of his might he drove the sword into the
lock. The cheap iron of the lock splintered under the force
of the steel sword.


Cautiously Bernard opened the door and stepped into the
room. Moonlight bathed the Princess's room in a silvery
glow. He looked at the Princess, and dropped to one knee.


As the door swung open Princess Danielle held her breath,
a shadow appeared at the door and dropped to his knee, the
sword in his hand glowed softly, as did his face in the ghostly
moonlight.


"I am here to set you free, " Bernard scarcely
believing he was addressing the Princess that he had loved
from afar for so long.


Princess Danielle's heart beat rapidly as she asked,
"And who is setting me free, what is your name?"


"I am Ber...Sir Bernard of the Tree, and it is my desire
to remove you from the castle of Prince Drake, will you come
with me?" Bernard's voice was soft and gentle.


Princess knew it was him, the one she had been waiting for,
she felt like her heart was going to burst, "Yes, I
will come with you, I feel that I have been waiting for you."


She let the thin blanket drop as she rose from her bed. Bernard
could see her breasts through the thin material of her sleeping
gown; he felt his cheeks burn as he cast his eyes downward.


Bernard reached into his courier's case and removed
the spare acolyte's robe and held it out to the Princess,
"Put this over your dress, I will wait outside of the
door while you dress."


Princess Danielle had felt his eyes briefly on her breasts,
for some reason it made her feel warm inside. Quickly she
dressed, and then pulled the coarse brown robe over her
dress. She pulled the bag from her wardrobe and walked out
of her room, and to her freedom.


Bernard had taken her bag, and motioned for her to follow.
Quickly, and quietly they made their way down the tower,
and through the castle. Once in the stable Bernard had wished
he had saddled another horse before going to the tower.
It only took a few minutes for Bernard to find a suitable
horse for the Princess, and to get him saddled.


"Keep your head down, and your hood pulled low as we
go through the gate, and if we are challenged, ride as hard
as you can, I will catch up, " Bernard advised.


They made their way towards the main gate of the castle,
as they approached two guards blocked the way, one of them
spoke, "Halt! On orders from the Prince, no one shall
leave the castle tonight."


Bernard spurred his horse hard, and drew his sword at the
same time. His horse drove one guard into the ground while
his sword felled the other, with the Princess beside him
they galloped at full speed into the night as the sound of
the alarm bells were raised within the castle.


*****


Prince Drake was in a rage, the Princess was gone, spirited
off into the night by a man wearing robes of the Bishop's
acolytes.


"Get the troop mounted!" He screamed at the
Captain of the Guard, "I want to be on our way within
an hour, do you understand me? Any man not ready will answer
directly to me!"


The Captain of the Guard was withering under the verbal
assault, "Yes your grace, we will be ready to ride
within the hour."


He paced back and forth, slapping his hand with a leather
glove, his wrath boiled, "How dare someone come into
my castle, and kidnap my wife! He will pay, oh how he will
pay."


The Prince began to imagine all sorts of ways to kill this
man; all were very slow, and very painful. He would enjoy
watching this man suffer; he would make him suffer like
no man had suffered before.


*****


They had covered about ten miles when Bernard halted the
horses, "We need to give the horses a break."


Princess Danielle climbed down off of the horse, "Where
are you taking me?"


Bernard looked at her, "To the coast, we can get a ship
there and leave this land."


"What makes you think I want to leave this land?"
there was the briefest of smiles on Princess Danielle's
face.


He had not thought of that possibility, he had accomplished
what he had set out to do, to rescue the Princess from the
Prince; he had just assumed that she would go with him.


A small smile re-formed on the Princess's lips as she
looked at the confused look on Bernard's face, "I
will go wherever you take me, " her look saddened
as she looked back in the direction of the castle, "There
is nothing here for me."


Bernard pulled off the rough brown cloak of the Bishop's
acolytes, and laid it across the saddle of his horse, he
put on the padded hauerbak, mail, and surcoat from the pack
on the back of the horse.


Princess Danielle smiled when he had put on his surcoat;
her unlikely champion looked every bit the knight in shining
armor.


"Take off your cloak, and put this one on, "
Bernard passed the Princess a heavy green cloak with an
oversized hood.


For the remainder of the night they traveled quickly, stopping
only to rest the horses. At one point they had left the main
road where it met a small stream. They left the main road
and traveled in the shallow creek until it met a small trail.



The sky was glowing a pinkish orange when they stopped again;
they had left the small trail, and had doubled back for about
a mile before stopping. Bernard laid a couple of blankets
on the ground and looked at the Princess, "Lay down
and get some sleep, we will get started again in a few hours.
I'm going to take care of the horses."


*****


The Prince and his men had left the castle, and had ridden
hard through the night. There had been stops for neither
horse nor man; the Prince was determined to recapture his
wife, and her rescuer before the dawn. He was pushing his
men hard, and his horses even harder.


They didn't pause a beat when they passed over the creek
that marked the point where Bernard and Danielle had left
the main road. The dawn found the Prince and his men many
miles away from where Bernard and the Princess had stopped.


"Well?" the Prince's voice was impatient
as he looked at the man who was studying the ground.


He looked up at the Prince, "There's been no riders
down this road since last evening, they must have left the
main road somewhere back there, " the man was pointing
in the direction that the Prince's party had just come
from.


The Prince was seething, it was apparent that his wish to
recapture his wife wasn't going to happen tonight.


The party had to travel more slowly now, as they looked for
signs of where Bernard, and the Princess had left the road.
It was near noon by the time they had gotten back to the small
stream that Bernard and Danielle had taken. It was a further
three hours before they found the small trail.


"I'd say about eight hours since these tracks
were made, " the tracker reported to the Prince.


The Prince's rage had subsided somewhat, but his desire
to exact revenge upon his wife, and whoever was helping
had only grown. He knew at this point it was pointless to
try to catch up, the men were tired, and the horses exhausted.



Staring up the trail in the direction that Bernard, and
Princess Danielle had traveled the Prince whispered,
"You may have escaped me tonight, but I will have you...I...will...have...you, "
the malevolence burned in his eyes like a cancer.


*****


It was midmorning when Bernard and the Princess were on
the trail, the Princess had slept a little, and only fitfully.
She knew the Prince would be hard on their trail, and would
only stop when he had met his objective.


As they rode the Princess studied Bernard's face carefully,
there was a gentle calm about him; she liked how his green
eyes sparkled in the sun. His face showed strength, and
determination, and there was something oddly familiar
about it.


"Have we met before?" the Princess asked.


"You have seen me before, but we were never introduced, "
Bernard replied.


"I feel like I know you, for the whole day I felt like
I knew you were coming for me, " she carefully chose
her words, watching for any reaction from Bernard.


"I can understand that, " Bernard replied,
"Because you did know I was coming."


Princess Danielle was perplexed, "If I didn't
know you, how did I know you were coming?"


"Because you read it, " Bernard answered,
and thinking himself somewhat clever.


"Read it? What did I read?" Danielle was becoming
more and more confused, and was beginning to think that
a madman had rescued her


Bernard stopped the horses, and looked at Princess Danielle
straight in the eye, "I have only been a knight for
a day, before that I was a scribe in the Scriptorium in the
castle."


He carefully told Danielle the whole story, not leaving
one detail out, and when it was over she looked at him with
a look of wonder on her face, "As you told me the story
I remembered everything, it was exactly as you said, but
what happened after my husband threw the story into the
fire. I remember the woman in white showing me something,
and that's it."


"I was with the woman in white, we were surrounded
by mists, she explained a little of what happened, and, "
Bernard told the Princess what the woman in white had said,
and what she had done.


Princess Danielle tenderly touched Bernard's cheek,
"And you wrote all of those stories for me, night after
night, I know not what to say."


She bowed her head; she didn't want Bernard to see the
tear running down her cheek. Princess Danielle couldn't
remember one time in her life that anyone had done anything
for her for no other reason than love. Her mother had died
in childbirth, and her father had died shortly after when
he was thrown from a horse. An aunt, and uncle who only did
it because it was their duty had raised her. They had not
been cruel to Danielle, and she had lacked nothing, but
there was no love in the house. A great deal of the time she
had been raised by servants while her aunt and uncle were
away.


Bernard blushed, her hand felt so soft upon his cheek, and
all too soon it was gone, he could have happily stood there
until the end of time with her hand touching him.


They remounted their horses and resumed traveling towards
the coast. Her tender words, and the feel of her hand on his
cheek had sent his heart soaring. They stopped briefly
to water the horses at a small creek, and to eat a simple lunch
of bread, cheese, and a little wine.


He knew the Prince and his men were behind them, he only hoped
that he had bought enough time by traveling down the creek
to this trail. Bernard was also keeping a wary eye on the
trail for any other travelers; he thought it best to keep
out of sight of anyone Villages were none existent along
this trail, occasionally they would spot a farm house with
smoke coming out of the chimney, and these they gave a wide
berth to.


By mid afternoon the skies had begun to cloud over, and the
further they rode towards the coast the more ominous the
sky was. The wind had begun to pick up and there was bitter
chill to it. They road with their heads down to avoid the
biting wind, and their hands keeping their cloaks closed.


Just before nightfall Bernard had found shelter for night,
a large outcropping of rock that would protect them from
the rain, and for the most part, the wind too. Bernard decided
against starting a fire, who knew whose eyes might be scanning
the horizon for any signs of riders ahead.


*****


"Damned rain, " the Prince cursed as the drizzle
began to get heavier, "We'll lose their trail.
How far ahead do you make them to be?" his question
was directed to the tracker.


The man studied the hoof prints carefully, "I'd
say about six to eight hours. It's hard to tell now the
weather has come in."


"We'll never find them if this accursed rain
gets any heavier, " the Prince wasn't admitting
defeat, just reminding himself that his revenge may come
later, rather than sooner.


The tracker looked at the hoof prints again, then at the
trail up ahead, and finally at the Prince, "If you
want my opinion, they are headed for the coast, probably
one of the fishing villages."


The Prince uttered a curse while his eyes stared at the trail
ahead; they had made little if any progress in catching
his wife, and her rescuer.


The tracker looked up at the Prince, "I think I know
of a way for us to make up some of the time."


"Tell me man, don't stand there gawking, "
the Prince demanded.


"Well, " started the tracker as he pulled out
a map, and unrolled it, "If we follow this river in
the morning, we will gain almost a half days travel, and
be to the coast before them."


"Why wait until morning, why not start now?"
Prince Drake could smell victory, and taste the sweet revenge
he so desired.


The tracker shook his head, "We need daylight, the
way is treacherous."


The Prince nodded, and gave the order to set up camp for the
night. Sleep was a long time coming for Prince Drake; his
mind was busy devising the cruelest tortures possible.
Whoever her rescuer was, he would pay dearly, and for a long
time, a very long time.


*****


Although neither knew what the other was thinking, they
were each secretly glad for the inclement weather, they
were sitting against the outcropping of rocks with their
blankets wrapped around the both of them


Bernard had his arm around Princess Danielle; her face
was just a fraction of an inch away from his. He had recited
the last story he had written for her, and before he realized
it he had uttered the words he always closed his stories
with, "I love you Danielle."


She felt like her heart would burst at that moment, she had
looked up at Bernard and kissed him softly on the cheek,
"And I love you Sir Knight."


A warm surge flowed through her, from the top of her head,
to the ends of her toes, she was consumed by a warm glow, and
she wondered if it was love.


She moved her head until her lips just brushed against Bernard's,
her heart was pounding. His lips moved onto hers as the kiss
began.


Bernard could hear his heart pounding in his ears, he felt
dizzy as her lips touched his, and he felt his cheeks flush
with blood. Between his legs he could feel the swelling
begin, their lips moved over each other's slowly,
and gently. Danielle felt his tongue parting her lips,
her mouth opened slightly accepting him, and she took his
hand in hers and placed it upon her breast.


Even through her dress it felt heavenly, he had never felt
anything like it. He almost gasped as he felt her open the
front of her dress, and pull his hand against her naked breast.
It felt so warm, and so soft; his fingers explored every
square inch of both of her breasts, his fingertips lightly
grazing across her small taut nipples.


Around them the storm began to build, the clouds had grown
thicker, the wind had picked up, and in the distance the
sound of thunder. Bernard and Danielle were oblivious
to the oncoming storm; their own storm of passion was rising.


Although she had no actual experience, she had heard some
of the servant girls talking about men before the prince
had kidnapped her. She reached down between his legs and
found the swollen bulge in his trousers. It almost took
her breath away, her fingers gently traced the length of
it, she could feel herself growing very warm, and she felt
a warm moistness between her legs.


Flashes of lightning lit up the sky, and for brief moments
they could see the hunger they felt on each other's
face. The thunder was louder now, the winds whipped all
around them, nothing was felt by Danielle, or Bernard,
the rocks still gave them shelter, a storm of their own was
building within the both of them.


Danielle fumbled to undo the buttons on Bernard's
trousers, finally when all were undone she reached in and
touched his manhood. She wasn't sure what to do, and
Bernard sensed it, he gently placed his hand over hers,
and began to move it slowly back and forth.


Bernard had never felt a woman's touch there before,
only his own. Her hand felt cool on his hot flesh, her delicate
movements further raising his desire. She took his hand,
and placed in under her skirts, she moved aside her underclothes
allowing him to touch her most secret place. And like he
had done for her, she did the same for him, she placed her
hand on his and showed him how to touch her.


The thunder shook the ground, the lightning lit up the sky,
the wind howled through the trees. The air smelled heavy,
and wet, rain was near.


Danielle whispered softly to Bernard, "I want you
to be the one that takes me."


And with that she gently pushed Bernard down, his member
stood proud and straight as she straddled him, she took
him in her hand and placed him at the entrance of her maidenhood.
Slowly she began to impale herself on his staff of flesh,
she grimaced with momentary pain as her virginity was taken,
and then she looked down at him and smiled.


As their bodies moved in unison, driving into each other,
becoming one the storm was at its height. White-hot bolts
of lightning struck around, and near them, the thunder
roared like the gods at the beginning of time.


And as the heavens opened up and released, Bernard cried
out and released his seed. Danielle shook as the heavens
descended upon her, she cried out his name, and held his
shoulders tightly.


As the storm relented so did their passions, after it had
passed they lay there under the blankets kissing softly,
and whispering to the other.


Prince Drake and his men were up before the dawn, and had
just started along the boulder strewn riverbank as the
sun broke over the eastern horizon, it would take most of
the day to make their way along the river, and through the
gorge, but it would put them ahead of the Princess, and Bernard.


It was slow going, footing for the horses was treacherous
at best, and more than one horse and rider found their way
into the frigid waters of the river.


The man who had been doing the tracking the day before was
guiding the Prince and his men along the river. He smiled
to himself; if they thought the going was hard now, wait
until they got into the gorge.


*****


Princess Danielle, and Bernard had awoken as the sun rose.
They were wrapped in each other's arms under the blankets.
Danielle had never felt so alive as she did this morning;
she had given Bernard something that the Prince could now
never have, her purity.


She kissed him softly on the lips, "Good morning Sir
Knight."


Bernard smiled, his heart pounded at the sound of her voice,
"Good morning to you my Princess."


Today was the happiest day of both of their lives, as they
rode they laughed, and smiled. It seemed to make the journey
pass so much quicker.


"When we will be at the coast?" Danielle looked
at Bernard, "I'm anxious to be away from this
land."


Bernard pulled the map from his pack, and studied it for
a moment, "No later than noon tomorrow."


The Princess turned her head, and looked back down the trail,
"I wonder how far behind he..." she didn't
finish her thought and gave a shiver.


"I don't know, I think a ways, I haven't seen
any signs of cooking fires behind us at night, " he
looked back at the map, "The only other way to the coast
is along the river, and from what I know that way is virtually
impassible."


The terrain had begun to change as they began to climb higher,
and higher, the dense forest had given way to open spaces
covered in a short blue green grass. Small hardy bushes
with orange berries abounded, as did a small purplish flower.
It was chillier, Bernard and Danielle had to don their cloaks
to keep warm; the peaks of the gray craggy mountains were
permanently capped with snow.


By Bernard's calculations by the time they hit the
summit they would be less than a days ride from the coast.
The sun had just passed its zenith when at last they reached
the summit. They stopped and ate some bread, cheese, and
dried meat; they washed the meal down with a few mouthfuls
of sweet white wine.


Princess Danielle looked back to the direction from where
they had come, "Back there is our past, " she
pointed in the direction of the coast, "And there,
that is where our future is."


Bernard nodded, and put his arm around her shoulder as he
gazed towards the coast, "A new beginning for the
both of us."


Danielle liked the feeling of his arm around her, he had
lost some of his shyness with her, as she looked up at his
face she felt safe. It was feeling that warmed her to her
soul.


*****


The gorge was a narrow gash in the rock that the river boiled
through; in the spring when the snows melted it would be
completely impassable by horse, or by foot. However this
time of year the waters of the river were lower, and with
a veteran guide the way was just passable.


The men were forced to dismount, pull their horses, sometimes
two and three men pulling on the reins of the frightened
beasts to get them to traverse the boulder strewn trail.


It was almost dark by the time they emerged from the gorge,
cold and wet. The Prince was almost giddy in anticipation
of seeing the fear on his wife's face when he confronted
her.


*****


It was still a few hours from dark when Danielle and Bernard
came across a small inn on the side of the trail.


The Innkeeper was a jovial looking fellow with a wisp of
white hair on the top of his balding pate. His cheeks were
rosy red; the long pipe that he held was puffing out clouds
of aromatic smoke as he sat on a bench outside of the inn.


"Travelers, we don't see many travelers this
time of the year, if you are in need of lodgings then you are
in luck." The innkeeper's greeting was warm,
and welcoming.


The look on Princess Danielle's face told Bernard
that she was read to stop for the night, but before he could
say anything Danielle asked, "Would you happen to
have a hot bath?"


The Innkeeper chortled, "A hot bath can certainly
be arranged."


Bernard laughed as he looked at the excited look on Danielle's
face, "You have customers good sir."


"I'm Fitzhugh, the proprietor, and I bid you
welcome, leave you horses I will attend to them presently.
Come inside and meet my wife and we will get you your rooms, "
the Innkeeper stood and opened the door.


A roaring fire was burning in the public area of the inn;
it was warm and cheerful inside. The aroma of roasting meat,
and hot mulled wine wafted invitingly throughout the room.


Fitzhugh clapped his hands, "Momma, come quick,
we have guests for the night, and they are in need of a bath."


A plump, cheerful, white-haired woman emerged from the
back, she was wearing a long white apron, and a large smile,
"Welcome, welcome, come sit by the fire and warm your
selves."


"My name is Isabella, " she introduced herself,
then looking at Danielle, "As soon as the water is
heated for the baths I will come and get you, " then
looking at Bernard, "Who do we have the honor of having
in our humble establishment tonight."


Bernard had removed his cloak, revealing his white surcoat,
and mail, "I am Sir Bernard of the Order of the Tree."


Danielle reached out and squeezed Bernard's hand
tightly, "And I am Lady Danielle, Sir Bernard's
wife."


Bernard looked at Danielle, his eyes were full of love,
and he couldn't believe she had just said that.


After Isabella had brought them mugs of mulled wine they
sat down by the fire, and Bernard whispered, "I can't
believe you told her that you were my wife."


Princess Danielle smiled, and laughed softly, "If
I hadn't told her that we were man and wife, she would
have given us separate rooms."


It took a minute for Bernard to realize what she had meant,
and then he blushed softly, "I didn't think of
that."


Isabella looked at her husband, she was beaming, "Make
sure the good china is clean Poppa, it's not often we
get a Knight and a Lady."


*****


Prince Drake was finally warm, and his clothes dry; it had
taken several hours by the fire to achieve this.


He had gathered his men into a circle, "Tomorrow we
will catch up with my wife, and her kidnapper, " his
voice was cruel and cold, "I want the both of them captured
alive."


The past few nights had given Prince Drake plenty of time
to devise the most cruel tortures for whoever this man was,
the man that had taken something that belonged to him.


*****


Bernard sat in the deep bathtub, the hot water up to his neck.
He couldn't remember the last time a bath had felt so
good, and been so warm. He had soaked in the soapy water for
almost an hour when Fitzhugh came in and reminded him that
dinner would be ready soon.


A clean, and refreshed Bernard sat down at the table in the
dining room. He had been sitting there for a few minutes
when Isabella, her broad face beaming, and the hint of a
tear in her eyes opened the door to the dining room.


Princess Danielle entered the room wearing the red dress
that she had sewn; her beauty overwhelmed Bernard. As she
approached he stood up, and was rendered completely speechless.


Bernard dropped to one knee as he took her hand, "I
do not have the words to describe the beauty that I see before
me."


Princess Danielle smiled lovingly at Bernard, "Arise
Sir Knight, and join me for supper."


Isabella and Fitzhugh peeked through the door, Isabella
turned to her husband, "Look Poppa, he got down on
his knee for her, why don't you ever do that?"


"At my age it may take a while for me to get back up. They
must be newlyweds, " Fitzhugh smiled warmly.


Isabella sighed softly, "She is so beautiful, and
he is quite handsome. Oh to be young, and in love."


The dinner was delicious, although if you had asked either
of them the next day what they had eaten, neither would have
remembered. It was the most magical evening that Danielle
had ever spent. Bernard felt like he was living in a dream,
he had been tempted at one time to pinch himself, but was
afraid to. If this was a dream, it wasn't one he wanted
to awake from.


When they had retired to their room they stood there, the
light of one small candle burning. They embraced gently
at first, their lips touched, kissing softly. As their
kiss deepened, they held each other tightly.


Princess Danielle voice was almost a whisper; "I
want you to take me again Bernard."


After they had removed their clothes they had stood naked
in front of each other, Bernard took her by the hand and led
her to the bed. Their hands explored each other's bodies,
and using what they had learned the night before they aroused
the fiery passions in the other.


Danielle guided him inside of her, and then they began to
move together. Their bodies were like the storm of the previous
night, starting slowly, and building steadily to a tumultuous
climax.


As Bernard held Danielle in his arms afterwards, "I
don't think I have ever been prouder than when you told
them that you were my wife, " he paused for a moment,
"I don't have much to offer, so it may be silly
of me to even think of such things. Would you even consider
marrying me?"


Bernard's face flushed in the silence, he felt that
he had made a fool of himself, he was about to apologize when
he felt something wet on his cheek. He put his hand to Danielle's
cheek and discovered that she was crying.


He was about to apologize for his impertinence when Danielle
spoke, her voice gentle and full of love, "Oh Bernard,
I will marry you, " she wrapped her arms tightly around
him and held on to him, "I do love you, with all my heart,
and I will be proud to be your wife."


*****


"Anyone that harms either of them will answer to me
personally, " the Prince's words sent chills
through the men that followed him, "They belong to
me, and they will be mine..."


Prince Drake's eyes glazed over with lust as he dreamed
of the punishments he had in store for the both of them.


They had left just as the eastern sky had turned grey, and
had stopped at midmorning at what the Prince thought would
be a strategic spot. He knew they would have to come past
here, and there was more than sufficient cover for he and
his men to conceal themselves from any travelers on the
road.


Not a man spoke, not even a whisper, all waited in their places
of cover while the tracker, and the Prince carefully watched
the road.


The tracker tapped the Prince on the shoulder and pointed.
Prince Drake smiled malevolently as he saw what the man
was pointing at, two riders riding slowly towards them,
towards their doom.


*****


Isabella cooked a hearty breakfast for Bernard and Danielle,
griddle cakes, spicy little sausages, and eggs, with strong
coffee to wash it down. They ate heartily and both were excited
at the prospect of reaching the coast, and finding a ship
to take them away.


The sun was well up by the time they had bid Fitzhugh, and
Isabella a fond farewell. The day was promising to be a pleasant
one, the sky was clear and blue, only wisps of white clouds
in the sky. The breeze was gentle and warm.


After leaving the inn the trail they had been on joined with
a larger trail, and showed signs of moderate use. As the
trail slowly descended the trees got taller, and small
groves turned into a solid forest. The scrubby pines of
the higher elevations gave way to tall firs, mixed with
aspens, and birch trees. The air was alive with the sounds
of birds and insects.


It was late morning when then came down a sweeping curve
in the trail, and a bridge over a bubbling creek.


Bernard looked around; he had a disconcerted feeling about
this place. He carefully scanned the area with his eyes,
but found nothing out of the ordinary. Once across the bridge
they could see that the land ahead was beginning to flatten
out, the coast couldn't be far off now.


Danielle pointed to a grassy meadow, "Let's
sit, and have our lunch."


Bernard nodded, "I'll take the horses down to
the creek so they can drink."


"I would like some tea with lunch, can we make a small
fire?" Danielle asked.


Bernard once again felt that odd feeling in his stomach,
he carefully studied their surroundings, and again, found
nothing, "Yes, I'll start a fire first."


After they had dismounted Danielle put her arms around
Bernard's waist, her eyes sparkled as she looked up
at him, "We are almost there, these past few days have
been almost magical, I wish I could find the words to thank
you."


Her words warmed Bernard's heart, "Your smile
is thanks enough, " he kissed her softly and then
began to gather wood to make a small fire


After the fire was lit, Bernard took the horses, and a small
pot to get some water for tea down to the creek.


Bernard was daydreaming as the horses drank their fill
of water when the hair on the back of his neck stood on end.
He snapped back to his senses, his ears straining for any
sound. He could hear nothing but the sound of water in the
creek. That was it! It was too quiet, all the chattering
of the birds, and small forest animals, and the buzz of the
insects was gone.


"Danielle!" her name exploded out of his mouth
as he turned, dropped the pot of water to the ground, and
headed back to where he had left her at a dead run. Without
even realizing what he was doing, he had already pulled
his sword from its sheath.


She wasn't where she should have been, scattered on
the ground by the fire was the food that Isabella had given
them when they had left the inn. Instinctively he held his
sword out, and slightly down as he carefully began to move
towards the trees.


*****


Princess Danielle shook in fear when she saw that it was
Prince Drake and his men that had taken her prisoner. She
had tried to scream but the man holding her had his hand tightly
clamped over her mouth.


"Hello darling, " his voice dripped with cruelty,
he feigned a heartbroken look, "Oh Danielle, I can't
believe that you're not happy that I've come to
rescue you."


The Prince leveled his crossbow at her breast and pushed
the pointed bolt against her soft flesh, "You be good
now, I need to go find your friend, and I have some special
surprises for in store for him."


Every nerve in Bernard's body was on edge; his eyes
constantly scanned the trees up ahead for any signs, his
ears strained for any sound.


Danielle was screaming as loud as she could, but no sounds
were escaping, she tried to bite the man that had her in his
grasp, but his grip was so solid she couldn't open her
mouth.


Movement! A man lunged at Bernard from behind the tree to
his right, his sword pointed straight at him. Bernard's
sword came up, deflecting the charging sword, then down
hard, dropping the attacker in his steps.


Prince Drake heard the sound of steel on steel, and raced
to the sound. When he rounded the tree he saw Bernard, and
although he couldn't place him, he found Bernard's
face familiar. The Prince saw Judicium, and instantly
was filled with fear, and hate. He knew that this man with
the glowing sword meant danger. All thoughts of torture,
and a slow death evaporated, he wanted this man dead, and
now.


The Prince stepped out from behind the tree and fired his
cro

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Great writing, keep it up

10/10/2006

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great but were is the rest?


And when you going to write a book I wont a coppy
!!!

10/11/2006

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Simple explanation...the idiot cut and pasted the story
from Literotica.com....

10/15/2006