Mara had sought out her father’s court magician, Peter Scholar. Ambris went with her. They had both been invited to witness Andemyon’s adoption ceremony that evening in the Duke’s apartments, but Mara thought that this was more important.
Peter was startled when the Duke’s children entered the little library on the top floor of the Hall of Record, where generations of court magicians had formed their own collection. This was his favorite private place in all the palace, but he immediately set down his pipe and the book he’d chosen for his evening’s study, and made them welcome as if he received guests in his own chambers.
He was a young man, slight, with a sandy beard and wispy fair hair that he grew long but bound back in an attempt to keep it from his eyes. English by birth, educated at the College of Magic at Uittenberg, he wore the voluminous moss-green robes of a university master, which in fact he was. Continue reading “Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 9”
“She’s had no more to do with her own family or ours than necessity and courtesy require. Naufarre is hers, Spanish as she is herself but for no more political reason. Merciful Lord Alone knows what she’s taught her son to think of his relations in both nations. I think Juan has agreed to this marriage to make mischief and to play his Norman relations against his mother’s family. He may promise Naufarre to Spain, but that doesn’t mean he’ll give it. He is at heart a separatist. He would like to see Naufarre an independent kingdom and himself its king, but he knows that so small a nation cannot survive long between two mighty empires which desire it. So he takes what revenge he may on both, stinging when he can.”
That evening, a feast was set to welcome Lord Redmantyl and his sons to Pendaunzel. By proper custom, there should have been a banquet upon their arrival, but there was no time to prepare a great feast so quickly. The Palace had been in an uproar over the crisis in Naufarre and, these days, dinner in the banquet hall was a special occasion. Dafythe frequently dined alone in his apartments and the court only gathered together when they greeted important guests.
Tonight, the court bard Delphyn sang the ballad of Prince Denys for the court’s amusement:
Attend ye, o nobles, for I sing ye a sad tale
Of the fall of Fair Denys, a brave prince in sooth.
As Saint Parsyfal of old, a most virtuous knight,
He came to Our Lord’s arms yet a youth.
The sons of Good Robert were bold in those days,
Fit for battle and eager to face their foe.
On the sands of Madehef, they cast down all they met.
Down the mountains of Atlas blood flowed.
The firstborn Fair Denys, fleur-de-lys on his shield,
He was ever victorious, a most valiant knight.
The sword Dragonsfang he bore in his hands.
No Spaniard could withstand his might.
Prince Eduarde, the second, red lion of Skots,
Fierce, loyal he guarded his brave brother’s side.
The youngest, Prince Margad, no more than a boy.
Squire to his elders he did ride.
“Won’t you please speak for me, Ambris?” Mara asked her brother as they walked together from the Manor to Hartshall the next morning.
“Last night, you were eager to present your ideas about Terrojos to the Council yourself.”
“So I was, but I’ve thought the matter over since then.” Mara stopped at the entrance to the hall and caught Ambris by the sleeve of his robe. “I’ve decided that you are better suited to bring the matter to their attention. They call you a voice of reason. If you tell Father that we must claim Terrojos from the Spaniards, he’ll give it serious consideration, and the others will too.”
Norman law permitted the acknowledgment of illegitimate children, but not to the disadvantage of the legitimate. History often recorded the monstrous results of such acts of generosity. Ambris wouldn’t consider such treachery. Dafythe knew it. His brother Kharles, who had always had the power to name Ambris legitimate, knew it. The young Emperor knew it. Nevertheless, Ambris remained a bastard, a Prince in all but name.
The Emperor Redlyon had played his children as bargaining pieces, promising alliance through marriage to gain an advantage over the neighboring smaller countries and upstarts in his own kingdoms, yet withdrawing before the contracts were signed. In his youth, Dafythe had been betrothed to Leona of Napoli, Ysabella of Portugal, the Polish Prince Sarah, Katriana of Norway, Lorena of Hanover, and both the daughters of the Duke of Burgundy, sometimes two or three simultaneously. This political juggling had kept Dafythe and his brother Kharles in a bachelor state until they were both past fifty, but it didn’t prevent them from taking occasional lovers. Continue reading “Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 5”
Before dinner that evening the Duke received Lord Redmantyl in the private closet of his apartments.
“My Liege,” Lord Redmantyl introduced the young boy he had brought with him, “I present you my ward, Andemyon.”
Dafythe had assumed until this moment that the child must be Redmantyl’s unnamed son—Laurel often referred to both this boy and Redmantyl’s acknowledged son Orlan as her cousins—but he was now no longer certain. The silvery fairness of the wizard’s family was distinctive, and this boy nothing like them. Instead, he was gold-curled, rosy, blue-eyed and cherubic.
Pendaunzel Palace was no single castle, but a cluster of fourteen major buildings and a number of smaller houses within the shelter of ancient ramparts on the hilly parkland at the northern end of the city. The towers and spires of the great halls rose above the trees: Hartshall, the Hall of Record, the old castle keep, the stadium, the chapel of St. Othelie, and the Manor. This last, the Duke’s residence, had been built from the stones of the original castle late in the last century and was commonly taken for all the palace by Pendaunzel visitors. The round keep on its mound remained intact behind the two wings of the modern building, though the moat had been filled in and a long, curved portico was set on the slope before it. Antiquated annexes and abutments joined the modern structure at odd angles and old towers rose at unexpected points, but trees grew close on all sides and an abundance of ivy concealed any awkward convergence of old and new. Continue reading “Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 3”
She was Margueryt Cordelia Diane Sebastiane, Prince of Gossunge, Shieldmaid Commander, Chevalier Order St. Mykhael of the Holy Sword of Flame, the legitimate daughter and heir-apparent to Duke Dafythe of the Northlands. As first cousin to the Norman Emperor Kharles V, she was also next in line of succession to the imperial throne after her aged father so long as Kharles remained unmarried and fathered no licit child. At thirty-one, she was a vigorous woman in her prime, young enough to retain her ideals but old enough to strain impatiently at the bonds which kept her from achieving them. Continue reading “Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 2”
Whenever swords clanged against each other, Mara heard the ringing of the metal, clear and crystalline, urgent as a peal of church bells on a winter night calling the pure of heart from their warm beds to service. This was her service. She was guided by a higher power when she gave herself to swordfare. At this one moment, her mind was perfectly clear. She saw herself in motion. Her instinct never failed her if she acted instantly. Her faith was that of a knight in righteous cause. No candles, no chalice, no prayers save those she gave in the midst of battle—communion was achieved in the strike of blade against blade. The essence of life lay so near the danger. Continue reading “Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 1”