Runaway Wife Romance Part 4

runaway wife romance

If you missed them, here are Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 of this short story romance.

Countryside and Docks: Devrim

I still didn’t know what to think. My romance had ended before it began, and my wife disappeared without a trace. Although I had harbored worries that her family had taken her from me, their attitudes convinced me they shared my ignorance of her disappearance. 
“What if bandits took her into the wilderness?” Jennifer’s mother wailed into my shoulder. “We may never find her broken body!”
I patted her back awkwardly. A week after the wedding, we still stayed at the estate as our base of operations. I would hate to continue renting, but Franklin Fronth was a Lord and had seemingly unlimited resources. Which made his refusal to pay the dowry all the more infuriating. Of the family, only he might have had the motivation to take her away, but it seemed a trivial reason to do so. In fact, I’m sure he suspects me of foul play, so that I could have the dowry and then marry the mistress I’m sure he’s heard about. 
The sun shone down on us. The darkness inside the building was just too oppressing. 
“Devrim!” someone yelled out from across the yard, so I looked up. I saw Rene Fronth, Jennifer’s brother. He dressed with a feathered cap and colorful short cape, which made my own clothing seem drab in comparison. He beckoned me over, so I disengaged from his mother and ran over.
“Any word?” I asked when I reached him.
“No, no news. But I was talking to a friend and he mentioned that he had some goods imported from Felaronia coming in today and it got me thinking. What if, for whatever possible reason, she took a ship to Felaronia? I asked what day that ship would have gone to Octgard and he told me it was the day after the wedding. It’s not a real lead, but I think it is worth investigating, as we don’t have anything else to go on.”
I almost laughed out loud. Why in the world would shy Jennifer run off to Felaronia? It made no sense. Rene was looking in all the wrong places. I was about to reject his offer, but thought that it might instill resentment. In truth, I had nothing better to do and didn’t want his mother clinging to me. “Should we go down to the docks?” I asked, humoring him. 
Rene gave a nervous smile, unsure whether I approved or not. Let him guess.
We made our way over to the docks, a trip that took some time while winding our way through crowded, stinking streets. That’s why I hated Capital Mith. The ever present sun shining in my window of the carriage burned my skin in spite of the flimsy curtain I used to block it. My eye began to twitch and my mouth felt dry.
I didn’t feel like talking much during the ride. My thoughts wandered to Jennifer. Would I ever see her again? Was someone holding her captive? Was she waiting for me to come rescue her? What if she had been defiled? Then what would I do? So many scenarios floated through my mind, but none of them allowed the possibility that she was out of my reach forever.
I put on my hat when we stepped out of the carriage and onto the docks. Boats of all sizes filled the coast. I didn’t come from a coastal city, so I admit I didn’t know the difference between any of them, but Rene seemed to know where to go, so I followed him. The waves made a constant swooshing sound so annoying that I had to keep from shouting out in frustration.
He chose a large ship, random in my mind, and walked up the planks onto the ship. I followed him up but nearly toppled over when the ship shifted. Even on the deck, I felt a little dizzy. In the corner of my eye, I saw some people sniggering, but when I faced them, they looked away innocently. 
Rene found the captain, a wrinkled man who looked tired of life, and then started talking. I stayed back, observing. “Captain James, I have a few questions for you.”
“If you’re mad at me for taking away your wife, girlfriend, or sister, that’s not my problem. These women are adults and can make their own decisions. Several come back on their own accord.”
Never mind my first analysis. This man was just tired of answering the same question over and over again, always on the defensive. “Come, Rene, this is a waste of time.” I placed my hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off and continued talking to the captain.
“We just want to know if someone was on your most recent trip to Felaronia.”
“I don’t take names. Just coins. Easier for everyone that way.”
Rene looked flustered so I spoke up. “Jennifer Fronth. She’s tall, blond.” I wracked my mind for other descriptions of her, but failed to come up with anything. 
“She might have come with her friend, Mia, who’s shorter, darker hair, plump,” Rene added.
Captain James stood in a thoughtful pose, unfocused eyes looking back in time. “Yes, I think I might remember the pair. Didn’t talk too much with the other guests. Just kept to themselves.”
Because she was shy? But no, this couldn’t be them. Jennifer would never leave me to go to Felaronia, would she? 
“It must be them! Jenny’s safe!” Rene told me excitedly. He turned to the captain. “You did get there without any casualties, right?”
The captain rolled his eyes. “Of course, young lordling. So if you don’t mind, I have some work to get done.”
“I’m staying here,” I announced. 
“What?” both men asked me.
“Take me to Felaronia. I must find her and bring her back. I’ll wait here until the ship sets sail.”
“Are you sure?” Rene asked. “If she went to Felaronia, it was of her own will, and she won’t want to come back.”
“No, that can’t be it. Why would she flee from me if she doesn’t even know me? She wouldn’t reject a romance that hasn’t even started. Something else must be going on.” I wiped sweat from my forehead. The sun was turning my face red. 
The captain grinned. “Well, I would advise against this, but I can’t wait to see your face when you get back on my ship.”
I sneered. Who was he to judge me? I took out my purse and grabbed a few coins. “Just get me to Felaronia.”
Rene looked at me. “Are you sure about this?”
“Yes!” I snapped, because I knew I would get my romance back. He shook his head and started walking away.
The next day I set sail.

Runaway Wife Romance Part 3

runaway wife romance
If you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of this short story romance.

Felaronia: Jennifer

“We’re here!” I yelled behind Mia’s back. She actually jumped a few inches into the air, threatening to tumble off the starboard side of our elegant ship. The sails whipped back and forth so that, combined with the waves, muted all sound. I was proud of myself for managing that to overcome that and still scare Mia.
“Jenny!” she whined. “I can see we’re here.”
“Well, let’s go!”
Felaronia’s port town of Octgard greeted us with colorful banners flapping to the screaming wind. The wetlands made it hard to create a permanent settlement along this part of the coast, so most of Felaronia was inland along the River Nesco. But Octgard held out strong and looked beautiful to me right now. Wooden buildings with a variety of designs, colors, and textures were visible from the docks where we had landed. One in particular caught my eye, a tower that gently curved from wide to narrow as it went up, reminding me a little of a woman’s form. Surrounding buildings didn’t compete with it, but accented its beauty like it had all been planned out beforehand. Nothing like the haphazard stone walls back home.
We got off the ship, filing onto the wooden roads of the docks. I felt a little uneasy, as the ground didn’t wobble as much as I had gotten used to in the last few days. It seemed there were two groups, divided almost by gender. The first were the merchants, mostly men who came on business and knew what they wanted, wasting no time as they went toward the city. The second group consisted of women like us, the immigrants, fleeing the effects of misogyny, false romance, and general injustice. We didn’t know where to go and still marveled at the sight of the mythical city. Sure, there were female merchants and male immigrants, but they were minorities. 
As the most noble among our group, I felt it my responsibility to lead them to the shore. So I told them to follow me and mimicked the merchants even as I followed them. Mia caught up to me, looking worried. At first, few wanted to venture out, but the submission that had been beaten into them for so long won out and they lined up behind me. We marched to shore, leaving the vessel of our deliverance behind as we faced our new lives. 
A trio of older women greeted us at the end of the docks. One wore her black hair in a bun, another let her long curly hair loose, and another had her gray hair cut short. All three wore robes, black, purple, and white. They folded their arms with amused looks on their faces. 
The one with the short hair spoke first. “Welcome to Felaronia. My name is Saphira. This is a place where you find what was lacking in your homelands: value and respect. But to obtain that, you must be willing to work hard for the good of everyone. This is not for the weak, lazy, or spoiled.” Did she cast her eyes on me? “We don’t enslave the men like they enslaved us. They are, however, subservient to us out of necessity. There are those whose ambitions would overthrow our society. If you find any, report them to us and they will be escorted to a country more to their liking.”
The one in purple spoke next. “I am Ynette. We realize that many of you are coming from situations of abuse and at the risk of your own lives. Because of this, you will all be assigned a mentor to help you gradually understand our culture, our laws, and our jobs. Any questions you have, you can ask her.
“If you want to pursue a career, but don’t have the skill, we can set you on the path of education. Also, do not despair because of lack of money. You will live first in the commons houses until your mentor transitions you to a full citizen. Like Saphira said, there is little tolerance for women who will not work.” Again, the look at me. Did they think I was just some foolish damsel? “Some of you might have even had easier lives in your homeland. But hard work will allow you to feel like part of our community. Come along and we’ll give you a tour of your new home.”
Mia clapped. “Isn’t this exciting?”
My mood had dropped a bit, but I still mustered up enthusiasm. I would prove these women wrong. Wiping the hair from my face, blown there by the wind, I nodded. 
This had to be better than a forced romance or marriage, after all.
 

Runaway Wife Romance

runaway wife romance

Romance Book in Sage Eyes

Runaway wife romance

Not too long ago, I had the idea for a romance within the Sage Eyes universe. It will be a short story, but I feel like it could be fun to write, to keep up the creativity. I will be publishing it incrementally through this blog and Wattpad, and maybe give it away as an eBook once it’s completed, so come back and check for updates.

It is Jenny’s wedding day, but she doesn’t know the man she will marry. So on her wedding day, when she realizes she doesn’t want to live that kind of life, she decides to run away to Felaronia, a nation where the women are in control. 

Devrim, her newlywed husband, finds out about this and chooses to take back his wife himself. But his plan might not be as simple as he assumes. 

You can also check out other short stories here.

Runaway Wife Part 1

“Jennifer Fronth, Do you take Devrim Longstin as your husband and promise to remain faithful to him as long as you both live?”
I looked down at my husband-to-be, his unruly auburn hair just asking for me to lick my thumb and press it down. If I actually knew this man, I might have done just that, but this was the first time I had seen him up close. Even here, in the judgment hall, the lighting didn’t do anyone justice. How did I look to him?
My eyes flicked over to father, standing behind the judge with a grave smile on his face. How could he stand there, selling me short by giving me away to this young baron? As lord of House Filmore, he could have bargained me away to just about any bachelor in the realm. So why did he settle for this no-name? 
Mother at least wore some emotion on her face. Her red eyes spoke of tears of knowing this would be the last time we saw each other for possibly years. She knew what I would go through, although she married up, unlike me. 
My brothers Franklin and Rene didn’t even pay attention to my predicament, making eyes with girls in the audience. Older than me, they were still immature fools. But father wouldn’t compromise their status with low marriages. No, that punishment he reserved for his only daughter. 
In fact, they were eligible candidates for Princess Tiffany Blade, not that she seemed in any hurry to marry. But whoever she did marry would become heir to the kingdom. One of my brothers could become king, while I was being demoted to baroness. 
“Ahem,” Judge Corvin said, his eyes boring into me. I sighed. I would satisfy my father. If I tried to run now, he probably had a cohort of servants ready to drag me back and force me to say yes.
Feeling a pit in my stomach, I said, “I do.”  
Devrim gave a wry smile. What did that even mean? What thoughts, if any, swirled around in the head of this man I was tied to for the rest of my life? 
“You may now kiss the bride,” the judge said, scribbling something in that book of his. This was not how I pictured my wedding. 
Devrim took a step closer and angled his head upward, coming in for contact, his eyes closing. I turned my head away at the last moment so his wet lips got my cheek. His eyes flew open and he backed away, cheeks turning red. Father shook his head and sighed. He did that a lot around me. 
People in the audience looked around at each other, no one wanting to acknowledge what they saw. One by one, people started clapping, but it sounded more like the pitter patter of rain than the boom of thunder.
I molded my face into a passionless smile and waved to the crowd. My handmaid Mia, sitting on the front row, caught my eye and gave me a knowing look. At least she would be going with me to my new home. 
When together, people thought us the odd pair. A friendship of contrasts. Mia kept her dark hair short, cut just below the ears, while I had flowing golden locks. She a little plump, me a little skinny. She was short, I was tall. Taller than my groom, actually, and accented by the fact that I wore high heels. It’s not my fault no one told me he was half dwarf.
The wedding took place in the capital, neutral ground between our two territories, if you will. My father had rented an estate just outside of the city limits for the wedding party and then for Devrim and me to stay a few days before the move. We rode in a carriage to the estate, me staring out the window at the city passing me by. 
The celebration passed by without incident. My father provided a modest feast to acknowledge the first marriage of his children. Devrim chatted with him more than me. Maybe my refusal to hold his hand gave him the impression I didn’t want to talk. 
I dreaded having it end, since I would end up alone with him, giving my body to a man I had barely met. I got more nervous as time passed and at one point started drinking liberally of the wine provided.
Mia had to place a hand on my shoulder to get me to stop. Without words, I placed the glass down on the table. 
“We should get you changed before your big night, Jenny,” she said with forced enthusiasm, eying my white gown. 
I just slumped down.
“Come on,” Mia said, tugging me up. With a sigh, I stumbled up. All my training as a lady, how to walk in heels, how to hold myself with poise, how to breathe wearing a corset, it had all abandoned me with the wine. 
She took me to a room lined with velvet and sat me in front of a mirror after easing me out of my dress. Mother had given it to me years ago. I had loved it then, taking it out of my closet and admiring it, dreaming of the day I would be able to wear it. Well, that day had come and now I just wanted to scrub it off of me like dirt in a bath. 
I didn’t even notice the tears until Mia wiped my face. “Oh, it’s not that bad. You’ll be fine. And if worse comes to worse, you could always run off to Felaronia.” She chuckled.
My eyes snapped open. Maybe if I weren’t drunk I wouldn’t have taken the idea seriously. I shouldn’t have, just like Mia didn’t. But in that moment, fleeing to a land controlled by women seemed like my only hope. Still, I wasn’t so far gone that I gave Mia reason to suspect my inner machinations. Yet.
“You’ve been listening to the rumors,” I said. “What have you heard about him? You know, the juicy details.”
“Oh, you don’t want to know all the bad stuff. I’m sure he’s a great guy.”
“Tell me!” My hands flailed at her face.
Mia stepped back, unscathed but afraid. “The only bad thing I’ve heard is that he has a mistress. And if you think about it, that might not be so bad. If you’re not in the mood, he can always–”
“Let him keep his mistress,” I crowed. Now was time to reveal my master plan, the one I had been cooking up for all of two minutes in my head. “We’re going to Felaronia!”
“What?” Mia shrieked. “Are you crazy?”
“I have all my belongings packed. I have enough money to get me there. You were going to move with me, so we’re just changing the destination.”
“But the wedding, and your family, and…” Mia sputtered off. “You should have done this before getting married, you know.”
“Well, you should have suggested it before. Besides, does it count if it’s not consummated?”
Mia made a face. “I…I’m not even sure I want to know.”
I took her hand and forced her to look me in the eye. “Enough with the men controlling us. We’re going to make our own destiny.”
We both ended up giggling, holding back screams. Mia moved her eyes from one side to another. “Let’s do it!” she whispered mischievously. 
And so we grabbed our bags, hauled ourselves outside, and hailed a carriage to the docks of Capital Mith, just as the sun was beginning to set on this chapter of my life.
Tomorrow would begin a new one. 
 

Strong Female Character: Where They Go Wrong

Dance

I’m a man. I’ve never been a woman. But I like to write (hence this site). And my writing just happens to be set in a world where there are two sexes, men and women. In an effort to represent one half of the population, I have some female characters, several of whom I want to portray as a strong female character. Now the trick is, how do I write them well, not being a woman and unable to read minds?

I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Part of it is from a shift in society, where women have taken a larger role in the workforce, leadership, and getting an education. So the clamor is for a strong female character to be portrayed realistically, or at least how people want to see them portrayed.

Once upon a time, women were designated to roles such as damsel in distress, loving mother, or spiteful stepmother. Now that was pretty limiting, as they were all pretty passive. Even the fairy tales about women didn’t have them actually do anything. In Disney’s Cinderella, the mice did more for her than she did for herself. She was valued for her kindness, hard work, etc, but above all, for her beauty, something she was born with and didn’t earn. And of course, her stepmother was jealous of her, because of her old age and loss of beauty, and Cinderella’s beauty in contrast to her own daughters’, whose ugly faces resembled their personalities. Now we can look at that and see so many subtle but demeaning messages.

Today there is a hunger to see women in a much more active role, like Katniss in the Hunger Games or Rey in Star Wars. Instead of constantly being saved by a man, they can save others. Seems like a good thing, especially for girls who look to them as role models, right? For the most part, yes. But there are some scenarios where the strong female character isn’t done well. Here are a few categories:

The Sex Symbol

More used for the love interest of the male hero, but still can apply to protagonists. This is where the woman’s primary value comes from being beautiful, sexy, etc. Romance stories might have this, and female villains are often sexually manipulative. Video games, if they choose to have a girl as the playable character, will often do so just for the eye candy effect, not because having her as a woman changes the story in any way. But this doesn’t help the cause of women anywhere. Both boys and girls need to see that women are valuable for more than just their bodies. We, both men and women, can get so judgmental of someone for something they were born with and can’t completely control.

Male in a Female Body

This can overlap with the first point, especially in video games. But it is seen in other media as well. Basically, the protagonist acts, speaks, and thinks like a man, but has a woman’s body and is attracted to men. This caters to men again, giving them eye candy and someone they can easily understand as well. She’s usually a kick butt warrior, somewhat silent, and a loner, or at least pushes everyone away. She’s no nonsense, what men tend to value in other men, and skilled in some type of ‘masculine’ skill, usually fighting, sometimes mechanics or other similar fields. Pornography does this all the time, basically making a woman as lusty as the men who watch her. The problem with this portrayal is that the woman is only a woman superficially, with the outside body parts matching but the inside thinking and feeling completely divorced from how real woman think and feel. This sends the message that women can only be valuable if they imitate men and not for what makes them uniquely feminine.

The Mary Sue

The Mary Sue is perfect in everything. Rey from Star Wars gets accused of this, because she can suddenly wield a lightsaber and use the force as powerfully as Kylo Ren. The problem with this is that stories are inherently about growth, and if the protagonist is already perfect, then how can she grow? This portrayal is used because the writer is afraid that if the female protagonist has weaknesses, the writer will be accused of sexism. Or the writer just doesn’t know how to make a good protagonist. It’s all right for a hero to have some preexisting skills, otherwise they might be uninteresting, but they should still learn new things and struggle through difficult situations.

The Strong Female Character who doesn’t do anything

Sometimes an actual strong female character is put into a story. But if she’s a secondary character, she might not actually do anything to drive the plot. She’s just…there. Hiccup’s mom in How to Train Your Dragon, Trinity in the Matrix, Hope in Ant-Man, and others, they all have the skills to do whatever the hero does, but they have to sit back and do nothing, except maybe train the hero, because he’s the ‘Chosen One’ and she isn’t.

For more reading on this, check out this article.

The Enlightened Woman

This woman is ahead of her time, standing up against oppressive men because she was born for this century, not the 1800s. Unfortunately, while there have been women who have stood up to men in history, it is rare and was never as much as feminists these days would have liked. We are all products of our culture and can’t completely escape that. So those women in stories feel out of place. In a hundred years, people will look back at us and our culture and call us unenlightened and ignorant in how we treat and portray women.

Strong Female Character is now becoming a derisive term because it no better represents women than the old stories who dismissed them did. A truly strong female character has all the aspects of a real women, both the good  aspects like nurturing, communication, and intelligence, as well as the bad, like self doubt, not as physically strong as her male counterparts, and falling prey to her emotions. She doesn’t have all the answers, just like the rest of us in this world, nor is she born with all the skills she needs. She is, above all, a human being, with some facets of her personality influenced by her biology and the cultural expectations of whatever era she lives in. What makes a woman strong is refusing to let her weaknesses keep her from fulfilling her objective. In that aspect, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz is a strong female. She may not be a butt kicking warrior, but she unites people, defeats two witches, unmasks a phony, and leaves Oz just a little bit better.

Shouldn’t that be a good role model for girls?

 

Heroics part 2

Heroics

If you haven’t read Heroics part 1 already, go here first.

Within fifteen minutes, he arrived at the gates. With the help of some of his guards, after dispatching Jadek’s, he pushed open the doors in a dramatic gesture. Light from the cloudy sky filled the hall. His footsteps echoed all around him.

Going in deeper, dispatching more guards, Brom entered the hall to confront Jadek. He wanted Arabella, and no one would stop him. Clenching his sword until it hurt, as well as his teeth, he scanned the dark room. At the back facing him was his nemesis.

“You have broken the treaty, Brom,” came the voice from the shadows. Brom’s vision adjusted to the darkness. Jadek looked like he wanted to jump out of his throne and strangle him. Brom almost wanted him to try.

“The treaty was meaningless once you kidnapped my wife,” Brom said with deadly calm.

Jadek looked incredulous. “That is what this is about? You pillage my city for a girl?”

“You brought this upon yourself. Now where is she? Locked away?”

“I’m right here,” Arabella said, coming out of the shadows to the right of Jadek. Lush golden hair, delicate face, cherry lips, swaying hips. Brom lost his breath. “You should have left us.”

“Let her go free!” Bloodlust threatened to take over Brom.

“I want to be with him, Prince Brom!” Arabella yelled, becoming even more beautiful. “I never wanted to be with you!”

Brom couldn’t believe what he was hearing. She was to be his wife. She couldn’t hate him. He had done so much for her. No, this was a mistake. She had been manipulated. This wasn’t her talking. He knew it. She would never say something like that in her right mind. Jadek had some leverage on her.

“What have you done to her?” Brom cried out. “Face me now!”

“You’re insane!” Jadek yelled. “Guards, stop him.”

Thus began the battle, Brom’s guards versus Jadek’s. Brom helped, giving the advantage to his side. The fight lasted several minutes, and Jadek escaped with Arabella, but Brom couldn’t get through. His own side suffered several losses before he disabled the last of them.

As soon as possible, he took off after Jadek and Arabella. He wasn’t sure where they had gone, but could guess. The castle wasn’t unfamiliar to him. Because Arabella wore heels, she slowed them down, and Brom found them trying to escape in the back entrance.

“Jadek, it’s over.”

“Why are you doing this, Prince Brom? What did I ever do to you?”

“You took my wife.”

“She’s not your wife yet, and she came to me. We love each other; she didn’t want to get married to someone she couldn’t love. Will you not allow us happiness?”

Brom sheathed his sword, breathing hard. He walked up to Jadek, each step a battle. Glancing at Arabella with regret, he held out his hand. Jadek took it, hesitantly.

Grabbing onto his hand, Brom took out his sword with the other and impaled Jadek, pulling him closer. Arabella screamed and ran to Brom, hitting him with her fists. Brom ignored her. Jadek’s eyes grew lifeless and he coughed blood.

Brom pulled out the sword and let Jadek drop to the ground. Tired of hitting him, Arabella dropped to the ground as well, putting her body over his and crying. Brom left them, sighing.

A month later, they were married. Brom was crowned prince of Thromwell as well, ruling in absence of his father. Arabella promised she would hate him forever, and did not let him in her rooms ever, not even on their wedding night. He didn’t have the will to argue.

A few days later Brom was on the throne in a pose of deep and sad contemplation. Trumpets started blaring, shaking him from his mental fantasy. The doors opened and in strode a regal figure. someone with a purpose. It reminded Brom of himself so recently, coming in on Jadek.

“Father,” he said simply.

“Brom Filmor,” his father, Reginald, said. Although he said it pleasantly enough, undercurrents of anger were manifest. “I have come for an accounting of the stewardship I left you.”

“Leave us,” Brom ordered everyone in his court.

“Let Hadrian stay,” Reginald said. “I do not wish to be completely alone with you.”

Hadrian stayed, but did not look pleased.

“Well?”

Brom sighed. “Hadrian, if you please.”

“Remember your promise, my prince,” Hadrian began.

“Yes, yes,” Brom said, waving his hand and turning around. He clasped his hands behind his back. “Hadrian counseled me against all of this, and I didn’t listen.”

Reginald stayed silent, but put his chin in his hand. Hadrian cleared his voice and began the report. “There was an…altercation. It ended up in a battle between Thromwell and Filmor. In the end, we lost two hundred and twenty three soldiers. Thromwell lost many more, mostly civilians of fighting age. Also, Jadek, king of Thromwell, was killed. Without heirs, and in the confusion, Brom declared himself king of Thromwell.”

“Prince,” said Reginald, signaling Hadrian to continue.

“Prince Brom took Lady Arabella Faus as wife, and they were married three days ago. I have nothing more to report.”

“Very succinct,” Reginald said. “Thank you for the report, Hadrian.”

“Thank you, majesty,” Hadrian said, bowing. “If I may be so bold, how fared the war with the Mithics?”

“Let me put it this way. After the heroics of my son, now with so few soldiers to call upon for reinforcements, you need not call me majesty much longer.”

“You lost?” Brom shouted, then remembered himself. “Father?”

“We had to resort to the defensive. The Mithics will be coming to invade soon. I had hoped to recruit from Filmor and Thromwell to put together one last defense of our kingdoms, but with the needless losses you caused, I don’t know if it will be enough. Plus, we cannot count on the morale of Thromwell’s troops, now. They might prefer Mithic rule to our own.”

“I’m sorry, father!”

Reginald took a step forward, his anger finally showing. “Is that all you can say? Sorry? You destroyed the kingdom while I was gone! All you had to do was nothing! Was that so hard?”

“I didn’t want Jadek to steal Arabella away!”

“Oh? And how did that work out? How’s the marriage?” Brom didn’t answer for a few minutes. “Hmm?”

“You obviously know, so don’t taunt me!”

They stared at each other. Reginald finally spoke up. “Hopefully the Mithics will allow our family to continue ruling under them. Even though it’s unlikely you’ll be producing heirs anytime soon. I hope you enjoyed being the hero, son. You conquered a kingdom, now we will be conquered. We need great leadership in this time of change. Which means no more heroics.”

Heroics part 1

Heroics

“My liege, Prince Filmor, we hate to bear bad news, but we have just received word that the Lady Arabella has been abducted in route to the city.”

Brom straightened up on his seat, situated by his father’s throne, empty as usual. This was the first tiding in days that had interested him. In fact, he had been caught up in a daydream about his future wife. He had only met her once, but that had been enough to leave him smitten. Declared one of the beauties of the land, Arabella’s smile, so timid but so knowing at the same time, enchanted him. His thoughts had wandered to the wedding night when the unfortunate news came.

“Arabella!” he said, rising from his seat and whisking his cape in back of him. “Something must be done. Who kidnapped her? Where were they heading?”

“To the west,” one of the quivering messengers said, kneeling at his feet. The man was scrawny, unlike Brom’s own physique.

What lay to the west? “Jadek,” he said, that one name taking on power.

“It would seem the logical conclusion,” one of his advisors, Hadrian, said. “What course of action would you suggest in the absence of your father? Diplomacy? Espionage?”

“Heroics,” Brom said, ignoring the messengers kneeling uncomfortably on the hard floor. “There will be no tolerance for such an audacious act. Prepare the military.”

“My prince, I would advise against such drastic terms. We have a trade agreement with the Thromwells, and marching an army into their territory would be an egregious break of trust.” Hadrian, with his balding head, furrowed his brows, making him look more ancient than his forty years.

Brom remembered the messengers, waiting to be addressed, and waved them away. Most of them left, but one stayed near, half bowing, looking hesitant. Brom waved him away more energetically; annoyed he had to waste so much energy on the man. The messenger smiled and left, running after his coworkers. Hadrian and Brom were alone now.

“Any treaty Jadek Thromwell had with us is null in light of this kidnapping.”

“But Brom, you have no idea it was Jadek in the first place.”

“I saw how he was looking at her in the feast. Father Morander would be ashamed to have someone so full of lust attending the event in his memory.”

“Perhaps, but I know your father was ashamed to have his son drooling after the same girl.”

“I was not drooling. Anyway, I saw how much he wanted to have her for his own, and how jealous he was of me when my father announced our betrothal.”

Hadrian sighed. “You are the regent while your father is gone, and you have every right to be concerned about the welfare of your future wife, but remember that I recommended against it. Only you will answer to your father when this is over.”

“And receive all the praise,” Brom said. “Really, this won’t even be an issue. Don’t fret, I will cast you in the best light possible.”

“As you will, my prince. I desire the best for your journey. I will notify the general of your decision. But please, do not make enemies lightly.”

“There is nothing to fear,” Brom said, fearing he would be the same when he was older. “The princess will return safely and we will soon be wed.”

“Assemble the men,” Brom ordered from his horse. The flag bearer raised the horn and blew. Brom felt the vibrations pulsing as they reverberated through the valley. His men offered up a cheer as the march began. He smiled down on them as a loving father would. He yelled out as loud as he could, hoping his thousand men could hear him. “Your future queen, Arabella, has been kidnapped. We must rescue her. We believe she is held captive in Melfor with the Thromwells. Once we arrive, leave no house, no store, no alley unsearched.” Thinking about Hadrian, he said, “Avoid violence, but use it as necessary. And do whatever is required to save the princess’s life.”

The city of Melfor stretched before them, vast as the clouds in the sky. In the distance stood Thromwell castle, where Brom was sure he would find Arabella. In case Jadek, the elder son who recently inherited the throne after his father died of the yellow fever, saw Brom coming and sent Arabella away into the city, he would have his men enter in and search every house. Luckily, most of Jadek’s men were with Brom’s father, fighting in the alliance against the usurpation of the Kingdom of Grim by the Mithics.

They made it to the gates of the town before getting any response. One of Jadek’s guards came out to meet them, dressed in violet finery, but looking annoyed. “What is the meaning of this, Prince Brom? Just because your father didn’t bring as many troops with him to war as we did doesn’t give you the right to trample into our fair city.”

“You know why we’re here. And do not insult my father, who is actually fighting, unlike Jadek.”

“As well as you,” the guard replied, sneering.

“Someone needs to run the kingdom!” Brom said, losing patience.

“Exactly.”

“What is your name?”

“I am called Firion, son of-”

“Firion, if you can’t give me Arabella right now, I am going to take over this city and burn down every house until I find her.”

“Arabella? Who is she?” There was a look of such confusion on the man’s face that for a moment Brom thought he might not know. Only for a moment, though.

“Put up your guard, because I am going to rescue her!” Brom charged Firion with his sword raised. Firion barely had time to take out his sword and block the strike which left him trembling.

“You’re mad!”

“That’s right!”

One of the men escorting Firion backed away and pulled out a horn. It took him a few tries, but it sounded throughout the city, while Firion and Brom fought. Brom’s army marched forward, ready to take on the opposing host.

Brom had to admit, the guard was a good swordsman, but that was no surprise, given his position. Still, Brom was bigger and used his brute force to his advantage. His troops marched past him.

Swords clashed, ringing nearly as loud as the horn. Thrust, side slash, feint, parry, thrust again. Brom pressed down, hoping to break Firion’s stance. When that didn’t work, he slid down and slid his foot in an arc, trying to trip him, but only managing to unbalance him.

So he jumped on him.

Firion fell down, Brom on top. Not about to take any chances, Brom plunged the sword into Firion’s chest, pushing through the armor. Firion just gurgled in surprise, eyes already going blank.

Taking his sword out, blood dripping, he stood up and shook it before wiping it on Firion’s clothes. Red specks covered the ground.

Inside the city, people were running out of their houses, screaming. This only encouraged Brom’s army to chase after, pillaging and plundering. Brom hadn’t meant for this to happen, but getting control of them now would be nearly impossible, and he had to get to Castle Thromwell. Taking a unit of disciplined soldiers, he left orders with the general to round up the army and he took off.

A few peasants tried to stand up to him, yelling, calling him names, but he just cut them down. The castle stood like a white beacon, and everything else in sight was just a distraction. Arabella was waiting for him.

Read Heroics part 2 here.