5/10/15

Stella Mari Alden Day 5




Chapter One

Year of our Lord 1276

“By God, drag her down here! Naked if you must! Bread and water from now to eternity
if you can’t!” Sir Marcus Blackwell slammed his fist on the well-worn table and the sound
echoed back from every direction. Of all the bad luck. Forced into marriage with a foul-
mouthed, murderous widow.
He clenched his teeth when the next bout of high-pitched screams and curses exploded
from the floor above. Crashes, clanging, and banging followed. He cringed as the Lady Ann’s
strident screaming rang throughout the stone manor and probably into the courtyard.
“He can’t steal my lands this easily. He’ll live just long enough to rue this day. I shall
never, ever, turn my people over to a blood-thirsty, gold-grabbing beast. I’d rather be cursed to
hell. Nay, verily, I’d rather marry the devil himself than see myself married to him.”
Beast? He’d strangle the minstrel who’d taken his sword’s moniker and baptized him
with it instead. He was a holy crusader, deserving of respect, not an animal.
Crossing himself while counting to ten, he paced the dark hall lit by a single weak torch.
Shadows danced across dark tapestries, beyond a hearth the size of two horses, and over enough
tables to feed a small army. Thatch crunched under his boots, releasing a perfume of lavender
and grasses. He stopped for a respite of blessed silence. What in God’s creation have I stepped
When the mayhem started up again, it was from his first-in-command, Thomas
D’Agostine. “The devil take it, watch out. A knife!” A dagger fell upon stone with a metallic
clatter.
“Damnation. The bitch nicked me.” The smack of a hand against skin, a female yelp of
pain, then the battle paused momentarily.
“Enough!” The king’s command would be obeyed. Certainly, she’d have to understand
that. He stood at the foot of the massive stone staircase and waited for the thundering echoes to
cease before continuing at a lesser volume. Envisioning the vile creature, he shuddered. It was
far too late to retreat now. He’d wanted the land and bedding the ancient hag was part of the
bargain. “I said, do her no harm. Gag, bind, and blindfold the wench if you must. For the love of
God, she’s, but one woman.”

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