Enchanting the Flower Ch. 02

bySecretFantasy69©

He blinked, turning to his smiling friend. Braden was quick to find humor in anything, and in many ways, he kept Raynor sane.

"I was thinking of the king," Raynor offered by way of explanation.

Braden's smile faded. Although Raynor had pledged his sword arm behind Edward, Braden had pledged his behind Raynor. As such, Braden's loyalty was first and foremost to the Chieftain of Stonehaven. It was the same for many of the warriors who fought under Raynor.

"Would you like me to deliver a missive to him listing your conquests and presenting the spoils, my lord?"

Raynor thought on that question. Yes, he would, but that would only persuade Edward to come to Stonehaven, which was worse. The king angered him, but he terrified his mother, and the one thing that Raynor wouldn't stand from Edward was him upsetting his mother. The last time that had happened had been years ago, when his father had passed and Edward had visited the castle to pay his respects. Raynor had been ten and eight at the time, and while he'd received his status as a warrior, he'd yet to prove himself. Edward, along with his travelling party of warriors, servants, questionable ladies, and other chieftains, had stayed for almost two weeks. During that time, the king had taken every opportunity to pester his mother. He hadn't treated her with the respect deserved the grieving widow of a chieftain, and Raynor was certain that had it not been for Braden and his quick tongue, he might have made an attempt on the king's life then.

"No, Braden. I will go." Unconsciously, he shifted his arm to position the girl better on Midnight. "It's what the king expects."

**********

Mathilda jerked awake and yelped. Someone was shaking her, not the teeth rattling shake that she'd awoken to many a time since her capture, but a gentle shake.

"Easy, Eleanor." At first, she forgot that "Eleanor" was the name that Rory had given her when she'd continued to stare at him dumbly as he repeated asked for her name. This man's accent was much smoother than Rory's coarse language, and a bit easier to understand. She relaxed as much as she could in his arms.

Before her was a sprawling stone castle, that was almost as large, if not larger than the St. Ives Castle. She blinked and as her gaze refocused, she decided that she was wrong. It was larger than St. Ives Castle, and somewhere around the same size of Morden Castle. There were tall towers on either side, and a large moat surrounded the building. The parapets were armed with men, and she could see that the windows had been cut peculiarly, possibly to blot out arrows. A warrior's castle. She blinked and lifted a trembling hand to wipe at her face. The drawbridge was lowered, and the portcullis raised, no doubt for the procession heading in its direction.

"Can you understand me, Eleanor?" he asked in that gruff but gentle voice of his.

She contemplated telling him that she did, but decided against it. Rory had been unaware that she understood him, and it had allowed her to eavesdrop on some of his conversations. Keeping that knowledge to herself might come in handy with this man.

"So you don't understand our language, little one," the man muttered. Mathilda held still, her eyes darting left and right. Everywhere she looked, she saw soldiers. A banner flew in the wind at the front, but she couldn't make out the emblem. Maybe, just maybe she could get whoever was lord of this fortress to send her back to Morden? Even as the thought entered her mind, she dismissed it. They would probably kill her if they found out that she was a princess from the Old Lands, or even worse. She barely contained a frantic laugh. What could be worse than slavery? Whatever it was, she didn't want to find out.

Mathilda looked over her shoulder at the soldier behind her. Those piercing eyes of his were looking ahead, and his jaw was set. She looked away. She would bide her time, find out as much as she could, and then she would escape. If she could only get back to the other side of the Forbidden Sea, she was sure that she could find people willing to help her.

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