Somerset, England 1615,
The twins sat upon their destriers, forgoing the sidesaddles their mother was always scolding them to use. To ride astride has long ceased to scandalize their parents; The Duke and Duchess of Warwick. Looking at each other, as if sharing the same thought, they laughed softly. At age twenty-two, both were excellent horsewomen. Both disguised in men's leather britches, riding boots, hauberks, they sat watching the king's warriors practice for the tournament.
Lady Raven took off her helm first, revealing a cascade of long raven hair, that fanned around her like banner of black silk. Her vibrant eyes sparkled a light green fire, fringed in long black lashes. Turning to her left, Lady Dawn, her sister removed her helm as well, revealing a long golden mane. Her own light green eyes sparkled with mischief.
Holding their helms under their arms, the twins looked down the hill to where the men were practicing for this afternoon's tournament, held by King James I and Queen Anne. The twins had been practicing for weeks, to prepare for this tournament.
Turning their mounts back towards Warwick Castle, they did not notice the two men sitting upon their own mounts in a shadowed alcove. Chance DeBurgh and his friend Ian Salisbury looked at each other and decided that this tournament should prove interesting after all. Those two wild angels need taming, and they shall learn their lesson at the tournament. The look that passed between the two men, confirmed the same thought as the other.
"So...these ladies think to best us at the tournament" Chance laughed indulgently.
Smirking good-naturedly, Ian was excited about the prospect of these two beautiful young women paying a forfeit at the tournament when they lost to him and Lord Chance. "Lady Dawn is a beautiful vixen, who wants to participate in a man's sport, I shall demand her hand in marriage as forfeit."
Lord Chance was already envisioning the kiss he will forfeit from the raven haired sister of Lady Dawn. She was as wild as she was angelic looking. "Aye, her sister shall learn the same lesson, let us be off my friend, time approaches for the midday meal. Then in a few hours, we shall have these sisters for our own." Both companions laughed arrogantly at their own wit. Yet unbeknownst to them, the twins had doubled back on them and heard every last word.
Coming out of the shadows, the twins sat upon their destriers, their silken manes flying wildly in the breeze, as they raised their delicate brows at the proclamation of these two men. Oh both sisters knew these two well, and wanted them just as badly, but both sisters vowed to win this their way and teach these men their own lesson. With a knowing look to each other, the sisters retreated to prepare for the tournament that was fast approaching.
* * *
After the midday meal, both women went into the knights quarters in the castle, switched their colors and chainmail for another. DeBurgh and Salisbury had seen the colors they were going to wear, so both sisters decided to change the red for the blue under tunic. Taking down two helms, chainmails and chest plates, the twins ran quickly out of the men's quarters to prepare for the tournament.
Twenty minutes later, both sisters faced each other "I feel like a stuffed goose in this outfit. I only have to fall on Lord Ian and squish him to win." Dawn complained with humor, but blushed at the meaning of her words after she said them. She looked at her sister Raven, and both sisters already knew they wanted both men for their husbands.
Placing her arms around her sister, Raven tried hugging her but fell forward onto her stomach, as the weight of her own armor dragged her sister down too. Both sisters began to laugh as they lay face first in the dirt. Two stable hands came in and watched as the sisters laughed on the ground. The poor souls backed away and left the stables. Raven and Dawn looked at each other again and laughed. They were always shocking the inhabitants of her father's Castle.
Standing up, Raven helped her sister stand "We will only need this heavy protection for the jousting part and that is at the end of the tournament. For the dagger throwing and cross bow competition, we need only wear our chain mails and male attire. Dont forget to wear your padded britches and tunic, Dawn, we are alot smaller than all the warriors attending this day. When we approach the King's chair at the end of the tournament to receive our prize, IF we win, we will be forced to remove our helms and reveal ourselves, the punishment for the disguise will be worth it however. We will show them that it is not only men that can use weapons and succeed in this sport. Aye, they will find out quickly that we are not fluffy females that belong sewing for our men." Grinning mischievously, Raven tossed her long black hair and began taking her heavy armor off.
Laughing excitedly, Lady Dawn did the same, her green eyes vibrant with mischief." Aye, indeed, they will learn. Lord Chance and Lord Ian think they have us figured out. Oh goodness, I cannot wait to see how this will play out" both sisters laughed softly at their antics. It felt so wonderful to be free of female constrictions. The wind flew in their faces, raising their spirits, causing it to soar free.
The crowd in the benches behind the King and Queen's thrones, roared with approval, as the tournament began. King James nodded to the competitors to begin the cross bow contest. James' eyes roved over the line of competitors and frowned slightly, as he noticed how small the last two men were on the end. Whispering to the queen, she shrugged, not knowing either.
Chance and Ian stood on opposite ends of the lists where Raven and Dawn stood, readying their cross-bows. Awaiting signal from the king, the knights raised their cross bows and arrows. As the king's hand dropped, all twelve men let loose their arrows. Chance, Ian, Raven and Dawn all hit the center red circle. The king signaled for the second shot. All of them except for the twins let loose their arrows. Ian and Chance smiled as their arrows hit near center.
The twins looked at each other and nodded. Both took aim and the crowd went silent, thus all anyone heard was the whoosh of the arrows as they hit dead center, splitting their first arrows. The crowd stood up and roared as the two smaller knights both tied the match. Lord Ian and Chance both looked at each other and frowned incredulously.
Next came the dagger throwing match. Twelve individual posts were set up thirty yards away with an apple on top. The king again signaled for the competitors to let loose their daggers. Again, Chance and Ian hit the apple dead center, as did Raven and Dawn. At this point the King and Queen stood for a better view as the signal was given for the second round of daggers. The two sisters let loose the daggers from their upper thighs, and in a quick motion, threw them, impaling the daggers in the same indentations their first daggers landed in. The crowd cheered deafeningly, surging to their feet and clapping heartily.
Queen Anne placed a restraining hand on her husband's arm as he was about to enter the field to find out who these two small knights were. She looked knowingly over the two little knights, but decided to let them prove themselves. She had witnessed the little exchange earlier, Lord Ian and Chance had with each other about the daughters of her friend, the Duchess of Warwick. Smiling, she was secretly proud of these young women for having enough spirit to stand up for themselves. King James looked at his beautiful wife and decided not to go down to the field. She was up to something, but knew he could trust her. He raised his hand for the tournament to continue onto the last competition...the jousting.
Leaving their tents, the twins came forward with their heavy disguise, barely able to keep their footing. They had watched the warriors for weeks, on maneuvers and defenses, for this dangerous sport. The twins readied their spears, blunted at the tip. It was forbidden to have it sharp at tournaments held by the King, unless otherwise specified.
Two sets of jousting were to be set side by side. Raven and Dawn were on either side of each other, as their opponents faced them on the far end of the field. The twins' eyes widened as they noticed Lord Chance and Lord Ian were their opponents.
Turning to each other, they both whispered the same thing. " But who knew...?" Both sisters raised their eyes instinctively to where their majesties sat, the Queen winked at them both, and nodded to proceed.
Dawn and Raven readied themselves for the dangerous sport they were about to partake in. Trembling softly, the signal was given for them to begin. In their excitement, both women forgot to secure their helms, so that when their destriers bolted forward, their helms came off. The crowd gasped as the two small warriors were not warriors at all, but the infamous Ladies Raven and Dawn. The sisters noticed the knowing looks in Lord Chance and Ian's arrogantly handsome faces.
Looking at each other, their eyes sparkled with green fire as they nodded to each other and spoke loudly for each other to hear "Let's finish this!" Slapping the rumps of their horses, the two young women bolted forward, surprising everyone by not riding off in fright at having their identities discovered.
As the two sisters passed their opponents, each received a slash upon their thighs. Their opponents spears almost knocking them off their mounts. As they reached the end, both sisters turned and charged again down the dirty ground, almost coming abreast with their opponents, they looked at each other and nodded. Feigning left, they both crouched low in their mounts, and hit the men in their breast plate, knocking both big men to the ground. The sisters stopped in the center of the field as the King called a halt.
There was near pandemonium as the crowd cheered the two sisters. Bloodied and dirty, the twins approached the King and Queen and curtsied as best they could with the heavy armor on. Standing proudly at their small height, the sisters boldly looked King James in the eyes and awaited their punishment, ignoring the opponents beside them.
"Well, Lady Dawn and Lady Raven" the King began "You have both won the bulk of the tournament this day. You are both easily the most unorthodox females I have ever clapped my eyes on. What am I to do with you both for this charade?" The king bellowed in false annoyance.
"M'lord, if I may. In all fairness, it does not state anywhere that women cannot participate. Therefore, they did nothing wrong. They deserve to ask their forfeits of the two noblemen they have beaten fairly." queen Anne stated as she raised her chin defiantly. She stood by the twins, daring her husband to countermand her words.
Turning towards the sisters, the King signed in mock defeat and asked "What do you both claim as your prize?"
Raven and Dawn turned towards Lord Chance and Lord Ian. They said in unison "Them." with hands on their hips and chin raised proudly, the King knew these men had their hands full.
"So be it." The king said loudly to the assembled company. Yet closer to the men, the king whispered playfully "Good luck taming these two Wild Angels." and walked away chuckling, to join his queen. Although the men knew their lives would never be boring with these two.