Before there was the novel, there were the stories...

by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old Stories: After the Avonshire War, Outtakes

Sometime after laura stopped being involved in the stories I cooked up a plot where Christenlande went to war with a country called Avonshire... and lost. There are only a couple of these stories in existence. The entire court appears to flee with the king and queen, seeking help from Llewellyn ap Cador of Radnor in Wales. He sends them to seek military assistance from Cornwall.

awrence sat at the table, fingering the quill pen he held. He seemed to be reading the many papers before him, but his thoughts were far from them. His face slowly darkened and he suddenly brought his fist down hard on the table. He stood and walked stiffly about the tent. He went to lean back on a tent pole, and closed his eyes.

Lorin strode in, angry as usual. "They're drunk! They're all drunk!" and spying the empty wine bottle on the table, he shouted, "And thou art, too!"

Lawrence stared, emotionless at him and answered, "Aye, and never a man may say I may not! Oh, my head!" He put his hands on his eyes painfully.

Lorin glared. "Well, 'tis thine own fault! Had ye left me to watch the castle…"

Lawrence returned impatiently, "We have discussed that many times before! Ye know full well I needed ye here! So much diplomacy is needed nowadays. I am a warrior, not a diplomat, so ye must be with me! I'll speak no more of this." His voice, minus any obvious emotion, was commanding.

"I am truly sorry, sire. Your grace must understand I grow impatient to be home."

"Aye, my lord Lorin, I do more than understand. And now that the battle is done with, we shall return on the morrow. It's been a fortnight, one miserable fortnight, although I somewhat dread our return…I am afraid of what I might find." He sighed, his voice now full with a strange sorrow.

Dismissing Lorin, he called in Clancy and requested his horse be made ready for a ride. When it was done, he mounted and rode off without a word. He rode off to the battlefield.

It was not yet dusk, and many of the men still lay where they had been slain. The battle had finally been won early that day, after nine days of nearly continuous fighting. Lawrence nearly wept to see his men lying on the earth, so bemired and bloody, although his casualties numbered one-fifth the number of casualties of the rebel barons. He saw amongst them Lord Wester who had called for his help days ago, and a lord or squire or two who had fought beside him. Of his own wounds he marked only his weariness, which seemed a far greater weakness than he had ever felt before.

Dizzying a little, he dismounted. Reaching inside his tabard, he brought a out a small crucifix, curiously tied about with a worn blue ribbon. He knelt and prayed with all his heart to St. George and Christ that his dead men's souls might be delivered from Hell or Purgatory. His voice broke but he laughed it off, "They were a sinful lot, but good, brave boys truly, all of them!" Then his voice became deathlike, "God, forgive my iniquity - doubt is a sin between my lady and me, yet I doubt her constancy most fully. She is not strong. Please strengthen her; I would have her ever true unto me." He knelt a moment in silence, and then stood so abruptly that he nearly had to fall again to his knees. He remounted, shook his hand to the sky, and shouted, " I would there be no God, to make me suffer so!"

He rode off into the meadow, amongst the fallen leaves, caring little for where he went. His horse came to a wide stream, and halted, afraid to cross. When he tried to force the horse to go on, he felt his weariness overcome him. His mind went black, and he fell from the beast.

When next he was conscious, his first thought was to where he was. Looking about him, he barely recognized his old chambers at Leicester. He saw an old man lean over him an smile.

"Ah, your grace has revived! Ye gave us quite a scare last night. We though ye would not see this morning's sun." Seeing the King's distress, he smiled again in comfort. "I am Thomas Colnet, my lord, a physician. These to young men here are the ones who fished your grace out of the stream."

Lawrence looked up foggily, and saw a handsome young knight, and by him a man so dark in skin and great in stature that he marked him as a Saracen. "I thank thee, my life is saved by your valor, whatever worth my life might have. Come give me thy names. Thou art a seemingly strange pair."

The young knight answered, both he and his friend bowing low, "Aye, my lord, we are friends uncommon. I am Sir Michael of Barrow, new-made knight, and my dear friend is Samir al-Tamid, a Christian Persian, so please your grace." He smiled broadly.

"'Tis worth great to both of us that thou doth live, my lord. My friend and I have heard…"

Samir lifted his chin and broke in, " We have heard that thou art a good and just King, and that thou would not refuse my services as the others have."

Lawrence considered Samir a moment, and nodded. He was about to speak again, when the familiar voice of the Duke of Affyn-Shyre was heard in the hall, and Lorin rushed into the chamber. Young Clancy came in after him, and seeing the King well, he forgot all chivalry and rushed up to him, laughing with joy and throwing his arms about his master's neck. Lorin seemed relieved, but scolded, "My lord, what folly was it that made ye rush off like a madman? We worried for ye, and knew not of ye till this morning. Fie! To worry us so!"

Lawrence was too pleased to see Clancy to take heed of what he said. "Hush, my lord, and scold me not. My head aches enough to make up for all the people who enjoy good health in the land. Is that not enough?" He tried to smile, and then thought of something which solemnized him. "What is the latest talk from Lawrencium?"

Lorin hid uneasiness well, and said calmly, "Thy capital yet stands. Naught has come to harm it."

Lawrence frowned. "Ye know very well I mean not that."

Lorin tried to smile. "Aye, I know. I have heard no ill, worry yourself not." He lied, for he'd overheard two messengers speaking of court affairs, early that morning.

Lawrence sighed, "I would believe you. Oh, were I not King! The crown lies heavily on what could be happiness. Not the occasional bliss, but wonderful, contended happiness.." His voice faded out, but after a moment, he looked up with a pitifully, hopeful look. " I do hope she received the song I wrote for her! It may serve to comfort her…" Michael and Samir looked at each other and then at the others, who stood with downcast eyes.

To be continued.

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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .