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

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Stories: A Brief Respite (Happened)

The only change in this, really, is timing. So consider it "happened".

(A little over t 2 years into Lawrence's and Josephine's marriage, after the death of Dreoghan and the queen's return to Christenlande?)

orin stuck his head in the door of the chamber where the King was looking at plans. "My liege?" he said.

Lawrence looked up and smiled. "Lorin, thou needs not call me that all the time.. I am thy brother. Call me by my name."

Lorin came in. "I beg thy leave, sire, but 'tis my way. I prefer it."

Lawrence shrugged. "As thou wish…" He added, "My lord," and smiled.

Lorin came over to the table and looked at the plans. "Lawrencium." Lawrence nodded. "'Tis that I came to speak with thee about, sire."

Lawrence looked up interested. "Aye?"

Lorin turned and paced a bit. "My lord, I didst find the plans and the accounts for this endeavor most interesting. I have taken the liberty to look through all. I have come to ask a boon of thee.."

Lawrence turned, leaned back against the table, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Go on, Lorin," he invited.

"I should like to be this kingdom's chancellor. I know thou and my sister expect me to someday try to take mine kingdom back and rule it.." He looked out a window. "But 'tis not my ambition. For good or ill, I do not want to be… a king."

Lawrence chuckled, "I mayst certainly understand that.. and verily thou seemeth not so built for it… Thou art too contemplative. I shouldst not be surprised if thou had taken vows."

Lorin smiled to himself, "Nay, that shall ne'er be. I hope soon to introduce my sister and thee to a woman who shall be mine wife."

Lawrence's eyebrows shot up. "My brother! Thou shouldst be a diplomat.. I had no idea thou wert courting a lady." Lorin just inclined his head and smiled. The King continued. "Tell me more about being chancellor."

Lorin began to pace again. "Sire, thou needest someone to oversee the details of ruling.. there is no need for thee to attend to everything that is asked of the King. I should like to do that, to order thy business, direct thy correspondence, and to mind thy privy purse." He looked up at his brother-in-law, one eyebrow lifted.

Now the King paced. He turned and looked at Lorin. "And thy kingdom?"

Lorin looked troubled. "I know not what to feel or say, my liege. I doth not wish to abandon my people.. but I also do not want to rule them." He hesitated. "Wilt thou grant me the boon of making thyself the ruler through mine sister of Affynshire?"

Lawrence thought about it. "Lorin, if that is truly thy wish. I shall speak with the Queen about this. But I see no reason not to offer thee the work thou craveth." He saw Lorin's private smile. "But we shall have to do something about a title… thou canst not be the prince of one land and nothing in another. Thou art too valuable for that." The King walked over to where his sword belt was hung and drew the weapon. "Kneel, my lord, " he said to Lorin.

The young man looked uncomfortable but saw that Lawrence was not inviting debate. He came forward and bowed, then went down on one knee. Lawrence raised the sword and placed its flat side carefully on one of Lorin's shoulders. "In the presence of God and by my right as King of this land, I dub thee Duke Lorin, Chancellor and Keeper of the Privy Purse.. and the overseer of the construction of Lawrencium.." he added, smiling. He lifted the blade and placed its flat side on Lorin's other shoulder, then back to the first. "Rise, your Grace."

Lorin stood slowly and beamed. "My liege, I cannot thank thee enough.."

Lawrence waved him off. "Your Grace, I require of thee to take these matters," indicating the plans, "off mine hands and see to the speedy completion of the castle. I want to take my wife.. and our child.. there as soon as may be."

Lorin's face flushed. "Child, sire?"

Lawrence had his turn to beam. "Aye, my Josephine is again with child. We shall do all we can to keep her well and safe so that the child may come to term and survive to grow into a strong young man and king."

Lorin smiled, "Then, my liege, thou art certain the child is a boy?"

Lawrence laughed and nodded, "As King I command it." His eyes twinkled. "Or if not a son, then a daughter. As fair as her mother, and as gracious."

Lorin laughed, "I do believe that a boy or a girl is a command the Queen can follow."

They heard a commotion in the courtyard, the sound of hoof beats and a shout. Lorin bowed and left the King to learn what the news was. When he came back into the room several minutes later he held a message in his hand.

"My lord, 'tis from Lord Jehan in the southeast. Mercia hath attacked our frontier."

Lawrence sat heavily. "Are we ne'er to have peace in our land?" he breathed. "Oh my dearest Jo."

Next: Calamities: The War with Mercia

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About the author

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