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

Friday, June 11, 2010

Juliana Series: Forces Beyond His Control Slow the King's Progress (outtakes)

I have no idea why I wrote this.  There is a note at the bottom from when I posted this on Ghostletters.  That's my only clue.

awrence rode along with Sir Percy at his side and a company of men at arms in attendance. The countryside of East Anglia was generally a hospitable place if one was not a lone traveler, but the King was unsure what he would need to do if he encountered pirates or if and when the party found the Queen and the Breton.

Percy at his side was trying to find words to discuss the mission with the King. The King's impulsive order to make for France had instantly been frustrated when he learned that tides were not favorable for the type of boats that were at anchor in Lawrencium's harbor. Lawrence had commented to Lorin that mayhap he should listen to the captains and boatwrights after all. Lorin held his tongue.

Percy was likewise unsure of what the ride to a port in East Anglia would accomplish. Without raising an army, there really was very little he and the men at arms under his command could do. And France.. well, France was all the way across the Channel, with no way to provision the men, and the likelihood that when they arrived in Brittany, about the most they could hope for would be the King challenging the knight to fight on his own home ground.

Percy did not realize that the King had slowly come to much the same conclusion but could not bring himself to turn back to Lawrencium. He had determined at least to find a boat in Norwich that would take him and Percy across to Calais. The sketchiness of even this plan was looking to be moot now though, as the winds around them started to whip up. The trees were swaying and the rain began to pour.

The King finally turned in his saddle to look at the young knight. "This plan is ill conceived. I know not what to do." His look was frankly discouraged and somewhat abashed .

Percy was relieved to be able to dispense with his search for diplomatic ways to tell his King his ideas were cracked. He reached over to put his hand on the man's wet sleeve. "My liege, if we put in at Norwich we may be in a better position to have news of the Queen.. and the pirates."

His King looked at him gratefully. He was realizing he just had needed to act, to go towards his dear Queen and not just sit and wait. He nodded and the small company went on in the rain and once in Norwich found an inn that could accommodate them.

There at the inn Lawrence sent messengers to talk to captains to see what chance he had of crossing the Channel. As the captains replied or came in person to talk to Lawrence, he quickly learned just how bad the storm would be. No ships would sail until the squalls had passed. All he could do is stay and watch the weather and tides or go home and try again some other day.

The more he heard of the danger the storm presented to all seafarers, the more his concern was less for his passage to Calais and more for the safety of the Queen. For the first time the king hoped that she had made it to a port in France with the Breton knight,. At least then she would be on land and safe from shipwreck.

The rain kept falling and the winds continued to gust. The surging sea began to cut away at the land near the port, bringing down fisher cottages and making some roads impassable. Three days went by with no hope of setting off. Percy watched helplessly as the King paced the length of his room at the inn, alternately cursing and brooding.

The fourth morning in Norwich the winds had started to die down but the captains still told Lawrence it was too risky to put to sea. Then in his room the King heard a clatter of feet on the stairs to his rooms. Percy burst in without knocking and came to Lawrence with a parchment. Lawrence tore it open to read tidings that a boat had put in at the harbor in Lawrencium with stories of a pirate battle at sea. One of the pirates who had been wounded badly had been picked out of the sea by the small craft and its crew and was now being held at Lawrencium.

Percy was glad at least to be moving again, and he directed the saddling of the horses and rounding up of his men. He and the King set out for home, grim and riding the horses too hard.

In Lawrencium Lorin had interrogated the pirate, who was not expected to live. The man was not willing to share any information about his own ship, the Black Dragon, which Lorin only knew of because the fisherman who had netted the brigand had recognized the craft and its foe. The ship that had carried the Queen away was called Bella's Dream. Its captain was a nasty piece of work who called himself "Fiero the Proud". It was the mention of the wounded pirate's captain's sworn nemesis that finally brought some grease to his tongue.

"Arrrr... the scurvy bastard. And that ponce of a knight and the giant. They killed me mateys and saved the lady. " Then he clamped his mouth shut and would say no more.

When at long last Lawrence and his retinue rode in, soaked to the bone and with horses blowing and sweating big foamy yellow clots, the pirate had died of his wounds. Lorin was able to reassure the King that the Queen had not been hurt in the battle. The fishers had attested to the likelihood that if Bella's Dream was making for Calais they had just skated in front of the storm squalls. Although they knew no more than that, Lawrence took some pleasure in hearing Elerde called a "ponce".

Standing chilled inn his wet clothes Lawrence cast about for what next to do. The storm was still raging.

It was Shannon who stepped up and offered to go help. "Me lord, ye are needed here. And think, man, what if she comes somehow and ye are gone. I've survived the sea's fury before and will survive it again. Me people are a sea goin' people. " Lawrence looked at him speculatively, and Shannon went on, "And I can find her easy if I am alone. Beggin' ye'r leave, Lorin, buy I know Bo too. I can find him and the Queen and the lot of them in Calais more easily than a bunch of soldiers."

So Shannon set out with the fishers who had drawn the dying pirate from the water, and the King was left to stand at a window and wait.

Scribe's note: Not one of the best pieces of writing in this story.. but the dramatic effect of "saddle my horse" sounded better in print than in the execution.

Next: Rory comes back

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About the author

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