Thursday, October 15, 2009

Love Links

Prompt: Your character finds a mysterious package on his/her doorstep. What’s inside?

Each week I also rise to an additional challenge - that to explore a different genre or writing style. This week I visit Court Intrigue.

This story continues a sub plot at the Spanish Royal Courts found in the Captain Juan series with the mysterious character from here.
Although you don't have to have read any of the series - it might fill some blanks if you do.

Please suggest my next challenge in the comments - for ideas on the wide range of genres - go here.


The tallow candle crackled as a tiny particle of moisture sizzled from the wick. A darkened hand drew the light closer to the parchment as his hand feverently scratched its way across, desperate to capture the thoughts before they disappeared with the light. Creamy delicate lace cuffs brushed over the still drying ink as the quill returned to the ink pot; the tiny tap of the tip touching the bottom a testament to the urgency of the message being inscribed. The deliberate scratching of the nib across fine linen parchment suddenly came to a halt.

Dark, hunters eyes flicked toward the wooden door. Without feeling for it, he sensed the thin blade pressed against his ankle; which in seconds could hurtle across the room with a deadly accuracy.

Whoever was at the doorway had hesitated and for reasons only known to themselves had withdrawn; perhaps intimidated by the menacing energy inside.

The thick brodicade curtains breathed shallowly as the evening breeze licked around the castle. The figure allowed a few moments to search the skys. The constant flurry of pigeons from the turrets had continued throughout the day; no doubt their gentle flutterings would be replaced in the morrow with the first of the official mourners and the over abundant retinue each required. Although never close to the Queen, he’d been saddened by her untimely death and her newly born and sickly babe was not expected to draw breath past the evening. He was disgusted at the callousness of the courtiers who had already begun to prepare potential brides for the king to pander over; and the queen still cooling in her bloodied bedchambers.

He looked over his notes and grunted with satisfaction; pressing the blotting pad neatly over his work, creasing it into an envelope and sealing it securely with a firm impression of his ring. The French Courts no doubt will be baying for blood after this obvious lack of medical care as she birthed; conveniently forgetting that the royal princess had been married off to dispose of her. It was his duty to ensure the fires were fueled appropriately.

His eyes darted again toward the doorway and in a fluid motion glided across the room, unlatching and flinging the heavy door open. Instead of a evesdropper crouching at the keyhole, a small leather bound box sat on the threshold. A furtive glace at the empty and somber hallway confirmed that the messenger had long gone.

Scooping it up, he brought it into his work desk and opened the latch, revealing a number of letters and pigeon messages. He recognized the one he had intercepted earlier last month and slowly sucked the cooling evening air inward. He’d never picked the Queen to be sentimental with her lovers and was shocked as he read some of the letters at the obvious depth this couple had felt for one another. Without the vital clue to the origin of the wayward pigeon last month; these letters might have been a fanciful and exotic souvenir. Several yellowed scraps of parchment lay at the bottom of the box. As he picked one up, a tiny lock of hair, held delicately with a blue ribbon fell out. His brow wrinkled as he read the script within. “Matthias, I fear this is as close you may ever get to your father or to your loving mother.” The other scraps bore scant records of a babys growth; written in an unfamiliar but educated feminine hand.

His urgent report sat forgotten on the desk; the tallow candle snapping and crackling as it sunk closer to the dish it stood in. As much as he would have loved to stay to watch the parading of eligible fillies within court; he felt this unanswered puzzle required the immediate attention of his superiors. Their careful records could confirm his suspicions of a secret royal child and open future opportunities in the downfall of the Spanish stronghold over his beloved France.

His lips pursed; confused at the identity of his messenger. No doubt it was someone close to the Queen, who was both privy to the contents of the box and to his identity and purpose.

Regardless to their intent, his position was now compromised and he would need to make his escape immediately. Pulling prepacked saddle bags from a concealed space. He threw on an extra cape and strode out the door, leaving behind five years accumulated wealth within the courts. Once back in the safety of his masters stronghold, appropriate social excuses could be made for his sudden departure and the piecing of clues to this royal intrigue could begin.


Nikki Barnabee said...

What a wonderfully descriptive style -- I could picture the scene in detail in my head, transported back to a distant time. Great job!

Larry said...

Wow another great story I like it . I like it a lot Annie .. Thanks Foe sharing.

you'll find mine below..

mysterious Box

Sandra Leigh said...

Annie, thank you for visiting me at The Turtle. I shall go back and read your story from the beginning - now I'm off to declare my fanhood at Facebook.

~willow~ said...

I've been out of touch with Capt Juan, but that didn't detract from this piece: loved the darkness, the intrigue!