Hmm the story I am working on editing right now is Captive of Raven Castle, I’ll give you most of the first chapter…that still needs to be edited. (you asked about my weakspot here I be!) How does that sound?
“Alexandra! Alexandra are you ready yet?” echoed a thundering voice from below.
The dark haired girl looked consciously into the mirror a worried expression crossing her face and shone in her blue eyes. “Judith, are you sure I will be alright?
The nurse laid her hands gently on her charges rich black wavy hair, smoothing it as she placed a delicate crown on her head. “You will be fine. Your father just wants to show you off to the people and the ambassador. See how pretty you are my darling?” she said bestowing a kiss on the pale wan cheek. “They need hope the drought has been too long and the people need something to forget their sorrows and the ambassador needs to meet you to make sure the prince will be happy here. Seeing you will be the perfect cure for all of them. You will give them hope. They will adore you. I promise.”
“But Judith I….”
“You father wants you. You know how he gets when you make him wait.”
Alexandra looked once more in the mirror at her purple dress and white pearl necklace with amethyst pendent, the pearls woven into her dark locks.
“I am just scared to go Judith…the ambassador is so strange and the people so restless I am afraid of what might happen we are so near Raven Castle. What if they should storm the city?”
“Your father has too strong a force with him to be in danger from those men.”
The voice hollered again. Louder this time.
“Oh, wish me luck,” and Alexandra hurried as fast as she dare stopping at the head of the stair, to look at her father waiting impatiently below.
He was a man of noble stature standing in a richly decorated hallway of the castle waiting for her. Tapping his foot, always a bad sign. A jewel encrusted crown sat on his head raven black hair graying at the temples. His silver chainmail glistened with readiness beneath his short sleeved tunic with the royal coat of arms boldly woven there on.
Alexandra took deep breath and began her lady like decent down the long stair case.
He turned to bellow once more then caught sight of his daughter. A smile burst on his countenance.
Alexandra wondered how even when he smiled he didn’t seem handsome. His features were so stern and the set jaw shown even behind well trimmed beard.
“Hello father.” She said stepping down beside him and glancing timidly upward.
“Turn around for me won’t you?”
She turned slowly.
“You look quite lovely my dear, however do you think you will be warm enough? We can’t be too careful of your delicate health.”
“I am quite warm as it is right now, are you sure it won’t rain?”
“We shall have a servant carry your furs just in case you need to wrap up.”
“Do we have to go to see the ambassador? Why can’t he come here like he usually does?”
“The full length likeness of your future husband has just arrived there and there is to be a tournament this afternoon, we shall kill two birds with one stone. We will see the ambassador, decide if we like the portrait enough to be shown to the people and if so bring it to the tournament to show the future king; your noble husband-to-be who will take all the cares of this country off your slight little shoulders that are barely able to carry a crown.”
“Yes Father.” She murmured submissively, with a hidden shiver. There was not much for her future, she wondered if she would ever live past bearing her first child. Hopefully a male heir to inherit the throne she as the queen would leave him.
Alexandra looked down at her reflection in the white marble polished to a perfect shine.
She had always been a weak thing. Her father had been extremely careful of her frail health. Alexandra was never allowed to embroider, play music, or draw more than half an hour at a time lest it weaken her. Reading was forbidden lest her eyes become damaged by straining over the mysterious black and white pages. She was read to, often by her ladies in waiting and her affectionate nursemaid Judith who had been dedicated to her since the childhood.
In a minute he had helped her into the carriage after she had glanced fearfully at the spirited horses that pawed readily at the ground, her father sat beside her. Guards on horses surrounded them as they rode out of the castle gates and through the streets.
Alexandra looked at the people that stopped to gawk at them.
“Smile Alexandra,” whispered her father through clenched teeth that were bearing a grin.
“They don’t look happy,” she said turning to her father and king.
“I know. But if we smile we will bring them hope of a better future.”
Alexandra tried to smile as she looked at the people but they only stared at her blankly.
“I wish I hadn’t come,” she said nearing tears.
“Nonsense, Alexandra,” he murmured his voice bordering on stern.
There was resounding thump as something landed against the carriage. Alexandra jumped.
A second made her scream involuntarily.
“Pick up the pace!” her father shouted and the horses burst into gallop.
Alexandra clung to her father as the carriage jostled, jolted and tossed her about-to afraid to cry. Objects where hurled at the carriage making loud frightening noises. Some splattered, some thudded, a few bounced boldly in the window, and one barely missed hitting her in the head.
Soon they were in the safety of the ambassador’s closed court yard. In a moment she was scooped up in her father’s arms and carried indoors.
He laid her down on a lounge, pale and shivering but tearless. In a few moments the ambassador appeared.
“I am so glad you are here safely.” he said in his funny accent.
“As am I.” replied her father.
Unexpectedly the ambassador came over and kissed Alexandra’s hand. “It is an especial pleasure to see you my dear. You are looking quite lovely even with your dreadful scene. I don’t think I have seen someone who managed to look beautiful while being frightened I must say you have handled it rather well. But come I have something most delightful to show you. You have been waiting for it, for such a long time.” He said pulling her unwillingly to her feet.
She shuffled beside him as he took her arm under his own.
In a few minutes she stood before a veiled frame taller than herself.
“Please take a seat your highness,” he said offering her a chair. “I have for you a masterpiece of fine artwork. Prepare to be most pleasantly surprised with the most handsome prince of Shalburg.” He motioned two attendants to reveal the image. The silk fabric fluttered and shimmered to the ground revealing a young man with dark hair and eyes, most royally dressed in red holding dead bird by its feet, blood streaming off its body, a large hawk resting on his other arm.
Alexandra’s jaw dropped unexpectedly from near horror of the man who stood in front of her.
“Ah, I knew her highness would be most pleased.”
“Is he fond of dead birds?” She managed to utter at last.
“He is a most avid sportsman in any sport that you can name. An excellent hunter, he can bring down anything well from birds to wild boar and wolves. That hawk there is his favorite, It’s name is Kashir, lovely bird it is. You should see it fly through the air. Ah, yes his highness is most well suited for a beautiful princess such as yourself.”
Alexandra looked up at her father seeking his thoughts on the matter. He was smiling. There was no hope. Her destiny was sealed. She would wed the second prince of Shalburg.
“Ah, but I must not forget his gift to you.” And the ambassador pulled out a box inlaid with mother of pearl and placed it before her.
Alexandra’s hands were still trembling from the carriage ride and the portrait… this was just too much. What new horror laid in wait for her? Had he sent her a necklace made of bear teeth?
With a trembling hand she pushed back the lid of the box. A shimmering necklace lay before her. A solid mass of diamonds dazzled her eyes.
Suddenly there was the sound of shattering glass. Her father ran to the window, hand lying on his sword. The dull roar that had gathered had grown near deafening.
“We need to get out of here now. The stupid people don’t know I am trying to do what is good for them.”
“What shall we do?” asked the ambassador dumbfounded.
“They aren’t after you. They are after us. I need you to conduct my daughter safely into your country while I take care of this mob. Take your carriage out the back entrance and I shall distract them with mine. Once she is married there won’t be any more difficulties like this. I promise. Now, Go.”
“Father! What is going on?”
“I said go!”
The ambassador slammed the lid of the inlayed box and shoved it into her hands. Before she knew what was going on. She was being pushed into a carriage the shades drawn, horses hitched and they were riding out the back gates.
Alexandra shivered as she sat next to the Ambassador. The carriage tossing them about at a dreadful rate. Suddenly Alexandra wanted to laugh as she wondered whether her future husband would have the same funny accent as the Ambassador. She glanced at the man a slight smile on her lips.
“I hope you do not find this amusing my dear?”
“I do not Sir. I was just wondering…” she never had a chance to finish that sentence as the carriage came to a sudden halt flinging them both forward into the opposite seat.
There was the sound of struggle going on with out.
“I am going to see what this is all about,” he said pulling back a curtain.
Instinctively Alexandra ducked below the curtain’s view.
“This is ridiculous they are your father’s guards. I am going to clear this all up.” He fumed as he stepped out of the carriage.
There were voices raised in anger as they talked suddenly a wild cry was raised and the carriage bolted into a gallop tossing Alexandra back into her former seat. Hesitantly she peaked out of the curtain. There was a lone rider urging the horses on.
A rider in plain clothes.
Not one of her father’s men.
Nor one of the ambassador’s men.
He was from Raven Castle.