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Rated: 18+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2130364
Events that follow the LCE and proceed arriving at the bridge.
That night it began to rain, a sprinkle at first but lightning that etched dark clouds rolling in. Kindred pounded on the boat and Pandora awoke with a jolt.

A storm is brewing said the Lad. He opened the forward hatch and took out some oilskin overgarments. Handing her one he pulled the other over his head.

"We need to turn the boat over and take shelter underneath. You'll have to help me lift it over."

Moving to the stern she took hold of the hand railing as he hefted amid ship. The boat rolled over with the bottom facing up.

"That should keep you dry My Lady."

"Won't you be joining me she injured?"

A bolt of lightning flashed followed almost at once by a clap of thunder. The rain started to pour coming in sheets. "Don't mind if I do." he said following her underneath. It was dark inside with only the barest amount of light seeping in under the gunnels. Even the lightning did little to illuminate the darkness that surrounded them.

"It was good of you to offer sharing the confines of your humble abode."

"It was the least I could do considering its your boat, even though it does place us uncomfortably close."

"Don't fret yourself about that My Lady, a good manservant is all but invisible."

"What do you know about Manservants, I wasn't aware that farmers kept them...."

"Oh, the wealthy growers do, not that I'm much of an authority on the subject."

"You've a glib tongue and ready wit...my experience with farmers is that they work hard and go to bed early."

"In my land they're a jolly lot, and find time to enjoy good conversation and fellowship."

"So what do you talk about when you're not mucking the hogs?"

The rain beat down steadily on the keel over their head.

"The weather mostly, will the rains come early or late, will the harvest be gathered before the snow begins to fall... that sort of thing."

"Are you married?"

"No..."

"Why not, a handsome fellow like you?"

"I had an eye on one once but she took up with my brother."

"What was your brother's name?"

"Plenny."

"Do you have a family name?" He thought about his coat of arms, in the center was a bulging bicep."

"Armstrong," he answered..."

"Hmmmm, Kindred Armstrong, sounds like blacksmiths or soldiers."

"Only growers, wheat barley and of course farm stock."

"How did you feel when your flame, chose your brother instead?"

"I expected it."

"How so?"

"Well because Plenny had a way with women, and in truth they make me nervous. I've yet to find one I'm comfortable with."

There was a pause and he took the opportunity to broach an unspoken and delicate matter.

"Does my Lady mind if I ask a question?"

"Feel free."

"Since you raised the subject of identities. Who are you? How is it that someone of high birth, finds herself chased by wolves?

"I might ask you the same question, Kindred Armstrong... what brought you and your boat to the river's edge, in my time of greatest need?"

"I was out on a jaunt and thought I'd explore a bit further down the river. At times I get restless and enjoy a little fishing. And for your part?"

"I was taking a stroll in the woods when suddenly the wolves appeared.

"Indeed! A promenade in the woods, barefoot and in a ball gown..."

"I wasn't wearing a ball gown... my dress was appropriate for the conditions of my station. I kicked off my slippers to run faster and had I expected a chase by wolves you can be assured I'd have worn a more proper attire."

"It was six o'clock in the morning, my lady, a bit early for a promenade... if you don't want to say, don't, but please, I'm no fool."

"I' treat you only as the person you represented yourself to be. And I take umbrage at your tone. It's not for you to question me like a magistrate. I'm unchaperoned, a woman of honor, taking care what I relate to a stranger, a commoner at that."

"Relate what you wish, my lady, but don't treat me like a bumpkin."

"I see now that I mistook you at first glance. Who are you Kindred Armstrong? If not a bumpkin then what?"

"I was wrong in letting you think me a farmer. It was a tacit misrepresentation. No, I'm not a farmer... and more I'm not at liberty to reveal."

"Nor am I. But I'll tell you I'm fleeing an evil more threatening than a pack of stupid wolves. Are you another form of that menace?"

"No, I'm on a mission, call it a quest.

"You expect me to believe that... a quest? Tell me, Sir Bumpkin, about this mysterious boon?"

"First you tell me, Princess High Brow, about this great and evil menace?"

"Why should I trust you, when it's clear you aren't taking me seriously."

"If I were a dark menace, you'd have seen it by now."

"Your behavior has been reprehensible. You lied about your identity.

I didn't lie, My family is landed and the wealth we enjoy derives from agriculture. We grow things, hence "growers."

A dissembling misrepresentation. A man of honor speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

How many men of honor do you know?

Enough to know what the standard is.

This is leading us nowhere

No, it's leading to redemption. If I forgive your deception, you must forgive my arrogance. Had I realized you were well bred my behavior would have been different.

"I suppose it's a start."

"So, in recognition, I propose we begin a new relationship built on a foundation of honesty and trust."

"Go on."

"Since a man is expected to provide leadership... you can take the first step." Why were you at the riverbank yesterday morning?"

"I was in search of the Magical Realm."

Wa......

"My turn, Why were you there?"

"My home was attacked by minions of Monk Stephen and I was fleeing for my life.

"So now what's a man of station looking for the Magical Realm?"

"I'm a curious sort and my mother used to tell my brother and I the most marvelous tales. There was one about a Dark Witch, that was my favorite, but everybody knows that such tales are pure fantasy."

"Tell me the tale of the Dark Witch," she asked.

Kindred took a deep breath and began. "Once upon a time there was an ugly wicked old king who was a man of notorious cruelty. He delighted himself in perversity and made the lives of his lords and ladies a living hell. His Tax Collector, named Sylvester Squeeze, was told by his patron Prince Steven, that maybe if the King had a beautiful young wife he would change his ways and cease his evil behavior and quit acting like such an ass-hole. In the course of his duties, he found a likely candidate. Price Steven told him to share his news with the King. This he did.

"Sire?"

"Yes, Squeeze."

"Just this week I visited the keep of Poor Knight Festus a stalwart sentinel on the edge of your kingdom. While there I was introduced to his daughter, Millicent, a young woman more beautiful than the fairest maid in the land. I immediately thought of you and being a bachelor, what a heavy burden that must be."

"Indeed it is Sly, a heavy burden indeed. Send for her that I might get a look."

So he did.

Pandora stirred uncomfortably.

"You say the young woman was named Millicent?

"Yes, is the storm drowning my voice... should I speak louder?"

"It is, Please do..., The din broke my train of thought. So what happened when the King sent for Millicent?"

"Well, she had been raised by a fey elf named Edna, who warned her about the evil nature of the King.

"...And what was the nature of that evil?"

"That he was cruel and perverse and she could expect to be mistreated."

"Mistreated in what way?"

" Ahhhh, as such miscreants are inclined to behave."

"What a pussy footer you are... why can't you just say it, RAPE or worse, whatever that is."

"Because I've been taught to be circumspect in discussing such matters in the presence of a lady."

"What did Edna counsel?

" ...That she flee to the Fertile Kingdom."

"...And"

"She rejected the idea out of hand saying that disobeying the King would not bode well for those she loved."

"Brave Words."

"Sheer folly!"

"Perhaps from the perspective of a peasant."

"Perhaps from the perspective of someone with some common sense.

"What then?"

"Edna asked if she intended to obey the summons."

"I do"

"It's written that for a woman to appreciate a good man she must first suffer a bad one."

"...And what was that supposed to mean?"

"I'm only relating he tale."

"You must have given some thought to the meaning... "

"Only within the limited context of my experience."

"Here we go again...And what did your context lead you to conclude?"

"As any man would."

"...And that being?"

" That a foolish young girl indulges many fanciful notions until she grows up and learns better."

"Good night, Kindred."

"My Lady."


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