By: Manna


He had twenty years of life under his belt, half of which were spent living in the Castle Caelin, four of which he had lived as a knight, and six months of which he had been given the honor of personally serving Lord Hausen, the ruler of all of Caelin.

Oftentimes, as he sat by a crackling fire, he would reflect on his life, remembering days long gone. On this particular day, as he sat mere feet away from a fire that crackled in a pit of stones, and not in a hearth, he let his thoughts drift back to a memory that was almost two months old.

His orders to leave with Sain, his friend of four years, to find a woman, man, and girl that he had never even seen before rang in his ears.

Find her and bring her back to me. I wish to see her at least once before I die.

Kent needed no explanation. He was, after all, a mere tool to be used at will. Lord Hausen's health was declining slowly. He had lived a long life, but there was still that one regret that gnawed at the older man's heart.

Lady Madelyn would take over the throne, he had thought, and he and Sain spoke on the subject at length during the chilly summer nights on the Sacaen Plains. The news of the death of Lord Hassar and Lady Madelyn left the two of them absolutely speechless, which was surprising, considering Sain's free-flowing tongue.

But Lyn, as the people called her, still lived, and without much thought or consideration on the matter, they found themselves headed in the direction of Bulgar; a decision neither one of them regretted in the least, seeing as how they had found her, a little worse for wear and with an equally ragged companion, but alive nonetheless.

When he caught himself staring at her after chiding Sain for flirting, it struck him rather forcefully that he was looking at the future ruler of Caelin, and he had opened his mouth and made an even bigger fool of himself than he'd ever thought possible.

Two weeks, three apologies, and one explanation later, he decided that he was almost glad Lord Hausen had sent him to escort (as Sain liked to call it) the Lady Lyndis to her castle. His brain was confused about why he had been selected for the job to begin with—why not a man with more experience under his belt?—but those feelings died away when he saw her.

Whatever it was he had been expecting to find on the fabled plains of Sacae, she had not been it.

Even knowing of her heritage and the way she had been raised, he could not help but be surprised at her appearance. Long lashes framed slightly slanted eyes that spoke of hard times and loneliness, chipped fingernails decorated her hands, and the longest hair he had ever seen fell to the back of her knees.

She was something else.

A young woman with long legs who dressed in Sacaen clothing and wielded a sword was not what he had expected to find at all.

The ladies of court will have a day of it when they see this, had been his first thought.

But Lord Hausen would be happy to see her, and that was what really mattered. The gossiping women of the court would not try to become acquainted with the sometimes emotional, high-spirited, previously lonely girl; but Lord Hausen, after missing eighteen long years of her life, would try his best to be patient and learn who she was, regardless of her heritage or the strange way in which she did things.

As he watched the fire in front of him crackle in the cool night air, he couldn't help but notice her stir slightly in her sleep out of the corner of his eye.

It is strange, he thought, that a woman so young will take over ruling Caelin in the near future.

But, he realized, she would do fine. She seemed to be driven to do the right thing by something that he was not quite sure of. Though he assumed it had a lot to do with her parents, she was reluctant to talk about it, opting instead to only acknowledge their deaths, and considering he was a gentleman and a knight, he left her to her devices and did not push her for answers.

With just the four of them huddled around the fire in the evening light, it almost felt like he was back in the castle, enjoying a rare watch duty with some of the more familiar faces; that is, until he looked up and saw the Lady Lyndis, whose very un-masculine face and figure would snap him back into reality as he hurriedly tried to curb Sain and Mark's laughter over some joke that he deemed inappropriate in the presence of a lady. Through it all, she would just laugh and assure him that no harm was done.

She would make a good ruler; he could already tell she was someone worth serving. She was not overly harsh, but she would never let someone walk all over her. It was something he could admire and respect in a person.

He could freely admit to himself that he had been afraid that, after finding out about her heritage, this previously unknown woman would become power-hungry…but she had not. In fact, learning of family that she never known she had had given her a glow, a new goal, and a purpose in life. He could see it in her eyes and the way she walked and spoke every single day. Soon, the loneliness faded from her eyes to be replaced with determination and a need to live, to see this man that wanted to apologize with all his heart.

No, he had not expected to find someone like her when Lord Hausen's orders reached his ears. He'd been pleasantly surprised to find somebody completely different.


Author Notes:

Once again, I'm speechless What was the point of writing this, again?

I re-read this four or five times, and the wording seems off in a few places. If anybody has the time (or is bored enough) to correct and/or suggest alternatives (or point out offending phrases/lines/whatever), I would appreciate it. Of course, it's not necessary at all.

I was struck with inspiration this morning to write this, and I sat down and wrote as soon as I found the time, until I managed to finish it. For once, something not really romantic in nature, but more introspective. (I hope.)

Thanks for reading! Drop a review if you have the time, please!