A Falcon's Tale
A Falcon's Tale
A Chance Meeting
Geoffrey sighed as he left Dirk's chambers. It was always something different with his brother. Never content to concentrate on one battle, Dirk's instructions tonight left no doubt of his General's expected duties in the near future. Geoffrey thought it sounded like a wild tadmon chase himself, but knew he'd do as he'd been told. It bothered him that they might have to relinquish their grip on Caserne Pass after the troops had fought so long. Distracted, he started off down the hall towards the kitchens, not noticing a low rustle and quick shadow above him. He was hungry and it was late, too late to be thinking about any forthcoming battles. He was sure he'd find some wine and cheese in the cellar, maybe some left-overs from whatever dinner had been, and he could relax a bit before he retired for the evening. Talking to Dirk made him tense. The wine would help that, he hoped. He continued his trek to the kitchens.
The wizard sat in his chambers, staring at the ceiling, his fingers steepled together. He had been thinking a great deal this night and he still had more questions than answers in spite of it. Lady Perrin and the hawk were more of a force to be reckoned with than he had originally thought. He chuckled out loud. And she certainly had thrown the prince off as well. Vector took pleasure in e fact that Dirk hadn't been able to harm Perrin, but especially that the prince recognized she was a threat. Any threat to the eldest son of Saris Blackpool could certainly be turned to his own advantage. It would take careful prodding, but he would manage it, even without Bethel's help. Especially without the witch's help. He threw his head back and did something he rarely let others see him do. He laughed, loudly. The sound echoed round the chamber, its evil tone chilling the room.
Geoffrey opened the kitchen doors. Hearing a noise to his right, he drew his dagger and slammed the door shut behind him. The dark haired woman standing directly in front of him dropped the goblet she was holding and it shattered on the stone floor. She stood motionless, staring at the prince.
"Wow. Where'd you come from?" Geoffrey exclaimed in surprise. He'd never seen this woman in the castle before and she didnít have the air of a servant. That was apparent even though she stood before him in only a wine spattered sleeping gown and bare feet. "Donít move Ė youíll cut yourself. Iíll clean this up. And who are you, by the way? We donít get many visitors here at the castle." Geoffrey sheathed his dagger and retrieved a broom leaning against the large fireplace.
"My lord, I am Lady Perrin deHaukesworth," the woman stammered. "I gained shelter for the night but only because of an old family alliance. Iíll be on my way in the morning, my lord."
"What are you doing down here?" Geoffrey busied himself with sweeping up the shards around her feet. "You should be sleeping if you're leaving in the morning. It's quite late."
"Yes, my lord. But I couldn't sleep. So many odd noises." She shuddered. "I thought perhaps some wine would help, so I came down to the kitchen. That was the last of it, Iím afraid." She looked down at the prince apologetically.
Geoffrey stood. "Oh, it's not the last. Not at Castle Blackpool." He smiled at her. "Stand still a moment longer, I'll get you out of that mess." He disposed of the remnants of the goblet, then reached out and grasped her waist, swinging her over to the opposite side of the wine stained floor.
"My thanks, my lord." Perrin blushed and moved away from the prince quickly. Geoffrey grinned at her in spite of himself. She was awfully shy. Pretty though, he noted. Not in the same way as Princess Ariel, but still pretty. And her gown was just revealing enough to be interesting.
"Oh, call me Geoffrey. No need to be so formal, Lady Perrin."
"You must be General Blackpool then." Her eyes lit up with admiration. "You lead your brother's troops." Perrin paused. "I'm afraid I'm not quite dressed for the occasion of meeting you, my loÖ Geoffrey."
"You lookÖ beautiful, Lady Perrin." Geoffrey was enjoying making her blush. It was obvious that the lady wasn't quite at ease with him, but he hoped she soon would be. A conversation that didn't focus on battles, Greystone or rebel troops would be nice for a change.
"Please, call me Perrin. No need for formality, as you've said, Geoffrey." She flashed a smile at the prince. The effect was transforming. Geoffrey grinned back. Now here was some company that he greatly preferred to his brother's.
"I'll get another bottle of wine from the cellar. Wait here - Iíll be right back." The prince opened a large, metal-studded door and disappeared down into the cellar. The noise of his booted feet drumming down the stairs echoed back up into the kitchen.
Perrin smiled wryly and shook her head, then reached for two more drinking vessels on the large wooden sideboard. "Oh, I'm not going anywhere, prince," she muttered. She took a tiny vial from its hiding place in the sleeve of her gown and dropped a light grey-green substance into one of the goblets, then breathed in it softly to coat the interior. "And neither are you. Between the wine and this vervain and sweet violet root, I think you'll find me quite enchanting this evening. And we have so much to talk about." She enfolded the vial in her left palm and there was a brief, green glow. When she opened her hand the vial was gone. She quickly began to uncover some of the left over food arranged on the tables. Geoffrey bounded back up the stairs carrying a wine bottle and closed the cellar door.
"Ah, now that's an excellent idea, Perrin. I'm quite hungry Ė how did you know?" Geoffrey said as he crossed over to Perrin at the tables.
"A little bird told me," Perrin replied. She laughed, her eyes twinkling. "And Iím a bit hungry as well. May I join you, Geoffrey?"
"You bet, Perrin. I'd like that a lot." He opened the bottle and filled the two goblets, then re-corked the bottle. He took the goblet Perrin offered him and savored the taste of the wine. "Now that was a very good year!" He sat at the bench and motioned for Perrin to join him. She sat down a few feet away from him. "So, you've heard of me, huh? Only good things, I hope."
"Quite good," she looked over the rim of her goblet at him. "You've kept Greystone and their allies from taking back a large section of Caserne Pass. Not an easy task I would think. It sounds very difficult." She looked at him with reverence.
"Well, all part of being a Blackpool you know. We have a reputation to uphold, after all." Geoffrey speared a hunk of cheese with his dagger and sipped more of his wine.
"Ah, the responsibilities of one's reputation. That I do understand, Geoffrey. Though it must weigh heavy on you." She smiled sadly.
Geoffrey frowned slightly. "Sometimes." He was noticing the color of her eyes at the moment and was a bit distracted. Odd eyes, he thought. Not brown, not hazel Ė almost gold in color. There was something funny about them but he couldn't place exactly what. He blinked and smiled, "It's not so bad, really, Perrin. I'm used to it."
"Your duties must be dangerous." Perrin tore off a piece of bread from a larger loaf and gazed at the prince, smiling shyly. She looked down briefly before looking at him again. "I've even heard of dreadful rebels in the Snow Regions," she whispered, her eyes wide.
The prince looked confident. "Oh, we'll take care of them soon enough. My brother's got a plan for that already. Should make quick work of them. I wouldn't worry about rebels, Perrin. Not while I'm around." He smiled at her smugly.
Perrin looked reassured. "Certainly, Geoffrey. But, do you really prefer such perilous work? If I were you, I'd stay at the castle where itís safe." She drank the remainder of her wine.
"It's pretty much what's expected, Perrin. I don't suppose it's really a preference. And the castle's not always as safe as you'd think. Remember those noises you mentioned?" Geoff drained the rest of his wine and un-corked the bottle for a refill.
Perrin shuddered lightly. "I suppose you're right. It sounded like something awful was going on in the dungeons."
"That would probably be the work of Vector. My brother's wizard." Geoff explained. He noticed Perrin's goblet. "More wine, Lady Perrin? And don't worry Ė you're safe with me." He grinned widely at her. "And you can move a bit closer, lady. I don't bite."
"Please." Perrin held out her goblet to him. "My thanks, Geoffrey. I do feel quite safe with you, actually." She smiled at him again and blushed lightly, then moved closer to him on the bench.
"You do that a lot, Perrin," the prince remarked as he filled her goblet. "Nothing to be embarrassed about with me, you know." He looked into her eyes and she blushed again.
"Yes, well, of course." Perrin looked away and bit her lower lip. "It's just that Iíve never met anyone quite soÖ important." She hurriedly drank more of her wine, her hand trembling just a bit.
Geoffrey leaned his left arm on the table, cupped his chin in his left hand and looked at her. "And I've never met anyone quite soÖ lovely." He looked intently at her to see her reaction.
Perrin looked distinctly uncomfortable. She swallowed nervously and looked back at him. "You flatter me, my lord."
"Do I, lady? But, my apologies if I'm making you uncomfortable. Or if my attentions are unwanted." He drank more of his wine and gazed at her. "You would let me know if that were true, I hope?" His eyes were locked on hers.
Perrin looked ready to bolt from the room. "Of course," she stammered.
"Good," Geoffrey replied. He cupped her chin in his right hand and turned her face towards him.
Perrin looked as if she had forgotten to breathe.
"Because, Perrin, I plan on kissing you unless you ask me not to." The princeís eyes were focused on hers. He leaned over slowly, enfolded her in his arms and kissed her gently. Perrin tilted her head up as his lips left hers and went instead to her throat. She sighed lightly and wound her hands into the prince's hair. Occupied as he was, Geoffrey couldn't notice her malicious smile, or the mirth that danced in the depths of her eyes.
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