A Falcon's Tale
A Falcon's Tale
Your Rooms, My Lady
Prince Erik Greystone stood in the chambers that Lady Hawtrey would inhabit during her time at Castle Baaldorf. He'd shown her where to find everything and made sure she was comfortable. However, he needed to leave soon. His red cape was once again tied around his shoulders. His leather-clad fingers tapped on the hilt of his magic sword.
He looked about the main room again - the windows were open and the fall air was filling the room with a pleasant scent. The morning was turning to afternoon and the sun was shining, its rays finding their way into the room as well. There was a window seat that overlooked the courtyard and offered a view of the land beyond the main road from the castle gates. Two large chairs sat near the fireplace. The rooms weren't posh by any means, but were nice enough. The furnishings were clean and comfortable. Perrin would probably find the quarters more than adequate during her stay.
"You'll be safe here, Perrin. I take it you want your hawk to stay with you?" His blue eyes scanned her, watching for any sign of worry. She seemed much more settled now that she was in the castle. He noted she was less tense since she'd admitted who she really was to him and the King. Perhaps her fear warranted her lying to him, but he was still disappointed that she'd thought he wouldn't help her if he'd known who she was. He glanced at the hawk, which was perched on the back of one of the chairs by the fireplace. The bird tilted its head and looked back at him, then blinked.
"Of course. Malin is always with me," Perrin returned, smiling shyly at the blonde prince. "I wouldn't ever think of leaving her in the aviary." Erik nodded and turned to the window again. She hardened her voice and narrowed her eyes. "I do hope that won't be a problem?" Sherelaxed her face into an innocent expression as Erik turned and looked at her carefully.
The prince frowned. Maybe he was hearing things. The edge in her voice had sounded threatening. He raised his eyebrows. Well, it had been a stressful morning for her and she did seem really fond of the hawk. He shrugged off the thought, crossed to her and placed his gauntleted hand on her shoulder. "You sure you're OK?" He looked into her eyes intently. "And you're sure you don't want someone to look at that bruise?" His concern was evident.
Perrin barely restrained herself from breaking his wrist. Gods, she hated it when he touched her. She gazed back at him softly. "I'll be fine. No, it's not necessary. It's only a bruise." She touched her hand to her forehead and winced theatrically, mentally noting that of all the injuries she'd sustained in her life that it was certainly the least. "I'm just so tired from all of this..." Her voice trailed off. She looked down, her eyes settling on the prince's sword hilt. She knew that there was a hidden dagger in the pommel. She imagined pulling it and running it through his heart. She smiled slightly.
"See? That's it. A positive attitude really helps," Erik smiled back at her and moved his hand from her shoulder. He looked at her with encouragement.
"It certainly does, doesn't it, my lord?" She smiled at him again, perhaps a bit too widely. Her eyes were twinkling. Erik noted that most of her teeth were showing. Well, maybe she was a bit on edge still. She'd probably relax after she rested.
"Yeah," he nodded. "And I don't think I'll be gone more than a few days. We should be able to route Blackpool's men from Caserne Pass. When I come back maybe we can go hunting? You, Malin and I. How's that sound?"
Perrin nodded, thinking of how much she'd enjoy hunting *him* with Malin if she got the chance. She'd be sure to give Malin the choicest bits of his heart and liver after the kill. Malin would like that. And so would she. She bit her lower lip shyly. "Please. I'd like that." She blushed.
"Great," he returned warmly. "Now, you just relax. I asked for a lady-in-waiting to be assigned to you after you've had awhile to rest. Then you'll have some company. She can show you around the castle and you can enjoy the grounds a bit."
"I will, my..."
"Hey - Erik - remember?" He smiled at her.
"I will, Erik." Perrin looked down, then back at him. "My thanks for all you've done to help me. You've been wonderful." She blushed again and fidgeted with her skirts. "Especially with King Edwin."
"All part of rescuing ladies in distress, Perrin," he grinned at her. "Oh, one more thing. You won't need whatever weapon you've got hidden on you while you're here. I noticed that you tried to get to one when you were attacked." He raised his eyebrows at her.
Perrin looked at him like a child caught taking a kolna from her mother's pouch. "You're right, of course. But it has sentimental meaning. I was told it was my mother's dagger and I'm never without it. I suppose hiding it is a habit from a life spent running away from Prince Blackpool." Her tone was apologetic.
"Well, keep it then, but don't use it on anyone," he teased.
"Of course not!" Perrin looked horrified.
Erik shook his head and his blond hair swung out of his eyes. "I'm just kidding, Perrin. But you may as well wear it openly." He grinned at her. "You rest now, OK? After your tour you can freshen up for dinner. You'll meet everyone then. Maybe even my brother. He's supposed to be on his way. He'll be here at some point for the harvest celebration, anyway. He'd never miss that party."
Perrin blinked. "Justin?"
"Yeah. You've heard of him?" He looked at her quizzically. He wouldn't be surprised if she knew of him, but he hoped his brother didn't actually know her. He found he was a bit protective of Perrin. Probably only natural given that he'd rescued her. Besides, she seemed sort of shy and innocent. He hated to think how Justin would break her heart if given the chance.
"His reputation precedes him, I'm afraid." She blushed again. "Even on the move as much as I've been, I've heard of his many... exploits."
"Word travels, doesn't it? Probably only half of it's true." Erik smirked a bit, knowing exactly what kinds of rumors it was likely that Perrin had heard. Justin was a rascal with the ladies, that much was true.
"Well, I've certainly never heard things like *that* about *you*," Perrin retorted, her eyes wide. She looked a bit embarrassed to be discussing the topic with him, even in passing.
Erik thought for a moment, not quite sure whether this should be considered a compliment or not. "Uh, thanks." He frowned slightly. "Well, he's a great guy, really. Just don't go anywhere with him alone, that's all I can recommend." The prince wrinkled up his face in a smile.
"Certainly not," murmured Perrin. She looked shocked that Erik would even imply that she would. She lowered her eyes and pressed her lips together tightly. She inwardly noted that if she did, Justin would be the one who'd regret it. Her bite was far worse than her bark. She'd heard the opposite of him. She almost smiled at the thought of the ways she might entertain herself with the playboy prince before she'd kill him. Unfortunately, that would have to wait until after the attack with Blackpool's troops. In the meantime she needed to concentrate on winning over Erik. She almost cringed at the thought.
"Good. Well, like I said, I do have to go." He moved away from her and bowed slightly. "It was nice to make your acquaintance, Lady Perrin Hawtrey. I only wish it had been in different circumstances." He moved to the main chamber door and opened it. Perrin nodded and got a faraway look in her eyes. Erik assumed she was thinking of the harvest festival or a tournament where she could have met him instead.
Perrin started. She'd been having lovely daydreams about meeting him all right. Pushing him into a Slime Monster pit would be a nice start. Or perhaps watching a batch of Jinx warriors shooting him full of darts. Or tossing him into a Giant Brinker and watching it swallow him whole. Those would have been *different* circumstances. And far pleasanter ones for her.
She moved to the door, then bowed as well. "Oh, yes, I agree." She smiled widely and nodded. "Farewell, Erik. Please, be careful and return soon." She gave him a shy look from under her lashes as he exited. She closed the door to the chamber and then listened to the receding sound of the prince's boot heels in the hallway.
Perrin scowled and moved quickly about the chambers again, noting every detail in the main room. Her blue dress swirled about her, echoing her angry movements. She was very unhappy with the location of the rooms. The castle staff was sure to see any of her comings and goings since she was so close to the servant's quarters. She was certain King Edwin had changed her assignment to these quarters after he had become aware of her family history. No matter. She'd have to find her way about before they managed to saddle her with the lady-in-waiting. She glanced at Malin. The hawk called out in a long string of cries.
"I'm aware of that," Perrin returned in avian speech. She couldn't take any chance of anyone overhearing her conversations with Malin while she was in the castle. She'd only be able to speak with Malin in the language she'd been taught by her. "I'll go explore what I can in a few moments. You'll have to stay here and warn me if anyone comes looking for me, I suppose. The King is already suspicious enough and I know the white wizard's up to something." She scowled again. The memory of the smell of him was enough to make her curl her lips up in distaste. She moved into the bedchamber and Malin flew in after her, calling to her again. The hawk settled on the top rail of the curtained bed.
"Yes, I already looked. The view will help, but the quarters are completely unsuitable. Edwin knows what he's about and he's not going to offer us any chance for advantages here. I've got my mother and father to thank for that, I suppose." Perrin shook her head and then flopped back onto the bed, staring up at the canopy. She settled her hands behind her head, snagging her fingers on her hair. She was accustomed to it being braided and out of the way. "Damn and blast!" The curse escaped her lips in human speech.
The hawk shifted her talons on the rail and tilted her head towards the warrior. She blinked and hissed slightly.
"Oh, stop it! Malin sometimes you are far too much of a mother hen. As if anyone heard that." Perrin looked up at the hawk petulantly, reverting to the avian tongue again. "But I will watch my language. And any number of ther things while we're here. I'd suppose that the King will have this lady-in-waiting and everyone else watching me like a hawk."
Malin hissed again and then puffed her feathers out indignantly.
"Sorry. You know what I mean." Perrin sighed and rose from the bed. She ran her fingers over the coverlet, noting that even though these quarters were far from luxurious, they were still very nice. Nicer than those she had stayed in at Castle Blackpool, certainly. And the castle here had a whole different feel. There was busyness to it, an element of humanity. Castle Blackpool didn't contain much humanity, except for Geoffrey. She smiled briefly at the memory of him. Very interesting, that Blackpool. She had plans for him later on.
Malin tilted her head and flew out of the chambers into the main room. Perrin heard another call from her and followed her. The hawk had flown to the open window that looked down on the courtyard and settled on the top of the window frame. She peered out and cried again.
"Is he? Good riddance," Perrin snorted and shook her head. "I want to shove my dagger in his ribs every time he comes near me, much less touches me. Gods! He had no idea how close he was to being the first I'd use it on."
Malin blinked rapidly and made a series of calls that sounded very much like scolding.
"Yes, yes, I know!" Perrin narrowed her eyes at the hawk. "I still can't believe I agreed that I'd seduce him. Vector will owe me for this, especially. I'll probably have to use that vervain and sweet violet powder myself." She crossed her arms in front of her and moved over to the window, looking out. She could see Erik's red cloaked figure moving into the distance as he rode from the castle.
Her comment solicited a squawk from Malin.
"I know I can't use it on myself, Malin. I'm aware that I need to keep a clear head. Please!" Perrin looked up at the hawk disagreeably. "I was just telling you how difficult I find this. And his brother will be here as well. Two Greystone's within blade stroke and I have to wait two weeks to kill them. And who knows what else we'll have to put up with while we're here? I've heard stories about Ariel and Lattinia. And Marko will eventually show up to help his lord. After all, Erik will be back sooner than he knows."
The hawk flipped her tail about and tilted her head. She cried again, questioningly.
"Yes, I have it in my bodice, along with a small vial of my personal herbs. I wasn't about to leave anything interesting in Aquilo's saddlebags. The King will have them searched before they're brought here. He'll be so distracted by a possible enemy in the castle that he won't notice all the unfamiliar peasants coming onto the grounds for the celebration. It worked well to pretend to try to deceive him about who I was. He's so pleased that he found me out that he'll concentrate on me instead." She smiled and turned from the window.
Malin flew down from the window frame and settled on the chair again. Perrin watched her fluff out her feathers and listened to another string of cries. She nodded her head.
"I'll be fine. I won't be gone long enough for anyone to notice. The prince mentioned they were giving me time to rest. And if they do, I'll just say I was exploring the castle. That will be the truth, after all." Perrin grinned. "But, please, do alert me if anyone comes looking for me."
The hawk spread her wings as Perrin slipped out of the chambers, leaving her to wait. As she folded her wings back to her body, Malin nodded. She would wait for her lady watchfully. She settled more comfortably on her perch and blinked. Perrin would see what she saw if need be. And Malin was sure while they were at Baaldorf there would be much need of that particular skill.
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