Death And Birth Part I
By Derek Hawkins
Damond Rosedale stood at his window, looking down at the manor’s courtyard. The Spring season this year had been especially warm following on the heels of an unbelievably mild Winter, and set upon the Manor earlier then usual, causing the courtyard to be a festive spring green color, rather than the usual drab muddy bog it normally was at the end of the Spring showers. There in the green courtyard, the youngest of his three children was training to follow the path of the warrior with one of the best tutors of swordsmanship in the kingdom. As he stood there sipping his mug of tea, Lord Rosedale thought, not of the beauty of that spring morning, nor of the visitor standing near him, but of his late wife, buried now these 12 winters. Oh, Katherine, he thought, how proud of the children you would be, if you were here to see them grown, and in the case of the little warrior below him, growing up.
Their oldest son, Airic was an officer in the King’s Royal Guard, and, if the rumors he was hearing in the social circles were true, quite a catch for some lucky damsel. Not much younger than his brother, was Hayden, who had a love for politics and the inner workings of the Royal Court. Of all their children, Lord Rosedale could envision Hayden taking his place on a king’s council when time came for him to retire. And then, there was Dorina. She was turning into quite a headstrong young woman, with a will of her own that no smithy alive could bend and shape. This was his little warrior in training this spring morning.
He was worried about this one who wanted to be a warrior. Dorina had never been one to play with dolls, and growing up with two older brothers, she was always more at home in their rough and tumble world. Granted, being a warrior was a noble profession. He himself had fought gallantly under the King to free the kingdom from the oppressive rule of the invaders. Afterwards, the King made Rosedale a nobleman and put Damond on his council. Being a warrior has its benefits, but it is not the proper place for a young lady, he thought.
Below, oblivious to her father’s thoughts, Dorina Rosedale was learning to parry her opponent’s blows. Once, twice, three times she blocked her tutor’s attacks. They had been at it all morning, reviewing the previous lessons learned and building up her skills in the day’s lesson slowly at first, but quickening the pace each time she finished a set of exercises.
She watched her opponent closely, looking for the next telltale sign of his coming attack. She was a small thing compared to her father, who was a great big man more than a full two strides tall. Because of her father’s great height, she stood taller than all the other girls her age, and some of the boys as well. Atop this unnatural height for a child her age sat the Rosedale trademark, the one feature that distinguished his family from any other in the kingdom, a pile of flaming red hair just like her fathers. Dorina’s brothers both took on a lighter coloring thanks to Katherine’s blonde locks. But Dori had her fathers hair.
Dori watched Torbin, her instructor, intently, staring at him through cold blue eyes. In fact, her eyes were icier than the surface of the pond on the manor grounds in the coldest of winters.
Again she blocked all of Torbin’s attacks when they came at her, as though knowing where Torbin’s next blow was aimed for by natural instinct. He struck again, faster, and faster still, yet she unfailingly blocked his every attempt. Then, with their swords locked, and their faces mere inches apart, Dori grinned at her opponent, the grin of the victorious.
“Well done, Dori,” Damond applauded his daughter’s growing skills. “Despite my misgivings, there may be a fighter in you yet.” Damond stepped back from the window and looked over at his guest.
Dressed in plain clothing and a plain riding cloak stood a blonde woman. “She has much of her mother in her,” the woman spoke quietly.
Lord Rosedale grunted. “That is what worries me.”
“You have misgivings about her taking up the sword. Do not forget, Lord Rosedale, that Lady Katherine DeSaines-Rosedale did the same at her age. Otherwise, you two would not have met nor fallen in love.”
Damond started hard into the face of his visitor. “Do not presume to remind me of the circumstances of Lady Katherine and my meeting. I hear your voice, but I hear the words of another who you speak for. Your headmistress knows far too well that I am familiar with every detail of that meeting, and of every day of our lives my wife and I spent together.”
The visitor was nonplused. “Be that as it may, Lord Rosedale, the daughter of Katherine DeSaines is nearly ready for her induction into The Order.”