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The Secret Oath (standard:fantasy, 1447 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Oct 18 2010Views/Reads: 1983/978Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Maglanda's uncle is rich and powerful, while her half-cousin, Davitt, is just a novice in the castle guard. This might be a prologue for something longer but, for now, it's just a short story.

The Secret Oath 

©2010 Ian Hobson 

Lord Malag would not have approved of Maglanda leaving the castle
unchaperoned; but she was a headstrong girl and, knowing that he would 
be out riding all afternoon, she had left by the side gate - where the 
guards took little notice of who came and went - and followed the 
footpath down to the river.  It was late summer, though there had been 
rain the previous day, so occasionally she had to lift her skirts to 
negotiate puddles; but it felt good to be out in the open air. 

Later, as she left the riverside, she noticed Davitt, her half-cousin,
lingering ahead just beyond the crosspaths.  He was becoming a 
nuisance, following her around like a puppy.  As she drew level with 
him, she looked straight ahead, hoping he would take a hint and leave 
her in peace; go back to his duties, his weapons practice, or whatever 
he should have been doing in the middle of the afternoon.  But that was 
too much to ask for. 

'It's a lovely day, Maglanda,' he said as he turned and, uninvited,
walked beside her.  This was something new, and probably her own fault 
for returning his greeting the day before.  It was obviously time she 
took him down a peg or two. 

She stopped and, lifting her chin, looked up into his eyes; they were a
steely pale blue and at odds with his shock of raven hair.  'Have I 
given you permission to walk beside me, or to address me by name?' 

'Well, no... my lady, but I thought...' 

'You thought?  Well maybe you should stop thinking and get on with
whatever it is Lord Malag pays you to do.'   Lord Malag was the Halkeep 
of Rowanshall, and thus ruler of all the lands south-west of the great 
river.  He was also Maglanda's uncle. 

'But my duties for today are completed, my lady.'  Davitt's face had
reddened slightly.  He was just seventeen, a year older than Maglanda, 
and although the two of them had met three or four times when they were 
children, and even played together, they had only recently become 
reacquainted after Davitt's enrolment in the Halguard. 

'And I suppose you are so skilled with that weapon you carry, that you
need no practice?' 

'No, my lady.'  Davitt's hand went to the hilt of his sword, a present
from his father.  'But the arms master has an injury, and today's 
practice was cancelled.' 

Maglanda had heard that Lord Cramann had fallen from his horse, but
forgotten that he took personal charge of weapons practice.  She 
stepped to one side as an old man, carrying a large bundle of firewood 
toward the castle, passed them by.  'So where are your fellow 
enrolees?' she asked.  'Getting drunk in the town, I suppose?' 

'Probably.'  Davitt smiled, having noticed a slight softening of
Maglanda's tone.  But when his smile was not returned he tore his eyes 
from her beautiful face and long flaxen hair, and turned to look east, 
towards the town, desperately trying to think of something else to say. 
 Then, remembering something overheard in the barracks, he said, 'You 
know there's talk of war?' 

'When is there not talk of war?'  Maglanda felt a little frustrated; the
conversation was not going as planned.  Though Davitt was right; 
rumours of war-bands threatening the kingdom's northern borders were 
becoming more frequent. 

'I just wanted you to know that...'  Davitt hesitated as he turned back
to face his half-cousin, unsure of himself.  He longed to tell her that 
he loved her, but couldn't,  'I just wanted you to know that if ever 
there were any danger, I mean, if there was a war and...' 

'Oh, how sweet,' said Maglanda, with more than a hint of sarcasm.  'If
ever I'm in danger, you will be my protector?  Well, I hardly think 
that will be necessary, as I live within the walls of a castle, 

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