Archives

Something Amiss in Alerald – swallow

All right, here’s one more week of Something Amiss in Alerald. Last week was going to be the last week, but since I’ll be doing the A to Z Blog Challenge during the month of April, I didn’t want to start a new story for just one week. Here, writing to the prompt ‘swallow’, is the last bit of my F/F Fairy Tale.

Don’t forget to return to TUESDAY TALES for more great snippets!

herbs in cottage

Inside, Reanna turned and looked at every nook and cranny. She stopped at the apothecary cupboard, brimming with bowls dried herbs and cups of various potions, and scanned the contents, bending to take a whiff at several. “It looks just the same in here. You’re the only one that’s different.”

“Aye. I needed to be the ageing, decrepit hag form then. You were in need of a wise woman to speak to, sharing your innermost doubts and concerns. And I needed to be someone who your parents wouldn’t give a second thought to, once you’d departed on your way back to Alerald’s castle.”

“And on the way here, I mentioned to Nahla that I had an inkling that you were…”

“I was what?”

“One of us…you know…a girl that loves girls…albeit a much older one.”

Derowen chuckled with delight. “But my dear…I am one, too. I’ve loved girls my whole life. Never have had the urge to feel a man’s arms around me.”

“That’s why you were so understanding that evening. I remember talking till almost morn’s light, spilling out my frustrations and questions. It was so comfortable talking to you, as if you understood.”

Nahla, standing as close to Reanna as she could, finally found her courage and spoke up. “She did understand. But…Derowen…why didn’t you show yourself to Reanna that night? Why did you remain in the form of the old woman?”

“For several reasons. For one, she was not ready yet.”

“I’m confused. Because you’re so young and beautiful…you could have shown yourself and maybe you two would have fallen in love…” Nahla trailed off as a scarlet flush started rising up her neck.

“My sweet, uncertain Nahla. That is the other reason. It was not for us to fall in love. I was meant to simply be an ear and a shoulder for the Princess. Reanna already had given her heart to her true love. You see her image each day you bend your heads towards the pool.”

Reanna turned and wrapped her arms around Nahla, holding her in a tight embrace. “See, my dearest, I told you that you are the other half of my heart.”

Derowen scuttled about the room, setting her basket of freshly picked foliage on the table. Pulling out three mismatched wooden goblets, she turned and interrupted her guests as they murmured sweet nothings to each other. “So, my lovelies…what were your plans…once you’d escaped the King’s clutches?”

“Ummm…to get away before my Father married me off to some lecherous clod?”

“And then what?”

“I hoped to find the cottage with the old woman. That being you, of course now I know. I’d hoped that she’d be sympathetic to our plight and might offer us shelter for a few nights. Then, once we we’d hidden for a bit and my Father stopped searching…” Reanna paused, searching for the right words to continue. “…I thought we might search the forests and find a piece of land, far off the traveled paths, and maybe build a simple abode…just enough to give us shelter…and we could be together.”

“And you?” Derowen turned to Nahla, who hadn’t offered much to the conversation. “What were your plans?”

Nahla blushed and peered down at her dusty slippers, as if they held a clue to her answer. “My plan? I had no plans, nor any thoughts of what might happen. Reanna said ‘Let’s go’ and I followed her.”

“Even if it meant the end of your life, if you’d been captured by the King’s knights?” Derowen tipped Nahla’s head up and gazed intently into the girl’s eyes, looking for her own answer in the dark, smoky depths.

A steady, unwavering stare was returned. Nahla spoke up with a courage she was unaccustomed to. “Most definitely, my friend. I would follow her to the ends of the earth, and most certainly to the ends of the Kingdom of Alerald, even if it meant my death. ‘Twas a better finale than living a life without her.”

“Just as I thought. Come. Sit. We shall have some tea. I have work to do.”

Reanna and Nahla looked at each other, a quizzical expression on both of their faces. Yet, they did as they were bid, and settled on the small, three-legged stools around the hewn oak table.

Derowen checked the iron pot that simmered over a mound of glowing coals in the corner hearth. Taking a blackened gourd that hung on the wall, she dipped it into the pot and filled the three goblets with the simmering liquid. Returning the gourd to the peg, she searched among the multitude of dried herbs that graced the floor to ceiling shelves. She retrieved a small leather bag that was tucked in the back behind several wooden boxes, and sprinkled a pinch in each drink.

“Drink up,” she commanded.

The two runaways shared glances, each afraid to swallow the mysterious concoction. A glare from their hostess forced their hesitation to the side and they picked up their drinks and sipped.

“The whole thing.” Derowen tipped her head back and downed hers in one long chug.

Reanna shrugged her shoulders and did the same, with Nahla following suit.

Derowen held her hands out across the table to the others. “Take my hands. We must sit in a circle. Don’t let go until I say.” As they clasped hands, she closed her eyes and sat quietly. A drowsy, eerie silence filled the cottage as the three sat, bonded together, not even hearing the flies buzzing about the room.

Nahla peeked at Reanna, unsure of what was happening. When Reanna closed her eyes and her chin dropped to her chest, Nahla finally let her eyes droop shut too.

The clearing of Derowen’s throat startled the two guests and their heads bobbed up, instantly awake. “I have seen what I needed to see. You two shall stay with me for a fortnight. You will rest and spend the days learning to love one another outside of the castle grounds. Then…you shall return home.”

Reanna blanched at the thought and spoke up loudly and emphatically. “We can’t return! My Father will marry me off…and Nahla…why, what he’ll do to Nahla is unimaginable! We shan’t. It’s impossible.”

A small smile lifted the corners of Derowen’s mouth. “Ah, but you shall return. I have seen it. You will be welcomed with open arms.”

“But…we…but…” Reanna sputtered.

“Your absence is what was needed. Your parents believe they’ve lost you. Let them stew for a few more days. Let their agony deepen. When they hold no hope that they’ll see you again…and you go riding up…they shall rejoice. Their joy will overcome their resistance to your loving someone they didn’t foresee. I saw a ball being held to celebrate your return home, with both of you as honored guests. Nahla will be received and loved as another daughter. And you two will live in love together – for the rest of your lives. The herbs don’t lie. It is to be.”

herbalists cottage1

 

Advertisements

Something Amiss in Alerald – TT ‘mirror’

This is the last snippets of Something Amis in Alerald, a LGBT Fairy Tale. It’s now in the editing phase and being sent off for the contest.

Princess Reanna and Nahla are on the run to the furthest corner of the kingdom. Although we haven’t come to the ending yet, I can assure you it’s a happily ever after and the two women are able to live their forever love with each other.

This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to the prompt ‘mirror’. Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read more snippets from several different genres.

********************

Nahla tore off a chunk from one of the loaves and passed it to Reanna. Her small moans of appreciation for the meal brought a smile to Reanna’s face. When the bread was consumed, Nahla reached for a pear. She nibbled it delicately, but juice still dripped down her chin to her bodice.

Reanna noticed and couldn’t resist the temptation. She leaned closer and gently lapped the pear droplets from Nahla’s chin. From the chin, she traveled to the neck and up towards the ear, leaving a trace of nibbles, licks and an occasional suck.

Leaning her head back, to expose more neckline, Nahla’s moans grew lower and throatier. She could barely respond as a flush of heat started at her toes and spread through her like wildfire, leaving a moist dampness in its wake. “How I’ve missed your touch,” she uttered when she could finally speak.

“And I yours.” The tender kisses were joined by soft touches as Reanna caressed her lover, murmuring sweet nothings as she gently covered her body with her ministrations.

“…but…in the open…we may be seen…” Nahla protested, but not with much fervor.

“It’s been too long. I’ve dreamt of our lovemaking, waking weak with desire.” She continued without slowing. “The mare will warn us…” More kisses followed, down the valley between the breasts, a hand slowing making its way beneath the gown, rising higher.

Nahla’s desire for modesty fled, in its place only the intense longing for release. The two writhing bodies were intent on fulfilling each other’s passions and never would have noticed any travelers on the road. It was fortunate that no one passed. As the flames were extinguished leaving each girl satisfied and flushed, they lay back, grins plastered across each face. Laying together, hands clasped between them, they fell into a drowsy slumber.

The blazing sun as it moved across the sky fell across the girls, warming them with another kind of heat. Reanna awoke first, somewhat confused as to where she was. When her thoughts cleared and she recalled their quest for a new life where they had the freedom to love one another, she awoke fully. Nudging Nahla, she murmured, “Awake my love. We must travel on. The sun has passed too far across the sky.”

Nahla shook her head groggily, peeved at being awoken from a deep sleep. The clarity of their situation brought her to wakefulness and she sat up with a jolt. “How much time have we lost?”

“A good deal of the day.” Reanna giggled as she adjusted her gown and re-laced the bodice. “Dare I say it was worth it though?” She wondered briefly if they dare take the time for another tryst, then decided that they daren’t.

They rose gingerly, tugging and straightening their attire before heading to the river when they splashed cool water on their faces and necks. Reanna turned and gathered Nahla in her arms for a gentle embrace, mirrored by the rippling water in the inlet near their feet. They stood locked together, not wanting this short respite to end.

Taking a deep breath, Reanna broke the mood first. “Come, dear. Let’s gather our belongings and move on. I was hoping to make the wise woman’s cottage before dark.”

Nahla collected the food and tied it back up in the makeshift bag while Reanna rolled the rug up and tied it onto the mare’s back. Knotting the bag to the rope tied around the rug, Reanna deftly mounted the mare and held a hand down to help pull Nahla up. She kneed the horse in the ribs, and after a snort and a toss of its head, they were on their journey again.

The sun beat down on them as they followed the stream. Sweat streamed down their faces, causing them to keep drinking from the water skins. Twice they stopped to refill them. As the sun started to set on the horizon, the waterway took a wide bend, almost turning back on itself. “I think this is where we deviate from the river, “Reanna said. She slowed and started watching the forest side closely, hoping she’d recognize what she thought she remembered. She stopped and gazed at a small trodden path coming from the forest. Taking a deep breath of resolve, she turned the horse towards the wooded area and headed in.

The dark woods, shaded by the towering trees with its blanket of thick, leafy carpet was a huge difference from the sunny river bank they’d followed for so long. The moved slowly as it took some time for their eyes to acclimate to the dimness of the forest. At times they’d have to stop, as the path became hidden under the dense foliage. At one point Reanna was sure they’d lost the trail. She slid off the horses back and handed the reins to Nahla. “Stay here. Let me find our way.”

Nahla sat in silence, frightened at being alone in unfamiliar territory. Which each echo of rustling leaves, her heart beat faster, not knowing if it was Reanna returning, the King’s men out searching for them, or a wild beast, come to feast of her porcelain limbs.

herbalist cottageReanna finally appeared, causing Nahla to breathe a sigh of relief. “I found the way. The route hasn’t been used in some time. I hope the old woman is still alive.”

The horse trod slowly where Reanna directed it, through the undergrowth, stepping over vines and rock piles. Through the dappled light of the oak canopy, they finally saw a dark shadow of an abode up ahead.

“I think this is it,” Reanna murmured as she urged the horse forward.

As if in response, a raven haired beauty came around the corner of the cottage, carrying a basket overflowing with greenery.

“I thought you said she was an old, hunchbacked hag,” Nahla whispered in Reanna’s ear.

herbalist

 

Something Amiss in Alerald – TT ‘grab’

For the next few weeks we’re sharing snippets of a new story, tentatively titled Something Amis in Alerald, a LGBT Fairy Tale.

Despite the temptation that Lady Catherine presented at the ball, after a few furtive embraces and toe curling kisses at the end of the dark corridor, Reanna remained strong with her love for Nahla. After the guests bedded down for the eve, Reanna put her escape plan in motion. She quietly fetched Nahla from her slumber and the two slipped out to the stable. They’re on the run to the furthest corner of the kingdom.

This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to the prompt ‘grab’. Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read more snippets from several different genres.

Tuesday Tales

***********

princess on horseReanna led the mare from their hiding spot behind the prickly hedge. “Knowing my Father, I’m sure he split the army and sent men to the four corners of the kingdom.”

Nahla followed, absorbing this tidbit. “Then, we wouldn’t have had clear travel in any direction we traveled.”

“Most likely not. I didn’t anticipate such a prompt search. I thought we’d be far away from Father’s snare before he sounded the alarm.”

“I don’t mean to question you, my love, but what drew us to this area? Have you been here before? Is there safety ahead?” Nahla chewed on the corner of her lip in consternation.

“Aye, my dear, our entourage…” The mare caught the heady scent of the water awaiting them and lunged forward, dragging Princess Reanna alongside of her quickened gait. Reanna struggled with the reins that had tightened around her wrist. She finally got a foothold and braced her feet firmly on the dusty trail, jerking the usually sweet tempered mare to a halt. “Come, let’s hasten to the river and I’ll tell you more there.”

The weary travelers moved quickly and soon the mare was forelocks deep in the flowing stream, her nuzzle bent and gulping greedily of the cold, fresh treat. Reanna untied the near empty skins from the pack secured on the horses back and tossed them to Nahla. “Fill these with fresh water, then we’ll rest and cool off.”

When the horse had drank to capacity, Reanna tied the reins to an oak sapling growing on the riverbank. She pulled a small rug from the pack and laid it on the ground in the shade of the tree canopy gracing the small inlet. Plopping down on the pad in exhaustion, she called to her companion. “Nahla, grab the bag that I made from my shawl. Bring that with you.”

After watching Nahla fumbling for some time, trying to unfasten the bag from the pack, Reanna groaned and rose to go assist. She was humbled when her first attempts did not loosen the bag either. “Evidently our frantic riding through the night tightened my knot,” she grumbled. Finally, in frustration, she bent her head and chomped her teeth on one side of the knot. Grunting and tugging, she succeeded in loosening it. Sticking her hand inside, she retrieved a carrot and handed it to the horse before reaching for Nahla’s hand and leading her back to their resting area.

Dropping the bag on the ground, Reanna motioned to Nahla. “Eat. We need our strength for our travels.”

Opening the bag, Nahla gasped with delight. She pulled out handfuls of apples, pears, and nuts, along with two crusty loaves of bread. She left the carrots in the satchel, knowing who would get to consume those tasty orange delights. “Where did you get all this from?” she squealed.

“From the kitchens, when I’d stop in and visit.” Reanna smiled slyly. “Remember all those treats I took to the stables? Most of them returned to my chambers with me. I was saving for our escape. I knew we’d need nourishment whilst we traversed across the land.”

Laying back in the shade, Nahlia munched on a sweet, golden apple. “Where are we going? Is there a destination we’re headed for? Or shall we merely wander for the rest of our lives?”

“Last year, when we attended the wedding of Princess Bethany, in the Land of Hyll, we traveled this way. Remember, when we returned and I told the tales of meeting that horrid man, King Ravenot of Lotner?”

“I recall very well. You returned home with reviling tales of the lecherous old goat.”

“That’s the very one. The disgusting lout couldn’t keep his hands to himself. He was grasping and groping whenever I got in arms reach. The saliva drooled from his mouth and the stench that surrounded him fairly made me nauseous.” Reanna shuddered at the memory. “But…I remember the journey. We stayed one night in the forest, camped near a wise-woman’s cottage. We should reach there by nightfall. I know that she’ll shelter us and give us abode.”

“Are you certain? What if she sends word to your Father as to our whereabouts?”

A knowing grin crossed Reanna’s face. “I doubt she will. I feel that she’s one of us, a lover of women. Although, a very old, hunchbacked one. I’m most certain she will shelter us…and surround us with a protective wall of sorcery that none can pierce.”

Something Amiss in Alerald – TT picture prompt

For the next few weeks we’re sharing snippets of a new story, tentatively titled Something Amis in Alerald, a LGBT Fairy Tale.

Despite the temptation that Lady Catherine presented at the ball, after a few furtive embraces and toe curling kisses at the end of the dark corridor, Reanna remained strong with her love for Nahla. After the guests bedded down for the eve, Reanna put her escape plan in motion. She quietly fetched Nahla from her slumber and the two slipped out to the stable.

This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to a picture prompt. Several photos were available to choose from and each author picked one to write to. Scenes this week are only 300 words, so reading will be quick. Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read more snippets from several different genres.

***************************

TT_030816“Hide! Quickly!” Reanna slid off the mare’s back, turned and held up her arms to catch Nahla.

Worried at what was ahead of them on the trail, Nahla froze on the horses back. “I thought…”

“Shhhh!” Reanna threw a finger to her lips and shushed her. She pulled her lover off in an ungracious manner and dropped to the ground behind a thorny shrub, pulling Nahla down beside her. “Hush, Father’s huntsmen are ahead.”

The frightened girl clutched Reanna’s arm and leaned in closer, whispering in her ear. “How? How’d they get here ahead of us? We’ve been riding all night.”

Reanna listened for a moment before she whispered back. “The river is just ahead. A small fleet of shallops are mid-stream, and they’re scanning the banks.”

Nahla’s face blanched at the thoughts of what would happen if they were caught. She moaned softly. “Oh, the King will behead me for this.”

“No, he will not.” Reanna replied quietly, but emphatically. “First off, they’ll not find us. And even if they do, I shall threaten to kill myself if anything happens to you. You know my Father wouldn’t want that on his conscious.”

The two sat on the hard dusty ground, despite the day’s heat starting to bake them in their heavy gowns. The mare whinnied in frustration and pawed at the ground. She tossed her head, trying to free herself from Reanna’s grasp of the reins before she finally gave up and settled down. After the sun had moved a distance in the sky, Reanna stood slowly, carefully peeking over the top of the bush. “It appears to be clear. Let’s go drink from the stream and fill our skins with fresh water.”

“How did they know we came this way?” Nahla was puzzled.

Something Amiss in Alerald – TT ‘hip’

For the next few weeks we’re sharing snippets of a new story, tentatively titled Something Amis in Alerald, a LGBT Fairy Tale.

Princess Reanna is having a confrontation with her parents, King Reynard and Queen Amica, over her not wanting to marry any of the Prince’s that have come looking for her hand. The Queen is suspicious about the closeness between the Princess and her serving girl, Nahla. The King announces a ball, where Reanna will either choose one of the suitors, or the King will choose one. Reanna comes up with a plan. She’s been secreting food away, and has been spending time in the stables to familiarize herself with the horses. But then…Catherine Hyll, Princess of Zaylor arrives at the ball and throws Reanna’s emotions into a whirlwind.

This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to the prompt ‘hip’. Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read more snippets from several different genres.

Tuesday Tales

********************

Trumpets sounded, to announce Princess Reanna. The crowd stilled and turned to see the young girl that they were there to honor. The eligible men in the room salivated when they saw her youth and her beauty. Although, the dowry they sought was a tempting prize of itself. They all lusted after the riches that were promised to the man chosen as the Princess’s husband. Because of the largess of the dowry, they’d anticipated a plump and ugly duckling. Instead a young, elegant swan stood in their vision, filling the old men with lustful longing, and rising the trousers of the younger ones who still had vigor under the covers.

princess4One by one, the young – and old – men were brought and presented to Reanna. Others danced while the introductions were made. The men were chaste to leave, not wanting to abandon the lovely lass to the attentions of the other suitors. Soon Reanna was flocked in a throng of drooling men, each clamoring to garner her admiration.

Reminds me of a pack of wild, hungry dogs, snarling around a chunk of meat, Reanna thought. She scanned the room, searching for a glimpse of her beloved Nahla. Not seeing her, she turned and caught the bold stare of a set of obsidian eyes. An enchantress with ebony tresses and a plunging neckline accenting the full cleavage it surrounded stood across the room. Reanna’s breath caught and she felt a sudden rush of longing in her loins. She longed to stride across the room and fondle the breast that threatened to spill out the gown.

What would all these men do then? The thought of how the circling vultures would respond if Reanna had the courage to act on the thoughts in her head caused her to laugh with pleasure. The men preened, all certain that they were the ones that brought the glow to Reanna’s face.

Reanna turned to find her mother. Seeing her not far away, she sidled over. “Mother, who is that woman over there? The one in the daffodil gown and the jet black hair.”

Queen Amica turned where Reanna’s gaze was locked. “Her? That’s Catherine Hyll, of Zaylor. Haven’t you met before?”

“No, I’ve never seen her before.”

“Are you certain? I’m sure she’s been at gatherings we’ve been to.”

“No, Mother. I’m positive. If we would have met before, I would have remembered her.”

“We shall remedy that. Come, dear, I’ll introduce you.” As the two women made their way across the room, the Queen bent her head and whispered, “I’m sure she’s just here to pick up one of your crumbs. She hasn’t been able to find a husband either.”

Catherine and Reanna’s eyes were locked and never wavering as the two women made their way across the room. The images that came unbidden to Reanna brought a pinkness to her cheeks.

“Catherine, it’s come to my attention that you’ve never met my daughter. Princess Reanna, this is Princess Catherine, come from the north, from the Land of Zaylor.”

Reanna thrust her hand out. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m so glad you traveled all this way for my ball. Was it a long and tedious trip?”

Catherine enveloped Reanna’s hand with both her own, closing them around the dainty offering and filling it with her warmth. “The pleasure, my dear, is mine. No, the trip wasn’t horrid. Two days journey is all.”

“Two days? You’ve been on the road that long? Then you must stay here and rest, as our guests,” Reanna blurted out. “Mother?”

“Why, of course,” Queen Amica replied. “I’ve had several rooms made up for those coming a distance. You must stay.” A tap on her shoulder turned the Queen from the conversation as she gave her attention to another Queen from a nearby land.

No one seemed to notice that the two girls stood in rapt discussion, their hands still clasped together.

Dancers whirling around the room intruded on the guest’s space that lingered along the sidelines. They soon forced the women back closer to the wall. They dropped hands as Reanna turned slightly and tried to appear that she was watching the room, instead of the ravishing beauty standing beside her. They stood closely, almost hip to hip, as they spoke, oblivious to anyone else around them.

“So, I hear you’re to marry one of the men that are sniffing around you,” Catherine said.

“That’s my father’s plan. That doesn’t mean that it’s mine.” At these words, Reanna had a quick moment of despair as she thought of Nahla, the love of her life. What am I doing, entranced by another, when I love one? Then, Catherine spoke again, and all thoughts of Nahla fled.

“Are you drawn to any of them?”

“No, none at all. I can honestly say that there’s not one man out there that tempts me, nor delights me.” Reanna spoke breathlessly as the fever of longing filled her. “What of you? I hear you’ve not wed. Is there one out there that you long for?”

The soft pink tip of Catherine’s tongue etched the length of her lips as she hesitated before answering. “Not I. I have no desire to bed with a man.”

“Me either! I thought I was the only one. Just the thought is revolting.”

Finding that they had a common bond sent a rush through both of them. They continued speaking, leaning closer together, and their talk becoming more intense.

Nahla quietly made her way around the room, carrying a serving tray filled with tankards of the household’s finest mead. She offered the goods to the visitors, while keeping an eye out for Reanna. She finally spotted her ensconced in the back, talking to Catherine. Seeing Reanna standing there, so close and cozy with the visiting Princess from Zaylor, filled Nahla with a sense of dread and foreboding.

Something Amiss in Alerald – TT ‘mixed’

For the next few weeks we’re sharing snippets of a new story, tentatively titled Something Amis in Alerald, a LGBT Fairy Tale.

Princess Reanna is having a confrontation with her parents, King Reynard and Queen Amica, over her not wanting to marry any of the Prince’s that have come looking for her hand. To complicate matters, the Queen is suspicious about the closeness between the Princess and her serving girl, Nahla. To thwart the girls, Nahla’s duties have been switched to helping cook in the kitchen.

This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to the prompt ‘mixed’. Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read more snippets from several different genres.

Tuesday Tales

***************

Reanna slept fitfully that night. Tossing and turning, every joint in her body ached from the constant movement. As daylight broke across the land, the faint crows of the earliest roosters out yonder foretold of the forthcoming sunshine. She knew this would be the best time to try to steal away and try to catch Nahla attending to the early morning kitchen duties. The courtyard would soon be bustling with preparations to send the criers forth announcing the news of the upcoming ball.

She eased out of bed and tiptoed to the servant’s alcove, hoping that crotchety Margaret was still sound asleep. The snores echoing from the small room told Reanna that she needn’t go further. Elderly Margaret slept the sleep of the dead, with the raspy vibrations reverberating through the tapestry curtain as proof that she still lived.

Poking her head through the thick tapestry hanging in her doorway, Reanna saw that the corridor was clear. She slipped out, staying on the sides of the gray stone walls. Should she chance another occupant in the walkway, it would be easier to duck into the nearest doorway and remain unseen.

castle kitchenShe didn’t encounter any other people on her journey to the kitchen. From the sounds within, she knew more than just Nahla was hard at work already. Inching towards the huge archway that opened up into the bustling hive of activity, Reanna peeked her head around, looking until she spied Nahla on the far end, busy washing a mound of dirt encrusted potatoes. Reanna watched patiently and stealthily until Nahla finally raised her head as she brushed an errant lock of tresses from her forehead. Reanna raised a dainty hand in the air, waving to catch the attention of her friend.

A flush rose up Nahla’s cheeks when she noticed the motion from the doorway, with only the barest glimpse of a blond head peering around the granite boulders separating the two rooms. Her head swiveled as she looked around the kitchen, figuring out where Cook was and trying to determine if she dare take a chance to abandon her task to go meet Reanna.

Cook wasn’t anywhere around and the other indentured servants intent on their own tasks, one mixing a massive mound of dough for the daily bread and another dressing a tableful of chickens. Nahla stepped quickly towards the doorway. Reanna gripped her arm and pulled her around into the other room.

“Reanna…you shouldn’t be here…if Cooks finds me gone…”

“Hush, my sweet…I had to see you. I couldn’t bear going another day without seeing you.” She threw her arms around Nahla, clutching her tightly.

Nahla’s knees weakened and she slumped into the Princess’s embrace. “It’s only been one night. But I’ve missed you so,” she whispered.

“As have I. I barely slept at all last night. My arms ached to not have you in them.”

“I can’t stay here long. I must be back at my station before Cook returns. I’ve heard rumors…she whips her girls for the slightest infractions.” A tear formed at the corner of her eye.

“Then you must get back. For now. I’m working on a plan.” Reanna lowered her face into Nahla’s neck and spoke quietly into her ear. “After the ball…in a fornight…we shall be together after the guests disperse.”

“What…how…”

“Shhhh, my darling. I daren’t tell you yet. In case anyone finds out, I don’t want you implicated in any of my plottings. Just remember…after the ball. We’ll be together then.” Reanna placed a tender kiss on Nahlia’s lips and pushed her away. “Now, go. Before your presence is missed.”

After Nahlia returned to her chore, Reanna peered into the kitchen again. But this time it wasn’t to locate her beloved. This time she scanned the room, figuring out where the food supplies were stored. She’d been in there before. Only occasionally, when she was younger and in search of a snack. As she got older, she’d learned to summon a servant and have goodies brought to her room. So she’d never paid much attention to the room again. Food simply appeared from it. How it got there, or got prepared was not her problem. Nor did she spend any time with thoughts about it. But now, now she had a desire to know the whole layout. She’d press Nahla for more details later. Nahla would know what foods were stored where. But, she didn’t dare let Nahla know exactly what plans simmered in her mind.

Something Amiss in Alerald – TT ‘beat’

For the next few weeks we’re sharing snippets of a new story, tentatively titled Something Amiss in Alerald, a LGBT Fairy Tale.

Princess Reanna is having a confrontation with her parents, King Reynard and Queen Amica, over her not wanting to marry any of the Prince’s that have come looking for her hand. To complicate matters, the Queen is suspicious about the closeness between the Princess and her serving girl, Nahla. To thwart the girls, Nahla’s duties have been switched to helping cook in the kitchen.

This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to the prompt ‘beat’. Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read more snippets from several different genres.

Tuesday Tales

***********************

As the pair left the room, Nahla trailed behind the Queen and turned to give Reanna one last beseeching look. Her large dark eyes simmered in tears and threatened to spill down her cheeks.

Reanna remained mutely in front of the window, knowing it was useless to protest. She pursed her lips and sent a silent kiss before Nahla turned back to follow the Queen. The silence of the room was overwhelming and an acute sense of loss and longing filled Reanna until she thought she’d burst. Pacing back and forth across the bed chamber, her mind was in a frenzy, trying to figure out how she’d slip around to the kitchen to spend some time with her beloved – without cook or any of the others finding out.

princess3Margaret’s hacking cough announced her approach before she entered the chamber. Bustling into the room, she cleared her throat and proclaimed hoarsely, “Seems I’m to tend to you now, m’lady. Queen Amica directed that I’m to dress you in the new green gown.”

When Reanna stood still and silent, not moving, her new attendant clapped her hands together loudly. “Where is the garment? We must hurry. I’m not of a mind to fail at the first task Her Highness set before me.”

Reanna grudgingly pointed towards the alcove where an assorted rainbow of luxurious dresses hung on pegs. Without much cooperation, and amidst persistent and irritating coughs, Margaret finally had the Princess clad in the requested attire.

When a young page appeared shortly thereafter, requesting that Reanna follow him to the dining hall, she did – accompanied with a petulant pout and a stern resolve that she would be properly cold and icy to the Prince from afar. Her parents may rule the land, but they wouldn’t be able to rule her into a charming hostess for her unwanted suitor.

Flouncing into the dining hall, with a stomp apparent despite her soft soled slippers, she stopped abruptly when she saw only her mother at one end of the long table and her father at the other. “Where’s our guest? I’d heard that some willy-nilly was to see Father.”

“Not that it’s any of your business,” the King replied, “but I sent Prince Gerard back to Thoide.”

“Perchance why?” Reanna paused, then added in a rush. “Not that it matters. I really don’t care. Just curious.”

“The union he proposed was not as advantageous to Alerald as he made it seem. For Thoide, it would have been a magnificent boost to their assets. But he had nothing to offer us that would have benefited our kingdom. I sent the page for his horse before the lather had even cooled.”

“What?” Reanna sputtered as her ire came spilling forth. “That’s all I am? Chattel? The kingdom as my dowry is all that matters? And what my hand in marriage brings to us? What about love? Where is love in all of this?”

The King looked at his daughter with coldness in his face and ice in his reply. “Love? Love has nothing to do with it. Your marriage needs to benefit Alerald. It’s about joining two lands, two kingdoms, into a mutually advantageous pairing. Love,” he scoffed, “is for the peasants. Not for royalty.”

“But, Father…” Reanna glanced at the ire showing on the King’s face and clamped her lips shut. Speaking back to the King was an impetuous undertaking, even for his own daughter. Her face brightened when she looked up to see Nahla shuffling towards the King’s end of the table, bearing a monstrous tray laden with delicacies. Reanna stayed quiet, waiting until Nahla sidled up next to her with the meal’s offerings. “We must speak…soon.” Reanna whispered under her breath as lifted a turkey leg from the tray. She raised her eyes and caught her mother glaring at them from her place, bringing an end to any stealthy conversation.

When the three royal figures had filled their pewter plates with the bounty served, Nahla placed the tray on the table, bowed, and backed out of the dining hall.

The King raised his intricate wine goblet in the air and proclaimed, “A ball. We shall have a ball!”

The Queen squealed with delight. “Exquisite news, m’lord! Pray tell, for what occasion?”

“Why, to garner suitors for my daughter’s fair hand. I’ll send criers out on the early morn’s light. A fortnight from now the castle will be filled with eligible men wishing to curry the Princess’s favor. She shall have a bevy to choose from. If she doesn’t choose one…I shall choose one for her.”

Reanna’s blanched face bore testament to her true feelings about her father’s announcement. Thoughts flew frantically round her head in a flurry. I shall come up with a plan. I’ll not let him beat me at this game he plays with my life.