Daughters of the Dagger 03 - Amber (15 page)

BOOK: Daughters of the Dagger 03 - Amber
13.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Chapter 11

Lucas sat with his back against the trunk of the tree with the parchment that had the knight’s Code of Conduct written upon it in his hand. They’d traveled most the morning and stopped at yet another shrine, enabling Amber to pray.

Sir Ro
mney sat next to him with his arms crossed over his chest and his legs outstretched looking like he was thinking about a nap. And Mirabelle was hanging out near the shrine trying to get the men to talk to her, or in his opinion, trying to drum up business.

“So did you bed the wench last night or not?” asked Sir Romney with a yawn.

“Nay. But it wasn’t from her lack of trying.” He unrolled the scroll, admiring Amber’s artistic handwriting upon it.

“Now that surprises me,” he said with a
chuckle. “I thought it would have been the opposite way around.”

“I couldn’t do it,” he said. “Even if she was well in her cups and very willing. Something about it just didn’t feel right.”

“Well, I can’t say bedding a nun would feel right for any man.”

“I need to change,” he said. “Amber is so good and pure and I have a soul blacker than the bottom of my boots. I don’t deserve her.”

“Well, then mayhap you should try a girl you do deserve. I am sure Mirabelle has a lot of friends that would be happy to oblige.”

Lucas looked across the grass, seeing M
irabelle going up to one pilgrim after another, but each time they just turned away from her. Then he saw Amber get up and put her arm around the girl and motion for her to join them kneeling in prayer. Mirabelle just shook her head.

“What do you see in that whore anyway? I can’t believe you’re actually bringing her to Canterbury with you.”

“I know. But I find her different than the rest of the Winchester Geese. And she is happy to be with me. If I can bring a little happiness into her hard life, than so be it.”

“The only thing hard in her life is what lies below the belt of every man she tries to coerce into her bed. She’ll never be loyal to you. She tried to bed me last night.”

“What?” He sat up straighter. “Did you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Why would I want her when I have Amber?”

“Because at least with Mirabelle you can bed her without carrying the guilt of the world on your shoulders.”

Lucas
just looked down to the parchment and shook his head. “At one time I would have agreed with you, but since I met Amber nothing in my life is the same. I constantly question every decision I make. I no longer know what the hell to do.”

“You are really smitten with the girl aren’t you?”

“She told me she loved me last night, but I know that was only the wine talking.”

“Love you?” Sir Romney threw bac
k his head and laughed. “Oh, Lucas, you do have a problem on your hands and I must say I don’t envy you in this position.”

“That’s why I want to know how to act like a knight,” he said. “Suppose you can train me in what I need to learn?”

“Of course,” he said. “Go on, read through the Code of Conduct and I’ll explain anything you don’t understand.”

“All right,” he said, skimming the words upon the parchment. “It looks like the first rule is
that a knight should serve God alone and not let a person or object take the place of their affections.”

“That’s right,” he said. “Your duty is to God.”

“So that sounds as if I should have stayed a monk.”

“I can’t even imagine that.”

“Now the second rule says that a knight should use God’s name in honor and not in blasphemy.”

“Aye
, that’s correct.”

“God’s eyes, I don’t think I can do that.”

“Obviously. Read the next one,” said Sir Romney with a shake of his head.

“A knight needs to keep holy the Sabbath day by attending worship and not working, but rather relaxing and bringing joy to others.”

“That should be easy enough,” said the knight.

“Well, the latter part perhaps but I haven’t attended a worship service since I left the monkhood.”

“Then you’ll have your chance tomorrow. We should arrive in Canterbury early in the morning and ’twill be the Sabbath. Canterbury Cathedral is one of the largest, most elaborate cathedrals in all of England. You’ll have your opportunity to attend the service with Amber then.”

“Aye
, I will.” Lucas had an ulterior motive for attending mass in Canterbury Cathedral. He knew that was where the Regale ruby was displayed, and he was instructed by Father Armand to bring the stone back to him. This would give him the opportunity to get near it.

He swallowed deeply. Somehow he couldn’t imagine being able to steal it with Amber at his side. He wasn’t even su
re he wanted to take it anymore. But he knew if he didn’t, he would never have his own castle as Father Armand had promised in trade.

“Go ahead, read the next code,” urged Sir Romney.

“It says that a knight shall honor and respect those in authority, especially his parents and also women. Well, that should be easy since I have no parents.”

“You don’t? Why not?”

“I was an orphan abandoned on the steps of the church,” he relayed. “I was raised by Father Armand.”

“Then I guess he is the one you need to respect and honor.”

Exactly what he’d be doing by stealing the ruby, he thought. Yet somehow, he didn’t think the Codex meant something like this. But at least he had a good start in respecting women. If not, he would have bedded Amber last night.

“The next says a knight shall protect the lives of others and those in need, which I’ve already done when I almost got killed on my last pilgrimage. So, moving on, the one after that says that a knight shall exercise sexual restraint, keeping chaste and pure and only having sex at marriage for the purpose of procreating.” Lucas’
s eyebrows raised. “God’s teeth, this sounds like the training of a monk, I swear. And I think this is only a variation of the Ten Commandments.”

“Watch that blasphemy,” the knight said with a chuckle. “And aye, I can’t see you ever adhering to that rule.

“Really?” Lucas looked at Sir Romney. “And you are the ideal knight to live by example I suppose, with the way you drag your whore over the country
side as if she were naught but your workhorse?”

Sir Romney’s laugh stopped and he cleared his throat. “Well, it isn’t like that … really.
Actually, this is the Code of Conduct, but in the knight’s Code of Chivalry, I don’t recall a rule like this. Now, just read the next code,” he growled.

Lucas smiled to himself, glad to see that these codes were not always followed, thinking mayhap he had a chance of maintaining knighthood after all.

“This one says a knight shall remain honest and not steal.” He felt the twisting of his gut reading this one, not able to stop thinking of his plans to steal the ruby. “The king himself condones pillaging after conquering an enemy, so I don’t understand this. Let’s move on to the next,” he said hurriedly. “A knight shall not deceive or lie.”

“That’s right.”

“What the hell?” he growled, thinking of all the lying and deceiving he’d done lately, especially with Amber. There was no way he’d ever be able to live by this rule. “This is just too hard.” He took the scroll and threw it on the ground.

Sir Romney looked at him and shook his head. “Tsk, tsk,
no one ever said living the expected life of a knight is easy.” He picked up the scroll and handed it to him. “If you truly did almost become a monk than these rules and ways of life should be nothing compared to what you’ve been through. Now there’s only two more, so read them.”

Lucas took the scroll and looked over to Amber who was still on her knees in her good gown, leading a prayer session with a small group of people
around her. Even Mirabelle was kneeling now and Lucas almost laughed, knowing that the only time she ever knelt was to use her mouth to pleasure a man. Amber must have gotten the whore to pretend like she was praying and this truly impressed him. Sir Romney was right. Lucas knew the life of rules and suffering that Amber was going through and this Code of Conduct was nothing compared to that.

“All right,” he grumbled, running his finger down the parchment and reading the ninth rule on the list. “A knight shall have no desire for worldly gain and
shall give away rather than to retain. They shall be happy with the simple things of life and not covet the wealth and goods of others.”

“Well, that should be easy since you really don’t have anything anyway,” said Sir Romney.

“Aye, that’s right.” Lucas looked over to Amber who had just finished praying and was speaking with the other pilgrims, laughing and looking so happy. She even included Mirabelle into the conversations, getting the pilgrims and monks that were at the shrine to accept her.

This was her purpose of the pilgrimage. To pray and bring happiness to those who have nothing and to give them hope. His purpose of being here was quite different indeed. To sell fake relics, steal a ruby and his biggest goal – to attain his own castle and lands. This didn’t sound anything like the code of the knights. He almost felt ashamed of his greed and deceit. Then he just shook his head to clear his d
oubt and read the last code on the list.

“A knight shall avoid temptations and not succumb to unlawful sexual encounters.” He looked at Sir Romney. “Such as whores perhaps?”

Sir Romney squirmed uncomfortably. “She is a Winchester Goose, not a nun. And the archbishop has declared that her profession is legal, so that is different.”

“I see,” Lucas looked back at the parchment. “Mayhap the archbishop will make bedding a nun legal next.” Then he continued reading. “And this finishes up by saying that a knight shall refrain from listening to, speaking of, or viewing anything that titillates his senses.” He couldn’t help but smile at that. “It is amazing that a knight ever has heirs at all if they follow these codes.” He threw the parchment roll to the ground. “I should have just stayed and taken my final vows as a monk because this is no different than the rules of the Order.”

“I highly suspect they may have been written by the church,” said Sir Romney.

“Either that or when they were transcribed by monks they just added their own input.”

“Or perhaps transcribed by nuns is more like it. Now something else you need to know is that knights are expected to be courteous, humble, and to never turn their back on a foe, though he should show mercy. And he should never boast.”

“What are you talking about?” Amber came up to greet them with a serene smile on her face, making Lucas start questioning everything once again. Mirabelle was next to her brushing the dirt off her gown.

“Sir Lucas is just going over the Codes of Conduct of a knight,” said Sir Romney getting to his feet.

“Really?” Amber looked at him with her eyes partially squinted.

“A knight?” said Mirabelle, still brushing off her skirt. “That is funny considering you were almost a monk.”

“How do you know that?” asked Amber.

“Oh, I knew that months ago when I first met him.”

“Time to go,” said Lucas grabbing the scroll and jumping to his feet. He took a hold of Amber’s hand and dragged her to the horse.

“What’s the hurry?” she asked. “I hoped we could get a bite to eat before we left.”

“You can eat while we’re riding,” he said, trying to get her away from Mirabelle before the whore spilled his se
crets. “I want to make it to our next destination by nightfall. And then we should be able to make it to Canterbury first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Oh, I can’t wait to get to Canterbury,” said Amber, placing her foot in the stirrup to mount the horse. Lucas went over and helped her up.

“My sister’s castle is in Canterbury,” said Sir Romney, mounting his horse and pulling Mirabelle up after him. “Perhaps you two can join us for a few days before your journey back to Bowerwood.”

“Oh, I would like that,” said Amber. Then she looked down to Lucas as
he placed the scroll in his travel bag and secured it. “Can we do that, please?” she asked.

Her big green eyes were begging him much like they were last night when she wanted him to bed her. He found a hard time denying her then and would not deny her now. He needed to get into Canterbury Castle and wait there for Father Armand once he stole the ruby. That was the plan and this was working in his favor.

“I suppose so,” he said, climbing up on the horse behind her.

“Oh, thank you,” she said with a sparkle in her eye. “This will remind me of home, and I do miss my home dearly.”

It would remind him of home too, he thought, but in a different way completely. Because though Sir Romney was inviting him to stay with them, none of them had any idea that if Lucas’s plans worked out, in a short matter of time Canterbury Castle would belong to him.

Chapter 12

There wasn’t a pub in sight when the sun started to sink, and Lucas had suggested that they spend the night under the stars since the weather was fairly decent. He’d talked the rest of them into just building a fire and spreading their blankets on the ground to stay there for the night.

He’d pulled Sir Romney aside earlier and told him he didn’t want to
spend the night in the same room as Amber again. They both knew there was a pub not ten minutes ride up the road that had accommodations as well, but the girls didn’t need to know that.

They sat around the fire just finishing up the rabbit Lucas had caught, as well
as the fresh bread and apples he’d brought from the pub they’d stayed in last night. Though Amber had said she didn’t eat meat, she hadn’t even paused this time when he offered her some. Sir Romney picked up the goatskin of wine he carried with him and passed it over to Amber.

“Would you like more wine, Sister?” he said, handing it to her.

“Why yes, thank you.” But right before she grabbed it, Lucas snatched it away.

“I think you’d do better with some ale,”
he said, handing her his goatskin container instead. “After all, it is less potent.”

She glared at him and took what he offered.

“This rabbit is the best I’ve ever tasted,” said Mirabelle.

“Yes,” added Sir Romney, throwing a bone into the fire. “How did you catch that without a bow and arrows?” he asked Lucas. “Are you sure you only used your dagger?”

“I used to hunt rabbit in the fields as a child,” he said. “I learned to sneak up on them, probably from all the practice I had sneaking out of the monastery.”

“Well, I can’t wait to have a practice session with you with the sword
,” said Sir Romney, “to see how you handle that. Who taught you to use weapons anyway?”

“No one,” he relayed. “I taught myself out of desperation to be something other than a monk.” He looked over to Amber when he said it and caught her eye
. He wondered if she remembered saying she didn’t want to be a nun anymore. She knew exactly what he was talking about as she couldn’t even look at him, but rather glanced the other way.

“Well, I think it’s time we get a little shut eye if we’re going to get an early start to Canterbury tomorrow. I’ll get the
blankets out of the travel bags,” Lucas offered.

“Aye, good idea. I’ll help you,” said Sir Romney, brushing the crumbs from his hands and following Lucas towards the horses.

 

Amber sat quiet as the men left, kn
owing Lucas was referring to her with his words about being something other than a monk. She hadn’t forgotten she’d told him she might have made a mistake deciding to be a nun. And she also remembered earlier today telling him that she loved him.

“What’s the matter, Sister? You look like you’ve been
bitten by a Winchester Goose.”

Mirabelle came and sat next to her.

“Pardon me?” she asked, not knowing what the girl meant.

“That’s what they say when a man gets a sexual disease from one of the whores,” she relayed. “I don’t really like the saying much tho
ugh, as I am clean and careful.”

“Oh,” she said, not knowing how to respond to that. “Mirabelle, can I ask you something?”

“Of course, Sister, go ahead.”

“Just call me Amber,” she said, thinking how awkward it was for a whore and nun to be talking
with each other.

“All right, Amber. Gee, that would be a great name for a whore if you ever decide
d to change professions.”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “Actually, I wanted to ask you what makes a man love a woman?” It was bothering her that she’d been wanton with Lucas last night, but what was bothering her even m
ore was that he said they hadn’t coupled. Even after she said she loved him, it sounded as if he’d turned her away. Mayhap he didn’t like her as much as she thought he had after all. If only she could change that.

“Hah!” she laughed. “Sweetie, you’re asking the wrong woman that question. Now if you want to know what excites a man, that I could answer.”

“Well, tell me then. What excites a man?” She glanced over to Lucas who was conversing and laughing with Sir Romney over by the horses. She wanted to make him laugh. And she wanted to excite him even if it was wrong. She felt so undesirable at the moment. And she also felt like a failure. She’d basically thrown herself at him and he didn’t want her.

“Well,” said Mirabelle. “A man likes his woman curvy and willing. And able to please him in bed.”

“Oh, I see.” She’d been curvy and willing, but she obviously hadn’t pleased Lucas in bed. “And how does one … know what to do to please a man in bed?”

“Sister,” she said with a laugh. “I find that an odd question coming from a nun.”

“I was just curious,” she said, drawing with her finger in the dirt, not able to look at the woman. “Just curious about the ways of the world.”

“Don
’t tell me you’re a virgin?” Mirabelle said it quite loud, and Amber noticed Lucas look up.

“Shhh,” she said. “You don’t have to tell everyone.”

“So he really didn’t bed you last night, after all. He wasn’t lying.”

“What?” Her head popped up. “What do you mean?”

“Lucas. He said he didn’t bed you and had the bulge under his tunic to prove it, but somehow I just couldn’t believe it.”

“He told you?” Her eyes shot over to Lucas who was still talking. She didn’t think he could hear what they were talking about, but when he turned his head and saw her scowl
at him she was sure he knew it was nothing good.

“Well, I saw him in the corridor last night and knew he hadn’t been sated and needed some release. In my profession, we notice these things. After all, that’s what I’m here for, to see to a man’s release and pleasures.” She smiled and leaned back on her
arms with her legs stretched out lazily, seeming very pleased with herself.

Amber suddenly remembered the exchange of money between Mirabelle and Lucas earlier
, and her heart sank. After she couldn’t please him, he must have gone to Mirabelle to feel sated. This angered her and saddened her at the same time.

“You’ve had him, haven’t you?” she asked.

“Who? Lucas?” She looked over toward the men and Lucas obviously must have heard his name because he looked up. Mirabelle waved her fingers at him and he waved back. “Sure I had him, and let me tell you he is a real tiger in bed.”

“I don’t want to hear about it,” she said, but Mirabelle just kept on talking.

“He likes to do it in odd places, and you should hear the way he growls right before he’s sated. Grrrrrr,” she said shaking her shoulders and smiling and looking back toward Lucas.

“Mirabelle, that is enough,” she told her, but her warning fell on deaf ears.

“And if you spank him and tell him he’s a bad boy it really turns him on. He pretends like he doesn’t like the name Lucifer, but call it out during coupling and it’ll drive him wild.”

“Stop it!” she cried, getting to her feet
. She turned and ran through the woods in the dark. She didn’t want to hear how the man she thought she loved, turned her away in bed only to run to a whore who knew exactly what he liked and how to please him. She would never be the type of girl he wanted and she knew now that being a nun was her only choice after all.

She ran t
hrough the woods in the dark, the branches grabbing at her clothes and hair. She needed to get far away from Lucas and her feelings for him. She needed to get back to the church and the abbey where she would be safe from the temptations that threatened to consume her.

She stumbled on
a stump in the woods and tried to right herself, but in the dark she couldn’t see a thing. She fell, hitting her head on a rock. The next thing she knew, her world went black all around her.

BOOK: Daughters of the Dagger 03 - Amber
13.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

I'm with Stupid by Geoff Herbach
Fear the Abyss: 22 Terrifying Tales of Cosmic Horror by Post Mortem Press, Harlan Ellison, Jack Ketchum, Gary Braunbeck, Tim Waggoner, Michael Arnzen, Lawrence Connolly, Jeyn Roberts
Chains of Command by Marko Kloos
The Wrong Way Down by Elizabeth Daly
Light in a Dark House by Jan Costin Wagner
Scrappily Ever After by Mollie Cox Bryan