Hi lovelies! We have the wonderful Michelle Franklin back today with an excerpt from her novel, Tales from Frewyn, as well as a giveaway!
The Duchess of Marridon’s visits to Frewyn being more frequent as of late was the subject of much discussion in the Chambers. Each of her returns to the Triumvirate courts supplied fresh gossip for the officiating nobles, and the subject of the highest discussion was Her Grace’s friendship with King Alasdair and her acquaintance with the commander and Den Asaan. Numerous were those who wished to know all the various beginnings of the strange connection: to be in company of a king was expected for one of the Duchess’ rank and consequence, but for Her Grace to befriend a giant and a farmer was not a natural occurrence. Many became curious of the association, and when it was discovered that the woman and the giant were responsible for Frewyn’s pride as a free nation, a reporter was dispatched from Marridon to their southern neighbors to obtain the particulars of the friendship’s history.
The reporter, or scribe as he called himself as not to incur any censorious looks on his journey across the Dremmwel, was a small man of moderate constitution. He was thin, frail, easily agitated, but his propensity to ask questions on any and every subject endeared him to his occupation. He had little idea of whom he would be meeting when he crossed the slender reaches of the sea to the Southern Continent, but he viewed the prospect of Diras Bay with a hopeful countenance, eager to see the strange couple and even more keen to pose his prepared questions. He would be as polite as his good-breeding would allow, as he had been little used to speak to farmers, soldiers or foreigners in general. His writing was usually of a scandalous importation: imprudent marriages amongst nobles, illegitimate children, the fashion to follow in the Chambers, skilled mistresses and disconsolate wives. He had little difficulty learning all of his delicious material by bribing the various maids of the Marridon royal houses, but he had no connections in Frewyn and therefore had little notion of how to proceed there.
When the small vessel conveyed the reporter safely to the docks of the capital, he went in quest of Diras Castle, where the woman and the giant were said to reside. He was pointed the direction by the docksmaster and shown were the moneylender was at the end of the pier so that he might change his Marridon bills for Frewyn currency.
“Oh, you are generous with your assumptions, sir,” said the reporter. “However, I don’t mean to stay long, nor do I have the intention of bringing any commerce to your city.”
The docksmaster glared at the reporter with a raised brow; that the man was from Marridon due to his niceness in dress and quickness of speech was evident, but why should he have traveled all this way with no intention of staying was an inscrutability. The docksmaster shrugged, said a dismissive, “Aye, suit yourself,” and went on with his business of inspecting consignments while the reporter trotted away from the wharf.
Upon his examination of Frewyn’s capital, the reporter scoffed and laughed to himself while remarking the general happenings of the early evening; Diras seemed to have no technological advancement of any sort: they were still using legs to walk, strident voices to market their wares above the general din of the marketplace, and boasted no products that promised any life-enhancing qualities. Marridon, a nation so advanced in its ideals and contrivances, to be allied with a nation with so little in the ways of machinery was a travesty- surely the Duchess was aware of their oversights. She must have pitied their lack of understanding and befriended them out of compassion rather than out of a need for their allegiance. The reporter laughed heartily to himself upon seeing the charming manner in which Frewyns still ate in taverns and hearkened the latest news from the capital square. Everything he perceived he wrote down in his journal, for this would all make a brilliant illustration of how superior Marridon was in situation. He began to receive the impression that Frewyns must not know their own ignorance, and he carried this discernment with him across the Diras Bridge and toward the front gate of the keep. Even the castle was quaint in his estimation, as it appeared to be a great deal smaller than the Chambers at Marridon, but he would save the aspersions on the keep’s account until after he had seen the cheerless inside of such an ancient construct.
The reporter came to the iron gate of the castle to find a rather unbecoming guard standing in his way: a man of long face, curly and tied back hair, immense stature and stern conviction. He seemed to be proud of his profession as a Royal Guard, marked so by the ornamental shield in his left hand, the immense sword in his right, and by the lion-head pauldron adorning his shoulder. He assumed that such a devoted creature to be brutish and uninformed, but when he demanded, “I’m here on a matter of business. You would do well to let me pass,” he was treated with unexpected alacrity of mind.
“And you are, sir?” said the guard in a bemused and chary tone.
“I am a scribe from Marridon, merely here to have a consultation with two of the keep’s inhabitants, to edify the people of the Triumvirate.” A nod and a friendly smile would persuade the guard to open the gate, but the reporter soon found himself under a mistake to think that such behaviour would be his admittance.
The guard widened his stance and held his enormous shield in front of his chest as though preparing to strike. “Did Her Grace the Duchess of Marridon send you?” said the guard in a firm tone.
“In a manner of speaking.” The reporter was still smiling.
“Then I will need to see your documentation, including your Triumvirate travel documents, Marridon identification, and Her Grace’s summons to His Majesty King Alasdair.”
All the graciousness in the reporter’s countenance was brooked by the guard’s obdurate adherence to the law. He sighed in contempt, handed over all his certifications, and tapped his foot with impatience as each document was carefully scoured.
The guard marked the reporter’s profession on his identification and instantly returned all the credentials to its owner. “None of these documents bear Her Grace’s seal. Does Her Grace know that you’re here?”
“She does, but that should hardly matter. I am not here to see the king.”
“You are not here to see the king, sir,” the guard heatedly corrected him.
The reporter fleered at such arrogance, turned aside and placed his hands on his hips. “And who might you be?” he sneered.
“I am Sir Mureadh Farhayden, Captain of the Royal Guard and appointed protector of the Brennin line, and whether you are here to appeal to His Majesty or to one of his commanders, you need the king’s permission or proof of a personal summons from someone within the keep to enter. Otherwise, you may leave.”
The reporter made a drawn out sigh, placing his hand over his eyes. “I’m only here to see the giant and the woman,” he groaned.
Mureadh had done with this insolence. He did not care for the reporter’s impropriety or his discomposed complacence. His sense of honour and duty to his commanders would make him indefatigable in his instruction, and he felt it advisable to enlighten the reporter to the positions of both persons he sought. “And why exactly do you need to see Commander MacDaede and the Den Asaan?”
“I’m here to carry out an interview with them-“
“Has either commander or the Den Asaan previously agreed to this interview?”
The reporter averted his eyes. “Not in so many words, but-“
Mureadh interposed with a strident laugh. “The Den Asaan would never agree to an interview or even agree to speak to someone he doesn’t know.”
“And how would you know that, Sir?”
“Because he is my superior officer,” said Mureadh with resolution. “He trained me for the armed forces, and if there is one thing I’ve learned about him it is that he does not trust anyone he hasn’t investigated first. He won’t talk to you even if you have sent him a summons.”
This was insufferable; the guard’s obdurate character was bothersome and the reporter was growing weary of the debate. “And the woman?”
“The commander,” Mureadh said in a meaningful accent, “would probably laugh at you for coming all this way for nothing.”
The reporter swore to himself, rolled his eyes and devised a small note to be conveyed inside the keep. “Would you take this to the commander?”
The reporter made a sly grin. “I don’t believe you’ve read its contents.” He winked and opened the note to reveal that it had been filled with more than a simple message.
Mureadh did not flinch. “Not only is bribery illegal,” he said, now forgoing the formalities of title, “but those are Marridon bills. Frewyn does not accept those as currency and neither do I.” He pointed the reporter back to the docks. “Leave before I carry you to the peristyle and throw you into the river.”
The reporter owned himself defeated at present; he had chosen the wrong man to underestimate, and now he could only lament and be miserable. He chided himself for being precipitant in his assumptions and was forced to walk back toward the square with diminished hopes and a slighted heart. He would contrive to find another means of speaking to the woman and the giant, but for now he must find one of Frewyn’s wretched taverns and search for lodgings for the coming evening.
Mureadh, rather pleased with his performance, smiled to himself and looked up to find the Den Asaan at his usual perch for this time in early evening. He had little doubt of the giant seeing the entire affair from the crenels of the castle battlements and was not surprised at the commander coming to his side a few moments later. Mureadh saluted her, he was told to be at ease, and the two of them watched the reporter scurry away from the castle entrance.
“Shall I ask about that shabby fellow?” the commander smirked.
“A reporter from Marridon, commander,” Mureadh rejoined.
The commander beamed and rocked on her feet. “A reporter, indeed. You should have allowed my mate to see him.” She looked up and regarded Rautu’s austere watch of the capital, his trappings whipping in the gentle breeze of coming evening, his features intent and bearing low and predatory. “I daresay he would have gloried in his brilliant company,” she laughed. “I’m certain Alasdair would have seen him and sent all the necessary notification to the Duchess.”
“He came to see you and the Den Asaan.”
The commander gave Mureadh and incredulous look. “Me? Why me? A farmer can be interesting only to those of her kind. A commander might be interesting to those in need of her assistance, but a woman can be interesting to no one at all when clothed. I should have bored him despite his inquiries, I assure you.”
Mureadh simpered and shook his head, and he wondered whether he should have allowed the reporter to meet the commander and Den Asaan if only to have the former assail him with clever remarks and the latter scowl at him accordingly.
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Michelle is graciously giving away two ebooks, Tales from Frewyn and her new novella, Tales from Frewyn: Reporter from Marridon!
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To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter below!