• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 03

Back in the Saddle

Gwen leaned into the stirrups, felt Thunder move underneath her. The lance felt heavier than usual in her weakened grip but she refused to drop it. There was no way she’d suffer the shame of dropping it here, in front of everyone. In front of Him.

Her eyes searched for the high seat while adjusting the shield on her arm. It wasn’t that hard to find, gilded and decorated as it was. Surprising, given how he felt about it. ”A cage made pretty is a cage nonetheless,” he’d told her.

And there he sat, wrapped in furs and blankets, sipping his beloved spiced wine from a cup he delicately held between his ringed fingers. An unwanted memory of laughter as they went searching for the insignia ring that had somehow ended up under the bed during their lovemaking. She resolutely shoved it away for now; she had to focus.

Her treacherous eyes moved to the young woman that sat in the Favoured Seat, on his left hand. She was pretty, Gwen had to admit, and most likely related to the Royal Advisor that sat on his right side. Something about the dark eyes and the curl of the mouth betrayed it, as well as the golden locks they both shared. Gwen wasn’t surprised. There had been talk that the Advisor’s beautiful and unmarried relative would come visit, to soothe the Crown Prince’s wounded heart as the fifth anniversary of His heir’s death approached.

Gwen scoffed, her fingers gripped the lance until her knuckles whitened in the armor glove. She had heard every possible rumour under the sun by now. Vampires had come and torn the babe directly from the mother’s womb. Werewolves shredded them both to pieces in a lunar fenzy; the full moon had been particularly strong that night.


Back in the Saddle

The restless spirits of the abandoned guard tower, that punished anyone that dared enter, had struck once more; people swore that they had heard their blood-curdling screams from there when the boy died. Yet no one knew. Not truly.

Not even he.

Tears misted Gwen’s eyes when the memory welled up anew. Her uncle, a skilled herbalist, had prepared the concoction that would clear the Crown Prince’s memory of anything that happened that cursed night. He would live without the knowledge that his son had died by his hands, in the forbidden tower. He’d never have to remember how the boy’s shirt tore when he jokingly held him by the collar, and the boy then tumbled out the window and broke his neck.

He didn’t even remember the mother; the pain was too great then, her Uncle explained. She had left, heartbroken and alone, accused to be the cause of the tragedy. Hated by the people. Gwendoline, the Betrayer.

No more.

She’d ride in the tournament, and win – just as she had when they first met ten years ago. They’d see each other for the first time in years.

Perhaps he would remember her now.