Making of a Warrior, p.1part #2 of Realm of Hulsteria Series
Making of a Warrior
by Frank David
This book is dedicated to all those who believed in me and my first book, Making of an Empress. I have received so much unexpected support and love from friends, family, and acquaintances.
A special thank you to my mother, Beverly, who has been incredibly supportive. If I could, I would hire you as my publicist.
Also, thank you to Charity for pushing me to keep writing when I thought there was no point.
To Susan, I could not ask for a better person to edit my books. Your patience and tolerance of my insanity are unmatched. Thank you.
©2017 Frank David
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the author
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Any similarities between characters contained within this work of fiction and any living or deceased person are purely coincidental.
Cover design by Victoria Cooper
Table of Contents
Roderick stood as the man sat silently before him. “Antonio, I asked if you are aware of Morgan Stewar?” He paused waiting to see if the old man would respond. “You do not have to say a thing, I already know the answer. It is obvious you are not man enough to admit to your indiscretions,” he said with his fists clenched. If he were not on Carpathia, he would have struck out against the man. “Moorland is my homeland; the local Sanctus was more than happy to provide me with the information.”
The Benedictus looked down, unable to face Roderick. “It would seem the lies have been shared with you. I feared this day would come. You would appear before me with accusations, preferring to believe the lies to the truth. You are correct, I was once known as Morgan Stewar, but it was many years ago. It would seem lifetimes ago, in fact.” Antonio sat rigid in his seat.
“So, you do not deny it? You are my grandfather. The man who raped my grandmother. The man who ordered the death of my family? You took the name Antonio to hide your crimes.” Roderick’s contempt was obvious.
“I admit I am your grandfather, which is a fact I have never denied. I do not agree with the rest of your claim. I am sure you have not come here for a family reunion. Have you come to seek revenge for what you believe are the facts?” Antonio sat steady in his throne, not intimated by the man standing before him. He had lived a long life and if this was how God wished his life to end, he would not fight destiny.
“I have come on behalf of Hulsteria. I do not know if you are aware, but the Emperor Consort Edmund has murdered his brother. I have been given insight into his plans. He wishes to overthrow my sister Stelaphina and rule Xasha and Hulsteria.” Roderick wanted to question the Benedictus further but needed to address why he was there first.
“I had heard of Emperor Victor’s death. Stelaphina’s confessor had only just arrived yesterday and provided the details. I was not told Edmund had any hand in the death. I am curious, how do you know of your brother-in-law’s deed?” Antonio moved forward in his seat, interested in the details.
“There is a young woman who recently came to Jascaessau. She is a healer who can also see what is in the hearts of men. Edmund was injured during the festivities celebrating Sofia’s birthday. When this woman placed her hands upon Edmund, she saw Victor’s death and Edmund’s betrayal.” Roderick realized how incredible it sounded as the words exited his mouth. The Benedictus would never believe him.
“Ah, a Magister, how fascinating. Is she a member of the Scientia?” Antonio and the Scientia shared a mutual respect.
“You are aware of them? No, I am not aware of her association with the Scientia.” Roderick was surprised by Antonio’s interest in the girl.
“Of course, Roderick. I am Benedictus. There is little of which I am unaware. I find it odd the order would not keep her within their fold. They do not normally allow Magisters to roam the lands freely. If one can leave, they are typically assigned a Suspensionis, a blocker of powers if you will.”
“I am not aware of any Suspensionis, she was there alone. Well, she accompanied my cousin, Duke D’Vay. He met her in Norland.” Roderick knew little of the woman, but this was not the reason he came to Carpathia.
“Duke D’Vay. Is he not the Duke from Culia, the one who was rumored to have killed his father?”
“Yes, but this has nothing to do with why I am here.” Roderick was becoming frustrated. He had no idea what was happening in Hulsteria and had no time to waste.
“May I ask this girl’s name?” The Benedictus seemed unusually interested.
“Daniella Gallagher, I believe,” Roderick was not attempting to hide his impatience.
“You know nothing of this girl? Is your sister familiar with her?” A smile appeared on the Benedictus’ face.
“No, as I said she came as my cousin’s guest. It seems the two fell in love while he was living in exile in Norland.” Roderick could not understand why he was so interested in some unimportant girl.
“Right. I am sure this is not why you are here, to discuss this woman. You believe her claims? You do not worry she might have had some hand in the Emperor’s death?” Antonio had lived long enough to know few people do little for others without some selfish benefit.
“No, Benedictus. I believe her. I do not know why, but I do.” He did not understand why the man was so focused on Daniella, she was unimportant.
“Very well. So, you are worried Xasha will wage war against Hulsteria. You think Edmund is trying to take the throne from the Empress. I am not sure how I figure into all of this?” Antonio was not happy with the Empress’ stance on homosexuality but would overlook the issue to hear his grandson’s request.
“I believe he wishes to kill Stelaphina. His son Joseph would become Emperor, and he would serve as regent until his son was of age. I know you may find it all hard to believe; I did as well when I was first told. I need to do something to protect Hulsteria. I thought, perhaps, you would send your armies to help defend Hulsteria. The realms have always maintained balance by preventing one realm from becoming too powerful. If Edmund is successful, he would have the combined powers of the Xashan and Hulsterian armies.” Roderick was not sure if his plea would work when focusing on protecting his sister; however, making it about power, he may more easily move the Benedictus.
“You thought because you believed I raped and murdered your grandmother, you could use this information to get me to assist you?” Antonio sat back. He now stared harshly at Roderick. “Are you asking my assistance to help Hulsteria or to save your sister?”
“I suppose, if I am to be perfectly honest, I am asking you to protect them both. Many believe I should be on the throne bei
“Do you agree with her stance on homosexuality? She has caused the Church much grief with her position. If I were to support your request, I fear my Sancti would question my judgment.” Antonio moved nervously in the throne. The topic and the Empress brought him much discomfort.
“I do support her, Benedictus. I believe all who call Saaveth home should be treated fairly. I also believe some of the laws of the Church to be antiquated. You condemn based on love, but does not God tell us to love everyone, even those who sin?” He was becoming more relaxed with the man; his defenses were lessening.
“He does, grandson, but he also says those people are an abomination. If I refuse to agree to your request, is it your intention to make our history known? Understand, I do not care if you do. I have lived many years longer than I probably should have. I just need to know if you have come here planning to force my assistance based on lies, or if you have come seeking the assistance of your grandfather.” Antonio needed to know Roderick’s intentions.
“I have come here under whichever stance will get you to approve my request. If I must use this information against you, I will, but I prefer you agree as my grandfather. If I had any other course available, I would not have come to you. I would prefer not to face the man who defiled my grandmother, if you can understand, Benedictus.” Roderick did not want to offend the man, at least not until he agreed to send his armies to protect his sister.
“I am glad you came with a level head. I do fear the lies you have been told have corrupted your view of your grandmother and me.” Antonio was saddened by the claims Roderick kept making.
“I have been told no lies, Benedictus. Madeline has provided me with all the details. She explained how you raped my grandmother. She told me how you ordered your men to kill her, my mother, and myself. I suppose you had not planned on the kitchen maid rescuing me.” Roderick could feel his anger increasing.
“You have been told the story they created. The story which would ensure your grandfather was viewed as a beast. I am sorry, grandson, but the story you were told is far from what actually occurred,” Antonio looked up at Roderick. He understood the young man was upset, corrupted by those who claimed to love him.
“My family has been honest with me. I believe it is you who might wish to fill my head with lies. You fear I will expose you as the deviant you are. How do you think the people of Saaveth would react to their beloved Benedictus being a rapist?” Roderick attempted to push the Benedictus’ hand, hoping he might make some move toward him, giving Roderick reason to strike him.
“The woman you trust was part of the lie. You allowed her to provide her version of events. Please allow me the same courtesy. Once my story is complete, you can decide for yourself which you choose to believe. Either way, you will leave here in peace. If you indulge me, I will grant your request.” Antonio knew telling the story would be painful but he needed Roderick to know the truth. He needed him to understand how much he loved the woman and her child.
“I met Olivia when I was a young Dilexit. She was 16, and I was 18. I was asked to be her confessor. She came from a prominent family, not of royal blood, but prominent nonetheless. I was a poor boy from Baines, in Wolfdale, Moorland. A boy like me would never have drawn the attention of a lady as fine as Olivia. I was honored to be her confessor. She was a devout young woman, she was going to make a fine Pius,” Antonio stopped. He could see her. He remembered her beauty.
Olivia entered the Cathedral of Earlington. She had only recently left her family to start her life as a Pius. She knew from a young age her calling was to serve God. She told her parents of the voice which spoke to her late at night, suggesting the life of a Pius. She had visited the chapel often but had never seen the inside of the cathedral.
She watched as the specks of dust danced in the light from the stained-glass windows which adorned the walls. The light from midday draped the altar in an almost supernatural glow from the circular window positioned just above. She rushed to the front of the basilica where she threw herself to the ground before the altar. The beauty of this moment overwhelmed her and the tears began to flow. She heard the footsteps approaching, trying to be delicate against the cold stone floor.
“Hello?” the voice asked.
“I am sorry, Dilexit. I was taken by the beauty of the cathedral. I have never witnessed anything so grand.” Olivia stood to face the man. “I am Olivia Nathan from Earlington.”
He had taken the beauty of the cathedral for granted. He tried to remember if he was so moved upon seeing the interior the first time. He had come to Earlington only two years earlier.
“Ah, Lady Olivia. We have been awaiting your arrival. I am Morgan Stewar. I have been assigned as your confessor. I will help you with your studies and acclimation to religious life.” Morgan stepped closer. “I will show you to your cell and help you settle in. Once you are ready, we will move to my office. We can discuss how best to handle your education.” She followed him out the side door leading to the private quarters of the Pius who lived in the cathedral. He lived in a private residence with the other Dilexits just outside the cathedral.
Olivia opened the door. The room was smaller than she had expected. She was glad she had to give up all worldly goods when she came to the cathedral, else there would be no room here for her. She opened the small door in the wall, a closet. It was filled with the clothes that would be her wardrobe from today forward. Gone were the bright dresses she hated to admit she loved. All that hung in the closet were plain brown robes. She knew they would hang loosely about her body, to hide her female figure. She ran her fingers through her blonde hair which hung down beyond her shoulders. It would be cut short because Piuses were not permitted to have long hair. It needed to fit under the boublet, an ornate headpiece which was pinned to the Pius’ heads. The edge was covered with brown beads and a cream veil, making the face almost undetectable.
“I know it will be an adjustment for you, Lady Olivia. You are used to the finer things of life. Religious life is much different from the life to which you are accustomed. You had to be aware of how the Pius dressed, correct?” Morgan maintained his distance.
“Oh yes, Dilexit Stewar, I was aware. I suppose I just had not realized this would be my wardrobe now. Perhaps I believed I would be allowed to maintain my own clothing. I forgot myself, please forgive me.” She turned toward Morgan. “It would seem there is little for me to do here. If you would like to head to your office, we can have our discussion now.”
“You must change into your robe and boublet before we can meet in my office. I would be happy to wait for you outside,” Morgan stared at her. He had never seen a woman so lovely. He thought it a shame for such a treasure should give her life over to God. She would surely have served God better by bearing children for some baron or marquis. Her green eyes danced with light when she spoke, drawing Morgan in, hypnotizing him. He left her to change.
Olivia removed her dress. It would be the last time she would adorn herself with the finer threads and material. She knew it was pride and vanity which made her hesitate. She so enjoyed the soft fabric against her skin. It would be replaced with the harshness of the wool robe. She removed the robe from the closet and raised it over her head. It fell over her like a sack. She secured the belt loosely around her waist. She removed the boublet and attempted to fasten it to her head, but her hair was too long, and it would not lay properly.
She joined Morgan in the hall. “I am afraid the boublet does not lay properly. Until my hair is trimmed may I be allowed to forgo it?”
“Very well. I will have one of the Casti come to your cell tonight to take care of your hair. Do not be upset, Olivia. This will all become second nature to you. Is this not the life you believe you were meant to lead? Are you regretting your decision?” Morgan es
“I believe I had no choice. I was never free from the voice telling me I needed to dedicate myself to God. I am not upset, I simply need to adjust to the changes. I am sorry if I seem displeased to be here, for that is not the case.” Olivia followed him as they crossed the cathedral and entered the door opposite those leading to the Piuses’ cells.
Antonio paused, the emotions he had not addressed in years were returning to the surface. Remembering Olivia was more than he could bear. He had pushed her from his mind so many years ago. Allowing her to enter once again brought him great pain.
“We spent the next two years inseparable. I was Olivia’s confessor, her teacher, and eventually her lover. I do not know when her feelings toward me changed. I only know I fell in love with her on our very first day together.” Antonio watched Roderick. He was not sure if the boy believed him or not and he did not care. He was glad to finally be sharing the story with someone outside the Church.
“We were young and foolish. We believed our love would be harmless. It all changed the day my confessor, Sanctus Lucius Diaz, came to talk about my future with the Church. He was a stern, unemotional man. I was not pleased with him as my confessor. You see I was not always the cold old man you see before you. At one time, I was full of love and passion for the Church and its people. My confessor was aware of the relationship forming between Olivia and myself.” Antonio could not recall when he lost his passion though he believed it was the day he lost his love.
“He did not agree and worked to separate the two of us. On this day, he came to tell me I was to be made a Sanctus. I was being ordered to Carpathia to serve the Benedictus. He believed this would keep Olivia and I separated. We had one last night together.” Antonio’s eyes began to water.
“It was this night your grandmother and I decided to commit ourselves to one another. We pledged our love before God. We had no witnesses. We were just two people who loved each other but were in a situation which would not allow us to wed. We both knew our place was serving God, but our love for one another was as strong as our love for God. We took our relationship to the next level. We did not know it at the time, but your mother was conceived on that night,” Antonio paused remembering the joy.