Making of a Warrior, p.14part #2 of Realm of Hulsteria Series
“Are you sure you want to do this Felicia?” He asked between the heavy breathing that had overtaken him.
“I do not think that is a question you want to ask. If I allow myself to consider what we are about to do, I may change my mind,” she smiled as he moved atop her.
She bit into his shoulder to stop her screaming as he entered her. He stopped believing he was causing her pain. “Do not stop or I will surely lose my nerve,” she encouraged. He began again, slowly thrusting himself into her. They did their best to muffle the moans both allowed to escape their throats. They feared the voice of their desire would betray their secret. The dance continued for what seemed a lifetime to Felicia. She had never desired a man in this way but knowing after tomorrow she may not have the opportunity to experience physical love, she needed to seize the chance. She was impressed that Harris tried his best to make the experience pleasurable and gentle. She had seen how the drunkards in the streets forced themselves upon the wenches. This was not like that. For a moment, she believed this was something she might enjoy, if only it did not require a man. His moan brought her back to the moment. His face allowed her to know what had happened. He had spilled his seed inside of her.
“Fool!” she yelled. “Why did you do that?”
“I am sorry, Felicia. I did not mean to, it just happened,” his face was red but was it from the lust or embarrassment. It did not matter.
“Leave me. We need our rest if we are to compete tomorrow,” her hand gestured him away, reminding him he was only a simple commoner in her eyes.
“As you wish, Imperial Royal Highness,” he remarked with a hint of sarcasm. He gathered his things and headed to his own room.
Felicia laid there thinking of what she had allowed to happen. She prided herself in her judgment, but it would appear that judgment had failed her.
Harris entered his room, covering himself with his clothes. He saw the figure standing by the bed. He figured it was Caleb. Perhaps he had heard the two and he had come to throw Harris out of his home.
“You have committed a great sin tonight, Harris,” the voice announced.
“I am sorry, Your Grace. We had not intended for it to happen. I will leave your home at once.” Harris began to dress.
“This is not my house boy, and I was not talking about the act you committed. I was speaking of with whom you committed the act,” Braynard turned to face him.
“Who are you?” Harris paused, not recognizing the man though the voice was familiar. “How do you know my name? I know I have gone beyond my station, but we were both willing.”
“The Imperials are a weird breed. They relish their secrets. Secrets are their greatest asset but also their greatest weakness. I wonder how will you face her tomorrow knowing she is carrying your child?” Braynard moved closer to him.
“There is no way for you to know she is carrying my child. We only just…finished,” Harris was uncomfortable with the subject. “You were the voice that told me to come to the tournaments. You encouraged me to make the voyage.” He remembered the night the voice came to him telling him to leave for Jascaessau.
“Yes, I inspired you to travel to Jascaessau. I knew you would find your future here. I know many things. I know you are not the son of a simple farmer from Raamsfeld. I know you have two sisters, well half-sisters. I know that you just got one of those half-sisters pregnant,” Braynard stopped, giving Harris a minute to take in his words.
“Felicia is not my half-sister. My father is Daniel Morrison from Moffat,” Harris responded.
“Your mother worked in the palace of Imperial Grand Archduke Lester. She found favor with him. The two had a special relationship. She was married to your father already which allowed you to be born legitimate. Frederick knows you are his son, but since your mother was married they agreed there was no reason to make your peerage known.” Braynard smiled. “I believe when he sees you tomorrow at the tournaments you will know the words I speak to be true.”
“I am sorry, sir, but I do not believe the words you speak.” Harris returned to dressing.
“The man Felicia killed on the mountain. He was consumed with fire after she killed him. You know where that fire came from, do you not?” Braynard showed the man his knowledge was great.
“Again, I ask, who are you? How do you know of the events on the mountain? We were alone.”
“I am Master Scientia, the leader of a mystical order of Magisters. My followers possess magic abilities. Many years ago, a young Imperial began showing her powers. This child needed to be retrieved and begin her training within the order. Her mother pleaded that she be allowed to remain with her. An agreement was made, but her powers were bound so she would not harm anyone. It was then newborn Imperials had their powers bound. It just made life easier,” Braynard turned toward the window, looking out over the gardens of the manor. “It would seem the coming events have unbound those powers. Many of the Imperials are starting to discover their gifts, you included.”
“The fairy tales are true then?” Harris asked with a quiet laugh. “Why tell me all of this?”
“You need to understand. There is a great war coming to Hulsteria. The Empress needs all the help she can find. Because of this I have unbound the powers that have laid dormant within the children of the creator. You are one of those children. It was you that set fire to Felicia’s attacker. You cannot deny you saw it in your mind before he was consumed.” Braynard kept his eyes fixed on the garden.
“Perhaps I did, but it does not make me a witch. Who are the children of the creator?”
“I never claimed you to be a witch. Why does everyone insist on calling those who are blessed witches? Magisters are descended from one of two factions – the children of the creator and the children of the creation. Those who come from the children of the creation typically will exhibit one, sometimes two powers. Those who come from the children of the creator have the possibility of possessing many different powers.” Braynard turned to look at him.
“When you say creator, are you referring to God? You are claiming I am a child of God?”
“Everyone is a child of God, Harris. However, the blood of God flows through your veins and the veins of your kinsmen. It is different than being created in His image, you are descended from his seed.”
“Why tell me all of this, Scientia?” Harris was not sure he believed the man, but he did see the man being engulfed in flames before it happened.
“You must tell Felicia she is carrying your child. If you do not, she will kill you tomorrow, and there will be nothing you can do to stop her. You have great emotion for her and would not allow yourself to harm her, even if it means your life. The Empress will need you both to serve her. You both bring special gifts that will serve her well when the time comes,” the voice echoed in the room.
“Where have you gone?” Harris called out. The man had vanished. “Why would Felicia kill me? The tournaments are not to the death.
“Do as I say or tomorrow will be your last,” the voice whispered in his ear. “You have made her betray her ideals. She allowed herself to be charmed by a man. You represent what she hates most and does not want anyone to know of the act she committed with you.”
Harris looked out the window, he could see a dark shadow moving about the gardens. Was it the man who only moments ago was speaking in his room?
He climbed into the bed and did his best to push the recent events from his mind. He needed rest. Otherwise it would not matter what the man had said, he would not be a match for anyone in the tournament.
Sofia entered Jacob’s room. He was still in bed. They had no time to waste. Today was the Naming Ceremony for Stela’s new son. She had asked the two to be the child’s naming parents, hoping it would start to heal the relationship between the two.
“Jacob,” she called out. “Get up. We have to prepare for the day.”
Jacob turned to see his wife standing in his room. The anger within him was still great, an
“Jacob, I need to talk to you before the ceremony begins. I have to know if you have decided to let my mother return with you to Uhl. I fear if she stays here, Stela will have her executed for our father’s death. I believe if she were to leave with you, and agree to never return, she would be safe.” Sofia pleaded with her husband for her mother’s life.
“I have given it consideration. It seems your family is full of lies and deceit. I wish I had known this before I married you. I will take Madeline back with me, but I do this for her, not for you. She was always kind to me. I know it was because of my title and not because she was an honorable woman. Nonetheless, I will provide her asylum in Uhl, so long as Stela agrees,” Jacob stood and stretched, still not ready to face the day. The rumors of the father of his wife’s child were spreading and he heard the whispers behind his back. “However, you will not be returning with us. You are to never step foot in Moorland again. Your sister has forgiven your betrayal, but I cannot. I will not provide you with a divorce either, until such time that I wish to remarry. This is my way to ensure you are not happy in life until I too am able to find happiness again,” he smiled at her, knowing this would anger her.
“Very well, Jacob. I agree to your terms. I will not seek a divorce nor visit Uhl. Know this, if my mother should ever contact me that she is unhappy, you will face the entire army of Hulsteria.” She left her husband, slamming the door behind her.
Betsy entered Stela’s chamber. There was much to do to prepare for the day. She started the fire. The morning air still held a chill, even this late in spring. She walked over and opened the drapes that covered the windows, allowing the early morning light to flood the room.
Stela had turned from the offending light before the covers were pulled back. “Time to wake, Empress. Today is the ceremony and you have much to do. The guests have already started to arrive,” Betsy said as she helped the Empress wake.
“Which guests have arrived? It is an ungodly hour, the sun is barely in the sky,” Stela made her way to her feet.
“I was surprised myself, Empress. I was not aware you had invited Imperials from Trokha and Savien.” Betsy walked over to pull a dress from the Empress’ collection.
“I did not invite anyone from the other realms. Who is here?”
“The Imperial Princess Royal, Astrid Imaz, the Emperor’s daughter,” Betsy prepared the gown and retrieved the jewels Stela would wear. “The Imperial Princess Royal, Angelique Imaz of Savien arrived shortly after Princess Astrid.”
“Why are they here? Do not get me wrong. They are family and I love them, but the Imperials from Trokha are not like us. The Imperials from Savien are a bit too proper for my liking.” Stela did love Astrid, but the people of Trokha had different mannerisms and appeared less polished than the Imperials of Hulsteria. She had not seen Astrid in many years. She remembered her being quite lovely, with her long black curls and bright blue eyes, a contrast against her light caramel skin. She was last in Hulsteria for the announcement of her engagement to Kyle Walters, brother of Kendric Walters, Imperial Grand Archduke of Shoudfield.
The Imperial rulers of Savien made Stela and her family seem savage in comparison. They took their breeding to the next level, believing they were above all others, even other Imperials. Angelique was a sweet woman from what Stela could remember. She was a few years older than Stela. She always had a way of making Stela feel inferior. She had married a nephew of the Emperor of Trokha, Mateo Imaz; making her Astrid’s cousin by marriage as well as distant blood relatives. Angelique had long hair with tight curls, the color of goldenrod, her eyes were deep green. She was quite lovely if Stela were to be completely honest.
“They are nice enough women, Betsy. Please do not think I am speaking ill of them. We were just raised with different ideas.” Stela did not want word spreading that she was not fond of her Trokhan and Savien relatives.
“Of course not, Empress. I must say Princess Astrid was quite loud when she arrived. I was sure her voice would have woken you. It seems to echo through the palace.” Betsy laughed but caught herself. “Princess Angelique was much more reserved and proper.”
“Yes, Astrid’s voice is unique. I guess we should get dressed and join my cousins,” Stela raised her arms so that Betsy could remove her sleeping gown.
The women walked around the Great Hall, Astrid turned her nose up at the decorations which had been arranged for the ceremony. She rubbed her exposed arms in the morning chill. She was not used to such cold air. Her home was warm year-round, and quite often very wet. Trokha was just southwest of Jascaessau.
Angelique watched Astrid surveying the hall and its decorations. She mused at the other princess’s response. Angelique did not have much respect for the Imperials of Trokha, believing they were uncivilized. Her arranged marriage to Astrid’s cousin came as an insult to the young Imperial Princess, believing a match from any other realm would have been more appropriate.
“Do you not find the decorations a bit much, cousin?” Astrid turned to face Angelique. These were the first words spoken since the two arrived.
“How would the Imperial house of Trokha decorate for such an occasion?” Angelique asked with her normal condescending tone. “I find the subtle colors to be appropriate for such an affair. A naming ceremony is a solemn celebration after all.”
“Trokha loves to flood the walls in bright colors. Flowers cover almost every inch and the fragrance is intoxicating. The Hulsterians are too conservative for my liking,” Astrid noted, turning from her cousin, her head shaking in disapproval.
“That is what makes Trokha so unique, their determination of what is tasteful. The bright colors of which your people are so fond tend to be a bit over the top if I am to be completely honest. There is something to be said for simplicity,” Angelique commented snidely.
The two heard the footsteps coming toward them. “Stelaphina!” Astrid yelled as Stela entered the hall. Her accent was thick and her voice high.
Stela was sure her ears would bleed from the greeting. “Astrid, what a surprise to see you here,” she said quietly to her cousin as the two hugged.
“Stelaphina,” Angelique addressed the Empress with a curtsey.
“Princess Angelique, as always it is a pleasure to see you,” she leaned in to “kiss” her cousin. Her lips did not touch the woman. It was the tradition in Savien.
“I thought I would surprise you. It has been so very long since we have seen each other,” Astrid smiled. “I forgot how cold it is in Hulsteria.” She rubbed her arms again in an attempt to warm them.
“Well, the afternoon sun will warm you soon enough. You have come in time for the Naming Ceremony for my son, Zephyr,” Stela added.
“Oh, I heard about Edmund and Sofia. I am sorry, Stelaphina. I do not know what I would do if my husband had a child with my sister,” Astrid made a weird face.
Angelique gave Astrid a slight shake of her head and a grim glance, letting the princess know the topic was inappropriate. “I am sure the rumors are untrue, Astrid. You really should censor yourself. Some topics are not appropriate, this being one of them.”
“My sister and I have mended our relationship. As for Edmund, I fear he was lost at sea.”
“No. You have not heard? He is in Xasha. He was named regent of Lena’s baby. He is the ruler of Xasha now,” Astrid smiled as she gave Stela the news.
“How do you know this? I have not received such news.” Stela suddenly became uneasy. She had feared Edmund may still be alive but to now have the fact validated made her heart race.
“Our ambassador told my father. It seems Edmund has forbidden your ambassadors from Xasha. He also claims you tried to have him and Sofia killed,” she watched as she told Stela of the murder attempt. “He also claims you had his brother murdered. It would seem you are becoming quite disliked among the Imperials o
“Astrid!” Angelique scolded. “That is quite enough. It is true, Stelaphina. My father has sent me here to determine the validity of these rumors. I did not intend my visit to begin in such a straight forward manner, but when you invite Trokhans, you never know what you will get. I do apologize for our cousin’s inappropriateness. My father is concerned that should you bring war against Xasha he may be forced to support Xasha in the battle to prevent Hulsteria from becoming too powerful. I tried to assure him that Hulsterians are not fighters.”
“I did not have the Emperor killed, it was Edmund. He wanted to rule both Xasha and Hulsteria,” Stela could not allow his words to hurt her relationships with the other realms. She might need their help.
“Edmund killed his own brother? Stelaphina, you do realize how crazy that sounds. He loved his brother dearly. It does not matter, I have heard the people want Lena to rule once her child is born. I believe his regency will be short lived.” Astrid looked over Stela’s shoulder. “Ah, if it is not the Imperial Princess whore,” she laughed as Sofia entered. “I am only joking, cousin. It is wonderful to see you.”
“I am surprised word travels so quickly in the land that time forgot.” Sofia smiled as she coldly hugged Astrid. “Yes, my child is the bastard of my sister’s husband. My husband has denied me and has refused to let me return to Uhl with him. I am glad that my drama brings you such happiness, cousin.” Sofia gave Astrid a stern glance. “Angelique, how nice to see you again. We really get such distinguished visitors.” Sofia greeted Angelique with the traditional kiss.