Thursday, 7 October 2010

At First Sight Blogfest - Hate, Love, Soulmate!

Today's blogfest is hosted by Jacee. To see the other participants go here. 

This snippet is from one of my historical romances.

Brief: The two MCs are soulmates and madly in love but circumstances of war have placed them on opposing sides. 

A runner reached Axebury Hall (Cavalier household) with news that drunken deserters from Waller's army (Parliamentarians) have it in mind to attack the house with intention of rape and pillage. All the female staff have left, and the men gone to the gates to try and prevent assault upon the house. The young lady and her personal maid have set out for Knoll House to raise the alarm and, to try and secure help from a enemy captain of horse, once the love of the young lady's life.

‘We cannot go by way of the bridge. It might be dangerous if those deserters are already at the gates,’ declared Anna Lady Maitcliffe, and so they set off toward the church. ‘We shall have to go up the valley a little way and across the fields to the woods, and thence to Knoll House.’

‘Yes m ‘lady,’ said Tilly, sounding as nervous as Anna felt.

‘The lantern Tilly, we must leave it behind. It’s too dangerous to show even a speck of light with the enemy at the gates.’

Tilly stopped, opened the lantern window and blew out the candle, and then left it safely beside the church gate in passing.

They stumbled, they fell, but onward they went all the while eyes adjusting to night vision, and on one occasion almost screamed when a deer crashed across the path directly in front of them.

Tilly whispered, ‘I cannot hear a battle. No men shouting, not a sound.’

‘Nor me,’ said Anna, as they finally reached the woodland path. ‘Let us hope the deserters were ale hearty and drank more than was good for them.’

‘Drunken sops m’lady, is that what you is hoping of them?’

‘Indeed Tilly, I am hoping that.’

They rambled on making good time according to the clock striking out across the valley, and by one of the clock had reached Axebury Wood, where they stopped to get breath and to listen for any sound of enemy soldiers within the woodland. By half-past three of Knoll clock they were through the meadows, past the village and began their ascent up Knoll Hill, but with no moon it was doubly difficult and painful on occasion of their tangling with brambles. By four they had reached the end of the spinney at Knoll House boundary, and as they came up the side of the spinney a man’s voice said, ‘And where do you think you two is going my little maids?’

Tilly clung to Anna’s arm, and in reply to a man sitting on the ground, said in her sharp tongue, ‘Who be asking?’

The man rose to his feet towering above them, a blanket falling to the ground and shiny breastplate evident as he blocked their path. ‘I’ll be asking the questions around yer. Now, who be you and what you wanting yer?’

Anna stepped in with, ‘I’m here to see Morton Gantry, Captain Gantry.’

‘And you are,’ he asked, tone surly.

‘Anna Lady Maitcliffe.’

He chuckled, spat tobacco from his mouth, said, ‘That’ll be me then.’

‘Shut your silly mouth,’ said Tilly, ‘and let us pass.’

‘It is important we see Captain Gantry immediate,’ stressed Anna, concerned for the men at the gates of Axebury Hall. ‘Deserters from Waller’s forces were seen in Axebury village alehouse and heard threatening to ransack Axebury Hall and kill its occupants.’

‘You from there are yer?’ he asked, turning to gather something from the ground.

‘We are, and I must see Morton straight away.’

‘Deserters you say?’

Yes,’ yelled Tilly, ‘now either let us pass or go tell the cap ‘n yerself.’

At that outburst from her and her brave stance, the soldier held a musket aloft and fired it skyward.

Tilly screamed hands to ears, her former bravado to flight.

A short while after the bell over the coach house then began to ring out.

Knoll House was on alert, and by the time they reached the house soldiers were assembled out front and horses being readied. Morton appeared almost the very instant a young soldier stepped forward to accost Anna and Tilly, as they in turn hurried to the front entrance.

Halted by the young soldier Tilly stepped between to protect Anna,

‘Anna, what has happened?’ enquired Morton, dashing forward.

‘Roundheads sir,’ said Tilly, stepping aside along with the surly young soldier, as both allowed Morton access to Anna. ‘They be attacking Axebury Hall, or at least we thinks they is. That’s what they said in village alehouse, and was looking to rape us women and to kill your father who ain't there a course’

‘My men are all here,’ rallied Morton, sounding defensive of his troopers.

‘Deserters Morton, from Waller’s forces,’ informed Anna, glancing at the sleeve of his previously injured arm. ‘Can your men not go and stop them?’

He saw her eyes fallen upon his arm, and he turned about as though preferring no recollection of her former kindness and shouted, ‘Mount up men, we have deserters hereabouts and,  arms and ammunition to be rested from their hold.’

Anna lightly touched his shoulder. ‘Are you well enough, Morton, to go with your men?’

‘I’m well Anna, and all thanks to you the arm is as good as new.’

A warm feeling embraced her, his hand clasping hers so natural and comforting as he briskly led off back toward the main doorway at Knoll House. He ushered her inside, Tilly on their heels.

‘You were right to come here, Anna, and I will leave guards outside the house, and know that men are in and around the grounds, so you are quite safe here.’

In the hallway, its oak panelling and oak staircase dark and sombre beneath candlelight, Morton drew to a halt and turned to face Anna.

In his sky-blue eyes she saw love, untainted love, and it tore at her heartstrings because something in his manner expressed knowledge of her betrothal, betrothal to his father.

‘Morton, I am so . . .’

He placed a finger to her lips, as though unable to bear hearing her excuses.

‘The Lady Georgina will be roused by now, and I shall leave you in her care.'

The pause that followed seemed an eternity of eyes locked with longing, hearts pounding in unison and each knowing the awful truth, and it was all too late. Then he broke the moment.

'The sooner I go the sooner I shall return.’ He drew her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers. ‘Let us hope I am not too late, and Axebury Hall razed to the ground by fire.’

‘Oh no, not that,’ she said, ‘cook bolted herself in the kitchens.’

‘I shall check on cook first chance I get, I promise.’

He stepped round her, reached for his sword and pistols and helmet left lain on a chest and strode out through the main doorway. She ran to the doorway, and there stood and watched him as he made ready for battle and then mounted his horse. As he rode off he glanced back as though sensing her there. She waved, he waved, and she feared for his life.

She loved Morton, had never stopped loving him.

Oh god, what had she done, what had she done to be so emotionally tormented by father and son?


There's another blogfest today hosted by Erica & Christy.

To see my entry and link to other participants go here


Christopher S. Ledbetter said...

A fabulous historical romance you have there. Nice post.

Brenda Drake said...

Oh man, she's betrothed to his father? Conflict and drama! I love historical romance. Wonderful! :D

Cinette said...

Great post! But father and son? I doesn't get much more tangled than that.

Tessa Conte said...

I agree with Brenda... oh, man! Or in my case probably Oh, dear! Great tension, and I love the way you hit the tone perfectly for a historical romance! I tried exactly once, and the protagonists sounded like they'd stepped out of a time machine. *shudder*

So kudos to you, truly, for doing such a great job!


ps. I love Sharpe! (Sean Bean and the books, too)

J.C. Martin said...

I agree! The style of writing suited historical romance perfectly! Morton sounds swoon-worthy! Can't believe she could be betrothed to his dad! AWK-ward!

WritersBlockNZ said...

Wow talk about conflict! Great job :)

Wild Rose said...

Ha.. Francine how you take me back to that classical romance in medieval times. This is a great one loved that conflict factor in it. And i haven't seen you around for a while so check in :)

Summer Ross said...

Hey there, This was a great scene for the blogfest. My favorite line..."‘Drunken sops m’lady, is that what you is hoping of them?’" I laughed because she did really want them to be...your dialogue is a true joy to read.

Talli Roland said...

Wow! Great conflict here. And I love the dialogue!

Clarissa Draper said...

Great excerpt. I loved the setting and the dialogue. It drew me into the scene.


Clara said...

This was pretty excellent! And I usually dont dig medieval romances. Fabulous job!

L'Aussie said...

I'm not doing this blogfest F, but I've popped over to read yours. You've nailed the historical lingo so well. Took me into the period. Go girl..:)