Of Ash & Blood
I did not get any sleep that night. I laid awake, staring at the walls of the bedchambers, taking glances over at Amabels sleeping body. She faced away from me, but I could see her back as the blankets slipped off. Her thick, crazy hair spilt all over, taking a majority of the bed. I did my best all night to avoid laying on it, not wanting to wake her by pulling on it.
Finally, once the first morning lights cast through the window, I raised from bed as quietly as I possibly could. I quickly got dressed and left the room, stealing one more glance at her before shutting the door behind me. I walked down the hall and stairs, across the courtyard to the knights quarters, where Sir Wyse and the others had stayed.
I was surprised to find them all already awake, Sir Gallion and Rolant standing outside with Sir Wyse, talking. I came up from behind them and Wyse gave me a wry smile. ”Have a long night, my Lord? It appears your up much later than usual! ” He bellowed, followed by the laughs of the other knights. I rolled my eyes and pushed past him, grabbing my armor which was left here.
”I don want to hear any jokes, especially not in front of the new Lady. ” I glared at everyone. Sir Gallion chuckled, ”I assure you, we know how to act in front of women! ”
”Then why, Sir Gallion, are you not yet married? ” Rolant laughed, patting Gallion on the shoulder.
”I simply have yet to meet a maiden that is capable of handling my expectations! ”
”Now, now, men. The Lord has simply just woke up, lets not ruin this good morning with your bickering. ” Sir Wyse stood up, brushing off his breast plate. I finished fastening my boots and stood from the chair seated outside the knights quarters.
”Why thank you, Sir Wyse. We have a long day ahead of us. I would like to leave by mid-day. Gallion, I need you to head to the stables and get the horses ready. Im sure theyve had enough rest and feed to make the journey back. ” I nodded. Gallion nodded, heading towards the stables. ”Sir Wyse, have we secured a carriage for my Lady to ride in? ”
”Yes, my Lord, it arrived earlier today. It should make a fine ride for her Ladyship back to Aelis. ” Sir Wyse gave a smile, and I was sure I was not going to get away with no details of the previous night. Knights were vulgar men, always speaking of women and what they did the night before to make them go crazy.
I finished putting the rest of my armor on, following the other men to the training grounds. I sat and watched as Wyse sparred with the other knights, giving instructions to the maidservants to prepare the carriage for departure.
I walked around the estate to inside the castle, catching a glimpse of Amabel, standing in the foyer speaking with a few of her servants carrying her luggage around her and outside to load. I cleared my throat behind her and she whipped around to look at me. Thats when I noticed dark marks on her face, trailing down her neck.
Were those there last night?
She must have noticed where my eyes were, as she shifted uncomfortably. I ran a hand through my hair and looked away.
”It would appear we are almost ready to depart, ”
”Yes, it would appear so. ” She replied sheepishly.
”Well, then, we should arrive to Aelis within the week. I have instructed them to pack us with enough food and herbs to last at least half longer than the journey. I cannot be sure of the weather while we are on the road, but from what I can see it will be a smooth journey. ” I gave a short nod, and Amabel returned the gesture as she looked down. I furrowed my brows, wondering if I had said anything to upset her, deserving that forlorn expression she seemed to have stuck on her face for the last few days.
Just as I was about to say something, Sir Wyse came into my view. He gave a small nod of his head to Amabel before turning to me. ”The coachman has informed me that we are ready to leave, my Lord. If we would like to find camp before sundown, we should leave as soon as possible. I have instructed the others to fetch the horses. ”
”Good. Then, shall we get going? ” I reached over and grabbed Amabels cloak from the approaching servant and held it open, waiting for her to step into it. I fastened it in the front at her collarbone before turning around and leading the way outside. Amabels parents were already outside, saying their goodbyes and well wishes as I walked over to the carriage and opened the doors. I waited for Amabel, who was just walking over. She kept her gaze on the floor as she gently took my hand as I assisted her into the carriage. I saw her father approaching me as I shut the carriage door.
”I trust you will keep her safe then, yes? ” He asked.
”I assure you, nothing will happen to her. I will send a carrier pigeon once we arrive back to my estate- ”
Lord Ashdown held up a hand with a short shake of his head. ”No need, ” was all he said before walking back to the castle. I looked over to Amabels mother, who was holding a handkerchief to her eyes and waiving as the Lord pulled her into the house after him. I turned to walk over to my stead, but just as I was about to mount, Sir Wyse came over and grabbed the reigns with a coy smile.
”Don you think you should ride with your new wife, my Lord? ” Sir Wyse grinned like a boy as she shot eyes over to the carriage and back to me. I gave him a look as if asking with my eyes for my reigns back, reaching out as he held them further away. While I knew if I wanted to get them back, I could, but didn want to make a scene as we departed. I gritted my teeth and marched to the carriage, shooting him one last pleading glance as I opened the carriage doors.
I must have startled Amabel, as she jumped slightly as I entered. I took a seat on the bench across from her and shut the door. The carriage almost immediately jolted forward just as I took a seat. Amabel remained silent, looking out the window as her fathers estate grew distant in the window.
Minutes felt like hours in the silent carriage, and I cursed Wyse in my head as I heard him conversing with the others outside. I turned my gaze over to Amabel, studying her as she set her gaze out the window. Her long, dark brown hair falling around her shoulders with only her bangs pinned back and out of her face. She was wearing a dark purple dress, reaching just above her ankles, with a black cape covering her shoulders. My eyes wandered back to the bruises on her jawline and neck. I reached a hand out instinctively, my fingers lightly brushing the marks. Amabels eyes shot over at me as she sat back, pulling her face away from my reach.
”Where did you get those? ” I asked cooly, returning my hand to my side. Amabel looked as if he was looking past me, opening and shutting her mouth as if she were a fish. I waited for an answer, my silence pushing for an answer.
”I had some issues with my dress while it was getting tailored, I merely slipped. ”
I looked into her eyes, knowing she was lying. I sat back and crossed my arms over my chest giving a sigh.
”You should know better than to lie to a knight, you know. Those look like finger prints. ”
I watched as the color faded out of her face. I saw her stumbling over what to say, looking away from me as she swept a hand over the bruises.
”Would I not have the right to know what has happened to my wife? ”
I saw her eyes go wide at my remark, and just as she was going to respond, the carriage jolted. I reached forward and steady her before she shot forward in the carriage. I cursed under my breath and yelled out the window to keep watch of where they
e leading us. I heard the men grumble responses, and normally, I wouldve shot out of the carriage to correct them. However, seeing as this was my first journey with my new wife, bringing her home, I thought it best to not act like a fool right away.
”Are you nervous? ” I asked. How was it that once such an outspoken woman, now sits so timidly?
”I would assume, as youve only known your fathers estate your whole life, that youd be nervous coming to a different home. ”
”Its not as if I have never been there, L-Silas. ” I looked over to her, seeing something else in her eyes. Sadness, maybe? Anger?
I thought back to the summers we spent, times that honestly, I did not remember too well anymore. It seems as the days go by, less and less of my childhood remains in my mind. I nodded, ”That may be true, however, - ”
I was interrupted by the carriage door swinging open, revealing Sir Gallion.
”My Lord, its time we set up camp, daylight is almost gone. ” He said, looking over to Amabel and back to me. I looked out, not even noticing we had stopped, or that the sun had almost set. I got up and left the carriage, turning out to hold my hand out. Amabel took my hand and left the carriage behind me.
”You should sit over and rest there while I help prepare the fire. Don wonder. ” I pointed over to the grass next to the carriage, handing Gallion a blanket to set out for her. I watched as she waited for the blanket to be laid out on the grass, carefully tucking her dress underneath her as she sat. I thought back to the conversation, remembering she never told me how she got those bruises. I felt a pit in my stomach, and knew that I would ask again later, but decided I would give her the night.
Just as I finished preparing the fire and setting up my tent, Rolant reappeared from the surrounding woods, sword in hand.
”My lord! You will want to come see this! Quick! ”
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