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A note from acornhh

Hope you enjoy ;)

 

The man was lying, unconscious, on the side of the river with his legs submerged in the current. His clothes were torn in a bunch of places, and his skin, in certain areas, was bruised black and blue. Yet, even in his battered beat-up state, he was still beautiful. Scary but beautiful. He had medium-length onyx-coloured hair and sharp facial features. His sword’s sheath was the same colour as his hair and had a black jewel adorned the hilt.

‘What should I do? Where did he come from? Was he here 10 minutes ago?’

Jasmine’s mind was spinning with questions. Finally, she decided to pull him out of the river, but it proved to be more challenging than she thought. The man was massive, and as she grabbed his arms to pull him out, she realized he was covered in not only dirt and bruises but muscle. After finally dragging his body out of the river, Jasmine unbuckled his sword and set it aside.

“My lady?” Helen called from the other side of the clearing. Her judgment had gotten the better of her, and she decided to follow Jasmine. “Have you found your sand...als?” Her voice dropped off when she realized that a body was lying in front of her. “What did you do?” Helen asked accusingly.

“Nothing! I promise! When I came back, he was just here, lying in the river. I-I think he needs a doctor.” Jasmine said, not taking her eyes off of the sword lying in the grass.

“Wait here. I’ll bring back the guards.” Helen scurried off back towards the castle.

Having been in a panic, Jasmine had forgotten about the time. A faint glow was starting to spread over the forest. All of the birds had also begun chirping, signalling the dawn, and while she sat, waiting for Helen to return, she couldn’t stop herself from examining the sword. She slowly unsheathed the long pitch black blade. The metal made a raspy sliding sound like a snake hissing as Jasmine drew it. Curious as to how sharp it as she slid her pinky finger along the blade before yelping as the cruel cold metal bit into her skin. A crimson drop of blood flowed down the edge and trickled down to the tip, coating the edge in a crimson ark.

She heard the faint voices and noises of people coming near and quickly re-sheathed the sword. Not much later, three soldiers, Helen and another servant, appeared and came running over. The soldiers wasted no time and lifted the man onto a stretcher that the servant had brought. Then, they quickly carried the man back through the forest and into the castle.

After arriving back at the castle, Jasmine had decided to bring him to the rooms near hers. “Is the doctor awake?” she called out to the servants now crowding the hallway.

“Yes, my lady, word was sent to the village, and a doctor will be arriving soon.” Replied the servant that had brought the stretcher. After being placed on the bed, the soldiers left to make room for more servants to enter and care for the mysterious man. His feet hung slightly off the bed and were dangling limply. The maids were frantically trying to change the man’s clothes, warm him up and clean him simultaneously. The doctor arrived in no time and forced everyone to leave the room. Most of the maids wanted to stay and find out more about the mystery man but were forced to go back to work by the head butler, Aaron. Only Helen and Jasmine were allowed to stay and wait for the doctor to finish.

It wasn’t long before the doctor came out. “Luckily, he has no serious wounds. He’ll be fine with rest, but as I was examining him, he woke up; he tried to get up and run away. I had to give him a sedative to get him to sleep. He kept muttering nonsense.” Jasmine gave a slight bow of her head before saying her thanks. “Oh, and one last thing, throughout his mutterings, he mentioned a sword a couple of times.” With that, the doctor took his leave and was escorted to the exit by Helen, leaving Jasmine alone outside the man’s room.

She cracked the door open slightly and peeked inside. One of the maids had gotten an extra fur blanket to wrap around his feet sticking off the bed, and thick blankets were laid on top of his body. The massive man that she had found unconscious and injured was nowhere to be found. He looked like a baby sleeping peacefully. A bowl of water and a towel were placed beside his bed, and Jasmine picked up the towel to wipe his forehead. She gazed into the pool of water only to see her reflection, again, staring back at her. Her white hair and storm grey eyes always caught wry glances from people. Did she look so different from everyone else? Before the towel reached the man’s forehead, he grabbed her wrist without opening his eyes.

“Where am I?” said the man in a deep and soft, slightly slurred voice.

“Th-the Verglass estates.”

“What country?” he asked in the same rich tone.

“Tzitanu,” she replied, still a bit scared.

“Hmph. That far…..” he mumbled more to himself than to Jasmine.

She asked in a quiet voice, obviously nervous “Ex - Excuse me, Sir. What’s your name?”

“I’ve been called many things, but I’m not a Sir,” he replied as he rolled over to face away from Jasmine.

Still pressing for more answers, she asked, “What name did your parents give you then?” He didn’t respond. Assuming that he had already fallen asleep, Jasmine got up to leave, but as she was about to step through the door, he replied almost too softly to be heard. “My mother called me Matt.” She walked back to her room and passed out, unable to stay awake any longer.

She awoke the next day when the sun was in the middle of the sky. Seeing the sun through her window seemed like a cruel trick played by the skies to fool her. The bright sun radiates warmth and heat, yet as soon as you step outside, the cool winter temperature nips at any skin exposed to the elements. The snows got just a little bit deeper every day, and the lakes froze just a little more. After having a light brunch of fruit and bread, Jasmine wandered around the halls with no particular destination in mind. She walked out into the courtyard and walked in the direction of the stables. Jasmine had a cream-coloured stallion named Grace. She had been riding it since she was 13 and had a close bond with it. The stable boy, Jeremy, often complained at how the horse never obeyed anyone else except Jasmine.

When she arrived at the stables, she heard a squabble of voices inside that seemed to be arguing.

“Who are you? You can’t take that horse!” she heard Jeremy call out. She opened the large spruce doors to the stables and saw that mysterious man Matt saddling Grace and preparing to depart. Even though Jeremy was a tall boy, he was still dwarfed by Matt standing next to him. Hearing the doors open, Matt turned to face her in the doorway.

“Oh, it’s just you,” he said nonchalantly before turning back to the horse to continue saddling it. Jeremy, still angered by the man’s audacity, continued to try and stop him.

“Jeremy. It’s fine. Let him try. Let us see how far he gets riding Grace.” said Jasmine copying the man’s nonchalant tone.

After finishing the last step of buckling his sword to the saddle, Matt mounted and rode out of the stalls. Jasmine waited as he rode down the path out of the castle grounds, anticipating Grace to buck him off. “Just wait…..any second now….” said Jasmine to Jeremy, now standing next to her.

“What are we waiting for, my lady?” He whispered through the side of his mouth.

“We are waiting for Grace to buck him off, of course.”

“Will this be happening soon or…” asked Jeremy, not finishing his sentence. Finally, after seeing him ride off of the grounds and getting further and further away, Jasmine snapped.

“Bring me another horse,” she said tempestuously.

“As you wish, My lady.” A few minutes later, Jeremy brought out a gray stallion saddled and ready. The stallion didn’t compare to Grace, but it would do. Before Jeremy could say anything, Jasmine bolted off in pursuit of Matt and her horse.

Even with a head start, Jasmine could still see the hoof prints in the fresh fluffy snow. Matt was headed into the forest. She followed along the path through the tall pines deeper and deeper into the woods. The path widened and eventually opened into a small clearing where Grace had been tethered to a tree. Matt was nowhere to be found. She got down from the stallion’s back and tied it to the same tree as Grace. After briefly making sure Grace was okay with a few pats on her nose Grace heard him. Standing butt naked in the river a few feet below the trees was Matt.

“Why are you following me?” He called back without turning around.

“You’re naked...wait, no. YOU ran away after we helped you, and then you stole my horse. Why are you running?”

“I asked you first,” he replied arrogantly as he put his clothes back on and dried off.

“But I just told you why.”

He paused for a few moments before answering. “Fine then. I guess your horse is decent, and I wanted to go for a ride,” he answered like a child.

“That’s it?” replied Jasmine, baffled.

“Mhm, I guess,” he said, trying to end the conversation.

“Then give me my horseback,” she commanded.

“Only if you ask me nicely.”

“Will you please, please, be so kind as to give me my horseback?” said Jasmine, dripping with sarcasm.

He paused again. “I guess, but I have one condition. Tell me your name.”

She answered immediately, “Jasmine Verglass. Now, my horse, please.”

“As you wish, my lady,” he answered politely as he handed the reins back to Jasmine, smirking. “If I had known you were a princess, I would have asked for much more in return for that horse. Pity,” he said as he finally climbed back out of the river.

“Thank you for giving back my horse, even though you are a prick,” she mumbled the second part under her breath. “What will you do now?” she asked, trying not to care for the answer.

“Will I be arrested?” He asked casually, but his body stiffened in anticipation of the response. “Only if you displease me again.” She answered as she gave him a playful wink.

Matt seemed to appreciate that answer, and even though the movement was stiffer than a rusted hinge, he bowed. “Thank you, my lady.”

Jasmine was at a loss for words. She did the only thing she could think of. “If you take that grey stallion back and apologize to the stable boy, Jeremy, I will let you come back to the castle.”

Producing another bow, Matt responded simply, “As you wish, my lady.”

After Matt had agreed to go back with Jasmine and they were riding towards the castle’s gates, he asked, “Is there a library inside this behemoth of a castle?”

“Why? Do you even know how to read?” she asked, still slightly pissed off about him stealing her horse. Slightly.

“Yes, I can read, so where is the Library?” He answered, ignoring her comment.

“Well, it’s only accessible with permission from me or another member of my family, and most of them aren’t at the castle right now. Would you like to go there? We could go there now.”

“Can’t you just give me permission right now and directions,” he called back a bit harsher than intended.

“Fine then. Permission Granted, but you have to find it yourself.” Jasmine called back bitterly before galloping away on her own, back towards the castle, leaving him behind.

When Jasmine arrived back at the castle, some of the servants told her that Helen was furious and was currently running around looking for her under the impression that she had been kidnapped. Some of the soldiers had gone along with her and were issuing a warrant of arrest for Matt. She decided to let Matt deal with it due to the fact that she was currently fuming. She wandered into the kitchen and grabbed leftovers from supper. It was a simple meal of some type of fowl, sourdough, and fresh vegetables. The Head chef, Luxaro, made every effort to make a fresh meal for her, but she was in and out of the kitchen like a wisp of smoke, refusing his attempts. After stuffing her face with the brief meal, she wandered around the castle more, unconsciously, in the direction of the library.

The hall leading to the library was adorned with statues, beautiful tapestries, and large warm animal furs suiting as carpets along the floor. Every statue had a name, and every tapestry was made to resemble the scenery of Tzitanu. From large snow-capped mountains to the lush greenery of the Northern Springs, it was all depicted here. The large mahogany doors adorned with delicate gold lines that spread out like tree roots encasing blood-red rubies on the doors at the end of the hallway. Two soldiers stood outside the doors at all times, both wielding large oaken spears, and opened the massive doors for visitors. The doors each stood around 7 meters high and must have weighed a ton. The handles were both carved out of solid gold and had identical blood rubies decorating the hilts.

The guards slammed their pommels once on the floor in greeting, and both, simultaneously, swung the doors open. The doors opened to reveal the massive ancient library. Rows upon rows of wooden shelves filled the library. There were five stories, and on each floor, the shelves had simple wood railings that enclosed the balconies. She wandered further into the back of the library towards the spot where she usually read. It was a small nook tucked into the corner of the library that she had found when she was little. The small gap made it so no shelves could be placed, and she had made her father furnish it so she could read here. A small chair made of soft brown leather was wrinkled and peeling with age and overuse. Laid out on the floor, an accompanying brown rug was made from an animal she couldn’t quite place. She grabbed a book from the little wooden stool that she used as a table and began reading from where she left off.

The book was titled “King’s Requiem” and was a tragic love story about a widowed queen that fell in love with a commoner. She gave up everything to stay with him, including her title as queen. She later found out that he betrayed her to steal her role as king. She snuck into the castle one night to fulfill her revenge, and as she slit his throat well he slept, she figured out that she still loved him despite his betrayal. The finishing line of the book was a question from the author. “Can you love someone without trust?”

She finished the book and silently wept, closing her eyes to wipe away the tears that were now streaking down her cheeks. Most of the lamps lining the library were already put out and even most of the librarians had gone to bed. She sauntered down the hallway, grazing her hand along with the old leather-bound books and out of the corner of her eye, she saw it. A single lantern on the opposite side of the library was flickering and casting shadows across the walls, and in the seat reading beneath the flickering lamp was Matt.

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A note from acornhh

I'm going to try and write about one chapter a week and start releasing on Saturday mornings.

:P


About the author

acornhh

Bio: just a writer for fun

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Camelboy ago

Yet another good chapter :D It could use a little cleaning up, though. Besides that, I enjoyed it. The line from the book "King's Requiem" was a nice touch and did well to add a sense of foreboding.

Nicely done!

lonelyID ago

Nicley done chapter, I didnt spot any grammar errors either, so I assume you've fixed it all up. well done!

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