Monday and Thursday, I will post two chapters of my enthralling fantasy romance novel, Maid of the Forest (that’s four chapters each week). Set mainly in a mystical Arthurian world, filled with mythical creatures, Goddesses, and magical powers, the reader is taken on a truly memorable journey.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 29 & 30
A Strange Reality
Tania gazed at Gary, her eyes wide, horror-stricken. ‘Of course, this is real. I’m real, you’re real, the damn forest is real, but the people in it have gone mad. I have to pinch myself to know I’m awake, but perhaps I’m dreaming I’m pinching myself.’
‘Tani listen, listen to what I have to say, then you’ll understand. Sweetheart, don’t get so upset. You’re not dreaming, neither are the people mad; they’re genuine.’
‘Genuine? How can you say that? Oh, God.’ She put her hands to her face, ‘I can’t bear it – can’t bear it.’
‘Babe, just listen, okay. I promise you’ll understand.’
She looked at him through her fingers and shuddered, but to his relief, she nodded.
Gathering her close to him, he stroked her hair. ‘I’ve been where you are now. So let me explain – listen. I went for two days without meeting anyone, just searching for the forest. It was never-ending, more trees, more bushes, streams, and ponds, a hut here and there, but no villages, no towns. Then I met a couple of guys dressed up as knights. So like you, I thought they were part of a film company or re-enactment group. I’m afraid to say I lost my rag again. I thought they were baiting me, just like the others. I was desperate, hungry, and worn out, let alone petrified of those ruddy wolves. So I punched the next person who spoke double Dutch to me. It ended up in a brawl; I had my hands around his throat, throttling him when the other guy knocked me out with the hilt of his sword. When I came to, I found myself lying down by a fire surrounded by knights, squires, and guards. By that time, one knight was examining my watch and another, my mobile. They’d actually managed to tap up some photos. When they saw the video, it scared the life out of them. They dropped it and ran. Later, when I could understand what they were saying, they told me they thought the images were alive – fairies – evil fairies. They thought the faires etc., were trying to snare them and imprison them in the mobile. They thought I was either a wizard or a demon.’
‘Oh, Gary, it’s the same for us. They think we’re either witches or demons.’
He was glad Tani sounded more reasonable; she must have gone through hell and was still feeling it. He had to help her before she did lose her mind. ‘Yeah, I can understand that now. Anyway, there were a couple of monks, and one of them tried to save me from a knight who was ready to run me through.’ He sat me down and, believe it or not, spoke to me in Welsh and old Cornish. Saved my life, I think.’
‘Welsh? Good lord. You know Tegwen is Welsh, and I’m half Welsh, half Irish.’
‘Thank God I’m Cornish. Not that I know much of the old Cornish tongue, but I get by. Anyway, then came the shock. Speaking in Cornish, I managed to make the monk understand I was lost, that maybe I was on some film set. But then he put me right, he had no idea what a film was or a film set, so I didn’t pursue it. But I said to him, I felt everything was so strange that maybe I was suffering from concussion. But he didn’t understand that either.’
‘So what did you do?’
‘Well, he asked me for my birth date.’
‘Well, they map out what stars you were born under to find out your humours.’
‘Humours I’ve heard of them, but I don’t know what they are.’
‘They explained them as the four humours that make up our body, that rule our body and the state of our health. They are blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm with the four states of mind or personality, Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy. He explained they could find what humour was out of balance and then cure me of my madness.’
‘Oh my God, so what happened?’
‘I couldn’t say the date in Cornish, but I managed to scratch out the date in roman italics. That’s when the shit hit the fan. The monk shook his head and insisted it was 449AD. That was when I passed out, literally. I was weak from lack of food, let alone terrified. For the firsttime in my life, I was petrified. I honestly thought I’d gone mad. When I came round, they’d stripped me and dressed me in knight’s clothing.’
‘So what did you do?’
‘Well, I didn’t believe it, of course. When anyone tried to talk to me, I just went deeper into silence; I’d gone beyond arguing. We traveled for days through forests, fields, and villages, which were just a few shacks in a clearing scattered around a huge wooden fort. It was a little child that broke into my disbelief. He was the son of one of the knights, a perky little bugger, and cheeky. Anyway, I happened on him paddling in a stream trying to catch eels; he spoke only Latin. Children invariably tell the truth; they can be damned embarrassing at times. So I asked him what the date was, what year, what month. He looked up at me, then grinned. ‘Why don’t you know it?’
I said I’d been ill and lost track of time. So he just said July 449; the child didn’t hesitate. The monk was nowhere near, no-one to nudge him, but he said exactly the same date as the others. So, I thanked him and then helped him catch some more eels. I let some time go by, and I said, ‘You didn’t tell me the right date did you? Come on, tell me the right date.’ You can have all these eels if you tell me. Your papa will be so proud of you.’
He laughed, shouting out at the top of his voice, it’s 449 – 449 – 449. Then he splashed over the stones in the stream, chanting the date. I knew then he could not keep up a lie like that. I handed him the bucket of eels, and that was when I began to believe. I had to accept it, I had to let go of the fantasy of film sets and re-enactments; this was my reality.’
Tani buried her face in her hands and wept. Drawing her to him, Gary stroked her tangled hair. ‘I know it’s a strange reality, sweetheart, but you’ve just got to accept it.’
‘I can’t – I can’t. But the same happened to us. We explored the tunnels in the cottage cellars and thought we were drowning when the water gushed out on us. When I regained consciousness, I was floundering in a pond with Clari, Lily, and a strange cat,’
‘So who were the knights you met?’
‘Well, I don’t really know; I couldn’t understand the language, except for a few Latin words. Even then, it didn’t make sense.’
‘Describe the knights to me.’
‘Why? What’s the point?’
‘I know some of the knights really well now, at least the ones at the court of King Vortigern.’
‘King Vortigern, King of the Britons. He took over the South of England when the Romans left. He’s weak, and he’s done some stupid things, asking the Saxons, to help him fight the Picts – got himself and Albion – England that is, in a load to trouble. Anyway, first, describe the knights to me.’
‘Well, one is tall, black hair, well built and wears a black cloak; the other is short, and a gnome I think the knight called him Ansgar.’
‘Sir Devlin, the Black Knight. You fell in with the elite; Ansgar is a prince of the Lower World, heir to the Kingdom of Irondragarth no less.’
‘And Sir Devlin?’
‘He’s the son of a mighty king, a chieftain from the highlands of the North.’
‘Ansgar is in love with Clari; he worships her.’
‘Oh, and what about her?’
‘She’s attracted to him. But she still thinks he’s acting it all out.’
Hmm, you’re going to have to put her right, Tani. Ansgar is a powerful figure in these times, and Devlin also. No-one would dare cross the Black Knight.’
‘Well, he’s in love with a girl from the forest.
Gary grinned. ‘The knights are always in love with one woman or another. One thing is for certain here, sex plays a major role in court life.’
‘Oh no, I think this is serious; he’s absolutely besotted with her.’
‘The knights all have their fair ladies, who are mostly married.’
‘What d’you mean?’
‘Many women are betrothed at birth these times, or the marriage is arranged. The girl has no say as to who she will marry. She is there to deliver the heirs, and God help her if she disobeys.’
‘But you said they have affairs?’
‘Yes, once they’ve done their duty and delivered an heir and a spare, they are free to have affairs with the knights. The knight must play court to them, to provide the romance and excitement in their lives.’
‘No, it’s true. As long as they are very discreet and don’t run away with the lover, the woman is free to dally with any knight that takes her fancy.’
‘Hmm, how romantic, but tragic too.’
‘Yes, so I think we should marry as soon as possible. You are beautiful and will soon catch the eye of an Earl or King.’
‘But you said they all marry at birth, or the marriages are arranged. Surely a King will be married.’
‘Yes, but he will set his wife aside if he wants another woman. It’s done all the time. Read Sir Thomas Mallory. He wrote Le Morte D’Arthur; it was all fiction and written in fourteen hundred and something, centuries after our time here. But you never know, we might end up in the Mallory tales and somewhat change the course of history. However, for us, it’s reality. ’
‘Yes, but is there a King Arthur now?’
‘Don’t know, I’ve heard murmurings of the coming of The Bear, and that’s a sign for Arthur, but you never know. Honestly, after what we’ve been through, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arthur appears wielding Excalibur.’
‘Honestly, don’t joke, Gary.’
‘I’m not, I’m serious; if a knight takes a fancy to you, they are just as likely to carry you off. You would be married within the day.’
‘Well, I would fight it; I’d just refuse.’
‘You wouldn’t have any choice. If you angered a knight or aroused his jealousy, he’s likely to cut your head off. Mallory wrote of it anyway.’
‘Oh, come on.’
‘No, I mean it. No-one will turn a hair to use a pun. So we must tie the knot here and now.’
‘And a knight won’t carry me off then?’
‘Less chance of it, but if he’s completely head over heels in love with you, he could still abduct you. It’s been done. Even a King’s wife isn’t safe. Last year one of the Kings lay siege to another’s fort, determined to steal away the Queen.’
‘So, what happened?’
‘He won, the King was killed, and the other King divorced his wife and married his prize.’
‘I thought you were talking about King Vortigern?’
‘Ah no, there are many kings of this age. There’s the King of Sussex, the King of Thanet, King of Kent; King of Somerset and so on.’
‘Oh, so it doesn’t seem worth marrying, does it?’
‘It’s a safeguard, Tani. Come on, we should marry today.’
‘In all of this, I have not heard you once say you love me. ‘
‘Of course, I love you; I wouldn’t ask you to marry me if I didn’t.’
‘It all seems rather cold to me, Gary. I’ve had the shock of finding you again, alive, but apart from that, you’ve been cold, so matter fact.’
‘Look, I love you; I’ve missed you, gone half crazy at the thought of never seeing you again.’
‘Show me. I want to feel your love.’
He grinned and grabbed her, his tongue exploring hers. She tugged at his hair as his tongue explored her lissom body.
She cried out, clinging to him, her full breasts hard against his muscled chest.
‘God Tani, I love you, every inch of you. Marry me, Tani, marry me.’ As his hands tugged at her top, she shuddered as his hands lifted her skirt, she gasped. ‘Yes, – yes.’
Devlin gazed down at Forestyne, the fires in the eyes of the wolf now the fathomless waters of midnight, her sweet tender breasts quivering. Bending his head to her, he tentatively took her lips, aware that within the gentle depths lurked the savage. Gently he pressed down, easing that glorious mouth to open, to accept him. He groaned as her sweetness enveloped him, enticing him deeper. His hand found the soft full breast, larger than he anticipated inflaming him.
He heaved his body off her, whispering, ‘you are a virgin, and you must wait for your husband to be.’
She panted, clawing his hips, drawing him to her. ‘You said you loved me, wanted to marry me, then marry me now.’
He moaned; his body, his heart, his mind all rose as one as he lifted her off him and then re-mounted her writhing body. Grunting with desire, he took them to a star-filled universe.
He gathered her to him, kissing the long sunlit waves covering them both, feeling her limbs quivering. Stroking a stray curl from her pale forehead, he whispered. ‘So, will you marry me?’
She smiled slowly, ‘yes, I will, Devlin. I will.’
He grinned, kissing those swollen lips. ‘Then tis done. We plighted our troth and are as one.’
‘Oh, Devlin, my lord, my husband.’
‘Aye, so when—’
He gasped, pulling away as two ravens screeched above them. He looked up to see the squirrel scrambling down the rough bark of the tree to their side.
Forestyne leapt to her feet. Running, she cried out, ‘Moraig – Moraig.’
Within seconds, he followed, keeping pace as she flew down the track and into the clearing before the hut. To his surprise, Drustan and Bricius appeared, their faces grim.
Leaping into the hut, Forestyne went to Moraig, who sat up, her back straight, her arms reaching out to her.
‘Child, my sweet child.’
Forestyne felt warm arms enfold her, holding her close; she heard her stepmother’s heart beating strongly. Raising her head, she looked into the dark eyes. ‘You live –Tis not your wraith I hold?’
‘Nay child, Lord Squirrel bore a message sent by the Divine Eagle from the top of the World Tree.’
Forestyne waited, hardly daring to breathe, as Moraig said, ‘The Goddess Arianrhod declared there is need of me here on Middle Earth. People whisper of the Sign of the Bear. With it, there comes a time of great wars, a time when our fair Albion sinks beneath the waves of wrath. Devlin knelt beside Forestyne, speaking softly. ‘War? Albion? Besieged?’ Moraig turned her head to him. ‘You are needed, Sir Knight. Go you now, and take Forestyne with you. She and her wolves are worthy warriors.’
Forestyne cried out, ‘Nay, mother, I will stay with you, I cannot leave you alone, who will protect you?
Drustan spoke, from the entrance, his voice deep and calm. ‘The ravens spoke to us not minutes ago; they bade us come here to receive the news. Fear, not Forestyne, we will protect Moraig, the tree people look after their own. We shall keep back nine wolves, and the rest will be with you.’ Moraig took Forestyne’s hand. ‘Help me up. I have something for you both.’
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: