The Summoning

Life as a knight of Lamora was not as grand as one would think. It was a day of summoning at the castle of Lord Urnar, one of the greater lords of Lamora. Zelia woke well before dawn and she had to find somebody to help strap her armor on. She was familiar with the castle and its staff but she had to find who might be available. The meeting she was summoned to was to happen before breakfast so Zelia got waylaid in her search passing through the kitchens. Breakfast smelled so good that she could not resist a bit of a preview tasting. She flagged down Onelle of the kitchen staff and then spent time leaning against a counter and eating a biscuit with ham and cheese, watching the workers as she did. She spoke a bit at Onelle but the young woman was busy and Zelia had to repeat herself often. She did not mind.

After eating, there was still plenty of time to get ready but Zelia did not have all day. Zelia had to take her leave from the kitchens and resume her search for somebody to armor her. She physically dragged young Arne out of bed. He was a good lad but he had a tendency to be a bit lazy sometimes. The boy complained at being roused from bed but stopped when Zelia gave him The Look. It never failed. The boy straightened up and saluted.

“Knight of the Iron Hand,” Arne said. “How can I assist you?”

“So formal,” Zelia said. She had known the boy a little before being knighted. “I need somebody to help me with my armor. Follow me.”

“Lead on, lady knight,” Arne said.

Zelia turned and walked back toward her quarters with Arne following behind. After a few moments, Arne set to work. The sleepy boy struggled to strap the pieces of armor to her body. She grew impatient.

“Boy, you had best wipe the sleep from your eyes and get this armor on straight,” she said firmly, trying to keep most of the crossness from her voice.

“Yes, m’lady,” Arne said. “I’ll try, m’lady.” The boy’s almost painful politeness softened her bad mood. He was pitiful.

“You had best stop blushing as well,” she said with a soft smile. “You would think you had never seen a woman’s body before.” That only made the boy blush more.

“You know, that’s entirely possible that that’s the case,” Anneslie said. “What woman in her right mind would show him her delights?”

Zelia glanced over at the beautiful Anneslie, Knight of the Golden Bloom. She was standing there in her own armor, ready for the summoning even earlier than Zelia had wanted to be. Perhaps that was a sign of a more experienced and accomplished knight.

“I have so seen a lady!” Arne shouted, turning to face his accuser but then he immediately backed down. “Begging your pardon, Lady Anneslie, Knight of the Golden Bloom.” He cast his gaze down at the floor in contrition and embarrassment and saluted.

“Relax, little fish,” Anneslie said with a laugh. “No need to stand on ceremony. Return to your normal duties. I’ll take over here.”

It was Zelia’s turn to blush at the thought of the older woman touching her.

“You will?” she asked Anneslie and then turned toward Arne. “Go about your business, we’re fine here.”

Arne bowed and left quickly, leaving behind a sudden silence between the women. Anneslie worked in that silence comfortably while Zelia’s gut turned itself in knots. Anneslie expertly assembled Zelia’s armor and tightened the straps tightly. Finally, Anneslie finished her ministrations.

“There,” she said. “The Knight of the Iron Hand in all of her glory.”

“You do good work,” Zelia said and fought back a blush to establish eye contact with Anneslie. “You should put on my armor more often.”

“You’re very silly,” Anneslie said with a smile. “I’ll see you downstairs.” Then the Knight of the Golden Bloom left the room abruptly.

Zelia looked up above the fireplace as she entered the meeting room and her gaze lingered on The Sword of Storms which was also known as The Sword of Heroes. As the story went, the sword could only be held and wielded in times of great chaos and need by somebody pure of heart. If the sword allowed itself to be held, things were in a very dark place. The last person to use the sword had been a scholar who had been subsequently elevated to the role of knight before his death years ago. Zelia dragged her eyes away from the sword and moved quickly to her seat, the chair bearing her emblem.

“Knights of Lamorra,” Lord Urnar said, his voice loud and commanding. “You do yourself credit to drop everything to report here in the name of the Queen. I do not summon you lightly. I brought you here to deal with a threat worthy of your talents which our scouts have brought to my attention. I will cut to the chase. Goblin bands are threatening the nearby lands in several locations. We need you, good knights, to eliminate this threat. You will ride out after breakfast. You are dismissed.”

Zelia blinked a bit at the abruptness but stood up in order to head toward the breakfast table. She looked for Anneslie but felt herself get dizzy and then, as she reached for her chair to steady herself, her vision went black.

Suddenly, she came back to herself and she was standing on her feet, grateful that she had not fallen down in her dizziness. She felt a weight in her hand and looked down. It was the Sword of Storms. Smoke was drifting in from another part of the castle but nobody else was visible. What had happened? What did she do?


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