Medieval Muse, p.1Karen Elizabeth Brown
By Karen Elizabeth Brown
Copyright 2012 Karen Elizabeth Brown
This ebook is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are fictional. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons is entirely coincidental.
Original cover art by Loretta Stephenson
Medieval Muse edited by Kerri Nelson Romance Author
Table of Contents
About the Author
About the Artist
Victoria stopped trying to write and turned off her computer. Realizing it was ridiculous to try and concentrate until she did something about the argument she’d had with Rose, she went outside in search of her housemate. She found her engrossed in exercising a horse.
Victoria had been avoiding Rose since their confrontation last night and had hoped her silence would mean the end of the bickering.
But when Rose saw Victoria, she pulled up hard on the reins, coming to a sudden halt. “What are you doing out here at this hour of the morning? You’re supposed to be working on your book.”
At least she hadn’t brought up the medieval faire, again.
“I’m going for a ride down Meadows’ Lane and over to the beach.”
Rose shook her head. “But you never go riding in the mornings. That’s your writing time. What about your schedule?”
“It’s okay, Rose. I’ve re-arranged my schedule today and maybe for the rest of the week. I need a change. I can’t seem to get started on my new book so I’m doing things differently to shake myself up a bit.”
“If you want to do things differently, you can come to the medieval faire with me.”
Uh-oh, there it was again. She couldn’t leave it alone. Although Victoria knew she had a perfectly valid point, she’d already told Rose there was no way she’d be seen tramping around in medieval fashions at the faire. The problem now was, it was starting to sound like a good idea and Victoria might even find an idea or two for her book.
“Isn’t that this afternoon?” She couldn’t believe she was actually reconsidering, but it might repair their friendship, which had been strained since the onset of Rose’s invitation.
“Yes, it starts at 4pm. Jesse and I are going and you can come with us, if you want.”
“I don’t have anything to wear. I’ll look so out of place in my street clothes when everyone else is dressed in medieval costumes.”
“I have dozens of medieval costumes. You can take your pick of any of them.” Rose smiled, “In fact, I might even let you try on a new blue kirtle I’ve been saving.”
“Kirtle? Is that like a girdle?”
“No, it’s a long dress of the period. It’s very beautiful.” Rose wanted to continue her explanation, but the horse she sat on began stamping its foot with impatience.
“Okay, okay” Victoria waved her hand and nodded, “I’ll meet you after my ride and you can find a kirtle for me to wear. Now get back to that animal before he digs a hole in the ground.”
They both laughed and Victoria felt a twinge of exhilaration. Like a school girl preparing to go to a dance.
How odd. Why am I so enthused about a silly medieval faire?
As Victoria prepared Raven to go for her ride, she kept thinking about the faire. She hadn’t been to one in a long time. If she remembered correctly, that was where she’d first met Rose while doing research for a book. Rose had a booth of medieval costumes, showing how men and women of that period were dressed. Victoria tried to imagine herself riding a horse dressed in full medieval regalia, as she swung herself up on Raven’s back. It was too cumbersome. Especially the medieval side-saddle.
Lost in her thoughts, she rode the path that led through Meadows’ Lane, dropping down to the beach. Finding the beach deserted this time of the morning, she maneuvered Raven to the firm sand near the water’s edge. Galloping along, the cobwebs blew away from the corners of her mind. Ideas for a new story began to form. Stopping Raven, she extracted a small notebook from her jean pocket and jotted down a few notes.
She had her character, a knight from medieval times, with black curly hair and emerald green eyes. Now she needed to find a plot for him.
What do I know about medieval men?
If they were anything like the men she knew today, she would describe them as coarse, impertinent and boorish. She sighed as she scribbled down a few more words and closed the notebook. It was time to go back, take care of Raven and get dressed for the faire.
Getting prepared for the faire was more than just slipping on a dress. Rose liked things to look authentic, so not only did Victoria have a light blue kirtle; a flowing tunic worn to the ankles, but she had pantaloons and slips and a white cambric shirt underneath. Her shoes were soft-tanned leather, tied with thin strips of the same hide. Rose made two tight braids of her long, honey-colored hair. She looped them and placed a veil over the top. To finish the ensemble, Rose provided a beautifully beaded cap. The light reflected off the tiny beads, making them sparkle like diamonds.
“Would you like to wear this?” She turned the cap in the light letting the reflected colors dance merrily around the room. “I know it’s fancy, but it was the style for the very wealthy. It was for the highborn ladies of the court. At the faire it gives you distinction and you’ll be seated near the king of the faire.”
“What about you? Where will you be seated? I don’t want to be separated from my friends.”
“I’m wearing a similar cap, but it shows I’m already taken. You know, so I can sit with Jesse.” Rose showed her how she drew her hair up in a bun and the cap fit over all of her hair.
“It’s beautiful Rose, but are you trying to set me up with someone?” Victoria suddenly became suspicious of Rose’s motives. “Because if that’s what you’re trying to do, I’m not going!”
“Oh no! Really, Victoria, I wouldn’t do that. I know you’re not ready to date. Although, someday you need to get back in the game.”
“Rose…” Victoria gave her a warning look. Her ex-husband had been enough of a terrible experience, that she barely tolerated anyone of the opposite sex these days.
Rose shrugged her shoulders. “It was just the custom of the period. If you don’t want to wear it, I can find another cap.” She started to put the cap back in the chest, but Victoria felt a tug inside pulling her to take a chance.
“No, wait. I’ll wear it. I mean, I want to wear it.”
Rose smiled and placed the cap on her head. Then she stepped back to take in the full effect of Victoria’s costume. She stared for a moment and blinked. “Something is wrong. What is it?” She gave another once over.
“Victoria, you don’t have any make-up on!”
Victoria shook her head. “So?” Her face was naturally good-looking and she very rarely wore any makeup, except occasionally, to highlight her cheeks.
“So, we need to fix it. All the fine women of that period painted their faces. In fact, some of them had artists do it.”
Victoria groaned. “Look, I’ll wear the pantaloons and the kirtle, but I’m not having someone paint my face.”
“Then I guess we’ll just do it here.”
Rose smiled as she picked up a brush and eyebrow pencil. Victoria closed her eyes and sat down, knowing Rose had won. It was best not to argue
When they were finished, the two women stood in front of the full length mirror. Transformed into women from another era, they were ready to go play their part at the faire. As Victoria stared at herself in her pale blue kirtle, she had the odd feeling something was going to happen tonight. Not being a romanticist, she shrugged it off and listened as Rose lectured her on the finer points of etiquette from medieval times.
The medieval faire turned out to be a lot of fun for Victoria. There were games, including jousting tournaments and swordplay. Also, refreshments and booths set up with all kinds of displays; armor and weapons, artwork, and jewelry of the period. At one particular booth, Victoria was fascinated by all the different brooches and carvings. One of the brooches was a blue cameo set on a silver disc, with a filigree edge.
Victoria held it in the palm of her hand, rubbing her thumb over the tiny carving of the beautiful lady. She was so mesmerized by the exquisite detail of the cameo she almost dropped it. Then she noticed the booth’s owner eyeing her. He was frowning as he stared at her.
“How much for this brooch?”
“It’s not for sale.” He shook his head and reached out to take it from her hand. But Victoria pulled her hand back and closed her fingers around the brooch.
“This is the most elegant brooch I’ve ever seen. The woman’s face is riveting. Please, I can make you a handsome offer.”
The owner’s wife came over and smiled at Victoria, bobbing her head in a friendly manner. She was a small, rotund lady who was her husband’s opposite. She wore the costume of what Victoria remembered as a seer, with a long, hooded cloak that covered most of her clothes and hair. From out of an armhole, a small, wrinkled hand pointed at the brooch in Victoria’s hand.
“A lot of these pieces are antiques and we can’t replace them. I see you’re admiring the blue lady. That brooch has a story with it. Have you heard of the story The Knight’s Tale?”
Victoria shook her head. “I’m afraid I’m new to this. I only know a little bit about medieval times.”
“The knight angered a sorceress and she put a curse on him. He had to wander forever through the land, until he found a maiden to rescue, who would accept him and offer to feed him a meal.”
“That shouldn’t be too hard.” Victoria observed.
“Ah, but that’s not the whole story. You see, he could not ask for this meal and the sorceress made him repulsive to women. The woman who was to feed him would have to do it out of kindness. She would be one with a pure heart and she would break the curse. The interesting thing is…”
She examined Victoria’s face carefully. “If you look closely at this brooch you’ll see she looks a lot like you. I think that’s why my husband was staring at you.”
Victoria glanced down at the brooch again and her eyes traced the lines of the carving. She was startled to discover that it did have some of her features. The high cheekbones and full lips were identical. Even the long, curly hair was the same.
“I think it could look like anybody.” Victoria blushed, as if everyone in the park were looking at her. “Anyway, what does that have to do with the story of The Knight’s Tale?
The woman sighed. “Because the brooch is supposed to bring you what you desire the most. And also, because that’s the picture of the lady who saved the knight. It’s you!”
Victoria almost burst out laughing. She was the last person on the face of the planet who would be saving some man from his own destiny. But, apparently, the shop owner’s wife thought differently.
“Here, take the brooch. It belongs to you. See if it doesn’t bring you what you desire most.”
“But I can’t just take it. Please, let me pay you for it.”
“No, I can’t accept money from you… this is a gift… a special gift.”
With that, the shop owner’s wife closed Victoria’s fingers around the brooch and pushed her hand away. She turned her back on Victoria, her cloak swishing behind her and walked towards her husband who was still staring at them. Victoria could feel the rough edges of the brooch against her palm. Opening her fingers, she stared at the brooch, glistening in the sun. She wanted to protest to the woman again, but Rose came running up and spotted the brooch sitting in Victoria’s hand.
“What have you got?” Rose asked, excitedly. She plucked the brooch from Victoria’s hand and held it up to the sunlight. “How beautiful. Is it yours?” The shop owner’s wife turned and nodded at Rose. So Rose pulled Victoria over to her. “Let’s put it on you. Come here and stand still.”
Rose pinned the brooch on Victoria’s bodice and stood back to admire it.
“It’s perfect! It matches the blue colors you’re wearing exactly. How much did you pay for it?”
“Nothing.” Victoria murmured as she glanced down at the brooch. “She gave it to me.”
“Victoria, that brooch looks like an antique. It must be worth a fortune. I’m astounded! How can you be so calm?”
Victoria shrugged and raised her hands.
As they wandered through the faire, Victoria was given many compliments about the unusual brooch. She smiled and nodded, but kept the story of The Knight’s Tale to herself.
Would it really give me the desires of my heart? How does it work? Do I make a wish?
She didn’t even know what it was she would want, let alone the most precious desire of all.
The feast at the faire turned out to be at lavish affair with spit-roasted pig, chicken and all manner of side dishes to tempt the appetite. While they ate, there were entertainers to keep everyone laughing and songs from minstrels who wandered through the crowd, singing and plucking on their gitterns.
As was predicted, Victoria was placed at the kings table with other single lords and ladies, many of whom were busy trying to hook up with each other. But Victoria tried to ignore the men who were sending signals to her and soon she got up from the table, disgusted with the whole affair.
“I couldn’t even have a pleasant meal!” She complained to Rose as they rode home, with Jesse at the wheel.
“They can’t help it,” Jesse observed, “you’re a hot item.”
Victoria screwed up her face. “Ugh, I am not an item!” She was about to chastise him further but as they pulled in the driveway and headed toward the house, she could hear Raven whinnying from the barn.
“I wonder why she’s so upset?”
“Maybe she wants to go for a moonlight ride with a lady from the faire?” Rose teased.
Victoria clouded over at the prospect of having to take Raven out at this hour, especially since she had on all these medieval clothes.
“I can’t go out like this.”
“Sure you can. Don’t worry about the dress, it’s tough, it won’t get damaged. If you want to give Raven a run, go ahead. It’s a full moon, so you won’t have any trouble seeing where you’re going. It might be nice for both of you.”
As they got out of the car, Raven continued to whinny and beat her hoofs against the stall. Victoria decided to go see what had her so worked up and as she headed for the barn, she heard Rose’s encouragement.
“Go on, go for it!”
Raven calmed down as Victoria turned on the lights in the barn, but continued to paw at the floor of her stall.
“Hey girl, what’s going on?” She stroked Raven’s head as the horse snorted and shook her head continuing to paw at the dirt.
“What’s wrong? Do you want to go out?” Victoria grabbed a bridle and slipped it over Raven’s head. Raven accepted it immediately and then tossed her head in anticipation of being released from her stall.
Victoria threw a saddle pad on her back and cinched it tight. In a last minute decision, she climbed on the rail and threw herself on Raven’s back.
So what if it’s night. I’m not going far. I don’t need a saddle tonight.
As soon as Victoria had the gate open,
Like Rose had said, the moon was full and provided plenty of light to ride by. But still, Victoria tried to keep Raven from running. Raven finally accepted a slower pace and they trotted along Glancing down at the brooch, she became mystified by the moonlight’s reflection on the blue lady’s face. She rubbed the brooch and it sparkled even more.
“So you can give me the desires of my heart?”
Raven whinnied suddenly and bolted ahead at a dead run. Victoria attempted to control her outburst but there was no use. She threaded her fingers into Raven’s mane, tightened her legs around her belly and hung on. Without a saddle it would be a miracle if she could stay on. As Raven approached the forest woods again, she dove under a low branch hanging over the path. The last thing Victoria remembered was hitting the limb full force and the wind escaping her lungs.
Then, everything went black.
Victoria awoke with a ray of sunshine on her face. She felt stiff and sore, as if she’d slept on something hard. As she opened her eyes, she was appalled to find she had slept on the ground, in her expensive medieval costume. Not only that, she was in a place that looked like it might be part of Meadows’ Lane, only deep in the forest somewhere. She sat up slowly, blinking in disbelief.
Rose must be frantic.
Her stomach ached and dizziness roared through her head. What happened? Did I fall off Raven and hit my head? Feeling her head for bumps, she had a burst of ideas for a story. She was about to explore those thoughts when she spotted Raven munching on a tuft of grass over to the side of the path. At least she had a way to get home besides walking. Then, she heard the clopping of horse hooves. Not wanting Raven to be frightened by the approaching horse, she jumped up and grabbed her by the reins.
But nothing could have prepared her for what she saw coming towards her. The rider was dressed in a knight’s costume and the horse had all the same trappings. He didn’t have armor on, just a chain mail tunic and breeches. He looked like he had just ridden here from the medieval faire and was lost out on this path.
Medieval Muse by Karen Elizabeth Brown / Fantasy / Romance & Love have rating 3.5 out of 5 / Based on35 votes