Good afternoon, everyone! I hope your weekend has been going great. Did everyone have awesome an awesome Spring Break?
Today we have Pt. 2 of my Medieval era story series. If you didn’t read Pt. 1, you can check it out here.
A quick note: There are a few sensitive and more mature sections in this part, so be aware.
Part 2: Marius –
Several Weeks Before Princess Adira’s Birthday
The sun showed orange against the sea as it rose over the small village of Tipney on the beach heights of Glafford. Several early risers stole quietly out of their cottages to enjoy the brilliance of another spring morning, thankful that the cold winter had been blown away by the warm May breeze.
A handful of children were already down by the shore, splashing in the chilly water and searching for small shells that brushed against the gritty sand with each gentle wave of the foamy sea.
Some young women were already out in their gardens, sowing seeds or tending to already growing plants.
People called out pleasant greetings to each other as they passed on the dusty paths between the cottages. It was a glorious Saturday morning…But not all noticed the beauty and wonder of the new Spring morning.
Down by the seashore, near the frolicking children, a young boy sat huddled against a stone, out of sight by everyone.
He had his body curled in tight as if he were trying to make himself invisible. A shout of triumphant from a child who had just found a large pink shell, made him jerk his head up. Pain tore across his forehead and he winced, blinking back tears. He reached up, fingering the gash. The whip had done its brutal work. He’d be scarred forever.
A small crab crawled up from the water and scurried across his leg and stopped, snapping it’s small claws at the boy as if to protest his leg being in the way. A faint smile crossed the boy’s face. Even animals were kinder than Julian Kennedy—His father.
Even the thought of the man, made the boy shudder. He had dropped the basket of eggs. That was his fault, and the reason the whip had torn through his flesh. He could still hear his Da yelling.
“You’re worthless, Marius! Worthless! I should’ve tossed you into the sea the day you were born.”
The whip had hurt less than those terrible words.
Eleven-year-old Marius had lived like this since his mother died. She had become ill several months into her pregnancy with Marius. The Physician warned her that carrying her unborn child to full-term would kill her, she remained steadfast, even though her husband had begged her to reconsider. She refused.
Marius’ mother Elsa died only hours after he was born. All he had of her was a small portrait his father had tried to throw out. Marius had rescued it from the burning bin and hid it in a crack in his room. He wished she were still alive. He wished you could have known her. Would she have loved him?
Marius struggled to his feet. He couldn’t stay down here forever. Splashing some water on his face, the boy walked past the children, and climbed the steep embankment. His home was on the outskirts of the village, so he’d have to walk past all the cottages to get there. He brushed his hair down over his forehead, hoping no one would notice. The village square was bustling with people by now. A few peddlers had arrived last night and they were now busily laying out their wares. Marius dodged them and hurried towards home. His Da was going to be furious.
Marius slammed into someone and fell back against a pile of wicker baskets. His head danced and he saw stars.
“Oh, Angus!” He heard a woman’s cry accompanied by the voice of a furious peddler.
Through blurry vision, Marius saw a man bend down next to him and take hold of his shoulders. “Are you alright, Lad?”
Marius blinked, trying to clear his vision. Now his Da would be mad when he found out his son had broken a peddler’s baskets.
“Angus, he’s bleeding badly.” A young woman bent down next to the man and held out a white handkerchief.
The man, Angus took it, pressing it against Marius’ head.
The boy growled in protest, trying to push himself up. “I’m fine.” The words came out slurred.
A hand pressed against his chest. “Lie still lad.” Angus looked up at the small crowd that had gathered to gawk. “Please, everyone, move back and give the lad some room. Who is this boy’s father?”
“Julian Kennedy, he lives out by the grove of trees.”
A look of disbelief crossed Angus’ face and the woman touched his arm. He lowered his head towards the woman and spoke in a voice only Marius and she could hear. “Molly, let’s take him back to our cottage. This gash needs attended to. I’ll deal with Julian later.”
“Aye.” She said, brushing a few strands of red hair from her rosy face.
Marius shook his head. “Let me go!”
Angus ignored his protests and lifted him from the ground. “Stop struggling lad.”
“Who are you?”
“Angus O’Reilly. A physician and your uncle.”
“How are you, my uncle?” Marius asked as Angus laid him down on the bed. “I’ve never heard of you.”
Angus chuckled, propping Marius’ head up with a pillow. “No reason you would.”
“My Da doesn’t have any family. He told me he doesn’t.”
“Listen to me, lad—What’s your name?”
Angus brushed dark hair away from the boy’s forehead. “Marius, your Da and I haven’t spoken since we were young. I didn’t even know he lived here—I didn’t even know he had a son. How old are you?”
“Eleven.” Marius opened his mouth to ask another question but groaned when Angus touched his wound.
The man gently examined the gash. “It doesn’t look like you fell.”
Marius swallowed. His Da told him if he ever let on about the whippings he received, he’d be sorry. In a respectable village like Tipney, beating one’s son for no reason would be frowned upon and might get Julian thrown into the village prison.
“It was down by the rocks. I slipped on some moss.” The lie burned on Marius’ tongue. Angus seemed so kind.
“You didn’t fall, lad. This looks like a whip mark. Believe me, I’ve seen it all.” Angus wet a cloth in the bucket of water Molly had brought in.
“Well, it isn’t. I fell—” Marius’ voice cracked, tears demanded release. Why did he want to cry like a fool in front of a stranger? He didn’t care if the man did claim to be his uncle. Marius’ face turned red and he tried to sit up.
Angus’ face softened. “He beats you, doesn’t he?”
A single tear rolled down Marius’ dirty face. “No.”
“You don’t have to lie, lad. I knew it without asking. I can see the bruises on your neck and arms.” A large, yet gentle hand wrapped around Marius’ slender wrist. “Does he beat your mother?”
The words wanted to come out, but he couldn’t say them. Every time he thought about her, little daggers pierced his heart. It was his fault she was dead.
“She’s passed, hasn’t she?” Molly’s compassionate voice was heard in the doorway of the cottage.
All Marius could do was bite his lip. He would not cry in front of them. Da said crying was for fools, women, and weaklings.
“Angus, please—” She said, taking hold of his husband’s arm. “Don’t ask him any more questions. Let me make him something to eat while you bandage his head. We can talk of this later.”
Angus nodded, wiping both eyes with the back of his hand. The boy looked up at his uncle, searching his face. Was it possible the man cared enough already to shed a tear on his behalf? That kind of compassionate understanding was foreign to Marius.
“I will take you home,” Angus said, voice strong. “Its time I talk to the brother I haven’t seen in sixteen years.”
Inch by inch, Adira made her way along the wall and further away from her traitorous uncle. Please don’t let them see me. Please don’t let them see me.
She passed her hand against the wall. The door was there, someplace. Everything looked different in the dark. Her hand slid across the pink and gold wallpaper her father and her had picked out together several years ago.
The low voices of her uncle and his friend drifted across the room. They were arguing about something. She didn’t have much time. Her hand bumped against something and her heart sped up. The doorknob, finally. She turned it slowly, afraid the old metal would creak. It didn’t. She slid the door open just enough to pull her way through.
Fingers, cruel and biting dug into her shoulder yanking her back into the room. “I don’t think so.” Her uncle growled. “I want you to die with the knowledge that you let me and my men into the castle by blabbing about the secret passageways that only the royals and servants use. Your dear father will die tonight and it’ll be your fault.”
“Father!” Adira screamed once she found her voice. “Father the castle has been—”
Her Uncle Edgar covered her mouth with his sweaty hand. “My plans won’t fail tonight because of you.”
A rope, jagged and wiry was wrapped around her wrists. A dank cloth was shoved in her mouth and tied in place by more rope. She struggled, using every ounce of muscle to attempt an escape. Her uncle only laughed and struck her across the face.
“It must hurt, Adira. All these years you trusted me and now this—betrayal.”
I hope you enjoyed! Don’t worry, check back here next week for Pt. 3 of this adventure!