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An Arranged Marriage - 26

The night was cold -- the kind of cold that turned the trees to gold overnight.Detlef lowered himself from his window, scaling the wall in silence until he reached the ground.The warmth of the sun had faded away as soon as the moon took charge of the sky. Drying grass crunched under Detlef’s feet as he darted through the shadows toward the stables.It reminded him of the day that Emil had sent him on a wild goose chase to find his servant –who had not been looking for him after all.The thought still rankled in his heart.
Horses nickered as he slipped into the stable.Detlef hushed them as he found his way into Timothy’s stall.
But, instead of greeting Detlef, Timothy’s eyes were fixed on the opposite stall.Detlef strained his eyes in that direction until, to his surprise, he discovered the tense figure of a man in the gloom.
It was too late to hide.“Who goes there?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing, little brother,” the figure spoke, relaxing.
“Matthias!What are you doing?”
“I’m going t…
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An Arranged Marriage - 25

Ilona sat by herself, thinking over the revelations of the morning.She pulled every memory of Emil to the forefront of her mind, examining each one. What if he had only fooled her into thinking that he cared about her?Reluctantly she had to admit the likelihood that he had, and the thought gave rise to a much more painful one.What if her Detlef had done the same?
“If you look so deep within, you will miss the beauty around you.”Verana knelt next to her, rolling out a mat and sitting on it.In her hand, she held a basket of nuts, which she proceeded to shell.
Ilona lifted her eyes and glanced around the village.The courtyard basked in the late afternoon sun.Women bustled about their supper preparations, cooking in large pots over open fires.Babies played happily at their feet.The men gathered under the pavilion to mend their traps.Boys chopped kindling.As Ilona watched, a band of girls returned through the curtain of the willow tree, laughing and talking and carrying baskets of late summe…

Israel

Hello again!

I have just returned from a trip to Israel.

I have a ton of new data for worldbuilding.  I found that Israel is similar in landscape to one of my WIPs, so now I have a flesh-and-blood reality to enhance my storyworld, which is cool.

Lots to say, but I've got some unpacking and laundry and job-catchup to do first.  Hope to be back soon to tell you guys about the trip!!!

An Arranged Marriage - 24

Horses milled in the front courtyard of the castle.Grooms darted about, scraping cakes of sweat from horse hide and combing burrs and brambles from manes and tails.Others carried water and food to the horses.It looked as if every one of them had faced a hard ride.
Detlef slipped to the ground.The front door of the castle was open, and he could see men gathered inside.
Matthias brought his horse alongside and reached for Timothy’s reins.“Go ahead, little brother.I’ll see that he’s cared for.”
Too distracted to marvel over his brother’s unusual kindness, Detlef handed his reins over and jogged toward the castle.
His eyes adjusted to the darker room.The king stood by a table moving pawns on a map.A group of men stood around him, taking part in a discussion.Others lingered in various positions of repose around the outskirts of the room.
Detlef pushed his way toward the center.“Have you found her?”
The king reached out and patted his shoulder.“Unfortunately not, son.Now get some rest.We’ll need …

An Arranged Marriage - 23

“No honorable people should be ruled by such a man.”Detlef and Timothy plunged into the forest, resuming their search for Ilona.“He is rotten to the core.Once Ilona is found, I will see him deposed.”They trotted from there in silence until he reached the wolf’s pyre.Then he continued north.
The sound of movement arrested his attention and he reined Timothy to a stop, straining his ears to catch further sounds. For a moment, all was quiet except for a few bold birds.
Then… “De-e-e-t-le-e-e-f!”
Recognizing his brother’s call, Detlef half expected to hear his name followed with “su-u-pper-ti-i-i-me” or “ma-a-a-ma wants you!”
“Here!” Detlef turned Timothy toward the call and soon found his brother.
Matthias was astride his fleet black courser.He shifted in his saddle and grinned.“I knew I’d be able to find you.”
Detlef snorted.“Only because I have good ears.”Matthias’ idea of finding him always consisted of yelling at the top of his lungs until Detlef appeared.
“Apparently not good enough.Did yo…

An Arranged Marriage - 22

The night was a long one for Detlef.His only companions were the rats and beetles, and the hard stone floor amplified the aches and wounds from the fight the day before.Sleep came and went and finally disappeared altogether just before dawn.
Detlef propped himself against the iron bars and watched as a gray light softened a barred window high above him.A guard came with some foul-smelling sop in a bowl for him, and then stalked away without a word.
Detlef watched in silence as the guard disappeared.Then he sighed and rubbed his stiff shoulder.“I haven’t given up yet, Ilona.”
But what else could he try?He had thrown his weight against every bar of his cell yesterday without success.The guards were numerous.The viscount made it clear that the only way out was to testify falsely against an innocent man who had dared to speak out against the viscount’s injustices.And that was one thing Detlef would never do.
Despite his best efforts, he caught an image of himself in twenty years -- with long …

An Arranged Marriage - 21

Ilona awoke under her red quilt, listening to the whisper of rain.She dressed quickly and hurried outside.Fires sputtered as women tried to make a hot breakfast.At the far end of the courtyard was a forest pavilion with a roof and no walls.Several people gathered there.Ilona trotted across the ground, her shoes splattering mud on the backs of her legs.
Horst was standing by a table, studying a map.Multiple scouts were giving their reports.Horst looked up and greeted Ilona.“Only fair you should hear this, too,” he said, returning his attention to the maps.“We’ve lost Detlef.”
Ilona gasped.“What do you mean?Is he okay?”
Horst answered calmly, his eyes as deep and unfathomable as the sea.“Derwald men have scattered into the forest, meeting your suitors and putting them through series of tests.A band of our men were taking Detlef to Lidanah, to have him speak on behalf of a prisoner held unjustly, but the viscount’s guard took him captive.”Horst made eye contact with a red-capped man.
The red…