This is part of the A to Z Challenge. A story told in 26 parts. Check Sunday’s post (4/14) for a recap of parts A-L.
“Here, boy, make yourself useful,” Valerius said as he tossed Cardelia some rugs for the ground.
Cardelia caught them but stumbled backwards from the impact, landing on her backside.
Valerius laughed. “The boy who would be king. Your majesty.” He executed a proper bow with flourish.
Cardelia muttered under her breath. She would never marry him for all the gold in the kingdom. Pompous jackass!
“What was that?” Valerius asked, leaning close to hear her mutterings. Cardelia was of half a mind to tell him.
It was too dark to head back or move forward so they were setting up camp for the night.
“So, where is this flower of death?” Xavier asked Icarus/Cardelia as he helped Dianthe sit on a mat he’d set up for her near the fire.
“Why in the world would I tell you?” Cardelia retorted. “So you can steal the flower from me?”
“You can’t mean to set out on your own. You’re barely out of your swaddling clothes,” Valerius said.
“I can and I will,” Cardelia crossed her arms over her chest.
“Oh, but Car-icarus,” Dianthe interjected. “It’s dangerous out there. Think what would have happened if Xavier and Valerius hadn’t been nearby.” She shuddered.
“I’ve got a knife.” Cardelia pulled out a dangerous looking knife from a scabbard at her hip.
All of a sudden Xavier charged her, flipping her over. She landed with an ‘oof!’ on the hard ground with Xavier on top of her.
“Your knife does you no good,” Xavier mocked as she followed his eyes to where her knife lay, just out of reach.
Maybe it was because she had the wind knocked out of her, or maybe it was his close proximity, or maybe it was the combination, but she became aware of the deep blue of his eyes, the long lashes, the strong jawline, the fullness of his lips. By the Gods he was handsome!
What was she thinking! “Get off me, you, you mule!” she pushed at his chest.
He roared with laughter. “You can’t even curse like a man yet,” he said as he rolled off her and sat up. “Mark my words, you won’t last a day out here alone.”
“He has a point, Icarus,” Dianthe said.
The man with the bandaged face called Valerius spoke up. “Young Icarus. I can understand you don’t want to share your knowledge with us. If this Cardelia is even a tenth as beautiful as Dianthe, she would be a prize for any man, even without the kingdom.
“But Dianthe and Xavier have your best interests at heart when they advise you not to travel alone. A quandary, that is certain. But if I may propose a solution?”
“What if we travel together and if we find the flower, Xavier and you will each return with the flower and it will be up to the princess to choose between the two of you.”
It wasn’t much of a contest Valerius thought to himself, comparing the skinny lad with the crazy carrot hair to himself. But then he remembered it wouldn’t be him, but his scarred brother going before the princess.
Cardelia laughed. It would be no contest to choose herself over the pompous blue-eyed ass. “We have a deal.”