Byron hated the situation he was in. He was supposed to be on a quest for the Lady of Locera, with the others, yet he was forced to remain behind. He alone wished to be the Lady’s champion, yet he knew he had already silently proclaimed himself the champion of another. As he left Scarlet’s bedchamber he wondered the corridors of the fortress remembering back to the day when he was a knight fighting in tournaments. There was one day in particular that stood out in his mind...
‘Twas a glorious spring day when he was but a score and five. The sun shone brightly overhead, and the entire village came to view the jousting that was to take place, even the young maid he had his eyes on for quite some time. He had caught a glimpse of this fairy-child but once, before ‘twas his turn to joust. Her hair, golden with a touch of red, was tied back loosely with a blue ribbon; her body was fitted into a bodice that expressed every curve.
He had caught her eye, yes, how it twinkled in the sun! He had approached her with the essence of appeal and when he stood close, her beauty nearly took his breath away. They spoke quietly to each other among the shadows, careful to make certain no one saw or suspected their rendezvous. He had accepted from her a token of affection, a symbol of their attraction, which he fastened under his armor before his joust. By this action, Byron had fought for her and her alone...
He was awakened from his daydream with a very clear realization in his mind-he still had possession of that trinket, a lace-fabric handkerchief, kept tucked away in his bedchamber. He quickly raced to his bedchamber only to be caught by surprise. Someone, he heard from behind the door, was rummaging through his belongings.
He opened the door and drew his sword, ready to strike. What awaited him on the other side of the door shocked Byron completely. Before him stood a man a little younger than he, searching his room for something. The latter spoke first.
“Ye have it, do ye not?!” he shouted. “Where be it?!”
“I have what? What be ye looking for?” Byron answered.
“The handkerchief! The handkerchief!” the younger man shouted, throwing his arms up in disgust.
“First of all, how did ye get into me room? Secondly, what on earth would ye want with a handkerchief?!”
“The handkerchief given you by yer lady the day of yer tournament, some five years past! That handkerchief was not hers to give!” the figure said.
“What do ye mean? Who are you?” Byron countered.
“Forgive me, sire, let me introduce meself,” he said, more with a softer tone, but with a hit of a sinister laugh. “The name be Eric,” he added, bowing with the highest grace.
“Are ye one of the servant boys?” Byron asked.
“Nay! I am engaged to one of the ladies,” Eric lied.
“Oh?” Byron questioned. “And who be the lucky lass?”
“Her name cannot be revealed. But I am afraid ye hold her token in yer possession.”
“You, sir, are invading me bedchamber!” Byron exclaimed, his impatience growing. “Kindly remove yerself or I will be forced to remove ye meself!” he stated.
“Not until I get what I came for!” Eric retorted.
“What be going on her?!” asked a simple feminine voice. Both men looked up at who the voice belonged to.
“Britney!” Byron exclaimed, shocked at who stood before him. Britney could hold her sorrow no longer and collapsed into his arms, tears already streaming down her cheeks. “Britney, what be wrong?”
“Byron, ye be the only one left I can turn to,” she wept, unaware of the presence behind Byron.
“Tell me, Princess, what be wrong?” At the sound of his precious nickname, Eric gave a start. He knew Byron could easily be his demise and needed a plan of action, and quickly. He quietly eased his way into the shadows, listening intently to their words.
“’Tis Scarlet! She claims that I be the one who stole her precious gemstones! She threatened to have me executed if I did not hand them over to her!” she exclaimed.
“And this be not true?” questioned Eric, moving away from the shadows.
“Eric!” Britney said, moving closer to Byron.
“Ye know this man?” Byron asked.
“Aye, that I do. He is-he is me--,” she stuttered.
“Her betrothed, sire,” Eric finished her sentence.
Britney’s eyes became wide with fear. She knew from the gleam in his eyes that Eric would surely raise a hand against her if she did not comply. She slowly lowered her head and stepped away from Byron. She refused to see the look of confusion and hate on his face but she could still feel him watching her every move.
“Aye, that I am,” Britney said solemnly not raising her head.
Byron could not take another word. “Get out of me bedchamber, both of you, get out!”
Eric brushed past Britney, a smile upon his face, and walked out of the room. Britney attempted to leave but Byron caught her arm in a firm grasp. She lifted her head and glanced back at the sternest eyes she had ever seen.
“Britney, why? Why did ye not tell me?!” he asked, clearly hurt by Eric’s lies.
“Tell ye what?” she countered.
“That ye be betrothed to that man! That yer token of love was naught more than another man’s trinket for his own love!”
“Nay, Byron, that be not true! There be nothing between us, not even a betrothal!” Britney said, choosing her words carefully.
“Lies!” Byron spat. “Why did ye give me that handkerchief if it belonged to another?!”
“Nay, it did not! That handkerchief belonged to me and no other! What Eric may say is nothing but lies!” she tried to protest, unsuccessfully.
“Nay, ye lied to me from the very beginning! Ye were betrothed to that man even before that tournament day! Now, get out of me sight!” he bellowed. Britney broke into tears once again and raced out of the room.
Byron walked over to the trunk that lay at the foot of his bed. Inside, he took out a single rectangular, wooden box. Carved into the top was his clan’s emblem, a shield with a crossbow and two slithering serpents intertwining around them both. He sat down at the foot of the bed and slowly opened the box, hands shaking all the while. Inside the box lay a single piece of fabric. He took it out of the box and opened it in his palm. The color was a pale pink, and as Byron had recalled, the fair texture of the lass’s skin. The lettering of her name, as well as the lace that trimmed it, was of the reddest hue, much like that of her lips.
How could she have hurt him so? He had left her the day of the tournament feeling flighty. Not only did he win his joust, but he had won the heart of a beautiful Scottish “Princess”. Or had he? Had someone else also won her before he claimed her, or was this some trick of fancy? This Eric character would indeed have to be questioned.