Story Saturday: The Duel

This is one of four bonus chapters I am including in my digital box set for The Stolen Trilogy that was released yesterday on Amazon. It takes place around the middle of my book The Stolen Jewel and is about Princess Charlotte's love interest, Prince Braydon, and Lily's love interest from The Stolen Queen, Lord Henry, having a fencing match. I did the teeniest bit of research for it, so some of the details may be off. If you enjoyed this chapter, you can purchase The Stolen Jewel on Amazon to read the book it came from or The Stolen Queen to read the sequel about Lily and Henry. You can also sign up for my mailing list to read about my other books and learn more about future projects.

"The Duel"

            Growing up surrounded by the women in his family, Henry felt that it was his responsibility to protect them from potential threats. Now that there were two threats living under the same roof as them, he needed to be more cautious than ever. He trained every day in the fields and doubled up on his lessons with his fencing instructor. His mother was getting too close with King Mercer, and his cousin was getting too close with Mercer’s son. He knew from Lily’s gossip that Krystal wanted to be with Prince Braydon. It wasn’t right for him to break her heart by sneaking off to find Charlotte. That’s why he decided to challenge the duplicitous prince to a duel.

            Braydon was already waiting outside the door to the fencing arena when Henry arrived. He had to give him credit for punctuality, at least. The two men stared each other down as they donned their fencing gear. They didn’t need words. They would learn all they needed to know about each other from the way they fought. They saluted each other to begin the match. Braydon had surprisingly good form, but Henry knew his was better.

            “En garde!” shouted Henry’s instructor, who acted as the the referee for the match. “Prêts? Allez!”

            Braydon dodged Henry’s powerful thrust like a bolt of lightning. He shifted behind Braydon to slip into a powerful blow, but Henry parried just in time. They continued to parry each other’s blows across the arena, each hoping that the other would eventually slip up. Braydon caught Henry by surprise when he lowered his aim toward his legs in an attempt to trip him, but Henry blocked just in time, stumbling only for a moment.

Fencing Match

            “You seem a bit rusty,” Braydon chided.

            “It’s not easy to find a good opponent with so many ladies in the castle, not that I’m complaining,” Henry responded in a smooth voice.

            Henry hesitated just long enough for Braydon to let his guard down and then feinted, tapping Braydon on the shoulder with his rapier.

            “Point!” shouted the referee.

            It became clear to Braydon that Henry was not playing for sport. He wouldn’t let his guard down again. Braydon lunged his rapier toward Henry, tapping him square in the chest.

            “Point!” the referee said again.

            “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said Braydon, as they continued to parry each other’s blows across the arena. “My father always says you’ll get nowhere in life if you don’t strike first.”

            “That certainly sounds like him,” said Henry, narrowly blocking another hit.

            “You’ll need to sharpen your reflexes if you expect to best me,” Braydon taunted.

            The two continued to lock blades, their skills perfectly matched. Henry refused to yield even when he felt fatigue set in. Meanwhile, Braydon kept glancing at the overhead window to check the position of the sun. He was worried about Charlotte. He knew she didn’t trust her impulsive cousin to follow through on his word to protect her kingdom’s soldiers, and would likely try to take matters into her own hands, just like she did at their engagement ball.

            “So tell me, old man,” said Henry, slightly out of breath, “What are your intentions with my sister?”

            Braydon recalled Charlotte telling him that Krystal received love letters from him that he had never sent. Krystal was his new fiancée, but the one he loved was the one who got excommunicated from the throne for using magic. If things had only gone a bit differently, Charlotte would still be his future bride.

            “Isn’t it obvious? She’s my bride to be.”

            “Point!” shouted the referee.

            Braydon had gotten so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t even notice Henry’s rapier pressed against his side. He tried to clear his mind and continued to parry the rest of his blows.

            “Yet it seems to me that you are more infatuated with Charlotte,” said Henry with a confident smirk.

            Were his feelings that transparent? His father would have been disappointed. King Mercer told Braydon not to let anyone else know what was in his mind or his heart. Yet, at the mere mention of Charlotte’s name, Braydon lost his focus yet again. Images of her soft brown curls filled his mind. He remembered her adorably embarrassed expression when he found her working at the inn during an awkward moment. She still looked like a princess even dressed in rags. By the time his thoughts returned to the present, Henry’s rapier was already pressed against his chest.

            “Halt!” shouted the referee. “Good work, Henry.”

            “Good show,” said Henry, shaking Braydon’s hand just a little too tightly.

            Braydon crossed his arms. Why did Henry have to bring up the one person that could throw off his game?

            “That wasn’t fair,” he said. “I want a rematch.”

            Henry narrowed his eyes at the prince. “How exactly was that unfair? There was no foul play on my part.”

            “You were trying to distract me.”

            “It would appear to me that you were distracting yourself.”

            “I still want a rematch.”

            Henry adjusted his helmet. “Fortunately for you, I am a gentlemen, so I will agree to your terms.”

            They returned to their started positions.

            “En garde!” shouted the referee. “Prêts? Allez!”

            This time, Braydon was ready. He would prove himself worthy of Charlotte to anyone who got him his way, starting with Henry. He lunged his rapier against Henry’s shoulder before Henry had the chance to block it.

Fencing Parry


            “Point!”

            “What makes you think I’m infatuated with your cousin?” Braydon asked, as he continued to parry Henry’s relentless attacks.

            “Just some observations I’ve made,” Henry said coolly.

            Instead of parrying again, Braydon caught Henry by surprise by ducking under his rapier and tapping Henry’s ankle with his own.

            “Point!”

            Braydon cleared his mind of all thoughts of Charlotte. If he could just get one more hit, he would throw the match.

            “What exactly have you observed?” he asked, lunging at Henry with all his strength.

            Before Henry could answer, Braydon’s rapier was pressed against his chest. He held up his hands in defeat.

            “Halt! Prince Braydon wins the match.”

            Henry smirked. He may have lost the match, but his suspicions were confirmed. Braydon definitely had feelings for Charlotte. He would need to keep those two apart if he wanted Krystal to be happy. His big sister got so emotional over every little thing. She would not take well to her fiancé being in love with their cousin.

            “What do you say to another round?” asked Henry.

            Braydon removed his helmet and gave Henry a stern look. “Answer me.”

            Henry returned the weapons and uniforms to a rack on the side of the arena.

            “If you must know, it’s just idle gossip among the staff about you shirking off your wedding duties.”

            Braydon relaxed his shoulders. So Henry didn’t know he had snuck off to visit Charlotte at the inn. That could have gotten him into a lot of trouble with both kingdoms.

            “Oh,” he said. “That’s all?”

            Henry raised an eyebrow. “Is there something else I should be aware of?”

            “No,” Braydon lied. His gaze drifted to the overhead window, and he realized the sun was about to disappear behind the horizon. He needed to get to the battlefield before something terrible happened to Charlotte.

            “I just don’t want to see you break Krystal’s heart,” said Henry. “She’s very sensitive, you know.”

            “I’ll keep that in mind,” said Braydon, barely paying attention. “As much as I’d love to go another round, I’m afraid I have an urgent matter to attend to.”

            “Stay out of trouble,” said Henry, only half joking.

            “I’m not the one you should be telling that to,” Braydon mumbled as he went off to find Charlotte in the middle of a battle of her own.

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