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First Chapter: Knightly (YA)

Posted: February 24th, 2012, 3:33 am
by Lunetta22
I’m basically a mutant, but mom prefers to compare me to a fairy tale princess. I don’t like the idea of having to be rescued by a prince in the 21st century, they run straight to the tabloids, not to the rescue of an ugly girl in Nowheresville England. No, mutant was a better theory, no matter what mom tried to tell me about a witch, and my father.
That made more sense than magic.

I stared out the window, watching the sun shine out over the cliffs. Life was different in England than it was in Arizona. It was slower, calmer, the people softer. In between towns, the wilderness stretched for miles, untouched by modern technology.

I could almost imagine a witch living there.

But I was probably just a mutant, so it didn’t matter.

Mom entered the kitchen, looking harassed. “Rashelle, I need help out there. We got a crowd last night.”

“What’s going on?” I asked, washing my hands at the sink. I normally just refill coffee and tea while mom serves a traditional English breakfast. We only had five rooms, so I didn’t see how our dining room could be that busy.

“There’s a King Arthur festival in town. We’re double booked by the jousters.” Mom handed me a coffee pot. “Some of them are quite handsome.”

Mom never used the word “hot” to describe men. Or even cute. She was always the proper British matron. “That’s nice.” I’d forgotten that the festival was happening so quickly.

“I can manage if you want to go put on a little makeup or perfume.” Mom gave me a hopeful smile. Despite my curse, she always wanted me to flirt with boys and try to date. She completely missed the fact that during the day, I am unattractive.

I’d rather flirt at night, but it’s too risky.

“Makeup doesn’t help,” I said, already pushing past her toward the dining room. There were ten people in the dining room, talking quietly over their breakfast. I went over to Luc’s table first. He had an open book on his table, portraying images from the middle- ages. “Would you like a refill?”

Luc offered me his cup. “Are you going to the fair today?”

I shrugged. “I might.” Anything to do with the Arthurian legend intrigued me. It’s one of the only fairy tales that mentions a curse like mine. “Are you?”

“I’m a consulting Historian,” Luc closed his book. “I would like to see what they’ve done.”

A Historian? Luc didn’t look older than nineteen, maybe twenty. “They actually use historians?”

Luc laughed. “A little, yes. You should go the fair. I’ll be there most of the day.”

“Maybe I will,” I said, a little too brightly. I kind of had a crush on Luc. He was hot, but not overwhelmingly handsome. His nose was a little crooked, his teeth kind of big, but his eyes were a dark, fascinating blue. I stared at them for a moment, blushing when he raised an eyebrow.

“Thank you for the coffee.”

“No problem,” I said, excusing myself from his table. I filled more cups of coffee, talking to the guests, and removing plates. The British are very polite people, always talking softly indoors, and offering directions to lost American tourists.

I missed America.

I missed our crappy chocolate, real ketchup, loud restaurants. It was awkward serving coffee in such a quiet room. I felt like I was making too much noise. A group of Scottish men waved me to their table, asking for refills. There were newspapers spread across their table, and they were laughing over the contents.

“Have you read the paper?” One of them asked me. He was cute, with curly red hair and dark green eyes.

I shook my head. “Not yet.”

“There’s a bloke down in Wales who calls himself Arthur Pendragon.” He lifted the paper to show me. “He keeps petitioning the government to give him Excalibur.”

“There’s a real Excalibur?” I asked, trying to sound surprised instead of skeptical.

He waved his hand. “Maybe. The British Museum’s had a 6th century sword that they think is Excalibur. It’s on display in Slaughterbridge this summer.”

I raised both my eyebrows. (I can’t raise one.) “Are they going to let him?”

He shook his head. “No. Even if it’s not Excalibur, it’s still an artifact.”

“And he would probably break it.”

The man laughed. “Probably, but he says he can restore it.” He looked at me sideways. “Where are you from?”

“Arizona, but I was born here.”

“Arizona.” He stirred his coffee absently. “In Canada?”

His friend pushed him. “Canada, Gavin? It’s in the States, right?”

I smiled. “Right.”

Gavin leaned back in his chair. “I’ve been to New York. How far is it from Arizona?”

“Pretty far. They’re on opposite sides of the country.” I looked around the room, noticing that I had more mugs to refill and plates to clear. “It’s near California.”

“Oh…Hollywood.” Gavin nodded. “I’d like to go there someday.”

“It’s nice,” I lied. Hollywood sucked. I saw no reason to tell him that. “I should check on my other tables.”

Gavin waved his hand. “Of course. “

“Have a good day,” I said, leaving their table to tend to other guests. It was eleven am by the time mom and I finished cleaning up after breakfast. I started up the stairs to shower, when mom’s voice stopped me.

“Rashelle, it’s your turn to clean the guest rooms.”

I sighed, slowing my steps. I wanted to protest that there was precious little sunlight left, and every moment mattered to me. Mom wouldn’t listen. She wanted me to learn how to run the Knights Inn, our bed and breakfast. It’s her investment in my future. And I’m eighteen. I needed to stop whining about doing chores. “Okay.”

Mom smiled. “I’ll start lunch.”
***
Five rooms take two and a half hours to clean. That left me with roughly six hours of sunlight. I showered quickly and wove my stringy hair into a braid. It looked sort of decent that way. I wore fitted jeans and a tight red shirt, emphasizing my lack of hips and chest.

I liked to think that somewhere in this world, someone is culturally obligated to think I’m hot.

But they’re probably not in England.

I crept downstairs, hoping mom wouldn’t see me. She was very good at finding things for me to do. In roughly five minutes I was outside and free of chores. Tintagel has the salty smell of the ocean, but you can’t see it across the hills and gift shops. The sidewalks were cobblestone, which was uncomfortable to walk on. People from all over the world came to the small town, chatting and weaving in and out of the shops. A lot of them were dressed in medieval clothes.

I followed the costumed people to the fair grounds. They had converted an old sheep farm into medieval England, complete with tents and knights in chainmail. Probably ye olde sheep poo, too. I walked carefully across the grass, looking for a good booth. The smell of fish and chips filled the air, and something made with cinnamon.

A man in white robes sat inside a tent full of books and newspaper clippings. He had a sign on top that read: The Return. I walked in, wondering what he was selling. I couldn’t see any price tags on the books, but they were interesting. There were some familiar titles: The Once and Future King, The Mists of Avalon, Queen of The Summer Stars , and quite a few books I didn’t recognize. The newspaper clippings featured primarily the sword in Slaughterbridge, and the death of King Richard.

The man offered me a pleasant smile. “Can I help you?”

“How much are the books?” I picked up Mists of Avalon.

“Oh, they’re not for sale. I am here for information only.” He sat back in his chair. “I’m George.”

“Rashelle.” I put the book down. “Information on the fair?”

George laced his fingers together. “King Arthur’s return. It’s coming, love, I predict within the year.”

I wished I wasn’t alone. This kind of crazy needed to be experienced with friends. Unfortunately my best friends were thousands of miles away. “Why do you think that?”

“Have a seat.” George gestured to an empty folding chair. “Twenty years ago, they found a sword in a stone. Twenty years ago, King Richard had a son. There are records of people seeing a lake shortly before dying.” He leaned forward, brown eyes intense. “And an island. The Isle of the Blessed. Avalon.”

“I didn’t know King Richard had a son.” That wasn’t the most interesting thing to comment on, but it was the most plausible. I didn’t know much about Avalon, but I remembered the death of the King, and no report mentioned children.

“The rumors probably didn’t reach the States,” George said seriously. He handed me a pamphlet. “Read this. It’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

“Sure.” I got to my feet. “Thanks for the information.”

George nodded. “You’re welcome.”

I left the tent, reaching into my pocket to text Edmund all about it. Naturally my phone wasn’t in my pocket. I’d left it at home, and it would have cost me a dollar per text. My encounter with George would require far more than one text. I sighed and thought about going home to facebook him.

That would waste precious sunlight.

Gavin walked up to me, his red cloak billowing behind him. “Rashelle. Do you have the time?” He wore a chainmail tunic, complete with armor on his shoulders. “I’m not allowed to wear a watch.”

“You’re a Knight?” I asked, looking at the watch on my right wrist. It had a little frog with hearts around it. “It’s three.”

“Thanks.” Gavin ran a hand through his hair. “I’m Sir Lancelot today.” He gave me a funny look. “Are you wearing two watches?”

I blushed and tried to hide my watches. “Yes.”

“Why?”

“Just in case one breaks,” I said, awkwardly tapping the pamphlet against my leg. “I like to know what time it is.”

Gavin shook his head. “What if they both break?”

I looked up at the sky. “I can tell by the sun.”

“Of course.” He laughed and gestured to my pamphlet. “I see you visited George.”

“I thought he was selling books.” I held up the pamphlet. “I guess this is kind of one.”

“That’s how he lures you into his tent.” Gavin stretched his arms. “I wouldn’t listen to him, he’s English.”

“Not to mention he thinks King Arthur is going to Return this year.” I looked at the pamphlet, debating if I should throw it away or keep it to show Sam.

Gavin shrugged. “Hope so. He’d do a better job than parliament.” He flourished his cloak. “Any dirt?”

I shook my head. “No, but it’s wrinkled.”

“That’s okay, no one will notice.” He glanced towards the end of the fair grounds, where rows of bleachers had been setup. “I joust at half past three, if you would like to watch.”
“Sure.” Three thirty was a few hours before sunset. I could make it. Outside of movies, I had never seen a joust.

“I’ll be on the left side.” Gavin looked at the bleachers again. “I should go prepare for it.” He turned back to me and smiled. “Cheers.”

“Good luck.” I watched him walk away, purposefully dragging his cloak through the grass. He somehow managed to swagger and drag his cloak at the same time. I shook my head and turned the pamphlet in my hands, debating whether or not to read it.

Re: First Chapter: Knightly (YA)

Posted: February 24th, 2012, 11:50 am
by gganate
It reads well and moves quickly. I like how Raschelle says she's a mutant, not a fairy princess. I would change this sentence - " I don’t like the idea of having to be rescued by a prince in the 21st century, they run straight to the tabloids, not to the rescue of an ugly girl in Nowheresville England," to "I don't like the idea of having to be rescued by a prince in the 21st century. Princes run straight to the tabloids, not to the rescue of an ugly girl in Nowheresville England."

Re: First Chapter: Knightly (YA)

Posted: July 21st, 2020, 11:37 am
by JJL
Nice descriptive, flowing, writing. Easy to read and it engages the reader.