|Victoria the Knight
Author: cpjones PM
A young and rowdy noblewoman, a desire to save everyone, and a world that sometimes has shades of grey... Leaving her father's estate, the young Lady Victoria of Bentham begins a journey that will test her and those she meets along the way - First Story!Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Chapters: 15 - Words: 40,716 - Reviews: 63 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 04-07-11 - Published: 01-05-11 - id: 2879656
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
'Maybe he's right.'
That's what the girl thought as she leaned on the balcony in her bedroom, the town outside the castle walls bright with the candles and bonfires lighting the way for the commoners still milling about below. A cool night breeze caressed her face as she gazed out towards the bustling community. She reached back and pulled a ribbon from blonde hair, letting it fall loosely over her shoulders as she sighed. Turning back into the dark room, she pondered her brother's words and the events of earlier that night.
"Come on sis, hurry up!" A young man called out, waving his arm. He was of average height, good looking, with mop of sandy brown hair framing a smooth, clean shaven face. His blue eyes reflected the torches and lanterns lining the streets of nighttime Southwood, bustling with people rushing here and there, doing this job and that, just living their lives. His brightly colored clothes marked him as a member of the nobility, from his cobalt blue velvet tunic to his fine leather shoes, and the peasants gave him appropriately wide berth.
Victoria came running down the street, grinning like an idiot; honey colored hair swaying and bouncing behind her in a ponytail, grey eyes twinkling with merriment to meet her brother as he stood next to a taller man wearing a woolen jacket over a chainmail shirt and a sheathed sword hanging from his belt, doing a bad job of pretending to be a civilian. Sliding to a stop as she reached them, she bent a moment to catch her breath, "Hah… Hah… Yeah yeah, I had to sneak out Will, cut me some slack!" She turned her eyes to the tall man, pouting, "C'mon back me up here Henry! "
"Milady does have a point, Master William," the bodyguard spoke, loose shoulder length hair the color of cocoa falling to his shoulders as he grinned, "Lord Bentham may allow you to wander the streets at this hour, but he is still concerned for his baby daughter's virtue."
William grinned in return, giving the blonde girl a knowing look. "Victoria? Virtue? Yeah, right. If only he knew that it was her that starts all the trouble we get into when we bring her along, father would surely lock you in the dungeon…" Pausing as he put his arm around his shorter sister, he continued, "Either that or ship you off to the convent!"
The two men laughed heartily as their female companion shoved her brother off and she blushed from embarrassment, fixing her own tunic. She had gone through a lot of trouble to get out of the castle; sneaking out of her room, past the maids and the house guards, creeping down halls until she reached her brother's room, where she kept her "town" clothes, burgundy trousers and tunic, with a black over cloak. Then climbing out the window, and down to the garden, and that was just the beginning! The blonde thought she was caught before she even made it past the outer courtyard when she ran into her older sister Alice, who threatened to march her right back to her room for a lecture about how she shouldn't sneak out of the house, and so on and so forth. Fortunately, her overly conscientious sister was placated with a promise to bring sweets back from the town to share, and from there it was only a matter of bribing the gate guard with twenty crowns, and then making a run for the town, a half mile down the road from the estate.
"Whatever!" the blonde said, rolling her eyes but smiling, "You two don't know what I gotta go through every time I wanna hit the town with you guys." She finished straightening her clothes, and checked the long silk ribbon holding her ponytail together with one hand as she tried to straighten out her now sloppy bangs with the other, "At least I know you guys have my back. Let's get going, I wanna hit the tavern hard tonight. And stop calling me milady, Henry; we're supposed to be in disguise. If you can't call me Vicky, at least say Victoria."
"Yes, milady…" Henry said with a smirk, trying to restrain his laughter at Victoria's glare.
"OK OK; Victoria it is, don't get so bent out of shape," he laughed, as the girl smiled at being called by her name.
"OK OK we're coming, hold your horses," William called out as he and their bodyguard Henry, walked alongside Victoria down the street.
"By the way, William, we need to get some new town clothes, we don't blend in at all…" Victoria complained with a crooked smile upon noting how the townspeople were practically falling all over themselves to stay out of their way.
"I'm pretty sure that's just you, sis," William remarked dryly, "All the fights you've started, you have somewhat of a reputation down here."
Henry laughed under his breath before speaking up, "He's right milady, during the daytime the rumors fly about a 'mysterious and beautiful young noblewoman, with hair like gold, who dresses and fights like man.' Perhaps it is your reputation for fighting that is preceding you?"
Blushing again at the teasing, Victoria got herself under control and waited for the laughter to stop. She smirked, "I'm sure you two 'manly men' are just complaining cause I fight better than you and a better dancer, turning all the pretty heads in the place my way!" and the three walked with a jovial atmosphere laughing and joking amongst themselves until they reached the familiar building. "Ah, here we are, the 'Fox Hole' let's get this party started!"
"Wait," Henry put his hand on Victoria's shoulder, "Try not to start a fight this time, OK Vicky? We had to make a run for it last time before your father's men got here because you punched that guy and started that brawl."
"He grabbed my butt!"
"No he didn't, you were drunk. And then you said you had slept with his daughter to piss him off…"
"OK OK I get it, I'll keep calm. No fights, but that goes for Will too. No seducing anyone's betrothed tonight!"
And with that parting shot, Victoria grabbed Henry's hand and pulled him through the doors of the tavern, leaving her brother at a loss for words as he stood on the street a moment before recomposing himself and entering. The 'Fox Hole' was a mid size tavern near the center of town and it was bursting with song and swimming in ale at this hour, as usual, and no one noticed the three enter as they pulled chairs up to a table in the corner. A familiar looking, busty waitress with thick black hair sauntered up to their table, hips swaying as she carried a tray of empty mugs picked up from the other tables. Two pairs of eyes nearly devoured her head to toe, taking in her feminine curves, concealed under that dark colored woolen dress, her tanned skin, her plump lips and sparkling blue eyes.
"Bonjour messieurs," she spoke with a slight Chrétien accent and with surprise, "and mademoiselle. Can I get you something to drink?"
Snapping out of his feminine charm induced stupor, William put on his most charming smile. "Of course miss. Two ales for us and wine for our blonde friend here, thank you. "
"Oui monsieur right away," she replied with a curtsy, turning to leave. William reached out quickly and took her free hand.
"Of course you're free to join us, if you wish" he winked, as Henry and Victoria rolled their eyes but kept quiet.
"Oh non non non, I couldn't do that monsieur," she said with a smile and a flirtatious giggle, "We serving girls are strictly forbidden from socializing with our patrons, you see. But I will have your drinks here right away monsieur."
"Wait miss, might I trouble you for your name at least?" The sandy brown haired man replied, practically oozing charm.
"My name? Mallorie. But you knew that already, how have you guys been?"
"Ah a beautiful name for a beautiful woman, though I am certain that you must hear that often," was the next smooth reply. Victoria tuned it out as she flagged another waitress, since catching up with their favorite bar maid would likely take a while and as things stood, it would be for quite some time before they got any drinks. Ordering wine for herself and ale for Henry, they talked amongst themselves, and tried not to laugh at William, who was still doing his best to seduce their waitress friend, saying something or other about white horses and beaches.
Hours later, the trio were still at the table, mugs scattered all around , Victoria with her head down on her arms mumbling something to herself as William was still talking to Mallorie, even though he was slurring his speech a little, she good naturedly humored his attempts to hit on her during her frequent stops at their table. Henry sat between the two of them, stone sober, torn between worry about whether or not Victoria would throw up in the next five minutes, and amusement at William's drunken advances on Mallorie. That's when it happened…
Victoria's swimming stomach finally rebelled against the wine she had forced into it, and dark liquid dripped from her mouth as she spit into an empty mug. Clearly Victoria had had enough to drink for the night.
If I'm lucky, I can get her out of here before anything happens… Henry thought with a sigh.
Unfortunately, immediately after that, a weasel faced man, wearing expensive clothes, and followed by a man the size of an ox and covered in scars, came forward and groped Mallorie's rear, then slapping her across the face and shouting that he could just buy her from the tavern owner, and that she should be proud to have caught the eye of someone of his wealth and importance when she protested. The poor waitress was on the verge of tears as she dropped her tray full of mugs. Victoria's reaction was both swift, and shocking.
Before anyone could react or stop her, Victoria knocked back her chair as she stepped forward to face the man, who was facing away from her, and drew her hand back before crashing the wooden mug full of dark wine colored vomit into the back of his head hard enough to both crack it open, and send the man crashing to the floor, drenched in her vomit as she dropped the cracked mug on the floor next to him.
"Who do you think you are, thinking you can just do whatever you want cause you got a little bit of money," she ground out, irritation clear in her slightly slurred speech.
"H-how dare you!?" the man cried out in a high pitched voice, after pulling himself shakily to his feet. He went on a bit about being an important merchant or something or other, before ordering his lackey to 'teach this bitch a lesson' as a crowd started to gather in their corner of the tavern.
Words escalated to action in a flash, and the lumbering beast of a man swung his ham like fist at Victoria's head. Ducking to avoid the blow, the blonde charged fearlessly; coming inside the man's range and swinging for his face with a fierce right hook.
Unfortunately, the man was at least a foot, maybe even a foot and a half taller than the young girl and only had to tilt his head back slightly to put himself out of her reach. And with Victoria so close, he simply had to close his arms around her, squeeze, and his job would be done. She was fast though, and before he could grab her, Victoria dove between the man's legs, and used a chair as a springboard to latch herself to the giant's back, arms wrapped around his neck as her legs gripped his torso tightly.
"Get off me you bitch!" The man roared as he futilely tried to reach his arms around to pluck Victoria from her perch on his back. The crowd cheered at the spectacle, this bear of a man having an embarrassing amount of trouble with an opponent half his size, and a girl at that. William sighed sulkily, glancing at Mallorie, whose concerned blue eyes were riveted to the scene playing out in the tavern. The waitress silently cheered when the blonde freed an arm from the death grip she had on her opponent to deliver several fierce punches to the man's face, and winced when she heard the crunch of bone and saw the spurt of blood that announced that his nose was broken. Victoria was holding her own; despite the odds being stacked against her, Victoria was a fighter – once incensed, it seemed, knew no fear. And since she was pretty easy to rile, especially given her proclivities, she had some experience in hand to hand combat, aka brawling.
But the tide was turning. Even with a broken nose and one eye blackened and almost swollen shut, the behemoth man was far from surrender. Charging backwards through the crowd, the man rammed himself into the wall, causing Victoria to cry out in pain as she was crushed between his back and the wood of the building. She stubbornly held on as he tried again and again to crush her against the wall, before her arms began to loosen. Henry's hand started to edge to his sword, about to break up the fight, but Victoria managed to glare her refusal at him through the pain. However, when her grip loosened to the point the man was finally able to dislodge her, throwing the dizzied blonde and sending her crashing into a table, Henry had seen enough. Victoria's pride came second to her safety.
"Keep it up and this comes out, this is your one chance to call it a night," Henry said as he stepped between the two fighters, hand on his sword and eyeballing both men threateningly.
"Hold, Barnaby," the weasel faced man spoke as he realized his disadvantage. Even if his man was much larger than Victoria "I have things to do anyway. Come Barnaby, we're leaving," he spat, as he and his formerly intimidating bodyguard made for the exit, the crowd that had gathered at the commotion parting so they could pass. Nursing their injuries, which included a black eye, broken nose, and missing teeth for the bodyguard and probably a concussion for the weasel, a string of curses and threats dripped like venom from their mouths as they made a hasty retreat from the young girl and the tall knight.
"I had him, you know," Victoria sulked from her spot on the floor. "I was just luring him in..."
"Well we probably better leave too, before the town watch shows up. Come on Victoria, Master William," Henry spoke and walked over to where Victoria sat on the floor, leaned against the overturned table. Extending his hand, he smirked. "
"Way to go, sis." William complained, dragging himself up from his seat, rolling his eyes, "You really like playing the hero, huh?"
"Sorry…" the blonde replied, grey eyes downcast, as she took the offered hand. "I can't help it. People's lives are hard enough out there as it is without assholes like that guy making it worse. And Mallorie is our friend! I couldn't just watch…"
"Yeah whatever," William replied, turning to leave. "You think you can help everyone? You can't be there for them all the time. If you care so much about the commoners, why don't you just go out and spend all your time helping them?"
Victoria and Henry watched him leave. Just as they turned to follow, Victoria felt a hand on her shoulder. It was her friend, Mallorie.
"Merci, you two," she said with a smile, blue eyes shining in the lantern light of the tavern. "If only there were more people like you, maybe life wouldn't be as hard these days," she kissed Victoria and Henry on their cheeks, "I don't really have any money or anything to repay you, but come in tomorrow and ask for me I'll get you a meal on the house." Victoria nodded. "Thank you again, please get yourself looked at, I don't want you to get yourself hurt on my account," the black haired waitress finished as she went to clean the mess the brawl had left in the corner where Victoria and company had been sitting.
"C'mon lets go Vicky. You look alright, I don't think your ribs are broken, but those hits you took are gonna hurt in the morning, you know," Henry spoke as he passed through the tavern doors.
"I really could have taken him though!" Victoria shouted after him, clutching her side as she followed Henry and William into the night.
Victoria snapped out of her thoughts as she looked out over the horizon past the town, as the first rays of sunlight started to stain the black sky a dark indigo blue.
I should definitely help them if I can. If I can make things just a little easier, then that would be OK, right?
Victoria ran her hand over her ribs, and hissed in pain as she grazed the already darkening bruises that she had gotten in the fight. Making her way from her balcony towards the bed, her clothes were shed piece by piece and tossed in a pile on the floor until the blonde girl stood nude in the center of her room, trying to stretch but failing as the ache in her ribs and back kept her from being as flexible as she'd like. Slipping under the heavy blankets, she closed her eyes and decided that helping a friend was worth the bruises.
I'll speak with daddy tomorrow, I'm sure that I can make things at least a little better if I try
This was Victoria's last thought as the sun peeked over the distant horizon, and she drifted into dreams.