Daniel Roy Greenfeld

Daniel Roy Greenfeld

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Siege: The First Chapter

The air was merely warm, which for most part was a nice relief from the heat of summer. Not for Vetch. He liked it warm, as hot as he could get it. Which was why he was the best at picking berries. Even on the most scorching days he didn't mind wearing all his gear while reaching through the brambles to gain access to the succulent morsels growing on the vine. Today though was merely warm, so his companions were doing as well as he normally did.

No matter, picking berries was a nice break from long hours of training for war or standing guard. Especially when Lina kept stealing glances from him. Each time she did that his heart raced. It was hard to not move next to her, but he was terrified she might think it unseemly of him. On the other hand, he was also terrified that one of his friends might steal her affections.

His pouch finally full of tart blackberries, he moved slowly out of the brambles, away from the fast flowing stream. You had to be careful, the sharp thorns were quite talented at finding hands or hair to catch on. He walked over to the baskets and dumped his load. After lunch the girls would take the berries, mix them with cream, and the lot of them would have them for dessert.

Vetch loved the afternoons of Seventh Day. After temple worship was free time. He and the other young squires would make their way out of the valley gates, to enjoy time away from the growing responsibilities they faced as they got older. Being a younger son his career had been chosen, he was to train as a man-at-arms. Not his first choice, but one took the lot that the gods assigned to you.

He heard sweet, feminine laughter. From the brambles Lina and Jia were looking his way and sharing a private joke. Vetch's heart wrenched, and blood rushed to his face.

"If you sit next to her she isn't going to mind." Gilder said as he walked up with his own load of berries. "If you talk to her, she's even going to talk back."

Vetch glared at his best friend, "I'm not afraid of her."

Gilder chuckled as he dumped his berries into the basket. "I'm not going to argue courage with you, but if you aren't afraid, why don't you talk to her?"

Vetch frowned as he tried to think of a retort. Before he could say anything, Gilder continued, "Listen, I'm not insulting you. I'm your friend so I'm encouraging you."

Vetch hung his head.

Before they could continue, they heard the sound of a horn. Both boys looked downslope towards the lower valley. There lay the town of Ravenna, and beyond that the final wall of the valley. As they gazed downwards, the horn sounded again. So did the Ravenna town bell.

"It's not on the hour. And there is no pattern in horn or bell..." Vetch said in a whisper.

"The town's under attack!" Gilder shouted.

From the bushes came their other friends and the other young ladies who had accompanied them.

"To horse! We'll go help them!" Dunn said. Besides Rok he was the tallest of the squires, naturally athletic, and the one that Vetch worried most about taking Lina out from under him. On the other hand, like the others he was also a close friend. At the previous mid-winter's festival  Vetch and Dunn had promised to stand by each other's side in battle.

"No. We must get back, protect these young ladies, and attend our knights." Cauley said. He was the oldest and by custom the others had to defer to jim.

"I don't think so." Gilder said. He brushed past Cauley and vaulted onto his horse. "The town's in a panic. People need our help."

"I agree." Dunn said as he too vaulted on his horse.

"Duty dictates that we return to our masters." Lench said as he put his hand on the bridles of Gilder and Dunn's horses. No one was surprised. Normally an independent thinker, he nevertheless always deferred to Cauley.

"Let go of my horse." Gilder said with a snarl. "People could be dying."

"We're going to the castle." Cauley said as put his hand on his sword hilt.

The air became tense with the threat of violence.

To Vetch the world had turned surreal. For the first time in a hundred years the town was under serious duress. And here his friends were arguing and nearly to blows. He looked towards Lina. Her eyes were filled with emotion, she mouthed the words, "Do something."

Courage filled Vetch's heart. For once spoke up while his friends fought. He projected with the command voice all of them had been taught, "Stop fighting! Those who want to go up the mountain with Cauley can do so. The others who wish to help the town do so as they please."

Lench let go of the bridles. Dunn and Gilder wheeled their mounts and began their descent towards the town. The other young men and women began to mount up.

"If you go to the town you'll be reneging in your duty" Cauley shouted as he began the ride towards the upper valley. "To me and to our lieges!"

Some of the other squires followed Dunn and Gilder, but most of the others grouped around Cauley. Vetch caught Lina's eye and she smiled at him. He had done the right thing, had kept friends from blows.

Now it was time for yet more courage. Instead of following Cauley he went the other way. Away from duty and towards conflict.

Read the full story at https://www.wattpad.com/353748025-siege-1-beginnings.

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