Hilari Bell

Writer of ethically ambiguous SF and fantasy for kids and teens …



Ladys_Pursuit_Cover_rgb_lgA damsel in distress—or at least, a damsel mysteriously vanished and quite possibly in distress—is a most fitting a task for a knight errant.  But this damsel had gone missing from the High Liege’s court, and peril lurked there.  Not for me, which I would have shrugged off, but for those I held most dear.  Which is probably why I made the mistake of saying, “She’s only been gone for about twelve hours—that could be accounted for by a lame horse or a broken wheel.  Surely she’s returned by now.  I say we send this fellow back, and wait for word that all’s well.”

The messenger, who’d ridden all night to deliver the letter my sister held, looked indignant.  “The Heir’s fair worried, Mistress.  He bid me get this letter to you as fast as I could ride.”

Fisk, Kathy and I stood on the landing of my brother’s lodging, which he’d begun to hint he’d like us to vacate eventually—a request that seemed reasonable given that the knocking of the messenger had roused us shortly after dawn.  Kathy was clad in a well-worn dressing gown, with mouse-brown hair in a tousled braid down her back and rosy light reflecting in her spectacles as she read.  There was no reason for Fisk to look at her as if she was the source of the sunrise…which increased my apprehension about going to court.

“Peg didn’t take a coach,” Kathy told me, still reading.  “’Tis a bit incoherent—he must be really worried—but Rupert says she left on foot.  She might have rented…  Why does he think she’d rent a carriage to come to me?”

This was addressed to the messenger, who shrugged.  “I’m to bring back your reply, if you don’t return yourself, Mistress Katherine.  And escort you if you need it.”

“She doesn’t need an escort,” said Fisk.  “We’ll take her.”

“I don’t think…”  I didn’t think that was a good idea, but I couldn’t reveal my reasons in front of the messenger.

“I do think,” said Fisk. “And so does Kathy.  You’re out-voted…  Partner.”

–Lady’s Pursuit
(November 2015)

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