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Fool Without A Master (Chapter 7 Part 1)

by MissGangamash


Chapter 7 - What a Ride

I didn’t leave my house for several days after the tournament. Lady Delphine’s words played on my mind on an endless loop, her face invaded my dreams.

Prince Kaspar does not love me. It is obvious he loves another.

Was it obvious? Did he even really love me? Or was I just a distraction? When we were in the palace together, the sneaking around had been so fun. But now, with Kaspar married, was what we had just a game that had been overplayed? A mistake made too many times?

I had wanted Delphine to like me. I had wanted to entertain her. To make her smile. It wasn’t because I was a proud performer. I wasn’t proud that day at the tournament. I had felt wrong in my own skin, and then Kaspar had kissed me and everything was better for that sliver of a moment.

I couldn’t believe Delphine knew about us. Was it luck that she responded the way she did? That didn’t feel right.

What was I supposed to do with this information?

Part of me wanted to never leave my house again. To curl up in front on my hearth and just wither away to nothing. But, as sick as I now felt with what we were doing behind the pure, beautiful Delphine’s back, I couldn’t lose what I had with Kaspar. Call me selfish, dear reader, but at least I am no liar.

Maybe you still do not understand what was at stake for me. So here is another flashback to strengthen your knowledge.

The hay scratched at my back through my shirt as I sketched. My muse – the handsome young black stallion – stood impassively in his stable, ears twitching every so often to bat away flies.

It was a cloudy day so the brightness of the parchment wasn’t so painful to look at. I had spent most of my afternoon on the pile of hay bales after overhearing a pair of knights speaking of the prince’s fondness for his horse, and how he liked to groom him himself. But I was mostly hanging around by the stables to perfect my drawing skills, of course. I was still struggling a little with dimensions.

“Has Bucky given you permission to use him as a model?”

My pencil slid from my grip and almost got lost in the hay. Fumbling, I managed to retrieve it and looked up to find the prince watching me with a smirk.

“We’ve come to an agreement. I’m paying him in carrots,” I replied, wiping my sweaty palms on my britches.

The prince sidled over to his beloved stallion and gave him a hearty slap on his rump. The horse leaned against him, pressing his head against the prince’s shoulder fondly.

“That right, Buck?” The horse nibbled his collar. “Good quality carrots, I hope.” The prince turned back to me and motioned me over. “Let me take a look, then.”

I jumped to my feet and hastened over, my sketch pad held out like an offering. The prince took it from me and studied the half drawn picture of his stallion.

“It’s not quite finished. I still need to add shading,” I explained, my heart stuttering. I was close enough to feel his body heat. His blond hair was sweat-darkened against his brow and neck.

“This is quite something, Wally.”

Several nights had passed since our drunken night eating cheese and talking nonsense. There was a part of me that thought maybe the wine had warped, or possibly even erased, the night from his memory. But the way he said my name – not even my name, his nickname for me, with such easy affection, it made my breath shake.

The prince titled the page as if to show it to Bucky who was more interested in the wall behind the prince’s head.

“You really love him, don’t you?” the question left my mouth before I even thought about it.

The prince smiled and patted his stallion’s shiny coat. “We’ve been through a lot together. We look after each other out there.”

I had heard the stories. The prince wasn’t just a pretty face waiting for the throne. He was out in the thick of it. He had even been ambushed by assassins sent to kill him and weaken the kingdom. It was general knowledge that his mother had died giving birth to him, and his father treated the prince like he was his own heart. King Cedric simply would not live if anything was to happen to his son. And that was a glaring weakness that neighbouring lands targeted with ruthless abandon. I figured it was part of the reason the king was so eager for the prince to marry. Perhaps marriage would make him settle? Would he not be so quick to battle and put his life on the line if he had a wife waiting for him in the palace, possibly a child? Or perhaps, with a Lady in the kingdom, the king had another successor to lean on. Whatever the reason for the marriage was, it definitely wasn’t love.

The prince passed the sketch back to me. “I was about to go for a ride. Would you like to join? You can take Theo-” He gestured to the chestnut stallion half hidden in the shadows of the neighbouring stall. “He needs to stretch his legs.”

“I’m afraid I do not know how to ride.” The admittance came out as a shameful whisper. I looked to my boots.

“You don’t know how to ride?”

I shook my head. “There weren’t many horses in Greysmarsh. And the ones we did have were working horses. The only time I have ridden one was on my journey here, and I had been on the back of a knights.”

A silence followed. My heart hammered in my chest. Did he think of me a simpleton? I pressed my lips into a thin line, hiding my grimace, as I looked to him. The prince was frowning down at me. He exhaled sharply through his nostrils and my shoulders stiffened to deflect an oncoming smack. Perhaps Mrs Treager’s heavy-handedness in my childhood had left a lasting impression.

“Well, we shall have to fix that. We can’t have you living in the palace and not knowing how to ride. That is absurd. We shall start tomorrow, at first light.”

“What?” I blurted, my cheeks flushing instantly. “I mean, excuse me, sire?”

He bit down on his bottom lip to suppress a smile and grabbed a saddle from its perch on the stable wall. “Training. I’m going to teach you to ride a horse. But for now, you will join me on Bucky. I’ll get a stable boy to exercise Theo.”

I watched with bated breath as the prince affixed the saddle, my mind reeling. I had settled on the hay bale to hopefully catch a glimpse of the prince, possibly have a chat, maybe even make him smile in that goofy lopsided way he did – never had I even imagined he would invite me to ride with him.

He jumped onto his stallion with such grace I took a step back to reassess the situation.

“You’ll be fine.” Sensing my apprehension, he reached out a hand to me. “Just put your foot in the stirrup and flip your leg over. With long legs like yours, it will be easy.”

Did the prince just comment on my body? Was it a compliment?

He smiled down at me, fingers wiggling. I took his hand and his muscles flexed at the touch of my cold skin but his smile didn’t falter.

He guided me where to place my hands for the best support and when I struggled on my way up, he grabbed my hip and helped me settle behind him.

My breath caught. My whole body hummed. His back was so broad, his shoulders spanning almost double the width of mine. There was a smattering of faded freckles on the exposed skin of his neck, the red material of his loose linen shirt clinging to his shoulder blades.

“Are you all right back there?” I registered the prince’s question the way someone noticed birds singing in the trees. My mind was somewhere else entirely. My hands, damp with sweat, grabbed at my collar as I studied the prince’s back, his belt, the saddle. What was I supposed to hold onto?

“Wally?”

“Huh?”

The prince turned, the sun lining his profile. His cheekbones were incredible. He chuckled softly. “Are you ready?”


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Fri Nov 26, 2021 9:46 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

This was a really great continuation of the story. Something I really like about this story is the pacing. Every scene flows very naturally and the build up leading to it is very believable and enjoyable. It not only makes for a smooth read, but it allows the reader to get properly invested in your world and care genuinely for the characters.

I really liked the fact that the conversation from the previous chapter lingered in this one. You had created a really somber mood in the previous part and it was not the kind of a light conversation that you have and move on from. Wallace's thoughts and feelings regarding his short interaction with Lady Delphine were much more formed and pronounced in this chapter now that he has had the time to think about it. I like the questions that arise in his mind, as they are realistic and show us his doubts and insecurity regarding Kasper and his importance in his life. His admission that no matter how selfish it made him, he could not give up Kasper, made us understand and sympathize at the same time. He is stuck in a terrible situation, and his hands are tied here.

I also liked the way this was divided into two parts. The first part had a very distinct atmosphere to it - Wallace was feeling terrible for hurting Delphine. He was feeling cruel, and guilty and helpless and it was very evident with the tone you used. The second part with the flashback had a more slow and reflective pace to it. It was set in the early stages of their relationship and it is quite obvious in Wallace's curios observations and the shy way he carries himself around Kaspar in all of the flashbacks. The two tones used in this chapter were distinct and separate and they each defined a different emotion.

I liked the way the flashback came about in this chapter. It felt like Wallace was telling us instead of simply showing us like he usually does. It was a sweet memory, and I could feel that it is a start of something deeper for the both of them, however it feels like a very small part of it. Wallace starts the flashback claiming that he was going to show us what was at stake for him in case he did decide to leave Kaspar. I feel like the purpose for that got lost somewhere in the flashback. Like it was a small part of it, but not exactly it. Of course, it is not possible to show us what exactly is at stake with just one flashback, so I would think about rephrasing that declaration at the beginning.

He jumped onto his stallion with such grace I took a step back to reassess the situation.

This sentence feels like it needs a pause, especially after 'grace'.

That's all!

Keep writing and have a great day!

Until next time!






Glad you like the transition into the flashback in this one, I know it's a bit different but you're right, this one is present Wallace catching you up on a moment to make what he is currently writing make more sense. I know it might not make much sense at the moment but the 'let me show you what I'd be giving up' moment comes in the part 2 of this chapter. This is the build up :)



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Sun Nov 21, 2021 2:36 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MissGangamash,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Wonderful that in this part we continue with Wallace and his thoughts after meeting Lady Delphine. For her brief appearance she made quite an impression and I think that's a good and convincing insertion of how Wallace feels about it. I like the whole beginning and how you managed to give structure to all of Wallace's thoughts.

You're moving forward here again with a great composure to keep the story going. I like that we get a flashback here and how you presented it. I liked the flashback by itself as we got some nice memories and moments. I liked that Wallace still had some doubts there in parts and that these no longer show themselves so directly but occur more in his mental moments.

But I was also a bit surprised to get a flashback in parts, as I didn't yet see directly how Wallace came to it. On the one hand, I welcome this manifestation, where he wants to emphasise once again that he is clinging to something that could be ephemeral, looking more to the past than worrying about the future; on the other hand, I was confused because it seemed to me as if the flashback wanted to do something for the reader more than Wallace himself.

Don't get me wrong, I like the flashback but to me it felt more like it was deliberately done for the reader rather than actually making Wallace swell in thought. This is going to sound kind of weird, but I think it will come across best if I say that it seemed “artificial".

I don't know here if it would be good to rewrite it a bit to get to that flashback, or to leave it as it is, but to me it felt different in structure from the previous chapters. But otherwise I thought it was good, it was really just this presentation.

In summary, it was a nice start to the new chapter and am still curious to see how Wallace will finally get rid of these gloomy thoughts and melancholy.

I also realise now that the chapter name could have a double meaning, which I like.

Other points I noticed while reading:

Part of me wanted to never leave my house again.

I think this summarise the first whole part pretty well. It´s something that I really enjoy while reading your story; Wallace feels like a real person. I can imagine him just like it´s explained and his thoughts aren´t unfamiliar for me.

So here is another flashback to strengthen your knowledge.
The hay scratched at my back through my shirt as I sketched.

I think here you might have to put a short --- or *** or something in this thing so that it's easier to see that you're now entering a flashback. I thought it was a bit too "theatrical" for Wallace to make the transition like that. On the one hand, it suits him, and it seems to me as if he wants to underline his suffering once again, but from a literary point of view, it looks a bit confusing.

Several nights had passed since our drunken night eating cheese and talking nonsense.

You could avoid repeating "night" in the sentence by simply inserting "evening" once. It reads a little bumpy that way. :D

Have fun writing!

Mailice






Hello!

Yes, this flashback does come in a different way than the rest but this is Wallace writing it down basically like a diary/journal so I wanted it to read like a 'to get this I need to tell you this first' sort of thing. I know the reasoning for this jump back isn't clear in this part but it will be in part 2. This particular memory is an important one for Wallace and Kaspar's brewing relationship.

There is a gap between the two timelines but for some reason this website doesn't like spaces...

Thanks for reading and reviewing :D




"Be happy, my friend; and if you obey me in this one request, remain satisfied that nothing on earth will have the power to interrupt my tranquility."
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein