Flash: The Castle of Gold and Silver

Photo by phaendin from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Castle of Gold and Silver awaited their triumphant return, shiny brightly in the dark night under the magic lights of the King’s Wizards and the Queen’s Witches across the brick bridge raised by manpower and the Mason’s secret craft. Unfortunately, the return wasn’t triumphant, the young prince and his band hesitated at the edge of the forest, four arrow flights from the display of wealth and power. Luis was never meant to be heir, just a throw-away duke under his two other brothers care, not the one to bring back the bodies.

With night well underway, but the road smooth, he had pushed his men, those few left, the final steps until they could see home. Now the fourteen-year old froze on his mount, the one his men insisted he use while they walked. Francisco, the oldest, cagiest of the five left, had practically lifted the prince and tied him to the seat himself, after many, many threats.

“Home,” whispered Pablo with soul-tired tones they all talked with, aged beyond his sixteen years, a knight by Luis’ hand after he saved Inaki’s body from desecration; Luis hoped his father would approve raising Inaki’s squire. Pablo’s arm had been so mangled by the action, the surgeon removed it, back when they had a surgeon.

“Si.” Francisco agreed, where he held the burro pulling the wagon of their dead.

Leonor cleared his throat. “Do we go forward my liege, or wait until dawn when the gates raise?”

“Wanting to rush back to your wife’s arms?” Miguel teased.

“If you were married to one such as my Sofia, you would be running across that bridge after nineteen months apart.”

“And three days.” Miguel responded, keeping up the day count Leonor had started the moment they had stepped on the bridge to leave with their army-escort for three princes and their two squires and one cranky witch who didn’t like being away from home, off to secure a treaty with the duplicitous Pinedos and the cursed Montana kingdom they ruled.

“I could set up the tent, my liege,” offered Henrietta, the only camp follower who didn’t desert them.

The tent covered the bodies with during the day. Luis hadn’t stomached living under it since they made it inside the Prado nation’s boarders, but he knew this close to home, his loyal band would feel the need to give their prince full honors. Luis shook the fear and pushed back the failure consuming him. “No, tonight we bed inside well-protected gates where we need not set guards.” Glancing at Leonor, who had been teaching him flowery speech, Luis relaxed seeing a nod of approval.

Francisco snorted, but commented, “Well said,” relaxing the knot churning in the young man’s stomach.

The prince gently kneed the horse, bit, bridle, and saddle long lost, only a contraption of leather strips providing a stirrup keeping him seated. He and Dunlap had come to an agreement long ago, once it was clear someone had to ride the horse or the mare would pull the wagon. The brown shaggy creature plodded one foot in front of the other toward the bright lights of promise.

(Words 520; First Published 5/27/2018)