Sunday, July 29, 2012

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend

The Surprise

At the bottom of the stairs, Guinevere paused and peeked out
the door. Seeing no one, she stepped out into the bailey,
thankful for the clouds that hid the moon. Focused on the outer
door across the courtyard, she missed seeing the figure that slid out
of the shadows and followed her.

Guinevere glanced once more around the bailey as she reached
the outer door. The shadow following her hugged the building as
the moon drifted out from the clouds. She crept through the door
and turned to the right. Keeping in the shadows and close to the
stable wall, she managed to work her way to about twenty yards
from the edge of the forest. Taking a furtive look around, she stole
across the open grass and slipped into the trees.

As she disappeared from view, the figure following her moved
through the outer door. As Guinevere had done, this figure kept
close to the stable wall, staying within the shadows and watching
the tree line for any movement. Seeing nothing, the shadowy figure
moved out into the moonlight, revealing himself to any who happened
to be watching, but there were none. Those not in bed stayed
in the hall enjoying themselves too much to venture out into the
late night. The moonlight bounced off his grey gown and illuminated
his white hair, making it appear ghostly. Merlyn quickened
his pace, not wanting to fall too far behind.

Guinevere crept along the forest path. The fragrance of wet
pine filled her senses. Suddenly, the faint sound of a voice off to
her right reached her ears. She turned and moved cautiously
through the trees and brush. The calming quality of the voice dispelled
her fears. As she moved closer, the voice’s volume increased
very little. Whoever it belonged to continued to whisper to
someone, although Guinevere heard only the one voice.

Through the leafy oak branches, Guinevere made out the shape
of a tall, slender woman dressed in a white hooded robe. Edging
closer she saw that the woman stood in a small clearing. Moonlight
filtered down, descending almost like a halo around her. With the
woman’s hood up, Guinevere was unable to discern any other
physical features. The woman continued to talk to someone concealed
by her body. Intrigued, Guinevere moved closer, careful not
to make any noise. While the woman did not move, from time to
time her arms reached out in front of her, for some reason unknown
to Guinevere.

So absorbed by the sight in front of her, Guinevere didn’t sense
Merlyn moving up behind her. Stopping about five paces away, he
also watched with a sense of fascination and relief. The woman’s
slender arms reached up and removed her hood, revealing lush,
curly, brown hair that fell lightly upon her shoulders.
Merlyn moved closer to Guinevere. As the woman knelt down
holding her hands out in front of her, Merlyn silently and swiftly
put his left hand on Guinevere’s left shoulder. At the same time he
covered her mouth, effectively silencing her gasp when Guinevere
saw the unicorn.

“Shh. It’s Merlyn. We need to be quiet so we don’t frighten it.

Guinevere nodded, and Merlyn removed his hand from her
mouth, but still left his hand on her shoulder to restrain her from
moving forward.

“I’ve never seen anything so beautiful and so pure,” she 
whispered, her brown eyes sparkling in the dim moonlight and dancing
with excitement.

“And you probably never will again. Unicorns are rare and almost
never seen by regular people.”

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