On the run in the Middle Ages…
No day can be good that begins in a tree, Meagan thought irritably, I need to remember that. The sun gave no indication of breaking through the overcast skies, and the night’s drizzle seemed a prelude to more rain.
Hungry, sore and sunburned, Meagan was annoyed by Henryk’s new habit of continual singing. She reached up to the wide bough on which she had balanced through the night and retrieved Targa’s bridle. She struggled to tie her gown up so that she could ride. Her ankle-length garment seemed designed to inhibit motion, and she wished again she had not let the Abbey take away her comfortable Mongolian trousers …
Henryk slipped down from the tree and stretched luxuriously. His new horse lifted his enormous head, nudging the young knight and pushing him off his feet. Henryk gritted his teeth as the horse used him for a scratching post. “Chouchou, no,” he said mildly, pushing the horse’s head away and accepting its immediate return.
“Chouchou? Is that what you named him?”
“Tak, Chouchou! You enjoy?” Henryk murmured something in his horse’s huge, floppy ear. Chouchou—the name meant “teacher’s pet” in French, Meagan was to learn—delicately sniffed in Targa’s direction. The pony flattened her ears and snapped. “Visqueux!” Henryk sniffed, and gently soothed his mammoth horse’s supposedly-hurt feelings.
Meagan rode out into the muddy field, leaving Henryk to follow. The German horsetrader had promised the nearby road led to a castle, and she was determined to find it in the rain if necessary. She turned back and saw Henryk hopping up and down beside Chouchou.
Oh, yes, she remembered crossly. Henryk could not mount his elephant without a leg up. Meagan turned back, deciding there was nothing more useless than a knight. Fairytales could talk about shining knights riding up on white steeds, but she was beginning to think their fabled rescues could do without the knight if one had the horse. If knights were not the only people with swords, she was sure no one would pay them the least attention.
Copyright © 2008 John Royce
Eclipsed by Shadow (Book #1 of the trilogy) won national awards including the Eric Hoffer Award for best Young Adult Fiction, and the Mom’s Choice Award for best family-friendly Young Adult Fantasy.