Welcome to a new edition of Fridays & Freebits. This week’s excerpt is again from my work in progress, Sword of Names. Here we meet Elthric, son the Lothrian king and twin brother of Elthwen, the heroine. The king has been dispatched on an errand of dubious nature, compelling the queen to quietly send Elthwen away under her grandfather’s care. Othreld, the king’s smarmy brother, has organized a search for them.
Elthric clenched his jaw. His uncle knew his feelings for Lokthar. His distrust had long since grown beyond the childish competitiveness that once had colored his regard for the man Othreld relied on as his captain. Sentiments once inspired by jealousy had solidified into an intense aversion. The thought of Lokthar anywhere near his sister caused Elthric’s blood to run hot. He swallowed his displeasure as he would a vile-tasting remedy and again nodded his understanding.
“Elthric….” Othreld lowered his gaze. His cheek and eye continued to twitch.
Amid the sudden clamor of morning birds, his mother’s voice sounded in his ear, as if she were standing at his side. Startled, Elthric turned, then glanced up at the turret overlooking both the harbor and the courtyard. The parapet remained empty. And yet the touch of her breath on his ear remained tangible. Be wary, she had said. Trust no one.
“Why has my mother not come to bid us a good leave-taking?”
Othreld turned his gaze toward the parapet. “The queen sends apologies. Her woman said she was feeling unwell…. Elthric….” He clasped Elthric’s shoulder with a trembling hand, his face pale and tense, as he once again fixed on his nephew. “You have been like a son to me.”
A shiver of foreboding gripped him. He forced a smile and covered Othred’s hand with his own. “And you have been like a father.”