Sword Called Kitten Serial

Gordon A. Long

Published by

Airborn Press


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HUMANS!

 Sword Called Kitten Serial    

EPISODE 5

Gordon A. Long

 

 

Published by

Airborn Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father and son strode up the passageway from their quarters to the Great Hall in the king’s castle in Koningsholm, their paces in step.

The elder paused at the doorway, where guards stood at the alert and people thronged in. “Theobald, I have been placed at the head table with His Majesty. It is a great honour, but of course there is no place for my retainers. There will be a seat for you with the other nobility.”

“Of course, Father.” The Hand’s heart glowed with the success of their afternoon’s discussion. “You deserve the honour. Your ideas were very well received.”

And we had a great deal to do with it.

The elder Skonric leaned closer. “I can’t help but note that something changed after you and that Sword came into the room. It suddenly felt warmer, friendlier. What was going on?”

“She is very good with emotions. She can send out a wave of feeling. You wanted them to cooperate, so every time you talked she sent feelings of acceptance and cooperation. Many of them responded. The Maridons less so, of course, but with all the Inderjornese relaxing and seeming less aggressive, even the densest ones could tell. After a while, they got in the habit of enjoying your speech, because when you talked it made them feel better.”

Lord Skonric shook his head. “I begin to understand what is going on.” He grinned, slapped his son’s shoulder. “So enjoy yourself, Theobald, but be ready for more work tomorrow. We need to get Lord Odo into our camp, and find out what Lord Reginar wants. If the Inderjornese can present a more united front, we can make a stronger push.”

“My Sword and I will work on them tomorrow, Father.”

“Fine. For tonight, enjoy yourself.” He looked out at the people crowding into the banquet hall. “Looks like a few pretty ladies here. Go make yourself some friends.”

He slapped Theobald’s shoulder once more and turned away.

The younger man watched him go, shaking his head. “Go out and make some friends,” he says. He looked around the room. What do I do? Find a pretty girl, plunk myself down, and introduce myself?

That might work. I could send her feelings of acceptance and cooperation.

Could you do that?

I did it all afternoon.

Hmm. I’ll just have to consider that possibility, then.

Just don’t pick the wrong one. She might be uninterested or, worse yet, attached.

And you can tell me before I make a mistake, right?

Yes, I suppose I could.

You know, Sword, I am beginning to think you and I might make a very good team.

I’m glad you feel that way, my lord.

Theobald scanned the room. It was hot and smoky, with many people milling around. Most were well-dressed, and all sat or stood in groups of their kind.

We will have to work on that, too.

Don’t distract me with business, Sword. What do you think? A beautiful, blonde Inderjornese, or some dark little Maridon sweetheart?

I find it very difficult to read anything from Maridons. If you pick one of those, you’re on your own.

In that case, I suppose we’ll stick to our own kind. Theobald looked around at the banquet hall with increased enthusiasm. Well, I must say, this is more like it.

I should say so. More like what?

We are coming closer to where we should be, Sword. Nearer to the seat of power of the realm. Where we can have some effect on what is happening.

And win honour and glory.

Let’s just work on the honour part. Glory sounds too much like battle. The realm doesn’t need any battles right now.

I have to agree.

Of course you do. Now, where are we supposed to sit?

They both scanned the room. It was oval, with towering walls that soared up into the darkness of an unseen ceiling. Smoke leaking from a dozen fireplaces hung in the air, and the din of a hundred diners and servers washed over them.

Theobald turned to the major-domo, who detailed a servant to lead them across the room towards their assigned place. However, they didn’t get far. A lady was standing in front of them, and when Theobald tried to sidestep, she tapped his arm with her fan.

“Lord Theobald? You are Lord Theobald Skonric, aren’t you?”

He stopped, his mind whirling. “Yes. Yes, I am Theobald Skonric.”

She smiled, and he was acutely aware of what a beautiful smile it was. “I though so. My father asked me to look out for you. I am Cate Reginar.”

Theobald bowed over her hand, using the time to gather his thoughts. His Sword decided he needed help.

Reginar. Would that be Lord Reginar, the one who wants…we don’t know what. How convenient.

“Ah. Your father would be Lord Reginar? I met him this afternoon.”

“That’s right. I am to make sure you aren’t lonely. Come and sit with me.”

He glanced at the servant, patiently waiting. “I believe I have been assigned…”

She is exuding feelings of acceptance and cooperation.

Yes, isn’t she?

“Oh, you don’t believe in that assignment nonsense.” She waved a hand, dismissing the servant. “You are to sit with me. Who would complain?”

“I don’t know. Not me, that’s for certain.” He smiled and offered his arm.

Is this what they mean by pretty?

No, this is more than pretty, Sword. I don’t expect you to understand.

The Cat noted the lithe body, barely covered by a low-cut sheath dress of dark red silk. I know that there are certain accepted standards in the form and grace of a female. Does she meet them for you?

Most definitely. This might be a very interesting dinner.

Cate took his arm, and the contact allowed the Cat to feel her mind more clearly. Yes, I believe you are right. She seems very accepting.

The young woman clung to him, lowering her head to look up through her eyelashes at him. “So what brings you to the Capital, Lord Theobald?”

“My father and I decided that it was time I took some interest in the diplomatic dealings of the realm, since that will become my task in the future.”

“Ah, I see.”

You certainly are a good liar.

Be quiet. It wasn’t a lie.

Not quite. You only begged and pleaded and wore at him for three weeks. Then he finally agreed. That’s why it is such a good lie. It was mostly true. Maybe you’re going to be good at this diplomacy stuff after all.

The lady had said something else, but now she stopped, forcing him to face her. “Are you listening?”

“Pardon me, my Lady. I was just thinking. There is a matter that came up today that requires my opinion for tomorrow, and it weighs on my mind.”

“Well, we can’t have that." She tugged him forward. "The banquet is for relieving those weights, so you can be rested and ready to perform your best on the morrow.”

“Yes, well…thank you, my Lady.”

“Here we are.” She indicated two cushioned chairs with a good view of the hall, but set back out of the main lights.

“A cozy spot.”

She tossed her hair (Long, flowing blonde. He seems to like the slight curl) away from her bare shoulder and looked up as she took the chair he held. “I thought it might be a pleasant spot from which to enjoy the evening. It has a certain…privacy.”

As he slid into his chair, she hooked it closer with her heel. As he sat, she slid her thigh against his, put her elbows on the table and steepled her fingers. Then she laid her cheek against her hands, gazing back at him. “So, Theobald Skonric, what shall we talk about?”

“I have heard that young ladies like to talk about themselves, my Lady.” He shot her a grin and a glance. “Cate. That means, ‘maiden,’ doesn’t it?”

“It does.” She tilted her head down and looked up at him. “But my parents named me a long time ago.”

He coughed lightly and turned away while the Cat helped him control the heat that flushed his cheeks. He turned back and looked her up and down. “And where have you been all these years?”

“What years are those?”

“The ones during which I have been looking for you.”

She slapped his hand lightly. “Oh, don’t give me all that courtly nonsense.”

He shrugged. “When at court…”

The conversation went around and around and didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so the Cat amused herself by delving – as politely as possible - into the mind of the woman. She was more Sensitive than most Inderjornese, but the Cat could not penetrate as far as she usually managed. There seemed to be a firm barrier of some sort.

Intrigued, the Sword probed from a different direction.

Aha! An emotion. She has some sort of fierce desire that she is keeping firmly in check. I wonder what is going on. Emotions are what I do best. Let’s see, now…

Try as she might, she could only catch a flicker of whatever it was. Soon the Cat noticed that the flashes were connected to the woman’s movements.

She touches him a lot. Much more than anyone I have ever seen. First on the wrist, then the arm, now she flicks his shoulder with her fingernails. Now a fingertip to his cheek, very gently, but…yes! Every time she touches him, there is a flash of…of…there it goes! No, lost it. What is going on in that mess of a mind? She seems to be playing a game with herself, letting the feeling go, then hauling it under control again.

I wonder…images. What pictures can I see? Aha. Strong, very strong. There! I see that one again and again.  

She caught the flash of the image, and then once more it was gone, disappearing behind the fierce curtain of control. The Cat feigned disinterest, waiting until the woman indulged her desire again. This time she reached out for Theobald’s hand and fondled the fingers, one by one. The image escaped from its bonds, and the Cat suddenly turned, snatched at it, caught it like a mouse on her claw. She took a closer look, let the image play through her mind again. Yes, there it was. Claws. Bright red, sharp claws, digging into flesh, raking down…

Danger! Danger!

Teobald did not quite jump to his feet, but he snatched his hand clear and sat straight, his eyes shooting around the room.

What? Where?

Her!… I think.

“My Lord! What’s wrong?”

Teobald shook his head. “I’m sorry, my Lady. I just received a warning of possible danger.”

What do you mean, her, Sword?

“I heard nothing.”

She is planning something, Theobald!

He pasted on a smile. “That’s why I have a weapon, my Lady, and you do not. I notice these things before you do.”

What is she planning?

“Well, we’ll just have to see about your weapon, won’t we? I’m sure there’s nothing in this hall among all these big, strong men to worry you. Is there?”

I can’t tell what she has in mind. Something very nasty! She sent him the image she had captured.

Ah. I see. He smiled at Lady Cate more easily this time.

“I think there is nothing to worry about, my Lady. A false alarm, I gather. However, I believe I should ascertain what it was all about. Will you excuse me for a moment?”

He looked down at her pout, reached out a finger and raised her chin. “I will return, my Lady. On my honour!”

She brightened, ran a bright red fingernail down the inside of his wrist. “It isn’t exactly your honour that I’m interested in, my Lord. But I will attend your pleasure.”

They look like claws to me.

He kissed her hand, holding it a bit longer than the Cat had been taught was necessary, then let it slide from his fingers as he turned away. She allowed her hand to sink slowly, and his eyes stayed on her as he left.

Watch it. You’re about to trip over a bench.

He turned to look forward, ducked the offending furniture and strode for a side door. You and I have some talking to do. Are you trying to destroy everything?

What do you mean? I felt danger!

What kind of danger? From where?

From her! She has images in her head…I showed you!

Sword, she’s no danger to me. Not in that way. I’m not sure why she’s interested, mind you. She’s probably after information, or a political alliance, or something else.

I don't think that was a political feeling I got from her.

Of course not. She’s after men for other reasons. Personal ones.

Personal…Oh. I see. Well that explains everything. Is she in season?

Is she in what?

In season. In heat. I seem to recall that female cats, dogs, horses, all come into season at certain times…

No, no. Human women don’t come into season.

They don’t? However do you get them to breed, then?

Well, women are in season all the time. Sort of.

All the time? How do the men get anything done? I seem to recall…

No, it’s not like that. Didn’t Lord Magician Hanflaed teach you anything about…that?

No. Why should he?…I take that back. It’s obvious he should have. The point is that she is interested in breeding with you. This explains the images in her head, although I must say, they were rather aggressive. Where are we going?

Theobald had been striding through the palace as they spoke. We are going to my rooms. He slammed open the door. Where I am going to stow you with my other gear, where you are going to stay until I get back.

Wait! It is not advisable…

In this case, I’m afraid it is. The door slammed behind him.

Well, let it be on your head.

It isn’t on my head that the problem is going to fall, but that’s no concern of yours, Sword.

Theobald’s thoughts faded as he strode away along the hall, but the images in his mind left the Cat in no doubt where he thought he was heading.

I only hope that’s where he ends up. Her father is the one we are supposed to find out about. Maybe she will tell him, although that thought wasn't anywhere in her mind I could see.

It seems I have some more learning to do about humans. She ran through the events of the evening, trying to make sense of the emotions she had felt from these two. They made very little sense. Unless it was some sort of elaborate mating ritual. Never thought there would be claws involved, though.

Oh, well. That’s humans for you.

Later in the evening, she was roused by a wave of emotion emanating faintly from a far part of the palace. Two minds seemed to be sending in unison.

At least that part seems to be going well. I wonder when the kittens will come?


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