The Castle of Llyr Tallow
« Chapter 1 »
Lady Jesslyn Chaveer stared out of the tall window of her private quarters. Sadness flitted across her eyes as she watched the moon arc in the night’s sky above her father’s castle. Outside there was a cold breeze toying with the treetops that rose beyond the outer bailey walls and moat. Something troubled her, an uneasy feeling that sent the hairs on her arms standing on end. Rubbing the chill away, she climbed into bed to ward off the cool breeze that now surrounded her.
In the next room, Lana, her fourteen-year-old sister slept soundly unaware of Jesslyn’s unease. It was troubling to feel restless but not to know why. Brushing the feeling aside Jesslyn closed her eyes. She was to regret not paying heed to her gut feeling.
Outside the sky released a shower of rain that had threatened to fall all evening. The drawbridge to the Castle of Llyr Tallow slowly lowered over the moat. Gazing up at the impressive building with its fortified walls and encircling parapets, Tobias Trill grinned as he entered the castle’s large courtyard. Behind him rode his band of private guards.
The men who manned the drawbridge greeted Tobias with a reverent bow. “Forgive our lateness in lowering the bridge sir but we were unaware you would be visiting, especially so late in the day.”
Tobias dismounted and handed his horse to a servant. “I came as soon as I heard the distressing news.”
“It was a shock to us all, sir.”
“I’m sure it was.”
“Shall we inform Lady Jesslyn that you are here, sir?”
“No, no need to bother her, we will speak in the morning. If you could organise a guest room for me and see my men are housed in the guard’s quarters I would be most grateful.”
The men knew not to annoy Tobias. Lord Fellador Chaveer’s cousin was not a man to be trifled with. Doing as asked, they hurried inside the castle.
When a maid recognised who their unexpected guests were, she hurried to Jesslyn’s private quarters to warn her of their arrival. She knew how much Jesslyn dislike Tobias Trill.
“I’m sorry to wake you Lady Jesslyn but Tobias Trill is here,” the maid said with a curtsey.
Jesslyn frowned. “What’s that infernal man doing here? I did not invite him.”
“He must have caught wind of your father’s passing.”
“So, the vulture comes to pick over my father’s bones does he, well we’ll see about that,” Jesslyn said as she quickly wrapped her night cloak around her shoulders.
“Please be careful, you know what he’s like,” the young maid cautioned.
With a look of disdain, Jesslyn replied, “I’m fully aware of his deceitful nature.”
“He’s brought an entourage of guards, best you tread careful.”
“In my own castle I’ll tread however I see fit as my father’s cousin is about to find out.” Opening her door, Jesslyn marched downstairs. When she heard voices coming from the Great Hall she entered.
Spinning around, Tobias greeted, “Ah, Lady Jesslyn, forgive me for not forewarning you of my visit but on hearing about your father’s… passing, I felt compelled to come here in person to share my grief at the unexpected news.”
“I can assure you we are fine and there is no need to trouble yourself with a visit,” Jesslyn countered.
“All the same I would like––”
“I will have my servants ready your horses in the morning. Best you make an early start before heading back to Tethys,” Jesslyn interrupted.
Tobias did not like being cut off mid-sentence but controlling his anger, he replied, “I fear Fellador would not forgive me if I were to strand you and Lana here alone, not while his estate is being dealt with.”
“My father’s estate is being dealt with just fine. Once again, I thank you for your concern but there is no need to worry yourself. I can look after Lana just fine.”
Tobias narrowed his eyes. “With all due respect Lady Jesslyn you are only seventeen and your father would think it remiss of me if I were not to see to your welfare.”
“Our welfare has never been a concern.”
“And yet I will––”
“Still be leaving in the morning,” Jesslyn dared to snap. She wanted Tobias gone. She did not trust him and she certainly did not want him in her father’s castle.
“I will leave Lady Jesslyn when and only when I feel you have sufficient funds and assets to continue living here. If I did not I would be failing in my duty––”
“You have no duty of care Tobias and if you feel you do, then I release you of the burden.”
Tobias’s face flushed with anger.
“You are still a child and I will not allow you to put your sister’s welfare into question out of a stubbornness to accept help when it is freely given.”
“And yet I decline your kind offer of help and my sister’s welfare was never in question, in fact we are more than capable of taking care of ourselves. Instead I would direct you to put your own house in order before you look to interfere in mine.”
Regan, Tobias’s second in command stepped forward.
Halting Regan, Tobias said, “Wait, we must forgive Lady Jesslyn’s outburst, she is obviously feeling the strain of her father’s passing. I’m sure by morning she will regret treating her guests in such a manner and offer up a fitting apology for the disrespect she has shown to those whose only crime is showing a genuine concern for her welfare.”
Like hell she’d apologise. The man deserved nothing but her scorn. She knew exactly why he was here. He obviously thought he could come here and claim guardianship under the thinly veiled disguise of caring. All he cared about was wealth and power, well she’d be damned if he thought he could worm his way into her father’s castle. A castle she was soon to inherit.
Regan glared at Jesslyn. He looked like he wanted to strangle the life out of her but Jesslyn was too fired up to care.
“I will bid you goodnight Tobias.” Jesslyn said as she turned and headed for the door. Opening it, she added, “Please be gone by mid-morning.” Without another word, she headed back to her room.
The young maid had been listening outside the Great Hall. “I fear you have angered him Lady Jesslyn. He did not like your tone.”
“I want them gone. He is my father’s cousin by marriage not blood. I do not like nor do I trust a man whose wife died in suspicious circumstances.”
“I thought she drowned in a river.”
“I would not believe anything that spills from his lying lips. He is not welcome in my castle so be sure to tell the servants to ready their horses, they are leaving in the morning is that clear?”
“Good, I want them gone.”
“I confess I will not rest until I see them riding across the drawbridge. They make me nervous.”
“Not for much longer. I made it blatantly obvious they are not welcome here.”
“I swear I do not know where you find the courage to speak to them in such a manner.”
“When they invade my castle, I’ll speak to them as I see fit, now do not forget to do as I have asked. I’ll get rid of them if it’s the last thing I do.”
“Yes Lady Jesslyn.”
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