I thought I would give you an excerpt from a chapter of A Knight’s Quest.  I hope you will enjoy it, I apologize for not checking in sooner.  I am currently working a midnight shift and need to fit some sleep in there somewhere!

Miles and Lasher entered the inn and found a table near the hearth.  Addie was there immediately with two mugs of ale and a trencher of cold meats and cheese.  Lasher thanked her for the fare and took a long draught of his ale.  “So, my friend” Lasher said.  “How do you think Thomas will do with his lessons in combat and weaponry?”  Miles took a long draught of his ale too, and stabbed a piece of cheese with his eating blade before answering.  “I think that the boy will do fine.  He has much to learn, though.  He listens intently when I speak, but it remains to be seen how well he will do when I actually begin the hands on experiences with him.”  Lasher nodded.  “There is much he will need to learn about riding as well.  He has only ridden Aquilla once alone; I did not take the time to teach him any finer skills at the time.  I thought that he would be staying at the village of Malika, and that I would be returning for him.  I did not know at the time that I would be having him with me as a companion.”  Miles laughed.  “I think that he had it planned the whole time, if you ask me.  He is not such a foolish boy after all; he wanted to join with you, and nothing that you could have said or done would have changed his mind.  I give the boy a lot of credit; he has proven that he is inventive and capable.”  Lasher frowned.  “It was a foolish thing to follow us like that; he could have been injured or even killed.  He is not yet a knight, even though he shows the potential to become a noble one.  I would have blamed myself if anything would have befallen the boy in his foolish attempt to follow us.”   Miles nodded.  “The boy is fine, and for that I am grateful.  I will agree that he was foolish to follow us.  He should have stayed where he was and waited for you to return for him.  I do understand what it is to feel the need to right the wrong done to you.  I live with the hope everyday that I will one day meet up with the one that took the life of my Anya.  Foolish as that may seem to some, I cannot let that act go unpunished.  I shall be the judge, jury and executioner in this.  Perhaps I will finally have the peace that I seek when I find and destroy the one who destroyed my happiness.”  Lasher could see the pain etched in Miles’ features.  He knew very little about Anya Darkblade.  He did know that she meant a great deal to her husband.  Miles was prepared to die in his quest, if necessary.  Lasher understood this part of Miles very well; they were the same in the way that they loved their wives.  Addie returned to their table to refill their empty mugs with more of the strong ale.  Lasher waved off her offer of more meats and cheese.  Soon the two men were well into their cups and had even managed to play several games of dice.  Addie made sure to keep their mugs full. The two men were happy to drink as long as she filled their mugs.  The inn was full of men sitting and enjoying the ale and games of dice.  Two men were in the back corner throwing knives at a target that hung upon the wall.  Raucous laughter came from the corner as one of the men hit the center of the target with his knife.  Addie was doing a fine job of dodging the men as they grabbed at her and made lewd comments.  Miles watched as one man grabbed his privates and told Addie exactly what he wanted to do to her.  She laughed at him and told him that men who carried short swords should not be braggarts.  This brought a growl of disapproval from the drunken man, and raucous laughter from all of the other men who were close enough to hear her comment.  Miles grinned as he watched her handle the drunk and rowdy patrons with an ease that spoke of experience in handling these kinds of situations.

The sudden sound of hissing steel being pulled from a sheath broke the quiet of the room.  All eyes turned to the man that Addie had just insulted with her comment about his sword being too short.  In the space of a heartbeat, the man grabbed Addie by her hair and wrapped it like a rope around his wrist, reeling her into him.  Addie dropped the tray she carried to the floor as the man jerked back upon her hair.  He held the blade of his sword against the pale white skin of her throat. The blade cut into the tender flesh of her soft skin.  A thin ribbon of crimson appeared where the knife had found its mark.  Addie’s eyes were wide with fear.  Her throat had gone dry making it impossible for her to scream.  She whimpered as he grabbed her breast in his beefy fist and squeezed her tender flesh; bruising it as he did so.  She stood still, letting the man violate her.  He still held the blade to her throat.  Resistance was futile.  Some of the men taunted and encouraged her captor to complete his act of rape.  In her fear, Addie began to struggle.  She cried out as the blade of the knife cut deeper into her flesh.  She could feel the sticky warmth of her blood as it ran down her throat and into the valley between her breasts.  Miles stood up from the table.  The features on his face a mask of anger.  Lasher stood as well.  Both men turned to face Addie’s assailant.  Addie’s eyes darted to Miles’ as he reached for his blade.  The slow hiss of steel cut through the silence as Miles pulled the dragon master’s sword from the scabbard at his side.  Lasher drew his sword as well.  Miles raised a staying hand and spoke with a voice of deadly calm.  “This will be my fight, friend.  You may see to it that the others here stay honest and keep out of it.”  Lasher nodded and lowered his sword.  Miles walked toward the man that held Addie, his eyes never leaving the man as he did so.  Addie could feel the man’s grip tighten about her as Miles stood and walked toward them.  She looked into Miles’ eyes and shivered at the sight that she saw there.  He had the look of a panther stalking its prey.  He was poised and ready to strike.  His muscles were flexed and ready for whatever demand his body made of them.  His eyes never left those of the man who held her.  Addie could hear the man’s breathing pick up its pace as he held her.  He yanked her hard against his chest as he backed away from Miles.  The stench of male sweat mixed with the smell of ale on his breath filled her nostrils.   She sucked in a breath trying to fill her lungs as he squeezed the air from them in his fear of Miles’ approach.  She had ceased her struggles and now stood still in the man’s arms.  Miles stood before the two of them.  His sword held in his hand, his stance that of a prepared warrior.  “Another step and I will slit her throat warrior!”  The man said.  To make his point, he pressed the blade deeper into Addie’s flesh causing her to cry out.  Addie looked at Miles with tear filled eyes, imploring him to stay where he was.  Miles stood his ground.  He neither advanced nor retreated.  “What kind of man uses a woman as a shield?”  He asked.  The man began to back up dragging Addie with him.  “The bitch insulted me!”  He shouted.  “I have me rights!  I don’t take kindly to insults from a woman, especially a whore!”  “I care not if she is a whore or a lady of fine quality.”  Miles said with a deadly calm.  “The simple fact that she is a woman and your ill use of her makes me very angry.  She can hardly best you in a fight, so why do you choose to brutalize her?  I clearly heard the lady refuse all of your advances.  You should learn how to take no for an answer, friend.  It seems that I will have to give you a lesson that you will not soon forget.”

Miles was prepared for the man’s next action as he shoved Addie away from him and into his awaiting arms.  Miles spun with Addie tightly in his arms, handing her into Lasher’s waiting grip.  He turned and faced the stranger who now had a broad sword poised for a fight.  The clash of steel rang out in the tavern as the two swords swung up to mate in midair.  The force of the blades striking caused sparks to emit from their edges.  Patrons moved away from the two men who stood in the middle of the room fighting with the same determination.  Miles’ face was a mask of concentration as he watched his opponent for any sign of weakness or faltering step.  He knew that he was more experienced and a better fighter than his counterpart.  He exuded confidence as he fought his opponent, backing him into a corner where he had no retreat or escape.  The ring of steel hitting and sliding across the floor rang out as Miles disarmed his opponent.  He stood there with the deadly tip of his sword pointed at the man’s throat.  The stranger stood with his back pressed up against the wall.  His head turned to one side as he tried to avoid the tip of Miles’ sword.  His chest rose and fell with much effort.  He took in great gulps of vital air; fear clearly showing upon his features.  A smile slowly spread across Miles’ face.  With a flick of his wrist he carved a vee into the notch at the man’s throat.  The stranger cried out as the blade found its mark.  His blood began to flow down the front of his already filthy tunic.  He looked at Miles, fear in his eyes.  Miles stared back at him.  “How does it feel?  To be the one on the receiving end of the blade?”  He said as he pressed the blade of his sword closer to the man’s throat.  The man began to tremble as the realization that he might have to forfeit his life set in.  Miles quickly removed his blade from the man’s throat and stood looking at the man, waiting for his response.  The man lowered his blade as well.  He stood silent, staring back at Miles.  “I will not kill you,” Miles said to the man.  “I will allow you to leave this place alive and well.  If I see you again while I am here in this city, I will kill you.  Do I make myself clear on this matter?”  The man wiped the back of his hand across his dry mouth while his other hand wiped the blood away from his throat.  He nodded as he made his way around Miles and to the door.  Miles turned to Lasher and slapped him on the back.  The two men headed back to their table and resumed their game of dice.  Addie walked over to the table where the two men sat and smiled shyly at Miles.  “Milord, I wish to thank you for me life.  It was a very brave thing that you did.  I do not know of many that would risk their life for someone that they do not know.”  Addie bent down and placed a gentle kiss on Miles’ cheek, blushing as she turned to leave.  Miles grabbed Addie by her wrist as she turned, spinning her around to face him.  He pulled her down to him and placed a tender kiss upon her lips “You are most welcome, milady” he said.  Miles smiled as she stood there with her fingers pressed against her lips, her complexion a flushed rosy pink.  She looked like an innocent child who had experienced her first kiss, as she stood there all aglow.  Lasher watched Miles’ antics with a bemused look upon his face.  Addie was completely flustered by the attention that Miles had just given her.  She turned and quickly ran out of the room. Bumping into a table and spilling the contents of the patron’s mugs of ale across the wooden top.  She said some hasty words of remorse and fled the tavern.  Both Miles and Lasher laughed boisterously as Addie made her retreat.  “I think you have damaged her, my friend!”  Lasher said his eyes full of mischief.  “I merely gave her a kiss, nothing more.  Tis not like I offered to bed the wench, quite the contrary.  I was just returning her kindness,” Miles said as he took a long draught of his ale.  “It has been a long time since I have had the pleasure of rescuing a maid Lasher; I think I could get used to this.  Even so, I do not care for men who use their strength to overpower a woman, he was not only doing that, he was going to rape and perhaps even kill her.”  “I thought that you were starting to change your mind about bedding a wench there for a moment, friend.  I must say, you do have a way with the ladies.  First Lissa was panting for you, and now this young wench, Addie.  You will have to share your secrets with me, I think that I need some lessons.”  Lasher laughed as Miles shook his head at his words.  “You do not need lessons, friend” he said.  “You need another drink!”  Miles poured their mugs full once more from the pitcher of ale that had been brought to their table.  The men sat in the tavern for several more hours drinking, playing dice and enjoying their surroundings.  It was near dawn when they decided to seek out their beds.

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