The New King

Castle - Book Three

by J. H. Wear

The world of Domum is in turmoil as Lord Darius challenges to be king. Jon McKinney, against Liz`s wishes, volunteers to stay and help defend the kingdom of Horstruff. With the help of Gilbert, Sir Anthony and Council Madoc, Jon leads the battle to defeat Lord Darius.


Chapter One 


Sir Jon McKinney, Dragon Slayer, leaned over the heavy oak table. His thick arms supported him as he peered at a large map filled with small lines and comments. The map was unrolled, held into place by a sword on one end and two rocks on the other.

He muttered a curse under his breath and slowly stood up straight.

“Sir Jon, how’s ya doin’?”

Jon turned to the doorway of the library where Gilbert entered, sporting a toothy grin and gripping a tankard of ale. The library on the second floor of Lord Perry’s castle was nowhere near the size of the main library, although it still held hundreds of books and rolls of paper along the shelves that reached to the ceiling.

“Ah, just a little frustrated in trying to figure out all the possible routes an army can travel on. We not only have to defend the kingdom but also have to attack and engage the enemy. It’s hard to figure out where the enemy might be traveling. This map is so detailed that it’s difficult to figure all these markings.”

Gilbert wandered over and peered at the map. “Lots of little lines be there, Sir Jon.”

“I noticed.”

“I helps you, Sir Jon.”

“Yeah? What advice do you have, Gilbert?”

“Army don’ts like to travel over hills, hard on horses. So that cuts some routes out.”

“Good point, but I did take that into account.”

“Army also has to travel near water. They don’ts like to carry a lot of water. So looks for places near rivers.”

“That makes sense. Gilbert, thanks for your help.” Jon smiled, knowing Gilbert wanted to feel that he was contributing. “Now what brings you here? I thought Lord Perry had you doing some work in town.”

“I is, Sir Jon, I is. Learns some more rumours and went to tell Lord Perry right aways. How come you here? Thought you had a room at Lord Troy’s castle.”

“I did too. But Liz was under the impression I would have too many distractions there.”

Gilbert grinned. “She means the ladies there.”

“I suppose so, but it seemed to me to be unnecessary.” He thought of the women living at Lord Troy’s castle and their habit of walking around topless, or sometimes nude. “I guess I see her point though.” He put his hand on the small man’s shoulder. “It’s time to have some lunch. Come with me, Gilbert. You too, Reesler.” Jon spoke to the gnant waiting in the corner.

Reesler quickly shuffled over. The gnant was made available to Jon by Lord Perry to retrieve items from the shelves in the library. The creature could easily climb to higher areas. Gnants were vaguely human in form but their facial features of elfin ears, sharp teeth and forked tongue made them look demonic in appearance. A hooked nose and a hairy face, coupled with claws on their hands and feet, completed their odd appearance.

Jon, unlike most people, was friendly toward gnants and even befriended a few. Still, he was aware most gnants disliked humans and would like to see all people leave Domum.

They reached a second-floor dining room and a servant quickly inquired what they desired to eat.

Jon gave his order for a sandwich and a pint of ale. He pointed at the gnant. “Bring Reesler something too.”

The servant, a heavy middle-aged man with thinning chestnut coloured hair, didn’t change his stoic expression and quickly complied. The last time he balked at serving a gnant, Jon admonished him, and the clearly worried servant begged for forgiveness.

“So Gilbert, what is going on with you and Donna?” Jon gave him a wink.

Gilbert gave a sheepish smile. “Well, Donna and I are getting alongs pretty good. Her family likes ol’ Gilbert now after I tooks her to the ball at Lord Troy’s a couple of moons ago.”

“Going to marry her?” Jon recalled the wedding of Lord Troy and Patricia in the castle located at the edge of Horstruff. Gilbert, as a citizen of Vegrandis, the district located within the city of Horstruff, was not normally invited to gala events of royalty. However, Gilbert had befriended Lord Troy and began to be included in some of functions at the castle.

“Oh, I don’ts know, Sir Jon. Gilbert has his eye on a few women.” Gilbert held back telling Jon that Donna had turned down his first proposal because of the lack of approval from her father. That problem had disappeared when Gilbert received an invitation to the wedding of Lord Sussex and Lady Patricia. As a result, Donna’s parents saw him in a new light, although Gilbert now wasn’t in a hurry about asking her a second time.

“I’m sure you do, but how many of them have an eye for you? I think you’re lucky to have Donna interested you. Someone may sweep her off her feet if you don’t act soon.”

Gilbert squinted at him. “Donna have someone else after her? What do you knows?” 

Jon spread his hands. “I don’t know for sure, Gilbert, but a pretty girl like her? It just stands to reason.”

Gilbert nodded his head slowly. “You may be rights there, Sir Jon.”

“Just think about it, Gilbert. She may not wait for you forever.”

Jon felt good about giving advice to Gilbert. He liked him and had seen the good side of him unlike many others, but Gilbert was also devious and selfish at times. Jon thought Gilbert just needed to be prodded in the right direction, and in this case to marry Donna rather than just keeping her hanging around as a girlfriend.

“Hello.” Liz sang out in greeting as she stood in the doorway.

Jon broke into a grin. “Hi, how are you doing?” He stared at her in admiration. Her long blue dress with white frills billowed out at her hips, but the body of the dress was tightly fitted, making it appear that she would have trouble breathing in it. The front of the dress had a low scoop neckline and her bosom looked ready to burst out of the top.

“I feel great. I looked for you in the library, but you were gone, so I come to the only place you seem to have time for and that’s where food is.” She walked to the table.

“Sorry, I’ve been busy.”

Liz patted her hand down in his direction. “That’s okay. I’m going back to Lord Troy’s castle for a girls’ night. As soon as a carriage is ready, I’m going to pick up Nicole as well. I thought we should include her and make her feel welcome. She has had a tough time making friends.” 

Jon nodded, knowing that Nicole was originally a barmaid who made a quick ascension in social ranks when she became involved with Sir Anthony Graham. Despite the family’s acceptance of her, she was excluded from most of the social circles in Horstruff.

“I’m sure she’ll enjoy the company of the ladies.”

“Yeah, it’ll be fun.” She partially sat at the edge of the table. “I’ve been thinking about the wedding and figure we have to have the wedding in Ballymiller, but your parents will probably want a second reception in Boston.”

“I suppose they will.”

“That’s what I figured, but what about Domum? Do you want to have a reception here too? You know a lot of people here, so it makes sense to have one here too.”

“I guess a reception here would be okay.”

“Have you figured out who your best man is going to be? How big of a wedding party do you want? I like three bridesmaids and groomsmen, though we could go for four.”

“I think three is more than enough.” Is she serious? Three wedding receptions?

“Well, start planning about what you want for the wedding and who we need to invite. I guess I should check with your mother about some of the people on the invitation list back home. Anyway, we have a lot of work to do. Flowers, invitation cards, decoration, catering and music. You go back to work with your battle stuff. We’ll talk more about this later.”

“Sure, but I think you’re better at details for the wedding.”

“That’s true. Men are hopeless about planning events, unless it’s war.” She walked to him and gave him a long kiss. “See you later.”

After she left, Gilbert looked at Jon. “Ya still think Gilbert should marry Donna?”

Jon slowly nodded. “Just insist it’s a small wedding. Better still, elope.”

J.H. Wear - "Castle 3: The New King"


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