For the month of November, I will be showcasing excerpts from the short stories in Women of Foxwick. Today, I have an excerpt from "Lady Bard."
A shadow fell over Lyrica. The lady bard paused mid-strum to listen to the forest sounds. Birds no longer chirped along with her music. The gentle babbling brook that flowed through Greymist Grove had become her only accompaniment. Not even a breeze rustled the leaves as Lyrica breathed in the floral scent of budding fruit trees.
I must be imagining things. Her fingers danced along the lute’s taunt strings. The melody bubbled with joyful laughter and matched the brook’s speech, note for note. The bard hummed to the cheerful tune and hoped she could lure the birds back out to sing with her.
A high-pitched screech startled her off the log she perched upon. Lute in hand, she scrambled to her feet. Men crashed through the forest’s undergrowth and surrounded her. She clutched her instrument to her body as if the wood and string could protect her against their swords. They bore the insignia of the fox upon their chests, but knowing they were the king’s guards did little to ease the fear strangling her.
“Who are you?” Her voice trembled over the words.
One guard stepped forward and produced a scroll. “By order of King Felix of Foxwick, all musicians are to report to the castle posthaste. State your name and instrument.”
Her eyes narrowed and Lyrica lowered her lute to her side. What did the king want with a bard? “I’m Lyrica, a lady bard. I play the lute and sing.”
The men closed around her.
“Then you are to come with us.” The same man rolled up the scroll and whistled.
Two rocs—the largest birds she’d ever seen—rose over the trees and set their travel baskets upon the ground. Their foot-long talons curled over the top, and cold eyes pierced her soul.
Lyrica started to back away from the beasts, but the guards held her firm.
“What does the king want with me?” Her voice rose in pitch with each word. She glanced around her grove for something to help her, but she saw nothing. She’d lived in seclusion for so long in her safe little forest. How could she have been foolish enough to go without a weapon?
“Your king has summoned you.” A guard shoved her into the basket.
The lute pressing against her chest, Lyrica collapsed in the corner. She closed her eyes. The mighty roc flew the guards and her to the castle, her heart beating in time with their wings.