Disclaimer: The characters belong
to Marvel and are not used for profit purposes, but the scenario
in which they find themselves belongs to me. If you'll read
a wee bit further in the story, you'll see that this is a
sequel to A Horse of Another
Color. I'm working on a rewrite of it, so expect to
see part 3 of the rewritten version by tomorrow. In the meantime,
I've been planning this sequel for ages now and wanted to
get it started. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sword and the Rose
After three hours spent sparring in the sun, the Lady Sabrina
leBeau was sweaty, grass-stained and bruised. Practice swords,
although incapable of permanent injury, could deliver a nasty
blow and it seemed to her that she had taken more than her
fair share of injury. Remy, on the other hand, was smirking
more by the minute, enjoying his victory over his wife. For
what felt like the thousandth time, she was driven back, disarmed
and given a sharp smack to her ribs for her trouble. He took
his duties as her trainer very seriously. Asking him to teach
her had been a bad idea, she thought viciously, one of her
worst, if the truth be told.
After her ordeal with the Mage, Sabrina had decided that
she did not want to rely on her lover's chivalry - which seemed
to have disappeared the instant they stepped onto the field
- or flimsy daggers or spells. If the cataclysm which Destiny
had predicted was to come to pass, then she needed to be prepared
in every way possible. What had the prophecies foretold? That
when the Sword and Rose become one, the earth will be plunged
into a darkness which only they, united, can dispel. Typical
mystic hyperbole, but she had become less skeptical since
her last experience with legend. According to her previous
world-view, she should not exist. The Great Sorceress was,
after all, a myth. Although, as the most powerful magic-user
in the world, she was more than capable of defending herself
by less conventional means, there was something to be said
for a length of steel in her hand. Not much at the moment,
she admitted as she took another hit to her thigh. At the
moment, magic was infinitely superior for dealing with husbands
who got too cocky about their fighting prowess.
With an impish smile, she reached out her awareness to the
tough vines that entwined the trees in the copse behind their
keep. Their primitive consciousness responded to her mind-touch,
writhing and twisting across the grass. Remy was so engrossed
in humiliating her that he did not hear their rapid progress
across the field. Smile broadening, magically twisting them
around his ankles, she had them yank him to the floor with
a thud as he lunged at her with the wooden blade. He swore
in a manner that betrayed his years spent as a highwayman,
then met her triumphant grin with a teasing one of his own.
"I thought the Great Sorceress' magic was only used
to nurture and heal."
"I feel better," she parried, touching her
'sword' to his chest, "Much better."
Disintegrating the vines into ash, he stood, dusting leaf-mould
off his breeches. Sabrina allowed herself an appraising stare.
Muscled more like an acrobat than a fighter, a shirtless Remy
was a pleasant, if somewhat common sight. He insisted on helping
the villagers build barns or houses and harvest crops in a
way that would have made his father proud. Jean-Luc's conception
of a Lord was different from the plump, lazy nobles that surrounded
the King, and his son took after him in more ways than one.
Loving him, she kissed the star-shaped scar on his cheek.
The sense of completion, that came every time that she touched
him, thrilled through her. How had her predecessors lived
without their counterpart, the Avatar? How had they managed
to be whole, when they were only half a being? He sighed as
the pain dissipated.
"You're the only woman I know who can really kiss it
"I'd hope that that knowledge wasn't gained through
experimentation," she pointed her practice sword mock-threateningly
at him. He smirked, bringing up his own to disarm her. As
had happened all the times before, the wooden weapon flew
in the air and he caught it. Soon, two toy-arms were directed
at her. She groaned theatrically.
"It's hopeless, Rem. You'll win no matter what I do,
because that's what the gods created you for. To be a swordsman."
His eyes were mischievious, "Oh, I don't think that's
all I'm good for, Sabrina."
She flushed, suddenly fascinated with the pattern of wild
flowers on the turf. They had not been married for that long
and years of cultural conditioning, however much she despised
their influence on her, caused her to avoid discussing ...
certain, not unpleasant marital duties. Still, the few rumors
that reached the ears of the 'young Lady leBeau' were to be
believed, certain Nice Young Men in the village had belatedly
seen the error of their ways when the sky above the keep had
filled with firefly-molecules of phosphorescence on their
wedding night. As they had fallen on the village like luminous
snow, they had become flower petals which retained their freshness
even weeks after the event. Good wives still used them to
freshen sheets or to decorate cakes. For those who were awake,
a sword around which a rose was twined was said to have appeared
from the brilliance. A voice whispered or shouted - the villagers
were strangely unsure - that: "The Sword and Rose are
become One." Frankly, Sabrina was more than a little
embarrassed by the whole affair, although she had been blissfully
unaware of it on the night itself. For reasons which she felt
would be improper to divulge, of course.
"Yes, you're also fairly useful around the kitchen,"
she replied, deliberately misunderstanding.
He quirked an eyebrow, "That's one of the two rooms
To her intense relief, she saw a liveried servant picking
his way across the field from the Keep. Unlike the heraldic
gules and vert of the leBeaux, this one was dressed solely
in gold with a floppy, purple-velvet hat on his head. He had
an expression of extreme distaste on his face as he picked
his way through the still damp grass, as if it were beneath
him to step on anything lower than mink or velvet.
"Do you recognise the colours?" she asked, gathering
her will to strike if he was an enemy.
Remy nodded, a grim expression on his face. The wooden sword
in his hand had suddenly become blue-steel, crackling with
energy up and down the length of the blade. His eyes blazed,
while his voice had the same supernatural resonance as it
had when he confronted the Mage. He was completely the Avatar
at the moment, she thought, while she was merely herself.
As the youth approached, she could see that he was one of
the fops who inevitably were in the service of His Royal Highness.
The King was not fond of sturdy, brave men who might plan
rebellion, and who might overthrow him. His eyes were elaborately
painted in gold and purple, while his cheeks and lips were
brilliant red in a mime-pale face. Disgust on every feature,
he looked Sabrina up and down disapprovingly.
In a pair of Remy's spare breeches with a loose cotton shirt
that showed too much skin to be respectable for a Lady of
the court, she knew she looked a picture. Drawing on reserves
of hauteur that she did not know she had, she stood straighter
and met his stare. Deciding that he too needed a lesson in
manners, she concentrated and her husband's clothes shimmered
into a green, silk gown, dotted with embroidered moon-flowers.
The silver half-moon in her throat glowed white-hot and the
servant gasped, backing away slightly from her.
"Have you met my wife?" Remy said pleasantly, "Sabrina.
She's probably better known as the Great Sorceress though."
To her secret delight, Remy had taken the opportunity to
call upon the gleaming, red-gold Aegis Armour. Now more flame
than man, the scar on his cheek - the Celestial Cicatrix -
burned, rivalling the brilliance of his eyes. The fop dropped
to his knees, grovelling in a manner that would have delighted
"Milady, Milord, I ... I had no idea ... Can you...?"
"Stand," her voice was cool, but not unfriendly,
"Why are you here?"
"I have ... I have an invitation from the King,"
he proferred an invitation with a shaking hand, averting his
eyes, "He ... There is a conclave at Court and ... he
thinks you should ... attend."
"Why?" he sounded suspicious, taking the thin card
from him and wrinkling his nose as he read the script. The
amount of gold coating the edges was ridiculous, Sabrina thought,
it would feed their village for a year.
"It ... to discuss matters of government ... Milord,
you are responsible for this land and must give an account
to the King."
This ridiculous fop truly expected them to believe a scheme
as transparent as this one? It was evidently an attempt to
lure him to court where the King's guards could take him into
custody and finish the job that the Mage's guards had botched.
She snapped, "Your King tried to kill my husband. How
are we to know this isn't another plot?"
"Sabrina," Remy put a soothing hand around her
wrist, "Tell the King that the Lord and Lady leBeau will
be honoured to attend his meeting and that we hope that this
will be the beginning of further amities between our two families."
The coxcomb smiled in relief, then dipped into a bow that
should have dislocated his back. All but genuflecting as he
walked, he made his way back up to the Keep. Sabrina waited
until he left, regarding her husband with a decidely dangerous
expression on her lovely face.
"Rem, have you gone quite insane?" she exploded,
rounding on him, "The King won't be able to act directly
with the other nobles there, but he will have every assassin
and bounty-hunter in the kingdom on your tail."
"For my father's sake," he replied grimly, hand
resting on the hilt of the Spirit Sword, "I'm counting
Continued in Chapter
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