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by on April 28, 2015

It was quiet in the countryside, but then, Evinrude lived in a quiet age. There weren’t the distant wails of police sirens or ambulances racing to hospitals, there weren’t car horns or train horns or bicycle bells, there wasn’t even the constant sea-like roar of cars on the interstate racing away to parts unknown. All Evinrude could hear as he stared out into the night was the occasional distant hooting of a lonely owl. That was it. Just long stretches of painful silence, broken only by a faint hoo. 

He should’ve been back at the castle, he knew. But Evinrude needed to think. His life had gotten suddenly complicated, and he had to take a minute and sort it out. So he had ridden off alone into the country, living behind his outraged attendants and courtiers. Princes usually didn’t go away on night-time trips into the country by themselves. It wasn’t responsible. But Evinrude, in the end, ignored them and took off. He was the Prince of House Charming, the sole surviving member (not counting his sister Genevieve, who’d been turned into a tree after bad-mouthing a Dryad). Princes could do things like go off by themselves to think. What could go wrong?

Evinrude had problems. For one, his prime minister had just died. The prince wasn’t terribly broken up; the man was dull as ditchwater, and had never said a personal word to Evinrude in his life. He had been a capable administrator, though, and now Evinrude was stuck with finding a replacement. Worse, he might have to rule the country himself. His parents had long since died, but Evinrude had successfully held off his own coronation as king on the grounds that the prime minister  was handling things well enough. Now that the poor old boy was gone, Evinrude had no excuses. Princes could get away with a lot; kings, on the other hand, couldn’t. They had responsibilities. That was a word that sent shudders up Evinrude’s spine.

His second problem involved love. Love, and politics, which was a ghastly combination. He had been engaged for some while to Princess Amaryllis of House Marian, a match set up for him by his parents before their deaths. House Marian had a significant treasury and a large number of knights sworn to their banner. The hope was that combining Marian’s strength with House Charming would secure Charming’s position forever, and ward off any possible challenges to Evinrude’s crown. Evinrude and Amaryllis would have to do their part in producing heirs, but even so, that shouldn’t have been a problem. Unfortunately, Evinrude had begun corresponding with Lady Eulalie, whose family ruled Isle Turtledove. He had saved her life from a giant snake, she had been grateful, and so they had been writing. She had even attended the Christmas Ball the previous year. Evinrude liked her. He liked her a lot more than Amaryllis, who never wrote or spoke to him, and whom he hardly even knew. On the other hand, he knew disastrous things could happen when a prince abandoned a commitment to marry someone in order to marry someone else. House Turtledove didn’t have many sworn banners, and its finances were reportedly gloomy. It was a vexing dilemma.

Then, he heard the flutter of wings. It didn’t sound like the distant owl. It sounded like a messenger bird. That meant trouble.

The message was three sentences. A dragon had attacked Isle Turtledove. Eulalie was missing. Send help.

Evinrude reached automatically for his sword. A random lady in a pond had thrown it at him a while back. It was supposed to be good at slaying dragons. He hadn’t had a chance to use it before. Now he did. As he raced back to the castle, messenger bird squawking indignantly in his wake, Evinrude had entirely forgotten about Amaryllis.

  1. My kind of story! I loved it, complete with a prince!♥

  2. I’m glad you liked it! I’ve been wanting to get back to Evinrude for a while, so I’m glad he’s worked out so far. 🙂

  3. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    A sword thrown by a “random lady in a pond.” Haha. I hope it’s the right one. I’m so happy to see there is more to this saga.

    • I hope it’s the right one too. As Monty Python properly observed, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. 🙂

  4. Such a haunting tale. I want to know how it ends! 🙂

  5. Man, that Evinrude has some first medieval-world problems. Accepting responsibility of a king, choosing which woman to marry. Rough life.

    • As compared to being turned into a tree by an offended dryad or getting flamed by a dragon, yes, I suppose Evinrude needs to put his issues in perspective.

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