“You want to go to war? Paula, next door, would have a laughing fit.”
His father yelled out as he laughed boomingly. Cassel had once lost in a swordfight with the fourteen-year-old Paula, so he didn’t have much to argue against that.
“Son, think of it as a blessing that the town of Lurune is far from any battle or battlefield. There is enough food in storage where we would not grow hungry this year, and what other village in all of Kamort would you be able to find grain fields as abundant as ours?”
Cassel might have realized the absolute truth to his father’s words in one month’s time, but it seemed like nothing but nagging at that moment.
“Father, do you happen to know Luchi?”
Knowing it was futile to argue with his father, Cassel was still ever obstinate about making his point.
“Oh, the scamp that ranted on and on about being a war hero before leaving town?”
“Well he’s back.”
“My goodness. So he managed to come back with his head attached.”
Cassel’s father muttered sarcastically.
“He didn’t just come back alive, father.”
Three months after Luchi had left the village, he returned home donning an armor of silver and a cape embroidered with a Red Rose insignia. Cassel was star struck with awe the moment he laid eyes on Luchi, mounted atop a single horse adorned with lavish decorations. He even had an attendant in stow!
“That guy, he became a knight of the Red Rose Count. Did you know? He wasn’t even particularly better than me in any way!”
“I never liked the scamp one bit. He was no good and as greedy as they came. So greedy, in fact, he lied as easily as others ate food. Just full of bravado, he was. Wasn’t he the one who tried to rape a widow in the next town at the ripe age of fifteen? And after he failed, what did he do? Boast!…We should have cast him out at the town meeting was what we should have done.”
“But Father! He’s a knight now! A knight! I don’t think you know exactly what a knight is. Should I spell it out for you so you understand? And not only is he a knight, but he’s a Knight of the Red Rose Count – one of Kamort’s greatest knights.”
Cassel was so excited at this point that his voice practically screeched.
“I guess nowadays any fool or mercenary wearing some armor can be called a knight. My son, war is a place hundreds and hundreds of people are left for dead in just one day. And the higher your rank, the easier it is for you to die. And isn’t the war in full swing? Why on earth has he decided come back to town? He’s probably some low rank nobody with no responsibility of real importance. I don’t see how he would be able to leave otherwise.”
“He’s here to recruit more soldiers. Of course that’s important.”
“He decides to come to his home town to recruit people so they can go and die on the battlefield? A right bastard he is!”
His father spit out disgustedly.
“He’s probably here to find people to die in his place so he can go ahead and get promoted! And you envy him?”
Cassel was about to have a stroke from trying to get through to his father. He desperately wished he could show his father the helmet adorned with feathers or the flashing sword Luchi wore on his hip. He was sure the sword alone was worth more than all the equipment in Lurune, the smithy, and mill combined.
“Father, who do think Luchi is with right this second?”
“Well, how on earth would I know who that fool is with?”
“He’s with Janet.”
Only now was he able to catch his father by surprise.
“It’s true. No matter how well I treated her and courted her, she never once looked my way or gave me the time of day. But that same girl is now with Luchi and…”
Cassel could not finish his sentence. Dear Lord, to think those grubby fingers could be touching that beautiful body. But his father continued again in his I-don’t-care voice.
“Huh, that scoundrel’s hands sure are fast. Well, isn’t it a good thing for the both of them? Janet always did wish to go to the big city and marry a knight while Luchi, on the other hand, had been running his mouth about making her, the town’s beauty, into his bride since long ago. Match made in heaven, it seems to me.”
When Cassel opened his mouth in surprise, his father said in a teasing voice.
“Look at this boy! Are you in love with Janet? Then you should have gone and confessed. Alas. How careless of me. Of course a lad who does nothing but read books in his bed could never have the galls to confess to his love. Oh, wait! Then does that mean the real reason you want to go to war is because you want to be more like Luchi?”
“Father, you don’t know anything!”
With that, Cassel stormed out and left the house.
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