The Secrets of Kings: Season 2 Episode 5

7:00 AM

Season 2: Episode 5

Damien: The Northern Knave

July 9, 1390, 11:27 AM

Peeking through the deep brush, Damien eyed the small fallow doe he had been tracking for the past hour. Her large brown eyes were focused down upon the small patch of grass she had been consuming as a late-morning snack. With her focus diverted, Damien reached over his shoulder and began to slowly and quietly guide an arrow out of the quiver on his back. He placed the arrow in his bow and lined up his shot. As he adjusted his position, a small stick under his foot produced a muffled snap.
The doe’s neck and ears popped up at attention and she began to move cautiously backwards, ready to flee with any hint of an additional disturbance. Luckily, for Damien, her alert stance, perfectly exposed her breast. Unwilling to allow his dinner to escape, he quickly pulled back the bow string, then released his arrow, perfectly hitting his target. The Doe, in a shocked state, stood on its hind legs and careened to the side. However, Damien had wasted no time in pulling and prepping an additional arrow and caught the Doe in the belly while she was still in midair. She quickly fell to the ground as a result of her injuries and quivered there in obvious duress.
Damien approached his kill and pulled his knife from a sheath on his belt. He was good at killing, but never good at watching the suffering of the animals that had had the ill fate of meeting his killing tools. “I’m sorry dear. But I have a houseful to feed and your sacrifice means life to us.” He explained to his suffering victim before plunging his knife violently through her skull. Only a few moments later, the doe went limp.
After securing the animal’s front and back legs, through pure brute strength, Damien pulled the deer across his shoulders and made his way to his abode with his prize in tow. As he travelled, he could feel the warm, sticky blood of his kill soaking through his layers of clothing. The trek was thankfully a short one but he was fairly saturated by the time he reached the clearing where the place he had come to consider home stood in the center of the forest. He made his way a short distance from the main home structure, behind which he had built a smoke house where he would work to prepare and preserve his large game. He placed the deer on the table and worked diligently over the next few hours to skin and prepare the meat to be smoked - setting aside a couple of larger chunks of fresh meat to be cooked that evening.
Once his work was done, he brought his contribution to the evening’s meal into the cottage. Brielle greeted him with a smile when she saw the treat he carried in his hands. “Blessed day!” She exclaimed. “I see that the forest has brought you great gifts today!” She took the meat chunks from his hands, brought them over to a table, and began to slice them down into smaller pieces.
“A small doe. I have prepared the rest to be smoked and stored.”
“Excellent. We shall eat well this winter. Sometime this evening, can you pull some from our stores? I will be sending them along with our friends here when they leave.”
He nodded slightly. He was unhappy to think that they would be losing some of their rations, but he owed Brielle a lot and decided against questioning her request. Afterall, she had once took mercy on him, many years ago and he, perhaps, would not be around at all had she refused him in his most dire time of need.
The young woman they had been hosting for the past days sat across the table from Brielle and attempted to slice vegetables. She mostly kept her eyes down, but every once in a while, would peek up.  Ponce had told both him and Brielle that the girl was a kitchen wench from the capital who was travelling North to be married off. However, there was something strange about that story. Her clothing was a bit too pristine and her kitchen skills were obviously non-existent. She did not know the first thing about how to prepare dishes or even use a large kitchen knife without explanation from Brielle. In addition, her obviously altered state upon her arrival signaled to Damien that there was something going on to which he was not being made privy.
Damien felt a bit confused, however, because Brielle seemed so unfazed by the obvious fishiness of the story her old friend Ponce was attempting to sell them. However, as much as this place had come to represent a sense of “home” for him, Damien was also a guest in Brielle’s home and chose to keep his opinions and observations regarding her old friend to himself. Besides, he was much more interested in trying to figure out in his own head why the young woman looked so familiar to him. Ponce had introduced her as “Emmie,” a name that did not seem immediately familiar, but there was something about her that lit up distant corners of his memory. Unfortunately, he could not quite put the puzzle together yet.
“I’m going to go out and finish my rounds.” He announced to Brielle.
“Is that necessary? You just brought home and filleted a deer.”
“The doe was a bit of a distraction.” He peeked around Brielle, to see Ponce resting in front of the fire, so he whispered the next bit to keep it between them. “I never made it out to the signaling post.”
Brielle offered him an exasperated and disapproving look, eyeing him from the side. She did not approve of his mercenary work, but it kept the two of them safe in the ever tumultuous northern political climate and also provided them monetary security, albeit meager. He could see the unease in her eyes, but offered nothing but a shrug in return. They both knew his work was necessary and a means to an end in more than one way. After a few heavy sighs and uncomfortable moments, Brielle resigned, “First be sure to change out of those blood soaked clothes. You don’t need to attract any night time prowlers if you happen to get caught out after dark.”
“You worry too much.”
“Maybe so. But I feel responsible for you. I think that earns me certain worrying privileges. Aye? I want to you to be as safe as possible out there. Can you at least do that for me?”
“Brielle…” He began to rebut.
“Eh!” She interrupted. “Just say you’ll be safe, will you?”
He sighed deeply, in play exhaustion. “Yes ma’am.” He offered with a small sheepish smile, wink, and a  quick but exaggerated salute. He turned on his heel and made his way to his room to clean himself up and grab the new set of clothing which Brielle demanded of him. He knew she was right, after all. It was the middle of summer and the wolves in these forests were well regarded for their cruel nocturnal deeds.
In just a short while he was set to re-enter the forest. He slipped out of the back entrance of the home and made his way to the small stable just to the East. He opened the doors, lead out his palfrey, and mounted her, ready for their short but rough journey through the early evening woods.
Ponce approached him from the direction of the house, calling out as he got nearer. “You headed out again, are you?”
“What business is it of yours?”
“I suppose it is not. Just getting late, is all... and these woods can be unforgiving. Any number of dangers lurking about out here in the wild.”
“I can take care of myself.” Damien shot back, whipping the reins to jolt his horse into action.
“I’m sure you can.” He heard Ponce loudly retort from a short distance behind.

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