~ The Birth of Lord Jesse ~
Written by KW Jordan
Disclaimers: All rights to this story belong to KW Jordan.
Adult content: There’s plenty of violence & foul language. No sexual content, but there is obvious love between two members of the female gender.
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At thirteen summers old, Lady Jessen of Byron was being trained for the day when the time would come for her to take her place as the ruler of her family's clan and their village. She deeply hoped that it would be a long time from now, but she knew that the only one whom could determine that would be the Goddess herself.
Jessen stood in front of a large open window in her bedchambers, her blue and indigo eyes staring thoughtfully out at the surrounding village of Byron.
Jessen's attention was drawn away from the window when she heard the doors to her bedchamber open and the loud, happy squeals of her younger sister, Kersen announced her arrival. Jessen's eyes brightened upon sight of her father's advisor, Ronin. "Ronin, what brings ya here ta my chambers?"
Ronin's dark green eyes twinkled as she hoisted the small form of Kersen further up in her arms. "The little tyke wants ta see ya. I wouldn't 'ave just walked in if it weren't fer her. I know how ye are about 'er."
Jessen grinned and reached out to take Kersen into her arms. She pulled Kersen tightly against her chest and buried her face in Kersen's curly dark blonde hair. Jessen smiled as she pulled back and settled Kersen more comfortably in her arms. Knowing the three year old, Jessen had stopped wearing jewelry long ago for fear of having her neck or something else injured by a sharp tug from Kersen's small, strong hands. "Thank you, Ronin. What's on Father's agenda for the day?"
Ronin smirked. "Nothing too important, would you like me to request for him to join you lasses for a picnic or a stroll through the gardens?"
Jessen smiled shyly and blushed, much to her own annoyance as she quietly asked. "Would you join us?"
Ronin was about to reply but the harried entrance of one of Lord Johan’s servants interrupted her words. "Advisor Ronin, Lady Jessen, please forgive me for bargin' in, but the Lord needs Advisor Ronin. He's had another vision..." The servant swallowed loudly before he continued. "It doesn't look too good, he was ashen."
Ronin nodded and waved a hand at the servant in dismissal. When the servant had left the room, Ronin turned back to Jessen with a frown marring her beautiful, olive-toned features. "I'm sorry, My Little One. We shall wait 'till I've spoken with your father."
Jessen nodded quietly and watched as Ronin left the room. Settling into a chair near the fireplace, Jessen spoke softly to Kersen. "Looks as if it's just you and I for the day, Kersie; what shall we do?"
"There's an attack that will soon take place. The Romans have located Byron and they're comin'. I've no idea when they'll arrive, but I want to take action now." Lord Johan stated.
Ronin's furrowed her eyebrows consternation as she spoke. "What do you want us to do? We've no idea when they'll get here or how many!"
Johan's shoulders slumped as he sat back in his throne, his crystal blue eyes staring into the green eyes of his advisor and his oldest daughter's intended. Johan’s voice sounded defeated as he spoke. "I know that, Ronin. I just want to do something to protect my clan, can ye blame me?"
Ronin placed a strong, large hand on Lord Johan's shoulder. "I understand; do ye think that I want Lady Jessen or Lady Kersen here if there is to be a battle? I need one moon to decide what we should do."
Johan frowned as he listened to Ronin. He knew that Ronin was much wiser than her twenty-one summers would lead others to believe which was why she had been his advisor for three years. He felt a sense of urgency about this situation, but he would give her the chance to find another way. He patted Ronin's hand as he replied. "You better have something planned by then, or I'll be the one ta make the decisions."
Ronin nodded in acceptance, her green eyes flashing with challenge. "I'll come up with something. I certainly wouldn't want ta miss out on a chance ta bash some Roman heads in."
Johan shook his head. "Just be sure that theirs are the only ones that get bashed in or it'll be your head bashed in by Jessen's hands."
Ronin winked a green eye. "Don't worry 'bout her. I wouldn't want My Little One angry at me. She's a dangerous lady when her ire is unleashed."
Johan chuckled. He knew Jessen's temper as well as his own. He thought back on the vision he'd had of Ronin and Jessen's joining the first time he'd met Ronin. Johan knew of Jessen's confusion toward her feelings for Ronin and he knew it would only be a matter of time before she realized that she was in love with Ronin, her soul mate. He sighed. "Ah, Ronin; seriously, try being careful. I want you whole when my daughter realizes her feelings for you."
Ronin smiled softly at her thoughts of the beautiful Lady Jessen. "I just worry that she'll find out that you intend for us ta be joined before she is ready. She's a fireball when she wants ta be and I've no intentions of bein' the object of her anger."
Jessen groaned in relief as she placed her sword on the ground of the training field. She'd been training with her squire for three candle-marks and now she could rest. As she dropped to the ground beside the broadsword, Jessen looked around the now empty training grounds. Her squire had already left her to herself as she'd requested and Kersen was with the nanny.
Jessen glanced over her shoulder when she heard quiet footsteps approaching and smiled at the sight of an extremely disheveled Ronin exiting the weapons storage building. "What brings you to the field, Ronin? Suddenly get the urge ta learn how ta use a real sword?"
Ronin mock glared at Jessen's unsubtle goading. Since Jessen had begun training with the broadsword two summers ago, she’d enjoyed mocking Ronin's choice of a long sword. "Watch yerself, Little One. Else wise ye might find yerself arse up over me lap again. Didn't I hear you bitchin' and moanin' 'bout yer arse still hurtin' from t'other day just this morn?"
Jessen blushed and stood, picking her sword up to re-sheath it in the scabbard on her back as she muttered. "You heard no such thing."
Ronin stopped behind Jessen and ran her tongue over her teeth. She gave Jessen a sharp swat on her backside without warning and snickered at the loud yelp that she elicited. "Doesn't still hurt, eh? Usually takes more 'n that ta make you squeal like a pig."
Jessen rolled her eyes and turned to face Ronin, her hands going to her hips as she glared. "I do not squeal like a pig!"
Ronin smirked and turned to walk toward the castle as she shouted over her shoulder. "Well, whatever it is that you call it, it isn't too lady-like!"
Jessen huffed and ran after Ronin, her shorter legs eating up the distance as she ran toward Ronin. When she reached Ronin, Jessen tackled Ronin and they fell to the ground. They rolled around for several minutes trying to pin each other to the ground until Ronin succeeded and straddled Jessen's waist. She stared down into angry blue and indigo and shook her head. "Now, should a future ruler be actin' in such a manner? I believe I should take you over my lap for such lack of respect."
Jessen laughed but the laugh was cut short when she noticed the still serious look in Ronin's eyes. She licked her lips nervously and choked out. "Surely you jest! I didn't mean anything by it, honest! I just..." Jessen's words trailed off as she struggled to explain herself.
Ronin frowned as she released Jessen's hands. She hadn't meant to let the situation with the Romans bother her at that moment but it just crept into her mind that this could be the last time that she'd get to play around with Jessen like this. Ronin trailed her fingertips down Jessen's soft cheek and shook her head. "T'is not what was botherin' me, My Little One; I wouldn't punish you for playin' around. Lord Johan had a vision of the Romans attacking us and it's quite possible that it will happen."
Jessen's features darkened with worry. "Have we made any plans of defense; anything at all to protect our people?"
Ronin smiled sadly. "Always worried about every one else, My Little One." Ronin leaned down to place a soft kiss on Jessen's cheek. When she straightened up, she rolled off Jessen and got to her feet. Reaching a hand down, Ronin took Jessen's hand and pulled Jessen to her feet. "Do not worry, Jessen. We'll take care of it."
One month and a day later:
Johan settled into his throne, a frown etched deeply into his features. He'd had another vision as he readied for bed and it had him extremely unsettled. He knew now that he needed to get both Ronin and Kersen away from Byron, Johan also knew that Ronin would be angry about his decision.
Ronin entered the throne room and kneeled before Johan in respect, standing as soon as he commanded. "Milord, you called for me?"
Johan sighed. "Please, take a seat." He waved a hand at the plush chair next to his throne.
Ronin sat in the seat, her eyebrow raised in curiosity. It wasn't very often that Johan ordered her to the throne room late at night, and it never before had happened when she was otherwise occupied. The wench that she'd been in the process of bedding had been especially upset over the interruption, but one rough pinch of her nipple had quieted her and a promise of "another time" had sent the wench on her way. Not that Ronin would remember the wench's name. "What do ye need?"
Johan took a deep breath before replying. "I'm sorry for interrupting your evening, but I had another vision." He breathed out slowly before continuing, his gaze glued to the tabletop. "I want you to get Kersen and take your leave of Byron. You're both in danger here."
Ronin stiffened and her expression changed into an angry grimace. "I will do no such thing!"
Johan narrowed his eyes. "You WILL do as I say, ADVISOR Ronin! Do NOT forget whom here is the ruler! I need you to protect Kersen and there is no other person that I would trust with such a job."
Ronin closed her eyes in defeat, knowing that saying anything else would be futile. Her eyes opened and she gazed with pain-filled eyes at Johan. The ache in her chest intensified as she spoke, all ready knowing the answer. "What of Jessen?"
Johan's eyes glazed over with unshed tears, personally knowing the pain of being separated from your soul mate. "Jessen shall stay here. If I were to die, Byron would need a ruler to replace me."
Tears filled Ronin's dark green eyes and poured down her sculpted cheekbones as she asked. "Shall I tell her of our leave?"
Johan nodded in acceptance, understanding that Ronin would have it no other way. "She will take it better from you than she would me."
Jessen closed her eyes and turned away from Ronin as tears filled her eyes, she couldn't understand the searing pain that the news of Ronin's impending leave sent through her heart. When she felt Ronin's hands settle on her shoulders, Jessen stiffened and spoke angrily through her gritted teeth. "Get your hands off me, Advisor Ronin! I wish to be alone."
Ronin bit her bottom lip and instead, pulled Jessen against her chest. Their bodies pressed close together as Ronin held Jesse tightly despite Jessen's struggles. Ronin placed her lips to Jessen's ear and whispered. "Jessen, please, don't do this. I can't stand ta see ye hurtin’ so."
At those words, Jessen stilled in Ronin's arms and despite the fierce sobs wracking her body, Jessen forced the words out through gritted teeth. "Then why are ye leavin' me here?"
Ronin kissed the side of Jessen's neck, the sorrow obvious in her voice. "I don't wish to, but I have to do as Lord Johan ordered."
Jessen swallowed thickly and pulled out of Ronin's embrace, she closed off her emotions and turned blue and indigo eyes now devoid of feeling toward Ronin. Her tone came out as flat as her expression. "Then you should go. Either way, I don't care."
Before Ronin could reply, Jessen spun on her heel and stormed from the room. The sounds of the doors being angrily shut in Jessen's retreat reverberated throughout the castle.
Three candle-marks later:
Jessen quietly sat next to a small swimming hole, fresh tears leaving wet trails down her cheeks. Before Jessen's mother had died during Kersen's birth, Jessen and their mother would sit by the pond or take walks through the forest of large Oak trees whenever they needed to have a serious conversation or to just relax. The peace of the area usually washed away any upset but the tempest of emotions she felt now refused to let go.
As Jessen leaned her head back against the Oak behind her, she wished not for the first time that she had the psychic abilities that her father and Ronin possessed. She hated her father and Ronin for causing this, the emotions tearing her apart at the seams. She even hated her mother for never giving her father the son that he wanted at the moment.
Lord Johan had raised her as a son rather than a daughter right from the beginning. Nothing Lady Katherine said could get Jessen's father to treat Jessen as a lass. Jessen's training as a warrior and a Lord were just two of the things that he'd put upon her. He even expected her to join with Ronin some day, not that he was aware of Jessen's knowledge of this. Jessen bent at the waist and buried her face in her hands as harsh sobs wracked her body, her emotions confusing her more on this day than they had any other.
Her body stiffened as she heard Ronin's approach with the guards, Jessen had known it wouldn't be long before Ronin found her but she had hoped for more time to herself. Jessen wiped the tears from her face with a handkerchief, and then she ran her fingers through the mass of dark, curly blonde hair falling around her shoulders. She listened silently as Ronin ordered the guards to stay where they were and then stood as she heard Ronin's rapid approach.
Ronin paused at the opening in the trees surrounding the swimming hole where they had played on so many hot afternoons. Her eyes glistened with her own tears as she took in Jessen's tear stained face. Her voice was strained as she spoke. "I wish it didn't have ta go this way, My Little One. I want so badly ta be able ta take ya with me, but it couldn't be. Ye have a responsibility ta yer clan and yer people. If anything was ta happen ta yer Da and ye weren't here, the Romans would win without a fight."
Jessen nodded in defeat, her body and mind tired of struggling against the inevitable. "I know. Goddess, I know. I just wish it weren't so."
Ronin moved quickly to take Jessen into her arms, her lips pressing against Jessen's forehead. She murmured against Jessen's flushed cheek. "I love you, My Little One."
Jessen stood stiffly at attention as Ronin strapped a few of her and Kersen's belongings onto a horse, tears falling from both of their eyes once again.
Ronin sighed sadly as she strapped the last bag to the side of the large war-horse, and then she turned and nodded at Lord Johan. "Milord, I guess I'll be leavin' now."
Johan smiled softly. "Aye, take care of yerself and Kersen. I'll send fer ye once we've taken care o' this mess."
Ronin nodded again and watched as Johan walked back toward the entrance to the castle. Her gaze swept over the worn stones and then she let her gaze move back to Jessen. She opened her arms and Jessen quickly accepted the hug, fearing this would be the last time she felt Ronin's strong arms around her.
Jessen pressed her face into the crook of Ronin's neck, breathing in the scent of sandalwood soap and the spicy scent that always clung to Ronin. She felt the brush of Ronin's hot breath flow over her ear and this time Jessen reveled in the rush of sensations it sent throughout her body instead of questioning it.
Ronin pressed her lips to Jessen's ear and whispered. "I'll find ye again, My Little One. ‘Til then, just remember that I love you."
Before Jessen could ponder the meaning of Ronin's words, Ronin pulled away and accepted Kersen from one of the servants. Ronin winked at Jessen as she leapt up onto the tall war-horse, a sad smile upon her lips.
Three weeks later:
Jessen's blue and indigo eyes widened in shock and she gasped as her gaze fell on the Roman contingent marching toward Byron. She swallowed thickly and reached back to place her hand on the hilt of the broadsword strapped to her back. She closed her eyes for a moment and offered a brief prayer. 'Mother Goddess, please watch over us.'
When Jessen opened her eyes, she gritted her teeth and waited for Karrig, her father's Chief of Warriors to call for attack. When the call came, Jessen forced herself to ignore her fear and ran into the battle with the warriors surrounding her.
Jessen glared at the Roman she found herself face to face with, their swords clashing together with a sharp "clang". The sound of battle raged around them, each giving as good as they got. Jessen kept moving toward the Roman until he was backed against a tree, she then locked their swords together and pulled. His sword was flung behind Jessen and then Jessen plunged her sword into his belly, the flesh and muscle giving way to the steel of her blade.
Jessen felt something red hot flare to life in her chest and she turned to face another Roman soldier running toward her, a smirk firmly planted on her lips and a dangerous glint in her eyes. She didn't have time to examine the feelings of excitement and power building within her, as she soon found herself pulling her sword from the belly of the now dead Roman soldier pinned against the tree behind her and meeting the thrust of another sword.
The battle raged on for what seemed like days but was probably just several candle-marks before Jessen found herself tiredly facing the exhausted troops with her father standing proudly by her side. Jessen felt a fierce pang of regret inside at the useless death of human beings when Johan announced that they had only lost a hundred of their ten thousand warriors. After the initial regret, Jessen felt the curious sensation of numbness begin to fill her heart.
A year later:
Jessen stared with emotionless eyes at the dead Roman soldiers being piled onto a pyre. The battles had begun to happen more often; at first, they’d just happen every few weeks but over the past three months there had been an attack every week. She'd slowly become disconnected from her emotions over the year, shutting down one by one. She didn't care any more, about anything. Jessen turned her back to the pyre and walked across the bloodstained ground toward the castle.
On the way to her bedchambers to clean the blood and gore from her body, she passed several of their own warriors. She ignored the comments they made, some said that she was a good warrior and others said that she was like a demon possessed but whatever they said; Jessen had all ready heard before. When she stood in the middle of the bathing chamber attached to her rooms, Jessen shed her clothes and stepped into the large tub that a servant had all ready filled with hot water for her.
Jessen mechanically washed herself and was preparing to step from the tub when her doors opened and a worried servant came into the room. "Lord... Lady Jessen... Uh, we need you in your father's bedchambers! Something is wrong with him!"
Jessen jumped from the tub and threw a robe over her naked body, not noticing the brief look of appreciation from the servant. Jessen quickly made her way from her own chambers to Lord Johan's. When she arrived, she pushed the doors open and shoved the servants out of her way. When she arrived at the side of his bed, she looked down into her father's ashen face and moaned in dismay, "Father!"
Johan forced his eyes opened and looked up at Jessen, the light in his eyes slowly dimming as he spoke softly. "Jesse, my child, t’is yer time ta rule in my stead. I wish I had more time to help you learn ta do this, but I don't."
Jessen gently sat down on the bed at Johan's side. "Father, what's wrong?"
Johan searched for Jessen's hand and grasped it weakly. "An assassin poisoned me. I don't believe that they counted on my havin' an heir."
Jessen closed her eyes. "Is there anythin' I can do?"
Johan nodded weakly. "Promise me that you'll take the title of Lord, so that our clan will continue when ye marry?"
Jessen swallowed around the lump in her throat. "I'll do so, Father. I'll do whatever you wish."
As the last breath exited Johan's body, he weakly muttered. "Thank you, Lord Jesse."
Jessen stared numbly down at Johan's still body and stood, moving toward the doorway as she called to the servants. "Have the warriors search the castle for the bastard who did this, and have him thrown in the dungeon, and then prepare the village for mourning. I wish to be left to myself for awhile."
Jessen curled her body into the fetal position in the center of her bed as she felt the emotions she'd been holding back crash down on her. Tears poured from her eyes as loud sobs wracked her small, muscular frame. As she cried, she cursed at the absent Ronin. "Damn you... Ronin! Damn you both for leavin' me ta do this on my own!"
Two days later:
The warriors of Byron and the Byron clans stood amongst the villagers with their heads bowed and their hands clasped loosely in front of them as Jessen sang the death hymnal while the pyre burned brightly.
When Jessen finished the hymnal, she cleared her throat and waited until all eyes were on her. Her blue and indigo eyes searched the crowd as she spoke, her voice soft yet it still carried out to the people standing in front of her. "My father and yer Lord had one request fer me on his death bed; it was fer me ta claim his title and his rule. His wish was for me to be called Lord Jesse, and it shall be."
As the murmurs of ascent went through the crowd of family and villagers, Lord Jesse's gaze went to the sky as she thought. 'Ronin, I hope yer 'avin' a Hades of a time wherever it is that ye are 'cause I'm surely not.'
To be continued in the sequel, 'Sweet Salvation'.Return to the Academy