Edel surveyed her castle. The repairs were progressing. If they had another week, it would be defensible. With a month more time, it would control the field. She envisioned a ballista sitting on the top of each of the two towers. Her men who had trained on them would be able to defend the gates against all but the most advanced siege engines.
She cried the first time she saw the shambles Drake’s attack had left her home. She remembered the spring her parents had sent her away. She could tell that they were troubled by something, but they did not reveal what gave them both worried faces. There had been ten years of relative peace. The ravages of The Death had subsided, and her parents were rebuilding the duchy. Things were going well.
The day they celebrated her 14th birthday was perfect. Yet only a few days later, she lost her beautiful locks. Elsa had given her hair an adult’s treatment for the first time for that party. It was so beautiful that Elsa barely persuaded her that it had to come down that evening. Three nuns had appeared at the castle. Her parents welcomed them in. It seemed to Edel that her parents were expecting them. What happened next was unexpected. The nuns shaved her head, and her parents forced her to take temporary vows to the nuns’ holy order. That was also when she lost her name. She became Edel. Edel Cuarta when they arrived at the nunnery three weeks later. Cuarta because she was the fourth novice named Edel.
The Mother Superior had a minimal imagination for names. There were five Negra named for their black hair. Several of the nuns and the novices shared Rosa. There were one or two Bella’s and one Princea. Princea behaved as if she expected everyone to bend to her will. Sister Abeta had once let it slip that Princea was the girl’s second name here. One the Mother Superior had bestowed to reprimand the girl for her proud spirit. That rebuke had not changed Princea’s behavior.
She was roused from her memories by someone shouting. “Now, what was Alfred yelling about this time?”
Looking up to the tower where he stood, she saw he was pointing behind her. She turned and spied five or six of Reiter’s horsemen swiftly approaching. In the corner of her eye, she saw count Grey put down the architectural drawings he had was discussing with the master builder. She wondered, what news was these men bringing?