Tonight, as it seemed to Devlin, Castle Rosewater of Dawnrose-on-the-Rockes had the look of a pockmarked old man, wet from the cool autumn showers of the day. In fact the moonlight shimmered off it as such that it might have been shivering. Well it was an ancient castle he supposed, and just as dull, yet still it was where he’d grown up, and like an old man it could tell a plethora of stories.
            Devlin stood with his hands behind him, head up and back straight just like his father Eglan, in front of him to his right, and the two guards on either side of them. Eglan had made him put on his armour. A fine silver plated cuirass, highly polished, with clasps on the shoulders holding a grape-purple cloak bearing the Dray family crest; a rose stem with two thorns embroidered upon it although without a bud or golden sun. Luckily he did not have to wear his helmet; it made him hot, even in the cold air, and often caught on his long chestnut hair that was just like his father’s albeit slightly less well-trimmed.
            Devlin had been standing there for some time, at the front of the castle gate, as they watched the carriage in the distance pass through the small village at a slow crawl. He shook himself. He hated standing around and waiting, unfortunately his father caught the motion and turned round with a simple look made for chastising. Devlin rolled his eyes in return to see Eglan’s mouth twist and his nostrils flare.
            “Your infantile behaviour betrays your youth, shame on you.” He growled.
            “Youth?” Devlin raised an eyebrow. “father, I am eighteen, I am a man and known to war.”
            Eglan sniffed at that. “A man prone to childish impatience, you ought to learn a man’s demeanour then son,” he chided. “Stand straight and still.” He is being remarkably prickly today, Devlin thought, and was about to shrug when he decided against it. The old man was far too prone to lecture. He suits his castle very well.
            Devlin’s eyes widened and Eglan turned to face where he was looking. The carriage was much closer now, making its way up the pathway between the village and castle. It juddered along, the lanterns on the side dipping and bobbing with the motions of the stone-brick road. It was a fine thing. As it moved closer, Devlin could see the litter was made of a dark wood with strands of gold shaped like vines adorned with leaves and berries, running down the columns. From the roof, like silk curtains, hung banners depicting the twin rosebuds, red and white entwined on an azure blue field, the crest of the Drayvons and next to that, smaller but for his sisters family’s sake, was their own family crest. All of it radiated with the light from those lanterns.
            The driver sat on the seat in front of the litter, a whip resting on his lap as he held the reins for the two black palominos each wearing blue and gold helmets with red and white fir plumes protruding from the top. Nothing was good enough for his sister. It took all of his restraint not to run to the cart. Instead he stood, rocking slightly on the spot as it crawled along the road towards them.
            “Stop fidgeting and act your age,” his father hissed again from the corner of his mouth. He swore he saw the guard beside him smile, maybe even wink.
            The litter stopped before them some feet away. A man stepped out wearing armour much like Devlin’s but with a blue cloak hanging from the shoulders and a helmet under his arms. He turned and held out his hand to the silk. A much more slender hand reached out with one ringed finger, a face succeeded the hand, one with dark brown hair just like their mother’s and hazel eyes. Finally the body, dressed in silks of red, blue and gold with a long shawl drifting in the wind. She stepped down, clearly thanking the guard who had helped her. She was more of a woman than last he had seen her, three years ago. 

The End

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