The Lady of the Hood - First Book in the Sherwood Series

For Guinevere life as the ward of King Richard the Lion heart is not easy. She was orphaned at a young age by a father who never returned from war and a mother who died from the pestilence; but now her guardian is fighting in the Holy Lands. So she is left in the care of his brother, Prince John.
But when John takes her to Nottingham things start to take a turn for the worst. Her guardian can not return for her sixteenth birthday and she over hears a shocking conversation that could change everything. When she goes off for a ride with Sir Guy of Gisbourne the worst truly does happen. The fearsome outlaw, Robin Hood, attacks Gisbourne and Guinevere finds herself fleeing for her life from a viscous hunting dog that is stalking her.
But when she is under the protection of Hood, after she has been badly wounded by the beast, a memory steers.
Can Guinevere find the truth of her heritage or will John get his way?


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2. Chapter One

    Suddenly, my eyes snapped open and I took a large gulp of air; at once I knew something was not right. My vision, for one thing, was a mass of coloured blobs and unrecognisable blurred objects. A smell flavoured the air with wood smoke and some sort of roasting meat. Chirping bird sounds filled my ears and they were so loud that it sounded like they were in the room with me. The chirps were so loud that they almost covered the conversation that going on somewhere nearby. The strangest thing of all was that beneath me was a hard bedding that scratched at my skin when I moved, it felt like straw. 

 Where am I? 

   Then, it clicked. The outing with Sir Guy of Gisbourne; the mysterious meeting between John and his barons' and the letter. Everything that could have gone wrong has done so, ever since I left home.

 Oh, how I wish I was still in London

* * *

  It was an oddly cold day; a day when the sun is blazing down on the world, yet the air holds and icy breeze in its grip;very strange for a mid-summers morning. When I woke that day, I was wonderfully warm under the thick, woolly blankets that were piled over me. As I shook off the lingering feeling of sleeps slippery fingers, I grinned as the sun's rays splashed onto my face through the small gaps in the hanging drapes. Slowly, I tumbled out from under the blankets and a gasp escaped my lips as the air clung tightly to my flesh. 

"It's rather chilly don't you think, my lady!"  A young girl expressed as she placed some folded clothes neatly onto a chair. 

 She had wavy blond hair that was pulled back from her face by a piece if brown cloth. She had as clean, slim face with bright blue eyes that shone out onto all who gazed upon her. She wore a simple brown dress with a white long sleeved top beneath it.

"That it is Evanne," I agreed, as I slipped on the wool robe that she had held out to me, adding, "Has the Prince any plans for me today?"

 I watched as she poured some water from a large wooden jug into a bowl on the simple table in the middle of my room, "Only for you to have breakfast with him,"Evanne replied.

With a yawn, I approached the table and dipped my hands into the water filled bowl. I replied, "Very weeeelllll!!!!" Adding a  squeal as the water that I had flung from the bowl slapped against my face with an icy fist. 

"I shall pick out an outfit for you, my lady!" Evanne managed as she struggled back a fit of laughter. 

I too could not suppress the laughter and it spread through me like a disease, causing me to collapse on to the stool that stood in front of my dressing table. 

  I glanced around the room, and my smile widened at the simplicity of it. A raised four poster bed; a long table in the middle of the room that held a candelabra and all my writing equipment; a dressing table leant against the rear wall along with a chest of draws that held various pieces and under garments. Further along the wall was a door that led to an indoor latrine; and past that, lazily standing on the next wall was my lone wardrobe. A single wall rutted out on its own that held a large glass window and balcony; and then on the only remaining wall stood a large open fire place.

The fireplace was the thing that held the most luxury in it. It had some beautiful carving in the wooden mantelpiece. The fire was still smouldering behind the grate and small whiffs of smoke were slowly drifting up the chimney; the little warmth that was still being emitted from the remaining flames seemed to be destroyed by the cold air. 

  I turned my gaze to the mirror and smiled at my reflection.Slowly, I untied my hair from the plaits that nestled at the back of my head, and I brushed out the tangled curls. Like magic they transformed into perfect ringlets right in front of my eyes. 

"What do you think of this dress, my lady?" Evanne called.

Through the mirror, I looked at her from over my reflected shoulder; brush still in hand. Evanne was holding a simple green dress with long flowing sleeves that trickled down past my finger tips and golden embroidery that swirl in a tight band across my neck and waist.

"Yes. I do believe that that shall be suitable!" I replied, nodding my head in agreement.

 I stood up and followed Evanne as she set up the changing screen. Then when it was ready, Evanne handed me the dress and I stepped behind the screen and I began to dress as quickly as I could, not wanting the cold air to touch my bare flesh for long. A few moments later, I emerged from behind the screen.

"You look beautiful as always my lady!" Evanne stated with a large smile on her face whilst she passed me a pair of simple black shoes.  

"Thank you!" I replied, whilst I slipped them on to my dainty toes, "Will you be accompanying me to breakfast?" 

"Of course, my lady!" 

  With a smile, I took a quick look at myself in the mirror. I was stood proudly, my head held high with a gaze that told anyone that it flickered upon that I belonged in such a noble life. The dress fitted my curving features perfectly, hugging me nicely as the sleeves cascaded down my arms like a waterfall. Around my neck was the gold chain that held my father's ring with its magnificent crest of the bow and two arrows hung through it. 

My lips, a shade of fair crimson, stood in a serious smile; guarding a set of white teeth. A small, delicate nose followed. Then, there came my eyes. A curious colour of rich jade that harboured exotic flecks. They held such mystery, my eyes; even though I am a young maiden, each was overflowing with knowledge and were peaked with non existent emotion. 

But, the biggest mystery that I held about me, was my hair. It is supposed to be a shade of light brown, yet there are twists and flicks of blond, black and even some red was thrown in for good measure.The curls fell into a perfect line; not a single strand out of place.

"Ready, my lady?" Evanne asked, she was stood; waiting patiently, a smile on her lips.

"Yes of course!" I replied.

And so, we exited the room together.    

 

 

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