Rare Things for a Rare Life

The Knights of J'shua Book 1

by Tiana Dokerty ©2023

Home | Chapter 13 | Chapter 15

Chapter 14: The Wedding

Updated 12/17/23

James Recognizes Her Voice


Sarah - Waxing Crescent, Late Spring, 36th Year of Edal - New Village, Outside Lexandria

The light of dawn peaked through the crack in the wall and Sarah stretched, rubbing her eyes. She had the dream again. As usual only a few bits remained, fighting with the gleaming sword that could heal people. But there was a new twist. She was a royal, a queen. And beside her was a good king. Did it mean something?

She shook her head. Silly dream. I’m as common as anyone.

Time to feed the chickens and set the bread to rising. She wondered if sister Brenda would have her baby today.


Owakar - Lorness

Owakar whispered Words of Life to those that could hear him in Lorness,

[Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for sin.]

Even though the Warrior was away manipulating his latest plaything in Farr Castle, the gloom remained over Lorness as his minions stirred up misery. But the Book of Life always provided encouragement for himself, and sometimes for the earthly followers of J’shua in the Density.

His luach came alive. Line after line rose up. There would be a wedding in Caswell.

“Why is this of interest?" Owakar asked himself, flicking through the glowing words.

More words, more words, then finally, David Otual’s name was large and illuminated. He poked it to learn more. The son of Rebekah and Jonathan would marry soon.

“Do they know? Will they go?”

The Otual’s son had attracted the Warrior’s eye.

He sent a message to Temana, the guardian overseeing Caswell. “Do you have everything in hand?”

“Peace, Owakar, you’re not the only competent one. We are ready to help them.”

Contrite, Owakar responded, “Yes, of course you are. I wasn’t implying you weren’t. The family has become special to me. But they don’t stay in one place like most of those entrusted to us.” The prayers of each Otual echoed from the Book of Life on Owakar’s luach.

[Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.]


Gaelib - Farr Castle

Gaelib stalked amongst black-robed acolytes as they pored over books and parchments from the royal library. There was a steady stream of them bringing new scrolls and returning others. He had charged them a moon ago with delivering any information he might leverage, especially if it related to the rebel knight, Jonathan Otual. But they have found nothing of use.

He was already in a black mood. King Edal had, again, persuaded his nobles to prevent one of Gaelib’s subtle changes in protocol.

Caileagh pranced up and grabbed Gaelib’s arm. “Come my love.” She drew him into an alcove and whispered softly, “I have seen a vision and heard from my spirits. It is time.”

His eyes bore into her. “Time? Are you sure?”

“Yes, I confirmed it, with blood and bones. The stars will align on the night before the hunt. It must be done when the sun is high on the first day.”

He could not hide his excitement. He pulled her close and kissed her. “I thought the day would never come.” Holding her face in his hands, he said, “I love you. What did I do to deserve you?”

He twirled her around as she giggled. “Send instructions to your acolytes. I will inform my man.” He watched her saunter away.

Sagen will be an easier king to bend.

He noticed a merchant bow to Caileagh as she passed. His cap matched a high-collared navy jacket. With a nod to his guards, he indicated the man should remain.

Devoted to Gaelib, one of their first acolytes, the individual was an exemplary spy who’d supplied useful information on multiple occasions. To arrive openly was unusual. He must possess something truly special.

“Approach,” Gaelib commanded, pointing him to a private room.

“My lord.” The man went down on one knee with his head bowed. “Within a moon, the son of the man you seek above all others will marry. The Earl of Caswell is hosting the ceremony.”

“That is…interesting,” Gaelib said, outwardly calm.

Drake, you traitor, you know I seek Jonathan. Why did you not inform me? Perhaps I should pay closer attention to what happens in your domain.

“Do you have instructions for me, my lord?”

“I want Otual’s son under continuous surveillance. Should the father approach his son, your spies are to track that knight and send word to me.”

Let’s see you evade me now, Jon.


Parynna - Caswell Castle

Preening to ensure that her hair, dress, and understated jewelry were perfect, Parynna sighed at her appearance. Their first guest would arrive all too soon.

All she knew was that Cynthia Gardonet would be married to Jonathan Otual’s son, David, in three days’ time. The girl was pretty enough, if a little mousy, from what she’d been told. A suitable bride for a penniless Knight of J’shua.

Thankfully, Caileagh had taught Parynna how to wean Drake away from his relationship with J’shua by keeping him focused on superficial religious efforts. The Knights were not yet outlawed here, but it was inevitable. Their outdated beliefs were an obstacle to the Melazeras. Therefore, they had to go. Not that she’d permit their demise to affect Drake—or her. She’d worked too hard to ensure her husband’s position and good fortune.

That brought her thoughts back to hosting this ill-conceived wedding. Blast Drake. He sprang it upon her as if it was some wonderful surprise.

It would have been wonderful if she had known in advance to alert Caileagh. Delivering David’s mother, or better yet, his father would have reaped bounteous rewards. They still would if Parynna could find some way to capture them.

She could not do so openly; it would cause a scandal, a blot on the Caswell name. No, that would not do at all.

Worse still, Drake was being unusually close-lipped about whether David’s parents would attend. He had that abominable boyish glint in his eye that showed he thought he was doing something clever. And not even her best attempts to pry it out of him had worked.

She feared he had more unpleasant surprises in store.

Then it hit her. She could turn this to her advantage without involving David directly. As a knight, the boy would inevitably leave his bride all too soon to go off on some pious quest. That would leave his new bride all alone.


Jonathan - New Moon, Late Spring, Woods Outside Caswell

Jonathan visited James of the Wood and his boys whenever he passed through one of his woods. The original brothers were now men. But they had taken in new cast-off children. This time, he found them outside Caswell. Today he expounded the creed of the Knights of J’shua.

[Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.]

When he finished speaking, a boy ran up with a message for James of the Wood. After James read it, he shot Jonathan a face-splitting grin and shared the news of David’s wedding.

Somehow, James’ clan had learned that Jonathan’s son, David, now a Knight of J’shua on his first mission, would take a wife. Further, Earl Drake, had offered to hold the ceremony in Caswell, only a day’s ride away. Jonathan wondered that James was so well informed.

With all his heart, he wanted to attend. Yet he knew that if he did, men would be there to ambush him. Worse, if that happened, it would ruin the happy couple’s day and could have them seen as accomplices.

No, the sensible thing is to stay away…or…perhaps, watch from afar.

After eating with the boys, he prayed about it. He received no guidance. All would become clear. Then he would make up his own mind. Pushing the matter aside, he slept.

In the morning, he was sure. He had only one son. It might also be an opportunity to encounter Rebekah. Surely, she would not miss the event either.

Having decided, he spoke to James of the Wood. “I need a way into Caswell, but not as myself. No one must recognize me. It would put my son and his new bride in peril. Can you get me there in time? Do you have—”

“Finally! A way we can repay you, a little.” James beamed. “I’m sure we can help. Come. Look at some things that have…uh, fallen…into our possession.”

“You have not been stealing, have you?”

“No. We merely follow the examples of lords and their stewards…charging a small toll to those who wander through our woods. We don’t seek them out. And we’ve not hurt anyone. And most were more than willing to help orphans.” His eyes twinkled. “You told us Lord J’shua would provide. He has.”

“James,” Jonathan shook his head at the irrepressible youngster, “when there is time, we need to have a long talk.”


Drake - Caswell Castle

Delighted by his Circle’s well wishes for his friend’s son and bride, Drake bustled about the castle.

Garlands of freshly cut flowers hung everywhere. Servants set trestle tables for the townsfolk he’d invited to the feast following the wedding.

Drake knew David wanted this to be a small affair, but this was a day for celebration. A day to be remembered. A day on which he could indulge a young man he thought of as a son.

He would never have a son of his own. Parynna had informed him she was barren after she lost the baby. He loved her. He would never replace her. So what if one of his elder brother’s sons would one day inherit the earldom from him? It was an irrelevance.

Today, he would rejoice.

He regretted he could not share with his wife why he was so caught up in the preparations, but he did not want to cause her pain. He did not want her thinking back to the night that had almost broken them. No. This was his burden to shoulder. He would not let her suffer. And she was so happily engaged in her charities that he didn’t want to distract her.

Of course, the last surprise he still withheld: David’s mother would attend in disguise. He wondered how long it would take for Parynna to identify Rebekah bedecked in clothes and make-up that transformed her into an old crone.

It’s going to be splendid! Oh, she is here!


Rebekah -

Rebekah bustled through the archway covered in layers of pastel silk in the Lexandrian fashion. She pranced into the hall, calling boisterously, “Hallo, hallo, I bring welcome from Lexandria.” Waving her hands in every direction, she praised, “How lovely!”

All the decorating ladies stopped to beam with pride.

She introduced herself as Millya Shussel, a distant kinswoman by a marriage long ago. Soon all the women came close to welcome her.

Drake bowed his greeting and bid her sit with the Caswell family dowagers while he supervised the seating of the final guests.

It had been too long since the Shussel family, and the Caswells had interacted. She brought with her the family’s bard and a few musicians. The five were bodyguards provided by Licht Gegen. As was her maid that hovered about, seeing to her every whim.

She had approached Drake through an intermediary a week before. Hatching this plan and making him promise to tell no one, not even his wife, that Rebekah must be in disguise. He’d loved the idea and provided the identity of Lady Shussel.

The clothes she wore were expensive. A few locks of her long-neglected hair escaped the elegant wimple atop her head. Primly, she tucked them back in.

At a nod, her musicians began playing in the background.

Drake and David came over, welcoming her and the other dowagers.

You are so handsome like your father.

His beard was a man’s. Golden blond curls touched his navy-blue cloak. He stood straight, taller than Jon.

Parynna Caswell trailed behind them, a pleasant expression frozen on her face. She smiled and nodded, and did the absolute minimum necessary to meet her social obligation as hostess.

“That one would be nothing if any of Drake’s brothers had survived,” the elderly woman beside Rebekah said.

Lady Caswell was not out of earshot. She slowed while David and Drake continued.

“You’re being far too kind,” another hissed. “If. Do you really believe her elevation was merely because of others’ misfortune? There are rumors that—”

Parynna had stopped walking away.

Alarmed, Rebekah interrupted. “She seems disinterested.” The last thing she wanted to do was to be caught between the dowagers and the hostess. “However, it could just be that, raised as a lesser Locke, she simply does not know how to behave around her betters and seniors. I must mention it to Gregory when I next see him. Perhaps he could send her a protocol tutor.”

Parynna turned back glaring at them. But at the mention of Duke Gregory Locke, her lips closed tightly, the color in her face drained, and she stormed off.

Rebekah let out a sigh.

“Please, please do,” the woman beside her pleaded. “I would love to see that.”

“Well,” Rebekah smiled back, “I shall do so. But it’s been a decade since I’ve encountered him, and it could be another before I do so again.”

The surrounding women all giggled as “Millya” graciously accepted their accolades.

Rebekah returned to examining the crowd, asking questions about this person and that. Her companions were more than helpful and provided gossip and insights that were astounding.

“Drake really must do something about his older servants.” One of them glanced toward an old, bent-over, bearded man leaning against a wall. “He thinks it a kindness to force such unfortunates to continue working. Even if that means merely guarding some random spot.”

Another interjected, “Still, it’s better than what his wife would do. Fire them all and evict them from their homes.”

The oldster never moved from his place. Rebekah kept her eye on him. He didn’t perform any duties. Yet, she couldn’t get a good view of his face.

Is it Jon? His height seems right, but…blast! I can hardly go over there and ask. Nor can I send my maid. If it is my Jon, he could spook and run. Worse, it could lead to his capture.

“Ooh, isn’t he a handsome, strapping young lad?” another woman said. Seated behind and to Rebekah’s right, she leaned forward and pointed to a young, flamboyantly dressed merchant. It was James of the Wood.

What the…? Why is he here? Her heart fluttered. Is he helping Jon?

Before she could send her maid to summon James over on some pretext, the wedding music began, sending everyone not already seated scurrying for their places.

Drake took his position at the head of the hall. He was resplendent in his family’s colors, covered by his navy Knights’ cloak.

David, also clad as a Knight, approached and bowed.

He has the noble stance of his father. She sighed. Where are you, Jon? 

Her boy stood straight and tall, awaiting the entrance of his bride. He held his hands flat against his legs as he had as a small boy, trying not to fidget.

The processional music started as a petite brunette walked gracefully to the dais, her hand on her father’s arm. Cynthia wore a pale blue linen shift decorated with white lace about her hips and small white flowers in her braided hair.

Rebekah smiled, thinking of when she approached Jonathan on their wedding day. Tears streamed down her face, which she dabbed with her scarf.

Ours was a simple affair in the yard. Yet I was thrilled.

David’s eyes roamed the hall. Then he bowed in thanks to all those who had gathered to celebrate. He winked at the watching crowd as Cynthia’s father put her hand into David’s.

As Drake wound a blue ribbon around their entwined hands, the happy couple exchanged their vows. Then he said, “We all bear witness to the promises these two have made before the God of Truth. I declare you one flesh. What God has joined, let no man put asunder. Do you have the ring?”

David slid it onto her tiny finger.

“You may kiss your bride.”

David and Cynthia smiled brightly and kissed. When they turned to face the assembly, everyone roared with praise and applause.

Drake beamed.

Out of the corner of her eye, Rebekah noticed the old servant leave the room, still without having seen his face.

Is that you, Jon? And what is James doing here? I hope he doesn’t cause a ruckus.

She lost sight of James as the dowager lady on her left began speaking about the last wedding here. She smiled and turned to the sweet old woman to listen.


Jonathan -

After the ceremony, Jonathan suppressed a chuckle at Drake’s excess. He moved through the crowd two steps behind and to the left of James, who dressed as a wealthy merchant. A third man accompanied them. Like Jonathan, he wore the face-covering cowl of a mercenary, dark brigandine armor, and a sword at his belt.

The haughty expression on James’ face was so believable. Yet, that and pouches of baden had seen the two mercenaries find a place in the hall’s rear, where they had stood silently, observing the ceremony and James.

Jonathan scanned the room as if searching for threats to the merchant he was protecting, but if Rebekah was in attendance, he could not find her.

Could she be disguised as well?

No, that is absurd. What would Rebekah know of changing her appearance?


James -

James gestured for his bodyguards to make way for him through the crowd of wedding guests pouring toward the outdoor feasting tables. The happy couple would attend in half an hour, after everyone was in place.

He was pleased with his cleverness. He chose the name Albertus Bekh for his persona today. He knew enough about Tomas Bekh to be sure he’d never visited this castle himself. He had underlings for such deliveries. He always avoided people of high rank. Since it was common for merchants to attend public weddings, it was a perfect disguise.

To show the Earl’s love for his people, everyone would enjoy the feast, regardless of their station. But prominent tables for dignitaries were reserved.

All James wanted was to make an inconspicuous exit. And not vomit. Drake was exceptional. An exceptional hypocrite. An exceptional bore. And exceptionally blind to his wife’s misdeeds. Whereas she was notorious and dangerous to cross. James had made friends amongst the servants of this castle.

He thought things were going well until a maid intercepted him. “Sir, my mistress, Lady Shussel, requests a few moments of your time. She apologizes for interrupting such a joyous day but has an urgent matter that only you can address.”

James did not recognize the name. He tried to scowl. But the girl was extremely pretty, and he had little experience dealing with such creatures. Tongue-tied, he searched for something to say.

“Excuse me, sir,” another equally lovely servant girl intruded. “Earl Caswell has requested that you join the wedding party at one of the high tables. You won’t say ‘no,’ will you?” She clasped her hands.

Lady Shussel’s maid stamped her foot. “I was here first. Lady Shussel—”

“But I serve the Earl. Whatever message you have can wait,” the second snapped back, frowning. “Wait…did you say Lady Shussel? Then this is easily solved. Both are to be seated at the same table. I can arrange for them to sit side by side. Would that be acceptable to your mistress?” the second maid said.

The first girl nodded and dashed off.

James stared at the beautiful maid that remained, trying to think of a way of refusing. Yet, Jonathan nudged him, whispering, “Go along.”

“One of your bodyguards can stand behind you,” the maid continued, “if you feel it is absolutely necessary. The other can eat with the rest of the servants. Or can you send both away?”

James had finally found some words “My father, would think me foolish to send both away. It would be impolite to describe his anger to you, miss.”

The girl averted her eyes and then pointed toward a tent beyond the courtyard.

James motioned for Jon to leave as she led him and his remaining protector to tables that were all too close to the place of honor, where the earl and newlyweds sat.

It seems my bribes were too large.


Parynna -

While keeping a pleasant expression on her face, Parynna slipped into a quiet alcove where three of her maids waited. They each had brown hair that had been cut short as punishment for displeasing their mistress. “I have a reward for whichever of you succeeds in the following task. I require dirt on the dowager Lady Shussel. She has offended me. The winner gets the new groomsman as husband, plus four thousand baden, and choice of her new assignment within Caswell. Or, liberty to leave my domain and one thousand baden. I know all three of you wish to leave me. However, you are mine until I release you.”

The three young women bowed. Two of them openly showed fear. The last, Shadaya, glanced up with a flash of defiance until she locked eyes with her ladyship. Then the girl gulped, dropping her head again.

“I see you are sensible. The incriminating evidence I require must be significant enough that I can blackmail that old harridan. Go!”


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