Prequel – Daughters of the Dagger

daggerpreqdone500The countess, Mirabelle de Burgh wants nothing more than to give her husband, Earl Blackpool an heir.

In desperation she turns to seeking out an old blind hag of a superstition. It is said to buy a jeweled dagger from her would ensure one to conceive.

But Mirabelle wants more than one child for her husband, and all boys. But things don’t go as planned when greed gets in her way.

 

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Excerpt of Prequel – Daughters of the Dagger:

England, 1335

 

Mirabelle de Burgh slipped four gold coins from the pouch at her waist and slid them quickly across the table toward the old hag with the clouded eyes. She hoped this was the old blind woman she’d been searching for, and that the cordwainer’s wife in the high part of town had been telling the truth and not just idle gossip. If this was only the product of wagging tongues and not superstition as she hoped, then she’d just seen the last of her coins. Being on Grope Lane, she was already surprised that she hadn’t been accosted.

She pulled the hood of her cloak higher and glanced nervously down the dark, narrow street that wasn’t really more than an alley. She knew she shouldn’t be in this questionable part of town, and especially not unescorted. This is where the beggars, the thieves and the tarts all saw to make their living.

Grope Lane was scattered with litter and rotten fruit as well as discarded bones from rancid meat and old fish. Pots filled with urine were being dumped out of overhead windows constantly, and she had to walk a crooked path on her way here just to keep from being splashed.

Pigs roamed freely amongst the crowd as well as stray, mangy dogs. Women in gowns that exposed most of their breasts as well as their legs leaned lazily in front of the pub as well as in every shadowed doorway. And though she was hidden beneath her cloak and covered from head to foot, Mirabelle knew every filthy, despicable man in that alleyway had his eyes fastened on her at that moment.

A shiver coursed through her and as she’d put the coins on the table, she couldn’t help but notice her own hand shaking. She risked everything by sneaking away from her husband and coming here to begin with, but she’d done it out of naught more than desperation.

The odor clinging to the heavy air filled her nostrils and twisted her stomach, making her want to wretch. She felt lightheaded and knew she needed to get away from here quickly before she swooned. Her husband, Talbot, Earl of Blackpool, wouldn’t be happy that she’d stolen his coins to begin with, let alone spent them on something he would consider blasphemy – the work of the devil. But that’s not the way she saw it. This was merely acting on a superstition, nothing else.

She had to hurry, as Talbot would be finished at the blacksmith’s soon and realize she was no longer waiting for her shoes to be repaired at the cordwainer’s. She looked back to the old blind woman sitting behind the table, only hoping she truly had the daggers even tho though her table top was empty.

Mirabelle believed the superstition that if one bought a dagger from a blind woman, she was sure to conceive a child anon. Ever since her marriage to the earl two years prior, she had not been able to bear him an heir. He wanted a son desperately, and she was determined to give him one, no matter what she had to do to achieve it.

“Hurry,” she said the to the woman, glancing back toward the main street. “I’ll take as many daggers as my money will buy.”

The old woman reached out her bony fingers, patting the table, feeling around the surface. Then she picked up a coin in her hand. She ran her thumb over it and tested the weight in her palm to make sure ’twas gold. Then she brought it to her face and sniffed it and her tongue lashed out and she tasted it as well. When the woman was satisfied that it was gold indeed, she reached under the table and pulled out a tray with five of the most beautiful and expensive looking daggers Mirabelle had ever seen in her life.

Each was an etched metal with an intricate design that ran over the two-toned hilt and down the blade. The top had a knobbed grip that reminded her of a crown. And in the center of each hilt was mounted a large oval gemstone, each being of a different type and of various colors. Her heart beat wildly. She wanted them all. She wanted a child for each of the daggers.

“I’ll take them all,” she said, scooping them into a pile.

The old woman’s hand shot out and covered hers and Mirabelle felt as if she’d been struck with a hot iron rod as her finger tapped the top of Mirabelle’s hand. She pulled her hand back and held it against her chest, not liking the way it felt.

“You only have enough gold for four,” the woman told her. “So choose carefully. And remember, if you name each of your children after the stone in the hilt, they will be sure to find true love in this lifetime.”

“True love? Really?” She looked back down the alley, searching for her husband. Thankfully he was not in sight. She’d once been married to a cruel man who had beaten and hurt her, and she was just lucky when the earl killed him and claimed her as his bride. The moment he’d saved her from the wretched man, she’d known he was her true love. She was so happy now, and she wanted her children to be happy as well. And most of all, she wanted to let the earl know she was a good wife, by giving him the sons he wanted and deserved.

She had no choice. She had to buy these daggers and assure herself of not only conceiving a child but sealing her children’s fate of true love as well. She was so excited she could barely stand it.

“I want all boys,” she announced. “I haven’t been able to conceive a baby for my husband and I don’t want his eye wandering. He wants sons more than anything, and when we married I promised him I would give him many.”

The old woman nodded slightly. “The purchase of each dagger ensures you will get what you want.”

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