Cover Art

The Promise

by

Bryan Varner

Rochelle, a young woman of nobility, wants to keep the promise she made to her father. She does this by becoming a knight, to earn respect from her fellow man, and the boon of a suitable partner.

The Promise Chapter 1

Chapter 1

 

What the promise is, I do not know. I've had people break promises they made to me for as long as I can remember. Before we go too far into this, I want to tell you who I am. My name is Rochelle, and I am someone who is caught in this world I call my own. Nothing makes sense to me, as I am discovering the one thing that makes women weak, and that is men. Every man doesn't take me seriously, and those who want my attention are no good. I don't want to give my body and soul to a man, I want to give my heart. No man seems to be interested in my heart, as I start this very unstable part of my life called adulthood. I am newly 18, and a virgin. I made a promise to my dad before he died to keep my virginity until a man married me. He told me the man has to be a good one, too. There is no one I love more than my dad, god rest his soul, and at first I thought it would be easy to keep the promise I made to him. The men I am around at work and around town, though, are all trying to court me, and a few of them are men of some power and wealth. There is one thing wrong with it all, though. My family is one of finance and nobility, and they want me to marry soon. I do not wish to marry a lord, I wish to marry someone I fall in love with. Here in my township it is hard to avoid all the would-be suitors, as it feels like they are stalking me everywhere I go. 

 

Today, I feel I may have found my answer to find a man who truly respects me, and that is by learning the sword. Here in Paris there are very few knights left, and even fewer lady knights. I have chosen to forego my nobility and instead learn the sword in hopes I find a true man of reknown and swordsmanship.

 

“Lady Rochelle, what brings you here?”

 

The weapon master wondered, puzzled by my presence. He was old but venerable, and a real master when it comes to weapons in general. He is said to be unparalleled in combat even in his late age. 

 

“Michel, I wish to become a knight. Please, teach me.”

 

Michel laughed, of course not taking me seriously.

 

“Why would I train a noble like you? If you misuse my teachings, I will be the one to answer for it.” 

 

I pulled out my purse, and told him, 

 

“I'll give you whatever you want for training me, and I promise you I will keep it secret. I can buy anyone's silence. Please, Michel, teach me!”

 

Michel thumbed at his white beard, then sighed, 

 

“Okay, you got it. Grab a rapier and show me what you can do on one of those practice dummies over there.”

 

I picked up a rapier, and gave it a few thrusts. I then walked slowly up to the dummy, remembering what I had seen other fencers do. I took a few quick jabs at the dummy, jabbing at the midsection of the dummy at its head. After a few moments, Michel shouted, 

 

“Stop! What are you even do here, asking me for lessons?”

 

I put my hand on my head, and apologized, 

 

“I'm sorry, I know I am bad....”

 

Michel smiled strangely, then exclaimed, 

 

“No, no, no! You were amazing! I would love to work with you, Lady Rochelle....”

 

I shook my head, disgusted, 

 

“No more titles, just Rochelle. I hope that I can impress you more. Please, teach me the code, promise that to me. Teach me what you call chivalry. I have yearned and longed for the days of old, when brave knights fought and died for their king. I wish to be like them, but not dead. I desire knighthood, however forbidden it is for me.”

 

“Then so you shall learn. Let's start with a few pointers, eh hem.” 

 

Michel picked up a well-worn rapier, and thrusted it straight into the mid-section of the dummy, piercing it. 

 

“I'll be teaching you that and much more. I hope that you are ready to become my star pupil.”

 

I nodded eagerly, and continued to Michel,

 

“Knighthood is some what of a pleasantry to people these days, but I will teach you the code of chivalry, and so much more. I am not a dead knight, not yet anyways. We are a select few, you and I. Tomorrow, I want you to come in and meet my other students. They know more than you, but you are what we call a natural. You'll feel right at home with them, but remember, they are still men. Please, don't show any weakness around them, Rochelle.”

 

“Michel, I am here to gain respect and honor, and that includes amongst them as well. I am not intimidated by men. I will learn to be like them, at least, in fencing. I am not afraid of what they'll think. I am a noble, and that means only the best of men can have me.”

 

“So that is why you are here?”

 

I rolled my eyes, and then explained, simply, 

 

“I am here because I made a promise, that is all, a very important one, I might add.”

 

Michel nodded, his eyes looking deeply content and interested. 

 

“Then I will help you find your way to keep that promise. I almost think I understand. You're here for the same reason as I, honor. Your personal honor must matter much more to you than people know. I will guide you, but you are always in control over your own destiny. It is not every day that a woman comes here. In fact, you'll be the first to earn the title of Lord and Lady. I am going to teach you all that I know. You will keep that promise, and you will earn your lordship. Your manor will become heaven, and your heart will be fulfilled. This is why you are here, is that not what your promise is?”

 

Michel stared at me, awaiting my answer patiently. 

 

“Michel, of course. That is why I am here. For glory and honor, but most importantly, for my own soul.”

 

Michel ran me through vigorous drills all day long. When it was time to go home, I went out for a drink, and was well pleased when I returned home to the mansion. It's sad we live here, but it is suiting for our prestige. When I went to bed, I dreamed of me as a knight, hunting for men. I really hope you understand the analogy, as it's a bit embarrassing. I suppose I really am becoming a young lady. 

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