Genre: Paranormal Romance, Historical
Summary: After centuries in the extended family, the old manor — once a castle — looks like it is to finally pass from the family line. For Josephine, this is just the latest tragedy she has had to face and, from her point of view, there is nothing but heartbreak in her future.
All it not as it seems — leaving Josephine struggling with the massive upheaval to her normal routine. Amongst this, she continues to hope for final redemption with her husband.
The family was just at the peak of their power and influence. A marriage had taken place between the eldest daughter of the lord of the castle and a young man from a respectable family who had only recently been knighted. The entire village had turned out to celebrate the wedding, with many being invited back into the great keep for the wedding feast that would go long into the night, before the bride and groom would retire to consummate the marriage.
Up to the midpoint of the feast the day had been perfect, and it looked like the happy couple would enter married life on the best possible terms. It all changed when the great keep door was violently thrown open and a breathless horseman in bloodied and damaged armour crashed to the floor in front of the top table. What happy chaos had marked the feasting collapsed into complete silence as the gathered host waited to hear what momentous news had nearly cost this man his life. If it wasn’t important enough, he was sure to see the inside of the dungeon for having disrupted the wedding feast.
After excusing himself to the lord, he turned to the newlywed couple and addressed the knight. A revolt had arisen, led by a traitorous duke who, with the support of some complicit barons, had raised an army and was preparing to take on the King. The urgent call had gone out for all men under arms to ride for the border city to prepare for a decisive battle. Immediately. The lord of the castle tried to argue for a night’s grace to allow his son-in-law a night with his bride. It was the King’s order, so, as the knight prepared for departure, he and his bride said a tearful goodbye at the top of the grand staircase. He promised her he would return for her, turned and left for his duty.
The battle never happened. The rebels moved around the site selected for battle and destroyed the loyalists’ supply caravan. From that point on there were running skirmishes as the loyal forces tried to regroup. Several smaller castles were besieged, this one among them.
Days turned into weeks, then into months, and the siege continued. News managed to filter in that the rebels had faced several significant defeats elsewhere and that the young knight was just now leading men to come and break the siege. It couldn’t happen quick enough, as the defenders were running low on supplies and it looked like the curtain wall wouldn’t last much longer against the bombardment from the besiegers.
Preparations were made for the lady to make her escape in the night and she re-attired herself in her wedding dress so that she would be properly dressed when she met her husband again. It was now that the wall fell and attackers streamed into the castle grounds. Unknown to the defenders, a small squad had already entered the keep via the postern gate and the cellars, and were working through the keep, looking for a quick way to end the battle.
The first sign of their presence in the lady’s bedchamber was the several inches of steel blade that now protruded from the lady’s abdomen. The sword was withdrawn, replaced by a spreading stain. She ran screaming through the upper galleries, searching for a defender, making her way towards the keep entrance, reaching the landing of the grand staircase before finally falling, drained of life, watching in pain as men fought to the death on the floor below her.
While she could still draw breath, her husband appeared in the doorway of the keep and fought his way inside. Once he saw what had happened, he moved all out of his way to reach her. Crossbow bolt after bolt found him as he reached the stairs and made his ascent. He was finally felled by several bolts agonisingly short of his bride. Both were mortally wounded, stretching out their hands for a final touch, tears of love in their eyes. She was in her virginal wedding dress, awaiting him making it through the lines.
Stained red as her life ebbed from her, the dress would become her shroud as the last breath drained from her. Her husband struggled to at least touch his bride but his life gave out and the couple died, so close to each other with the tragedy of not gaining that last touch. All around them the battle raged. The main bloodline of the family died with them.