The great tent collapsed, again. Several small enclosures had been erected already, standing solid with their banners fluttering in the wind. These small enclosures would offer privacy as needed. The great tent was proving to be much more difficult. It seemed each time they nearly had all the stakes pounded in a great gust of wind would topple it onto the poor crew inside.
Fear was beginning to creep it’s way around the faces of the men and women working in the area. Unspoken were the words of whom they may have offended to have the wind behave in such a fashion. Gerome gathered them all together, looking each of them in the face he began to talk. “We need this picnic to be a success. He Lordship needs to wed. We are a small barony within the lands. If Lord Albert does not wed and conceive an heir soon, we may be subjected to a usurper, namely his cousin Lord Gorgan. You have each felt the wrath of Lord Gorgan. We have all seen the way he treats his animals, kicking the dogs and using clubs on his horses. Not to mention his poor valet, the whip marks on that lads back bespeaks much cruelty. This is not a man we want to guide our future. I fear he would treat our lands as he does his own small villa, he would slaughter indiscriminately, he would rape and take that which is not his. Even if he did not take our lives, he would kill us all inch by inch through his actions. This must be a gala occasion. This must work, Lord Albert has been infatuated with Lady Anita for quite a while now. I don’t know that he would have another. Our very lives depend upon the success of this picnic. But with these winds, I am reminded of our festival two years ago. Didn’t great blasts of wind topple the very stage we had built in the center of town? Didn’t those same winds extinguish night lights? Didn’t those same winds billow the ladies dresses for all the men’s pleasure! Let us again, place the center mast for our grand tent and raise it to our future. The wind is just that, the wind.”
Every head there bobbed up and down in agreement. All hands clapped as well as stomped their feet in approval. Putting their backs to the task the tent was quickly raised, the Gerome’s great relief. He cast his eye about, looking for the Nymph. If she had anything to do with those great gusts of wind….He spied her twining her body around one of the horses.
“Nymph, enchanting that old nag will garner you nothing.” Gerome called to her as he hobbled that way.
“My name is not Nymph. If you will not address me properly, I will not heed your words either.” She turned her luminescent golden eyes to him. They seemed to flash sparks at him and he looked at her with wonder.
“My apologies, Your Royal Highness Princess Aquina, but again, enchanting that horse will do nothing but make her impossible for her handler.” Gerome was beginning to lose his patience. The Nymph as mischievous as she was beautiful making it all the more difficult for him. She had only been around for less than one day and already too many unusual incidents had occurred. Besides the great blasts of wind; firewood had suddenly become wet and difficult to burn, fish jumped out of the water to land next to the fire, and oddest of all no birds were to be seen in the area. If the others were to find out about her, they would bolt or worse try to find her and kill her. Fear of the unknown does that to mobs of unenlightened. “If the horse is not willing to work with her own lifelong handler, there will be suspicions of magic and Fairies and witches. We cannot frighten these poor folks. They don’t know any better. And, you should heed my speech, if Lord Gorgan is successful in a coupe, your people will be hunted as prey.”
To this, the lovely Nymph snorted derisively. “I think not. My people have journeyed the waters of this land for millennia. One lone goblin, who names himself Lord, will not alter my people’s lives. He may be able to bully stupid humans, but Water Nymphs? Never.” Flinging her long strawberry blonde hair over her shoulder, she stomped to the river and flung herself over the bank.
Startled, Gerome spun at the sound of the Blue Jay sentry. The bird called to this part of the forest that an intruder was nearing. He nodded his thanks to the Jays, glad they were able to overcome their fears and stay moderately close to the campsite.
Everyone in the camp hustled to the edge of the lane to welcome his Lordship and the entourage. Naturally, his Lordship led the way seated upon his stallion. The Lady Anita, traveling in a coach, looked wide eyed as she took in the scenery. The well worn coach had seen better days, but to the eyes of one who had never seen a coach it was a thing of beauty. The scrolled handles for entrance and egress gleamed against the lacquered coach body. Painted flowers adorned the doors and ivy framed in the window openings. His Lordship’s father had never allowed the niceties of a coach and Lord Alfred really hadn’t seen any need to alter that fact. Lady Anita had the privacy curtain pulled back to watch the passage of time. Upon entrance to the camp site, however, she snapped the curtain shut again cutting off all scrutiny of herself.
Following the coach were the rest of the “party”. Since they followed behind, they were a bit worse for wear. Dust covered and dirty, most had attempted to hang farther back away from the coach thereby avoiding the dirt lunch. It was a bit of a rag-tag entourage following the Lady, but follow they did. The billows of dust and dirt following closely behind them as well.
The footman hurried with the step, to the side door. Accenting her flawless alabaster skin, her raven hair was neatly coiffed and adorned with pretty ribbons. Her lovely blue gown matched the ice blue of her eyes. Small feet filled matching blue slippers and the pearls about her neck glisten from much wear. Gerome nearly swayed. She was such a beauty! No wonder his good friend Lord Alfred was so enamored. This petite woman could easily rule the world with such beauty! Turning to her lady-in-waiting Lady Anita was about to speak. Could the words sound anything other than music from such a lovely?
“Mildred, get fetch me some water. I would find out if the rivers are sweet here.” Her voice grated as a rusted gate caught in a wind storm. Goose pimples ran up and down Gerome’s spine. Gerome looked away, thankfully the spell was broken. Thankfully, he would not embarrass his friend in that fashion! Looking at Lord Albert, Gerome could see the rapture of love running across his face. “Where is that foolish woman? She is almost worthless.”
A smallish meek looking woman stepped forward. “ I am here at your side, Mistress. Where I always am.” She too was neatly dressed, although not nearly as ornate. It was quite obvious she belonged to the Lady Anita. It was quite obvious, to Gerome, that the Lady Anita was accustomed to getting whatever she wanted from whomever. She would be one to treat those around her as though they were invisible.
The Nymph peered around the backside of Gerome, startling him. “That is no way for my future husband to look upon that woman!”