Dark and Bright
Book II Sons of Rhodri
Rhys sacrifices himself to save his brothers.
Rhys had dressed in his finest clothes, as befitted his status. He had chosen the bright red woollen tunic that came down to his shins. His mother always said red became him. It was his father’s favourite colour. The slits in the sides revealed a black undertunic. His knee length hose were also black, tied with embroidered ribbon, a gift from Carys. He wore them for luck. His tasseled boots were of the softest leather. He hoped his appearance would emphasize the seriousness of his overtures. He felt comfortable. But it would not be a good idea to underestimate Henry Beaumont. The Earl had become so obese he could barely walk.
Rhys did not expect to be greeted warmly as he entered the private sitting room. Though he was confident the Earl respected his abilities, a Norman would always consider a Welshman his inferior. He was given a polite welcome, as nobility obliged. Rhys thanked his host, then came straight to the point. “Milord Earl, I request the honour of becoming betrothed to your niece, Annalise de Vymont.”
The Earl, clad all in black from his boots to the jaunty hat perched precariously atop his bald head, arched his brows, the folds of his fat forehead doubling. “Hmph! I’d expected you’d want to discuss your outlaw brothers. I won’t free them.”
Rhys waited. The Earl had not invited him to be seated. He tightened his grip on the hilt of his sword in an effort to control the urge to shift his stance. Better to be still. He inclined his head a smidgen as a sign of respect, but not defeat. He had shot the first bolt—had it hit its target?