A knight of the Realm, Firedrake is chosen by his king to strengthen the country's hold on Scotland and is selected to become the Lord of Cumberland. Commanded by his king, Firedrake is to marry the eldest daughter of the current Lord of Cumberland. This is a political marriage. Jaclyn, raised to be the Lady of Carlisle Castle, accepts the marriage with dignity and duty. And to her surprise, the marriage also provides love. But traitors in both England and Scotland have other plans for the future of Firedrake, Jaclyn, the Castle, and England itself.
Jaclyn paced nervously in her room. Downstairs in her father's library the clerics and stewards were reading the nuptial contract.
"You are the loveliest ever," Judith reassured her elder sister. "Why are you so nervous?"
"You will be just as nervous on your wedding day," Jaclyn grumped. "This is a major adjustment in my life."
"You love him, don't you?' Judith queried.
"He has made me love him," Jaclyn replied. "God's teeth! Is all this real?" She smoothed her green velvet surcoat down over the deep emerald green samite tunic. She wore a golden belt embellished with jewels of rubies, emeralds, topaz, and pearl. A translucent green wimple covered her head and topped with a golden crown of the same-jeweled pattern on her belt.
Joan returned to the chamber with Maud. "These are for you," Joan announced proudly. She had a handful of the day lily she had name Firedrake.
Joan's simple loving gesture brought tears to Jaclyn's eyes. "You are most precious, sister."
Knocking sounds drew everyone's eyes to the oaken door. Joy opened the door and allowed the two clerics entry. "The contract has been read. We will go to the parish
church in the bailey and the contract will be blessed," the cleric announced.
Joy wrapped her mistress in a fur lined emerald green velvet mantel. She held her mistress' train in hand. Judith and Joan followed their sister down the castle halls and stairwells, out to the open bailey, and then into the parish church.
Ulrich de Warre stood by the altar waiting for his bride. His blonde hair was trimmed and combed topped by a velvet hat with black feather plume. His tunic was deep blue and surcoat of
matching color and fabric of damask. He wore hosiery of finest silk with soft skin black boots embroidered with gold. His tunic was belted with girdle of gold and precious stones. He beamed Jaclyn a broad smile when she entered. It was that same mischievous little boy smile.
Jaclyn melted into it. Her knees suddenly did not support her. How could a man have such an effect upon her? Truly there was magic to this Firedrake.
No one seemed to notice her temporary paralysis.
Joan ran in front of her carrying a basket of the Firedrake flower petals and started tossing them in the center aisle of the parish church. She stopped by Ulrich and gave a courtesy. "Tis the petals of thy flower, my Lord Firedrake. Sweet, fragrant, and pretty as the beauty of thy wife," Joan proclaimed. She ran to the side where Maud had been waiting for her. "Did I say it right?" Joan asked hopefully.
"Every word was perfect," Maud praised. She took Joan into her arms.
Baldric came to Jaclyn's side. He took her arm and walked toward the altar.
Jaclyn was eternally grateful. Without her father walking her to the Firedrake she would have never managed to move her legs.
"Who brings this woman to the altar of God for recognition of this nuptial service?" the priest asked.
"I do, Lord Baldric Bonefey, Baron of Cumberland and Lord of Carlisle Castle. I bring Jaclyn Bonefey to wed Ulrich de Warre under command of King Edward the III sovereign of England. Ulrich de Warre will retain all rights, honors, and titles of Cumberland with this nuptial."
Jaclyn heard all those words exchanged and responded dutifully as previously instructed, but was in a fog of unbelief. She was becoming the lady of the renowned Firedrake.
The priest blessed the contract and the couple.
Ulrich placed her hand upon his arm and turned to the witnesses of the marriage.
The priest announced the blessing of the church conferred to the Lord and Lady de Warre of Cumberland. From this day forward the new herald of Cumberland would be the Firedrake.
Outside the parish church a large group of villagers from neighboring parishes had been waiting for the new couple. A roar of cheering rose to deafening sounds when Firedrake and his bride emerged.
The villagers tossed Firedrake petals in the path of the newlyweds.
"The people of this Barony adore you," Ulrich noted. "As do I, my Madonna."
"I shall do all I can to be the most beloved and virtuous wife," Jaclyn replied.
Jaclyn looked up to her new husband's face. Once again she saw those twinkling mischievous eyes. "Of course my lord, all."
"I shall remember your promise this eve for the bedding," Ulrich chuckled. He placed his hand upon her hand that rested upon his arm. "My heart is filled with joy, my Madonna. I shall do all I can to be a virtuous and beloved husband."
This time Jaclyn's eyes twinkled with good humor. "All, my lord?"
Unknown to the happy couple and jubilant villagers a pair of menacing eyes were also watching the wedding party return to Carlisle Castle.
"Tis true my Laird. The wench of Cumberland has taken the Firedrake as husband. He is now the Laird of Cumberland and Carlisle Castle."
"The Firedrake is truly magical to have his life restored after we killed him," Mercer snarled at Malise Dunbar. "We shall have to take his life once again and make certain no magic wakes him from his permanent sleep. Come. We return to Dumfries and make our plan."
The festival after the party was of true magnificence. The trestle tables of the great hall opened not only to the castle household, but also food was brought out to the villagers that had come to witness the nuptials of their beloved Lady Jaclyn. The villagers had brought most of the foods stuffs for the wedding