Read The Ballad of Rosamunde Online

Authors: Claire Delacroix

Tags: #kinfairlie, #rosamunde, #pirates, #fantasy, #claire delacroix, #deborah cooke, #ravensmuir, #pirate queen, #faerie, #ireland, #darg, #lammergeier

The Ballad of Rosamunde

The Ballad of
Rosamunde

by

Claire Delacroix

Trapped in the realm of Faerie, Rosamunde can
only be released by true love - but the man she loved is dead.
Padraig yearns to be more than a friend to Rosamunde…if he
declares his love and takes a chance on the future, can he win her
heart forever?

*

This short story was originally published as
part of the anthology,

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF IRISH ROMANCE.

It was edited due to space constraints in
that volume.

The entire text appears in this digital
edition.

This story is linked to the
Jewels of
Kinfairlie trilogy
and comes after those three books.
Think of it as Jewels of Kinfairlie 3.5.

*

The
Ballad of Rosamunde

by Claire Delacroix

Smashwords Edition.

Copyright 2009 Claire Delacroix, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Without limiting the rights under copyright
preserved above, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in
or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form,
or by any means, (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording,
or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the
copyright holder and the publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or
locales is entirely coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of
this book via the Internet or via any other means without the
permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.
Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not
participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted
materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

*

 

The Ballad of

Rosamunde

 

Table of Contents

Cover
Copy

Copyright
Page

 

Part
One

Part
Two

Part
Three

Dear
Reader…

 

An Excerpt
from THE RENEGADE’S HEART

 

Contest

About the
Author

Connect
Online

More Books by
the Author

 

* * *

The Ballad of

Rosamunde

by Claire Delacroix

*

Part
One

Galway, Ireland - April 1422

The hour was late and the tavern was
crowded. Padraig sat near the hearth, watching the firelight play
over the faces of the men gathered there. The ale launched a warm
hum within him, the closest he was ever like to be to the heat of
the Mediterranean sun again.

He should have gone south, as Rosamunde had
bidden him to do. He should have sold her ship and its contents, as
she had instructed him. Galway was as far as he had managed to sail
from Kinfairlie - and he had only come this far because his crew
had compelled him to leave the site of disaster.

Where Rosamunde had been lost forever.

Instead he had returned here, to the site of
his upbringing, to his mother’s grave and the tavern run by his
sister and her husband. It had an allure for him, with the bustling
port and the cobbled streets, the high gates and the memories, but
he would trade it in a heartbeat for a voyage over the seas with
Rosamunde.

Perhaps Galway would have to do.

Padraig enjoyed music, always had, and song
was the only solace he found in the absence of Rosamunde’s company.
He found his foot tapping and his cares lifting as a local man sang
of adventure.

“A song!” cried Declan, the keeper, when one
rollicking tune came to an end. “Who else has a song?”

“Padraig!” shouted his sister. She was a
pretty woman, albeit one who tolerated no nonsense. Padraig
suspected there were those more afraid of her than her husband.
Much like their mother in that. “Sing the sad one you began the
other night,” she entreated.

“There are others of better voice,” Padraig
protested.

The company roared a protest in unison, and
so he acquiesced. Padraig sipped his ale, then pushed to his feet
to sing the ballad of his own composition.

 


Rosamunde was a pirate queen

With hair red gold and eyes of green.

A trade in relics did she pursue,

Plus perfume and silks of every hue.

Her ship’s hoard was a rich treasury,

Of prizes gathered on every sea.

But the fairest gem in all the hold

Was Rosamunde, beauteous and bold.

Her blade was quick, her foresight sharp,

She conquered hearts in every port.”

“Ah!” sighed the older man across the table
from Padraig. “There be a woman worth the loss of one’s heart.”

The company nodded approval and leaned
closer for the next verse. Even his sister stopped serving, leaning
against the largest keg in the tavern, smiling as she watched
Padraig.


Trade in relics, both false and true

Her family trade she did pursue.

No man cheated her and told of it,

For Rosamunde allowed no debt.

She vanquished foes on every sea

But lost her heart to a man esteemed.

Surrender was not her nature true

But bow to his desires, she did do.

She left the sea to become his bride,

But in her lover’s home, Rosamunde died.

The man she loved was not her worth…”

Padraig faltered. His compatriots in the
tavern waited expectantly, but he could not think of a suitable
rhyme. He remembered the sight of Ravensmuir’s cliffs and caverns
collapsing to rubble, the dust rising, his men holding him captive
so that he couldn’t dive into the disaster in search of Rosamunde.
He put down his tankard with dissatisfaction, singing the last line
again softly. It made no difference. He had composed a hundred
rhymes, if not a thousand, but this particular tale caught in his
throat like none other.


Her absence was to all a dearth,

his sister suggested.

Her husband snorted. “You’ve no music in
your veins, woman, that much is for certain.”


The son she bore him died at birth,

the old man across the table suggested.

Padraig shook his head and frowned. “There
was no child.”

“There could be,” the old man insisted.
“’Tis only a tale, after all.” The others laughed.

But this was not only a tale. It was the
truth. Rosamunde had existed, she had been a pirate queen, she had
sailed far and wide in the buying and selling of religious relics,
she had been both beauteous and bold.

And she had been lost forever, thanks to the
faithlessness of the man to whom she had surrendered
everything.

Padraig mourned that truth every day and
night of his life.

He cursed Tynan Lammergeier, the man who had
cost him the company of Rosamunde, and he hated that they two might
be together forever in some afterlife. It was wrong that a man who
had not been able to accept Rosamunde for her true nature should
win her company for all eternity.

Because Padraig had loved her truly.

His mother had warned him that he was his
father’s son, that he would be smitten once and his heart lost
forever. It had shocked him all the same to find her counsel
true.

But he had held his tongue. He had spoken of
friendship in his parting with Rosamunde, not the fullness of his
heart.

Now he would never have the chance to remedy
his error. It had been almost six months since Rosamunde had gone
into the caverns beneath Ravensmuir, Tynan’s ancestral keep on the
coast of Scotland, six months since those caves had collapsed and
Rosamunde had been lost forever, and still Padraig’s wound was
raw.

He doubted it would ever heal.

He knew he’d never meet the like of her
again.

Padraig sat down and drank deeply of his
ale. “Let another sing,” he said. “I am too besotted to compose the
verse.”

“Another tale!” shouted the keeper. “Come,
Liam, sing that one of the Faerie host.” The company stamped their
feet and applauded, as Liam was clearly a local favorite, and
Padraig saw a lanky man rise to his feet on the far side of the
room.

He, however, had lost his taste for tales.
He abandoned the rest of his ale, left a coin on the board, and
headed for the door.

“We will miss your custom this evening,” his
sister said softly as he passed her. Her dark eyes shone brightly
in the shadowed tavern, and he knew that she saw more of his heart
than any other. She never asked for details, though, simply offered
him a place to stay.

“A man should be valued for more than the
volume of ale he can drink,” Padraig replied, blaming himself for
what he had become. His sister flushed as if he had chided her and
turned away. Padraig raised a hand toward her, not having wanted to
share his anguish, but she bustled away to serve another
patron.

He could do nothing right.

Not without Rosamunde.

Was her loss to be the shadow over all his
days and nights?

*

Far beneath the hills to the north of
Galway, Finvarra, High King of the
Daoine Sidhe
, templed his
fingers together and considered the chess board. It was a beautiful
chess board, with pieces of alabaster and obsidian, the board
itself wrought of agate and ebony with fine enamel work around the
perimeter. When he touched a piece, it came to life, moving across
the board at his unspoken will. His entire fey court gathered
around the game, watching with bright eyes.

Finvarra was tall and slim, finely wrought
even for the fey, who were uncommonly handsome. His eyes were as
dark as a midnight sky, his long hair the deep blue black of the
sea in darkness, his skin as fair as moonlight, his tread as light
as wind in the grass. He was possessed of both kindness and
resolve, and ruled the fey well.

His hall at Knockma was under the hill, and
as lavish a court as could be found. The ladies wore glistening
gowns of finest silk, their gossamer wings painted with a thousand
colors. The courtiers were armed in silver finery, their manners
both fierce and gallant, their eyes glinting with humor. The horses
of Finvarra’s court were spirited and fleet of foot, gleaming and
beauteous in their rich trappings hung with silver bells. He had
steeds of every color, red stallions and white mares, black
stallions and mahogany mares with ivory socks. Each and every one
was caparisoned in finery to show its hue and strength to
advantage. The mead was sweet and golden in Finvarra’s hall, and
the cups at the board filled themselves with more when no one was
looking.

But all the fairy court was silent,
clustered around their king’s favored chessboard. They watched,
knowing that more than victory at a game hung in the balance.

As usual.

Finvarra did not care for low stakes.

Finvarra played to win.

The spriggan, Darg, sat opposite the king
and fidgeted. Recently of Scotland, the small thieving fairy had
traveled to Ireland in the hold of the ship of Padraig Deane, a
blue-eyed and handsome pirate possessed of a broken heart. Caught
trespassing in Finvarra’s
sid
, a crime punishable by death,
the spriggan played for its life.

Finvarra, in truth, tired of the game. The
spoils were not so remarkable and the spriggan was a mediocre
opponent. The splendor of the board, indeed, he felt was wasted
upon the rough little creature. Certainly, his skill was.

Then Finvarra heard the distant lilt of
human song.


Rosamunde was a pirate queen

With hair red gold and eyes of green…”

As was common with Finvarra, the mention of
a beauteous mortal woman piqued his interest. He turned his head to
listen, just as the spriggan interrupted with a hiss.

“A laughing trickster Rosamunde did be, but
she did not have the best of me.”

“You knew this mortal?”

Darg raised a fist. “Stole from me! That she
dared, but I did steal her from her laird. She would be dead but
for me; now she owes me her fealty.” The spriggan cackled, then
moved a pawn with care. It was a poor choice. “Not dead but
enchanted she doth be, while I choose what my vengeance shall
be.”

Intrigued, Finvarra snapped his fingers and
his wife, Una, brought his silver mirror to his hand. She knew him
well. She caressed his hand as she passed the mirror to him, but
Finvarra ignored her gesture of affection.

He didn’t imagine her sniff of displeasure,
but Una’s pleasure was not his current concern. Not when there was
a beauteous woman to be possessed. He murmured to the mirror and
its surface swirled before his eyes, the image of this Rosamunde
appearing so suddenly that Finvarra caught his breath.

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