Tag Archives: Christening Quest

Christening Quest ….

26 May

Next up on the Legends GSP Promo is Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.


Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the author of 22 solo fantasy and science fiction novels, including the 1989 Nebula award winning fantasy novel, Healer’s War, loosely based on her service as an Army Nurse in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She has collaborated thus far on 16 novels with Anne McCaffrey, six in the best selling Petaybee series and eight in the YA bestselling Acorna series.

Her book we are highlighting today is Christening Quest.


Going on a quest with a handsome prince might sound like a dream, but Prince Rupert’s cousin Carole comes to feel that it isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Carole agrees to accompany her hunky cousin to Miragenia to christen his baby niece. But it’s really hard to even explain the situation to anyone: how the little Princess was stolen from her mother’s side by Miragenians who demand fifteen years of the first-born’s life in exchange for a bit of help during wartime. Or how the baby was taken before magical christening gifts could be bestowed upon her for her protection and character development. 

The ladies surrounding Rupert (also known as Rowan the Romantic and Rowan the Rake) don’t care about some baby and don’t hear anything about the mission because they’re too busy sighing over him. Crowd control is an obvious problem, as is extricating Rupert from more than one involuntary engagement. When at last the two, with the help of dubious questing companions including a love-stricken pink and purple dragon, arrive at the theocracy of Gorequartz where the baby has been fostered out to a queen, they find themselves in trouble of a completely different complexion. Their most deadly nemesis is none other than a giant crystal “god” seemingly created in Rupert’s own image! 



     Banshee shrieks and shuddering moans pealed off the stone walls, bouncing from buttressed arch to arrow slot, lending the whole north wing all the peaceful charm of a dungeon. Rupert Rowan, prince and diplomatic trainee, winced and recrossed his long legs, sinking back into the velvet padded chair and trying to maintain his carefully cultivated serenity despite his sister’s anguished wails from the other side of the iron-hinged door. He had wearied of pacing hours ago and now had settled down to present a good example to the occasional subject who passed by him in the corridor. Most of these subjects were women, and many of them pretended not to hear Bronwyn’s caterwauling, which Rupert thought very decent of them. Bronwyn was supposed to be a warrior. Why did she have to choose a time when he was in earshot to give up stoicism?
      A buxom wench with a pert face and a corona of golden braids smiled warmly at him, masking the expression he frequently saw in female faces with one of sympathy. “There now, Your Highness, don’t worry. The hollering relieves the pains some, see? Every woman does it in labor. She won’t even remember this when she holds the little one in her arms. You’ll see.”
     He smiled at her, a bit pitifully, striving to present a visage that would inspire her to clasp it to her bosom. “You’re very kind. Will it be much longer do you think?”
     She smoothed the clean, white towels over her arm with one shapely hand. “Not much, I should think. Though the first always takes longer. Is it an Argonian custom to have a male relative in attendance, Your Highness? Forgive me, but we were curious, we girls, if you were here because Prince Jack couldn’t be, being in Brazoria as I’m sure it’s needful he be, though very hard on our young lady, your sister, it is. We think it ever so sweet that her brother should come be near her in her husband’s stead. None of his folk offered, not even the women.” She blushed a pretty pink and covered her pretty mouth with her fingertips. “No disrespect intended, milord.”
     “None taken, I’m sure. We all know what gypsies are like. As a matter of fact I—”
     A particularly blood-curdling bellow emanated from the royal bedchamber. The girl started, gave him an apologetic smile and a half-curtsy, and scurried off, banging through the door hip and shoulder first.
     He had been about to explain to her that the last thing he intended was to be at Bronwyn’s bedside for her birthing. He had, in fact, only been stopping off on the way from his fostering in Wasimarkan, where he was learning diplomacy at the behest of his Royal Mother, Queen Amberwine. The Queen had rightly pointed out that with an elder sister as Princess Consort of Ablemarle (having lost the title of Crown Princess of Argonia when her brothers were born), elder twin brothers (one of whom, Raleigh, would be King, the other of whom, Roland, would be war leader), there was very little else for her fourth child to do that would be useful.
     The Queen had declared with unusual forcefulness for a person of faery blood that she was not about to have a son of hers turn into a good-for-nothing knight errant bullying the populace and using his royal prerogatives to rape and pillage. It had happened elsewhere, and Rupert was no less fond of the phenomena than his mother. He was a highly peaceable and loving sort by nature—so loving, in fact, that by the age of twenty, when his frost giant ancestry caused him to be so unusually tall and well grown and his faery blood lent him an uncommon beauty and charm, he was a cause for alarm among the fathers and husbands in the Wasimarkanian Court. To the men he was called, behind his back (for it would never do to offend so powerful an ally as the Royal House of Argonia) Rowan the Rake. To the women, into whose eyes he gazed soulfully and whose hands he kissed tenderly, almost without regard for age, station, or pulchritude, he was Rowan the Romantic. He would miss those charitable and generous ladies, one and all, but his mentors, under pressure, had declared that with princesses of six major countries in a swoon for his attentions, he would need more advanced lessons in diplomacy than they had to offer. They referred him back to his own family for further instruction.
     The stop in Ablemarle’s capitol to visit Bronwyn had been an impulse. His ship was docking to take on cargo. He had not seen Bronwyn in several years, and she had always been his favorite in the family. She was as good a fighter if not a better one than Roland—at least on the practice field—and she had had marvelous adventures when she was still much younger than Rupert. When Rupert tired of hearing of those adventures, which he sometimes did since he always wanted to learn something new, Bronwyn was most adept at making up tales to amuse him.
     He almost failed to recognize the wild-eyed creature who greeted him and clung to his hand, her face so pale that every freckle stood out like a pock, her wiry red hair loose and straggling in every direction, her belly great with child. The self-sufficient big sister of his youth all but pleaded with him to remain until her child was born, as it was to be any day. She begged him to stay since her husband, Prince Jack, could not. Rupert had failed to understand any more than the pretty lady-in-waiting why any masculine family member should be a comfort to Bronwyn in what was first and foremost and unarguably woman’s work, but he could not deny her. He had stayed.
     A long, gasping cry ended in an ear-splitting scream, and was followed closely by another cry, this time the squall of an infant. Rupert jumped to his feet and strode to the door, leaving his rowan shield leaning against the door. All the Rowan offspring usually carried the shields made by their father as birthing gifts on their persons, for the rowan wood was proof against magic. But he was in his sister’s hall and far more excited than he had thought he would be at the advent of this new relative, and three strides was hardly an incautious distance.
     The door flung back against him and the girl with whom he had been speaking bustled out, brushing against him, a whimpering blanketed bundle cradled against her breast.
     “Wait,” he said quickly. “Can I see?”
     She lifted the triangle of blanket just above the crook of her elbow and showed him a wrinkled, red little face that began to screw itself into another scream. “It’s a girl,” the maid informed him. “Isn’t she adorable?”
     “Quite,” he said, trying to sound sincere. “I’ll just go congratulate Bronwyn.”
     “Oh, not yet, milord,” she said. “She’s getting her bath and then she must rest a bit. I’ll be bathing this child to be presented to her when she wakes.”
     “A bath?” he asked blankly. “Oh, of course, the baby would be needing a bath. Well, um, may I watch? I’ve never seen a new child bathed before.”
     “I don’t see why not,” the girl said with a saucy, calculating look from under her lashes, “But you Argonians certainly have strange ways, if you’ll pardon my saying so, sir.”
     “I’d pardon you almost anything, my dear,” he said politely, and opened the door to an adjoining chamber for her.
     The baby’s bath was interesting chiefly in that Rupert thought it very convenient to be able to bathe an entire human being in a wash basin that barely fit his two hands. Otherwise it was rather messy. The maid herself was far more intriguing, and he proceeded to get to know her better while his new niece slept in her cradle, carved in the shape of a swan and newly decked with pink ribbons by the lady whose ear he was nibbling.
     The enormous draft that blasted open the double doors took both Rupert and his companion by surprise, as did the fact that neither of them was able to do so much as raise a finger to lift themselves from the tiled floor where they had been flung. Indeed, Rupert could not so much as twitch his knee from where it undoubtedly inconvenienced his paramour, lodged in her midsection. He watched helplessly as a rather large rug whisked in on the blast. Two gentlemen with blue robes and bandages tied round their heads with blue cords lifted the baby from her cradle and onto the rug and whisked back out again. They failed to blast the door shut behind them and Rupert could hear doors banging, presumably all the way down the corridors to the main entrance, as the rug flew through unhindered.