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A.J. Dudley

RAVEN

CREST

Publishing & Production

The Feather, the first book of the Raven Crest Series, begins the epic tale of Nicholas Monitari, the son of a royal tutor, and of young Arabella, Princess of the Isle of Man, in the early sixteenth century. At the infancy of the Renaissance, in the midst of the Church’s great tearing, we catch a glimpse into the secret Raven Crest Fellowship. Courageous members willing to stand to the death for the sake of truth and love, devoted to their quest: revealing the heart of God for the redemption of others.  

 

Will she survive? If she does, will the price have been worth it?

 

Will a young boy be forgotten? Will his life amount to anything?

Do we really all have a purpose in a larger, grander story after all?

Must the greatest of glory be found only through the greatest of suffering?

 

Can the abundance of life be found only through death?

 

Let us see….

 

Love, Devotion, Truth, and Courage battle in the heart of man against dark spirits of Abandonment, Prejudice, Confusion, Hatred, and even Murder, in the many enchanting characters desperate for clarity and leadership living in a frightening changing time. 

 

In an age when even the bravest of men were hard pressed to put in check the evils of power, can a few willing to lay down their lives, bring forth out of the ashes a purer, worthier queen?

Begun this 11th day of the 8th month,

in the year of our Lord 1520

     Shrilling screams magnified off the stone walls of the Queen’s private bedchamber. No one in the room showed the slightest sign of compassion. Again, and again the pains struck, and piercing screams were followed by a struggle to catch her breath. It had been many torturous hours for us all. I tried not to let self-pity get the better of me, but I was growing faint and weary. Smoke and steam rising from the kettle of boiling water in the grand fireplace made it hard to breathe, and my dripping sweat sizzled in the fire’s flames that were licking at the hem of my dress. The bitterness of the Queen’s constant anger could be felt like waves in the silence between her screams, and when the smell of blood caught in the air, I had to step away from the heat to keep from fainting. I caught sight of crimson red soaking into the white linen as gasps from those attending her broke the momentary silence. I was lost in the horror and the beauty of the moment. The pasty white ball of flesh exchanged hands as it released its first cry.

     "Nurse! Nurse, the water," their yells accompanied by accusing glares of irritation finally alerted my mind of my duty. Pulling the kettle from the hook over the fire, my back was turned from the scene when the dreadful announcement was made.

     "Your princess, my Queen," the physician said solemnly as he attempted to hand the new born child to her mother. My knees buckled under me at the news. I reached her bedside in time to watch the Queen push the child away with disappointment and apparent disgust. A solitary tear shimmered in the candlelight as it tracked in the aged line at the corner of her eye and soaked into her pillow. For one brief moment the much-feared monarch appeared simply as a woman and I felt pity for her.

     My anxiousness was numbed as I plunged the cloths into the steaming water with tongs, then lifting them again, I whirled them in the air to cool before placing them in the hands of the physician's assistant so that she might wash the mother and child. My mind was spinning and my heart faint. Even now I still don't know what to think or how to feel. Disappointment overwhelms me. Our long-awaited prince, the hope of all the kingdom, will never come.

It had been up to me to prepare for his welcome and plan for his daily care. Now, I am unsure if I am up to such a task. It is not that my experience mothering my own little ones leaves me unaware of the duties. However, I have never been a wet nurse before, nor mothered someone else’s child. And never did I imagine I would be charged with the care of the one who embodied the disillusionment of our nation, not to mention my own.

     Why, Lord, have you done this to us? Raising our hopes to the end of nine months, the last nine months the Queen has in her to bear a child. At least You had taken the others before our hope had any chance to rise to such heights. Not one living child up to this point and now a healthy and strong baby arrives, and You give us a girl!

     Uncle Jamin, what have you to say to this? You procured this position that I may serve our future king and now what advice have you for me? If only you were here! As it is, I must content myself to imagine the wisdom in your kind face. How you would so willingly absorb my endless words in similar silence to these pages as they soak in the ink that I thrust upon them. How I miss you now more than ever! Thank you for providing me this journal with which I might document the journey of my heart into a darker wilderness than I had anticipated.

     If it is true that the Queen has no greater emotion within her than the jealousy of her position, then it will take every bit she possesses to recover from her present feeble state. Her longing for life must be powerful even if it is fueled by her insane fear of a replacement. From the princess’s mother, there is no goodwill towards this child. Were I not to have witnessed the evidence of that myself, I would not have pity enough to nurse the little one. I am ashamed to admit it, but my disappointment is so great that I fear its venom will damage her, despite my efforts to restrain it. I know deep inside the child is innocent, and yet it is so easy for even me to place upon her the blame of her sex, and with it the shattered hopes of a kingdom.

     Dear Lord, You must take from me this Hatred, whose presence is so keenly felt, for its poison is diluting all of my compassion. Please do not give it a place to settle in me, for it is so unlike my own heart and yet it consumes me. It hangs over me like a dark and evil shadow. It cannot be hidden nor tucked away. It is evident in my entire attitude, and my spirit has no rest while it is upon me. I can fulfill no good purpose in this child’s life whilst I contain such emotions...

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