Part 41

Wrongful Accusation…

There was no deployment for Kane,  no patrol, no promotion. Just a stinging blow to the back of his skull and a beating that rendered him unconscious for three days.

It was raining when he stirred, large drops fell on his upturned face, dripping through a heavy  iron grate that he was chained too…

“Ahh… you’re awake.” A foreign voice,  somewhere in the dark.

“I’m not dead?” He tasted blood in his mouth.

“How do you feel?” A face drew closer out of the gloom, narrow features, wicked eyes.

“Everything hurts.” Kane pulled against the chains, halfheartedly.

“Then you’re not dead.”

Kane gave up moving and hung limp.

“Neither do you face a death sentence, someone wants you alive boy, they also want you to suffer. Tell me, do you have any idea what we do to rapists down here?”

The question caught Kane off guard… “What do you mean? I’m not a rapist! I never hurt Alleia!  I didn’t force her… I’m not a fucking rapist!” Fury gave him strength and he tugged harder against the unyielding chains.

“That’s what it says here, you are charged with rape and found guilty by the woman’s husband, Lord Pepe Montoto signed the sentence papers himself.” The thin character poured through the paperwork ignoring Kane’s desperate protests… ” Says here you got her pregnant, what sort of scum rapes a Royal Princess,  leaves her with child then flees the city?!”

Kane felt the cold keen point of a very sharp blade right against the base of his penis and ceased his wriggling, holding himself very still and biting his bottom lip as the blade dug in… just enough to draw blood.

“Silence boy… harken to my words, I am a master of my art and I know truth from lie. I fish for secrets from the most expert of spies and they sing to me. If you are guilty, you will spend years begging me for death.” The blade traced a bloody line up his body, until the point rested poised over his heart, the speaker applied just a fraction of pressure,  the blade wicked enough to slice between ribs effortlessly, it would take no strength at all to find its mark… Kane held his breath,  feeling its cold sting, warm blood raised to the surface where the point had scratched his flesh…

“I did not rape Alleia.” He spoke calmly, “I loved her, no…I mean… I love her… and I’m going to be a Father… We’re having a son… and I would do anything, anything to be with them both.”

“How compelling.” The knife flashed taking the tip off his ear.

Kane winced “I did not rape Alleia, I love her!” Hot blood poured down his face.

“Most compelling.” The knife vanished,  secluded into a tool belt around the interrogators waist. “You said you would do anything to be with her? Yes?”

Kane nodded

“Would you die for her?” The blade reappeared in a swift blur to bite into his throat…

“Yes.” Kane replied swallowing hard. “But then what kind of father would I be?”

The man blinked several times, then chuckled to himself. “You’re no rapist and you make a dreadful hopeless romantic. I think you are honorable and would stand by and support a family, out of duty more than love… I’m not sure you know how to love… You’re a conscript Kane, taken from your family at an early age, raised to fight, raised to kill on command. Soldiers like you don’t love, you have whores who service the barracks, you live and die in uniform. You’re not father material, you’re not a family man. You’re a trained cold blooded killer Kane, but you are no rapist.”

“Can I go?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, you pissed off the wrong people Kane, my orders are to make your stay here most… … …unpleasant.”

 

Anne Harrison 05.03.17

Part 39

Stones and Bones

Hera dug with her bare hands through thick clay ridden mud. The stench of stagnant water made her gag, yet Hera persisted clawing her way down. Her finger nails broke and bled, the stench became far worse than soured water alone and fear gripped her heart as her hands pulled free a bone and stone necklace. She had seen this before and she knew who it had belonged too and although Hera had personally considered The Shaman a fraud, a showman adopting an actors tricks to sell himself as something he was not. That was still no reason for murder.

His act had cost him his life and the well had become his grave.

There was no crystal, no gem of prophecy. Just the decaying remains of The Kings favorite soothsayer, hacked apart and dumped carelessly.

Fendor had claimed he had buried the crystal with his shirt, he called her Beryl and was deeply saddened by the King’s command to bury her. Hera found his shirt among the filth and body parts, she gasped, feeling a hard lump wrapped carefully within the stained material… She dared to hope, holding her breath in her chest as she carefully unwrapped the bundle…

Just a stone, nothing more, a plain humble stone.

Hera screamed in frustration and grief, causing more than a few sheep who grazed nearby to bolt and scatter in fear. She screamed in rage, she screamed with utter hopelessness… Clutching the stone to her chest, cheated and destroyed…

Brynn lightly touched her shoulder and noticed the body, “Hera?”
Her screams subsided to a strangled sob.

“Hera, we should offer him a proper burial.” The shepherdess suggested… “Somewhere more beautiful, so his spirit may rest free from the torment of his murder.”

Hera nodded.

“…and don’t frighten my sheep so!”

Anne Harrison 05.03.17

Part 38

A pretty cage is still a cage

The room had been laid out nicely enough,  a small bed made up with warm blankets,  a table set with a jug and bowl for bathing. A stool, books, a selection of warm clothes and a hairbrush. All simple humble items, everything and nothing at all… The windows were barred and high up the wall, impossible to see any view from, yet the wind howled around the tall ceiling. At times crows would caw at the bars, dancing across the rafters, to fly free again with their mocking cry taunting the Princess prisoner curled up on the rickety bed, wrapped in a military jacket. Her tears had dried upon her cheeks and she felt like there were no more tears to shed. Alleia trembled, cold and afraid. Watching the crows with envy.

The bolt slid back upon the heavy iron door, Alleia flinched, sinking deeper into the jacket as two heavily armed barbarians bustled in with Pepe. “You have ten minutes.” The taller brute barked gruffly. Leaving Pepe alone with his wife, the two thugs waited beyond the door.

“Are you here to gloat?” Alleia sniffed.

Pepe sat on the bed with a creak, gone was his immaculate golden curls, his fine silks, exotic satins and lace he favored. His hair was clipped and styled more masculine, clad instead in a smart suit. “No Alleia, I’m not here to gloat.” He had dropped his former camp tone and sighed heavily. “Your have no idea how badly I desired you and how much it  pained me to learn about your affair.” He ran his fingers absently through her hair.

“Was our entire marriage a lie?”

“Yes, of course. A lie built on greed, a hunger for power, for land. Land your father wanted to control, my land. You were a sweet bargaining tool, nothing more and I had different plans for you, rest assured. Then you went and got yourself pregnant by a soldier,  a common guard.” Pepe spat.

“It wasn’t an affair.” Her words felt hollow.

Pepe grabbed her face by her chin. “Do not waste your breath on bitter lies.”

“You planned this all along?”

“No, Fendor planned this all along. When you got pregnant, I didn’t want you anymore, you were tainted, touched by another man… I had waited so long to possess you, to claim your body as my own, to drop the whole act, I was waiting for… hummmmm… I’ve said too much, you don’t need to know…” Pepe released her face and reached into his suit pocket to draw out a carefully folded document.

Alleia felt her baby kick.

“I can not save your life, precious, but I can save your unborn.”

“Why?”

“I have my reasons and I have no reason to explain myself to you.” Pepe handed her the document. “I need you to sign this.”

Alleia unfolded the parchment, reading through the legal document. It relinquished any rights the child might have to the throne and named Pepe as guardian.

“You expect me to sign this? To sign my child away as your property?” More tears fell then.

“Yes, Alleia.” He placed a fountain pen into her hand.

“Sign and I shall protect the baby. Refuse and you both die, the guards outside the door have orders to behead you should I leave this room with this paper unsigned. Therefore, if you have any passion for your child, you will sign.”

Alleia sobbed, the pen trembling in her hand. “I hate you.”

She signed her name, broken hearted and torn.

 

Anne Harrison 04.03.17

Part 34

Half Truths and Twisted Lies

“General?!” Alleia gasped… The Prince by her side dare not look up.

“Why?” That accursed word escaped her lips and Fendor launched himself at her with a shocking stinging backhand that caused her to tumble into her brother…

“Why?” Fendor seethed, his words hushed, yet he was in her face. “I will tell you why precious doll… Why, is spending six years of your life seeking a ‘powerful magical threat’ that turns out to be a frightened little girl… Why, is watching this obnoxious fool…” He poked The Prince in his chest, “…pluck the crystal from her body and destroy her without thinking… Why, is watching Kane kill her loyal Guardian without hesitation… Why, is watching a power hungry King destroy his people, murder society, poison the earth and corrupt his children, so he could get fatter, richer, more powerful, own more yet squeeze the life from society… Why, is because I have ‘watched’ enough, I have seen too much horror in the name of your father, too many people have died Alleia. Do you not see? Something had to be done, someone had to stop your father before he learnt what you were carrying in your womb…” His tone of voice had risen as he ranted. Tears ran freely down Alleia’s face, her brother trembled and the woman seated on the throne stood and simply placed a hand upon Fendor’s shoulder.

He stood and turned away from them, pacing behind the throne, agitated.

“Do you have any idea of the power which grows within you?” The woman clutched Alleia’s chin hard, tilting her head back.

“No, but..but.. but.. I think it might be a boy…” Alleia struggled to control the tremor in her voice, she looked to The General, trying to understand why someone so loyal, so close to the King would betray him so coldly. He looked alien without his uniform, his hair gone, harder, darker, older… “What happened to Kane?” She dared to ask, even though her own emotions were still cloudy regarding the soldier, Alleia feared Kane too was in on the conspiracy.

“That is none of your concern.” The Woman replied and pulled Alleia to her feet. “You will live out the rest of your term locked and bolted in the tower, but rest assured sweet Princess, the day your child draws breath shall be your last.” Guards closed in to restrain Alleia.

“As for you, little Prince…” The Woman dragged the coward to his feet. “For stupidly destroying the most magical creature without a care, there can be only one fate…”

Fendor had circled around behind the throne as they spoke, stalking around the prone Prince, Alleia noticed his actions just too late to warn her brother and Fendor’s wickedly sharp sword severed the young Princes head…

Anne Harrison 24.02.17

Falling in Love with the Imaginary…

Friday Lunchtime Ponderings…

…I think I have covered, or at least started to cover, this topic before… But I possibly got distracted and danced off on another train of thought before I could put finger tips to keys and pull the words out my brain…

Disclaimer: I’m not clever, I don’t understand  psychology, nor pretend to, I can not include any intelligent quotes (because I’m not sure what they mean) nor do I have any answers… Sorry my friends, all you get here will be some mad ramblings…

Rambling Commencing: Isn’t it just delicious how we, as normal every day mortal folk, can find ourselves in love with the imaginary. The characters that grace books, screen, cartoons, comics, games, movies and so on… The lovable rogue, the bumbling fool, the anti-hero, the stone cold killer, the gunslinger or the sheriff… No matter what genre of fiction we embrace, we will find these archetypes and we embrace them, we follow them through their ‘lives’ we may visualize them differently from authors descriptions, artists representations or actors, er… acting…

Fandoms are born from people sharing the same passion for certain characters or series of adventures, it expands, morphs into Comic-Cons, beyond that to entire theme parks, events, studio tours… Where we the mundane can step into the world of Fantasy, Fiction or Sci-Fi etc… We dress as our favorite characters, we have lightsaber  battles with Jedi when we’re dressed as Sith… Wand duel with a Slytherin while taking a selfie and sharing it on social media… These things bring total strangers together, we can talk about the ridiculous without actually sounding ridiculous, because the stranger we’re chatting too understands perfectly the made up jargon you’re talking about…

It makes me (personally) feel like I am part of a huge family, I am a cosplayer, I admire the creativity the dedication and perfection of come costumes. I’ve never tried LARPing, but this could prove to be the ultimate step (for me) as a (non)writer, to become your own character, to act as they would act and put yourself in their shoes…

This whole concept is so expansive and so inclusive, I don’t think I’ve really scratched the surface here and could express myself further, include more examples, genres or characters… Good or Bad, Love them or Hate them… None of this ‘world within a world’ would even begin to exist if people hadn’t sat down, picked up a pen and wrote about the imaginary people inside their heads, by doing so, they crafted life, love and a whole realm where nothing is impossible in a world where we are restricted to reality, sometimes the incredible can be tangible.

Yet none of it would be so if there was never a ‘Once Upon a Time’ …

I’m going to get back to my own writings shortly and I’m going to leave you with a passage from Michael Moorcock, introducing one of his most chaotic anti-heroes… This is where I fell in love with the imaginary…

“It is the color of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the color of bone. “

 

Anne Harrison 17.02.17

Part 28

A bond deeper than lust…

writing-prompt

This was a dream, do not be fooled by the reality of events, those involved are perfectly asleep in their respective quarters, separated by bricks and wood, guards and distance. Yet connected through a singular intimate encounter, which has left a lingering friction betwixt their dreams.

They were far away from the Northern continents, the three major Kingdoms ruled over by The King, her Father… Sailing somewhere upon a sail-less airship, over swaying grasslands, minor communities, clear shimmering lakes… far away from the rotten North, ruled with fear and injustice. The land they glided over was innocent, pure, beautiful… That is why it *had* to be a dream…

Kane took his woman into his arms as they stood upon a high deck, watching the rolling landscape, glittering with the sweet laughter of children playing in the wild fields below.

“Princess,” he whispered against her ear. “My beautiful beautiful Princess. I want to spoil you. Pamper you, Indulge you.” He heard himself say these words which caused her face to illuminate with a perfect radiance that stole his breath.

“If only this was real.” She replied leaning her head against his chest.

Kane didn’t want to contemplate the fact this was an illusion and buried his fingers deep into her curls, tilting her face to meet his lips. Alleia melted into his embrace…

This was too idyllic, far too romantic, perfectly ridiculous and both were silently content with the mental fabrication they shared. The illusion persisted over years as their airship floated silently over thick jungles and alien lands. Glistening rings adorned their hands, entwined fingers co-joined in a fantasy marriage. Her tummy swelled, their love grew. A beautiful son graced their union… Yet neither could clearly see the babes face…

***

The illusion shifted, morphed and rewound back to the dark north lands, the airship no more, the freedom and beauty ripped from their minds as the loving couple were plunged into desperate horrific conditions… Pulled apart by countless strong hands, torn from the grace of their loving embrace. Alleia, stomach swollen, was forced to stand barefoot on cold stone, upon a ledge over a stinking pit. Forced to watch, forced to witness the horrific scene which unfolded below her perch.

A gallows had been constructed an arching frame with a rough noose… Kane was dragged forth, struggling and swearing, fighting uselessly against the inevitable… Alleia felt warm tears tumble down her face, screaming silently against the abuse as Kane was beaten, bloody and torn… The noose tied around his throat to strangle not to break his neck… He was hoisted off his feet, left to dangle, kick and squirm, struggling for breath…

Alleia felt a fluttering in her belly, as though their unborn shared her horror…

Still breathing, half conscious, immobile, broken… Kane was cut down and torn apart, gutted from chest to groin, his innards wrenched from his body as he still tried to draw breath…

The King held his daughters face firmly so she could not look away as Kane was hacked apart. “So much for your lover…” He hissed as Kane’s head was finally cleaved from his body… “So much for love!”

***

Kane jolted awake, his hands unconsciously going to his throat… Coughing…

Alleia sat up, tears running down her face…

 

… It was still predawn, the castle and grounds draped in a quiet calm, only Alleia’s  quiet sobbing broke the silence, the nightmare haunting her thoughts…

 

Anne Harrison 10.02.17

Part 27

By the Light of the Moons…

 

The twin moons hung heavy over the palace towers, as though silently watching events unfolding therein…

…In the barracks, those guards off duty mostly slumbered in an exhausted sleep, a handful gambled by flame light awaiting news from their comrades regarding the rumpus reported from the ball room. Kane sat alone on his bunk, knees pulled up to his chin, starring absently ahead at a cracked brick in the wall. He couldn’t sleep and even though he felt bitterly cold, he made no move to warm himself. His stone was gone and although initially he thought it had slipped out of his pocket in the maze, a single memory kept replaying in his mind. Somehow he had pushed the crystal into the Princess, it was in his hand, he remembered that clearly, he had it in his hand while they were together. Had it in his hand, warm, red, pulsing, humming… It enhanced the intensity of their experience, Kane recalled placing the crystal over her heart, but could not logically consider a reason why he would do such a thing. He remembered it was hot in his hand… Kane swore under his breath, he could not recall clearly what had happened to his stone… He felt frustrated and horny, for other such recent memories were delicious to savour and yet there was still the lingering dread of having to face General Fendor after being caught in such a compromising position… He sighed, no wonder he couldn’t sleep!

***

General Fendor was able to return Princess Alleia to her quarters and her snoring husband without any issue. The moons must have blessed their passage and any carefully planned excuses were redundant. Staff and guards were carefully distributing sleeping party guests to their assigned quarters, or finding quarters  for those which required them. Some awoke sluggish and confused, but most (including the King) were sleeping soundly. Apart from a few bumps and bruises and ruined garments, everyone had escaped any injury and once all were resting comfortably the army of staff began a swift and efficient clean up operation with perfection. By dawn light no display of any disturbance would be evident and a superb breakfast feast would calm any rattled nerves or sore heads. At least that was the hope.

***

The Queen waited until all the staff had left the ball room and returned alone. The Phoenix called upon seeing her, slipper footed, she glided across the freshly polished dance floor to her feathered companion and lovingly stroked his long slender neck, fingers pausing against an ugly heavy collar the King had employed to chain the creature to his cage.

“I hate it, it’s horrible.” She said softly as the magnificent bird nudged her shoulder with a squawk, bumping her arm, focused upon the clear blue crystal, still perched upon it’s pedestal, still softly glowing with a pale blue light, glittering reflections upon the highly varnished table. The Queen, following the gaze of the magical bird, allowed her eyes to linger upon her husbands most treasured trophy. “I wonder what caused it to flare so?” She pondered, inching over to the stone, hand hesitating over it, she could feel the cool heat and resisted the urge to grasp it tightly and hold it to her chest, even though her instinct near demanded the action. She closed her eyes, an image of a red stone, pressed against pale flesh flashed into her mind. The Queen glanced up at the Phoenix…

“Rebirth?” She mused in a soft whisper…

 

Anne Harrison 08.02.17

 

Part 26

Discrete Conversations

 

The chaos erupting throughout the main tower distracted any attention from the path General Fendor picked through the palace to his own private quarters near the barracks. His knowledge of passageways and trap doors aided their flight and defended the Princess’s modesty.

His quarters were plain, the rooms cold, both were silent. Should the Princess be discovered half naked and alone with the General it would result in his instant execution, so swiftness was required. Alleia stood trembling, clutching her ruined dress to her body, attempting to conceal some of her nakedness. Once or twice, the elder man allowed his gaze to linger upon her slender figure longer than she felt comfortable with and she dug herself deeper into the borrowed jacket.

General Fendor tugged a heavy trunk out from under his bed and invited Alleia to choose from the garments neatly folded and stored therein.

“These belonged to your wife?” She asked, watching him nervously as the General approached a dresser and poured two generous drinks from a dusty decanter.

“What happened to her?” Alleia took the glass from him.

“She died, your highness, by her own hand.” He replied, sipping the liquor.

The Princess lowered her head, uncomfortable with the bluntness of his answer, finally selecting a pair of soft doeskin slacks with shirt and tunic. General Fendor turned away to allow her privacy to get dressed, though it appeared a redundant action, he had already seen her body in a most intimate of actions…

“What were you doing with Kane? Apart from the obvious… ” The General asked over his shoulder.

“Kane? Is that his name?”

“Aye.”

“Kane… I don’t know…” There was a smile in her voice “I was watching him fight and… I can’t remember… There was blood on my dress, his blood I think. His hands were so rough, my dress was ruined…”

“Did he attack you?” Fendor had to be sure.

“No!” Her answer was definite. “I wanted it, my husband, my Lord, he can’t, erm…”  She cleared her throat. “He is unable to perform.” Alleia pulled on the tunic and sipped her drink. “Not that I would want him too… but I wanted Kane…”

“How do I look?”

Fendor turned and smiled sadly. “Most elegant your Highness.”

“What will happen to Kane?”

“Nothing, not unless he’s caught returning to his barracks late, but such a minor insubordination is dealt with with cleaning duties.”

She nodded. “I expect I should return to my husband and the party and explain my absence somehow…”

“Allow me to escort you your highness.” General Fendor offered the Princess his arm, Alleia smiled and took his arm…

 

Anne Harrison 07.02.17

 

 

Part 24

Split Decision

 

General Fendor, his mind troubled, was part way betwixt the maze and the castle when the sudden blue flare erupted from the banqueting hall with alarmed cries and a crack like thunder. He dashed forwards, heart racing… then paused… his instinct screaming at him to turn back, so he spun on his heel and inched back towards the mouth of the maze.

A dull red glow crept across the ground, like a thick mist enveloping all it touched with tendrils of light. Fendor’s anger swelled as he gathered up discarded clothes, turning the twisting path through the tall hedges, appalled by the naked figures wrapped in a red glow, oblivious to his arrival until he threw down the clothes and caught Kane by a fistful of hair, dragging the young soldier to his feet.

Instinctively Kane turned to defend himself, the Princess yelped and reached for concealing clothes, Fendor was swifter and blocked any attack snarling at Kane with pure fury. “Are you a total fucking idiot?!” He shook the lad. “What the fuck were you thinking?!”

The pale blue glow from the tallest towers was slowly starting to dissipate, but alarms were resounding through the Royal Palace, guards launching into action, sprinting to the grand hall at haste.

The Princess stepped up to Kane’s side, attracted to the chaos in the tower… “What is it?” She whispered… The red light surrounding them started to dissolve…

Fendor sighed and let lose his grip on Kane’s hair… “I don’t know and I don’t know what you two think you are playing at. ” He struggled to maintain respectful to the Princess, yet his anger was slipping away… “I know we don’t have time to stand and debate the esoteric and I know I don’t need to stick my neck out for you!” He poked Kane in the chest. “We could both be hung for this now!” Fendor paused thinking swiftly…

“Get dressed and get to the barracks.”

Kane hesitated, he turned to the trembling Princess… “Will I see you again?”

Fendor slapped him across the back of his head… “Could you be anymore stupid?!”

Yet Alleia kissed Kane deeply, a silent promise… He pulled his clothes on then, swiftly before he got another crack on his skull, yet despite all the trouble they were in, both lovers kept grinning… Alleia was still grinning after Kane had fled…

“My gown is ruined.” There was fear behind her smile now, she was shaking.

“Everyone is distracted if come to my quarters, I can furnish you with some of my late wife’s garments. You were at a party right? We can say you were sick and ruined your dress, too much fine wine and exotic food can turn the stomach, besides it would explain your absence.” Fendor slipped off his jacket and placed it around her slender shoulders. “We should make haste.”

 

Anne Harrison 03.02.17

Part 23

Magical Stirrings – The twin stones awake…

 

Pride of place, upon a high centerpiece upon the banquet table, The clear blue crystal, presented to the King by his triumphant Son in a dressed up farce of a ceremony, stood as crowning glory at the celebration, which was showing no sign of slowing down any time before dawn. Lords and Ladies, Viscounts and neighboring Kings congratulated the Prince, admired the captured stone and lusted over it’s mythological magical properties.

The story of recovering the crystal was recounted and exaggerated as the evening became more drunken, the death of the Child of Prophecy and her Guardian were seen as the end of the war – incidentally, the Prince also took credit for the death of The Guardian too – The whole affair was disgusting to Hera, who remained by the Priests side, acting as his loyal consort, the only way she could stay safe and hidden was right among the people she despised.

The Prince appeared forlorn, having ceased drinking hours ago, a resigned embarrassment consumed his dull thoughts. Hera picked up on this when he displayed mercy for the Phoenix, she would watch that young man with interest… Had her magical healing altered his conscience?

Without warning the blue stone started to hum upon its perch, most party goers was unaware of this subtle action. Then it stared to vibrate and finally glow, a bright blinding light erupted from its heart with a ear piercing cry, like nails on a chalkboard.

People dropped glasses to cover their ears as the cry intensified, the glow enveloping the whole hall…

***

The red stone was kept wrapped in cloth in Kane’s left hand pocket, though his clothes were currently discarded along a grassy path in a twisting maze, the magical stone was connected to him. It pulsed, like a steady heartbeat, rolling free from the fabric, glowing and moaning to be with its owner. Finally resting against the lovers bare flesh, Kane felt its call and reached out a hand to grasp his ‘lucky charm’ the power from it wrapped them both in a deep red light, magic flowing through the common soldier, the married Princess. Their lust reached it’s peak Kane held the crystal to Alleia’s breast, over her heart…

As they cried out together, the crystal sank into her flesh…

 

Anne Harrison 01.02.17