**Hit a bit of writer’s block and wanted to belt something out before I gave up hope entirely. Hoping to make this a regular series.**
I gripped the polished metal of the horses armour and tried not to notice how old and twisted my face had become. Even now, in my most desperate hour, the loss of my beauty still dominated my thoughts whenever I saw my reflection.
I had saved for years in the slums of Neharica for a small looking glass. It was made from poor quality glass and the metal that framed it had rusted and weakened over time but it was mine and that’s all that mattered. I know longer had to just stare at the rippled reflection sent back by the bath I managed to scrape for once a month.
How horrible we live in a world where the poor cant even see themselves.
“Take your hands from my horse beggarwoman!” the knight above me shouted, interrupting my reverie.
“Please, please listen to me,” I begged, “on your way to battle you will pass a village called Silla. My son is there, please send him home.”
“I’m on my way to war and you want me to play message giver?” he sneered, clearly offended.
“Please,” I began to cry, “He’s all I have left, please send him home.”
The knight paused for a moment, his horse breathing heavily under the weight of its armour. The knight seemed to be making a decision.
I pleaded with my eyes, beseeching his altruism to come to the forefront of his mind.
“I won’t make any promises,” was all he said as he spurred his horse forward, my finger getting caught in the binds holding the metal to the stallion’s body and tearing at my skin.
I took my bloody finger to my mouth and watched as the Knight rode from the city walls.
I turned towards the castle that dominated the city centre and stared up at the marble balcony our queen stood on. Her golden hair shone in the sunlight as she looked on in pride as her husband’s men marched to war against her sister.
Bitch, I thought nastily as I took myself off the main road to the gate and stumbled up an alleyway, my bloodied finger still in my mouth.
I remembered back t when she first came to the city. A nobody from the south. A ‘princess’ from some back water city that made tapestries or some other such blasé method of income.
She had shone with confidence even then stepping into my fathers grand hallway. I had been a Lady of the Land, a young, but powerful woman in, not just Neharica, but also all of Skirtia. Obviously I wasn’t as rich or as powerful as the ladies of Athuria but I could still command respect. This little ‘princess’ had caused me no concern at the time other than whether she would steal the silver.
That had been many years, thousands of bottles and a hundred empty bank vaults ago. I had squandered and wasted my fortune beyond recognition after my first son had died. Nothing seemed worth it and by the time I had realized all I was losing I was too far-gone to stop it.
Now I live in the slums my father had built for the poor. I’ve lost the beauty that had garnered the attention of princes for years and abandoned the only son that I have left.
Please send him home to me Great One, I begged staring at the sky.
I may be nothing more than a drunken whore on the streets now but I was no fool. I knew the coming war would not be a clean cut for our glorious Queen.
We had all heard the stories of her sister’s accomplishments on the battlefield, her husband naught more than an armchair general at best. The ‘Warrior Queen’ as she had become known was a ferocious and bold attacker. Her pattern was plain to see to anyone that would pay attention to all the pieces of the puzzle – but the old men of Neharica’s war council were too arrogant to notice.
My only concern was getting my son back here as soon as possible. We would leave the city and claim asylum in Athuria or anywhere really. We would travel away from this horrible part of the world and live in peace somewhere else.
That’s one good thing about having nothing to my name, I laughed, no one will miss me when I’m gone.
And I had to go soon.
I knew it wouldn’t be long until the Warrior Queen was banging at the gates and ready to take over. She would be stealthy but lightening fast. We had to get away now.
I thought about the option I had left to me if the Knight failed to find my boy.
I shuddered as the realization I would have to beg for the ‘kindness’ of The Coven slammed its weight onto my chest.
I couldn’t – shouldn’t – even entertain the idea of toying with darkness but I knew I was desperate. There was no way to tell the retribution that would be demanded by an army who was fought so tirelessly to take such a rich city. A good commander knows when to reign in their men and when to turn a blind eye. I feared any land belonging to Neharica would be considered ‘blind eye’ territory.
And my son was so far away – yet still within the grasp of pillaging soldiers.
I had to get him away. I owed him that at least.