Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chapter 3: The Red Dusk

The townsfolk started to gather at the town square as the bells were rung slowly. Men, women and children of all ages searched for a spot where they could see the platform. Some had lifted their children on their shoulders so they could see, others had climbed to rooftops and building scaffolds. There was nothing of greater interest to see on the platform, but a middle-aged man, hands crossed inside his large sleeves. Short, white hair, brown, very large robe and a wooden necklace decorating his chest: A priest he was. When the knelling stopped, the crowd waited in silence. Everyone was anxious to hear the news. “Today I bring you news of great sorrow...”, started the priest. His voice was loud and clear; perfect for announcements. “For death came to our doorstep this morning. I am very sorry to announce...”, he paused for a moment and looked at the crowd. Not even a whisper was heard from the crowd. “... that Wilfred Ealdred, son of Gregor Ealdred, the counselor who served in the ages of Edmond Warde, Leader of the village and head of council, Richard Warde, Leader of the village and Richard Vaughan, King of the northwest lands and Leader of the village, has sailed to the realm beyond.”

Soon the town square filled with whispers and the bell tolls as the news were told and the priest had left the platform. Some of the people left with their tails on fire to send birds to other lands of the northwest, some went back to their chores, but most of them stayed at the square, tattling and whispering. Rumours began spreading in taverns and soon there were tens of different endings to the old counselor Wilfred’s life. All of them would reach the king’s ears, of course.

The sun was going down and the dusk was settling in. From the window of his high tower, the king could see how the edge of the sky was still red. It had been so since sunrise. He wondered how far it could reach and how many letters they would receive the following day. Letters he should read, all of them. “I’ll just name a new counselor and have him read them.”, he thought to himself. “Now, who’s fitting and loyal...”, his thoughts were interrupt with three loud knocks on the door. A guardsman’s voice heard suppressed through the door, “The woman wishes to speak with you, my king.” The king grabbed his cane and limped across the room to reach for the door. He grabbed the handle and opened the door slightly to take a glance. “You... Come in.” The king opened the door all the way and let the woman walk in. Before closing the door, he told the guard to send someone to get wine. When the king turned back, the woman had already tiptoed her way to the window, leaning seducingly on the deck. “Isn’t it beautiful?”, she sighed looking at last shades of red that made the forest treetops of the forest glow red. The king grunted as a reply and sat on a chair by a small table right next to the door. “Is it done?”

The woman turned to the king, still leaning to the deck with her hands. Her high cut dress revealed just one silky smooth leg, her skin pale white as flour. The green dress had no sleeves, but it covered her shoulders along with her long and curly dark hair, and left her upper chest uncovered. On top of the dress she had a white corset, tied tight with brown leather strings.

“What, my Lord?” She smiled, twisted her body and sat on the deck invitingly, legs crossed.

“King,” Richard didn’t like when he wasn’t addressed properly. He lifted off the chair with the help of his cane. “The summoning.”

“My apologies, Your Highness. Yes, it has been done.”, the woman replied with a smirk.

“Since you’re still here, I assume you want something.”, the king limped slightly closer and looked at the marvel fate had brought sitting on the deck of his towers window, just smiling and sailing across the room with her light brown eyes. “Well...”, she started. “There is one thing.”

“Who are you, darling?”, Richard walked up to the woman and brushed off her hair slightly.

“Even if I told you,” she looked at the king standing much higher than her. “You wouldn’t know.”

The king leaned back slightly and tilted his head. He looked at the young woman’s body like he could lick it with his eyes, “You’re not from around here.”

Sliding off the deck, she answered as she was amused. “No, and neither is that what I want.”

She circled around behind the king, sliding her hand across his chest, down his side carrying on to his lower back.

She reached out to Richard’s ear and whispered, “But what is it that you want?”

Richard turned his head slightly to answer the woman. “Brent Waymar. And his sons.” Their faces were now an inch away. “Or just their heads.”

The woman smiled as she pulled away and turned back to the door. “Your wine is here.”

With bare feet pressed firmly against the tiny rock fragments in the gravel soil, she stood in the outskirts of the village, in the dry fields before the forest. She looked up to the sky, waiting for the moonrise, with a dead corpse and a lonely head inside a circle of blood trail. It was a warm night, with a soft breeze of wind every now and then. Crickets went wild in the dried grass of the fields, but the edge of the forest was lifeless: not a single soul to rustle the leaves or break the fallen branches on the ground. The last candles in the distant farms went out and the darkness embraced the sky. With the darkness came cold and silent and it took away the wind. The dark did not last long though, as the moon rose behind the forest to shine light across the fields, the village and the hills behind it. The woman kept waiting and the moon kept rising slowly, lighting up the sky and the lands even further. The river glistened in the moonlight and reflected the color of the sky, blue as the morning glory. When the moon climbed high enough, the light lit up the woman's face and the gravel patch she was standing at. The circle of blood suddenly burst up in flames and threw the white dust in the air. The flames went out as quickly as they came, but left a small dance of shadows on the blood trails. As the dust slowly fell down like snow flakes, it covered the decapitated head inside the circle. Sliding down it's head, it seemed to fill in the missing shards and pieces of vertebra in it's neck. The woman bent down and grabbed the headless body next to her by it's robes and dragged it near the head. She stepped over the body and picked up a package wrapped in leather from the ground. Her thin and fair fingers carefully unwrapped the leather as she kneeled down next to the body to place the package on it's back. The moonlight shined through the eye of a needle, as she held it in her hand and carefully passed a thread through it.

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