Danger and Despair
Written by EM Malachi
Laughter and music filled Castle Salle’ Dacil, and the drink flowed freely. The younger knights did not appreciate the situation, and the veterans chose to feign high spirits for the sake of morale. Tomorrow, their ranks would join with the armies of Britannia to strike against Mondain’s monstrous legions. Even if the battle was won, many of their number would die far from home.
Keeping the worry from his face, Shamino Salle’ Dacil, the Ranger King, stopped at each table of revelers to share a toast or laugh at a story. They were good people, and while he had only been their king for a few short years, he already owed them everything.
Shamino kept the mask in place until he retired to the royal solar. Seeing him, Beatrix put down her writing and joined him by the window. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling him close. The evenings were cool in the mountains around the castle, and her warmth was appreciated. They stood in silence for a time, looking down at the fields below. The farmhouses that dotted the countryside were dark, but there was light and movement in the small hamlet of Lost Friends where they were preparing the pack horses that would provision the army. From the high cliffs that helped protect the castle, his war effort seemed insignificant. Shamino sighed, “I hope this is the right decision.”
“My sweet Shamino, you believe in your friend’s plan. A great force must confront Mondain’s armies, even if the Stranger succeeds. If you’re worried, I should come with you. You’ll need help caring for the wounded.”
“No. Your place is here. Your family has ruled these lands for countless generations, and the people need their princess. If we both died in some distant land, it would destroy their spirit, and if this alliance crumbles against the enemy, the people will look to you and your father to defend our borders.”
Beatrix smiled up at him, her eyes glinting in the moonlight. “Always being the responsible king. Father was right to divide his rule with you. Just make sure you come back to me, my love.”
Kissing her on the forehead, he made a promise, “The next time there is merriment in these halls will be our wedding.”
The ghost walked the ruins of the fallen castle, the ethereal silks of her dress billowing behind her. Her steps did not disturb the years of dust on the floor, and her sobs echoed in the forgotten halls. The dyes of the tapestries had faded to grey over the centuries, but a single piece of worn heraldry showed a white ankh on a field of green. After hours of wandering, the spectre returned to a skeleton wearing a tattered dress and an engagement ring. Her pale fingers traced the edges of the diamond. “Where are you, my love?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~Meet At Castle Blackthorn~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~