The High Queen Sorceress (complete)
Author: jessicaw

Chapter 9
Chapter 9

In the Darkness and the quiet, she did not exist. Nothing existed. The world and the pain it stood for was a thought, not a reality. In the blackness, life was calm and devoid of anything. As long as she didn’t move, the throbbing pain in her head laid quiet, slumbering like a hibernating bear, but if she dared move an inch, the open sore would scream at her, pounding on her temples with its iron fist, beating her back into the corner, where she rested it, unmoving once again.

There was a creaking sound and a thin, small shaft of light made its way through the darkness, slicing through it in such a graceful manor that it almost didn’t hurt her eyes. Almost. The shaft of light began to grow, eating at the darkness enveloping the room.        

  A face appeared in the gap between the door and the wall. It was Brine. He continued to inch the door open then stopped and, turning to his side, inched his way into the room. He had a small bundle with him and a candle. He slowly closed the door and the long shaft of light suddenly ran in retreat.

The room was cast in a dull orange glow as the flame of the candle licked lazily at the wax holding its wick in place. “Keara?” He whispered in to the darkness. His voice had a soft, almost caring sound to it. She knew better. “Keara?” he called again. “Are you alright?” The door announced the hand of someone locking it. The glow of the candle light floated closer and closer to her prison, hovering above her before gently drifting down.    

As Brine placed it carefully on the floor, he dug his hand into his pocket, rustling the material as he felt around for the key. The orange light shimmered off of the metal bars of the front of her cage. Brine’s form inched its way in front of the light, partially blocking it from view. She closed her eyes and concentrated as hard as she could, trying to dissolve into the wooden walls of her cage.

There was a clicking sound and Brine’s head popped in to the small opening. He watched the dark form huddled against the back wall of the box, She was almost unnoticeable as she crouched there with her legs pressed into her stomach and her toes curled under, her fingers wrapped around her ankles so tightly, he couldn’t tell where her fingers ended and the ankles began. She had hunkered down as far as she could into the potato sack like bag she wore. Brine smiled with compassion. “Come on out now and let me take a look at your head.” He said in a coaxing tone. She didn’t move.                                                          

Brine sat back on his heels and wrapped his own fingers around his ankles, thinking about how to get her out. He bit his tongue, running it across the inside of his lips, and blinking as the flame sent shadows dancing around the room.

He picked up the candle and stood up, walking over to a table, he transferred the flame from his candle to another. Instantly, the wick ignited and the twin flames waltzed happily across the room.  He reached for a third candle and lit it too.  He left one of the candles to burn on the table, placed another by the bed and walked back over to the little box in the corner, siting cross legged in front of it. Keara still hadn’t moved, and Brine couldn’t even see the rising and falling of air in her lungs.   

 “Are you a dog?” He questioned. Silence. He waited. He was about to repeat himself when a small, muffled “no” wafted through the air toward him. “Then why do you choose to stay in that crate like a dog in a kennel?” She did not respond, her head burying itself deeper into her arms. “Aren’t you hungry?” Still no reply.

Brine rested his elbows on his knees, planting his chin into his upturned palms. He took in a long, deep breath and held it for a second before slowly letting it out, blowing the air up across his nose and eyes as he exhaled. “I need to tend to your wounds.” He said at length. Still, he received no reply. Rolling his eyes and straightening his back, he took on a hard tone. “You come out here right now, or I will drag you out”. The words shot through his heart as sharp as if they were blades.                                                      

Finally, Keara slowly began to climb out of the box. He backed up to give her some room. She reached the stone floor, crawling on her hands and knees and collapsed in a heap in front of him, covering her neck and head, waiting for him to strike her. He looked down at her defensive position in disgust, but didn’t say anything. Instead, he got up and picked up the small bag he had carried in with him, un-wrapping it and placing its contents on the table.   Inside was a piece of cheese, two pieces of bread, and a tender piece of meat, still warm from the fires.

 The smell invaded Keara’s nostrils and made her stomach plead. She watched him through silted eyes. He was staring down at her, his hands on his hips. “Well?” He asked. “I know you must be starving. Come eat your supper before it grows cold. I am going to get a servant to draw you a bath and stitch up your head.”

“I, I…. I can’t.” She gasped, tears welling anew in her eyes. Her head was throbbing so bad that if anything had of been in her stomach, it wouldn’t be anymore. “Why not?” Said Brine, annoyance edging his tone. He looked down at her; realizing her fingers were covered in blood. She had placed her hand right on top of the wound and it burst open anew at her touch. Sadness for her flooded through his eyes. He walked over to the table as he tried to fight back a tear, wrapped up the food and stuck the parcel in his tunic.  

“There, there.” He cooed, turning and kneeling next to her. I’m going to get someone to help stitch you up. Stay here; don’t leave this room, okay?” “Okay.” She sobbed, gritting her teeth against the pain, she had never been able to handle pain. Brine stood up and headed toward the door, glancing back at the tiny frame of the girl, huddled on the floor, shaking with pain as the dark blood shimmered in the candle light. 

Once outside in the brightness of the hall, Brine blinked a few times, trying to adjust. He looked to the left and to the right trying to determine the right way to go. He heard footsteps and his grip tightened on the door handle. The footsteps drew closer; someone was approaching from the right. A light purple skirt flashed behind the corner as the king’s wife advanced toward him. She stopped when she saw him, curtsying slightly. He nodded at her in return. 

“My lady” He said in acknowledgement. “Good sir she replied, waiting momentarily for permission to leave.” He smiled slightly at her, and turned his head. She continued several steps down the corridor then paused and delicately turned around. He was watching her.

Lady Janna was a thin, but not overly thin woman. She had dark brown hair with little signs here and there of blonde. Her hair was still swept back from Keara’s trial. Her dress had purple puffy sleeves that hugged her arms and ended at her delicate wrists. The fabric across her bosom was white and pleated, running down into the bodice of the dress as well. A pale purple matching the color of her sleeves rand down each side of the dress like a pair of wings. There was a darker purple pattern of swirls running through it. Even though she wore no jewelry, she was pretty. No wonder the king chose her for his wife.  

“Is there something you desire?” she asked him. “Yes, do you know where I can find a healer? The witch is no good to me dead, and besides, she is soiling my floor with all that blood”. “I can send for Diago, she is down in the kitchens and can come when she is through.” Brine scrunched up his nose and leaned against the door, pushing his hands into the solid, dark wood. “She will have bled to death by then, is there no one else you can call?”

The King’s wife stood in silence for a moment, rummaging through her brain for someone else who could stitch. Most women in the castle could not sew, that was left only for a small handful of the less common women. “I suppose I could give it a go.” She said at last. The fact that she did not want to was apparent in her posture and expression, but no hint of it showed in her crystal clear voice.  

“Trained very well indeed.” Thought Brine to himself. “Well if there is no one else, then I don’t think we are going to have a choice.” He said at length, rolling his weight back to his feet and turning for the door. “I already got a needle and some string. I was going to wait till I could have my mother patch her up, but at this rate, I don’t think she is going to last the night.” 

The Light made Keara sick all over again. She lay still crouched in an egg position, right were Brine had left her. She began to rock back and forth, trying to soothe her angry wound, wishing she would just pass out already. Lady Janna lit several more candles as Brine walked over to the small girl, forcefully removing her hands from her head. She cried out in protest and pain, begging him to leave her be. The sound made Janna’s blood run cold.

“You’re going to need to hold her down do I can sew the wound shut, otherwise she will jerk too much.” Lady Janna said, picking up the needle and thread that Brine had set on the table for her as they walked in.

She picked her pale purple skirts up in one hand, holding the sewing supplies in the other and sat down so gingerly and smoothly, that Brine couldn’t take his eyes off of her. As she began to thread the needle, he took Keara and dragged her into his lap, pinning her hands beneath her body and her head under one arm. Her face was buried in his pants and he could feel her ragged, hot breaths on his thigh. She sobbed in pain, her pleas to be released muffled in the fabric.

As the needle hit her flesh, she tried desperately to thrash, the pain was so horrendous that she could see red flames dancing before her eyes. “Please” She begged, but it was no use. Janna waited until Brine got her under control before returning the needle to Keara’s skin. At the second intrusion, the fire in her head exploded and, being unable to take the agony a moment longer, Keara finally did what she had been wishing for all day; she blacked out.

Brine and Janna sat in silence as the light from the candles danced across the room. When Janna was almost finished, she looked cautiously up at Brine. “She’s not a witch.” She said, staring at his lips, but not daring to look in his eyes. Brine sat quietly for a moment as Janna tied the stitches with a final knot. Reaching behind him, he pulled a small knife off of his belt and handed it to her, saying in a low whisper. “I know.”  

Janna paused for a second in surprise, her thin, delicate fingers suspended in midair, reaching for the knife, but not taking it. After a few more seconds, she took the knife, severed the excess string, and held the knife towards Brine, the point directed at his throat. “Then why are you doing this to her?” She asked, ready to be struck.

Brine reached around the knife, grabbing Janna’s wrist with one hand and the knife hilt with the other. He held her wrist for a moment and looked her directly in the eyes. “Because she needs help.” Warning and danger danced through the flames that reflected off of his pupils. He took the knife from her hand and returned it to his belt. Janna got up and left the room, looking for a rag to soak up some of the blood in Keara’s hair and hands.  Brine sat a few moment before he stood up and propped open the door on Keara’s cage, He turned and picked her up, walking a few steps towards the small, brown wooden box before stopping. He turned and studied the bed for a moment before walking over to it. 

 A knock on the door froze him in his tracks. He turned to face it; Keara’s limp arms fell off of her lap and swung gently to and fro. “Yes?” He said in a harsh tone. The door creaked open and Janna poked her head in. Brine let out a small sigh and turned back to the bed as Janna entered and closed the door.      He laid Keara down on the comforter; lifting her head before it could hit the pillow. Janna dipped a rag into the warm water and began working on cleaning the blood off. When she was satisfied, she curtsied, turning to leave.

She slowed as she passed Brine, pressing a small bundle into his hand. “I hope I can trust you.” She said, making sure for the first time to catch his eye. “If not, it will mean my life.” She backed out of the room, watching the floor as she did, not daring to look up. 

In the morning, Keara woke with a groan. She could hear people in the hallway going about their business. Her head was throbbing. She looked around at the grey walls with their purple and red banners hanging on each wall. The king’s crest; a picture of him defeating an evil woman adorning the center of each one. She propped herself up as much as she could, rubbing her temple with her free hand. The pain came soaring up anew and she fell back into the pillows, gasping.

As she lay there, trying to recover her breath, she reached behind her to feel the wound. Her hand hit the pillow and she jumped at the texture of it. Suddenly it occurred to her that she was lying in a bed. Panic began to flood through her. She tried with all her mite to get up, but every time she started to rise, the pain would overtake her. At the last attempt, she gasped in pain, and fell back into the pillows, trying desperately to figure out how she was going to get out of this mess. 

Brine’s head popped up from the side of the bed. He had slept on the rug and the commotion Keara was causing woke him up. The sudden appearance of him made Keara’s stomach churn. She threw her hands across her face, waiting for him to strike her, but he didn’t. 

“Good morning, I hope you slept well?” The formality in his tone made her arms falter, but only momentarily, she did not trust him. “What do you want of me?” She whined. He picked himself up off the floor and sat down next to her on the bed. She could feel the mattress sag as it took on his weight. He took her arms in his hands, and tried to lower them from her face. She resisted against him.

  “Please” She whined, “please leave me be.” Brine fought her down, easily over powering the small girl. He placed her arms at her sides and lifter her head slightly, inspecting the wound. Satisfied with the neat stitching, he let her head rest again. “I want you to eat something he said.” Getting up and crossing the room. “I am going to call for some breakfast, do not move or make a sound, the last thing we need is someone seeing you in my bed and reporting it to the King. I will be right back.” With that, he disappeared out the door.

Keara calmed herself as best as she could. Her head was throbbing, and she wished she hadn’t woken up. Commander Joustafix tortured her yesterday and she did not want to see what else he was capable of. He might have given her her life, but considering how miserable that life was, she was none too thrilled to find out it was going to continue. Still. This was her first time since her mother died that she slept inside of a real building, and she had never slept in a bed before. It was so soft and comfortable that, despite the shooting pain, she felt like she was floating.  She looked around the magnificent room; the banners lay on stone walls that matched the stone of the floor. There were two floor to ceiling stained glass windows, smaller versions of some of the ones in the throne room. In between them was a normal window, letting in so much sunlight, that it made her grim situation seem almost happy.

 She could hear Brine’s muffled voice outside the door. Even if she could have stood up, there was nowhere for her to go. Brine’s voice started growing louder as he made his way back to the room. Someone else said something, then there was laughter. She flinched at the sound of Brine laughing. She never laughed. If only she had of been born a man.

Brine came back in, locking the door behind him. He eyed her and walked over to the bed. “How’s your head?” He asked. She grimaced and turned her face toward the sun light. Brine watched her as she ignored him. There was dried blood matted in her hair, causing it to stick to her ear. He reached over to brush it out of her face. The feeling of his fingers near her made her jump. She looked back at him with big, frightened eyes. 

“Sorry” He stammered, realizing he had scared her. The maids are going to bring us breakfast. After that, we are going to leave.” “And what are you planning to do to me?” She asked, contempt boiling in her lungs.

Brine studied her for a moment, trying to decide if he should crush her anger, or let it go. He decided to let it go. “I am not going to do anything to you. I am taking you to my father; he can do with you what he likes.” Keara’s heart began pounding. She didn’t want to be turned over to anyone else. Commander Joustafix made her believe that he was a kind hearted man who would help her, but then he hurt her and asked to have the pleasure of making her suffer. He promised torture. She couldn’t imagine if this man could be that evil, how evil his father must be.  

“Please,” She began, “Please just let me go. I won’t cause anyone any harm. Please-“Brine held his hand up in the air, an angry expression on his face. “You are a prisoner and you will have no say in the matter. I will do with you what I like and that will be the end of it. Now, you will eat your breakfast and I will not hear another word from you.” He got up and walked towards the door. Keara’s heart sank, but she did as she was bid and held her tongue.   

 After breakfast, Brine brought out a pair of metal shackles and bound her wrists. He lead her though the palace and out to the main courtyard. The walk was agonizing. Every time she took a step, her head would pound with the movement. She wished so desperately that she could just disappear. 

Once they reached the courtyard, they stopped. The King, his wife and daughter, most of the servants, and several dozen of the town’s citizens were waiting for them. They cheered when they saw Keara, still filthy with the hair and dried blood matted to her face and covering her brown, sack like dress with her bare feet blacker than the night being led out in chains.  Brine bowed at the sight of the king, yanking Keara down with him. The movement churning the contents in her stomach and making her feel ill. 

The King was in a good mood. Brine straightened up, but Keara stayed where she was, looking up at the king from a half crouched position.

Red and purple banners waved lazily in the light breeze. There wasn’t a cloud in sight and the blueness of the sky made the red velvet of the King’s suit stand out in stark contrast. Horses lined up on either side of the far court yard walls stood at full attention, the men atop of them decked in full armor, the horses with their braided bridals and red ribbons held their necks up high. They were the most regal looking things Keara had ever seen. Each and every one of them was white with grey dappling. Their light grey manes had small black streaks here and there. She admired their beauty and their pride. She wished she was one of those horses.   

“Commander Joustafix!” The king’s voice rang out loud and clear, carrying itself to even in the furthest reaches courtesy of the light breeze. “I trust you slept well!”                                                                                     

Keara looked to the ground at Brine’s purple shoes. They had been cleaned and brushed. They looked magnificent. “Yes, your highness, your generosity humbles me.” The king laughed a hearty laugh. Keara imagined monkeys laughing. “Take some time off Commander, to adjust this witch to your bidding, and,” He said, turning to face the onlookers. “Let this be a warning to any of you who try to bring harm to others. We will catch you and you will suffer.”

He brought his hands up, the purple jewels sparkling on his pudgy fingers, his fat thighs spread apart right in front of her. She could fit between them and run, she thought, but it would be no use. There were too many people around. Brine’s brown mare was brought out, all of their gear was already loaded up, she had been cleaned and re-shoed. She looked refreshed and relaxed. “A horse” Keara thought. “A magnificent horse to run wild and free.” That’s what she wanted to be. Brine lifted Keara on to the mare’s back, bowed to the king, jumped up and wrapped one arm around her tiny waist, and, with the other steered them towards the palace gates.

 

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