The High Queen Sorceress (complete)
Author: jessicaw

Chapter 14
chapter 14

Thousands of feet drummed on the floor. Bang, Bang, Bang. One foot after the other, all in unison. First the left then the right. Bang, bang, bang.

The men flattened anything in their way; bushes, flowers, sticks, even a mouse or two. Their heavily armored feet crushed though all of it. As their feet hit the floor, they swung their arms, hitting themselves in the chest. Left foot on the ground, right arm on the chest plate, right foot on the ground, left arm   on the chest plate. The sound was terrifying. 

“Halt!” Called the commander general from atop a big, muscular brown horse. The men all stopped, as if one. They brought their armored arms up to their helmets and stood at full attention, staring at clouds that weren’t there. Their red ostrich plumes danced in the gentle wind, swaying back and forth.

The commander general was a tall, thin man with reddish brown ear length hair. He had a long, fairly bushy handle bar mustache and mean, beady black eyes. He, like the rest of his men, wore full armor, covered from head to foot in the shiny grey material.

He trotted up and down the rows of men, inspecting them as he went. “We have been given orders to wait here until the king arrives.” The men did not move a muscle. “In two days’ time, we will march on the city of Capance and take their kingdom.” Still, the soldiers remained statuesque. 

The Commander General looked out over his men, surveying the number of troops, then dismounted his horse. He folded his arms behind his back, locking his fingers together as he began to pace. “We have abided these criminals for too long. We have maintained and accepted their insolence, nay, their stupidity in the affairs of power. They allow their women to do as they please. They marry who they want, they run stores and schools. They teach children. They teach little girls! They let them read and write. They allow them to farm and harvest, to craft what they wish and dress how they like, to eat what they want when they want, and to choose when and with whom they will have sex. They allow women freedom and power! They are allowing these monsters the opportunity to kill us while we sleep. We must stop them before they kill us all!”

The men cheered, their eyes never drifting from the imaginary cloud they were all transfixed on. The Commander General, happy with his men’s response stood up just a little straighter as he cleared his throat. Silence fell over the assembled men.   

“In two days! Two days’ time we will conquer the lands of the stupid and join them with the world of the righteous. In two days’ time, every last living soul in the east will know our names! The pure of heart will join us, the ones that would stand for the women and jeopardize our safety will bleed out where they fall. In the name of our king, we will prevail!”

The soldiers cheered, this time forgetting about their imaginary cloud. They stomped their feet and thrust their weapons in the air. Some of the men on horses reared the beasts toward the sky, letting the vibrations from their feet thunder across the land as they hit the ground.

Pleased with himself, the commander general placed his hand in the air, signaling for the men to set up camp for the night.  

While the men were occupied pulling out their tents and lighting fires to cook their meals; the Commander General circled the outer perimeter of their camp grounds. He made his way to the back of the camp. “Commander General” One of them said “Your sleeping quarters are ready and your dinner is being brought in as we speak. “Very good!” Said the Commander General, satisfied with the quickness of his men in such a small task.    

Once in his tent, he sunk down on his mat and sighed in satisfaction. It had been a very long day. The king would be pleased with him for carrying out this task in such a quick and efficient fashion. He would capture the king of the free lands faster than any king had ever been captured. He grinned to himself as he watched the fabric of the tent gently moving with the slight breeze outside.

A small woman appeared at the entrance, bent almost in half as she bowed, the bowl of soup trembling in her hands. “In.” he barked. The woman straightened slightly as she entered his tent and set the bowl down on a small table. She was covered in dirt and bruises, old scars laid buried under newer ones. There was a thick chain connecting her ankles together, making it impossible for her to run.       

The Commander General eyed the slave up and down. She was a pretty little thing, small of frame with auburn hair and a thin nose. He grinned as she slowly backed herself out of his tent. “Sit.” He commanded. She paused, a look of horror on her face, but did as she was bade and moved back into the room, sitting on the floor next to his bed.

The Commander General watched her for a moment as she trembled, her back to him, trying hard not to cry. He grinned to himself as he picked up the soup. He and his men had a long, hard day. They made tremendous progress and were well ahead of schedule. He deserved a reward. He mentally patted himself on the back. It had been a great day and, he thought, as he eyed the woman up and down, it was going to be a great night too.  

“All hail the king” The sound rang across the still morning air. The Commander General woke up with a start. It was just barely growing light outside. The king was early! He scrambled to get dressed, tripping over the woman as he got up. He kicked the cold dead body out of his way, disgusted at the fragility of females.

Shoving his armor on, he rushed outside. Sleepy eyed men were stumbling around everywhere, trying to get dressed as they yawned and rubbed their eyes. The Commander General screeched at them. “Hurry! The king will be here any moment! Get into formation!” The men, waking up at the sound of their leader’s voice snapped to attention, moving around the camp in a much more efficient, almost unified style.       

As the sounds of trumpets wafted down from a nearby hill, the men ran into their formations, standing in long rows. The horses lined up behind them, their riders standing next to them. Red ostrich feathers danced in the growing light of the rising sun. The men threw their hands to the brim of their helmets and suddenly; the invisible cloud from the day before was back, with the eyes of every soldier glued to it in concentration.    

Two lines of white horses decadently dressed in purple, red and gold trimmed decorations marched in unison down the hill. Their riders sitting so straight, it looked as if they had been standing against a wall. On each side of the lines of horses, one man rode, their horses were brown, wearing no fancy decorations, other than a purple ribbon stripped through each one of their manes and tails. The men atop these horses did not wear the same grey metal armor as the rest of the riders, but rather a purple and red tunic with a long purple cape and rich purple boots. They had an arrogant and important air about them and seemed to be sitting straighter than any of the other men.                                 

Behind the riders, men on foot holding purple and red banners marched. A solid wall from left to right of men directly behind them cast a metallic shadow on the world; their purple feathers moving in unison as their faces stared straight ahead, never moving. They each carried a nasty looking weapon. Behind these men were more men, one line of each walking so close to each other, the Commander General could not believe they were not running into one each other. Another wall of men was behind the two lines, all holding weapons and expressionless faces. All together, they formed a box, and in the middle; the king sat upon a large, black war horse. Another man rode on each side of him, wearing the purple cape and boots.  More horses brought up the rear, each rider carrying a bow and a pile of terrifying arrows.    

The king had brought his entire personal guard. The Commander General’s heart beat so hard beneath his armor; he thought he would pass out. He yearned to join the king, to be one of his two personal body guards. What an honor that was. He stood up taller in his saddle as he watched the procession advance. One of the king’s top ranking officers was missing. A pang of hope shot through his stomach. Maybe he was dead. The Commander General hoped he’d been exterminated.       

The horses and their riders stopped where the rows of men started. The king and the two men in purple boots next to him made their way through the rest of his personal guard as the other two men with purple boots worked their way to join them.     

The five men came to a stop before the Commander General. He bowed in respect, waiting for his king to speak. “I have been tracking you for two days, trying to catch up with you.”                                       

He could feel his face redden with embarrassment, the king was not happy. “I’m sorry majesty, I was unaware that you were trying to meet us sooner, otherwise we would have gladly waited. I was excited to fulfill your wishes; I do hope my haste has not caused you one of your top ranking officers?” Hope seeping into every fiber of his being as he questioned the king.

“What? Oh, no, no, no. Commander Joustafix has done a very noble and honorable thing for me. We found a witch and he agreed to take on the responsibility of torturing her. A much better choice than out right killing her. Glad I thought of it.” He grinned to himself at how clever he was. “He will rejoin us later. When he does, we will be celebrating not only my victory, but his promotion to first commanding officer as well!”      

The Commander General’s heart sank, but as he looked at the faces of the commanding officers, he noted that they were not concerned with commander Joustafix’s promotion. “Does this mean then, your majesty, that there will be another opening amongst the king’s personal guard?”  

The King threw his head back and laughed. “Maybe. Convince me that there should be. I want that vagabond king brought to his knees. The man who does that for me will be the victor of anything he pleases!”    

The Commander General’s heart fluttered anew. He turned to his men and began barking out orders. “Pack the camp; we march in ten minutes time. Do not keep the king waiting!” The men snapped to their tasks as the king and his personal guard made their way to the other end of the camp; waiting. 

The king woke to sounds of banging and screams of terror. He jumped out of bed and ran to the window. It was night time but he could see everything clearly. Flames licked themselves up the castle walls. A man ran across the courtyard completely engulfed in flames and screaming in agony.                         

Men in silver amour with red ostrich plums adorning their helmets were everywhere; smashing pots and stabbing anyone unlucky enough to be in their way. The village beyond the castle walls was lit up in yellow and orange light. He could hear the screams from the villagers as they wafted up in the night air.         

Most of the night watch guards lay scattered around the court yard grounds; they never even had a chance to use their weapons. More men in the simple silver armor with red feathers trampled his fallen men as new troops in blue and gold trimmed chain mail rushed into the fray, meeting with their foes, only to fall before they could even pull the weapons from their sheaths.                                  

Horrified, the king ran out of his bed chamber; his long white nightgown billowing around him. In the hall way mass confusion and panic was rampant as maids and guests ran in terror. A man collided with a small child and they both fell to the ground.

One of the kitchen maids to trip over them, sending apples flying down the hall as people stumbled over them. Someone grabbed one of the banners on the wall, trying to steady themselves. It ripped, landing on top of the man who still held a piece of it clutched in his hand.                                                   

One of the guards from the morning watch went flying past him. King Jarone grabbed the man’s arm and stopped him. “Sound the alarm! We need every man on the battle grounds immediately, dressed in full armor. Get the women and children out of the palace, take them down to the dungeon and let them out through the maze. Hurry!” The guard nodded and ran to sound the alarm.                                  

“Hurry!” he shouted to everyone around him. “Down to the dungeon. Get in the maze and get out of here!” The people around him reversed their direction as they headed for safety.                                               

The king ran the other way, passing a small window as he ran. It cast an orange glow on the stone floor. Outside, he could hear the people screaming, the last sounds they would ever utter. It made his heart pound as he ran faster down the hall.      

He wasn’t looking where he was going and ran right into one of his officers. “Your majesty!” Gasped the man in surprise. The king stood up, apologizing as he did. The officer blushed in response, apologizing as well.       

“Sound the alarm. We have been attacked and breeched. All women, children, elderly, and anyone else unable to fight needs to head for the maze. The rest of us must defend the castle!” The officer nodded his agreement. “Yes your majesty, but you need to go with the women and children.”                  

“What!” the king bellowed, indignation inking his features. The officer baulked; panic rising in his voice as he tried to choke it down. “We are in a losing battle, my lord. They will overtake the palace and kill you. Please, I beg of you, take your family and a hand full of soldiers and get out of here. We will fight them off as long as we can, but once they break the barricade, we are done for. They’ve already burnt the village to the ground. There are reports of them rounding up the women and stabbing their eyes out before beating them to death.”     

Anger surged through the king. He knew who these men were. It was King Haden of Galanda. He spit in disgust. Only Haden would blind women in an attempt to keep their souls from escaping. “I stand with my men!” He cried. The officer, looking dismayed pleaded with him. “You are no good to us dead. He can take our lands and kill us, but as long as you are alive, we have a chance. Please, your majesty, I beg of you to go with the women and children.”   

Taking a deep breath, Jarone sighed. “Alright, yes, I understand. But I will leave dressed to fight, not like a frightened babe afraid of a bad dream.” The officer nodded in agreement, relived in the king’s choice and left to stir the soldiers.

When the king reached the war room, hundreds of soldiers were already there, grabbing what weapons and armor they could. They fell as one in silence at the sight of their king, waiting for his command. “Don’t just stand there watching me, defend our home!” He barked. He looked around as men scattered; spotting Yabe. 

“Yabe!” The man flew to him in full attention, “Yes majesty Jarone!” “Find my wife and son. Take thirty or forty of our best men and escort them down to the maze. Leave two of them to wait for me. We are going to have to make a run for it.” 

Compassion filled his eyes as he looked at his king. “A wise choice sir. We were afraid you would be forceful in staying. Your no good to us-“ Jarone cut him off. “Dead, yes, I know. However, I am reluctant to go so make haste before I change my mind!” Yabe saluted and darted off; shouting orders as he ran.

Dressed in full war gear, King Jarone made his way down to the dungeons, passing soldiers as they ran to join the fray and fighting his legs as they tried desperately to turn around and follow them.                             

The dungeons were cold and completely sound proofed from the world above him. He hurried along the dark corridors, feeling along the damp moldy bricks in the pitch black.                                                                    

Up ahead, he could hear muffled panicked voices and just make out the glow of a couple of torches. He fixed his eyes on them and moved away from the wall, moving more and more quickly as he went. At the end of the narrow corridor a small, circular room emerged. Several men and Queen Valencia stood waiting, their son hidden behind her.

She was a tall, slim woman with long, curly locks of black hair that fell to her hips. She had high cheek bones, rosy red cheeks, pale white skin and fierce blue eyes. She was wearing  a long red dress made from the finest velvet with big trailing sleeves. The gold necklace around her throat glistened in the torch light and the pendant rested on her smooth white chest. The king stood frozen as he took her in. She was the most noble and wise person he had ever seen. As he watched her watching him, he could not help but think that he was foolish to be running. It would disgrace her honor if he did not stay to protect her.   

“Quickly.” He said. Get into the tunnel. We will seal it off behind us.” He stuffed his wife, son and one of the men into the dark hole and began to lift himself up, but slowed as he waited for them to progress a bit more. Once he was sure they were too far away to stop him, he jumped out of the hole and reached his arm back in. Standing on his tippy toes, he felt around the dark wall, looking for the switch.     

Queen Valencia and the men turned back to face him just as he found the lever. Ripping it from the wall, a large rumbling echoed around the room and dirt and rock flooded into the opening of the tunnel. Jarone and the remaining man jumped back as lose dirt and pebbles came crashing into the room. Dust crowded the air and caused them to start choking. Jarone and the man fanned their hands in front of their faces, trying to clear the air around them.                                                                                                   

“What are you doing?” The man shouted. Jarone wasn’t listening. He grabbed the torch out of the man’s hand and bounded back through the dungeon corridors, leaving the man to choke alone in the darkness.

The men from Galanda had just broken down the door and were making their way to the secondary gate. Men standing on top of the walls dropped hot liquid on their heads. Cries of pain and anger filled the air, reverberating off the walls and echoing through the entire castle. The king’s personal archers shot up at the soldiers above them, each arrow finding its mark. The men fell in screams of pain, some of them toppling off the roofs; crushing those on the ground as they fell.                                                                 

The Commander General’s men ran up to the walls as the last of the soldiers atop them fell and threw their hooks over. The metal connected to the stone with loud clanking sounds. Several bodies held each rope taut and steady as dozens of others clambered up each one, their weapons strapped across their backs. The Archers sat on their horses down below; an arrow notched to each bow and pointing at the ramparts, waiting for any sign of the enemy.                                                                                                  

A man on the roof came running forward with an axe in his hand, fixed on cutting one of the hooks that had dug into the walls. He never saw the arrow as it went through his heart. The momentum of the man’s legs caused him to fly off the roof and land several hundred feet away.                                       

One of the ropes snapped and the eighteen or so men on the rope came plummeting back to earth, falling on their peers and crushing them under their weight. Several more ropes fell with the same results, but still more men fought their way up the wall. One group reached the top, jumping over the ledge with ease and striking down the soldiers creeping along the wall as they cut down the ropes. Their bodies were thrown over the walls; landing with loud thuds and splats as they concluded their journey.                            More ropes were thrown up, caught by the Galandieans on the ramparts above. Men swarmed the area as they sprinted up the makeshift ladders.

They hoisted the gates as the Commander General and his army flooded into the castle; breaking down the doors to the palace with ease. Women and children screamed blood curdling screams as fires sprang up everywhere. Glass shattered and battle cries rang through the air.                                  

King Jarone’s heart leapt out of his rib cage as he caught a stray horse galloping past. Mounting the frightened creature, he turned it around and headed into the fray, swinging at the red plumbed helmets. Heads and blood went flying everywhere, the thick, warm liquid splattering across his face, some landing on his tongue. He swallowed the fluid and pressed on, cutting men down with a fury. The taste of blood left him thirsting for more and with every sweep of his sword; he could feel the wrath building inside of him. He was seeing red, no longer paying attention to his surroundings as he hacked furiously at the intruders.  

Suddenly, he heard a shrill squeal of delight as pain seared through his back and up his spine. He toppled off of his horse and the animal bolted, leaving him lying on the ground as the fire in his back burned hotter and hotter, traveling across his chest and throughout the rest of his body. Everything went black for a few brief seconds, then the pain seared anew, fresh this time, through his neck. He couldn’t breathe and entered into a grotesque coughing fit, chocking on his own blood. He could see a red line shoot across his vision as the pain in his neck circled. Then, at last, when the pain was so bad that he couldn’t stand it another second longer, he blacked out and the world no longer existed. 

The Commander General howled in delight; holding the severed head in his hands as he shouted out across the grounds. Men everywhere stopped where they were, staring as the blood drained from the broken neck. Stark silence filled the air. Every eye was riveted on the severed flesh.   

A drop of blood fell, landing in the dirt. Every being heard it as it smacked the ground. It rang through their ears like thunder in the sky. Several seconds of pure quite passed, interrupted only by the deafening noise of each droplet as it splattered.

The Commander General stood tall and proud, holding Jarone’s head in his fist. He puffed out his chest and surveyed the world around him, looking for his king.

King Haden strolled into the court yard, two of the men in purple boots trailing close behind. Several dozen men from his personal guard around them. He stopped and surveyed the area. Men from both sides stood frozen, ignoring him and focused on the head. Several fires still burning here or there. It was early morning now; the village behind them had completely burned to the ground. Flames still simmered, sending large clouds of thick, black smoke through the air.                                                              

Haden looked intently at the prize in the Commander General’s blood soaked hand, then up to the proud man, who beamed at him in pure satisfaction. Haden gave him a devilish grin before turning to survey the rest of the courtyard.     

“Your king is dead!” He called. The men with d red plumes in their helmet immediately brought their weapons up to any of the Capance men around them. The few who tried to resist were instantly cut down. The rest threw their hands up in surrender, silently sinking to their knees as the Galandieans forced them down.     

The king approached the Commander General who was still holding the severed head. A small pool of blood had gathered by his feet, the silver of his boots masked by the splatter. The entire curve of his arm was soaked in blood. It ran down his chest plate and dripped off of his waist. He grinned at the king, bowing his head slightly to show his respect.

“What reward would you seek for such a victory?” asked Haden, towering over him. The Commander General grinned. “I want to be one of your personal guard commanding officers. I wish to be one of your personal body guards!” He said, indicating the two men standing directly behind King Haden, their purple capes lying flat and statuesque without a breeze to stir them.                                            

The king grinned a sly grin and the Commander General stood as tall as he could, hungry with the anticipation of his well-deserved reward. “You are a ruthless man! Look at the king in your hands! If I allowed you that close to me, I would surely face a similar fate!” The Commander General’s face fell. That was not what he had been expecting. 

“Tell me,” Said the king. “What do you think of people who allow women to live the way these demons have?” He said, sweeping his arm around the courtyard to indicate the fallen citizens of the once great city of Capance.

“I believe they are the spawn of the devil, may Girelight eat their souls!” King Haden grinned, pleased with the answer. “I have a much greater reward for such a man as yourself. You have proven your ruthlessness and swift hand in dealing with matters on your own. You are a man who thinks for yourself, driving your men hard to make better time than I requested. Taking a king off of a horse without him ever seeing you. You are a brave and daring man. You are a commander, nay, a ruler! These are fine qualities and qualities like that deserve a reward worthy of them. Because of this, I think it only fitting to bestow upon you the city of Capance!”

The air in the Commander General’s throat lodged in his lungs. He gasped in awe. “My King! That is an honor!” He said, fumbling over the words. “Then it shall be done!” Said the King. “Bow so that I may title you!” 

The Commander General dropped the severed head, letting it roll across the ground and come to rest on the foot of its former owner. He pulled his sword from the ground where he had dropped it when he picked up the head and handed it hilt first to his benevolent and awe inspiring king. He sank to his knees and bowed his head, waiting to be titled.                                                                                                            

The king towered over the Commander General and, with both hands, lifted the sword high above his head, the rings glistening in the early hours of dawn. In one heavy sweep, he brought the weapon down on the man’s exposed neck, separating it from his body in a much similar fashion as the Commander General had done to King Jarone.

The men around them gasped in horror and shock. The king looked up, anger streaking his face. “Do not take what is rightfully mine. I am King. The glory of killing another king belongs to me and me alone. 

I claim these lands. Join me or die where you stand. It was a fool who ran this kingdom. I am not a fool. You allow your women to do as they please, to live as they want, to have the power to make decisions. You are all fools. Giving women power, any kind of power will bring you nothing but death. Look around you. Your town fell because you allowed women to have the freedom that they did. If you had of controlled them, you would have been ready to defend yourselves; you could have prevented us from overtaking you, but you did not. I am your King now, and you should all be relived at this. For I will protect you and together we will take over the world. You will prosper and thrive under my rein, but work against me, and the gods will strike you down! Capance is no longer the land of the free. Now it belongs to the land of the righteous!”


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