Stand and DeliverThe signet of justice

Stand and DeliverThe signet of justice

A Chapter by Lauren Xena Campbell
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This is the final passage of Lisabeth and Lionels journey together, but will the highwayman be caught and trailed as Lisabeth so fear or will love prevail?

"

 Lightening illuminated the stain glass of the cathedral windows, burning the air with unease. The choir boys began to hum sweetly, their voices toned with harsh discipline, howling out for mercy from their Lord, still unhearing. I wept also, though I did so with tears and no nice voice.

This was the day of my marriage to Lord Ambrose. A day darker and more miserable then any other before and yet it was true. I stood at the alter under the watch of God to pronounce eternal love and allegiance to the only man whom I have ever truly reviled. I waited in his shadow as the good Father announced us man and wife.

All the spirit left me; there was no future now, only never-ending dusk.

The winds screamed thought the basilica doors casting all the candelabras without flame. And just like the path of my life, the way was sinister. Hurriedly the wedding crowd departed the building, eager to start their merrymaking, but the procession of my husband and I was slow to depart, for he was in ill tempered and I almost too weak willed to stir. Yet as we neared the exit he seemed to grow more content and soon a broad smile covered his wretched face.

“Now my bride,” He spoke with sedition in his tone. “Your wedding gift doth lie yonder.”

I followed his gaze to a newly built gibbet, its freshly pealed wood humming the air with its blasphemous perfume. Atop the scaffold stood two hooded figures, one the hangman and the other about to be hanged. The executioner roughly placed the poor coves neck in a golden noose and removed the dead-mans cover.

“I trust you shall enjoy this as much as I will.” Said my husband pointedly.

And from across the street a face came into focus, a face of pity and fret, but also of wretchedness, the sort living in a grave. His eyes glistened with tears of parting sadness and I could feel his heartbreak as if it where my own.

“No!” I screamed with all my heart, terrible feelings rushing into expression, powerless and wanting to assist. My love was to be hanged as I watched from afar, unable to help. My life was truly ended.

The trap door opened.


~


Vigorous hands awoke me from a lurid slumber. The dark canvas above my bed was all that I saw, dazed from sleep I felt abruptly frightened until a voice came form the air.

“Lisabeth! Are you well?” Asked my Love, concerned. His bright blue eyes came slowly into view as my gaze adjusted to the night. I smiled at him, pleased to wake to such a sight and I saw the fearful look vanish from his features. “I arrived to find you asleep and was about to depart when I heard you moaning. I thought it best to revive you encase you sufferer dark dreams.”

“I am glad you did, for I near entered my vile further early.” Visions from my dream filled my sight once more and I remembered why I had been so frightened. “Dear Lionel! I do not want to marry Bacillus-“

“Shush now!” He said soothingly, encasing my shivering frame with his embrace as he perched on the edge of my bed.

A lot had happened in the past three weeks. I was now publicly betrothed to the Bacillus family, and due to wed their son in but two days. Since Lionel had kissed me, he had not done so again and yet we had seen each other almost every night there after. We had had many adventures together, and I had begun to learn more about the man behind the mask. Lionel had taken me to the family home where he had grown up and we had walked until well-nigh dawn, speaking of the treasured memories he possessed. My Love had also brought me back to London to visit St Roseings, and the orphan children he felt so much for. And it was easy to see why, they are such blessed children that none have ever seen, and it fills my heart with sadness that such a delightful brood should have no families to love them. But I loved them dearly too, and when Lionel offered me the stolen treasures of which he took from my family on our first encounter I refuse and added to the horde all that I could safely part with so that it may be that these children will still have a home next winter.

I had also shared with the highwayman some of mine own desirers, the treasured thoughts of the heart I had never before reviled. I told of how I longed not to be so well born nor well monied but to manage a small home on a farm with the freedom to move when ever I willed, not trapped behind velvet curtains but able to move gratis in sunlight. How I wanted to speak with people, learn of their lives. But my deepest wish before my Love, and indeed the most shameful to my heritage, I longed to write. At first I was nervous to tell Lionel this as it is so unseemly for a women to scrawl away on parchment unless it be in daily confessions but I have always known that God have given me a gift for verse. He has given me eyes to see with all the beauty of this world and yet greater still a heart with which I can feel, and in this I know I could capture my musings into lyrics that might one day, if only to one’s own children, could cause rapture in their hearts.

But what I did not tell my beloved was of my new dreams, the dizzy, wild dreams forbidden in the waking world. There are so few words to express it yet express it I must. In his eyes I could see a new world, filled with peril and passion that I so dearly longed to be a part of. I wanted to run…be far from here each dawn and further still by night, I wanted not a life of servitude to husband and vow unless that vow be of love. I would it we could leave, break the bonds of honour and duty and leave, together and never return. I loved him so deeply, and I knew it should break my heart to ever be parted from him, but in just two days I would never see him again.

Lionel releases me from his hold and held me at arms length. Looking up at his charming face I noticed a small sparkle from his doublet, casting a eye to it I laughed softly at the small brooch shaped like a silver horse, embedded with a small lapi lazuli for an eye. The brigand always wore the trinket about his heart. It was the brooch he had bribbed from me on our first crossing, he had worn it ever since.

Lionel caught my glance and reached for the ornament, preparing to remove it.

“I have been meaning to give this back to you.” He said. I laid my hand gently on his fingers, pressing them to the pin, and gazed him in the eye.

“Keep it, please I pray!” I smiled insistently. “A favour. Something to remember me by.”

“I could not forget…” His voice failed him.

We sat in silence together from a time after, both unsure of what to say.

“Lisabeth!” Said Lionel gravely, speaking at last. “I…I…I may never see you again after this night…”

I stared in shock at his frail voice, trying desperately to make out his expressions in the gloom.

“But sir!” I protested. “There is still two nights before I wed to darkness…wherefore shall we not see each other?”

Lionel left his perch on the side of my bed and walked away from me a little, towards the open bay windows, speaking almost silently over his shoulder.

“My business is finished…I shall…I leave on the morrow tide!”

I was lost in labyrinthine. The little light of the room vanished. What was he saying?

“But soft! What of me?” I questioned, tearing at the covers confining me to my cot. “Am I nothing to you?”

“You are everything!” He replied fiery. His haunted vocalisation caused me to fall back against my pillows before I could take the first step. What was this? “That is why I leave! To be away...from you!”

Tears soak my cheeks as I hasten to his side. My world was falling down around me. How could he speak like thus? I grasped his arm with all my might, hoping he should look at me.

“You marry two days morrow…I cannot be here then…and if I do not leave tonight I know I never shall…I love you Lisabeth…”

His voice faded into the cold night air, yet his word lingered bringing small warmth.

“I have to go…” He persisted. “For my own sanity I must go…”

He walked out onto the balcony gazing bemused into the sky, abase. Within seconds he had lifted himself unto the ceilings and raced from this place. I ran to the parapet after him, wishing he would still be there though I had heard his footsteps leaving.

Tears still flowed from my eyes, blurred and blind.

“But I would marry thee…” I spoke softly, voicing for the first time the wish dearest to my heart. The first of the raindrops fell with heavens cry.


~


It rained thought the next day and morning. Thunder clapped the execution drums counting down to the fatal moment of matrimony.

I had not left my chamber for all that time, refusing food and drink, deep in pities self death, content to live as a ghost of dreams. But this action was not due, as my Mother has conceived it, to pre wedding fever but rather the terrible lose of friendship and love. I knew that I should never be myself again nor that I might ever smile. Thoughts of Lionel tiered me, bringing me to dry tears, forcing me to close my eyes tightly in the hope of running from my inner pain. The highwayman had indeed turned my world upside down and now life could never be the same again.

How could I have come to love so quickly you may well ask? This I could not tell God himself, for how does the bird know to fly nor the fish to swim. It simply was and I has no choice. I loved him beyond mere fancy, beyond sinful temptations, or lewd wondering. I loved him. Simply. Honestly. I loved the way he spoke to me, how he cared. I loved his daring and wit. His companionship and honourable ways. I felt as though my heart had conjured him up from my dreams though until we had met I had never dreamed such before, for he was perfect in my eyes. I wanted to know all he was, I longed to be closer still and to show him I loved him. And now it was never to be...

The downpour finally ceased on the dawn summons of my wedding day.

I was empty as the tiring women laced my stays. I felt weak as she overlaid my bodice and near fell a-swame as she arraigned my kirtle. Fortune had left me a fool. I was lifeless as my maid presented me to my groom’s bride, needing to lean on some-others arm to stand. My heart was numb.

We entered the coach, with my parents and the entire Bacillus family. Mockery is nature’s forte and so sunlight began shortly to light the road ahead. But the coach rolled on forever in it’s slow way and time no longer held any meaning to me. Life was an empty road of deaths shadows of which I would walk endlessly. My only hope was the distant memories…my only fear plagued my dreams…

I could easily recall that day two weeks ago when my Mother had left me in the care of Elinor, as she and my Father were away to my Uncles. But the maid had found herself asleep before noon having taken the key to the wine cellar as well as my charge. I was able to creep out of the house to the boarder of our woods where I knew Lionel had camped for a few days as there had been rumour of plague on the street where he lived. We ambled among the vast pillars of oak, the thickets of emerald and jade. Whispering by the holly bush as we watched a plump robin sing on a branch. I had nursed a small cut on Désirée knee from a close encounter with a baili, and then sat upon a fallen maple trunk as my beaupere played a cheery melody on a small wooden flute that had once belonged to his father.

Another outing filled my inner thoughts, but this of a mid dawn adventure, taking us to the corners of the pool whence upon Lionel had found the tracks of a mighty stag, which we hunted for a glance. After a short time we found the hart wondering the forest and watched as it chased its mate into the distance.

And of course the scandals day in London where my Mother had brought me to town to purchase a new wedding dress and from the corner of my eye I caught a bowed head under a large straw hat. On appearance it was but another commoner yet I knew instantly from the eyes beneath and the elegant bow he made that it was my Lionel following me atop my horse as I progressed with my Mother.

But then of all my recollections the strangest did accrue before my eyes, the nightmare that overwhelmed me. The expression of Lord Ambrose’s face as the hangman drew the leaver, that twisted sneer of greed and hate from my mortal match that doth dwell at my Fathers right hand. And with this strange vision a questioning notion came to mind.

Surely I was being selfish towards my Love if I should gladly bind him to me, for was he not a cuffin of freedom…how could I cage him thus, freedom denied, a fate worse then the gallows. I did love him and thus I should respect his choice though it grieved me greatly.

A booming crash roared above.

The coach screeched to a halt, the yells of rustic voices silencing with unnatural submission.

The curtain was already drawn back so that I might peer past my Fathers bulky pate as he muttered with misgiving. If I had not seen it first-hand I should never have believed it. I could perceive about half a dozen men from my side of the carriage and would guess it be the same starboard. Each sat astride a black mount, each wore a mask and clock of nightshade and each had drawn a musket at the carriage.

The air was silent as all were at attention, both captors and prison guards, waiting for another to make the first move.

The playful trot of a mare could be heard emerging from the forest edge about the other side of the coach, a utterance of question and command and again the shoes of a majestic creature as it began to bear it’s master around and into view.

My eyes fluttered violently, my vision fading into white as a new scene came into act like a distant wind…


~


Tell me your secret?” Asked he with gentle tone, leaning back onto the grass bank.

Of which would please you most to hear?” Said I.

I long to hear of the secret Lisabeth…” He whispered. “The women thou art in thy dreams.”

I paused momentarily before answering the request, attempting to grasp some remembrance of value.

She is ambitious.” I reply shyly. “Adventurous at heart, keen to see the world but not always valiant if truth be told. Sometimes she is scared, not of her own morality but that of others, afraid that people can be hurt. But hitherto she is no wilting flower and her passion is bold, sometimes weary. If she could but step out from under that cloud what wonders would await her…”

I let my voice die away, my cheeks growing warm with idiocy. I felt my companion would shortly run, hasten from this woodwild child of such self-arrogances that would out shine even the clergy. But to my great surprise the listening eyes of my friend stay focused and ask a question.

And is this lady forlorn?” He mused.

Not always. There is one whom she can converse with and she delights in his company very much, very much indeed…”

We both beamed coyly at one another amused in our games of deeper meaning.


~


The recollection discoloured as quickly as it had come, vanishing in ashen vapour to reveal the blade of a sword at my Fathers throat. My Mother was crying, as were the other females among our guests.

Stand and deliver!” Spoke a handsome voice.

What do you want?” Asked my Father with great fear as the blade pushed tighter to his neck. Brine of self-pity exited his eyes, a look of immense dismay fixed to his brow.

Allowing my eyes to sift I followed the blade to the hilt, the gloved hand to the cloak shoulder to that winning smile.

Salvation.” Answered the bandit’s leader, my Freedmen, the dearest to my heart.

My Father began to question what he must have thought madness but soon quietened to the light drive of the cutlass. The highwayman opened my carriage door from atop his mighty mare and replaced his sword in its sheath as his companions took aim and offered his hand to me.

A smile rose on my face as I reached out for his hand but a whimper made me cease for it was my Mothers voice. Pulling my hand back I looked to her sodden face and the first sign of motherly love. Could I just leave? I would be turning my back on my family. On honour. Could I survive in this world without the protection of wealth, the guiding hands of my parents? Could this be the event that served all ties or kindled the flames of friendship? I would leave my Mother as window upon my Fathers grave to slave as nurse or nun?

I looked down at my lace-gloved hands ashamed; the item was my betrothal gift from Bacillus, and gently removed them from my fingers. Laying them in my Mothers hands I cast her a soft smile and turned forth to the highwayman.

Dastardly altham!” Snorted my betrothed with gruff repugnance as I took Lionel’s hand. The cove pulled me up in front of him and wrapped his arms around me protectively.

Decidedly not.” I replied with effort to sound as charming as Lionel. “The only criminal hither sir is you!”

Chuckling softly Lionel pulled on Désiré’s reins. The beautiful mare reared and galloped away down the lane, the twelve horsemen in quick pursuit. Turning only once I looked back at the carriage, what I imagined was The Sleeper swaying gently above it, and the faint outline of my Mother and Father as they stood outside, watching.


~


The brigade of bandits halted at the east cross road to London, not far from my Loves and mine favourite place to dwell, the woodland lake. Lionel thanked his kindly fellows for their help in my rescue and paid them all a dainty sum for their troubles. Once the bully rooks had departed Lionel turned to the woods for cover, and set me by the waters edge, freeing Désiré so that she might graze liberally.

Lionel then turned to me, removing his hat and cloak as he neared.

“I owe you a debt, Master Highwayman.” I said, unsure of how to act after our last encounter. Never had I before felt such hostility and confusion towards the man I loved and it scared me to do so.

“You owe me nothing…”

“But I do.” I objected.

“Nay.” Snapped Lionel hotly.

I moved from the crook, deeply bestraighted.

Kneeling by the waters edge I glided my figures over the waters surface, as smooth as a mirror, finding little peace in the childlike task.

Hours whittled away until all the daylight hours had near gone. Lionel had not spoken and neither had I, instead I remained motionless in my perch watching the waters, but still very much aware of Lionel’s movements as he paced, stroked his mount and wondered to gather wood for a fire. It seemed Lionel was content to stay where he was but I confess I was glad. I knew not of his resolve, haply to secure that a search for me is truly over before revealing ourselves to the open.

The night brought with it beauty, the likes of which at the dawn previous I thought had flown from my life forever. The stars melted thought the emerald canopy, as did the smiling face of the moon, it’s silver radiance filtering thought the air like a soft madrigal. Warmth in the air began to hush yet I paid it no mind; I was content for the time, allowing the realisation of my new found freedom to penetrate, and the half lived joy that my Love had not deserted me.

“Lisabeth, forgive me.” I knew not whether this was a request or charge but I responded to it non-the less.

“Naturellement.”

Relief washed over his features revealed from the mask. Moving form the fire light to where I perched, Lionel settled himself beside me, waiting for a moment before conditioning his explanation.

“I am sorry if I alarmed you this day.” He said. “But I knew that I could not let you marry that a*s, for it would be the greatest of insults to you. And yet though I know you did not wish to marry him I cannot but think I have course you injustice…”

“Baloney sir, you have done everything but.” I began but he raises a hand to calm my argument.

“Please?” I bowed my head in silence. “I did not enter into my decision lightly, thought it has been in my thoughts for much time. And thought it was my desire and I thought it would be of greatest pleasure to your Ladyship I realise now that I did not enter your thoughts into it, yet they where my sole purpose.

“I know if I should have allowed you to enter into marriage I should lose you Lisabeth and when the time came I could not let it be. Since my parents deaths I have plotted my revenge but soon that fire dampened and instead t’was replaced with the need to rebuild. I wanted to start a life anew, away from this wrenched land and foul memories. I should have left after I raided your stage but meeting you refrained me from my leave. I was to a means farm beyond Paris but I had discovered friendship and love. I may not wish to suffer any more but I also never wish to be apart from thee…I wonder wilt you come with me? Start anew?”

I pretended to ponder the question although I had the answer, silently enchanted at his application.

I nodded my head in response. “I should love to.”

Lionel did but smile before jumping to his feet and race off into the darkness to find his mare, then came hurriedly back beside me. In his hand he kept encase a small casket; it’s details not meeting my eyes in the darkness. The moonlight shone down brighter bringing with it a cool breeze singing of magic.

“There is another question I shall have of you.” He said, almost nervous. “I do not mean to be forward and please think not that it shall effect my first offer…”

Pale light clouded my vision.

Memories flashed before my eyes. Sights of gentle blue eyes, I could hear soft words being spoken as thought in the distance. And I could fell the gentle caress of his naked hand in mine. And the remembrance of a radiant kiss…

“T’was my mothers.” Said Lionel with pride, awaking me from my vision and revealing a beautiful ring inside the tiny casket. I gasped in surprise, unsure of what to expect. My heart leaped in the prospect that this could be a betrothal.

Lionel began to mumble, attempting to recite what must have been a replayed speech before casting all attempts aside.

“For all of heavens stars I cannot trust this day has come.” He with a nervous loving tone. “Lisabeth I love you! Will you marry m-?”

“Yes” I shrilled, cutting him of in mid sentence, casting my arms about his neck in a faithful embrace, unbelieving that his words where reality.


~


It was all reviled, the business Lionel has spoke of three weeks since was in fact his conveyance to his small holding from his London apartments. He had also prolonged the trip in the hope of convincing me to stole away with him, to grant us that which we had both dreamed of. Freedom.

Though I no longer possessed any jointure Lionel was convinced we should survive in a new land with the wealth he had obtained over the years. And if not he would jest that he still had his pistols.

Everything was settled. Lionel had sent his belongings to the docks ahead of our journey so they might be there upon our arrival.

I apologies I am such a thoughtless fool!” He cried. “To think I did not rob your chamber before I stole you, and I have non of the raiment fit for a lady!”

Hush now!” I soothed. “I still have my wedding gown thought I detest the thing…”

But Lionel insisted on buying me at least one new gown before our ship sailed so that I need not be married in my mourning smock. And so I choose a cloth of green, the colour of eternal love.

We were to marry the day after our port, in a cathedral that bordered our new land, prepared to start afresh as man and wife, the two happiest folk in the world.

We had sheltered in Lionel’s apartments in separate chambers since my rescue. It had been a merry three days. Now that I was gratis to go where I pleased I was able to venture in the market, with Lionel as my escort of course, but I could go and there was but one feeling greater then freedom. Life with Lionel was a constant dance, as exciting and breathtaking as a Volta. We would glide thought the streets of London singing out loud, ride though forest and meadow, and together we where as one.

Our ship left port at night, around ten of the clock. As we made ready I had to ask a question burning deep inside.

What shall we do if we do not like it there?”

Then we shall move.” Replied Lionel as charmingly and chipper as ever. “The world is ours Lisabeth, we are free to do as we choose.”

Lionel made to turn from me to ready some more items into a buget but his words had indeed captured my attention. I laid a gentle hand to his cheek and looked him lovingly in the eye. I loved to behold my beloved, his face still seeming like a rare jewel. Lionel repeated my gesture and pressed his lips to mine and held them there. Our lips began to move with fierce passion, an expression of love so attentive and paranormal that it can nought be brought to words.

As we exited the apartments with a farewell glance we entered into the dark streets. We where to walk to the dock as Désirée had already travelled the ocean and was now in the care of a friend of Lionel’s, who was to greet us also. We progressed in high spirits, both revelled to journey the ocean, an ignorance in which we both shared.

Are you excited my love?” He asked me.

Yes, I…” My words we drowned out but the unearthly roar of a fire bell.

Screams ruptured all over the quarter and it was clear from a newly raisin black smoke that a fire lay in our path. The instinct in Lionel forced him onwards at a run I fought to match. As were neared an inn we could see a chain of men hastening buckets of water to quench the flames. Shrieking figures where running from the black mist, one a girl, race up to us in a fit of tears.

Please h’lp!” She wept. “Me mama…she is with child…still inside.”

I grasped the girls shoulders before she fainted, and hurriedly sat her upon a near by barrel.

Where?” I queried.

Top floor.”

I glanced at Lionel but he was gone, he had already emerged himself into the flames to find mother and child. My blood was chilled all the while he was in the fast falling inn.

Moments passed.

My eyes were fixed to the burning mass before me.

But my faith in my Love was not misplaced for soon he had emerged with a weary mother and babe in his arms, a midwife in tow. Onlookers cheered as they exited causing Lionel to blush, settling the pair with the young maid, leaving the midwife to fuse, we left the way for the other men to diminish the fire.

Soon the guards had begun to emerge in the square to help dose the hazard. It was then that I heard a gruff voice from behind, a man moaning that his footmen had been charged with a charity case. Casting an annoyed eye over my shoulder at the bloody cheek I saw to my horror the one man I loathed most.

Lionel, we must be away.” I whispered.

But Lionel was watching the flames with interest and worry. St Roseings was not far from here and if the fire was not soon subdued the building surrounding it might catch and the entire quarter would be ablaze.

We can spear a few moments until the fire is out, just in case…”

But Lionel…”I spoke too loudly. As soon as the words had come I knew that I had, looking back onto Lord Ambrose whom had court sight of me.

You!” He screamed, throwing a reproachful finger toward me. At the raised voice Lionel among others had turned and all the colour drained from his face. Shielding me with his own body as Bacillus screamed a challenge and unsheathed a cutlass. Reacting impulsively, Lionel did the same, his sword still a cherished accomplice. Moving forward the two entered into their duel to the great shock of many folk around. Thrusting wildly Bacillus attempted to run Lionel threw with feral anger. Stepping aside Lionel reflected the bout with a flick of the wrist and parried the Lord into a corner. But the veney was short due to Lionel’s more disciplined skill and the pillicocks cowardice. Tripping over his own feet Lord Ambrose fell to the ground, losing his sword, now at the mercy of Lionel.

Un-willing to spill blood Lionel only made so sheath his sword and take my hand.

Thief!” Screeched Bacillus. “Arsine. Murder!”

There was no time to wait to see the fire endth nor to realise that a force of guards where in pursuit. Lionel grabbed at my hand and we raced across the quarry towards the docks.

Come Lisabeth!” Lionel cried in encouragement for speed. But the sound of muskets firing was enough; I raced with all my might, over the bridge, down the allies towards the water steps, forth to the docks. My breath burned my chest, pain cramping my legs as we ran with all might. With but fifty yards left to our race and the guards seemingly far behind Lionel chanced a look at me.

A musket sounded.

Lionel’s eyes stilled.

He fell to the ground slowly.

Clinging to his commission I tried to halt his descend.

No!” I scream with a might fiercer then thunder above.

Kneeling beside him I raise his head to plea with him to hold on.

No!” I whimpered.

Lisabeth! Go!”

No!”

I looked in disbelief as the blood raised from his heart.

Lionel?”

His skin was so pale.

I grasped his hand.

Don’t leave me.” I begged.

He raised a gentle hand to my cheek.

Brushing away the tears from my eyes he smiled.

Through his hand against mine I could fell his heartbeat decelerate.

The light in those eyes were fading.

No!”

Everything about was chaos.

The earth was cold.

I love you Lisabeth!” He whispered.

His hand fell from my cheek.

He eyes closed.

An age had ended and dawn had recoiled into darkness.

No! No! NO!”


~


For every leaf of parchment upon scribed a romance claiming glory such as this, there is a true leaf waiting to die of cold and disease. And just like that fragile thing all things must die. Tis sorrowful, it causes pain and makes wonder a common thing, for why should we, together, chance this thing, this love? Is it because in our hearts we are brave, something of heroic? Or because our gentle, kind natures require us to share feeling with someone like ourselves? I pondered this question many times, even before he came into my life, and now that he has departed I find that I struggle to comprehend this notion any longer. Why so willingly should I have ever dreamed for this sting, this sadness? Given the chance again I should never have opened my eyes, and would it still be just a dream, when the ending only comes upon waking. But as with every enchanting fairytale the chapters must draw to a close.

I cannot say that I shall ever forget Lionel for I know that I shall not. I shall always love him no matter how fragile and cold I become. And every day I shall remember that last look on his face, the contentment in his glance, his final heartbeats…


~



Guard raced though the quarter, piercing the contented darkness with their inferno. But I cared not. It is a hard thing to explain, the loss of the only person you have ever loved, and it is an experience that I hope non-others shall ever have to endure. But it was as if the candle of my life had been blown out and I was now left without light. And as my light faded I found myself without hunger, or anxiousness, nor feelings of any kind but sorrow. The guard with their muskets no longer scared me, for there was no damage they could do to me now. All I wanted was he, my Love and life. I wanted him to wake from his haunting slumber, bid the heaven farewell for a time and come back to earth and I. I knelt by him, for what seemed the ages, but his eyes remained motionless and dark… He was gone.

I never realised that a kindly fisherman had pulled me from the burning docks into the safety of the ship meant to harbour us to our new life. But what life had we now, not but half a life, such as a ghost upon an unending mission of impossible redemption. Lost in darkness forever. The silky black seas of unending freedom washed coldly over my sight. I was numb to the world, standing on deck, gazing out, for more then three day before I collapsed from hunger. Unwillingly I was nursed back to health and within a week we arrived. I exited the ship with one final glance back onto those endless seas and the life I had left behind and now lost. The skies above where grey and unfeeling like my heart, and the rain even more so. But as I was taken to my new apartment by Lionel’s kindly friend, we passed thought the local court. And I could not help but notice the decoratively of it all. The pure splendour.

It took time, for an un-healing womb to gain strength, but I realised my new purpose in this world. And it is without regret to station or parentage but with respect for eternal love that each and every night I have and shall forever more, until the dawn of the gallows, don a half mask and let my voice ring thought the night; “Stand and Deliver!”





© 2016 Lauren Xena Campbell



Author's Note

Lauren Xena Campbell
STORY ORDER: Stand and Deliver, Stand and Deliver-the man behind the mask, Stand and Deliver-the signet of justice, The Masked Lady-the rise to brigandry

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Wonderful! Your story reminds me of my favorite writer back in the early 60's. Victoria Holt. I could not put her books down. Your story detail keeps you visionary conscious on what is happening in the scene you are depicting. I love it. I look forward to reading more your work. For you not have learned to read and write before age 13 is amazing. You must of read everything you could get your hands on. Your sentence structure and selection of words is wonderful. Michele Ritter (EleanaNouvelle).

The art work is perfect. Being an artist, It reeled me into the story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Wow, this is a great ending even though I'm too happy about his death. You did a terrific job writing this entire story and I enjoyed every minute of it. Wonderful work!!!

Heather

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

There are no ways i can add to these comments lauren..
This is really nicely done..I was really touched by your story
thank you

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wonderful! Your story reminds me of my favorite writer back in the early 60's. Victoria Holt. I could not put her books down. Your story detail keeps you visionary conscious on what is happening in the scene you are depicting. I love it. I look forward to reading more your work. For you not have learned to read and write before age 13 is amazing. You must of read everything you could get your hands on. Your sentence structure and selection of words is wonderful. Michele Ritter (EleanaNouvelle).

The art work is perfect. Being an artist, It reeled me into the story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love the story (sad though it be). You have a knack for story-telling. There were quite a few spelling and grammatical errors, but that will be fine with proper editing. I hope to see your works published. You have a great gift. May it serve you well and please the readers today as well as those to come. Kudos!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I'll focus on the way you can make words lilt along. Forgetting the story for a moment. I would say that you can make words do what you want in a sustained way that is musical and moving...and you can do it in a sustained way. Reading this was at times a bit like sitting on a beach watching and listening to a gentle tide. Here are a few sentences which caught my attention...

-- Lightening illuminated the stain glass of the cathedral windows, burning the air with unease.
-- The first of the raindrops fell with heavens cry.
-- We ambled among the vast pillars of oak, the thickets of emerald and jade.
-- ...a mask and cloak of nightshade...
-- The stars melted thought the emerald canopy, as did the smiling face of the moon, it's silver radiance filtering thought the air like a soft madrigal.
-- I laid a gentle hand to his cheek an looked him lovingly in the eye.

But the very best bit of writing for me came towards the end. The two paras beginning 'For every leaf of pachment upon scribed a romance ...' I thought there was a bit of glinty stuff in those graphs and signs of real promise for the future. A bit like a guitar solo in a rock song. You sort of set back from the story and set it in a broader psychological context, which links it to the life experiences of a modern reader. It's also moving.

As for the story. You are a good story teller and clearly love it. I like the way you landed this one. I was pleasantly suprised by the tragic ending. Not that it was tragic, but because I was expecting a romantic ending. You teased with the fire...he survives heroically...it is as if you raise him to a higher moral platform so that his death seems even more tragic. And then the twist of her taking to the highway made me smile. I am not an expert in historical novels, but it felt as if you pulled off the period language quite well. Throwing in the odd antique word like 'kirtle' and 'pillicocks' flavours it well. There is a pub in Wheathampstead, Herts called the Wicked Lady, named after a highway woman!



This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Exquisite writing style, my dear! The future looks bride for you! I absolutely adored it. Speachless. All was right, how you built the tension and story... and making the reader fall into your story. Be well.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Good Lord! The story and the style of writing is incredible. You have brought me to the point in time and the place that this occurs. I felt it. I could hear it, see it and smell it.

I have waited patiently for the final part. I am not disappointed. You have indeed stood tall and delivered. The elements of forbidden love and falling for the "Bad Boy" are powerful. Lionel is the classic Robinhood. He is bad for a dignified purpose. Every women is a sucker for the romantic misgivings of this character. Go figure.

I love that Lisbeth gets on the ship, keeps going and does not fall into the comforts of familiar wealth. She is fantastic. The fact that she loves to write is a very endearing characteristic. I understand her. She is courageous in a spoiled brat kind of way. She chooses character over comfort. I have to wonder if it is because she knows nothing of poverty. The pondering into her character and what makes her tick does not in anyway detract from her appeal.

I am in love with this.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

there is nothing i can say about this piece...
as words wont be able to capture the felings you brought up in me
this series (if i can call it that) is nothing short of brillance and the best story telling i have ever had the fortune to experience
i can only hope to be able to reconstruct but a shadow of this onto my own readers

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

My Lady Labyrinth-

This amazing and very inventive story had so many roads of the woods,
of the forest,
that in each moment of my reading your words, I was sitting on the edge of my seat with anticipation
in declaration of what seemed to be pulling me into this world of Lionel and Lisbeth's love,
and then, spoken, was eternal love,
yet sadly, the ending was far more shocking than Lionel's proposal,
and so I wonder, dear writer, if it is one's own subconscious mask-wearing, bearing a shadow cast upon one's face, or sheer sadism that in great stories of old (which this is the same flow and context to, bringing a reader back to what seems like the 15th century and drawing one in as well, then (I) was removed from the same seat and was placed in the forest, I could hear the galloping of the horse's and I could see the face of the Dark Lord, the anguish; farthest recesses the same man as Lionel; same mask; then the story became more keen of whispers- in telling its own secrets to the reader who was listening, and I heard.
And I cried.

Moments passed.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on May 8, 2008
Last Updated on July 10, 2016


Author

Lauren Xena Campbell
Lauren Xena Campbell

Somewhere on the edge of the imagination



About
Dreams are not made to be broken, but are created in the heart to write destiny! I've always loved making up stories and putting words down onto paper, despite the fact that I only really learnt to.. more..

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