At Just The Wrong Time

At Just The Wrong Time

A Story by Frankie
"

“At the second we speak, Dwaelynian soldiers are marching towards us armed to the teeth, and unless we get orders from Her Majesty soon, we will all be crushed," he said. "Not now," she replied.

"

Chief Royal Hunter Gworka Aranel was usually not a man to be trifled with. His heart and soul belonged entirely to the forests and the kingdom, and his mind was controlled only by his mistress. Gworka listened only to authority and was the kind of man who lost power of his body a long time ago. It no longer responded to him, but the orders and demands of the Queen, and the Queen only.


But he was also the Chief Hunter, and the most trusted man of the Queen, which meant that a lot of soldiers and hunters looked up to him for orders. He despised the fact of course. Hated the way they would listen to his orders before the Queen’s, but he only relayed the orders from the Queen, so in all honesty, he realised the result was never too bad. So although he was a great tactical man and could probably plan out a mind-blowing strategy and win any battle, he only ever did something once he had heard the order from the Queen’s own lips. Gworka knew from experience that when it comes to the protection of the kingdom, there was no way he’d be taking the risk of accepting orders from anyone other than the beloved Queen Raviel.


Yet now, he was in a tricky position. There were incoming forces attacking from both sides of the Kingdom, which he had a nasty suspicion were from the neighbouring kingdom of Dwaelyn. The estimated time of their arrival was approximately one hour, and although the troops were armed and ready on the outskirts of the castle, they would not move without orders from either Gworka or Queen Raviel herself. Gworka, however, would only relay on orders from the Queen, and she had not been seen for a while.


Gworka marched down the corridor, the sword swinging at his side as dangerously as the look in his intense, amber eyes, and an unpleasant scowl was etched permanently onto his face. Any of the men on guard duty let him through straight away, trembling and knowing from the look on Gworka’s face that his mood was worse than usual and things would not end well for anyone who stood in his way. Time was of the utmost important here, and if he didn’t find Lady Raviel soon, the consequences for the kingdom were too dire to think about.


As he neared the Queen’s private chambers, he began to notice something was afoot. Maids and ladies were scurrying to and fro, faces ridden with worry, most of the time carrying something such as a bowl of water, or fresh linen, or old sheets that had something that looked suspiciously like blood on them. Gworka, with his warrior instincts, was about to question what was about, but knew that there were more important things that needed his attention. The inevitable war between Galindor and Dwaelyn was finally upon them, and at the time where the kingdom needed her most, the Queen was nowhere to be seen.


With this thought, Gworka quickened his pace, his usually light, silent footsteps echoing heavily round the dark, torch-lit castle. Eventually, he reached the large, wooden door that was the entrance to Queen Raviel and her husband Lord Linios’ chambers. He paused briefly in front of it, unwanted doubt bursting unwelcomingly into his mind, before he shut it away and leaned his ear against the door. The sound that greeted him was shocking, taking him aback. It was only then that Gworka realized why it was that Lady Raviel had not been seen. She had been with child for many months, but now...


Without thinking and knowing that despite the circumstances there was no time to waste, Chief Royal Hunter Gworka rapped his pale knuckles across the oak door, awaiting a response. There was a few seconds when only the sound he had heard before could be heard, until there were some heavy footsteps and the thud of the door being unlocked from the outside. Before it was opened, however, there was a voice from the other side of the door.


“Who is it?” it called. Gworka recognised it and gulped.


“Chief Royal Hunter Gworka Aranel. I demand to see the Queen.”


There was a pause and some hushed murmurings. Gworka tapped his foot against the tiled floor. “Milady is busy right now, and does not want any disturbances.”


Gworka had to fight the urge to smash the door down and kill them all himself, as he swallowed it and tried to think of a controlled response. “This is important,” he managed, but the anger was evident in his voice, no matter how he tried to mask it.


“Important it may be, Gworka Aranel, but what the Queen is doing is more important.”


“Yes, but I need to see her now.


“It is important she doesn’t get any disturbances or extra stress. This could be life or death for her, considered how it has gone so far.”


“Unless you let me see her right now,” he punched out his words with unnecessary force and enunciation, “this will be life or death for all of us.”


There was another pause, and some more hushed murmurings. “Go on.”


“At the second we speak, Dwaelynian soldiers are marching towards us armed to the teeth, and unless we get orders from Her Majesty soon, we will all be crushed.”


The door opened and a face appeared, fear written in the eyes and etched onto the features. Gworka recognised the face of Lomadia Evelyn, the Head of Servants and staff who worked in the castle. Her usually tidy, dark red hair was scraggly and messy under a lopsided headscarf, and bags had grown under her hazel eyes from loss of sleep. Her slender, nimble hands were pink and blistered from dipping them into water one time too many, and her forehead was shining in the candlelight from sweat. Gworka felt bad; with the situation at hand, he doubted she needed any extra stress piled on top of what she already had.


“What did you say?” she murmured, voice clouded with worry.


Gworka swallowed his words. “I said...” he couldn't continue. “I said...” he gulped again. “Look, we do not have time for this! Is Her Majesty alright? If so, I demand to see her at once! I have the authority over you, and unless you let me past right now, I shall inform her of your disobedience!”


Another scream from behind the curtain that separated Gworka from the Queen alerted him that she was probably not as alright as he would have liked to of thought. He lowered his voice when Lomadia’s face hardened. “Look-” he started, but Lomadia had pressed a finger to his lips, cutting him off.


“I have made my decision,” she said.  “Dwaelynian soldiers or not, Milady shall not be disturbed. Our soldiers will listen to you, and I am sure the Queen will trust you enough to lead this one battle.”


“I am not going to let any orders escape my lips unless I have heard them from the Queen’s own mouth beforehand. This is her kingdom and I am certainly not one to usurp her authority.”


Lomadia was outraged. “You’re not usurping her!” she cried. “This is one battle! Unless it’s escaped your notice, the Queen has rather more stressful things to worry about at the moment, without you piling on an inevitable war, invasion of the kingdom, and possible siege on the castle!”


“Look, I’m sorry that this has caught you at a bad time, but this is more important. The kingdom is worth more than the Queen, whether she is giving birth or not. I am sure she would agree that the kingdom always comes before her!”


“Well if the kingdom is more important than their own Queen, why do you need her orders?” Lomadia demanded, a challenge in her voice.


Gworka opened his mouth to speak, but shut it when he realized he didn’t have a response, at least a good one.


“I need to talk with one of the ladies,” Lomadia dismissed herself, shaking her head disapprovingly. “Wait here.”


Then she was gone, disappeared behind the curtain. Gworka was alone, with only the quiet whispers and the laboured gasps and cries of pain emitting from Her Majesty. He flinched, not wanting to think about the beloved Queen, who he had worked so hard to obey and keep safe, being in pain. Then, Lomadia appeared again, this time with Mallow, a fat old spinster with the job of kingdom midwife. She was strict and hard-going, and even dared question the authority of Gworka. He narrowed his eyes when he saw her.


“The Queen cannot know this,” she stated.


“If the Queen does not know this, the kingdom will fall and this night will be the last night for all of us.”


“If she is in possession of this knowledge, many things could go wrong during the birth. It’s already gone wrong enough. The last thing Milady needs is a war to worry about!”


“I’ve already been told this.”


“Because obviously you’re not getting the message,” Lomadia piped in.


“Exactly,” said Mallow. “You want the kingdom to be safe, go order those knights. They’re not going to be getting orders from the Queen tonight, and they’ll listen to you. The Queen would rather have her child in peace, and I’m sure she would appreciate it if you took hold of this one battle, just for tonight.”


Gworka pursed his thin lips, humiliated by a couple of women. “Where is Lord Linios? Wouldn’t he want to be at the birth of his child?”


Mallow shook her head, her voice tired. “The Queen’s husband is in the courtroom. He already knows what is happening with the Queen, and is waiting. Alone. I doubt he needs to worry about a war either, if that’s what you’re aiming at.”


Gworka was exasperated at this point. “Lord Linios is a finely advanced warrior! If the Queen is not available, surely we should ask him for orders! He’s not the one giving birth!”


“Never mind,” said Lomadia, Mallow muttering to herself under her breath as she disappeared behind the curtain. “Do what you want, just so long as Milady is in peace.”


Gworka curtly nodded his approval, knowing this was as good as it was going to get. Then, knowing that he had wasted enough time already, he set off in search of Lord Linios.


{O}


The battle had not been a good one.


They had only just won, and the Dwaelyinians put up a good fight. It had been exceedingly close, and another hour or so and they would have lost. It was just luck that the Dwaelyinians surrendered when they did.


The whole battle went on for two days, and the total loss of men totalled up to 1,376. Their’s was a powerful kingdom, but the ongoing rivalry with Dwaelyn had really been tiring their forces. The ones that weren’t dead were injured moderately in some way, and the damages to the kingdom were more serious than they had ever been before. Gworka, of course, blamed this on the Queen’s absence, but deep down knew that that had nothing to do with it.


Now, all the injured men were sat in the damaged Throne Room, leaning against rubble, sat on the floor, in broken holes in the wall, doing their best to stay alive and trying to relax after their efforts. Scullery maids and servants were hurrying round with cloths in bowls of water, tending to the injured one by one and cleaning their wounds out, before doing their best to feed them all with rations of fowl meat and stale bread, washed down with ale from the local tavern.


Yet all were restless, despite their aching muscles. All were holding their breath in anticipation for the Queen, and her child. News had not spread further than Lady Raviel’s chamber door, and no-one knew of her condition. Being loyal knights, they put their Queen before themselves and stayed awake until news was heard.  


However, guards had been stationed outside the chambers with strict orders not to let anyone pass, and the heavy oak door had been locked from the inside. The only sound was the incoherent discussions from the midwives and ladies inside the room, and their words were so quiet even the kingdom’s finest Spy, Ulric Ballard, could not interpret what was being said. A whole day they waited, while the uninjured men and village-folk did the repairs on the kingdom and castle, until all they could do was sit and hope that their beloved Queen had survived the birth.


Eventually, to the joy of the men, the ladies and maids who had been with the Queen stepped into the Throne Room, silent and sullen, when they were pounced upon by a group of bloody, angry men demanding to know the condition of the Queen. They had received only silence and answers of ‘I cannot say,’ or ‘you shall find out in good time,’ or anything else that denied them of the precious knowledge.


Gworka did not ask questions. He sat patiently in the corner, knowing from experience that shouting and moving about was not the best thing to be doing when badly injured. He himself had a nasty gash on his shoulder and a deep slash down his right thigh. Every move and breath was painful, but he showed no signs of discomfort as he saw the ladies in waiting enter the room. Eventually, after the unrest had died down, Lomadia came and sat down gently next to him. Her lips were pursed and she did not meet his gaze. Instead, he just watched as she took a soaked towel and dabbed it gently against his shoulder. He flinched; the wound had been cleaned out many times before, but it seemed like it had an endless supply of blood to spill. After the sting had subsided slightly, he closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall, sighing exhaustedly. Lomadia said not a word as she patiently cleaned out the gash.


“How is she?” he asked. He was met with a long moment of silence.


“I cannot say,” was the only response he received. He sat up, angry and struggling against her grip as she tried to hold him down. “Don’t move, you’ll just ma-” she started, but Gworka cut her off.


“I have authority over you. As her Chief Hunter, I deserve the rights to know of Milady’s condition and you have no right to deny me of it-”


Once again, she pressed a finger to his lips, a habit from times he’d rather forget that she could never grow out of. He glowered at her, but she seemed unfazed.  “You shall find out in good time,” she said. “That is all I am allowed to say. Is that not good enough for you, Chief Hunter Gworka, or would you like to disobey me?”


“You have no right to say tha-” he started, but closed his mouth after seeing the look in her eyes. How did this woman make him feel so powerless?


“I have all the right I need,” she murmured. “Sometimes, Gworka, you need to put yourself before the Queen. You just fought a battle, and granted, she has been fighting her own, but you have nasty injuries that aren’t going to heal themselves. You shall find out of the Queen’s condition soon enough, and in the meantime, you need to focus on yourself.”


Gworka said nothing in response. He watched as she dipped the cloth in the water again, and she was about to press it to his shoulder when he caught her wrist and held it away. She stared at her limp hand, still holding the dripping cloth. Then she looked back up at Gworka, who looked back. There was an emotion written across his features that she did not recognise on him. It looked foreign on his face.


“Do you ever think about the old days?” Gworka asked softly, his voice shaky.


Lomadia lowered her gaze freed her wrist from his grasp. “I have no need to think about things that have come and gone,” she said, doing her best to end the conversation as swiftly as it started.


“Don’t you ever think about we used to have?”


Lomadia dropped the towel which landed with a splash in the water, throwing her hands up in the air. “You destroyed what we had, Gworka! It was beautiful, but you, stupid, stupid, you put your stupid responsibilities before me!” she cried, exasperated. “If you want to talk about it so desperately, why did you end it in the first place?”


“I didn’t have time for relationships.”


“Your duty is to the Queen and you devote your life to her. I can even finish that sentence for you, Gworka. You’ve said it so many times before. If you didn’t have time for me, why are you talking to me now?”


“You just said that I should let the Queen go while I don’t know of her condition. I can talk about it.”


“Well I don’t want to talk about it. As soon as you find out, you’ll not be able to talk about it, and I don’t want to enjoy something for it to end so swiftly. I don’t see the point. If it has no result, it’s a waste of my time.”


“I’m sorry,” he croaked.


“You should have thought about that before you ended our courtship,” she dismissed, pulling herself up and beginning to walk away, bowl and cloth in hand. He caught her wrist again.


“I was wrong.”


“You are always wrong, Chief Hunter Gworka Aranel. That is something you need to learn for yourself. Just remember; you have a life yourself. Don’t devote it to someone else’s. Even the Queen isn’t worth that.”


Then she began to turn, leaving him speechless. Just as she was about to walk away, however, she turned back and pressed her finger to his lips. He glared at her.


“I will, however, give you a second chance. That is, if you promise to keep to it.”


“I promise, Lomadia Evelyn.”


“In that case,” she leaned in and brushed her lips softly against his cheekbone, “I am willing to forgive you.”


Then she turned on her heel and left, walking over to another knight who needed tending to. Gworka straightened his back, trying to maintain the little dignity he had left and wondering why on earth he had said what he did. How was he supposed to keep his promise? Stupid, stupid. He hadn’t been thinking! How was he supposed to take it back? He sighed, and tried to forget about things. He needed rest, and he would find out about the Queen soon enough.


{O}

 

Gworka awoke to the sound of the heavy oak doors slamming closed, and his eyes flicked open with a start. He looked over at the doors to see who had entered, and his heart began leaping in his chest when he saw Lord Linios, staring sternly out at the hopeless men. The Queen was not at his side... oh no.


Then he spoke, and silence befell on the knights and maids. “Lady Raviel,” he started. Gworka held his breath. “-is fine,” he finished.


Gworka released the breath and closed his eyes with relief, listening only to the sounds of cheering and laughter. “She gave birth two nights ago to our beautiful son, whom we have called Orpheus. She has been recovering since, and is currently resting in her chambers. She is incredibly grateful to all those who fought in the battle.”


Gworka let a small smile creep it’s way onto his lips; that was what he lived for. The Queen’s approval. He figured that the situation with Lomadia wasn’t too bad now.


This. This was heaven for Gworka. No worries, the Queen safe, and the kingdom rejoicing at their newborn heir. Oh, and the slender hand that felt like Lomadia’s intertwined with his and the head on his shoulder. He was a man of war, he lived on the battlefield, fighting and serving the Queen and kingdom was his food, but this. This was just as good.

© 2012 Frankie


Author's Note

Frankie
Meh. Please review!
NOTE FOR 'Youngsters Write' CONTEST: I am 11, so I fit in the under 12s section. :)

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Featured Review

This is a great story of relationships and responsibilities. Sometimes, I wonder if it is rightful for duties to come first or love. Anyway, I will certainly agree to the decision of the chief hunter even if I do write a bunch of romantic poems. Also, this story really captured my attention as I have not read plots like this one in a long time.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This is a great story of relationships and responsibilities. Sometimes, I wonder if it is rightful for duties to come first or love. Anyway, I will certainly agree to the decision of the chief hunter even if I do write a bunch of romantic poems. Also, this story really captured my attention as I have not read plots like this one in a long time.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

421 Views
1 Review
Added on May 4, 2012
Last Updated on June 11, 2012

Author

Frankie
Frankie

Derbyshire, United Kingdom



About
I love writing. So much in fact that my friends all think I'm weird because I actually enjoy writing in my FREE time, and don't see it as work. Most of the time. Being different? I relish in the th.. more..

Writing