A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

The last chapter of this odd little tale.


A soft voice, well modulated and yet filled with hatred, made Jackiss lurch forwards as he stared at the body of his king.

This was a land and a time in which kings were revered, even bad ones like the late lamented Jasper, and he couldn’t help wondering what mighty force had stolen the breath from one whom he thought so great. Not, he was sure, one of the feeble folks that lived in this village. There wasn’t warrior material anywhere �" he’d been here, claimed the lands for himself, and departed with only one decapitation at his orders to punish dissent. But now, out of nowhere, this voice sent cold shivers down hos spine.

The voice, still soft, had to repeat itself.

I wouldn’t move as much as a muscle,” it said, “for there are the best part of a hundred trained archers ready to loose their arrows at you.”

Eventually Jackiss lifted his head and looked at Gymboy. This youth can’t have been old enough to have any power, could he? Not in a village of rascals and urchins like this one? Never! It must be a ploy, mustn’t it? A sham to stem the flow of time before the inevitable happened.

I am your liege Lord,” he said in reply, and even to him his voices sounded rough and crude, “and fear nothing that this higgledy-piggledy assortment of shacks and feeble peasants can offer!”

But the youth smiled with a strange sort of self-confidence, one that Jackiss couldn’t for the life of him understand, and spoke again.

You are nothing. Look at your king, one-armed abuser of queens, and see what becomes of those whose blood runs like water in their veins.” The youth was quite insistent as he spoke, and there was a quiet power in his voice that made Mirelin at his side gasp.

The young man has magic in his heart,” he spluttered, “for he is of my kind. I know it!”

Tell your parrot to keep his beak shut,” warned Gymboy, “for I am not here to parley with the servant of the killer but the killer himself.”

Then she dressed as a poor widow spoke up, yet her words sounded false, like the dawn is false when a dark cloud blows in.

I am your Queen,” she put in, “I am the widow of the great king you brought down! So that means you answer to me and my companions!”

The queen is she who sits on the throne,” said Gymboy, enjoying himself, “and as there is only one throne in this land, there is only one queen!”

Show me the throne and I will place myself upon it,” grated Amyheart.

There is no need for such talk, for this land has a king rather than a queen!” blustered Jackiss, “and as a faithful friend to the deceased Jasper, I might make a claim for any throne you care to mention!”

But the Queen is already here,” whispered Gymboy, “and even as we speak she is sitting in glory on her throne. You will bow to her, will swear undying love to her and her issue, for now and for all the time that you breathe on this world! For she has the blood-line that runs truest from the olden times.”

Pah!” spluttered Jackiss, “there is no such person! This dead king down here,” and he poked the body of Jasper with one foot, “he died without discovering the secrets of where to put his member when I woman demands it! He has no offspring! The blood-line has finally run out!

I can vouch for his peculator ignorance,” put in Queen Amyheart, “many’s the time I lay in my bed wondering when the foolish king would discover that there’s more to fathering princes than kissing, no matter where that kissing my be, and how pleasurable.”

The great blood-line of the princes of old bypassed generations living in the castle, and came here with Tomass and Bodkins of old,” murmured Gymboy, “and here it remained to be nurtured down many generations until it was needed. And we deem that it is needed now.

Behold the Queen!”

And quietly, like a mighty princess of old, with all the beauty and the splendour of Tomass and Bodkins, and with all the truth that surges in a noble heart, Queen Maggida, widow of Dodson, emerged from the shadows of a humble cottage. She was clad in radiant white and gemstones sparkled at her throat and wrists, and on her head she wore a golden circlet with diamonds glinting in the early winter sunlight. In one hand she carried a bow of yew with an arrow notched and ready.

The woman of the idiot who lost his head when I was last here, now in rather silly fancy dress,” sneered Jackiss.

Careful with your words, one-armed idiot,” warned Gymboy, “for sometimes what is said cannot be unsaid.”

I know what I see!” sneered Jackiss. Some might think him foolish to the extreme, knowing that there were archers all around with their weapons already aimed directly at his heart, but he thought himself wise and cunning. With that woman in white shielding him, they would never shoot lest a carefully aimed shot went astray. To his mind the battle was as good as being over before a single arrow was fired by his still invisible enemies.

Then there was the pure sound of a bugle in the air and the crunching of wheels on the ground. Not even Gymboy was expecting what happened next, and he was expecting that most things were possible, being wise himself.

But along a trackway between a group of trees, evergreens they were, tall and aiming to the sun and gleaming emerald, there came the most magnificent golden coach that has ever graced any corner of this small planet. And up on top, driving it, sat she that the old man had called Angel, holding the reins to four magnificent horses, all pure white and with jewelled bridles, and with laces and silks flying behind her.

And Queen Maggida stopped short of Jackiss, and when she spoke her words were clear and ice-cold and never forgotten by any who heard them.

You ordered the death of my man, and so I order yours,” she said clearly so that all could hear her, even the old priest who was still hiding just out of sight, and when he heard those words he shivered.

He shouldn’t have...” growled Jackiss, but he couldn’t think of what Dodson shouldn’t have done and his words growled to a wavering silence.

You shouldn’t have come here,” she said, and all who were watching, the companions with Jackiss, the old priest where he shivered, the archers with their arrows still notched, even the Angel holding her reins, everyone knew what would happen next.

You were the coward who ordered the death of my man,” she said, “but I issue no orders. I repay the debt in person, woman to man, not depending on servile cruelty.”

In the twinkling of an eyelid Maggida released the arrow that was still notched in her own bow, and true, guided by an extraordinary fate, it plunged into Jackiss’s chest and sought his beating heart, and stilled it in a slow instant, that the world be free of one wretched tyrant.

Then, without casting another glance at the man who had killed her own true love the Queen climbed onto the golden coach, and waved at the people who were emerging from trees and hides and wherever they had been.

I will return to my throne before the moon’s changing,” she said, loud and clear, “but first I have a sad old man sitting on an old chair to straighten out.”

And the coach swept away, and slowly the night silenced the world as the people wandered to their homes, wondering what they had just witnessed, and what it all meant.

I must write this down, a record for posterity,” muttered the old Priest to himself, and that is what he did.


© Peter Rogerson 08.12.43

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on December 8, 2018
Last Updated on December 8, 2018
Tags: arrows, boiws, king, queen, coach, death


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..