Never Forget--Chapter Five

Fiction By Ariel // 8/13/2009

            “You clumsy girl, how dare you touch my porcelains?” A tall woman stood in the center of a richly furnished room. Her flawless features were cold and cruel. Her bright golden hair was swept back in the latest style and her dress was fashioned to the utmost perfection. A young girl knelt on the thick rug at her feet, desperately trying to sweep the pieces of broken glass into a pile. The woman reached down and grabbed the servant by the ear to drag her to her feet. Her face silently twisted in pain, she stood breathing hard and waiting. The queen released her ear with a jerk and struck her full across the face with the back of her hand. Tears filled the girl’s eyes, but still, she remained silent. “That is not even close to what you should be receiving,” the lady stated, looking down her nose at the tears on the girl’s cheeks and then turning toward the large double doors in the wall. The young woman behind her straightened her shoulders and spoke softly.

            “Your Majesty, I am in no fault…the cat was,” But she broke off as the queen jerked back to look at her with a piercing gaze. Crossing the room swiftly, she seized the girl’s collar and began dragging her toward the door.

            “How dare you make such excuses after I have spoken?” she screeched again. “From this moment on you are banned from my home!” This last statement brought a gasp from the girl’s lips. She clasped her hands together and began struggling in the older woman’s grip.

            “But madam, my income here is the only support my family has. If you dismiss me we will surely starve. Have mercy!” She wrenched herself one last time from the iron grip digging into her shoulder. The queen’s face was livid now.

            “You will indeed be thrown from this place. Mr. Centralaine!” A tall, assured man appeared at the end of the hall in the garb of a manservant. He took in the scene with one swift glance: the broken figurine on the carpet; the cowering servant girl rubbing her shoulder; Queen Annusa’s rage-filled face. He sighed and bowed deeply,

            “You called, your Majesty?” The queen shook her jeweled fingers at the girl.

            “Take this wench and throw her out! I don’t ever want her to be in my presence again.” Paul Centralaine crossed to Karissa and took her arm gently, then bowed low again.

            “Yes, your Grace.” Karissa glared at the queen through her tears and pulled slightly against the man’s grip. He tightened his grip on her arm and led her through the door. The girl refused to cry until they were well past the queen’s hearing. Centralaine gently stroked her shaking shoulders as she sobbed against the wall. His voice was much gentler than it had been in the lady’s presence.

            “You won’t be thrown out until you have had a chance to clear yourself, at least to me.” The girl turned her tear-streaked face to the older man and drew in a shuddering breath.

            “I was just dusting the woman’s room, I wasn’t even on that end of the room, but I heard a crash and turned just in time to see one of those mangy kitchen cats jump from the shelf. One of her Ladyship’s porcelain figurines lay on the carpet in pieces. I was trying to gather up the pieces when the queen entered and began screaming at me.” The girl dissolved into tears again and turned to the wall. Paul Centralaine smiled softly at her and took her arm again.

            “I must say that I do believe you will be better off not having to serve her Ladyship!” He chuckled. The girl wailed again,

            “But I won’t!” She whimpered, “My family relies on me to pay the bills. Without this month’s wages we won’t be able to pay the rent and the bailiffs will throw us out of our cottage.” The butler thought, smiled again, and patted her hand.

            “I wouldn’t worry about it, my dear. I happen to know that some of your rightful wages were withheld from you during your employment here. With that and the payment for what you accomplished this month, I’m sure that you will be able to keep your family safe for, oh, at least another three months.” Karissa was looking up at him with wide eyes and a look of astonishment on her thin face. He beamed down at her and produced a bag of jingling coins from his vest. He placed it in the girl’s trembling hands and curled her rough fingers around it. She stared at the pouch in her hands for a moment, speechless, and then wrapped her arms around the weathered old butler’s neck, laughing and crying at the same time.

            “Bless you, Paul Centralaine! You are indeed an angel!” The man laughed and pulled open the heavy door.

            “I’ll have the cook bring you your belongings.” The girl nodded and clutched the purse to her chest.

            “Bless you!” she whispered again, and then disappeared into the ever-present fog that surrounded the castle. The old man sighed and rubbed his forehead. He leaned his broad shoulders against the door frame and looked out into the swirling mist. A voice spoke sharply from behind him.

            “That’s the third one this month that you’ve given your pay to, Paul!” He smiled slightly and turned to face the girl behind him. She was rather short and sturdily built, with sharp green eyes and curling red hair. Her plain brown dress brought out the golden highlights in her tresses. Her large eyes were crinkled in the corners slightly and her fists rested on her hips. The normally smiling lips were pursed together into a mocking frown.

            “I just can’t let them be thrown out without their rightful wages.” The frown on the girl’s face disappeared, and the lines around her eyes softened slightly. She placed a hand on the butler’s arm and stood on tip-toes to give him a soft peck on the cheek.

            “Like the girl said, ‘you are indeed an angel’, Paul Centralaine!” The man blushed slightly and chuckled, “Now,” the girl stood back and picked up the basket on the carpet next to her feet, “I have an appointment at the royal stables!” She giggled and walked nimbly down the steps.

            “Mearah?” The girl paused and looked back up at the gentleman in the doorway. “Be careful.” She smiled at the man’s soft words and nodded her head, then turned and disappeared into the grayness.

*****

            The guard stood like a rock, his face expressionless and stolid. The rain dripped off the hood of his black cloak and splashed on the stones at his feet. The people passing by him rarely dared to look into his eyes. They trudged by, their eyes on the ground. Only a few of the boldest ones dared to lift their narrowed eyes to meet his. The looks were ones of despair and hatred. If they had paused for a few minutes longer to look deeper into the young man’s eyes, they would have noticed that underneath the hardness of his expressions, there was something like sorrow in the depths of his eyes.

            His hand, grasping the hilt of his sword, relaxed and clenched repeatedly. He stooped to pick up pieces of lettuce that had fallen off the back of a passing cart. The horse in the stable behind him nickered and stretched out his head toward the leaf in his hand. He backed in out of the rain and flung the hood off his head. He rested his arms on the top of the box stall and watched the skinny nag in the stall crunching happily. He was deep in thought when a voice broke him from his reverie.

            “Gawain!” the voice hissed from the shadows just behind the stall. The boy started and looked around swiftly. He dashed around the corner and came face to face with a short girl carrying a basket.

            “Mearah,” he hissed, looking around the corner again, “What are you doing here? Don’t you know it’s dangerous to meet during the day?” The girl tossed her damp hair and laughed at his worried expression.

            “Don’t worry so much…it’s not good for your health,” she quipped. Gawain grunted and rolled his eyes,

            “What do you want?” Mearah’s teasing expression disappeared and she leaned in closer.

            “Her ladyship got rid of Karissa today; threw her out just like she’s done with all the other ones.” The guard wrinkled his nose and knit his brows in thought.

            “This means we’ll probably be sent on a raid tomorrow morning early. How are we going to warn the people?” The girl next to him shook her head with a confused expression on her face. “Just a minute!” The boy’s eyes widened and he jerked up quickly. “I have a contact in the market...I’ll tell him and have him pass it on to people he trusts.” The girl smiled and nodded.

            “Do you think it will work?” Gawain shook his head slowly and looked out at the people mingling through the various hawkers and peddlers.

            “I sure hope so. Either it works or some poor innocent girl will be ruthlessly picked up off the street tomorrow with no warning whatsoever. I have no idea what will happen if the people have to endure very much more of the tyranny.” He pulled the hood of his cape over his head again and stepped out into the rain. He turned once to look at the girl standing in the stable, her fingers idly threading themselves through the mane of the horse in the nearest box stall. He nodded his chin and flashed a quick smile. She raised her hand slightly in reply and stepped back into the deep shadows. He turned and began walking swiftly through the rain, his chin held high and every action spelling nobility.

            In the darkened corner, Mearah listened to the silent munching of the horse in the stall and the distant shouting of the peasants. She pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders and breathed a quick prayer of safety for the boy hurrying through the market place and for everyone that was mixed up in the dangerous scheme. The chill that ran down her spine was not from the cold, but from the fear of what could happen.

Comments

Excellent, OFG! I'm

Excellent, OFG! I'm interested in seeing where all this leads. Keep on writing, and don't get discouraged if I'm the only one commenting! :) :) :) :)

Laura Elizabeth | Mon, 08/17/2009

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The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Oooooh, plots upon plots! :0)

Oooooh, plots upon plots! :0) Keep up the good work!

Heather | Wed, 08/19/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

HEHEHE...more comments! I'm

HEHEHE...more comments! I'm so happy :)

Laura -- Oh I'm not getting dicouraged...you comments do "make my day" though!

Heather -- Thanks :) Do you (being the great authoress you are) think that the "subplot" type things make it too confusing? I am going to tie them all together, but I don't want it to be too hard to follow.

Ariel | Thu, 08/20/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

I finally read it!!! And it's

I finally read it!!! And it's charming, charming.

The Brit | Mon, 09/14/2009

You have created a cheerles,

You have created a cheerles, wet, dark world with amazing potential for epic action! Now if only I had a sword.

The plots are getting a bit confusing, so try to slow down a little. But other then that, pretty good. 

P.S. Are you going to read friends war7? The next one is coming along and I would hate it if you weren't in suspense.

I am Nate-Dude | Tue, 09/22/2009

Nate-Dude

Glad it has your approval, my

Glad it has your approval, my sword-bearing cousin! The plots may seem a little bit confusing at the moment, but NEVER FEAR, they will be resolved!

Of course I'm going to read it! I do so want to find out what happens to the strange but rather endearing skeleton-like creatures you have chosen to write about. Translation -- Hurry up and post!!!!

Ariel | Tue, 09/22/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Good. I'll wait to see how

Good. I'll wait to see how this all turns out.

THEY'RE NOT SKELETONS! In fact Abigal (my sister) thinks there cute (I agree)! But she really doesn't like toa all that much. Sad, because  toa's life is spent (and sometimes cut short) trying to make sure matoran are safe.

I am Nate-Dude | Wed, 09/23/2009

Nate-Dude

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