This is the 127th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Round and Round, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 6th April 2013
Word count: 1,000
“One day you’ll go too far with theses plots of yours, and I’ll have to execute you,” the the Queen said through the bars of a cell.
“Don’t you see? This is it,” the wiry man, dressed in fine robes from the other side of the bars. “Your reign is over, my brother will make himself king.”
“I’m sure he’ll make a fine king,” the Queen said, “Except my Kingdom has a Queen.”
“There’s no taking with you is there?”
“Reuben, did you expect different? You took my castle, you snuck men in under the promise of peace, and you took my castle. You didn’t take the kingdom, and so now you’re here to convince me give me up my rule, my authority, my reign,so that you can have my kingdom,” the Queen said sitting daintily down on a bench, as gracefully as if it were a throne.
“I’m here to argue for your life,” Reuben said, “You don’t have to die today. You can live, go into exile.”
“Where in a year or two a man will sneak into whatever home I manage to find and slit my throat,” the Queen said, “No, if you’re going to do this, let the people know you’ve done it. Do you think they’ll tolerate this?”
“Fine, but for the record I don’t want you to die,” Reuben said with genuine regret, “But I will convey your feelings to my brother.” He turned to walk away.
“If you don’t want me to die, open this door, help me get out, and I’ll rally my forces. I’ll give you and your brother fair chance to surrender, and I’ll offer you and those you vouch for exile,” the queen said.
Reuben kept on walking, and soon was out of the cell.
“So, she refused to stand aside?” Brendan, Reuben’s brother asked.
“I tried, she’d rather die,” Reuben said.
“Well of course we’ll arrange that. In exile would have been better, kinder even, but I don’t really care. Reuben, the kingdom is ours, as it always should have been,” the king said draping his arms round his brother’s shoulders.
“Sire,” a page said running into the room, his face blanched white.
“What is it?” the new King asked annoyed.
“The Queen, she’s escaped,” the page said, “Your captain of the guard is trying to find her. He said she must still be in the castle.”
Brendan looked at his brother, “Tell me you had nothing to do with this,” he said coldly.
“I would never betray you,” Reuben said, “You know…”
Reuben was interrupted by the dagger thrust into his torso. He gripped his brother’s shoulders, trying to hold himself up, and looked into his brother’s eyes, then he looked down at the hilt of the dagger in his brother’s hand.
“Sorry,” Brendan said, “You should have trusted me.”
Reuben’s grip gave way, and he sank to the floor.
Turning to the page who was backing away from the murder, “Tell the captain I want everyone searching, she must not be allowed to get out of the castle, we already have several hundred soldiers and knights out there who refuse to obey, without fear for the Queen we’ll be lost. Got it?”
The page nodded, and then ran off.
Brendan moved to the throne and sat down, and tried to brush off the blood from his hands, but it stubbornly refused to move, it just seemed to spread further. He looked down at his brother, the pool of blood around him had stopped growing, Brendan knew that meant he was dead.
Suddenly from outside the sound of steel on steel rent the air, and the throne room was suddenly filled with seven men in full armour, and their swords out, backing away from the door, but facing it.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Brendan demanded recognising his men.
One of the seven turned to face his leader, “Sire,” he bowed, “Knights have invaded the castle. We don’t know how they got in, five have escorted the Queen out, the others are cutting through your men.”
Brendan’s green eyes opened wide, he looked back at the rear exit to the throne room.
“Go sire,” the guard said, “We will hold them here as long as we can.”
Brendan made a break for the door, but was checked by the sudden appearance of a knight in full armour. Brendan landed on the floor, and tried to clamber backwards, but the knight wielded his two handed sword and brought it down on the pretender King’s head.
The seven guards spun around to face the new interloper.
“Put those swords down,” the knight’s voice boomed, “It’s over.”
The one on the furthest left was the first to lower his weapon, then the two nearest him did the same, and then the rest.
Knights suddenly filled the door behind him, and grabbed them, hauling them off out of the room.
“Send word to the Queen, the castle is safe, the throne is hers again,” the knight said to one of the other knights by the door.
An hour later the Queen entered the throne room. She looked down at the body of Reuben, “Such a waste.”
“Your highness?” the knight asked.
“He was a good man, too easily led by his brother, but otherwise a good man,” she said. The Queen walked back to the throne and sat herself upon it. “Sir Agar, take these two traitors away, behead them, and mount their heads outside of the castle.”
The knight clasped his closed fist to his chest, “As your Highness wishes.” He personally grabbed the two dead bodies by their feets and dragged them out of the room, leaving trails of blood.
“You there,” she said indicating a frightened looking page, “What’s your name?”
“Andrew, ma’am,” the page said.
“Fetch me something to drink,” she said, she knew it would be a long night putting the castle back right, and assuring her people that she was still in control. Then she would need to decide the fate of the brother’s supporters that were still alive, no easy task, some drink wouldn’t hurt.