A Thousand Lives

Lady Ysmay Payne was best friend to the murdered Queen. Now that there is no one else, she has had to step up and take the position. The only way that she will make it to her coronation however, is if she can survive the attacks that come beforehand.

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3. Caves

"What do you mean by 'since you came to the throne’, wouldn't you know?" asked Fendrel. Letholdus just looked confused.

 

"Um.." I replied. Since I didn't know how to answer that question, I asked my own. “Could it be that I am somehow in another time frame?”

 

Nawat shifted uncomfortable and moved sideways closer to Fendrel, away from me. “It’s possible,” he admitted.

 

"Bad things," muttered Fendrel at the same time. "Bad things." I knew that he was religious but I hadn’t known he was this devout.

 

"When you were crowned we were all looking for that person who would be the assassin and so we weren't looking in the food and drink. You went to sleep that day and when we tried to find you in the morning, we ended up breaking into your rooms to see someone trying to take you out of the window. It was annoying to say the least when we had gone to all those efforts." Fendrel started.

 

Letholdus decided to continue the tale. "Problem was that you were halfway through your pregnancy with Jyson at the time and we weren't sure how the poison, which turned out to be sedatives would react with your body, especially concerning Jyson and so we had you in bed rest in the infirmary." His eyes were sorrowful and it looked as though he was trying to hold back tears at this point in time. At once I was sorry for what I must have done to him and his heart. With my free hand I reached up and stroked his cheek. Fendrel frowned at this and all I succeeded in doing was make Letholdus cry even more.

 

'When Jyson was born..." Letholdus stopped, unable to continue.

 

"You were in bad health, Ysmay. We were worried that you were going to die. But a week later you had managed to get better and you were up on your feet again. Yes we were all happy once more but now you seemed frail, like if we touched you, you would break."

 

Letholdus regained his courage and took over again. "Occasionally, when I managed to hold your hand, I missed and hit it harder than a gentle tap, then bruises would come up. It grew worse and three weeks after you gave birth to Jyson, you were back in the infirmary."

 

"No one knew how much you were in pain. You managed to hide it so well that it didn't look like it and it was only at the end that I overheard you telling Letholdus about it," Fendrel said. By this time, Mae had started to listen in and was crying as well, remembering what it must have been like to see me dying.

 

"We had healers from all over the kingdom try and work out what it was and how it happened. No one had answers. But suddenly, five weeks after it all started, it was gone. We came out to here to celebrate and give thanks to the gods when we were attacked. Somehow I managed to escape with Jyson and Mae but you were caught and murdered right in front of our eyes." Letholdus said.

 

"This brings me to my question. How are you here now, and how do you not know all of that?” asked Fendrel.

 

"In my time frame, I haven't even come close to dying. Jyson isn’t born yet!" I explained now thoroughly confused. I didn’t know that something like this was possible, and for it to happen to me was just my luck.

 

Something stopped the two men from replying and they both started at me with huge, wide, worried eyes. Their faces filled with terror and yet Fendrel's still held something that was relief.

 

"Ysmay! Don't go!" Letholdus yelled at me.

 

I looked down at the rest of my and gasped. I was fading away, most likely to return to the world I knew. I watched as first my hand and then slowly as the rest of me started to disappeared into oblivion. Well, that explains where Fendrel's relief comes from, I mused in my head.

 

"What happened after I died? How did everything end up like this?" I asked rushed desperate to know the answer so that I could prevent it from happening.

 

"There was a rebellion the day you died. Everyone was forced out of the castle and the rebels took over the throne. Your body was burned!" Fendrel said quickly. I was nearly all gone now and I looked at this version of Letholdus and my family for hopefully the last time.

 

"I love you both!" I said to him and Mae. I passed Jyson over to Letholdus. "And him." I said with a fond smile.

 

With that, I disappeared to go back to where I came from.

 

~*~

 

I awoke to the healer’s hands resting on my arm and to small shocks trying to wake me. I shoved her away with a pushed to her arm and sat up with a groan. My whole body tingled now and my arm hurt slightly. I didn't mention it though as it was only going to cause trouble that I wasn't in the mood for.

 

"Why did you wake me up?" I asked, confused.

 

"You were crying, Ysmay, in your sleep," Hawise explained. "We thought that you might appreciate not having to cope with the nightmare." The shock of her calling me Ysmay only crossed my mind for a second before I snapped at her.

 

"And if it wasn't one?" I asked. That left them all stumped.

 

"But you were crying, your majesty," the healer asked.

 

"It was a bitter sweet dream," I replied and then looked away from the masses into my pillow. I had not been aware of the crying but the dream had enabled me to see how to change upcoming events.  They had also made me want to properly talk to Letholdus even more than before and of course my poor Mae with him. The whole group stayed much to my annoyance and I ended up ordering them out.

 

"Ysmay, you are in the infirmary and have just woken up from a 'bitter sweet dream'," I could tell that she didn't believe my words. "There is also the fact that you are our princess and will be the queen soon and it is our job to protect you!" Hawise tried to reason with me to allow them to stay watching me.

 

"Go away please!" I repeated, trying to beg with them.

 

"Someone should stay with you," Hawise tried to compromise and I frowned.

 

"She should not be talking!" the healer said and I frowned even more.

 

"Letholdus can stay. The rest of you don’t come in until tomorrow, I am tired from the attack," I snapped. Most of them opened their mouths to tell me off, thought the better of it and then obeyed and left the room. I was unable to stop a sigh from escaping my mouth and it was followed by a groan of pain as the sigh aggravated my sore throat.

 

He sat down beside me and looked anywhere other than at me. He still thought I was mad at him, and fair enough. I had changed my mind fairly fast, it only taking me roughly about four hours to forgive anything that had happened.

 

"Do you want to know what my dream was about?" I asked him softly.

 

"You shouldn't be talking your majesty," he said to me meeting my eyes once before looking away again. The perfect gesture of a Lord to his queen.

 

"You were in it," I continued, determined that he would know that I had forgave him and that I was still his.

 

"Please your majesty, you should not talk!" he insisted.

 

"And Mae," I said. Letholdus gave up trying to deter me and instead stopped talking and payed attention. It was his beloved daughters name Mae that really got his attention. "And an unborn child of ours, Jyson.” I paused to allow him to think about it. “What do you think? Do you want to know what my dream was all about and we will live in the hope that the knowledge will change the outcome of this war. Maybe tomorrow I will be show a dream of what this place is like when it is all done up and we have won. What an interesting idea.” Letholdus laughed and it turned into an awkward silence until he spoke.

 

"What are we Ysmay?" he asked me and I was truly unable to answer him. We had been happily married until I was poisoned...

 

"I don't know. Are we together again or are we going to remain living apart?" I asked him.

 

"It's wasn't my choice to move away from you," he reminded me. I nodded and then lifted my hand up to his face with a soft smile. Letholdus smiled back and I jumped only a little as the door was thrown open.

 

"We need to get out of here!" Tannin told the two of us. "Get Mae and meet us down at the trap door in the garden," he said. Letholdus and I both looked at each other confused until Fendrel burst into the room.

 

"The remaining rebels are trying a rebellion! Run!" he yelled at us and that was when we really moved. It was only halfway through the day, being a bright, crisp morning with no shadows and the look of impending rain. Even as we watched lightening went off in the very distance.

 

Letholdus and I ran to where Mae was waiting and grabbed her, still on the move. Whilst we were there Letholdus threw me a sword and gave me clothes to change into that wasn’t going to impend my movement as much as the heavy dress I was wearing would. Not that the dress had been my first preference of clothes to wear anyway.

 

All of the clothes were too big but they worked and with a piece of rope stayed up. my million and one daggers that I normally carried on my person, stayed in my rooms as there was no time left now to do anything other than run and as I was soon to be queen I was sure to be protected to the best of my guards abilities and in theory wouldn't need them.

 

Fendrel, Hawise, Tannin and the healer from before were waiting at the gate to go down into a secret tunnel from the stables that led out of the castle and into the surrounding forest. They all were already mounted and Hawise and Tannin had another horses reigns in their hands. I didn't bother raising my eyebrow, instead I took Mae's hand and lead her down into the dark of the tunnel without a torch. Two minutes later a torch was handed to me burning fiercely and I could hear the horses panicking at the dark enclosed space.

 

~*~

 

It was two hours until daylight the next day when it was safe to exit the tunnel and meet up with "others". We had been waiting in the end of the tunnel for three hours to wait for guards that were meant to be in allegiance to the throne and were prepared to go into hiding with us. I had been sitting in the middle of everyone along with Mae when it hit me as a sharp reality that Maerwynn was now the heir to the throne.

 

The others however had turned out to be the trusted few of the queens guard who were able to come with us all. Earlier in the year they had sworn a blood oath to protect the ruling monarch whilst they were able to serve before retiring. Some even then wanted to help and were willing to come in and help with reports and battle plans.

 

"Camp in the woods?" Fendrel asked us as the leaders of this little persecution.

 

'Is there another option?' he was question by Hawise.

 

'Get killed?' I suggested and everyone present frowned.

 

'Because that’s a good option.' Letholdus said sarcastically.

 

I looked up and saw the sunlight peeking through the branches of the tree above me and smiled. Even though I was entrapped in all of this misery, I was still able to see how striking the nature around me was. It was broken by the quickly growing noise of galloping hooves from horses.

 

“We need to move!” Fendrel yelled at us all and then got on his horse. After a second of pure shock we all followed and started galloping as well. The trees flew past and the bright blue sky progressively disappeared further and deeper into the forest we went.

 

The group followed Tannin out of the area and to somewhere less known. The down side of this was that there were no clear trails and we had to cut our way through, which ended up giving us many cuts and bruises and our enemies a possible trail to follow.

 

 

Mae was riding with me, afraid but brave at the same time, her hair starting to become loose from where it had been pulled back quickly yesterday and her dress that had been of a good make, torn and dirty. Her legs underneath showed a few scratches and I frowned. She hadn't even mentioned them.

 

'How much further?' I asked no one in particular, not for my sake but for Mae’s.

 

'You are cause of the rest of us being here! We all had the chance of going back to our families and not having anything to do with the next rebellion!' Fendrel snapped. I finally realised that tempers were frayed and that it was probably better if I stayed silent.

 

'Do you want me to take her?' Letholdus asked me and I thought about it before nodding yes.

 

'She is starting to fall asleep,” I warned him. “How are you going after your capture?” I asked quietly to not wake Mae up

 

“Slightly tired but all of the adrenaline running through me is keeping me awake,” he explained.

 

“Tell me when you are tired and I will take her,” I replied and then smiled bitter sweetly.

 

He smiled tiredly back and it lit up his whole tired face in a huge grin that only had the desired effect of making mine bigger.

 

Fendrel snorted at our lovey-dovey moment and somehow I managed to pass Mae onto Letholdus’ lap with onlookers glaring holes into my back.

 

'Tell me more about your dream, Ysmay, we were interrupted to the best of my memory,' he said with yet another grin.

 

'I thought we went off topic,' I argued back only for the sake of the argument but soon collapsed inwards.

 

'It was bad, Letholdus. You, Maerwynn and Jyson were there running away from the palace guards because they were out to persecute you and Fendrel as well. No one else was in my dream, but I am glad that they were not. It would have been very bad for me as Fendrel and your accusing glares were enough to deal with for the time I was forced to,”

 

Suddenly there was a sharp pain in my leg, causing me to scream and fall off the horse, some back area of my mind making sure that I wasn’t going to cause trauma for any others as I did so. The scream hurt my already sore throat and all of the group turned to face me and started searching for attackers.

 

“There aren't any attackers!” I informed them from my position on the ground.

 

“You can never be too sure,” Tannin said and I frowned at him.

 

“I was the one who screamed!” I reminded him. Thankfully, Fendrel had more sense.

 

“What happened then?” he asked.

 

“A snake reached up and bit me,” I said simply and fainted.

 

~*~

 

It was a while before I awoke again but before I opened my eyes I could hear the others debating if I should be taken to the healers as the one we had brought was incompetent with snake bites, being used to dealing with court injuries. Wondering what was going to be the lesser two evils.

 

Within minutes of opening my eyes the place around me started to spin and I admired its turning ability, although it did make me feel dizzy and ill. I raced out side in time to throw up in the closest bush and the men started to crowd around me until Hawise held them back.

 

“Can’t you see that she is having a reaction to the poison?!' she yelled at them. “We need a place to stay for a longer amount of time than just one night until this has all blown over and the queen is over the poison.” I laughed before I had to throw up again.

 

All throughout the rest of the day I alternated between throwing up and sleeping uncomfortably, so it was a huge relief to me when the person came back and said that he might have found a suitable cave. Just in case though Tannin and Fendrel followed him and looked over it themselves.

 

They returned two hours later and told us of the outcomes. It was unseen unless someone walked right up to the level it was at and there were things we could do to make the camouflage even better. Inside was a large area with a few smaller areas leading off it, similar to a house. When I was lead into the cave, I couldn’t help myself and gasped. It was huge!

 

Hawise lead me to a corner that had been set up to have my sleeping equipment  and I collapsed onto it, drawing Mae towards me for warmth even though she probably didn’t need it and was enjoying the cool from the heat of the day. I looked at Letholdus who was once more protective of me and he came over.

 

“Having fun?” he asked and I hit him playfully as hard as I could manage, which wasn’t that hard.

 

 

“I am bored,” I complained before getting him to help me outside to throw up.

 

“Aren’t you tired?” he asked.

 

“I’m bored mainly. My body is ill but my mind is still thinking normally. There is nothing to do!” I complained and then went into another area to go to sleep again.

 

Mae came over to me crying when I woke up two hours later. My heart went out to her as it always did and I couldn’t help but ask her what was wrong.

 

“You look very sick Mummy!” she told me.

 

“Yes, but that is why I am sleeping, to get better so I can play with you,” I replied and pulled her close to me. I was sitting up against a wall and before she came I had my knees pulled up against my chest. Now though I straightened my legs out. Letholdus came over to us and beamed. I grinned back and Maerwynn hugged him before looking up seriously.

 

“Daddy,” she said and before she continued she made sure that she had his whole attention. ‘Mummy is hurt.” I looked down to see the bite and raised an eyebrow at her in my confusion.

 

“Why didn't you tell me earlier?” Letholdus asked looking my bite over.

 

“Because I only noticed just then and I didn't tell Mummy because I didn’t want her said again. But now you’re here, you can make her happy,” Mae said and smiled sweetly. Letholdus tried to grin back and she believed the grimace.

 

“Can you go and tell Hawise what you told me and then can you go and play with Fendrel?” Letholdus asked earning a little chuckle from me because I knew that Fendrel wouldn’t appreciate playing with her. Mae happily went to do as he asked. Letholdus sat beside me and looked at my leg. The snake’s fangs hadn't penetrated far but it was bleeding enough to cause blood loss; and me being who I am, fainted.

 

 

~*~

 

When I next awoke it was in the middle of the night and everyone was asleep save for the few sentries on guard.  There was a pressure on my arm and I looked to see Letholdus there trying to sleep peacefully around a nightmare. He was tossing and turning and it was a wonder that he hadn't woken me up earlier on. I brought my other hand over and gently soothed his nightmares by pushing the hair away from his face. At my touch he woke up and gave me a huge grin when he saw I was awake.

 

“You’re safe,” he whispered softly, making sure that we weren’t noticed. “We were really worried.”

 

“Could you get me a drink?” I croaked at him, my throat rather sore. Letholdus nodded and went to get me one. It was interesting to watch as my husband went around the sentries to his bags and managed to get his wine skin before he was caught by none other than Fendrel himself.

 

'What are you doing, Letholdus?' he asked exasperated. I tried lifting myself up to get a view of them but I was took weak to do so and fell back onto the bed with a slight thud. I could see enough to tell that the two men hadn't noticed my attempt and I was encouraged to try again. I was halfway there, after taking many long pauses to gain my strength again, when I suddenly had difficulty breathing.

 

'Letholdus!' I called out in desperation, dizziness overcoming me like a hundred flies swarming around. He raced over with the wine skin and looked at me.

 

'What's wrong?' he asked worried. Fendrel had come with him and I tried to concentrate on not blacking out. This was becoming more and more difficult though and taking as much concentration as I had.

 

"She's going into shock. Get her feet above her head!" Fendrel snapped at Letholdus who hurried to do as he was ordered. I cried out from the pain of my leg and this caused Fendrel to change his orders.

 

"We are going to put you on your side, your majesty" he said. "Are you alright with that?" I nodded and tried to not make a noise as I was rolled on my side. Breathing became slightly easier but I was still having more trouble than I needed.

 

"I'm going to get the healer," Fendrel muttered and Letholdus nodded to him, watching me sadly.

 

"Can I have a drink?' I asked softly, nodding to the wine skin and Letholdus shook his head, no. I frowned and suddenly looked around in confusion.

 

"What are we doing here, Letholdus? Why aren't we home. it would be more comfortable,' I said and tried to role back over or sit up. My husband held me down and did his best to calm my frazzled nerves.

 

"There was an attack," he patiently explained. "We have to stay here a while."

 

"What's going on?" I asked. The whole camp was now up and moving about. Everyone was doing something aside from me and Letholdus. Hawise was cooking breakfast, the guards and Tannin looked like they were attempting to build something and Fendrel and the healer were walking over to me.

 

Cold hands were placed gently on my forehead and I flinched at the contact. I closed my eyes for a second out of tiredness but opened them when I heard Letholdus hissing my name.

 

"You have to stay awake, your highness," the healer told me and I looked up at him in confusion.

 

"What happened?" I asked him. The only feeling I was able to recognise at the moment was confusion at everything. I watched and felt a blanket laid over me. Suddenly I felt sick again.

 

"Letholdus, I feel sick," I managed to moan and I was sat up slowly. as soon as this happened though, my breathing became difficult again and I started to get anxious.

 

"What's happening?" I questioned whilst I was lead outside and then sat down again. I have no clue how I managed to walk the distance even with help.

 

"You said that you felt sick?' Letholdus asked. I nodded and threw up.

 

"Fell better now?" Letholdus asked me and I nodded. The movement made my head spin and I placed my palm on my forehead.

 

"I now feel light headed," I told him and he sighed purely out of annoyance because I was sick again.

 

"You don't love me anymore!' I accused in my not all there mentally state and stood up to walk away before collapsing, I was that week. Letholdus managed to lean forwards and catch me before I hit the ground hard and caused more damage.

 

"Just reassure her that you aren't going to leave and agree to everything she says!" Fendrel told my husband who nodded.

 

Fendrel watched as my husband carried me over to my makeshift be and settled me in again. Once more I was rolled onto my side to make my breathing easier. When this all was done, the people moved away to give Letholdus and I some privacy although the healer still lurked nearby. Too nearby for my comfort and I pulled Letholdus' collar so that he was up against my face, our noses touching. He looked as exhausted as I felt. It had been non stop from the word go and it was catching up to us both. The funny  thing was that it had only strengthened our love. .

 

"Ysmay, I will never leave you." I opened my mouth to talk but he continued over the top of me. "And if I do, it isn't me," Letholdus told me. I smiled at the second part and calmed down. Now that my breathing was easier, I found it less of a chore to pay full attention to what was happening around me.

 

Then the healer got close.

 

I moved away slightly and then drifted off into unconsciousness yet again.

 

~*~

 

I watched the next morning, or so I assumed as the shadows were long, the whole group who traveled with us, argue in front of me. Mae stood with Letholdus crying.

 

"Maerwynn!" I called out to her softly hoping the others wouldn't hear, and after three tries she heard me. I beckoned her over and asked her what was wrong and what the group were arguing over.

 

"They are saying that you will die," she said to me sobbing. My heart broke in two. Even if you do feel that way, why would you share it with a little girl? She doesn't know that there is a chance of me surviving. She thinks that everything that you say is set in stone!

 

"Well they are silly," I told her and then moved over to the other side of my "bed". "Lie own next to me," I said and she did. Maerwynn cried for another five minutes before dropping off to sleep.

 

Twenty minutes after that, when I was about to fall asleep, Letholdus started searching for our daughter. I looked over at him tiredly and he gave a comforting smile. I managed to see through to his eyes and saw the pain that he held inside.

 

"The healer has been saying that if we don't find a healer for you who knows how to make the antidote then you will die," Letholdus whispered. Normally I would feel sorry for him and try to help in any little way I could to solve this but even I had reached the height of frustration even through I had been asleep most of the time. I snapped.

 

"And you let Maerwynn listen in on the conversation?" I asked him angry. "She is too young! Uou need to keep her away from these things! When I spoke to her, she was hysterical and sobbed herself to sleep!" I hissed at him. To my surprise, Letholdus hung his head in shame and then looked at Mae. With a tender hand he reached over and brushed her hair away from her face.

 

"I am truly sorry for upsetting her, Ysmay," he said and glanced back up at me, trying to gauge my reaction. I huffed and looked away, not ready to forgive him just yet. After a little while though a grin slipped through and Letholdus brushed the hair from my eyes.

 

"Sleep now, Ysmay. I am here," he whispered and laid down behind me. It wasn't long before I relaxed and went to the same place that Mae was in.

 

~*~

 

Hours turned into days and days turned into weeks. A healer was unable to be found for me and even though I had survived, I had a slight paralysis in my right leg where I had bitten, that ensured me with a limp for the rest of my life and made sure that I didn't do any fencing. I hadn't done it in a long time but it left me without a self defense mechanism. It was my choice to pick up the bow again once I was back in the palace. Not only would it give me a chance of protecting myself but gave me something to perfect in my spare time if I had any.

 

It was a happy content group, most of the time, and we all managed to adapt to the odd habits that some people had. Everything seemed normal until one day. I was sitting there watching the group, still too week to do anything when I saw Hawise and Fendrel kissing. It was something that I never expected to see and in a way hoped that I never would again.

 

We set about, everyone except me as I was still too weak, in perfecting the tiny rooms in the cave. The men dug out the holes so that they offered enough room to stand in and were wide enough to have been a very small bedroom. They also cut it so the beds were already there as part of the rock walls. In each room, torch brackets were cut out and light flooded the cavern for the first time. Outside was a ledge in the middle of the cliff and we had put small sections of tree trunks to create seats and small tables, leaving us with a gathering area. In the middle was a fireplace that Hawise cooked meals over as she was the only one with a little bit of talent to cook. As soon as I was able to hobble around, I fashioned a make shift broom from branches that had blown in and tried to get as much dust out of the rooms as I could. Mae helped me by taking the larger things out and putting them outside. The animals that we had killed for our meals were skinned and  cleaned. The hides were then sewn together to make cloth doors to each room and a huge front door.

 

The next job that Mae and I were able to complete was gathering pine needles to make the beds soft. The only down side to this job was that I was only able to go out if I had a guard and if we took it slow. This annoyed me to no end and I complained constantly to Letholdus. He would always take it with a smile and a laugh.

 

"Did you ask for a guard to accompany me every time?" I asked him as it was his turn to be with me and Mae.

 

"No?" he asked hesitating enough to let me know that he purposely lied at me. I sighed in return and moved into his embrace.

 

"Why?" I asked him.

 

"To keep you safe," he responded and I looked up a him. "You aren't only my princess any more Ysmay, you will soon be everyone's queen!" I pulled a face and looked around for Mae. After a couple of seconds searching I was starting to get anxious.

 

"Maerwynn?!" I called, worried. Letholdus, upon hearing what I had yelled stood up straight from the tree he had been leaning on enjoying the sun on his face and started to look around as well. We walked over to the trees and around a few before he looked at me with worry.

 

"Ysmay, go back to where everyone else is and tell them what happened, I will keep searching for Maerwynn," he said.

 

"But...' I started to protest, but was cut off.

 

"Go!" he yelled and I ran to do his bidding.

 

It wasn't long before I reached where everyone else was working and when they saw me, most of the guards just nodded and continued with whatever they were doing. Although Hawise and Fendrel froze at the sight of me.

 

"What's wrong?" Tannin asked them when he saw their facial expressions. They motioned to me and he still didn't understand.

 

"You aren't due back for another two hours!" Fendrel said at the same time.

 

"Where are Letholdus and Maerwynn?" Hawise asked, half not daring say the words, fearing the answer.

 

I was frozen to the spot. The rest of the guards were now talking all at the same time and I tried my hardest to block it out. Hawise realised this and yelled for silence. As soon as she realised that the order wasn't going to be followed, she lead me to a room that actually already had pine needles on the bed and she sat me down. I looked up at her with wide eyes, lost in the midst of it all.

 

"Mae went missing," I told her. She paused for a moment before swearing once and disappearing outside.

 

I leaned forwards and placed my head in my hands, crying softly. In a way I felt as though I had failed my own daughter and my duty to protect her. The second time I had done something like that. I winced and leaned back again. My back went against the wall and I curled up into myself and then started banging my head against the rock slightly.

 

"Ysmay, stop your nonsense. Everyone loses a child every now and then," Hawise said to me coming back into the room.

 

"But Maerwynn is special!" I argued and hung my head low in shame of my actions.

 

"Every woman thinks that their child is special," Hawise let me know softly. She pulled me into a comforting hug and sighed.

 

"Yes, but she is next line for the throne!" I snapped back, now losing my temper because of my growing fear.

 

"Oh." Hawise was stumped at this and she too rested her head against the wall but didn't bang it at all.

 

"That's bad,' she commented at last before she left and told Fendrel of the realisation.

 

~*~

 

One of the guards helped me into the room where I was meant to be sleeping. The bed cut from the rock was larger than the others for both Letholdus and I, and there was another bed on the opposite side for the room for Mae. When I saw her bed I burst into tears again. I stayed there for a little while just looking before I realised that if they managed to find Mae there was immense odds that she would be injured. Because I also needed something to keep my hands busy I went and collected Letholdus, Mae and my bed roll from the main room.

 

It was a hard task considering my weakness and partial lameness and I managed it all in half an hour. Then, with nothing to do, I went outside and talked to my faithful horse that head been neglected in all of this time.

 

He snorted at me and at first refused to even acknowledge my presence, even though I held an apple that had been found earlier on in the day.

 

After a lot of bribing, he allowed me to scratch his neck and I told him all of my problems whilst I did. He probably didn't appreciate it though.

 

"... and now I have lost Maerwynn, which is the worst thing that could have and has happened so far this year." By this time tears were streaming down my face.

 

"Well it is good then that we managed to get her back,' said a voice behind me and I turned towards it. Once I saw Letholdus I ran up to him and collapsed into his arms. He smiled and pulled me even closer. I grinned at him back.

 

"Where did you find her?" I asked him.

 

"A man had captured her whilst we had been talking and was halfway back to the local village before we were able to catch up. It was rather impressive really," he said and I looked up at his face.

 

"I'm sure it was," I said back with a smile and then I noticed the cut on his cheek. "What happened next?" I asked, trying to keep my voice light so that he wouldn't suspected a thing. I pulled him closer to me trying to detect if there were any other injuries that I needed to know about. He grinned almost as though he knew what I had done and continued.

 

"We over powered the man and took Maerwynn back," he said then growled. It was such an unexpected noise coming from my husband that I jumped in his arms.

 

"What happened really?' I asked.

 

"He wanted her, Ysmay. He was going to sell her as a slave for another person!' he said.

 

"I am going to murder him!" I growled back and started to move towards the direction of the forest. Letholdus grabbed me around the waist and held me close.

 

"He is already dead. As soon as I learnt what he had was planning to do, I went crazy and killed him,' he whispered, almost ashamed of his actions but ready to repeat them if the opportunity arose. I grinned a maniacal grin and believed him.

 

"How much did you get hurt?" I asked worried.

 

"Not at all!" he said and puffed out his chest proudly.

 

"Except for that one scratch on your cheek," I told him and kissed it.

 

"I got that coming home!" he protested and I laughed.

 

"My brave warrior," I said to him and he decided that a blush wouldn't hurt him so he did. I smiled in reply.

 

"But she is back, Ysmay!" he said joyously to me and I nodded. "Promise me one thing though,' he started. His expression turned serious and he looked at me straight in the eye.

 

"Depends," I replied.

 

"Never come into a fight with me ever again," he whispered and I promised. There was no choice but for me to accept as now that I was royalty and injured as well, there was no chance that I would even be allowed to get close to a battle, unless it was of the wits. As soon as I promised this we both went inside to see how Mae was.

 

"Fine," she replied to us all, with her two broken bones amongst other things.

 

That night was long and I was often awake during it as I had nightmares, Letholdus did as well, but I always managed to sooth them. Maerwynn woke up often from the pain and tried to crawl in to our bed for comfort. Often Letholdus was awake and the three of us would sit there until she fell asleep again.

 

Once, she tried whilst Letholdus was asleep and I led her back over to her bed and sat there with her on my lap. I sung a song to her softly to get her to sleep.

 

Found a girl down in the town of my life

Accepted me for who I was and who I am

Watched with me as the trees swayed in the breeze

 

And the trees grew old as we watched then grow

And the grass grew longer as we watched them grow

There was a gentle melody through those trees

That saw my heart leave me

 

By the time I had finished, she was asleep again. I tried moving to get her off my lap and laying down again but she protested. I sighed and assured my self to a night with no sleep at all.

 

~*~

 

Morning appeared with cold drizzling rain and a day that looked as though it could get no worse. Mae woke up again crying and I groaned before standing up from my spot in the middle of the floor and went over to her.

 

"It hurts, Mummy!" she cried and I rocked her slowly.

 

"I know dear, and I am so sorry," I said to her and looked up as I heard Letholdus start to wake up.

 

"Go back to sleep dear, nothing's happening," I told him and then turned my attention back to Mae. I was paying so much attention to her that by the time she was calm enough for me to look up again, the healer was in front of me and Letholdus fully dressed. Unwillingly, I passed over my beloved daughter.

 

She was moved over to her bed and the healer reached into his bag of herbs. I was shoved out of the room still wearing my undergarments and wasn't to be allowed in for the rest of the day. My worry preceded my modesty though and I never wanted to go in unless it was to check on my daughter.

 

I was planning to stand at the door and wait for everyone to come out who would, but having nearly no sleep the whole night had robbed me of this ability so I sat just outside the door and accidentally fell asleep.

 

I woke up again when someone lifted me up and took me into another room. My first thought was to create a large fuss, but then I recognised Letholdus' arms. I snuggled back in and protested when he started to set me down again.

 

"How long were you awake last night?" he asked me.

 

"If I got more than a quarter of an hours sleep I would be surprised," I muttered with my eyes still closed. Once again Letholdus tried to let go of me but I held onto his shirt tightly.

 

"Am I allowed to leave?" he ended up asking after we had repeated the process approximately ten times.

 

"Nope!" I said and opened my eyes again. I was awake now and it would be a little while before I collapsed of exhaustion. Letholdus gave one of his grins that I love and started tickling me. I laughed joyfully and tried to get away.

 

"Evil!" I cried.

 

"If you are going to do that sort of activity, can you wait until the two of you are back in your rooms? I really don't want that on my bed!" a voice said from the "door".

 

"I wasn't planning on doing that, but thanks for the idea!" Letholdus called back cheerful and the door was flung aside and Hawise raced in. She pulled a face once she saw that both of us were still dressed and nothing really had gone on between us. Letholdus saw her come in and started kissing me fully and I went into it, knowing what he was going to annoy Hawise.

 

The woman in question raced over and literally pulled Letholdus away from me.

 

"She needs sleep, not canoodling, that comes later," Hawise said and shoved Letholdus out of the door.

 

"You and Fendrel?" I asked.

 

"I never should have let you borrow my bed to sleep on," Hawise muttered in reply.

 

"Thank you for that," I said, totally serious now that the fun was over.

 

"Not a problem, Ysmay. You looked half dead from lack of sleep and when you went along with everything we did for you instead of arguing, I knew that you needed more sleep."

 

I grinned at her and then lay down and stared at the roof. Within two seconds I was asleep.

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