In This Nightmare

I looked at her with an raised eyebrow.
"And if I don't let you go?" She starred back, furious.
"You will die." I laughed, before my eyes became serious.
"No. You will." I was glad I just had the knife sharpened. It would have been a lot messier to cut her throat with a dull one.

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12. Chapter eleven (Cairistíne)

It was getting late, when I came back to my quarters. The ball had taken more time than I could effort and I knew I would have to spend the next three days trying to catch up on everything. I was not suited for this kind of position, I had made out quite quickly. I was exhausted and angry, tired, pissed off and confused and I just wanted to lock myself up again. The real world was a horrible place, and I really saw no reason to be fighting for a people, that did not fight for me. At least it never seemed like it did. More badly than I had ever wanted anything, except maybe part my brothers head from his body, was to just run of and get eaten by wolves. Or something like that. But I knew that that was never going to happen. Because the next in line would be Vasilios and I could never leave anyone in his care. 

I yawned and rang for a maid. I had things to do before I went to bed, but it was beyond my mental capacity at the moment. Everything circled in depressed and stressed thoughts and I found it still harder to get out of bed every morning. 
But I did. God have mercy on my soul when I died, but at least I didn't die without a fight.

"Thank God you came, Lorrende!" I said and smiled at the ladies maid that entered the room, just as my body failed in standing up and I collapsed on the armchair in front of the fire. 

"I am sorry, your majesty, but I am afraid I am not bringing you any good news. There is a meeting in the great hall. They are waiting for you," she said with a sad expression, because she had gotten to know me well enough to see, that I was in no mood for battling noblemen. "It did not sound good," she quickly added, figuring that the importance of the meeting might be the only thing that would make me follow her. 
I sighed painfully before quickly rising from the chair and dusting off my dress.

"Did they say what is so urgent that they need holding nightly meetings?" I asked. She shook her head, and looked down in the ground. 

"I do not know, your majesty." I took a deep breath and send her a smile.

"Thank you, Lorrende, I will be needing help with the dress, when I get back. I would be delighted, if you would help me," I said, which was a nice way of saying: 'please let it be you'. Then I walked to the great hall, determined to make this a short meeting. I had had a bit too much wine to keep my head clear for another round of ethics.

 

The great hall was not that great after all. I think my ancestors had named it that because of the greatness that the descisions in the room had, and not by the look of it. It was a smaller room with a huge table with maps and soldiers all over it, and an army of chairs surrounding it. But that was about it. No glory, just a wooden table and some chairs.

My father had once told me that even in the most nondelicate looking places extraodinary choices was made, and the possibility of saving mankind was to be found just as likely in the homes of the poor as in a room covered in gold and silver. If not more likely. Because it was in the simpleminded people you found the bigger greatness, that could change the lives of millions to the better, if only you knew how to convey that greatness.

I never quite understood what he meant, but I did feel as if thinking was a lot easier, when there was nothing more than what needed be in the room. So maybe he was right after all.

"Your majesty, at last. How delightful it is to see you." I had barey closed the door behind me, before I was met with a storm of greetings from the men in the room. Surprisingly, or I say surprise, there was no other women present in the counsil. They simply did not think we were able to think. Oh, how wrong they were. I smiled at them and told them to join me at the table.

"I understand you had important matters we needed to discuss," I said with a calm voice, marely stating what I knew, in the hope they'd get down to buiness quickly. 

"Yes, my Queen, three matters to be precise." 

If possible my mood dropped even further.

"Speak forward," I demanded. One of the men in the back of the room, a duke from up north, cleared his throat.

"One of my knights, Sir Barameus, has dissapeared. There's no sign of him anywhere. He was supposed to attend this ball alongside his brother." I nodded. 

"Send men out looking for him. Maybe he is just lost in the woods." The duke did not seem happy.

"That is not all, your majesty."

"What is, then?" I asked him, loosing my patience.

"He was last seen in the area around your brothers castle." I blinked a couple of times and locked eyes with the duke. Did he know? And in that case, what did he know? Could he help me defy my brother?

"Ah, well send out men looking for him there, and send word for my brother and ask him, if he has seen or heard anything." The duke orbeyed my order without hesistation. 

"What is next?" The room was quiet for a whhile. It was a unpleasant silence, one that promised death in it's wake. Finally a squire, sent from his master, the count of the southern borderarea, stepped forward.

"His lordship sends his appologizes to her majesty, as he could not himself be present," the squire spoke quickly, clearly reciting what he was told. "But there is an uprising in our area, men are fleeing, wolfs has begun to cross the border and there are fight in the streets of every town. His lordship humbly ask the Queen to send him more troups, so that this madness can come to an end."

I closed my eyes for a second and took a deep breath. This was what I had trained for, wasn't it. So why were I this scared?

"Troups you will get, but in this situation, it is important to see where the problem has started, fix it before everything else. We will stop the uprising by making an effort to solve the problem, in a way we can all agree is fair. What are they fighting about?"

Noone answered. I stood up qucikly and walked towards the squire. 

"Where are you from, young man?" I asked him, and smiled at him, calming my voice and putting a hand on his shoulder.

"Blackwater," he muttered did not dare to look at me. I nodded. Blackwater was a small village under the counts rule.

"You know the people in this area," I told him. "You are one of them. You know how they think. What would they fight about? What is it, that we do so poorly, that they need to get our attention to make things better?" Even now he didn't look up. "I cannot help them, if I don't  know, what is causing the trouble."

"It...It's you...your ma...majesty," the boy studdered. "Th..they want your brother on...on the thr...throne." My face became a mask of steel, but I did not say anything yet. The boy wasn't finished.  "They believe the failed harvest is a curse from the gods, because of a female regent." 

The harvest. Of course. I should have thought of that. I went back to my seat and stood behind it.

"The people are starving, of course they start to fight. They are fighting for our lives, and so should we fight for theirs. We do not kill innocents in this kingdom. The count will have his men, but there will be no blood. Instead, the men will help rebuild was has been destroyed in the fights and we will trade with the richer noblemen in the north, that has corn enough to make a living for hundreds. It will not be easy, but we will help them, not fight. That is my final say in that matter." I sat down again and looked around, awaiting someone to stand up against me. Noone did. Not before my royal doctor and loyal friend, lord Thoumas.

"That leads us to the third matter, my dear Cairistíne. Uprisings will happen and people will try to take away your throne until the day your reign is secured." 

I knew what was coming even before he said it. 

"You need to produce an heir, and that fast."

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