Note sat inside her cowl as the warmer breezes from the sea sprang upon the shore where she stood of her homeland. Nothing was as she had thought it would be. Nothing was as she imagined nor hoped. She appraised her hands. Her nails were not long and feminine but stubby and her fingers were calloused from her sword though they still possessed some softness. Her crown felt heavy on her head somehow. She felt note peck her on the cheek in his own way telling her to cheer up. She smiled a smile with weary eyes near tears and a wan smile. she stroked note under his chinned beak the way he liked. He kept balance while she picked up something blobby and squishy and jiggly buried in the sand. Wincing at the sting it gave off despite her toughened hands, she drew back her arm he was not perched upon and
threw the object into the ocean, heaving it forward with silent determination. She did this again and again until a little area of the tide line looked churned up but devoid of its buried occupants. It was as if it was something she needed to do. She looked out at the waves rolling in. She contemplated all the lives that had become intertwined with hers, she let herself close her eyes in comfort of the sea’s familiar melody, always the same and let her hands down in the frigid surf cleansing her hands as her boots got soaked, feeling the water dance and pull away. She enjoyed the sanctimonious moments. She was completely alone. There was no danger. Just song of nature, comfort, dance and healing. She sighed a relieved sigh releasing the heaviness of her heart and absorbing beauty, allowing herself to be absolved in the vastness’s protective spherical arms with no thought whatsoever, just attentiveness of the rare calm around her. She was so weary of being untrusted. Here, nature not only trusted but guarded her. She was so tired of the men she had come to love and who had so briefly loved her. None of them stayed. Many times had she asked herself improvements on her own character or reasoned they were not ready or not the one. She longed for something she did not know the taste of but hoped it existed all the same, as time escaped her till it seemed all she would ever taste in romance was its bitter brevity whilst everyone she had ever known knew its longevity.
Tristinia drempt but her dreams seemed so real as if she were living them. She felt the darkness and emptiness. She braced herself against the oncoming enemy as they smacked into her shield driving her back inch by inch only to disappear. She pressed onward, straining through them. As if willing herself to dance, she glanced out of their way at the last second, dancing like water slicing the enemy with the edges of her shield and whirling her sword. When would this nightmare be over? Would there be any quiet in her life? Age’s claws seemed to pull her back and down, no matter how she hacked. She sat up, gasping and in cold sweat in the forest, still and peaceful. She. She was the being to keep this peace. This beauty. Far from friends and close to the foe inside and out. She looked to heaven with pleading and weary eyes.
Tristinia’s eyes fluttered open. It was light. She did not know what day it was, nor how long of it she had slept. Her appetite had left her. She had tasted lips, the sweetness of love, now all she felt was the wound in her back from the dagger he had plunged into her and soft river water washing it away. The sky was cloudless and cool. No longer summer, the bite of the cold went deeper into her bones even though it was still daylight. She shivered. Her hands were blue and red from cold and matted with blood. She wondered if she wanted to let the cold take her away from the world.
She breathed a heavy breath, sending steamy fog into the air from her nostrils. Frost had condensed on her nostrils. She stiffly rolled over crying out as she did. She slowly and stiffly reached down to her side. Amidst her ragged breathing, she was relieved. She still had her sword. She rebuked her anger and kept it in check, tasting bitter things upon her heart. She screamed. She screamed in pain, in agony and anger and loneliness, ache emptiness. She had truly loved him, let him see what no other man had seen. Now she never wanted to let any man see what he had had the privilege of knowing, not even him, knowing full well she would be haunted by knowing love that had been showered on her with kisses and warm embrace. Now, the cold sought to crush her in its own embrace. With tears steaming down her pale pale face, she unsheathed her sword.
Crying ragged sobs of loneliness and grunting with pain in her exertion, she slid the sword out of its scabbard and put it in front of her. Hoisting herself up, using it as a lever, she got to her knees. Cold and dampness caressed her spine and skull with freezing fingers. Tristinia shoved the sword into the earth, placed both hands, one on either side of the hilt and with all her strength, stood. The wound in her felt like heat and cold all at once and she screamed out as more hot tears ran down her cheeks even though her heart felt frozen. In the quiet expanse some startled quail birds fluttered from their hiding place. Sodden but not about to undress herself to the elements or any other eyes watching, she used her sword as a walking stick, walking stiffly and cold into the forest nearby to look for some wood. She tried to gather up branches but fell several times, nearly cutting herself on her own sword.
She crawled around on all fours, sweeping the sticks and stones she found nearby on the forest floor into a pile and put the rocks around it. Striking a flint, the tinder yielded to a small curl of smoke. Weary eyed and desperate and concentrated, she willed the flame with her hope and gentle, ever so gentle breath, trying to keep patience, fire! She blinked a relieved blink. She was wounded, cold and wet but she would soon have warmth. Her teeth chattered and she yawned. her hands shook but the small flame grew and spread and warmth with its friendly nature calmed her fingertips, up into her palms and her cheeks. She cried silently in relief. she gathered more branches, hacking some off trees nearby and though her back and side ached and needed tending and care, she first needed fire for warmth. soon the fire was larger and it smiled as it worked its way through the dampened clothing, drying away the cruelty, the wet, the cold deeper and deeper into her chest and legs and arms and head.
She smiled a tearful grateful smile at the fire and thanked the Deity as tears of rejection poured down her face. She hated being alone. Being now someone with a secret. She had not gone all the way but had known wonders and pleasure, and given pleasure and love in return. She looked around at the icicles hanging from the trees and thought how her dreams like icicles had shattered and melted like the ice and snow. Her muscles and bones were beginning to age. She was not the young fiery warrioress she used to be. Days and years had gone by. She was now a myth just like the others that were disappearing from the world that was changing to a new and rotten and unbelieving, unimaginative age she did not wish to live in and found no part.
Now on top of everything, the man she had started to get to know and love had declared her a liar, a cheat, and did not even bother to find out the truth of who she was. Tears melted from the fire’s warmth. Her eyes stared into the flames in the gathering dusk flooded with tears and halls of beautiful precious memories. Tired and hungry, she took off her clothing and placed it a safe distance from any stray spark. She took her two looking glasses to check her wound. It wasn’t as deep as it felt. The dagger had just scraped her.
Not being able to stitch it as it was on her back, she took up her sword, kneeling, taking several deep preparing breathes as she dipped her sword blade in the fire for just long enough to get it very hot swung it around her shoulder and pressed the flat of the hot blade against her back. She let out the scream like that of a wildcat or an eagle, but kept the blade firm as she fell, placing it back on there. Her naked skin burned and boiled blood and singed but the heat would cleanse it. Fortunately no puss. she fell back in the snow, shocking herself again, the breath driven from her. She scrambled back to the fire and repeated the action several times. She pulled the other clean outfit she had taken from her wet satchel to put on, including a cloak, nice and warm.
She hadn’t the strength to find food at the moment, though her belly rumbled with hunger. She huddled as near as she dared to the fire to sleep for a while. Her dozy eyes dry and soul weary and lonesome followed sleepily the dance of the element that was keeping her alive as she melted like the snow into unconsciousness once again in the vastness alone with no family, no friends, and now no love except the mercy of the fire keeping her warm. Her dreams and hopes drifted like the smoke to the night sky to somewhere above where maybe the Deity would still grant some beautiful longer lasting things she could not right now imagine, feel or know.
Over the following days, Tristinia regained strength. The night was warm next to the fire, but her heart felt a roil. Her dreams were plagued. She recalled the sweetness of her name upon his lips, the gentleness of his tongue, the comfort of his arms as he held her. Visions flashed and danced through her dreams, never truly touching her, mocking her, not staying, no matter how she cried and groped to hold on. The warmth of such and the fire keeping her body from the winter tortured her poor heart. Yet she had no one to blame. And yet love was not a mistake. The morning chill awoke her as the fire had died. The words “you are my queen.” echoed in her lonely soul. For a moment, she had truly been a queen. Not a self proclaimed queen. Not a queen of royal blood or birthright, but what she had hoped and desired most, a queen of the heart of someone special and to have a king who had professed at least she was unlike any woman he had known.
She crawled that day to back to the river and caught some fish. The blood of women was with her so after that, she only found the strength to go back to camp, hang the fish, gather close by branches and keep the fire going. For several days she stayed there, recollecting, reflecting, resting, eating, keeping the fire. In a daze, she just sat watching the fire, not caring whether she lived nor died out here. How could her head and shoulders feel so heavy now that she was crown-less, a nobody. She had coin in her purse from her ancestry and faraway relatives, but her hopes and prayers for the reuniting of her tribe had been dashed. Time had taken so much. And time would only take more. For a brief time, time had given her itself and love and knowledge and something precious, but a monster she, the dragon fighter, the conqueror of evil, a warrioress could not defeat had taken residence in the heart of her king whom she desired, adored and loved and longed to serve.
She imagined going back to the bridge she had narrowly escaped from as he had put it to flame. Her resigned and lonely heart, used to being a lone wanderer as now she had become prayed to the Diety not knowing what lay ahead but prayed her king would somehow someday come back to her. She had given a precious gift and gifts, she had been raised, were never demanded return. For a long time the third day or so, she stared at where she had come from in the wan warmth of the winter sun through the trees, heavy-hearted with grief and ache, she realized she could not sit here. She could not love the monster her beloved had taken in. She cried in the forest alone with only the trees as witness of her curled up into a ball praying healing words that hung on the frosty air like fog. “All I have dreamed has come to ruin and all I hoped for goes un-promised or is snatched. Tristinia cried to the Deity she had known.
“Why had she been born? Born to this life, if one could call it life, to people around her who did not change and to whom she made or did not see that she made any difference, so why had she been born? Why had she been born who she was?”
Someone else may have decided to take back their own life and end existence and yet she was cursed it felt though people called the gifts she had blessings, the will to fight, to be a sword, justice, gentleness, kindness? her back hurt, her heart ached beyond imagination and the one who had felt her pain and known her heart’s sweetness could now not feel her. She was alone in the snow and the woods in a land somewhere where she was not a queen, she had no one around who really took time to know her.
Breathing deeply, she rose and gathered her things, putting the fire out and trying her best to snuff her heart’s flame, she stepped onward through the trees into the unknown and alone, like she was used to, not knowing when she might leave this lonesome life, if spring would ever come or she would know longer summers and springs. Knowing she did not want to know or be touched again but by her king if he would ever come again for her and maybe just maybe time wouldn’t be so cruel to her in the future. She longed for her home she had been promised by those whose faith seemed surer than her own of the truth of a home where time did not exist and existence was with the Kind and Wonderful Deity full of things she could not even imagine so wonderful. That at least gave her steps some strength as she journeyed on to find a town where she might find a little place for herself to work and have a roof over her head and live simply and contentedly. No kingdom, no tribe, no king. Be a no body. Cold air filled her lungs as she breathed in and trod on.
Tristinia had come upon a small village and in the week following found shelter in the upper room of a two story building. She sat listlessly, alone on the meager furnishing. Her eyes were glazed dully and glassy fixated on travelling to moments she wished to hold on to and from those hungry and tired windows welled up tears fell unbidden down her lovely though weary countenance. The sounds outside her dwelling changed hour after hour. Hustle bustle of the town folk in the streets below selling goods or calling out to a familiar face, making her aware painfully of the familiar face she longed to see. The daylight slipped away, as did the noises of life, as evening, like the snow, fell to blanket emotion in darkness. Tristinia rose from her seat, deciding a walk might do her some good. She donned her forest green velvet cape around her and descended the walnut marbled steps. Reaching the bottom, she turned to head toward the forest. She stopped in shock. Her king was running from the woods in full haste at the town, alone. No crown donned his head except his lengthy wheat-gold locks. She froze, rooted to the spot, unsure whether to run to him or from him. Trembling, she stayed. He advanced up the road, walking to her with an apprehensive look upon his face, gentle. As they spoke, she saw beyond her own painful perspective and fear and assumption and saw that he was as well. Her heart doubled over within her at how much pain she had caused him. Her eyes squeezed shut. She had no words. She covered her mouth with her hands, afraid of the power of her voice and not wanting whatever monster had sought to come between them get hold of her tongue, even though she wanted to let out all the emotion, embrace him, kiss him, all she could do was stand there and feel awful, crushed in her own desire’s wooden, icy, perilizing grip. She saw him take a step forward. He put his arms round her and her heart blossomed and warmed to be in his embrace. The wood, the fear, the paralyzation melted away. She moved her hands from her face to round to his back and let the warmth of her soul entwine with his. No man had ever come for her, chased her. She had never felt so special. That night, the fire crackled in the hearth as she held him gently close to her, her heart crying tears like a fountain and her silent heart, breaking the dam like water, longing with gratitude to hold him so tight, to squeeze him, to let him know how wonderful a king she had beside her.