Go To Chapter 9
Monday, July 6, 2015
Mirror of Dreams - Chapter 8
“Are there musicians in this Kingdom?” I asked because even at parties thrown by the Royal Lords in my honor, there'd only been harp players. I had asked this before, but hadn't really gotten a straight answer.
No one answered. I looked around in astonishment. I am not sure my room had ever been empty when I returned before. Judging by the sunlight coming through the window, it was still morning, so somebody should be here.
Shrugging, I decided to go looking for them. The funny thing was that I was still wearing the red dress that Lady Leeza had made for me a long time ago. My hair had even been styled beautifully so that I could see how it would look with the wedding dresses. Usually, I came here after a shower and was naked with wet hair.
As I got closer to the dining hall, where I figured I'd find Lords Gregory and Antony at the very least, I heard loud arguing.
“No matter what, it's clear to me that we do not guard her well enough!” Lord Gregory yelled. “Care to explain this, Sir Barrett?!”
“I have failed in my duty,” Sir Barrett stated heavily, sounding as if he expected to be executed.
“Don't just blame Sir Barrett!” Nathan roared. “You have all – !”
“What's going on?” I asked, baffled by the fact that everyone was sitting around the table yelling at each other. This group worked so well together that this had never happened before.
Silence fell abruptly as all eyes flew to me. Nathan got to his feet so fast that I thought he might trip and fall. He marched over to me, looking ready to kill everyone in his path. My eyes widened in shock because I had never seen him like this before.
“You cheater!” He shouted, hauling back and slapping me across the cheek.
My mouth hung open in astonishment. I honestly thought he knew what I did at night when I couldn't sleep. It's not exactly as if it had been kept a secret.
“Not only do you apparently have another fiancé in your other world, but you've had sex with everyone in the Palace! Including my mother!!!”
I didn't even try to deny it. “Nathan, I... I thought you knew...”
“No! Although I don't know how I didn't realize it sooner!” He cried out angrily. “It seems that everybody else knew what you were up to, but of course, no one thought to tell me!”
He went back to the table where no one would look him in the eye. They also didn't feel like looking at me at the moment, so were all examining their nails or looking for lint on their clothes. It looked like they all felt just a little guilty, but even more than that, knew that the blame rested squarely on my shoulders.
It did, I didn't have the gall to think it didn't. I just never imagined that Nathan would take the news so hard. I felt terrible! If I had known this would happen, I would have made a point of talking with him about it a long time ago.
“During the days that you have been gone, I not only read your entire journal, but I then decided to read parts of it to everyone else too,” he informed me icily.
I didn't react because even though I had written things that most people would consider private, I didn't really care if everyone read it. I mean, it concerned them, so they probably had a right to know what I'd written. Plus, this would eventually be placed in the Royal Archive, so I knew it would be read at some point.
“Some of the things I read to everyone were practical suggestions that I felt should be heard,” Nathan said mildly, but I could see his anger boiling just under the surface. He flipped through pages, having ear marked the important ones.
Finding one in particular, he straightened up to look at me, holding the journal so that he could read it to me. “But some of your entries are alarming! Such as this one: Tonight when that infernal boiling in my blood got to be too much to bear, I got out of bed and did some yoga before going out for a jog. This is pretty much what I do every night, but tonight, I got bored pretty quickly. I wondered who I could ask to help me get some sleep, but then realized that I had never been outside the palace before. Except to go to a party and back once or twice.
“Rushing to get dressed, I pulled on one of the pretty summer dresses I had brought from home, and then threatened to fire the guards at the gate if they didn't let me out. Being the Queen occasionally has some perks! I jogged along the road outside the palace for a few minutes before I encountered anyone. This wasn't so surprising since it was the middle of the night and most people were probably sleeping.
“I wish I could sleep! I'd give anything to have a decent and full night's sleep! If there really is a God in this world somewhere and I'm allowed to ask for a wish at some point, I think I might just ask him for the ability to sleep like I'm dead for at least eight hours every night.
“Anyway, I came across some men who were drunk and loitering outside what looks like a bar. They were mildly harassing a woman who I assume must have worked there because she was capably telling them off and insisting that they go home. Interesting, so they have stupid drunks in this world too!
“Actually entertained by their antics, I followed them for a bit. Suddenly, I was snatched from behind. Different men carried me to what looked like the back yard of a middle class house. I've been the Queen here how long and I still don't know what the people live like! I felt ashamed and made a promise to myself to go into town more often and people watch.
“I watched the group of six men circle me menacingly, but I wasn't afraid. I am nearly certain that if I had my sword on me, I could have kicked all their asses! As it was, I still think I could defend myself pretty well.
“One of the men stepped closer to me and grabbed my hair. “I've never seen you around before. Are you a new girl at the brothel?”
““No,” I laughed, and then changed my mind. “Wait, what would you do if I was?”
““Well I'm not paying for it, if that's what you're thinking!”
“I glared at him. “So wait, you grab me because you think that I'm a whore, and then don't plan to pay me for it anyway? What kind of pathetic excuse for a man are you?”
““One that has some friends to hold you down,” he pointed out.
“I sighed and rolled my eyes. One by one, they roughly had their way with me while I was amazed to find that that infuriating sizzling in my blood calmed down quite a bit. What the hell?! Did I become a sex addict when I came to this world?
“Afterwards, they all collapsed into an exhausted pile. I giggled as I realized that they expended an enormous amount of vigorous energy. Part of me wanted to sit up and ask them if that's the best they could do, just to insult them for basically trying to cheat a poor working girl out of her money.
“And then it hit me! If they could do this to me – who didn't mind since it had helped me to feel better – then they could do this to any woman unfortunate enough to cross their path! This was an outrage to women everywhere!
“If there isn't a law in this Kingdom to punish assholes like this, I would soon make sure that one was created. But first, I had a little revenge in mind. The sizzling in my blood erupted full force as I glared at them. I'd swear that I even had a blue fire shimmering around me.
“Standing, I pointed at the ring leader who had actually spoken to me. “How dare you treat women this way?! What if I had been some innocent thing caught out running an errand such as fetching a doctor? What if I had been a bar maid returning home from work. Would women like that deserve such abuse at your hands?”
“I didn't expect an answer and wasn't surprised when they all scoffed. However, they were staring at me in amazement. One nudged another and pointed at me. “Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?”
“I wanted to ask them what they thought they were seeing, but was too busy being outraged. As fast as lightning, I grabbed the leader by the neck and hauled him to his knees. “I should castrate you!” I growled, but simply threw him back to the ground.
“In surprisingly little time, I broke all of their legs. They tried to run from me, but I was too fast for them. If they tried to defend themselves, I broke their arms too. Soon, they all lay whimpering on the ground.
““That'll teach you to abuse women!” I shouted at them, and then turned to stomp away. I felt the sizzling in my blood grow the quietest it's ever been and noticed that I no longer seemed to glow blue.
“Rather quickly, I found a man standing in front of a building that said Town Watch on it in bold letters. “Excuse me, are you able to arrest criminals?” When he said yes, I explained the situation. I silently prayed that there was a law against raping women, but if there wasn't I was going to have them all hauled in and executed for treason!
“The man didn't quite believe me, but told me that there is a law against rape. He also told me that such offenses are rare because the punishment is harsh. Hooray! My Kingdom isn't stuck in the dark ages after all!
“The men were hauled in and I filed a report against them, but apparently, my kicking their asses rather made it hard to believe that they had sexually assaulted me. Instead, they could have filed charges against me, but as I glared at them, they all confessed and begged not to be left alone with me ever again.
“The officer – watchman, whatever – locked them up but told me that he'd have to send them to the doctor for medical care. Thus, they wouldn't be in jail for long at all. Fine, I'll take what I can get.
“After that, I walked back to my palace feeling better than I had in a long time.”
Nathan stopped reading and looked at me. He wasn't the only one since they were all clearly wondering if this was true. Sir Barrett even looked guilty, as if he felt he really had failed as my bodyguard to allow such a thing to happen.
“That happened about six months ago,” I stated with a shrug.
“I know, I went to the Town Watch and asked,” Sir Barrett replied grimly. Letting me know that this particular argument had been going on for quite some time.
“We were just discussing the blue glow and the sizzling,” Lady Leeza informed me. “Right before everyone started shouting about how you should never been allowed out of the palace in the first place.”
“What?!” I demanded incredulously. “On the contrary, I think I should probably go out far more often! I need to see what my people live like!”
Nathan growled, flipping to another page in my journal. “This one seems to be more recent: Unable to sleep yet again, I kissed Nathan and watched his face pucker up adorably as he growled a warning to leave him alone. Sighing, I slipped out of bed, pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee, and prepared to go into town. Dear Nathan, if you wake up and read this before I get back, I'm just going to the bar for a bit of fun.”
He paused to glare at me, and then continued. “Now that I'm back, I just had to write down that I had so much fun. Who knew that there were so many good looking men in the bars around here late at night? Oh man, I seriously need a bath, I am covered in so much guck that I probably smell like a brothel! Best of all, that sizzling has quieted down quite a bit and I think I might be able to sleep the rest of the night. I just hope I don't drown in the tub...”
Nathan snapped the journal shut with a loud thud. “Oh, I think you've gone into town more than enough.”
I didn't know what to say. I'm sorry would just be an insult and trying to defend myself would probably sound lame. I was just trying to get some sleep! As I thought; lame.
Nathan set the journal on the table so that he could pace. As he did so, actual fire appeared in his hands, which he rolled back and forth as he muttered to himself. I rubbed my eyes and stared at the fire before looking around to see if anyone else was astonished by this.
No one was surprised in the slightest and watched him as if they were mildly bored. Lady Sophia looked like she longed to hug him, but knew that he would just push her away at the moment. Only Sir Barrett was watching me. I caught his eye and pointed at Nathan's hands.
“What? You didn't know that his magic power is fire?” Sir Barrett asked.
“No,” I mumbled, shaking my head.
“I'd say that yours is mostly air so far,” Lady Leeza stated, shifting her attention to me. “I've noticed it at times when you exercise with your cyr wheel. The room will get breezy and you'll do things that should be impossible.”
“But King Henry was strongest with water,” Lord Antony protested.
Lady Leeza shrugged. “True, but his magic – as all rulers are granted – was versatile. He should have been strong in all elements.”
Lady Sophia nodded her head in agreement.
Lord Gregory interrupted before anyone could say anything else. “Getting back to the matter at hand, I think that Her Majesty should be grounded to the palace until further notice!”
“You can't do that!” I protested, not sure if I was more shocked that he was trying to treat me like a naughty child, or angry that he thought I needed to be punished simply for leaving the palace by myself.
“Actually, if I call a meeting of the Royal Lords and get a majority consensus, I can,” he informed me with a stern frown.
“What?” I demanded, definitely more angry now than shocked. “But why?”
“You should never leave the palace without a your bodyguard and a proper escort,” he nearly yelled. “The situation that you described in your journal should have never happened!”
“I don't understand,” I was nearly shouting myself now. “All I did was go for a walk. That's not a bad thing! And then I handled the situation. It's not like I was hurt or anything!”
“You don't understand?!” He asked incredulously. “First of all, just being out alone at night puts you in danger. I don't care if you can defend yourself! What if that had been a group of enemy soldiers just waiting for an opportunity to abduct you? We might be forced to surrender our Kingdom over your stupidity! And secondly, now we really have to think about having those men arrested and charged with treason. Whether they know it or not, they harmed our Queen! It doesn't matter if you punished them, their crime still stands.”
“You all keep telling me that I can do whatever I want, but whenever I say that I want to leave the palace, one of you talks me out of it. Is it any wonder that I sneak out at night? I'm beginning to wonder if you're hiding something serious from me about the way the Kingdom is run!”
“How many times must I tell you?!” Lord Gregory roared. “The most important thing for you to do is stay in the palace and do your job so that the Kingdom runs smoothly!”
I knew that he was right. Over the last year, I had learned a lot about how new laws in the Kingdom were made, and also had a good working knowledge of all the older laws. Maybe I couldn't recite every single one by heart, but at least I knew that slavery was illegal and taxes were fair. Just being here, I had been able to discourage laws and things that might lead to war. If left on their own, Lord Gregory would have stock piled enough weapons to blow Nibal up! Not that they had those kind of weapons yet, thank the Gods!
However, even though he was right, he was also wrong. Being stuck in the palace wasn't the best way to rule. It simply meant that I was in a cage only thinking that I knew what was going on in the Kingdom.
“I'm going on a trip,” I ground out stubbornly. “I want to stay in at least three different cities for as long as it takes for me to get a good grasp of how the people live here. I want to learn what it's like to be an average citizen!”
Lord Gregory stared at me in surprise for several long moments before answering. “You can't.”
“I can't?!” I growled angrily. “Why not?” I felt something interesting happen. The sizzling in my blood cooled off significantly and a wind suddenly whipped my long braid back and forth. I almost felt like a cat twitching my tail in warning before striking.
Lord Gregory paled and actually pushed his chair back about a foot.
“Your Majesty,” Lord Antony murmured soothingly, holding his hands out and then lowering them a couple times. “Please try to understand, if you left the palace long enough to travel the Kingdom and learn about the people, your work would pile up. Nothing would get done. It's bad enough when you go home for a few days. Just imagine what it would be like if you left for weeks or months.”
Still angry, but not actually at Lord Antony, I turned to face him. “Well, you're about to find out. I'm going home for four or five days. I have something important there that I have to do. That means I'll be gone from here for three weeks to a month. I'm leaving you in charge. Unless it pertains to war in any way, shape, or form, I trust you to make a decision on it. While I'm gone, I suggest that you figure out the logistics of my trip around the Kingdom, because I am serious. I am not going to be stuck here any more!”
I turned to walk out of the room, enjoying the feel of my hair whipping around behind me.
“Ah, so that's the blue glow,” Lady Leeza remarked with interest. “Your Majesty, may I ask how that sizzling you wrote so much about is doing now?”
I stopped walking abruptly and spun to face her. It felt like a bucket of cold water was dumped on me, which made me stumble slightly. I looked at my hands, amazed to find that the sizzle was nice and calm at the moment.
“Actually, I feel good. It's calm...”
“I see,” she stated with a grin. “I'm pretty sure that what you call a sizzle is your magic. It seems that it builds up so much that it keeps you awake and makes you restless. You've tried various ways to get rid of it, which is impossible, so nothing works. However, I suspect that when you get a chance to use it, you feel a little better. How much better would depend on how much you use.”
I tilted my head and stared at her in confusion. “Are you saying that I use magic during sex?” Since that was the most reliable way to deal with the sizzling.
“Oh yes!” She exclaimed with an interesting tone of voice. Sort of purring and evil all in one. “Remember the other day when I dragged you to my lair and dangled you from the ceiling?”
I smiled impishly at the memory. “Yes.”
“I am almost certain that you were using your magic to prevent your arms from getting tired.”
“Wait a minute!” Lord Gregory roared incredulously. “You had the Queen dangling from your ceiling?!?! That's an act of treason!”
“Hush you!” Lady Leeza commanded, flapping a hand at him. “It's only treason if she doesn't want to be there.”
“That's my point in regards to those men whose legs I broke,” I added, flinging my hands out for emphasis. “They didn't know I'm the Queen, so they were simply attacking me as a woman, and as a woman, I punished them. Dragging them in now to be executed for treason seems a bit harsh.”
“Plus, I noticed that it was unusually hard to make you bleed,” Lady Leeza added as if I hadn't said anything. “I wasn't going easy on you. Quite the opposite in fact.”
“That's magic?” I murmured softly as Lord Gregory grumbled about treason again. Lady Leeza glared at him. He glared back at her. Lord Antony looked like he was praying on Gregory's behalf.
Deciding to avoid another argument, I sighed and changed the subject. “I was serious about going home for a few days. Lord Antony, take good care of my Kingdom.”
“Yes my Queen,” he replied with a respectful nod.
“Have fun,” Lady Sophia called after me as I walked away. She was the one person – in fact probably the only person I had ever met – who would sincerely cheer me on in my love life no matter how many lovers I had or who I might hurt. I think she might have a similar problem to mine; an abundance of magic that made it hard to sleep and left her extremely horny.
Nathan stopped his pacing, grabbed my journal, and followed me. Based on the sigh of relief that circled the room, everyone was glad that he planned to continue the argument in private. He flipped through pages as we walked until he located one he wanted to read.
“Lord Nathan is so gorgeous that my heart races every time I look at him. He asked me to set a date for our wedding again today and I wanted to tell him: Let's do it tomorrow!
“If I had my way, I'd plan to marry him every month! The first time, we could wear the traditional garments, him a black tux and me a frilly white dress. The second time, I could wear a red dress and he could wear a white tux. After that, I'd want to wear a beautiful dress in every color as he wore something to make his glorious blond hair and dazzling green eyes shine like stars.
“Unfortunately, I know that the Royal budget cannot justify such a frivolous expense. Therefore, when we get married, it will have to be utterly perfect the first and only time! I have already talked with Leeza about the dress I want to wear. She wants to make something that looks a lot like my coronation dress, but I am not so sure how I feel about the long train.
“And anyway, I told Nathan to keep waiting patiently. I know it's strange considering that I have wanted to get married my whole life, but I feel like I would cry forever if I married Nathan and then woke up to find that this whole experience really was nothing more than a dream.
“Back at home, Andrew is patiently waiting to see if he is going to get his TV role. His movie deal has gone through as well, which means that he might soon have a super tight schedule. We've talked about setting a date and both agree that it should be as soon as possible. Marriage to him is going to be super fun!
“My engagement ring caught my eye just now. It never left my finger, of course. I still felt like it was the most beautiful ring ever created. I can't understand why there isn't a similar custom in Rolandia. When I asked Nathan about it, he simply shrugged and said that his God didn't require any such proof of commitment.
“Even so, I wish I could give Nathan a matching ring – something different than what Andrew wears. Only I'm not sure that he would wear it...”
By this time, we had returned to my bedroom. I'd sat down and poured myself some tea, but he still stood. With a sigh, he set my journal down. “I probably would have worn the ring if you'd given it to me, but now that I know it would be matching a ring symbolizing your engagement to another man, I'd throw it in a cesspit!”
I flinched as if he had hit me, but didn't say anything. What could I say? He had every right to be pissed off!
“I've spent days agonizing over this damn journal!” He roared. “For every two or three passages that tear my heart out and make my want to be sick, there's one that makes me blush and sigh from happiness! As much as I wanted to break off our engagement, move out, and never talk to you again, I realize that I can't. At least not completely.”
This confused the hell out of me. “Why not?” I asked slowly, afraid that he was about to tell me that it was a Royal duty or something.
He sighed and sat down, but didn't look at me. “Because you really do love me. I realize that you have never actually said it out loud, nor truly wrote it in so many words in your journal, but you can go on and on about how you love watching me sleep and how you're afraid to wake up and find me gone.”
He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “After I got over the initial pain and feeling of betrayal, I realized that you must have been pretty desperate. If I were to count how many times you wrote each individual word, sizzling would probably win by a landslide. Almost every entry started with: I couldn't sleep because of that damn sizzling again! … When I think about how I would feel if I had to deal with that... When I think about how many times you tried to wake me up but I grumbled and rolled over... Well, isn't that a form of betrayal too? You needed me and I couldn't be bothered!”
He held up a hand to stop me, still not looking at me. “So I've decided to break off our engagement.”
I gaped at him in astonishment, feeling my heart twist painfully. I pressed a hand to my chest, but that didn't help. I curled just a little bit as I tried to breathe. No matter how hard I tried, air refused to enter my lungs.”
He wasn't looking at me, so he continued. “I'll continue to live with you and will consider myself one of your many lovers, but I won't marry you. Maybe not ever. It hurts too much to think about how much you'd still cheat on me after we got married. This way, maybe I can learn to understand how you feel when you can't sleep at night. Maybe I can even help... I don't know! Maybe I'm just lying to myself...”
I was still struggling to breathe. His words hurt even though I knew I was getting off damn lucky considering how betrayed he must feel. He would have been justified challenging me to a duel, beating me to near death, and then walking away to never speak to me again.
He finally looked over at me, and I am not sure exactly what he saw, but it was enough to make him sit up straight and grab me by the shoulders. “Kaitlynn!”
I pushed him away, tears pouring from my eyes. With a gasp, air finally poured into my lungs, which were now burning. Oh Gods! Why? Why does this hurt so much?!
Getting to my feet, I dashed to the mirror, but Nathan managed to catch me before I could kiss it.
“Kaitlynn!” He shook me urgently. “Say something!”
“I can't!” I wailed miserably. “What could I possibly say?!” Sobs escaped me, shaking my whole body.
“Tell me that I'm right, that you love me and are sorry that you hurt me!” Nathan insisted.
“I am!” I cried out. “I'm so sorry, but I couldn't help it! I really am a cheater... I thought you knew that...”
“Well I know it now,” he grumbled unhappily, and then sighed and shrugged. “But it could be worse. You could be Lady Leeza and I could be Lord Gregory...”
This was a surprising enough analogy that I stopped crying abruptly. “What?”
“They don't think any one knows, but we all do. She treats him like trash, only going to him when she's in the mood, and then leaving him the moment she's done. I don't even think she talks to him during it. Then – even worse – she drags him to her secret lair and beats him up whenever she's frustrated. Can you imagine how much he must love her to put up with all of that? I'm sure it must hurt him terribly that they don't even get to have all the lovey dovey things we've had, such as bathing together... pillow talk... civil conversation...”
“I never thought of it like that...” I whispered in astonishment.
“If I were him, I'd jump at the chance to bed you too,” Nathan muttered, sounding jealous but trying to suppress it. “At least you – according to what you wrote down – you cuddle with him and have a good talk after you're done. I imagine that that must be like finding an oasis in a desert.”
“Yes...” I agreed softly. Lord Gregory had always tried to get me to stay the night with him. I'd always gotten the impression that he simply longed to be able to hold his lover and maybe even actually sleep together.
“So...” Nathan continued hesitantly. “So yes, I am angry at you. I feel hurt and betrayed, but I think we can work things out. Eventually. It's a good thing that you plan to be gone for a while because it will give me time to think.”
I sniffed, wiping the drying tears from my face. “I guess I need time to think too...”
He held the back of my neck and kissed me tenderly but pulled away when I tried to deepen the kiss. “I just thought I should kiss you goodbye since I may not see you again for a quite a while.”
Nodding in understanding, I stepped away from him and whispered goodbye before kissing my mirror.
Go To Chapter 9
Go To Chapter 9