The Queen's Requiem (Part 2 of 4)
Julien heard the commotion from outside the market. The screaming of an angry and frantic girl sounded very familiar to his ears. He rushed over to her and found her fighting with two men. The bigger of the two had her arms wrapped up and was holding her in the air. The other was on the ground rummaging through her satchel. Julien looked on for a little. Her chicken calves were showing as she kicked her legs erratically in the air.
When he found she suffered enough, he moved swiftly across to the one with the bag and kneed him in his guts. He felled to the ground and started to vomit. The bigger one that resembled a bear tossed Marie to the side. She let out a soft whine when she hit the ground.
Julien punched big John square in the jaw, sidestepped and swung a left cross to the big man's ear. He stood there dazed for a second, shook his head and stared at Julien like a crazed bull eyeing his target. Julien tried to punch him again but big John grabbed his hand and picked him up in the air. Marie looked on from the ground as Julien dangled from on top of the big man shoulders. The goofy look on his face was priceless.
The big man flung Julien through a market stall full of fruits as the crowd made a loud 'Ow" sound as he crashed through the table. Big John picked Julien up again and flung him through the adjacent stall. Julien tried to crawl away but the big man was on him like the way a cat plays with a mouse but he was no mouse. He was a rat. A very big rat that cats are afraid of.
The hand of big john almost covered Julien's head as he grabbed a clump of his fine brown hair. He looked over to Marie with a half-smile half-smirk on his face. He did not get the look he wanted. Instead, her gaze was furious and full of anger. He started to wonder if he had made the right decision in coming to her rescue.
He pulled Julien up to his face. "After I beat you, I will beat your lady." Big John said chuckling. Julien did not have time to reply. Marie jump on the giant's back barely getting her hands around his neck. He let Julien go and tried to pull her off instead. She made soft yelps as she struggled to stay on his back.
Julien grabbed a thick piece of wood from the market stall he just broke down. Marie was still on big johns back trying to choke him to no avail but the distraction she brought gave Julien just enough time needed to bring the big man down. He hit him first in the belly and when he dropped to his knees, Julien motioned with his head for Marie to get off of his back.
When she did, he immediately went after big john again. Hitting him behind the head and knocking him out cold on the ground. "argh!" she screamed as she ran into Julien pushing as hard as she could. "I never asked you for your help!" she started punching him repeatedly in his chest. "Mind your own business. I don't need help from you."
Her punches were soft and frail but she had spunk. Something Julien admired about her deeply. She was resilient. She was a fighter.
He held onto her two hands against his chest and gave her a weak smile searching for some kind of approval. "Are you okay?" He felt her hands shaking in his. Her beautiful brown eyes were watery and her nose flared as she was breathing heavily. He squeezed her hands and stared into her eyes. "I'm so sorry but I couldn't help it. I Couldn't stand to see you like that." He gave her a bigger smile.
Marie did not smile. She never smiles. "I told you all you're good for is beating people." She paused and looked around at the crowd. Everyone one was staring at them. "Now everyone's going to think that we're together."
"Nooo, they won't. Not with that monkey face." He started to laugh.
"What?!" she was shocked. This was the last thing she expected to come out his mouth. "Argh!" she screamed as she tried to pull her hand's free from his.
"See it's not nice to tell people hurtful things." He stated in his defense.
"Let me go please me. I want to go." Julien let her hands go. Marie turned to get her things. "And next time you want to do something for someone ask first."
"Don't think that I'm done with you. I'm only now getting started." Julien stated. He turned his back and started walking. The crowd parted for him to pass.
Marie glanced over her shoulders as she bent down to pick up her things that were scattered on the ground. Her heart was weak and she found it hard to breathe. If only all of this could have been avoided.
Julien was going crazy on the inside. His mind felt like a thousand pieces. It took all of his strength not to kiss her right then and there. He saw her face over and over again whenever he closed his eyes. Slowly he was losing his mind but that did not matter. He would have his kiss.
She paced back and forth, her hands motioning gestures as if complaining to a best friend and her lips sang silent curses at the stupid little boy who wanted to be a man. The white oak leaves under her feet crumbled. He kills witches....
He will kill me, she kept thinking.
He doesn't know what love is, he doesn't even know me. She finally sat down at the stomp of her favorite tree and hugged her knees. He was a brute, he was not polite, she paused.
He was clean though and so handsome, she shook that thought from her head. I'm not allowed to love, I can't love especially not a witch hunter, a smile formed on her face. He will never love me, not when he knows what I am...... But she didn't know anything about him either.
He loved her because she was different. Unusual at times. Though it seemed they were worlds apart, she was what he needed. She was what he lacked. She completed him in a way he never thought possible and he was prepared to be consumed by her world entirely.
Julien Hopkins had already made up his mind. She was his and he would do anything for her.
Marie Just needed to believe.
He laid in bed that night: uncertain, distraught and in love. One of the worst combination of feelings one could have. She did not take him seriously. His effort was worth nothing to her. She completely overlooks his side of the story and she was stubborn.
Yet, the look in her eyes was different. It did something to him. He wanted to come home to that look every day for the rest of his life.
Julien slipped away to dreamland where thoughts of anger turned into a vision of a future with her.
He would wake up with a smile in the morning.
Marie's room was small, her bed was on the floor; made of an underneath layer of straw and a thin top layer of wool was uncomfortable at best, she had little personal possessions one would expect from a young lady. Her room did not have a window nor did she ever wanted one. For some reason, the old woman thought she would run away and had it boarded up.
She walked with a lantern in hand and went to a small table next to her bed. Placed the lantern on the top right corner and pulled a stool from underneath the table. She sat down and stared at an old looking book. A diary. Her diary.
She opened the book and started to flip through the pages. Blank and empty pages. Halfway through she stopped. Tilted her head over the left page and blew softly with her lips. From bottom to top. Invisible words slowly revealed themselves scribed in gold and one scrappy handwriting.
20th June 1772
I saw someone new today in the market. He was very handsome I must say. And strong. He looked like he could pick me up with one hand. I wonder if a man like that could ever love me for me.
Today is the Summer Solstice. Tonight I become Queen. I don't really want to. I want to be normal but I have to.
22nd June 1772
Today I found out he kills WITCHES!!! Can you imagine that!! I hate him! I hate him!
She remembered the anger she felt when she wrote that. Smiled. Flipped some more pages. Stopped. She then retrieved a gold-tipped feather from a small secret draw on the left side of her.
20th March 1773
He is such an idiot! Why doesn't he mind his own business! I wish I could make him leave!!!!
Today is the Spring Equinox. Tonight I become stronger.
I hate all of this......
The anger she felt for Julien was different from before. She was not weak. She did not need a man to take care of her.
She blew on the page and the words disappeared. Closed her heart and pushed the stool back where it belongs. Threw herself on the bed, face into her pillow and screamed.
Julien awoke with intent that morning. Before the chickens could crow and the birds could chirp, he set out for a long journey to the White Mountains – at least a day's journey away. He did not carry much: His gold handle short blade sword and a small satchel that had a filled waterskin and a small clay pot. He did not have any real use for the sword but it was a deterrent. After all, the Pope ruled the world. Fewer questions and less opposition.
He traveled north-west away from Portland on old horse road hoping to get lucky and catch a carriage. The road was empty. Not a traveler for miles. Hours past and the June Sun had begun to take its toll. He was sweating and had drunk half his water supply.
The Mountains he was looking for slowly appeared on the horizon. He had almost reached the Indian trail – that would take him North alongside the river into the White Mountain valleys – when he heard the clip-clop of horses in the distant.
He laughed in his head and proceeded along the road.
The four horse-led carriage slowed as it passed Julien. "My Lord!" an older voice bellowed.
Julien glanced over on his left shoulder. He saw three old men pass him in the carriage. "May the church conquer all her enemies and reign supreme over evil!" yelled another.
Julien nodded in disdain and bowed his head. The feeling of love he had in his heart was now fighting with rage.
The Indian trail was smaller and had a rougher terrain. Traveling by foot was the best approach. Horseback riding was not his thing. He was sensitive down there and hated the pain the next day.
The Church, this goddamn church. He kept thinking. No one knew how much he despised the church. A bunch of power hungry old men. He shook his head to get the thoughts out.
He heard a slight rumble. Then another. He should be getting closer to the river, then upstream and then he was almost there.
Then a growl. A body-shaking growl.
He was starving.
Cursing himself in his mind for forgetting to pack food. He stopped at an old fallen tree on the side of the trail and sat down on what was left of a crumbling log. The vegetation around him was not thick, the forest floor was covered with old leaves more than anything else. He drank the last of his water, wiped his mouth and smiled.
Why, when a man is focused on a woman he forgets everything else?
He closed his eyes and drifted out in thoughts. She would smile at this. She could not complain at this. She would have to tuck her tail between her legs and smile. He bit his lip and a smirk formed on his face.
The breaking of twigs and crackling of leaves in the distant forest ruined the smirk. Julien quickly got beside the log and hid. The crackling noise came closer. He slowly lifted his head and took a sneak peek at what it was.
Through the columns of huge trees, a young doe with white spots had her snout to the ground searching for food. His belly gave a grumble. He moved his left hand to his back above his butt and felt for his throwing hatchet. He also forgot that at home.
She'd be a hell of a lot angry if she knew I killed this deer, he thought. He signed, got up off his knees and stared at the deer. The young doe raised her head and pointed her ears towards him. They locked each other's gaze for a second. She had a white patch around her left eye and an extra fluffy tail. Pirate, He thought.
Funny how easily a woman can change a man by just a voice of disapproval.
He sat on the ground with his back against the log with his knees halfway to his chest. Unsheathed his sword and stuck it between his legs on the soft forest floor. At one point in his life, this sword and his armor was his pride.
Now, that pride is guilt, shame and resentment.
He wasn't good enough for her and he knew it. How could he explain some of the horrible things he made no attempt to stop.
His heart started to beat hard. The drum solo in session. He ran his thumb across the three horizontal bars of the papal cross on his sword handle.
The screams filled his ears as if he was hearing them all over again. Slowly the replay started. Slowly, eating at his very soul.
She was not older than six. Brown hair and grey eyes. Her father was most likely a silverback werewolf. The darkness of the night and the frigid cold it brought was no match for the burning village. The sky radiated an orange aura.
It was late 1765 and the church had ordered the crusaders to Switzerland to vanquish the rising threat of werewolves. There would be no trials, no prisoners and definitely no survivors. Julien knew none of this.
The screams and fire were all around him. Everywhere he turned to look were people running and someone with a sword chasing them. Julien did not have his sword drawn but was dumbfounded by the events unfolding right before his eyes.
The little girl saw him standing there. Her face was covered in blood. She was frightened but not crying. She ran straight into Julien’s leg and hugged it with all her strength. The noise around him was intense but he could vividly remember her murmuring “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!”
He looked down at her speechless and still in disbelief. Her grip felt strong. Something a father would be proud of.
His breaths were heavier than hers. He could feel her hands shaking against his thighs. His left hand subconsciously moved to her head.
The reflection of fire on a cold Iron blade caught his peripheral vision but it was moving too fast.
He watched as the tip of the sword entered the little girl’s back. The soft yelp she made was an echo in his heart. He felt the pressure of her body against his leg. His vision stained for eternity as the tip of the blood-smeared sword revealed itself.
“They’re not children! They’re monsters!” Commander Sebastian Norton snarled at Julien. His intent as bold as the green papal cross on his midsection. “Start killing them or you won’t be leaving here!” he ordered, pointing his blade at Julien.
The emotions were like fireworks, all coming at him at once. The oath he swore to protect the realm of men was at what price. Innocent blood?
The little girl slumped beside his feet. The decision was final. He protected the weak and the innocent.
Julien drew his sword and met Commander Norton with a strike. It was the only sound of iron meeting iron in the village.
Julien struck quick and hard. His aggression had the clear motive to kill the commander.
By the fifth strike, Julien knew Commander Norton was dead. His strikes were not as fast and he left his throat open when he attacked.
On the sixth strike, Julien took his Commanders head.
The rest was somewhat a blur. He barely remembers getting hit in the face and fighting for his life with a few of his brethren. The death toll that night were nine with one missing.
The memory was more like a haunting and when Julien opened his eyes, he was back on the forest floor. His face had lost some its zeal and the remnants of dried tears remained
Julien got up off the floor, sheathed his sword and threw his satchel over his shoulder. He was a few hours away from the valley floor of White Mountain where he would begin his search for the rare and beautiful Calypso Orchid. It is said that the beauty of the rich purple and soft pink color could please the eye of the angriest of women and the sweet vanilla-like scent could warm the coldest heart.
Tomorrow morning he would deliver the most beautiful flower in the world to the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and find out for himself.
Part 3 Coming Soon