"cries the dead king, vengeance"
Genre: Drama, Tragedy
Characters: Ensemble Cast
Summary: For vengeance is mine own; and it will strike its carrier at the quick as it quickens more blood in place of blood.
Notes: This year I am playing around with the 50 sentence challenge over at another site - which prompts one to write four stories a month based on a set of fifty prompts. The fifty prompts result in one sentence each, and then a whole story is formed from the snapshots provided in those sentences. Obviously, this challenge will slaughter grammar, and bring out the seldom seen fandom from the muse - but is a fun and curious thing that has already been incredibly interesting. If you wish to, you can track my progress in my profile.
Past that, these are completely for you, Idri, in hopes that your Hamlet recreation goes as splendidly as you envision it!
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.
The spirit breathed fire and his eyes flared with brimstone; but his words were pained, a dagger's cut which severed one departed soul and struck a blow to one still living – a wound Hamlet was not quite sure how to heal without first tearing even further open.
He was a prince, but he was more comfortable with a pen in one hand and parchment pressed against the other - sometimes he couldn't help but wonder just how the crown would sit upon his brow in the years to come.
On her wedding day, Gertrude was introduced to two men – one her husband to be, and one her brother to be made; but as she signed the marriage contract, it was not her bridegroom whom she saw from the corner of her eye, but the second prince.
"Indeed, then what we saw . . ." Marcellus breathed, at his side Bernardo nodded dumbly, agreeing that it was the visage of the dead king who had haunted their watch.
"Brother," the dying man whispered, hand held out desperately as the venom did its deed, and horrified, Claudius took a step back, forcing himself to hold his brother's condemning eyes until the end.
"Marry?" Hamlet repeated dumbly, his great knowledge lost to him as he took a step away from his mother, horrified understanding gnawing at his mind and turning his stomach as the insult to his dead father sunk in completely.
The ghost was silent to them – and feeling fate tighten her fickle hands about him, Horatio's mind whispered just who the apparition may have spoken to.
Laertes breathed a sigh of relief once he took his first step upon fair Paris' streets, finally far enough away from his father and the weight of his disapproval in order to draw an easy breath again.
In the first throws of spring, Elsinore was almost acceptable in place of Paris to her; with the flowers just started to bloom – promising many a blossom that she could cut and dry when the time came, preserving them through winter's chilly breathes.
The first time he had saw her, Ophelia had been like a lily blossoming on the cold stone of Elsinore; ivory petals turning towards the sun and brightening all around her rather than give and wane to the chill of winter's memory.
Had the ghost spoken to any other son, Hamlet couldn't help but think, his traitorous uncle would not still draw breath; but his mind was running in circles, staying his blade and prolonging Claudius' life for a little while longer.
"And you lost your queen," Claudius smirked at his brother as he took the chess piece in hand, the shadows of the garden throwing patterns over their game and lengthening the grin upon old Hamlet's face as he said, "Indeed I have."
"Milord!" Ophelia protested, crying as he spun her about, eyes not mad upon her face – but so incredibly pained, as if he saw the gazes watching them, and aligned her alongside every broken thing within his heart.
His thoughts chased themselves in circles – heaven and hell, vengeance and justice, honor and forbearance and the right to judge all striking at him as the waves and winds might fight over a ship lost during the storm.
Was it truly a sin – a sin to be loved so, with hands reverent on her skin and words so glorious at her ear, love such an amazing rush of feeling within her that Ophelia could not give a godless name to her transgression.
"I would kill for you," Claudius muttered, his lips spoken against her shoulder, and fingers gentle about her neck – and only days later would he prove his words true.
He stared down, disbelieving – even though the letter was written in his mother's hand, ink smeared by tears – he couldn't believe that his father was dead, a star extinguished with no violent sense of knowing within him to accompany it.
"You have a certain smile to you – a colour to your cheeks," Polonius commented thoughtfully as he studied his daughter, who humbly bowed her head in a part played, "I told you that Elsinore would grow upon your heart."
Gertrude tightened her hand over her husband's as the play went on – sensing his anger and silently willing him to bear the storm as before them Hamlet watched them rather than the players – his eyes shrewd and mad.
Around him, the courtiers reveled at the marriage feast, but Hamlet sat in the shadows as if he was still bound by a funeral's solemnity; his mind boggling at the ease that those around him turned from grief to merriment.
The bark of the willow snagged against her dress as he pressed her against the tree, and around them the sweeping branches concealed them – leaving them free to steal kisses as if they were any other couple, their laughter kept secret by the wild and wistful wind above.
His father was a fool, a busy body, and a long winded man fond of his title; but sometimes Laertes recognized the odd sort of wisdom he held, turning his view as he sat uncomfortably still listening to Polonius' parting words.
Horatio watched the king as Hamlet bid him, but he couldn't help but watch as Hamlet swiveled madly between the players and Claudius, troubled as he pondered over what his friend presented as a farce, and what grief had turned to something darker still.
"Then the most gilded of cages," Rosencrantz agreed with sugared tone, trading a bewildered glance with his companion as Hamlet's gaze fell away from them.
"You think too much," Ophelia teased gently, her small fingers tracing over the lines creasing his brow as if to sooth them, and pushing his thoughts away Hamlet turned to brush a kiss across her palm, returning her smile.
"Indeed, I miss my brother," she murmured when her father suggested so, the half lie a sharp thing that stabbed at her consciousness as she concealed the letter in her hand.
Her son had his father's eyes; but his father's eyes were also his brother's eyes, and in stolen, unholy moments, Gertrude wondered, and let a dream – a fantasy possible only in another life – corrupt her mind with thoughts forbidden.
"Is my queen not fair, brother?" Hamlet asked, and in reply Claudius looked up from where he had been studying his wine – eyes unwillingly spying out Gertrude, resplendent in bridal white – before nodding a careful agreement.
The knowledge of the betrayed placing his own betrayal hung sour within Rosencrantz's mind as the English guard turned on them instead, the letter's words having been rewritten by a false hand.
The waters carrying him to England whirled as if intoxicated, and Hamlet lost his thoughts within the waves, for such a journey, once longed for, now only carrying him farther away from his task and his resolve.
The halls echoed with her laughter as she ran, trailing petals in her wake, her pale fingers tearing weeds apart and bestowing them upon all she passed as if she were a queen passing out tokens.
The shadow moved, and Hamlet pounced – intent on rendering his uncle apart as he made to enter his mother's chambers; but it was not Claudius whom he killed, but Polonius instead.
Her son's hands were bruising about her shoulders, pinning her to the bed as he forced her to stare at first one face, then the other – seeing the husband she had lost and the husband she had gained for who and what they really were.
Murder was one path he had already trod; and if he had to he would walk the path again, he would – for the damned could not sell their soul twice, and one more sin was the price he would pay to keep crown and wife and kingdom.
Appointed with her funeral wear, she looked calm and at sleep – a fae at rest, innocent and lovely and just as Laertes was determined to remember her by.
Elsinore was a dark and soulless place, with stones mortared with despair, and towers lit with sunless days; leaving a blemish upon the soul, and a weight upon the heart.
Hamlet was a wise king and a most accomplished warrior, but his touch was cold, and his smile did not quite meet his eyes; and while Gertrude hated herself for wanting more, long for more she did.
The waters carried her, the currents cradled her, and lost to their lullaby, Ophelia let herself slip away – broken little notes slipping from her lips until the ripples holding her stole even the song from her lips.
Gertrude was not sure how many times she had started to ask Claudius of her husband's end - at one time, the question would have been silent for her certainty of his innocence, but now she held her silent question for fear of the truth revealed.
"Rosencrantz," Claudius bid the man forth, who frowned and muttered, "but I am Guildenstern," under his breath.
His hand shook, stayed upon his blade as he stood over his uncle's form; loath to claim his life while Claudius was in prayer – sending the undeserving one to heaven even as he certainly damned his own soul.
The grave soil was still wet, the priest still silent; but Hamlet could not remember a face more beautiful with the quiet dignity of death as he pushed Laertes from Ophelia's body to take his place, for a moment wanting nothing more than to be buried with her.
His father dead, his mother deadened in his vision, Ophelia taken and his purpose rotted where it had started honorable, Hamlet looked Claudius in the eye – seeing not a man before him, but a corpse stealing breathes and steps.
In grief for his sister – who had loved so, and paid the price for her affections – Laertes agreed to the deception, determined as he was to prove his own love by taking the prince's life.
With tormented eyes, the ghost watched by light of the witching hour, echoing the false king's steps as a shadow, knowing that soon and he would lead his brother away to join him in an eternal fire.
"Have you come to haunt me, brother?" Claudius muttered, but there was nothing to answer him but the wind; howling mournfully as if concealing a spirit in its depths.
The wine was sweet, where she would think it to be sharp; and eyes full upon her lover's, Gertrude drank the poisoned thing, knowing her life was a fleeting thing – but accepting it so in order to buy her son even the slightest moment longer.
So much lost in the name of vengeance, Hamlet thought as around him the fallen laid in their final moments; for while his death would end the cycle, it was just another day and another stolen deed that would breathe the bloody circle new.
Fortinbras looked at the carnage around him, his sharp features softening as he demanded service for the dead – his duty to his father served by default rather than by the steel in his hand.
Fallen, his friend held the grace of a Roman Emperor or an ancient king of old – his spirit weighing more than any Dane, and with that thought Horatio reached over to gently close his eyes, respect making his gesture tender where he left his king to stare blindly above, his last rites denied.