When Emily Bronte and her siblings were children, their father brought them a box of tin soldiers from a trip to Leeds. As a game, they created two imaginary worlds of kingdoms and sword battles: Angria (for Charlotte and Branwell) and Gondal (for Emily and Anne). They wrote their adventures in small notebooks, which are now lost. The only traces of Gondal can be found in Emily Bronte's poems.
This is my attempt at writing a Gondal story.
Although this is not strictly a Wuthering Heights fanfiction, it is said that many of the characters in the novel are based upon Gondal ones.
The death of the Gondal Queen
19th December 1848. I get up at seven in the morning, as it is my habit. I know Charlotte will be angry with me. She thinks I should stay in bed all day. What does she know? I am perfectly fine. She says I am shivering. Does not she realise it is chilly outside? And what if I am tired? I slept badly and ate little, that is all. I did not have the same energy since Branwell s funeral.
Charlotte and loyal Martha observe me closely while I comb. I wish they left me be. They make me so nervous that the comb slips from my hand and falls in the hearth. Before I can get down to pick it, Martha has retrieved it.
"Emily, my dear" , she starts to speak, but my look of hatred makes her leave the comb on the bed and hurry out. I wait till I hear she and Charlotte go downstairs and I look through the window. A thick mist wraps the moor. I wish I were out there, far from all this... but it will not be today. Suddenly my legs shake. I grab the windowsill so I do not fall. Why do I feel so weak? A good breakfast. Surely that is all I need.
Today I think about that box more than ever. The box with the tin soldiers. Where will they be? Maybe in some corner in the cellar, shivering under the dust. If I felt stronger, I would go looking for them. My father brought us the box after a trip to Leeds, more than twenty years ago. Was it so long ago? It cannot be possible. Those were the times. When Gondal and Angria kingdoms reached the kitchen and extended through the staircase, threatening to invade the entire house. Angria for Charlotte and Branwell, Gondal for Anne and me. Four monarchs for two tin worlds. I wish I were there again. When powerful A.G.A. imposed her tight rule, and Angelica and her outlaws lied in wait in the moor...
A.G.A. is the engraving in the walls of the capital. Your name is Augusta Geraldine Almeda. For me you were always my queen. Gondal Queen. I met you when you were a child, the day I took you to the Palace of Instruction.
"Eldred at your service, little one" , said I.
You barely reached my waist, but you looked at me with arrogance and indifference.
"I am not little one . I am going to be queen and then, I will appoint you Lord Eldred."
Many years went by. You fulfilled your promise and I served you like a faithful dog. I bring you bad news today, my queen. I feel a heavy weight on my shoulders when I knock your chamber door. Your servants let me in. You sit next to the window, in a simple blue frock, looking outside. You do not seem to notice my presence.
"Fernando de Samara is dead, my queen" , say I, "He hanged himself last night in his dungeon."
You pretend not to be affected, but there is sadness in your eyes.
"What a waste! He was so handsome! Why something so handsome left himself die?"
"She claimed another victim", I hear a servant whisper.
Deep down, I know they are right. Fernando de Samara. Your last lover. You seduced him, as you did with young Amedeus, so many years ago. For what? To lock him in a dungeon as soon as you tired of him. Poor Fernando killed himself for you. What was his sin, my queen? Was it not being Julius? You were looking in that direction when I entered. Towards the statue of Julius Brenzaida, that watches over the largest street in the capital. Many gondalians still bow in front. They pay homage to the one who was their monarch for fifteen years. The happiest of your life. When you fought side by side. When your daughter Alexandria ran free in the garden. Then you lost everything.
I was there when you first met Julius. You were the only one in the Palace of Instruction able to defeat him with the sword. Your ambitions led you down different paths, but that day his soul became your own. You met again many years later, when you had married weak Lord Aspin, who did not share your desire of conquering the throne of Gondal. You did not doubt in abandoning him when Julius asked. You separated ill-fated Lord Aspin from his daughter Angelica and forced him to board a ship to nowhere, threatened with death if he dared set foot in the island again. Angelica never saw her father again. They say his ghost still haunts the ruins of Aspin Castle.
The miseries of many were the foundations of your happiness. Maybe it was justice that it could not last. However, neither you nor Julius deserved such a hard punishment. He was the first in departing, killed by Amedeus sword. And you and your daughter, chased like beasts by Angelica and her people. A storm cut your escape. Angelica decided that the snow would finish you off. It was a miracle that you survived... but little Alexandria did not. Your enemies said you left her to die. I do not believe it is true. You knew the child was doomed and you could not stand witnessing her death. That was the night when your eyes lost their fire.
You move away from the window and put on a cape.
"I' m going for a walk, Lord Eldred. Order Lord Lesley and Fair Surry to escort me."
I shake my head.
"It is not wise, my queen. I know for sure that Angelica and her outlaws are nearby."
You laugh as if you did not care anymore.
"I don' t fear them. Let them come."
The first dawn lights predict a cold morning. Everything seems calm in the moor. Only a gentle breeze shakes the heather. But, just like the withered trees hide wasps' nests, the thick heather covers the cave where we, the outlaws, shelter. We still sleep. Our leader Angelica lies next to savage Douglas, both sharing a wolfskin. Only old Gerald is standing, keeping watch with his club. Suddenly he yawns and Angelica wakes up. She sits up at once, like a cat about to attack. When she realises nothing happens, she exchanges smiles with the old man. Angelica' s tunic is dirty and worn; her long locks slide tangled over her back, but she still keeps the dignity of the one who once was the young mistress of Aspin Castle. Her gaze was sad the day her father married ambitious Augusta. Maybe she envisaged what would happen. For a long time, Angelica' s only happiness was her foster brother Amedeus. He gave her courage to confront Augusta. Her stepmother took revenge seducing and exiling the boy. Lord Aspin did not dare contradict her. Little he suspected she would do the same to him! The day Augusta and Julius Brenzaida were crowned kings of Gondal, Lord Aspin died in exile. Fifteen years later, Amedeus was fatally wounded killing Julius.
Angelica turns to look at Douglas. With the back of her hand, she caresses his unshaven cheek. He opens his eyes.
"Today is the day" , Douglas says.
Angelica leans a hand against his chest.
"Yes. Gondal Queen dies today."
Her walk led the queen to the farthest part of the garden, separated from the moorland just by a dilapidated wall. We cannot believe our luck. The queen walks alone, except for two servants more worried about kissing behind the bushes than about protecting her. None of them suspects we, the outlaws, lie in waiting with our swords. The queen sits on a rock, beneath a withered tree.
"It' s our chance" , whispers Angelica.
She passionately kisses Douglas. Just for a second. Then, we attack.
"Gerald, Xirilla, take care of those two. The rest, follow me."
The queen' s servants see their romance cut short. Gerald' s club smashes the man' s head, while Xirilla' s dagger severs the woman' s neck. Angelica and the others encircle the queen, like a pack of wolves. Augusta does not attempt to escape. She stands and leans against the tree. She looks at us with contempt, without fear.
"Did you come to kill me, Angelica?" she laughs, defiant. "Then do it at once" .
Angelica stares at the queen. She feels puzzled and angry.
"I' m afraid I am too late. You have been dead for a long time. It would be mercy to slit your throat."
Her sword gets heavier and heavier. She cannot recoil, not now.
"Help me, Douglas!" she cries in despair.
Douglas grabs her hand and guides her sword towards the queen' s heart. Augusta gets stuck in the tree, while she laughs like a lunatic. Her guffaws freeze our blood.
Douglas' s groan returns Angelica to reality. An arrow has just pierced his stomach. Our leader glimpses Lord Eldred and the guards, approaching with hounds.
She forces Douglas to lean on her. We escape under a hail of arrows. After jumping the wall, Angelica glares at Augusta for the last time. The merciless Gondal Queen hangs like a ragged doll.
The plain receives what is left of our gang. There is no food or water, only bare rocks which hurt our feet, but Angelica trusts the hounds will lose our scent. Many of us were left behind. Old Gerald, Henry, Julia... arrowed in the garden. Albert and Xirilla are dying over a rock, holding hands. They have little time left. Douglas lies on his back, covering his bloody stomach with a hand. He tries to smile at Angelica, who looks at him uncertain.
"It s just a scratch. I' ll live."
"Of course" , she says, "You cannot leave me."
She leans to kiss him. When they separate, we clearly see her lips are stained in blood. She holds a handful of soil in her hand.
"My revenge is complete."
Her voice does not sound pleased. On the contrary, it seems a deep melancholy has seized her. The soil slides between her fingers.
"Where will we go now, Angelica?" one of us dares to ask.
The last soil falls on the ground.
"I don' t know."
The guards are chasing the outlaws. I ordered them to throw the hounds at them so that they smash them to pieces. I remained here alone, with your head on my knees. I rock your body between my arms. I refuse to cry, my queen. Not till I know your assassins do not breathe anymore. Cowards! So many to kill just one? My beautiful Gondal Queen. Hated by many, loved by some... understood just by me. I kiss your forehead.
"Sleep now, little one."
Midday. The parsonage living-room is empty when I enter. Only the logs burning in the fireplace and the tic-tac of the clock break the silence. I walk towards the table, leaning on the furniture to avoid falling. My desk is on top, untouched for many days. I open it. I handle the newspaper clippings I kept. I cannot help an ironic laugh.
"A strange, inartistic story" , "unskilfully constructed" , "brutal cruelty, and semi-savage love" .
Those are the laurels of the artist. The world' s opinion about my writing. Who cares? In a few months, nobody will remember this novel was ever written. I close my desk. I try to pick my sewing, but I prick myself with the needle. My hands are so cold that no blood comes out. I let myself fall in the sofa. My dog Keeper looks at me with sad eyes. It licks my hand. We will not go to the moor today, my friend. I lie on my back, looking at the ceiling. It is time to surrender. My fight is over.
The swish of her skirts announces that Charlotte entered the room. I turn my head and manage a smile.
"If you will send for a doctor, I will see him now."