My Songs Know What You Do When Darkness Falls
a Reign story
Sarah Rose Serena
Love Makes Us Long
"Every story begins by song, Whether sweeping epic or slow sojourn, For music sates our soul, Where love makes us long."
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The great bards are our greatest treasure, her mother had told her. They tell our stories with soul and striving. They make us beautiful and romantic. They make us epic. All the lovely things we cannot afford if we are to survive. And the girl understood. Her name was Queen for as long as she ever remembers. The fate of a nation has rested on her choices, on her aspirations, a heavy burden put upon her slender shoulders at nine months onward. Her people rely on how she measures up. In the end, she fears, her greatest deepest fear of all, she will fall short somehow. She just knows so, with her broken heart and her hollow soul, has always known this. And that knowing terrifies her more than anything in the world on the inside, even as she smiles brightly and pretends to be lovely, her duty to demure yet hold fast, to charm yet control, to do all the things the survival of her beleaguered people are depending on her to do that she has no earthly idea how to achieve. Not truly. So she pretends. Her whole life has been pretending so far. Although she is only fifteen, she doubts that mainstay is due to change. And so she seeks solace in those inspiring dramatics of wonderful stories, of poetic bard tales, because these tellings are the only earnest experiences she fears she will ever be free to indulge.
The closest she comes for herself are sparse fleeting moments she shares with her betrothed. With lovely Francis.
Mother was right to teach her to keep herself withdrawn. She hadn't really understood until she returned to France, to the dangerous deceitful entanglements of royal court as a grown girl, finding herself with enemies around every corner, scheming her demise or her ruin, finding herself with not a single soul that she may wholly trust. Whether she wishes she may or not, and there are those whom she does, whom she desperately wishes to place her faith in. However she begins to delude herself, a part of her always knows she may only rely on herself above all, no one beyond. Because she is Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and that which is the most powerful position is what leaves her most of all vulnerable. An irony of which is not lost on the girl.
: : :
The path through the forest is a treacherous one, far more so than crossing from the river Loire over the stone bridge of Orléans. But many things could be said of Adelaide Kinsley, and that most prevalent of which is her daring spirits, her fondness for risk some might call reckless. Herself, she merely thinks it living an interesting life. Her utmost aspiration of all.
And as goes with taking risks, oft there are difficulties to defer. Miles outside her destination, she hears the anxious whinny of the horses, hears the warning shout by her driver from outside her closed carriage, hurried hoof beats of her escorts surrounding the structure in shield as their party is set upon by unruly natives. Travellers no doubt, an archaic kind that haunt the woodlands here, sacrificing interlopers to the unholy spirits they worship, believing it to be a practice which grants them favor and protection. How wrong ones can be, she thinks with a wistful sigh, dancing nimble fingertips across her pouted mouth as she listens.
Her lead escort is pulled to the ground from horseback and his throat slit. The next protector falls quick to follow. Though this is to be expected, crossing their territory as such, causing savage Travellers to descend, she is still mightily offended by the delay. And so, with the death gurgles of a hired driver in her ears, Adelaide climbs from the coach to face her foes. Fiery red gold hair falls from her sweep as she steps down, rustling gently in the wind, one hand spent corralling her skirts from hindrance, her other sliding between the secret slit of them on the other side, sinking into a knotted fabric fastened to her lower thigh. There is no one in sight when she brashly emerges, only a spread of bodies around the hitch, her newly acquainted companions slaughtered without care, shadows flitting about the fringes of the trees the only thing to see.
The others were extraneous. It is the woman they want. Their goal is capture. She knows this. However, she has zero intention of serving sacrifice to the bleeding.
"Come out from where you hide," she calls, not bothering to raise her husky voice but a notch. "Show yourselves."
The leader of this little hunting party is the first to step free of the shadows they manipulate. He is tall and towering in stature, a broad dusky Eastern European far from his homeland, like her. His eyes are cold, uncomprehending of her words though she spoke them with French, leaving off her native tongue. As she looks upon him, she feels a fleet of at least seven fellow of him fan out from the treeline a dozen or so yards behind her. The odds are particularly ungentlemanly, indeed, but she has met with worse.
"Not a very pretty bunch, are you?" she taunts absently, glancing around in measure, using her admittedly rusty skills in broad Slavic.
"Hellene," he hisses at her in old Latin, one of the kinder slurs she has heard in her time, but it still makes her laugh.
"Yes. You've chosen your prey unwisely, dear."
They are certainly not Pavees or Ceàrdannan. But their Romani origins are also debatable.
The men edging closer from behind creep another surge before the big guy cuts them a look. Turning focus back to her, he clips, "Come to us, witch. We will sanctify your soul before we feed you to valde crudus."
The great bleeding. Just as she thought. That doesn't sound pleasant. And she is nobody's food. So she takes a step toward him. Smiles prettily. Sweeps a gleaming dagger from inside her skirts in a lightning motion. Throws it fiercely around her shoulder so that its sharp steel blade imbeds into the throat of the closest Traveller at her back. Looking to their leader, Adelaide cants her head as that pretty smile turns savage.
There is a slain escort at her feet as she bends with a snap, stealing his holstered broadsword, coming up swinging the steel in a sweeping arc as the Travellers charge, echoes of barbaric cries resounding through the trees. She makes short work of the assault. Takes the remaining wildlings on easily enough with her martial skills. Honestly, if she had known her day would be this exciting, she would have worn less lavish attire. As it is, her skirts get ripped, smudged with soil and loam, and her brocaded bodice is splattered by streaks of spurting crimson.
All in all, not a terribly bad afternoon.
Kinsley Arrival: Scotland by The Lumineers
AN: I don't know. Should I continue?