I.

Outside of the inn, the wind and rain gathered momentum against the glass windows. It was a small inn on the outskirts of the larger city. A few miles outside of the main business district where the mercantile class traded. All of these smaller shops and buildings were built upon a hill that led to the keep in which the Lord Mortimer held jurisdiction over the land. Rumours of the inner politics would sometimes drift to the small Inn. Drunken soldiers would talk about strange goings on and tales of ritual sacrifice that occurred within the hallowed halls of the keep. Some people would disregard such tales, for most people Lord Mortimer was simply the lord who provided protection to the city and its people. Someone that they had to pay taxes to, to avoid surrounding nations launching some form of invasion or bandits pillaging the local farmland.

Hal was a simple peasant who had found work within the inn’s establishment. ‘The Golden Herring’ it was called. Up above the inn’s door was a sign that hung above the entry, and on it, a gold painted herring. This night, as the wind blew the force of gale like winds, the sign hit up against the exterior of the building creating a rapping noise that was persistent and relentless. Hal was clearing tables of the inhabitants of the inn who had decided to take shelter from the storm outside. He picked up glasses that were filled with ale, the remnants of the liquid laying at the bottom of the glass in foamy residue. The meals that had been devoured, leaving only bones and gristle, parts of meat that could not be devoured. And as Hal did this, he was caught gazing at Eva, the maid, as she took orders from the Golden Herring’s guests.

Hal often found himself staring in Eva’s direction. Her large breasts bouncing together, and a smile that shone with true beauty, as she served ale to the Inn’s patrons. They had been working together as far as Hal could remember. Not that Eva paid much attention to Hal. Eva was too caught up in servicing the clientele in all ways that could be considered imaginable. She didn’t just serve the patrons, she also saw to the needs of their flesh. For those who could afford to pay proper coin for it. But still Hal would find himself daydreaming about settling down with Eva and creating a life together, somewhere away from the city where they could put their pasts behind them. He wasn’t naïve, he knew all too well about Eva’s other activities. On his wages Hal would find it difficult to afford an encounter. The manager of the establishment paid him with food and board and allowed him to keep whatever tips or money that he would find lying around after he had cleaned up. He had been silently stowing away such earnings in his own personal hiding place. Although he had enough savings to afford such an encounter, he thought it better to stow away the small amount that he had in order to gather enough coin so that one day he would be able to approach her and offer an alternative to this life that they had both come to lead. There were cheers and mirth among the patrons as they heartily drank their ale and sang songs from their childhoods about heroes and long forgotten legends.

The manager came up and smacked Hal on the backside of his head, as he found himself staring at Eva again. “Focus on your work Hal, there are people here we have to serve.”

“Yes, sir.” Hal quickly refocused back on the tasks at hand.

Hal had been pox ridden when he had hit puberty and that ailment hadn’t left him. The same vestibules of pus that scarred his face then, still scarred his face at the tender age of sixteen. It would have just been another night, one more fruitful than other nights as people took shelter from the surrounding storm. Just another night, if it were not for the arrival of the unexpected guest.

After guiding all of the other guests of the establishment to their rooms, those who were staying the night, and sending those who weren’t off into the night, the manager held a staff meeting. There were about six of them altogether, including Hal, Eva and the manager Gregor. The other staff members included Dirk, the former soldier who kept guard over the establishment who would often find himself drinking with the other soldiers who frequented the establishment. The cook, Marion, whom also served as Gregor’s significant other. And Alexander, who served as a barkeep, serving endless glasses of ale each and every night. They all pitched in during the night and at the end of the night they were allowed a glass of ale to which they could unwind and share their burdens.

During these meetings Hal wouldn’t say much. He would often find himself daydreaming about the future he had planned with Eva. As they all gossiped amongst one another, nobody was keeping watch at the door of the establishment. Dirk, in his usual show of incompetency, had left the door unlocked. The wind kept on blowing the Inn’s sign up against the walls of the establishment, creating that ever continuous rapping noise.

With an unusually strong gust of wind, the door blew open and with that wind entered the unexpected guest. He was shrouded in a grey woollen blanket, covering his face. He was draped in blue silks that had been torn and were worse for wear. Upon entering the establishment, all of the staff were startled by the sudden gust of wind that entered with him. Dirk got up on his feet and reached for his sword that was in its scabbard at his hip.

Upon seeing this, the unexpected guest removed the blanket covering his face. The removal of the blanket revealed a man, though worse for wear, who by all appearances was handsome. He had golden locks that lay just above his neck and white teeth that were an uncommon sight amongst the peasantry. And his blue eyes were like liquid pools of ice cold water. At the mere sight of this handsome man, all of the staff were disarmed. “Now, now, there won’t be any need for all of that,” the unexpected guest spoke, “I come seeking refuge and I have a horrible tale to tell.”

Dirk let go of the sword at the side of his hip, saying, “As long as you seek no harm to us, we seek no harm to you.”

Eva was taken aback by the mere presence of the man who had entered the establishment and went to offer him a seat. To which he took without hesitation. Ignoring her and focusing his attentions on the men in the room.

They all sat in silence to hear this handsome stranger’s tale, “I was a prisoner of Lord Mortimer’s keep and have been for the past month. For the past month I have born witness to unspeakable and horrible things.” The stranger went on and Hal looked around to all of the other staff. They were all hypnotized by this man’s charm. It was unbelievable to what extent beauty had an effect on his fellow cohorts. Especially Eva. “All I am asking is that you shelter me for this one night and give me supplies so that I can make my escape. I swear by all that is holy and the Gods themselves that I will bring this tyrant you call Lord Mortimer to justice and reward you all with riches unfathomable.”

Gregor looked at the man with eyes of uncertainty, “Now, I may just be a simple Innkeeper. But if we aid you and you escape, how do you expect to reward us with unfathomable riches?”

The man was shocked that he would be taken into question like that, “I keep my word good sir, for I am a Prince.”

“Oh, a Prince, I like that.” Eva looked at the man, completely spellbound and entranced.

“I will return to this land with an Imperial army at my back. Together we will dispose of Lord Mortimer, and any dog who follows him. I come from a kingdom in the North and am a highly decorated warrior. On this, good sir, you have my word.”

Gregor took the final sip of his glass of ale, “Well, alright. But if you get caught, you better not mention us none then.”

Eva took hold of the Warrior Prince’s arm and said, “You can share my bed tonight, my Prince.” To which both of them went upstairs and retired for the night in the confines of Eva’s room. Leaving Hal and the others alone. Dirk and Alexander bid their farewells and also retired to their own rooms. Leaving Hal, Gregor and Marion there alone.

Hal was the only one who took a dislike to the Warrior Prince, and as such, voiced his opinion, “Come on Gregor, you know all of those crazy stories about Lord Mortimer are all horseshit anyway. People are just upset that they have to pay their taxes is all.”

Gregor looked at Hal straight in the eyes, “It may all be horseshit, but if this man is who he says he is and he has any chance of doing what he says he will do, we’ll all be better off for it.” And that was the end of that conversation.

Before dawn broke on the following morning Hal met the Warrior Prince with a horse at the Inn’s stables. The horse had a pack swung over its flank. The pack contained dry meat and other sundries that would keep for a long journey. “Here you are, sir,” Hal stated, handing over the reigns of the horse to the Warrior Prince.

“Thank you, my good man. And to be sure that I stay true to my word, I have left something with your maid so that you can be assured of my return.”

Hal didn’t understand what he had meant. He wished the Warrior Prince a safe and speedy journey, and then he was on his way. The Warrior Prince called out to him one last time as he disappeared into the surrounding forest, “You will all be rich, rich beyond your wildest dreams.”

Hal was not sure what to think about him and the thought of reporting him to the local guard crossed his mind. There would be some sort of reward involved in the act, no doubt. But this was Gregor’s decision to help out this stranger who claimed to be a Warrior Prince from a distant kingdom and Gregor had treated him well. So he would do as he had been bidden.

Hal returned to the Inn and went to the rooms to wake up the other staff so that they could prepare for service. This was the usual routine of the Golden Herring. Before dawn, Hal would wake and make sure that all of the animals had been taken care of. Milking the cows, collecting the eggs from the hen coop, and ensuring the pigs were fed in their sty. Then Hal would wake Marion and the other staff so that they could prepare breakfast for the Inn’s guests.

Hal would usually call upon Gregor and Marion first. But because of what the Warrior Prince had told him, he decided to visit Eva’s room first. He knocked on the wooden door of her room to gain entry. Upon knocking, Eva called out to him, “Come in, come in.”

Hal opened the door to find Eva sitting at the end of her queen sized bed and mattress. She had a chamber pot pressed in-between her legs and she was holding her hair away from her face so that she could heave into the contents of the pot. She vomited a mixture of last night’s meat and ale into the pot. She looked up at Hal, with sweat persistent upon her brow, “Good lord Hal. I think I’m pregnant.”

II.

It had been five years since the Warrior Prince had entered the Golden Herring’s doors unexpectedly. He had left Eva with child which had set a whole chain of events in motion. Alexander, who had taken to bed with Eva on the odd occasion had vacated his post as barman of the Golden Herring. This had left Hal to take on extra duties, not only with the running of the Inn, but also in the raising of the child. It seemed through this series of events that Hal’s wish had come true. Eva, lacking partnership and a father to raise the child of the Warrior Prince, began to take kindly to Hal. She could no longer take to bed with other men as she thought herself a Queen in the making. At the same time, she required assistance with raising the child. So Hal became Eva’s happy answer to all of these problems that occurred when she fell ill with child. At the initial prospect of this, Hal was ecstatic. She even took to bed with him, although she did not permit any sexual favours. Initially, he was enthralled, but upon experience he became disheartened and depressed.

Eva was not the woman he once thought her to be. Because she believed that she would one day be welcomed into royalty, she had built up an overzealous nature. She even started to make callous remarks to Gregor, who would chide her, reminding her that whatever the future had in store for her, for the present she was just another maid and like everyone else, would have to do as she had been told.

Hal had had a conversation with Gregor about everything that had happened. To which Gregor had instructed him, “You’ll do what you have to. It’s a damn shame that we lost Alexander over this and we all have to work extra hard because of it. You’ll help out with the child and put up with Eva’s shit because you ain’t got no other choice. I did some research on our unexpected guest and it turns out that he was telling the truth. At least partially. His name is Prince Hector and he is the heir to the kingdom of Harnsworth. Harnsworth is a small nation to the north. He was lying about being some famed warrior. He and his men were taken captive by Lord Mortimer, who suspected that they were scouting the area in order to expand their empire. Now, that child that she’s had may be a bastard, but he’s a royal bastard. And his father will want revenge upon Lord Mortimer for taking him hostage and killing his men. And the kingdom of Harnsworth do have the forces to keep the promise that he’s made to us. Like it or not, we have to treat that child like royalty and give him whatever he desires. Our survival may depend on his treatment, so you bloody well treat him accordingly.”

And so Hal had made sure that the child, the boy, was treated accordingly. On top of his regular duties of ensuring the animals were fed and catered for in the mornings, he also had to take care of the child: ensuring that he was fed high quality nourishment, bathed and dressed in the finest quality clothing that they could acquire and ensure that the boy did not wallow in his own faeces. Meanwhile; Gregor took over Alexander’s old duties of tending bar. And Dirk did his best to stop other soldiers and frequenters of Eva’s previous services from asking too many questions. But the boy’s ice water blue eyes did draw the odd remark. “Who the bloody hell has eyes like that?” Some people would ask when the bastard’s paternity came into question. In answer to this, they always responded that Alexander was the father and his absenteeism aided their cause. Nobody could remember the colour of Alexander’s eyes, having only witnessed them in an inebriated state.

It carried on like this for a period of five years. The child was beginning to talk under his mother’s instruction. It was another day and they had all just serviced lunch to their clientele. Hal was outside in the pig sty shoveling pig shit under the heat of the sun. Every month Hal had to clear the sty of pig shit, then bag the manure so that it could be sold by the Golden Herring to local farmers and anybody else who wanted it. The manure mix wasn’t just pig shit, it was a mix of decomposed food scraps and excrements of the other animals. It was summer and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, Eva and the bastard, ‘Lucas’, she had taken to calling him, were sitting underneath the shade of an alder tree, watching Hal as he set about the work. The sun bore down upon him and Hal removed his shirt, ripped and torn, to reveal a body lean and tanned, with beads of sweat making his stringent and sinewy muscles gleam in the sun.

“Mummy, why does Hal do stupid things like playing with pig poop?”

Hal could hear the two in conversation. There was no other noise in the vicinity apart from the chirping of native birds hiding up in the foliage of the trees. Hal could hear Eva and Lucas converse amongst themselves and so called out in response, “An honest day’s work is an honest day’s work and you better respect that otherwise I’ll give you a clip behind the ears.”

Lucas, feeling threatened, cuddled into the bosom of his mother, “Mummy! Idiot Hal is scaring me. Make him stop mummy, make him stop!”

Hal couldn’t make out what Eva was saying to her child as she whispered something into his ear. Hal stopped the shoveling of pig shit into straw bags and wiping sweat from his brow, gazed at Eva and Lucas. In wincing horror he looked on, unable to do anything about it, as a secret was shared with a four year old child. Hal’s heart sank as the child’s eyes lit up with glee. And then Lucas uttered those unspeakable words that were a reflection of Eva’s hopes and dreams, “You mean, one day, I will be a king?”

His mother nodded her head to signal that he would. Hal threw down the shovel that had been in his hands and called out, “You shouldn’t have done that Eva, you should not have done that!”

The four year old boy started running around, newly empowered. “And when I become king, I’ll kill you!” He pointed to Hal, “And you!” He pointed to Eva, who looked shocked. This behaviour didn’t surprise Hal in the very least as the boy ran around pointing to the different animals, claiming that their mortality rested upon a four year old’s ascension to some unknown throne. Lucas started running away in the direction of the stables, his mother, in shock of what her child had promised, did not give chase.

Which left Hal to pick up the pieces, Hal began running after him, calling to Eva as he ran past her in chase of her child, “You bloody idiot Eva! Look what you’ve gone and done now.”

Lucas had disappeared in amongst the stables where the clients of the Golden Herring’s steeds were kept. He disappeared from Hal’s sight, around the wooden structure that had been built to give animals shelter from the harsh conditions that the weather oft presents. Hal could hear the child and hoped that he was talking to a horse as he said, “And when I become king I’ll kill you!”

Hal turned the corner of the stable’s wall, to reveal a man. A soldier none the less, bending down to address the child. “A king you say. Now, that’s an odd thing for a wee one such as you to say. We don’t have any kings around ‘ere, we’re all under the protection of the good Lord Mortimer around these parts…” The soldier; dressed in chainmail had a short sword that was belted in its scabbard at his hips. He was older and had a grey moustache overlying his lips. The moment Hal rounded that corner, Hal froze at the sight of the soldier. Even though Hal was out of breath, he didn’t dare inhale for any more air. The soldier, at the sudden appearance of Hal, immediately placed his hand on the hilt of his sword, ready to draw. The two shared the briefest of stares as they weighed one another up. All of the possibilities flew past Hal’s mind’s eye in what could be considered a fraction of a second. The soldiers knew that someone had aided and given protection to Prince Hector on that night five years ago. There had always been a line of suspicious questioning concerning the biological father of Lucas. And if Hal did nothing, if he let this soldier go on his way, questions would be asked that demanded answers.

Hal looked to the right of him and luck was on his side. Wedged into a barrel of hay was a pitchfork that he had used earlier that morning to feed the horses. There was a distance of eleven meters between Hal and the soldier. Hal pried the pitchfork from out of the barrel of hay, upon witnessing Hal’s actions, the soldier pushed Lucas out of the way and drew out his short sword, rushing towards Hal. Hal held the pitchfork like a javelin and with all the force he could muster, speared it in the direction of the soldier’s gut, just beneath the ribs. The pitchfork landed with a solid thunk that pierced the soldier’s chainmail. The force behind the pitchfork surprised even Hal himself, as it took the soldier off of his feet and on to his backside. The soldier lay there on the dirt floor of the stable groaning, as Lucas began wailing, letting out tears nearby. Hal walked up to the soldier, who with the pitchfork protruding from his gut and blood pooling beneath him, intermixing with the dirt beneath and creating a bloody muddy mix. The soldier swore up at Hal, cursing him between coughing up blood with his last breaths, “Yar’ farkin’ piece of shit! Lord Mortimer will find out what ye’ve all been up to here and see ya’all hung and the bastard child burnt at the stake!” Hal walked up and gripped the pitchfork, placing one hand to smother the soldier’s mouth and then began twisting the pitchfork from side to side. Beneath his hand, the soldier’s cries were muffled as the pitchfork did its work, digging into the soldier’s vital organs. He wedged it up and down to see if he couldn’t puncture the heart. The soldier’s cries died down and Hal could feel that he had ceased drawing breath. Hal released his grip on the pitchfork and the seal over the soldier’s mouth, then collapsed with his sweaty body gathering up dirt and grime from the ground.

By this time, Eva had gone inside the Inn to retrieve Dirk. And Dirk, who witnessed only the aftermath of what had occurred, stood there with his mouth agape, mouthing the words, ‘Fark me!’ For a moment Dirk just stood there, taking it all in. Then he regained his senses and recomposed himself, deciding on a plan of action. He went up to Hal, and patted him on the back. Hal’s body had begun to cool, “You go inside son, you go inside and have a shot of whiskey. I’ll take care of what needs being done around here.”

And so Hal brought himself to his feet like a man possessed. His upper body smeared with dirt, pig shit and hay; his hands showing remnant traces of blood. He staggered into the Golden Herring and took a seat in front of the bar where Gregor was serving. “Give me a whiskey.” He called out.

Gregor looked Hal up and down, then seeing a spot of blood on his hands, decided it was better not to ask questions in front of patrons. Gregor poured Hal a shot of whiskey. Hal was quick to respond and grabbed the shot of whiskey, tilted his head back and poured the fiery liquid down the gullet of his mouth. He let out a sigh of relief as that liquid travelled from his mouth to his stomach, finding its home and sending warmth through his body. Then he sat there, staring at the wall of the bar where a swordfish had been mounted and put on display. He looked at that mounted fish with a despondent, vague kind of sentiment. As if he were realizing the full context and repercussions of everything that had just occurred and at the same time, not caring a single iota about what all of this would mean.

III.

It took two more years before they had any word of Prince Hector. And when they did, the whole city was in an uproar of panic. Prince Hector had arrived within their province leading an army. He was two days march, north of Lord Mortimer’s keep. Lord Mortimer had made a call out to all of the peasantry and able bodied men who could be of service, declaring that it was their duty to help defend the city from any would-be usurpers.

In those two years that had passed: Lucas, now six years old, had been put under lock and key with the constant supervision of his mother Eva. Ever since the child had become aware of the fact that he was of royal heritage, the child had become extremely frustrating to deal with. They would keep the boy out of sight of any of the Inn’s patrons. Only taking him outside of his room when they could be sure that nobody was around, for fear there would be another incident similar to the one two years past. Without Eva being of any assistance to the clientele of the Inn, Hal once again found himself picking up the slack. On top of clearing tables, he would now have to take orders and deliver food and beverages to tables. This, on top of his additional duties, caused him much strain and distress.

Lucas had come to despise Hal for keeping him locked up in the room as he was. He hated them all: Eva; Gregor; Marion; Dirk; but he especially hated Hal. He blamed Hal for everything that had happened. From when Hal murdered that soldier with the pitchfork, up until the child’s current situation of being kept prisoner inside the confines of a single room. The child not only hated everyone, but he was also emotionally scarred for having witnessed a murder at such a young age. He would be caught in fits and night terrors; and he would consistently soil his bed sheets when he took rest.

With Prince Hector’s army fast approaching, they closed up shop early one evening to discuss what their plan of action would be. “We just close up shop,” Gregor explained to them all, “We close up shop and wait for Hector’s men to defeat Lord Mortimer and his forces. Then we will emerge heroes and we will be justly rewarded.”

Dirk stared on in disbelief at Gregor’s idiocy, “Have you even talked to the man? Has he even sent word in concerns to his child? We have no idea what sort of man he is… I mean, aye, he’s a prince and all, but maybe he’s not too happy with the prospect of having some bastard child to some whore in the middle of nowhere.” Dirk looked as if he were deeply contemplating a matter that only he could fathom reasoning out.

“More like,” Eva offered, “That he won’t be all too happy about how me and his babe have been treated these past couple a’ years.”

“Eva,” Gregor explained, “We did the best that we could manage under the circumstances. It was difficult enough when the child didn’t know about…”

“You were a cunt!” Eva interrupted, “You were all cunts, the whole lotta ya’! When my future husband takes hold of Mortimer’s keep, there won’t be anybody there to save any of youse.” The years had not been kind to Eva as she delivered her feelings through a set of rotting teeth. Her tits had begun to sag and she had put on weight besides.

“She’s right!” Hal pointed at Eva, “Not that I think that she’ll become the Queen of Barnsworth or whatever it’s called. But she’s right about the kid. The kid ain’t right! Hasn’t been right ever since I skewered that soldier in front of him. He’s a bed wetter and traumatized besides. If we deliver that kid to Prince Hector in the state that he’s in, he’ll have us all strung up and hung by our necks.”

“I’m going to ride up north,” Dirk offered, “I doubt that they would kill a sole man on sight. They’ll probably see me as some form of envoy or another. I’ll ride to his encampment and see if I can gain access to the man. Explain to him what happened and see if he can be reasoned with.”

Gregor had become irritated that everyone had chosen to ignore him, he kept on repeating himself needlessly, “We close up shop and wait for Prince Hector’s men to take control of the keep and then we emerge as heroes.” Marion held onto her husband’s hands that were held firmly together, placed up and upon the dining table that they had gathered around. She silently whispered words of support for her husband’s plan, either that or she was praying to some God or another. “That’s the plan.” Gregor kept on having to repeat himself, “That’s the plan. That’s the plan. That’s the plan.”

“If Prince Hector takes over Mortimer’s keep, we’re all farked!” Hal blurted out in a sudden epiphany. Hal stood up out of his seat and went up to his room. Leaving Gregor sitting there repeating himself about the plan, Marion praying for them all, and Eva cackling like a wicked old hag. As Hal parted from them, so did Dirk, both of them following their own intuition.

Hal found himself ransacking his own room. He removed the loose brick at the back of his bed and found his small pouch of coins. He took it out and felt the weight in his hands. This was his life savings, the sum of his material achievement through working at the Golden Herring for the past eight to ten years. He had begun when he was fourteen and he hadn’t had much time for anything. No time for friends, no time for lovers, with everything that he had had to deal with, there had been no time for any sort of living at all. If only he had decided to report that cunt Prince Hector into the local guardsman in the first place, maybe things would have been different. He threw the small pouch of coins up in the air and then snatched it out of the air in a sweeping motion. ‘Oh well, no time to dwell on regrets now!’ Hal thought as he rushed out of his room.

Upon exiting the Golden Herring, he walked past the others who all were still stuck to their seats. Nothing had changed with Gregor or Marion. Dirk was nowhere to be seen. But now Lucas had come from downstairs to find his mother. He had soiled himself and was crying. And Eva was repeating the same thing over and over again to her six year old son, “These cunts! They’re going to pay for what they did to you and me Lucas! Your father has come to rescue you and me from this life!” Hal didn’t pay them any mind as he walked past them with Eva repeating the same thing over and over again, “These cunts, Lucas, these cunts are going to pay! These cunts, Lucas, these cunts are going to pay!” Hal exited the Golden Herring, hoping never to see its walls ever again with Eva repeating, “These cunts, Lucas, these cunts are going to pay!” And her son wailing in tears.

Hal picked up his step and quickened his pace. With his pouch of coins held firmly in hand, he began running, bolting towards his destination. His destination lay at the center of town, in the mercantile business district. His poorly made shoes began falling apart as he ran, first they split at the seams and then they fell apart. Falling off of his feet and revealing his bare soles. He had run a mile and for the next two miles he was rushing at full pace in bare feet. The soles of his feet became black with dirt, with small rocks jamming in at various points.

When he arrived at his destination, needless to say, he was out of breath. He brushed off his feet and caught his breath, baring weight upon his knees and gasping for air. He found the building that he was looking for. A two storied building made of mud bricks with a non descript sign that lay above the door. There was no picture on the wooden board that hung above the entry like the Golden Herring. But everyone knew what this place was. He entered the building clutching his small pouch of coins in his sweaty palm.

Inside the building, there sat a tall woman draped in a thin dressing of black fabrics. Hal looked at her and went up to her, pre-planning on what he’d say. He went up to the tall woman and slammed his small pouch of coins down on the desk in front of her. “Give me the kinkiest, most exotic whore in the establishment!” The tall woman looked at him, counting out the small amount of his coins from his pouch. She looked at him with an arched and discerning eyebrow. Hal retracted his statement and changed it in consideration of the proposition, “Or the best one that I can afford for that price.” He looked at the tall woman, pleadingly, “That’s all I have.”

The tall woman looked up at him with a thin smile spreading across her lips, “Don’t worry hun, we’ll look after you.” The tall woman whispered something into her manservant’s ear who stood nearby. The manservant then went on rushing up ahead to make preparations. After a block of time had passed, the tall woman turned and smiled to Hal, “I think she’s ready for you. Follow me.”

The tall woman led Hal up a winding staircase that opened up and into a room. The room was wide and opened up to a balcony. In the room lay a king sized bed with various multi-coloured glass beads that hung along wires, being strung from one area of the ceiling, across the room, to another. Opening up to the balcony lay a thin, almost see through, robe. The tall woman bid Hal farewell and told him, “Have fun.”

Behind the shadowy curtain that led out and onto the balcony, there was a figure. A female figurine in all of her divine beauty, thin and voluptuous with curves in all the right places. Her legs stretched across the screen of the drape. Her silhouette’s leg stroked up against the other that lay firmly planted on the floor. The leg pulled in at an angle, stretching it to its most severe point, as if testing out her own flexibility. A divine voice, composed in all of its harmony rung out in an accent that he did not recognize.  The sunlight poured in and through the balcony, giving the silhouette contexture and full body definition. “What’s your name?” The voice cooed. “Mine’s Helena.”

The woman, dressed in black lace undergarments burst through the drapery, revealing a part in the middle. “I’m… My name is Hal.” Hal was simply stunned by this divine feminine creature that the woman appeared to be. Her long legs, her breasts, that weren’t too large and they weren’t too small, like grapefruits poking out of her chest. She was perfectly composed in an asymmetrical fashion. The lashes of her eyes were thick and black, as was her hair, with streaks of a lighter shade of brown woven within.

She moved towards him, possessing all the natural grace of a cat. An animal on a predatory hunt. She slunk behind him and held onto Hal’s hips. She began to nibble at his right ear and swirled her tongue upon his lobe, biting ever so slightly with minute mashings of her teeth. Hal shivered in ecstasy. “I bet you’re a virgin, aren’t you, Hal? Haven’t had a woman before.”

“I have, only a couple and nothing serious. They were patrons of the Inn I worked in. Just travellers, passing through.”

“I see,” Helena, the divine figure of dark and mystical beauty placed one of her hands up against Hal’s crotch, feeling for the shaft of his penis. She rubbed soothingly back and forth as Hal hardened. She was still running her tongue up against his earlobe as she gently whispered, “Now, it’s important,” Hal’s cock twitched, she smiled and breathed down the hairs of his neck, “That you don’t,” She pinched the part of his penis where the shaft met the scrotum. “Get too excited.” Hal was paralysed and stationary, tall and muscular, and with one swift motion, the dark beauty used his body weight to swing herself around to his front to which, with perfect momentum, she landed on her knees in front of Hal’s crotch, gazing up at him and staring directly into his eyes. Her eyes were of an electric green, like little pools of green tea.

Hal gazed back into them and then lifted his head and stared up at the ceiling, breathing for air in a space that was filled with his own hormones intermixed with hers’. He looked back down at Helena who was smiling as she placed both of her thumbs and index fingers at the sides of his pants and underwear. She poked her tongue out, her lips were covered in licorice coated lipstick and in an act of anticipation, she spread her tongue across her lips from left to right. Gently she pulled down at his pants and his erection bounced out from underneath.

The rest was a bliss haze. It started there, converting into an interplay of different entanglements of the limbs. The contexture of saliva as mouths and tongues intertwined, the penetration of several orifices and the thrusting away of hips. It went on for some time and ended up with both parties lay sprawled out up and on the king sized bed. Helena had a load of semen spread across her belly as evidence of the act. Hal lay there exhausted and out of breath, though Helena appeared unusually calm and collected. She rubbed the semen up and down her stomach, rubbing it into her skin and then she brought her fingers coated in semen to the flesh of her lips, placing it on the tip of her tongue.

At the sight of this, Hal began to regather his energies and became erect again. To which Helena, noticing the movement below, waved her finger as a sign of dismissal. “Nah-uh honey, you only had enough coin for one round.”

Hal pulled at the sides of his hair and screamed out through the balcony and onto the streets below, unaware of what he was supposed to do next.

IV.

Considering everything else that was happening, there was only one other realistic approach that Hal could take. And that was to join Lord Mortimer’s makeshift band of peasantry that he had begun to call a militia. They weren’t well trained or disciplined like regular soldiers, but they were all men and they all knew how to fight. So that’s what Hal did, he approached the keep guard and enlisted in Mortimer’s makeshift militia. He was armed with a spear and armour, then immediately sent to a post within the Keep, to stand guard and keep watch. As Lord Mortimer and his lieutenants planned a strategy to counter Prince Hector’s approaching army deep within the inner sanctum of the keep.

But the thing was Prince Hector and his forces didn’t need any time to plan on how to tackle the Lord Mortimer’s forces. Prince Hector had been given some seven odd years to plan, strategise and configure how to best meet their foe. He already had in-depth knowledge of the keep from his time imprisoned there all those years ago. And Prince Hector had decided that the best way to tackle the keep was to infiltrate it under the darkness of night. And so that’s what he and a small component of his elite guard did. While Mortimer’s militia stood watch on the keep, Prince Hector and a band of elite soldiers launched a silent invasion of the keep under a cover of darkness.

They scaled the walls of the keep without notice. Taking out any of the militia who stood watch along the walls. Hal was posted near the entrance of the keep and by the time he had any idea of what was happening, his fellow militia had already been taken out. He saw the band of elite soldiers approach the front entrance led by none other than Prince Hector himself. When he recognized that they were not of his fellow militia, he turned around and burst through the grand wooden doors that were the entrance of the keep.

Then he rushed towards the inner sanctum to alert Lord Mortimer. Prince Hector and his elite soldiers gave chase, killing all of the soldiers who were busy resting within the protection of the keep. Hal called out to the soldiers as he raced towards the inner sanctum, doing the best that he could to wake the soldiers from their rest. But they were half asleep and were of little match to Hector and his men. It seemed as Hal raced down those halls, he left a trail of bloodshed and brutality created by the pursuing forces.

When Hal reached the inner sanctum, he had enough time to call out to Lord Mortimer, “They’re here!” Before receiving a crossbow bolt through the back of his neck. As blood gushed from the mortal wound he made the futile attempt to cease the flow of blood that gushed from the puncture, gripping for his neck like climbing a rope. Falling to his knees, he collapsed to the ground, choking on his blood.

Prince Hector strode into the inner sanctum of the keep. There, gathered around tables with maps laid out upon him were Lord Mortimer, and some of his lieutenants. “It seems, Lord Mortimer,” more of Hector’s men rushed in with crossbows pointed at Mortimer and his lieutenants, “That the keep and this city are mine. Victory is mine. Surrender your remaining forces now and I will allow you to live the remainder of your days amongst the peasantry.”

“You really don’t expect me to believe that, do you?” Mortimer answered, “You’re notorious for this type of thing.”

“Yes, I see, but I wonder what your men think?” Hector looked at Mortimer’s surrounding officers with a questioning eye. In response to this, the surrounding officers all took out their swords and butchered Lord Mortimer where he stood. Hacking away at his corpse with their swords and other weaponry. After they had killed their lord, Hector commanded his own men, “Kill them.” And with that, a wave of crossbow bolts was unleashed and found their home in the breasts of Mortimer’s lieutenants. Making them look like stuck pin cushions.

Prince Hector sent word to his own forces that the keep was his and they made preparations to seize control over the city. They allowed any remaining soldiers to join Hector’s own forces on condition of an oath of fealty and that would seem to be that. Hector sat in the keep, admiring his own work while his forces went about their own duties. One of Hector’s lieutenants informed him that there was a man that had come to see him who claimed that he was an envoy of the people. To which Hector informed his lieutenant, “Bring him in.”

Escorted by Hector’s soldiers, Dirk entered the inner sanctum of the keep, “My Prince, I come from the Golden Herring.”

Prince Hector searched his memory for a moment, “Ah, yes. The peasants who helped me escape Mortimer’s clutches all those years ago.”

“Yes, my Prince. I was wondering what you were planning to do now that you have gained control of the city?” Dirk looked at the Prince, questioningly.

“Well, double taxes for one thing. Launching an invasion isn’t cheap.”

Dirk was taken aback by the statement, but continued anyway, “I didn’t mean that. I meant about your son. The bastard you left us with?”

Hector thought about it, “Well, I will have him eliminated. I can’t very well have any bastards laying claims to the throne after I’m gone, now can I?”

“I see,” Dirk spat out and onto the ground, “And the rest of us at the Golden Herring. The maid, Eva, who bore your child and the rest?”

“They will be rewarded, as promised, I suppose.” Just as Hector finished his statement. A woman walked into the inner sanctum unguarded. She wore fine silks and licorice lipstick. She was a fine woman, a dark beauty with black hair with lighter brown streaks. At the sight of her, Hector stopped paying attention to Dirk and focused his attention upon her. Quick in step, Hector went to meet her. When they met, they embraced one another. Then Prince Hector turned to Dirk, “Ah… Good sir, have you met my wife, Princess Helena?”

Dirk looked at the woman, up and down, admiring her beauty, “I have not.”

“You see, my wife has the oddest quirk about her. She wishes to sleep with men who are about to die. Before I infiltrated the keep, she infiltrated the city. Working within the walls of one of your whorehouses. Sleeping with the soldiers. I allow her to do so because she brings me back intel and secrets. Tell me, my love, did you discover anything? Treasure or the like?”

“A few things.” Princess Helena stated.

“Good. We’ll talk later.” Prince Hector dismissed her.

Princess Helena walked gracefully out of the inner sanctum, and upon recognition of Hal’s corpse near the door, bent over and ripped the crossbow bolt out from his neck. Saying to herself, “I’ll keep this as a souvenir.”

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Louis Edward Tschampion.. Also known as Arie de Bruyn Born in Sandringham, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) on the 15th January 1987. Son of Alison and Dirk de Bruyn. Youngest sibling to Kees and Abram de Bruyn. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 22. Holds a bachelor degree from Deakin University in Arts (Media & Communication). Attended several high schools. Has lived and worked internationally in New Delhi, India; and Thailand. Currently resides in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Written several books and self-published them (Check out products and downloads page). Works jobs to earn himself a livable wage. contact: firstofkin@hotmail.com twitter: @firstofkin

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