Chapter 6 - A Fevered Dream
March 10, 1645
The Walled City of Arcadia, Capital of Ivaris
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
I was roughly pushed and the action caught me unaware and had me tumbling face down towards the ground. Then I felt a heavy weight settle on my back and arms covered my head before the sky grew dark and arrows rained down on us.
Before I could do anything, before I could turn around and protect Adrienne, the arrows stopped and I heard a strangled sound above me.
“Adrienne!” I shouted as I moved from under her and gathered her in my arms. My fingers were instantly coated by a warm, sticky substance. Her white dress turned scarlet. My men rushed towards me and surrounded us. “Hold her. Take her to the healer!” I commanded and then stood up and ran towards the Baron who was now detained by my soldiers.
I looked up and checked if there were more archers but my soldiers have already subdued them. There were sounds of running and when I turned my head, more men spilled into the arena. They wore armor and their colors were different from mine. “Men, to me!” I shouted and the scattered soldiers went towards me in a formation. I was at the head of the formation and my sword was drawn.
“Hold this line! Two of you go and bring the Baron to the dungeons!” I commanded as the soldiers rushed towards us. I checked to see if Adrienne was still in the arena but I did not see a sign of her anywhere. I just hope that they have already taken her to the healer before the foreign soldiers blocked the exits.
My body thrummed with excitement as adrenaline coursed through my veins. Again, I was filled with the exhilaration only a battle can provide. It was as if fire and a different sort of energy coursed through my veins now. I held my sword in front of me and waited for the men to approach.
Steel clashed against steel as the foreign soldiers collided with me and my men. I registered shock on their faces when they saw that it was me who was in front of the fighting line. I am no coward king. When it comes to battle, I risk my life as my men do and I won’t have them risking their lives for a coward. I am a warrior through and through and I like fighting in the front lines.
The first soldier rushed through me and I parried his blow with my sword. He was much too slow with his movements because of all that heavy armor and the wooden shield he carried. I thrust my sword forward and the man blocked with his shield. I feinted to the left and he moved with me but I quickly tossed my sword to my other hand and moved it swiftly forward. I saw the shock on the soldier’s face before the life in his eyes dimmed. I kicked his body to dislodge him from my sword and then ducked to the right when I saw a glint of silver pass close to my ear.
I ducked and then crouched low and did a sweeping kick which sent four soldiers down towards the ground. Then with a quick movement of my arm, I thrust my sword down and aimed for the gap in their armor: the space for the eyes. Blood spurted and flowed down the ground. I roared as more soldiers approached me and I drowned myself in the thrill of the battle.
I caught a flash of white in the far left and saw the soldiers holding Adrienne put her down on one of the bleachers to fight off more soldiers who came running towards them. They were outnumbered but they tried to fight as best as they could.
I roared again and then hacked away at the soldiers blocking my path. More soldiers blocked my path but their limbs were severed and their blood flowed on the ground. I reached Adrienne just as the last of the two soldiers defending her died. An enemy soldier was picking her up and I saw her face contort in pain.
Then everything inside of me snapped and as if a primal instinct emerged. I roared again and this time I felt the fear in the enemy as their response. Then I withdrew my other sword and stood in front of Adrienne’s body. Then it was as if time stood still and everything slowed down. All I felt was the rage inside me and it overran my thoughts. I didn’t think anymore, I just fought. My two swords became an extension of me as I hacked and slashed away at the soldiers.
"You did your part... Now he’ll do his..." the sweet voice whispered to me. Again, I tried to open my eyes but my lids felt like they weighed a ton.
“What does that mean?” I replied in my mind.
“Aiken will keep us safe... He always does.” The voice replied. I huffed. Safe? Yeah right. The pain in my body tells me just how safe I am. I felt as if I was floating on a lake of fire. I tried to open my eyes again and this time I succeeded. I saw a soldier carrying me while another stood to the side.
I groaned because every step the soldier took jarred my entire body and only caused more pain. Suddenly, I heard the sound of running feet and swords being drawn. “Put her down!” the other soldier commanded and the soldier who was carrying me gently placed me on a solid surface. The soldier placed me on my side, careful of the arrows on my back and then he stood up and all I saw were boots.
I closed my eyes once more for I did not want to see them die. They were outnumbered and there’s no help that will come for we were closed off from the main battalion of the King’s soldiers. Then, without warning, I felt fingers grip my upper arms in a rough bruising grip. I opened my eyes and saw a soldier trying to pick me up.
“No!” I shouted and tried to use my legs to back up a little bit but pain exploded from my back and I almost fainted. I heard a loud cry and then when I opened my eyes again, I saw gleaming black boots and armor in front of me. The King was standing in front of me and he was protecting me!
Maybe the voice inside my head was right after all... But why did she call the King, Aiken?
I tried to keep my eyes open for as long as I could so that I could guard the king’s back and warn him of danger. But I was only able to be awake for a few more seconds before the pain became too overwhelming and darkness claimed me again.
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
“It’s over, milord...”
“The battle’s done...”
“Please... Lay down your sword...”
“No one is going to harm the girl.”
“Your highness! Please snap out of it!”
“Let us near her or she’ll bleed to death!
“Seth! It’s me, Malcolm! Stop this, now!”
I stood in front of Adrienne with both my swords in hand. I waited for anyone foolish enough to approach her. One soldier tried to reach out towards her and he almost lost his arm with a swipe of my sword if other soldiers hadn’t pulled him back.
A blonde-haired man approached me and I noticed he was bigger than the rest of them. My muscles tensed in preparation of a fight. When he was too close, I raised my sword but he was fast and he was able to block my attack. Then he dove and gripped both my arms in a deathly grip. I struggled but he was strong.
“Seth! Snap out of it! It’s me! Malcolm!” the man shouted. The rage just built higher and higher inside me. The man let go of my arms and forced me to look at him. “Seth! If you don’t let us near her, she’s going to die!” the man shouted.
His voice seemed to penetrate in the fog of my mind and then he forced my head back to look at the girl I was protecting. “Adrienne...” I whispered and I noticed her pallor and the way her tiny frame shivered from the cold.
“Seth!” the man snapped again and this time I was able to think clearly. I resheathed my swords and surveyed the area in front of me. Numerous bodies were piled before me and blood turned the sand from brown to red. All of the enemy soldiers were gone and my own soldiers stood in front of me with fear in their faces.
“What happened?” I asked the captain of my soldiers and my friend, Malcolm.
“You were in a battle trance. And you killed all of them.” He replied and pointed at the bodies in front of me. “Then the battle trance got to you so deep that you didn’t even recognize us. You won’t allow anyone near the girl.” Malcolm said and his words spurred me into action and I went towards Adrienne and gathered her in my arms.
I ran towards the castle and took the stairs two at a time. “Call the healer!” I shouted to my men as I kicked open the door to Adrienne’s room and placed her gently on the bed. I turned her on her side.
The healer arrived carrying her bag of herbs and potions. She opened the bag and took out the needed materials. “Can’t you work any faster?!” I shouted and the healer trembled. “If she dies, I’ll have your head next.” I threatened and the healer paled. She moved faster as she mixed her herbs.
“You’ll need to hold her down, your highness. I have to take out the arrows.” She said and I nodded. I wrapped my arms around Adrienne and then nodded to the healer that I was ready. She quickly pulled out the first arrow and I felt Adrienne jerk and buck beneath me.
“Nooo! Please nooo!” she shouted and I felt something inside my chest twist at the sight of her like this.
The healer pulled out the second arrow. Then the third. When the third arrow was out, Adrienne was thrashing underneath me as blood flowed from the three wounds. “Please... No more...” she pleaded.
I didn’t know what to do so I just tightened my grip on her and tucked her inside my chest as I murmured soothing words to her. She relaxed a bit and then the healer placed an herb under her nose. She sniffed and then fainted in my arms.
The healer then proceeded to clean her wound and then sew it shut. She placed some herbs on it and then wrapped it in a tight bandage.
“Will she be alright?” I asked the healer.
“I cannot say that for now, your highness. She lost too much blood but I have sewn the wounds now. I will pray that she does not catch the fever.” The healer said.
I nodded then she bowed to me. “I’ll be back later, your highness.” She said and exited the room quietly.
The servants brought in buckets of water and some wash cloths and a clean change of clothes for me. I wiped myself clean of all the blood and grime and then removed my armor and changed my clothes. Then, I pulled out a chair and made myself comfortable at Adrienne’s bed.
For a few minutes, I just watched her sleep. I felt something inside me soften at the view of her lying there. She looked so fragile and delicate. I sighed and then stood up to stretch my legs and I went around her room.
A stack of books on the table caught my attention. I approached it and browsed the covers. There were books about Romance, Astrology, Mythology, Mathematics and Science. Has Adrienne read all of this? Did she even know how to read or were those there to make her seem as an educated lady?
I looked through more of her things and saw that she only had one thing of value: the comb with rubies. Has she not asked for anything from the governess?
Right on cue, the governess entered the room with some maids and they laid out my dinner on a table. “What has Adrienne asked for? Did she not ask for jewels?” I asked.
“No, milord. She always asked for books.” The governess replied. I dismissed her and she and the maids bowed and swept out of the room. I was about to make myself comfortable on the chair again when I heard a knock from the door. “Enter.” I said and Malcolm poked his head inside the door.
“A word, please?” he asked and I nodded. I exited the room and then looked at Adrienne’s guard. “Guard this room with your life.” I said and the guard bowed. I walked with Malcolm to a deserted part of the hallway.
“What is it?” I asked.
“We have the Baron in the dungeons. I have been trying to get information from him but to no avail.” Malcolm said. “I’ll handle him later.” I said.
“There’s something I want to tell you but please don’t take offense.” Malcolm said slowly.
“How could the girl have known about the Baron?” he asked and his words were like a blow to me. The wind got knocked out of my lungs. Malcolm was right. How could Adrienne have known? She warned me before the games started and then she was so certain that the Baron was plotting something that she even jumped on the arena and stood in the middle of two running horses. Then she just grabbed the Baron’s lance and showed me the poisoned dagger inside.
How could she have known?
“Do you think she’s in on it?” Malcolm asked.
“Maybe.” I replied through clenched teeth.
“If she was in on it then she changed her mind for she protected you with her body.
“Maybe it was the change of heart of a traitor.” I replied. I did not want to believe what Malcolm was telling me but he was right. “You go and try to get more information from the Baron. Use whatever means necessary. I’ll deal with the girl.” I commanded and Malcolm nodded and then went back to the dungeons.
March 12, 1645 (2 days later)
The Walled City of Arcadia, Capital of Ivaris
I must be in hell. I’ve died and went to hell where I’ll pay for my sins. I always thought I’d go to heaven but then again, getting to heaven must be more difficult than what they say. I’ve not sinned much except being a slave of the King. I never knew it was such a big sin. And now, here I am paying for my sins.
“Adrienne!” a familiar voice whispered in my ear.
“Wake up lazy girl. You’ve been in bed for two weeks now...” the voice persisted. It was followed by the sound of laughter and then a tug on my hand. I opened my eyes.
“That took you long enough.” The voice said and I looked up and found myself staring at a pair of green eyes. “Duncan?” I said disbelievingly.
“Who else?” the voice replied and then laughed again. Then, strong arms went around my shoulders and helped me up to a sitting position. I reached for a glass of water on the bedside table and then downed all the contents for I thought as if my throat was on fire.
“What happened to me?” I asked, taking note of my familiar surroundings. But somehow, the feeling that something was not right wouldn’t leave me. It was as if this wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Also, there was this nagging feeling that I’ve been here before. It was as if this was a distant memory which now became a dream.
“You caught the plague just like everybody else. You’re lucky you didn’t die, though.” Duncan explained.
“How long was I sick?” I asked.
“Two weeks.” Duncan said and I let out a low whistle. “That was too long!” I said and then tried to scramble out of bed for I have much chores to do. “It’s okay, princess. The kitchen can clean itself and the other maids are doing fine without you.” He said.
“Don’t call me, princess.” I reprimanded him and flinched at the endearment he used. “Why not?” he challenged. “I don’t like it.” I replied.
Duncan helped me to stand up more slowly and I noticed that he was wearing his uniform now. He is the captain of the King’s Guard and all the soldiers at Amaranth, my beloved kingdom. He is one of the greatest warriors even though he came from poverty. Now, he was a rich man for the King of Amaranth rewarded him well for his services.
We grew up together. I first met him when I was a lass of eight years. I was playing in the kitchen and the butcher went by to deliver his goods. Duncan was the butcher’s son and he eyed the tarts I was eating with so much hunger. I stood up and then gathered a few tarts and gave it to him. He was shocked and he stared at me with those huge green eyes. I just smiled at him and then went back to my stool.
That was the start of our friendship which became stronger and stronger throughout the years. He became a soldier and then he showed his skill in various skirmishes and raids and the King of Amaranth recognized his skills and later on, he became the Captain of the King’s Guard.
“What are you doing here? Don’t you have more pressing duties?” I asked him.
He just raised an eyebrow and one side of his lips turned up into a crooked smile. “What’s more important than seeing to your welfare?” he asked and I can’t help but blush a scarlet hue.
“That’s more like it. I missed the color in those cheeks for two weeks now.” Duncan said, his voice changing from a teasing tone to a seductive one. He raised his hand and traced a line across my cheek. I leaned in towards his touch.
“Princess...” he began and again I flinched at his endearment. He smiled again at me before his face became serious. “Now that I’m captain... I’m thinking we could return to Harrow and I could ask your father for your hand in marriage...”
My eyes widened in surprise at his words. I know I’ve loved him for too long and I’ve waited for a long time for this. “You will say yes, won’t you?” he asked and I heard a hint of fear in his voice.
“I don’t think I heard a proposal.” I teased.
“Ahh... Forgive me, milady.” He said with a smile and then he went down on one knee.
“Will you, Adrienne, princess of my heart, my love and my life do me the honor of becoming my wife? Mine to protect and cherish for all the rest of our lives?” he said with tenderness that I felt my eyes water at his words.
“Aye... I’ll be your wife, Duncan...“I replied and he stood up and swung me up in his arms and then twirled around and around the room until I got dizzy. He lowered me down to my feet with an apology and then kissed me on the lips.
“I’ll return this afternoon. You’re to stay in your room today. They have no work for you at the kitchens as of now. When I come back later, I’ll accompany you for a stroll. ’Til later, my betrothed.” He said with a wink and then walked happily out the door.
I went about tidying the room and then waited for the morning to pass and for the afternoon to come so that Duncan and I can go on our stroll.
True to his word, he returned later and he looked so handsome with his captain’s uniform on. I wasn’t able to help the smile that lit my face when he came to view. “You look lovely as always, princess.” He said. I flinched again at the word and he threw back his head and laughed.
“Let’s just go.” I said and he took my hand and tucked it under the crook of his elbow as we walked outside of the castle and into the courtyard. Then I felt as if something changed. An entire feeling of doom settled over the feeling of something not being right. It was similar to the feeling you get when you are in a nightmare.
There was the sound of swords being withdrawn and men came into view. The one leading them was tall and he was wearing gleaming black armor but without a headpiece. His grey eyes bore into mine.
“No...” I whispered. Then the man came closer and without warning, he thrust his sword towards Duncan. Duncan parried his blows but from the start it was already clear who the better warrior was.
“No! Please, no! Duncan!” I shouted. Then when I looked at them again, the man’s sword was embedded in Duncan’s chest and sticking out of his back.
“Noooooooooo!” I screamed and ran towards my beloved. His blood flowed and turned the green grass red. When I reached his side, he managed one more weak smile for me before the light went out of his eyes and his grip on my hand slackened.
The man who killed him laughed and laughed and then his skin started to turn dark and then appeared leather-like. His skin turned red and his eyes burned like coals.
“Now... You belong in hell with me.” The devil laughed.
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
“Duncan...” Adrienne whispered in her sleep. It’s been two days since the games and she still hasn’t woken up. However, this is the first time she spoke. And my entire body tightened at the way she whispered the man’s name.
“Why isn’t she awake yet?” I asked the healer who was tending to her bandages.
“She’s caught the fever, your highness. She’s burning up. The fever’s too high.” The healer replied.
I banged my fist on the table and it cracked. “Well, what do we do?!” I shouted and the healer flinched. “I-if it g-gets any higher we’d have to d-dip her in a p-pool of water, my Lord.” The healer said.
“Do it!” I shouted again.
“No! Please, no! Duncan!” Adrienne screamed again and this time she thrashed on the bed. I bolted of my seat and went to her.
“What’s happening to her?!?”
“The fever may be causing her nightmares, my King. It may also cause her some disorientation, confusion and hallucinations.” The healer replied as she wiped a wet towel across Adrienne’s brow. Still, she continued to thrash and thrash on the bed and tears were falling from her eyes.
I had the strangest urge to comfort her and wrap my arms around her but I held myself back.
“Nooooooooo!!!” she screamed again and her back arched off the bed. The bandages around her wounds became stained with red as her wounds reopened.
I quickly wrapped my arms around her and held her to my chest. I pinned her arms on her side not allowing more movement. “Adrienne! Stop! It was just a dream!” I shouted.
Her entire body relaxed and then her eyes opened.
“Don’t let them take me! Don’t please! They killed Duncan! Nooo... Not my Duncan... I love him!” she begged me, her hands clawing at my arms. “Please...” she whispered once more before her eyes closed again and her body was wracked with convulsions.
She looked so helpless and so fragile as if she might break if I squeezed her body too tight.
“Do something!“I shouted to the healer.
“I’ve done everything I could, your highness. It’s all in the old gods’ hands now.” She replied.
New character! Duncan- captain of the King’s guard at Amaranth (Adrienne’s kingdom) They are friends since childhood and he was the one she wanted to marry ever since. But they can’t for circumstances are not in their favor.
DUNCAN IS NOT DEAD, OKAY? IT WAS JUST A NIGHTMARE. LOL. THAT IS WHY THE CHAPTER’S TITLE IS “A FEVERED DREAM” AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS, IT SAID THAT ADRIENNE HASN’T WOKEN UP FOR TWO DAYS SINCE THE GAMES.