Chapter 9 pt B
The Driver must have heard her even though the window wasn’t open because soon enough we weren’t moving.
“What do you want me to do for you, Elaine?” I tried to keep my voice from shaking but it wasn’t working out as I thought it would.
“Get me out of here.” she breathed. “Get me out of here!!”
I reached for her hand and pulled her up. She let out a wail as she went up.
“Are you okay?” I paused and nearly dropped her.
“No!! Get me out of here!!” She turned to screams.
I opened the door to the Carriage and led her out and to the side of the path. When her feet hit the ground she crumpled to her knees and began heaving. I kneeled to rub her back when the Driver called my name.
“Will you be okay if I leave you here for a minute?” I asked her.
Elaine responded by throwing up whatever she had eaten earlier. I pulled her hair back and then got up to walk to the front of the Carriage where the Driver was sitting. When he saw me he frowned.
“What’s wrong, Ene? Everything was fine until I heard shouting from the cab.” He furrowed his brows at our stop.
It was a long two days for all of us. I’m sure the driver doesn’t want to be hereafter about a day and a half. I don’t blame him. Sitting outside in the sun all day couldn’t have been fun. Just like sitting in the cab for two days wasn’t fun either.
“Is the Sor alright?” He asked.
“Yeah.” I brushed it off. “Just motion sickness. She’s okay. I promise.”
She wasn’t okay but I wasn’t about to tell him that. Once again, these sorts of things were up to Elaine. If she wanted people to know then she would have told them.
“Right. What would you like me to do? We only have about thirty more minutes to the town, do you want to continue going?” The Driver asked.
It was obvious this man was anxious to be done. He wanted to be inside again. I had sympathy for him, don’t get me wrong. Still, Elaine had more serious and pressing issues than his being uncomfortable outside.
“I think I’m just going to go sit with her until she feels better.”
The Driver bit his lip to keep from frowning. Smart move. I walked away from him and back towards Elaine. She was sitting in the shade cast by the carriage. Her skin was overly pale but she looked like she wasn’t in as much pain as before.
“Do you need water?” I asked as I leaned down towards her.
Elaine nodded but she had a deep-set frown on her face. Something was bothering her. Her eyebrows were furrowed so I could tell that she was thinking deeply about something. I opened the Carriage door and pulled out my canteen of water. I was almost out but it seemed like she needed the water more than I did.
Elaine gulped down the water and I had to pull it away before she choked.
“Are you feeling better?” I asked hesitantly.
I was with the Driver. The sooner we got to Cadia, the better. Still, I didn’t want to push her to do something she wasn’t comfortable with doing just yet.
“Yeah.” She nodded.
Well, that was settled. We could leave now.
I nodded, “Well we are near to the Kingdom. If we leave now we can probably make it before sundown.”
“Edmond, I want to talk to you about something.” Elaine bit her lip.
I didn’t know what she was talking about but I nodded for her to continue. She seemed nervous which in turn made me nervous. I didn’t know what she would be talking to me about but by the look on her face, I knew it couldn’t have been good.
“This ‘attack’ wasn’t bad.” She started hesitantly.
I interrupted and announced, “But that’s great news!”
Elaine glared at me.
“I have a feeling there’s a ‘but’.”
“But they are getting worse Edmond.”
This was exactly the conversation I have been dreading. I wish it didn’t have to happen at all but that was selfish of me. I needed to be selfless, for Elaine.
“What do you want to do about it?” I pondered,
This was probably a good conversation to have. It was hard, sure, still, we needed to have a plan of what we are going to do. Elaine is losing herself. I know that. She knows that. Everyone is catching on that something is wrong. Lucian is soon going to realize that there is something wrong with his mom that goes past his beliefs of a simple illness. We need to know what we are going to do.
I’m not writing the rest of this conversation. It’s too private, even for a journal. Besides, this was perhaps the most difficult conversation I have had with her.
We were on our way again. I had promised her that I would do it but I’m already having regrets. Still, it was her dying wish and who was I to tell her that I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. Could I? No, I had to do it. I promised her.
Elaine and I were silent in the Carriage. We hadn’t said a word to one another since she made me promise. Instead, I looked out the window and wondered what my life would be like. Then I decided my life was too depressing to think about so I switched over to Lucian’s life. He was still young. He could move on unlike me.
He’ll find a girl and he’ll fall in love. Then they’d take over the Shire one day. At that time I will be gone. I would be joining Elaine once again. I simply cannot wait for that day. I know such morbid thoughts but there’s so much light that she brings to my life. I can only think of one thing without her and that’s despair.
I know that not all aspects of my life will be gone but Elaine is a huge chunk of my life. I will still have the rule over the Shire. I will still have my son, Lucian. I will still have my hundreds of servants but I won’t have my wife.
How could I ever find happiness here without her? She’s like another piece of me. Without her, I would just be lost.
If anyone ever finds this journal I want you to know that. Whatever my future may bring, I did love her. I always want that to be attached to me. I will go on to do great things. I have gone on to do great things. I finally ended the Great War. I brought peace and prosperity to my people. I just don’t want them to forget that Elaine and I did all of that together. We were a partnership. There’s an old saying that is printed onto every Sor or Ene’s gravestone that says “Do not just honor all they are. Honor all they were and all they could become.” It perfectly suits us as a group of people.
We are royals. We are spoiled little immature and ignorant brats. We never had any hardships during our childhood so we don’t have hard-set morals. Our personalities are ever-changing. We are corrupted. We are spoiled. We are ruinous. We can take great civilizations and level them with one reign. We are probably the least qualified to rule the Shires but we do because it’s “in our blood”. The line is saying that if we weren’t a good person when we died then at least honor the person we used to be or the person we were on our way to becoming. Just as we are corruptible, we can be saved. Royals don’t hold personalities for long. Like I said earlier, we are ever-changing.
I have made mistakes. Many of them. I will go on to make many more but at least I can still be remembered as a war hero. And I know the people will remember me as a war hero. My father started the war and they remember him as the man who freed our Shire from the tyranny of our neighbors. Thousands of people died in that war but he is still remembered as a hero because of how the end of the war turned out. He gets recognized for the fruits of my labor. I’m not bitter about it. I’m sure I’ll get recognized plenty but it just goes to show the respect these people will have for the dead.
Even if we lost the war, he would still be recognized for something. Even if it happened years ago. I’m sure it’s reassuring for Elaine as well. Even if the word gets out that she’s ill, that’s not how she will be remembered. She’ll be remembered for her kindness or for donating a lot of money to the war victims so they could rebuild houses. She will go down in history as one of the best Sors of our Shire. I will make sure she gets the recognition she deserves.
Her illness will hardly be remembered other than a little footnote in a book. That is how I will honor her.
I looked over from the window and towards her. She was staring out the other window as the sun was setting. It was painting the sky with beautiful colors. I wonder what she is thinking right now. I wonder if she knew that her summer sunsets were dwindling. Soon it would be fall and the sun would set sooner and sooner. The sky would get grey and cold.
I cannot say this out loud but this is the last summer she will see.
By the way that she is degrading, she probably won’t last the winter. Especially with the cold weather, we get here. If she does make it that long, I will take her far away from this place. I’ll take her and we’ll hide from the world on the coastline. It’s warmer up there, nearly always summer.
I’ll give her more summer sunsets if she so wished. As I was looking at her I knew that I would give her the entire world, or die trying. That’s how I knew that I had to keep my promise. This was her wish and I had to respect it or she would never be at peace.
As the sunset along the horizon, we entered the small castle town. The town was filled with noise and commotion. I had heard about what was going on here. The Ene died last week. Right now they are preparing to swear in the new rulers. Many people aren’t happy about it. They think they are too young. They aren’t too young in my opinion. They are older than I am now and I have sworn in a few years ago.
I remember the outrage about my reign. We were in the middle of the war my father had started. My father had died but I was hardly 27. The people thought I wasn’t ready to rule the Shire. I probably wasn’t. I’m probably still not ready, but I’ve done good things. Surely that can outweigh some of the things I’ve done.
The people on the streets were filled with outrage as a young man addressed the crowds with his wife on the right and a little daughter in the middle. She couldn’t have been much older than Lucian was. Still, even she was jeered by the crowd. These people were so full of hate. Cadia and Fyn haven’t been very close in recent years. I don’t know how the people felt about the last set of rulers. Maybe they were so beloved that the people will reject anyone who tries to take their place for a while. Perhaps they were so hated that the people will reject anyone related to them. By the distraught on the young man’s face, I could tell that he was close to the old ruler. He didn’t want to be in his father’s place as much as the people didn’t want him there.
Our Carriage passed through unnoticed. I was grateful for that. Everyone in the town was focused on the new Ene’s address that they weren’t paying attention to us. We sneaked into the town unnoticed. If we got out and started walking around right now we would blend right in. Both Elaine and I were disheveled and tired, like everyone on the street. The only thing that didn’t fit our guise was the Carriage. It had Fyn’s royal symbol on it and surely it would have been noticed if this was a normal day for Cadia.
The people may not have thought we were the rulers of the Shire but they definitely would have thought we were important. If word got around that members of Fyn’s embassy were in Cadia we would be required to go see Cadia’s rulers for a diplomatic meeting, usually over dinner. It basically gets turned into a big event. It would get even more inflated when Cadia found out who we were. It was better for the fewest people possible to see us.
We weren’t in Cadia to mingle. We were there to see if there was any hope for Elaine. If there wasn’t then we’d quietly go home. There was no need for a big event to take place. Even if I had the nerve to decline Cadia’s hospitality, I wouldn’t.
People are touchy things. They get offended easily. If I told the rulers of Cadia that Elaine and I didn’t want to stay in their castle during the duration of our visit, it could be considered a personal attack on them. As I said, people get offended easily. If the new rulers were really petty then they could enforce the “verbal accusations” act. According to the act, the simple act of disrespecting another Shire in that Shire would be reason enough to declare war on the first Shire.
Considering that Cadia is about five times our size, I don’t really want to do that. My people don’t need another war to deal with right now. We are only just recovering from the last one. Something like that would be atrociously stupid. I don’t even think “ Do not honor all they are. Honor all they were and all they could become.” could save me then.
The yelling in the streets began to quiet as we went further into the town. There was hardly anyone around. Aside from a few homeless folks sitting on the corner of the street, everything was empty. It was a little unsettling. I hoped that Ms. Genevieve would be in her shop and not at the address in the town square.
The quietness was unsettling me. I didn’t want to be here any more than I had to. Across the street, a wild dog skittered in the alleyway. That only added to my unease. Cadia and Fyn have been on okay terms for as long as I can remember so we trade and have meetings with one another often. I’ve been in this town a lot in my life. It was like the market town outside of the Fortress. This town was plentifully occupied with people. There were more people than could be housed in the buildings. When you have a town like that, there’s always noise. You get so used to the noise that it becomes quiet and in the background. You can go about your business.
When you live in a town like that, it’s the silence that’s loud. Like this. The silence here was deafening. It was all I could think about. It filled the hot summer air like a thick blanket. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My eyes started skittering from window to window. It was almost like I knew that hidden assailants hid in the quietness. I knew that it wasn’t logical but it was very difficult to logic away from my paranoia. If I tried to, I would end up in a battle against myself.
It was too big of a part of myself to lock in a drawer somewhere.
“Elaine?” I asked her as she was resting her head against the walls of the Carriage.
“Yes?” She yawned.
I had nearly gotten my mind off our conversation which was sort of a good thing in a concept. I don’t think she’d be happy I did it by getting myself all worked up and paranoid.
“Is it too quiet?” I asked as I looked for people in the street, anyone really.
“Eddie, listen. No one is out to get you, come here. We have a few more streets and you are warm.” Elaine beckoned me over but I don’t know if I was going to be able to relax.
I leaned into her and Elaine closed her eyes again. I had a question. I had to ask it because I wasn’t going to be able to forget it if I didn’t ask.
Elaine stretched out a little before answering again, “What is it, Edmond?”
“Did we mess up Lucian?”
Elaine looked up at me like she didn’t know what I was talking about. Elaine was lying. She knew exactly what I was talking about.
“What do you mean? In what way?” Elaine asked me.
“You didn’t want to get pregnant because you were afraid that the illness would infect a child of yours one day. That wasn’t the only reason, wasn’t it?” I asked.
Elaine looked puzzled. Then it dawned on her.
“Edmond, I know you struggle with paranoia but you deal with it so well. It doesn’t paralyze you or render you decision-less. It just gives you a little harder time than most people. It’s not bad that you like to think out all the possibilities. It makes you a good ruler. It’ll make Lucian a good ruler as well. But you have a point, we didn’t exactly help out the poor kid. He’ll just have more mountains to climb. It will make him strong and morally set.”
I really hope so. I can’t really tell yet but soon I should begin to see the signs of paranoia in his head. I don’t really know if I believe in a higher being but I pray to whatever might be out there that he won’t be like me. I want him to have a happy life away from mental disease. Elaine said that it will make him a better ruler but what she doesn’t understand is that it won’t make him a better person. It will make him cruel and angry and unable to trust anyone. That is not something I want for my boy.
Of course, maybe he won’t even live long enough to get cruel and angry. Maybe whatever he got from Elaine will take him before that. He really got the wrong end of the stick, didn’t he? He inherited life-ruining things from both parents. I mean, maybe he won’t end up a paranoid, anxious mess, but I wouldn’t count on that.
I just hope that he has an enjoyable life, however long that may be. That’s when it really hit me. Lucian is 8 years old, Elaine is 31 and I’m only 33. Assuming that this thing takes hold at about the same age for each person, Lucian only has 23 more sane years of his life left. That may seem like a lot but he’s only 8. He hasn’t lived his life yet. Adding on to that depressing fact, in 23 years I’ll only be 56. I’ll most likely still be alive when he gets sick. Not only will I have to go through Elaine’s death but I’ll have to witness my son get sick. Maybe he will have a wife at that point. Maybe he will have a child.
A child that will be infected just like him. Just like him, my grandson will get sick and die one day.
I stayed quiet for a minute. Our family legacy is poisoned. The whole kingdom of Fyn will be cursed like us as long as the kingdom stays in our bloodline. People will begin to wonder what is happening to all the Enes or Sors in this family that dies young. When they catch on to what is going on, we will be disgraced. Probably kicked out of the shire and towards the badlands. Especially since we knew what was happening all along.
Besides, it wasn’t fair to the people. Shires are strong on the shoulders of a man and a woman. They together carry the weight of the kingdom on their shoulders. Of course, it’s no easy task. Sometimes they struggle, but they always stay balanced together.
Suppose one dies young, maybe in war or because of illness, the power is thrown off balance. Running the land is difficult enough with two people but with only one? Most of them in history have either fallen to tyranny without another person there to check them or their Shire gets taken over.
Either way, people always suffer. They always get caught in the crossfires. Maybe their village burned down in a war or maybe they are being forced to work as slaves for a tyrannical ruler.
Sometimes the Shire makes it out okay. Sometimes their ruler is truly a good person and can rule fairly, even without a second person. There’s always hope that it might happen. Like I said, sometimes it does. Most of the time it doesn’t.
It’s not fair to the people to be stuck with one ruler for most of their lives. It’s not fair to put them through that. So what to do.
I still had my arms wrapped around Elaine and she was whispering something in my ear but I wasn’t listening to her. I needed to find out a way to get the Kreed family thrown out of power. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, to remove a family from the royal bloodline. Something terrible needs to happen. Or I need to protest a lot. Either way, I need someone to take the responsibility for the thrown out of grace.
I cannot take the fall. The only way I can get out of ruling is if I died. If I died, the kingdom would’ve gone to Arlen, my younger brother, but he got married last month and is already ruling. If only he hadn’t gotten married already. We wouldn’t really need to switch families entirely. Just people. If Arlen wasn’t married to his wife Lyra, or if she wasn’t already Sor, he could take over the kingdom when Elaine dies and I follow after her. That would be so much simpler than changing the royal family.
But, that’s a dead end. Arlen is already ruling and nothing can change that. That means the one to take the fall must be Lucian.
Of course, I feel bad for purposely giving Lucian a bad reputation but it’s better than the alternative. If Lucian gets us thrown out of power then he is the only one disgraced. If the people find out about our indiscretions, our entire royal bloodline, spanning back about a thousand years, will be disgraced.
I knew I couldn’t be the one to suggest to exclude the biological heir. It would be too suspicious. Someone in my council needed to be the one to do it. It needed to be something big. Something that not even my loyalist council members could forgive.
I needed to build up his paranoia and his anxiety until he does something damning. That is how I will save our lives. Lucian must end the cycle.