The Knights Return

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Image Prompt by /u/LovableCoward

Normally entering the royal garden would make me feel happy, especially after being away for so long. Yet walking through the corridors did not cheer me in the slightest. I was not here for a warm homecoming, instead I came bearing the news from the front. 6 months I had been fighting, the constant threat of death at any moment, no sound sleep, and shit food. Now, I was to the 3 Goddesses I was back there. Looks like I caught the Soldier’s Curse, I thought to myself. My Grandfather had told me about the Soldier’s Curse when I was a young boy, too small to even swing a sword, and it will stick with me the rest of my days. “When a man has been at war for some time,” my papa said, “he finds it nearly impossible to ever return to peace. When you’re surrounded by death, you forget you’re alive.”

He was right. Now wasn’t the time, I arrived at the entrance to the Royal Garden. There she was, between the marble paths and guards in their shining gray armor at the base of the statue in her red dress, her ebony hair almost touching the ground. “M’lady,” announced the guard escorting me, “Sir Custos have arrived from the front.” She slowly turned her head to see me, even from here I felt her dark green eyes looking into mine. You couldn’t tell at first glance, but in her eyes were sorrow. She why I was here, and it didn’t make it any easier for the both of us. She turned back to the statue, “Come.” I obliged. I stood next to her and bowed, “My Queen, I have returned from the front with grave news.” She stared ahead emotionless, “And pray tell me Sir Custos what is this grave news?”

“My Queen, your husband, King Valentus has perished on the battlefield. Though I assure you died a very honorab-” she raised her hand to silence me, “Please Custos, save the speech for the people, my husband is dead, that is all I need to know.” Her abruptness has surprised me, but it wouldn’t be the first time she had. “I am deeply sorry, he not only was my King, but one of the closest friends.” My mind filled with the thoughts of King Valentus’ body cut up and bloody slouched over in the mud and blood. A tear began to fill my eye. She noticed, “Guards! Leave us in private.” The many shining guards marched out of the garden and we were alone.

As I sat down next to her I expected to see a tear on her face, but when I looked up she was still staring at the statue. “Do you know who this statue is, right Sir Custos?” It was the statue of Queen Audazia, the ancestor of Queen Enteria, who when her husband had died in the middle of his war, had lead his armies to victory. She united the lands under One Kingdom, which had lasted for over 200 years. I nodded back to Queen Enteria. “Then you know the queens of this land never depended on their Kings,” she said. It was true, the saying was the King fought and spent while the Queen kept it all together. I pondered for a moment and asked, “What shall we do then Ent?” She sighed, “For now, let us mourn, the war will still be here tomorrow.”

And so we sat the Queen and I, in the garden, until the sun set…

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