Monday, June 30, 2014

Knightley Guard, Orb's Year 945-948


Orb's Year 945
"Camelot! I would speak to you!" Eryka Knightley said sharply as she burst into the bedroom.

Camelot sighed as he turned around to face his wife.  "What is it this time?" he asked wearily.  He cursed himself as a baseless beast for impregnating his wife again when her mind simply could not tolerate it.  She'd become shrill and vexing the further into pregnancy that she got.
"I simply asked Guy to fetch a footrest for my aching feet and he turned on his heel and walked away.  He ignored me! I won't stand for it!" she railed.
"You forget they're young boys, still, Eryka.  They would vex any mother..."

"I am not their mother!" she fairly screeched.

Camelot sought to soothe his wife.  "I'm sure it was a misunderstanding," he said, "I'll speak to him."

"Bah! You've spoken to them time and time again! They think I'm not going to have a boy, so they do not have to be kind to me! I'll talk to him," she growled.

Camelot sighed.  He wished he knew how to ameliorate the animosity between his half-class children and their stepmother.  Unfortunately, Eryka viewed them as competition.  He closed his eyes and fervently prayed for another girl.  If Eryka bore him a boy, the future of his twins would be very bleak...

 ***

Eryka strode from the room and stopped short when she saw Guy in the Great Hall.  Lifting her skirts, she changed direction and bore down on him quickly before he could slip away.
Guy turned around and saw Eryka barreling towards him, practically foaming at the mouth.  This was not going to be good, he thought, cursing himself for having been caught unawares.

When she confronted him, he raised his hands, palms out, in a symbol of peace.  "Eryka! I didn't see you there..."
Eryka jabbed the teen in the chest with a sharpened finger.  "You think you're so clever!" she accused.  "But you are never going to be Lord Knightley! You're just a half-class nothing!"
Guy rubbed the sore ache on his ribs.  "I bow to whatever plans my father has arranged for me.  If I am not to be Lord, then so be it," he said.  Orb's truth, sometimes he wished he had not been the first born so he wouldn't have to deal with her tirade constantly!

Eryka continued to glare at him distrustfully.  "I will give him his heir and then you and your brother will be sent packing!"

***

Eryka walked the empty halls of the castle.  Her children and the half-class peasants had gone to their lessons.  It still galled that Camelot was having his half-class children schooled right along side her children! It was a slap in the face!

Uh, she grunted, clutching her belly.  The baby...  Eryka panted as she delivered, desperately panting, please be a boy... please be a boy...
Looking at the babe, she screeched with horror.  "No!" she howled as she pulled at her hair.
"No! No! No! Cursed Orb! Nooooooooooooooooooo!"
Leaving the child where it lay, she went to the bar and pulled out the liquor.  A drink would help steady her nerves...

***

"Is she... dead?" Hugh asked when they came home and found their stepmother collapsed on the floor.

Guy grunted as he knelt down to feel her pulse.  "No, her heart beats."  Smelling her breath, he winced and turned away.  "She's soused!" He paused and added, "It looks like she's given birth..."
The boys stilled and listened for any cries.

There were none...

"The baby!" Hugh cried out with concern.
Racing up the stairs, he tried to brace himself for what he might find from his sick, twisted stepmother.
His heart literally skipped a beat when he saw the child safe in the nanny's arms. 

***

Guy glanced up when Hugh came back down.  "I just put Eryka in her bed," he said.

"That was kinder than she deserves," Hugh said coldly.

Guy stilled. "The baby is okay?"

Hugh nodded, "Yes, the nanny was here to care for the girl.  But it's clear Eryka wanted nothing to do with the child because it wasn't her sainted heir..."

"How are we going to tell father?" Guy asked.
"Tell me what?"

The twins glanced at each other and willed the other to speak.  "Your daughter..." Hugh started with trepidation.
Camelot took the stairs up in leaps, rushing into the room to hold his newborn daughter in his arms.  "Gayle Knightley," he whispered reverently.

Orb's Year 946
"Where's mama?" Felysha asked, staring at the empty spot at the table.

Guy started to snicker & Camelot shook his head slightly.  "Your mother's not feeling well," he said simply as Guy and Hugh looked down at their plates.

***

Camelot went into the bedroom to check on Eryka.  She'd taken to drink and hadn't been sober since the birth of Gayle.  Blowing out the candle she'd left on by her bedside, he left the room with disgust.
He settled on the bench in the Great Hall.  Something has to change, he thought as he drifted into unsettled sleep.

***

Eryka awoke in the morning, fully dressed.  She vaguely remembered staggering to bed and passing out.  Oh, how her head ached this morning.
"Mama!" Felysha cried as she came hurrying down the stairs.  "You're better!"
"Not so loud!" Eryka said quietly, trying to still the throbbing in her head.  "So tell me, what have your half-class brothers been up to?"

Felysha narrowed her eyes. "Father has been talking to Guy about beginning his training!"

Eryka frowned.  "Well, isn't that cozy!" she scoffed.  So Camelot had gone ahead and declared the half-class his heir.  Eryka was distracted from the black haze that descended by Felysha's prattling.

"...and Elyana has been talking to both the scoundrels!" her daughter continued to tattle.

"Well, if Elyana wants to lie down with dogs, she'll be bitten by fleas.  There's really no other alternative..."

"What's that, mama?" Felysha asked eagerly.

"Show her how it feels to be treated like dirt beneath our shoes.  It's for her own good."

***

Felysha couldn't wait to hurry over and harass Elyana.  She'd always been such a goodie-two-shoes!  "Half-class lover!" Felysha snapped, tugging on Elyana's hair painfully.

"Felysha! Stop it!" Elysha demanded.  "They're our brothers!"

"Mama should take away your pretty gowns and make you dress like a peasant since you want to be one so bad!" Felysha yanked on her hair again.

"You are acting like an immature brat!" Elyana cried as she pushed past her sister and hurried upstairs.

***

"That's enough drinking!" Camelot ordered his wife.  "It's made you unbearable!"

Eryka crossed her arms and scowled.  "What do you care? The girls and I could die for all you care! Not when you have your sainted heir!"

Camelot shook his head. "That is a vile accusation! I love my girls! But you can't see past your own bitterness to see that! You," he said pointing his finger at her, "have turned into your mother!"  Camelot stalked out the door, slamming it behind him.

Eryka gasped with displeasure.  "I am not my mother!" she screeched at the closed door.

She heard a chuckle from the kitchen.
"What are you laughing at?!" she accused her cursed lover.  "Is there anything remotely funny about this situation that I've found myself?"
"I would pull that finger out of my face, love," Ryker said snidely.  "I'm sure your husband would love to hear that you resorted to a potion to bring him back to your bed!  Tsk," he added. "And you've lost that honor so quickly after the birth, too!"
Eryka quickly recanted.  "I'm sorry. I've just been under so much stress," she said with a shaking hand.  "Perhaps I can make it up to you," she suggested, dropping down to her knees.

***

"I can't believe it! Papa went to the King to decree you the new heir to the Knightley Guard castle!" Hugh said, congratulating his brother.  "We've come a long way!"

Guy grimaced and turned to look away.

"What is it?" Hugh asked.  "What's wrong?"
Guy sunk to the floor and Hugh followed suit.  "What if I don't want it?" he grumbled.

"Not want it? Why not? To serve the King?! To serve in the Guard?! To defend the kingdom? It's amazing!"

Guy scoffed. "Maybe to you, but not to me! I don't feel like I deserve it..."
"Don't listen to that viper!" Hugh said, referring to their bitter stepmother.  "She puts on heirs, but she was born a merchant! It's not as though she has room to cast stones!"

"It's not that," Guy said weakly. "It's just... I don't know..." he finished lamely.  "It's nothing..."

***

Eryka glared at her reflection. Her age was beginning to show.  Childbirth and injustice was wrecking havoc on her fair skin. 

Forcing the scowl from her face, she arranged her hair neatly.  Appearance were everything...
Then, feeling more in control, she sauntered into the Dining Hall and poured another drink with a shaky hand.  She would need a few drinks in her to put up with the guests that would pour through the door for Gayle's cursed Orb day.

***

"Happy Orb's Day!" Camelot and his family cheered as Gayle attempted to blow the candles out on the cake.
Camelot snuggled his daughter in his arms before setting her down.  She was a beautiful little girl, much like her mother.  He only hoped Eryka wasn't able to poison her as she had poisoned Felysha...
"Mother, perhaps you should stop drinking so much..." Elyana said, wringing her hands desperately behind Eryka.  "It's Gayle's birthday."

Eryka scoffed. "She should've been a boy! You should've been a boy! You're nothing and don't you forget it!"
Guy saw Elyana wiping her eye and hurried to his sister's side.  "Eryka, you've had enough."  He hated it when Eryka made Elyana cry!

Eryka just glared at the half-class rascal, sticking her finger in his face.  "I haven't had enough! I'll have enough when I say I've had enough... and I haven't had enough!"

She put her mouth under the spout and turned it on, letting the ale pour down her throat.

***

"Mother! Get down!" Elyana hissed.  "You know Papa is going to be mad!"

"Ha! Like I care!" Eryka laughed, dancing on the tabletop and lifting her skirts higher than was proper.  Elyana frantically tugged at her mother's skirts, trying to preserve her modesty.

Thankfully Camelot's notice was finally drawn to the commotion his wife was making.
"Eryka! Get down from there, this instant," he commanded irately.

Eryka gazed down at him with a wide grin on her face.  She gracefully hopped down...
Camelot lunged and caught Eryka in his arms before she fell face first onto the floor. 
Growling, he shifted her in his arms and prepared to carry her to her bedroom. 

Eryka wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight.  "Oh yes! Take me to bed!" she called out as he weaved through the crowd.  Everyone turned to watch as they passed.
Utterly disgusted with her drunken display, Camelot dropped her onto the bed, but she'd wound her arms around him so tightly that he fell down with her.

Eryka arched up against him, offering encouragement and whimpering in excitement.
He tore himself from her grasp.  "Bloody Orb! You can't seriously expect me to have relations with you!" he snapped.

Eryka attempted to follow him across the bed.  "But I am your wife! I ache for you!"
Camelot stood beside her, knocking the glasses that littered her nightstand to the floor.  "You are a drunk and a fool!" he accused.  "You have shamed me this night!  If you weren't the mother of my children - I would cast you out! Be thankful for that leniency!"
He stalked from the room and straight to the Dining Hall, only stopping briefly to grab something hanging from the wall.
He would not stand for this, he thought as he raised the axe.

Orb's Year 947
Eryka awoke, fuzzy-headed, dry-tongue and a tingling memory of an argument with Camelot.  She needed a drink to clear her mind.
She stopped short when she walked into the Dining Hall and saw the carnage.  "No! What have you done?!" she shrieked.  "I will make you pay!" she said with a heaving chest.

***

"So this is how you repay my leniency!" Camelot said, feeling strangely calm when confronted with proof of his wife's perfidy.  "I should have cast you from my castle years ago!" he thundered.
Eryka slid from the bed, reaching for her dress and throwing it over her nude body quickly.  She hurried to her husband's side to beg forgiveness.  "This isn't how it looks," Eryka she stammered.
Camelot spared a glance for the male that climbed from her bed and ran from the house.  A lifted eyebrow spoke volumes.  "It's not what it seems?" he asked quietly.  "Because this seems damning for you..."

"Please Camelot... be reasonable..." Eryka begged.
Elyana was returning home from school when she saw a naked male dart from the house, nearly bowling her over in his haste to scurry away.

Then she heard the raised voices and her stomach plummeted.  This wasn't good...
"You are not welcome in my home anymore!" Camelot snapped.  "You have made your bed and you can lie in it!" 

Eryka grabbed at his hands, pleading for forgiveness.  "You would cast me out after fifteen years of faithful..."

"Silence!" he thundered.  "I have doubt you were ever faithful, you cruel viper!"  Pausing, he contemplated what to do with this cankerous woman that was his wife.  "I will speak with your family about your return."

"No! I could never be a merchant again! I am a noble!" she argued desperately.  "Please! Camelot! Camelot!" she begged as he turned and walked from the room, flipping down a bar to keep her inside.

***

"Even your family wouldn't take you back.  It seems you'd managed to offend even them!"

Eryka crossed her arms and glared without saying a word.

"So here we are, your Dowager's home," Camelot announced with a flourish. "You will not have male guests, you will not visit with the children without supervision, and you will perform penance for your actions," he said, ticking the list off one by one.
Eryka glanced around the sparse home.  "You mean my prison, don't you!"

Camelot shrugged. "It is what you make it, I suppose."

***

"I just need you to get a message to a dear friend of mine that is sick.  You can do that for me, can't you?" Eryka asked, waving the money in front of the new maid that Camelot had thoughtfully provided for her.


 ***

"I miss you mama! It's not the same without you.  When do you think you'll come back home?" Felysha asked sadly on a visit with her father to the dowager house.

Eryka opened her mouth to respond, but Camelot quickly responded instead. "Your mother needs to stay here for rest and recuperate."

Felysha looked sad for a moment and then brightened.  "Maybe I could come live here with you!"

Eryka dropped to her knee in front of Felysha as her daughter threw herself into her arms.  "Oh, dearest, I would love that.  If only it was possible..." she said, being careful to sound sad and wiping a crocodile tear from her eye.  She cast a sad look towards her callous husband.

But he wasn't even looking. He was staring straight ahead with his jaw clenched angrily.  Taking the opportunity that had presented itself, she whispered in her daughter's ear.


*** 

Later, after Camelot had left with Felysha, Eryka sat down at the chess table.  "Checkmate," Eryka ground out as she grabbed the knight's piece and popped it's head off.


 Orb's Year 948
After their mother's banishment to the Dowager house, the household seemed to breath a sigh of relief. 
Elyana tried to step in and help raise her sisters, coddling little Gayle.
And she tried to encourage Felysha to be nicer, but the young girl's mind had already been warped by their Mother.   There was just no getting through to her younger sister!

***

Felysha grabbed the toy from Gayle, laughing at the way she cried when she waved it over her head.
The tears didn't last long though.  Gayle jumped up and poked Felysha in the chest.  "Give it back!" the young girl demanded.
 The toy dropped unbidden to the floor as Felysha rubbed her chest.  "That hurt! I'm going to tell father!" she cried out, running from the room.

 ***

Ihriel Consul walked into the Knightley Guard castle behind her brother, Finn.  Nervously, she glanced at Guy Knightley, her soon-to-be betrothed.  The arrangements had been made - Guy Knightley would be the next heir and she would be his wife.

She felt like a cattle being sold at auction, she thought sourly.
She came to stand before him and curtsied low.  "My Lord," she said in greeting, trying to appear as humble as possible.   She opened her mouth to begin the next part of the little speech Finn had her memorize, but she stopped when she saw Guy start fidgeting.  "Is everything alright?" she asked.

Guy shook his head, profusely sweating.

"Are you ill?" she pressed.
"I.... I... I can't do this!" Guy said quickly.  "It's not you... I just can't... I don't want to marry her!"
Chaos erupted.

Camelot charged his eldest son, "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded, "As heir..."

Guy crossed his arms. "That's just it! I don't want to be heir! You never asked! You just thrust this onto me! I can't do it!" he said with a breaking voice.  "I never wanted to fail you... but I can't..."

Finn clenched his fists.  "What am I to do?" he asked his friend Camelot.  "Ihriel was promised in betrothal to your heir."

Guy frantically looked to his brother. "You are the heir. I rescind everything to you! I have never wanted it!"
Hugh gulped, stunned by his brother's vehemence.  Knowing it rested on him to make peace between the families, he knelt before Ihriel Consul.  "As next in line for inheritance, I offer my pledge of marriage to you, Ihriel.  If you accept.." he added, glancing up at her with trepidation. 

Ihriel regally nodded her assent.

Quickly, Hugh stood and looked to his father and Finn Consul.  "Does this meet with approval?" he asked.

Camelot and Finn tightly nodded their heads, glaring at Guy.

***

"You don't have to go," Hugh said sadly as he met his brother outside.
"Ah, I don't think it's wise to start your betrothal by harboring a man who turned your future wife down," he said, trying to sound glib.

Hugh ignored his attempt at humor.  "We've never been apart."

"I know," Guy said with a weary sigh. 
"I'm going to miss you.  Be well," Hugh said pulling his brother in for a hug.

"I'm going to miss you, too," Guy whispered with tears in his voice.

***

"Good. You came," Eryka snapped.

"I climbed up through those bloody rose bushes, scratching myself.  There had better be a good reason for your summons!"
Eryka shrugged, "You needed to come in through the back window so you were out of sight," she said as she wiped at Ryker's bloody cheek.  "My husband has decreed that I am allowed no male visitors."

"What do you want with me? He'll tear me limb from limb if he finds me! As it is, he's blackened my name! No royal or noble will have me for work now because I was found in your bed!"

"Poor dear," Eryka tsked softly.  "We'll have to teach him a lesson, won't we?"
Ryker's eyes lit up with interest.

"But first," Eryka said lightly trailing her fingers down his chest.  "I have been without a man for far too long!"

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