The bar was at its fullest; waitresses’ going back and forth, customers’ shouting for service, laugh and snickers around. It was just the usual for this famous bar at this time of the year, and at this time of the night.
“Hey, Trent,” one of those customers spoke up as he approached his friend who was seated at the bar stand. The armed soldier smiled warmly to him and replied, “Oh hey, Matt. Are you finally done with your shift?”
Matt nodded to him and taking a seat right by his side, “Aye. Dammit, man. These shifts are becoming more and more boring with nothing but taking rounds around the city. No one ever does a thing. It’s like we have no criminals around here!”
Trent shrugged carelessly at the remark and replied, “Doesn’t matter a thing. You know the reason. No one dares to do anything because of the strict rules of her majesty. Dare to take a false coin, and it’s either jail or death. The latter is even better.”
Matt looked confusedly at him, “Isn’t that a good thing? I mean, do admit that the crime rate rapidly decreased ever since she became queen.”
At this, Trent frowned and replied, “Whatever. If she actually seeks to solve their problems, the crime rate would decrease too. But she does nothing but lock them up in cells. I tell you, one day, those people will come out of their slums and riot against her, take her off her throne, and have her head off; if she continued being like this, that is.”
Matt was shocked at his friend’s continuous complaints of the queen, whom he served. But then again, it was sort of justified. Wasn’t the queen responsible for the death of this fellow soldier’s brother?
“Well, forget about it, man,” he said with a smile, “I didn’t mean to put you in a bad mood. Chill, we’ve come here to have a swell time!”
Trent smiled at his friend’s enthusiasm and soon joined him in it. The two ordered a couple of glasses of ordinary wine and chatted away. They hadn’t come to get drunk, but only to enjoy some time of peace and away from the stressful duties of soldiers.
However, they couldn’t enjoy their time for too long. As they were chatting, Trent was suddenly silent, closed his eyes and seemed to be quietly attentive. Matt understood what this meant; a telepathic message.
After a few minutes of watching his friend in this state, Trent opened his eyes and looked back at him, but he had an annoyed look. Getting up, he said,
“I have to go, comrade. Speak of the devil, I have to find her.”
Matt sighed and replied, “She ran away again, huh?”
Trent nodded, “Yeah. I’ll search the bars. She is definitely in one of them . . . I suppose.”
He noticed the heavy rain outside the bar that was dripping like crazy. It had begun a few hours ago, when both of them were already in the bar. The lightning struck fiercely, the trees danced with the storm and it was such a blustery weather. No sane creature would actually go out there, but Trent had no choice.
He said his goodbyes to his friend and after wrapping himself up in a huge cloak, he went out of the bar. The raindrops fell on him like rocks, and the weather was scary. But he had to go on.
His destination was the few bars around the city. There were only around four or five of them, and they were mostly placed near each other in the slums of the town. The queen was known to go to one of them if she ran away, but this was his first time to have the honor of searching for her. An honor, huh.
One after one, he looked thoroughly and carefully, but found no traces of her majesty. This was frustrating. His fun time had already been interrupted, the weather was bad, it was freezing cold and on top of that, he couldn’t find her.
After a long while of walking around the bars and its surroundings, still finding nothing, he decided to look around other parts of the town. He was already feeling tired and worn out, but the queen had to be found.
It happened that he was just walking out of the slums he had been in for such a long time, when he finally found her. She was just outside it, quite near, but far enough that you actually had to get out of there if you wanted to see her.
However, the state he found her in was quite shocking, quite a sight. There lay the queen, totally flat on the ground, completely out of it. Her long hair was laid in the muddy grounds, her face worn and distressed; she was completely out. The only bright spot in that dark picture was her faithful pet; a white pegasus who had placed her wing above her mistress, wanting to shield her from the rain.
The soldier approached the couple, and as soon as the pegasus took notice of him, she whinnied and whinnied, pleading him tiredly to help her fallen mistress. Trent gently petted the pegasus’ head and then turned his attention to the unconscious queen. As soon as he approached her, he could smell the traces of beer all over. It was almost unbearable to be near her; the smell was so strong that it almost seemed as though she had drowned in a big barrel of wine!
Shaking his head disgustingly at this careless, drunk queen, he picked her up and gently scooped her up in his arms. He motioned for her pegasus to follow him and she did, walking slowly behind him. But the storm was getting stronger and the lightning was getting brighter. He feared that if they continued to walk so, the lightning might strike them.
Looking around him, he remembered a small cave present in the city’s park for decorative purposes. Figuring that they could go there for shelter, and then he could perhaps ask for a carriage to come pick up the unconscious queen, he settled on that option and headed towards the cave.
The journey to the cave seemed longer than it actually was. Although the park was a few meters away, the lightning, the storm and the rain made it feel like it was years away. But eventually, the trio reached the cave and the soldier led the way inside.
Once inside, he laid his queen on the ground and carefully examined her. Her hair was muddy, her clothes were completely wet, and she smelled like wine. In a few words, she looked miserable, not like a queen at all, but more of a dirty girl who got knocked out after drinking too much.
He cursed his luck that chose him out of all soldiers to watch for her. But remembering his mission, he sent a telepathic message to the castle to ask for a carriage or protection to come get the queen. Only to get a message back saying that a carriage wouldn’t know how to move in that heavy rain and that they had to wait till it died down.
He was stuck with an unconscious queen whom he hated so much and her white pegasus. The latter wasn’t so bad-she was a beautiful, rare creature that was so gentle and kind to keep her mistress’ side and lick her face, maybe to wake her up, or clean the dirt on her face, or to comfort her.
The soldier couldn’t help but smile at the pegasus’ gestures but when his eyes turned to the queen, it was a different matter. He had a hateful stare, one that was full of agony and anger towards the woman who killed his brother-a soldier like him, too. He had watched her as she mercilessly put the spear right in his brother’s neck and he was gone in a flash. Yes, his brother had done wrong by killing those children-but she had done a greater wrong by killing him after that.
And just then, it occurred to him.
She was lying right there, completely helpless and absolutely vulnerable. She was totally under his mercy, the only one who was with her was the pegasus, but what could that do? He could simply take out his sword, and she’d be gone in a flash.
Yes, that sounded just fair.
He didn’t even care if he would be caught after that. He knew that if the queen was killed, he’d be the first suspect and even if they didn’t know that he was the murderer, he would be responsible for her death.
But he didn’t care. He wanted to avenge his brother. He wanted to feel calm at last with the devil gone from the world. He wanted to feel like he could live peacefully without that burden on his shoulders, or die after doing his country a great deed by getting rid of the cruel queen.
His hand moved slowly to his sword, as he looked at the unconscious queen. She was totally out; she hadn’t moved a limb since he found her. The pegasus was busy looking after her mistress so she couldn’t even notice what the soldier was about to do. He’d put the sword right through her heart and finish her once and for all.
His hand moved slowly, slowly, slowly till he got hold of the sword and drew it. He raised it upwards and was just right about to put it through her heart. . .
When she suddenly sobbed and cried.
Right in her sleep.
The soldier was surprised that his hand suddenly stopped moving, and he held the sword up in place, observing the girl as she continued to sob in her sleep, more and more. She sobbed and cried, and with every moment that passed, she cried more and more, the cries becoming louder and louder.
This was such a strange sight to him. Was this the same cruel, heartless, tough queen? That one who rarely showed an emotion to her soldiers? That one whom people said about that she never showed an expression but a proud smile? She was . . . crying?
The tears began to flow down her face clearly, profusely. She looked so sad, so distressed that he was actually moved, that for a moment there, he almost forgot that she was the queen.
Suddenly, the girl stormed awake and got up so fast-only to vomit in one of the corners. The soldier was taken aback but as she vomited, he took the chance to quickly put the sword back in place before she’d see it and freak out or worse, take it and kill him herself. What could prevent her from doing that?
Oh yes, he had forgotten. She was drunk.
The girl stopped vomiting, and she turned her lost eyes to him. She looked around, confused, nothing on her face but a blank stare. She turned to him and her eyebrows furrowed, as though she was trying to make out who he was, or perhaps adjusting her blurry vision. There was an awkward silence but the pegasus broke it when she whinnied happily upon seeing her mistress finally awake, and went to lick her face happily.
“Shh,” she said ever so softly, moving the pegasus away. The pegasus took the hint and probably understood that her mistress wasn’t quite ok now.
Feeling like he had to say something, Trent spoke up at last, “Your majesty? Are you ok?”
The queen’s eyes turned to him blankly, still trying to figure out her surroundings. But something in her eyes clearly told him that she was almost out of it.
And he was right, because her eyelids were fluttering as though as they wanted to close so badly, but she forced them open and looked at him. Then, suddenly smirking, she finally replied in a most slurred way,
“Hee, hee . . . the chancellor must have sent you, eh? That old stupid man . . . how many times do I need to tell him to get the hell out of my life, huh?”
The soldier raised an eyebrow and for a moment, he didn’t know how to reply to that. The momentary sympathy he had felt for this girl a few moments ago when she was sobbing was suddenly fading away as he thought that she was still the same as ever.
She moved her hands to her forehead and rubbed it, trying to adjust anything in that head. She laid it back on the wall behind her and once more, the soldier could observe her fighting to keep her eyes open. She was still feeling as sleepy as ever and those eyelids; they just wanted to close so badly.
The soldier finally spoke again, “Your majesty, I apologize for having us in this place. As your majesty can see, it’s raining quite heavily outside. There is quite a tough storm and even the castle couldn’t send a carriage over. We’ll have to wait till the rain dies down, my queen.”
She moved her eyes to the opening of the cave from which she could see the rain so clearly. It dripped drop after drop, so heavily and so strongly. She stared at it blankly, and then, her hand slowly raised itself, as though she were trying to reach for something. Then it rapidly fell to her side and her blank stare turned into one of absolute sadness.
The soldier observed that bizarre look; he had never seen such an expression on her face before, he had never thought that she was even capable of it. The mighty, cruel, heartless queen; having such an emotion on her face? Sadness?
“It-it was raining on that day, too,” she softly said, her eyes looking lost in drunkenness but full of sadness, “It was raining just quite as much, maybe even more. Hee, hee.”
She stopped talking and her hand moved to her stomach, feeling it suddenly churning. She looked quite miserable that the soldier felt that sympathy come over him again, and he couldn’t help but ask her, “My queen, are you ok?”
She ignored him, and that look of distress filled her face. Suddenly, she burst in tears and her legs stomped the ground beneath her over and over again. She yelled,
“She died right into my arms, right here!” She pointed to her lap, “That jerk killed her, he killed her . . . he killed my mommy, the only one who freaking cared about me in this stupid world! And she died right here, right here. . .”
The soldier was taken aback by her sudden outburst and he was more shocked by her shouts and yells. Her face was stained with tears, she cried more and more, holding on to her stomach in the same time. He could clearly guess who she was referring to. The former queen, her mother, was killed brutally by no one but the former king himself, her father. But what he didn’t know was that his own queen had witnessed such a murder.
She continued to cry and her cries became like the sobs of a little girl. She’d sob and sob and her tears would wet the ground beneath her. The pegasus saw what kind of distress her mistress was in and gently rubbed her back, wanting to comfort her.
“I-I never wanted to become a queen,” she whispered ever so softly, nothing interrupting her but the churning in her stomach, “I-I never asked . . . to be a queen. I didn’t want any of this . . . I just wanted mommy and daddy . . . Why did he leave me, why . . .”
Her eyelids were beginning to feel heavy again as she laid her head on the wall behind her, and her eyes blinked, fighting to keep themselves open. She continued to whisper,
“But instead of staying with me, instead of helping me after he killed her, he just killed himself and went away, leaving me all the work, all the loneliness . . . And what do I get? Cruel. Yeah, I am the cruel queen. The bad, mean queen!”
She smiled on this disturbingly, and her expression changed again to that one of sadness and distress. Her eyelids being so heavy, they slowly drooped, and she was out again.
The soldier had a sympathetic look on his face. For some reason, all those feelings of hate and despise he had felt towards her seemed to go away and be replaced with ones of total sympathy. That other face of hers-the cruel, ugly one, was the only thing he’d seen or heard of her. But there she was, a totally someone else.
Not knowing what exactly to do, he did the first thing that came to mind. He carefully lifted her head off the wall and helped her lie down on her side on the ground. He used a couple of handkerchiefs to dry her face and wipe away the tears but as he did, he couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she looked. Despite the paleness, the tiredness, the dirtiness, she still looked beautiful and it was a different kind of beauty. It wasn’t that beauty made of dresses and jewels that she had when she was officially the queen, with that proud smile of hers. Instead, it was a pure beauty, nothing ruining it but the sadness and grief.
But immediately pushing away those bizarre thoughts, he took out an extra cloak he had and put it over her. He observed that her clothes were completely wet but as there was nothing he could do about that, he did his best to warm her up with the cloak.
With that done, he turned once more to the rain. Dammit. It didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon. Turning his head back towards the unconscious queen, he noticed that the pegasus had sat down near her and, being so tired, fell asleep, too. Soldier Trent was the only awake one around.
Having nothing to do, he sat down near the queen too and made sure that she was well-accommodated. As he watched her asleep, he couldn’t help but remember all the words she had said, especially the ones when she spoke about people calling her cruel. Was she really disturbed by it? Did it really hurt her feelings that people called her that? All this time, he thought that the ruler was none but a heartless, mischievous woman but there she was, proving that she was just an emotional, depressed girl.
But then again, maybe she was stronger than he thought. To have that much amount of sadness and grief in her heart, and still be able to act so happy in front of everyone, and pretend to be steady and sane-it takes only a strong person to be able to do that.
Half an hour passed and Trent was beginning to feel tired himself. He wished he could close his eyes too and get some sleep but he was responsible for the queen’s safety and protecting her was his priority. The mad thought of killing her seemed to fade away, no more in his head. In fact, he looked at it disgustingly then.
Suddenly, the queen’s eyes were open once more and she quickly got up and went to the same corner to do none but vomit once more. Her stomach had been acting up and she couldn’t hold it anymore.
He quickly got up and approaching her carefully, he asked with concern, “My queen, are you alright?”
She eventually stopped vomiting and turned to him tiredly as she took her breathes rapidly. She suddenly lost her balance and was about to fall down when Trent quickly caught her, and carefully led her to the same spot. She sat down and seeing the cloak that had been covering her, she took it and gently put it over her body again, seeking its warmth. She was shivering and her eyelids were slightly drooping, but she became more alert as she saw the soldier observing her. Scoffing, she looked at him and said,
“Heh . . . you’re still here? You. . . You don’t need to watch over me, ya know.”
The soldier looked confused for a moment but then figuring it was just because she was drunk, he replied,
“Oh I can’t leave you, my queen. It’s dangerous at this time of the night to be alone and it’s my duty to protect your majesty.”
The queen scoffed again at this and came the slurred reply, “Oh right! Like you care. You don’t care. It’s the duty. The damned duty. The stupid damned duty.”
She looked like she was on the verge of tears again, and the soldier didn’t know what to do. On one hand, he really wanted to comfort her, but on the other hand, he was just a soldier of hers, and he had no words to comfort her with.
She observed him and then her eyes caught his sword. Giggling in that creepy drunk way, she continued,
“Ya know, they all call me the cruel queen to the point that I am beginning to believe it, too. Ya, I am the cruel, ugly queen and you probably, you, hate me, don’t you? They all do. I am the cruel, stupid queen and they are the angels of heaven!”
She laughed loudly at this, but there was nothing funny about it and the laugh just echoed through the cave, making it all the way creepier. She continued, still looking at his sword,
“So ya know, do yourself and do me a favor and go ahead. Put that sword right through my heart. Come on.”
She extended her arms wide open, pointing to her chest where her heart was. The soldier was quite surprised by this, and he didn’t know how to react. True, he had thought of killing the queen himself a few hours ago, but he didn’t want it anymore. He really didn’t want it at all and he had to remember-she was totally drunk.
Seeing him not react, she continued, “Go on. Go ahead. I am all yours, totally helpless. Kill me and take my stupid life away. Take that damned life of mine away . . .”
Her speech was totally slurred that he had trouble understanding it at some points. He finally spoke up, approaching her carefully,
“My queen, maybe you should lie down. You aren’t feeling well.”
The girl let her arms down and looked disgustingly at him. There were tears beginning to form in her eyes and they slowly trickled down, before she felt that churning in her stomach once more and quickly got up and ran to the corner to vomit again. This time, the tears went down right with the vomiting.
Trent observed sympathetically and eventually, she felt alright again and went to sit down again, moving ever so slowly. Her tears continued to fall down, one after the other. She felt so upset.
“Alex . . .” she slowly whispered, resting her head on the wall again, “I-I had to leave him just to come here. Just to watch for that stupid kingdom that doesn’t care the least about anything positive I do. I am trying to better; I swear . . . I am trying to please them. But no. The people say nothing but the cruel queen and those noblemen; nothing but the throne interests them. Only he cared about me and loved me . . . Only he did.”
Her tears fell faster; her eyes looked lost in sadness. Trent could only look at her quietly, wishing he could actually do anything to comfort her. He knew that she wasn’t aware of whatever she was saying; after all, why would the queen reveal all of this to a soldier she didn’t even know; saw him for the first time? It made him feel uncomfortable to know that he was getting knowledge of what he shouldn’t know but in a way, he was grateful to see such a side to the queen.
Feeling overcome with sympathy, he sat down by his queen’s side, hoping that his presence could help her feel a bit safe.
She continued to sob, but she felt so tired, her eyelids felt so heavy. She looked sleepily at the soldier and continued, her voice being more of broken whispers,
“You know, I-I even had this friend, a human . . . who said he’d like to visit one day. He said he’d pay me a visit one day, keep me company . . . but he hasn’t talked for a long while and I bet-I bet he even forgot me. That’s how the world is. He isn’t much different . . . I want to die. Just kill me. I am tired, tired, slee- . . .”
She couldn’t even continue that last word because she succumbed to her drowsiness and laying her head upon the soldier’s shoulder, she moaned, moaned and was out again, falling into a deep, deep slumber.
Trent sighed. He was a young soldier but he had fought in some battles and had seen many ugly and sad sights. This, by far, was one of the saddest. And to know that he hated this girl just a few hours ago.
He looked at her and observed. Despite everything, she still looked so beautiful. This time, she looked even more beautiful having a little peace on her face, a little more than before. But the sadness was still there, the pain and agony were all there. She breathed deeply and he could see her chest going up and down, up and down. And her tears were still on her cheeks.
Reaching out to her cheeks, he gently wiped away those tears but as he did, he stared more at her face, realized more how beautiful it was. He was almost hypnotized by that beauty that without realizing, he was leaning in, leaning in to those lips...
But he quickly drew himself away, disturbed by what he was just about to commit. This woman killed his brother, what was he thinking? He was just a soldier and she was the queen, what the hell had gone wrong with his mind? Was it because she cried a little in front of him that he was going to change his opinion of her that fast and that much?
He couldn’t help it. She didn’t seem like the cruel queen to him anymore. This couldn’t be the cruel queen whom everybody speaks of. Yes, he had seen her kill his own brother but . . . did his brother deserve it? After all, he had killed three devil children . . . didn't he?
The hours passed and the sun finally rose in the sky, with the rain beginning to die down at last. The soldier hadn’t closed his eyes for a bit, being faithful to the queen who slept deeply upon his shoulder, and being honest to his duty. She hadn’t awoken again to vomit or otherwise, and she finally enjoyed a deep, soothing sleep.
Seeing the rain die down, the soldier called the castle telepathically to ask for a carriage. The castle agreed, he let them know of their position, and it was arranged.
As he waited, he pondered over whether he should wake his queen up or let her continue her sleep and carry her to the carriage himself if he had to. But he didn’t have to wonder about that for long as the queen’s eyes slowly began to open.
Looking around her, she realized the position she had been sleeping in and quickly sat up, looking confused for a moment as she took in her surroundings and recalled everything. She seemed more alert now, as the intoxicating effects of the alcohols began to wear off. True, she had a headache, seemed a little disoriented, but she was coherent enough to understand and communicate at last.
The soldier looked at her and getting up, he bowed to her and giving her a small smile, he said,
“Good morning, your majesty. I hope you’re feeling better now.”
The queen looked at him confusedly for a moment but then faintly remembering him, she replied, “Oh, you’re the same soldier from yesterday? Oh my god, you’re still here?”
The soldier nodded and replied, “Of course, your majesty. I couldn’t leave you alone and all.”
The queen replied, “Oh. Umm how long have we been here, soldier? I-I don’t quite remember everything . . .”
The soldier replied, inwardly relieved at her last statement, “The whole night, my queen. I am sorry, but the rain was quite heavy and I couldn’t take your majesty back to the castle nor could they send a carriage either. But the rain is almost gone and a carriage should arrive shortly.”
The queen nodded slowly and looking to her side, she noticed the pegasus sleeping by her side peacefully. She gently petted its head and it awoke. As soon as it did, it whinnied happily to her mistress, to which the mistress smiled and continued to pet her head gently.
She tried to get up herself but finding herself weak, she had to lean to the wall. The soldier noticed this and asked, “You’re alright, your majesty? Just rest. The carriage should be here quite soon.”
She smiled to him and replied, “I am okay. I really overdid it with drinking, huh.”
She showed a sad look for a moment but then shook her head and tried to overcome the hangover effects. She turned to the soldier and said,
“Thanks for watching over me, soldier. I do hope it wasn’t much
Trent couldn’t really decide whether it was a trouble or not, but he did know that he didn’t feel annoyed by whatever happened, but more felt sorry for the queen, and . . . perhaps something else.
Shaking his head, he replied, “It’s my honor to serve our queen, your majesty.”
“What’s your name?” she asked, giving him a friendly smile.
Surprised for a moment, he quickly overcame that surprise and answered, “Trent. Trent, my queen.”
She smiled at this and replied, “Well, Trent, thanks again. Your queen owes you now.”
She winked at him and then they could hear the sounds of the galloping horses. The carriage had arrived.
Queen Lisianthus was taken into the carriage, and her pegasus was taken away by a stable boy. Trent was left to go off to where he had to go, perhaps a shift, or perhaps to go home and relax after that weary night.
But as he watched the carriage go away, he knew one thing. That you mustn’t judge anyone you don’t know, you shouldn’t judge anyone without hearing what they have to say. He wished he knew that before, but he was grateful for that night to have shown him that light at last.
And he knew that this queen, whom used to hate so much, wasn’t really what she seemed to be, for the hate that was once in his heart, had faded away, completely changed to that other word, and made him completely faithful and loyal to her.