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C-Beams Stories

Edith

Edith pushed her way through the brambles. She did not feel the cut of thorns, only the sting of tears.

“Madam,” called the maid behind her. “I beg of you – do not go, do not endanger your life.”

Edith stopped as she came upon the edge of the woods and the foot of the very hill itself. The grassy slope shone in the moonlight, wet with blood and the glimmer of shattered armour. The air was thick with the smell of flesh; flies buzzed as dogs tore scraps from the dead. Through the dark, Edith could see scavengers pull boots from feet and rings from fingers.

She turned back to the maid. “My King will not be laid bare upon this mountain of death. Nor shall I let his crown fall into the hands of his foe.” Edith touched the maid’s arm. “Farewell, sweet dear.” Edith stepped from the trees and ascended the hill under the light of the moon.

A wind lifted her hair, fluttered her garments and touched her neck with fingers of ice. As she looked upon the slain she recalled her court. A hall of loyal knights and proud squires. A hall of prestige. A hall of God. Edith fell to her knees; her chest was pained by grief, her eyes by tears.

She felt her shoulder touched by a hand, her neck by a knife.

“The wrong place for a woman to be,” a voice said as another laughed. “Give us your jewels and be on your way home.”

Edith’s eyes opened and she rose before the two men. “My home is lost, as is my husband. There is nought you can take but my life. Do as you wish. But know that you stand before the wife of a king who died in defiance and honour – as will I.”

Edith pulled out a dagger; the blade flashed silver, her hand steady.

The men stepped away.

“Queen Edith?” the man with the knife exclaimed. He bowed his head and raised a hand towards the hill’s crest. “Forgive our ways. Our King lays beneath his banner, spoiled by the enemy but never by his countrymen. Let us lead you to his place of rest.”

They led Edith to the crest of the hill where the banner hung, emblazoned with a golden lion. Beneath, lay her king and his crown. She turned to the two men.

“Be true to your King; bare his body to a place free of his enemy, as I will do for his crown.” Edith looked to the sky. “With courage and Gods help, we can defeat our Norman foe. Without…then we are lost to their conquest.”

Edith crouched and placed her palm upon King Harold’s bloodied chest. “Until we meet again my love.” She kissed his cheek, rose and descended the slope as the two men watched her fade from sight.

Above, clouds masked the moon and the hill was cast into shadow.

 

(Originally posted on the Total War Center forum.)

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