War Without Reason | Chapter XI

Marvalo’s – Camp Flame

“Well, that was an embarrassingly awful defeat!” Pam cried, back at Marvalo’s town, alone with Jane. Elder Horton was elsewhere. He had disappeared around noon after another court session with yet another incident concerning a wolf and a missing person.

It had only added to her already miserable week. The wolf infestation was concerning though. Many reports had arrived from all over the camp. Surprisingly, most of them were apparently… Friendly. Most had become obedient pets.

“No, My Queen. It wasn’t-” Jane tried to console her. But it was all just words. The Frosts had risen up, turned the tide at the last moment and crippled the Flames’ forces.

“No. Save it, Jane. Just hear me talking for now,” she said, with a little tinge of regret immediately after, hearing how rude it had come out.

Jane seemed to want to say something but stopped herself and nodded her head, looking at her feet.

“Oh I’m sorry, Jane. That was very unlike me. I’m just a bit shaken. Can we just sleep? In silence?” she said. Jane only nodded again and climbed into the bed next to her.

She seemed to regain some of her courage, once in bed. “You know if I was Queen, I’d make some changes. First of all, I’d stop letting the losers just run away and recuperate to battle us again. I’d have the running hunted down like dogs. The whole thing is just stupid.” she said.

Pam was taken aback. If I was Queen?! “You’re not. You’re not the Queen. I am. And this ‘whole, stupid thing’ you talk of is tradition that’s been followed for years. I will hear no more out of you tonight.” she scolded. Jane’s head went down again.

Sleep however did not come easily that night. It had been four days since the battle but the cries of her men were still fresh in her mind. It had kept her awake every night. The cries of the dying, the feelings of confusion, fear, anger and defeat that followed were etched into her memory.

After tossing around for a while, she gave up. Jane was already asleep. Pam slid out of the bed and walked out of the tent, pouring herself a glass of wine on the way. Weirdly, her soldiers weren’t outside as they used to be and should be. She considered it lucky on this night, it saved her one more task of having to convince them to stand down. She wanted to be alone.

Her parents had laid down with her, gazing at the sky numerous times when she was younger. They rarely slept in their tent. Now she was all alone, with only the stars to keep her company. She walked around her tent, away from all the other smaller tents, away from the war, looking up all the while.

Next thing she knew, she was on her knees. The glass slipped from her hand spilling the wine. Her gown was soaked. In the moonlight, the wine seemed to mix with something else, pale compared to its color. Almost… Red. She looked back, it was a boot that had tripped her. The boot was still attached to a foot.

One of her two guards’ foot. The other guard lay dead a few feet farther. She fell back in horror, trembling. She turned at the sound of approaching footsteps.

“Pamela! My Queen!” Elder Horton came stumbling, himself quite terrified. “Oh, no.” he said noticing the corpses.

“It’s Hector. The general. He’s coming for you, Pamela. You need to leave, now!” he urged.

“What? Elder, what are you saying? He’s coming for me? Then I can’t just run. I will fight him. What kind of Queen would I be if I ran?” she said walking back to her tent to get her bow.

Horton grabbed her arm. “The kind that remains alive. Pam, you’ve gotta listen to me. Go! Go and-” he was saying as an arrow protruded from his chest. He fell forward, Pam falling with him trying to hold him. He rolled on his back, as much as the arrow’s tail would allow. “Go, Pam. Please. I love you.” he said with his dying breath. A single tear rolled down his cheek.

“NO! No no no please. Elder? Horton? Please.” she cried frantically looking around, unable to see anything through her tears, holding him in her arms.

The shadows of two men seemed to approach her. She turned to run but they were too close. They dragged her inside the tent. Jane was awake, huddled at the head of their bed, terrified and confused.

General Hector was seated nearby with a triumphant smile. Pam was thrown on her knees before him, completely defeated. There was no fight left in her. She looked at her hands covered in Horton’s blood and sobbed, unaware of everything around her.

Hector sympathetically got to his knees before her and held her chin up. She smacked his hand away. He simply chuckled. “My Queen,” he started mockingly. “The generals had a private meeting and we have come to a conclusion. You have been identified as bad luck for our camp. Simple logic, really. Remember last battle? The one we won tremendously, almost effortlessly? Also the one you sat out.”

Pam heard about half of what he was saying.

“Well, you come back. Look what happened. We’ve had these meetings for a long time. You are to be replaced. The other two generals who were candidates sadly perished in this battle. They were good fighters too, all of us were surprised they died. Well, all of them were.” He laughed out loud.

“I’ll break it down for you. You have two options now. You marry me and get to stay a Queen… Or you die.” he said and stood back up, towering over her.

Pamela looked up from her hands and spat at his foot.

“Hmm. So you’ve chosen. I’ll be sad to see you go. I only have to find myself a new bride now.” he said.

“I will marry you. ” came Jane’s voice, softly from the bed.

Hector looked at her startled, apparently unaware that she was there till then. He looked up and down at her couple of times, nodded and turned back to Pam.

“See? My work is already done. Away with you now, guard-” he was saying when he was interrupted.

“But you have to spare the Qu – spare Pamela’s life. I’d like her spared,” Jane spoke up. “Please. My King.” she added.

MY. KING.” Hector grinned ear to ear like an idiot, eyes filled with ambition. He looked back at her.

“Ha. Looks like I’m already getting a taste of how a marriage works, huh?” he snorted. “Fine, so be it. For my love.” he said gentlemanly. “Guard! Throw her with the other lonely women!” he shouted.

Pam fought the grip of the guard. “No, my Elder. I’ve got to bury him.” she cried.

Hector smirked, his eyes as cold as Horton’s blood. “The old man will be thrown in the ocean. Leave that to us.” he said as Pam was dragged outside kicking, cursing and screaming. She woke everyone in every tent they passed through. The puffy eyed soldiers and their family only looked at her from their tents.

Her people. Her men. Nobody came forward. They probably didn’t recognize her in the dark, she told herself.

The guard carried out his order. She was left outside a shabby small tent, barefoot, covered in dirt and blood, her eyes red from crying, and her gown ruined, torn up below the knee. Her spirit was broken by grief, rage and betrayal.

She fell to the ground, sobbing once again. And that was how they found her the next morning.

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Fight me.