By Baker Street
Love conquers all...
Far away in the woods of Amberilia stood the castle of King Heinrich, surrounded on all sides by thick groves of dark forest. He had two queens, one older woman called Isabella, and a younger one called Rosamunde. He had a large contingent of workers and soldiers in the castle, and was advised in all his affairs by his councillor; Lord Dimigor, a wise and stately old man who had run the affairs of the kingdom for many years with success, and an untainted hand.
But the old king was a cruel, selfish man, absorbed in is own success, and worldly pleasures. He had ten children, all by Queen Isabella. The King ruled his land and his household harshly, and the burden on his land and his subjects were only relieved by the kind and good guidance of the old Lord Councillor. Heinrich was a obstinate and selfish boor, to all his household, and those that new him personally. He treated his wives with rough suffrage, and ordered them about like livestock.
Queen Isabella had become hardened and accustomoned to the ill treatment meted out by the old King over the years, but the young Queen was bitterly discontented. She still harboured dreams of love and live in her young bosom and mind.
By days she would sit and day-dream, looking out from the large castle windows down on the village and the world below. Then betimes she would go for a solitary stroll among the woods and the streams outside the castle.
As the beautiful young Queen strolled among the trees one day, with the longing of love in her heart, she saw a young woodsman chopping down a few small trees in a clearing in the wood. His hut was nearby, and she chanced to sit on the steps and watch him work for a while.
“Good day, M’lady,” said the young man, “The birds sound happy this morning.”
After a short pause, she replied; “Yes, they do…” and she smiled.
They fell to talking, and as time passed, soon they fell to loving. They shared the passions and the dreams of their youthful hearts and bodies, and they lay entwined in each others arms under the towering trees of the forest, in an eternal afternoon of love.
Their liaisons in the forest became more frequent, and she went out to meet him every other afternoon. Until the time came that their love called them to flee out of the Kings land in search of their dream of being together, and their future.
“Will you come away with me,” he asked her, “ far from here and far from the King?”
“Yes, I will” she said.
And they made their plans of departure and escape from the kingdom.
The Feast of the Hallowed Nights was at hand, and all the court and the castle was astir in preparation of the seven days of feasting and celebration. Much oxen and sheep were slaughtered, and the wine was brought from the cellars. The banquet hall was decorated throughout, and by late afternoon all the guests were starting to arrive. All the royalty and nobility from the entire kingdom had come, and the great night of festivities were eagerly awaited by all.
At the dusk the celebrations began, and there was a lot of drinking, music and dancing. The couples danced and minstrels sang, as the waiters loaded the tables with food and drink, and the musicians played out on the stage. The feast was noisy and boisterous, and the celebrations grew louder and louder as the night progressed. The King drank excessively as was his custom, and at around midnight he had to retire for his night’s rest.
The Feast continued with as much noise and fervour as before, but the old King was soon soundly a-slumber. And as the old man floated way into dream land, so his young Queen disappeared into the forest and the night. Into the hands of the man she loved.
She ran swiftly through the dark trees, lit in moonlight gray and silver, and she found the one she loved there among a clump of old cypresses. He stood with his long black hair and lithe figure holding the reins of a pale-brown horse. She ran to him and they embraced.
Then they mounted the steed, and galloped away into the blissful nights of their love and freedom. The trees flashed past them like old memories as they rode away into the darkness…