Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
TITLE: The Queen at Cote d'Or
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Mayor Warnacher pulled the old queen, fettered and bound upon her horse, into the fray of the king’s courtyard. King Clotar had been speaking to the crowd in the pale of dawn. He was young honed and patient, but today he shared his lifelong contempt for queen Brunhilde.
"We are now not just gathered for the people’s harvest, but for justice. The council has called the queen out after more than 65 years of bloodshed.” The crowd quieted.
“Brunhilde, you are charged with the deaths of ten Frankish kings: Sigibert, your husband and my uncle; Merovech, my elder brother and once your lover; my own father, King Chilperic; my own son Merovech; your own grandsons Theoderic and Theodebert and their several tender sons; your great-grandsons” The crowd cheered harder with each mentioned.
“How shall we avenge these deep losses?” The crowds went wild in the fresh morning. The king nodded to Warnacher who pulled the queen down from her horse and dispatched her down into the cold storage room, now a royal dungeon.
There was no light here: only the smell of onion and turnip and dirt. She felt dizzy, lonely and cold. She sat on the dark stone floor. Brunhilde wept. She pulled at a rope tangled under her knees, it chaffed her flesh. After more than 60 years ruling much of what had been Gaul, the old Roman Empire in Europe, she could only curl up tightly. She had lost her husband, her son, her grandsons, and now her great-grandsons. The public humiliation was an unredoubtable blow. She knew she may see more. Oh what crimes will be blamed and what punishment will the new King Clotar mete out for the old Queen?
She had been defeated before. But she had never lost her power: until now. She was bound on her horse and forced out of her villa at Orbe, on Lake Geneva, by that ingrate traitor Warnacher only days ago. She had always found support in retreat, but now, she was in the hands of her most dreaded enemy.
Recounting the years, she did not flinch when she had lost her home in Spain, when she lost her husband; King Sigibert, decades ago, when she learned of her son’s assassination years ago, when told of both her grandsons’ deaths, weeks ago. She even held steady when just days ago, before her very eyes, one of her great-grandsons was taken by the heels and his little head bashed against the rock by order of her other grandson Theoderic. That was not her plans. How could she be punished for crimes she did not commit? How could she be blamed for blood she did not spill?
It was only moments ago when she had witnessed the last crushing blow. Clotar, had taken her two remaining little great grand-sons, before her very eyes and before the mob, and ordered them beheaded while tied standing outside the gates. Her defeat at that moment was complete and young Clotar was the victor over all this land. Without the seed of her grandsons that of her Frankish husband, Sigibert, grandson of the great Clovis, founder of the Merovingian bloodline she was nothing. After more than 65 years of fighting she was defeated.
Having righted herself on the stone floor, she wrapped herself in her cloak to keep the cold out. She starred into the darkness. How did it come to this? What would this young king do? He was but a boy of 29. She thought, scratching the wet and cold flagstones. This young king had beaten her at her own game. She had never been on this end of revenge.
She could weep no more. She was tired and laid her body in the dark corner and rested. The sound and fury of the night began to fade into the calm morning. She could hardly remember how it all began; when she was so young, traded in a royal deal to appease her Visigoth parents in Madrid and Sigibert, a new king in France. More than 65 years ago she was unknown north of the Pyrenees, just a pretty maiden knitting the days away in Madrid with her older sister. Oh, she remembered the days as an innocent young woman making preparation for the journey north to an unknown France and unknown husband...
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