Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)
TITLE: A QUEEN OF THE GUTTER
By mick dawson
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A Blue River Guardsman patrolled the streets of Caliet on his personal vigil. It was well into the eve, the guardsman noted. Barely a soul wandered the lanes and so he sat on some heaped timbers for the next day’s construction of yet another shop.
The moonlight highlighted the small rings that made up his hauberk. Any areas of his exposed flesh were clad in bindings. One of his bandaged hands scratched at his brow under his dented helmet, before removing it, while his other leaned a double edged, long hafted axe against the wall.
The brown eyes beneath examined the deep blue tunic, which had become frayed and ragged around the edges, yet the orange crest of the snarling dog still dominated the garment. Being the quiet night it was, the Forgotten One made a brief account of his life in his mind.
‘Have I made up for the unfeeling man that I was?’ he pondered. ‘I feed the poor and the streets are safe.”
He somehow doubted it; it never seemed like it was enough.
“What am I looking for?” he sighed. “Atonement, redemption? It always seems to elude me; am I never to know peace?”
His eyes drifted to a familiar, prone form, snoring in the gutter across the street, an old sell skirt by the name of Mernet. The rise and fall of her chest, added confirmation that she still lived; for the past year he had made it a personal task to watch over the sleeping woman. The Forgotten One studied the drooling, gap toothed mouth, remembering the night he first met her.
Mernet was asleep in the streets that time too. Her long raven hair was now streaked silver with age; the skin was drying making her look even older. As he studied her face, he felt certain that she was a woman of some beauty, in her youth.
Of the few occasions he had seen her sober, he managed to glean that she had a son and gave him up as a baby to the orphanage. Information had been leaked to him that this could possibly be his mother. He felt no warmth, no love as such for the sleeping form. Even if she were his mother, would she recognize him? Would she even care?
A thought occurred to him, would he be the only one she left behind? It made him wonder how many more like him self roamed the streets?
The Forgotten One too had been
abandoned to an orphanage but then he was adopted in his teens to the Queen of Nusalle, Andessa. She did more than fill the void in his life, she was the warmth, the comfort and the encouragement that he needed to develop into the man he became. Andessa was all the mother he really needed and therefore he never sought out his natural parents.
Donning his helmet again, he swept up his axe and shook the contents of his purse, to be rewarded with the sound of jingling coins.
In no more than half a dozen weary strides, he cradled the woman in his iron arms. Mernet twisted minutely but otherwise, didn’t stir.
“Come on, mother,” he whispered. “Let us find you a warm bed for the night.”
Kissing her forehead tenderly, the Forgotten One carried her to the doors of the Whistling Pig tavern as he had done every night for the past year.
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