NaNoWriMo Day1 Part 1
posted at: 11/1/2014

As she picked her way over the dank stones, Matilda Amethyst Frangener reflected on death—which seemed so disproportionate and gruesome when it touched the young and left the old to mourn them. She looked passively around at the low, greasy candles, the various axes and razors, the Rack, the shackles, and the cells before spotting what she was looking for: across the cavern was a large man in a dark hood, leaning heavily on a halberd and watching her approach. A small row boat bobbed behind him. On its prow was written the name "Styx."

With a calm and stately tread, she drew near to this figure and said, "Hello Frederick."

"Good evening Your Grace. If I may say so, you’re looking a little shabby this evening."

"Oh this? Yes. Peasant garb is the new silk up above. Didn’t you know?"

Frederick chuckled and stepped into the boat "I hadn’t heard. We don’t hear much about courtly fashions down here." He offered her his hand and hoisted her into the boat.

"No. I suppose you wouldn’t." She paused and frowned a bit. "Do you hear much about other court happenings?"

The boatman nodded sadly. "Ay, we do. And I have to say I’m sorry for your loss. We all loved Francis. He was a great king." He looked sideways at his passenger as he picked up the oars. "I daresay you’re getting the worst of it, though."

A small sigh escaped Matilda as she hunched in her seat. "He was my son. He was a part of me."

The pair sat in gloomy silence for some time before Frederick interrupted the lapping waves. "If you’re going to be going on a trip, Your Grace, I’d think you’d want a sword." Matilda sighed again and he continued. "Because, I noticed you had a bag and a walking stick but no sword. Now, if you wanted to borrow mine…"

"That won’t be necessary Frederick. Thank you."

"It’s dangerous out there, Your Grace."

"I didn’t forget my sword. I can’t lift it anymore."

"Oh. Well. You know, Your Grace, I’ve known many a greybeard who couldn’t lift a sword. They seem to get along just fine with only their fists, though."

Matilda smiled faintly. "Yes. That’s why I brought the quarter staff. I was always better with a quarter staff than with a sword anyway."

"Good. Good. I’ll feel better if you have some kind of way to defend yourself. You know Charlie has already stationed his own guards in the villages round the castle."

Staring at the dark waves, Matilda quietly asked, "Do you have any children, Frederick?"

"No, Your Grace."

It didn’t appear that she had heard his answer. "I guess you never really know how they’ll turn out, but I never expected one of my own sons to murder his own brother." She shuddered and huddled deeper into her cloak.

"You’re certain it was Charlie, then?"

"I have no doubt that it was."

Frederick looked into the misty night for several seconds. "You know what you're going to do, Your Grace?"

"No. I just know that I have to leave. He wants the throne Frederick."

"But, aren't George and Marissa's husband both in line before him?"

Matilda nodded grimly. "They are."

"You don't mean? He wants to wipe out his whole family?"

Matilda nodded again and Frederick let out a low whistle. They didn't speak again until the boat met the opposite shore of the river with a soft thunk. Frederick jumped out and pulled the craft further onto the bank. "Here you are.Same fare as usual?"

"Of course. Here's one silver for your trouble. And one for your discretion."

"Thank you, Your Grace." He shoved the boat back into the river but hesitated before jumping in. "You know. If you ever do come into my dungeon...er...not of your own accord. I'll have to do my duty to the crown."

The Queen Mother stood still and straight, but the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She knew what sort of torture the court Dungeon Master was capable of. "I understand."

"So I guess what I'm saying is good luck and don't get caught." He jumped in the boat and started back.