Option number three won the votes by aeons (who cares if aeons is meant to be a time measurement not a numerical measurement) and so I proceeded to write a 1,586 word long Fragment. Thanks everyone for voting last week and I hope you like it!
Maree switched her stare from her hair to Lord De Corlette, a horrified expression on her face. “What have I eever done to make you think such a thing?!”
My father didn’t reply and the silence stretched. The clock on the wall ticked steadily, but other than that, time might have stopped for all the movement in the room. Maree Freespirit’s expression didn’t change at all, it seemed fixed in stone, her eyes wide open, staring at Lord De Corlette.
One guard eventually broke the silence. “Ahem,” he cleared his throat nervously. “Should we take her away, my lord?”
My father nodded slowly. “Take her to the servants and tell them to put her in a room on the second floor, but do not let her get away. I would like to speak with her again later.”
The guards nodded and turned to the door.
Maree looked over shoulder just before the door closed behind her, shot me a brilliant smile and yelled: “Dúinn aller!” Then the doors blocked her from my view.
I stood, shocked for a moment. My father turned to me, walking over and putting a hand on my arm. “Perhaps you should return to your quarters, Louise,” he suggested.
I nodded and allowed him to lead me up the stairs and back to my rooms.
As soon as he left, Governess Kathryn pounced upon me. “What were you thinking, girl?” she asked. “Such disgraceful conduct!” To my great astonishment she stopped after that and just shook her head, too horrified for words.
I sat down on my bed, deep in thought. I attempted reading, but my thoughts kept wandering back to the lunatic just a few corridors away.
I glanced up as Governess Kathryn’s needlework slipped from her fingers and slid to the carpeted floor. For once in my life, my Governess had let her dignity drop, and had fallen asleep in her chair; I smiled. She was getting old, and, no doubt, looking after a person like me could be tiring sometimes.
I rose and crept to the door, glancing back once to check that Kathryn remained asleep, I opened to door a crack and squeezed through.
In the freedom of the corridor I moved faster, heading toward the smallest and least ornate empty room on the second floor, where I hoped to find the ‘prisoner’.
I decreased my pace and smiled as I saw the locked door on the left side of the hall. The key was still in the keyhole for which I was glad, otherwise I’d have no way of opening the door. I touched my fingers to the smooth wood, pausing a moment to listen. No sound came to my ears except the usual sounds of servants going about their work.
I tapped on the doorframe, wondering if there was any point in knocking if the door was locked on the outside anyway.
“Weelcome een, my merry guest!” the girl’s voice came from the other side. “We ‘ave cabbege hats and potato shoes eef ye wanted to stew ‘em.”
I took a deep breath, briefly questioning my sanity in coming here, but I twisted the key and pushed open the door.
Maree Freespirit lay on the bed, hands behind her head and feet resting on the end of the bed. She turned her head as I clicked the door shut behind me, vaguely wishing I was on the other side of it.
“Oh, eet’s you,” she stood and bowed. “A pleesure to meet your aquaintence,” she added.
“Same to you,” I replied, dazed.
“No one eelse comin’ with you?”
“No,” I said, wondering what I had planned to do when I got here.
“Oh good,” my companion sighed. “I were geetin’ tired of their useleess waffle.” She flopped down on the bed again, “Pleese take a seat.”
I settled down on a nearby chair, twisting my fingers together nervously. “So...who are you exactly, Maree Freespirit?” I asked, desperately trying to think of something to say.
“Exactly?” Maree repeated. “No one en parteecular.”
I frowned, something in her voice had changed as she replied and I sensed a distinct evading of the topic. Shrugging, I pushed the thought away. “Why are you mad?” the words burst from me before I could stop them.
Maree sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Her dark eyebrows were raised as she looked at me. At first I thought I’d offended her but then her lips were pulled into a crooked grin. “I ‘ate ter break the news to you, but I em ectually not so crazy as I seem.”
“Oh?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” she continued. “Ecting like a nincompoop can be quite handy someteemes. Although when eet geets one locked up, eet esn’t so great, ‘cause then I’ve a got ter come up with some kinda escape plan.”
“So you are actually entirely sane?” I released a relieved sigh.
Maree laughed, she had a very catching laugh, and I couldn’t help but smile. “I doubt eet,” she said cheerfully. “No one es eentirely sane. But jest so you don’t ‘ave to worry, I’m probebly jest as sane as you. Eeverything I told your father was true. I jest deedn’t mention thet the ‘old friend’ I was plannin’ on selling happened ter be a donkey.” She sighed dramatically, “Poor thing, ‘er name was Donkey.” She sighed again and pulled a sad face in my direction.
I nodded slowly. “Right,” I murmured. “I’m Louise De Corlette by the way,” I added as an afterthought.
“Maree Freespirit,” the dark haired girl answered. “Were that you as was ridin’ through the markeets earlier?”
“Yes,” I replied. “How did you know?”
“I feegured as there weren’t many ladies like yerself around ‘bouts, besides, you’re wearin’ the same dreess,” Maree pointed out. “And dreesses like thet are more noteeceable than things like these,” she gestured to her own odd garments. These consisted of a tunic and pants of dark, thick wool under a worn, black leather jacket that was slightly oversized.
“I guess it depends what situation you are in,” I said. “If you are, for example, in a manor, those clothes would be quite out of place.”
Maree nodded her smile askew on her lips. “Ye ‘ave a point there,” she admitted.
This time I smiled back. We sat there, a lady and a ‘lunatic’ smiling at each other, and I felt the ridiculous urge to go off adventuring just like my brothers had done. Tracing back through my memories, I can say that that was the moment that I caught the ‘Adventuring Spirit’ as Maree calls it.
As soon as I realised what I was thinking I snapped my eyes away and rubbed my forehead with my hand. I couldn’t go adventuring, my father would never allow it. “Well,” I began abruptly, my voice sharper than I’d meant it to be. “Nice talking best be to you before someone going now misses.” I clapped my hand over my mouth in horror. “That wasn’t what I meant to say,” I said weakly, avoiding Maree’s incredulous stare.
I heard a snort from the bed, followed by several more in rapid succession. Soon Maree was laughing her head off, rolling on the bed, gasping for breath between her explosions of amusement. She controlled herself in a minute or so, smothering her last giggles with the sleeve of her jacket. “You’re quite funny ye know, Loueese.”
“I gathered that,” I stated, feeling silly.
Maree flopped backwards onto the bed, then she jumped back up again, spinning towards the window with a quick movement. All traces of amusement disappeared from her face. She ran lightly to the small window, and – not wanting to miss out on whatever she’d glimpsed – I followed close behind.
Maree’s hands were clenched on the windowsill so tightly that her knuckles were going white. I looked out past her to see what she was so interested in.
A unit of soldiers were riding into the courtyard, there was no sign of hostility so I guessed that they were no threat. One glance at Maree’s taut face made my confidence waver.
“You know him?” I asked, gesturing to the man in the lead, obviously the one in authority.
Maree gripped the sill harder still and for a moment as I looked into her eyes I saw a flash of a person completely different than the laughing girl I’d seen minutes before. This girl had seen pain and sorrow. I saw a girl who had stood up through that all and was ready to do so again, a girl with lions in her heart, a courage that never gave up. Then the moment passed and the fire disappeared from her eyes. She nodded.
I looked back to the soldiers below us, frowning at the emblem on their shields and surcoats. “A Manticore,” I murmured, squinting at the lion body, human head (although, the most hideous human head I’ve ever seen) and the wings and tail of a dragon.
The soldiers dismounted in drilled unison, looking quite impressive with their single-minded coordination. I glanced back to Maree. “Who is it?”
Maree drew in a shaking breath and turned her head, her eyes meeting mine. “Yerra Hacaz.”
1. I raised my eyebrows, wondering if I was supposed to be struck with terror as she spoke the name.
2. “I assume you’ve met?” I asked.
3. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to assume she was telling the truth when she said she wasn’t mad, I thought.
Please leave a comment and tell me which option is your favourite! The more votes, the more interesting! And I know that there are some people who follow my blog but fail to comment, and even have admitted to not reading my story. (*Ahem* Zach *ahem*)
Anyway, thanks for reading, leave a comment and come back next week for Fragment Three (I always try to reply to all comments so you could even check back to see what I say).
Fare Thee Well/Allons-y!