Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta palace. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta palace. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 18 de marzo de 2016

Palace pursuit

   The Tanjima pace had been deserted for half a century and it was now a museum. No one really knew why the palace had been evacuated one, out of the blue. The point was that people never returned and decided to settle in other areas, leaving the palace to decay rapidly. It was only recently, some five years ago, that a local businessman had decided to acquire the land and remodel the palace in order to exploit it commercially, as tourism was becoming more and more important in the region. His goal was been fulfilled, as it became one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country in only a few years.

Nathan and George were a couple that had just arrived from Japan and had decided to visit the palace. It was the beginning of winter, so the level of tourists in the place was not that high. They paid the entrance, grabbed a map and started walking. The palace was enormous and it also encompassed several land used as gardens and as farmland, so people could see how the rice and vegetables were grown for the inhabitants of the palace when it was occupied. It generated the first fight between the couple: Nathan wanted to go to the farmland, as they had a place where you could touch cows and horses. But George wanted to go to the gardens and see which flowers hadn’t yet died due to the winter.

 Of the two, Nathan was the more positive and upbeat one. He was always willing to help people and loved to sing pretty often. George, on the other hand, was cranky all the time except when he was in a romantic mood. The only way to calm him down when he was pissed about something was for Nathan to kiss him softly. Many people thought they were not the best match ever but they did get along well. The thing was that they always had these silly arguments that always took their time.

 Trying to decide what to do, they came to a crossroads: one-way the gardens, the other way to the stables. They looked at the map to know what was best but then something ran past their feet. When they looked for what that had been, they realized it was a dog. It was small and very hairy. It was one of those little dogs that need their facial hair to be cut regularly in order for them to see where they were going. But apparently he didn’t have any problem. He just sat there and stared.

 Nathan kneeled that and stroked the dog’s head. He didn’t do any noise, so Nathan proceeded to pat his back and stroke his ears too. And the dog just stayed there, moving his tail slowly. When Nathan was finished, the dog stared at George but George didn’t really like dogs. He thought they were always full of ticks and dirt and he just didn’t like pets all that much. That’s why they didn’t have any at home and Nathan had decided not to fight for one.

 The dog, realizing George wasn’t going make a move, come closer and then bit George hard in the sheen. It was very fast because when they started screaming and looking at the leg, the dog had already left. George was so angry he decided to run after the dog, even when Nathan told him that there was nothing wrong: the dog had not even left his teeth mark on the leg. But nothing could stop George when he was that angry so Nathan followed him.

 They ran downhill, towards the crops. George saw the dog going that way and ran after him because he wanted to grab him and file a complaint. He was like that, always thinking he was making a better world by complaining about everything. Nathan had learned how to handle it, often not even acknowledging his boyfriend, but sometimes it was difficult. For example, this dog thing reaction was disproportionate, especially when George, unaware the land around the crops was flooded, decided to run across them to get the dog, that had sat down on the other side, waiting.

 The result was George getting wet up to his knees with water and a security guard coming and telling them they could be fined for disturbing the crops. Nathan spoke with her and explained that George had just made a mistake and that he didn’t meant anything by it. She decided to let them go, seeing he had just ruined his pants but not any of the plants, and told them to stay away of the area. So Nathan had to push George away and the dog followed them until they were just in front of the stables.

 There, they quarreled for a while. George said that Nathan never really defended him when he was right but Nathan said he wasn’t even right in the first place. He was just being all crazy because a dog had bitten him softly on the leg. George declared that was an example of how his boyfriend always tried to make things that happened to him smaller, as if they weren’t really that important.

They were raising their voices so much that the tourists going into the stables looked at them and some even took pictures. It was only when the dog barked and ran inside, that the two men decided to stop talking and enter the place.

 It smelled like a proper farm and it had room for seven cows on one side and seven on the other. That was half the building. The other half was occupied by the horse area, were George ran to just after entering because he had seen the damned dog going that way. Nathan, not wanting to participate anymore, decided to caress some of the cows and take pictures with his cellphone. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his boyfriend; it was that he was very high maintenance and that was tiring.

 After fifteen minutes or so, Nathan went to the horse area and took some pictures in there too. He didn’t realize George was standing on the doorway, until he was closer. He asked him what he was doing and George responded that he was looking for the dog. Bored with that silly chase, Nathan decided to take picture of the horses, which were enormous. Then, a chilly gust of wind entered the building and he saw George just stay there and then walk like a zombie. He had to go after him.

 He caught up with him not very far, en route to the garden area. Then, out of the blue, the dog appeared and barked and George became crazy and launched himself at him. There was no way to stop him from behaving like that because the dog was doing exactly what drove him crazy: tainting home and making him fall and trip and follow running. The dog, Nathan thought, was smarter than any of the humans in the palace.

 He didn’t really run after George, just trying no to lose him. But then found himself with his boyfriend that had ran out of breath in front of a beautiful field of roses. He touched Geroge’s back and that made him raise his head to watch the beauty that unfolded in front of them: rectangular gardening area were roses of every single color had been planted. And they really were in every single color: red, blue, yellow, pink, brown, black…

 The couple got closer to look at them and realized there was a sign that said: “Please feel free to take any rose you want. You may only take 1 and it has to symbolize something to you”.

 They tried to decide and right then the dog appeared on one side of the rose field and had a red rose in its mouth. He got to Nathan and pushed him gently in order for him to grab the rose, which Nathan did. According to another sign, red meant passion and love. So he gave that flower to George without even thinking about it because he had just realized how much he loved him. He didn’t cared about having to run after him or stand by as he fought his battles. He could do that and more because he loved him.

 George’s eyes were watery but then he remembered he had to take a rose for Nathan. He looked at the dog and asked him which one he should get and the dog barked and both guys laughed. He went for the blue one, which was meant to symbolize all feeling that can live through time, like trust. And he trusted his life and his love to Nathan so he gave him that one.

 The dog disappeared as the two men kissed softly and embraces each other, running through the bushes to find another couple that maybe had come to the palace in need of some advice, without even knowing.

viernes, 13 de noviembre de 2015

Dark enemy

   When the doors finally closed, everyone who had gathered in front of them just looked to the ground. They slowly went back to their duties in the palace or to their new houses in the lower levels, where they had been accepted just some hours ago. Another door that had closed was the one of the throne room, as the emperor had demanded to be left alone as he had “a strategy” to think about. The truth was, and everyone knew this, that the enemy was coming fast and that it couldn’t be stopped. It had been announced that they would destroy everything and everyone on their path and that’s why many had found shelter in the palace. The idea was that, as strong as the enemy was, they behaved like a group of buffalos. They charged until they hit something and then they moved on.

 The funny thing there was that no one really knew anything about the enemy except what people coming from other towns said. They were called “survivors” as they always arrived on the verge of collapse and they all had the same story about how awful and terrible the enemy was. However, despite been able to describe how their own tows burned and how people had been killed, they couldn’t tell anyone about the general aspects of the enemy. It was strange, but it was as if they had seen a shadow destroy all of those towns. No physical traits of any kind had been revealed, only the way they operated and that had been scary enough for everyone to take shelter in a building that was normally reserved for the rich and noble. That said a lot about their fear.

 The palace was a structure built in ten concentric rings, the highest been the one where the emperor lived and the lower ones where his staff lived. There were also some sublevels, normally catacombs used as prisons and to get access to a subterranean river. All of that space was now been used by the families that lived in the town and that had been allowed to come in by order of the empress. She was the one that was doing the most. Her name was Serena and she even went down to the sublevels and helped people build a house in the many rooms and spaces that had been only populated by rats for several hundreds of years. Her husband, however, was too scared or apprehensive to do nothing.

 No one knew if he had seen the enemy first hand or if he just felt this was the end of his reign. He had been emperor for fifty years; since he was a very young boy and this was the first time someone defied his power. And the truth was, he was very scared about it. Specially because there wasn’t a single man in the entire kingdom that could tell him anything useful about the enemy. No any general characteristics, not a weakness, not even the way they killed. It was true he was planning and working on the problem but it was also the truth that there was nothing he could really do about it.

 In the lower levels, many families tried to create the feeling of a home but it was practically impossible. Many of them were staying in rooms that felt too much like a prison and they soon realized that if the enemy didn’t walk through town but instead came to the palace, they would be trapped in the catacombs. The only way out was through the underground river but no one really knew how to navigate it and not everyone would be able to use the only boat that remained there. It was said that many of the emperor’s servants had escaped on other boats, leaving only one in the docks. Many children of these refugees loved to go and play in the docks as it was the only place that felt different and worth exploring, even if it was as dark and moist as the rest of the sublevels.

 Life in the upper levels, however, rapidly went back to normal. All the people working for the emperor resumed their work: they cooked big feasts for the few members of royalty, they made fabulous robes and they even brought in objects from the outside by specially trained hawks. They brought jewelry from very far cities and also delicacies that the king always liked. But the empress wasn’t too impressed by this. She was actually revolted by the fact they were eating a five-course meal as the people in the catacombs had only some bread to feed their children. She tried to protest before her majesty but his aides wouldn’t let her, as she would disturb him greatly. They didn’t want to bother him as he drank his beer.

 Serena decided to go for a walk around all the levels and wrote on a piece of paper everything that she saw that was wrong: too much water been wasted on plants in the gardens, a whole level dedicated to keeping his majesty’s clothes cleaned and perfect, the vaults of money and jewels been filled everyday despite the industry and commerce coming to halt, the closure of the market that had always worked in front of the main entrance, the fact that the his majesty’s guard was very numerous but there were only a few men guarding the first wall that would prevent the enemy from coming in and many other things. She actually ran out of paper as she walked along the edge of the wall, looking towards the town where only ghosts lived now.

 But she realized she was mistaken. There was smoke coming out from one of the houses chimney. She asked one of the few guards for how long that smoke had been there and they said that since the time the people of the town entered the palace. She concluded then that someone, maybe an entire family, had decided to stay behind and leave their lives as always. They didn’t care about the enemy, about wars or even about their emperor. They just wanted to keep living and Serena admired that. She asked her husband to let her go to the town, but his answer was obviously negative.

 But Serena wasn’t really one to wait around for others to approve. She had always been rebellious and she had always been curious about her marriage to the emperor. Despite having even younger sisters that were a lot less trouble, he had chosen her to be his wife. He said that it was because of her hair, which reminded him of wheat. But it had to be something else, or so she hoped. One night, she slipped out of her room and disguised herself as one of the refugees. Her handmaiden had gotten the clothes. Serena descended through secrets stairs and hallways that only a few knew about and finally reached the market in front of the entrance. There, she had to run through the square and reach a dark wall on the other end. There was a secret passage there too but the soldiers could see her if she made too much noise.

 She stopped first to calculate how to cross the square and then breath heavily in order to get herself pumped up. She then ran for her life like a mad person and reached the dark wall in seconds. It was strange that no one had seen her, as the moon was particularly bright, but she moved on. The tunnel she was walking on was very humid and full of moss. She fell a couple of times before reaching the end of the path. The tunnel ended in a small room, right in the middle of town. It was amazing no one knew about it. Serene walked out of it slowly and looked at the sky, looking for the smoke.

 The house she was looking for was just a couple of streets away. She walked slowly but not really trying not to make noise, as supposedly, there was no one in town. When she arrived at the house, she knocked. Maybe it had been a bold move but she really didn’t have time to play around. No one answered so she knocked again. Then, she let out a scream as someone pulled a curtain and looked out. Then the door opened and scared faces looked straight at her. There wasn’t one family living there, but two: three adults and five children. They recognized her and that was why they let her in. They were visibly nervous and she tried to reassure them but it was a lost cause. In the end, it was pretty reasonable to be scared and jumpy after been through so much.

 Serena was about to speak when the ground started to tremble. Everyone pulled back from the door and the walls and ran towards a hatch on the ground. Serena didn’t. She was too curious, too urged for the truth. She walked to the curtain and stood still, looking through the window, not even moving. The tremor grew stronger and then, what felt like hundreds of boars passed in front of the house. They were huge, with big horns and red eyes. They destroyed everything outside but they passed fast. She breathed again but it was too soon. Something else was coming down the street and she had to cover her mouth in order not to scream and reveal her position.

 In the palace, they finally realized something was wrong. But it was too late as the moon revealed what was happening there, in the town. And it also revealed that the palace wasn’t safe because, whatever was causing the ground to shake was coming their way. It was only a matter of minutes before the boars overran the market square. And even then, watching it all from his room, the emperor did nothing. Not even thinking about his wife.

domingo, 28 de septiembre de 2014

A Royal Lady

Lavinia had been in the Montgraneux palace for only two months. On her first week she married the duke and her mother assured her it was the best choice she could've had for a husband.

The duke of Halesworth was one of those bachelors that every girls wanted to marry: he was rich do to his business as a country man and as a politician, he had participated in battles abroad and, most important, he was an elegant, gracious man.

To Lavinia, looks weren't that important. From the moment she realized she had come to the world only to get married and be someone's something, she had decided not to mind too much about looks. She wanted someone who she can talk to at nights, share silly facts about life and live a peaceful life, with children as her mother intended.

She was presented to the duke in a party nothing to fancy, and the man liked her for her wit and tenderness. Within the next month, the wedding was arranged as well as her moving from her parents house.

Montgraneaux was majestic. It had a french name as the duke's grandparent had built it for his spouse, a french lady. The palace was a two story building, filled with beautiful objects from around the world. Lavinia specially liked the ballroom, which had plenty of mirrors and the nicest view towards the gardens.

The wedding, of course, was magnificent. Every single person that counted was there. Even an envoy from her majesty attended. Lavinia was so happy and proud to be marrying such a respectable person. She never thought she would enjoy marrying but that day she was all joy and fun and her mother even asked her if she felt fine. She answered: "Mama, I love my new life".

So from that day onward she lived on Montgraneaux.
However, things changed fast and not as she would have liked to. The duke was rarely at home, even to work, so she would only see him on weekends when they walked the gardens and shared quiet meals.

Lavinia didn't wanted too much of life so she was sad to see her low expectations were not being filled. The change became apparent from day one, or night one to be precise. She had never had sex but somehow she felt the duke just rushed the moment, which she didn't enjoy very much.

The young woman passed the time checking on the house, visiting new acquaintances and having her mother in for tea. Not much could be done.

Every time she had a chance to be with the duke, she reminded him of her ambition to have a house full of children. His response was always something like nodding or anything of the sorts. He didn't seemed interested in it.
She even tried seducing him at nights but that proved to be a failure too: he would leave to room arguing she was being "strange" or he would have some minutes of sex with her, as if just to please her.

Days and days alone, left her plenty of time to know every single corner of the house, which was pretty large. She would enjoy helping the gardeners, although it was not very lady like for him to be doing such chores. Anyway she did it, as she didn't care who would say what. She was a disgraced woman as far as she was concerned, so she didn't mind the opinion of others.

Winter changed things, again. The duke couldn't travel as much as he used to so he stayed in more but in his office. She would try to help him with things or take some tea for him but it didn't seem to do anything for the marriage.

One night, she discovered that the ballroom was closed, all doors locked with key. Curious, she went outside to look in, but found our all the curtains were down and nothing could be seeing. Only a dim light.

This happened at least once a week. Strangely, it coincided with multiple visits from statesmen, military officers and local authorities. They would always come right at lunch time and leave after dinner. This would annoy Lavinia every time, as she had to listen to endless stupid war stories or about shortages of wheat or some other kind of nourishment. She would always try to eat fast and argue she was exhausted to be excused.

Snow came in february and she would spend many hours making castles in it or playing by herself, She would remember her young years, when she was a lonely girl too. She wanted a child so bad, to take care of and to be with.

Exploring the palace had proven useful as, one day, she found at that one of the rooms in the second floor, mainly used by as a reading parlor, had a small compartment on one of the walls. When you opened it, you would enter a small space were an adult person could stand comfortably. Most curious, at the height of the eyes, there was a sliding plaque, in order to watch people below, in the ballroom.

She used it only once when the duke celebrated a Christmas party for every single noble man and lady in the region. Lots of people came and, at one point, Lavinia disappeared to watch everything from her private "booth": the view was amazing, felt like being a bird. She thought the person that made it should have being very suspicious of his guests.

One night, in which the duke had once again left the bed to sleep in some other room, Lavinia decided to go to the kitchen and have some warm milk. It had always helped her to sleep and she was having an awful time trying to sleep, as her thoughts of feeling alone, as well as her mother's insistence on the subject of children, were revolving on her mind.

She got her milk and was going back to bed when she came to one of the ballroom's doors. Strangely, she could see a under the door, as if fire had been lit inside. She had the urge to scream but realized this was the perfect time to use her secret "booth".

She silently climbed the stairs to the second floor and entered the reading parlor. She left the glass of milk on a table and opened her private space. When she lifted the sliding panel, her eyes had to close for a minute as the light was to bright.

Indeed, it was fire light, coming from the hearth on one side of the room. She couldn't see anything else except a table and... Clothing, on the ground. Her breathing accelerated when she understood it all: her husband suddenly got up from the floor, naked. He then laid on the edge of the table and that's when Lavinia saw it: one of the many military men that had come for supper penetrated her husband and he, the duke, seemed to enjoy it.

She close the panel and wanted to cry but didn't. She breathed heavily but calmed herself down, stood up and drank her milk. She was in that room for hours, gazing at the compartment from which she had seen it all.

No one never knew how or why but Lavinia suddenly became a leader in the region, touring towns and cities, helping those in need. She taken an interest in doing charity and people praised for that and for being an amazing hostess.

The height of it all was the birth of her daughter Anne. And it all happened due to her wit and strength, as she blackmailed her husband and let him do as he may as along as he kept his side of their agreement.

When he died, years later, in a skirmish in a colony far away, she received condolences from everyone. But she didn't mind. Her life expectations were fulfilled and more was yet to come.