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Avant-Garde

Chapters:  

Beginning

Avant-Garde By Sienna W.
Bright sunlight streamed through the open window. Softly it illuminated her face as delicately as new petals on spring grass. Her breath was slow and deep, but interrupted as a loud knock came from the oak door. Pulling the white sheets with her as she stepped out of bed, she crossed the vast room. He was standing there in all the glory of the morn. His sandy blond hair askew, his eyes, brightly transparent in the light, his skin was golden and veins licked up his arm, ever so slightly protruding. “Good day to thee, for it is day and not morn, thou hast slept through the roosters call.” Williams voice was that of falling snow, soft and pleasant. “I beg thy pardon for not being decent of this hour, for one wishes to always be seen proper and modest in the eyes of thou.” she winked as she stood. They both smiled and she took his hand, leading him to the small lounging chair next to her window. Although he was a farm boy, he was always washed and smelt of cleanliness. Sometimes she would find little pieces of hay snared in his hair and gently pluck them out with a butterfly’s’ grace. His face would be that of deep shame, but she encouraged it without wagging her tongue and would giggle when it occurred. “Why hast thou slept so late in this grand day? For it is nearly lunching hour... Ay the shame of my unseeing eyes, how could God be so spiteful that this mortal man could not look upon thee in a time of such great beauty?” He wailed in his sorrow, but it was not prolonged for she had taken his face and pressed it to hers. Their lips met and the hearts of the two lovers beat simultaneously. Sad she was that he could not see her standing next to her father in this day of great beauty. For it was a day of great beauty throughout the kingdom. The women and girls had flowers woven in their hair and men in their best cloths, waving flags through the hot summer air. Strawberry wine was passed from hand to hand in the crowd and shouts of joy hung in the atmosphere like the wind in the willow tree, brushing through the boughs and jade leaves. With her father, the King, sitting to her left she could see beyond the outer wall of the castle, to the little farm houses with fields of bluish-green surrounding them. He was down there, she knew, and longed to go to him so badly she could hardly contain it from bursting through her tightly pressed lips. “A wonderful day indeed! Thou did not expect such a turnout, but for the better, for thou art to announce a great gift to ears that will hear it.” the King said, his voice loud and full of gayness. He was a short, stalky man with large ears and a prominent nose. Though she could detect some sort of hidden reproach or discomfort buried deep inside the lungs of this great leader. “A gift of words is a beautiful sound, one which thee would like to hear more often.” Sighing, she said this. She again thought of him, down there, tending his crops. She had wished with all her heart that he could come today, for it was her seventeenth birthday and was of marrying age now. She wanted him to propose, but how would the King take to such an atrocious act as this? A simple farmers boy wedding to a princess, ah no, it was not likely that he would take to that proposal. The princess and farm boy’s relationship had been kept a secret for three years, other than the guards and servant girls that looked after her, no one knew. The King stood up, crossed to the edge of the balcony and cleared his throat. The people below instantly went silent. “There is to be a wedding.” He said instantly jumping to the point. Her heart leapt, could he have found out about her undying love for the farm boy? And to be willing of the extent of letting her wed a farm boy was grand indeed! “My father! Could it be true?” “Yes my darling, it is true. You are to be wedded to The Duke Cambridge come next full moon.” “Sir Cambridge? But he is an evil man, father no I will not!” Tears were quickly welling in her eyes, and she dashed her hand across her face to hide them. “I do not wish it upon thou my love, but thou art the princess and dost have duties to thys kingdom and people.” A glance at the crowd made clear his next intentions. “Please my liege, I beg of thee not to do this!” She was just a child, and the Duke a man. Her tears spilt over her eyelids and she clutched at the Kings hand. He stared at her for a moment more, broke his gaze, and turning back to the crowd he shoot his head. She did not see the door or cold, stone walls as she fled from the tower. The insignificant drop of her tears on the ground would not make a difference now. She could hear the King, in his booming voice telling his people she would wed the Duke, as she scurried down the staircase. The Duke was a wicked man; for there was rumor that he drowned his first wife. Though she had never seen him, she knew his demeanor was cold and gargoyle like. He was known to cheat poor people out of their money and leave them to starve in the streets. Children would run from him and women would shiver when he passed by. No, she would not wed this man, this monster. She would run away, for she had eyes only for her lover William. Oh his face! She could see it now, lit up with golden sunlight and those piercing green eyes! God she must go to him now, he would comfort her as she wallowed in sadness. There were always horses watered and fed in the stable, all she must do is get the saddle on its broad back. It was heavier than she could lift, and so decided to ride it bare-back. Williams’ cottage was far out from the castle and so it took her a quarter hour to reach him. As she expected he was tending the garden and didn’t look up until she was almost atop him. “Oh William! It is terrible news I brings on this grand day! I am to be wed to the Duke Cambridge come next harvest moon, and thou does not love him, I loves thee with all the undying passion in my heart. What am I to do?” Williams face paled, and he took her hands shakily. At her touch there was a small shiver, he grasped the rake by his side and held it aloft in the air, wielding it like a sword. “I will duel him my love, don’t fret, for I shall concur this mighty beast and win the tender kiss of the fair maiden.” He held her close and after what seemed a short time they went to the small stone house and closed the door. She did not return to the castle until much later, but when she did the royal guards were there. They took her to her father and in doing so, made his face light up like a bright red candle. “Where didts thou go?” He demanded. His eyes bulging and veins pulsing through his almost translucent skin. “I have gone nowhere, and everywhere all in the same! I will not be wed to this monster, that thou calls a Duke. “You must my daughter, for he is rich and you must help our family in this time of need!” The princess had known that the kingdom was not as wealthy as it used to be, but she did not know it had come to this. For her to wed the duke would indeed bring riches to their family, but at what cost? She would never love him, a damned life of untruth and sorrow. She would not condemn herself to this fate. A cold wind floated through the open window and she shivered. No, she would not be wed to this monster! She would rather die. Closing the window, the king turned back round. His eyes were full of wariness and voice thick when he spoke. “I do not want thou to wed the duke, but cannot see any other way. Goodnight Bell.” And with that he walked out of the room. She ran to her chamber where she threw herself down on the bed and cried, cried until the sun’s light touched her tender eyelids. It was selfish of her, she knew, to not wed the Duke. It would provide enough money for the kingdom to be prosperous and well kept. But she didn’t care. She would run away, forever, to a land where she had no duties or responsibilities. And William would be there to take care of her. She need not worry about money or shelter for she had William, and that was all that mattered. Tonight she would leave, as soon as the sun hid behind the embrace of the dark mountains. She quickly packed her things, stole some bread and cheese from the kitchens, a small amount of wine, and a map from the kings own room. She also took a few clothes, the kind that wouldn’t draw attention to her if she were at an inn or store. Acting as normal as she could, she dined with her father and members of the royal court. Breaking bread in the morning was always quiet; no one had much to say. However the king would start small conversations and politely retract when other members would carry the worded melody. She would shoot little glances at the King; they were looks of reproach, not hatred. She did love her father, but how could he let, no want, her to wed the Duke Cambridge. If he really loved her, he would not condemn her to a life of unhappiness. The day went by fast, and before she knew it the sun had started to set. She was sitting in her quarters when a small knock came. A tall man was the owner of the knock, his body clad in chain-mail and armor. A royal guard, come to watch the Princesses’ door. For her “safety” indeed! She knew the King had only sent him there to make sure she would not sneak away, in to the dark of night. Very well, she would have to be even more clever. Wishing the guard farewell till morn, she pretended to sleep. Standing right outside of her door he could hear every small sound she made, she would have to be careful about what she did. Slowly getting out of bed she heaved her sheets with her, the wardrobe contained extra blankets and curtains, which she tied together into one very long, snake-like rope. Crossing to the large window she slid her arm under the pane, unlocked the outer bit and pushed upwards. It gave with little sound, save a small creaking of the wood. Holding her breath she counted to ten, fifteen, he had not heard it. She was safe for now, but next was the hard part. Tying the sheet-rope tightly to her bed leg, she let it out the window, gradually until it hit the balcony below. Rapping it around her right arm she slowly slipped down it, catching herself every five feet or so as to not proceed too fast. Hitting the balcony was slightly painful, she didn’t expect it to be quite so sudden, but all the same she continued down to the next balcony, then the cold wet grass. Sprinting as fast as she could, she ran to the horses. A dim light was there, held by a dark stranger. She crept towards the figure in the mist; she could tell it was a man, for he was tall with broad shoulders. When he turned she could see the half of his face that was bathed in lantern light, high cheekbones and wide brow. His eyes, or eye really, was unfriendly and spiteful. Not someone you would want to meet in a dark ally, not someone you would want to meet ever. He had just jumped off his horse and was searching for something in his saddle pack. If only she was a little closer, she could hear what he was mumbling under his breath. “Hurry!” She whispered, she needed to get one of the horses to take her to William. He paused, could he have heard her? Ever so slowly he turned around, only stopping when his face was pointed in her direction. Her heart skipped and she held her breath. She had come so far, how could she get caught now? After what seemed like hours, he finally turned back to his saddle bag. Exhaling she started to back up, when her hand touched cold metal. “What art thou doing out so late?” A castle guard was patrolling the outer wall when he had seen her crouched in the hedges, and come to investigate. “I… I just wanted to brush the horses.” She said with hope that he would believe her obvious lie. “At this time of night? Alas, thou will have to be escorted back to thy room.” Catching up her arm he started to walk towards the side door. “No! I won’t!” She screamed, and pulling her arm out of the surprised guards hand, she scrambled her way up the small hill and across the frosty grass. He just stood there for a few seconds, unsure of what to do, then pulling out his attack horn, sucked in a vast breath and blew with all his might. The right side of the castle was alight immediately and the rest followed suite. Horses were mounted and horns blew their shrill call into the cold mist of night. It was not long until the princess was caught and returned home, though she kicked and screamed the whole return. This disaster made for a very long and boring fortnight; she could not leave her room, food was brought to her, as well as spinning and weaving materials. And the constant reminder that at the end of the two weeks, she would be wed to that scary man in the stables. For she had found out that The Duke Cambridge had arrived the night she tried to leave. At this point she had come to accept that she was not running away. How could she? She would wed the Duke, that was her fate. The knock came late that night, around one thirty or so. The iced over windowpanes rattled when William tapped softly on them. He had climbed up the two balconies all the way to her double windows; his dark silhouette was shaded in by the moon behind him, illuminating every stray hair on his head. “Bell? Art thou awake?” He shivered, as a farm boy he didn’t have many clothes. “William?” She stepped quickly out of bed and ran to the window, unlocking it and sliding the panes apart. As giddy as a school girl she helped him in, taking a match from her cupboard lit the small lantern aside her bed. “William what art thou doing here? Thou will be flogged if found!” she said it with effort, for she was quite delighted to see him. Throwing her slender arms around him she pressed her lips to his, cutting off his reply. Finally they broke apart, and she led him to the love seat by the window. “What am I to do? For I cannot wed him, he is a wicked and scary man.” “Alas, thou dost not know my love, but I am to duel the wicked Duke the morrow at sun rise.” She felt happy at this news, for if he could defeat the duke she would not have to wed him and in turn wed the farm boy. The farm boy spent the night in the glorious light of his lovers arm, never had he felt so satisfied, so content. The burning rays of morn is what woke her from her slumber. William had gone, but on the small table by her bed there was a delicate ink covered parchment. It read: Dear Bell, I am off to duel the Duke Cambridge and will return shortly. Even the tale of two lovers could not compare to ours, thou art the sun to my day, the moon to my night and the beating to my heart. Should I not return, know that thou art the only thing I live for. Farewell, for now, my love. Collapsing in the chair by the window she held her hands to her face. This was worse than being wed to the duke, how could she risk Williams’ life? She was the true monster. A chilly wind blew in from the open window. Though it was sunny, it was unusually cold for this time of year. The tears upon her cheeks stung like little icy needles as she closed the window. Stifling a whimper she lay down on her bed and gave into the pressing desire of weariness. William came up around the corner of the large outer wall surrounding the castle, his sword clinking in its sheath. The air was cold and he blew large clouds of breath into the air, stopping only when he saw the Duke. If he could sneak up from behind, he could disarm and beat him. But that was not honorable, not heroic. No, he would call out to the duke and fight him in combat like a real war hero. “Sir Cambridge, turn and face me! We will battle on this ground and there will be a conqueror!” The duke turned and looked with interest at this intruder. Drawing his sword, he advanced towards the farm boy, very clearly not alarmed. “To whom do I owe this honor? Surely a simple farm boy would have reason to challenge a duke?” “I do, it is for the heart of the Princess Bell. She is a rare beauty that one like yourself does not deserve.” A few steps away from William the duke stopped. “The princess? I do not care about the heart of that reached creature, once wedded to her I will poison her father and take his stead. I want to be king!” At that he rushed at William. The farm boy was skilled in swordsmanship, however the Duke was an equal, being brought up with special tutors and such. Catching the dukes blade under the hilt of his own sword, William pushed forward intending to slice at the dukes side. It instead caused the duke to gain access to the small dagger concealed in his belt. William was too quick; he saw the flash of the sunlight on the daggers blade and stepped quickly to the side. The Duke, unbalanced, tumbled quickly to the ground. William brought up his sword and rested it under the Dukes’ chin. “I will let you live, but thou must leave this castle and never return. You will never talk or acknowledge Bell or her father ever again.” William did not see the Dukes’ henchmen silently come up from behind. One slice was all it took to cut Williams throat. The farm boy collapsed in a pool of blood, and the last sign of life drained from his eyes as his lips shaped the name of his love. It was midafternoon when the messenger came to her door. A friend, not only a messenger was he, and so to deliver this horrible news would hurt not just her but him as well. The guard was still posted outside her door and checked the messenger before he could enter. Being clean of everything save a letter, he knocked slowly, hoping she would be asleep. But she came to the door, her face full of obvious worry. “I have terrible news, news I wish were not true.” “What is it?” The princess said, already fearing the worst. “William has fallen, the vile duke hast slain him. I am truly sorry.” The messenger had tears in his eyes, and he shamefully wiped them away. Without warning the princess collapsed in the messenger’s arms and with help from the guard they transported her to her chair. When she awoke from the darkness the messenger was still there, his head cradled in the palm of his hands. He raised his eyes and spoke in a hoarse voice. “William was my friend and his death must not be in vain.” Taking his hand from a concealed pocket, he withdrew a small vial full of clear liquid. “Thou must wed the duke, and slip this poison into his drinking glass. He will die within the quarter hour.” With sad eyes the messenger departed. She would wed the Duke and she would get revenge for her William. ******** It was rainy on the wedding day; the dark, water soaked clouds rumbled and moaned in the sky. She truly was a beauty, her long, light brown hair was inlaid with little red and white flowers. Her eye were a light blue, tiny gold flakes were visible as well. Her dress was long, the veil trailing behind her like a silvery cloud. Her face was the only thing the wedding fitters could not change, it was a face full of pain and emptiness. The ceremony went by quickly, the only lull when it was her turn to say “I do.” She had moved most of her belongings out of her old room, and into the new that she would be sharing with the Duke. Though, she thought, not for long. It was three whole days before they were alone together, and four until she had the opportunity to slip anything into his wine. They were sitting at the long table in the new room, he enjoying dessert and drink, her sitting stalk still staring at the opposing wall. He got up and stretched, proceeding to the bathing room to relieve himself. Here was her chance! She must act quickly and quietly. Reaching into her bodice she slipped out the vial that was concealed there. How much should she put in? Ten drops, just to be safe. She didn’t want him to be half lucid and call a guard. Counting them out, she let the toxic liquid fall, mixing with the blood red wine. When the duke returned she was sitting in the same position as before. His lips puckered as he sipped the wine, and she knew what she had to do next. Turning to him she said in the most unfriendly way possible, “Thou wilst never be king, you will never have power over my people and thou will never hurt anyone ever again.” “And what makes thee think tha…” his face contorted and turned blue. A dry sucking sound came from his gaping mouth and eyes darted around the room, unseeing. Falling from his chair he clutched at the white tablecloth, pulling the strawberry cake and wine with him. With one last attempt for life he crawled to her and pulled at the hem of her dress. In disgust she turned away, and did not look back until she was sure he was dead. One final task remained the hardest of them all. She walked slowly to the window and taking the brass candelabrum from the table she shattered the glass into a thousand pieces. Carefully she selected a large, jagged shard and walked back to the table. She loved William more than anyone had ever known, and without him life seemed not worth living. She knew it would hurt and she pressed her lips tightly together as she slit her right wrist. The left was more difficult because she had cut the tendons, and her fingers would not work. Placing the glass in her mouth she slit her left and let it fall. Lying on the floor, her blood mixing with the split wine, she sang the lullaby William had always sung to her. A cold winters nigh, But the touch of my love will fill me with warmth, Thou hast seen the butterfly’s tears and the broken Rose on the throne of the angel, Raziel. She would see him soon, be in his warm arms with his lips pressed softly to her forehead. “Goodbye.” she whispered, and closed her eyes for the last time.
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