Difference between revisions of "Kingsley Family/Alyssa/Life After Death"

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Revision as of 07:51, 2 December 2019

This story ran from 11/6/2019 to 11/11/2019. It details Alyssa's meeting with King Kay after his return from death.



Alyssa brushed her hair idly, staring vacantly at the stack of letters from the Imperial Council. It was difficult with only one usable arm, but she dare not spend the coin on something so frivolous as a handmaiden while her men were dying in the field. Besides Master Chance, her company healer had told her he could remove the cast in only a few more weeks. "Be patient lady." He had said. He had taken to calling her Lady of late, which she hated, but it was better than "girl" which is how he had typically been referring to her. The man had little respect for titles, but a great deal for the art of healing and for that she could bear a few slights. He had saved her life at least twice, and the lives of countless of her men. She would give him as little trouble as she could.

Suddenly a noise came from outside her chamber. Alert, Alyssa lept to her feet, and ever prepared for anything, grabbed the nearest weapon, the ornate blunted Blade of the Imperator, sliding the scabbard through the sash around her waist. The hem of the simple white dress she wore flew behind her as she rushed to the door. She did not see Dustiria, but one of her soldiers rushing, winded up the stairs.

"My... Lady... Impera.."

"Out with it, man!" She ordered.

"The King... has returned... he..."

"What!?" Alyssa exclaimed, grabbing the soldier's arm, dragging him down the stairs. She refused to let him catch his breath and only dismissed him after he told her where she would find the King alive. He lead her to the King's private wing, where a cadre of guards were now posted outside his solar. Her heart began beating faster when she saw them. Could it be true?

"The King expected you might arrive, my lady." One of them said motioning her inside and pointing off towards the back of the main room. "Down that last hall my lady, and the door on the left."

She walked briskly, her shoulders back and her gait steady as she continued through the solar to the direction she was pointed in. A simple wooden door led into what her soldier had told her would be the King's drawing room. She had never been near any of the King's chambers before and she suspected few had been to this one, based on the the look of the place. The room was quite open, with sparse furnishings. This is a private place, she thought as she entered. No one but the king goes here. A single large window overlooking the bay let in light from outside. The room did not appear very kingly, but her own quarters were spartan as well. She understood the need for a quiet place. The figure beside the window however was what had her attention.

The man's shape was familiar as was the crown atop his head. He faced away from her looking out the window across the bay, at the ships which seemed so small from the palace overlook, like little models floating across the wide expanse.

"Alyssa." The man spoke in a familiar voice.

At once Alyssa fell to one knee, pulling the ceremonial sword from its scabbard gripping its hilt tightly as she pressed its blunted tip to the stone floor.

It is true. She thought, as she knelt before the man who died for their realm.

"Your Majesty..." She replied, staring wide-eyed at the stony floor as she felt her heart beats loud enough to echo throughout the room.



The room was dimly lit, comfortably decorated and had an air of decadent opulence about it. It looked like a cave where a bear would retreat to lick his wounds, only if said bear wore a crown of the proudest nation in the world. The bed was empty and disheveled. The table was littered with heaps of paper, among them Alyssa could notice her own letters. The window was flung open, letting in the soft breeze from the bay.

Immediately Alyssa saw the king. He stood by the window, his back to the door. He was garbed in an old blood red velvet night robe. Smoke rose over his head, getting tangled in the prongs of his crown. He was smoking a pipe. Kay was not a smoker and the smoke did not smell of tobacco.

"Alyssa", intoned the king, without even turning around. He knew it had to be her. His voice made the young woman shiver. It was Kay's voice, but also it was different. Muffled and with metallic notes, it sounded like if his chest was now an empty brass jar. "Come, sit", he continued.

As Imperatrix took a seat, the room fell silent for a few more moments as Kay puffed on a long strangely shaped wooden pipe. Finally he turned around. As he started moving it became painfully obvious he was not well at all. His feet moved very slowly, his body was rigid as if avoiding unnecessary movement. And then she saw his face.

First she noticed a patch of ravaged flesh around his left eye where a misericorde pierced his face. Instead of the eye Kay had a large white moonstone set in his eye socket. Then she noticed a long scar going around his neck. That must have been an axe. As an experienced soldier Alyssa knew that people do not recover from wounds like that. It was a dead man's face. But the king was still breathing. Moreover, his scars looked as if they were many years old, while she knew they were supposed to be fresh. His dark hair was now almost completely grey.

"I am back", he said. And from his ghast voice Alyssa knew he was not just back from a battle, he returned from distant shores of oblivion. His remaining eye scanned his visitor sternly. "What did I miss? My body was ruined and it hurts like hell. It will take time to heal. Maybe it will take forever. But I am back to serve my people. So fill me in."



"Look at what you did!" Her father's voice rang out in anger in her head.

"I'm sorry... We didn't mean to go out so far..." She had said back then, whimpering in fear of the red-faced man who had stood over her.

"You did this!" He had said pointing at the grim sight in the courtyard of the family manor. "Look at it girl!" She had looked she recalled, and had cried the rest of the day for it.

Alyssa looked up from her memories at the King before her. He was... something else now; between living and dead, caught between two worlds, their own and the mysterious realm beyond where death brings those it finds in its icy clutches. You did this her father said again. But the King was alive. It was still him she could tell. He looked at her with the same knowing look he always had, though what remained of his gaze was somewhat distant and he watched her expectantly.

"Alyssa?" He asked gently, his voice ringing hollow and empty.

She stared back at the white stone looking at her, still in disbelief at the risen man sitting before her.

"I'm sorry... I didn't mean for us to get caught out so far." She blurted out.

Kay shook his head and replied quietly. "Tell me what I missed, Alyssa."

"She took a moment to gather herself staring at the stony sea between them. Look at what you did! her father called to her again from within her distant memories. She would not cry today, she decided. All her tears were gone anyway. Instead she breated deeply and faced her king.

"I have been attempting to hold the realm together in your absence Your Majesty. After the battle, we fell back to the capital. I was wounded as well," she continued nodding to her battered left arm casted and slung close to her chest. "A spear pierced my belly and..." She shook her head. "Most of the realm was hurt and the army was destroyed. The North has been ravaging as far south as Beziers, while we are trapped here in Perdan City, waiting on relief from Vix and Perleone. Duke Banetal retreated to his castle in Aix, he would not say why. As for the north, a few of them had the kindness at least to send condolences at your death. Good King Ryndhal, Lyanna Arylon the countess of Glinmar in Sirion, and even the Shadow King himself broke his silence to send kind words on your passing. Thomas Foxglove has forsaken his position as the Prime Minister of Sirion. I have sent a letter north to perhaps discover why, as no one has seen or heard from him in weeks, but a new man takes his place, someone called Ivo Mersault. I sent him a letter, and he asked me of our situation, as rumors of your death circulated north and he was uncertain who was leading our realm. I have yet to have time to send a response. Finally, the Jarl has called a tournament in Sydgard. I believe some of our nobles are on the way. In addition we have some new knights. A boistrous fellow called Kenneth, another I have yet to meet who I believe is called Rogos who serves Lord Joreb. Also..." Alyssa tapped her fingers uncertainly on the arm of the chair. "Sir Nemean his forsaken his vow to his home of Eponllyn. He has taken an estate with lands near mine own in Bisciye, proclaiming himself a knight of the realm. He has asked me not to send him letters so I am uncertain of his intentions, though I doubt he means any harm. However, given your interest him, Your Majesty, I felt you should know."

Alyssa finished her report and took another deep breath. "That is all I have to report since you... died. I have tried to do what I thought best for the realm. The past week has been confusion and turmoil, but we have survived at the very least. And now you have returned to us my king."

She watched his remaining eye as she spoke, watching for life within. His gaze was distant, but in it she saw the sparks of life.

"You have returned to us." She said again, still hoping that she was not wrong.



Kay listened silently, his head inclining under the crown's weight. Now and then he would nod slowly or raise an eyebrow. His face brightened up somewhat as he heard the few good tidings among the recount of catastrophes besetting his realm.

It was difficult not to notice Alyssa's wariness as she spoke, the silent questions hiding in her gingerly glances. But they became all too obvious when she fell silent. Kay's eyes met hers and he smiled. It was not a smile of genuine joy, but a reassuring one. A content smile an old terminally ill person would offer his favourite child. Even if the king blamed Imperatrix for the Brive massacre he never showed it.

"I have returned", he echoed. "That is beyond doubt. I know I am alive because it hurts so much all the time. Before my spirit briefly detached from my body, I did not realise that living flesh was mostly just a container for suffering. Gods know how much of it mine can hold."

He knit his brow and huffed on the pipe, emitting some black smoke into the air. He was not complaining it seemed, he only wanted to share his suffering with someone close. But almost immediately he decided against this brief impulse and returned to business at hand.

"This morning I received a letter from Lord Vixir. He wants to organize the swap of Dimwood and Montauban while the enemy is refitting. I need you to coordinate this move with their military, so that myself and Lord Vixir are not caught by the enemy in the field."

"As to young Nemean, his arrival makes me a happy man. Not just because I've grown to like the lad, but mostly because his decision justifies the work I have been doing since my ascension to the throne". Noticing that Alyssa looked a bit confused, the king explained "See, when you plough and sow the field and months later you reap the harvest, it feels good not just because you now have food to feed yourself and yours for the year. But also because it proves that you personally correctly understand the principles of causality upon which the entire world rests, which is tenfold as important if you lead not only your family but an entire realm. The earth is fertile and thus if you tend to it and plant a seed in it, it will grow. Likewise there is immanent nobility to the spirit of every highborn scion. And once you plant the seed of virtue in it, it will not perish but will develop and fluorish. These realizations give us peace of mind and reinforce our moral principles despite the ubiquitos chaos and evil which beset us".

"Perdan's power lies not in our excellent swords, but in strong and loyal hands carrying them. Welcome our new arrivals, Sers Kenneth and Ser Rogos, just like Ser Nemean. Make sure they are assigned to the army and sufficiently funded".



Alyssa nodded at the king's command, standing up stiffly and giving a salute. "It shall be as you say, Your Majesty. I have already spoken to the new knights, with the exception of Sir Nemean for the reason I mentioned before. I will speak to Lords Nicolai and Saraph right away to coordinate the Dimwood situation."

Alyssa hesitated for a moment, grimacing to herself as she considered what to do next.

"Your Majesty..." She said, breaking the stony silence. "May I ask... What did you see? On the other side?"



Alyssa hesitated for a moment, grimacing to herself as she considered what to do next.

"Your Majesty..." She said, breaking the stony silence. "May I ask... What did you see? On the other side?"

Alyssa's question made the king heave a sigh as his gaze became dim and vacant. He pondered for some moments as if reflecting upon his memories. Then looked straight into the woman's eyes. He started talking very slowly, each sentence feeling like a heavy stone falling to the bottom of a well.

"I saw you. And Smiddich. And Banetal, and Ulric. And my father. My enemies. Many people who are now dead or alive. Everyone I knew. Everyone who knew me. And they all looked at me. Sympathetic, but also judgemental. You, they, the entire universe judged me forever for the way I lived my life. I did not feel shame, I believe I have done well. But now I also see that I can do better. So that when I am back to the ghastly shores, I will know my extra time here was not a waste."

The king smirked and walked back to the window to enjoy the breeze in silence. The audience was seemingly over.



No my lord, it was I who failed you... She thought, pained. The king's vacant glare made her uneasy as he smiled and turned toward the window.

Alyssa looked around waiting for the King to say something, but he remained silent. Alyssa cleared her throat and asked: "Is... that all your majest?"

If the king heard her, he gave no sign of it, standing still watching the model ships out on the bay.

What did I do to you? She thought, as she took an about face and opened the door to the corridor to leave, heart still beating with the blood of life and youth, praying that the king's still did the same.