If I were the one telling this story, I would not begin here. There is too much that remains untold about her. For example, many call her Marily, but that was not her name, not then, not now. I was there. I was there at the real beginning of the story, and I am here now. She has promised me I will be with her when the end comes.
Both of us know that does not give us very long.
We like to tell each other that there will be some way out of this for her, and for me. But both of us know there will be only one end. She will hang or she will burn, depending on whether it is the Warrior Priests or the King’s men who catch us first.
Funny really, I suppose. If it had all gone to plan then they would not be the King’s Men, they would be hers.
The Queen’s Men.
The King decided, when the marriage was arranged, that she would take the name of Marily. She would take the name of the great queen of legend, she who defeated the invaders on the beaches of the Dark Sea.
I was her lover then, before she was Queen Marily.
The King’s Men came for me one night about two months before the royal wedding. I expected the worst.
Torture, or death, or both.
Instead, I shared a bottle of wine with the King. King Greva was nothing like the so-called likeness on his coinage, or the official portraits. He was not tall dark and handsome, but smaller than me with the face of some cunning rodent that thinks it has come up with a foolproof plan to raid the larder.
He told me he needed an heir. He told me, after the third bottle of wine, he had no interest in women.
He told me that if I were to father a child with Marily, that child – if male – would be his heir.
He stared hard into my face, or as hard as he could, and asked me if I understood.
I know what would happen to me.
I know what is going to happen to me now we have run.
But neither of us could stay, not after what happened.
AS soon as we saw our child neither, Marily or I could live with the pretence.
‘We have to go, Tren,’ she said, looking up at me as she held the child. ‘We cannot live this lie any longer.’
‘You know what it means Hella,’ I said, using her real name.
‘We can go. I can go back to my father’s kingdom.’
I watched our child suckle at her mother. I could smell the milky warm scent of a newborn child. I remember what happened the last time and I nodded.
The king wanted a child, an heir, a male child.
This was our second daughter.
I remember holding Hella as the sobs tore her apart when the Warrior Priests snatched our first born from her arms.
‘This child never was,’ the Cardinal Major said, drawing his ceremonial dagger. ‘And it never will be.’ And our child never cried again… unlike her mother.
So we ran, because our new daughter meant more to us than any kingdom ever could.