A Tragedy written by Dartanian Lestor in Dark Ages
Cast of Characters
The Royal Family
The king of Loures
Darliena, princess of Loures
Brenten, A nobleman of the kings court
Belmont, Chief court wizard
Two kings advisors
Martainn, Burgess of Undine and aggressor to Loures
Lorest, A noblewoman of Suomi
Helit, The kings guard captain, leader of the Kings knights
Timons, Castle guard
Kings messenger and servant
[A tumultuous night over Loures Castle. A few lone guards stand at the towers watching over the gate. It is late at night and the lightning is sparkling overhead, the rain pelting the tabards that the guards wear. Timons stands in his tabard on top of the tower, holding a pike at ready in hand]
Timons (first guard): Halt! Who goes there?
Helit (second guard): [offstage] A friend.
Timons: A friend at this hour? Come, reveal yourself!
Helit: [entering] Surely you recognize the voice of your old master.
Timons: [lowering his pike, astonished] Helit? My old friend, its been a long time! [They embrace.]
Helit: Too long it seems. You were ready to skewer me with that pot sticker of yourn.
Timons: [laughing] You havent changed. My shift is almost over, but this night has me edgy. We should go out for-
Helit: [waving his hand and cutting him off] I havent time truly for that. How fares the princess?
Timons: She weeps, mlord. Every day. It does not bode well for the family, this.
Helit: I see. And His Majesty...?
Timons: [lowering his head slightly] Mlieges condition degenerates every day. The vile liquid seeps into his blood and disrupts his humours. All the court priests and magicians are powerless to stop it.
Helit: Thats dire news for the kingdom. Especially with the invaders piling-
Timons: The invaders have stopped.
Timons: As I said. The waiting army on the border has retreated back to their lands. We know not what made them take their position back. It seems if theyre waiting.
Helit: Traitorous wretches! No doubt they know our position of weakness and are in league with those conspiring. They wait for that moment.
Timons: Perhaps that. Perhaps. But I think- Hark!
Helit: What is it, boy?
[Very faint galloping noise]
Timons: Do you not hear it?- [drawing his pike again] Halt! Identify yourself!
Messenger: [from down below] A messenger! A herald for the King! Vital news!
Helit: [shouting back] Is that right? Well, so-called herald, you had better say something to convince me to lift this gate or your horse might suffer quite a headache trying to enter.
Messenger: I do believe I can, mlord. One word that will raise this gate immediately.
Helit: Is that right then? Choose your word wisely, young herald.
Messenger: [in a harsh whisper] Martainn.
Helit: [turning around] Open the portcullis. Raise the gate. Let this man through.
[The messenger gallops off through the gate and exit.]
Timons: What WAS that?
Helit: I dont know. But if my fears hold true, this bodes no good for the whole empire.
[The royal chamber. Two advisors are waiting by the throne. The king enters, followed by his daughter, Darliena. A demagogue [Brenten] is addressing the king vividly while walking.]
Brenten: And so you see, my liege. This talk of movement against you is nothing more than a ploy brought upon by the rabble. There is no reason to believe that your power is in question.
King: No reason? My word. You would say to us in confidence that holding ten times ten score of upstarts ready to do your bidding is no reason. Why, the fires in his forges burned cold not once in this moon. And you still profess that there is no cause for alarm?
Brenten: Well, my liege, surely it can be seen that--
King: We need no man to say what is to be seen and what is not. The state believes us to grow feeble and senile in our age. They shall surely see their folly. [slumps slightly in the throne] No man has known nor seen nor even heard the burden of this state. I fear the tide turns on us as of late. [to Brenten] Now go. Leave our sight pure.
Brenten: But my lord--
King: I said go, lest you wish your head to take leave without you.
Brenten: Yes, my lord. It shall be done.
[Brenten bows nervously and leaves. The king slumps in his chair]
Darliena: Father, the lines on your face do tell what the expression does not. You worry too much for this kingdom in your condition.
King: Not at all, my cherished Darliena. In fact, I worry much too little. The strong of mind turn weak of flesh and those weak of heart hoard the power of corruption. There is no justice.
Darliena: There is, father, but not as you see it. For each one who worries shows that he cares. And as long as there are those that care, there is hope for our position yet.
King: I have raised you well. Yet this fire in my body threatens to overtake me. I am not long for this world.
[Darliena starts to speak but is cut off by a messengers yell offstage. Enter messenger]
Messenger: [bowing] My liege! Dire news!
King: Well stand there not. Speak to me of it.
Messenger: Of these recent events, I know very little. But a friend, fidel and true to the crown, has sworn this message to me. [reading from the letter] "My liege, I do not write in the best of health. Though from what I hear of your illness, you do not hear it in the best either. Mayhaps with both of us in these states, the situation will attempt to make some clarity. The ill wheel of fate has placed in my hands a letter which this messenger bears. Martainn has gathered the rabble of Undine and Suomi as you feared. He also seems guilty of placing the poison in your drink that makes you suffer slowly. I will keep eternal watch here." [puts away the letter]
King: And? Who has delivered this message?
Messenger: Mliege, it comes from the lady Lorest of Suomi.
King: Ah. She serves us well then. Leave us.
Messenger: As the lord wishes.
[Messenger bows and leaves]
Darliena: Father, what does all this mean?
King: Worry yourself not upon it. Your soul is far too green to know these events that come to pass. Well not trouble you. Pray, do not ask.
Darliena: Ill do my best to obey, father.
King: [snaps his fingers] Fionghan!
[One of the advisors step forward and bows. The king takes out another note and hands it to him.]
King: It is as I feared. Take this to Belmont. He shall know what to do. Now all take leave. I must think on these affairs of late.
[Castle courtyard. Enter Darliena.]
Darliena: Why he treats me thus, I know not. And why I seem contented to take this is far stranger. This behaviour is contrary to nature. Is it because he is the king? Or is it his illness? His aged and withered visage? Perhaps. I am, in truth, his dearest daughter, but to act as thus...my mind is abhorred to think on it. Ill yet prove myself to him. Let his mind conjure what fantasies they will, reality shall be my witness. -- [Noise offstage] Hah! Whos there?
Darliena: [pouting, but mockingly] You would be much more the gentleman to present yourself proper before sneaking on a poor girl with a frail heart.
Belmont: When your grace finds such a girl, then Ill do my best to comply. But as it is, I thought I approached none other than fair Darliena. [bows, grinning]
Darliena: You tease, but this girl knows the heart of a true noble wizard. [They kiss] So how fares the lord Belmont then?
Belmont: I do believe I feel much the better now.
Darliena: [frowns] Better? One cannot feel better without first feeling worse. What troubles your mind?
Belmont: [sighs and flips out the note for a second, then hides it again in his robes] Its the kings wish that--
Darliena: [puts a finger on his lips] Move against Martainn. I know, I know.
Belmont: How did you--
Darliena: Oh come now. You act as if you would hold the same opinion as my father.
Belmont: [embarrassed] Im dreadfully sorry mlady. He wishes a small force-- ol Helit, me, and one other-- to go and put and end to his reign.
Darliena: [aside] How Fiosachd would grin on this moment. Ill be proven yet.-- Ill be that other.
Belmont: But surely Ill--
Darliena: Not persuade me otherwise. Surely, Belmont, Id think youd know me better.
Belmont: [sighs] Id thought Id avoid being an escort for once.
Darliena: Is it so horrible to accompany me, Belmont?
Belmont: Not that, in faith. I know you go to prove yourself to him. Be not so concerned. To a king, all subjects are his children. And thus it seems fitting to say that his only child would always be the youngest of all.
Darliena: But Im not, and will not be viewed that way. With but 20-odd summers, I know more of life than he as he withers on his wizened throne. Come now, lets away. For Ill be fit for right this day.
Belmont: And thus we all are small children to feel we must impress another to further ourselves. Noble and peasant would weep and cry, if in this mission, we go awry.
[Battle noise offstage. Enter a lord [Martainn] in battle armour with two soldiers. One soldier [Soldier 2] is wounded in the leg.]
Martainn: [snaps his fingers] Report.
Soldier 1: Milord, the Loures troops hold their ground well. Our small numbers cannot hold much longer.
Martainn: How can that be? We gain more each day.
Soldier 2: [struggles to speak, weak from wounds] Yea, but not fast enough. We will soon run out if we are not more cautious with our men.
Martainn: We must press on. History would have us the victor. There is a divinity that guides us. [draws his blade and points it out] Let my sword be my compass and the stains of blood be my map. To battle!
[They exit, helping the wounded soldier off. Enter Helit and Belmont]
Helit: [hisses in a harsh whisper] I dont like it. A woman is bad luck on the battlefield.
Belmont: Tut tut, fair sir Helit. What of The Swan?
Helit: Im sure history exaggerates. It seems she did more harm than good to me. Men get distracted far too easily. And deprived by war turns men to animals. Their thoughts turn to the flesh more than duty.
Belmont: Is this a personal experience?
Helit: [nearly chokes] No! Its just...[looks away] I dont like it.
Belmont: Youre well to have your opinions, Sir Helit, but keep in mind, this is royalty. It is not our duty to question her, only to keep her out of harms way.
[Darliena approaches slowly, speaking first offstage then walking on, arms folded over her chest]
Darliena: You two speak as if I am a mere babe. I need not be coddled, or changed, or fed. I act on my own person. I have ears to hear and eyes to see, though you would speak as if I have none. I have hands to work and feet to walk, fists to fight and mind to think. I need no man nor beast nor child nor dame to wait on my needs; I am my own. I would think of you no less than that.
Belmont: [aside] Would this be the maid I have known for so long? My, how she has grown in her wit.-- I would think no less of my highness. We mean no harm, just simple jest.
Helit: Whats that?
Belmont: [turns towards him] What?
[Cannons fire. Footsteps can be heard]
Helit: That! [grabs both of their shoulders] Get down!
Darliena: Unhand me!
Helit: If I do unhand, highness, then those who come may unhead. Now get down!
[The three hide. Enter Martainn and Lorest]
Martainn: This victory is ours!
Lorest: Do not be so hasty, Lord Martainn. The battle and war are far from over.
Martainn: Indeed, you worry too much. Your assistance has been most appreciated though, Lady Lorest.
Darliena and Belmont: [whispered towards each other] Lorest??
Lorest: Without these forces, you would not have won. I would not be so reckless with my men.
Martainn: My men are willing to die at my hand. [clenches a fist] But men would die for a noble cause, would they not? Loures is powerful, but they go too far.
Lorest: Indeed. I would not believe they would stop at this attack. They will not rest until they get what they want. [bows before him] My men are at your whim, sire.
Darliena: [aside] But why is she so familiar? I must be answered-- As are mine.
Martainn: [turns sharply] Whos there? [draws his sword] Speak and unfold yourself!
Helit: [to Belmont] Is she mad? What is she doing?
Belmont: [to Helit] I know not. But I trust her sanity more than that. We would do best to watch.
Darliena: [steps forward] My name is Darliena. As I said, my men are at your disposal. We will fight by your side.
Martainn: And what makes a girl such as you think I would take such an offer?
Darliena: We are able-bodied all. Both have proven themselves in battle. It seems you lack magick, which we have. But warriors of the finest who will work for naught are hard to find. I bid you take it.
Martainn: Hmm...we will see your ability then. [feints with the sword barely, which Darliena dodges]
Darliena: [looks at the blade] If you wish, sire...[draws her own sword] We may play.
[Play. After a while, Martainn cuts Darlienas cheek]
Martainn: It would appear you boast better than you fight.
Darliena: Appearances oft deceive. As we shall see.
[Play again. Darliena cuts Martainns arm and he drops the sword]
Martainn: [grimaces] Well played. I could use your skills after all. I shall take your men. We board and set sail for Loures at dawn. Do not tarry.
Darliena: [salutes with the sword] I look forward to working with you, sire.
[Martainn motions with his good arm. Lorest and him exit. Darliena falls, and is caught by Belmont.]
Belmont: Is the lady alright?
Darliena: [smiles faintly] Never better, sir Belmont.
Helit: [scolding] What was all that? I thought we were here to investigate their move.
Darliena: My dear sir Helit, what better place to investigate than from behind the lines? We would find much more from them there.
Helit: [thinking] Indeed. But your actions were still rash. Come, let us camp here. We should be rested. Sea travel does not come easy. Tomorrow we go to port.
[Exit all except Darliena]
Darliena: I have heard that war is not pretty. Yet why must we fight? This war has dragged far too long, many have died at both hands. If it can be ended without bloodshed, I would see to it. I would watch Martainn. There must be a motivation behind it. This is no longer about proving myself, but about ending the bloodshed. And I will see it right.
[Ship bound for Loures. Captain at the wheel. Martainn enters and looks out at the waves. Enter Darliena shortly after.]
Darliena: Beautiful weather, is it not? [pause] I am indebted to you for taking us on...[pause. More silence] Well, if youre not going to speak with me--
Martainn: The seas are majestic, are they not?
Darliena: [surprised] Hmm?
Martainn: The azure sheet folds itself over the gentle land, each crease forming a cool wave. It is the source of life and it can yet be deadly.
Darliena: It is indeed a delicate balance. Not enough and we shall wither into dry husks. Too much and we shall drown.
Martainn: But in that tricky balance, just the right amount can be quite refreshing. [turns to Darliena] Kings are like that.
Martainn: [nods] Indeed. The right amount of control can be refreshing. But if a king does nothing or if they encroach too much, it can be fatal.
[Darliena turns to speak again but Martainn has already exited.]
Darliena: [aside] Such strange words...I wonder what he meant. He does not seem the Martainn I have heard of.
[Enter Lorest, Belmont and Helit]
Darliena: Lady Lorest, your loyalties seem to be crossed. Did I not hear you swear allegiance to the king?
Lorest: [sighs] Allegiance only lasts as long as the past remains the same for both. This is not the case.
Darliena: What do you mean by that?
Lorest: One makes an allegiance based on the facts that they know of that side. They join forces with one who has the same goals and morals as they. Martainn saw the king for who he was, and so have I.
Darliena: So who is the king then?
Lorest: A traitor.
Darliena: A traitor? How so?
Lorest: [shakes his head] I cannot say. Yet you shall learn soon enough.
Darliena: Both of them confuse me to no end. [sighs, then turns to the other two] Now that she has left, what news?
Belmont: [sighs] Precious little. They were not very cooperative. [looks about] And this place seems very empty.
Helit: [bows his head and closes his eyes in thought] Agreed. If this be a war vessel, it is not well equipped. Back in those days, there would be such a din, none could hear the person next to them. They simply talked to fill the silence. But Id be surprised if there is naught but twenty aboard here.
Belmont: [nods] Something does not smell right here. It seems something may not be as it appears..[crashing sounds, Belmont yells] What was that?
Captain: This wind is tearing the hull apart!
Darliena: [shouting] Belmont, can you do something?
Belmont: I will try. [starts casting a spell] No good. These winds and rains are too fierce.
Captain: All hands, hold on tight to something...and pray.
[More crashing; Dims with everyone close to the floor/deck; Exit all]
[Throne room; Enter King and Brenten]
King: Where is she?
Brenten: I know not, my lord. The guards have searched everywhere. You should not need sully your hands with this.
King: She is our daughter, and we will look for her as we please. weve not yet heard from Belmont and the others either.
Brenten: It is possible that she went with them, my liege. Shall I send a messenger to check?
King: Oh no, she would not. She has not gone against us yet, so what cause would she now? A gentle, obedient child..
Brenten: What you will, my lord.
[Brenten bows and exits]
King: At least...that is my hope. What she would find out from Martainn, I cannot hope to think upon. If it means my country, my kingdom, my all, then I would choose that. As I did earlier with him. Im sure he would fill her head with cries of tyranny, but she would not listen. Those deeds weigh heavily upon me, but is it so wrong to take a country rightfully thine no matter the cost? No! I have earned this title through blood right and shall not worry. I shall hold what is mine...upon my life..upon my life...
[murmurs and exits]
[Shipwreck. Darliena, Belmont and Helit are lying there. They comes to.]
Helit: [clutching his head] What happened?
Belmont: I believe the mast split, the hull cracked, the ship was completely destroyed and we were washed away onto this beach actually.
Helit: Brilliant. How did you figure that?
Darliena: Now settle down you two. This isnt the time for bickering. Who is left?
Belmont: I think just us three.
Darliena: So theres no one else...
Martainn: Nows no time for regrets. We must press on. [turns back around]
Darliena: What kind of man are you??
Martainn: A practical one. If they are dead, then there is nothing we can do to save them. Besides, there are more important matters at hand.
Darliena: But all those people died for your cause--
Martainn: People die needlessly in war. The king taught me that through action.
Darliena: The king?
Martainn: Yes. We must not delay. For we still have a king to slay. [walks off]
Darliena: Wait! [aside] I grow weary of these cryptic remarks. Why does he not give me an answer straight?
[Darliena runs after Martainn]
Belmont: So what do you make of this?
Helit: This fellow seems honorable enough. But circumstances must have closed him off from the world. He hunts us and taunts us to his trap. Our minds be his prey.
Belmont: I would say so. Her grace is much too impetuous. She trails after that rabbit only to get her nose stuck in the hole. We should be weary of this lord. For far too oft, men would say one thing and mean another. So too with this Martainn. There is more to this than he lets on. Come Helit.
[Throne room. Cannons outside. Enter King and servant [Messenger].]
King: What is that noise? Bring me my armour.
Messenger: It seems Martainn and his men storm the castle.
King: [aside] Martainn...I have enough of your blood on my hands.--Bring me my armour!
Messenger: Yes, sire.
King: My deeds come to haunt me once more. It was the only way. That boy...he should not have gotten in the way. But...it was too late to move the sword from its driven course. Oh vile deed...Martainn...your son. But a poor messenger boy. Imagine the look when a young man should come with a letter and see that. Oh vile deed. The kings blood spilled on his own throne. No one was to know. That is why you come.
[The king kneels to pray. Martainn bursts in.]
King: [standing] Martainn...have you come to kill me?
Martainn: I come for vengeance.
King: I very well know. But I earned this crown through toil. Ill not leave it.
Martainn: Then let it be your shroud. [draws his sword]
[They play. Enter Darliena, Belmont and Helit.]
Belmont: Such a warring tone does not bode well. I wonder..
King: [startled] Darliena?
[Martainn slashes the king across the chest who staggers.]
Helit: The king bleeds!
[Rushes forward, drawing his sword and parries Martainns final blow]
Helit: I have sworn to protect him with my life. So I shall be your opponent.
[They play. Helit is slain.]
Helit: Princess...protect him. [dies]
Darliena: I am princess Darliena. [draws her sword] And you have just killed a royal knight. It shall not be forgive.
[They fight, Martainn at the disadvantage from the surprise. Darliena runs him through.]
Martainn: [looks down] Well, it is fitting that the royal family would finish off the last of us...
Martainn: [points weakly] That vile beast...ask him about my son. [dies]
Darliena: [rises stiffly] Is this true?
Darliena: Father, I went on this journey to prove myself to you. You always treated me as a child. But this...you hid this from me...from all of us.
King: I did it to protect the kingdom.
Darliena: No! You did it to protect yourself. Our country would have never gone to war for that.
King: I did what I--
Darliena: I dont want any lies any more. How did he die? By your hand?
King: [meekly] Yes.
Darliena: [tears in her eyes] Then this is for all those who have died by your charge. [runs the king through. The king gasps with shock and then collapses]
Belmont: Darliena, are you mad? What have you done?
Darliena: [lowers her sword] I have done what I needed to. [points to Martainn] A war was fought against this devil because of the actions of this devil. [gestures to the king] I have done nothing but end the bloodshed.
Belmont: But your father--
Darliena: This king was but a shell. Any who would kill an innocent boy and watch thousand others die for those actions died to me a long time ago. [looks up] Belmont?
Darliena: I proved myself didnt I?
Belmont: [embraces her] Yes. The king would be proud.
Belmont: Clean this place. And tell the people the war is over. A war that should have never been fought.
Messenger: As you wish.
[Exit messenger, with Belmont and Darliena giving each other one final hug before leaving themselves.]