Introducing the Woman in Scarlet and Little Joan (excerpt)

She was known as the woman in scarlet, a whore that could be had for a coin or two.  Only a handful of people knew her as Wilma.  None but she knew that she was the daughter of Robert FitzOdo de Loxley and a scullery maid.  Wilma had been peddled into prostitution when she was nine to aid in funding FitzOdo’s campaign to win back land and title.  He sold her maidenhead to a fat lord in Lincoln that ran a brothel where she was put to work.  The fat Lord knew the truth of her heritage, but he was dead.  The woman in scarlet had blood on her hands, but not that of the fat lord.

“I don’t know why we have to leave Skelbrooke,” said the big boned girl with straw yellow hair traveling with Wilma.

“The village is no longer safe Joan,” said the woman in scarlet.

Wilma looked to Joan as a mother would a daughter, but the girl was not her daughter.  A monk had rescued the girl from being tossed into the oubliette in Lincoln when she was a babe.  The monk had explained the girl was the product of a union between John de Lacy 2nd Earl of Lincoln and Alice, daughter of Gilbert, Lord of L’Aigle.  When Alice died in 1216, John de Lacy wanted to erase the painful memory of his wife’s passing and so ordered the child be thrown into the oubliette.  Others say the babe’s death was ordered to clear the way for de Lacy to take a new wife, which he did.  The holy man entrusted the women in scarlet to raise the child and keep her safe.  Wilma was eighteen at the time and ever since she did what she could to do just that.  As the seasons passed, the girl matured quickly in body.  The woman in scarlet’s commitment to the girl’s safety was complicated by the girl sprouting up and blossoming prematurely.  With the exception of her chubby cheeks, Joan looked more women that child.  She stood a whole head taller and her bosom already larger than Wilma’s.

The girl did not understand.  She was still too tender in years despite a body that said otherwise to the eyes of lustful men.  The woman in scarlet knew well from experience that a girl of nine was not ready for the attentions of men, no matter how developed her body.

“Richard was nice,” said Joan.

“Too nice,” Wilma snarled.

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A Robin Hood Tale Like No Other

Like an arrow shot from a bow, “The Gest of Robyn Hode and Little Joan According to Alaina of Dale” flies swiftly, arcs gently and hits the mark. This reinventing of Robin Hood takes the titular character back to their roots in the early ballads, but with a twist. Robyn is a girl that identifies as a boy. Little Joan is a nine year old girl cared for by Wilma the woman in scarlet. They are joined by Much, the developmentally challenged miller’s son and Tuch, a forest priest in haircloth alb. Banding together they forge out a living in the greenwood as outlaws and their adventures would become legend.

Coming June 1st 2019

“The Gest of Robyn Hode and Little Joan According to Alaina of Dale”

By T J Therien

 

The story, as you know it, is a lie. Learn the true origins of the Robin Hood Legend in this fast paced Novella.

 

Disclaimer: The Gest of Robyn Hode and Little Joan According to Alaina of Dale is a work of fiction

Robyn Hode Cover

The Death of Queen Beatrice (2019 failed entry CBC Short Story Contest)

Willamina hated flowers.  She was emotionally allergic to them.  She detested floral scents, colors and patterns with a passion.  She hated flowers almost as much as she hated her job, the same job she had been stuck in her entire adult life, but there were no other jobs she was qualified for.  The Queen made sure of that.  If there was one thing she hated more than her job, it was the Queen herself.

Queen Beatrice controlled everyone and everything.  It was by the Queen’s mandate that Willamina and her sisters were rendered infertile as children and Willamina resented her Monarch for it.  What if she wanted children of her own?  This was not her current concern.

The sun had long set on the day and one of her sisters, Brenda had not returned.  Willamina’s anxiety was genuine.  The job was fraught with many hazards.  Just that day, Willamina had seen someone she once knew bumbling around like a zombee.  Elizabeth … Beth…, Willamina reminded herself, had been bitten by a fly a few weeks prior while out foraging.  Fear her condition might be contagious led to Beth’s exile, again by edict of the Queen, adding just another layer of loathing on Willamina’s part.

Willamina spotted Susan in a crowd and rushed to ask if she had seen Brenda.

“Sorry Billie, I haven’t seen her today,” Susan said with recognizable sadness in her voice before going her way.

Willamina spent the whole night through pacing nervously.  Brenda did not return.  She felt sadness in her heart knowing another sister had fallen.  She could no longer deny the truth of it, that Brenda was probably never coming back.  She would be just another casualty of the job, just another number on the growing list of fallen sisters.  Willamina was furious.

It’s just the way the world works.  There’s nothing you can do about it, Willamina could hear the words she had suckled on since youth sour as they echoed in her head.  She could no longer accept them as truth.  She had had enough.  Something had to be done.  She could no longer stand idly by while one by one her sisters died, but what could she do?  She would stop the Queen, but how?  Slowly in the back of her head a plan began to form and take shape.

First, she gauged general sentiment toward the Queen among other workers, beginning with those she most trusted before expanding to those she trusted less.  Males could not be trusted at all.  They were a bunch of fat and lazy dumb drones; obedient only to the Queen and so she did not attempt to feel them out.

Much to her surprise, almost all of her sisters shared the same abhorrence for Queen Beatrice in hushed whispers, but they were afraid.  They were afraid of what the Queen would do if she even caught a whiff of dissent, but Willamina was not to be deterred.  She started again with her most intimate circle.  Honey was the first of her sisters that Willamina approached and actually broached the idea of a revolution.

“Oh, no Billie, no, you shouldn’t think such things, let alone say them,” Honey said horrified at first by the idea.  Her concern for her friend’s welfare was obvious in the expression that came over her face.

“You hate the Queen as much as I do,” Willamina pressed.  “Every day our sisters fall, another sister you know dies, maybe more than one some days.  Who’s next?  How many more of us must die before we do something?”

“It’s suicide, the Queen will kill anyone that rises up,” Honey stated as fact.

“So we die.  It’s suicide if we do nothing.  We either die one by one on the job, or we take a stand and who knows, maybe we won’t die,” Willamina retorted.

They debated the issue dead with Willamina eventually prevailing.  Over the course of the next few weeks she had been successful in recruiting the majority of workers to her cause.  They were lucky enough to fly under the Queen’s radar, but Willamina knew that it wouldn’t continue much longer.  They would have to act and act swiftly and decisively if they were going to be successful in pulling off their coup.  There could be no more hesitation without putting everybody at risk.

It was on a hot humid morning in mid-August when the workers assembled by Willamina carried out the plan they had orchestrated to overthrow Queen Beatrice.  As the sun rose and bled red on the horizon, the workers revolted in force and a great battle ensued.  The numbers were near equal on each side of the conflict and so too was the death toll.  Willamina witnessed Honey’s head being ripped from her body among many other horrors.

During the battle, Willamina caught sight of Queen Beatrice and she became singular in her focus.  In that moment, all the hatred she had known for the Queen transformed into an uncontrollable rage.  She made a beeline straight for the Monarch.  As she attempted to attack the Queen, she felt the first wound sting her, followed by another and then another.  The pain was excruciating and before dying, Willamina managed to deliver a stinging wound of her own.  As the white lights blazed and burned in the back of her head, before everything went black, Willamina could only hope the one and only strike she was able to deliver would prove fatal to the Queen as well.

***

The burden on Queen Beatrice was enormous.  Hers was not an envious task.  The world was a harsh place and without her guidance chaos would consume the ungoverned and they would all perish.  She existed to serve her population, to maintain the order that was necessary to ensure their survival.  She existed to save the masses from their baser instincts.  This was the onus of her station and she took her responsibilities seriously.  She took no joy in the hard decisions she had to make, but make them she did all the same, because their continued survival required it.

There was little she could do to prevent the deaths of workers.  If the workers didn’t forage they would all starve come winter.  She did her best to limit the dangers to the adult population, keeping the children safe.  It was unfortunate, but necessary.  It was just the way the world worked and there was nothing she could do about it.  She did not invent the system that had seen their survival over countless generations during times of peace and strife.

She had heard the buzz of worker dissatisfaction, but she did not take their grievances seriously.  The workers were always complaining about one thing or another, after all.  When the workers revolted, she was caught completely off guard.  The workers swarmed the Royal Court and those loyal to Beatrice did their best to repel the attack that led to decimation on both sides.  The revolt was eventually put down, but not before a worker broke from the ranks and made straight for Beatrice.

Willamina, Billie…the Queen put a name to the face, but before she could react, before she could say or do anything, the worker was on top of her.  Beatrice was struck, she felt the sting and knew the wound would prove fatal.  Blinding white light obscured her vision and pain racked her body.  She fell, doubled over and curled up.  She died feeling betrayed by the population she existed to serve.

***

All the workers that took part in the revolt that day suffered violent deaths as a result.  The few drones that survived began feeding the remaining larvae Royal Jelly in an attempt to produce a new Queen and begin the cycle of subservience anew, but they would never recover from the collapse of the hive’s population.  They would never be successful in producing a successor in time and when winter came they too would die.

The death of Queen Beatrice is not an isolated event.  In recent years, events such as these have been occurring much more frequently.  In hive after hive, entire populations have been wiped out.  It would appear no hive is immune.

 

T J Therien

NaPoWriMo Day 10 Results

The Crux
by T J Therien
Humanity stands at a crucial junction
In the roundhouse of the impending
To escape this nexus of dysfunction
The entire apple cart needs upending
Without cutting off the hand offending
We need to break free from this strangle-hold
Dispel the illusion of wealth and gold
Give up this addiction to self-extreme
It won’t be easy, if the truth be told
It will take much more than a viral meme

NaPoWriMo Day 9 Results

Getting Old
by T J Therien
 
And so another morning breaks
Another day Time will whittle
Every joint in the body aches
There’s no reprise, no acquittal
The skin thins and bone grows brittle
Arteries clog, the breath shallows
On the slow march to the gallows
On the turning of dusty page
The sun sets on dusky hallows
Everyone must acquiesce to age