A queen must part with her king. An excerpt written in about 30 minutes.
| Stemat’s eyes fluttered open to tiny sunbeams seeping through the burlap canopy around her. The light illuminated the interior, revealing a small table and chest. Propped against a nearby chair near the entrance was a set of armor. It had seen better days despite its splendor. The clatter of carts and smiths clamored outside. Stemat remembered where she was now. This is her husband’s battle camp.
Stemat looked up slightly and saw Hekydos’s visage. He looked peaceful in his slumbering state. It was as if he were still home in the palace with her and not on the front lines in Galameth. Perhaps he was dreaming just that. Stemat laid her head back on her husband’s bare chest and listened to his still-beating heart. The night before slipped back into her mind.
Her father-in-law Inmos sent her here to “comfort Hekydos and fulfill her duty as his wife”. Hekydos immediately embraced her when she arrived. Stemat listened to his recent revelations intently, despite the occasional interruption by his aide-de-camps. When night came and the fears of a potential ambush were assuaged, Hekydos draped his cape over Stemat while she rode him.
Stemat awoke where she had collapsed in ecstasy, but now an unbearable heartache weighed on her. At that moment one of her handmaids peeked through the tent’s drapes.
“Pardon my interruption, Mistress,” she whispered. “We have to leave soon. Let me know when his majesty is decent and we’ll help you get dressed.”
Stemat said nothing, pardoning her handmaid with a gentle wave. Stemat gently traced Hekydos’s jawline. Hekydos smiled slightly before opening his eyes.
“It wasn’t a dream,” he murmured. He held Stemat’s intruding hand and kissed it, and he wrapped his free arm around her. “Please tell me it’s too early to wake up. I don’t want you to leave yet.”
“If only I could,” Stemat replied, intertwining the tips of her fingers with his. “I wish I could take you with me. Alas, you father would not permit it.”
Stemat felt Hekydos’s embrace tighten around her.
“You know my father, Stemat,” he said. “He would never permit it.”
Stemat wished she could burrow closer to her husband’s breast, but her knowledge forced her to slowly pry herself away from him. The cape concealing her fell off her backside. She draped it over Hekydos. Once he concealed his nakedness, she called for her handmaids. Stemat could feel Hekydos’s gaze on her while her handmaids dressed her. She could sense his sadness, just as she did on previous occasions like this. Stemat considered the moments Hekydos’s chances of survival hung by a thread. Would she ever see him again if she left now?
“You are ready, mistress,” said a handmaid.
“Not yet,” Stemat huffed. “Wait for me outside. I’ll be joining you shortly.” When the last handmaid left the tent, Stemat faced her husband and cradled his face in her hands.
“How long will it be until I see you again?”
“If my suspicions are correct, then I’ll return home as soon as I can,” Hekydos said with a slight smile. Stemat only nodded before placing a tender kiss on Hekydos’s lips. She departed the tent with her eyes lowered to the ground. No one should see the tears swelling in her eyes. Stemat glanced back one last time and saw Hekydos looking back at her, while her entourage escorted her home.