Perhaps it was the smoke on the horizon that turned the setting sun into a dropped blood orange, or perhaps it was the pus-slimed wound in the his side, but the King was coughing–quietly, almost apologetically, a diametric opposite from his stentorian speaking voice–when the Knight entered, fresh from the battlefield.
No words were exchanged about the battle. Truths that are both obvious and distasteful are unspoken in the company of honorable men.
That’s how it began.
It’s been… maybe thirteen, fourteen years now? It was called “The Knight And The Princess”, and that was all I had. I knew I wanted to tell a story about a knight and a princess.
It wasn’t a fantasy story or a historical military story. To be honest, it was an attempt at an erotic romance. I started posting it on a BDSM message board. I wanted to try exploring a male dominant power exchange relationship in an… elemental setting. The man, the girl, the wilderness.
I never got around to any of what my readers would have called “the good part”. A lot of atmosphere, a lot of brooding… well, you can read the different parts from this page.
Somehow those characters never let me go. The knight with his battle between duty and desire, the princess with her fear and her trust. Every once in a while I would think about them, huddled around a dying fire on Lord Chimaculean’s Stair and I would think, I need to get back to them.
And I have. The most recent was when I wrote the Introduction that is the first link on that page. But at the time I wrote it, it didn’t seem to have anywhere to go.
Well, I just picked it up again, and I think I may be seeing an actual story there. Two stories, sort of. Well, two narrative tracks. The knight and the princess part, which is going to be the sort of dreamy mood piece that I already have, but more of it.
The part that’s going to be like a story (I hope) is a half century later. The princess, who is now the queen, at the end of her life. She was trained by the knight and returned with an army to retake her kingdom. She ruled with an iron hand, forging an empire.
Now she is old and frail, her empire in the hands of barons who operate as a commonwealth, the queen a figurehead retired to a mountain fortress and surrounded by her Queen’s Guard. She spends the dregs of her life dreaming about her glory days.
Until something happens to wake her up and make her realize that her life is not yet over and that she has one last battle to fight, guided by her memories of her lost knight…
Again, I have little more than an image. An eighty year old warrior queen, draped in moth-eaten furs and surrounded by a fanatical ceremonial guard, coming down from the hills to a city of politics and intrigue and rule by bureaucracy.
So. A pre-industrial world without magic, and a warrior queen without a name, and a story that takes place both before and after the great military battles that created an empire.
And the memory of a dead man the queen loved, who feared that he was a monster.
Yeah, this has got best seller written all over it.