Tessa’s Scolding

***November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.***

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Yes, it can be done. Right now, my novel is my focus, and Stink Bug Saturdays have suffered for it.

So, I’ve decided that today I ought to share a scene from the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo. This is unrevised text, so, yes, there’s likely to be typos.

This is the second book in the Herongarde trilogy. I’m optimistic that I will have a complete first draft for the second novel by the end of the month.

This scene features Queen Tessa, the mother of Trey, and wife of King Anthony. She is in no way pleased at how Anthony has treated Hanna, and is happy to express her displeasure in front of Anthony’s elite guard.

*****

A pounding came from the council chamber door. “Open this door!” a woman’s voice filtered down. “Open this door at once!” Anthony cringed. He knew the voice of his wife.

Iain stood, raising an eyebrow at Anthony.

“Let her in,” said Anthony with a wave. “One thing I know is to always listen to my wife.”

The other men chuckled as Iain scaled the stairs. “Your Majesty,” he said after opening the door.

“I would speak to my husband,” said Tessa. Iain stepped aside and Tessa poured down the steps in her festive gown.

The men stood as she entered the chamber. She did not pause for pleasantries. She charged to stand before Anthony, slapping the table in front of him.

“What have you done?” Tessa demanded.

“Tess,” Anthony said demurely. “I am doing the best that I can.”

“A woman is weeping wretchedly, bleeding and bruised. Humiliated. For what? For doing what she was told to do,” Tessa exclaimed.

“We are trying to correct this, Tess.”

“Oh sure. You come in here and sit and talk. She had stones thrown at here. Her chamber door is surrounded by a mob of people who want her dead. She fought for you, and this is what she gets? Ignored? Tossed aside?” Tessa raised her fists to the sky. “You lied to Malthus and tried to send her away. You demanded her sword. After all she did. But you wouldn’t hear it. Not from me. Not from Trey. Not from anyone who witnessed the truth.”

“Tess, please.”

“You were too much the coward the hear the truth. You were too much embarrassed. And I stayed quiet. Maybe it would be for the best.” Tessa spun and pointed at Balayn. “Then you! You can’t be bothered by protocols. You threw her into a snarling pack of jackals. You made false accusations from which she may never recover.”

“Forgive me,” Balayn said.

Tessa ignored him, turning to Markus. “And you. You and Gilbert. What was that? To beat her again? Humiliate her? Slap her down? Why? Why was that necessary?”

“Your Majesty, we needed to know…,” said Markus.

“Know what? That she could hold a sword?” she turned to Gilbert. “You could have done that privately.”

“She is a worthy swordsman. Others should see that,” said Gilbert.

“She is bleeding,” cried Tessa. “She is in shambles.” Tessa marched to stand in front of Kevin. “And your daughter. My God, Kevin, who does she think she is? Throwing Hanna out like garbage?”

“I will speak to her,” said Kevin, but Tessa was already stabbing her finger into Anthony’s chest.

“And you would throw her out too. Be done with it. How can you be so cruel?” she said.

Anthony sat down, looking sadly up at his wife, gently rubbing his chin.

“What? You’re just going to sit there?”

“No Tessa,” said Anthony. “We will act.”

“She is weeping.”

Anthony nodded. “It was not my intent to hurt so badly.”

“Then what will you do?” She slapped her hands on the table.

“She will have the protection of these me,” Anthony said. “Beyond that, I do not yet know.”

“Protection? Like how you’ve protected her all along? Just ignore her. Send her away. Make her shut up. That will keep her safe.”

“She will remain here, in this castle. We will watch over her,” Anthony said.

They gazed into each others eyes for a long time.

“Tessa,” Anthony said softly. “I have made a great many mistakes. I know this. We all know. I assure you she will be safe. I will accept the consequences of my own actions, whatever that might be. This still needs to be discussed.”

Tessa sighed and removed her hands from the table.

“I will go there myself and disperse the crowd at her door. Would this satisfy you?” said Anthony.

“That might help,” she said.

“Then please,” he motioned toward the stairwell. “I must make a few more comments here, then I will go.”

“All right. I will wait for you above.”

“Thank you, Tessa,” said Anthony.

Tessa left without another word. Voices of the gathered crowd echoed down the steps as she opened the door. The door clicked shut and it was silent.

Anthony walked to the back of the room, opening a cabinet. He pulled out a flat rectangular case and brought it back to the front desk, setting it in front of try,as he stood across from him. Anthony opened the case, to reveal a simple golden crown.

“Trey,” Anthony said as he lifted the crown from the velvet-lined box. “You are heir to the throne of Herongarde.” He help up the crown. “I have made many, many – too many – mistakes in these last years. It is time for me to step aside.” He put the crown on Trey’s head. “You must prepare yourself to take on these duties.” Trey swallowed nervously.

Anthony turned and faced the Men of the Mark. “I fear I have betrayed the trust of you and of our people. I have been pleased to serve Herongarde as its King. It has been my intention to step aside at the spring festival after winter. Perhaps I should step aside now.”

Murmurs rose. Anthony held up a hand.

“Hanna should not suffer further for my mistakes. As Tessa asked, I will go now and clear the gathered crowd from her door. I ask you, my brothers, to decide when this man will take my seat.” Anthony bowed to the men, then turned and bowed deeply to Trey. He left the men in stunned silence.

All eyes turned to Trey when the door clicked shut.

“Who would you have as King, then?” asked Trey.

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