Set upon the highest rack was the olive plant, just as Jyla suspected. For once back from training or leave her husband would eat the plant bare for a snack. Ravaging it all and leaving those damned vines cross every shelf and every jar beneath them. And every day, she still went through the trouble of begging that he eat away from the shelf and throw the vines out, but her husband never changed. She sighed knowing he wouldn’t listen. Men such as he didn’t do anything of the sort.
So she grabbed her stool as she always did and climbed up two feet taller. Then grabbed the dead and demolished plant taking it from its bowl and wiping the scattered remains into her open upturned hand. She did this for him, because she loved him. She knew he liked olives when he came back, so she would garden and grow the olives, along with other things as well. Making sure to pull the olive plants in strategic sections based on growth and flavor, to then set that piece of the planet in the bowl on the highest shelf. And he would come home to smile up at it, and take his snack. She would also pack his sack with a small note at the base, knowing he would not see it for a long while. But also knowing that when he found the note, a smile would come to his face. She would do many things like this to make him smile, she was a Queen to him, or so she tried to be.
And although Jyla was not of royal blood, Adam actually was.
She looked upon the mirror beside the lantern hung seeing the proof in her aging face and blonde hair turning gray. The dried dirt and tough skin made from the hot sun day on the day for years. She recognized her place in the Kingdom, in Windhelm. And it made her think to her husband. How he had come to her soft skinned and shiny, almost glistening perfect health and form. To now be like she felt as herself, rough and tired.
Adam was a bastard son, born from a mother other than the queen, he was banished from royalty upon adulthood. Cast out to the farms he was allowed to live and prosper on Windhelm land, and as he wished go and defend her as a member of knights. But he would never, from that day, be royal again.
It was his strong frame and stunning features that had wooed her when she was the age sixteen. She had watched him many times, being the youngest daughter she was not wed, but he parents were pushing her to do so, as she remembered. And when she saw him first in the small house at the top of the hill closest to the Kingdom, yet still miles away, she had fallen in love without knowing it. She would approach him weeks later after torturing herself and punishing herself for not doing it sooner, to speak to him as a friend. Inviting him to the festival of Harvest that night, which he had accepted. And on that night at the festival she hadn’t been able to find him. Her heart had broken and she cursed the gods and herself for something she could not control. Until she walked out from the joyful celebration to a quiet place to cry. Where she found him drunk and fallen in the stables.
She had come to him angry.
Then stopped and listened.
He had sobbed to her.
Speaking his wishes of depredations he screamed curses to the gods and his father alike. Then he had looked to her, and that softened him. They had spoke for hours, almost till he was sober before the sun grew high and long after the festival ended. They had both fell in love that night. But she knew she had to make sure, so she had told him where to meet her before he fell to sleep.
“Meet me by the tulip meadow north the bridge at midday and I’ll love you.” She had said.
And at midday when she arrived he was waiting for her. Early with a clean shaven face and cut hair, wearing the finest clothes he could. And even though those clothes still clung the dirt, she had rushed to him, kissed him passionately, and he asked her to marry him a few days later.
And today, five years later, her heart still skipped a beat in remembrance.
“Mother! Mother!” Kiya, her oldest son the age of three, came running round the corner covered in mud, muck, and scratches. His face caked with fear and concern,” Mother its Tyron!”
“What? Where is he?” She asked frantic now.
“Out by the horses!” He said turning and running back, as he ran his head swiveled and,”He fell!”
Jyla moved faster than she had any time in her life. Faster than any horse she had rode, any friend she had chased, or anytime she was scared. And she was scared now, petrified. Kiya was not the type of boy to scare easy. All his life he had been the one with a “good head on his shoulders” as his grandmother had said. But now he acted like Tyron, afraid and fearful, unsure of even the most basic thing, and impatient.
They came up to the stables and around the fence-line to Tyron. His dark brown hair and pale white skin stood contrast to the yellow patches of dead grass. He looked back to her, his eyes shrink-wrapped in tears.
“Mother.” He spoke.
Jyla came close to him and knelt down.
“Kiya said you fell, where did you fall from?” She demanded.
Tyron pointed straight at the stable roof, and Jyla sighed shaking her head.
“What hurts my son?” She asked patting him down, wiping the dirt from his face. He pointed to his lower back while grimacing painfully. She gripped his arm and moved to the side as to help him stand til…
“Mother he’s still out there.” She froze then looked in his eyes.
“The death man, in the woods.” He spoke softly, but his eyes screamed.
She looked up and out there, scanning the tree line and a bit deeper inside, but she saw nothing.
“I don’t see anything son, what are you talking…”
“I see him.” Kiya interrupted. His eyes locked onto something down the road.
And when she looked out her heart sank and she wished for her husband. The feeling of being so unsafe, so close to ungodly terrors only the closest to evil could even imagine, was found in a man walking down the road. His body blackened and portioned strangely. And two strange objects at the top of his head pointing outward and backward.
And as she stared, as if the monster sensed her, he turned exposing his skeleton face. The blackened holes for eyes bore into her soul. And strange as it could be she felt a strange feeling that… those eyes… were her husbands.