The Lightning Bride - Chapter 1

Part 2 of 4

D. M. Sonntag

12/15/2020 3 min read

           There was another cry, and Maylie realized it was from her own mouth. Everyone stilled, turning toward her. Relief flashed amid the fear in her mother’s blue eyes, the same color Maylie shared.

“Take me to the Trial instead,” Maylie cried, rushing down the stairs.

“You will come as well,” the officer holding her mother said. He nodded his head to the third Rosecoat, who quickly grabbed Maylie.

“You lied, Emilia,” the Rosecoat said. “You said your daughter was with her betrothed.”

Her mother said nothing.

“Let me represent her!” Maylie protested. “If I’m innocent, my mother is too.” She prayed her face didn’t reveal the lie.

“Both of you must reveal your innocence,” the officer replied.

Maylie shook as she was put in chains though she had nothing to worry about besides embarrassment. The dread must be for her mother.

“Please, I beg you,” Emilia began again, resisting as she was shoved forward. “Wait for my husband. There has been a mistake. He will clear this.”

Maylie grunted as she was pushed forward as well. She had to consciously force herself to lift her feet, passing a prone maid. Her eyes widened when she recognized Nita, her old nanny. Please just be unconscious.

“He cannot deny a Trial ordered by the viceroy,” the officer said, opening the door and leading them out. “He can only claim you if you fail.”

Maylie held back tears, trying to compose herself like her mother. Their reputations would be ruined, and lives lost if her father was too late.

She tried to think of words to calm them both. “It’s going to be all right, Mother. Father will claim you. Us,” she quickly corrected.

“He’ll come here first.” Her mother met Maylie’s gaze, fear turning to defeat.

“Then Behn will,” Maylie said, trying to stay hopeful. “He’ll have to attend the Trial.”

Her mother relaxed slightly. “Yes, Behn will claim us.”

Maylie walked the path to the town, trying to not think about what was to come, but grew angry. She hated Northern Kingdom law. “A woman must have a man at all times,” she’d heard too many times. There must always be a Man of the House, beginning with a woman’s father and transitioning to her husband.

A woman couldn’t even go to market without a man on her arm escorting her, or she would be shamed and arrested. Which is what these men were doing anyway. Maylie’s humiliation grew from everyone they passed; even the beggars were watching. Her father had bought their status with his fortune, but not even that could save her and her mother from a Trial.

The crowds congregated once they neared the platform. Her mother had composed herself and held her head up, looking over the crowd. Maylie tried to do the same, but had never been as skilled as her mother. She was grateful for the enclosure of the soldiers, inactively shielding them from the hostile crowd.

Slurs of “sea witches” and “ocean harlots” sounded. Maylie wanted to retort that her mother was neither, but knew her shouts would get lost in the clamor, never reaching a single person’s ears, let alone heart. Proyale, and the whole Northern Kingdom, hated what they were told to hate.

The Rosecoats forced Maylie and her mother up to the platform normally used for the gallows. Maylie shivered as she saw the ropes hanging still on the windless day. If no one claimed her mother today, they would be used.

Her mother released a short cry, and Maylie strained her neck to see what was the matter, only seeing Viceroy Toman Brackley holding up a hand to quiet the town, and her uncle, Admiral of Proyale’s Navy, standing beside him.

Her mother swayed and Maylie finally saw what caused her to cry out. Behn stood at the end, chained by his wrists to a ring on the floor. Maylie’s eyes widened, and her heart sank. Someone had certainly witnessed them swimming.

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