Camp Flame – The Queen’s Tent
It had been a long exhausting day. The Frosts were still at least six days away and all her soldiers had suddenly gone good. There wasn’t even a single little squabble that would have needed her attention or judgment.
They were a day’s walk from the nearest town. Until then, she had to keep to her tent. It was especially hard in the nights. It was an especially cold day today. Sleep didn’t come that easily on a frozen makeshift bed. She sent for Janet Flame, her bed-warmer and a friend from a very young age. She was married once, and her husband died shortly after in battle. It was custom to send the wives of the men killed in battle to the Frosts, but Pam wouldn’t let anyone take her away and fought until she had finally won.
Jane was the first ever bed-warmer given to Pam and the two had formed an unbreakable bond ever since. With uniquely grey eyes, a slender frame, shiny brown skin and an amazingly wild spirit, she was the most interesting person Pam knew.
“You called, Your Grace?” she said, with emphasis on the last two words, getting in the tent.
“Oh you stop with that,” Pam said giggling.
“Oh definitely, Your Grace!” she said, this time louder.
“Oh shut up and get in the bed.” said Pam and Jane did as ordered. She got in bed facing Pam as she knew Pam would have something in mind to talk about. “So?” she gave a start.
“I couldn’t sleep, even the prospect of shedding those Frosts’ blue blood in a few days couldn’t comfort me enough to sleep.” Pam said.
“Ha, the last battle is still very fresh in memory. That was brilliant.” reminded Jane.
“It really was! I heard the Frosts doubled back three towns instead of the normal two this time,” Pam added, hysteric with laughter.
It was customary for the losing camp to go back two towns. It was for the winning camp to take over one of the towns over to their territory, and one more town for distance before preparing for the next battle. Going back three towns was a shame. It meant the blow from the battle was that bad.
“Three?! Ooh, girl that’s just sad.” she said, both of them were giggling now.
“I plan to pay a visit to my people tomorrow. See how things are proceeding, impart a few words of wisdom and all that, you know.” Pam said.
“You sure that’s a good idea? Being out in the open like that?” said Jane, in a concerned voice.
“I’ll have my guards around me of course, and I’m going, definitely. There’s no changing that.”
They talked all through the night. The cold, empty tent was filled with giggles and laughter.
She didn’t remember when she’d gone to sleep when she woke the next day, on an empty bed. Jane had already left. She only kept close near the nights in case she was needed. She was left to do what she wished the rest of the day.
It was well near noon before Pam finally set out. The two suns were directly in the line of each other, beating down hard. She went to tent with the horses first. It stank, but the creatures were beautiful enough for her to overlook that.
There were soldiers training all around her, that is good to see, they’ll need it. It’s been a while since one camp has won consequently, she thought to herself. She didn’t want to disturb them and so, moved on from there.
Then she set off to where the women and the broken were. Two more had died last night. They were being mourned in a corner, and Pam went and gave her condolences. As she was walking by, she heard a soft sweet voice that reminded her of her mother. She turned to find a woman nursing her wailing baby. She was in the middle of a story. Pam inched closer to listen. It was an old story her mother used to tell her.
“That baby kept crying too. No matter what, he didn’t listen to his mother. Not his sister though. No, she was silent and good. In the night, wolves had infiltrated their kingdom and found the two babies.” The wailing had lessened now. He was quite intently listening to the story too, it seemed. The mother continued, “The wolves could smell a bad child. They came and took the male child away. The king was mad with rage and grief, and hunted and killed every wolf that dared to make the mistake of getting in his eye shot. Some of his own men started to find what he was doing as inhumane and rose up against him. The king didn’t take this lightly and started hunting down the men too. This sparked a mutiny from even more supporters and they’ve been at war and fighting ever since. All because a boy was being bad. Now, do you want to get carried off by wolves?” she asked the child with a thin smile. The child nodded his head no slowly, quite terrified.
It was a story told to children to scare them into behaving well. She could’ve waited a little longer with this one though. That poor kid is shaking with fear, she thought. Hearing the story brought back so many memories of her mother, she subtly wiped the tears that were forming in her eyes, making sure no one noticed and decided to get back to her tent. It was time to start moving if they wanted to be under a roof tonight.
“Elder Horton, inform my spokesperson to give an announcement to everyone to start packing and to get moving. We need to get to Bennet’s town before the suns’ set.” she said to Horton, back in her tent.
The spokespersons were men with loud, deep, booming voices who spread her messages from their positions for everyone to hear. They stayed near her every day to get to know her better. So that if they had to give an announcement without being told what exactly to say, they would know how she would wish for them to say it.
Soon enough, she heard their voices from every direction as her tent was being taken down and loaded in her wagon.
As Elder Horton was helping her get on it, Jane came rushing to her, panting. Pam asked her what had happened and told her to catch her breath.
“I was near general Hector’s tent at the very front and he said he could see the Frosts’ camp through his farscope. I confirmed it, he wasn’t kidding.” she said, breathlessly.
Farscopes were instruments made with a round tunnel-like piece of iron with pieces of glass fixed inside. It allowed the viewer to see objects far away like it was closer.
“General Hector’s farscope?! But his farscope sucks! That means -”
“That means they’re even closer.” Jane finished for her.