Jim’s sister-in-law demonstrates her self-defence skills from the
lessons he brought her and destroys a yuletide burglar Continue reading Sister-in-Law’s Christmas Present (Sislaw #1)
Early the next morning, as the army was on its way again, a squadron of scouts rode up to Roslyn. “My Princess. I think you’ll want to see this,” said their commander. They led her to a group of seven male heads, decapitated and impaled on pikes. The heads were those of Prince Antonius and his six generals.
“Bury those quickly, and don’t let the rest of the men see them,” she ordered. Roslyn shook her head. She knew she was “supposed” to feel sorrow for the loss of her brother, but he and his twin had been nothing but arrogant jerks to her all their lives. She just wasn’t feeling much at all.
It was around noon when it became clear that a major battle would start soon. The two sides’ cavalry had been skirmishing all morning, with the action steadily increasing in intensity. Finally, the Amazon horse archers approached the Imperial army en masse, preparing for a full-on attack.
The teenage Amazon princess whose little force of 2000 women had effortlessly slaughtered 20,000 men smirked arrogantly as her horse archers approached the enemy. She had cockily refused her Queen’s offer of reinforcements for the next battle, thinking that if her small army could exterminate 20,000 so easily, what was 9000 to them? Unfortunately for her, she had no idea that Roslyn was in command.
“This is it, men,” said Roslyn, riding back and forth across her force’s lines, trying to comfort and encourage the soldiers who knew what this girl-army had done to their comrades. “Stand strong. For the Empire! Archers, prepare to fire on my signal.”
And so it began, 1500 Imperial crossbowmen versus 1200 female horse archers. The crossbowmen readied their Mark VIIs. Roslyn’s trained eyes watched the enemy horsewomen ride closer and closer. When she judged the distance to be just right, she shouted, “FIRE!”
A volley of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. Many fell short and many missed the petite, fast moving targets, but several dozen riders fell off their horses and hit the desert floor hard. The Amazons fired a volley of arrows in response, but the lesser range of their bows caused them to fall short.
“NOW! SHIELDS!” screamed Roslyn. The crossbowmen removed the massive shields they had been carrying on their backs and planted them into the ground. Ducking behind cover, they reloaded their weapons as the Amazons, whose bows could be fired much more quickly, sent another shower of projectiles.
The Amazon Princess cursed as she saw the arrows slam harmlessly into the shields. And she couldn’t order her force to ride around and attack the enemy from behind because the river was covering their rear. A lesser force, a force of men, would have ridden away. But the Amazons were women with balls (not literally, of course). The riders charged closer, screaming war cries. The crossbowmen fired another volley, dropping several dozen more Amazons, but now the girl-archers were in range themselves. Some of the fastest and most accurate markswomen were able to kill Imperial targets as they popped out from behind their shields to shoot.
Both Princess Roslyn and the Amazon Princess quickly ordered their troops to begin firing at will instead of using volleys. A nail-biting archery duel developed. At first, the Imperials had the upper hand thanks to the greater range of their weapons and their shields, but as the horsewomen drew closer, they were able to fire their bows at steep upward angles, avoiding the shields and nailing men in the backs of their necks or tops of their skulls. And the Imperials’ Mark VII crossbows, though much faster to fire than the Mark VIs that Antonius had foolishly used, were still a lot slower than the Amazon horse archers’ bows. Soon, male bodies began dropping much faster than females.
Roslyn was ready. “Cavalry charge!” she ordered, preparing to lead them herself. Trumpets blared as she led her 1500 light horsemen against the Amazon horse archers. Blocking an arrow with her shield, she killed the shooter with a well-aimed and powerfully thrown spear. There was a brief further exchange of arrows and thrown spears, resulting in a few dozen casualties on each side, before the Amazons retreated. Seeing the 800 Amazon heavy cavalry waiting in the distance, Roslyn ordered her own force to retreat as well.
“Now what?” asked one of her generals.
“We wait,” she said simply.
The Amazon commander cursed again as her horse archers retreated. “Attack! Attack, you cowards!” the hotheaded teenage girl screamed.
“My Princess, please,” said a middle-aged woman, an advisor who had been sent by the Queen to prevent the fiery princess from getting herself or her army into too much trouble. “They would have been caught between the enemy cavalry and the crossbows. They had to retreat. They had no choice.”
“Then send the heavy cavalry to attack!”
“My Lady, the enemy has spears backed with crossbows. It would be suicide. They outnumber us almost five to one. We must send for reinforcements. Then we will be able to defeat them.”
The teenage Amazon growled angrily. “We were able to defeat them effortlessly when they outnumbered us ten to one! Why do they fight like they have balls all of a sudden?!”
“I think I can answer that, my Princess,” said one of the horse archers. “I saw their commander. It’s a woman.”
Nods of understanding came from the Amazons at that. “But why would a woman fight for those males?” asked the Princess.
“That question will have to wait,” said the advisor. “Right now, we need to focus on getting those reinforcements.”
As the Amazons retreated into the distance on their horses, the Imperial army let out a loud cheer, whooping and hollering. Roslyn was about to remind them that all they had done was run off a force barely one-fifth their size, but stopped herself. Let them have this, she thought. It would be good for morale. The men certainly seemed happier and less frightened as they were setting up camp, the Imperial Princess thought as she stepped into the command tent that evening for a meeting with her senior officers.
“We lost slightly more than 200 men. The Amazons lost a little less than that,” one of her generals reported. “However, because their force was much smaller, proportionately they suffered a much greater percentage of casualties. They can’t sustain that, so I wouldn’t expect any more attacks until they get reinforcements.”
“Conventional attacks, yes,” said Roslyn. “But they may try more sneak attacks at night.” She had already ordered double sentries looking out over the desert and triple sentries on the river. “We’ll continue to advance along the river towards enemy territory. The big battle is yet to come.”
Suddenly, a man wearing the uniform of an Imperial Messenger burst into the tent. “My Lady,” he said, bowing to the Princess and handing her a sealed envelope. “From the King himself, for your eyes only.”
Roslyn thanked and dismissed him, then opened the letter. Her eyes widened as she read it:
“My dear daughter,
Your brother, Albert, has returned to the capital with the tattered remnants of an army, most of which he squandered in foolish suicide attacks against the barbarians of the north. That was the last straw. With the lack of intellect of both of my sons and the death of Antonius, I am naming you the heir to the throne. I know you will make a strong and wise Queen when it is your time.
Good luck in your battle and know that win or lose, a crown is waiting for you upon your return home.
Roslyn pumped her fist in triumph, then noticed that all the men in the tent were staring at her. “You are dismissed,” she said quickly.
Three days later, a scout returned with the news the Imperials had all been anticipating. “An Amazon army marches on us. Their numbers match ours. Nine thousand men…er, women.”
“Thank you,” said Roslyn. She nodded to herself. Now would be the real test. Fighting against these lethal Amazons in numbers equal to her own.
The plain of battle was hot, dusty, and dry, with the fierce desert sun beating down on both armies. The Amazons had formed up in a strong defensive position to the east of Roslyn’s army, with the river covering one of their flanks and a mass of cavalry guarding the other. The girl-warriors were simply holding and making no move to charge. The Imperials would have to attack with the sun shining right at their faces.
“Clever,” Roslyn murmured. “They can outwait us. Our supply lines are longer and we don’t know this territory as well as they do. They’ve forced us onto the offensive in a disadvantageous postion.”
“Shall I order the men to begin advancing, my Lady?” one of her generals asked.
“Not yet. Give the sun a little time to rise further so it won’t be right in their eyes. Hold a defensive position for now in case they attack.”
As they waited, Roslyn ordered her light cavalry to use their spyglasses to gather as much information about the enemy as they could. “They have heavy and light cavalry massed at the north. Swordswomen lined up two deep facing us to the south of the riders, with archers right behind them and the main body of swordswomen in the rear,” came the report.
She nodded, looking at the sun. The angle wasn’t too bad now, and if she waited much longer it would get very hot. The heat would impact the heavily armored, cold-climate-dwelling Imperials much more than it would the lightly armored, darkly tanned Amazons. “Thank you. General, prepare your men to advance. Crossbowmen, load. Prepare to fire on my order.”
The Imperial crossbowmen, locked and loaded, marched forward. Roslyn’s trained eyes judged the distance as it grew closer and closer, waiting to deliver the first volley at their exact maximum range.
But suddenly, a barrage of arrows came flying at the crossbowmen. They slammed into the front ranks of males with devastating efficiency, dropping many dead and others with gory wounds from the thick, massive arrows. The Amazon archers, tall, ultra-muscular women with the enormous strength needed to draw back their lethal long-range longbows, laughed triumphantly and prepared to fire again.
Chaos erupted in the Imperial ranks. Some of the crossbowmen loosed their bolts, which fell short of the enemy. Others began to turn and run. “What devilry is this, bows with a longer range than ours?” cried an officer.
“Now is not the time to wonder about that,” said Roslyn, urging her horse forward. “HOLD, YOU FOOLS!” she screamed at the crossbowmen. “DON’T RETREAT! HOLD YOUR FIRE AND USE YOUR SHIELDS!”
Her strong leadership restored order, and the crossbowmen planted their shields into the ground, hiding behind them as the female archers fired another volley. Some men were too slow and dropped dead, but most of them were safe behind their shields this time.
“In range! NOW! FIRE!” she shouted. A barrage of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. It was not as efficient as it should have been, since some of the men had foolishly fired earlier and were still reloading, but she knew that they had to get a first volley off before the enemy reloaded. Several dozen Amazons fell to the ground.
“Fire at will!” ordered Princess Roslyn and the commander of the girl-archers to their respective armies. Again an archery duel erupted. The Amazon longbows could fire ten arrows a minute compared with the Imperial crossbows’ four. At first, the males’ shields evened things out, only allowing the Amazons to hit them when they popped out to fire, but as the armies drew closer the female archers were able to shoot at steeper angles, sending arrows over the shields and into the men’s skulls. Once they were able to do that, the Amazons’ superior firepower and markswomanship meant that three or four males were dropping dead for every female.
Although few knights had traveled with the army, their leader, Duke Larssen, a fat fool who was called Duke Lardo behind his back, was there, along with about 80 other mounted noblemen. The duke growled, annoyed at having to serve under a woman and wanting glory for himself. “Prepare to charge!” he ordered his knights. “We’ll sweep those archer bitches off the field. Swordswomen just two ranks deep in front of them? We’ll mow them down like grass.”
“Crossbowmen, retreat under shields!” Roslyn ordered. “Infantry, first division, advan…what the fuck?”
With a roar, Duke Larssen and his 80 knights were charging across the plain. The Amazons pumped arrows into them. By the time they reached the enemy line, 60 of them were dead. The 20 survivors prepared to ride into the front ranks of swordswomen, but the girls suddenly picked up long spears that had been hiding in the dirt. The knights rode into them and were impaled and slaughtered to the last man. A slender teenage girl with dark brown skin and long silky black hair cut off the duke’s head with her sword and impaled it on a spear.
“Fucking idiots,” said Roslyn. “Now, back to real war. Infantry, first division, advance!” The Imperial infantry marched forward. Arrows slammed into their shields. Other men were not so lucky, as arrows nailed their heads from above. Behind them, Roslyn re-formed the crossbowmen. They fired over the infantry’s heads and into the Amazons, reducing the pressure somewhat.
In the front of the Amazon ranks, 150 teenage girls with swords and spears formed a thin brown line, guarding the Amazon archers firing over their heads behind them, standing with balls of steel as thousands of Imperial heavy infantrymen drew closer and closer. Though outnumbered 20 to 1 and occasionally being hit by bolts from the crossbowmen, they showed no fear.
Suddenly, with perfect coordination, the girls hurled their spears at the faces of the front ranks of Imperial infantry. Only a few men moved their shields upward in time and over a hundred males dropped stone cold dead. The girls then hurled themselves into cartwheels followed by back handsprings, elegantly backflipping towards their enemies with incredible speed. They finished their tumbling runs with high back tuck somersaults, flipping right over the first rank of Imperials, landing perfectly on their feet right behind them, and wreaking havoc with their swords on the men’s vulnerable backsides. With their speed, most of the girls were able to kill several men each before being cut down.
Meanwhile, the Amazons had moved the rest of their swordswomen to the front, with the longbow-women behind them. When the maneuver was complete, the survivors from the girls who had penetrated the male ranks quickly backflipped away.
As the two main bodies of infantry clashed, the Amazon cavalry charged. The Imperial light cavalry intercepted their Amazon counterparts, a bloody battle of arrows and thrown spears followed by hand-to-hand combat with swords and axes breaking out. Meanwhile, the Amazon heavy cavalry rode around the Imperials, preparing to attack their rear.
Roslyn gave a signal with a whistle from her full, pouty lips. A detachment of reserve infantry, shields and spears at the ready, formed up to guard the rear. Behind them, a force of crossbowmen moved into position, ready to fire over their comrades’ heads. She then rejoined her staff officers.
“Shit. Heavy cavalry to the west, light cavalry to the north, infantry to the east, and the river to the south. They’ve got us surrounded. We’re trapped!” a young officer panicked.
“Quiet, Major,” Princess Roslyn ordered him. “We’re surrounded. We’re not trapped. Spears backed with crossbows guard our western flank. Their cavalry can’t get past that. We are meant to *think* we are trapped, so we will panic. But we will not panic. Right, Major?”
“Right. Sorry, my Lady.”
From a small hill overlooking the battle, the hotheaded teenage Amazon princess in command of the female army smirked. “They’re surrounded. They must be panicking. Heavy cavalry, charge the line. They’ll turn and run. Then we can hit their main force from the rear, double envelop them, and finish them off.”
“My Princess, please,” said the middle-aged advisor. “If they *don’t* run, our girls will ride into a wall. Let’s just contain them for now and tighten the noose slowly.”
“Morwen, please,” said the Amazon Princess. “I’m in command here. They’ll run. Now give the signal to charge.”
800 Amazon heavy cavalry charged the western Imperial line. Roslyn rode over to her men. “Steady, boys. They’re trying to scare us. Don’t run.” The men, facing Amazon war horses thundering towards them, probably would have run if she hadn’t been there, but her presence was enough to bring calm and strength to them.
As the enemy riders entered crossbow range without turning away, she ordered, “Give them a volley.” A barrage of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. A few dozen riders fell off their horses and into the desert sand. The cavalry commander wisely turned the rest of her girls away.
Meanwhile, in the main infantry battle, although both sides were taking heavy casualties, the heavy armor and large shields of the Imperials were actually doing some good. They were slowly pushing the Amazons back. “By the gods,” breathed one of Roslyn’s generals. “Could we actually win?”
Roslyn’s heart was pounding. She forced herself to remain calm, concentrating on keeping an eye on every part of the battle, not counting her chickens before they hatched.
The Amazon Princess scowled as Morwen gave her a look. “Don’t give me that ‘I told you so’ look,” she growled. “I’m going to win this battle, one way or another, and annihilate the enemy. Queen’s Guard! Forward, with me!”
The Amazon Queen’s Guard, a hand-picked elite corps of 300 ultra-lethal female warriors, the best of the best, who had each personally slain at least 50 men in combat, began advancing in perfect formation as the hotheaded princess dismounted her horse and joined them. The other Amazons parted to make way for them. Morwen sighed. She had no choice but to pray that this would work.
Roslyn raised her eyebrows as she noticed. “They’re going for the whole enchilada. They’re going to try to smash our lines. Imperial Guard! Forward, with me!”
The Imperial Guard, a hand-picked elite corps of 400 men, veterans of many wars and the best soldiers in the Imperial army, formed up and began advancing. Roslyn turned to the colonel who had survived Antonius’ foolish ambush. “Besides myself, you’re the strongest leader here. Protect our rear. Don’t let the men panic, and don’t let anything break this line. If it does, we’re doomed.” As an afterthought, she added, “No pressure,” hoping the joke would relieve the tension. It worked, as all the men laughed.
Turning serious again, Roslyn dismounted, exchanging her small round cavalry shield for a large, rectangular infantry one. She patted the sword sheathed on her hip, covered her head and face with a helmet, grabbed a spear, and hurried to catch up with the Imperial Guard, positioning herself in the front rank.
The regular Imperial infantry, who had been slowly pushing the enemy back, gasped in shock and fear when the lines of Amazons suddenly parted and 300 incredibly beautiful and muscular women were coming at them with elegant aerial cartwheels followed by whipbacks. They backflipped with lightning speed, crashing into the still-startled men and slicing, dicing, and decapitating their way through the male ranks. Now the momentum was reversed, with the female army advancing and the lucky men retreating – and the unlucky men dying.
The Amazon princess roared with laughter as she cut a man’s head off, sliced another in half, and slit the throats of two more. Men were slaughtered by the hundreds, and still none of the Amazon Queen’s Guard had suffered anything worse than a minor cut.
The regular male soldiers gladly parted to make way for the Imperial Guard. All of a sudden, Roslyn and her men were facing the Amazon Princess and her women. Two elite forces, the best of their respective armies. They stared at one another for a second.
Then they both charged, spears, swords, and shields clashing as they collided. Roslyn blocked a spear thrust with her shield and stabbed her attacker in the foot with her own spear. With a cry of pain, the Amazon’s shield dropped. Roslyn impaled her through the heart, then kicked the body off and slit another Amazon’s throat with the razor-sharp end of her spear.
A girl’s blade flashed. Roslyn moved just enough to avoid having her right arm cut off, although she still received a nasty gash on her shoulder, the pain causing her to involuntarily drop her spear. She lashed out with a kick, knocking her opponent back long enough for her to draw her sword. They battled, swords striking each other’s shields for a few seconds, until Roslyn suddenly backflip kicked the Amazon in the face, stunning her. Before she could recover, Roslyn cut off her head.
She glanced around, quickly guesstimating the dead on each side. Although the Imperial Guardsmen were much better fighters than the male regulars, she still counted two dead men for every dead woman. And her side only outnumbered the enemy 400 to 300. This wasn’t going to work. Already the men were being pushed back. If the Amazons broke through, the Imperial army would collapse.
She looked over at the Amazon Princess, who was gleefully slaughtering men left and right with incredible skill. If this had been a movie, she would have challenged her to Noble One-on-One Single Combat (TM), but this wasn’t a movie. The Amazon leader had foolishly and arrogantly not bothered to hide who she was. Roslyn, on the other hand, equipped with the same weapons and shield as her men and wearing the face mask, looked like any other soldier, though smaller. Still, none of the enemy knew who she was. If they did, she knew she would have been immediately targeted.
No, it was time to end this, once and for all. Snatching up her spear, she hurled it with perfect accuracy at the Amazon Princess. The weapon impaled her right in the throat, the tip sticking out of the back of her neck. She stood ramrod straight for a second, then collapsed. The Amazons froze in shock for just a split second. That was enough. With a high-pitched shriek, Roslyn led the Imperial Guard in a counterattack.
A piercing whistle cut across the battlefield. The surviving Queen’s Guardswomen began backflipping away like pro-gymnasts. A few of the men who had been standing too close had their necks broken by the powerful backflip kicks.
All across the battlefield, Amazons moved away in a calm and orderly retreat. “Let them go,” ordered Roslyn. “They have archers covering them, and we’ve been pounded enough.” She examined the wound on her shoulder. Nasty-looking, but not really serious. She could still swing her sword and throw her spear.
A ragged cheer went up from the bruised and battered men as the enemy disappeared into the distance. One of her generals rode up to her. “Congratulations on your victory, my Lady.”
Roslyn looked around, surveying the heaps of her dead men, including many high-ranking officers. “One more victory like this, and we are ruined,” she responded grimly.
In the fortified Imperial camp by the river, Roslyn met with her surviving senior officers in the command tent. “I have the count,” said a general. “2000 of our men are dead. 800 are wounded too badly to fight if the Amazons attack again, and another thousand are wounded but capable of combat.”
Roslyn shook her head. “One-third of our force is out of action, many of them permanently. How about the enemy?”
“We counted 1200 Amazons dead on the field. That’s all we killed, they didn’t have time to carry off their dead. We don’t know how many of them are wounded but the number will probably be lower than ours.”
“So not only do they outnumber us now, but they can get reinforcements quickly, while ours will take weeks. In addition, their foolish commander who made mistakes is dead and has in all likelihood been replaced by someone far smarter.” Roslyn wondered if she should have left the hotheaded Amazon alive, but it was only her death that had stopped the elite Amazons’ charge. It had been a no-win situation.
“Gentlemen, it’s time to face reality,” Roslyn continued. “If we fight them again, our chances of victory are very slim.”
“So what are we going to do?” asked a colonel. “Just retreat?”
“No,” said Roslyn. “If we did that, they would probably follow us. Most likely invade our territory. No, I think it’s time for a parley.”
“A parley? Those Amazons slaughtered the men from our first army who tried to surrender,” said a general. “I don’t think they’ll be very open to negotiation.”
“Not with a man. But I don’t believe they will harm a female emissary. And with that hotheaded princess dead, cooler heads should be in command now. I will send one of my female servants over to their camp with a flag of truce.”
“An enemy rider approaches! He carries a white flag,” an Amazon scout reported.
“He is a fool, then,” said a muscular female archer, reaching for an arrow.
“Wait,” said her commander. “The rider is a woman. Let’s see what she wants.”
* * *
“My Lady,” said the servant, bowing as she entered the Imperial command tent. “The enemy commander has agreed to a parley with you. Tomorrow at noon.”
“Thank you,” said Roslyn, squeezing the girl’s hand. “You were very brave. You will be rewarded for this.” She turned to her officers. “It is settled then. Tell the sentries to stay sharp. I don’t think they’ll try anything now but you never know.”
The night passed without incident, however. The next morning, the two armies formed up on the dusty desert plain, ready to fight if the negotiations went bad. The tension was thick as the forces faced each other. “Don’t let any of the men do anything stupid,” the Princess instructed her senior general.
“Yes, milady.” As she began riding away from her lines, he added, “Good luck.”
Roslyn looked at her counterpart as the two women rode towards each other. She was tall, slender, and beautiful, with long light brown hair and an elegant, high-cheekboned face. Though she was an older woman, probably in her forties, her hazel eyes still sparkled with energy.
The woman dismounted elegantly despite the long dress she was wearing. As Roslyn dismounted as well and looked into the other woman’s face, she saw a long scar running down her cheek, looking like it was from a battle many years ago.
“Princess Roslyn. I am Morwen, senior advisor to the Queen of the Amazon Nation.”
“It is good to meet you, Morwen,” said Roslyn formally.
“You may dispense with the pleasantries. I only agreed to this meeting because you are a woman in command of these men. If you have something you feel is worthy of my time, then speak it.”
Roslyn took a deep breath. Her opponent was clearly powerful and cunning. She would have to play this just right. The fate of thousands lay in her hands.
“If that is your wish, then so be it. We did not want a war with the Amazon Nation. This conflict began when one hundred of our men were slaughtered in an outpost on our own territory, without provocation.”
“Without provocation? I guess the one man our girls left alive just long enough to tell the story didn’t tell the whole truth. He didn’t tell you that those soldiers at the outpost decided to entertain themselves by sailing down the river into Amazon land and attempting to rape Amazon women. Of course that ended in the invaders being slaughtered. Then we nailed the rest of them at the outpost in retaliation.”
Roslyn stared in shock, then clenched her fists in anger. Those stupid fools, thinking with their cocks. They had gotten thousands killed. And their idiocy had placed her in a very difficult position.
“My Lady, I am sorry. I did not know. If I had known, things would have gone very differently.”
“Would they now.” Morwen’s tone showed no emotion at all.
“Yes. But at any rate, whether you believe me or not, that is in the past and cannot be undone. We must focus on the present. Many have died on both sides. Both our armies are battered. There is no need for more killing. I offer a treaty of peace.”
“Are you still under the command of your father?”
“Well, of course. He is the King…”
“The Amazon Nation does not sign treaties with men. However, I have an offer of my own. Join us. Become a general of the Amazon army. You know everything about those men. With your knowledge and our fighting skills, we will become an unstoppable force.”
“Treason?! I will not!”
“Why do you fight for a nation that regards women as inferior?”
“It is not quite so simple as that. This is my nation. This is my blood. There are many good men here. There are many men that I love. Including my father.”
“We will not treat with a land under the rule of a man. Now unless you have anything further…”
“I do.” Roslyn took out the letter from her father. “The King has named me his heir. I will become Queen.”
Morwen read the letter, appearing deep in thought. Roslyn could see the wheels turning as her counterpart went over possibilities and consequences like a chess player. Finally the Amazon said, “Under these circumstances, I can treat with you. If you can convince your father to leave the Amazon Nation alone, we can have peace. But this is contingent on you remaining heiress to the throne. If not, the treaty will become null and void.”
“Trust me,” said Roslyn. “You won’t have to worry about that happening.”
* * *
“Well?” said one of her officers excitedly. “How did it go, my Lady?”
“We have signed a treaty with the Amazons. The borders remain the same. The desert is a neutral zone. Anyone entering the desert does so at their own risk, and killings in the desert will not be considered a declaration of war. Both armies are to retreat immediately.”
The news was greeted with mixed emotions. Some of the men still wanted to fight the Amazons, but others recognized that the treaty was probably for the best, since they most likely would not have been able to defeat the female army. One loudmouthed officer shouted, “They butchered 20,000 of our men and we’re not going to take vengeance?!”
“Vengeance?” said Roslyn sharply. “Did you know that the soldiers at that outpost started this whole war by entering Amazon territory and trying to rape their women? The attack on the outpost was not unprovoked. THAT was vengeance.” The officer hung his head in shame.
As the army began preparing to move out, Roslyn thought about the offer Morwen had made. She had rejected it immediately. There was no reason for her to accept it, since her father had named her heir to the throne. But what if he had not? What if the idiotic Albert was to become king? She was willing to follow her father’s orders because he was an intelligent man. But could she have followed Albert’s? If it had come to that, Morwen’s offer would have been very tempting…
She snapped herself out of her thoughts. The Princess was sure of one thing. She was glad she wouldn’t have to make that decision. “All right, men,” Roslyn called out. “Let’s go home.”
“You surrendered to them? You coward!” spat Albert at his sister. “Daddy!” he whined. “This is why GIRLS shouldn’t be rulers! I should be king!”
“Shut the fuck up, you fool,” Roslyn snapped at her brother. “I didn’t surrender to anyone. I signed a treaty as an equal. And I saved thousands of lives. Maybe even yours.”
“Albert, calm yourself,” said King Frederick III.
“I will not! In fact, I will not accept this! Roslyn, I CHALLENGE YOU!” Albert drew his sword.
Roslyn drew her own blade. “I was hoping you’d say something like that.”
“Roslyn,” said her father. He had a tone of warning. She looked at him and read his expression. It said, “Don’t kill him. He may be an idiot but he’s still my son.” The king knew that Albert was no match for her and had no chance of winning. She smirked to herself at the thought. She nodded to her father and he nodded back.
“Well, bring it on, Fat Albert,” Roslyn taunted her opponent. The prince stared down in shame at his fat gut, wishing he had toned abs like his sister.
The fight didn’t last long. The Princess blocked her brother’s wild swing easily, popped him in the nose with her free fist, and gave him a small cut on his arm with her sword, causing him to drop his own weapon with a yelp. She then did a standing back handspring, kicking him in the jaw and sending him to the floor. Landing elegantly on her feet, she stood over him dominantly, her blade right in front of his face. “Some challenge,” she mocked him. Everyone in the room was laughing at the stupid prince.
When King Frederick III died five years later, Roslyn was crowned Queen Roslyn I. She stripped Albert of all his lands and noble titles, and forced him to live as a peasant commoner. The fat earl (remember him?) who had said that girls couldn’t fight and the loudmouthed officer (remember him?) who had wanted vengeance on the Amazons after the treaty had been signed received the same treatment.
Her reign was long and prosperous, and under her the Empire grew in size, although of course she respected the boundaries with the Amazons. No conflict occurred between the Amazons and the Empire during her rule. She fought many wars on other fronts, however, personally leading her soldiers in combat and winning stunning victories over larger enemy armies time and again.
On the domestic front, Queen Roslyn instituted an intelligent and workable policy towards sexual equality that combined real change and a genuine desire to make things better for women with respect for tradition and recognition of the realities of a medieval monarchy. The powerful trade guilds and the Imperial army became open to women, although both remained majority male.
Eventually, she married the smart colonel (remember him?) who had been the only survivor of Antonius’ doomed army. They had two sons together, and when they grew up, she declared her younger son to be her heir, as he was smarter than his older brother. He was eventually crowned King Frederick IV.
Although Frederick IV continued his mother’s policies of sexual equality, they couldn’t last forever. Only seven years into his reign, the new king was killed in battle against the barbarians of the north. His children were too young to rule directly, and the council of “advisors” that ruled in their place, after putting down a bloody coup attempt by Frederick IV’s older brother and beheading him, swiftly rolled back all the reforms that Queen Roslyn had made. Unsurprisingly, war with the Amazons erupted again. But that is a tale for another time.
Time marched on. Years, decades, centuries. Great sailing-ships were invented, along with cannons and muskets. The Empire began expanding across the sea, finding new islands to explore and conquer. The line of kings and queens continued, finally reaching King Frederick IX, father of Princess Katarina.
Katarina closed the journal. “Fascinating,” she said out loud. She loved history. Outside, the rain was still pounding her tent.
Another commotion came from outside. She opened the flap. “It’s okay. I’m still not sleeping.”
It was a Royal Messenger this time. “From your father, for your eyes only, my Lady,” he said, bowing and handing her a letter.
“Thank you,” said Katarina. She retreated back into her tent and opened the letter. She began to shake as she read it:
“My dearest Katarina,
It breaks my heart to say this, but I have decided that your brother will inherit the throne. Although you would make a far better ruler than he would, I have heard whispers of assassination should you become Queen, from evil men who do not want someone of your strength with the crown. I would much rather have you alive and not ruling than have you as a dead Queen. I know it will be tough, but in time I hope you will come to understand my decision.
The Princess put her face in her hands. How could he?! She risked her life time and again in battle against REAL enemies. How could her father be more worried about POSSIBLE assassins?
Katarina remembered what she had just read, about Roslyn wondering if she would have switched sides and joined the Amazons if she had not been named heir to the throne. Well, now SHE was going to have to do more than wonder. She was going to have to make a decision…
TO BE CONTINUED…