Tuesday, October 17, 2017


This work  is inspired by the Kate Rusby song Bonnie House of Airlie. Side note: this is set in the same universe as my current work in progress, Minor Characters. Look for more information about the story soon.

It fell on a buenisimo day--a perfect day--when the corn grew green and yellow in the deep, black furrows the farmers cut into the mesa-top. The sun soared high above the great hacienda and the pueblo surrounding it. Señor John and his wife had gone with the Azul Guard and a gaggle of servants off to meet with the Emperor, leaving Lady Josephina to entertain herself until Sunday next. Mass had been given. Lunch had been served. The air shimmered. The pueblo went still as everyone settled in for a siesta.

Lady Josephina lay upon sweet scented pillows, drowsing, letting the coolness of her dim chamber seep away the heat. Slowly, a strange and continuous crackle and rattle drew her from her slumber. She lay listening, wondering what the sounds could be. It seemed to be getting louder. 

Then she heard the screams.

Josephina leapt out of her vast bed and snatched her dressing gown and rapier from the peg beside the door. The sounds were of guns and swords she realized. She hesitated at the door an instant before yanking it open and racing down the long hall, her bare feet slapping rhythmically against the tile floor. The guards and servants that should have been in the long passage were absent. She reached the great double doors at the end of the hall and, despite the sound of combat on the other side, opened it.

Her world exploded into fire and death.

Airlie was burning. The meager contingent of the Azul Guard, in their proud blue tartan, lay still in pools of their own dark blood. Servants and villagers too lay where they had been cut or shot down. And the pueblo--the fair pueblo of her cousin--burned. Flames and grey kilted Dunkel soldiers gutted the village, both destroying with the same wild abandon. Soldiers swarmed past her into the hacienda, she could hear the crash of splintering wood as the raiders set to work within. She raised her sword but they ignored her, stepping wide of her bright blade.
“My lady!” a deep voice roared. Josephina realized it had been shouting at her for some time. She looked and there at the foot of the blood-slick stairs ascending to the hacienda stood the Great Adolfo. He had not changed from when last she'd seen him years ago, a towering brute of a man with a thick black beard, clad in a black chain mail and a green and grey kilt. A broad sash of the same tartan was thrown over one of his shoulders. A coyote tail hung from his bright helm. He leaned casually upon his massive two handed sword and smiled at her as if he was not bathed in sweat and gore nor surrounded by burning and death. Behind him his leering commanders looked up at her with amusement in their dark eyes.

“Come down, lady Josephina. My but you have grown into a splendor of womanhood. Come down and greet your godfather. Give me a kiss.”

“You are not my godfather! And I will never kiss you again!”

“Come down, lady,” the Great Adolpho called again almost gently, but Josephina could hear the edge of warning in his voice. 

"My cousin will come back. Señor John will come back and he will kill you."

"Perhaps. But his hacienda will already be gone, his servants killed, his crops burned and treasures stolen, just as mine were." 

"Señor John did not do that."

"No. But because of him they were, so I will take my revenge as I see fit. What do you think, lady? You think, Señor John shall appreciate my efforts?"

Adolpho gestured to the carnage with his great sword and she could not help but see what had happened. She saw the burned fields, the broken buildings, the dead farmers and servants and swarming the Dunkel soldiers who yipped and howled like coyotes as they looted. Adolpho was right. If Señor John had been at home with his brave Azul Guard things might have been different. But they were gone. The deed was done.

Her heart broke. Her rapier fell, clattering down the steps. Unnoticed tears coursed down her fair face. Her feet carried her down to the courtyard. She stopped before the towering Adolfo, her head hung in despair.

“Take me away,” she whispered. “So I do not have to see this. Please.”

“Ah but, mi chiquita bonita, we are not yet done. My message to Señor John is not quite complete." His huge hand patted her slender shoulder.

She tensed under his touch.

“No, no! Do not fear, my lady, you will be unharmed. I gave very strict orders. I am no monster. I am your godfather," the Great Adolpho said and smiled. "But you will watch as I utterly destroy this place. You will watch until no stone is left standing of Airlie. Then we will leave you in peace. You will carry my message to Señor John, a flor perfecta amidst all this ruin. He will know I could have taken everything from him but I did not, and he will fear me all the more.”