And now, the time has come to leave the Southlands and once again and this time head North to Quarantinia. Following Erasmus’ funeral, we returned to the Summer Palace and made preparations for the ride North. The rebel leaders mustered men and equipment. Palace staff ensure the vaccines were stowed safely within our coaches, for these are to be delivered to the towns and villages along our route, in order to deliver my people from Koronin’s pestilence.
I have not taken much part in these practical preparations, for I have had to make preparations of another kind. Firstly, I have had to prepare to leave my husband and children. This is the hardest part. Owing to the danger, I must face Koronin alone. I know that if I perish, my children will be well looked-after. But how can I prepare them for the fact that I may not return? They who are so young, and know nothing of peril?
I explain to them that I must go on a long journey, and I do not know how long this journey will last. I cannot promise them the exact time I will return, but in the meantime I will remain ever in their hearts, just as I shall carry them in mine. I give the youngest a stuffed-toy horse to comfort him, and my eldest a tin armour-clad soldier, to remind him he is a warrior like his mother. I ask him to remember me every day in his prayers, and to take care of his younger brother. To my husband, I leave the protection of the Southlands and the precious heirs to the throne of Lockdownia. If I should fail in my mission, he must defend the Southlands at all costs until more troops can be mustered.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I prepare myself. I now must travel into a land where there are no guarantees. But what guarantees are there after all in this life, full as it is with the vicissitudes of fate which can cut us down in our prime, or with a bolt out of the blue change the direction of our course forever?
I spend long hours in prayer and meditation. I pray that the children not miss me too much while I am gone, and that I shall return to them unharmed, and soon. I pray that my people shall be delivered from this evil pestilence, and emancipated from Koronin’s evil rule. I remember those who went before me: my grandmother, mother and sister. I come from a line of strong women, all of whom laughed in the face of death. And I know that if he comes to greet me, I shall do the same.
To be continued…
Read the story so far in the Chronicles of Lockdownia archives.