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A Song Of Swords

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“You ought to cover your head, my Queen" Sir Edward told as their horses plodded ahead, “You will take a chill."

 

"It is only water, Sir Edward,” Charlotte replied. Her long brunette hair hung wet and heavy, a loose strand stuck to her forehead, and she could imagine how ragged and wild she must look, but for once she did not care. The rain was soft and warm. Charlotte liked the feel of it on her face, gentle as a mother's kisses. It took her back to her childhood, to long grey days at Longford. She remembered the small wooded area within the walls of their castle, drooping branches heavy with moisture, and the sound of her brother's laughter as he chased her through piles of damp leaves. She remembered making mud pies with her sister, the weight of them, the mud slick and brown between her fingers. How young they all had been.

 

She scarcely had felt the rain in the past few years. Things had changed after she married King Owain and moved south. Where once she used to run and play and spend her time with her siblings, all she did now was sit at council meetings and listen to the whims and notions of her advisors. The King had left this duty to her when he passed away. A kingdom to rule and a boy to raise.

 

Charlotte had almost forgotten. In her homeland, the rain sometimes fell cold and hard, and sometimes at night it turned to ice. It was as likely to kill a crop as nurture it, and it sent grown men running for the nearest shelter. That was no rain for little girls to play in.

 

She exhaled slowly, pressing her left hand against her bulging stomach. She could feel waves of urine crashing against the walls of her bladder as her mount trotted forward. The quantity of water she had drunk throughout the way was plenty and she hadn’t had a chance to relieve herself after she left the Capital this morning.

 

"I am soaked through," Sir Edward complained. "Even my bones are wet." The woods pressed close around them, and the steady pattering of rain on leaves was accompanied by the small sucking sounds their horses made as their hooves pulled free of the mud.

 

"We will want a fire tonight, my Queen, and a hot meal would serve us both."

 

"There is an inn at the crossroads up ahead,” Charlotte told him. She had slept many a night there in her youth, traveling with her father. Lord Merek Torrington had been a restless man in his prime, always riding somewhere. She still remembered the innkeep, a fat man named Domnall who chewed sourleaf night and day and seemed to have an endless supply of smiles and sweet cakes for the children. The sweet cakes had been soaked with honey, rich and heavy on the tongue, but how Charlotte had dreaded those smiles. The sourleaf had stained Domnall 's teeth a dark red, and made his smile a bloody horror.

 

"An inn," Sir Edward repeated wistfully. "If only . . . but we dare not risk it. If we wish to remain unknown, I think it best we seek out some small holdfast . . . " He broke off as they heard sounds up the road; splashing water, the clink of mail, a horse's whinny.

 

"Riders," he warned, his hand dropping to the hilt of his sword. Even on the highway, it never hurt to be wary.

 

They followed the sounds around a lazy bend of the road and saw them; a column of armed men noisily fording a swollen stream. Charlotte reined up to let them pass. The banner in the hand of the foremost rider hung sodden and limp, but the guardsmen wore grey cloaks and on their shoulders flew the silver eagle of Restormel. "Calverts,” Sir Edward whispered to her, as if she had not known. "My Queen, best pull up your hood."

 

Charlotte made no move. Lord Earl Calvert himself rode with them, surrounded by his Knights, his son Baron by his side and their squires close behind. The travelers had always been thick as flies upon the highway; Knights and freeriders, singers with their harps and drums, heavy wagons laden with hops or corn or casks of honey, traders and craftsmen and whores, all kept the highway busy round the year.

 

She studied Lord Earl boldly. The last time she had seen him he had been jesting with her uncle at her wedding feast; the Calverts stood bannermen to the Torringtons, and his gifts had been lavish. His brown hair was salted with white now, his face chiseled gaunt by time, yet the years had not touched his pride. He rode like a man who feared nothing. Charlotte envied him that; she had come to fear so much. As the riders passed, Lord Earl nodded a curt greeting, but it was only a high lord's courtesy to strangers chance met on the road. There was no recognition in those fierce eyes, and his son did not even waste a look.

 

"He did not know you," Sir Edward said after, wondering.

 

"He saw a pair of mud-spattered travelers by the side of the road, wet and tired. It would never occur to him to suspect that one of them was the Queen and the daughter of his liege lord. I think we shall be safe enough at the inn, Sir Edward."

 

It was near dark when they reached it, at the crossroads north of the great confluence of the rivers. Domnall was fatter and greyer than Charlotte remembered, still chewing his sourleaf, but he gave them only the most cursory of looks, with nary a hint of his ghastly red smile. "Two rooms at the top of the stair, that's all there is," he said, chewing all the while. "They're under the bell tower, you won't be missing meals, though there's some thinks it too noisy. Can't be helped. We're full up, or near as makes no matter. It's those rooms or the road."

 

It was those rooms, low, dusty garrets at the top of a cramped narrow staircase. "Leave your boots down here," Domnall told them after he'd taken their coin. "The boy will clean them. I won't have you tracking mud up my stairs. Mind the bell. Those who come late to meals don't eat." There were no smiles, and no mention of sweet cakes.

 

Charlotte climbed the stairs with aching thighs and made way into her room. It was small but she couldn’t complain. She just had to spend the night. They’d be gone from here come day break.

 

She closed the door and bent down to look under the bed for the chamber pot, but it wasn’t there. Maybe the inn servant forgot to keep one in the room. She stood back up and caressed her lower belly. All the water she had drunk wanted to come out but there was nowhere to go. The thought that she won’t be able to relieve herself immediately, irritated her, but she kept her calm. Her need wasn’t pressing at the moment and she decided she could wait and see if the servant boy brought her a chamber pot.

 

When the supper bell rang, the sound was deafening. Charlotte had changed into dry clothes. She sat by the window, watching rain run down the pane. The glass was milky and full of bubbles, and a wet dusk was falling outside. Charlotte could just make out the muddy crossing where the two great roads met.

 

The crossroads gave her pause. If they turned west from here, it was an easy ride down to her homeland. Her father had always given her wise counsel when she needed it most, and she yearned to talk to him, to warn him of the gathering storm.

 

The Daltons were conspiring against the throne and she knew a war was soon to come. This was the reason she had left her ten year old in the safety of their keep and travelled so far to meet her father. To inform him of the impending danger. She could have trusted no one with the word; she had to convey it herself.

 

“A large party attracts unwelcome attention. I would not have the Daltons know of our movements” she had said to Sir Edward on his suggestion to send a squad of guardsmen with her. Hence she had decided to take the perilous highway all alone with no one but her most trusted advisor on her side. The Queen knew two riders can move as fast as one, and a good deal faster than a long column burdened by wagons and wheelhouses.

 

If the throne needed to brace for war, how much more so her father, so much closer to the Daltons, with their power looming to the east like a shadow. If only her father had been stronger, she wouldn’t have worried so much, but Lord Merek Torrington had been bedridden these past three years, and Charlotte was unwilling to tax him now. But she had no choice.

 

The eastern road was wilder and more dangerous, climbing through rocky foothills and thick forests into the mountains, past high passes and deep chasms. Above the valley, the Dunstanburgh Castle stood high and unconquerable, its towers reaching for the sky. There lived the Daltons, her enemies who shrouded themselves as friends.

 

Charlotte was sure the Daltons had no idea that she knew about their treachery but how long could she count on this?

 

Sooner or later, they would make their move and slay anyone who stood between them and the throne.

 

Sir Edward came for her just as the bell ceased its clangor. "We had best make haste if we hope to eat tonight, my Queen."

 

"It might be safer if we were not Knight and Queen until we reach our destination," she told him. "Common travelers attract less notice. A father and daughter taken to the road on some family business, say."

 

"As you say, my Queen," Sir Edward agreed. It was only when she laughed that he realized what he'd done. "The old courtesies die hard, my—my daughter." He sighed with exasperation.

 

Charlotte took his arm. "Come, Father," she said. "You'll find that Domnall sets a good table, I think, but try not to praise him. You truly don't want to see his smile."

 

The common room was long and drafty, with a row of huge wooden kegs at one end and a fireplace at the other. A serving boy ran back and forth with skewers of meat while Domnall drew beer from the kegs, chewing his sourleaf all the while.
The benches were crowded, townsfolk and farmers mingling freely with all manner of travelers. The crossroads made for odd companions; dyers with black and purple hands shared a bench with rivermen reeking of fish, an ironsmith thick with muscle squeezed in beside a wrinkled old septon, hard-bitten sellswords and soft plump merchants swapped news like boon companions.

 

Sir Edward found them an empty place on the bench near the kitchen. He called for bread and meat and beer in a tone that meant now.

 

The serving boy came scurrying up. He laid trenchers of bread before them and filled them with chunks of browned meat off a skewer, dripping with hot juice. Another skewer held tiny onions, fire peppers, and fat mushrooms. Sir Edward set to lustily as the lad ran back to fetch them beer.

 

“You could start eating…” he said, almost spilling the words ‘my Queen’ from his mouth.

 

“Please go ahead father… I’ve no hunger but a drink of beer would suffice…” Charlotte smiled.

 

“Are you sure?” he asked.

 

“Yes,” she nodded slightly.

 

Sir Edward dug in, eating voraciously at first but then slowly as he started to feel fuller. Charlotte drank a few mugs of beer. The Queen rarely ever partook but when she did, she made sure to quench her thirst for a good while.

 

Even though she was the Queen, not many knew her face. A few commoners scarcely had ever had the chance to see the Queen, even less likely for those who weren’t from the Capital. It meant she could be there as long as she wanted, amongst those people and enjoy her beer with a song.

 

They sat there for long, listening to the melodious hymns from a singer who boasted aloud to be the best in his craft.

 

Charlotte enjoyed his voice, and how his fingers played with the wood harp, although the same could not be said about Sir Edward.

 

His opinion of singers was well known; music was a lovely thing for girls, but he could not comprehend why any healthy boy would fill his hand with a harp when he might have had a sword.

 

At last, when the night fell deep and dark, they decided it was time to take leave.

 

It was when Charlotte entered back in her room, ready to relieve herself after a long day, that she remembered the lack of a chamber pot. She just stood there for a moment, with her hands on her hips, contemplating what to do.

 

She was uncomfortably aware that she already had a lot of urine in her bladder but she wasn’t willing to go all the way down again to just ask for a chamber pot. Tired and weary, she climbed onto her bed, covered herself with the blanket and let the patter of rain drops on the window lull her to sleep.

 

***

 

Loud bangs on the wooden door woke the Queen up. The sharp sun rays filtering in through the window pierced her eyes and she quickly shaded her face with her hand. Charlotte realized it was morning. She had slept like a log.

 

“Daughter, are you awake? We must get going….” Lord Edward shouted from outside, slamming the door with his fist.

 

“Yes” as the Queen sat up on her bed, a sudden spasm told how full her bladder had gotten over the course of the night. She held her abdomen and climbed off the bed, quickly stepping towards the door to open it.

 

“My Queen, we must leave immediately,” Sir Edward started as he stepped in and locked the door, “I’ve heard a party of Dalton riders is heading this way, maybe they know we’re here…” he added, trying to catch his breath.

 

Queen Charlotte’s eyes widened in horror. If this was true, both their lives were in danger. The Daltons would never get a better chance to remove the Queen from their way to the throne.

 

“How did you come to know?” she asked.

 

“I heard a few men talking of their arrival. The Daltons have friends everywhere” he paused to take a breath “I’ve readied the horses we had best make haste, my lady.”

 

Queen Charlotte stood there for a moment, weighing her options. She had to relieve herself but the Daltons might get here any moment. She saw the Knight looking at her intently, waiting for her command. She could never tell him about her dilemma, that would gravely botch her dignity. A proper lady always knew to suppress her needs, no matter how bad they got. At the end of the rigorous battle in her mind, warily, she decided to leave.

 

She wasted no time and quickly made her exit. She knew she had made the right choice but it was when she finally mounted her horse that she began to doubt herself. She had a lot to drink and all of it now sat in her bladder, waiting to be released. The pressure had seriously built up, but she decided she could wait until they were at a safe distance away from here.

 

Of course she’d have to find somewhere to go, maybe a house or a holdfast. It was thought to be a matter of great disgrace if a lady of nobility was to relieve herself elsewhere than a privy or a chamberpot, so much that she’d be forced to flee the kingdom out of pure shame.

 

Charlotte realized she’d just have to cork it up until she found some place suitable. It was part of the training of a Lady to be able to absorb any amount of drinks and release none of it until she was ready. Of course there were limits, but she was yet to reach them.

 

The weather was cloudy with a few drops of rain falling intermittently. Things went slickly as Queen Charlotte and Sir Edward rode on for a few hours.

 

The thought that they had managed to evade the enemy brought Charlotte some relief but her need to wee was making her concerned now. The one liter of water skin Sir Edward gave her before they started riding was now empty and Charlotte could now feel all of it making its way into her bladder. She knew they’d have to find somewhere she could relieve herself and soon. With her need elevating so quickly, the Queen didn’t know how much longer she could wait.

 

They padded slowly through the soft ground to the river's edge, the sight and sound of the water making her need to piss much worse. But the Queen hid her discomfort well. She was resolute and still showed no signs of needing to relieve herself besides her inflated bladder region. She could never let Sir Edward know how badly she needed to go. That would be so disgraceful.

 

They rode on ceaselessly until their butts felt sore and only stopped by the riverside when their thirst grew irresistible. Queen Charlotte watched in disdain as Sir Edward filled the water skin for her. If only he knew how full her bladder was.
When she was sure Sir Edward wasn’t looking, Queen Charlotte squeezed herself under her dress a couple of times.
Gods I’ve got to piss, she thought, feeling the pulses from her aching bladder. The temporary relief felt good but she knew it wouldn’t last long.

 

Before long they were back on their way. It was nice under the trees. The Queen kept her mount to a walk, holding the reins lightly and looking all around her as they went ahead. She knew this wood, but she had been so long confined to the Capital, that she felt as though she were seeing it for the first time. The smells filled her nostrils; the sharp fresh tang of pine needles, the earthy odor of wet rotting leaves and the hints of animal musk. She caught a glimpse of a black squirrel moving through the branches of an oak, and watched intently at the silvery web of an empress spider.

 

However, none of these things was sufficiently exciting to divert her mind from her pressing need to wee. She wanted to go much more badly now. It was frightening because she was getting worse almost by the minute. This was the time when all the water she had drunk was going through her the fastest. The thought of how much she had drunk, and that it was all going to end up in her bladder, was not something she wanted to contemplate and because she could not stop worrying about how badly she wanted to go, time was passing so slowly.

 

The sun had begun to climb up the sky and the heat was beginning to rise. They were still leagues away from their destination. As they trotted forward, Sir Edward’s ears suddenly caught the sound of a horse’s whinny. "My Queen," he called out his voice hoarse with alarm. And in an instant, the road was full of soldiers pouring out of the woods.

 

Fear crept under her skin as Charlotte glimpsed ringmail over leather, gauntlets and greaves, steel helms with a raging bull on the crests. Their cloaks clung to their backs. She had no time to count, but there were ten at least, a line of them, all mounted, blocking the trail, with longswords and iron-tipped spears. "Behind!" she heard Sir Edward cry, and when she turned her horse, there were more in back of them, cutting off their retreat. Sir Edward’s sword came singing from its scabbard. "Let us go!"

 

“It was a long haul…” their leader said, “…but I suppose it ends here.”

 

“Long time no see, Your Highness” The mud muffled the hooves of the blood bay stallion. The line parted before him. On a gray breastplate, the bull of Dalton resounded its rebelliousness. “I suppose you have been keeping well?”

 

The Queen recognized the handsome Knight as Sir Jorge Writingham, a servant to the Daltons. She remembered him well from the times he had accompanied Lord Reynard Dalton to the Capital for royal feasts.

 

“What is the meaning of this?” The Queen asked “I command you to clear the way at once!”

 

“I don’t think you are in a position to command me” Sir Jorge smirked.

 

Charlotte knew he was right. They were surrounded by dozens and her own strength was just one elderly Knight, armored in loyalty.

 

“Let us pass and I will forgive your mistake” she stated.

 

“Heh, I don’t need your forgiveness. I could cut you both into pieces and feed you to the dogs, and no one will ever know what happened here in these woods” Sir Jorge stared at Charlotte.

 

“Mind your tongue, you bastard! This is the Queen you’re speaking to!” Sir Edward hollered.

 

Sir Jorge ripped his longsword from its sheath and urged his stallion forward. "Show me your steel, Sir Edward. I'll butcher you like a lamb if I must, but I'd sooner you died with a blade in your hand.” He gave Queen Charlotte a cool, contemptuous glance that sent a chill down her spine.

 

Sir Jorge poked at Sir Edward’s chest with the gilded sword. "Lord Reynard wants the Queen to come see him at Dunstanburgh " he sighed. "…and I have been honored with the duty to escort her there." He slid the golden sword into its sheath. "…but I suppose I can’t let you run to Lord Merek to tell him how I took your Queen captive." Sir Jorge pushed his wet hair back with his fingers and wheeled his horse around and glanced back at his captain. "Kill him."

 

“NO!” Queen Charlotte screamed. She saw them cut the legs from Sir Edward's mount and drag him to the earth, swords rising and failing as they closed in around him. The sight nearly scared the piss out of her and she began to cry. Sir Edward was dead and now she was all alone, surrounded by the enemy.

 

They pulled her off her horse and took away her dagger and her purse full of gold. As they were bundling her, and tying her hands with a length of coarse rope, the Queen felt truly afraid. She didn’t know what they would do with her once they got her to Dunstanburgh. Maybe they would take her prisoner? Maybe even rape her or kill her. She truly did not know.
Her heart pounded in horror. Her bladder felt like a massive boulder jutting out of her gut as she stood there, with tears rolling down her cheeks.

 

Then suddenly, someone pulled a hood down over her eyes and lifted her up onto a saddle. They set out at a hard gallop, and before long the Queen’s thighs were cramped and aching and her ass throbbed with pain.

 

After a long ride, they slowed down to a trot, it was a miserable pounding journey over rough ground, made worse by her blindness. Every twist and turn put her in danger of falling off her horse. The hood muffled sound, so she could not make out what was being said around her. The rope around her wrists seemed to grow tighter as the sun started to go down.

 

The twilight seeped through the cloth over her eyes when Sir Jorge gave the command to dismount. Rough hands pulled her down from her horse, untied her wrists, and yanked the hood off her head. It was beginning to grow dark but she could still see the narrow stony road, the foothills rising high and wild all around them, and the jagged snowcapped peaks on the distant horizon.

 

“We make camp here for tonight, my Queen” Sir Jorge said in a tone that spilled mockery more than respect “…. keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn’t need anything” he commanded two of his men.

 

I need to piss, Queen Charlotte thought but couldn’t dare say. Her need to empty her bladder had grown much worse since they took her captive. She was absolutely dying to wee yet there was nothing she could do. These men would not let her out of sight.

 

Two of them would be awake at all times, taking shifts to watch her. She was completely wedged.

 

They lit a fire and spread out a large, soft blanket for her. She slowly took a seat on it, laying back and wincing as her unbearably overfilled bladder threatened to explode then and there. Every breath she took tormented her, sending waves of desperation that made her feel like she could lose control at any second.

 

Charlotte couldn’t have expected them to give her privacy. It was not like she could accept even if they allowed her to go behind the bushes. A proper lady never makes her need to relieve herself known, she told herself firmly. She was determined not to cower but her body said otherwise.

 

For a few short, mad moments, she considered simply getting up and going behind the bushes, admitting she had to wee right then, her bladder almost out of control and about to burst. But it would have been against everything she stood for. Under no condition could she compromise with her dignity. In that thought, she found the resolve to hold on. Having accepted the situation, and found the determination to cope with it, she now had to find the strength to back up her resolve, to get herself under some semblance of control, reduce the terrible urgency of her need to something more bearable.

 

She crossed her legs and lied still, with her eyes closed, trying to think of something else other than her need. But her mind always wandered back. She wondered what would happen if she kept holding it. Would her bladder really explode? Or was that just a story told to children to threaten them into emptying their bladders before they left the house? Only time would tell.

 

Hours passed. Time went on and on as she lay there awake, containing her urine with every bit of strength. The pressure increased endlessly as more water continued to force its way into her bladder. The two guards who stood awake would absolutely know if she was to lose control and wet herself. The first men in the Kingdom to witness the Queen piss herself, soaking her blanket. She couldn't let it happen. She just closed her eyes, took a deep breath and said a silent prayer, asking the Lord Father to grant her strength in this difficult time. The fatigue soon pulled her to sleep.

 

***
The next morning, she got up and saw just how large her bladder had become. It looked as if another liter had been added to its capacity over the night, such was its distention. The feeling of heaviness beneath her dress was beyond distracting, it had reached a level of painful urgency. Though, she was relieved that she didn’t wet herself in sleep, that would have been mortifying.

 

Queen Charlotte just stood in the predawn chill, fighting off her immense need to urinate as the men around her prepared for the ride ahead. Crossing her legs now would not make the urge go away. Only by making a real effort and clenching her bladder shut could she make it go away, and as soon as she relaxed, it was back again. The cold had settled deep in her bones, and her legs were so sore she could scarcely walk.

 

She realized her breath was shallow and quick as she tried to think clearly. The memory was still bitter. One moment she'd been well on her way to Longford to meet her father, and an eye blink later she was surrounded by armed men who were now dragging her in the opposite way. She had two days more riding ahead of her, followed by a few mouthfuls of food and a short, cold sleep on hard ground, and the gods only knew how it would end. "Damn them," she muttered as she struggled up the road to rejoin her captors, remembering that it was because of them that she was forced to hold onto an aching bladder, "Damn them all.”

 

She had to relieve herself of the torrents of water inside her. She absolutely HAD to. She'd been containing herself for so long now that the need was just terrible. She was almost afraid to walk. She could feel her sphincters practically vibrating with the effort it took to impede the inevitable flood of urine that wanted so desperately to escape. She made a small, whimpering sound in spite of her valiant effort to hold onto her modesty, and squeezed her legs together. The wave of pressure in her bladder seemed to intensify into a more severe state of need, and she felt even more swollen and close to the point of honestly bursting than she had even moments before. She despised the sensation of needing to piss so urgently and not being immediately able to do so, it terrified her. It was mortifying to be caught in such a dire and private need while being surrounded by so many people, worse, strange men in this case.

 

Her abductors were clustered around a stream a short ways down the road. The horses had drunk their fill of the icy cold water, and were grazing on clumps of brown grass that grew from clefts in the rock. Some men huddled close, sullen and miserable.

 

A guard stood over them, leaning on his spear and wearing a rounded iron cap that made him look as if he had a bowl on his head.

 

"Bandits!"

 

The shriek came from the wind-carved ridge above them. Sir Jorge had sent guards one at a time scrambling up the rock face to watch the road while they camped.

 

For a long second, no one moved. Sir Jorge was the first to react. "Everyone, to horse," he shouted. "Take the Queen."

 

The bandits cared nothing for the enmities of the great houses; they would slaughter Dalton and Torrington with equal fervor, as they slaughtered each other. They might spare Charlotte herself; she was still young enough to bear sons.

 

"I hear them!" one of the men called out. Charlotte turned her head to listen, and there it was: hoof beats, a dozen horses or more, coming nearer. Suddenly everyone was moving, reaching for weapons, running to their mounts.
Arrows rained down around them as the guard came springing and sliding down the ridge.

 

He landed breathless in front of Sir Jorge, an ungainly-looking man with wild tufts of rust-colored hair sticking out from under a conical steel cap. "There’s a horde of them," he said, breathless. "More men than we have. They must have eyes out, m'lord . . . hidden watchers . . . they know we're here."

 

Sir Jorge was already ahorse, a longsword in hand. Another man crouched behind a boulder, both hands on his iron-tipped spear, a dagger between his teeth.

 

Suddenly, Sir Willem pulled Charlotte behind a boulder, “Don’t make any noises, or they’ll know we’re here.” A heartbeat later, the bandits were on them.

 

There were no heralds, no banners, no horns nor drums, only roars of men as they braced themselves for the fight. And suddenly the bandits came thundering out of the dawn, lean dark men in boiled leather and mismatched armor, faces hidden behind barred halfhelms. In gloved hands were clutched all manner of weapons: longswords and lances and sharpened scythes, spiked clubs and heavy iron mauls. At their head rode a big man in a striped skin cloak, armed with a greatsword.

 

“Ahead We Charge!” Sir Jorge roared the Dalton words as he rode on to meet the enemy, his men right behind.

 

From behind the rock, Charlotte heard the screams of frightened horses and the crash of metal on metal. The two men, Arryk and Orson, who had stood watch over her last night, were fighting valiantly. The first one’s sword raked across the naked face of a mailed rider, and the second one plunged through the bandits like a whirlwind, cutting down foes right and left. Sir Jorge hammered at the big man in the skin cloak, their horses dancing round each other as they traded blow for blow. Sir Willem lifted his head up and saw an arrow sprout from the throat of the man in the skin cloak. When he opened his mouth to scream, only blood came out. By the time he fell, Sir Jorge was fighting someone else.

 

Suddenly Charlotte yelled, covering her head with her hands as a horse leapt over their rock. Sir Willem scrambled to his feet as the bandit turned to come back at them, hefting a spiked maul. Sir Willem swung his sword with both hands. The blade caught the charging horse in the throat, angling upward, and he almost lost his grip as the animal screamed and collapsed with its rider.

 

Sir Willem danced back in while the bandit's leg was still pinned beneath his fallen mount, and buried the sword in the man's neck, just above the shoulder blades.

 

After that, things ran together. The dawn was full of shouts and screams and heavy with the scent of blood, and the world had turned to chaos. Arrows hissed past Charlotte’s ear and clattered off the rocks. She peeked over the rock and saw Sir Jorge unhorsed, fighting with a sword in each hand, before she quickly tugged down as another arrow made its way towards her.

 

When finally the war cries and horse whinnies abated, Charlotte stood up and looked around. The bandits were all vanquished or vanished. Somehow the fighting had ended when she wasn't looking. Dying horses and wounded men lay all around, screaming or moaning.

 

She could have sworn they had been fighting for half a day, but the sun seemed scarcely to have moved at all. The dead bandits were thin, ragged men, their horses scrawny and undersized, with every rib showing.

 

“Ready the horses…” Sir Jorge said wearily. The Knight had been wounded in the fight, a deep gash in his left arm and a spear thrust that grazed his neck. Almost all his men were dead and those left were grievously injured. "If we linger here, more bandits will be on us for a certainty, and we may not live through a second attack." He knelt by the stream and washed the blood off his face in water cold as ice.

 

A sudden spasm from her bladder forced Charlotte’s hand near her crotch but she barely resisted. Now that the fighting was done, she was rudely reminded of her urgent need to urinate. The Queen forced herself to walk as Sir Willem led her towards her mount. It wasn't easy. Her thighs were clenched, her ankles stiff, her hand, not daring to fully meet her crotch.
She could not believe she had to go so badly! It was awful. Her bladder must have been enormous, barely the size that it was meant to be at all. It was hard as a rock, angry from having to hold so much for so long. She was suffering.

 

Sir Willem lifted her up onto her horse and she kept facing away from him as she adjusted herself on the saddle. How she was keeping herself dry with her legs so wide apart she truly did not know. Her dress rode up in front of her, and she pulled it close to cover up the oversized bulge of her bladder.

 

Arryk led them out. Sir Willem and Orson took the rear, with Queen Charlotte safely in the middle and Sir Jorge right beside her. This time she was spared the hood. They did not bother to bound her hands, and when the woods around them started to grow dense, they scarcely bothered to guard her at all. It seemed they did not fear her escape. And why should they? The land here was harsh and wild, and the road little more than a stony track. If she did run, how far could she hope to go, alone and without provisions? The mountain lions would make a prey of her, and the bandits that dwelt in these mountains were rapers and murderers who bowed to no law but the sword.

 

They rode on for the entire day and the Queen ’s bladder continued to bloat up under her dress. She was definite she could beat her horse in a wetting match if it were to be, such pressing was her need, but she didn’t let it show.

 

For a moment, she closed her eyes and held her forehead in a projection of pain and concentration as she tried her best to battle the pressure. It had grown too much by now and there was no way she could overlook the ache in her bladder, swollen awfully with liters and liters of urine.

 

She pressed her crotch on the saddle to gain some relief. She had to hold it. She had literally no choice, at least until she found herself in the privacy of a room with a chamberpot. But Dunstanburgh was far away and she didn't know if she could hold it that long. But no matter what, she could never let these men know how badly she had to go.

 

The sun was well to the west by the time the slope began to flatten beneath the hooves of their horses. The road widened and grew straight, and for the first time Charlotte noticed wildflowers and grasses growing. Once they reached the valley floor, the going was faster and they galloped through verdant greenwoods and sleepy little hamlets, past orchards and golden wheat fields, splashing across a dozen sunlit streams.

 

As they entered the Dalton lands, a wave of trepidation ran through Charlotte’s body. The Daltons were known for boiling their enemies alive in cauldrons full of smoldering oil. Cleansing, they called it.

 

The thought that they might fry her once they reached Dunstanburgh made Charlotte shudder in horror and a jet of piss suddenly escaped her, dampening her drawers. Her eyes widened in shock as she realized she was losing control. She was frightened, she didn’t want to die and neither did she want to wet herself on a horse for these men to watch. But there was nothing she could do to help herself, she was absolutely stuck.

 

It was a hot day, and Charlotte had been forced to drink to keep her health. Her bladder had swollen to a painful extent and it pinched at her mercilessly in protest as they rode ahead. She quieted it. She told herself that the bladder was a muscular organ and would therefore expand to contain whatever volume there was inside it. All she had to do was will it to stay closed. That was all. After all, she was the Queen. She could surely hold it however long she had to, no matter how... thundering the need. But by now she had reached the limits of her capacity. Her body would not listen to her no matter how much she tried to convince herself.

 

I don't know how much longer I can take this; I really don't, she thought, her agony reaching a fevered level. It's beyond uncomfortable; it badly hurts for goodness sake... I'm so damned full, it's simply impossible, I can't, I really... her thoughts trailed off as they came across an inn. Her bladder trembled, threatening her. It was the worst state of desperation she could remember in all her life.

 

Outside the inn on a weathered gibbet, a woman's bones were twisting and rattling at every gust of wind.

 

"We don't want to go in," Sir Willem decided suddenly, "there might be ghosts, milord."

 

"You know how long it has been since I had some ale?" Sir Jorge swung down from the saddle. "Stay here if you want, I’m going in."

 

"What if someone knows her?" Sir Willem asked. "They might try to rescue her."

 

Sir Jorge no longer cared to hide Queen Charlotte’s face from the strangers on the road. He no longer seemed to care who knew her. His wounds had turned him sloppy and dull and most of his strength was gone.

 

"Let them try. I’ll flay them living." Sir Jorge answered as he loosened his longsword in its scabbard, and pushed through the door and his men followed suit.

 

Charlotte would never have a better chance to relieve herself. Oh, God, the thought of urinating in the woods, or indeed any place at all was maddening. She chewed her lip as she squeezed her crotch tight.

 

She barely managed to dismount without spurting in her dress, she led the horse to the stables, and went in after them. She was too scared. What if someone saw her while she relieved herself? Even the thought of it was beyond humiliating. But most of all, a proper lady would never disgrace herself by doing such a thing even if nobody was there to see her.

 

“Ale for us all. The lady’s thirsty too!” Sir Jorge ordered as he took his seat in the empty inn.

 

Charlotte frowned at this, she couldn’t be farther from being thirsty. Her bladder was swollen as hard as a rock, filled to its maximum capacity and the pressure was awful. She wondered what a flagon of ale would do to her. But she didn’t complain, she just drank it down and sat quietly with her thighs tightly pressed together.

 

Her eyes welled up as she crossed her legs in a last desperate attempt to clamp down the pressure. She knew her bladder didn’t have any more room to contain the ale she had just drunk. She knew it was going to explode.

 

She didn’t know which was worse, a blasted bladder or being fried alive in a cauldron of boiling oil, but either way, death was certain.Tears rolled down her eyes as she realized that she would never get to see her son again. This was the end for her.

 

At this moment, when Queen Charlotte had lost all hope, two men dressed in boiled leather and ringmail, suddenly walked in. At first she took them for some soldiers on the road but then, the Queen’s face brightened up as she realized who they were. Amory and Hamil, household guards at Longford. How long it had been since she had last seen them. They had been no older than her son when she went south after marriage.

 

What they were doing so far from home she didn’t know, all she knew was that she was in great danger and they were her last ray of hope.

 

She looked at her captors, Sir Jorge and Sir Willem hadn’t even bothered to look at the new guests and neither did the other two, Arryk and Orson. She looked intently at Amory and Hamil, hoping they would notice her.

 

When the two soldiers began walking towards a table, they became aware of the lady sitting with a bunch of armored men.
“Your Highness” Amory exclaimed. He would have never thought of finding the Queen in a small inn like this one, so far away from the Capital. But most of all, he wondered why the Queen would travel with Dalton men rather than the Queensguard “I had not looked to see you here, my Queen," he said as he knelt, “..is everything well by the God's grace?”.

 

I had not thought to be here either, please help me, she thought but didn’t utter a word, fear stopped her voice in her throat but her face told it all.

 

The innkeep suddenly remembered something in the kitchen. The only sound in the common room was the faint crackling of the fire in the hearth.
Hamil noticed the Dalton men starring at Amory and that’s when he realized what was going on. “Fuck!” he echoed, pulling his sword out of its scabbard.

 

Everything seemed to happen at once then; Sir Jorge lurched to his feet, Amory straightened up and drew his longsword, and the Sir Willem's hand whipped around in a blur to send something silver flashing across the common room towards Hamil. If he had not been moving, the knife might have cored the apple of his throat; instead it only grazed his ribs, and wound up quivering in the wall near the door. Sir Jorge’s sword slid from its scabbard just in time to knock aside Amory ’s first cut.

 

Queen Charlotte ducked in a corner as the long steel song began. Crouching with a bladder this full was excruciating, but she somehow managed to keep her waters in.

 

Amory and Hamil were outnumbered two to four but Charlotte knew it wouldn’t matter much. The Dalton men were tired, wounded and drunk and they wouldn’t be up for much of a fight.

 

Amory was a grim, methodical fighter, and he pressed Sir Jorge and Sir Willem steadily backward, his heavy longsword moving with brutal precision. His opponents’ own cuts were sloppier, their parries rushed, their feet slow and clumsy. Signs that they were going down.

 

Meanwhile the other two men, Arryk and Orson had come off the bench with short-swords in their hands but Hamil had engaged them well.

 

Sir Willem gave a grunt of pain as Amory buried his sword deep into his face and out from the back of his head, before pulling it out in an instant. He fell down on the ground, dead.

 

That seemed to make Sir Jorge angry. He drove back Amory with a furious attack, hammering at him with the old longsword. Amory gave way, but none of the cuts so much as touched him. But then, Arryk turned around and leapt over a bench quick as a snake, and slashed at the back of Amory 's neck with the edge of his short sword. The man groaned in pain as he came to his knees and Sir Jorge beheaded him at that very instant.

 

Hamil was now left alone fighting Orson, as Sir Jorge and Arryk turned towards them. At first, both of Sir Jorge’s men came after him hard, one of them hacking at his head and shoulders while the other darted in to stab at back and belly.

 

They had driven Hamil into a corner behind a bench, and Orson had given him an ugly red gash on his upper thigh to go with his other wounds. Hamil was leaning against the wall, bleeding and breathing noisily. He looked as though he couldn’t keep up the fight for long.

 

He pushed away from the wall and stood in a half-crouch behind the bench, his sword held across his body. His foot lashed out and caught the bench, driving it hard into Sir Jorge’s shins. Somehow, the Knight of Dalton kept his feet, but Hamil ducked under his wild slash and brought his own sword up in a vicious backhand cut. Blood spattered on the ceiling and walls. The blade caught in the middle of Sir Jorge’s face, and when Hamil wrenched it loose, half his head came with it.

 

Arryk and Orson backed away. The shortswords in their hands suddenly seemed almost like toys against the long blade Hamil was holding. It didn’t take long for Hamil to decimate them but by the end he was bleeding like a butchered pig himself, and dragging one leg when he walked.

 

“Your Highness, are you alright?” he gave his hand to the Queen, “We must get going, I’m certain Reynard Dalton will send more men behind us when he learns of this friendly encounter..” he forced a wry smile.

 

Queen Charlotte although terrified, took his hand but as she stood up, her weehole opened unexpectedly for a full second and a hot squirt of piss burst into the folds of her dress. She froze in panic and quickly stood straight, clenching her muscles, stopping herself from wetting her dress any further.

 

“Is there something wrong, my Queen?” Hamil asked.

 

“N-no, let’s get going” she breathed.

 

“We’ll leave for Longford at day break but we’d have to spend the night” Hamil said, “I know an old man who lives a few miles from here, I suppose he’d be generous enough to share his roof with us.”

 

A glimmer of hope shone in Charlotte’s eyes. Maybe the old man had a chamberpot she could use. Nothing mattered to her now except getting there and relieving herself before she either wet herself or died of an exploded bladder.

 

Hamil came up behind her and offered his hands as a step so she could climb her horse. Charlotte was truly grateful for his gesture. She was sure she would have lost control of her bladder had she tried to climb it on her own.

 

Though as they rode on, Charlotte grew truly terrified, she knew that the second she got off her horse she would instantly lose control and soak herself in front of Hamil. As much as it was against everything she stood for, she was profoundly considering dismounting right where she was and running into the woods to relieve herself. But she knew she couldn’t do it. She could never tarnish her own dignity. She’d just have to hold it.

 

It had grown dark by the time they came upon a tiny isolated cottage attached to a barn, surrounded by tall pines.

 

Charlotte’s hands were shaking as she held the reins. Oh, she couldn’t wait to piss.

 

Hamil got down from his garron and held out his hand to help the Queen off her mount. She took his hand and carefully climbed down. The moment her feet touched the ground, she crossed her legs and grabbed her crotch tight. She didn’t care if Hamil saw her like this, at least it was better than wetting herself.

 

They walked to the entrance and Hamil knocked. The old man, named Bryce, opened the door and looked at them probingly before he recognized Hamil, “Oy! What in God’s name happened to you?” he asked, looking at the soldier’s wounds.

 

“I’ll tell you everything, first let us in” Hamil spoke.

 

Charlotte’s heart sank as they walked in, it was a single dark room, illuminated by only the flames rising from the herth, with no prospect of privacy and there was no sign of a chamber pot either, though it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Her hopes were shattered and she felt a drop of piss leak out. She was defeated.

 

But then it came to her. There was still a ray of hope. If she could make her way into the barn behind the cottage, she would have all the privacy in the world once the old man and Hamil went to sleep. And she could spend the night wetting as much as she wanted.

 

“Well, both of you gentlemen can sleep here if you want, I’ll make myself comfortable in the barn. It has been a while since I slept on a mound of hay anyway” she forced a smile, crossing her legs.

 

“Oh no, my lady” old man Bryce said, assuming her to be Hamil’s paramour. “The night grows much colder these days, and I fear you might take a chill if you attempt to sleep outside. You should sleep in here; the hearth will keep you warm. I’ll take the barn though, there isn’t much room in here but I’ve grown accustomed to the cold” he smiled.

 

Charlotte cried inwardly as the chance of relief slipped out of her fingers.

 

She held her forehead they sat on the dinner table, her bladder swollen big and hard like a watermelon.

 

“Is everything alright, m’lady?” Sir Hamil asked, “You look rather distressed.”

 

“Oh, nothing i-it’s nothing” Charlotte spoke dejectedly as she stared blankly at her venison stew, stirring it with her spoon.

 

Old man Bryce made his way to the barn after the dinner and Hamil laid a blanket on the ground for him to sleep upon. Charlotte looked at him miserably; she wished he would go sleep in the barn too.

 

The house had a bed stuffed with straw and not too many lice, and the air smelled of pines but Queen Charlotte cared for none of it. As she sat on the cushioned chair near the hearth, with her hands around her chest, the sheer pressure in her bladder made her body shudder. With her thighs pressed tightly together, she just sat watching the dancing flames and hoping the warmth would lessen her need to piss.

 

But to her misery, nothing of the sort happened. She was past the point of hiding it any longer. Her bladder felt like it would burst any second, it was stretched so much.
“Are you alright, my Queen?” Hamil asked when he saw her shivering “…are you cold?”

 

“N-no, I’m fine…” Charlotte replied, trying to keep her voice from shaking.

 

Hamil brought a blanket and wrapped it around her, “I hope it’ll make you feel better.”

 

No it won’t, Charlotte thought but said, “Thank you, Hamil, that’s so kind of you…”

 

She sat on the chair, shaking back and forth as the pressure grew to an unbearable degree. She dare not lie down on the bed or sleep, for she knew the moment she relaxed her muscles, the flood would erupt out of her. Her bladder was agony, on the point of exploding, swollen so much it was making her look pregnant, and now her urge to wee was so intense, the pressure so great, that she was having to clench herself shut with all her strength all the time, as well as holding her crutch so hard she was shaking. She had never had to make so much effort to hold her piss back, and she could not keep it up for long.

 

I will not sleep tonight, she thought, though her eyes were heavy with exhaustion. She leaned back on the chair. Eyes closed, she concentrated every ounce of her strength on holding her pee, and just hung on, and hung on, and hung on.

 

***

 

When she woke, the morning light was seeping in through the window. She looked down and whimpered inwardly as she saw her stomach had grown even bigger than it was last night. She wondered how much her bladder could stretch, how much it could possibly contain before it burst.

 

Her legs were stiff and cramped and the hearth had long since burned out. How she had held back her waters through the night she would never know.

 

She looked around but Hamil wasn’t there, he might have woken up early. Charlotte knew then that this was her only chance. If she could make it to the woods, she could relieve herself once and for all.

 

She stood up from the chair in haste and took quick but tiny steps towards the door. She dare not move her legs much now, or she knew she would lose it.

 

She pulled the door handle in a hurry but it didn’t budge. Her eyes widened in horror as a long, hot leak suddenly squirted out of her and dampened her drawers, “Oh, no” she sighed as she frantically tugged at the door in desperation a few more times, just to realize, it was bolted from outside.

 

She stood there, bent double, with her hands buried deep inside her crotch, pushing hard against the front of the dress.
She had to get out, right now! The pressure and the urgency, had grown to an awful degree and she did not have any reserves of strength left to contain it. She was on the brink of wetting herself, she simply could not hold on to her pee any longer.

 

She turned around to look for something to pee in, maybe a pot or a bowl. She just didn’t care anymore. She spotted a horn mug kept at the table, and she walked towards it, ready to relieve herself but just as she began to lift up her dress, the door opened.

 

“My Queen” Hamil said as he walked in.

 

“Y-Yes..” Charlotte faltered as she released her dress, letting it fall back down over her legs. She felt like killing him right then. Why the hell did he have to stop her now when she was going out of her mind to take a massive piss!

 

“Bryce said we should stay back for lunch before setting out” Hamil went on, “I think he is right. There is only one inn between here and Longford but it was looted by raiders a fortnight ago. It stands deserted now, we won’t be getting food elsewhere. Best we prepare ourselves for the journey. We’ll be needing provisions…”

 

Charlotte was not taking much interest in what Hamil was telling her. All she could think about was how terribly she needed to urinate. She'd been holding it for so long!

 

She was pressing her legs together as hard as she could, and bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, clenching all her holding muscles as hard as she could.

 

Her honor was at stake, and she was determined to protect it. But then suddenly, another long leak escaped and soaked into her drawers. The Queen didn’t react and forced herself to remain calm, as if nothing had happened. She could never let Hamil know what was going on under her dress.

 

This trial of strength continued with Charlotte becoming more and more restless and distracted as her desperation reached critical level. She placed a hand on her aching, throbbing bladder as she stood there, listening to what the soldier had to say.

 

She was beyond desperate now; her entire body shivering with pressure, most of all her legs. She had reached her limit. It was just a very short matter of time before the dam burst.

 

And then, Charlotte gasped as she began to feel drops of warm pee soak into her drawers all of a sudden. She immediately grabbed her crotch in a desperate attempt to hold on, not even caring if Hamil saw her like that, but it was no use. The piss forcefully penetrated the fabric of her smallclothes and began pouring down onto the wood floor under her feet. The Queen was wetting herself.

 

“My Queen?” Hamil said in astonishment as the loud sound of splattering water hit his ears and a puddle started to grow from under the Queen’s dress.

 

“Don’t look!” Charlotte shouted, a hand covering half her face. She stood thunderstruck, panting as she the urine sprayed out of her, spreading warmth as it traveled down her thighs to form a vast puddle on the floor.

 

Her clothes were soaked through within seconds. She moaned out and held the table for support as relief washed over her body, her legs shaking as the pressure reduced dramatically. The stream kept coming and coming and it felt like it was never going to stop. She couldn’t even breathe properly it felt so good. The relief was so wonderful. She could feel her bladder slowly deflating, sinking back to its normal shape as the piss flowed out of her. Somewhere buried under the feelings of shame and humiliation, she was thankful that her agony had finally come to an end.

 

At last, when she was finally done, Queen Charlotte , held her forehead in disbelief and inspected the damage on the floor. She could feel her skin burning with embarrassment as she tried to ignore Hamil’s flabbergasted gaze.

 

“My Queen, you should have said something if you needed to go, how long had you been holding it?”

 

“That’s none of your concern” Charlotte shot back, “… and if you so much as mention this to the old man, I’ll have your head on a spike. Is that understood?”

 

“It is, my Queen” Hamil said as he gulped the lump in his throat.

 

The Queen decreed Hamil to leave before Bryce returned from the woods. She didn’t want him to see her in wet clothes.
Now that her bladder was deflated, she felt lighter by a thousand pounds. Oh, that feeling was pure bliss. She swiftly climbed atop her horse and rode away beside her guard, never to come back again.

 

When the old man came back, he was surprised to know that his guests were gone. But what drew his attention more than that was the massive pool that sat on the floor of his cottage. He wondered where all that water had come from? And whose were those wet footsteps that drew towards the door?

 

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