Yorick's Skull

 
 

1300, 2101.HAM.1 from The Bluebeard Chamber.

Fortinbras 1

"Send a raven at first light," advised Edvin as the night grew dark beyond the palace window. "We can keep hold here till the army arrives." 
Fortinbras peered at the darkening sky with interest, trying to forsee the future. "The Danes will want retribution, Edvin. Unless we find who murdered their beloved family, it won't be long before some servant girl decides to sneak a dagger into my chamber." "A prince has no need to be concerned," Edvin said softly. "Their king is dead, so is their queen, and their prince. The dukes and barons will pay fealty. The kingdom is yours, you only have to send word." 
The young prince rested his forehead on his fist and thought of his father. He was interrupted by his guard from beyond the chamber door. "My lord." 
Fortinbras gave a nod and Edvin unlocked the bolt. The guard who entered was a tall man with powerful shoulders. He wore chainmail under a breastplate dented and discolored with use. He rested one hand on the pommel of his ugly longsword, and used his other to twist the wrist of a girl. The girl was black haired, olive skinned, and her figure was slender like a knife. She tossed the strands of black hair away from her face to show her deadly grimace. Fortinbras shifted in his seat. 
"My lord, Norway is in debt to this night cat. She came to us near twilight to reveal a rancid plot on your life. On her direction, we intercepted two ill-intended officers of the Danish court waiting for an ambush. She wants no gold for recompense, only made a request for your audience. According to her, the reason is unfit for my ears." The black haired girl contorted her arms and slipped free from the guard's grasp. Edvin unsheathed his glitting short sword. "Let go you halfwit. Is this how you handle a lady?" The guard slithered his fingers around the grip of his sword. With one swing of his arm, the girl could be headless. The night cat darted her sharp eyes to the prince. 
"I know what happened here at Elsinore."
The prince stood straight in his chair and studied the girl's face. 
"Go on."
"Not far from here lives a gravedigger who spends his days drowned in ale. He has some useful things to say about the late prince Hamlet. It seems Hamlet and the chief counselor's son Laertes had a scuffle in the grave field, with enough hate to warrant a duel here in the court to settle the bad blood. Only, I think the duel turned rotten."
"What use is the account of a drunk?" Edvin interrupted.
The girl kept her eyes on Fortinbras. "Proof lies within their graves, the wounds and weapons upon their bodies. If I take you to the graveyard tonight you can judge them with your own eyes."
"Spiders like to spin their web before they catch their prey." Edvin was quick to warn.
Fortibras knew to not make light of Edvin's counsel. Edvin the lendmann had served the crown for forty years, as man and boy, and he was rightfully accustomed to distrust. 
"Is there a dagger under your cloak?" Fortibras asked the girl. 
"No tricks, my lord. If you are alarmed, have me bound by the wrist to this dimwit." She sneered at the guard twice her size. The guard's lips tightened into a curl.  
"What will you have in return?" Fortibras asked. 
"There is something else I need in Hamlet's grave. Let me inspect the grave freely and I will share with you my suspicions of the entire plot of Elsinore, beginning with the location of Horatio." "Who's Horatio?" "He was close to Hamlet. He can attest for the gravedigger's ramblings." 

The stars began to come out above a half moon. The girl moved like a cat in the shadows, as if her eyes could see in the dark. Attached to her wrist, like a leash, lumbered a guardsman with his sword drawn. The sword was dull in the moonlight but caught enough light to see from afar. Following in the distance, at a slower pace, was Prince Fortinbras in his war gear, with Edvin the lendmann and a company of seven soldiers.

- fragment from a manuscript in The Sphinx Library