Lady Boadecia’s Destiny
It was a still, calm night. The sun, still sinking over the horizon, gave way to the powers of the moonlit sky. It may have been the end of another warm day, but the City was far from asleep. All around, the streetlights were being tended to, and the wealthy were at play.
Lady Boadecia, named after the famous warrior queen who saved England, was a proud and beautiful woman. She wasn’t afraid to flaunt her wealth, which is perhaps how she became one of the City’s most notorious children, and often hosted parties at one of her mansions. She was an avid art collector, specialising in historical artefacts. Her latest party was being held in order to reveal to the world, or at least those whom she considered to be worthy, her most recent acquisitions. Among the people invited was a certain well respected, if a little brash, American, by the name of Dr Janice Covington.
Dr Covington, accompanied by Melinda Pappas, checked out Lady Boadecia’s house. They strolled through the crowded corridors, looking distinctly out of place, snaking their way through the aristocrats.
‘Ever feel a little underdressed?’ Janice asked quietly, looking down at her leather jacket, and khaki trousers.
‘You look fine.’ Mel whispered in reply. She however, was wearing a figure hugging, sequin studded, black dress.
‘You would say that.’ Janice decided to change the subject. ‘Where’s Jack? I thought he was meeting us here?’
‘He is. Or at least, he should be.’ Mel studied the crowd. ‘I’m sure he’ll be here. Somewhere. You know what Jack is like.’
But Janice wasn’t listening to Mel, her attention had been taken over by something else, ‘look at that!’
‘What? Where?’ Mel was still looking around the masses of people. Janice pointed to the corner of the room. ‘Oh my!’ Mel couldn’t help herself. The item that Janice had spotted, contained within a glass box, on top of a small, marble plinth, surrounded by a dozen security guards dressed in sharp suits, was bewilderingly beautiful.
A thin, gaunt-faced butler sidled up to the two women and rudely blocked off their view of the gleaming armour. ‘Can I help you?’ He offered insincerely.
‘No thanks.’ Janice barged past him, Mel following quickly behind, and headed for the armour.
‘May I see your invitations, please?’ The butler, cutting them off once more, held out his hand.
‘Oh, well you see…’ Mel blushed.
Janice said, ‘We were invited by the Lady herself.’
‘I very much doubt it!’ He exclaimed, taking great pleasure in announcing it loudly. ‘Guards, throw them out!’
Three of the twelve guards surrounding Livia’s armour, proceeded to roughly usher Jan and Mel out of the room, and along the corridor, to the door that lead to the main entrance.
‘Get your hands off me!’ Janice struggled, she kicked out with her left leg, catching the leading guard in the back, knocking him to the floor. The fight was about to begin.
‘Wait.’ A sultry voice spoke. The guards turned, to see that it was Lady Boadecia herself who had addressed them. ‘Let them go.’
‘Yes, ma’am.’ All three guards replied, and then quickly departed.
Lady Boadecia stood, with her hands behind her back. Her long, red hair tied up in the latest fashion, and her dress, dark and glittering was far more revealing than anything worn by the others at the party. She waved her long-gloved hands in the air.
‘So, what do you think, Dr Covington?’
‘I think you’ve hired the wrong staff, my lady.’ Janice removed her hat.
‘And you miss Pappas, what do you think?’
‘Me, I…’ Mel stammered over her words, awed by the presence of the Lady Boadecia.
‘Come now, both of you.’ The Lady turned gracefully, and walked back down the corridor. The crowds parted, as she made her way toward Livia’s armour. Jan and Mel followed a few paces behind. ‘I must apologise about Melsham, he’s just a little over-cautious tonight.’
‘A little?!’ Jan laughed.
‘You see, there have been a series of thefts in the last few weeks, mostly from museums, but also from a few of my close friends estates.’ Lady Boadecia stopped when she arrived at the plinth.
‘Thefts, what kind of thefts?’
‘A wide range of things really, gauntlets, breast plates and the like. But,’ She leant in closer to Janice, making sure that they weren’t overheard, ‘they have all been armour of some kind.’
‘And of course, tonight you are showing your latest arrival…’ Janice indicated the armour in the glass box.
‘Correct.’ Lady Boadecia looked at her latest prize, losing herself in it’s beauty.
‘I see.’ Jan said.
'Lady Boadecia, snapped herself out of the trance, ‘You know this piece, I take it?’
‘Oh yes.’ Mel, finally gathering her composure, began to reel off all of her knowledge about the armour. How it belonged to Livia, daughter of Rome, and was protected by the power of Ares, so that she could never lose in battle. ‘But it was lost to the world when Livia became Eve again.’
‘Xena’s daughter.’ Lady Boadecia spoke softly.
‘So, you have been reading up on my work.’ Janice smiled.
‘Who hasn’t heard of the adventures of the great Dr Janice Covington, and the Xena Scrolls?’ Lady Boadecia returned the smile.
‘Excuse me ma’am.’ Melsham appeared out of the crowd, ignoring Jan and Mel. ‘But there is an Andrew Rees here to see you.’
‘Already?’ Lady Boadecia looked worried. ‘Fine, fine. Sorry ladies, but I have to go. Make yourselves at home.’ She rushed off, perhaps a little too quickly.
‘Well that was interesting, don’t you think?’ Janice said.
‘She did seem a little… agitated?’
‘I’m sure it’s nothing.’ Janice, took one final look at Livia’s armour, before wandering off. ‘Now, where were we?’
‘Where are you going?’ Mel tried her best to keep up.
‘She said we should make ourselves
at home.’ Janice was heading to the bar.
Andrew Rees was a tall, broad shouldered man, with a raging temper. His dark eyes, like coals, contained fire. He paced up and down the room, as Lady Boadecia entered.
‘Where have you been?’ He growled.
‘I’m sorry, there was a little trouble. Melsham almost threw out some of the guests.’
‘The man’s a fool.’
‘I know, but he was my father’s friend, and when I took over the estate I couldn’t just toss him out with the rubbish, could I?’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Lady Boadecia, arms folded across her chest, glared at her guest.
‘You are becoming weak, my Lady.’
‘Andrew, that’s not fair.’
‘Isn’t it?’ He began pacing again.
‘Andrew.’ Her eyes filled with tears. ‘I will fulfil my destiny.’
‘I’ve heard those words many times before.’ Andrew lifted her chin, so that they looked deep into each others eyes. ‘And each time, they have failed to be lived up to.’
Lady Boadecia stood away from him again. ‘I will not fail you.’
‘You had better not.’ Andrew slouched into a nearby chair. ‘Is everything set?’
‘Of course. Just make sure you
are in the right place, at the right time.’ Lady Boadecia said curtly,
then turned on her heels and left. Behind her there was a strange
flash of blue light, and a cloud of smoke.
Janice had just finished another beer when Lady Boadecia arrived once more.
‘There you are.’ She smiled. ‘I’ve been looking for you two. Let’s go.’ Lady Boadecia coaxed them from their seats, ‘it’s time for the speeches.’
Lady Boadecia led them to the main hall, where the aristocrats had gathered. Someone was reading the teachings of an ancient wise-man called Eli, from a dusty, leather book. Janice and Mel had heard it all before. And as interesting as it was, the person on stage, complete with long hair and dishevelled beard, was tripping over his words, and generally making a complete fool of himself.
‘I could do a better job of it, than him.’ Janice sneered. ‘Eli was a great man, a true force for good, and someone that should be revered, not insulted with such a poor performance. Wouldn’t you say, your ladyship?’
‘I’ve never been into Eli’s teachings.’ Lady Boadecia fell silent, deep in thought.
‘Who’s up next?’ Mel asked.
‘Me.’ Lady Boadecia looked nervously around at the audience.
‘What are you going to be talking about?’
Janice grinned, ‘at last, something with a bit of blood and guts.’
‘I’d appreciate it if you came and stood at the front of the audience, it’ll give me a little more confidence.’
‘Of course, of course.’
The Eli-performer eventually took a long, and overly fanciful bow, then left the stage. There was a moment of expectant silence as Lady Boadecia made her way to the stage. Janice and Mel barged through the crowd, clapping the Lady as she climbed the stairs on to the dais. They were at the very front, and Lady Boadecia began to speak.
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ She began, ‘as you know, I have been a great admirer of ancient artifacts, for many years now, especially those from Greece and Rome. Helped by my good friends, and spurred on by the stories of such renowned adventurers as Dr Janice Covington,’ she pointed down to Janice in the crowd, ‘I have managed to build up quite a collection. However, my latest piece, will be my last.’ She paused, letting the words rest upon the gathered crowd.
Two security guards arrived on stage,
carrying the glass box containing Livia’s armour.
‘This, perhaps the most finely crafted armour to come out of the great empire of Rome, is my piece-de-resistance, the crown jewels of my collection.’ As she spoke, the two guards removed the armour from the glass box and began assembling it on Lady Boadecia. ‘As you can see, it is a perfect fit, as if I were born to wear it.’ She was smiling broadly. ‘And in this armour, I can rule the world.’
A small army of guards, each wearing a piece of ancient armour, surrounded the gathered crowd.
‘The stolen armour!’ Mel noted. ‘Lady Boadecia is the thief?’
‘Something’s wrong here, very wrong.’ Janice looked around the room. ‘We’ve got to get out of here.’
‘Do not be alarmed.’ Lady Boadecia was still talking, whilst the crowd was being penned in. ‘I must thank those of you who provided my men with their armour, especially Lord Caxton from the National Museum. Your hard work, and diligence have helped make my collection the best in the world. And after all, what is the point in having armour if you aren’t going to use it?
‘Nevertheless, most of you are worthless to me and so your deaths will be quick, and painless.’ Her eyes sparkled. ‘Well, quick, at least.’
An evil look on her face, Lady Boadecia held out her now armoured arms to the audience. ‘Dr Covington, miss Pappas, there is someone here to see you.’
‘Ares!’ Janice couldn’t
believe it. Ares, the god of war, was on the stage next to Lady Boadecia.
‘This isn’t good.’
The fight began.
Janice, her fist flailing, laid into the ever approaching hoard of guards. She quickly punched the first one to the ground, took his sword and swung it wildly. Mel, getting more and more used to these fights, grabbed the nearest thing to hand, a brass candlestick holder, perhaps six feet tall, and threw it at a guard. It smacked him square in the face, and he fell like a sack of potatoes. She ran across and picked up the spear again, holding it threateningly. Seeing Jan surrounded by guards, Mel threw the candlestick holder so that it landed on it’s base next to her. Instinctively Jan grabbed hold of the brass shaft and swung herself around, using the faces of the guards to propel herself faster. The momentum allowed her to jump clear of the few remaining guards that had managed not to fall to the floor. She landed next to Mel.
The guards kept coming, but Janice managed to hold them back, something skidded along the floor and stopped at Mel’s feet. She picked it up and was about to whack one of the guards over the head, when a group of innocent aristocrats fell in front of her.
‘There are too many of them.’ Mel panicked. ‘We’re never going to win this fight.’
Janice looked at Mel, noticing what she had in her hand. ‘Quick, that way!’ She pointed to the stage.
‘But that would take us straight to Ares.’ Mel’s eyes were wide.
‘I know, but don’t worry.’ Janice beamed, ‘I have a plan.’
The two of them wove their way through the crowd, avoiding various low flying objects along the way. Lady Boadecia, with Ares beside her stood back and watched the mayhem.
‘You know, you look as good in that as Livia did.’
‘Thanks.’ Lady Boadecia let her hair down, and began practising with her sword.
‘In fact, you two are quite a like…’ Ares leant in to kiss her. At first she was reluctant, but then she kissed him back.
‘Accept that I will never leave you.’ Lady Boadecia said firmly. ‘Now that I have Livia’s armour, protected by the god of war himself, I cannot fail!’
‘That’s my girl.’
‘Not so fast.’ Janice leapt up onto the stage.
‘There you are.’ Ares, happy as a child with a new toy, pointed to Janice and Mel. ‘Kill them.’ Lady Boadecia, dressed head to toe in god-protected armour, began to swing her sword.
‘She’s so feisty.’ Ares said to himself.
‘Lady Boadecia, wait.’ Janice, in an unusual move, decided not to fight back. She took the object that Mel had picked up, and held it out at arms length. It was the copy of Eli’s teachings that the performer had dropped in the panic.
In between the sword swipes, Janice read from the book. At first nothing happened, Lady Boadecia kept on swiping, whilst Janice dodged the sword skilfully.
‘Listen to me.’ Janice said. ‘Ares is just confusing you. He’s trying to drive you crazy.’
‘It looks like it’s working too.’ The god of war smirked. Lady Boadecia knocked the book from Janice’s hand, knocking the adventurer to the floor.
‘This is my destiny, Dr Covington!’ Lady Boadecia picked up the sword for one final attack. She lifted it high above her head, and with all her strength she brought it down upon Janice.
A shaft of golden light, flecked with tiny white stars, accompanied by the faint singing of a distant choir, filled the hall. Lady Boadecia was caught in its beauty, looking heaven-ward. Her eyes were wide, her mouth open. She was being converted by Eli’s power.
‘Oh, my!’ Mel watched the light swirl around the room.
‘What have I done?’ Lady Boadecia said as the light disappeared. She was slumped upon the floor, the sword having fallen by her side.
‘Get up damn it!’ Ares cried. ‘What about your destiny?’
‘Eli has shown me the way.’
Ares cursed, and turned his back on the gathered crowd, disappeared in a flash of light. ‘I killed the guy nearly two thousand years ago, and he still gives me grief!’
Mel runs to Janice’s side.
‘Are you OK?’
‘I’m fine Mel, just fine.’ Janice gets to her feet.
‘That was your plan?’
‘Pretty much.’ Janice replied.
‘What if it hadn’t worked?’
‘That doesn’t matter now, it did work.’ Janice winked. ‘Let’s just go with it.’
‘The light of Eli.’ Lady Boadecia says, her voice strangely distant. ‘Has shown me the truth. It was beautiful. My name is Boadecia.’
‘Is it supposed to have this effect?’ Mel asked.
Jan shrugged, ‘I don’t know. But it’s an improvement on before. Where’s Ares?’
‘He vanished,’ Mel said.
‘He’ll be back, as soon as he can find someone else to corrupt.’ Janice, standing with her hands firmly on her hips, spoke with all the passion of a true heroine. ‘And when he does, I’m going to be there to stop him.’
‘But it was Eli that thwarted Ares.’ Lady Boadecia spoke in a floating, almost singing voice.
‘”Thwarted”? No one says ‘thwarted’ anymore.’
‘Eli is our saviour. We must spread his teachings.’
‘OK, fine, you go ahead and do that.’ Janice, her moment of glory ruined, had decided she’d spent enough time with the wealthy. It was time to go. ‘Come on Mel, we’re leaving.’
‘Praise Eli. Love Eli. Love each other.’
‘Get your hands off me, Lady.’ Janice pushed Lady Boadecia away.
Someone leapt up onto the stage.
‘Never fear, Jack is here!’ Jack sprang onto the stage gallantly. The three women just looked at him in disbelief. ‘So, what did I miss?’
If we shadows have offended. Think but this, and all is mended.
That you have but slumber'd here, while these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream.
Gentles, do not reprehend: if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Goddess, if we have unearned luck.
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, we will make amends ere long;
Else the Goddess a liar call; So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends... and Artemis shall restore amends.