~ A Novel ~
Macbeth is dead. The royal throne of Scotland returns to the bloodline of the rightful heir, Malcolm, son of Duncan. Peace once again reigns in Dunsinane upon the shoulders of its new king and his loyal subjects.
Nevertheless, at Inverness, the former residence of Macbeth, the three witches return, and using their powers of magic and influence, have convinced Fleance, son of Banquo, that he is the warranted master of Inverness now that Macbeth is dead. Fleance, swayed by further prophecies forged from the mouths and conjured images of the weird sisters, enters into his newly granted home with his bride, Emma, starting a life he never thought he would attain, unaware of the path that has been set before him. However, peace of mind fades hastily once Fleance learns what these prophecies may force him into acknowledging…that he shall be king.
As all is not what it seems within the already blood-scarred walls of Inverness, Malcolm learns of Fleances’ claim to the lands not within his birthright, which encompass a memory of pain he cannot forget. Familiar voices scream out with remembrances of recent tragedies, images appear presenting scenes impossible to believe and a young man fights his own fate at the choice to commit murder and become king, or lose his own life on a clear descent into utter madness.
Excerpt from 'All Hail, Fleance, That Shalt Be King Hereafter!'
Hecat, Goddess of Witchcraft
Wandering outside Inverness, the former castle of Macbeth
I have granted the powers of these witches three, who cast destinies without consulting me. Upon the desires of their powers newly granted, where allowance had no roots planted, they sealed the fate of lives now lost, not understanding the issuing of their cost. That cost of Macbeth and the lady of his house, leaving few alive to stir and rouse. Now resides a darkness and unfilled hole, with a vacancy awaiting a deadly toll.
Once more upon the unsettled marsh, these witches look to gather, casting destinies harsh. I taste their minds and the spells they will cast, releasing evils unsteady and fast. Lingering in the air like a low hanging mist, already have they gathered, deadly kissed.
Once more they arrive in their conspiring ways, hiding from me the savageness of their days. Gathering as before, not so long ago, looking to conspire, assuming I shall never know. But powers as theirs granted by my hand, are less than my own, as I had planned. Within this spell where they cannot not know I am here, I will listen in the shadows and make my assumptions clear. Words from their mouths will set them free, to allow punishment rightfully handed down by me. They shall seal their fate and conspire once more, bringing them closer to our evil lord’s door.
But soft, the crackle of salt and sand, as here they come upon the land. Even in the darkness of night I can see their eyes, witchcraft that circles and encompassingly flies. Of hate, of desire and of jealousy and lust, they have tasted others’ pain compounded to dust.
Through the lightness of air, I shall hear their newfound conspire and root the meaning through their darkest desire. Treading upon the clouds up high I’ll eavesdrop and wait, listening over their plans as they seal their fate. Now to the sky as they descend on this ground, come future that casts and the fates that are bound.
The Three Witches
A distance outside Inverness, the former castle of Macbeth
Witch 1: Upon bloodied land we arrive once more,
dwelling in the marsh of this castle’s door.
Witch 2: When darkness falls, lighting distant lands.
Witch 3: Spirits and demons cast by these hands.
Witch 2: And evil will seep into minds so pure,
all nature lost, malevolence lure.
Witch 1: All I have stated and all that shall be,
with the formerly resided that no longer see.
Witch 2: Macbeth was strong but weak of heart.
Witch 3: Diseased his mind, we did our part.
Witch 2: These two new souls are learn’d for such tricks and sight,
as they have seen the twisting of altered light.
Witch 3: Wiser than before,
we’ll need even more.
Witch 1: Demons of mutiny and fright,
we call upon your evil sight.
Witch 2: None shall be strong enough to brave,
visions of the soul crippling grave.
Witch 3: All that is left of the innocence they possess,
will fall like blood, same as all the rest.
All: Double, double toil and trouble,
fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Witch 1: Come spirits of the night,
come and show your fearful sight.
Witch 2: Come demons from below,
brew your evil for all to know.
Witch 3: Come Fleance, with the lady of your heart,
as like the Macbeths, we’ll tear you apart.
Fleance, Son of Banquo
Entering Inverness, the former castle of Macbeth
“Yes, my love, my dearest Emma, this castle is now ours. The former inhabitants, that being Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, as you know from the most recent and righteous uprising, are no more. Dominance hungry and foolish to believe that none shall harm him, the ignorant Macbeth, fell by Macduff, was hung, and is now burned and buried within Birnan Wood. Thus, inhabitants no more.” As I offer her reassurance that this be now the new home where we shall start our family, I can see constant the hesitance in her eyes and hear it in her speech.
“But my love, Fleance, how is it that we are to call this our own? Would not the claim for land and property fall upon the heirs of Macbeth?” she says, as she continues to question and reassure herself before naming this castle her home. But I am justified in my claim.
“If I were to describe to you the meeting that informed me of thus, you would scarce believe me and even think me insane, mad of all reason. However, all the information I was granted from their three mouths spoke of this for us both, but even voiced of other things that only I would know.” I must hold off further words on the matter, as I cannot confirm what she will think of me if I speak of anything that will inform her that witches gave such prophecy to me.
“My love, we spoke of never holding back secrets, the destroyer of the clean and open air that cannot roam free if we build walls between us. Whatever it is that you feel may shade your image is truth to my ears well before the first word is spoken. So please, tell me how it is that we call this castle our own and look to settle here and start our family?” she states, as clear as a cloudless night sky. She is right as well, upon the talk of open mouths to attain open minds. Secrets destroy all. But to speak of my experience of the witches, the images of three grotesque figures of womanly shape, and the prophecy of the life laid out before me, even to me sounds lacking mind and reason.
I lead us from the entranceway of the castle into a much larger room, still in the care and shape of a home well kept. It has been months since Macbeth moved from here when he was crowned king, but it appears that someone has continued to maintain the appearance and health of this home. This expanse of a room, a place to sit and relax, with comfortable chairs, a large fireplace, the draperies on the walls and rugs scattered around, appears welcoming enough. Small window holes in the high walls allow daylight to enter the space and show us the interior without needing to light candles for our way. It is not unlike any other castle I have seen. Those that own such homes as this must consult one another for how one should appear, through design and furnishings. I just never imaged living in a castle, with enough rooms that one may have a selection, but not as large of a place as something like the king’s castle or the truly rich landowners.
“Please, my love, my Emma, sit here and I shall explain to you how it is that all of this has become ours.” I lead her to a chair near the fireplace and she sits casually and calmly, looking at me with her loving eyes. They are soft and welcoming and yet also that of a strong woman who could set any man straight for improper speech or actions. Her slender build, which one would not think influence and strength would be housed within, fools even myself. A man of older times and values may not allow for such vigor in his woman, but I love her for everything that she is: bold eyes with a sweet manner.
“Just over a week ago, taking my traditional ride upon my horse as I do, I came upon a large fire in the open marsh. You know that I ride the path where my father, Banquo, met his end, in foolish hopes to see him once again. As I rode to the fire, from out of the air, like a mist descending on the earth, three witches appeared and walked up to it as if they were just steps away and were waiting for my arrival. Keeping an open mind, I got off my horse and walked to them slowly and cautiously. Even as their eyes stayed affixed upon the fire, they knew I was present the entire time and began to address me as if the proper moment had arrived.”
She looks at me with well-kept sight, not releasing a moment of my attention. I turn, walk a few steps away, but then circle back only to see her eyes widen. This strikes even more fear within me, as I cannot make from the expression what she holds in her mind.
“Go on. You cannot stop there with so few words spoken. It is not often one comes across a witch, let alone three, and lives to speak of it. I have heard stories from long ago of witches across our lands, but never have I known one to have encountered them flesh to flesh. Say on. My faith in your words is no less than any other discourse we have had.” She holds her eyes upon me and I feel her faith in me is as strong as ever. The way she reassures me of her love and support without even speaking a mistrusting or questioning word is more than I could ever ask for.
“As I approached, leaving several yards between myself and the fire, so as to not be tricked and thrown in, I held my ground and waited. Silence filled the air, as heavy as the coming of a thunderstorm in the charged, cloud-covered sky.
“‘All hail, Fleance, survivor of the bloody reign of Macbeth,’ the first said, speaking my name, as she raised her arms in the sky.
‘All hail, Fleance, that now possesses the castle at Inverness,’ the second said, also raising her arms into the air.
‘All hail, Fleance, that shalt be king hereafter!’ declared the third, and when raising her arms to the sky, achieving the same appearance as the others, they all disappeared at once into the air as if the sun had come in the night to evaporate their bodies like the morning mist.” Her look upon me is unchanged, as she receives my words and continues to hold my gaze.
“As you will understand,” I say, continuing to inform her to ensure she understands the experience I had, “I stood in silence from the shock of such revelations. I did survive the bloody reign of Macbeth, as he sent men to kill my father and I but, through my father’s courage, I was able to get away from the murderers. This confirmed to me that they knew more than the natural world held, as there are no men alive that can speak to that night.” She raises her hand to me, as concern grows on her face.
“What of the men who killed your father?” she asks, as her rightful desire to keep us safe embodies her spirit.
“They are no more, killed by Macbeth to seal the door on knowledge of his treachery. Have no fear, my love, we are as far from danger as the stars from us in the beauteous night sky.” Calmness covers over her face as I reassure her of our safety.
“These are the arrangement of words that I never imagined I would hear,” she says as she rests into the chair, eyes now wandering across the floor but lost within wonder.
“Do not be afraid to share what it is that you think or feel upon hearing these words. They are beyond the natural world of conversation but, as you are my wife and we share this life together, hold nothing back from me for fear of my reaction. There is no reaction that has been created for such art as these words.” She stands and walks the few steps toward me and embraces me. Her touch is soft and warm in the complete embrace of our bodies.
“So, by the words of these witches,” she says warmly within my ear, “who know of your survival from the killers sent by Macbeth, they now grant you, or foresee, that this castle is now yours., So thus, we enter this home and now call it our own, unchallenged by anyone.”
“Let a voice be heard that thinks it theirs over ours and we shall speak with them over the worthiness of their claim. Macbeth had many a man killed in his brief and bloody reign, but none so close or dearer to him than my father. What brought him to seek his death and remove his friend and fellow soldier from this world, I will never know.” She holds me still, but the embrace begins to lighten as she slowly pulls away. Maintaining her hold of my arms, she faces me just a breath away. Her eyes hold to mine. There is more in her mind that looks to be coming about.
“Shall we speak now of their third and final prophecy? Is it not of concern to you what they finished with and then disappeared into the air without one more word of explanation?” Her thoughts are honest and true. Even those final words spoken by the most hideous of the three witches, from myself have I been hiding.
“Yes, we can speak of that as well. I am still seeking the understanding and meaning behind them. I can’t comprehend how they lay such claim as this when there is a king upon the throne, and that being Malcolm, the son and heir to the title himself. He was named the Prince of Cumberland by the true former king, Duncan, so there is no question as to the validity. But to say that I shalt be king encompasses around me as to how and why and wherefore.”
Confusion alters my mind, and slightly removes me from this moment. Such thought as this, to be named king, has more weight than mountains upon mountains placed on my shoulders. How does one bear the weight of such a title and continue with their day as if those aired words were never spoken and play no role in their future?
“Let it not sit so heavily upon your soul, Fleance. I can see it in your eyes and even feel it in your breath, as each intake is long with much effort. Let us forget this moment and question for now and continue forth with walking throughout this new home that we may find eternal love within for generations to come.”
She knows me too well. Seeing deeply into my soul, she can feel the weight I myself struggle with. She carries the burden with me and walks hand in hand on this path I am on. I would be fooled to think there is anyone better than this. If it were not for my father’s travels throughout my youth, I never would have met her.
“You are wise as ever, my love, and share your beauty and truth ever so well. Yes, come; let us walk the remainder of these grounds and discover the mysteries that will soon become our everyday happenings.” Kissing her, I share my love that embodies me and feel the same love through the connection of our lips. Easing away, I hold a glance with her, lost within this moment, until I hear a man clear his throat several yards behind me.
“My lord, will you be requiring my presence as you walk the house or shall I continue on with my duties?” the man says, as he stands at full attention awaiting my orders.
He is a man of middle age, well presented in his attire, but not more than his need. His dress allows me to assume he is the attending servant of this castle. His manner is calm and self-assured. This well suits one who commands the servants of the house. But as I am new to this home, it may be best to verify this through common speech.
“May I ask your name and title, good man?” I ask, to open the door to our conversation and discovery.
“My apologies, my lord. I am Seyton, the attendant to the castle; your attendant. I will see to your every need for as long as you are here.” Without a change of face or tone through his words, he speaks and assures me of his status. But he also assures me that I am meant to be here, without utterance or knowledge otherwise. Though, how is it that he knows such fate or accepts such duty without my even stating so? If this is the custom of an attendant, to assume that those that wander an un-owned castle are the new and rightful owners, then this is new for me. However, who am I to question generations of custom?
“Well then. I am Fleance and this is my wife, Lady Fleance. We are recently appointed to this castle as our new home. Will you be remaining on as we settle in? And what do you mean by, ‘for as long as you are here’?” Without a change of sight or stance, he begins to answer as if the words have already been mapped within his brain, as if he knew my questions all along, well before even myself. As if he could read my mind.
“I will be attending to you, as I have the former masters of this castle, the latest being Macbeth. I have been here many a year, for many a master, and hope to remain to offer my continued service. I left briefly with my former master upon his appointing as king but return now as his services have ended. Regarding the words I spoke, ‘for as long as you are here’, this was only said to reflect the change of titles I have seen with my former masters. Many who enter these walls leave here soon after in a much greater affair with newly appointed titles. You are young and with much history already writ, so there can only be future appointments that will call you to greater titles and places. For look at you now, the rightful master of this castle and these grounds, and all within such a young age.” He again seems confident in his speech.
“Seyton, what do you know of my history?” I ask, to attain a greater understanding of this man’s knowledge of myself and the world where I exist.
“You are the son of Banquo and one of the only survivors of the bloody reign of Macbeth. And before you ask how I know of both pieces of information, words travel like flocks of birds, from tree to tree throughout the forest, touching down on each branch. Your appearance and youth can be no other than that of the son of Banquo, for whom I have seen come here to visit Macbeth many a time.” His reasoning is affirming and verifies that he keeps his ears to the wind and his mind as deductive as a tax collector during the height of the season. If he has been here for as long as he speaks, then his knowledge shall be wealth freely attained.
“Is it just yourself within the castle, or do others attend the castle as well?” I ask, to verify if others carry such a dedication to this castle and attending as he appears to.
“There are two others that stay upon your service. One who will prepare every meal and tends to the general keep and cleanliness, and one who attends to the grounds outside as well as general repairs and preparations upon your requests. On our shoulders, all your desires and biddings will be accomplished with expectations met or exceeded.” Through everything he has said, his words and manner have not altered one pitch away from the calmness he employs.
“I doubt it not and am grateful for such attending as you have spoken. Please find yourself at free will, as we will walk the castle ourselves and acquaint our minds with newfound direction. I will call upon you in a while to learn more of the workings of this castle and all else that you know.” Throughout all I have said, and everything he has articulated, his expression has not changed once and holds firm as a wall.
“It will be my pleasure, my lord. I will take my leave of you,” he says as he turns away and walks out of the room through a door to the left of the main entrance, leaving us alone once again.
“This was unexpected. I did not think anyone would still be here within the castle, tending to this place. I would have thought all would have left once the lord of the house has gone. We are fortunate to not have to find ourselves new attendants so easily and quickly. Well, my love, shall we?”
Taking her arm, I lead her from the common room to view the remaining mysteries of our new home.
'O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story.'
~ Hamlet, Act V, Scene II
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