Teenage Wasteland 4: The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate – Finale

Here follows the last installment of The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate, a truly terrible piece of my early writing that I have dredged up for your amusement. (Catch up on parts one, two, and three of TLoCoG here, here, and here.) And, guys, I think this might be the most batshit crazy part yet.

Recap

Catherine of Gawthwate (refered to as both a lady and a queen at times) is fighting a protracted war to take back her birthright from Lord Colotus. Sir Richard is a knight of… well, we don’t actually know, but his horse is called Belinda! Sir Richard was captured whilst escaping from a pack of wolves. Sir Ganathry took him to be an enemy agent, but for some reason Catherine could tell just by looking at Richard that he wasn’t. She apologises profusely and declares a feast in his honour. Richard explains that he has come to join the rightful force. Catherine and Richard flirt at the feast, causing Maid Jane to comment that Catherine’s really taken a shine to him. Maid Jane has a truly terrible country accent exuent.

The next day Catherine and Richard go hunting and flirt some more. Then they eat. Then they have an archery contest. Catherine is preternaturally good with a bow – she wins every single time; although Richard is the only one who is surprised by this. Catherine’s people are used to having their arses handed to them at archery.

The day after that there is a battle. Richard is wounded, and Catherine nurses him back to health. They fall in love, get married, and have a kid. The kid is called Calith. On the day he is christened, the officiating vicar declares that Calith will grow up to defeat Lord Colotus, because I guess vicars are prophets in Gawthwate or something. For some reason, Sir Ganathry is assigned to look after Calith, and he resents this. He dislikes Calith and grows to hate Richard. Finally, Catherine notices Ganathry’s neglect and assigns Mary, a 20 year old girl who likes children, to look after him instead. For some reason we are told that Mary is single. Calith grows up being as weirdly good at everything as Catherine was at archery. And at age 14 he starts sneaking his way into battles.

At age 17 he finally asks permission to go into a battle and wheedles his way onto the field on the condition that he stays at the back and keeps out of the way. Calith does not do this, and ends up bumping into his father, Sir Richard, and knocking him over. Sir Richard tells him off and then finds himself confronted with Sir Ganathry, who reveals that he has always been jealous of Richard. They fight, and Sir Ganathry kills Richard. Calith swears vengeance, but gets distracted by the sudden realisation that he is in love with his friend Sally. They get married and have two kids: Trelessa and Julia.

The story continues…

We have another lurch in time. It all becomes quite confusing:

“Trelessa!!!” Julia wailed, “John said he’d only give me my locket if I climbed up the tree. Then when I got stuck, he ran away. Treless, can’t thee tell old maid Jane to help me down, and then go after and then go after him ye self? He likes thee so much better than I.”

Who is John? We don’t know. Why does he like Trelessa more than Jane? We don’t know that either. What we can see, though, is that I have finally learnt that you don’t need spaces on both sides of the quotation mark – hurray! exclamation mark restraint is still a long way off, though. It took until a pen pal (a different one to the one this is dedicated to) pointed out that extra exclamation marks and capslock really aren’t necessary for emphasis that I finally began to tone it down.

Poor Jane, though. She’s our through line, I guess, but she’s become an old maid. I hope she and Mary are old maids together, sitting around stitching and bitching in the best sort of style.

(Trelessa was 14, and Julia 10 at this time.)

Oh, good. I worked that in smoothly.

John was Colotus’s son’s son, Colotus passed away before his birth.

What? What? When? What? ‘Colotus’s son’s son’? You read that correctly. A lot has happened since Calith got married and had kids. You don’t get to see it, though – oh no. This family saga is told by info-dump.

Colotus’s son was called Colotus II, and was just as ruthless as his father, but John’s mother had been sweet and gentle, she’d been raped, forced to marry, and died in child-birth, and John had far more of his mother in him than his father.

O_O I don’t even know what to say about this. I feel sort of shell-shocked by this sentence.

He’d only been fooling around, and was about to help Julia down and return the locket, when he’d spotted his uncle, (who was as bad as his father,) tapping his foot, and red in the face, he’d run away to try to escape the beating, he knew there was no point in running from, for playing with the ‘enemy’.

How the hell was he playing with them in the first place? What’s going on?

“Maid Jane.” Trelessa called. “Julia got stuck up yonder old tree, I have to go somewhere, get her down or set she’ll grandfather turning in his grave with her screaming!” She than ran in the direction of Colotus II’s castle.

You’re getting old maid Jane to get your sister down out of the tree whilst you run off to the Evil Usurper’s Son’s castle after a locket that the Usurper’s son’s son stole for no good reason and apparently couldn’t just drop when he got called back home? And why weren’t Calith’s kids captured when found playing with John?

What’s going on?

When she finally got there, out of breath, she was standing just outside the gatehouse, then she heard screaming and the sound of a cane on human flesh.

What’s going ON?

“Father, please, no, ahhhh!” The sound of John’s, despairing, voice rang through-out the castle.

Had someone been watching Return of the Jedi? I think someone had been watching Return of the Jedi.

“I’ll teach thee to play with the enemy!!!” She heard an adult’s voice boom, she thought this to be Colotus II. Then she did a very brave thing. She rushed into to castle ignoring the guards questions – they couldn’t, after all, kill a harmless, unarmed child – she burst into the room the piteous crying had come from.

I’m not really sure why the guards can’t kill a harmless, unarmed child, and I’m pretty sure that if they don’t want to kill her they can find other ways of detaining her. Asking questions are not a guard’s last resort. Just saying.

Still, go Trelessa! I will grant that she is brave as well as stupid and lucky.

“Where’s my sisters locket? And what’s he done to thee?” she said snatching the cane from the man’s hand and dropping it on the floor.

How old is Trelessa again? 14? And she’s snatching canes from grown men? I guess she is Calith’s daughter.

He looked deferent from what she had imagined, his anger stricken face was riddled with wrinkles of worry, even though he couldn’t be more than two or three years older than her own father. His red hair filled with streaks grey, his eyes were grey, and he was about two inches taller than her father.

Yeah, that is deferent. And two inches taller than her father, is he? That is a totally relevant piece of description. Mind you, given that Colotus II has had by far the most thorough description of anyone in this story I’m not going to be too harsh. I’m clearly trying to meld description and character depth to round out Colotus II’s character and suggest that there might be two sides to the legend of Gawthwate.

“You little brat! If my son toke anything off your silly sister he had good reason. If thee wore only older I should personally remove your head! Now get out before I come to better scenes and do it anyway!!!” Colotus shouted at her.

Nice spelling there. Shame it didn’t come to better scenes, wot?

And why isn’t he capturing her? Why does nobody in this castle think having a hostage would be useful?

“Not with out my sisters locket!” She screamed. Colotus toke hold of her shoulders and shook her. Then she let an all mighty scream release it’s self from her lips. The man was forced to release his grip to cover his ears. Then when he had retreated to the far corner of the hall she ended the scream.

Wow. Uh, that’s one hell of a scream, there, Trelessa. I’m pretty sure this is how all adults react to screaming children.

Removing his quivering hands from his ears, John produced the locket. “I-I was going to return the locket, really I was, but my-my uncle, he found me, I-I had to run, I had to,” The boy opened his hand to reveal the tiny golden locket, which had been the source of the trouble.

I really am pretty sorry for John, here. It’s all been quite bewildering, and although he was a bit of a twat for teasing Julia this does all seem a bit extreme as a consequence.

She excepted it and whirling around strode out of the room, slamming the great, oak door behind her.

Oh, good, she excepted it, did she? Excepted it from what, exactly?

Then she stopped and turned, how could she leave the cane with that brute? He’d only beet John again. So she swung open the heavy door, with surprising ease, grabbed the cane, and whirled, yet again, to exit the room.

Yeah, that… that is pretty surprising ease. I know I described Colotus II as worn down by the weight of power, but he doesn’t even try to stop her. Can you say ‘conveniently unnatural strength’?

When Jane finally arrived, Julia had finally ceased to scream, and was sitting watching a bird feeding it’s squawking chicks.

What? Has Jane only just arrived? I assumed she was right there when Trelessa was speaking to her earlier, or at least within yelling distance. That really is some set of lungs Trelessa has on her. And what the hell is this detail about the squawking chicks? And how long was Julia screaming for, exactly? I think I was trying to be funny, here, but I don’t think I quite understood how humour works.

Jane was now 37 years old, but there were streaks of grey hidden in her short blond hair. (This was why Trelessa and Julia called her’Old Maid Jane’.)

Oh, yeah, 37, she’s bloody ancient! I guess it was Ye Olden Times.

“Now Why’d thee go all the way up there for?” Jane asked, kindly helping the young lady down the tree.

“It doesn’t matter. Thankyou Maid Jane.” Julia said deftly brushing the dirt off her dress.

“And were’s that sister of thee gone off to?” Jane asked, looking in the direction Trelessa had gone.

“Ummmm. She’s gone yonder after John.” Julia replied walking into the house, deftly stopping any further conversation.

I’m not really sure how this would ‘deftly’ stop any further conversation. Perhaps I should have put ‘Maid Jane was conveniently uninterested in the fact that Trelessa had run off after the heir to the enemy’s throne in the direction of his castle’.

Trelessa arrived back 3 hours latter with the locket.

“Thee toke your time didn’t thee?” Julia asked scornfully.

Wow, Julia, nice gratitude you got going on there. Next time I think Trelessa should leave you up the tree and you can go get your own stinking locket.

“Well I walked back. Not that that’s any of your business.” She smiled at her younger sister, placing the locket on the table.

How is it not her business? I get that I’m trying to do some sisterly banter, or whatever, but this whole thing is about Trelessa sorting out Julia’s business for her.

“I think it’s my business, after all it was my locket. What happened over there?” She asked.

Exactly.

So Trelessa told her sister of what had happened. After that Julia sat there gawking for a while, then shaking herself became intently occupied in her embroidery so as not to look at her sisters smirking face.

Julia appears to have inherited the gapping gene from her grandfather, whilst Trelessa seems to have got all the superhuman-smugness from Catherine’s side of the family.

The next day Calith was woken by Jane, her face as white as a sheet, she was shaking him so hard that the sheets had slipped down to his waste.

Ew, Calith appears to have made enough waste in the bed for the sheets to slip on it.

When she realised that he was awake she stepped back, staring so hard at him that he wondered if anything was wrong with his features.

No, Maid Jane is just a perv.

She did a hurried curtsey and said, “Oh Master Calith, I thought you would nay wake for a moment.”

‘Master Calith’ is it? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’d been watching Star Wars.

She was so afraid that she looked as beautiful as she had when he was 5.

OK then! That’s not a creepy sentiment at all! Fear is not only sexy, it’s sexy enough to make a guy remember how beautiful he thought you were when he was five!

” It’s thy mother, she’s so feverish, we all think she might die! And when thee was so late to wake, I-I thought that thee might have the illness to!”

Oh my God – it’s as bad as Downton Abbey. What this war needs is a bit more PLAGUE.

“Go Jane, I’ll be in her quarters as soon as I’m dressed.” Said Calith. Now he understood why she was so pale.
He was dressed quickly and was in her quarters within 300 seconds.

What? Really? ‘300 seconds’? This must have been right around the time I learnt that 300 seconds was five minutes. Oh, the shame!

Later that day, after a lunch which no-one had cared to eat, Calith went on a walk, to think about happier times.

So I guess we’re not going to visit with Catherine, then. What was all this about?

“YOU!!!” Said a voice from behind him, Calith turned.

“Colotus!” He turned to see the red headed man reaching for his sword.

Wow. Was Catherine’s illness just engineered to make Calith go on a thoughtful walk so that he would bump into Colotus? (I’m assuming that this is actually Colotus II, not zombie Colotus I.)

You are on My land, and shall pay for that intrusion!” Colotus II had now drawn his sword and made his first strike and missed.

We have italics! People, the italics have landed! I have learnt that capslock and exclamation marks are not the only way to provide emphasis!

Calith reached for the only weapon he had on him, his dagger, the one his father had given him. The odds were against him, Colotus was taller, older, Colotus had a sword, and Calith was in no state to fight in.

Why is it an advantage that Colotus is older? He was looking pretty worn out the last we saw him, whereas Calith is in his prime. Also, I had a real thing about daggers about this age, and pretty much on into all of my teenage years. I don’t know why. I just thought they were cool.

Suspect I am thinking of the fight at the start of Dragonflight, here, in which F’lar only has a small knife to defend himself with. Kind of confirms my suspicions about the origin of the name ‘Trelessa’.

Calith spotted a place Colotus had left unguarded, his back…

WhatisthisIdonteven… I am trying. I clearly understand that in fights you look for openings, but the gap in Colotus’s defence is… his back? His whole back? I’m not even sure what this means.

… Calith was more agile than Colotus and could just get round before his opponent could protect himself.

That’ll be the advantage of youth… And, you know, the fact that Calith is a terrifying superman, as was pretty firmly established in the previous installments.

Calith made a jab on Colotus’s left shoulder, Colotus was left handed, but unfortunately the man swung round just in time to slice Calith’s leg.

I really can’t visualise this, but I applaud the effort young-me has gone to to try and describe a fight at last.

Calith made a second jab, this time knocking Colotus’s sword from his hand, then stabbing his opponent in the back at the base of his spine. Calith had one, then, he toke the crown (which had fallen to the ground) and walked away, glancing back he saw the wolves- probably the same pack which nearly killed his father- hungrily consuming the dead Colotus…

OH MY GOD – I WORKED IN THE WOLVES! This is… this whole paragraph is just a thing of beauty.

You have to admit that stabbing your opponent in the spine is gonna do some fairly substantial damage, although it might not kill instantly.

Took me a moment to parse what exactly Calith had ‘one’ of… then I realised that I meant that ‘Calith had won’.

Good thing that Colotus II had conveniently been wearing his crown when he found Calith trespassing in his land. I like Calith’s nonchalance in scooping it up and walking calmly away whilst convenient wolves appear to devour Colotus’s corpse.

“Oh Master Calith! Thy mother’s broken out of the fever! We think she’ll live, isn’t wonderful!” Jane said hugging Calith then, realising what she was doing, she stepped back and brushed imaginary dust off her skirt, but she couldn’t stop beaming with relief.

Just where is Sally whilst all this is going on? Sally, you need to keep watch out for your man, I think Maid Jane is eyeing him up!

And the convenient illness is over – woohoo!

Then Calith rushed to his mother’s room and knelt at her bedside.
“Your crown mother, and your kingdom.” He said, laying the crown, which had once been Catherine’s father’s, on her bed.

Woooo! Yay! What every mother wants. Prophecy: FULFILLED.

“My sun, my moon, my stars, and now I could be his queen.” Catherine said with a rueful sigh. “Your father told me all those things on the night we met.

*sheds a single beautiful tear*

But now, I fear, I am to old and sick to be the last. But you, you are young and full of life… and you, not I, won that crown.

That’s why it’s called The Legend of Calith of Gawthwate. Oh wait.

Also, I have added underlining to my store of Ways To Emphasise Things.

Take it… and the kingdom, they are both yours… Calith of Gawthate Manor.

Wait, is it a kingdom or a manor? I’m confused.

“Good-bye Calith, good-bye…” She had struggled to say the last words, they were the last she ever spoke…

Well, that’s just, that’s just beautiful, man.

Calith became a wise King, and Trelessa after him, Julia became a dutchess, and Calith also erected a monument to his mother…

Because he’s a good boy.

THE END

I dedicated this book to my pen pal [name removed to protect the innocent].

She’s waited long enough!

And there, you see the real reason this last section is so crazy: I’d come to that place all writers get to in the end, the point at which you realise you just need to finish the fucker. And I can blame it all on my pen pal, who I am sure was waiting for me to finish this story with bated breath.

Also, did you notice how totally relevant all that stuff with Julia and Telessa and John was? I suspect I had realised that a) the story was going to need to be even longer if Trelessa was going to become the hero, so I just abandoned that whole plotline; and b) I’d realised that ‘making children who end up killing Colotus’s son, Colotus II’ was a bit of a stretch for fulfilling the prophecy that Calith would kill Colotus. I mean, we might as well have said that Catherine was responsible, which, you know, would have at least made the title make sense.

So, there you go. That’s the end of one of my earliest complete stories (although I use the word ‘complete’ in its loosest sense). It is not one of my better works, and you may be unsurprised to learn that I have no intention of reworking it into any semblance of a real story. I don’t really think there’s a real story in there. It is best preserved as the mad romp into a bizarre quasi-medieval family saga that it is. Right down to the horse called Belinda and the starved pack of wolves.

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About Serenity Womble

I'm a writer of science fiction and fantasy short stories, as well as many, many unfinished novels. I review things of a generally speculative nature. This is my blog for writing and reviewing.
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2 Responses to Teenage Wasteland 4: The Legend of Catherine of Gawthwate – Finale

  1. I think what confused me most is the sudden revelation that Colotus’s castle appears to be next door to Catherine’s. That the whole thing is settled by Calith going for a stroll and bumping into Colotus II (something you don’t want to hear your doctor tell you you’ve got) just adds to the oddness. Perhaps they’re all fighting for the crown of an extremely small kingdom?

    • I know, weird, isn’t it? I think it’s a case of me not really knowing very much about wars and countries and so on at the time. Also, I suspect, a sudden pressing need to manufacture an ending. Can’t help but feel that this is why the ‘just write’ mantra isn’t always applicable. One suspects there was a slightly more interesting and less random plot in the offing if I’d taken the time to work out what was going on with John and Trelessa, and maybe gone back and edited that prophecy.

      Not that anything would have ever turned this into a good or believeable story, but, you know…

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