Of the ruling house of the Kingdom of Leideck. She is third in line to the throne, after her father's recent coronation.
1. I must keep my desire to rule a secret, because I do not want anyone to doubt my religious vows, which I also hold dear.
3. Sometimes power comes at too great a cost. If the Giants have killed and replaced Tomas, and if they have taken or killed my father, I will salt the earth with their blood.
SPECIAL: My god has commanded that I keep moving forward. I believe that I am guided to mysteries or techniques that will help us stop the magical storm. (FAITH)
Olga always had a bit of a rebellious streak.
At first, it manifested as it would in many children – refusal to come when called, breaking house rules. But this is a more serious matter when the house rules are the rules of the castle belonging to the ruling family of Liedeck, the House of Maes. Olga didn’t care. The rules of her house were (to her young mind) far too constraining to be paid attention to. Olga wanted to see and do things that were seen as not acceptable for a child of the nobility, much less the house that held the Crown.
As soon as she had the opportunity, Olga left the castle to attend the University. As a student, she studied and drank (not necessarily in that order). Her studies went well (her royal tutors had provided much of the groundwork) and she enjoyed her education and her friends. One night, at the end of her 3rd year, while in her usual tavern haunt, the Dented Goblet, one of Olga’s friends got into a bit of a brawl. This was not particularly unusual. Olga had been minimally involved in many brawls in her time at the University, and fisticuffs was a part of the unofficial curriculum. Nor was it unusual that the fighting was between her friend, Berridge, and a woman named Calla, over the affections of one stunning man named Hiro Breakwater. While Hiro was particularly handsome, fighting over someone’s affections was not particularly unusual. What was unusual about this brawl was how it spread to all the other tavern patrons, like wildfire in a dry forest. Soon, everyone was throwing punches amidst splintering furniture and shattering glassware.
Olga felt a rough hand on her shoulder seconds before she was spun around to receive a fist in her jaw. She felt the searing pain of a shattering tooth and tasted blood. She grabbed this offensive sack of meat by the collar and reared back to punch him. But instead of swinging for his face, Olga brought her hand back to his tunic, grabbed hard, and brought her knee up solidly into his groin. The lumbering slug’s eyes almost crossed before she jerked downward with both of her hands, bringing his head to meet the meat of her thigh – harmful to him while cushioning her from the brunt of the blow. She let his limp form slide away from her as she assessed any threats coming toward her from behind him.
At that moment, another hand on her shoulder sent her instincts reeling. She backed into the fellow behind her until she felt the grip loosen. She whirled around, bringing her left fist in with the full force of her turn to smash into his ear. She pushed the young man away from her angrily. He backed up, shocked, and tripped on a broken chair leg. He sprawled on the ground, flat on his back. His eyes widened suddenly, and he looked at her with a desperate question in his eyes. He fought to breathe. What’s wrong with him, she thought. I didn’t push that hard.
Olga recognized him then. Bertrand, a first year student. Not a small young man, he had been trying to fit in with the rougher elements of the student body. Few people saw, however, the actions that he tried to hide – the kindness he showed to the young woman with the cane who worked in the laundry, the morsels of food he left for the blind man who wandered the alleys north of the University. But Olga had seen. She had seen him cover the compassion in his eyes with laughter when his rougher friends drew near.
And she saw him now, finally recognizing him amidst the bodies and splintered furniture strewn about or still flying through the air. She ran to him. “Bertrand?” she said, kneeling beside him.
“Can’t breathe,” he said in barely a whisper.
“Let me get you out of here,” Olga said. She tried to lift him off the ground but he gasped. She looked at the floor where he had been, and saw blood. Olga looked at his back, at the shard of glass sticking out from the left center of his back, saw the blood staining his shirt, heard his wheezing amid the cacophony of the brawl raging around her. Olga was instantly sober. She took off her jacket and carefully pulled out the glass, immediately replacing it with her jacket. Once she had pressed it to him, she got behind him and kept the pressure on with her body. She scooted him to the door, sliding on her buttocks, dodging feet and fists. Once outside, on the street, she laid him back down, on top of her jacket.
“I’ll get you some help, Bertrand.”
He grabbed her arm before she could get up. “I’m afraid,” he whispered.
“I know, Bertrand. I’m so sorry. I thought…I thought you were going to….” Bertrand his head. “I’m sorry. I need to get you some help.”
Bertrand began to gasp as his eyes began to glaze. “My sister….”
“She will be alright, Bertrand. Please let me go get help.” Blood began to seep from him onto the cobblestoned street. Olga raised him up again, bringing his back to rest against her chest, hoping the pressure on her jacket would stop the bleeding. “Hold on, Bertrand. Please.” Olga wept into the fabric of his tunic.
She listened to his labored breathing until someone came stumbling out of the tavern. “Please help!” she begged, but that person did not listen as he ran back into the fray. A second person came stumbling out of the tavern, someone she knew. He leaned against the exterior wall of the tavern, catching his breath, as Olga tried to place his face.
“Stanlen?” she asked. When he looked her way, she called, “Stanlen! Please help me!”
Stanlen stumbled toward Olga and Bertrand. “What’s going on?” he asked. “You must have punched him harder than I thought. I saw it. That was a pretty good hit.”
“Stanlen, please,” Olga begged. “We need help. We need a medic, a healer. I’m afraid Bertrand might be dying. He can’t breathe!”
Stanlen stared at her, disbelieving, while Bertrand struggled to breathe. “Go to the University, and bring a doctor back with you.” Stanlen stared a moment longer until Olga screamed, “HURRY!!” Stanlen ran toward the University.
“Hang on, Bertrand. I’m trying to get help,” Olga whispered. She rested her chin on his shoulder, and her temple touched his cheek. Cold. He was getting cold. Olga wept some more, begging Bertrand to stay with her, promising him that help was coming. His gasps began to get shallower.
Everything became still for Olga. She could no longer hear the chaos coming from inside the tavern, only the silence of the street outside. “Bertrand,” she began. “I saw you. I saw the things that you did.”
Barely audibly, Bertrand responded, “I’m sorry. I was afraid —”
“No,” Olga interrupted, not wanting him to speak too much. “I saw your bravado, but I also saw what you did in secret. I saw your gentleness, and compassion.” Bertrand was quiet, so she continued. “I see you, Bertrand. I see who you are and who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to be that person.” Bertrand breathing became jagged, and a thin line of blood erupted from his lips.
“No, Bertrand, no!” she demanded unreasonably. “You cannot go yet. You don’t deserve this.” She squeezed him harder. “Please…”
“Bertrand…please forgive me.”
Bertrand expelled air from his lungs a final time. Then he breathed no more.
When Stanlen ran back to the tavern with a sleepy healer in tow, he found Olga wrapped around Bertrand’s body, sobbing uncontrollably. They lifted his body off of her, but she lay in his blood and sweat and wept, screaming occasionally. The healer inspected the body, then took his cloak off and covered Bertrand’s face.
Olga continued to sob for a long while after that, even as the healer looked at her own wounds, at the large lump growing on the side of her jaw. She batted his hands away from her. As he looked at her face, recognition dawned. His head spun around to look at Stanlen, who was staring at Bertrand in disbelief.
“Do you know who this is?” he demanded.
Stanlen took a moment to answer. He shook his head as if to clear it, and then looked at the healer. “Yeah…,” he began. “It’s Olga. Olga Tiilikainen. She’s a third year.”
The healer gaped at him. “It’s Olga, all right. Olga Maes.”
“Yes, Maes. And we need to get her to the royal doctors.”
“She…she killed him,” Stanlen stammered. “I saw it. She pushed him down and he fell on something. And then he died.”
Before Stanlen could realize the implications of his statement, the doctor leaped up and shoved Stanlen against the wall of the tavern. “You listen to me. She did NOT kill him. Do you hear? She. Did. Not. Kill. Him,” the doctor said between clenched teeth, so fiercely that spit flew from his mouth onto Stanlen’s face.
“OK. I hear you. She didn’t kill him.”
The doctor backed off. “Good.” He straightened his robe. “Now help me get her to the University, and we’ll get her to the castle from there. And then, you’re going to help me with Bertrand.”
“But I did,” said a weak voice. Olga stared at the doctor, her breath coming in hard sobs. “It was my fault. It’s my fault he’s dead.” She began to wail, which turned into a scream before subsiding into quiet sobs. The doctor bent down beside her.
“Come, my lady,” he said gently. “We must get you home.”
Olga sat in her dormitory room, staring straight ahead. It was already a dark room, with cold stone walls, but she had refused to open the curtain to the tiny window for weeks. With her cloak wrapped around her, refusing to the let the sun warm her, Olga sat in misery. Her hair was disheveled, her face stained from tears. Trays of food left for her by her well-meaning friends lay stacked in one corner, most of the food going uneaten. Olga watched dispassionately as a mouse entered from beneath the door to inspect the day’s offering. She watched it select some bread and fruit, and take it back to the hole behind her bed. At least someone is eating it, she thought.
The first several days after Bertrand’s brief and meager funeral, she wept for days. She’d offered to pay for it, but his family thought she was mocking them, and they refused her offer. “Oh, you’re going to try to pay for our grief now, are you?” his mother shouted at her, tears streaming from her face. “You rich folk are all alike, thinking you can buy our silence, buy our children. Why, I should send word to King Tybalt about your family and their brazenness.” They knew her only as Olga Tiilikainen, a young woman who came from a family of means. And that was all she wanted them to know. Olga understood Bertrand’s mother’s grief.
Two opened scrolls sat on a tiny table between her bed and the chair in which she sat. One of the scrolls was from her mother, politely inquiring about her only daughter’s well being, afraid to address the death of her classmate. The second opened scroll contained a letter from her father, congratulating her on passing her examinations despite the recent tragic event, and encouraging her to return to the castle until her fourth year began.