Author: Tranquil Thorns PM
[Midnight: a flurry of commotion.] A king's death, a shunned queen. Mysterious happenings.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 2 - Words: 1,670 - Reviews: 4 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 06-28-07 - Published: 05-14-07 - id: 2361687
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Part II: Aphelia
A poisoned quiet hung in the room when the lady-in-waiting tip-toed in on one of her daily visits: a prowling, vehement breed of silence, much like a thundercloud ready to burst. The click of the door and the scuffle of her own slight steps seemed vastly magnified in the Queen's main chamber, and she could not help the shudder that walked up her spine at that sordid blankness. The stillness was thick, artificial, and she could almost hear the ring of emptiness erupting through her ears. No number of visits would ever accustom her to that hollow heartbeat; she would never get used to it no matter how many years she lived.
There had been a time when the scream of laughter had reverberated around those very walls, and the voice of music blossomed from every nook and corner until the very foundations seemed to breathe with it. There had been color then – clusters upon bunches of flowers that ornamented the room with reds and yellows and sent a heavenly scent over the parapets.
But there was no flicker of a smile in sight, and the blossoms that had been strewn around the room cast their weary petals over the ashen floors. Someone had drawn the stark curtains over the row of windows, barring the view of the cold sea and the sprawling shores around it.
The chamber had taken on the appearance of a grave site over the course of several days.
The Queen sat in the middle of the room, as rigid and detached as though she had been painted there. Her eyes were wide on her face, far too pallid for the rest of her stricken features. The corner of her chin had lolled onto the tips of her laced fingers, and the velveteen fabric of her black sleeves spanned out over the arm of her chair. Her face was turned sideways, eyes planted on the far wall, and she did not move even as Aphelia approached.
The maid who had been in charge of keeping watch scurried automatically from her seat by the wall, and hastened toward the door with hardly a look behind her. The girl's step held a grimness that suggested she had nearly eluded Death, and Aphelia could hardly blame her for it. There was no predicting what could happen in the Queen's state, and the stories that had taken to floating among the servants assured of that.
The sound of the door being pushed back into place swam hoarsely about the decorated flooring, serving as a further reminder of the silence that seemed to have latched itself around the Queen's bedchamber. Aphelia held up the goblet she had carried in on the Healer's prescription; the contents, wan and sticky in odor, were to aid the arrival of rest. Sleep would no longer come naturally, and the parched appearance of Odelta's impassive face reminded her of that.
"He has not been doing well." The Queen spoke without lifting her eyes, and Aphelia had to sidle forward to fully catch the stagnant tremor of her words.