Written for a prompt: "the price you are willing to pay"


The sun glared down in the castle courtyard. Heat rose in waves off of the white stone, blinding.

We were children, playing in the green pastures...

The queen stood still, robed in indigo. Her crown sat heavy on her head, but she kept it tilted high.

Cloudless blue skies stretched on for miles above us…

A small crowd of nobles gathered behind her, and guards flanked them, spears held by their sides. Before her was a wooden block, and an executioner holding an axe steady.

We were outrunning the wind, skirts billowing around our legs…

From the dungeon entrance emerged two more guards, dragging along a prisoner. Shouts carried across the open area, and chains rattled as the prisoner was forced to kneel at the block.

I grabbed your hand and we collapsed in a field of daisies, giggling in elation…

The prisoner lifted her head, tears leaking from her eyes. From where she stood, the queen could see the cornflower blue of her irises.

"Please Jana, don't do this," she begged.

I glanced over at you, my heart full of love...

The queen glared. "Do not call me that."

The executioner grabbed the handle with both hands, and the queen recited the charges.

"Marianne Beatrice Solaris, you have been found guilty of treason against the throne, and are hereby sentenced to death."

"I will never let anything happen to you," I promised. You entwined your fingers with mine, and I knew that that was happiness…

"Your Majesty, please!" Marianne screamed. "I'm your sister!"

I saw your eyes, more beautiful than the sky…

The executioner raised his axe.

The queen lifted a hand, ready to give the signal.

"You don't have to do this! Please!"

"Oh Jana," you said back…

The queen's gaze remained cold. "The crown is mine."

She lowered her hand, and the axe lowered with it.

Marianne's head rolled, blood pouring from her neck staining the white stone red.

Queen Jana turned to face the nobles, who were silent as the dead. Not a breeze fluttered in the courtyard, and the air was thick with metallic betrayal.

"Don't make a promise you can't keep."

"Long live the queen!"