Fantasy, Home

Trust in the Crown

Deep within the Palace dungeon, a lone figure sits hunched, boney knees pulled flush against their chest. Their cell is dark, the air frigid, though flickers of firelight are cast beyond the bars. Distantly, she hears the guard’s cruel laughter.

Guards she used to trust, who used to protect her, and will hopefully protect her subjects after she’s gone. She dares not hope they see the truth of her situation, that they will discover his treachery. It is far too late for that.

———————————

She is drawn back to the waking world after only a few minutes, or perhaps it had been hours? Regardless, she felt as if she had not rested at all. But by the guard’s loud tone, she has no choice but to force herself to her aching feet and stumble into rough, armor-clade hands.

Heavy iron chains are strapped to thin wrists, and hisses of pain slipped from between her teeth. Iron burns on this body, taking even more energy, and she can no longer stand on her own. Wearily, she is dragged by the guard’s, uneven stone scraping the flesh of her feet. She lets out more pained and undignified noises than she has ever heard in her entire life. Even as a child she knew to keep to herself, lock away her emotions, a strategy she had long since mastered.

But now, her resolve is gone, her carefully crafted mental fortress is gone, ripped out by him. The man she had trusted, who had taught her and stood by her for years. A man she had loved like a brother.

Bitterly, she grins, head ducked, not that she had the strength to keep it raised. Of course he had betrayed her in the end, he had admitted he would the day they met. But she had ignored his warnings, and now, she was to be executed because of her own foolishness.

All too soon, they come to the end, and she is greeted by the shouts and cries of her subjects damning her. Calling for her head, screaming poisonous words that cut her to her very soul.

Still, she smiles. She lets them speak, and raises not one word against them, it wasn’t their fault. She forgave them even as they chucked stones at her, even as they fell for the lies and watched with manic glee as she was forced to her knees before the executioner, his axe gleaming in the dimming evening light.

Then suddenly, the crowd is silenced, and she raises her head, glaring at the face that stares back at her. Anger courses through her veins and right then she wanted nothing more than to rake her nails across the beautiful face of the ‘Queen’. A face that had, only a few hours ago, been hers.

She watches a sickening grin stretching across her former face, emerald eyes flashing with his magic, for he had stolen her body, and placed her within his. A switch, no one knew, and would likely never know.

She had cried then, on unfamiliar boney knees, wrapped in heavy robes. Cried why as he used her face to stare down icily.

“I am sorry,” He had said (a pit immediately growing as she listened to her own voice fall from lips that were no longer hers). Formerly familiar eyes turned sharp and guiltless as he kneeled next to her. Smiling sickening sweet he’d continued; “But I cannot stop, not now when I am so close. You were kind and I am grateful, but I told you before,” He’d paused again, leaning in close and whispering in her ear, while summoning the guards with her silver bell. “Do not trust anyone, especially a sorcerer.”

Her awareness came back at the sound of her stolen voice.

“Any last words, sorcerer?” He sang, wicked glee spread across a face she had seen so many times in the mirror. The former Queen saw red and opened her mouth and with a voice that was not hers she screamed threats and spat curses, words she would never have spoken as a lady.

But she never begged, would never beg, not to him or anyone else. She was a still a Queen at her very soul, and she would never give in. Never forgive and never forget, and she would take her scorching anger and haunt him with it till the end of his days.

He stared back with a grimace, a snarl slipping past pristine lips as a slender hand signaled the guards.

A fist cracked across her jaw, and she nearly bit off her tongue. But she was silenced, and that was what mattered. With a lovely smile, her imposter gracefully slipped back up to a hastily made throne and lounged as the handmaidens fussed.

The former Queen spat blood from her lips and gave no struggle, she had nothing left, and was dragged over, her borrowed head forced upon the wooden base. Above, the executioner readied his axe.

For the last time, the Queen and the Sorcerer met each other’s eyes, and then a delicate hand was raised, the signal given.

With a breath, she closed her eyes as the weapon swung through the air, and she knew no more.

 

 

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