One and a half centuries ago
Night has fallen. The Warlord Reed, Steward to the Queen of Ciraea, raps once upon the half-open door.
The Queen does not turn to face him; instead, she remains at the open terrace. Her body casts a long shadow in the moonlight. The darkness of it mutes the vibrancy of the parlor. Reed shivers.
*Is it done?*
He feels that his answer must have weight, solidity. “Yes, Lady.”
*You have seen… the body?* There is a hesitant pause along the thread. He steps forward, tastes the essence of her psychic scent. No remorse, no guilt—only a lack of feeling which disturbs Reed.
*No, my Queen. The body was lost in the pull of the river.* He closes his eyes briefly, ignores the lingering echo of men yelling and Prince Fallon barking orders, of the despair and horror which had rolled upon him in waves. It was a horror he truly shared, for all the deception his role required.
She is silent.
He offers quietly, *I am sorry, Phae, I—*
*No matter. It is done, as you say.* The woman turns her head then, that strong chin aligned with her bare shoulder.
She is beautiful, even now. Reed swallows hard.
*Forget this night’s work, Lord Reed. Tomorrow is a new day.*
He bows and accepts his dismissal with weariness and an aching for fresh air.
Tomorrow is indeed a new day; it is the beginning of a lie, of a mother’s public grief, and the final step to Phaedra’s plan. Yes, tomorrow may save them all, for a time, but he shall never forget the events of tonight.
Everything has a price.
He hopes that the reward will be sweet enough, for the debt they owe the Darkness and the soul of one young child is heavy.
Later, at the hint of dawn, Reed manages a short, fitful sleep. His dreams are of long-bladed knives and a familiar face etched with terror. When that mouth opens, asks Why? so plaintively—heart-breakingly, Phaedra’s words float from him unbidden.
It is done.
- [BJT Big Bang] The Rogue of Ciraea (masterpost) – from March 5, 2011
- The Rogue of Ciraea – Preface – from March 3, 2011
- The Rogue of Ciraea – Epilogue – from January 29, 2011
- The Rogue of Ciraea – Chapter Six (2/2) – from January 23, 2011
- The Rogue of Ciraea – Chapter Six (1/2) – from January 18, 2011