Chapter 19


Abiya quickly stepped back from the window.

“What is it, my lady?” Tamerad asked. She moved to the window as if to protect the queen from some danger, but as she tried to look out, Abiya pulled her back.

No one is there, Tamerad thought. It is only more of that jewel’s lies.

“It is him,” Abiya whispered, as if the king might hear. “He looks for me from the garden.”

“He’s not there. Look.” Tamerad gently pulled Abiya to the window. “No one is in the garden. See?”

Tamerad waited as Abiya tentatively searched the grounds below then stepped closer. “He is gone,” she said, with a sign of relief. She again leaned against the wall and looked out. “I wish I could walk in the gardens, but I fear he will be there.”

Did she know what time of the year it was? That the plants were dormant? Or did she still see them in bloom? That jewel. How was Tamerad supposed to set her free if it continually pulled at her? This was the king’s doing. He gave her the topaz to imprison her while he comfortably sits on the throne and rules alone. He leisurely rides his horse in the fresh air, while his wife lives in torment.

When Tamerad had first entered Abiya’s room, the air was stale and it smelled of body order. The room smelled better now since Abiya allowed her to open one window and was occasionally taking baths. Still the room could do with a thorough air freshening, which the queen would not allow.

Some how, Tamerad had managed to pry the jewel out of her hands, but when she tried to take the topaz from the room, Abiya became hysterical. Now it sat in a box on her table. Often the queen would stand over the box and looked inside just to make sure the jewel was still there. To Tamerad’s relief, Abiya did not take the jewel out. If she had, she’d once again come under its full control. Now at least, she had moments of clarity and those moments were becoming longer and more stable. Except for today.

How Tamerad wished she could sacrifice Samard. She’d gladly disembowel a thousand men for Magic, but Magic required a young maiden and someone of value.

The queen released a soft cried of foreboding.

“Now what?” Tamerad asked. She was becoming exasperated with her. Abiya was like a child continually frightened by a bad dream.

“He is there, by the door.” Abiya moved to the door, placed her ear against it and listened. “I hear his lies.”

Placing her ear so she too could listen, Tamerad heard nothing. She did her best to hold her frustration in, and said soothingly, “No one is there, shall I open it and show you?” She reached for the latch.

“No, no please.” Abiya grabbed Tamerad’s arm to stop her. She leaned against the door to keep it closed and whispered, “I hear him breathing.”

“I hear nothing,” Tamerad insisted.

“He speaks. He wishes me to come out.” Abiya back away from the door, and yelled, “I will not.” Then to Tamerad, she said, “See? This is why I need Topaz.” She ran her hand through her hair, agitated. She grabbed Tamerad’s hands, pleading, “Topaz protects me. I must have it back.”

“No. You no longer need its magic. You now have me to protect you.”

Abiya searched Tamerad’s face for assurance that her words were true. “Oh, … I’m… I’m not … sure what to … to do.”

“My lady, the jewel ensnares you so you cannot think properly.”

Untangling her hands from Abiya’s grip, Tamerad opened the door and stepped outside. “Just as I said. No one is here.”

Quickly, Abiya move to see for herself. “No one is there now. But he was here.”

Inwardly, Tamerad signed. What will it take to be rid of that stone? “We must give the topaz back to the king.”

“What?” Abiya slammed the door and forced the latch closed. “I will not give him Topaz. He has come to my door in the hope that he will steal it from me. Now you want me to give it to him?”

“Yes!” Tamerad dragged her to the mirror. “See what it has done to you.”

Abiya’s hand stretched out to touch the glass. Her dress hung about her as if she were a peasant. “I am so thin.” She examined herself up and down. “What happened to me? My cheeks were sunken. My eyes are dark and sullen. What has happened to me?” Every time she looked in the mirror, she asked the same thing.

How many times must I tell her before she hears and believes? “My Lady, the jewel ensnares you so you cannot think properly.”

“Why does it not ensnare you?” Abiya asked.

Tamerad hadn’t expected that question. It took her a moment to think of an answer.

“If it is magic as you say, why does it not affect you?” Abiya asked again.

“Because I do not desire it. I have not touched it, nor do I want to. I will never allow a man or something like that stone to enslave me.” Not again. Tamerad would not tell this child of the things a woman must endure because of one’s foolishness; Abiya was not ready.

“It didn’t affect my other handmaiden either.” Abiya seemed to pause as if she’d frozen in place.

Tamerad was just about to ask her what was wrong when Abiya turned to face her and asked, “What happened to Yamie? Where is she? How did you come to be my handmaiden?”

This was not what Tamerad wanted to talk about. It had been easy to eliminate Yamie. It had been more difficult to cast a spell that would make Abiya open the door.

She’d had no trouble infiltrating the castle. Because of the unhappy marriage, the castle was not as orderly as it should be and was severely lacking in proper communication. Each area, be it guards, maids of kitchen, seemed to function on its own. They asked little of the king for he seemed too unable to give clear instructions, so each group of workers and guards did as the old king would have commanded.

When someone asked where she came from, Tamerad simply said King Samard had assigned her to his queen. No one dared question the king about it.

“Do you know what happened to Yamie,” Abiya asked again.

“I do not know of whom you referrer, my lady. When I came to your service, you did not have a handmaiden. See how the topaz confuses you. It makes you forget important facts. Let us give this jewel to the king to ensnare him. Then we – you will have control over him.” Tamerad could not begin the work the vision had showed her until the king held the jewel. Unfortunately, she couldn’t just take it from Abiya. Magic didn’t work that way. It would not work on Samard if it were still attached to another. Abiya had to give it up of her own free will.

The queen’s eyes moved to meet Tamerad’s. She was finally beginning to understand?

Hopeful, Tamerad continued, “With him out of the way, you will be queen and ruler of the kingdom.” That wasn’t true, but if the lie helped …

“What about his mother?” This was the first she’d questioned Tamerad’s plan, which was good. It was a sign she was beginning to think about the future.

“She is only queen mother. You married the king and you are the rightful queen,” Tamerad said.

Abiya turned from the mirror. “I am rightful queen,” she softly said.

My words are reaching her. Excitement rose in Tamerad. “Yes, you are. He should be locked up in his chambers, not you. You should have the freedom to leave this room and walk in the castle, and the gardens, whenever you chose. You should rule.”

Abiya drifted around the room almost dance like. She stopped. “I should rule?” she asked, as if the thought had never occurred to her before, even thought Tamerad spoke of it almost daily.

“Yes,” Tamerad said. “It is only right that you should rule, not him. But to do so, you must give up the topaz.”

Even before the words were out of her mouth, Abiya’s body stiffened. She jumped backwards as if the plague had just bloomed on Tamerad’s face.

I have pushed her too hard, Tamerad thought.

A smile of peace radiated across Abiya’s face. “Yes.” She said the one word as if exhaling a great load. “Give that detestable stone to him.”

Had Tamerad heard correctly? “My lady?”

“I am tired of being locked up in this room. I want to see what this castle looks like. I want to walk in the gardens.”

“I will do as you say.” Tamerad said, with a bow. Was Abiya free from that stone? Could it be that easy? Samard would finally hold it according to the vision. Tamerad would rule the kingdom through him. She would start a new conclave of strict discipline. Magic would flow as never before. All witches could live free of prejudice and fear of their lives.

Tamerad needed to act quickly and remove the topaz before Abiya changed her mind again.

Abiya raised her arms and swayed back and forth. “I will no longer be locked in this room. I will explore the castle. I will walk in my gardens. I will sit on the throne and rule. Topaz will entangle him and he will become prisoner in his chambers.” Her laugh sounded child-like and innocent.

Abiya could not be allowed to roam the castle as she wished or become too confident, too quickly. The queen must continue to look frail and act disorientated, so everyone will think she died of her illness and not by Tamerad’s hand.

“Shall we celebrate, my lady? I’ll brew some of my special tea just for you.”

Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

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