Chapter 20

Magical Entanglement

Tiny bits of blue magic danced like sparks over a flame. They swirled around each other and floated up, then dropped into a box sitting on the table, sitting by the east window, and disappeared into the lid. Samard had never seen anything like it before. The magic seemed to be performing for him. Entranced, he quickly approached the box.

A note leaning against the box read: I have been impolite to you. Please receive this as a token of my apology. Abiya

Lifting the lid, Samard looked inside and pulled out an orange jewel so large his hand could not close over it. He’d forgotten about it. Wasn’t it the dwarf and gnome who brought a topaz as a wedding present? Abiya had whisked it away before he could get a good look at it. A blue topaz was rare, but an orange topaz was priceless. Why was she giving it to him? Was she making amends?

He turned the stone over and over so he could inspect every perfect side. He’d heard of places where they chipped the stone away to form what they thought was a more beautiful jewel, but this stone was still in its natural state, just as it was when it was pulled from the ground.

It called to him to look more deeply. He saw bright sunlight, ginger and amber ribbons of light dancing inside the stone, they seemed to leap out and dance around him and like gentle fingers caressed his mind and eased the tension of the day. The castle and its cares seemed to float away; they no longer existed.

A knock at the door startled Samard. “What?” he asked irritably.

“Evening meal,” a female’s voice said.

“No, it can’t …” It was only early afternoon, hours before the last meal of the day. But when he looked out the window, the eastern sky was already darkening. How was that possible? He’d only just entered his chambers. What had happened to the day?

He placed the topaz back in the box and closed the lid over it.

“Come,” he said.

Haajiyo step in and softly closed the door, as if the noise might disturb the entire castle. She was a tall thin girl. So thin, Samard often wondered if she ever ate.

“When do you want evening meal, sire?” Haajiyo bowed her head as she spoke. She’d been in his service since the day he’d moved into his father’s wing of the castle. She never looked directly at him, but kept her eyes downcast. He didn’t even know what color her eyes were.

“Why do you ask?” No one ever asked him when he wanted to eat. He sat at the table and the food arrived.

“Queen Abiya wishes to join you, sire. She wants to know when you will be ready, so she will know when to sit and not keep you waiting.”

“She will join me?” She’d sent him a gift. Now she wanted to eat with him? Had she heard his apology through the door? Perhaps there was hope for their marriage yet.

“Yes, sire, unless you would rather not.” Haajiyo spoke as if he might be dissatisfied with her words.

“Why would I not?”

You are king and can do as you please.” Even though her head was still bowed, she spoke with a new confidence. The words seemed to blanket him and melt into him like oil seeping into hot bread. He might have asked her about it, but the words so affected him, he forgot she’d just spoken.

I am king. I can do as I please. The idea seemed new and fresh. But why? He knew he was king, even though daily concerns dictated his time and thought. He was king and yet her words “he could do as he pleased” shook him as if he’d never realized until now he could do as he pleased.

“Tell Queen Abiya I will eat be ready in an hour. Send my man to me.” It had been days since he’d bathed. He must smell like a horse. If his queen would sit with him, he would present himself as her king.

“Yes, my lord.” Haajiyo bowed, tuned and scurried out of the room like a frightened mouse.

Was she was afraid of him? He’d never touched her, not to bring her to his bed or to beat her. No, it had nothing to do with him. That girl was afraid of her own thoughts.

* * *

Haajiyo had done as she’d been told. She delivered the jewel to King Samard. She’d called him to dinner, just as Tamerad had commanded.

The chambermaid didn’t fully understand Tamerad’s intentions on giving the jewel to King Samard. She’d had seen how it affected the young queen. She didn’t want that to happen to her king. But she knew the witch had her reasons.

It was Haajiyo’s duty to obey.

Published in: on August 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 19

Foreboding

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  

Chapter 18

Without Thinking

His life was not worth reflecting on.

Samard found himself in the castle gardens. Instead of slowly walking the labyrinth circle as he meditated on life, he walked straight across to the center and sat on the bench. What was there to contemplate? (more…)

Published in: on July 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 17

So Many Problems

“Do not hang my husband. Who will care for my three children?” The woman pleaded with King Samard for mercy for her husband. He’d killed a man because he thought that man was sleeping with his wife, which she stoutly denied. (more…)

Published in: on July 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 16

If Wishes Were Wings

Samard sat on his horse, with his back to castle, facing the mountains, and watched eagles fly. Their black wings extended to their full length as the floated on the wind. He could easily see their white heads against the blue sky.

“Wish you could fly, my king?” (more…)

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 12:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Chapters 09 -15

 Chapters 9 – 15 are all on this post. You may print and read at your leisure.

New Beginnings

Chapter 9

Farewells

Dor sat on the back of the wagon and watched as the castle and surrounding town slowly shrank in size. He knew every dark corner good for hiding in. He knew every locked door closed to him and every friendly door open to him. He knew who to steal from and who to stay away from. He’d taught himself how his trade and chose not to take everything available. Castle guards suspected him, but were unsure if he was a thief. It was a game to him and not to get caught. The games were becoming more and more meager. (more…)

Published in: on July 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 15

Abiya’s Freedom

Abiya halted in front of the mirror in the bath chamber and stared in disbelief. Who is that retched creature? She raised her hand to her once beautiful, brown hair, now stringy with grease. Her hand traced the smudges on her face. Both hands passed over her dirty, soft pink dress that hung loosely from her too thin frame. The lace around the neck was torn. There was no lace on her right sleeve. (more…)

Published in: on July 9, 2011 at 6:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 14

New Handmaiden

Abiya woke. She felt chilled from fear. She remembered having a nightmare. Only she couldn’t remember what she’d been dreaming. Where was she? This wasn’t her room. Her four-poster bed was made of bronze. This bed was made of wood. Her canopy and bedding was plum. This was scarlet. How vulgar. Then the truth came flooding back. She’d been given away. That was the nightmare; she’d been given away to a warring prince. (more…)

Published in: on July 3, 2011 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 13

Priorities

“Where have you been?” Rheaux stood on the porch looking tired and swollen, and ready to pop the baby out at any second.

“Providing for my family,” Dor said, as he pushed past her. He really wasn’t in the mood for her yelling.

“Thieving,” she accused. (more…)

Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chapter 12

 Yamie

The night after the wedding, Abiya was unusually calm. Yamie hoped Abiya had finally realized her fears were baseless. The king was handsome and polite. He treated servants with respect and the peasants as equals; he was a good man. Abiya had nothing to worry about. But after the wedding night, Abiya had changed. She refused to see the king. She refused to leave her room. She refused all meals not brought to her by her handmaiden Yamie’s hand. (more…)

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 12:53 am  Leave a Comment