Forever Fair
Author: Elise Pehrson

Chapter 7
Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

 

            Months passed and the entire kingdom rejoiced at the news of the pregnant queen’s approaching delivery. She greeted everyone that came to her with a warm smile while her hand drooped gently on her fully formed belly (much out of character for the queen). The kingdom was finally at peace with joy in the air after a fearful year of hiding from their female ruler. Of course, any social-climbing nobleman or naïve villager denied the queen’s involvement in the mysterious deaths, but there were always witnesses and believers of those witnesses. Among the believers was a peasant woman named Aloria Altaire, a family member of someone extremely close to the queen.

            During the days of the queen’s expected delivery, Aloria received an unexpected visit from her older brother. She heard the creak of the wooden front door of her quaint cottage and turned around inquisitively. Shortly after, her face lit up with a smile. “Richard!” She exclaimed and ran to her hooded brother. He quickly hushed her and placed a hand across her mouth as he moved across the cottage.

            “Cover the windows,” he whispered and slid his body down the wall to the floor. She had scampered her way to each window, drawing her tattered curtains across the inconspicuous hole. He stood up and removed his hood, “I think tonight is the night,” he looked worriedly at his younger sister. She just stood there in the empty one-room home in silence, nervously pursing her lips and twisting her apron. Her long strawberry blonde hair almost drew away from the goo and ash that covered her face. At seventeen, Aloria still looked like a young girl, but had the life experience of a grown old woman.

            “Richard,” she began to say but was interrupted by a cacophonous crackling sound emanating from her boiling cauldron a few feet away. She rushed to the gooey substance and started stirring it while continuing her thought, “it’s murder—,”

            “It was her choice,” he sternly interjected, silencing his sister. She continued stirring and just looked down into the pot. He placed an apologetic hand on her shoulder and calmly continued, “she is a wicked woman, Aloria,” his voice shaking a bit. “I even thought I was growing to love her for a bit after the wedding…” his voice trailed off and Aloria froze in her work. She looked up at him and reached towards his face, but he was in his own world of thought and stood up before being able to see her kind gesture. “It doesn’t matter anymore,” he paced across the floor. He returned his gaze to Aloria and said, “I saw in her a piece of love, and even felt a small spark of charity,” he paused for a moment, looking down at the ground before continuing, “but then, after we found out that she was with child, I somehow knew that that destiny was for the child.”

“Well then your daughter will be the wisest princess and queen, the most loving and benevolent woman,” she walked towards him and placed a kind hand on her brother’s shoulder. The wizard just nodded in silence. His sister lowered her hand and they just stood there, nothing but the sputtering pot making a sound, until Richard broke the silence by simply stating, “Azelia had to be stopped.”

·        

            “We’re losing her,” the eldest handmaid agitatedly spat, “Get the king! He has saved many in situations like this!” She pushed two of the younger servant girls out the door of the queen’s napping room. Azelia’s graying face moved over to look across the room at her mirror, her purpled lips mouthing who is fairest? King Richard strode into the room with a face as still as a stone statue in front of the quivering young maids. “Your highness, can you save her? I know you—,”

            “Leave us,” he ordered, and the women quickly scurried out of the room. The king walked slowly over to his wife and moved his hand towards the mirror. The mirror began levitating towards Azelia’s bed. “Where’s the baby?” he asked and Azelia coughed in reply, pointing to her stomach. “You haven’t given birth yet?” The king’s worry struck his face, and shortly after, the queen shrieked a nearly glass-shattering wail. The eldest handmaid knocked apprehensively on the thick, ligneous door.

            “King Richard, the baby is coming!” The king’s kind demeanor and gentle conducts made him a comrade to the help in a way, so they weren’t too worried about upsetting him by knocking on the door at this time. He yelled for just her to come in and she did as he told. He stood there watching Azelia’s strained face holler in pain as he awaited the birth of his daughter. The mirror, now next to the queen’s bedside, started to shimmer. Azelia forced open her sweaty eyelids to look at the mirror. Finally, the squeals of a little baby girl could be heard, and cooed softly through the room. The agitation could still be felt in the air and a thick fog of tension fell upon all four bodies. The mirror’s shimmering turned into a torrent and the queen’s heart pounded; the evil in her dark eyes grew greater.

            “Mirror, mirror, who is fairest!” She shouted in a raspy, unearthly voice. The room shook and the mirror turned black.

            “What’s happening?” The handmaid cried, her brown hair sticking to the tears of fear running down her face.

            “Destiny,” the wizard replied, pointing to the mirror’s face. Azelia and the handmaid looked at the mirror, and in horror the queen gaped open her mouth and screeched at the sight now formed inside of the mirror. The image of a baby girl—the baby girl that lay in the arms of the handmaid—fussing and flailing about. Azelia whipped her head over to her husband and ground her teeth in fury with her crazy eyes shaking above her flaring nostrils.

            “No!” She yelled and attempted to reach for the wizard, but instead fell limply onto the ground. Her body flopped for a few moments before death fell over her. Richard crouched down and picked up Azelia’s lifeless body and turned her around so that he could see her face. He looked deep into her eyes and placed his hand over her face; he closed his eyes and focused his mind on her soul. It was in the room still. A gust of wind blew furiously, almost knocking over the king and handmaid. Then, at the end of the room, next to the mahogany door was the dark spirit of the evil queen.

            “This is not the end,” she hissed, looking vengefully in disgust at the baby girl a few feet away, and then twisted into a thick cloud of smoke-like air, vanishing. The handmaid’s eyes, as big as saucers, looked up at the king in terror.

            “What kind of magic was that?” She whispered in distress, “Dark magic?” Knowing that the truth would most likely get him killed, the king nodded. And from that day forward, magic was banned in the kingdom out of fear spread from the handmaid. The kingdom was full of fright and even the villagers tried to hide away or escape. The king had to end the madness, and the judges and nobleman insisted on the ban of magic. He agreed and then hastily informed his sister of the new rule. Knowing that his sister would easily be caught using magic to survive, he disguised her as a new maid in the castle. Despite his efforts in hiding his magical abilities, King Richard was caught using magic himself by a servant boy in the castle shortly after the decree went out among the kingdom. Wanting a great reward for catching a wizard, the boy told a nobleman in the castle, and it didn’t take long before the nobleman put together the facts and realized that the king had killed the queen. 

            As punishment, they sent him away and locked him in the tower that the queen’s coffin lay: the tower where King Jonathon wanted to lock away the queen long before. “You cannot do this! I am your king!” He shouted, thinking of his infant child.

            “You have been overruled,” one of the men in the castle replied with a sarcastic grin on his face, which was met by cheers from members of the royal court as well as members of the kingdom surrounding the castle grounds. A great number of guards accompanied him to the tower and ordered for no one to enter the wood that was between the castle and the tower; it was filled with magic, terror, and carnivorous creatures. The handmaid that helped birth Vidella, the snow white-skinned baby princess, stood in the doorway next to Aloria, who was holding Vidella. They both held back tears as they saw the king being taken away.

The king closed his eyes and tried to forget it all; he tried to figure out a way out of this mess, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want to forget: he just wanted to be the father of his baby girl. Aloria will take care of her… he thought and then trailed back to that dreadful day when the queen died. The day that I was born— the beginning of my nightmare. The beginning of several long and feverish years spent anticipating my own awakening.

            

 

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