Part of my inspiration was taken from Leontes in the Starz original series CAMELOT. Phillip Winchester is so damn yummy!
SILK AND STEEL
© Cindy Jacks, 2012
All rights reserved
Steel gray clouds roiled in the sky above Lambir castle. Cherry trees laden with blossoms shook violently in the wind, petals scattering across the manicured grounds. A few drops of rain began to fall on the knight’s stone windowsill. Duke Ahron of Halsburgh raked a hand through his golden hair, green eyes fixed on the gathering storm, a prayer on his lips that this would be nothing more than a passing thunderhead. The smoke from the still burning funeral pyre that swirled upward to the center of the clouds told him otherwise. Dark days would return to the kingdom of Cherte, he could feel it. Drawing his sword from its sheath on his back, he pressed his lips to the trusted blade as he said a silent prayer for their fallen leader. A knock at his door interrupted his rare moment of piety.
“Enter.” He sheathed his sword.
A courier from court handed him a shallow bow. “Sire, her majesty Queen Cillan commands your presence.
With a terse nod, Ahron followed the servant through the maze of hallways and stairwells that led to the queen’s apartments.
A lady-in-waiting offered Ahron a seat in her majesty’s receiving room. The oaken chair creaked under his weight. Reticent to place his muddy boots on the velvet foot stool, he stood again, pretending to study the woolen tapestry on the wall. It depicted a forest scene, a unicorn kneeling at the center. Torches flickered in the dimming evening light. The scent of the smoldering hickory from the massive fireplace filled his nostils.
Several minutes later another lady announced the queen’s arrival. Ahron fell to his knees, pressing his forehead to the floor.
“Rise, Lord High Constable.” The queen’s voice was thick—perhaps with drink or emotion. Not that he blamed her. She’d laid her husband to rest today. The court magus, Laentus, aided her royal highness’ unsteady gait.
“Your majesty,” he avoided eye contact, “how may I serve?”
“You are aware of the interloper?” she asked.
“I am.” His throat grew tight at the awkwardness of the topic.
“We want her and her unholy offspring put to death, except for the eldest boy. Bring him to us,” Queen Cillan utilized the pluralis majestatis.
Ahron guarded his reaction to the outrageous request. “Your majesty, with all due respect, I have no legal grounds to execute the lady or her children.”
“You call the interloper a lady? Indeed not.” The queen wrinkled her nose, her lips curled in disgust. “If you will not carry out my wishes, we are sure we can find a constable who will.”
“If my queen orders me to carry out her wishes, I will of course comply. But I am concerned for your public image at this…” he considered his words, “uncertain time.”
Laentus held up a spindly finger, his strange silver skin sparkling in the dim sunlight in stark contrast to his midnight blue robes. “It is true, your majesty, that the portents do not bode well for your desired course of action.”
“And you advise us against righteous vengeance as well, Lord High Constable?” Her majesty took a seat in an ornate gilded chair, a hand to her forehead, her eyes shut tightly as if the idea of clemency for her husband’s mistress was too painful to bear.
“Perhaps her majesty might consider banishing her—the interloper. It would be seen as an act of mercy, garner you more support from the public. It would at least avoid outrage.”
“We know they love her.” The queen nearly spat as spoke. “Heathens and simpletons.”
“She was once one of them.”
A pinched expression on her gaunt face, Queen Cillan waved a hand as if to dismiss not only Ahron’s words, but their sentiment as well. “Fine. Exile it is.”
“Yes, your majesty.” Ahron bowed.
“But don’t forget to bring us the oldest of the brats.”
“It shall be done, my queen.”
The diminutive lady didn’t wait for Ahron to make his exit before she swept from the room, her elaborate dress brushing along the doorjamb.
Exile. A tragic assignment to be sure, but at least he’d helped to spare the lives two small children. Ahron thanked the Gods for small favors.
More to come next Wednesday!