The door creaked. The lock clicked. She took a seat at the finely carved oak table. It was a dusty old room in the farthest side of the castle. The narrow window would have offered a far reaching view of the sea if it weren’t obscured by stained glass. The sea roared against the rocks below as the wind raged a violent war through the early evening. The glow of a single candle was all that illuminated the oval study.
She reached below the table and from inside a wicker basket she drew a viper. The creature hissed at her but she had no fear. She spread its body along the table at full length. From the inside of her cloak she drew a dagger. Clutching it in one hand she severed its head with the other. She put the head to her lips and rested it there for a while before splaying her tongue and swallowing it. When she felt the chewed remains nestle in her stomach. She leaned her head back.
“On this night, cold and dreary,
I will not lie hungry and weary.
Let them hear every word of my call.
Those who stand against me, in pain shall fall.”
Her incantation was disturbed by the shuffle of a child. Her eyes sprang open. In the corner was a heap of purple silk. She climbed to her feet and pulled the silk away revealing a cage, large enough to hold the biggest brute of a dog. Sat in the middle was a boy who had seen no more than eight summers. He clutched his knees to his chest and whimpered.
“You’re disturbing me!” she snapped.
The little boy dared not meet her striking blue eyes. “I want to go home,” he sobbed.
She smiled. She clutched the bars of his cage. “The only way you are going home little boy is as chopped up pieces in a box. Would you really put your mother through that? Now shut up before I silence you completely.
She spat on the boy. The skin on his face where the sputum landed burned. He pushed himself as far away from her as he could but his efforts were fruitless. There was no safety to be found.
A knock at the door stopped her from moving any further. She rolled her eyes impatiently and threw the silk back over the cage.
“Come in,” she ushered the visitor. The impatience was telling in her voice.
Her most trusted maid pushed the door aside.
“Your kingdom awaits, Your Majesty.”
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