The Queen fingers the fine brocade drapes hanging from the windows in her private reception room. Beautiful – if illegal, the embroidery created by slave children their fingers the only ones capable of creating such finery. The Chantry had a fit when they were first displayed. Of course, she said she’d found the fabric and felt that such suffering and sacrifice should be displayed, that not to comment on such awfulness would be a betrayal of the tiny hands that made it. A reminder that suffering was taking place.
The reception room is beautiful and decadent. The finest Cherrywoods, Ashes and Elms make every stick of furniture. Everything adorned with ivory inlays and great clawed carved feet touching the boards. Her fathers house shield is above the fireplace, a castle and a great horned stag stands at the top of a hill. In the old tongue, a motto “Strong in Faith and War” curls on a golden scroll at the bottom.
Her quarters are seperate to the Kings, a necessity it was said as she was such a light sleeper and the King often worked late. His quarters just down the hall should she wish to join him which is seldom these days. The reception room was added so she can work on all her many charitable chantry projects without interruption. He still loved her the idiot. How easy these fragile men are to manipulate.
The Queen sighs and seats herself at the central desk. Her willful son has gone into the City with the Royal Guard, the Prince will have his way. He is singular in his purpose and she is proud of his strength and lack of mercy. He will need to be strong for the journey ahead.
A small cough catches her attention and without raising her head,
“So, spectre what have you found out?” She shuffles through some of the parchments, she does not need to look up to see the grey hooded man standing in front of her. It is not an appointed time for a visit.
“The hermit wants to bring the plans forward Mistress, the King still lives. The hermit has given his word. It is time for you to keep yours. If you still wish the crown”
“I asked you a question” Her face is tight,
“Very well, your Son killed the beggar and then beat the boy half to death. Houses Passery, Clando, Jiant, and Fontain are all involved as witnesses and they all beat the boy.”
She rubs at her temple, she suspected as much Varkand had been difficult and sullen. “Thank you Spectre, this information is most useful.” Her face composed, she pauses stroking a gold letter opener. She cuts her finger and the coppery taste as she licks the wound thrills her. “Have you passed on this information to the Hermit?”
“No Queen, This information came to me but an hour ago. I have yet to report back.”
“So my problem remains. How am I to kill a well guarded King with a Physicka such as Lord Ranaya.”
The man shrugs, “That is not the Orders problem, mistress. You must find a way to ease him off the throne and into the beyond. The Hermit is not known for his patience and could become fractious if left too long.”
The Queen rises from the table and walks slowly towards the hooded figure. Grasping the hood in both hands she throws it back, the handsome man grins broadly. He places his hands at her waist and pulls her close before nuzzling into her neck.
“Is the door locked?” she asks.
“No” he replies, roughly lifting her from her feet and backing her towards the desk. He kisses her tenderly and begins to kneel as his kisses lead past the top of the bodice and down towards her belly. These dalliances have been fun, she’s enjoyed the Spectre these past months.
“Ohh yes, that’s so nice.” She croons, the letter opener concealed in her sleeve and as he lowers his head and begins to lift her skirts, it slithers into her hand. There have been so many assassination attempts, her fighting off an attacker will make calling for martial law when the King is dead far easier. Witnesses are for fools.
She grips the letter opener and raises her arm, the Spectre busy with her skirts, there is an opening at the shoulder on his leather breastplate under the soft grey fabric of the robe. She tenses the muscles in her arms and brings the letter opener down. He is ready for her, a dagger is in his hand and she topples backwards over the desk.
Jumping to her feet, her stance accomplished from years of sword training as a child in her fathers yard. The Spectre looks at his dagger, it glints dangerously and is twice the size of the gold letter opener held tightly in her fist.
“Did you think me so stupid? That dress is coming off and I’ll be getting what I’m due. I always thought your pleasure sounded false. I prefer my women quiet and subservient. Silent and dead should be jus’ fine.”