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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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Summoning The Raptor
“You know I’m a witch, yes?”
The question took the young woman by surprise. She blinked a couple times. Then said. “You are my queen.”
“What’s that got to do with it?” the Queen thrust her tight jaw out. “Maybe I’m a witch-queen. My husband, my liege and lord The King, he says I’m a witch, which is why I’m locked up in this place, thus allowing us to have this pleasant conversation. Perhaps," she sneered, "I shall turn you and your pretty young face into a newt.”
The young woman gathered herself quickly, scanning her dark eyes over the Queen’s slight and slightly trembling frame, then allowed those eyes to scan the full room, its high ceiling and long drapes and framed art, the afternoon sun slanting through an open window. She allowed a number of seconds to pass, said, “Your grace, this is a twenty-five-room castle on an island surrounded by a peaceful lake on a 5,000-acre estate. When I am condemned to the Tower I hope my cell opens so expansively.”
The Queen frowned hard at the impertinence, narrowed her eyes, and glared at the young woman. “The King has sent you to torment me.” The five other handmaids present, all spies for the King, had braced and averted their eyes for the explosion surely to come, and they were glad for it – the young woman had just arrived, better appointed than themselves and accessorized with an air of primacy. They judged it not too early to begin hating her.
The young woman took a half step closer, too close for the Queen’s fury, then said quietly so only the Queen could hear, “Your grace, I come at the bequest of your father.”
The Queen’s narrowed eyes widened, and her mouth gaped. The handmaids were gob smocked at the intimacy by which young woman had approached, but hadn’t heard the words. Half a minute passed before the Queen, not bothering to look towards them, said, “Leave us.” And they did, confused and unsure what to report.
The Queen looked away, stepped towards the window. “Is my father displeased with me?” she asked. Her father was the king of Charleon. Her husband was the king of Abionary. Her marriage was supposed to bring peace between the realms. Problem was, her husband was slightly, well, nuts. She looked at the young woman, really looked at her eyes, seeing her. “Is he?”
“Not at all, your grace. He sends you all his love and his reassurance that he is with you.”
The Queen exhaled. “I am facing a witch’s death at the stake, and I am more afraid of my father’s disdain,” she half sobbed.
“You will not be executed,” the young woman told her, “You will not even face trial. If you were found guilty, there would be war with Charleon, and your husband, the King of Abionary, cannot afford it and does not have the support to effect it, let alone win it or even so much as cross the narrow Gray Water. If you were to be acquitted, your husband would lose the wealth and holdings tied, by marriage, through you, as those things would return to you. By simply holding you here, he may retain that wealth and those holdings while not quite bringing your father’s full wrath.”
“But witchcraft?” the older woman shook her head.
The younger one told her, “Not an uncommon thing; your father has himself accused a few opponents of the same thing as a means of freezing their effectiveness. You’d be surprised how many people believe it.”
“My husband sees me as an opponent?”
“Your husband,” she said, “As you have well discerned, it a dingbat. There are many who would see him deposed in favor of the Prince, whom, because of his age, they feel they can manipulate. And the King feels, because of your friendship with Lord Simones, that you are among those persons who would bring him low.”
“The Prince,” the older woman closed her eyes, “My son …”
“The Prince is safe. Your husband cannot harm him,” the young woman smiled. “Your father has many friends in Abionary, and they have already put plans in motion. Be patient, your grace.”
The Queen looked at her warmly, her eyes glistening with emotion, asked in a voice filled with hope, “Are you here to be my friend?” as though such a thing would be the most precious thing in the world.
The young woman smiled, stepped closer, held her arm out the window. “That, and to protect you.”
“How will you do that?”
“Because your father knows that you are not a witch,” the young woman said, and in the next seconds a large black raptor descended from the sky, landing on her bare arm without its sharp claws leaving so much as a scratch. Its ethereal, golden eyes bore into the Queen, and it uttered a low, unearthly whine. “But he knows I am.”
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.