Monday, January 24, 2011

Grimmer Fairy Tales-- Part the Eleventh

The prince sat alone in the library watching the embers flicker as they breathed their last upon the hearth. The few remaining servants and guards had grown accustomed to fulfilling their duties in silence, giving the young monarch a wide berth, interacting as little as possible. Tonight, the old servant woman felt compelled to break this habit knowing full well what it may cost her.
"I must speak with you, Sire," she announced with firmness of resolve.
"Go away. There is nothing you have to say which I need to hear."
"On the contrary, it has been far too long since I spoke my mind. In that respect, I have done you a disservice." Prince Dragos sat up straighter in the chair and turned his head to appraise the old woman, dark eyes glittering.
"You forget your place."
"I am all too aware of my place, Majesty. I was at your side as you took your first step. It was I who tucked you in at night while your mother attended to affairs of state. I who nursed you back to health after the incident which caused the scar you carry. And it was I and the Vizier who were entrusted with your upbringing after the death of your parents."
"Those are duties. They entitle you to nothing."
"I have earned the right to speak," the old woman stated stoically. "What you are doing is wrong. You are destroying an innocent life because you fear your family's law...fear your family's curse."
"There is no curse, merely ridiculous superstition."
"The young prince I raised knows better. Every monarch must marry by your age. Neither throne in the great hall may stand empty."
"I have heard this fairy tale since I was a boy. Without both king and queen, the kingdom will fall into chaos."
"The curse promises none in your lineage will ever be fit to rule alone. There must be a partner who brings balance."
"I attempted to follow my father's law. No suitable woman exists in the entire kingdom."
"With all due respect, Majesty, we both know that to be a lie." Prince Dragos had no answer so he turned away, unable to hide his trepidation and hesitation from the woman who had been like a second mother. "You are the bravest and most foolhardy of young men, but there is one thing you fear. After your parents, you refuse to let anyone near you. If you care for no one, there is no one to lose. If you put Catalena to death, there will never be another. You will live out the remainder of your days alone. Your heart will remain safe in the lead box in which you preserve it, but at what cost to your subjects? At what cost to yourself? All of us have our duties, Prince Dragos. It is time you performed yours. Do not leave your future queen sitting in the dungeon much longer."

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