Monday, September 23, 2013

Prompt: The bearer of bad news, Part 2

Once dressed in a brown linen Temple vistor’s robe, he was led to the Oracle, though he could have found his way to her blindfolded. His guide, another initiate he did not recognize, offered a formal introduction at the entry to the Temple Sanctum. Since the Oracle did not interrupt, neither did he. Were they strangers now?

Once the guide left, he approached the Oracle, sitting silent on her throne. She was still beautiful, dressed in a simple yellow chiffon robe, with her waist-length black hair loose around her. She gave no sign of recognition. Strangers then. He lay the package at her feet, then knelt in a deep bow, resting his forehead on the cool marble.

When she reached down to pickup the package he sat up and rested on his heels. The messenger had a duty and vested interest to observe the receipt of his delivery. She rested the box on her knee and opened the lid. Her face drained of color, and he felt a prickle run down his back. Her fingers flexed—he had taught her that trick to hide any tremor—as she reached into the box and lifted out a simple, golden circlet, holding it at arm’s length in front of her.

He blanched and fell forward again. He had to clear his throat twice before he could speak. “The King is dead. Long live the Queen.” Still bowing low, he heard her arm swing out, then a loud clatter against the wall behind him. He looked up to see her face in her hands. She had thrown the Crown of Rule away—as if it were that easy.

With sudden clarity, he understood why Jazared had chosen him as messenger, even knowing it could seal his fate. He rose and retrieved the crown, undamaged from her pique of temper. Sorrow. Regret.

He carried it in both hands, gingerly, remembering the proud head where it had rested for so many years. Standing in front of her, he leaned forward with the familiarity of an old lover. “The King is dead. Long live the Queen.” He wanted to say so much more.

Allegro Classical 2011 Winter Sampler

Time writing:
~1 hour

September word count:

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