“truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” -mark twain
after a week off, fiction friday is back here at the daily gallen. we pick up from where we left off two weeks ago with the king and the queen’s brother, dygon, speaking in dygon’s chambers. read on…
“a philosopher’s confirmation”
dygon arched an eyebrow.
“no doubt, e’lisea is asleep,” he said, setting down the cups in his hands.
paeter chuckled. “oh, my friend,” he said, slapping dygon’s shoulder, “there is much you don’t know about your sister.”
dygon blinked. “you must not tell the king!” he heard his sister’s words in his mind. “he would kill me!”
there is much you do not know, my friend.
likely, paeter would not find his queen in her chambers. likely, dygon’s sister was still shackled above that bed, naked and bloody, somehow deriving pleasure from such treatment. inside, he cringed. of course, dygon was no stranger to the midnight court himself. but his appetites lay elsewhere.
“i’ve no doubt,” dygon said, smiling, playing into the king’s insinuation. chuckling under his breath, paeter bid dygon good night and went to find his queen. sighing, dygon sat down in a chair. he wondered: which of the queen’s secrets would enrage her husband more? the magik or the whipping? would he find out in a matter of moments? though he had much upon which to dwell, dygon soon dozed off.
some hours later, dygon’s eyes shot open at the sound of a quick rapping at his door.
a quick glance at the window told him it was not that long after dawn. when the rapping came again, dygon stood and went to open the door.
standing in his doorway was his niece, the first princess, her eyes wide and lips set in a tearful pout. tears began streaking down the girl’s cheeks.
“what is it, penaelope?” dygon said, kneeling in front of her. he noticed her shaking and he rested his hands on the princess’s shoulders to steady her.
when she managed to push the words out, dygon’s breath caught in his throat.
e’lisea appeared to be in a peaceful sleep. her eyes closed and her strawberry curls framing her face. dygon stood next to king paeter, who knelt at the bedside, his dead queen’s hands in his own.
“a philosopher is on the way.” dygon said. paeter made no reply.
dygon’s eyes scanned his sister’s upper body. no sign of struggle. no sign of anything. e’lisea, it seemed, had simply died in her sleep. she had not yet reached her thirtieth year.
she was very much alive when dygon saw her last. unconsciously he raised a hand to his cheek, where she had healed him after drawing blood. could her magik have killed her somehow? what nonsense, he berated himself. dygon knew better than that. although, all he knew of magik he had been told or read in books. perhaps magikmen and magikwomen kept back certain secrets? i would, dygon thought.
the sound of the door opening brought him from his thoughts. glancing over his shoulder, he saw a man in royal blue robes and long white hair pulled back into a ponytail.
“your majesty,” dygon said, touching paeter’s shoulder. “philosopher xanis is here.”
king paeter let out a heavy sigh. he let go his queen’s dead hands and stood to face the old man.
“philosopher xanis,” the king said. his eyes narrowed slightly and dygon noticed the king’s jaw clench.
“your majesty,” the philosopher said. like most philosophers, his voice had an ethereal quality, as though he were speaking from the maker’s realm.
the robed man stepped up next to the dead queen. he frowned and inclined his head to one side. he touched a hand to e’lisea’s forehead then to her chest. dygon glanced at the king, who looked ready to retch. likely the sight of a magikman using the sense on e’lisea, dead or not, was making him ill. magik. what would he have done had he known?
“may the maker’s mercy be ever on our queen’s soul,” philosopher xanis said after a few more moments of examination.
“that’s all you have to say?” the king asked. “what of how she died?”
the white-haired man regarded the king with grey eyes. “it is unclear. by all accounts she was a healthy young woman.”
“she is healthy,” paeter said. the king stood to his full height and gave the philosopher a kingly glare that likely would have had any commoner or lord quaking in his boots. but philosophers were not so easily bullied.
“I am truly sorry, your majesty,” philosopher xanis said, ignoring the king’s attempt at intimidation. dygon doubted the man’s sentiments. “queen e’lisea is dead.”
like a bowman’s arrows, the words pierced the king. his shoulders slumped and he nodded. turning his back on the philosopher, paeter again knelt next to the bed and resumed his vigil by his queen’s bedside.
the philosopher said a quick prayer before departing. dygon watched him go. with a philosopher’s confirmation, the rest of the city would know soon. the rumors and gossip would begin then. dygon glanced at his friend. paeter held one of e’lisea’s dead hands in one of his own and gently stroked her strawberry golden curls with the other. a deep sorrow painted the king’s face. dygon had never seen his friend so distraught.
not a mark on her. even a philosopher’s examination uncovered nothing. how did you die, sister? who killed you? for that was the only explanation as far as he was concerned.
“please, dygon.” dygon blinked at the sound of the king’s voice. “please, leave us. she was your sister, but…”
dygon placed a comforting hand on his king’s shoulder and nodded.
he would have an opportunity to mourn his sister’s death. but dygon would do so in his own way. by finding who killed her.
question: any theories on what happened to niscene, the assassin?