Once Upon a Time
By Kate Wood
The grand doors swung open, revealing King Marbow to the nobles waiting outside. The lords and ladies glided in, desperately wanting to be out of the cold winter air. Although they thought their pace was casual, Kelsiella eyes were trained from years of reading body language, and she saw the slight quickness of their step, trying to get out of the cold, and the outside. The outside was a place for peasants, not for the nobles. Kelsiella didn’t mind the cold; she had had lived on the streets for years, and someone who had survived living as a thief for eighteen years couldn’t mind something as small as the cold. For once, the nobles were right. Out on the cold cobblestones was not a place for nobles, it was a place for common folk and thieves. Kelsiella wasn’t a noble, even though her fancy clothes and makeup, and her very attendance at this ball, implied that she was.
“Name.” A strong, emotionless guard demanded, blocking her entrance.
“Lady Elviera Rewena.” She replied calmly. The guard looked suspicious; he had never heard that name before. “I recently moved here from Pearlglow, I wanted to see my queen in all her splendor. I heard she was coming here, is that correct?”
The guard nodded stiffly, but still didn’t let her in. King Marbow walked over, wondering about what was happening. Kelsiella spread her skirts in a deep curtsy, keeping her head bowed. “Is there a problem here?” He queried.
“This lady isn’t from here; I’ve never heard of her before. She says she is from Pearlglow, and wants to see her queen.” The guard replied curtly, folding his body in a bow.
“Well, if she’s from Pearlglow, let her in! Any lord or lady from Pearlglow is welcome to my balls.” The king replied leading Kelsiella into the grand ballroom.
“Thank you, your Highness, your hospitality is unmatchable.” Kelsiella gushed. She was indeed overjoyed that his rumored hospitality was true. She could never complete her mission without it. She hated depending on others, but sometimes, it’s the only option.
Kelsiella observed the ballroom, amazed at the rich furnishing. But she wasn’t here to gawk like a country girl, she had other buisness to attend to. She glanced at lavish curtains that hung from the ceiling and smiled. King Marbow’s new ‘queen’ must be in there, waiting to stun the crowd with her beauty. I wonder what that beauty would look like with a touch of red. Kelsiella mused, suppressing a snicker. Her peacock blue eyes scanned the growing crowd, and when she determined no one was paying attention to her, she slipped away, stealthily passing behind the curtains.
Just like she expected, the new queen was standing regally behind the curtain, her tiara glimmering on her auburn hair. The four guards standing in front of the queen stared straight forward, their faces expressionless, but there was a weakness to their stone-like expressions. Their eyes focused on the curtain, and nothing else. Their only purpose was to scare away any potential threats, with their big weapons and vacant expressions. But they didn’t scare Kelsiella. They didn’t even notice Kelsiella.
She easily slipped through their defenses, humming a quiet tune. Kelsiella slipped a small dagger from her lilac sleeve and drew a pretty line around the queen’s wrist, piercing her veins. A new bracelet for the queen – that was a good present, right? Queens like bracelets. They spent so much money getting them, so they must. The queen turned, surprised, but soon collapsed, losing too much blood. Kelsiella picked up her bloody wrist and placed it over the queen’s stomach as if she had been clutching a gut wound. A few seconds later, she removed the queen’s wrist, deciding to give her a real gut wound. Kelsiella sprinkled the dead woman’s body with the blood on her knife and finished by wiping it off on the expensive tiara.
“That is why you never wear snow white to a ball.” Kelsiella taunted, admiring the way the red stains on the white dress accented the queen’s hair.
She didn’t deserve that tiara. That money should go towards the citizens and not into useless jewelry. Kelsiella often questioned the decisions of people in power, but this ‘queen’ was the epitome of her questions. This stupid woman only cared about her beauty and wealth, and she didn’t give a second thought to her supposed ‘citizens’. The only thing she liked about the citizens is they did all the work for her. And while they were freezing through harsh winters with barely anything to eat, she was lounging in her lavish palace, eating her heart’s desire, being entertained in front of a roaring hearth. The stories of the fleeing citizens from Pearlglow did not give the queen a very good reputation. The queen had banned anyone who fled from returning to their homes, their families. They were trapped, and this city was not much better. That’s why Kelsiella and her crew picked it. The citizens’s from Pearlglow hadn’t found a much better place here. The king might’ve said anyone from Pearlglow was welcome, but that only included the nobles. Any real refugee was left begging on the streets, freezing to death during the harsh winters, with nowhere safe to go.
The guards spun, surprised, at the sudden voice, and were astounded when they found Kelsiella standing over their queen’s body. Kelsiella shrugged and threw her knife at the at the first guard to lunge at her. She proceeded to punch the next guard in the face and kicked the one behind her. She flipped another knife from her dress, killing the fourth guard. Pulling the sword from the nearest guard’s sheath, Kelsiella swiftly beheaded the two unconscious guards. For good measure, she beheaded the other two as well.
“I’d like to remind you; I did all that in heels.” She called, wiping her knives on the silky curtains, and slipping back into the crowd of nobles.
She was calmly watching the dancers when she noticed King Marbow step in front of the stage. A handsome young man stepped in front of her line of view, and he bent down extending his hand.
“Would you like to dance, my lady?” He asked politely.
“That would be lovely,” She said, resuming her noble accent, and his charming face grew hopeful, “but, it appears that King Marbow is about to make an announcement.” She added, nodding to the king standing in front of the crowd.
A slight grin spread across her face as the king announced in a loud voice, “Good evening everyone. You might’ve heard rumors about my new wife. I am happy to announce, the rumors are true! I was recently married to Lady Griniara, a beautiful lady from a neighboring kingdom. Now without further ado, here is Queen Griniara!”
The curtains swept back as the crowd clapped, and Kelsiella noticed many lords staring forward hungrily, excited to behold such beauty. A collective gasp brought Kelsiella’s eyes away from the crowd and onto the platform. There lay the queen and her four useless guards, lying dead on the floor. A giggle escaped Kelsiella’s lips as she inspected her work, but she quickly masked it with a gasp. The specs of blood were very prominent against the queen’s lifeless skin, and snow-white dress. This would be dangerous for the king. If the people heard that the queen could be killed this easily, it would create unrest in the kingdom. Then the whispers would start.
No one was safe.
The king couldn’t protect them.
No one can.
Everyone’s out to get you.
The divisions would shatter the kingdom, leaving the perfect place for new power to rise. Kelsiella drew on the crowds’ emotions, waiting for the power of fear to fill her body. Fear made such beautiful Songs. But there was something wrong. Instead of the fear she had excepted from the crowd, an unbearable rage was rising in the crowd. Some of the men were pulling knives out of their sheaths.
The only knife that can break Lifegems.
The only knife that can break the life source of an elite group of rebels called the Immortals.
Immortals like Kelsiella.
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