Monday, 12 March 2012

The Rose

Picking up speed I glided silently across the grassy planes heading toward port and home. The ground was soft and a little damp, cushioning my already soft tread as I strode onwards. The early morning dew glistened prettily as the sun began to peep over the horizon gradually burning away the scattered fog as it rose gracefully, casting pockets of light to brighten the diminishing shadows. All throughout the night I had sat alone besides the waters edge, something I had done on so many occasions it had become a somewhat calming ritual in this ambiguous phase of my immortality. The swirling and cascading waters provided a hypnotic distraction from all that surrounded me as I contemplated all manner of things, whiling away the hours with quiet contemplation, pouring over old memories and pondering decisions that were soon to face me. Occasionally I would stare upwards, letting the bewitching breeze of the cool night air caress away the tenseness of my shoulders and ease the burdens of my chaotic mind. Hazy puffs of cloud drifted by, briefly illuminated by the gently glowing moon before they were swept up in the pitch curtain of night as it followed silently across the sky. As the eerie orb climbed ever higher, scatterings of stars twinkled down upon me, tempting me to wish myself far from Ambrea and indeed all the world.

Gradually I drew nearer to the walls of the port; just as day was finally breaking. To the west the Rangers Tower loomed down upon me, the topmost portion of its tower lost amongst the hazy mist of the unfurling spring morning. Despite the unsocial hour I took the quieter route to my door. Passing the stables the slumbering horses could be heard shuffling in their stalls, waking from merry equestrian dreams of fresh hay and lush grass on which to gorge themselves. As I turned the corner I saw that the cattle were already awake, grouped together and eyeing me curiously as I passed in a shadow of fluttering black silk, the heels of my boots making a soft click with each step as I began to climb the hill. Ascending quickly, the House of Skaersjborg appeared before me in all its ivy-clad splendour, the last of the morning mist drifting upwards and into obscurity. As I neared the steps my pace slowed as my dark eyes took in single white rose lying upon the porch. Glancing suspiciously behind me, I edged my way up the few steps and knelt down. Certain enough that no one watched or followed I looked down upon the rose. It appeared freshly cut as its petals still flourished with delicate beauty its heavy aroma caught at my senses, provoking within me a long forgotten memory.


Standing upon the balcony I had pressed myself within the shadows of the finely draped curtains, and peered down into the darkened courtyard. My heart caught in my throat as I saw him talking to his guards, laughing and joking with them in his charming and arrogant manner. His pale skin shone luminous against the dark sweep of his raven hair. His ice blue eyes twinkled with sensual malice and he turned from the group and stared unblinking towards my hiding place, a wry smile played on his lips. My senses tingling I had stepped out of the shadows, drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Striding from his men he leapt deftly from the stone courtyard to hang precariously from the wrought iron railing, his agile reflexes allowing him to swing himself over and land close in front of me. His dark stature had towered above me, causing a small gasp to escape my moistened lips as he stepped toward and caught me against him, tipping my head back with one hand as with the other he reached up to the twisted vines that framed the open doorway. Fuelled by my obvious delight he had brought before my eyes a single rose, stem darkest green and heavy with thorns, petals black as night. Smiling intently he had brushed its velvety texture across my cheek, its heady aroma causing me to close my eyes against the rushing of that same sensual ache that throbbed in me whenever he drew close. At once I had felt his cool lips at my neck, teasing my bare pale shoulders with their feathery touch, his fingers sweeping away curling tresses of my own ebony hair gradually moving upwards towards my ear into which his raspy voice uttered the single syllable of my name


My eyes flew open and I found I was staring down at the white rose. Somehow I knew that had not been left for me. The sun was hanging high in the sky now and at once I stood, feeling a little foolish for reminiscing out in the open in such a way. I left the rose untouched and stepped purposely over it, creaking the door open and slipping through into the darkened room, closing the door quietly behind me. Gently laying my cloak aside I stepped to the middle of room, eyes tracing the dim outline of the family crest upon the grand table. I stood still for a moment, keen ears listening to the silence of the house, telling me I was alone. Moving to the desk in the corner, pausing only to offer an elegant bow of my head towards the oil painted beauty of my former queen; I sat before an empty sheet of parchment and picking up Alexander's fine quill I began to scratch away, pausing only to dip the silver nib into the inkwell. After what felt like an eternity I gently placed down the quill I sat back, exhaling softly. My dark eyes looked to the window, even through the heavy blue drapes I could tell that morning had arrived in all its finery, dawning a new day upon every creature. With a somewhat forlorn sigh I let my gaze fall down to the parchment, the vision of that same black rose etched almost as vividly as the day it had laid across my cheek, when all that had troubled my then young mind had been the shallow trials of court life, nothing to the turmoil that plagued my now tortured mind. My love for my prince still burned within me, just as strong, but it had become lost, burdened by the depth of my secret, one that threatened to change everything. In a sudden burst of anguish I screwed the parchment tight into a ball, the beauty of the memory shattered in an instant as I felt my tarnished blood rush with all its sinister intent, turning my dark eyes blacker still and drawing me out towards my bed and to a day of wakeless sleep and tortured dreams.

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