The girl who entered my room was smiling, but it was the kind of smile that never reaches the eyes. The kind that twitches in the corner, when all you wanted to do was cry and run from the monster you could not see.
I was the monster in that room.
The girl comes closer and stands in front of me. Her body is shaking, my servant in the corner would not see it from a distance but I could. I stood there with my glistening golden hair flowing down my back in my royal midnight blue robes with a face that was fading at the edges.
The girl’s smile hardens, she was trying so hard to be willing, like all the other girls, always lying in their minds that this was for Eydollon.
“Thank you for your sacrifice,” I say as I cup her face in my hand.
A tear slides down her cheek, and I wipe it all away with a touch.
She falls to the ground, faceless and void of life.
No one could hear it but me, my father’s voice shouting with joy inside my head, beautiful daughter, so whole and bright!
While the voice of the enchantress whispers in reply, if you genuinely do not wish to do it, you would not. Only you can end it.
I tell myself that it was for my people, for Eydollon but deep in the hole inside my heart it was also because I was selfish.
I step away and move to the back of my room, to hide in the shadows of the candlelight.
The doors open and two of my men silently take the girls body away.
I sit at my desk and begin writing a response to a letter that has come from beyond Eydollon.
Eydollon was now my duty; my father moved on to the afterlife, and his wife, my stepmother, an enchantress has disappeared without a word.
The message had come from the Evergreen, a place in Seers Island where rulers from across the world convened.
It was to address a magical dark mist that wiped out a village in a breath. Homes had been charred, but no fire had been created, bodies ripped to shreds and those who survived succumbed to madness until death took them in a sickness that spread like tar through their veins and led them to explode into a black and red cloud, unrecognisable.
Where were its origins? Who had created it? It was a mystery.
I finish writing my response.
“Kera, ask the guards to pass this letter to the Evergreen emissary, ask him to send it by bird,” I say as I press my father’s ring on the wax to seal the letter.
Kera, a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl takes the letter without glancing up at my new face. How could she?
I recall the moment I had met Kera.
I was tossed inside an elegant room with other young and beautiful women. I had been curious to meet the girls who would die for me.
As prisoners, the women would have expected to be in the kind of dungeons other kings provided. Smelly dank cells with no food or beds but as the queen, I offered my prisoners with more than just a simple cot or grub, I gave them feasts, luxurious beds, I made them happy the best way I could repay them.
They all had been surprised and had feasted and slept well, but one did not.
It was Kera, and she was different from the other girls.
“Why do you not enjoy the pleasures provided to you?” I asked, she only frowned and played with her food.
“Don’t you want to enjoy it while you can. With your sacrifice, the Kingdom prospers!” As I said this, a girl at the table had overheard and laughed.
“She is not a willing sacrifice; she is an added surprise to please the faceless one.”
Before I could say a word and to my surprise, Kera had spoken up.
“No I am not supposed to be here, that I agree but what disgusts me the most is how you guys can be ok with what’s going to happen to you.”
All the girl’s eyes glaze over.
“I am willing, for the faceless one.” they chant tonelessly.
Pity and guilt swirl in my belly but I ignore it. I look at all the girls, and they were all afraid but hid it behind a face of loyalty. They were worthy of so much more.
I look back at Kera, and she looks at me with pleading eyes as if she knew I was the faceless one.
(Catch Part II of the Faceless Queen tomorrow!)