(WP) An Audience

(WP) An Audience

               Everyone,
especially children, knows that there are many different kinds of fey folk.

               But
there are two types that are particularly prominent: tooth fairies, and their
larger, older counterpart, bone fairies. Tooth fairies take children’s teeth
and collect them, to be inspected like they were diamonds. And bone fairies….
Well, their job was more unpleasant. They took the bigger ones.

               It was
all to pay the tithe to the Dead Queen; she required human bones to work her
dark magic. And we’d all been born under the stifling yoke of her rule. Though
there were easily more of us, we didn’t dare revolt. We’d lose what little
rights we had. But, of course, that didn’t stop the whispers.

               Discontent
spread throughout the ranks, until it grew so large that our caste of fey
weren’t the only ones talking.

               “They
say that The Dead Queen is asking for still more offerings, and she’s about to
attempt something terrible…”

               “More?
As if her fairies aren’t working overtime already. Give the poor things a break,
I say.”

               “Shhh!
She has spies everywhere! One word of dissent and she’ll sentence everyone to a
week without compensation.”

               **

               I was
summoned to the Bone Palace, under the pretense of a grand feast. But I knew
better than to refuse such a boon from one of the fey monarchs, and so I had no
choice but to go.

               My
mother fussed over me, laying out my best suit, leaving a sunflower in the
breast pocket; it shone like a bright beacon.

               “Please,
son, be careful. Make sure to remember your decorum and manners.” Her bright
violet eyes were dark with worry and warning. In other words, don’t piss off
the Queen. But that would prove easier said than done.

               **

               When
the moon rose, I set out to the graveyard, where a silent escort awaited. An ogre,
with dark gray, bumpy skin, a wicked pair of twisted, sharp horns, and eyes the
color of freshly tilled soil, smirked at me, showing off rows of sharp, broken
teeth.

               “The
Lady Queen insisted you be escorted to her. For your own personal safety, of
course.” The monster grumbled. Without waiting for an answer, he gripped my arm
and stepped forward, and then we came to a spiraling set of stairs, leading
deep down into the earth. I’d never been in the Dead Queen’s dominion, not
directly, and sweat began to collect on the back of my neck.

               Did she
know? She had spies everywhere, and fey of every court were on her side. After
all, it paid to be on the side of the winners, if not in money, then in other
things.

               The
staircase ended in a massive throne room, made of earth and stone, and the magic
was so heavy here I could taste it in the back of my throat.

               The
Queen sat upon a throne made of bones, and judging by the size of them, they
were the bones of children. I pasted on a smile to disguise the bile rising in
my throat. For all I knew, I’d helped harvest those bones, once upon a time.

               She was
veiled, dressed in a full-skirted gown in a violet so dark it looked closer to black,
but I could see her bright white smile. It was made to look coy, inviting, but
there was an undercurrent of menace to it.

               “Thank
you for inviting me to your palace, my queen,” I murmured, head lowered, and
bowed. “What is it you would like to discuss?”

               “I’ve
been hearing whispers,” She replied, not bothering with pretty words anymore. “Whispers
of an uprising…”

               I kept
my face neutral; as far as our kind went, I was young, but I knew how to keep
my feelings off of my face.

               “Would
you know anything about that, Nathaniel?”

               **