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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Tales from Virdura: At the Queen's Command

Author's Note: The events in this story take place immediately prior to those in APetition to Magic. If you'd like to know what happens next after reading this, then please consider purchasing a copy of that book.

Queen Tricia sat opposite her Royal Wizard Solon, in the castle dining hall. It was late afternoon, and harsh sun was streaming through the huge bay window. Solon watched motes of dust dancing in the light.

“Solon,” she said, “I am getting on in years, and Princess Celeste has come of age. The time will soon come when she will have to take over as queen of Virdura. I cannot bear the thought of the kingdom falling into ruin after I am gone, and I therefore need you to divine the future for me. Tell me, great wizard, will my darling daughter make a favourable queen?”

“Your Majesty,” replied Solon, “young Celeste is a wonderful girl, with a good head on her shoulders. I don't need a spell to tell me that she will make a fine queen, one day!”

The queen smiled, and waved her hand. “Thank you for your kind words. Just the same, I would like to be sure, so that if there are any problems, they can be addressed sooner rather than later.”

Solon sighed. “Yes, Your Highness. But you are aware of how risky magic can be, and I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened to your only daughter. So I must ask you, are you certain that you would like me to do this?”

“Yes, dear wizard, I am aware of the risks,” replied the queen. “You will just have to make sure that nothing does happen to my darling daughter. Please, retire to your tower, and don't come back until you know the truth.”

***

Solon stood in his tower, considering the strangely coloured liquids in strangely shaped receptacles. The great tome sat on his table, open to the page of the spell he was to cast. He read the first few lines from the spell, then reached up and took two full jars off the shelf, along with an empty one. Taking a deep breath, he began to chant, while slowly pouring the contents of the two jars into the third.

After thirty minutes of chanting, a sweat was beginning to break out on Solon's forehead. The concentration required of him was massive. Suddenly, he stopped. In his chanting, he had just pronounced one of the syllables of his spell incorrectly!

For a second, there was silence. Then, a scream could be heard from somewhere in the castle grounds–Solon thought it was the throne room.

Fearing the worst, he threw open the door to his tower, and stormed down the stairs towards the throne room.

***

Solon arrived in the throne room to see a group of people huddled over the throne, talking heatedly to each other. When they saw him, they parted to make way for him.

There, sitting on the throne, was Queen Tricia. Her head slumped forward, her hand lying limply over the arm rest.

Solon raced to her side, and grabbed her wrist.

“What is he doing?” muttered someone.

“Something magical,” replied another. “Let him work.”

After holding her wrist for a few seconds, Solon stepped away. His voice was breaking, and he was shaking, when he announced, “Our beloved Queen Tricia has passed on. I believe that she has suffered a heart attack.”

The crowd gasped. Some people fainted. Others began to sob and wail inconsolably, tears streaming down their cheeks.

Solon, who knew the truth, turned and slank away. Never again, he thought to himself. I will never cast another spell, as long as I live.

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