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22 April 2009 @ 02:50 pm
Histories: 03  
In Which That Which was Dark Becomes Full of Light

            For a simple scullery maid, she was rather pretty. But in a simple way. Her name was Keaira, because she was born on a moonless winter night. The only thing that ever seemed off about her were her cold yellow eyes. Behind hands, people would whisper that her father was a demon, or that she had made a pact with a devil and her eyes were sign of that contract.
            If Keaira heard the rumors, she would give a pretty smile and continue on with her work. So people decided to just leave her alone and the talk wandered elsewhere.
            Despite the fact that no one could neither confirm nor deny the rumors about the reason behind Keaira’s eyes, it should be said that she knew quite a bit of witchcraft. There was, of course, the usual amount of simple spells and charms that were passed down through the simple peasants and workers that carried on from the old times. However, this knowledge she considered quite trivial, and many of the other scullery maids went to her for help on things that could not be covered by simple spells.
            One day, word came that the Prince was touring his country in search for a bride. His father was becoming ill, and his mother was urging him to take a bride before the possibility of the King’s death was certain. And so the Prince, whose name was Theodore II, and who was not entirely too keen on the idea of a sudden marriage of convenience, went on a tour of his country.
            It was two weeks in, his father was fairing no better (but thankfully no worse), and he was still brideless by the time he reached the house where Keaira was a servant. Now, the master of this house had only a son, who was a knight under the service of the Prince, and a twelve year-old-daughter who was to enter a convent upon her fifteenth birthday. He proclaimed then that if the Prince found among his servants a woman he preferred, then he would immediately adopt her as a member of his family, so that she might have a status fit for the Prince to wed.
            Of course, all of the eligible young women servants (and even some of them not-quite eligible) set to the task of trying their best to please the Prince. Many of the girls came to Keaira for love potions and charms that would hopefully sway the Prince in their favor.
            She politely replied by offering the girls weakened or dud versions of the requested potions. In turn, Keaira approached the Prince in honesty, without charms and magic, and he fell in love with her.
            When the other servants found out, they realized that they had been tricked, and there was only one option: Keaira had used her own magic to blind the Prince to see only her. This, of course, was not true, for she would never bother using her skills for something that trivial. But the rumors continued and eventually even the head of the house heard.
            He scolded his staff, telling them that it was foolish of them to be so cruel, and that not only were they embarrassing themselves, but their master as well. He said that they should be proud of Keaira, and that her honesty was something they could all learn from. As promised, he adopted her into his family and gave her a dowry worthy of a princess.
            With the blessing of her new family, and several girls as maids-in-waiting, she left with Prince Theodore. They arrived in the capital to much pomp, and Keaira was greeted warmly by the Queen and King, who managed to get out of his sick-bed long enough for his son’s return. They were not informed, however, that the crown-princess used to be a maid: her own maids and his servants were warned ahead of time that they would be labeled as traitors to the crown if they spoke of the past.
            Keaira and Theodore were married the following month, and he was crowned King at the same time. During her month before marriage, Keaira spent most of her time learning the ins and outs of queen-hood from the Queen-mother herself. After the coronation, the former King and Queen retired to the castle in the countryside, where they were well cared for.
            Back in the capital, Keaira was getting along wonderfully as the new Queen. The people loved her, and she was very happy with her husband. They were still without child, but were not worried about that just yet.
            It was a little over a year later when the dreams started.
            At first, she didn’t pay attention to them, and passed them off as nightmares. She was in a dark room, surrounded by small flickering lights. She called them fairies. They would bounce and chime in response to her thoughts.
            A month after that, she began to wake up in different parts of the castle.
            Theodore was very concerned for his wife’s well-being. He began to post two guards outside of her bedchamber.
            It worked at first, though the guards started to report the Queen talking to herself late in the night. But it didn’t take long for them to start feeling sleepy while on duty, and then even falling asleep. Once that happened, Keaira began to wander once again.
            The Kingdom started to get worried. The Queen they loved and looked to was becoming a cause of unrest. Panicking, the King called the royal physician to come and inspect her.
            After the check-up, the physician announced that, physically, there was nothing wrong with her. She was perfectly fit and healthy.
            Worried about the unease she was causing, Keaira summoned to her several doctors of various studies, fortune tellers, hypnotists: all to try and figure out what was wrong with her. Months turned into years, and nearly five years after their marriage the problem had still not reached a solution.
            A few weeks after their anniversary, a young priestess from a convent arrived at the palace, claiming that she could be able to discern the problem. One of Theodore’s knights immediately recognized the priestess as his sister, the lady of the house where Keaira used to be a scullery maid. Knowing that they could trust her diagnosis, they welcomed her warmly. And so, in private council with the King and Queen, she announced her results.
            The priestess said that the room Keaira saw in her dreams is the realm that she is the true sovereign of. The small lights that floated around her chair were her subjects: they were the souls of those who had died while lost. A fairy godmother for the dead, in a sense.
            Upon hearing this, the Queen fell into a deep silence, struggling to keep from fainting. The King ordered for the priestess to be removed from the castle, and hurried to carry his wife to her chambers. When the court physician was called in to check up on her, it was announced that she would be perfectly fine. He also announced that she was with child.
            Relieved, the King spread the joyous news through the Kingdom. Yet both Theodore and Keaira were anxious regarding the news brought by the priestess. Even though they refused to acknowledge it, it was still in the backs of their minds.
            The night-time wanders, however, had come to a stop. And a little under seven months later, a healthy little girl was born. They named her Gail, after her great-grandmother, and she was their pride and joy. The time after that was the happiest the Kingdom had been since Theodore’s marriage. Thoughts filled with taking care of her child, Keaira no longer thought about the dreams or her previous somnambulism.
            A week after Gail’s second birthday, disaster struck.
            Keeping with habit in order to ensure his wife’s safety, Theodore kept the guards posted outside of her door. It was a few hours before dawn when they heard the Queen singing in a strange language.
            Worried, the guards burst down the door to find Keaira posited over her daughter’s bed.
            Without noticing the guards, she continued to sing while strangling her child.
            The two guards shouted in alarm, one darting forward to stop the Queen while the other went to fetch the King. They guard had managed to pull her away and was trying to bring her out of her trance by the time the King arrived.
            Leaving the Queen in the care of his guards, Theodore rushed to check the condition of his daughter—but it was too late. She had died beneath the hands of her mother. Furious with himself for being unable to protect both his wife and child, and furious with Keaira for having this affliction, he had her locked in a small room with two guards and called for the priestess who had first announced her problem.
            He called his court into session, inviting the priestess to sit beside him and give input for the situation. Despite the fact that she was the Queen and his wife, beloved of the country, she had murdered a member of the royal family.
            Under normal circumstances, it was a crime punishable by death. This, however, was far from a normal situation. The priestess said that death would not aid in solving the matter—it would, if anything, make it worse. At first, the other members of the court laughed at her. Once they saw, however, how she had the King’s support, they grudgingly agreed to whatever solution would work best.
            During the next three days, during which the Queen was only allowed an occasional nap but not a proper sleep, the King and his court debated on how to handle the situation. Finally, they decided that she could only be exiled, and, like a petty thief, her hands would be cut off at the wrists.
            And so, with tears in his eyes, Theodore announced to his Queen her sentence. With the priestess accompanying her, she was bundled into a carriage and sent away.
            They traveled for several days in silence, although the carriage driver and the footman chatted nervously from time to time. They had reached a bog when the priestess called for them to stop. They stepped down, and she asked for Keaira to hold out her hands. With a bone-handled knife, she cut off the hands of the former Queen and had the footman bandage her wrists.
            The priestess announced that she could no longer go by the name of ‘Keaira’ for she was no longer the Queen, nor the scullery maid of her father’s household. Without saying anything else, but giving a look of extreme pity, the priestess returned to the carriage.
            Taking that as their cue to leave, the footman and coach driver followed suit, offering Keaira one final bow before they drove off.
            Despite her immense pain, or maybe because of it, Keaira had a lighthearted feeling of euphoria. Never before had she had such a sense of being home as she did at this moment in the misty bog. And that night, as the small lights of the lost souls gathered around her, she decided on her new name.
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