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Athaliah, queen of Atal.

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Athaliah, queen of Atal He is trembling, terrified. They throw him onto the floor, violently. He raises his head slightly and looks straight at me. His gaze is disconcerting and his emotions shock me. For instead of hate and fear, familiar, easily recognisable emotions, his eyes are filled with something else. Something that I do not understand, am afraid to understand. "With what have you been charged?" I demand, striving to maintain my composed, fear-inspiring exterior. "I am a poet." There is not a trace of terror in his voice. "A poet." How I hate all poets, with their false pretence of knowledge, culture and intelligence. "Do you think yourself intelligent, poet?" I force a false note of friendliness to creep into my voice. "Indeed I do." "I suppose you also consider yourself to be superior to me, as is evident of your continued failure to address me in the proper manner." "Never, your majesty." I suddenly feel tired, unwilling to continue the required charade. "Guards, take him away." I am mildly amused at the immediacy with which the guards obey my command. ...read more.


I am trapped in my golden cage of power, forever barred from a life of trust and love. I tense, alert. The iron clank of the guards' boots fail to change rhythm. The assassins. They're coming. Coming to kill me. I can hear them. That sound. It's them. The guards- where are my guards? Why aren't they taking action against my assassins? They continue their synchronised marching, ignorant of my impending death. Or maybe, maybe it's them. They're all involved! Even my guards. My fingers tighten around the ivory handle. "I am the most powerful woman in the world." I have no reason to fear. It is they who should fear. They should fear me, not I them. "Guards!" They appear in an instant, holding their silver spears in shaking hands. I run my fingertips along the smooth, icy blade. They are mesmerised, terrified, of the knife. I am fearless, composed. Angry. "You are supposed to my guards; I expect you to keep watch, be alert, and protect me when necessary. Yet it appears you are unable to do so, and I am forced to lie awake, keeping watch for myself." ...read more.


He laughs. "It appears I overestimated your intelligence, Athaliah. How can I be dead when I am so very much alive?" "But how? The guards-" "Your guards are terrified of you, Athaliah. They fear for their own lives- if news of my escape reaches you, they know that they will undoubtedly join me on the pyre." "And rightly so." "Indeed Athaliah. Yet sometimes fear can backfire." "I suppose it is possible." He moves towards me, his gaze fixed onto my face. By the flickering fire light I can once again see that emotion in his eyes. Love, you could call it. "Do you think me intelligent, Athaliah?" "I see no option but to surmise that you are." He lets the fire fall gently onto the cedar table. "Do you love me, Athaliah?" Fear and haste inevitably lead to death. I am incapable of loving. Incapable of hating. Incapable of feeling. The flames arch over me, yet I sense no heat. The delicate copper figurines burn with a vivid, green fire. "Do you like your pyre, Athaliah?" He is laughing, delighted, as the flames engulf us. I watch, hypnotised, as my beautiful belongings are destroyed by fire. I turn towards him, a shadowy figure behind a dancing screen of flames. "Yes, poet, I do like my pyre." Joelaine Fitch 10L *ancilla: slave girl (Latin) ...read more.

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