The End Begins
PrologueI woke up to rays beaming in through my curtains. The fabric was so soft and delicate that it couldn't hold back any exposure from the sun. I lingered on my bed for only a moment before sitting up and walking to the window. I touched the curtain softly, admiring the detail of the lace. The pattern of vines and roses flowed up and down. I don't know exactly what was my fascination with the pattern. It might have been because my own name was Rosalinda, but anyone who has known me for my entire life knows I prefer Rose.
I held the curtain aside to look on the grounds. The grass was lush and contained patches of lavender flowers. Guards were posted at specific areas where, if a rebellion happened to occur, they could easily defend the castle. In the distance, I could see the kingdom of Astershire. It was once a beautiful land.
Before my mother passed away of illness, her and I would travel to Astershire to visit the townspeople. They were all so lively and filled with enthusiasm. The children would laugh and smile at the tales my mother told them. We would go to the bakery and help Lillith and her husband make the dough for the day's bread. The people adored us, and we adored them, but my father didn't always agree with what we were doing.
"We cannot afford to give our money away for the sake of beggars, Isabelle!" he said.
"Aston, listen to me. These people are our people! Giving the gift of a few coins will not harm us! They need it more then we do!" my mother had replied.
The bickering went on all through the night. I stood outside the door and listened, but I did not dare peer in. I was only twelve at the time, and I had never heard them so angry with each other.
The next day I had asked my mother if we could go to Astershire because I had promised Lillith I would knead the dough perfectly for her. My mother replied that we could not go because my father and her had talked. She told me I could have anything else as long as I did not ask to travel to Astershire.
A few weeks later, my mother had fallen ill and died midday. She was not beautiful anymore. Her olive skin had turned ghastly pale, and her cheekbones had shadows lying beneath them. The once long, dark, wavy black hair had lost its shine and was brittle. The eyes that once captured every heart were a lifeless shade of green. The woman in the bed was no longer my mother, but the corpse of her. I had held her hand until her last breath left her body. Elizabeth, my servant, came in to carry me away from my mother. She gently put me on my bed and stroked my hair as my tears fell. Elizabeth always knew how to handle a terrible situation. My father, on the other hand, did not come to comfort me.
The bell rang three times in the late afternoon to signal the queen's passing. I didn't go outside to address the townspeople. My father already had planned on what to say.