“You’re mine…Only mine. Soon you will understand this too. My Envy.” The Queen shook her head as the voice was silk in her mind. Shaking away the ghost of a caress on her dusky cheek, she sat up and looked about. Her bedchamber was as cold and empty as before she woke. She knew it had been a dream. It was always a dream.
It was the same dream night after night. Every night since the first night she sat upon the throne. Of the seven kingdoms, hers was the only one that had ever been inherited. All of the thrones were cursed. Though at that moment, she wondered if hers was the worst. She wanted the peace of mind she once had to return. Most of the kingdom’s population only mildly felt the sin of the throne… Unless the king or queen let the throne rule.
Dracus the Apocalypse long ago had ridden across the lands. He was ruthless in his determination, and his blood lust. He was accompanied by his seven generals. He gifted each one a throne. He named each kingdom for a sin. Rumors of him turning his beloved Pride into a blood sucker were whispered when no one could hear them. After all Vampire was not something anyone wanted to be heard by the queen. People who crossed her were known to disappear. Sometimes crossing Pride was as simple as being just too pretty. Pride was one of the only two kingdoms still ruled by its original ruler. Wrath was the other, and wrath was a wasteland. Gluttony was also rumored to be a vampire, but she is the second to sit that throne.
The Queen of Envy sighed as she climbed from her bed. Knowing that he was dead did not help. She had been warned that the throne brought madness. It was why her father left her as his heir. Her twin brother, though older, was ill suited to sit Envy’s throne. She had recently heard rumors of her twin taking over the throne of Greed. That throne would suit him. She pulled the robe tighter as she crossed into the throne room to face the sight she knew would be there. Even expecting him, he was a sight.
He sat too easily on the uncomfortable seat. Barely visible, and she knew from experience, only visible to her. His broad shoulders moving widely, as though he was laughing. “Come my little envy, tell me what troubles you!” His dark features were barely visible in the candlelit room. She would not see him during the day. His voice never left her. Dracus was her great grandfather. The original Envy was heavy with child when the sins locked him away. He was also the sexiest man she had ever laid eyes upon. Long Dark hair cascading in a thick mane over a broad muscular frame. The urge to reach out and caress the stubble covering the high cheekbones had her shaking her head. None of the thoughts that she was having felt even remotely sane. Then again, nothing surrounding Dracus or the seven sins was ever sane.
The tale goes that Dracus conquered the whole world and split it into seven equal island kingdoms. Dracus the Apocalypse was a powerful wizard who delved into dark and evil magics. He named each of the kingdoms after one of the seven deadly sins. He cursed the thrones so that he could control each of the rulers. Then he set his most trusted warriors to the thrones. The sins were mostly afraid of his power. He knew what was in their minds. Five of them banded together to lock him away, certain that Dracus would be their destruction. Pride and envy were loyal beyond measure. Both his mistresses, They wanted nothing of the plan. Dracus told them to go along with the plan, promising them both that he would ride again. it prompted the old children’s rhyme.
When again Dracus rides,
Blood will rain freely from the sky
Those whose sin is plain to see
Should run, lest his gaze fall upon thee.
Choosing instead not to acknowledge him, she walked through the throne room heading to the kitchen. The cook would likely warm her some milk, much as he had when she was little. Unsettled nerves would not help her to deal with the curse. It did help that this was home. She was no stranger here, even if she felt different since her coronation. The servants here were the same ones who had been here throughout her childhood. The cook was aging, and already training the one who would replace him. The queen quickly smiled to hide the sudden desire to have his peace of mind. Though she knew no one could read the sudden emotional surge from her mind, The tense smile gave her a focus point. The worried look on the old cooks face let her know she was making things worse. He had been trained in her grandmother’s time, and likely saw her father going down the crazy path as well. Probably more so. After all, if her father had similar thoughts…well Dracus was not exactly her father’s type. Swallowing an almost hysterical chuckle she faced the old cook determined not to appear as insane as she was feeling.
“Trouble sleeping, Your Majesty?” His voice was soothing in the calm night air, familiarity easing the tension in her neck far better than she expected it to.
“Yes, Karl. I was hoping to talk my way into a cup of warm cinnamon milk. Much like you would make when I was a child.” She hoped the regulated tone she was using would ease his worry. The cook looked her over once more, then apparently not seeing what was keeping her awake, nodded.
The queen grabbed one of the faded stools that was next to the prep island in the center of the kitchen. They were meant to hold children, but her frame was still small and slender. Though her family was human, it was said that her mother was a dusky skinned elf…It was also said that though they were twins, she resembled her mother greatly where her brother was the spitting image of their father. The twins never truly knew their mother. The old king spoke of her as a whisper in the night, a legendary thief that fell in love with the king of a simple kingdom. The two had a passion that the servants would speak of well after the elf had run. She grew restless as the children aged. The queen barely remembered a lovely dark skinned face from her childhood. The twins were but six when their mother left. Though it was painful, their father spoke only kind things of their mother. Raising the twins with love, The old king never chose another mate. Queen Ella of Envy thought she finally could understand why. She wondered again more seriously if her father ever saw Dracus the same way. If the seductive imagery would be there if she was male. She also wondered if her twin really took greed, and if he suffered the assault on the mind that she was. She honestly found that idea funny enough for a chuckle under her breath. The look from the cook had her quickly straightening up.
The cook brought her a mug of warmed milk sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and some snicker-doodles. Her favorite cookies, Of course he would remember. Karl was more like an uncle than a servant. He had been there long before Ella could remember. She wanted to beg him not to retire. Her sense of royal pride wouldn’t let her. Instead, She thanked him, and sat enjoying the treat he had brought her.
The king’s recent passing had nearly everyone in the kingdom on edge. Especially because he was found on the throne clutching the miniature painting of her mother with a smile on his face. Ella had not had time to grieve his passing. The throne could not be empty. Some could remember the time the king’s elder sister took the throne. She lasted less than a week. She also is said to have done quite a lot of damage to Envy during her reign. The ill-suited did not sit the throne for long. Dracus apparently was quick to drive the people insane who did not belong on the thrones. It was said this happened in all of the kingdoms. Sloth and Greed went through the rulers the most. It drew those already maddened by their own sin. Those suited for the throne could ignore the madness it brought. The kingdom would then flourish under a suitable ruler. Ella was determined to survive and be suited for the throne her father died on. Regardless of creepy dead relatives, or her own weird desires. In order to survive, she had to be the one in control of her mind.
The comforts of childhood helped. She finished the treats, and then cautiously headed back to bed. She needed to focus on her intended destination to avoid letting her mind be taken again by the vision of Dracus. She was the queen after all, this was her kingdom! It was her mind that he was trying to invade, and she refused to allow it.
Strengthened will, and exhaustion, insured that the rest of the night passed uneventful. She dealt with the duties of court mechanically, needing to be seen as the sane and in control person suited for the throne. She was starting to hear the servants whispering when they thought she could not hear. Her nerves were starting to stretch thin. As the last of the petitioners stepped up to the front, Ella couldn’t hold the surprise from her face. The guards had allowed this person to approach while wearing a tightly drawn black hooded cape. A slender frame that was covered completely by the soft material of the cape.
Ella cleared her throat. “And who are you to come before us dressed like a rogue?” She battled the jump as the voice of Dracus carressed her ears.
“Don’t you recognize her my dear Envy? She who bore you stands before you.”
Ella shook her head and commanded. “Identify yourself, or face the royal dungeon!”
The hooded stranger lowered her hood to reveal a beautiful elf with obsidian skin. Her long flowing white hair flying free behind her, and piercing blood red eyes. “Hold your Majesty. I am a friend. I have returned to mourn a man who I loved, and beg your forgiveness. Even though I do not deserve it.” Her husky voice was but a faint memory to the queen, but it was familiar.
“Mama?” Ella gasped, too shocked to be the stoic face of the queen. She had honestly never expected to lay eyes on this woman again, and after her father’s death… Well it was too much. Angry tears filled the Queen’s eyes, nearly as quickly as questions bubbled up in her heart. So many that she wanted to ask, but was held back by the idea of the appearance of weakness. Instead, she gripped the throne until she could compose herself appropriately.
Dracus, again, was in her mind. “She is not here to harm you. She is an immortal being. Of course I can grant you that. Immortality. I would gladly give you an eternity. You are eternally mine.”
In some ways his spiel was helpful. It gave her the distraction to be queen again, instead of poor little Ella. “Welcome home mother. I am afraid that you chose to return too late. You will find that your welcome is not as warm as His Majesty’s would have been. However, this is your home. You may rest here.”
Ella stood up and motioned for the guard to close the hall. “Join me for dinner. Until then, I believe that you know where your marital bedroom was? Or do you need an escort?”
Her mother, Indrianna’s, beautiful face held a dark grin that didn’t quite reach those hard red eyes. “I remember. Ella, please allow me to explain myself.” Her pleads fell flat as Ella walked away. Indrianna sighed. She saw the stiffness in Ella as she walked away. Perhaps she should have gone to Gareth first. She needed to do this, with both of the twins. She loved their father deeply, but she had been unable to handle seeing him age. He refused to allow her to use magic and keep him young and alive. It tore her to pieces, knowing that he was so taken with Dracus, that he would refuse to continue on living for her. She had expected that he would still be around more than eleven years after she left. Dracus’s call was too seductive. And now her twins had both fallen victim to Dracus. She expected Gareth to be Dracus’s. For as a child he always had an envious and greedy nature. He wanted all of the attention. Ella was a sweet natured child. Generous and kind, always. Indrianna failed to see that in her now. To be honest, Ella was acting more like her mother’s people than her father’s.
If the guards were watching they would have seen a wry grin on the former queen before she heeded towards her former bedroom. Indrianna ignored Dracus as she passed into bittersweet memories. Dracus had appeared to her ever since her marriage. She also knew more information about who and what Dracus was than anyone. She could have saved her precious Francis… If he had let her. She pulled the hood back over her head to hide the tears that she could no longer stop.
She may have handled her choices badly, but she was still a noble daughter from a prominent house. The daughter of the master of madness and the baddest necromancer in all of the realms. Her posture improved with that thought. She slipped into her bedroom. With a sigh, she faced the idea that this would be harder than expected. Francis was a good man.
To be continued…
(Pattimouse’s note. I originally planned for a campaign setting based on this world for D20 tabletop RPG. The story has apparently decided to come first… I don’t want to do Dedras as a nom de plume unless I do that setting for the game. If it ends up as just the story, then it will be Serena’s.)