Monday, October 13, 2008

Chapter 35 (of 43)

XXXV

There was a resounding knock on the door that echoed throughout the manor of the Fromage estate. Camilla was reading. She mostly hated the book, which was a pithy romance about two-dimensional male protagonist compelled to save a wholly unlikable damsel who really only did a lot of whining and from the description was probably very mousy in aspect, but there was nothing else she could imagine to do, so she was stuck with it. The knock, violent as it was, was a pleasant respite, and she wondered curiously who that could be.

Perhaps it was a two-dimensional male protagonist.

Her mother opened the door shortly afterward, and she looked strained.

“Camilla, you are wanted,” she said.

Putting the book down beside her, and beginning to actually burn with curiosity by this point, Camilla rose and made her way to the front door, which was being occupied by a few rather large human guards in the outfit of being two of Fang’s soldiers. Her mother took her by the arms and turned Camilla to face her, and did something Camilla felt was very odd.

She looked rather deeply into Camilla’s eyes and said, “Everything will be fine, Camilla.”

Within those eyes, Camilla saw something she’d never noticed in her mother before, and that was what might be described as the spark of life. Her mother, of course, had always been alive, technically, but there was never much to her. She was never very emotional at all, and all she seemed to care about was perfecting the state of their home. Today, however, Camilla saw a number of things on her mothers face, including a deep, buried franticness that still lay chained within her psyche, but stirred.

Perhaps it was that observance that unnerved Camilla the most, for when the guards required she pack her things (well, only some of her things) and come with them that day she wasn’t afraid, and even when she discovered she was going to be the prisoner of Fang she wasn’t afraid, for it was just Fangline, after all. But at this moment, with the id of her mother tapping at the shell she had always resided within, Camilla was scared.

Her father came and touched her mother on the hand, at which motion she subsided, and the restlessness that had just previously been wresting in her eyes was snuffed like a candle. His face was sharp with heat but also restraint as he looked at the guards, and then to Camilla.

“You are a Fromage,” he told her, and touched her cheek.

Following that interchange, she was gone.

The ride to the palace was quiet, and reminded her of other days when she came to the palace on spring mornings with Al’bert to play in the gardens with the prince. Everything looked much the same, except there was a sort of depression lying over everyone she saw on the way. It was perhaps as if someone had painted a portrait of a sunny afternoon, then laid a gauze of gray gossamer over it. It was darker, drearier, and the world seemed tired.

There was no brilliancy to the world, not anymore, and especially for Camilla since Al’bert had been gone. Her mourning over him cut her in such a way that it disallowed her from noticing the small details of depravity that another, keener eye might have seen, had she been watching the faces and lands she passed. Regardless, the elves did carry on, despite derelict circumstances, and they did, to their credit, put on a good face.

The greatest difference that Camilla noticed about the palace as they arrived was the deep green banners that waved as flags from its spires. It was with a bit of dark humor that she realized being at the palace would of course mean she’d be inundated by that horrible green at all hours of the day. However, some consolation for her was that at least now something interesting would happen.

Unfortunately for her, that wasn’t the case. As she was unloaded and decompressed from travel, they took her, and with very little pomp and circumstance, left her in what was to be her residence.

It was a decent room, although she nearly screamed at the green in it. It was large, with a desk, a canopied bed, and some large glass doors that led out to a balcony. Immediately, like a caged mouse might, she went to the balcony, in order to fully investigate the level of her imprisonment.

Outside, the balcony curved beautifully, and she knew there were several of these sorts of rooms to the castle. She was high in the castle; far too high to jump or consider escape unless she was mad enough to consider killing herself. Two large potted roses grew here, entwining themselves around the banister of the balcony: one was white, and the other red. They met in the middle, and each did the other no harm with their placid thorns. She made a note never to lean on the banister, however.

The interior of her room was lit with afternoon sunlight and heavy silence. Testing the door out of curiosity, it was locked. She knocked on it. A large human guard opened it.

“Yes?”

“Can you send a letter to my brother?”

“No.”

She paused. Before she could do anything else, he shut the door, and locked it again. This she found sublimely rude, and knocked on the door again, this time with marked insistence. There was no reply.

She spent the next one or two hours brooding, but eventually decided upon doing something practical, which was unpacking her things. The plain domesticity of the task lightened her a bit, and she was not altogether unhappy, although mostly she was. That night, although her simplest needs were taken care of with great attention, she sat soberly at the desk to write a letter to Al’bert even though she knew he wouldn’t read it, at least… not anytime soon at the very best.

Dear Al’bert,

I found it surprising that Fang would take me as a prisoner, although it certainly could be worse. It isn’t a dungeon, but quite a lovely room on the fourth floor. I’ve some roses to keep me company, I suppose, but the worst thing about it all is that I’m not allowed to write to you at all. Well, I’m allowed to write, obviously, but not allowed to send anything. I suspect this is to create some sense of fear over my well-being. I am well, so do not worry, and even though I can’t tell you, perhaps you’ll know anyway. I hope you are well, Al’bert, and safe, and happy. I’m going to do my best not to dissolve into despondency. Perhaps I’ll be able to talk some sense into Fangline. One never knows.

Love always,

Camilla

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