Distant Mistress

The courier pushed the double doors open himself, no servants, allowing only enough space to enter the receiving chamber with haste. This arrival lacked escort, nor were any royals waiting other than King Frederi and Councillor Jori. Splendor and ceremony could not relieve the tension in the room. Frederi’s eyes were red with sleepless worry and ceaseless pacing. Taking position before the dais, the courier knelt, awaiting his king.

“Well?” The echoes of the word hung in the air.

“Your message was safely delivered,” the answer came, spoken to the floor.

Jori quietly left the chamber by way of a shadowed passage. Frederi sighed, body visibly sagging in relief as he sat down and ran a hand through his thinning hair. With a shudder, he straightened and again addressed his servant.

“And the messenger?”

The courier professionally suppressed a cringe, unseen. “In good health, though this will be the only message she carries.”

Shocked silence, then, “Leave.”

He obeyed, departing as quickly as he arrived.

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