ashes and snow

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“Bring them to the jailhouse until it is time,” he said to the guards that nodded in response. “I don’t want to hear a single thing from them until their execution.”

The male cried out and tried to get away while the woman only continued to stare at nothing. One of the guards rolled his eyes. He took off his black gloves, bundled them in his hand, and forced the male’s head back without hesitation. He stuffed them into his mouth, forcefully. “This should shut him up,” he grinned before he retreated again.

Moaning through the gloves in his mouth, the male gave up his fight to stare at the guard full of hatred. He looked ready to kill but stumbled when he was forced forward by the guards that held him by his upper arms.

They left the courtroom, the door closing behind them, leaving Eira, her husband, Alastair, and the crowd of people she knew no one of. Eira’s head was laying on her right hand, her elbow propped up on the armrest of her throne.

Arkyn was talking to Alastair, but she didn’t bother to listen to them. Her head was still a pounding mess. Even the breaths of all the people in the room were getting to her.

She breathed out and pinched her eyes close, waiting a second before she opened them again. She looked up and saw that some people in the crowd were watching her.

Slowly, she straightened in her seat and folded her hands in her lap. She couldn’t come off as lazy in the beginnings of her reign.

The door to the courtroom was opened again. Hurried in came a blond-haired guard, his gaze already fixed on Arkyn as he approached them. He bowed his head as he stopped in front of them.

“Hello, Jaron,” her husband greeted him. His gaze fell to Alastair in question, who seemed as surprised to see the man.

Alastair frowned, “What are you doing here? I thought you were on patrol?”

Jaron crossed his arms behind his back, “I was, but we found something in the woods today.” He looked over his shoulder, where the crowd remained listening. “It might be best if we discussed this in a more private place.” He turned to look at them again.

Eira suppressed a smile and tried to remain more focused now. It hadn’t taken them long to find him. Maybe these woods were visited more often than she thought.

“What is this about?” Alastair asked, wise enough to lower his voice.

“We found a body.”

Eira’s head snapped up to the man, her eyes wide. She acted as if she didn’t already know about that, surprised and scared. A riot went through the crowd as they noticed their queen’s reaction.

“What is going on?”

“Did something happen?”

They all wanted to know what happened and raised their voices. Eira flinched before she was able to compose herself. It felt like her ears were bleeding.

Her husband gave her a quick side glance before he focused on his townsmen. “The trials are over for today,” he spoke to them. “You are all dismissed for now.”

They stayed glued to their spots, silent but persistent.

“Do I have to repeat myself?” he dared them with a dangerous glint in his eyes. Some shook their heads, others looked down to the ground in submission.

Alastair made eye contact with the guards that stood next to the door and nodded at them. They opened the doors immediately. Alastair walked to the edge of the platform, right next to the stairs. He nodded his head to the side without a word, gesturing for the people to leave.

They obeyed.

It didn’t take long until almost all of them had left. Eira watched as the last young girl walked out beside her mother. Then she focused on the three men that were next to her.

Alastair had turned to them again, looking at her through narrowed eyes before he turned to Arkyn. “I think it is best if we return to the castle to speak about this occurrence.”

Her husband nodded before he looked at Jaron. “We will meet in the evening in the conference room.”

“Of course, my king,” Jaron bowed his head.

“We’ll go ahead. In the meantime, you take care of all other businesses here,” Arkyn said to Alastair before he turned to Eira. She looked up at him for a few seconds before she finally stood up and straightened her dress.

“Are we ready to leave?” she asked him.

He nodded and turned to the stairs, waiting for her to hook her arm through his. Together, they started walking. Alastair gave Arkyn a bow in goodbye, ignoring her, while Jaron bowed for both of them. It was clear to see who of them had at least little respect for her.

Her hand grazed Alastair’s as she walked passed him, and a small, triumph stricken smile grew on her lips. Her game had only yet begun.

They left the building and walked to their carriage.

The time they drove back to the castle was spend in silence, her gaze always stuck outside as she watched the snow dance from the sky to the ground.

The cold had always been her friend. She could count on it as she could count on every next breath she would take.

She breathed out, finally almost reunited with the silence she had wished for these passed hours. Yes, her mind still couldn’t do much but to focus on every breath her husband or the coachman would take or the clicking of the horse’s hoofs on the ground. But the sounds weren’t as paralyzing anymore, quieter than the ones before.

“We are here,” Arkyn spoke as the door was opened, and he got out. With the help of his hand, Eira left the carriage, and both of them walked to the castle.

Snow landed and melted on her hair. She smiled up to the sky before she almost stumbled to the ground. She narrowed her eyes at Arkyn. But they entered the castle before she could say anything.

“What is going on?” she asked as he dragged her through the castle and to their bedroom. She didn’t perceive an answer. “Arkyn?”

He turned to her. “I need to do something.”

She frowned at him. “And you can’t tell me what it is? Has it something to do with-”

He pressed his hand onto her mouth before she could finish and stared down at her. “You haven’t heard anything, you hear me? This needs to be kept quiet until I know what to do.”

Eira refrained from rolling her eyes. She already knew the truth.

“But-” she tried to say but was interrupted either way.

“I said no.” He let go of her and walked to the door, but turned one last time. “Don’t wait for me.” Arkyn closed the door behind him. He locked the door, and Eira rolled her eyes. Did he really think this could stop her?

If it wasn’t for the fact that she wanted to be alone, she would have left as soon as he was gone.

Eira made use of her time and took off her white coat and her shoes. She tried to get more comfortable, which was basically impossible due to her corset.

She laid down on their bed, staring up at their white ceiling. She closed her eyes, her world turning black. A second later, she opened them, her surroundings different.

Her body was taller, but her mind almost dull. She looked around the courtroom as she took full control of Alastair’s body.

She would stay awake the whole night to learn about the new turn of things.

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