An evening painted red
//a warning to my lovely readers. I just wanted to inform you that this chapter and probably a lot of the other ones in this story too contains images that some of you might consider gruesome, as well as a bit of suggestive and/or rather strong language. I just wanted to tell you this before you read on so that you can have the most pleasant reading experience possible without feeling grossed out. I will not be getting very very detailed with descriptions of gore and such, but since I do not know where you draw your lines, I thought it was best to warn you. Yet I do not want to put age markers on my stories because I believe that the person who best knows what you can handle is YOU AND ONLY YOU. With this out of the way I hope you enjoy reading…and also have a nice day//
When they left the tent, dusk had fallen across the land. The sinking sun painted the sky a hundred different shades of golden, red, pink, purple and orange. A chill was settling in the air and all around them, people pulled their cloaks closer around them to keep it off.
“They will start sending up the lanterns soon,” Rylla concluded, her voice still slightly shaky and confused.
She was right…when the sun went down everyone would sent up colourful paper lanterns to mark the end of summer and protect everyone from the darkness. The autumn marked was held every year to have people keep faith in the fact, that the light would be back at the end of winter, and that they could survive this.
It was not that winter and autumn were all bad times usually it meant a lot of snow and snowball fights between everyone no matter if you were the son of a king or the daughter of servants. It meant coming home after a long day out to find your mother cooking your favourite food and offering you a cup of warm milk with honey and maybe even a pinch of cinnamon if you were lucky enough to smuggle some from the kitchens. It meant sharing a bed with your sister to keep warm and then talking all night about everything and nothing.
On the other hand it meant that it became more dangerous wandering around after dark. The wolfs in the forests grew bolder and more active. They no longer had as many animals to hunt as they moved along to places with more grass or went to hibernate or what not. So the wolfs started eating humans.
The cold it self could also be devastating at times. Some mornings people were found frozen and dead in the streets. Huddled in thin cloaks having tried to get just a little bit of warmth and failing.
But worst of all were The Singers of Silence referred to by most people only as The Singers. The Singers were assassins every last one of them. Stealing into people’s homes in the dead of night and slighting their throats or in other gruesome ways kill them. No one knew why they killed the exact people they killed, there did not seem to be a way to know who was next. This just made everyone equally scared of them. Because kings and queens could die at their hands as easily as lords and ladies or even beggars.
Sometimes they would even steal newborn daughters…never sons only daughters. The only thing they would then leave behind was a drawing of an eye weeping tears of blood. Often drawn in the blood of an older child or if the girl had a twin brother it was also very normal to find that boy’s lifeless body besides the sister’s empty cradle and his blood splattered upon the wall.
The Singers got more dangerous doing autumn and winter for the simple reason that darkness fell upon the world earlier and they could get more work done.
That was why people sent up lanterns at the autumn marked. To keep the darkness and The Singers at bay and to keep their courage.
“Come on, I want to find something for Orias, he should have something help him through the day with those advisors.” Rylla said grabbing Lysenea’s cold hand with her own warm one.
“You could just give him a kiss I’m sure that would help,” Lysenea, remarked laughing as her sister’s cheeks went from their usual rosy state into flames.
“Oh shut it Lys, you know nothing. He will be twenty by next moonturn, and that means he will most likely get married, me kissing him will just ruin everything;” she said with an unusual harshness in her voice.
“It was just a jape Rylla…also why wouldn’t he marry you?” Lysenea asked with the innocence you only found in children unaware of how cruel the world could be at times.
“I am a serving girl Lys, he needs someone who is actually fit to be queen. Are you so blind that you do not see that?” she asked.
“I think you would make a good queen, and Orias would be happy,” was the twelve-year-olds only answer.
“Thank you but the royal advisors would never allow, such a marriage to happen, and you know that as well as I do,” she said her tone softening.
“Yes but it is not fair at all,” Lysenea said before throwing her arms around her sister’s waist.
“You are much prettier and smarter, than any of those dumb princesses. I’m sure the prince thinks so too,” she said before pulling away.
“You said something about finding something for the prince, what do you want to give him?” she asked smiling sweetly.
“I’m thinking chocolate. You know the sweets that the Leshahans make,” Rylla said immediately brightening up a bit.
“Good idea, he always had a thing for sweets did he not?” Lysenea asked as she followed her sister towards a chocolateseller.
“Yes, he has wandered into the kitchens eating cake a lot of times. I wonder how he stays so skinny,” she said laughing as she pointed out the chocolates she wanted, got them in a tiny pretty box and paid the seller with a few pieces of cooper.
As they turned away from the chocolateselling booth, they suddenly saw thousands of coloured paper lanterns drifting up towards the darkening sky shining competitively with the first stars breaking through the sky like silver tears.
“It’s beautiful,” Lysenea, said wideeyed.
“Truly,” Rylla agreed.
For just one moment, the sisters forgot all that happened around them and just stood there. Thinking about how beautiful life was, as the paper lanterns flew higher into the sky.
Rylla shock her head slightly before looking down at her sister.
“We should go see the prince before the dark falls truly,” she said solemnly making Lysenea nod.
Together they skipped across the streets to the castle where they ran along the corridors until they Orias’s chambers.
Rylla raised her hand knocking at the door smiling happily.
Soon a very tired-looking prince opened the door and his face lit up as he saw them and he waved them inside.
Rylla was fast to place herself in a plushy chair. As if, she felt almost at home here. Which was weird…when she met up with the prince they suddenly did not meet in his private chambers. That would have been absurd.
For a moment Lysenea just stood around frozen, but then decided to go and stand behind her sister’s chair.
“We brought you chocolate,” Rylla said throwing the little box his way.
He caught it with a big a big smile spreading across his features
“Thank you my lady,” he said opening the box and popping a piece into his mouth.
Just as he did, a knock on the door ripped the three of them from their thoughtlands and back to reality.
“Oh gods at this hour…sorry girls they cannot see you here, hide in the closet if you would,” he said, waiting for a bit to open the door.
The girls scrambled to their feet and then disappeared into a closet filled with colourful cloaks.
The sound of footsteps walking into the room reached their ears through the thick wood.
“We are very sorry to do this my prince. Know that we would not do this, unless we believed it best for the realm. Surely you will forgive us?” The slimy voice of the headadvisor lord Jerado filled the room with a cold gloominess.
“Oh stop lying to yourself my lord, we have plotted this out for ages. Do not pretend, that you do not enjoy it,” an icy womansvoice said….the Lady Berena…one of the coldest most uncaring people in the entire kingdom if the tales could be believed.
“I do not understand what you are talking about. What have you been plotting out?” the prince asked swallowing the sweet still in his mouth.
“Why to end your regain my sweet prince. You shall never grow old enough to rule,” Berena said almost sweetly.
“Guards!” was the prince’s only response for the words.
“They’re not coming your highness. We are part of your counsel you know. They expect us to protect you just as well as they would have done. So therefor we could send them away with no trouble at all,” lord Jerado laughed…a dead and wet sound. Like he had something stuck in his throat.
“Also…we know how they have been spending their royal freetime as of late. So we took us the liberty to send a couple of the other advisors after your little….plaything,” he continued trying to find a word.
“Whore,” Lady Berena corrected him sternly.
“She is not a whore!” Orias yelled out his voice a mixture of fear and anger
Lysenea looked up at her sister, who had her hands covering her mouth and was crying soundlessly.
“Oh but she is….I’m rather sad I couldn’t get to try her out myself. If she was as skilful there as she was at dancing she must truly have been delightful,” Jerado said chuckling.
“The people will know this. You cannot lie to them. They will realize. Moreover, you can’t kill her. You would gain nothing, she is not even in your way,” Orias said ignoring all that had been said about the girl whom Lysenea did not know.
“You mean they will realize like you realized, that we killed your parents just a few moments ago? We will blame it on The Singers you foolish boy. They shall not know a thing, unless we let them. About the girl, of course she is standing in our way. If she has your child inside of her, she may well bring about the downfall of all that we build here tonight. Now my prince it is time for you to sleep. Goodnight,” Lady Berena whispered.
Then the sound of a body falling helplessly to the floor followed by a series of horrible gurgling noises cut through the silence.
“Draw the symbol quick!” Lord Jerado commanded calmly.
A few moments passed in silence, then it was broken by footsteps and a door closing.
Slowly Lysenea opened the door to the closet and looked out.
“They have gone Rylla,” she whispered taking her sister’s shaking hand gently and leading her from the closet out into the room.
A high shrill scream ripped its way up Rylla’s throat as she took in the horrible scene that met her.
She fell to her knees beside the prince, sobbing and shaking her head wildly. His throat had been opened and blood was streaming from the wound onto the expensive colourful carpet.
On the wall across from him, an eye had been painted in his own blood. An eye weeping a single bloody tear.
“No no no no no no, I love you. Please do not leave me. My sweet sweet prince I love you I love you I love you,” Rylla chanted as she held the cold body of the boy in her arms, tears streaming endlessly down her cheeks.
Lysenea could not cry, even though she wanted to…she wanted to cry with her older sister...to comfort and hold her…but she could not. Instead she just stood there watching Rylla fall to pieces all the while feeling an odd empty anger grow inside her.
Rylla dried her eyes with the back of her hand, still whimpering softly then closing the prince’s now unseeing and blank eyes before softly kissing his forehead.
“We have to find mother and father before anything happens to them,” she said in a dead voice, walking towards Lysenea as if sleeping.
“What would happen to them? They have nothing to do with this,” Lysenea tilted her head confused.
“Did you not hear them sister? They have sent people out to find and kill me, if I’m not there they will most likely just hurt our parents until they get it out of them where I am,” Rylla said which only served to make Lysenea more confused.
“But you are not that girl they spoke about,” she said.
Rylla did not say a word…she just looked at Lysenea emptily before slowly nodding her head.
Suddenly it dawned on Lysenea what that meant and she grabbed her sister’s hand practically dragging her along the corridors and down into the castle courtyard.
Even before they reached the houses of the kitchen workers, they heard it…the unmistakeable roar of flames,
Instantly Lysenea let go of her sister’s hand and frantically ran the last distance to the little house where their family lived.
As expected tongues of golden and orange fire were almost leaping from the open windows, stretching their smoky fingers upwards reaching desperately for the night sky.
It seemed like time had frozen all around Lysenea, no one made any move to help, they all just stood there and watched even when a prayer for help reached them. But, did she herself do anything more? No…she too just stood…frozen and horrified. Not until she once again heard, the voice of her mother calling out to the gods was her trance broken.
Then she ran…straight into the burning building. She faintly heard Rylla call her name…but it was hard to hear….it was like Lysenea had her head under water and Rylla was saying something from the surface…so she did what was natural…and ignored her sister’s pleads of stopping. Ignored the fact that she would likely not get out alive if she went in there, ignored the fact that if she did go in there, she would see her home being ruined first hand.
With all that stuffed into the back of her mind she ran in there. The smoke made her eyes sting and her lungs scream for proper air.
“Muuum! Daaaad!” she called out as loudly as she could, coughing and feeling hot dry tears run down her overheated cheeks.
“Lys?...Lys get out of here please,” her father called from down the hall. He emerged from the smoke her unconscious mother’s arm drapped around his shoulder her feet dragging uselessly across the floor.
Like so many other times, Lysenea did not listen to her father and instead ran towards him taking her mother’s other arm and thereby helping him carry her. Together they slowly made their way down the hall and to the door, where Lysenea pushed her parents out into the clean fresh air.
Then she turned around running down the hall once again this time to Rylla’s room.
“It has to be here it has to,” she mumbled to herself trying not to mind the dry feeling her eyes and much her lungs hurt. Then she spotted it…The silver hairbrush lay on the nightstand as always, the only difference to normal was that now flames surrounded it. The silver of the hairbrush reflected the gold of the flames in a twisted way almost making it seem like the hairbrush itself had been set aflame.
Any person who was not at the moment consumed by fear, anger and sadness might have been wise enough to leave it there to burn.
No...this was an important thing for Rylla and Lysenea had to get it out safely just for the sake of her sister having that as a memory.
So instead of just walking away she desperately tried to leap over the flames…which failed. She screamed as the flames licked up her legs and set her dress ablaze. Though every nerve in her body screamed at her to pull away she grabbed the brush and then ran almost blindly towards the door and out into the cold autumn night where she proceeded to rip of her smoking blackened clothes until she stood undressed an shivering.
Rylla was soon at her side draping a thick cloak of undyed wool around her shoulders.
“You’re hurt,” her sister whispered, looking at the red marks on her legs worriedly.
“I brought back this, now we have to find Sanya,” Lysenea said handing her sister the hairbrush without meeting her gaze.