This week’s sentence prompt, provided by last week’s winner, Suzanne, must be used as the FIRST line in your piece. And the media prompt is a painting called The Chess Queens, by Muriel Streeter, which you will find below. As with all our media prompts, your post shouldn’t be about the painting, but you must make some sort of reference to it in your submission.
“Don’t blame the sinner.”
“Don’t blame the sinner!” Queen Miranda said as she stood on the top balcony of the high tower of Castle Moray. The crisp white of her home sparkled in the bright morning sun. The queen loved the feeling of the sun at this time of the day. Before too long it would become too strong for her fair skin. Remaining beautiful for King Bertram was not only her desire, but a necessity.
“I’m sorry, my queen. I fear I do not understand your words,” her attendant replied.
“It is a parable. Don’t blame the sinner. I wonder why I shouldn’t. When one sins the Creator notices, why shouldn’t I?”
The attendant remained silent, knowing the question was rhetorical. The queen would request her opinion if desired. This was something she learned from her predecessor who lost the plum job when she answered out of turn. While Queen Miranda might have let such a slip pass, King Bertram did not. The poor woman was sent to the dungeon for thirty days, then relegated to the laundry after that.
Queen Miranda looked at the large chess board to the right of the castle, where Princess Mallory, her daughter and the teen daughter of the kingdom opposite her castle were playing chess. Princess Alyssa of Alcester was enjoying the advantage at the moment, having removed a couple of pieces shielding Princess Mallory’s queen.
From Castle Alcester Queen Yvette was careful to make sure she could see her daughter play, but stay out of Queen Miranda’s line of vision. Yvette and Miranda had been rivals for years, but not because of their husband’s kingdoms. Instead it had been a contest for the affections of another prince from a southern kingdom. Each of them was pushed by their parents to snag this prized suitor.
In the end Miranda won the man’s heart and an offer of marriage, but the untimely death of Prince Erlich meant neither would enjoy being the most famous queen in the land. While Miranda nursed her broken heart Yvette began to formulate a long reaching plan to vex her rival.
With nearly unlimited power it was easy to weave the accidents into the fabric of their existence. Yvette was wise, spacing out the acts enough that no one could dare link them. But now her desperation was palpable. A blood disease was quickly draining the life from her body. She had mere weeks to live and her long course of revenge no longer played to her favor. Ultimately she wanted Miranda to know it was her, but now the urgency was real.
It would surely mean war between their kingdoms, but she didn’t care. Perhaps if her husband, King Daniel had a war to occupy his time he would leave the concubines alone. Her condition relegated her to a bystander in his love life and while he never would compare to the love she still help for Prince Erlich, she deserved a devoted man.
She knew Princess Alyssa, her eldest daughter loved her enough to do whatever she asked. So what if she was using the sympathies of her daughter to enable the commission of the murderous act. In a short period of time she would be dead anyway, so she feared no one or no thing. All that consumed her was the desire for revenge.
On the chess board the pieces continued to shift as the girls chattered on about who knows what. Queen Yvette could not hear their words, but knew her daughter was waiting for the perfect moment. She looked toward Castle Moray, noticing the empty balcony Queen Miranda had occupied moments before. Her pulse quickened as she understood the time was drawing near. She shifted further into the doorway, getting a fine view of the upcoming drama.
Princess Alyssa stole a quick look her way and received the assenting nod that her mother promised to give when the time was right. With the assurance in hand, Princess Alyssa pulled the dagger from her sash and plunged it into Princess Mallory’s chest. The young girl’s face registered shock and then a question of why before her eyes rolled back and she crumpled to the ground.
Princess Alyssa slowly backed away and made her way back to Castle Alcester, before anyone was the wiser. Once in her mother’s presence Princess Alyssa received the only reward she required, her mother’s smile.