Before I Was Queen

crownA pretty tale, eh, The House of Sleep? I know you thought me cruel to thrust that thieving boy into the midst of it, with a tangle of gears where his heart should have been. Does it make you happy to know he went his merry way with an honest pump of flesh in his breast? I am not unforgiving, and I understand the lure of larceny better than you might think, but we shan’t be seeing him in my halls again if he knows what’s good for him.

I hope you haven’t been bored since the story ended. I didn’t mean to neglect you. I’ve been wandering about in the forest, searching for the last bits of that winter tale our nimble-fingered prince tried to steal. Like so many things in the workshop, it lay in pieces, much of it missing. It was out there, among the dark roots and rocks, that it wrecked itself. That was long before I was queen here, when I traveled the roads and traded my stories for the things I couldn’t pinch. Look what I’ve found: a fossilized tear, or perhaps it is a pearl of ice from the nearby river; a tuft of wolf’s fur; a swatch of red from a fine wool cloak; and this, a word of power on a tiny scroll of birch bark.

It is not yet autumn, and it’s early for a tale of snow, but I did promise to tell it you. Oh, it takes me back, it does. Back to the days of rough camps and rougher companions, all of us wealthier than kings if we had a jug of wine, a fire, and a haunch of venison to share. They were good days, but I think the days to come will prove even better.

I’ll take these things to the workshop and polish them up, shall I?

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