Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chapter Three

This chapter was meant to be a tension builder, setting the pace for some of the more intense scenes, does it live up to its role or fall flat? Inquiring minds want to know...

In Dreams The Solitary Road  A Novella By S.I. Hayes 

Copyright 2013 Shannon I. Hayes


Chapter Three


     It has happened again. A hive unhinged, the crowd attacked. Choking black clouds hang in the air like fruit not yet ready for the harvest. It has been two days since the incident, which devastated the Isle, and changed Amara's life forever.
     She sat on the floor, four stonewalls encircling her, and her only companions are an iron bench and two buckets. With no windows, it was impossible to tell time, she cried, she slept, the only reason she knew days had passed was by the plates. This was the second dinner plate she had left untouched, since she had been put in the cell.
      The sounds of screams haunted her waking hours, the vision of her husband willingly going to the fire, his beautiful face, covered in bruises, after being ritualistically beaten.
     “It was no accident; the structure had been made secure. It should never have fallen.” Amara repeated to herself.
    She knew in the instance that the scaffolding dropped that it had been made to. That had she not hesitated, she too would have been consumed in the flames, leaving Rosaline with no heir old enough to take over at the last harvest. While Rosaline had produced with David another daughter, Ileana she was not nearly old enough to command the hive. This meant that Beatrice, as a cousin of the Decon line, could put one of her own daughters in Amara’s place, and the Ward family would have control of the Isle.
     Amara believed this with all of her soul, but she could not say a word against Beatrice, who was always in Rosaline’s ear. Especially not now, no one would believe her now, not after what she has done. No one would believe that she did not know she could do it, especially when she did it so well. She burned them, every last Hymenopteria that she could see or hear. Even as they swarmed to attack her and the villagers, Amara felt a rage well up inside of her, and as she screamed to the heavens for taking the only people that, she truly loved from her. That rage manifested in fires. The hives began to combust, driving the insects into the air to escape; the brushing of their wings not unlike locusts made them an easy target for Amara. Then Rosaline stepped into her line of sight, and Amara’s rage turned, but Rosaline was pulled away and Amara brought down to the ground by the guards, before the flames could take hold of her mother.
Once on the ground Amara fainted, and new fires stopped forming, although the damage had already been done. When she regained her senses, she was in the cell, quite alone.

****

     By the third day, Rosaline finally appeared and Amara’s confidant facade fell from her; the knowledge that she was to be an obedient child consumed her and she began to cry, taking a hard smack to the face.
      “Don’t snivel, this was your fault, that child could not control the Queen, just as you could not control the Queen and your men had to bleed for it. I don’t know who you thought you were, trying to deceive me, but you failed miserably, just as you always will. Now however tragic that may seem to you, you knew it was to happen, just as I knew the solution was to tear that bond from you, as it has always been too strong. Never depend on one of them; they will fail you... every time.”
      Amara stared at the floor, all of the things she wished to say, the pleas she wanted to make on her own behalf, they would mean nothing to this woman. If death was to come to her, then she would take it, at least then she would be with the people who loved her, and she in return could not live without.
     “No remarks? Just tears.” Rosaline grabbed Amara by the face, squeezing the sides of her jaw in a tightening grip. “You will never know how lucky you are that you are mine. The Elders have decided that your punishment shall be exile that your devious magic will be bound, and when you return, you will take your place as High Priestess. Should you choose not to return, or should your magic be unharnessed, then you will be hunted, and you will be buried so that your soul will never meet the divine. Do you understand what that means? It means that all of my suffering, all of my sacrifices will have been for nothing.”
      That was how it always was with Rosaline, even if something had not happened to her, she was of the mind that it was hers. It did not matter that it was her daughter who lost a family. It was not Amara’s hurt; it was her failure, leaving Rosaline the one injured. It was always about her, and never about Amara, would approval and love ever come from that stony woman? Probably not, but Amara could not see it, not in her place of grief, nor from the place of anger, although it did seem that for an instant in her fury, she had found Rosaline to be a target of those lost feelings, and for that she was not sorry.
     That night, Amara was taken from the cell; she was allowed to bathe, although a guard was posted outside of her bathroom. Once she was finished, she was escorted to her mother’s receiving chambers where she was presented with the items needed to keep her safe during her exile. Things Rosaline made sure would keep her alive, but not particularly comfortable, a sword, dagger, and a short bow. Since Amara knew how to fletch her own arrows, having been taught by the resident craftsmen, there was no need to give her anything more than the arrowheads. She was allowed to take clothing and other hygienic items as well.
     This “act of kindness” as they called it finished, her hands were tied, wrists upturned, to the arms of a chair and her body was secured so that she could not struggle. A gag was placed in her mouth and she watched horrified, as Rosaline stood before her, the maimed, but not yet dead Queen Hymenopteria in her hands. She held the insect down, tearing from it in a twist the four-inch long stinger, it tried in vain to escape as it was forced into a jar of Trialade, its blue blood tinting the intoxicatingly sweet substance.
       Now Rosaline turned with the stinger in her hand, she laid the tip of it flush with Amara’s right forearm, and slowly began to push the hard thin thing beneath her flesh. Amara tried to scream but the gag kept it to a murmur. Within moments, her skin burned and as the venom was released; she could no longer catch her breath and her world turned black.

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