There was no bloodshed, splattered walls, or screams of agony.
It was the worst battlefield Cerelia had ever stepped foot in.
She had walked knee-deep in the blood of her brothers, wrapped their wounds while the light in their eyes faded with the whispers of the lost flying by her ears. Hundreds of dying wishes intrusted in her heart, their lasts breaths of life seen only by her.
Cerelia had wept for the lovers of those she had never met before the day she broke the news that families would never reunite. She prayed for the survivors she carried in her arms, just for them to never smile the same again.
Cerelia always thought she had seen the worst, but each new fight always proved there was more evil in the world.
A symphony played around the twirling skirts, each woman outshining the next with lace and jewels embroidered throughout silk fabric. If she were to close her eyes, the mix of different perfumes would have transported her from the ballroom to a garden of exotic flowers. Cerelia would give anything to be there instead of here where she was about to dip her soul into bloodshed of her own.
“Are you going to ask me to dance?” Princess Amelia asked with her stone-cold face, one that was hiding a sinister smile. Her act had always been fake, but her smile was too real. Cerelia offered her hand up in the same fashion a suitor would have and awkwardly led her Princess to the dancefloor.
Cerelia’s father had always warned her about getting involved with the royals. He lived his life in severance to the King without ever having a say in his own choices, burdened by the hierarchy and meeting the ever-so-demand needs of his family.
Cerelia had been determined to follow her father’s words to her own grave, but that became impossible the day Princess Amelia showed her interest in the simple healer. The youngest of the King’s daughter never listened and ended up seeking out Cerelia’s services so often it was hard to ever say no to any request. Princess Amelia shined brighter than any light. Her skin was irresistible to the hand. When she called Cerelia to her private chambers, there was nothing more Cerelia could do to stop herself from falling.
“M’Lady, are you not afriad that the King will repremend you for not dancing with a suitor?” Cerelia whispered in fear that somehow the Royal Highness would hear her faint voice from across the vast room. The Princess scoffed as she spun slowly to the music, her purple gown glimmering in the light of the room.
“My father is too distracted with a bottle of wine, besides he cares too much about my brother coronation celebration to worry about who I am dancing with,” Princess Amelia moved the hand on Cerelia’s shoulder and used it to push Cerelia’s hand down harder on her waist. “I wouldn’t let him stop me anyways.”
Many feared the fierce hand that King used to rule, the hand that sent so many to their graves through war and starved the poor peddlers on the streets. Cerelia learned to fear him after watching her father being sent to death in a battle that never needed to be fought. Princess Amelia never knew to have that fear of her father, and that both enticed and scared Cerelia.
“Are you sure that you want to go through with this, M’Lady? What if soemthing were to go wrong and it was lead back to us? Do you not fear being executed for treason?” Cerelia scarcely whispered as she clung to Princess Amelia.
“Stop with this nonsense, you said it yourself that the poison has no cure, does it not?” Princess Amelia tilted her head as she glared in on Cerelia as her mind filled with horrid memories of the many souls she tried to save from the very poison she was about to use to kill many more. She weakly nodded as Princess Amelia gave a wicked smile. “Then all who drink the celebratory wine shall be brought to their death and then the throne shall be mine. All shall go just as we have planned, we have many who stand behind us.”
“Of course M’Lady, I shall not question you again.” Cerelia lowered her head, red in shame, before a hand lifted her chin to meet Princess Amelia’s gaze. It was the same look her father would use when he saw her mother, more passionate than any kiss Cerelina had shared with her in the darkness of the night.
“Question me all you wish, I shall never be as rigid as my father is. You shall rule by my side not as just a consort, but as my equal.”
“Do you truly mean that, M’Lady?”
“With all of my heart, for I am yours as you are mine.” The whole room disappeared as the song came to its end. It was just the two of them, dancing together as if they weren’t about to commit treason against their kingdom. For a moment, just a single moment, this was no longer a bloody battlefield. Cerelia had taken a vow to use her hands only to heal. Still, Princess Amelia had brought her reason to defy her own words.
“Thank you for the dance,” Princess Amelia curtseyed, smirking as attention was turning to the servants who were passing around goblets of silvery wine to grabbing hands who hardly waited to sip the celebratory brew. She grabbed a goblet of her own before passing it off to another guest who was more than eager to take hold of his oblivious death.
The two lovers watched as the King rattled off his congratulations to his eldest son, preaching his upcoming marriage and coronation where he shall become the new King.
Cerelia could feel her heart shaking, watching the mouths of royals, members of the council, and nobles sip her elixir of death. So many of those she had been called to before to heal them from sickness, now here she stands watching them take death from her hands.
“This is beauty,” Princess Amelia spoke as she took Cerelia’s hand, grounding her back to the reason for it all. “Now, all we must do is wait.”