Rated PG; violence, blood
Prompt: Start your story with someon making a cup of tea--either for themself or for someone else.
The kettle whistles. I stop fidgeting with my broach and stand up from my chair. I walk to the other side of the room. Though, in this thin wavy dress and mary jane shoes, it feels as though I’m gliding across the uneven wood. I take a tea towel and lift the kettle off the handle suspended over the fire. I bring the kettle over to the table. Shakily, I tip the spout towards the cup I laid out a few minutes ago. The brown liquid hits the chipped ceramic and steam floats upwards. I place the kettle on the other side of the table and sit down again. Tremors shake my body as I lift the tea to my mouth. The liquid sloshes back and forth like a wave. The tea passes my lips and lights my tongue on fire. I grimace but don’t stop sipping. I even tip my head back and pour the scalding drink down my throat.
As I try to rid the taste of drowning heat from my mouth, a knock is rapped against my door. The shaking is starting again. I gently put the cup down and straighten my flowery broach.
“I’ll be out in a minute!” I call.
“Hurry, will you?” Ida responds loudly.
I pull on my cloak and flatten it out over my figure. I grab the kettle, open the lid, and splash the remaining tea over the fire, which goes out in an eruption of steam. I bang the kettle down on the counter and run to the front door. There stands Ida. She taps at the silver watch on her right wrist.
“It’s past 8! We should have been off 10 minutes ago.”
I nod, looking past her to the carriage on the narrow dirt road leading to my home. It’s quite elegant. A driver is stroking the neck of one of his horses.
“That’s so. . .prestigious?"
“Snobbish? Agreed.” Ida confirms. “If you are at the palace to discuss ‘urgent matters’ with his majesty, you must look as though you have the status to do so.”
“Oh, yes. Er. . .about that-”
Ida claps a hand on my shoulder and pulls me into an embrace. I wrap my arms around her as well. She takes me closer still until she is exhaling into my ear.
“You can do this. You must do this so that the country will finally go into action for our people.” She murmurs gently.
I sniff to keep the tears at bay. “I understand.”
“I know it’s daunting. However, if anyone can defeat the prince, it’s you, chérie.”
I sigh and let go of her warmth, kind and reassuring as opposed to the scalding nature of the tea.
“Let us begin our journey.”
The carriage stops in front of the palace steps. A man in an elegant suit walks up to the door to allow my exit.
Ida gives my hand one last squeeze. “You will do well.”
“I will,” I respond in a whisper.
The door opens. I do my best to be elegant and refined as sunlight disrupts my vision for a moment. More heat is trying to hurt me.
I nod as my shoes carry me up the steps of the castle. They appear to be taking me to the prince without my permission. I appreciate the initiative, as I by myself would be cowering behind Ida in the carriage. As I reach the doors, elderly woman courtesies before me. A light smile reaches her lips. Her eyes do not follow.
“His majesty is expecting you.”
“Excellent.” I clasp my hands together in an attempt at elegance.
The doors are opened. The ample entryway has portraits lining the walls. A deep blue carpet leads into the throne room. Servants are cleaning the big windows on either side of me. Displays of sculptures and vases from different places give my nerves fuel for causing me to perspire. Some of these works are probably from Pression. The country that I will spark a war with shortly.
“His majesty has been prone to fits.” The woman explains as she escorts me to a meeting room with his majesty, the prince. “You must watch your tongue and only speak of the spices of your land. You must stay on topic so that he may purchase them.”
“I understand,” I utter for the second time today.
We stop in front of a wooden, double-handled door. The castellan bows once again and leaves me. My hand finds the handle and turns it because it knows I would never have the courage to do it myself.
The prince is waiting, sipping tea. There’s a complete tea set laid out on the table. There’s even a knife in butter next to a few scones, at my request.
“Your majesty.” I bow.
The prince’s attention is pulled away from elsewhere. He assesses me for a moment. He then points to a seat directly across from him and swallows the tea in his mouth.
“I beg of you, not formalities. I would only like to discuss business.”
“Of course, your majesty.”
The castellan is most likely at the end of the hall by now.
I take a seat and take the knife from the butter, scooping some of the yellow substance onto it. I cut open a scone, spreading the butter along the inside. I take a plate and place one half of the scone and the knife on the flowery pattern. I take a bite from the other half.
“I see you have taken ‘no formalities’ seriously.”
The castellan is beginning to descend the staircase.
“It was a lengthy carriage ride.”
“I see. Now, you would like to discuss the matter of selling us spices from your land. Why so?”
Her shoes are now clopping on the winding stairs.
“I think it would be the best investment for our nations. This could lead to a much stronger bond if we trust each other. This is without mentioning how much Pression’s bonds are weakening. Your father, mother, and yourself might be in need of another ally.”
“That’s a ridiculous notion.”
She’s reached the bottom of the steps.
“We are still wonderful with Pression. In fact, all our tea comes from it. I am tasting our strong bonds as we speak.” He raises the cup to his lips once more.
The castellan is now off to perform other duties involving the care of the castle.
I quirk my head to the side.
“Are you quite sure?”
The prince’s confusion becomes shock when I grab the teapot from its spot on the table.
I open the lid and splash it on his face. He screams as the hot liquid burns him. I stand on the table and kick the other pieces of the set at his face. He yells as they shatter and lodge themselves in his skin. I take a piece of a saucer and slash it across my cheek, drawing blood.
“What in God’s name-”
I jump on his lap and flip him over, my head resting against the back of the chair. He crashes onto the ground and glass shards and rolls into the curtain. My hair is now loose around my face. I take the knife from the table and slip it into my dress.
“You must go to war with Pression. This is the only way.”
He scrambles away from me. I kick him into the wall with my every-loyal Mary Jane shoes. He groans. I also hit my head against the wall, prompting a bruise on my forehead.
Despite my headache, I keep my eyes clear and focused. One last part to play. I kneel before him and pull more hair strands loose in my head.
“This will benefit your country.”
The knife isn’t one for butter. It's sharp. I did also request that because it would better slice the scone. Other purposes were also needed.
“You are a-”
I plunge the sword through his heart. He’s gone almost instantly. I then arrange the tablecloth so that it appears I was dragged across the table. I arrange myself pathetically on the floor, take some blood from his wound, and drip it onto my bruised forehead. I let out a very loud scream. It shatters my resolve. I have just killed a person. Beginning to sob was not part of the plan, but it works nonetheless.
Within a few minutes, servants are rushing to the scene. I sit there, sobbing on the ground in my stained and ripped dress.
“What in God’s name did you do?” The castellan screeches.
“H-he went mad.” I blubber. “He seemed p. . .perfectly fine one moment. Then he grabbed my collar and pulled m-me over the table.”
The castellan kneels at my side, offering a handkerchief. I accept it, wiping the blood from my face.
“He began to hit. . .hitting me and kicking me. His eyes were full of evil. He seemed possessed by the devil himself. He also hit a tea saucer over my head. I think he would have killed me had I not seen the knife lying about.”
“Oh, poor dear. Are you quite alright?” The castellan has tears brimming in her eyes as she looks at the prince.
“I-I’m fine. I’m just glad I didn’t drink the tea?”
“The tea? What do you mean?”
“W. . .well,” I sniff, imagining Ida smiling encouragingly. “He seemed to go absolutely mad after he had a few sips of it. I suspect it may have been poisoned."