Meeting the Queen

I follow my guides with high expectations; and look around me in eagerness. I had heard the stories of this magical forest that contained trees that whispered and moved with unseen forces. The leaves were dense and the pathway overgrown with foliage. Yes, the trees whispered, and eyes seem to follow our progress. I notice that before us the path seems to clear magically: fronds move out of the way, and ground cover seems to slither aside. No obstacle can be seen in our way. And behind me? The forest floor is covered again and no trace is left of our footsteps.

We rest awhile and I ease my tired limbs onto the trunk of a fallen tree. My companions are silent; and they do not encourage any communication.

“What is the Queen like? Are we far from her residence?” I ask.

No response. I slide down onto the forest floor and rest my head against the fallen tree. I close my eyes. I feel exhausted; and yet I am unable to completely trust the men I am following. I cannot slide into the sleep I so desperately crave.

After twenty minutes, we are on the move again. I am keen to meet the Queen; but my steps are slower as exhaustion drags on me. I concentrate on one step at a time, placing one foot in front of the other. I feel myself falling into an hypnotic trance: left, right, left, right…

The forest ends and I look back with no regret. I see a dense thicket of green and know that there will be a time when I shall enter it again. For now, I look at the expanse of blue water in front of me: blue and calm, with a boat afloat on it. My guides indicate that I enter. Aboard I meet two young women who show me to a room containing a basin of water.

“You may prepare yourself here for your meeting with the Queen,” the fairer one tells me. “Here is water, soap and fresh garments for you to wear.”

They leave, closing the door softly behind them. I wash, enjoying the cool water against my skin. It has been days since I last bathed in the stream with Roan. I think sadly on my companion: how I wish he were right here with me. His exuberance would have made me forget the slight trepidation I felt at meeting the Queen. Would she accept me, and my desire to learn under her tutelage? I  am ready and sink to the floor. Just five minutes. I lay my head on the ground, and close my eyes. Surely I am safe? The Queen would not have brought me thus far if she did not want to meet me.

Consciousness returns and I feel the movement of the boat has slowed. I get up and make sure I am ready to leave. The two young women return and guide me to the shore. Once there, I am met by a man and a woman: both of whom are dressed as guards carrying swords.

“Good evening traveller. Welcome to our Kingdom. The Queen awaits you.” I bow in response.

“Take our hands,” the woman instructs. “We will transport you.”

Taking their hands, I feel a tingle in my body. I see blurred movement, and then I am in another place. In a building with windows placed high.

“Follow me,” the woman indicates with her hand. She walks silently on slippered feet, the man falling in behind me. I sense that they are both ready to react should I do anything to endanger them or their Queen. We arrive at a ornate set of doors: heavy ones that have been designed to protect the one who resides inside. Two guards open the door, and I enter with my heart beating.

“Come in child, let me see you. Let me see the one who was strong enough to withstand the mind control on our bridge.”

I look for the speaker, and then realise the words had resonated in my head.

“Yes. No need to speak when our minds are able to communicate quite adequately. When our world is not filled with the ceaseless chatter of human voices, we are better able to hear what the natural say. Come forward, there is no need to be afraid.”

I step forward with hesitation, looking around to see where I should go. I see a group to the side of the room where there are no windows. A man beckons me, indicating the direction in which I should go. I approach the group and see, in the centre, the Queen.

The body of the Queen is small, covered in white and gold robes. She lies, unmoving, on a bed-like piece of furniture that is also covered in white and gold. Her head is too large in proportion to her body, her cranium over-sized. I look on in astonishment. This is the Queen? I had expected someone of grand stature who instilled fear into those who followed her.

“Quite a surprise, aren’t I? My body is the result of someone who no longer has the need to move. I cannot remember the last time I walked, or even fed myself. The great power of the mind has its sacrifices. I may not look attractive, but I am able to control the minds of many from a great distance. I can manipulate the natural earth to benefit myself and my followers. My power is far reaching; and my subjects bow before me in fear as well as in gratitude. They know that without me they would be like others: starving, and without the knowledge and command of our natural earth.”

“I, too, wish to bow before you and call you my Queen.”

“And what would you wish in return, weary traveller?”

What do you think the traveller wishes for?

(This post is the forth in a series describing the experiences of this traveller; the beginning of which was inspired by Kellie Elmore’s prompt . The first, second and third post all centre on the bridge that the traveller has crossed.)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

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16 thoughts on “Meeting the Queen

  1. Colline, I am thrilled that you have continued the story! Your opening stanza/paragraph is provocative and enchanting, the way you bring life to what the traveler sees and feels is intoxicating; holding my hand through the journey and opening up a new world to me. Your imagery is lovely!
    The Queen was indeed a surprise! Great imagination and kudos on going against a cliche persona of how a queen should appear, that is the magic of writing, to give readers something unexpected and you have done so well!
    I have all kinds of ideas as far as the travelers wish but, I want to leave that up to you and encourage you to keep writing this story! Do not by any means force it, just let the characters tell you what they want to do next. If they lie silent for a while, leave them be and come back later but, I urge you to take their journey further.
    Did you know that a novella consists of only 7,000 to 10,000 words? I believe you can reach that and this wonderful work of prose has all the makings of a beautiful novella of literature and could be seen in print! Nice penning as always, Colline. Looking forward to more! ♥

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement and advice Kellie. I have always had a block against writing fiction – where to start, what to say. I am finding, though, with the technique you have introduced me to that the words are pouring out of my fingers from my head. I can see these characters in my head and, like you suggest, I stop when I can no longer see them.
      I am going about my day today and I am already seeing the next segment forming. I know that soon I will need to put the words to paper.
      Until the traveler brings us together again 🙂

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  2. Well she’s certainly no Glinda, but interesting all the same. Since my first guess was wrong, I won’t guess again. Just waiting for the next installment. 🙂

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  3. The Queen is most peculiar, though I hold grave fears for your character when she uses fear and gratitude in the same sentence. The bonus part is the character has already shown a resistance to the Queen’s mind control, but had the Queen fully turned it up, or is the resistance something the Queen has not experienced before. Why the complicit nature with the Queen, when they have only just met, is this out of fear, or being unsure? I know, all will be revealed. When choice is taken from a people, or nature, I feel a sense of tyranny, regardless of any good intentions.
    Just pondering, I’ll stay away from the wish too.
    Top read, thanks!

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  4. Yes, I agree with Sean, a ‘genuinely nice’ queen would surely not have told a new follower of fear and gratitude. These words suggest that a debt will be created and payment (or else) will be required. But I hope not, given the courage of the traveller.
    I think the traveler has come in search of wisdom/knowledge to be able to get the earth to provide food. The Queen speaks of many who are starving and seems to suggest this is because they do not know how to live off the land.

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