Throne Of Stardust
The forest wept silent tears of nothing as the miasma flowed between its tall cedarwood trees. The animals were silent; those that remained, anyway. The ones that sensed danger had all left before.
The miasma seemed to come from nowhere, from nothing. It swept its way through the forest, once magical and alive, and turned it into a desolate, empty woodland. A place of deadwood and spiders, and horrific things that scream in the night.
In the middle of the miasma was a throne that shimmered and shone with a brilliance of no other; the brilliance of a galaxy. Though few saw it and lived to tell the tale, it became known as the Throne of Stardust. All who saw it and lived were changed, however, becoming hollowed husks of who they once were, mindless zombies after they spoke of it.
Until the rightful Queen took the throne and cleared away the miasma, the enchanted forest would sing no more. The animals that stayed behind had changed to nightmarish creatures one could only dream about.
“You want me to join you on a wild adventure into the miasma? Are you serious?” Annabelle hissed angrily towards Sean, trying not to attract the attention of the cooks.
The two servants were busy setting up the dinner table for the royal feast that would take place in less than an hour, and they had a whole other table to set. Of course, they had gotten carried away in casual conversation until a cook whacked the back of both of their heads with a wooden spoon. Annabelle was sure she would still feel the bump there for a week.
“What, you don’t think it wouldn’t be better than this life?” Sean asked as plates and silverware clattered against the table. He glanced behind himself into the kitchens where the cooks were still rushing around before looking at Annabelle. “Besides, anything has to be better than this life, even the miasma.”
“You’re crazy,” she said, brushing a part of blonde hair behind a darker-skinned ear. “Besides, the miasma changes anything that goes into it.”
Sean chuckled as he shook his head, his red ringlet curls bouncing with the motion. He was in desperate need of a haircut. “They say the true Queen can claim the Throne of Stardust and will cure the forest.”
“And you honestly think I’m that queen…” Annabelle said.
“I mean, does it hurt to try?”
“Uhm, Sean, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but when I said the miasma changes people, it literally changes them.” Annabelle raised a brow. “You know, turns them into mindless creatures that feast about on anything living that wanders in. The curse of the undead as they call it.”
“I’m sure we’ll be fiiiiine.”
“What makes you think a couple of Elven servants to humans would be fine going into a poisonous forest when so many others have perished? Those that lived to tell the tale ended up changing and dying of horrible deaths a few days after they returned.”
“You worry too much, Belle,” Sean told her with a grin before the two of them fell silent.
Several cooks rushed out of the kitchens carrying dishes to the table, setting them down in perfect arrangement among the plates and cups and silverware that were all laid out. They checked over everything one last time before hurrying back into the kitchen for more.
Annabelle gave Sean a look that said they would continue their conversation later, after they were finished setting the tables, and she was determined to not give in to his little jest. At least, it had to be a jest. There was no way the servant was serious about actually traveling to the forest to have her sit on the throne in the middle of the miasma.
Except Sean was very, very serious.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Annabelle exclaimed as she stared at the other elf with wide eyes. “You’re serious!?”
“Of course I’m serious. Did you think I was joking?”
“Well—Yes! Yes, I did!” She didn’t realize she was shouting until Sean covered her mouth with his hand. A motion that, for some reason, set the female elf’s cheeks ablaze. They’d never been this close before.
“Ah, well, you see, I was being very serious,” Sean chuckled slightly as he let go of Annabelle’s hand, though he raised a brow when he noticed her blushing. “What’s got you all a-frizzled?”
“Nothing,” she was quick to reply; too quick for her own liking. “Other than your theatrical antics of going into a poisonous forest to have me sit on a fabled throne!”
“Yeah, but that wouldn’t have you blushing.”
“I’m not blushing!”
“Then ignore it,” Annabelle huffed with finality before she crossed her arms over her chest. “So, if you are dead-set on getting to this supposed throne of stardust, what exactly do you have in mind for a plan? Neither of us knows the way, neither of us knows how to use a sword or anything of the sort for protection. We don’t have money to buy us any sort of training or armor or equipment, let alone rations for the trip!”
“Weeeellll… At the risk of making you mad,” Sean started, shrinking down into himself slightly as Annabelle’s glare grew worse. “I have been setting aside most of my money for something like this. I uhm… I’m sorry for asking for money from you so much, but you see, it was needed because I haven’t used much of mine.”
“You mean to tell me the reason we’ve been struggling so much between the two of us is because we’ve been doing everything on one wage?”
“I should strangle you where you stand, Sean!”
“Please don’t. I greatly love my neck.”
The scoff that Annabelle let out could have cut into people like a pair of daggers if it were a solid material. She rolled her brown eyes and then shook her head, before throwing her arms up in defeat. “Fine. Fine! Come up with a plan, by morning, and we’ll go over the details.”
“Surprisingly so. How do you expect us to get out of servitude, however?”
Sean simply grinned at her. “You leave that to me, and hopefully it won’t be another reason to have you be angry at me. Trust me, Belle, we’ll get to this throne and you’ll see that it’s yours all along!”
“I don’t even want a throne,” Annabelle sighed. “I just… want something more than this.”
“We’ll get away from it, I promise,” Sean spoke softly, taking her hand and pulling her close. With another grin, he leaned down and pressed his lips softly to Annabelle’s, the kiss soft and gentle and full of promise.
Annabelle wanted to pull away before they were caught by their masters, but all the same, his lips tasted sweet and full of promise. A promise she would hold him to even if it meant staking her life on the line. And if the adventure to the throne gave her more of these kisses, in places she wouldn’t have to be afraid of being caught, then perhaps Annabelle was more than happy enough to go along with Sean’s theatrical adventure.
Featured image created by author in Canva.