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“No.”

Such a simple word... but what profound consequences have come from it.

To begin at the beginning, I have served my lady princess for more than a decade now. I came to her side when I was but a Wood Elf seedling of eight and she an older and wiser ten. I’m not without royal blood of my own – being the younger daughter of an allied house, but still, I am a servant. Call it lady-in-waiting if you will, but the true name is servant.

I accepted this fate, for Talitha was beautiful – in the cool, sculptured way of the High Elf – and I’ve been in awe of her since we met on my fifth birthday. Perhaps I fell in love that day.

The duties were pleasant enough: help her dress, brush her hair, write her letters… and, for the last year, warm her bed. The last was most pleasant of all.

I loved and felt loved in return. I thought my life was missing but one thing: a hand-fasting, as we had talked about in many a whispered bedtime conversation.

I commissioned a ring. I bought a new dress. I ordered a lavish meal to be laid, with the finest silver and crystal in the palace at each place.

On the night of her twenty-first birthday, I went down on my knee before my princess and asked her to be my life-partner.

Her answer was a single, quiet word. “No.”

Anger surged within me. “No? After all the promises in the dark. After all the…”

Furious, I threw the ring at her face, cutting her perfect cheek, not considering the consequences.

As a result, I was dismissed from the castle and sent home to the wood in disgrace.

As a result, my father felt insulted and declared war on hers.

As a result, many hundreds on both sides lie decaying in the fields.

As a result, their marble castle stands breached, the forest burns, and my love is dead.

Ripples upon ripples… all from a single “No.”


THE END

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. A lot. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Killing It Softly Vol. 1 & 2, Hides the Dark Tower, Dark Divinations and On Fire. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks and lyrics for dozens of songs. She tweets as @RieSheridanRose.

Head to RieWriter.com for general news and info, check out her Steampunk series at theconnmannchronicles.com, read Horror news at homeforwaywardspirits.com or adventures in housecleaning at herestheclean.com or check out her Amazon author page at amazon.com/author/riesheridanrose.

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