The king was buried the next day. All work except that most necessary had been stopped. And, even those whose work could not be stopped had to attend the funeral. That was why Rosa found herself sitting in the very back of the funeral hall, squeezed between Mandy and a rather large laundress. As the High Chancellor droned on and on about how “this great king would be sorely missed,” which was not entirely true, Rosa squirmed. She was feeling very uncomfortable in her tight position, and she thought about the king to take her mind off it. I never liked the king much, she remembered, but I think he was a bit nicer than Queen Leila. Rosa dreaded the next day, when Queen Leila would become the official ruler of the castle. Desperate to keep her mind off that subject, Rosa turned her attention to studying the king’s face as he lay in the open coffin. His hard, sharp features gave the impression that he had been carved out of stone. His gray hair, which was still streaked with black in places, was combed neatly, but it was too neat, as if he wasn’t a person and never had been. His still-black goatee made it look like his chin was a perfect triangle, further adding to Rosa’s impression that he looked more like a carving that a person. Suddenly, the High Chancellor’s voice words “All rise for the lowering of the lid” jolted her from her thoughts. She quickly stood and watched as Queen Leila ceremoniously lowered the lid. As Queen Leila turned to face the crowd, Rosa thought that she saw a satisfied smirk flash across the queen’s face. Rosa shuddered. Was that really a smirk? If it was, what will happen? What kind of queen smirks at the funeral of her own husband? It could not have been a smirk. It couldn’t have. Could it?
The next day was just as bad, despite the fact that the High Chancellor managed not to drone on quite as much. After his very lengthy speech, the actual crowning ceremony took place.
“Do you, Queen Leila,” intoned the High Chancellor, “Promise to rule Aren Castle and the people in it fairly and justly?”
“Yes,” replied the queen, “I do promise.”
It’s almost like a wedding! Rosa thought.
“And do you, the people of Aren Castle,” asked the High Chancellor in the same pompous tone, “Promise to serve Queen Leila faithfully and to the best of your abilities?”
“Aye,” replied everyone in the crowd. “We do promise.”
“Then,” declared the High Chancellor, drawing a deep breath and producing the heavy crown worn by the castle ruler, “I give you Queen Leila, new ruler of Aren Castle!” He set the crown on her head and everyone cheered. Then they headed off to enjoy the festivities that came with the crowning of a new ruler. Rosa frowned, and stayed behind. I don’t feel like celebrating, she thought. In fact, I almost feel sick. What kind of ruler will Queen Leila be? It was one thing before, when she didn’t have much power over the people. Now … I don’t like thinking about it. Rosa shuddered and glanced around. She saw Mandy beckoning from the direction of the kitchen garden. A smile brightened Rosa’s face, and she dashed away, glad to be somewhere else besides the festivities. Besides, she thought, who’d expect a mere kitchen girl to join in the festival?
What does all this mean? Will Leila's coronation cause trouble for Rosa and Mandy? Check back next time to find out! In the meantime, please comment! I'd love to hear what you think!
Update: Chapter Four is up!