Category Archives: In Constant Fealty

A Foppish Coup, Part 31

“I tried to warn them,” Canterwright said. He laughed, looking at his fellow conspirators’ angry glares. “We played for keeps. Tried to get you good, and lost. No use crying about the rules we would be cheering over later.”

Viola nodded. Someone understood, truly. She gestured, and Nalus unlocked the cage. She stood before Canterwright.

“I confess, you were not what I expected, Canterwright. You are not a sycophant, or a pervert, or a power-hungry idiot.” Viola knelt down next to him. “By all accounts you were an honest lord, building up your own power. In time, you could have had a family that rivaled any other. Why risk it all?”

The lord looked up at her, and shrugged. “I hate women in power. You just can’t handle it. Sooner or later you’re going to get flummoxed, or angry, or frantic. And we will all die because you thought you could hold it together.”

Viola’s eyes glinted. “So you’re a patriot, then?”

“Women were never suited to rule.” Canterwright winked at her. “Why don’t you just get yourself a nice man, and go back behind that throne where you belong?”

Viola’s hands glowed blue. She didn’t speak, but instead snarled.

“Nothing personal, Viola.” Canterwright leaned back, and closed his eyes. “You’re just not suited to power.”

“I would watch your words.”

“Maybe that’s why you killed your dear old daddy,” Canterwright said. “Because he finally told you the truth. That you are nothing more than an insignificant little girl.”

He froze solid in that position. Calm, cool, collected. He grinned, as if recalling a funny moment.

“Countess!” Nalus breathed.

“Move!” Viola shouted.

Nalus ran for the door. The countess screamed. Ice flew off of her, straight at the nobles. They screamed in response, but to no avail. They were trapped.

She calmed in seconds. But it was long enough to end her enemies. They stood in place, frozen stiff. Many clutched at the bars, or scrabbled at the walls. A host of little statues, ready to break into a thousand pieces.

Viola cursed herself, her weakness. How she could not handle even one noble needling her. She had to be stronger, better. There would always be more Canterwrights, but she only ever had one chance at ruling. It was perfection, or nothing.

“N-n-nice temper, c-c-c-countess.”

Viola looked at Illyana Petrovich. Her hands were frozen to the bars. Hair tangled in frost and ice. But her face was twisted into a grin. She laughed, looking around.

“Can’t handle some simple words. Oh, the mighty fall.”

Viola straightened herself, wiped away any wrinkles. “A minor flaw, yes. One that no one will ever tell, of course.”

“Right, because I’m dead.” Illyana sighed. “I threw a tomato and called you some words. In fact, that’s the only thing they ever did to you.”

“And plotted my overthrow,” Viola muttered. “And imprisoned a friend. Tried to kill two children.”

“Like you care. You are only concerned with holding on to power.” Illyana’s face twisted into a snarl. “I wish my husband had killed you.”

Viola smiled, and shattered the bars around Illyana. The woman flinched, but was unharmed. Viola leaned in close, making sure that the woman could hear every word.

“Gregor has forgotten you,” she whispered. “He’s calling me mom.”

Viola patted Illyana’s head. “I think I’m going to adopt him. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

She walked away.

“You’re a monster!” Illyana screamed. “You are evil. If there is a God, He will kill you!”

Viola picked up a piece of iron. “Oh, go join your husband.”

 

I don’t want to talk today.

            What have you given me lately, words? Poor lives, worse action. Pain.

            My actions shall define me. And when you learn to be civil, I’ll return.

            Until then. I am the Countess.

            Obey.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

A Foppish Coup, Part 30

At the sight of Viola and Nalus, the nobles started to scream and protest. They demanded to see their families, the guard. Nalus was supposed to be on their side, and release them. This was a great indignity, how dare they be subjected to such torment!

Only two remained silent. Illyana Petrovich leaned against the back of her cell, forgotten. She stared back at Viola with open hatred. If these bars were out of her way, she would try to kill the countess, powers be damned.

And Lord Canterwright relaxed in a corner. A discontented sigh on his face, a wistful smile at the day gone by. He sat in the filth of his cell, looked at the iron bars, and whistled a happy tune.

“Viola!” Yoric screamed. “Viola, you witch! Release us at once!”

Viola frowned. She tapped her lip a few times. She mulled it over, weighing the pros and cons. And then smiled, giggled, and shook her head. “Sorry, Yoric.”

“Viola!”

“Countess.” Viola’s face hardened, and nodded to Nalus. He unlocked Yoric’s cell, and dragged the noble forward. “Thanks to the events of this morning, I remain countess.”

Yoric spat, and glared at her. “Do your worst. I do not fear death.”

“Death?” Viola asked. “Death? You think I’m going to grant you death?”

Her hands glowed blue. She clapped them against his thigh. Yoric cried out, the cold searing into his flesh.

His screams silenced the rest of the nobles. They couldn’t protest, could barely look on. Viola released his face, only to grab his fingers. His screams intensified, scrabbling away. Nalus held the man fast. His own face looked on, impassive.

“God’s sake, stop this!” Someone shouted.

“Stop?” Viola asked. She released one hand, and snapped her fingers. Yoric’s hand froze solid.

“You don’t get it, do you?” Viola asked. “Did you think I was going to let you all go with a stern warning? Write your parents, make a request for punishments that would not come?”

Another snap, and Yoric stuck fast to the floor, his feet frozen to the stones. “You committed treason. Asked for my head. I do not forgive this lightly.”

Yoric whimpered. “Sienna! Save me, Sienna! It’s Yoric, your friend!”

Viola smiled. “Sienna isn’t here. As if I’d subject that poor girl’s ears to your simpering.”

“Our families will hear of this!” Someone shouted. “When they know what you’ve done, you will pay.”

Viola stopped, and looked back at the nobleman who dared speak. He looked back, sweating but defiant.

“Your families?” Viola asked. She turned to Yoric, frowning. “Yoric, will your family defend you?”

“Y-yes,” he stammered. “They shall.”

Viola snapped her fingers. A blast of cold shot out of her fingers. Smaller, but with far more fury than she had ever before unleashed. It tore into Yoric, striking his heart. The cold froze his heart, and he toppled over, dead.

“Apparently not.” Viola shook her head.

Someone screamed, and then another. When a third fainted, Viola sent a blast of cold over him to awake the fool.

The countess stepped over Yoric’s body, and looked at the nobles. They cowered, suddenly truly afraid.

“None of you get it. You are all just playing at revolutionaries, hoping to be victorious before life’s pains catch up to you. So let me be abundantly clear.”

Her eyes glinted. “Nalus, explain.”

“Your families are now being escorted out of their homes. On suspicion of conspiring in an attempt on the countess’ life. All estates, possessions, and anything of value is confiscated by the countess, and their lives now hang in the balance.” The counselor’s words echoed in their ears. If they could scream, they would have.

“Nobles…” Viola spat. “You’re not even that anymore.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder