THIRTY-THREE TALES OF WAR XXIV: THE COURIER
Civil war rages in the black-blooded nation of Kandrisev. Its citizens grow restless. They demand their voices be heard. These are their stories laid out in thirty-three tales of war.
THE Courier approached the Blue Queen’s study with shaking hands and labored breaths. When her bodyguard opened the door and stared down at him with her vacant, icy-blue eyes, his heart thumped.
“I bring news from the Empire,” he shakily stated. Hands sweating, he twisted the scroll case around in his hands as if to wring it free of the bloodshed it heralded. “It’s bad.”
The bodyguard let him past. The Blue Queen, who sat behind a rather uncluttered desk at the very rear of the room, beckoned him forward. “Read it to me, sweet one,” she commanded in a high, soft voice.
He hastily uncorked the case and slid out the black and brutal message hidden within. Unfurling it, he swallowed hard. The postmaster rarely foisted upon him the mantle of bad news, but the Courier had been the first of his ilk to make it to the station that morning. That was a rare bit of initiative he never intended to bring forward again. Not if it meant bringing news like this to officials like her.
“Writes His Highness the Patriarch Edkandris Mazh Paldra of Paldra Province within the United Empire of Brisia — ”
“Get to the point,” the bodyguard snapped.
The Courier cleared his throat. “His Highness writes to inform his wife that their youngest daughter, Her Radiance the Yatsriya Yarova Sofezhka, was captured by the Red Queen’s forces on her return voyage to Nilova in Nezholvyad.” He lowered the scroll a bit. The Blue Queen remained silent, as did her bodyguard. He raised the scroll. “His Highness the Patriarch escaped the wreckage and was returned to Korchak Uyrtsroyu by way of a passing merchant ship.”
Lowering the scroll again, he said, “I offer my condolences to Your Elegance but I know they will never be enough. I am terribly, terribly sorry to bear this news to you.”
“And I am sorry to hear it.” The Blue Queen’s milky-white eyes glistened with tears. “Thank you for your service. The treasury will issue you compensation. You may return to your station.”
The Courier handed the scroll, case and all, to the bodyguard. His heart ached for the young Yatsriya. The rebel queens would hold no tolerance for a halfblood, much less one who was a daughter of their nemesis. As he left the room, he felt a weight bear down on him from above despite being alone in the corridor. Hopefully, something good would come to pass in the next few days. Gods knew everyone needed it.