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Monday, December 7, 2009

The Dead Man's Hand

©2009 by Jason Vey. All rights reserved.

It was not the driving rain that led the Queen of Diamonds to draw her ash gray hooded cloak more tightly about her, though that didn’t hurt. Rather, it was a desire to hide her flaming red hair, piercing amber eyes, and noble countenance from passers-by. Even in this weather, when most would seek shelter, one couldn’t be too cautious. After all, the spies of the Widow were everywhere these days, a fact to which the long scar cutting down the left side of her companion’s face, over his eye, well attested.

Her companion, too, was hooded and cloaked against the weather and the prying eyes of any who might be watching the travelers. The Jack of Diamonds, who proudly bore the title the Knave, knew well his mother’s concern. It wasn’t just unseemly for royalty from the Four Kingdoms to be caught outside of their courts these days, it was deadly. His sword was keen, sharp and fast, but it could only take down so many if the two of them were mobbed, and the blade of an assassin was just as keen, and invisible.

“We’re going to have to stop soon,” he observed. “The rain is growing thick. Soon I won’t be able to see my hand before my face.”

“You’re right, I know,” the Queen replied. “Part of me wonders if this isn’t the work of the Widow, to slow us down.”

“Do you really believe she has eyes within our court, to have caught us leaving?” The Knave had a hard time believing the words, even as he spoke them.

“Our court is decadent and lavish,” the Queen replied, “as I love it. But it does leave gaps, and the Widow is clever. They say even the shadows are alive under her necromancy. By Alice, even the rain drops might have eyes that report back to her!”

“You shouldn’t blaspheme, Mother,” the Knave said. “Calling upon the demon-bitch like that can only make things worse.”

The Queen nodded, but didn’t press the issue. Instead, she pointed ahead. “I see lights. Mayhap an inn awaits further down the road.”

“I hope so,” the Knave said. “Curse this incessant rain! Can it never stop?”

“Not as long as the Widow has control,” the Queen said. “But should our mission prove successful, the sun may yet shine upon Wonderland again.”

...just a teaser of something I'm working on ;)

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