The Queen stared out the window, seeing the desolation surrounding the tower, the trees and flowers that were dying even with the daily care her slaves provided. That damned man was costing her everything. She was well aware that the drought was too localized to be nature. The outlying villages were in no peril of starving, their gardens still green with vegetables growing plentifully. Thankfully she had been intelligent enough to enforce a tribute years ago. As long as her people ate, she would, her army would make certain of that. What farmer would dare argue?
But still, her beautiful garden. She needed the Mariposa, the one who could bring life back to the plants, the one who could rejuvenate the land. Of course, the girl had other uses too, returning youth only a part of her power, and even he would not dare attack if it would endanger the Mariposa. The girl’s potential value was enormous, but the stupid child had gone to Estand instead of coming to the castle for protection. The Queen had sent several of her men to fetch the child, sure the girl would be too afraid not to obey the Queen’s orders, but she had underestimated Iloena. Iloena had killed the men only a mile past the river.
The Queen considered her options. Iloena had no respect for the Queen, a situation that would need remedying soon; but in the meantime, the Queen didn’t see any feasible choice. If she sent too many fighter, Iloena would be alarmed and the loss of life would not in the end bring the Mariposa back. The Queen would lose useful men for no gain. She had no one under her rule stealthy enough to enter Estand without Iloena or one of her creatures knowing. The Mariposa was beyond her grasp, for now.
Frustrated, the Queen turned toward the door. “Amilla!”
A young woman entered, slowly, cautiously. She bowed deeply, “Yes, my Queen?”
The Queen gestured and the woman knelt before her. The Queen pulled a whip off the wall.
As the young woman crawled from the room, the Queen smiled. Soon enough she would make Iloena suffer also, and then, with the Mariposa, she would be strong enough to defeat even him.
Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take. Those of you who have read my other bits may recognize Iloena from “Refuge” a couple of weeks ago.