Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Anne Bishop's wonderful work.
It was raining in Chaillot. Freezing water poured down on the gardens of the Angelline estate. Icy drops splashed on the window of Alexandra Angelline's bedchamber. She hated the rain.
Silently, she cupped the once vibrant, glowing Opal Jewel in her hands. Now empty and dull, the Jewel brought fresh tears to sting her eyes. Once, the Jewel was the base of her all her strength and ability in Craft. Once. Once she was the Queen of Chaillot, the only Queen strong enough to rule. She had it all, power, a loving daughter and granddaughter.... Then she went to Kaeleer.
Kaeleer. How she hated that place. How any of the Blood in Terreille could stand to think that Kaeleer held all the answers, that that horrible, wretched realm could solve anything....... Obviously, the Blood that went there were desperate to escape something. What kind of cruel salvation they found was something she did not even want to begin to ponder over. Kaeleer was nothing but an image that the Blood in Terreille held desperately onto, the thought that something better existed out there. What a horrible fantasy to hold onto.
Of course, Kaeleer was not the only monster portrayed as a saviour. The man who hid behind her granddaughter, the real power and control over Kaeleer was what could only be described as somebody's horrible, twisted nightmare. The High Lord of Hell. Saetan. He had sunk his ambitious claws into Jaenelle and had warped her mind long ago. Ever since she was a child, she lived under his control. They thought that she was simply a disturbed child, born with a delicate mind. How they were wrong. That, man, had been twisting her, moulding her into his perfect little puppet. A fragile minded child that wore no Jewels, a child that had been shaped to obey his every whim. Such a difficult child.
If that wasn't enough, she had lost another granddaughter to that monster. Wilhelmina. The memory of that day was still fresh in her mind, torturing her insides until she almost felt the need to vomit. Philip, herself and Leland had gone to see her. To reassure her that they would somehow find a way to break that preposterous contract and return her to Terreille. And what did she do? That ungrateful child had screamed for that bastard's offspring. The Warlord Prince named Lucivar Yaslana. He had hurriedly rushed her away from them, her own family! How dare he?! Although Wilhelmina was in no way as mentally fragile as Jaenelle, she was still unstable. She needed to be home with her real family, not that monstrosity and his bastard sons.
Funny to think how that eccentric, disturbed child who wore no Jewels could grow up to be a terrible threat to the realm. She never responded to any of the treatments at Briarwood. When she was actually shown what happened to the children at that damn hospital, she dismissed it as nothing more than an illusion. A twisted fantasy. The girls were put in there to be cured, not toyed with like that. Doctor Carvay was only trying to cure her. Not use Jaenelle as one of those children in that obscured vision. Lies. Just straight out of a sick, monstrous mind.
She had come for two granddaughters, and had left with neither of them and a threat that if they entered Kaeleer again, they would be executed. She knew though, deep down, that if given the choice, which granddaughter would be left behind.
Snarling, she slammed her hand down on the dressing table. That bitch! That lousy, ungrateful, insane bitch! She had taken care of that child, given her as much love as an insane, eccentric, difficult child could handle, and she responded to those years by breaking her. They had placed her in Briarwood to try to cure her, or so she kept telling herself. A thought that should have caused gut-wrenching guilt to bloom passed through her mind. Should have. It was easier to deal with having such a mentally unstable child by locking her away in a hospital and pretending she didn't exist. But it was all for her own good.
No matter what that monster of a man had told her about Jaenelle, she did not believe it. No! A disturbed, fragile woman could not be the promise of a better life. She could not be the most power Queen the history of the Blood had ever seen. As for Witch, that twisted, deformed figure was not what they danced for every year at Winsol. Never! She was merely a demon, one that devoured Jaenelle's spirit in order to use the flesh. Which may explain why Jaenelle was so fragile. The High Lord had lied, she was merely a figurehead in which he hid behind, not some powerful threat. Not Jaenelle, never Jaenelle.
She stared longingly at the empty Opal Jewel. Now, she couldn't even probe the room in order to see what may be lurking in the shadows. Even opening a door with Craft was too much.
A soft tap at the door interrupted her train of thought. She opened it to find a softly weeping Leland. Gently, she drew her into the room. Leland had problems dealing with the fact that Wilhelmina was not coming back. She was even upset about Jaenelle. Why she even bothered to mourn that little bitch, she would not understand. She had shown her granddaughter as much love as she could will herself to give, and received a burden which was too much to handle.
"Why?" Leland wept.
Alexandra swallowed a snarl. Even though she was her daughter, she had no sympathy towards that bitch-queen Jaenelle. Leland was really starting to overdo it.
"Because the monster that calls himself the High Lord decided that he wanted to hide behind his pawn, pretending that she was the strongest Queen ever," Alexandra explained once again.
Leland buried her face in her head. It was obvious who those tears were for now.
"What will he do to Wilhelmina?" she asked.
"Who knows? Perhaps he plans to use her for his own twisted schemes."
Wordless sobbing was the only answer from her daughter. Alexandra began to doubt Leland's sanity. Perhaps Jaenelle and Wilhelmina had inherited some of their mental instability from their mother. Leland was never a strong woman, and this incident must have pushed her over the edge. Alexandra made no move to comfort her.
Another tap at the door snapped her out of her trance. She raised her hand, then slowly lowered it and got up and answered the door. Too much.
Philip Alexander stood in the doorway. Once her consort, now Leland's husband, she suppressed a stab of envy. Silently, he crossed the room and held Leland, rocking her while she cried.
"I think we'll retire now," he said quietly as he helped Leland stand. A quick, wordless nod from Alexandra and he led Leland out the door.
Alexandra closed the door after them and went back to staring out the window. The rain hadn't stopped. It appeared to be pouring down harder than ever.
Suddenly, she realized that a rush of dark power had been gathering for quite sometime. Funny how she never noticed it before. Apparently, being broken had stripped her of her ability to sense things like that until it was either very strong or very near. It was building, gathering in strength and intensity. And spiralling. A dark maelstrom of power, just waiting to be released, waiting to destroy everything in it's path. The maelstrom seemed to reach it's climax, the strength and power so great that it seemed able to wipe out everything it hit. She rushed to the door to warn Leland and Philip, they had to know. But she was too late.
The power ripped free of its previous restraints, destroying everything it hit. It rushed into her, trying to fill her, using her like an empty vessel. She tried to fight it, tried not to get swept away, but this power was to strong. It washed over her like a tidal wave, sweeping her away in it's roaring tirade. She screamed. An intense pain, the feeling of being crushed by too much pressure, then nothing at all.
Outside, the rain continued to fall, splashing on the windows of the Angelline estate.