Royal Fortress in the Meadow: Part II

(Part I can be found in this link)

The Lady’s Boudoir

The Lady sits at her vanity table, checking her hair and appearance. She is clad in a silken, amethyst-hued robe; her hair is swathed high atop her head in a warm, moist towel; her face is a mask of serene tranquility, and her eyes dance with mirth. Ravel’s “Bolero” issues softly from the fluted horn of an old Victrola, which has been expertly modified into an open-faced, top-loading CD player.
She sips tea, regarding her reflection, then blots her lips delicately and stands. She glides to the majestic bed, looking at the garment laid out on the bedspread, then turns to look at a bare dress-form near the vanity. After a moment, she sits back down and pours a fresh cup, adds a touch of honey, and stirs it with a silver spoon. She leans back in the chair, tapping the fingers of her right hand idly on the edge of the vanity, deep in thought.

“Something needs to be done…and I suppose I’m the only one who can instigate it,” she mutters to herself. “This discord, this…strife – there’s too much chaos. Order must be restored.” She opens a drawer, removes a cell-phone, and places it on the vanity top. She closes the drawer, powers on the phone, and sips more tea as she thinks. Setting the cup down, she picks up the phone and selects one of the four contacts, then quickly taps out a text.

She presses ‘Send,’ then picks up a bottle of lotion and applies some to her elbows and knees. She massages the emollients into her skin slowly and gently, relaxing as she waits for a reply. “Bolero” ends – a piece by Vivaldi commences. The Lady wipes excess lotion onto a damp towel, glancing at the phone as it chimes softly. She sips more tea, then picks up the phone and reads the one-word reply. Her brow furrows slightly as she taps her own response, thinks for a moment, and finally presses ‘Send.’ She looks at the garment on the bed again, then back at the empty dress-form. She turns back to the mirror and removes the damp towel from atop her head, freeing her hair slowly and gently. She runs her fingers through the wet thickness, pulling strands upward and outward. The phone chimes again as another message is received. The Lady dries her hands, picks up the phone, and reads the longer message there. She smiles slightly, taps out three words, then presses ‘Send.’ She sets the phone down again and then looks at the selection of bottles on the vanity. She selects three of them, carefully measuring the contents of each into a large, shallow glass bowl which is filled to nearly spilling with warm, distilled water. A wide-toothed comb rests in the water – she swirls it around a bit, then runs it through her hair. She repeats the motion again and again…swirl and comb; swirl and comb – she does this until each strand has been lovingly tended to.

The phone chimes once more. She wipes her hands clean again and reaches for the phone, but two things occur:
First, the garment on the bed shimmers softly, then gleams brighter, then bursts into pale blue flames. They burn brightly, yet emit neither heat nor smoke – somehow, the bedspread remains unharmed. At the same time, the dress-form begins to shimmer with argent sparkles. They float and dance, weaving a garment onto the dress-form, seemingly creating new materials from the one that is diminishing, consumed by the blue fire that now dances on, and hides, the entire bed. The licking flames die down, revealing a dress of fine, intricately-woven chain.

The Lady watches, transfixed, her hands flying to her head and swiftly braiding her hair into a thick French knot without a second thought. This task done, she stands and removes her robe, letting it fall. She is clad in simple, white cotton panties and bra, stark contrast to her mahogany skin, and quite plain in comparison to the otherwise opulent, luxurious items in her boudoir. She turns back to the dress-form, regarding the splendid new garment that awaits her. Smiling, she twirls over to the vanity and picks up the phone. She reads the message there, then taps out her final two words: “Thank you.” She presses ‘Send’ and makes certain that it was received successfully, then powers down the phone and replaces it in the drawer. She carefully removes the garment from the dress-form and holds it for a moment, almost reverently. It has been some time since a gift of armour was bequeathed to her – finally, it has been duly earned. She puts it on and admires her reflection for a moment, beaming with a joy that is almost feral in its intensity. Her face becomes a smooth twin’s of the Amazon’s aspect – primal and fiercely beautiful – then she is the Lady again, poised and proper, prepared for any and every occasion. Finally, she takes the new outfit from the bedspread and carefully wraps it in a bolt of fine, dark linen.

She dims the lights and exits, pausing to take a long carrying-case from behind the door. She walks swiftly through a small hedge maze to the grotto and makes her way to the sacrificial slab, glancing up briefly at the still-dark skies, relieved that the decision was made in time. The Sage still sits at the entrance of the labyrinth, and she turns to regard the Lady. She sees the bundle that the Lady carries, and smiles beatifically. “So…it’s time, is it?” The Lady nods. The Sage grins, placing a hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “We finally remember our order – it’s been too long since we found proper balance; let’s hope that we don’t forget it too soon, this time!” Her hair visibly elongates, the dreadlocks becoming vines that tangle with the surrounding overgrowth – which springs to new abundant life. Her eyes are black pits in her face, which has become the dark hue of wet oak. Slender leaves sprout throughout her tresses as she grasps one of the vines. “Well – you know how to reach me from here on out…I have much work to do! Our roles have been dictated – so, it begins.” With that, the Sage hoists herself swiftly upwards, clambering expertly among the vines and branches that seem to lean out, providing hand- and foot-holds up the sheer edifice of the Tower.

The Lady watches until the Sage is out of sight, finally turning her attention to the dark archway. Soft, steady footfalls echo from within. They get closer…closer…closer still. The Lady holds the parcels, watching, waiting for the Lover to emerge.

She waits.

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