The last rays of sunlight vanished behind the small mountains that lay beyond the sprawling city. Dusk had always been Guinevere Straud’s favorite time of day…not because she was protected from the Sun’s curse but because of the picturesque scene: orange faded into dark inky purple, with blues and pinks interwoven. It reminded her of her late mother and the paintings they both loved.
Guinevere stood at her window, overlooking the vast city of San Myshuno and the bay. Guinevere knew she could stand in that spot for hours as the sky grew darker just to watch the city illuminate the sky…but she couldn’t: There was a sharp pain followed by a loud grumbling in her stomach, alerting her to her thirst.
While in the kitchen she pulled a small juice pouch from the refrigerator. Before sitting on the couch, she poked the straw through the top of the purple caduceus…and drank the sweet plasma she craved. She set the empty pouch on the coffee table and picked up the remote to flip through the channels on the television; this was how she spent her early waking hours.
Knock knock knock. – Three thundering knocks was all it took for her life to change forever. For a brief moment Guinevere didn’t want to open the door – she was content on the couch – but deep down she felt as though she had no choice. With a press of a button, the television was off. She tossed her empty plasma pack into the trash and walked to the door. Before answering she smoothed her top and fluffed her hair.
As soon as she opened the door and saw who her visitor was, her demeanor changed from curious to flat-out annoyance: Her arms crossed over her chest and she didn’t try masking the sour look on her face.
“Uncle Bernard! What are you doing here?” She took in his appearance: Gaunt and his normally warm brown eyes were cold and dull. His usually neat hair was unusually unruly and unkempt. But the two things that seemed the most odd was his black attire, and his jovial expression was gone…in its place was a grim expression reserved for death. “Who?” was all she could ask to keep her composure. Guinevere couldn’t bear the thought of losing someone else close to her. That’s the curse of immortality. her rational side tried to sooth her panic, but it didn’t help. My brother…then my mother.
“Gwen, I am so sorry. I think you should sit down before I tell you.” Her uncle reached out to take her arm, to lead her into her apartment living space.
She refused. Her arms remained crossed and her stance unmoving: She needed to know what was going on, and she needed to know now. The sour look of annoyance twisted into anger.
“Tell me. Please Uncle.” Her anger was ebbing and worry was setting in. The anticipation was like adrenaline, she couldn’t feel anything except the moment.
“Guinevere, your father. He’s dead.” Those words resonated in Guinevere’s mind, her soul, and her heart.
She could feel her heart shattering into a million pieces and into the pit of her stomach. She felt ill, dizzy, confused. She felt her body falling after she was already on the floor. An ear shattering scream followed by loud body-shaking sobs echoed throughout the apartment. Bernard was silent and let her sob for a moment before speaking up. “Your Majesty, I am sorry but we need to go. You can mourn later…The League is waiting for you.”
“Let the lady mourn, sir.” A man – Guinevere’s roommate – approached Guinevere and Bernard. Upon hearing his voice Guinevere’s sobs died down and she wiped the red tears.
“Thank you Diego but my uncle is right. I can’t mourn until after everything is in order.” Diego held a hand out for Guinevere, and she readily took it – Her legs were still shaking and she felt weak – she was thankful for Diego’s help. He pulled her up with ease and wrapped his arms tightly around her in a comforting embrace.
“Eres fuerte, mi Reina.” He whispered in a low voice before pressing his lips to her forehead. “Now go. Go deal with the League…I’ll take care of this place in your absence.” Diego’s kindness had always been a beacon in her stormy moods. She kissed his cheek and left her friend’s embrace. Diego left the room with a deep bow. His footsteps echoed down the hall.
Bernard waited for the sound of a door closing before he returned his attention to his niece.
“Let’s sit so you can regain your strength.” Bernard held his arm out. This time Guinevere took the gesture and followed him to the couch. They both sat and were silent. Guinevere struggled to keep her sobs at bay, but the tears still flowed freely.
“How did he die?” She finally asked.
“No one knows for sure. Mimsy and I awoke one evening and he was gone. Finally we decided to break into his room, we would deal with the consequences later. I broke down the door but she was the one who found the urn. Next to it was a note from Death himself, confirming that your father’s ashes were in the urn. Mimsy suspects suicide, I just rule it as accidental. You know how frail he was in the sun.” To Guinevere, this whole thing sounded fishy. Not that she was suspecting her uncle and aunt, but for her father to kill himself.
“Sorry uncle, but this just makes no sense. He loved living his life, so why would he end it?” The only idea she could come up with to explain suicide was that he missed Elizabeth – Guinevere’s mother, and Vladislaus’ mate. “He lived centuries without my mother, and it’s been a century since her death. I refuse to believe my father offed himself over my mother.”
“Once you find your mate, you’ll understand. He was showing signs of extreme depression. He’s been more withdrawn…keeping to himself and his room in the Pit. He didn’t find enjoyment in things anymore.” The feelings of regret and guilt began to plague Guinevere, but instead of blaming herself she lashed out.
“And no one thought to tell me? As his heir, one would think it to be prudent to tell me about any changes in his personality or routine. So I could, oh I dunno, prepare to take over?”
“Mimsy didn’t want to worry you. But now we know that we should have. Be angry at us all you want, but we really need to go if we’re going to make it before sunrise. Pack the essentials, I’ll send the humans to get the rest during the day.”