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I never knew a set of doors could be so scary, like a give-you-nightmares-for-months type of scary. Who would have thought a slab of mahogany could be so frightening? Terrifying even. I guess it wasn't the doors themselves that scared me; it was what lay behind the doors that scared me. My new life. My new scary, dangerous, humiliating life.
A tidal wave of anxiety hit me like a bulldozer; a million thoughts and questions raced in and out of my mind. What if they hated me? What if they treated me like some sort of animal? What if I'm too ugly and they fire me? What if I don't talk the right way? What if I'm not strong enough? I was still lost in paranoia, my hand shaking, hovering above the handle when I heard voices approaching behind me; I hastily pushed the doors open and stepped inside.
I stepped inside hastily shutting the doors softly behind me.
Entering the room I was awestruck; the ceiling rose high above my head, covered in an intricate pattern of swirls and spirals. The walls were carved to match. Constructed out of what I assumed was synthetic glass; or as most of us call it, mirrors. It looks like glass from one side but from the other side its solid wall. Supposedly every inch of this palace is covered in it, someone could be staring right at me from the other side, and I'd have no idea.
I strode to the nearest wall and ran my hand over the carvings. They were beautiful and impossibly intricate. I was overcome with the urge to rush home for a bit of paper and charcoal. Leaning in closer I could see some of the lines begin to take shape; I could see a flower, so expertly carved that every curve of a petal seemed to be purely organic, to the point where I was fully convinced that if I wished, I could reach out and take it. Looking beyond it I could see a fallen soldier lay clutching the stem of the flower close to his chest. His face set in an eternal expression of pain, and sacrifice. Lifting my head I saw the soldier lay resting his head on the lap of a farmer, His head tipped back to the sky, his hat casting a crosshatch shadow over his eyes. I stepped back an inch, and there was a brute, the picture of force, and submission. A full step farther I saw a laborer, back permanently bent, then a servant, a carrier, apprentice, card, maiden, the people all swirled together in a pattern so definite I was amazed I hadn't seen it at first, so loose and organic I could hardly understand how it even existed. The farther back I stepped the more I saw, farther, farther, farther, farth—I hit the wall so hard the breath knocked out of me, above it all, men and women alike, was the queen. Her features were perfect, impossibly so. I would have thought her beautiful had her eyes not betrayed her. A monster laying beneath a human skin. Her hair was held captive under her crown, and the jewels seemed to run with blood. Her head was tipped back and her mouth curved into the smile of someone drunk with power, she held her arms outstretched. Lines flowed from them like liquid fire. They stretched to everyone and everything below her. I suppose it was meant to look like they were all connected as one, united. But all I could see was a queen holding her people captive, like a great puppeteer. humanity in chains.
"Are you the new card?"
I yelped and jumped forward reflexively straightening my coat and tilting my head down toward my feet in the submissive way they usually liked.
"Don't bother with that nonsense, and don't stare at the floor like some sort of wounded animal. look at me"
Well, that's a first.
I turned and lifted my eyes to hers;
she was beautiful.
She was around my age, maybe a tad younger; her hair was a brown with a reddish tint and was tied up loosely in two braided knots behind her ears.
"I'm Liliana. You can call me Iana."
a moment passed,
She raised her eyebrows.
"Oh, yes, sorry ma-, I mean, uh, sorry, I'm Amin."
She rolled her eyes.
Her eyes flickered,
I looked away.
Another moment passed.
"So, what did you see?"
she rolled onto her heels and gave me a crooked sort of smile.
"First, I told you to stop saying that. Second, I mean what did the wall show you? what did you see? I really hope you are an interesting one or I will be bored out of my mind!" She said with a groan.
She continued, "The last one was insufferably bland, I asked him the same and all he said was 'a cow, miss'. Can you believe it? absolutely no depth! and, he said "miss" that's even worse than "ma'am" I sincerely hope you can provide me with a bit more of an interesting perspective. I am in dire need of some manner of mental stimulation."
Wow. She talks allot; and very fast. I could only stand and stare for a moment trying to make sense of her words, Her many, many, words.
"I, uh, saw the queen. and her... people." I managed to say, I barely stopped myself from adding "ma'am". I still wasn't sure how exactly she wanted me to address her.
her face blanched.
"Come with me. Now."
my heart accelerated.
This was it. I was over. I had barely been here 10 minutes and I had already gotten myself sacked; or worse.
She grabbed my arm with a surprising amount of force and yanked me through the archway and into a dark hallway; I barely had time to blink.
I continued stumbling behind her in silence for what could have been years until she suddenly opened a door near the end of the hallway, it was slightly different from the others. It looked new, unused, but in an ancient sort of way; as if it was forgotten in time.
she shoved me in before her.
She closed the door slowly, and turned even slower, to face me.
"Tell me exactly what you saw."