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False Portrait

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Life was busy for the Light of Meridian, Queen Elyon of the Escandor bloodline; formerly know as Elyon Brown of Earth. At a mere fourteen years old, the young girl was expected to rule over a vast land filled with subjects who depended upon her for guidance and protection. It was a heavy weight that had been suddenly thrust upon her awaiting shoulders and although she tried her best to soldier on, for the sake of fulfilling her duty, she found that she became tired and worn down more often than not.
 
Previously, that is, shortly after her coronation, the might of her magical powers and cheerful countenance had been able to sustain her, throughout the chaotic mess, that inevitably occurs when a land that had been subjugated under a tyrant tries to stand once more on it's own two feet. However, she was no longer the naively optimistic girl she had once been. Being captured by Nerissa and forced to see her friends and people under attack once more, had given her time to reflect and gave the whirlwind of all that had occurred to her in such a short space of time, the ability to nestle uncomfortably within her mind. Nowadays, she felt her responsibilities far more keenly and the presence of her crown - which had once felt so magically light - seemed to bear down upon her as a constant reminder of all that it had cost, simply so that it could rest upon her head.
 
Questions upon questions…during her busy days the Queen found herself delving into thoughts darker than her youthful mind would have normally allowed, had she been fully rested. Always, niggling at the back of her mind were doubts and queries concerning numerous things. Be it the nature of her powers, the safety of her realm, sorrow and longing for her friends and the previous life she had lived, her adoptive and true parents…and that last train of thought leads to the one that troubles her most. In fact, this particular ghost seems to haunt her daily.
 
Memories follow her down the long (endless to her) corridors of the palace. Whispered words resound inside of her mind in the dead of night; they are cruel (but sometimes they seem kind and for some reason that hurts all the more) .The face, similar in appearance to her own, sometimes smiling softly, other times – most of the time – smirking, in what can only be described as evil delight, drifts in and out of the corner of her eye. Of course she knows that such imaginings are merely tricks of the light (she had checked with magic – just in case). After all, logically, she understood that the man to whom that face belongs, is locked up in a cell (but he’s escaped before hasn’t he?).
 
It frustrated her, these ‘hauntings’ why did that man still hold power over her after all this time? She is more powerful than he is and she’s wiser now. She wouldn't be taken in by his pretty lies even if he did somehow manage to find a way back inside the castle (she desperately hopes this to be the case). But that's what's eating at her isn't it? The fact that she had been so easily fooled had rattled her true but it was the betrayal, the lies, the offering of a false place to call home, a place to belong, that had cut her the most deeply. A slight frown adorns her face as she thinks so. Betrayal? Could she even call it that, when there had been no loyalty to begin with?

With a sigh, all of her outward gracefulness is replaced by a much more fitting posture for a teenage girl, shoulders hunched, eyes turned downward.

She is sitting on her bed - the same one that had been gifted to her on her first day in Meridian, back when she still believed that a fairy tale had inexplicably come true. It's an ornate bed for certain, impossibly soft with the finest quality silks for the sheets. The surrounds are similar, with all the aristocratic trappings that one might expect from a royal's private chambers. There are also some personal touches of course, not least of which includes the framed photograph of her and her friends (the guardians as they are known by the general populace) which captures one of the rare times of 'normalcy' after a trip to the movies, to see Vance James Michael's latest movie back on Earth.

However, at this point in time - well after nightfall, with the candles burning low (sillily enough, she always felt vulnerable in the dark) - Elyon was not focused on any of these things.

No, if one were to peek through the doorway they would see her looking down at a piece of parchment, clenched in in such a way that it looked as if she was torn between throwing it away or drawing it ever closer. Perhaps, after viewing her the intruder would consider asking the lady of the castle what ailed her but upon further inspection, the look of pure focus - as if in a trance, would be sure enough to send the them on his or her way. Some things weren't meant to be interrupted.

Although, they might have reconsidered, if only they had seen the image depicted on that innocuous piece of parchment -

- or the blurred patches, indicating the past presence of dampness.

- or the tear at the top, which suggested that it had almost been torn in half at some point.

- or perhaps (most concerning of all) the delicate, patterned creases, which ran in neat lines along it's surface, showing the dedicated care that had been put into preserving it.

Cerulean eyes carefully swept along the drawing, taking in every little stroke and detail that had been lovingly crafted back at the time of it's creation. They continued to observe until the dying flickers of candle-flame failed to illuminate the portrait.

With an intake of breath, Elyon swiftly re-folded the parchment as she had done many times before and proceeded to place it in a small golden chest, all the while being careful not to look at the opposite . The chest had no lock and could only be opened her magic. She'd originally had it crafted as a storage place for important documents and in her mind had dubbed it 'Elyon's box of secrets' until she had quickly done away with such petty and childish thoughts. But since the completion of the royal vault (a project begun by her mother, apparently, until her death had put a stop to any further plans) she only used it to house a singular item.

This procedure is a precise ritual of hers. Even though she avoids opening the box as much as possible, for some reason it is the only thing that seems to sooth her, when her worries grow too great or her imagination runs too wild. In the morning, she'll feel sick and disgusted with herself, she knows. 'You stupid girl, you're supposed to be a Queen but whenever you get scared of reality you run straight back to the lie that monster made for you, as if he'll somehow comfort you like he once pretended' is what she'll undoubtedly think.

But for now it's the night-time, the time she feels the most vulnerable and the only time she'll allow herself this pretty lie once more.

Slipping under the covers, long lashes begin to feel heavy and draw closed but her mind is still awake. Thoughts drifting aimlessly, her mind tiptoes back to the sketch she had only just been looking at.
Her brother's face, as she had once known it, stares back at her. His eyes appear to look on with affection, his smile is mysterious, his posture presents him as powerful but not threatening. She had thought him wise, beautiful and the sibling she had never known she'd wanted. Briefly, her mind's eye flickers to another portrait she had drawn of him. It was most lifelike of all her works, with cruel eyes, a prideful smirk and imposing figure, she had captured the darkness that had resided within his soul. Looking at it reminded her of their confrontation, when he revealed his true nature.

('Goodbye, Phobos you were never my brother')

Yet, that was the picture she had chosen to destroy, being unable to look at it any longer. Instead she kept the one that was nothing more than a sweet lie. Similarly, her thoughts push the offending creature away and switches back to the princely vision that seemed to have come straight out of a fairy tale.

Fairy tales are always too good to be true, she now knows. But sometimes the truth hurts too much to bear.

END.