Author: Amber Michelle
Challenge: 22 – mistake
Word Count: 620
Game: Shadow Dragon
Warnings: spoilers for the end.
Also, not quite for the challenge, but inspired by it. Cross-posted at runiclore.
Minerva takes the crown of Macedon when the war is over, holds it in her fist - she has yet to place it upon her head, though her advisers admonish her (for flinging it away, for leaving it in its case, for wearing armor to court). Maria tells her it's only a symbol, and wearing it doesn't mean she has become their brother. Minerva tells her how ridiculous that idea is and her sister lets the matter drop, but she insists, come naming day, that the useless piece of metal be worn to the party thrown in their honor, because it is Maria's birthday too and she has no use for gifts.
It takes two hours of fussing to wear the circlet correctly so it doesn't make a hideous monster of her hair, more time than Minerva has spent on anything short of sharpening an axe or repairing her armor. She knows it for a mistake when they enter the ballroom arm-in-arm and she sees several faces darken, creased by frowning wrinkles and worried lines.
Michalis murdered their father, not Minerva - yet she cut her brother down, made of Macedon's crown a blood prize, a traitor's brand. Today they remember.
It doesn't matter what they think, sister. He gave his blessing, and he did it freely.
Yes, freely-- with her axe to his throat. I would have the blessing of the court instead, Maria, though you would make a lovely queen.
The chancellor comes to greet them with his wife, and they must abandon their conversation to congratulate the two on the knighting of their daughter, to sip pale golden champagne, to nibble on flat crackers laden with soft cheese in delicate swirls and crowned with thin slices of olives. Maria speaks to the curate who taught her the use of staves, pats the wings of his gray hair, and tells him of her plans to join Lena at her convent in the north, where orphans and those impoverished by the war are most numerous.
Minerva accepts compliments on her dress (you cut a striking figure in black, my queen and I have never seen such delicate gold embellishments - who is your seamstress) and wonders if it was a mistake to let Michalis hide - if, perhaps, it was a mistake to let him live at all, though he repents. This is his fault; she is a warrior, and her language is the clash of blades, the rush of air as her wyvern leaps into flight. She formulates plans based on terrain, troop reports, enemy reputation.
I must admit the rebellion on the eastern field worries us, comes a murmur from one of her elder courtiers, head of a house nearly as old as Lena's. What will you do?
Ride out to meet them.
But your majesty, you are far too important--
It is the people that make a country, not the king-- not the queen. She believes Michalis understood this, and the sacrifices he made, the mistakes, their father's blood let, were all meant to preserve Macedon, no matter the cost to himself, to her, to Maria. Minerva must believe this. If she dies, if she goes astray, Macedon will live on in her sister's care.
Important. Famine runs rampant within her borders. She cannot fight hunger, but she can strike down the worst of the symptoms.
She cannot fight guilt, but she can make of Macedon the land it should be, succeed where her brother failed.
I am a warrior, my lord. I will fight. Minerva hands her glass to a passing servant and takes her brother's stance, feet shoulder-width apart, an arm folded to her back. Like my brother before me.