Sit tight, child, and let me tell you the tale of the Masked Queen.

No one could say where she came from, what noble family or poor line of farmers, but whispers of a female warrior of peerless skill and outstanding fairness spread in the Rosca Woods long ago. Long oppressed by the cruel and arbitrary kings of the great riverine city of Seven Isles, the people of the Woods flocked to her banner. After the defeat of the King’s men at the terrible Battle of the Fords, she entered the city in triumph and was pronounced its leader by acclimation.

A curious turn of events, as none had ever seen her face. Nor did any know her name.

The new queen of the Seven Isles was always berobed, and always wore a mask. In her early days it had been wooden, but the only luxuries that she allowed herself in latter days were masks of ornate silver and robes of fine silk. She would choose different masks for different occasions, to express pleasure or displeasure, as her words were always perfectly free of inflection.

The Masked Queen, as she became known due to her refusal to give her true name, was a fair, just, and equitable monarch. By the time of her passing, the Seven Isles had expanded its territory a hundredfold; an elected Duma ran most affairs, and the Queen’s Code regulated the formerly chaotic and despotic lands over which she ruled.

Upon her passing, the Duma removed the Queen’s mask and robes, curious to see at last the form of she who had been their guide for so long. To their great and lasting surprise, there was no face at all beneath the mask, and no body beneath the robes.

There was, instead, only a tangle of brambly branches, grown weak and wormy with age.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!