Notes from the Studio

The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapters Forty-One, Forty-Two and the Epilog.

© Charles Vess 2019     Chapter Forty-One       Janet screamed over the pounding of the hooves, “All of you here are on a fool’s errand this night.”        Only the slight flicker of hands on reigns and the turning of Her steed made the mortal girl aware that The Queen had heard her. Then once, twice, three times the mounted Host of Fairy circled moonwise round the hill before coming to an abrupt halt. And there they stood in furious and malevolent silence, rank upon rank, thousands deep, their banners still snapping softly in the breeze.       In the heather at Janet’s feet, on either side of her captive, the silver foxes sat and waited and watched with great curiosity. Then crouching low, their delicate snouts close to Thomas’ ears, they began to whisper such stories to him as eased the anger in his heart.        Above them all, thick, racing clouds, broke apart to reveal the full moon and a sky full of swiftly tilting stars.        Her eyes locked with Janet’s, The Queen stilled the great steed that She sat astride and finally spoke, “Mortal, what you and these others do here this night angers me. You trespass on My kingdom without My leave as well as disrupt a sacred rite. ”Then She turned Her gaze on the huge black mare that waited behind its companions, “And you Pooka, what business is this of yours? Your antics have ever displeased me and were why I banished you from my court long ago, were they not?”       Without waiting for an answer, The Lady gestured at Thomas and continued, “My Knight is held by stronger ties than any net you may have. His foolish vow, long since given to honor any pledge spoken by Myself makes him very precious tonight indeed.”        At her side, The Dark

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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapters Thirty-Nine and Forty.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Thirty-Nine        Since the night that so many had been slaughtered at his front gates, everyone that had ever worked for John Ravenscroft had tendered their resignations, leaving him alone to look after the great, empty house. So, it was that the lovely singing voice that carried down the hall and into John’s office where he sat with his head buried in his folded arms, fast asleep, was the first welcoming sound to counter the stillness that had settled for so long over his estate.       After they had returned the night before, Janet, claiming exhaustion, had immediately retreated to her room. But Mairi had been too excited at being home again to follow her daughter’s example and had walked with her husband, arm-in-arm, through the great house. Arms linked she had begun to tell him a little of what had happened in that otherland.        Later, after Mairi succumbed to exhaustion as well and fell asleep intheirbedroom, John had felt awkward joining her after so long a time apart. So, he’d gone down the hall to his office and sat at his desk where he tried to carefully consider everything he’d heard and seen that night.       For him, there had been six long months alone in a great empty house where he’d spent far too many hours dealing with the aftermath of that single night of mayhem. But it was his intense guilt over the disappearance of his daughter and wife that had kept him up so many sleepless nights. Determined to devote himself solely to finding his family, Ravenscroft had resigned as CEO of his vast business enterprise and walked away from all the myriad boards that had plundered so much of his time.        John’s casual observation had made him certain time in the otherworld that had

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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapters Thirty-Six, Thirty-Seven and Thirty-Eight.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Thirty-Six       As the words of the song faded, Janet sat silently gazing at the distant figure below in elegant red armor that knelt now in supplication before his Queen. “Thomas, what do I have to do to bring you safely home?” She turned back to her mother. “Good for her but there’s more to the song isn’t there?”       “Yes. The Queen is left angered and vengeful, cursing the girl and the man she rescued.”       Janet couldn’t stop her bitter words. “Just like this bloody bitch of a Queen who is set on ruining her Knight’s life and his fucking honor.”       Mairi considered her long-absent daughter for a moment, wishing back the years lost to them both before almost whispering, “Janet, forgive me, but I don’t think such casual doggerel will ever get us the answers we need, or even, deserve.”        Quietly the older woman continued, “I didn’t at first, but don’t you think that perhaps even our Queen, unlike the Lady of the ballad, left with some small measure of happiness?”       Hands clenched, Janet cried out, “No. I. Don’t!”       Trying to sooth her daughter’s distress, Mairi asked, “Is there no forgiveness in your heart for Her then? For all She has done to my life I do look for it in mine.”       Gazing at her daughter’s face, set hard with anger, Mairi sighed, “After all, there is still some tiny part of The Queen lodged within us both. It always will be.” Mairi’s hand rose to gently stroke her daughter’s shocked face. “Our friend the bottle witch once explained that there was no reason for either one of us to fear that thought. After all, it gifts us with the sight to see this land and all the beauty that is here.”       Janet whispered hollowly,

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