Notes from the Studio

The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Nineteen.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Nineteen       Janet took Thomas’ hand and led him along the long, carpeted hallway that ran down the length of the west wing of the house. Part way, she pushed open what looked like a simple closet door leading into a small room filled with cleaning supplies and boxes stacked against every wall. For a moment, Janet fumbled with a catch set almost invisibly in the elaborate wood railing that followed the length of all four walls. From the floor beneath their feet came a sudden hum of an electric motor as a narrow entranceway slid back to reveal a metal stairway that descended into total darkness.       With one foot on the stairs, Janet turned back, and noticing the quizzical expression on Tom’s face, she grinned, “Never underestimate the stubborn curiosity of a young girl.” Moments later, they stood in midst of complete darkness, their feet on a solid stone floor. Before she flicked a switch to illuminate the windowless room, Janet whispered, “I was twelve years old when I discovered this room and immediately claimed it for my own.”        At one end of the long, narrow space was a plush chair that sat beside a small table with a reading lamp. A large, comfortable bed piled high with quilts and pillows, was pushed against the wall. Most of the rough, stone walls were covered in intricate tapestries. The stone flagging at their feet was made comfortable by layers of thick Turkish rugs. All along one wall was a single, floor-to-ceiling bookcase crammed with books, puzzles, and board games.       Tom looked down into her smiling face and spoke for the first time. “There was a bolt hole like this in my family’s home as well.” And answering the question in Janet’s eyes he continued, “We used

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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Eighteen.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Eighteen        Resplendent, even wearing cast off clothing, Thomas, The Knight of the Rose looked intently down at Janet. Meeting his ardent gaze, she felt a pleasant shiver prickle the flesh of her arms and neck.        Beside his daughter, John Ravenscroft considered the meaning behind that deeply intimate look and uncomfortably shifted his considerable bulk on the couch. “Well, yes…of course, but we have other matters to discuss, don’t we? All my life I’ve discounted anything that smacked of the imagination or fantasy. It was all nothing to me, fit only for weak minds or young children. Now, I find that I must throw away the rules that have always determined my life and accept that a vast unseen world exists as a matter of hard fact.”       He grasped his daughter’s hand more firmly and looked seriously up at the young man who had just pledged himself to her. “It will be difficult, so please have patience with me?”       After a moment, John Ravenscroft moved back into his own chair, leaving the sofa for Tom to sit beside his daughter. Janet whispered a question, then, that was so soft that both men almost didn’t hear it. “Tom, the world that you come from, the one that I saw through this Queen’s eyes, is it always as ugly as that huntsman and his creatures make it seem?”       “No, my Lady, not always. There is danger there of course, always great danger, but also more beauty than will ever be found on this earth. The inhabitants of that land are called the Fae. You would call them fairies and have diminished your terror of them by making them small creatures that inhabit your nursery tales, living at the bottom of your gardens. But, as you’ve seen tonight, they

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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Seventeen.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Seventeen       A full hour later John Ravenscroft walked into the great room of the house. His daughter Janet lay unconscious on the plush couch, her arms still tightly wrapped around the mysterious man who had helped save both their lives. Thomas looked up at John, cautiously following his every move as if he were ready to bolt like a wild animal caught in a trap.       The older man cleared his throat before speaking. “Well, I suppose you have no idea where the medical unit is located here, but I think it might be better for my daughter if we took her there now.”       Thomas’ face implacably hardened, “No. My Lady…Janet, before she succumbed made me promise that she would remain here, in this room, until she awakens. It seems that your daughter has little trust in her own father.”       “I see. Janet, you will find, can be quite stubborn.” A look of complete weariness fell over the elder Ravenscroft’s features. He rubbed his tired eyes before continuing. “Well then, I placed a call to Janet’s physician, Dr. Nehran, and without giving away too many incriminating details, asked his advice. There’s really not much we can’t do right here in this room. Just keep her quiet and warm and let her body heal itself. Assuming, of course, that there are no serious physical injuries?”       “I have checked. There are none.”       “Under these particular circumstances, I told the good doctor to remain at home. I really have no wish to cause yet another death this evening.”       Quietly then, John slid an over-stuffed chair across the room closer to the couch and fell tiredly into it. Calmly looking at the young man that meant so much to his daughter, he began to evaluate their uncertain future. He carefully

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