Notes from the Studio

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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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapters Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four and Thirty-Five.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Thirty-Three       This time when The Lord of Darkness and of Death entered The Queen’s city, none there sought to impede his progress. He brought with him no army of shadows, but only a single companion, the last great hunting beast that stalked close by his side, fitted with an elaborate harness made of shining black leather. Although the crowd filling Her throne room was relieved to have their Queen with them once more, as her presence granted them some measure of protection, they remembered well their time spent in the dungeon of the treacherous Lord and trembled.        As for the great dark creature with his twisting horns it was as if they were not even there. Ignoring the murmuring horde of Fae, he and his hunting beast strode the length of the great hall with all their purpose, intent on only one person: The Queen of Summer’s Twilight.        Clothed in resplendent samite, on Her brow a graceful crown of silver, inlaid with green emeralds and in Her slender hand an elegant scepter of gold, The Queen of All Summer’s Twilight sat upon Her great, high throne. One step below, in his acknowledged place of privilege, Thomas Lynn, Knight of the Rose stood, elegantly fitted in a freshly oiled suit of red leather armor, his unbound hair cascading back over the heavy red cloak that fell almost to the step at his feet. With a troubled heart, he watched the Lord of Shadows advance toward Her throne.       Beside the knight, looking as if she would rather be anywhere else but there, even in her hovel leaning against the wall of The Dark Lord’s crumbling city, stood the bottle witch, Mother Hainter. She spared a concerned glance at Janet and her mother standing two steps beneath, before

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The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Thirty-One and Thirty-Two.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Thirty-One       When at last the companions emerged from the great forest to stand on a hill overlooking the vast rolling plain that swept toward The Queen’s city, Thomas’ heart leaped. Below, the blackened grass and withered trees were verdant once more. The gentle rolling hills spread for as far as his eyes could see, laced with sparkling streams and stands of towering oak in full leaf. Crowding the sky above, birds of every hue and color filled the freshening air with their sweet song.       Considering the vast distance there was yet to travel, the bottle witch shifted her burden uncomfortably from one shoulder to the other. For the first time, Mairi saw the raw red welts left from its straps and she asked her companion, “Surely now, you will allow me to help?”        Mother Hainter turned to the mortal woman, a fragile smile on her face, “Nae dear. This is my burden ta bear for as long as I may.” Then looking at the other companions, she grinned, “The sooner started, the sooner there.”       However, the Moon above waned from full to crescent as the small company crossed the seemingly endless plain as quickly as they were able. As they drew closer to the Queen’s City, they were surprised to discover that the grass around it was still withered, the trees blackened, and the walls rising before them cracked and broken.        Trying to push aside the despair he felt at seeing the now familiar destruction, Thomas’ quickened his pace and was the first to walk through the ruined gates of the city. Janet looked away from his tortured face, saddened in spite of herself by Thomas’ obvious torment. She turned to the bottle witch, “All that happened back there by that awful river of blood,

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