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Mirror Lake

The Changing of the Guard

By Kimberly HindsPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 3 min read
Mirror Lake in the Kingdom Dezmery

There weren't always dragons in the valley. Papa once kept Sparkulies in that part of the kingdom too. These were translucent lizard-like beasts which grew almost as big as the juvenile dragons. They had roamed freely and proudly here, pacing about with their knobbly clawed feet in search of food. With their barrelled torsos revealing their pink and mustard coloured innards, they would have been quite terrifying if it weren't for their comical, giant blue splayed ears that waved like sea anenome. But once they got a taste for the flowering Eonapod, with its precious and poisonous petals, they had all died out by the end of the season. It was a shame really. Greed. The downfall of so many creatures in Dezmery.

This bottom corner of the kingdom is always dark with heavy rain clouds over it. In the deepest part, rests a majestic mirrored lake. From the distance, the lake appears still and calming, but from within it, emit haunting sounds of murdered mermaids' last breaths, swirling up through the cold air, over and over. If you are too close, their cries will catch you by the throat, shutting your windpipe, and only releasing when you, gasping and starting to turn blue, truly believe your time is up. When the wind is just so, the sounds travel into my bedroom window at the top of the castle, and make their way into my dreams. Dreams I say. There are, of course, only nightmares now.

Every night, before Papa sits down to enjoy a feast in the family dining hall, he orders the wizards to bring the traitorous mermaids down to the lake to meet their demise. It helps with his appetite, he tells my stepmother, Villifoya, and I, with spit forming around his lips. So, over our long dining table, laid with ornate goblets and an array of silver platters with delicacies such as winged boar on a spit and spicy fried imp legs, Papa will conjure up the image of the mermaids on their death trail. And we will watch with him, to be polite.

This small team of outcast wizards, which we refer to - in hushed voices - as the Hazarrds, are tasked with executing the mermaids in the centre of the lake. The wizards, too, must regret being caught. Stripped of their magical powers, they are shackled to each other by an elaborate system made up not of metal hand and leg cuffs, but hands and limbs of deceased women. Pairs of gangrened hands attached to floating sinewy arms grasp around their ankles - for wizards hate nothing more than the touch of a female human. They are forced to walk bare foot across the thorny sodden ground, their long beards traipsing down, the only thing free about them. Just seeing them pad heavily and painfully between the cloud kingdom and the bottom of the valley serves as a good lesson for anyone considering breaking Dezmerian order.

The mermaids arrive in a row of clear tanks of salt water, each the size of a small wardrobe, which the wizards drag out on wheels. Every tank holds one mermaid. Their tails are already limp and dull, with no sign of the bright shimmering colours they once displayed. They look as though they have given up, but as they are drowned - it takes just seven minutes with no air - they will scream hysterically through the water. I understand they have wronged the kingdom, falling prey to lust and greed, but I still hate hearing the gurgled wails. They are murdered for Papa's pleasure.

It's not surprising that I have no appetite at dinner, and am sent to my room early, up the long winding dusty staircase, lit with rows of burning candles in pots of melted wax. My door is then locked behind me, and guarded by my father's senior assistant, Rapul, the only ogre ever allowed to live in the kingdom.

From downstairs, I can hear my stepmother complaining about my behaviour. "A girl of 16 should not be allowed to carry on in such a manner..." She resents me with such passion, for it is I that will be crowned Queen when Papa, already so elderly, passes on, not her or her unborn child. That child kicks so strongly from within her that my servants and I don't believe it is his. The child is reminding her of the fight that lies ahead of them. Because only a child with ogre blood can create such a stir from a belly.


About the Creator

Kimberly Hinds

A New Zealand-based freelance writer living in Auckland, New Zealand, and author of many emails. Graduate of Massey University Journalism School, and lover of empty calories and overpriced oriental cats.

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