Authors: Gianna Perada
a novel by
This novel is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and scenarios hail from the author’s imagination—they are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Copyright © 2012 by Giánna Perada
All rights reserved.
Permission to use any part of this novel, including characters or places, must be obtained in writing directly from the author/publisher.
Second Edition – 2012
Typesetting, Cover, and Book Layout Design:
Redeye Design Haus
This book is dedicated to the many years in between; to my parents for all of their understanding and support, for their good choices that showed me how to do things and
for their bad choices that showed me real life and what not to do; to my brother for being there for me whenever he could through his own growth and turmoil; to Sara and Danialle who read this in its many revisions and always loved it enough to keep me motivated; to Tracy who I love and miss every single day; to all the broken hearts I left in the world and the ones who touched mine; and finally, to my sweet hubby... I love you.
The year was 1774. The King of the United Spectrum’s vast estate was clearly marked by the dissipation of dense, lush forest. The stone castle walls, kept constantly bleached, sparkled with blinding white glimmer, forcing the eye to behold the magnificence of each structure. Surrounding this monumental brilliance stood the scattered villages of common citizens who fought to live under the reign of King Morgan.
Morgan cared for only one thing: his appeasement; anything aside from that was considered frivolous. One of the many pawns in his arena of self-amusement was his group of Players, a highly admired troop of actors who toured the United Spectrum year round. Morgan would spend every waking hour directing, changing at the spur of a moment, and choreographing his plays. To act out these scripts put tremendous strain on the actors. They had to extend their abilities to acclaim Morgan of his “gift for writing.”
To put it simply, he was known as a horrible playwright; however, his Players were quite prestigious, known for their excellence in acting the parts assigned to them and making the stories come alive.
Perfectly aware of the incompetence on Morgan’s part, Roman Demone longed to join the troop that continuously captured the hearts of the public. He had always dreamed of becoming an actor, but making it to the Royal Stage was challenging for a man who grew up on the streets with no name and no money. Morgan was extremely close-minded when it came to the ancestry of his group. Roman had no relatives who were once great actors, nor did he possess excellence in his bloodline. He knew only his determination, his will to become more and make his life meaningful, worth something.
Unable to forfeit his dreams, Roman decided to approach the king with the austere, powerful air that classified a Morgan Player. One cool summer evening, after weeks of rigorous rehearsing, he went to the Royal Estate to attempt an unscheduled audition. Morgan was just pulling up in a carriage pulled by six massive Friesian stallions. The horses’ bodies were a rich, velvety black, and they had thick, flowing manes and tails. Immense barefooted hooves click-clacked on the cobblestone path as they passed, sending out heavy vibrations that ricocheted off the stone walls. Their feathered fetlocks added to the sheer luxuriousness, their bowed heads and calm demeanor sent an indescribable sense of magic to Roman. He lingered at the gate, instilled with the feeling, admiring the horses with pure respect.
Pulling his eyes away from the beauty, he stood patiently in front of the gates, waiting to be noticed. Upon catching Morgan’s wary eye, Roman held his breath and bowed to his Majesty as he stepped down from the lush coach.
“Allow me to introduce myself,” Roman exhaled, pushing his head between the bars of the side gate. “My name is Roman Demone. I would pardon to show you something, if I may, your Majesty,” he said with a higher voice than anticipated. He cleared his throat in vain.
Morgan, with a flickered motion, signaled his guards.
“Please, your Majesty, I beg you to give me this one chance to prove my talents to you,” Roman persisted, pulling his head back through the gate, catching his ear. He yelped. “Please, only a few moments of your time and, if you are dissatisfied, you will never see me again.”
Morgan turned around to face Roman, expressionless. “Demon, is it?”
“Dee-moan,” Roman said phonetically, feeling suddenly like a dog wagging its tail at the owner’s acknowledgment. Morgan may not have said his name correctly, but it was close; he had heard him.
“I beg your pardon?” Morgan asked, annoyed with being spoken to as a child.
“Yes, sir. Demone,” Roman replied quickly. What an idiot!
“Which town are you from?” Morgan inquired, plucking invisible somethings from his heavy wool cloak.
Roman smiled, sure his answer would give him the go-ahead. “Well, your Highness, I am from Aqua,” he announced, indicating his surroundings, then bowed so low he could smell the moist earth at his feet.
Hearing a sarcastic chuckle, he stood up straight. “Why do you laugh, your Majesty?” he dared. He was dizzy.
“You’re from Aqua? My town? Am I supposed to be pleased?” Morgan snorted. The plastic smile was not becoming or encouraging.
“Well, I-I—” Roman stuttered.
“Don’t,” Morgan interrupted, blinking his eyes rapidly and putting his hand up in front of Roman. “The fact that you’re from Aqua only proves to me that you’re nobody. The only people who matter here are members of the Royal family. My family. The rest of you are just . . . there. Ornaments to fill empty space, but frankly I’d rather have trees.” He waved his hand around to stress his comments as he spit the condescension at Roman callously.
Maintaining composure with practiced calm and smoothing his shirt, Roman muttered, daring full eye contact, “I understand,” and turned to leave.
The Queen, who had been watching from the doorway of the stables, rushed out, calling to Roman, “Wait!”
Roman stopped without turning around.
“Why won’t you at least give the man a chance?” she asked, walking briskly toward Morgan. “Young man, please turn around. I want to see your face.”
Roman turned to face her, obediently.
The Queen wore apparel fit for riding, much to his surprise, and carried a small riding crop at her side. He noted how her fingers curled around its handle as she spoke with a clear edge of bitterness in her voice, and wondered if she’d use it on Morgan.
A man can dream.
“It’s not as if you have anything else to do just now.” She flicked the crop in the empty space next to her as she spoke, making the whishing sound only a crop could make as it cut through the air. “You endlessly complain when you don’t have an understudy ready when needed, and you know as well as I they are always needed!”
Morgan looked into his Queen’s face. She gave him a cold, hard stare. She hated him, which was not news. He married her, the love of his life, who never loved him in return. He had chosen her for his Queen based on her beauty and heritage, and her family handed her over without regret, happy for the huge leap in social status.
“All right,” Morgan called out to Roman. “One chance, but only one, and I am very critical, so do not expect praise for your attempt.”
Pleased with the change in reception, Roman jogged back over to his place before them. “I won’t disappoint you, your Highnesses.”
Taking a brief moment to collect himself, he carefully recited a self-written monologue about love and life, happy endings and problems solved. After the recital, Roman looked up at Morgan who remained unimpressed. The Queen clapped delightedly.
The thick, uncomfortable silence between Roman and Morgan lasted only seconds, but felt like hours. Roman shifted awkwardly in his spot. The Queen smiled reassuringly.
“Why do you people waste my time with amateur talents?” Morgan asked, moving his right hand from his face to wave it in front of Roman before resting it again.
More uncomfortable silence.
One of the Friesians, still standing attached to the coach behind Morgan, stamped its foot and huffed as grooms struggled to pull their eyes from the scene in order to release the horses of their countless bindings.
Morgan grinned pessimistically, thinking, Why do I listen to her? Why do I waste my own time? He shrugged at his inner dialogue, dropping his arms to his sides. Morgan waited for Roman to respond, but when wide-eyes—angry eyes?—stared blankly at him, he turned to walk away.
Tears of frustration stung Roman’s eyes as he turned his own way to head home without a word. He felt like a fool, gloating at his display when Morgan was in no way impressed.
He mounted his dappled, silver mare, and gently turned her in the direction of Bleu, which bordered Aqua and matched its lush green forests and beauty. A few drinks at The All-Nighter should fix him right up. That and a visit with his favorite bar owner, Violette.
“Go on, girl, we’re going to Violette’s. Let’s run, shall we?” Never against a good gallop, the mare balanced herself, making sure her master was secured in his seat before taking off at full speed. The wind blew against them, lifting her black mane elegantly; the blows of her breath in perfect unison with the thundering of her hooves. He felt as if he were floating on a cloud. She was powerful and brilliant, ever conscious, it appeared, of his safety. Riding his mare always helped when he was down. That and an ice-cold, frothy ale.