A Play Demonic: The Queen’s Idle Fancy continues with the 32nd serial installment of the horror tale. When last met, a strange force had arrived on the island and hid itself above the clearing at the top of Mt. Erie, where the audition for the role of Queen Stormag had taken place. The final decision will be made in this chapter, and more complications, future worries, developing.
I hope you enjoy this section. This story will continue at a much more frequent pace if time allows, along with The Volunteer since both stories are related by demons and characters.
“We are all demonic!”—Queen Stormag
If you would like to read the beginning of this dark tale, click HERE to read Part 1. To refresh your memory from the last installment, click HERE to read Part 31! Please enjoy and know that I welcome any comments from you. Who do you hope wins the coveted role of The Queen?
A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) — Part 32
“Enough,” Waltzcrop said. The pouring rain lessened. In the shelter high up on Mt. Erie the players stopped acting, Leonora and Kate grew still, their expressions slackening. Belloon stood near Waltzcrop and took a step away hoping not to be noticed.
“What should we do with you? This has never happened before. I can’t decide between the two . . . who is stronger? Who is the more cunning? A believable queen needs to have the same spark of fire, willfulness, obedience to a higher power only she knows about . . . and this presents the most delicate of decisions.”
“I am Queen Stormag,” Kate said, obsequious as ever.
“I am the only rightful Queen,” said Leonora, trembling now.
“See, Frenalto? They cannot contain themselves. The part of a lifetime. A swansong. The role to cap all roles. What say you, Belloon?” Camoustra walked like a shade around the clearing in a circle surrounding the players, a wicked smile firmly in place. She approved.
“You know my only loyalty is to the play.”
“You, and whomever I choose to play Queen Stormag, will be in service to “The Queen’s Idle Fancy” and no other. Back when the playwright was searching for a title, he scribbled A Play Demonic in the margins with his ebony quill, and then scratched that out. My word is final, but this play demonic calls out for another sacrifice, something that must be delayed. One of you won the role of Queen Stormag tonight, had always been the queen from the first moment, but the other? There is such fire there. For the first time in the history of the production, the role of Queen Stormag will have an understudy. Come here Leonora and Kate, and listen carefully. Both roles come with sacrifices too weighty to shirk. Belloon, light the fire, here.” Waltzcrop pointed at a circle of stones filled with driftwood in the center of the dry clearing. Belloon crouched down and began to light a thin piece of kindling, blowing, sweating, worried he wouldn’t be able to produce flame.
Leonora, her facial features drooping, matching Kate’s obvious disappointment, walked away from the cliff’s edge and stood in front of Waltzcrop. Kate came up beside her as Belloon’s campfire began to sputter to life.
“You both performed marvelously. One of you embodied the role better, by inches. The understudy will take the queen’s role if she fails to uphold the bargain we’re entering tonight.”
With the campfire blazing, more wood piled higher, a triangle of crackling wood, Belloon backed towards the rear of the enclosure. He felt true relief. He didn’t care who became the queen.
Waltzcrop took out his cane and placed the tip of it into the fire until it glowed orange, fiery red.
“Kate Denisov step forward.” Waltzcrop removed the cane from the fire. “Hold out your dominant hand, palm upward. You are Queen Stormag.” Kate’s lips pressed tightly together for a moment before breaking into an insane grin (yes, insane, she could hide this now, but it’s there), and then her features whipsawed back into a sedate smile revealing cautious elation, showing her pleasure as only a queen could do without vocalizing her joy. She stuck out her hand, a willing player.
“Do your worst,” Kate said, “I am Queen Stormag.”
“Leonora, step forward and show me your palm. You are Queen Stormag’s understudy.” Leonora didn’t say a word, resist, or act like she was hurting from the decision. She’d failed too many times in her life to ever let anyone see her pain. She’d rise above this setback. In the back of her mind, she thought of Kate taking ill before the first curtain, poison, blackness, a soul charring, and then cleared these dark thoughts. She held out her right palm beside Kate. “The understudy must be ready to be the queen if anything untoward should take place to make Kate unable to get to the theater for the first performance. You both must pass the final test to begin practicing for the play, and we have all winter to do so, you have all winter to pass this test. Choose wisely. Take your time. Find the right player.”
Waltzcrop took hold of Kate’s proffered hand and pressed her palm against the burning-hot cane, the metal searing, melting skin, the pain almost too much for Kate. She screamed. He held the cane there for seconds, an eon, and then removed it, putting the end back into the fire. Kate cradled her hand. She couldn’t close it, couldn’t touch it. Tears rolled down her chin, and this made Leonora happier than she’d ever admit.
“Leonora? You’re next.”
“Certainly,” she replied, defiance still part of her tone. She wanted to let Waltzcrop know that he’d made the wrong choice. She should be Queen Stormag out right. The first, not the second, not the lady in waiting, since in all her years as part of the theater, she’d never once allowed any of her roles to go to the understudy. Even on her hardest days, the ones filled with flu, a sprained ankle, a loss in the family, she’d never missed a show. She could take the branding, the pain. She wouldn’t cry like Denisov, the weakling; she’d show Waltzcrop he’d made the wrong decision. He grabbed her hand and pressed the white-hot cane against her palm. Held it there even when Leonora swooned, let out a sharp wail, and dropped to the ground a blubbering mess.
“You must pass these marks onward. When you find your sacrifice, you’ll know what to do. Bring them here. You will feel the pain of these markings until then. Let it drive you. As soon as you do what must be done, the scars will disappear. Do nothing and the pain will increase, a ghostly thing; pain can become the best motivator. Show Belloon your unmarked palm when you’ve joined the troupe completely, taken the final step.”
Kate wanted to kick Leonora while she was on the ground making a spectacle. She didn’t know where these dark thoughts came from. She could remember disliking Leonora but grudgingly respecting her as an actress as well. Now there was such hatred for her. It was the play. It was in her head, and the pain spiking in her hand continued to ache. She kept running through all the people she knew on the island, all the people who wouldn’t be missed if something dreadful befell them, and couldn’t think of anyone as another wave of pain jolted through her.
Waltzcrop disappeared down the path, turning and then gone, Frenalto and Camoustra following, wisps in the mist. Belloon helped Leonora up, and directed Kate to begin walking down to the parking area. He kicked dirt over the fire. His thoughts marveled at the night’s audition. Kate Denisov was his queen, everyone’s queen.
In the clearing, after all the players departed, the shadowed and hidden man walked out of the woods above. He now knew how much time he had to somehow become corporeal, physically present in this realm, this time, this world. The yellow butterfly flew away from the height, the rain unable to dampen its powdery wings.
In a week’s time, the players would gather for the final dress rehearsal.
And that’s a wrap for now . . . a bit melodramatic, perhaps, but that’s the stage, how colorful, clownish, and seductive the craft can turn.
Please come back for the next section as the story begins to race towards an explosive ending.
To read my second foray into this Fidalgo Island horror area of the world, please read The Volunteer, Part 1 by clicking HERE! These two tales are connected by demons!
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