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Written on June 27, 2019 (♋)

Author's Notes: This game has inadvertantly given me a lot of feelings about Margaret of Anjou apparently. :P Ruvelia barely seems to figure into the narrative of a war started in relation to her son, and this is really a complete and total shame. It's especially a shame given all the neat parallels one could explore by considering the Largs in relation to the Beoulves. Bestrada was apparently Dycedarg's childhood friend, and it makes sense that Ruvelia would have a connection to Igros and Gallione. Considering that she and Delita both might have been similarly adjacent to the family at the center of the game and that both ended up taking the crown and finding out how lonely it is, I'm really into the idea of having them actually lean into their respective Shakespearian roles (Ruvelia as Margaret and Delita as Richard III, if you're following the War of the Roses analogues). The title comes from Act I, scene iii of Richard III.

Also, my love of significant plants strikes again. Monkshood is really poisonous, and you can guess what character I imagined her sharing a love of deadly flowers with. :)

The king had no love for Bethla Garrison nor for the woman who remained immured within its stone walls. Necessity demanded, however, that they stop there on his journey east, as he could ill afford to stir up even more ill will between himself and the new made Duke of Zeltennia for the sake of avoiding bad memories. It was in resignation, perhaps, to this unavoidable unpleasantry that Delita made the decision to visit the former queen. He considered darkly, however, that he might have finally acquired some impulse towards piety and asked after Ruvelia out of some perverse desire to play penitent.

He found her in the centermost courtyard, where she had been allowed to keep a garden. Looking about at the relative splendor of the grounds, he chafed a bit at how free an allowance the state had eventually set aside for her, but knew it would not do to keep a Duke's daughter as one would a common criminal. As he and his guards stopped by the marble archway, she bowed low to him: a striking blonde figure clutching an armful of flowers.

"Your majesty," she said coolly. "To what do I owe this honor."

"I doubt my presence does you honor, my lady."

It was a strange afternoon, speaking to this phantom of a woman as his escort and her gaolers turned aside their faces and pretended they could turn aside their ears. She still maintained the graceful artifice and soft manners of somebody who had once sat on the Ivalician throne, and was very adept at speaking with great seeming earnestness about nothing. He felt, for a brief instant, a stab of pity for her: a moment of absurd fancy that she might be the innocent she publicly proclaimed herself.

"My condolences as regards your wife's passing," she said at last, shattering such illusions.

"I thank you, my lady," Delita replied darkly. "Her illness was very sudden."

She sat on a stone bench, looking away from him and absentmindedly crushing the blossoms of a spray of monkshood.

"I suppose..." she continued hesitantly, a note of somethng genuinely melancholy in her voice. "I suppose there is a sort of sympathy to our lives that I should be where I am now. I often thought of her--that she should be embowered in a convent for her entire youth."

"I thought it common in years past to send noblewomen to study with the religious orders."

"It is. I was spoiled. I spent my girlhood free and indolent in Gallione." She smiled bitterly, half turning to him. "My father let me run like an unbound sprite about Igros with my brother and the knights' sons who kept him company. It's rather surprising I ended up marrying anyone, let alone a king."

Delita concealed every impulse to ask after the name of that knight or to betray he had any interest in who the ghosts of her childhood were. He watched intently, however, his thoughts darkening, as she knelt with seeming absent-mindedness to pluck a blade of grass, which she pulled taut between the arches of her thumbs for a moment before discarding.