Silver Crown

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The night wind stirs the curtains. I can hear the sounds of revelry below, the guards enjoying their night of freedom. Tomorrow they bind themselves to a new mistress, one they are sure will be less harsh, less exacting than their old master. No wonder they sound so festive.

I lean against the window frame, looking out over the city. My city. Tomorrow I swear an oath, take a crown, that will wed us together. An unmarried queen and a city tired of blood. To the people, to the guards and the soldiers, to the slaves in the marketplace and the nobles in their marble halls, my father was a tyrant, a murderer, and a vindictive god. Only I—his eldest daughter—saw him for what he was.

A pawn.

The tool of better men than he, men who charmed with silver tongues and ruled through his stupidity, his weakness. They murdered him in his bed in favor of his weak-willed daughter, a woman they were sure would be easier to manipulate than he was. Tomorrow they set a silver crown on my hair, place his signet ring on my hand, and with these chains in place, call for all men to bow their heads to me, their stupid puppet queen.

But I have no tolerance for chains and whispered threats. When they bow their heads, my men—the men I have amassed, the men who swear fealty and love to me, the men I have spent years collecting in secret—will slit their throats. And the puppet queen will hold her own strings.

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