Tassien sat by a crackling fire with a spool of yarn and two knitting needles. The fire created shadows on the cold stone of the castle wall. She made intricate loops in the crimson cloth with delicate fingers.
“What do you weave, girl?”
Tassien looked at the voice to see a palace guard, his large frame filling the doorway. He was more than twice her size. She was barely more than a girl with wan features and pale hair.
“A blanket to keep out the cold.”
“The King will have many blankets to choose from in his chamber,” said the guard as his lips curled into a snide smile.
“I didn’t agree to marry the King. So I’ll knit this shroud and live in these stone walls.”
“The King chose you, and you cannot refuse him. You dare spit on such an honor girl-”
“An honor? He hanged his last two brides!”
The guard loomed over her as he pointed a thick finger at her. “Only because they couldn’t give him a son. Lady Tassien. He is the last of his bloodline. If you refuse him an heir, you will throw this land into chaos.”
“Then let this kingdom fall! The King’s guard murdered my parents in cold blood to loot what little they had in the refinery. He works the peasants to death. This House must fall!”
The guard yanked Tassien up, holding her face close to his. Her blue eyes turned to pinpricks in the firelight and his breath reeked of garlic and tobacco.
“My Lady Tassien, if you refuse to birth an heir, I will throw you from the top of this tower onto the rocks below. This kingdom must continue even if it runs on blood.” He tossed her into her chair. It rocked back hard, hitting her on the head. The guard slammed the door, and his armored footsteps echoed behind him.
Tassien wept as she picked up her yarn. She continued to knit her crimson blanket for the newborn heir.
You shall have an heir, but I will raise him to usurp this kingdom. This house shall fall.” she murmured as the needles clicked away.