Lady To Queen - Chapter Prologue
It was the day of Petronilla’s execution.
Since morning, masses of people milled in the capital city of Kadye. While the days at the Imperial Palace were usually serene, the influx of people and the grim mood was a harbinger of the events yet to come.
The execution site was located on the Gervianen Square near the palace. The crowds jostled for a view, and in the center of the square stood a scaffolding with a guillotine atop it, its steel blade shining wickedly for its victims.
Patrizia was on her knees, bound by ropes and waiting for the punishment to be delivered to her. She stared down at the ground below her, then at some point, looked up towards her parents, who were also kneeling. Tears threatened to burst out of Patrizia’s eyes against the injustices against her family and her miserable self, but she knew better than anyone that it was not worth it.
She turned her head towards at the soft voice calling her. The restraints made it difficult, but she managed to look at her father’s eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he said somberly.
Patrizia wanted to know. Why did her father apologize to her? There was no reason for him to do so in this situation. They were all victims here, while the true culprit walked away free. She would not so easily throw blame against him. However, biting her lip did not stop the injustice against them, nor did it relieve her of any resentment.
“You don’t have to apologize,” Patrizia said in the most level voice she could. She meant it. No one here facing the guillotine had to apologize. They were all victims. “Or I’ll just have regrets.”
She couldn’t hide the grief in her eyes. If only she could go back to the day it all started, then this tragedy never would have happened. The hot tears that Patrizia fought so hard to hold back finally spilled over her eyes.
Meanwhile, the murmuring of the crowd grew. Someone had arrived.
“All hail His Majesty the Emperor.”
A servant loudly heralded the Emperor’s arrival. He was not alone, either, and a woman walked imperiously next to him. That woman was Marchioness Phelps, the Emperor’s favorite mistress, and a constant presence by his side. Patrizia’s face twisted in anger at seeing the cursed woman’s face, but she soon smoothed it back to its original expression.
The Emperor and Marchioness Phelps took their seats. The Emperor wore an expression of boredom, as if the events that were about to happen were of no importance. Patrizia felt a sudden surge of anger at his apparent indifference, but there was nothing she could do about it. Nothing at all.
“Bring the queen,” the Emperor said in an emotionless voice. As soon as his voice died away, someone else was slowly brought to the scaffolding. It was a young woman in a tattered white dress, escorted on each side by two soldiers.
It was Patrizia’s elder twin sister, Petronilla. Her face was far more beaten and bruised than when Patrizia had seen her last.
“Nilla…” Patrizia quietly called out to her sister by her nickname. However, the word was drowned by the voice of the executioner, as well as the helpless wails of her parents behind her.
“Petronilla Laura Le Grochester,” the executioner began, “has acted against her position as queen. She has been committed numerous immoral acts, harmed the woman carrying a royal child, and attempted to kill the Emperor, even Lucio Karrick George de Mavinous.”
The voice rang out eerily in the still air as it was about to announce their fate.
“In the name of the Emperor, all members of the Grochester family are to die by beheading.”
The only ending for them was tragedy. Patrizia closed her eyes in defeat.
It was over, everything was over.
“Begin with the execution of the queen.”
Patrizia raised her eyes to see her sister for the last time. Petronilla was walking as if she were being dragged to a slaughterhouse. On her face was written resignation and despondency, as well as…
Her stupid sister was still in love with the emperor. Stupid, good-natured sister. Patrizia couldn’t believe that Petronilla would still look at the man before she died.
Tears fell freely from Patrizia’s eyes. Ah sister, my sister. Patrizia watched with eyes wide open the moment of Petronilla’s death, unwilling to look away.
The guillotine blade dropped, cutting Petronilla’s neck, and gasps and cries echoed from the crowds watching on the sidelines. Patrizia bit her lip to the point where it bled.
It was all over. Her sister was dead. Now she and her parents would face the same fate as her sister.
“Bring the rest of the family.”
The wife, who was in love, had died. For three years, the Queen had been bound in love and law to her husband, and now her head lay separated from her body.
Patrizia clutched her heart as sorrow rushed through her chest. She couldn’t breath.
“Behead each one.”
Finally, she gave out a mirthless laugh upon hearing the terrible command. There was no reason not to laugh or cry when everything was over. If one wasn’t crazy in this situation, they would be abnormal.
Patrizia smiled more widely than anyone else in the world as her head was placed beneath the guillotine. However, when she glanced at the Emperor, her former brother-in-law, she had a moment of regret.
‘I wish I had been queen.’
He was not a lover-killer, nor was he affectionate enough for the emperor to act rashly on the government’s ascendancy. If she had been queen, everyone would have been happy and would never have been condemned to death. Perhaps her child would later become emperor one day and take revenge on Marchioness Phelps.
‘I regret not being the queen.’
It was a mistake to send her elder sister to the palace. The first time Petronilla had seen the emperor, she had fallen in love at first sight.
However, it was too late for regrets now. It had already happened, and the only thing left was for Patrizia’s neck to be cut off by the cold steel. Alongside the rest of her beloved family.
As the heavy guillotine blade dropped, Patrizia had one last thought.
‘If only I could go back…then I would never let my sister become queen.’
At the end of it, Patrizia’s neck was cut off. As before, screams and gasps echoed from the crowd watching.
With her final tears in her eyes, the twenty-two year old Patrizia was finally dead.