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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

Once upon a time…

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(5/2015) There lived a King and Queen who loved each other deeply and in return their subjects loved them. The Queen Adina had one sibling, who she loved dearly and who, she thought, loved her in return. Her name was Fiera, she was beautiful to behold, but her heart had long ago become cold and twisted. It had corrupted to such a degree that the area of her chest, where her heart beat, began to gray and blacken. She concealed the tarnish beneath the fabric of her gown. Along with her hard heart, she held a deep-seated jealousy toward Adina and her husband. To curb this anger, she set about causing small bits of chaos around the kingdom to make her sister’s life as difficult as possible; the royal couple knew nothing of her involvement in what they considered to be unfortunate, but minor, catastrophes. The Queen was ever oblivious to her sister’s envy and hatred.

The King and Queen longed for a child and, at length, their wish was granted. The Kingdom erupted into celebration and across the country, festivals were held in honor of the coming royal child. Meanwhile, Fiera sat, pensive and alone with her loathing, plotting of a way to ruin this current happiness as she sat there wallowing in her hatred in front of her looking glass and staring at the blemish on her chest. Blaming the imperfection on her sister, she was startled as a crack appeared on her blackened chest. She sat, stunned, and as three clear drops fell from the opening, she quickly grabbed a crystal vial and caught the liquid with it. She gazed into the vial and saw the glass slowly clouding over with frost; she nearly dropped it because the cold was so intense.

Fiera smiled as she prepared for the night’s celebration and as she greeted her sister affectionately. No one had ever seen her so happy and her smile grew, somehow, larger as she congratulated her sister on her recent happiness. She did not stop smiling, even after everyone grew tired and went to bed. Fiera moved about the palace toward the royal chambers with a serene grin gracing her face. She made her way past the sleeping guards into the room where the happy couple slept. She pulled out the small vial that chilled her hands and pulled out the stopper. She hovered over her sister’s sleeping form and watched the contents of the bottle drip onto the Queen’s lips. Adina inhaled sharply and furrowed her brow, but remained asleep. Fiera’s face grew thoughtful yet sinister as she said, "Congratulations, oh fair sister!" Leaning over the Queen she whispered ever so silently, "May your child’s heart be a cold as mine."

The months passed and the Queen remained in good health, although wherever she went she was bundled in so many blankets to keep off the chill that seemed to surround her. The happy day finally came and everyone rejoiced at the birth of the royal baby boy. His parents named him Samson, which means "sun-child," because with his golden hair he was as beautiful as the sun, but the skin over his heart was cold to the touch. They watched him grow into a handsome young man and the King and Queen saw that though he was charming and everyone loved him, there was a type of absence in his eyes. It was like he would display whatever mask seemed appropriate and sold its authenticity with practiced words. This worked with everyone except the King and the Queen. Adina confided her worries to her sister, Fiera, who listened with a smile in her heart. Being wrapped up in her own success, she never noticed the darkness surrounding her heart grew. This continued for eighteen years as they all watched Samson grow up with varying degrees of pride, joy, and worry.

As Samson’s eighteenth birthday approached, the kingdom was thrown in a tizzy preparing for the festivities. He began to grow tired, keeping up the pretense of excitement, and escaped, momentarily, from the castle and its frenzied occupants. He wandered around the streets, wearing some clothing that could pass as belonging to a commoner. Everything was bustling and loud, but he preferred it that way because it meant fewer people would take notice of him and he had more he could observe. He made his way past vendors and merchants and found himself in front of a bakery; the smell of fresh bread and sweets reminded him that he had yet to eat that day. Walking by the window, he picked up one of the rolls that were cooling. As he was ready to walk away, a voice stopped him: "I do hope you are going to pay for that." Hearing that it was a female voice, he turned around, hoping to use whatever charms at his disposal to get out of this situation; he took on the appearance of a poor, lost, hungry traveler and turned to face the speaker. He stopped when he was met with a raised eyebrow and a look of annoyed amusement etched into the face of a pretty woman.

He could have mistaken her for a Lady of the Court if it were not for the flour that seemed to have exploded on her person. She was slender with honey-colored eyes and long, soft brown hair that was struggling to escape the ribbon that kept them at bay.

"Well?" she said.

"I’m waiting for whatever tale you have concocted to pull at my delicate heartstrings and let you walk away with that bread free of charge, though you can obviously afford it."

Something unfamiliar stirred and warmth spread through his chest at her playfully disapproving look. He found himself asking, "Might I inquire the name of my accuser?"

Her eyebrow rose higher.

"Violet. Now can Your Royal Highness please tell me why he was stealing from my establishment?"

He gave her a practiced look of surprise at her knowing who he was, flashing her a charming smile as he said, "Why my fair lady, I would never dream of stealing from you." She held out her hand expectantly. Samson would never know what possessed him to do so, but he grabbed her hand swiftly, drawing her close and placing a brief kiss on her cheek. "Well, Lady Violet, I think we’re even." He left quickly, forgetting the bread in his speedy retreat. When he returned to the palace, he felt indescribable warmth spread through his heart. When the Queen saw her son, her eyes filled with tears of joy and Fiera’s cold, black heart shattered at the sight. Because for the first time in eighteen years, Samson’s smile was genuine.

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