Day one of the 999th autumn
Autumn stood panting before the throne, her dress stained with the dark orange blood of Summer.
“Right,” she said between heavy breaths “someone clean this up”. She gestured towards the still bleeding corpse on the floor. “Bury them somewhere that’ll be hard to claw their way out from.”
She daintily stepped over the body, and sat on the rough stone seat. With little interest she watched servants rush in to carry off the body, and start mopping up the sunset pool it left behind. The first batch of petitioners began to line up before the throne.
She sighed. “And so it begins”, she thought.
Day sixteen of the 999th autumn
“Your grace, these rumors ought not be taken lightly, it’s barely been two weeks but my people tell me that the Sov-”
“Thank you, that will be all” With a long white hand she curtly waved the equinox away. “I have another meeting.”
She shifted her attention to the figure now approaching the throne. As he met her eyes, he fell into a deep, one kneed bow.
“Oh get up” she scoffed.
“Good to see you as well, your grace”
“What’s taken so long? I’ve been at court over a fortnight.” The question sounded playful, but both new there was a sharp seriousness beneath it.
“My sincerest apologies. Your predecessor had tasked me with entertaining an ambassador and he’s only just departed. A lovely beaked fellow, charming if not a bit long-winded.”
“Mmm very well. How’ve you been? I trust that summer passed without incident, seeing as you’re still alive.”
“Quite, I was mostly relegated to dealing with courtiers like my feathered friend, not enough leeway to get into trouble.”
“And your son?” The question hung quietly in the air for a beat.
“Harmattan is well” the philosopher said quickly. “He sends his love.”
She nodded. “Glad to hear it. Anyway, to business: one of my people has brought something to my attention that I’d like you to look into.”
“Certainly. What would that be?”
“Have you ever heard of something called ‘The Library’”.
Day sixty seven of the 999th autumn
The equinox leaned down to whisper into his queen’s ear “He’s here, m’lady”.
“Excellent. Send him in.”
The sound of hooves clicking against the smooth stone floor would’ve made her smile, if she could. The pot-bellied satyr poked his masked face around the corner. “Well look who it is!”
Autumn laughed quietly. “Spring. How are you?”
“Excellent as always my dear, my queen” He said the last word with playfully sarcastic reverence.
“And to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”
“I’m hurt!” he said, mockingly offended “Can I not simply wish to drop by for your friendship?”
As always her blank wooden mask hid any emotion, but Spring could have sworn she raised an eyebrow.
“Alright, you got me. I need someone… dealt with.”
“Could you just, I don’t know, lock him up for a while? Teach him a lesson?”
“Your son?” She was incredulous. “Unbelievable. Spring, I’ve told you, I refuse to discipline your children for you. Deal with the whelp yourself. If you didn’t want to be a parent you shouldn’t have had a thousand of the brats.”
“Either way. Entirely too many.”
Day one hundred and eighty three of the 999th autumn
A chill crept through the air. Somewhere, a black beast stirred.
Day two hundred and four of the 999th autumn
The Queen and the Philosopher sat across from each other. It was late.
“Fascinating. A repository for everything? Just sitting there? For anyone?”
He nodded. “In theory. There are those who have been… barred, but only for the gravest offenses.”
She paused to think. “Would there be any way to know who had been there? A log of any sort?”
“That would be quite the undertaking, your grace. From what I’ve learned The Library is vast, and its visitors many. The only way to find someone would be to ask those beings that reside there”
“I hate to ask this of you, Mónos, but do you think you could-”
“Say no more. I’ll set off in the morning. I must admit I’ve been quite curious to see this Library myself.”
Day three hundred of the 999th autumn
It had been a long day of meeting with councilors and advisers and officials, Autumn was tired.
“Thank you, everyone. Is there anything else?”
An equinox stood to address her. “There is one thing, m’lady. Winter has sent word, it is awake” It was more a formality than actual news.
“Very well then.” She turned and walked out of the room.
Day three hundred and sixty of the 999th autumn
“If I have to tell you not to bow again, I’ll have your head.”
The philosopher smiled “It’s lovely to be back, thank you for asking. We have much to discuss.”
“Were you able to discover who it was that was sent to the Library?”
“Indeed. The Black Midday.”
“Polari? What would Summer be doing with Winter’s child?”
“I cannot rightly say, your grace, but it cannot bode well.”
Day three hundred and sixty five of the 999th autumn
“Time?” The queen called out.
“Moments to midnight, m’lady”
She steeled herself. She had done this many times, but it had never been easy.
Suddenly the doors to the throne room blew open, and in glided a great inky-black amorphous mass. Embedded in it was a ceramic skull.
“Winter.” She addressed the being warmly. “You’re looking well. Shall we dance?”
Day one of the 1000th winter
Winter pulled its knife out of its fallen foe, her grey blood still warm on the blade. Without a word, servants moved in with a stretcher.
“Place the body in her residence.” The being said in a voice that sounded like the wind.
It glided onto the throne, as its dour high solstice took his place beside it.
Beyond the palace walls snow began to fall.
-Excerpt from Mónos’s 'Life Of The Seasons'.