The rose petals fell from the bushes and climbing vines that surrounded them, sliding with a soft susurrous across the stone mosaics, twirling and falling into the rectangular pool.

The men and women of the court lined the edges of the court yard, all silent, except for the breeze that stirred the brances and leaves, that scarrted the rose petals, catching in hair and hems.  She approached the pool with her head held high, the dark coils of her hair carefully pinned, but her feet hobbled in fetters.  Matching fetters graced her wrists, which she held, her elbows straight out, her wrists heart-high.

She met the eyes of the king as she neared the edge of the pool.  She let her gaze flicker to all in front of her, the toes at the very edge of the pool.

She turned.  She did not waver.  She looked at her attendants, her heels at the rounded endge of the marble.  It felt cool under her feet as she slipped them just a little further, until her heels were hanging over.

A second, time to take a breath, and she let herself fall back into the petal covered depths.  She sank into the sun light streaked gloom, years of rose petals giving the water an oily sheen that seemed to make the rays of light glitter.  Red petals, like drops of blood, swirled around her, joined by white petals, yellow, pink.  She waited, counting in her head.

She did not like to keep lock picks in her mouth, not after the time she swallowed it, but today she had had no choice.  She pushed the picks with her tounge, shifted so she could use one finger and her mouth to manipulate the pick into the lock.  Years of practice took over, and soon there was a success.  One fetter fell away, and the second hand was easier to free.  The feet easier still, those fetters joined the others in the deep.  Twelve sets of fetters littered the pool floor.

She let the air out slowly, hovering in the silence.  This was her favorite part, the quiet and cool and the brush of rose petals.

Finally she came out, climbing out of the pool, her attendants coming forward with towels and a hand up.

“Someday you will fail,” the king said.  “Someday we will figure out where you hide the lock pick.”

“But it is magic, your majesty.  Magic!”  She rejoined.

“Something new for tomorrow, I think.  Perhaps a box.  With swords.”

She bowed.  She already knew what she would do.

 

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