History began in this place, pockets there and everywhere else. Ancient dreams that slipped in when no one was looking, settled down amongst the roots, and grew their twisted, terrible thorns. These were the myths, the nightmares that slithered into the heads of the crying babies, the ghosts that drifted just beyond sight to delight in making flesh prick and goose pimple. The murderers, the rapists, the creatures of bringing the devil out in the infirm. They were of the thousand whispers that went from lip to ear, suggestions as the third glass of lukewarm booze was thrown down the back of the throat. Grinding bone into dust, the rise of smog, the acid in the rain. And long before that - the corruptors, the whores, any sort of creature that wished to snuff out the smallest glint of hope in the eyes of the young.
All below the rotten skin, they dwelt. Light of flickering green, shadows that darted around towering columns of pearly white, slithered along marble floors so polished that the world reflected back up at you. And in the center of the court, grew the throne, like a scar of thick twisting roots that burst from the garbage of a thousand years back. Black, snarling coils that wrapped and scratched against thin, tender flesh. Within the encasement of darkness, sat a pearl. Pure flesh of white, wrapped in silken gossamer, almost a blinding beacon that called to all others that shifted about her in their pairs or groups. She near glowed in the chamber of her court, black pitted eyes fixed upon the quivering bulbous trollop of a gnome before her on hands and knees. Long legs were crossed under a hundred layers of spiders silk, arms resting delicately along the arms of her thorn slivered throne, leaning just enough forward to give the appearance she was considering the squealing voice of what had to be the Historian of her Court. Her hard mouth was set downwards, hair severely drawn back to drag her flesh tight. Fingers curved, stroked along some of the trembling leaves of the rotten throne, ignoring all else about her that were patiently awaiting their turn to grovel and wail of their troubles.
Behind her spawned her Phalanx. Creatures in black spiraling armor, elegant and full of death. Each solemn, tempered steel, eyes all fixed outwards to see everything. Narrow things trapped. Each bent to her command, broken and remolded into what she wished them to be. Long faces, narrow lips, luminous eyes. Hair that foamed upwards like drifting grass. Each were of another creature, but now they were but mirrors of one to the other. And they hated her for it. She could feel it always, their rage just below the surface of their translucent skin, the way they watched her as she strolled down the long hallways, and now. They would die with a poisoned dart, or throw themselves before a sword intended for cutting her down, but they hated her. There just was nothing they could do about it… for now.
Her attention shifted back towards the Historian, lifting a long fingered hand to her chin and leaned there for a few moments, waiting for the thing to quit in her speech, until she realized that she had sealed her mouth shut some moments ago. She knew the speech. She had heard it nearly two hundred years before when this same little thing with the boils across her face came to her at Court and bespoke of the Promise. Half lidded eyes focused on the girl, wondering if it was the same gnome, or a great, great, and so forth, daughter.
“Kill her,” came the quiet order from her pale lips, the Queen of the City settling back into her throne as gasps arose from the thousand whispers.
It lasted but a moment, that rush of sound that spilt along the flock. Before her they all looked to anyone but herself. Anyone but the Historian. Nails, long, lustrous drew along the splintering flanking arms of her briar throne, following the curving twirl of the wood that encased her figure. No one. Moved.
Her chin tilted up, that hair of a regal creature who’s patience was being tested beyond that line. She looked not to her Phalanx, in all their silent rigid forms, nor to the gathered flock, with their large eyes wondering who would strike down the girl. No, it rested upon the gnome, the squirming little creature that stood there before her with her knowledge of the law, the true way things were to pass. Times changed, and she felt that the storm was there just on the distant horizon. Waiting. But, for what?
Another moment breathed.
Eyes darkened, lips pulled into a thin line as half a heart beat later the Queen rose to her feet, pushing away from the throne of sublime thorn. She still did not look anywhere else but the one who’s life lay trembling within her fingertips. Two hundred years had passed since she had risen from her hallowed sleep, and laid her very own twin, her flesh and blood, upon her bed to sleep away the whiles. Two hundred years she had reigned, prosperous, glorious. Golden.
…”And this is where you think I will merely hand this over to that sleeping, rotten creature?” she realized she had been speaking grandly, taking each step forward slowly, as if aged, old, bent. Where as she was regal and drifting lightly down each step of the dais, soft little slithers of silk against crystal, head tilting slightly as she drew near to keep the twisted little thing in her sights. ”What does she know of the world’s changing? What does she understand of where the world is at this day? She will come mewling out of her cocoon of silk with wrinkled wings, and believing only in the old ways. And all for what? Some old law that had been passed in a time of war, chaos?”
Blood splattered across her white gown. Blood dripped like sweet honey down her throat, dotted in a fine mist against her bosom, along her slender arms. She could cry blood if she so desired, tears washing down her cheeks as she looked down upon the twisted, broken, dead body before her of the Historian. Graceful nails lowered from her killing slash, scarlet swaths dripping rivers along her skirts as bubbles rose from a ragged tear in a throat still trying to protest.
“No,” whispered the White Queen, looking across to her audience. ”Sister mine shall sleep… a little while longer.”
Everyone seems to have their own personal favorites out of this series… Mine was the first because that was when I *really* got those trees right. Everyone else likes the last :) The poor middle one, she just kinds of hangs out, getting a tan.
The first is one of my first attempts at using watercolor, and they both had the same use of white acrylic to build the body. It was an almost unconscious bouncing off of the original to get to the second, though I do draw the single female in a flowing dress often.
I was at the Comicon the other week when I realized it’d been pretty much ten years between the two.
10 years of holiday cards. 2013- Raven Steals the Light 2012- Wintry Forest 2011- Radioactive Reindeer 2010- Christmas Monkey 2009- Millions of Santas (based on 1920s Childrens book, Millions of Cats) 2008- Merry Christmas Moose 2007- Penguins 2006- Bear Who Ate Too Many Stars 2005- Winter Buffalo (digital) 2004- Twinkle Deer (digital)