I yelled impatiently, tilting my head to one side whilst staring at the White walls that towered above me. I'd ordered new chandeliers recently, saved some money too by providing the bones myself. They echoed so emptily when the cavernous doors at the entrance of the throne room opened that my chest swelled with glee. I'd gotten Geoffrey to begin spreading the rumour that it was my victims' screams that rang through my halls – the halls of the dreaded White Castle, where you danced with death and the devil and always lost. It's the game I liked playing best; I never said I played fair.
I heard a cough to my right and whipped my head round to see who had the audacity to disrupt my thoughts. It was a small child, a boy, a waif of a thing, cowering in a half-hunched stance dressed head to toe in dark Grey rags.
Grey...interesting...and so young, too.
I narrowed my eyes. "Name?" I asked crisply, my nose upturned.
"Merithan, Your Highness," he chimed, his voice surprisingly pleasing. My brow furrowed.
Very interesting indeed...
"And what is your business here, child? You do know where you are, don't you?" I straightened, smiling whilst offering my hand to the boy. The game had begun.
He bowed slightly and, seeing my smile, returned it with one of his, but didn't take my hand – though I left it outstretched.
Poor soul, and so young...
It was almost a shame.
"Mama said you could take my White, Your Highness…can you? She said you can do lots of magical things and that if I was really good you would say yes." His dark brown eyes shone with hope and he straightened, taking a step forward in his excitement, clearly forgetting his earlier trepidation. I'd heard stories like this before – all beautiful lies; now everything began to make sense.
His mother knew what her son's fate would be. He was tainted now; she couldn't keep him. She must have tried hiding him for a few days, he was so pale and thin, she'd probably tried to starve him too – anything to erase what he had become. My eyes softened. "Do you hurt child?" Playing with Merithan wouldn't be as fun as I'd hoped.
The boy recoiled fractionally, his eyes going wide. "How did you know Your Highness? It's right here – " he gestured to the centre of his chest and looked up again. "Can you fix it? Mama said if you took my White it would stop hurting." His bottom lip quivered slightly and in that moment I knew it was bad.
"Unbutton your shirt little one," I replied, and slowly the boy began fumbling with his top. Once he had unfastened the few buttons that kept it closed he peeled it away from his chest so I could see his undershirt.
White. Completely and utterly snow White, like it had been cut from the same cloth as mine.
He saw me flinch and started to panic; even he knew what this meant. "I didn't do anything bad, Your Highness, honestly! I – I – I just woke up a-and I was White!" His eyes began to tear and he collapsed to the floor sobbing. "Please help me, Your Highness, or Mama won't love me anymore!" he cried.
There were two ways you became White: either you committed the unspeakable crime; or you sold your soul to me, meaning you were trapped inside my White walls forever. It didn't stop there, either: the White spreads like the plague, Greying all that it touches until all that's left is White, endless White. That's why all that were lighter than Black were shunned by society. I was the worst of them all; the White Queen. Just my name alone was enough to quiet a loud room, or scare children into behaving – like the Big Bad Boar or Genzillani...only I was real.
"Stand up child; be silent, be still," I hushed as he brought himself to his feet. His body still trembled every now and then with little sobs as he tried to meet my eyes once more. "Smile, my boy; will you not embrace Your Queen? I will remove your White and all shall be forgiven," I laughed musically, opening my arms to him.
His head flicked up in return, shocked and with his mouth agape. "Really? You really will?" He beamed and he began to cross the short distance that lay between us. I simply nodded and he picked up his pace; he was close enough now.
My fingers touched his forehead.
The illusion shattered.
His expression slackened and he looked confused, unable to move. All that was his now was his mind but I allowed him his speech one last time. "Wha-wha-t?" He gaped, beginning to tremble.
"You crossed the distance between us of your own free will, my love," I told him. "So you are mine now, that was my game and I have won. See this great White hall in which you stand? All of this White and all of yours belong to me; I am just taking back what is rightfully mine." I sighed, smiling sadly.
So much potential...
Flicking my hand, I brought Merithan into the circle of my embrace. I liked to think I killed the children mercifully as his flesh turned to dust, pouring from my arms until all that I was clutching were his tiny bones. I breathed deeply, the clouds of White beginning to rise from the pile as I inhaled, letting the new essence settle into my skin. I placed his skeleton – now marred only by the Black powder left behind – into a cradle that sat beside my throne.
I then reclined, pondering, "Merithan...such a lovely voice." I brushed off my hands that were covered in the Black left over from the little boy. "Geoffrey!" I called snapping my fingers, a slim blond haired figure dressed head to toe in very flattering pale Grey Court attire appearing in front of me.
"Yes Cerena, my lady?"
"I'd like to have him preserved," I gestured to the cradle on my left. "His name was Merithan; I want it on a plaque with something nice about his voice." I waved my hand flippantly, "see to it that it gets done, I don't want to see him in the next light fitting I order," I finished, signalling that he could leave and with a flick of his wrist he lifted Merithan's remains, disappearing into nothingness as quickly as he had arrived.
Silence rung out once more – so thick in fact that I was able to play with the remaining Black dust that Geoffrey had left behind. I would have to have words with him about his eye for detail again it seemed, though for now I was mostly consumed with creating intricate scenes of layer upon layer of Black like I hadn't done since I was Grey, since my life as I knew it had ended just as abruptly as Merithan's.
My beautiful model collapsed as my concentration broke and my head snapped up furiously as I laid my eyes upon the offending individual: a new player dressed entirely in Black.
Collecting myself as best I could I straightened in my seat, plastering a sickly sweet smile on my face to disguise the anger that had creased it moments before.