The Destiny of the Rainbow
Snow has begun. Iris’ eyes narrowed at the fairly thick snow. It would be nice if it poured down. It didn’t make noise when it touched a window or floor, bringing more silence than usual. On such days, no matter how much firewood the servant put in, it was impossible to fill the large room with warmth.
She heaved a sigh and took a sip of tea. It tasted bitter at the first sip, but left a nutty and sweet flavor. It was the first tea she drank. A bitter smile came whenever she learned a new culture. Because it felt as if it was mocking her. Of course, she knew it wasn’t the case, but being locked up like this made her think ridiculous things. Her self-esteem and self-regard had been long gone.
Suddenly, the thought of who gave this tea through her maid crossed Iris’ mind.
“I wonder who’s giving me this.”
She believed that neither the King nor the high and low ranked clergy was the one who sent this. It wouldn’t be her younger siblings, the Prince and the Princess of Eckebrecht Kingdom, that Iris always worried about. They wouldn’t even know if this thing existed.
Not long after, her beautiful forehead furrowed. Because Cadere’s face flashed into her head. ‘It wouldn’t be her, right?’ she pondered. She knew very well that there was no one else but the Princess to send her this kind of thing. Iris merely didn’t want to admit it. Wasn’t Cadere the one who deceived and toyed her in the first place?
Hate, betrayal, shame, gratitude, and warmness secretly surged in. Who said that the human heart was a paradox? Iris set down the teacup with vigor and tried to control her shaken heart. As a result of Cadere’s words, she lived a life that was no different from imprisonment, and for some reason, Cadere despised and deceived her. Iris had repeated this over and over again so she wouldn’t ever forget.
All of a sudden, a disturbance intruded to the tranquil place. The sound of footsteps was loud enough to penetrate the thick door and reached Iris’ ears. Did the King finally send an army to kill her? She didn’t have faith in King’s words to begin with. She had also considered a day like this could happen. Hence, Iris squared her back and shoulders, closing her eyes. Then, someone entered the room just in time after she calmly prepared to accept her fate.
However, the sound of the steps was a bit off. If it was an army that was coming, at least she should have heard treads from several people that cross in different beats. If the King only sent one person, he would be wearing armor, so it should be a loud and heavy sound. However, the footsteps she heard were light–
Iris’ eyes flung open. As she shot up from her chair in bafflement, the sound of the chair getting pushed back and fell over rang in the room. She was looking around, her face neither completely angry nor happy. Both hands were pressing down on her left chest to soothe her startled heart.
“Mother, look at this.”
“Princess, what a rude thing-What happened to your face? Why are your hands also…”
Iris tried to point out the rudeness, but the word died in her mouth. She even overlooked Cadere’s gold and navy Robe à la polonaise gown because her face and hands were in shambles. There was a long graze on her left eyebrow while her ten fingers were wrapped in white cloth. The cloth wrapped around the finger was dyed green at the tip of it.
Then, a sting of herbs’ smell wafted into Iris’ nose. Iris approached her in worry and hurried steps. However, she hesitated. What did the Princess have to do with Iris whether she was hurt or not? Her steps slowed down to stop as she bit her lips. She felt uneasy. She hated Cadere. She hoped the Princess would disappear. She forcefully shoved hatred into her heart that was stuffed with worry.
“Are you angry because I didn’t keep my promise?”
“What do you mean I am angry? There’s nothing like that. Don’t the Princess know this very well? How much I abhor this Royal Family. Don’t tell me you aren’t aware of that fact.”
“You’re right. Then are you angry because I interrupted your reverie?”
“Please leave now. I want to be alone. In the future, this disrespectful behavior–”
While Iris was talking, Cadere strode over and straightened up the fallen chair. Because of that, Iris paused her words. It irked Iris because she got forcibly ignored like this. Despite Iris trying to push Cadere away, the latter twirled and parted her lips.
“Please take a seat, mother. Oh, right, I didn’t mean to ignore you. I was just worried that your legs might be tired. I won’t act rudely like this anymore in the future. I mean it. So please sit down. I really wanted to deliver this to you.”
With that innocent smile on her face. However, why did Iris feel uncomfortable and it sent her goosebumps? Iris was disregarding uneasiness from an unknown source then sat in the chair Cadere had set up. Cadere sat across from Iris and held out a flower.
It had long black stems with leaves attached to it as the petals were shining with brilliant gold. If she looked closely, the lowest part of the leaves was also dyed in black. It looked as if the petals were about to be consumed by darkness.
It was the first time Iris saw that flower. Without her realizing it, her hand reached out the flower carefully. She gently appreciated the flower while Cadere continued explaining.
“I wanted to give this flower to mother after hearing the story of a hunter who visited the castle by chance. But the place was a little far from the palace, so I came here late.”
“Do you mean, you went there by yourself? Then the wounds…”
“Scars like this get better in no time. No need to worry, mother. Doesn’t this flower seem to represent you and me? What do you think? Do you like it?”
“…Now, leave this room.”
Iris managed to swallow the words that almost slipped out. Cadere’s lips twitched slightly, alas, she flashed a smile and got up from her seat. Intentionally, Iris was staring at the petals so as not to look at Cadere, who was getting farther away from her.
Cadere shook a small bell right next to the door. A clear and fresh sound rang briefly then stopped. Along with the sound of the opening door, Cadere’s voice vibrated in the room.
“Mother. Above all, I really liked the meaning of that flower. It means, you’re mine forever. Well then, have a pleasant afternoon, mother.”
That beautiful flower morphed into a hideous flower by a split second in Iris’ eyes.