Two Queens

The Queen of the City eats nectarine slices as her Rooks flock to court, to assure her that her rule remains absolute in the provinces.

The Queen of the Husk stands in the uppermost chamber of her burrowing castle. The loyalists have fled. Minarets and jagged chimneys penetrate the fog, and engines of war and mercy shriek in the distance.

Sometimes, the Queen of the City stands on her balcony and shudders as the other Queen walks in her shadow. Her City shifts, towers warp, buildings curl like browning leaves, the grand gardens erupt with wild flowers and hogweeds, choking fog bubbles through the streets, rotting dirigibles swim overhead. Then the attendant behind her clears his throat.

The Queen of the Husk unclenches her fist.