Chapter 6

It was not just age eating away at her.

Elitha moved her fragile form to the window, looking to the world beyond wistfully. Slowly she was crumbling, weakening, dissolving from the person she used to be, physically and mentally. Several doctors had consulted her, looked her over extensively, and concluded only there was some mysterious black disease spreading like an evil stain through her system, and she did not have very long to live.

Never had Elitha been the most vigorous of young ladies. Though days of her youth went mainly unaffected by illness of any sort, she had something of a weak, delicate constitution, never meant for endurance. In those days she usually went unbothered by the handicap, for as the Princess you spent many days immobile or doing very little rigorous activity.

But then pregnancy came very hard for Elitha, and in childbirth she almost lost her own life. The doctors deemed her unable to bear any further children, which came as an incredible blow to the King. It remained a secret from the ever-whispering, ever-wondering public, but Elitha always felt, ever since, that Howard was just waiting for her to die so that he could marry another, more capable, woman. And since the incident, Elitha felt the growing fragility, mixed with severe despression, making her suspectible to a weakness she was never able to shake. In the latest of years, this shadowy illness had blossomed inside of her, draining the life from her.

The Queen, alone in her room now, continually wondered why she failed to tell her daughter such news, that she withheld the information of her impending death. She could not force it from her lips, espeically in her daughter's presence, accept the reality of the end before her and the pain it would cause Cassandra. The girl had enough on her plate, Elitha reasoned, and did not need her mother adding more to the fire.

Elitha was certain that as Cassandra departed for Navarn, it would be the last time they saw one another. Cassandra would marry, and Elitha would die.

The End

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