Jared rests his hand on her shoulder and speaks so gently, he is difficult to understand, "Would you like me to escort you out of the palace my queen?" "No, I want to go back. Take me back please". The emotion in her voice is audible, Simone is so near tears Jared can feel them falling down her cheeks. He slips his hand to the small of her back and indiscreetly leads Simone back across the plush carpeted balcony and through the doors which are completely invisible to the naked eye from the outside.
Jared touches his hand to the wall and the giant double doors swing open. This time Simone really takes in the immense hall. The walls are not solid blue. A fine golden intricate design covers the walls from top to bottom and corner to corner and all the way up the vaulted ceilings.
It looks like some kind of beautiful script that she'd seen somewhere before. She closes her eyes to focus on where she'd seen it and immediately pauses where she stands and looks around her. Just above the grand entrance into her suite is a familiar marking done in the same script. It is larger and emboldened, making it stand out from the rest.
Slowly Simone slips her now trembling fingers around the back of her own neck. "What distresses you?" Jared asks noting the look of concern and alarm that had washed over her features yet again.
"What is that print, what does it say?" Jared stands comfortably near her and again rests his hand to her back, "It is script in the old language of Shandria. It is no longer written or spoken that way. There are very few Shandrian's remaining who can speak it, let alone read or interpret it." "Yes, but what does it say? Those words in bold, what do they say?" her eyes search his for immediate understanding as her fingers continue to kneed her neck beneath Jared's heavy robe.
As soon as she'd seen the enlarged script Simone had recognized it. It had been burned into her memory for years. She'd consistently jot it down over and over again with its beautiful curves and cursive like script. It resembled some random floral-like design. She's discussed it in therapy many times but could never make a connection as to where she'd seen it or why it meant so much to her. The only way she was able to shake the incessant need to scroll down the decorative design was to perfect it, get ridiculously drunk with friends in college, and have it tattooed to her body. She can trace the tattoo blindly on the back of her neck even now.
"It says ‘Our love cannot be broken'. Over the entrance to our chambers are your wedding vows to me. You said that ‘All time and existence can crumble away to nothing, but our love cannot be broken'. Its all there above the entrance. At the other end of the hall, where we came in are my vows to you. In bold over the doorway it says ‘You will never be lost, I will always guide you home'. You do not remember any of this Simone?"
"No, this is too much at once. Please Jared I need to sit" Simone is sincere in her request. If she doesn't find a seat soon the floor would break her fall. Jared suffices and quickly rushes her back into the bedroom she so desperately wanted to escape only a few minutes before.
Simone crawls onto the large bed and pulls her feet beneath her body. She is all but completely drowned in Jared's robe. At some point he had managed to replace it with a very similar black robe, but Simone hadn't noticed. Her mind races in circles trying to figure out what to do. Her knee jumps up and down continuously as evidence that her nerves are getting the best of her.
"I'm losing my mind. I have to be losing my mind. None of this makes any sense" Simone begins to talk to herself. Her composure is waning and her dignity had vacated when she walked out into a foyer full of people half nude. The day's events are too disturbingly familiar to her earliest memories of being discovered at a beach. Tears begin to wash down her face in torrents that she cannot control. Once again she'd waken up in a strange place recognizing no one and nothing. Its reliving the worst moment of her life all over again.
"I wish to console you, but I know you would reject my consolations in your state." Jared's voice is stoic and detached. "I will leave you to your thoughts. There is much that must be done today I imagine." Simone doesn't answer; she scarcely manages to lift her eyes to address him. Jared nods and walks away through another exit Simone hadn't noticed before. She looks around to find that there are two smaller exits into other rooms. None of this consoles her at the moment, just bits and pieces of information to tuck away in the event they become useful later.
Simone slowly pulls her eyes open despite her best efforts. She knows before she opens them that she is not at home in her own bed; she'd been resting too peacefully for that. She'd felt her body lulled into sweet rest after an extended period of sobbing silently. Simone had slept and she had dreamt; an experience she had no prior recollection of. She scoots out of the bed. She'd remembered seeing exits to other rooms before she'd drifted off. With any luck she'd find herself something to wear besides a slinky night gown. Somebody in this place has to own a pair of jeans she can borrow.
With a new wave of determination Simone hops out the bed and heads straight for the exit Jared had taken. She steps into a long hall that offers more than one direction. "What is it with these people and long halls?" she mutters as she peeks in to the first room offered as a choice. The room is large, but not nearly the size of the bedroom. It is a comfortable sitting room arranged with sofa's and cushioned seats that look so as if they were made for comfort, but also so elegant that she'd feel strange sitting in them. The room is a jumble of onyx, gold and soft brown tones. Even the chandelier is ornately decored with a brown and gold silk throw weaved in and out of its many rivets. Despite its amazing grandeur, Simone can tell the room is meant to be comfortable and livable; it's a family room.
Through the winding halls Simone finds several rooms, large and small, that serve as living quarters. Each room seems more amazing and beautiful as she goes along. There are sitting rooms, studies, rooms obviously meant to sleep children, an entire room devoted to clothing obviously meant for Jared, and two conjoined rooms sitting back to back that appear to be offices.
Simone is marveled by the stately appearance of the first office as she enters it. It puts anything the Mayor has to great shame. A large ivory desk boasts its position at the head of the room, rivaled only by the throne like seat behind it. There is a painting behind the desk hung on the wall of a storm raging over an ocean. The scene is so intense and breathtaking it seems to almost be moving. The crashing waves and shrill strike of thunder are all that is missing from the painting. The conference style table is the most elaborate she's ever seen, with its hand carved legs and stone like finish. The six high backed chairs surrounding it exude an heir of important business. Simone knows immediately this room is meant for Jared.
She walks through the door joining the two rooms and finds a nearly identical setup. The desk is setup against the wall that joins the two rooms. The portrait hung over the desk she assumes to be hers is of two suns raised over a vast grassy plane. There are flowers and butterflies; the entire portrait seems to be teeming with life. She wonders what the metaphor is behind having two rising suns.
As Simone continues down the winding hall she notices that the rooms seem to be repeating themselves in order. More sitting rooms and dining rooms, all in softer more feminine colors than the ones previous.
"Thank God" Simone whispers coming upon a room she assumes is meant to be a woman's closet, likely that of the real queen. There are gowns of every sort hanging from racks and hooks. Mirrors hang from all the walls as if to give the viewer a fashion show of themselves. It doesn't take long for her to discover a washroom and get herself all freshened up. The night gown has to go, even if it means changing into a dress.
Simone catches her reflection in one of the many mirrors. She'd worn very few dresses and nothing quite as elegant as the one she's wearing now. It is a soft blue sleeveless dress with a fitting bodice that gives way just at the swell of her hips and cascades down and flows past her feet, leaving more than a foot of the delicate fabric pooling behind her. Simone notes that this is likely the fanciest thing she's ever worn in her life yet it is one of the simpler dresses hanging in the closet. The adjoined washroom leads directly back into the bedroom she'd left in the opposite direction. The hall had lead in a giant circle going from one entrance to the next.
"We must find her your highness" "I am aware Sarai. Do try and be patient, I'm certain she will show up." Simone pauses before reentering the room, she can clearly hear Sarai and Jared deliberating over her, but they obviously had yet to realize she is present. Now we're talking, Simone muses. This may just lead to getting her some valuable information, like where she really is or what they really want with her.
"How can you be patient? Our queen is wandering through the palace or may have left altogether and you ask me to be patient?" Sarai is in a tizzy, and Simone tries not to laugh. The woman makes it sound as if a small child had gotten lost. "She is in no danger Sarai" "And how can you know that?" Sarai's voice is shrill and demanding, Jared seems uninterested at best in her tantrum. "I know because she is my wife, and as you know if she were in danger I would be the first to know. Today is the first day in longer than I can remember that I have not had red flags going off in my mind regarding the queen. It is a peace I have not known for years. Besides, you have always been able to track her position Sarai, it is the main reason your services were ever required in the palace. Can't you track her now?"
A long, pregnant silence lingers between the two. Simone can sense an animosity that seems to have been brewing for longer than she's been around. "The queen has blocked me out. It is a full, complete, and intentional block that I cannot get around." Sarai's voice is deflated.
"Then perhaps the queen requires some privacy in the space of her own thoughts. Allow her some time. She is obviously confused and frightened; leave her to gather her self." Again Simone finds the man seeming sincerely protective of her. "This is serious Sire; we cannot take her condition or her disappearance so lightly! I insist that you do something!"
"Be mindful of your tone Sarai. My wife has relinquished your authority in this household. Do not believe for a moment that your opinions hold any sway with me or that they ever have. That was the lapsed judgment of my wife who has obviously seen the error in her choice" Simone watches as Sarai's eyes thin to mere slits, rage seeming to ooze from her pores. "When the queen comes to herself you will regret your choices Your Highness" She says spitting out his title as of its bad to the taste. "That's just it Sarai, I believe that she finally has come to herself. Maybe now there can be some peace in this kingdom and in our household."
This is not a conversation Simone is ready to be apart of. The two speak of her so passionately it is difficult to believe that they are making any of it up. They honestly believe what they are saying. It all seems so crazy. Simone finds herself backing away from the confrontation into the winding hall she'd just exited and away from a reality she has yet to grasp.