Chapter 1 -

Roland's slippered feet moved along the palaces dark and gloomy upper corridors. The early morning light had not yet surfaced yet not even the bright midday sun could permeate this part of the palace. This was Roland's domain and nothing and no-one but he could penetrate its depths.

He slipped further into the darkened edge of the corridor slightly brushing up against the wall hangings that lavishly draped all of the cold, hard, stone walls of the palace. Yet, there was nothing lavish about these particular hangings. The heavy draping on these walls were very different to those in the rest of the palace, down below. There were no spacious open pastures filled with the livelihoods of men, nor were there cascading waterfalls that glistened in the bright sunlight. Rather, these hangings were unkempt, distended and could barely be seen in the dank grey light. They portrayed those who had been forgotten or those many would wish to forget.

Roland turned his mind from these idle thoughts and to his main purpose. The king…his liege…was getting on in years, not too far gone yet, but these past twenty years had been hard on him. He was no longer the dark haired, handsome, vital man of all those years ago. Rather, King Malcolm was a broken man, his temples long gone grey, forever alone and surely lonely as he went about the motions of ruling his waning kingdom. A thin smile spread across Roland's face, this was just the way he had wanted him…just the way he planned.

Yet, the thin smile disappeared as he looked upon the last hanging upon the wall. It was a fading image of the most beautiful woman who had ever lived. Her once luminous, golden strawberry hair cascaded over her shoulders and her, strangely still bright, blue eyes bored into his knowingly as if she could still see him and she knew his role in her demise.

Estella slipped out into the dark frostbit street and moved towards the brightening horizon that was the harbour. Her thinly slippered feet shivered in her tight and dusty work shoes. She desperately needed new ones yet, her paltry wage barely covered their living costs and Laborc could barely lift himself out of his self-induced depression and drunken stupor to put pen to paper. Not that his work was god enough to sell. His one major work, the work which had made him famous, was an incriminating piece of trash now that the world knew what it was really about. She knew he would never, among other things, write again and that thought made her even more downcast, it was all up to her.