The hidden truth

Here is a piece I was working on earlier this term for university. The challenge was to take a story from one genre and transform it into another. I chose a scene from The Other Boleyn Girl, as well known historical fiction, and transformed it into fantasy.  “What’s the noise?” the king bellowed and stood up from his throne.

A hush crept over the hall, drowning the laughter instantly. He strode over to the round table where a lady dressed fully in green silks was engaged in conversation with five men at arms. “I hope you know what you’re doing,” the king continued, “these vagabonds will stop at nothing to take your money.”

The lady in green stood up with a slight curtsey, and then lifted her head, smiling at the man who towered over her. “We’re not gambling, your Grace.”

A gruff man in a grey tunic continued, “Mistress Boleyn is just reading our fortunes, Sire.”

“Then read mine,” the king demanded, as he took a seat across from the lady, eyes still fixed on her face. She picked up the deck of cards from the table and began to shuffle them slowly, eyes meeting his own. “Another talent picked up in France?”

“The queen offers her ladies a broad education,” she replied as she selected two cards from the deck and placed them face down on the wooden table.

“Last I heard, she was entertaining Lutherans and heretics.”

“Scholars and philosophers, my lord, escaping persecution,” the lady interjected.

“I hope you kept your ears shut.”

“I did, and a cross close to my heart at all times,” she said coyly, touching the chain around her neck. She began to turn the cards over slowly, one at a time. First, The Emperor, “a sign of compassion from a benevolent leader”. Next to that, the two of cups, “Love, passion and affinity.” The bright blue liquid flowing out of the cups seemed to shimmer and move for a moment. The king looked up at the lady, curiously, but she was shuffling the cards once more. She spread the cards in her fingers and looked up at the king.

“Choose one, and place it on top of the other two.”

He grins, drawing the bottom card in the set, his hand lingering on hers for a fleeting moment. The Lovers, overturned.

The lady smiles, turning the card to face the right way up. “I like it more this way, don’t you?” The image depicts two nude figures, a woman and a man, locked in a passionate embrace.

The king, and the rest of the men who were watching, begin to laugh, but as she turned the next card over, the laughter ended. The men stared down at a heart pierced by three long swords.

“My lord it’s not as ominous as it may appear. Quite the contrary. It means that changes are coming, that there will be a disruption, for the better of course. It seems your life will become even more exciting. Here, take another.”

He lifts the card and turns it to face him, shielding it from her. “What would you say this is, fortuneteller?”

“The hanged man, a sign of divine wisdom and intuition. The most appropriate card for such a noble and strong ruler as yourself.”

“Indeed,” he says tossing the card on the table as he rose, laughing with his companions, “it seems I have a lot to look forward to, wouldn’t you say?”

“The cards speak for themselves my lord, but I am very pleased with them.” She collected the cards and took another bow to the king, before returning to her chambers to change for the evening’s meal.

Once behind closed doors she began to silently cheer and glee for her success. He was enchanted. She then turned to her desk, and pulled off a small key which hung around her neck, deeply hidden beneath her dress. She used it to open a small chest hidden in a cupboard in the desk. Inside were dozens of small vials, whose glass chimed as she ran her fingers over them. She pulled out one labeled Essences d'amour, unstopped it and delicately let fall a single drop on her wrist. In the red liquid of the potion was a single hair. She next pulled out a pendant of rose quarts, which she hung around her neck, before returning the locked chest to its hiding place. She had just managed to return the key to her neck when someone knocked on the door.

“A moment,” she exclaimed, surprised that the concoction would have worked so quickly. She expected the king to be standing outside her door. A small boy was there instead, holding an ornate jewelry box up to her with his arms outstretched. “A gift from the king, mistress Boleyn,” he squeaked in his high voice.

“Thank you little one. Please open it for me.”

He did as he was told, and unsealed the box. Inside was a string of white pearls, on which hung a pendant with a large emerald, a shade of green that would perfectly match the dress she was wearing earlier.

“Now, please send it back.” The boy stood frozen in place, staring up at the regal lady.

“You heard me, send it back.” She closed her door, leaving the boy still motionless, and began to giggle once more, falling on her bed in joy.