Her boots echoed on the marble floors as she turned in place, taking in the magnificent tea room she was currently standing in. How had this happened? This had to be some kind of drug induced hallucination, something in the tea, it just had to be. She mentally ran down a list of hallucinogenic drugs that you could not only hide in tea but that would cause such a vivid delusion; PCP, acid, zombie dust, cocaine
None of them seemed potent enough to construct such a clear hallucination in such a small dose. Well, at least it was a pleasant phantasm, beautiful even. The empty, pearl white place settings were so delicately painted with the most beautiful black whirls that dove deep into the cups she almost couldn't believe it had come from her mind.
She was just wondering if she'd be able to recreate the design once she woke up when the large cherry wood doors opened with a loud creak. She whirled, letting the fragile teacup she'd been admiring drop back to the table, cracking the china and spilling hot tea all over the black lace table cloth, hot tea she was certain hadn't been in the cup moments before.
There was a man standing there in a very well tailored suit made of red and white crushed velvet with gold trim, a white rhombus was stitched onto the pocket of the red half of his blazer, but the first thing she noticed was that he had no face. His eyes, nose, and mouth where missing leaving an eerie blank canvas that reminded her of something out of a horror movie.
Okay, maybe not as pleasant as I thought.
"The Queen will see you now," What she could only assume was his voice seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once.
"The Queen?" She asked, trying to right the teacup and mop up the tea as to avoid staring at the little ridge where his nose should have been.
"Yes," He said impatiently.
She looked around for someone, anyone else besides herself who was supposed to see the queen, only noticing that the layered trays and plates now held tiny cakes with black and white fondant and opposing coloured sprinkles.
"Hurry," The man snapped. She hugged herself, eyebrows furrowing together as she hesitantly followed the man from the room. She looked back at the table once more just as the doors started to close and found the table surrounded by faceless figures clothed in black and white Victorian dress turning to 'stare' as she left with delicate teacups held up to their nonexistent mouths and gloved hands folded neatly underneath their chins.
"Where are we going?" She asked as she nervously as she turned back to the guard and bit her thumb nail once the cherry wood door had closed behind them and obscured her view of the tearoom.
"To see the Queen," His voice echoed down the dimly lit hallway.
She struggled to keep up with his long strides, "Well, I get that but why am I going to go see the Queen exactly?"
"You're being put on trial for high treason."
"T-treason," She stammered. "They kill people for that, don't they?"
He appeared to glance back at her but said nothing, "I don't even know how I got here! One second I'm in some book store on Barrington Street getting a tarot reading the next I'm in that tea room!"
"What tea room?"
"That room I was just in with all the pretty tea things," She turned to point out the cherry wood door at the end of the hall only to find it missing and the wall a mere three feet away from her outstretched hand. "Bu-but it was just there!" She cried.
"Our Queen won't let you plead for asylum, little girl." He said disapprovingly.
It's just a hallucination, Lacie, she thought, wrapping her arms tightly around herself. None of it's real.
They reached a door at the end of the hall, identical to the one she was sure the tea room had been behind and the faceless man threw it open, "I've brought the girl," He announced, grabbing her arm and pushing her in front of him.
The room resembled a log cabin, a large fire on the hearth, wood paneling on all the walls, deeply coloured, knotted wood floors. It would almost have been homey if it wasn't for the full jury box, judges podium complete with a blindfolded judge who looked suspiciously like the Justice card standing in front of the roaring fire, a long bench upon which sat several people in various states of cleanliness and period dress, most heads hung in despair hiding their 'faces', and two mahogany tables in front of the podium, one at which a woman, who resembled the Empress greatly, in the fullest dress she had ever seen sat with a crown perched regally atop her head, at the other was another faceless man, his forehead glistening with sweat at whatever he was being tried for. Well, at least the Queen and judge had faces, even if the jury didn't.
The judge shifted slightly, tilting her head slightly towards her. "What is your name?"
"Lacie," She responded as her escort nudged her forward, "Lacie Clark."
"Have a seat, Miss Clark," The judge murmured coolly, her voice completely void of emotion as the gestured to the bench with the ragtag bunch of what Lacie had to assume were convicts.
She hastily took her place next to a faceless woman dressed like a 1920's flapper. She folded her hands in her lap and tried to disappear, hunching her shoulder and leaning forward as though she could magically make herself smaller just by wishing it. She watched the man on trial try to do the same, sweating bullets as the judge tried to regard him through her silken blindfold and the Queen glared viciously at him, her chest heaving dramatically with every breath making the brilliant black fabric of her bodice glimmer.
"The evidence against you is overwhelming," The judge sighed dispassionately, "And I think the jury will agree." The man whirled to look at the jury box and they all nodded in agreement, their eyebrows knitted together in an emotion that wasn't quite clear with their featureless faces. "I find you guilty of the murder of King Matrim the sixth." She said with an air of finality, raising one long-fingered, white gloved hand to point in his direction, "Off with his head!"
"No, no!" The man pleaded, clasping his hands together, "I'm innocent! Please!" Two faceless guards converged on him, one in red and white with a red heart stitched to his white pocket, and one in black and white with a white spade stitched onto the black side of his blazer. "I'm innocent! You have to believe me!" He sobbed, his voice echoing all around as they hauled him up by his arms and began to drag him across the room to another cherry wood door Lacie hadn't noticed before.
The door closed with an almost deafening boom, muting the man's plaintive cries. Lacie looked on in horror, terrified of what the harsh judge might have in store for her. "Lacie Clark," The blindfolded woman murmured, sweeping her hand in the general vicinity of the now free table, "You're next."
Shakily she got to her feet and scurried passed the smirking Queen to the high oak table that made her feel about three feet tall once she was seated in the small chair. "That's her!" The Queen wailed. "That's the nasty little girl who killed my husband!" She cried, flailing her small hand in Lacie's direction.
"Bu-but that's not possible!" Lacie stammered, "You just prosecuted the man before me for the same crime!"
"You were his accomplice!" She hissed viciously before her heavily made-up face crumpled and she hid it in her hands, sobbing delicately.
The judge waved her hand, calling for silence. "How do you plead, Miss Clark?"
She tore her gaze from the sobbing Queen, "N-not guilty," She stammered, trying to stay focused on the pattern of gold and black card-suits that decorated the judge's tight black and white outfit, puffed sleeves and long arms, hoping the order would calm her.
"Liar," The Queen screeched, pointing a white lace gloved hand wildly at Lacie, her dark curls bouncing. "She's guilty! I saw her! I saw her kill my husband," She sobbed, "My poor innocent husband!"
"A fair trial, Viridinia, you can grant her that much." The judge said diplomatically and the Queen began to sulk, fluffing the skirts of her beautiful red and black dress as she muttered under her breath.
"I didn't kill the king! It's not possible!" Lacie cried. "I wasn't
" Somehow she knew going into her explanation wouldn't help matters much and her voice petered out.
"She doesn't even have an alibi," The Queen shouted excitedly. "Punish her! Punish her, Euno!"
She noticed that the Queen's palm was dyed red, ruining the delicate lace, "But the Queen has blood on her hands!"
"I see no blood," The judge said honestly tilting her head so the gold thread woven through her high, white ruffled collar caught the light.
She stood, slamming her chair backwards into a wall and stormed up to the bench, grabbing a loose end of Euno's blindfold, "Then take off that damn blindfold!" She yanked; the length of black silk gave easily and fell into her hand, revealing dead, white blind eyes. The sleek fabric slipped through her fingers to land in a pool at her feet.
The Queen cackled, standing to face the jury, her lace gloves tossed to the floor and her hands held out for them to inspect, "I see no blood, do you?"
"Merde," She cursed, stumbling away from the podium. Why was she so worried? This wasn't real after all.
"Guilty, guilty, guilty!" The Queen chanted, slowly the jury members joined, then the faceless spectators, their voices rising into a thundering, accusatory mantra that Lacie was sure would echo in her thoughts for years.
"Burned at the stake!" Someone screamed, followed by shouts of gleeful agreement.
"Hanged and quartered!"
"Off with her head!"
They started to converge on her, screaming her demise. She backed up into the podium, tears streaming down her face now. "It's just a hallucination, this isn't real. This isn't real." She whispered, covering her face with her hands.
Somebody grabbed her wrist, almost pulling her off their feet as they started to drag her through the mob. People cried out, grabbing at her, ripping her clothes, "Stop him! Seize them!" The Queen screeched her voice cutting through the din.
The person who had a hold on her arm jerked her free of the hordes grip, causing her to almost fall into their chest when she stumbled forward. She looked up, expecting another faceless figure and was surprised to see a grinning mouth, wide grey eyes and a mass of rust coloured ringlets that fell into his eyes from under the brim of his hat, "You're the boy from the card," She whispered numbly.
He glanced down at her, his smile dampening a smidge in what she thought was confusion as he threw open the large door she had been led through and yanked her through, the rest of the court chasing after them.