Authors: Megan Whalen Turner
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #General, #Fantasy & Magic, #Legends; Myths; Fables, #Concepts, #Seasons, #Holidays & Celebrations, #Halloween
“Do you love me?” Eugenides asked without preamble.
“Why do you ask?” she answered, and he grimaced in frustration.
“Because I need to know,” he said.
“I am wearing your earrings,” Attolia offered.
“Being willing to marry me is not the same as loving me.”
“Would you believe me if I said I did love you?” Attolia asked. It seemed a genuine question, and Eugenides thought carefully about his answer.
“I don’t think you’d lie.”
“Does it matter?” Attolia asked.
“If you are truthful?”
“If I love you,” she said.
“Yes. Do you love me?” he asked again.
She didn’t answer. “When we opened the doors to the solarium three days ago—”
“Three days?” Eugenides queried.
“Three days,” Attolia confirmed. “When we opened the doors, we saw that the entire room was scorched black and you were on the floor possibly dead, surrounded by broken glass. Window glass is expensive, you realize that?”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” he said meekly.
“You might have been dead, but you weren’t. Not cut to pieces, not burned to a cinder, and when you woke, your queen reported that you didn’t seem to be insane. Are you insane?”
“No more than usual, I think.”
“Insane to think of loving me,” said Attolia, and the emotions that colored her usually emotionless voice were bitterness and self-mockery.
Eugenides reached to take her hand, but she was sitting at his right side and he had to reach across his body. He raised himself on his elbow, but she freed her hand and pushed him gently back into the bed. Then she pulled the covers back to expose the stump of his right arm. His cuff and hook, he saw, were laid on a table across the room. He resisted the temptation to pull the arm back under the covers.
“It is not so sore,” she said.
“No.” Eugenides ran his hand over his arm. The ridges of calluses and the blisters were gone. He was free of the ache in his bones and the pain in his phantom hand. He thought of the goddess who had interceded on his behalf and thought the pain might be gone forever.
Looking at his arm, Attolia said, “I cut off your hand.”
“I have been living with your grief and your rage and your pain ever since. I don’t think—I don’t think I had felt anything for a long time before that, but those emotions at least were familiar to me. Love I am not familiar with. I didn’t recognize that feeling until I thought I had lost you in Ephrata. And when I thought
I was losing you a second time, I realized I would give up anything to keep you—my lip service to other gods, but my pride, too, and my rage at all gods, everything for you. Then I see you here, and see what I have done to you.” Gently she stroked his maimed arm, and he shivered at the warmth of her touch and its intimacy.
“You have spied on me for years?” she asked.
“Yes,” Eugenides admitted.
“Watched me deal with my barons and my servants, loyalists, traitors, and enemies?” She thought of the hardness and the coldness she had cultivated over those years and wondered if they were the mask she wore or if the mask had become her self. If the longing inside her for kindness, for warmth, for compassion, was the last seed of hope for her, she didn’t know how to nurture it or if it could live.
Unable to guess the answer, she asked, “Who am I, that you should love me?”
“You are My Queen,” said Eugenides. She sat perfectly still, looking at him without moving as his words dropped like water into dry earth.
“Do you believe me?” he asked.
“Yes,” she answered.
“Do you love me?”
“I love you.”
And she believed him.
The landscape of Attolia and Sounis and even Eddis is much like the landscape that surrounds the Mediterranean Sea. I have taken bits and pieces of the region and history and fitted them into my story, but the story is fiction. Nothing in it is historically accurate. The gods and the goddesses in my book are not those of the Greek or any other Pantheon. I made them up. The Mede Empire is also my own invention.
In the real world, many empires have risen and fallen while attempting to surround and control the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians, the Egyptians, and the Myceneans were some of the earliest. The Persians, in the fifth century B.C., tried to extend their empire to the Greek Peninsula and failed twice. They were defeated at the battle of Marathon and then at the battle of Salamis. The Romans managed to hold the Mediterranean for five hundred years and in the process exported their gods and insisted they replace at least
officially the gods native to different parts of their empire.
After the Romans came the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic states, the trade empires of Italian city-states, and the Ottoman Empire, which did not disappear until the twentieth century, when the powerful nations of the European continent contrived to defeat and divide it.
Megan Whalen Turner
is the author of
INSTEAD OF THREE WISHES, THE THIEF,
which was awarded a Newbery Honor, and its sequels,
THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA
THE KING OF ATTOLIA.
She lives in Ohio.
You can visit her online at
Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.
The King of Attolia
Instead of Three Wishes
Cover art © 2006 by Vince Natale
Cover design by Christopher Stengel
THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA
. Copyright © 2000 by Megan Whalen Turner. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.
Adobe Digital Edition August 2009 ISBN 978-0-06-196846-4
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