71. Flicker

The northern door led into a narrow room, almost hallway like in size.  The eastern wall was a barren stonewall, not even
so interesting as to be covered by moss, but the smoky haze in the room probably choked that idea.  On the opposite
wall was an altar of some type.  There was an old and fraying rug in which to kneel that bore a dizzying pattern and upon
the altar was daylight’s worth of burning candles.  They pushed their flickering light into every inch of the narrow hall.  
While most of their smoke traveled north up into a chimney above the altar, the airshaft was not wide enough to
accommodate the cloudy traffic.  Thus a haze had settled into the room that caused the dainty princess to cough and
pinch her nose.

The armies of candles left little room on the altar for a collection of hideous figurines from gargoyles, to medusa, to a
powerful minotaur.  The dark idols must have played some role in the strange worship that took place here.  Rosella
could see Lolotte fitting in here just fine, and she wasn’t even sure if the goons had minds anymore, but what she truly
wondered is if Edgar ever came to this creepy room?  In truth she knew very little about the cursed young man other
than his devoted proposal in marriage that he had made to her some months ago.  She had declined in order to return
to her home, Daventry in order to restore King Graham’s health with the magical fruit that grew only in the deadly
swamps of Tamir.  In truth, she never imagined that she would be returning to Tamir, let alone see Edgar again.  Nor did
she anticipate the way he would take her rejection.  Was he merely heartbroken, or did he truly wish the princess harm
as Jenna had implied?  Again, Rosella reasoned that it could not be her fault if he had taken her decline to the side of
evil.  She was a princess after all and he was… a monster, right?  Her thoughts were becoming cloudy, or was it the

Rosella sneezed and her head cleared, but as she blinked the smoke from her eyes, she screamed and fell on her
backside.  Had she been hallucinating?  Had the altar put her into a trance?  Through all her thoughts of her trials of
adventure and Edgar’s love, Rosella had slipped down onto her knees at the altar unknowingly!  The thought made the
princess reel further away from the altar until her back was firmly against the opposite wall.

Scrambling to her feet, Rosella dignified herself by brushing off her sleeves and skirt, arching her back, and
straightening her jaw to focus herself.  There were better things for a princess to be doing she decided.  While she
wished nothing to do with the hideous ornaments that adorned the altar, taking one of the candles along seemed to be a
prudent idea.  Prudence.  Something Queen Valanice had always scolded her daughter for lacking.  “Hmmpfh” sneered
Rosella, turning up her nose at the thought.

Another door was located at the northern end of the hallway.  Plucking a candle from the altar, Rosella headed for the

Heading north