The Cold King(2)

By: Amber Jaeger


“I could have done that for you,” Calia mumbled.

“Like you got my feathers to the pillow makers?” her mother asked. “I swear, what I ever did to deserve such a worthless child…”

Calia was used to such hurtful statements and so did not even flinch. “I am sorry Mother, I’ll pay for the feathers.”

“With what money?” Her mother pushed past her and continued on her way to make her purchases. Calia took the heavy basket from her grateful younger sister and trailed behind.

It wasn’t until late that evening that Calia’s mother deigned to speak to her again.

“So what was it this time?”

Calia looked up from scrubbing the tea pot and brushed her hair back from her face. “What was what, Mother?”

“Your excuse for ruining my feathers?”

Calia’s cheeks heated but she kept her voice even when she answered. “The basket tipped when I rushed to help an old woman who had slipped in the mud.”



Her mother looked up from her embroidery. “Mrs. Peepers?”

“No, it was the Cold King’s servant.”

The ugly woman’s face stilled with shock. “You helped her? You touched her? Calia, she is probably cursed, just like him! You must never interact with any of his servants!”

Calia bit her lip before giving an answer she was sure would only anger her mother more. “I know everyone says she and all of the servants are cursed just as the Cold King is but they age and he—”

“Do not speak of him, you idiot girl!” Her mother’s cheeks were flaming red and she glanced about the dark house as if someone could be hiding in the shadows listening. “Besides, what could you possibly know about the Cold King or his servants?”

“Nothing,” Calia said, trying to hide her exasperation, “because you won’t ever tell me anything. But how can he be so bad? We have plenty to eat, our crops always grow. We never face war or famine, our homes are always warm. And maybe it isn’t the same king, maybe this one is the heir of the heir of the original.”

Her mother reached out and slapped her faster than Calia could pull away. “Shut your mouth. Do not speak of things you do not know about.”

Calia rubbed her cheek but was grimly determined to have her say. “I just meant that it seems no one really knows anything about him.”

Her mother relented and picked her embroidery up again. “You have your father’s stubbornness.” She must have seen the glimmer of a smile on her daughter’s mouth. “It’s nothing to be proud of! He should have been more concerned with making money.” She sighed and shook her head. “But you are right; we do not know much about the king. It’s best that way, it keeps us safe.”



“From what?” Calia asked, hoping her question wouldn’t earn her another slap.

But her mother shrugged. “Him. The outside world. I do not know, but you are correct. We have food and shelter and warmth and we should be grateful for all of it.”

Calia paused her scrubbing. “I am grateful. But I am also curious. Weren’t you curious about the Cold King as a child?”

Her embroidery slowly fell to her lap again as her gaze lengthened. “I was. But then I saw him.”

“You did?” Calia gasped. “You never told me!”

“I do not like to speak of it,” her mother said quietly.

“Please mother, tell me,” Calia begged.

The older woman gave another furtive glance around the room before speaking. “It was the year I was pregnant with you. He came down from his mountain castle for a new gardener.”

Calia waited for more but nothing came. “That’s it? No, there must be more.”

“There is no more,” her mother snapped. “He came down from his mountain, stood in the middle of the town square, made his announcement and left.”

“But what did he look like? What did he sound like?”

“Calia, I do not know. He wore a mask. He looked rich. Stop asking stupid questions.” Mrs. Thorne shifted in her chair, signaling the end of the conversation.



But as Calia finished scrubbing the dishes, and then the counter and floor, she wondered. All the whispers she had overheard depicted the king as an immortal, heartless man. Long since cursed in a way no one remembered, or dared to say, he hid himself in his castle with the few servants he demanded from the town. The servants themselves were rarely seen once they set off for the castle and reviled on rare occasion they came back on an errand. The old woman was the first servant Calia had ever seen. She wondered if she would ever get to see the mysterious king.

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