Trifecta: Uneasy Lies the Head

A clatter sounded from the other end of the room, cutting through the din.  Callie’s head jerked.  One of the other servants had dropped a charger of roast pig spectacularly on the floor.  She turned back to the table and filled another goblet.  These Atan loved their wine.

She brushed a sleeve.  Murmuring an apology, she withdrew.  She wasn’t at all sure they understood her, but it hardly mattered.  She kept her head down, and they ignored her.  She was happy to be nothing.

The duke sat at the head table by the guest of honor.  He was uneasy in his cousin’s seat, so newly come to him.  It was a very different gathering than the ones the old duke had used to have, these minor nobles in ill-fitting Atani robes bowing and scraping and laughing too loudly.  But he had fought, and so was gone. It made her face flush with shame, but in her memories of that day, the horror of the children’s execution was overwhelmed by her relief at being left alive.

The duke’s wife, white-faced, sat erect next to him.  Her smile was brittle and her movements tight and sharp.  Everyone knew why.  She had been a votary of Amala.  For anyone else, that would have meant an execution, but her life had been spared… for now.  Spared on condition of her husband’s obedience, his cooperation with their new overlords.  Callie wondered if the duchess felt the same way she did: kneeling before their altar, thinking she was damned, damned for betraying her faith.

The Primate, newly arrived from overseas, sat nearby, his forearms resting lightly on the table.  He was short, stocky, pale, and he coiled in the chair like a snake.  Callie shivered.  She was the littlest, the tiniest mouse.  There was bigger game under his eye.

The duke raised his glass in a shaking hand.  “To our glorious lord, the Dawn Emperor!”  The desperate roar of voices assaulted her ear, and she turned away.


Welcome to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge!  This week’s prompt calls for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word UNEASY (adj.):

1: causing physical or mental discomfort
2: not easy : difficult
3: marked by lack of ease : awkward, embarrassed <gave an uneasy laugh>

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Mel says:

    Very interesting story and great dynamics between the characters. Well done!

  2. Draug says:

    So good! You make great writing look easy. *is jealous*

  3. Jester Queen says:

    Oh — I love how you sneak in the executions of the children. SO quickly and deftly that it doesn’t take over the story, yet it casts its pall so perfectly. You are an expert at those kinds of flourishes.

  4. Annabelle says:

    Thanks! Confession: I took the Hemingway approach to writing this one (have a drink; then start writing!) and posted while still tipsy, so I’m glad it more or less holds together for sober people!

  5. Wisper says:

    Talk about leaving a bunch of questions unanswered! This was a intriguing piece. I love the little details you chose to put in. One bit of concrit – in the 3rd paragraph, you switch from “he” to “she” toward the end. Either I’m missing something there or it should all be “he”. Outside of that, this is a great piece.

  6. May says:

    Oh, yeah. You nailed “uneasy”.

  7. jannatwrites says:

    Dinner parties can be stressful under the best of circumstances, but this one seems miserable! I enjoyed the story- especially interested by the betrayal of faith. That is a major source of conflict, both internal and external…and that makes for some good reading!

  8. Wow, I got goosebumps at the same time Callie shivered.

  9. sandra tyler says:

    This was great! well written. And love the contrast in the two levels of uneasy, from different classes.

  10. Gina says:

    Different classes, dinner parties gone crazy, executions…all of them leave me with an “uneasy” feeling! Chilling tale, Annabelle! Like your Hemingway approach I read above. I’ve done that a time or two as well!

  11. stephanie says:

    So imaginative. You very deftly slipped in that children’s execution. Lets us realize just how dangerous this group is. That would make anyone uneasy. Nice.

  12. Michael says:

    Wow. This was good. So much tension and drama. I really liked your description of the duchess; you made her character come alive.

  13. That was intense, probably more so as a mother. I can’t imagine being relieved to be alive in that situation. Thanks for linking up. Be sure to come back soon.

  14. I adore the medieval feel of these posts. Great stuff!

  15. sonya says:

    Great job. Definitely medieval and tense (but in a good way for a reader).

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