With a single dose of poison, all my problems could be solved. I’d be out a stepmother, of course, and likely be the prime suspect. But it would set her back substantially, if she survived at all.
I know that sounds more than a little harsh, coming from a Princess of the Realm. But I do have the big picture to think about. My father, the King, is clearly under her spell. He’s neglecting the Kingdom and his duty. She is quietly running things through her trusted lackeys, many of whom arrived with her under the same strangely useful coincidences. In particular, know one can remember for sure that they knew of her or any of her companions before that day when she waltzed into court and captured the King before he had properly completed grieving for my mother.
There is something odd about the whole group of them. So one dose of poison in her cup of tea could solve the whole problem.
But it always comes back to the same problem. I don’t have any poison at hand, nor do I have a way to contact someone who would. The royal exterminator does put down something for the rats from time to time, but she seems like the sort of person who would already be proof against any that common.
Then one morning it hit me. The dreams of poison are really just a metaphor. I don’t really need a poison, what I need is the end itself rather than the means. Any means at all that decapitated her cabal would suffice.
From there, the rest is fairly easily accomplished. I decide that a bomb would be the right approach, especially one I can arrange to be triggered by my Stepmother herself. Her habits are regular enough that it ought to be possible to arrange for a surprise, and my foolish youth spent playing pranks on my guards might just pay off.
With the means selected, and the locations chosen by my adversary, the rest is fairly simple.
I concealed the flour sack in plain sight in the ceiling, after carefully arranging the side seam to just rip away when ready. I rigged a web of hard to see dark and tough thread, arranging it to empty the bag explosively so that as much of the room as possible will fill with the fine dust. I don’t have the time or freedom to test the size of the bag, or the strength of the dispersion I’ve arranged. I need this to work as imagined on the first try, since there certainly won’t be a second chance.
I also arranged for multiple sources of ignition. The chandeliers will likely be lit, since those are managed by the staff. There will also be a candle near where I expect her to sit. Finally, the fireplace will also likely be lit as it is getting cool in the evenings.
All that is needed now is patience, to wait for the time to pass and my plans to conclude in a bang.
I made my way through the servant’s passages to the one just outside the sitting room, then find my way up the concealed ladder to the viewpoint above where I have secreted the end of my string. I gave up on arranging for her to yank her own string, and decided that I should count on the stone walls as sufficient shielding from the expected blast, as long as I dropped away from the peephole after setting things in motion.
Finally, she appeared and I breathed a (quiet) sigh of relief. I had suddenly been concerned that she had changed her habits that night, but my concerns were unfounded. She even settled into exactly the chair I expected, and picked up her current needlepoint project, clearly planning to pass some time while my father enjoyed a little port and a cigar with his chamberlain.
I yanked the string. The flour sack unzipped, and the fine dust spread through the room until it found one of the open flames. I barely remembered in time to pull away and drop down below the peephole before the world became what felt like a tangible wall of sound. Clearly I had managed to mix the dust and air correctly. I stayed clinging to my perch for a few minutes, watching to see who went by below me. Finally, when the coast was clear, I dropped back down to the passage and made my way out through a little-used pantry, then around to the public halls. Clearly the noise was loud enough that all should be converging and my absence would be suspicious.
My plan had been mostly successful.
Sitting on her chair, with the charred needlepoint dropped to the floor was a large and very dead frog, with her crown resting unharmed on the cushion.
Near where I’d last seen her personal maid standing was another very dead frog.
From the hopping noises in the distance, several more of her entourage had revealed their origins when their Queen died, and were attempting escape from startled and no doubt scared palace staff.
Best of all, my father stumbled into the room looking like he had just awakened from a nightmare. When he saw what was on the chair, I heard him mutter something a Princess could never say in public, then smile like I hadn’t seen him smile since my mother died.
It was going to be ok.