A Queen's Sacrifice

by Eonwë-(Valar)
September 21st, 2023

Graceful. Regal. Captivating. She sat upon her throne, granting audience to her subjects. Her wisdom was incomparable. Her prowess was unquestioned. Her beauty was unmatched. Especially her hair. Its length was astounding, its sheen that of gold and silver entwined. Its shimmer as she turned her head was as if she bore upon her shoulders the radiance of the Two Trees. None had seen its equal; not her own subjects and not the peoples of the neighboring kingdoms. Travelers from far and wide were drawn to her court by the rumor of its wonder, a glorious crown fit for a queen of such noble bearing.

"My queen!" Her most faithful servant knelt before her, his face wracked with worry and urgency. "A foul creature of immeasurable stature threatens our borders, and your king rode forth to stay its devastation. As he strove with the beast, his bowstring was broken, and if he cannot repair it at once he will be slain!"

An incredulous glare scrawled itself upon the queen's face. "Then be prompt and return to him with a replacement."

"Your majesty, only a bowstring made of your lustrous hair may offer him surety of victory."

"My... hair?" The queen stroked her tresses and frowned.

"My queen, if we do not act quickly, all will be lost!"

There was little time for debate as resolve replaced the queen's distress. "If my king is in peril, I suppose I must allow it." She loosed her braid as a pair of shears appeared in her servant's hand. "Take only what you---hey, that's too much!"

"I shall speed this to him anon!" The servant saluted and hastened from the throne room while the queen caressed her injured tress.

In the silence after his departure she consoled herself. "My king needs it more than I. I must take comfort in the knowledge that it will ensure his victory and save our kingdom."

"My queen!" Another servant stood before her. "On the road to deliver the bowstring to the king, your servant fell into a chasm! We must have a sturdy rope to hoist him up!"

"Then fetch a rope! Make haste!" Her wariness was increased by this new difficulty. First, her most trusted servant absconded with more than the few necessary strands of her hair, and now she's told that mere moments after taking his leave, he fell into a chasm!

The servant drew his hand to his heart. "Alas, only your luxurious hair has the strength required to weave into such a rope."

"Now hold on a min---"

"Your highness, if we do not save him forthwith, your king will perish in the maw of the beast!"

"Oh, very well, but make it fast and don't take more than---hey!"

The servant fled with most of her tress as she scowled after him. Of course it wasn't pruned from the same tress her other servant had marred. "Well at least that ought to---"

"My queen!" Another servant barged into her throne room.

"Now what?!"

"The king's bow has fallen from a treacherous height! We must---"

"Now that's enough. Save my servant with the rope I provided, then use that rope to recover the bow, then---"

"My queen!" A fourth servant strode into the room with a pair of shears. "The royal navy needs rope with which to hoist its sails!"

The queen slammed her hands down on her armrests and pushed herself from her throne. "No! Absolutely not! I've given enough of my---hey!"

The third servant scurried away with yet another tress, this one shorn not two inches from her scalp. At this rate she would have no hair left!

"My queen! Your servant has lost the bowstring!"

"My queen! Another of your loyal servants has fallen into a chasm!"

"My queen!"

"My queen!"

"Queen Alatáriel!"

"Queen Alatáriel..."

"Alatáriel! Alatáriel! Breakfast!"

Alatáriel rubbed the sleep from her eyes. The dream crashed back into her mind and she shot up in her bed, eyes wide open, clutching at her tresses. "My hair!" Her hands closed around intact braids. All apprehension was pushed out in a sigh as she plopped back onto her pillow.

"Alátariel, hurry now!" Her mother's voice carried down the hall.

Once she'd dressed, she dashed out of her room and took her seat at the breakfast table. Her mother put a full plate in front of her.

"About time, sleepyhead. Did you have a bad dream?"

"Mom, I don't think I want to be a queen when I grow up."