Written by Solar Lin
Art by Mimipic Photography
As far as the kingdom goes, there wasn’t a single thing more enticing than the pictures woven on a tapestry that hung on the palace’s great hall.
The crowning glory, the Queen boasted to every nobility and royalty that came to visit. It’s apparent that the Queen favored the tapestry above any other treasures she owned, and that the tapestry was her pride and glory, equal to the crown she wore on her head. Many have tried their hands at winning the art from the Queen’s hand, determined to own the masterpiece whose legend was heard all over the land—but there were no riches in the world that could pry it from the Queen’s clutches.
The tapestry was as permanent on the wall as the pride in the Queen’s heart whenever yet another visitor fawned and doted over its magnificence.
A sorcery, the townsfolk often whispered in the dead of nights. The allure of the piece of art was almost frightening. The way the picture glowed beneath the moonlight made it seem like it had a life of its own. One of the palace’s servants spread rumors about how the clouds and the grass and the flowers swayed if he looked close enough. Another conspired that witchcraft was the sole reason behind its beauty. Come and see by yourself if you dare, they challenged the townsfolk. Every inch of the tapestry is dripping with magic.
None heeded their words, but it hardly mattered. The very next day, they left the kingdom wordlessly and were never heard from again.
A price to be conquered, the bachelors from neighboring kingdoms conspired. A rich oaf once said that the key to the prospering queendom was through the Queen’s hand in marriage, and her heart was intricately woven in every seam and thread of the tapestry. To conquer the queendom meant they would have to attain its most prized possession first. And so, one by one, the bachelors came to study the art, trying to see what was so special about it, in the hopes of seducing the Queen and emerging as the queendom’s new King.
In the end, all ships went home, and none ever succeeded.
How foolish were those people, the Queen often giggled to herself. It was always amusing to hear the people’s whispers of the tapestry as if it’s something of a mystery. As if the answer wasn’t already written so plainly in the art, if only they knew how to look.
A story, the Queen thought, as she watched people mistaken the tapestry for something else entirely, time and time again. She held the truth close to herself and the person who made the tapestry itself, knowing that their story was one that the people weren’t ready to hear.
Because once upon a time, there was no tapestry that took the world’s breath away only by its presence. Once upon a time, there was no Queen, no rumors, no contenders surrounding it. Once upon a time, there was only a thread and a needle, and a hand that guided it—a hand so soft and gentle who could breathe life into everything it touched. Once upon a time, there were only a servant girl and a princess, the two of them against the world.
Somewhere along the line of that once upon a time, the servant girl’s love flowed too much to be kept in one body. Even the most skilled writers wouldn’t be able to perfectly capture just how tremendous the love she shared with the princess, so she expressed it by doing the only thing she knew how to do: weave. Her hands then started to work themselves to immortalize the most beautiful moments and feelings she experienced, all the summers and springs she and the princess went through. And the beauty of the tapestry grew with the servant girl’s love for the princess, its magnificence radiated the princess’ beauty herself, as she blossomed into a young woman.
The servant girl, however, was no more. She perished in place of the Queen when a band of rogues broke through the castle and tried to assassinate the Queen, who was then a princess. That night, the Queen wept as she watched the blood drained from the only love she ever knew and swore to keep her spirit alive by honoring the servant girl’s lifework. A week after the servant girl’s funeral, the Queen was crowned. And the very next day, the tapestry was hung in the great hall, which became a witness of the Queen’s ruling since then.
All the others thought the tapestry came to life on its own, but the Queen knew the truth. It was everlasting love that made it so glorious—a love that was so strong that it could transcend death. There was no magic needed, no witchcraft involved, no sacred practices done. The secrets of the tapestry were laid bare in its pictures, every emotion pouring from the seams. The story was as transparent as the opalescent mosaics on the palace’s glass ceilings, just as how the Queen’s heart was, once. It was as simple as that.
After all, it started with a thread and a needle. A servant girl and a princess whose love was too much for the world, they decided to capture their story inside a masterpiece, knowing that the truth will be lost to time, eventually and inevitably.