At this late stage in Lady Naiak’s life, she has progressed from cosmetics to pure architecture. Her hair grows larger and redder each day, even as it diminishes in both quantity and color. Her gowns are padded with the expertly engineered contours of a woman half her age. Her face is so caked with makeup that she might soon be able to walk out of a room and leave it standing there, smiling and conducting the purely symbolic affairs of state for which a queen is responsible.
Lady Naiak wants only one thing: to outlive her husband. She does not hate the king, but she surely does not love him. Their marriage wasn’t about love; she was married off to prevent war between two rival provinces and also – she suspects – to settle a gambling debt. In fact, Lady Naiak is rather skeptical of the whole concept of love. She’s fucked the king, and she’s fucked a number of his knights, too, and on the whole the knights were better fucks than the king. But she never felt anything akin to love for any of them. The only creatures she will admit to loving are her dogs.
Her dogs are three vicious mastiffs that can rip whole deer to shreds between them. Lady Naiak received them as a gift when they were mere pups, and it was assumed that she would forget about them when they stopped being cute and turned violent. But their viciousness has only made them more interesting to the queen, who is denied the constant outlet of aggression afforded to the men of the castle. While the knights murder each other with lances in the field, Lady Naiak placidly watches as her dogs massacre a family of rabbits she has brought them.
She knows the makeup won’t keep her alive. In fact, there are many days when she’s quite certain that it’s killing her. The trick is to convince everyone else that it’s keeping her alive, so that when her husband inevitably goes down to war wounds or alcohol poisoning or siphylis she can smoothly assume leadership. No one wants a queen, but they can be convinced to put up with one as long as she’s not dying. It doesn’t even matter to her how long she rules for. All that’s important is that one of these days, if she just keeps living and breathing and applying the makeup, she might just get a moment to experience the power she’s spent her whole life next to.