The elder brother, in a voice clear and soft, begins reading from the book on the younger one's lap.
"Happy is he who sees the hour of death and affords time for reflection. Welcome each day and each evening the prospect of death. When finally you go before your Maker, what have you then to fear ..."
"Amen," adds the younger brother with great sorrow in his voice. Just then, a cold wintry gust blows in from the distance, and for a moment the walls of the tall tower moan in response, as if about to yield. The younger brother draws closer and presses his face against his elder brother's shoulder. The elder brother resumes reading.
"In the morning, accept that death might come 'fore the night. At nightfall, wish not on the 'morrow. Resignation value over all. The greatest of shames is death without dignity ..."
"Amen," the younger brother adds again. His voice trembles. The elder brother quietly closes the book and walks over to the small window for a look outside. The window is too high for him. He brings a stool and stands on it tiptoe. A dark mist extends in all directions, repelling the rays of the weak winter sun. The land is bleak, as though tainted through with the blood of slaughtered dogs. "Thus ends another day," the elder states in turning back toward the younger. "I'm cold," is the younger's only response. "In exchange for our lives, I'd cede the crown to Uncle," the elder murmurs mostly to himself. The younger says only, "I want to see Mother." In this moment the embroidered image of the nude goddess on the tapestry flutters gently, despite the stillness in the room.
The scene suddenly shifts. I look and see a lone woman, in black mourning dress, standing before the tower gate. Her face is pallid and gaunt, but her air is refined. She's a noble lady. After some time, the grinding of a lock is heard and the gate opens with a creak. A solitary man appears from within and bows respectfully before her.