The body was left hanging from a tree just outside the window by Sophie's brother, the sovereign. He left it close enough for her to reach out and touch. It dangled in the pine needles like a Christmas ornament its state of decay, another reminder to Sophie of how long she'd been confined to the convent.
With clockwork precision, Sophie's attendant Maria started pushing open the heavy wooden door to Sophie's room. The elderly Maria moved slowly but with a preserved poise of grace.
"Good morning, archduchess," she greeted Sophie.
Sophie blinked in response.
Sophie stood limp and motionless while Maria undid the ties on her nightgown. Dressing the …