The Sword of the Sun

Part One: The Queen and her Kingdom

Chapter 1

The castle of Erin had survived every battle that was waged against it. Even in the long ago days of its past names Xena Castle and Kestrel Castle no enemy had ever stepped foot past its spelled gates. The ancient castle was the eternal symbol of the kingdom of Sky and nobody would ever forget the great kings and queens of the past who had never retreated from a threat. Sky was the strongest kingdom in the lands and even the darkest of beasts were weary of its almighty force.

King Erin Sky had been king for 264 years. It was his grandmother Kestrel who had started the tradition of naming the castle after the rightful ruler. King Erin had already signed the deeds to change the castles name to Archin Castle when he eventually died and his eldest son claimed the throne. The money and the land that Archin bestowed on his siblings would be split fairly between them and the kingdom would remain as solid as it had for three thousand years.

On April the 3rd 1761 the sons and daughters of Erin left their father to attend the royal ball in the kingdom of Heaven. The journey would be long and harsh so Erin ensured his precious children were supplied with the best horses and accompanied by his most trustworthy guides. King Erin's wife had died almost a hundred years before so King Erin was left on his own apart from a few unskilled servants and a couple of new guards. As the night closed in black clouds swirled across the sky from the north and the wind picked up, whistling through the rooms of the castle. The rain that followed it was torrential and the thunder shook the very stones of the castle as the lightning illuminated the forest beyond the fishing lake.

King Erin, irritated by the stormy weather, retired to his royal chamber earlier than he would. He contended himself with penning a few more pages in the journals he had kept for over a hundred years. His wife had given him his first journal for his birthday, a fine book with crisp white pages and a clean black leather cover. King Erin cherished it and now it was framed above the mantle piece, looking down on table King Erin sat at. It was a memory not only of his life and the events of that period in history but it was also a reminder of his beautiful elfin wife Christina. Wherever her spirit was King Erin knew that a part of her would also remain with him.

There was a rally or sharp nocks at the door and King Erin raised his head curiously, his quill poised above the inkwell. His silver eyes stared expectantly at the door but the handle didn't move.

"Enter," King Erin called out eventually. The door was opened by one of the useless servants. This one was lanky and his grey hair was as greasy as his manner. King Erin recalled that his name was Crotchet.

"Yes?" asked King Erin.

"Sir, there is trouble outside. One of your dogs had gone wild and killed a child and the guards. We need your gun and your talent at hunting, your majesty," Crotchet said with a slight sneer, giving a bow that King Erin felt Crotchet would rather not give.

King Erin growled softly and dropped his quill on the table as he climbed to his feet. His trusty musket was locked inside an old chest with all of his other hunting gear. King Erin withdrew the key from a draw and hastily shoved the key in the padlock and turned it. When he heard the satisfying click he threw back the chest lid and his hands dived inside to retrieve his weapon. The wood of the musket was worn and the shooting style was out of date but it would get the job done.

"You stay here," King Erin ordered. He didn't wait to hear Crotchet's reply as he swept past him out of the room.

He ran down the stairs with much effort, wishing that he hadn't put on quite as much weight in his older years. After much strain and panting King Erin reached the bottom of the stairs and without hesitation he stalked out into the pouring rain. Visibility was bad due to the rain but King Erin raised his musket and put it in to position for when the rabid beast attacked.

The courtyard stone was slippery when wet and King Erin was careful as he walked forwards. The grassy lawn was black in the darkness but when the lightning flashed the shadow of the castle was thrown against the glittering green blades. The violent wind knotted King Erin's short grey beard and the rain trickled down his chubby cheeks. He was tempted to return to the shelter of the castle but the thought of more innocent blood being spilled made him stay.

He walked again, and then stopped, and looked down.

The scream of horror stifled in his throat and come out as an unintentionally gurgle. King Erin almost dropped his weapon as he looked down in horror at what he had just stepped on. The bloody and muddy remains of a body beneath his feet were almost unrecognisable but it was not a human that had been killed by a mad dog. It was a dog that had been mercilessly slaughtered and ripped to pieces.

"I'm sorry Sir," said a snide voice, "She paid me well."

King Erin whirled around. Crotchet was stood in the castle doorway his pale face as grave as ever.

"She?" enquired King Erin, unfamiliar prickles of worry developing along his crooked spine.

"Me," said a powerful female voice from behind King Erin. King Erin saw Crotches eyes focus on the speaker and he turned and followed his gaze.

The woman sitting on a white stead was the most beautiful woman King Erin had laid eyes upon. Before his marriage King Erin had courted some of the most amazing and breath taking beauties in the kingdom, and the others, but not one of them compared to this unique goddess. Her face was one of those women that were described only in fine poems and songs. The curly hair that trailed down her back was pure, dazzling white and her skin was like the most expensive white porcelain. Those eyes that there cast upon King Erin's face were as black as stormy seas and the woman's red lips were curved up in a wicked smile.

King Erin shook himself furiously, forcing himself to look away from her. This was a trick, it was a spell, she was trying to distract him for some reason and when strong arms grabbed his own he knew the reason. On either side of him were three armoured guards with spelled swords and small axes. They stared down harshly at the king who dropped his gaze to the ground and the mangled dead dog. He was stood in a puddle of its blood.

"I am Queen Christina and I come with a proposition for you Erin," said the woman as her horse trotted over onto the cobblestones with a clatter. King Erin didn't even care that she had referred to herself as a Queen and had ignored his standing. He couldn't believe he had been so foolish as to fall into the trap.

"My children," Erin said softly, "Where are my children?"

"Dead," Christina said simply, descending from her horse.

Erin flinched at her words, his whole body and brain numbed by the vision of his children lying side by side, there bodies bloody and torn like the poor dogs.

"You can join your children," Christina said as she approached him, "Or you can give up your throne to me and disappear from my sight with your life."

Erin stared at Christina, astounded. Some feeling had begun to return to his brain but only enough to realise the kingdom was in trouble. He couldn't think clearly enough to make a decision.

"I…I I I," Erin mumbled in complete confusion.

Christina plunged a hand into her pocket and showed Erin a silver dagger, the cold metal glinting in the flash of lightning.

"Sorry. Wrong answer," Christina said sweetly. Her smile faded as she thrust the dagger into Erin's heart.

Erin's screams of agony were drowned out by rumbles of thunder. The guards released his arms and Erin collapsed to the wet ground, swallowing mud, water and blood. The stinging pain of the metal burned through his whole body and his mind was on fire.

"Don't worry, you will soon join your worthless wife and children," sneered Christina, her face twisted with cruelty.

She stood by Erin's side and watched him die as the sun rose.