CHAPTER 9: HELL HATH NO FURY

Whether it was the sun or the snow the room was filled with an almost blinding light. The room itself was not very big but it was one of the most impressive. It had the odd shape of a triangle and large evangelical windows adorned the adjacent sides of the triangle opposite the base. They were stain glass in decoration each with the royal crest of the crown and the python. The python symbol of deceit. The floor was tiled in white but despite the surroundings the room was comfortably warm, the wall unoccupied by windows was taken up by a large portrait of the royal family. The father and the son were mirror images of each other, both had long white blond hair and chiselled features the father had grey eyes and the son dark blue eyes. The mother was the one who stood out with her black hair and green eyes. Below the portrait was a large square table littered with books and an assortment of chairs scattered around. In one of the chairs sat the son. He had his feet on the table and was leaning back on the chair, his head thrown back against it, his eyes closed. His pale skin was paler than usual and he looked somewhat haggard, thin dark circles could be seen under his eyes and his thin lips were creased in concentration. Markus was worried.

Ariana had walked into the room a changed person. She was shivering erratically but with a calm resolve in her eyes.

'What's wrong?' Markus had asked.

She had deigned not to answer him but instead wrapped her arms around his neck and sobbed gently into his chest. If Markus thought this strange it was nothing compared to what he thought when she kissed him. Utter surprise. Tears and passion had been the catalyst that had catapulted them into the great canopy bed, it was so different from the cold formality of their previous encounters and as he lay on his back with Ariana nestled in his arms beside him he was at peace. He could not say whether he was dreaming or not but while he was asleep he could clearly remember her whisper 'You can't protect me.' It was the last time he ever saw her. What had she meant? Why did she need protection?

Markus was startled by the sound of breaking glass. The six evangelical windows were actually six doors that led to different parts of the castle. Whenever someone walked in or out through the glass it was accompanied by the sound of breaking glass nothing catastrophic though but somehow melodious. Markus looked up to see his grandmother stride in, the royal guards and his father following close behind. They seemed to be having a very heated discussion and immediately stopped when they saw Markus.

'Nothing yet?' Markus asked looking from his father to his grandmother.

'We're getting closer dear.' Morgana smiled 'now would you please step out for a moment?'

Morgana continued to keep the plastic smile on her face until she heard the breaking of glass she then turned abruptly to face her son.

'As I was saying you will order the guards to find Ariana and kill her. I will not be denied!'

'You're crazy mother.' Draconus snapped 'those events happened oh so many years ago; it's time you got over it.'

Morgana studied her son carefully and after a moment burst out in mirthless laughter. The guards visibly flinched while Draconus held his ground.

'My dear boy you think I don't know about your 'secret' meeting with the other kings?' Draconus' face now showed the signs of fear. 'But you're my son and if you do just as mummy says I will forgive you.'

Morgana could see the screws in his mind turning. Draconus was not a fool, if he had the chance to save his own skin he would take it. He sighed and turned to the guards.

'When the princess has been found you are to kill her-.'

'On second thought.' Morgana smiled 'bring her back alive so that I can kill her myself.'

She had been huddled up at the base of a tree when the first rays of sunlight hit her face. She got up quickly and looked around her like a hunted animal. This wasn't far from true. She picked up her bundle of things which included a change of clothing; an extra cloak and what she hoped were travelling shoes. After fighting with Gwyneth she had gone back to get her cloak which she had left on the bench, she had arrived just in time to hear them plot her murder or at least begin to. It had been too much, she knew that she could not stay and so she had left. She couldn't believe it she had left her husband! She knew exactly where she was going but whether she would be accepted or not was another story. The snow had begun to melt as she moved progressively away from the kingdom of winter and now dry leaves began to crunch under her feet. She had made it, after days of walking she had made it. She could hear the towns folk chatting quietly among themselves. This kingdom was a laid back one in which every day seemed to be a siesta. There was barely anyone in the streets as Ariana rushed by, her hood up heading purposefully towards the large building in the centre of the kingdom. She slowed down as she neared the gate.

'State your business.' Said one of the guards.

'I am here to see Prince Erik.'

The guards looked at each other and then looked back at her suspiciously.

You can't just walk up here and expect an audience with the prince.' The guard sneered.

'Tell him.' Ariana said lowering her hood and watching their shocked realisation 'that Princess Ariana is here to see him.'

Morgana was pacing the floor impatiently. Stupid girl where was she? Her long white blond hair was pulled back into a severe looking ponytail and if her visage didn't exude evil she would be considered a very beautiful woman. The door opened and Gwyneth walked in laden with vials, chalk and other various assortments of things.

'Took you long enough.' Morgana snapped taking the chalk from her hands and immediately set about drawing a circle on the floor. She drew another circle within the circle and in it put intricate symbols.

'What's this?' Gwyneth asked as Morgana arranged candles around the room.

'It's a grimoire.' Morgana explained 'in ancient times whenever a magician wanted to conjure up demons or spirits he would stand inside the grimoire and it would protect him from harm.'

Gwyneth watched as Morgana put the final touches on her little ceremony and then stepped into the circle.

'Are you sure you want to be conjuring up demons?' Gwyneth asked a little timidly as the brackets of light slowly began to fade.

Morgana looked back at her with an almost sincere smile

'Of course I'm not conjuring up a demon that's almost too easy; I'm going straight for the big boss.'

The candles lit up all at once as the wind and the snow outside died down until there was only a whisper of the once raging elements. The candles which were all red at Morgana's request cast an eerie glow about the room and Gwyneth backed into a corner very slowly as the procedure continued. Morgana slowly began to chant the words little by little starting off with a small voice and gradually becoming louder and more authoritative. A large hole appeared in the floor and with it came the screams of the tormented and gleeful yells of their tormentors. Out of this crevice rose the devil himself. Not the red skinned, horned and pitchfork yielding image of children's stories but the very handsome deceiver that the book of God portrays him as.

'Someone better be dieing for you to pull me out like this Morgana.' He smiled cocking his head to one side 'do you really think a chalk circle will keep you safe from me?' he jerked his head towards the chalk circle and with a wave of his hand blew the markings away.

'You can't kill me just yet Lucifer.' Morgana replied 'what I need from you is a simple answer to a simple question.' She was trying hard not to show her uneasiness at having her defence so easily broken through but anyone could tell that Morgana was shaken.

Lucifer said nothing but just looked at her willing her to move on.

'How do I kill my sister?'

Lucifer frowned for a moment and then broke out into another eccentric smile. He moved around the room and came to a stop when he saw Gwyneth whimpering in a corner.

'Is this your new protégé? Needs a bit of work don't you think?'

Morgana gave him a stifling look.

'It's simple really just kill her.' He said matter of factly 'but you're going to have to deal with the repercussions to her next of kin.'

Morgana stood there speechless.

'B-but she couldn't have. IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!'

At Ariana's request Halle joined the meeting. They all sat around the table Erik, Ariana, Catherine and Halle.

'Erik I know you know what's going on.' Ariana said 'the time for secrets is over because I deserve to know why my mother-in-law is trying to kill me.'

Erik sighed.

'I don't know everything but I think I know enough.' He replied 'all of us are familiar with the saga of the season's right? It's every child's bedtime story. What most people don't know is that the seasons are still alive… Morgana is winter.'

'Why am I not surprised.' Catherine sneered.

'And Lady Vivien is summer.'

'The one who imprisoned her in the mirror?' Halle asked surprise clearly visible on her face.

'The very same.'

'Yes but what's that got to do with me?' Ariana snapped

'Well.' Erik continued 'whilst she was trapped in the mirror a bitter young woman found it and that same woman went on to become your mother's stepmother.'

It took a while for the shock to wear off.

'A-are you trying to tell me that my mother w-w-was Snow White?'

'Yes that little children's story has been altered a little but your mother was Snow White and your dad was the prince but unlike in the story the poisoned apple not only put your mother to sleep but left her paralysed as well.'

'That's all well and good but it still begs the question of why does she want revenge?' Catherine asked.

'Who knows maybe Ariana's mother's stepmother was going to help free her or something; I can at least understand why she wants to kill Lady Vivien.' Erik replied

'It's a shame she didn't count on one important factor.' Halle grinned.

'What?' Ariana asked.

'Lady Vivien has a daughter.' Halle smiled 'and she's a terrin.'