The Lion and the Unicorn February 25 09

The Northern Kingdoms of Never Moore were quite different than the Southern Kingdoms. Ruled by Queen Clara, they were cold and covered by a perpetual blanket of soft snow. The Mountains, though such a dramatic contrast they were, better described the heart of the North. Jagged peaks tore at the sky, razor sharp as the wolverine teeth unfortunate and unwanted travelers would find embedded in their flesh. Their summits soared over all of Never Moore and dismal sentiments sang through the hearts of whatever poor soul was forced to look upon them. For everyone in the North, the Mountains were to be respected, and above all, feared.

Everyone except the Queen Clara, of course, who had her icy palace nestled in the bosom of these Mountains. Queen Clara herself was also called the Sorceress of the North, for it seemed that whoever looked into her wolframite eyes was ensnared and bent to do her biddings.

The most frightening thing about the Southern Kingdoms was probably how similar they were to their sisters in the North. Perhaps the similarities were difficult to see at first, but look deeper and it was soon evident to all.

King Cole, monarch of the Southern Kingdoms, was of Queen Clara's own kin; her blood brother and they were as different as fire and water, yet astonishingly uniform. While her lands were frost bitten, his were that of perpetual blossom, green vistas and prism skies, but still King Cole was very much like his sister. Perhaps only in appearances were they not alike. While Clara had raven-black hair as the long nights of her lands, Cole was graced with a mane gold as liquid sun and robin blue eyes to match the sky that countered her deep grey orbs.

But the things that made both monarchs so terrifyingly the same was their lust for power, and the desire, nay, the need to beat the other sibling to the ground. Both were merciless, headstrong and obsessed.

That is the rift between the kingdoms, both in physical form and in the hearts of the lands, a rift that made sparks, which turned into a flame, which again grew into the great wildfire of war. At the height of this war should we enter such a saga, at the turning of the tides caused by one pawn in the ruthless game of rivalry.

*

King Cole was not looking much like a king at that moment. He donned torn and bloody clothes, his hair was matted and his regal face had thinned, graced with creases of worry around his eyes. He was bent over a map of Never Moore, accompanied by two others: his advisor, Ellesmahrynne, and his knight and spy, Sir Edward Morgan III. Finally, after many long moments of silence, King Cole straightened.

"We shall attack two days hence," he announced. "Prepare the army." Sir Edward bowed and exited. Ellesmahrynne remained motionless, her silvery hair braided into a cord that hung past her waist swinging slightly as the knight passed her.

"You are certain, your majesty?" she said, her voice clear and confident. "You shall not change the date nor location of the assault on the damned Queen Clara within the border again?"

King Cole ran his hand over the stubble of gold that had appeared on his chin.

"Yes, I am certain," he replied, his voice low and thoughtful. "She will not see thing coming. Of that I am assured.

*

On the border of the North and the South, the winds were also waging war on the other, so Sir Michael Harroldson, knight of Queen Clara, was quite uncomfortable as he waited. Finally, a figure appeared and approached from the Couth, almost unidentifiable in the dim light cast by the crescent moon.

"My friend, there you are!" Michael greeted the other in a hushed voice. "I was beginning to worry you'd been found out." The figure looked around wearily, long hair swishing loosely.

"That would not stop me," the person said harshly. "I come with tidings."

Michael raised an eyebrow.

"And?"

"The attack on your queen and kingdom is in two days hence for certain. No changes. No mistakes."

Michael broke out into a smile and clapped the figure on the back.

"My friend, you have done well! Won't you come back to the North once this is all wrapped up? You would be very welcome there, you know." The figure shrugged off the hand.

"No," was the reply. "I will not return, not until my family's death is avenged. Not until I revenge is complete."

*

So sure of his plan of attack was King Cole, that he himself led the charge. Alas, he was unpleasantly surprised when Queen Clara was there to greet him just across the border, flanked by a force numbering double his own. Therefore, after being seriously injured during a frantic and panicked retreat, he was not pleased when he called a meeting with his advisor and knight.

"Some one told!" he thundered best he could from his place on many a soft cushion, supporting his weak frame. "Someone told her, and only two people could have gotten to the border in time. You." He pointed to Ellesmahrynne. "Or you." The finger moved to accuse Sir Edward.

"Me?" Edward spluttered. "Your majesty, I have been nothing but loyal and obliging to you ever since you rescued me from the accursed North!"

"And have I ever given you any reason to doubt my fealty?" Ellesmahrynne demanded, her eyes bright and flashing. King Cole looked on impassively.

"You both have your reasons," he said. "You, Ellesmahrynne, come from a family dedicated to the North. You think you would be a better ruler than I, I know. You think my twin would give you my crown should you prove yourself to her."

"Unspeakable!" the advisor raged, her pale cheeks blotchy with fury. "Blasphemy! How dare you!" King Cole ignored her and turned to Edward.

"And you have every reason to hate me. My armies killed your family, ravaged and destroyed your village. And were you not imprisoned with Sir Michael Harroldson, Clara's knight, during a siege years past, giving your time to bond and be swayed to his side? What's more, neither I nor anyone else saw you at all for the rest of the night I announced when we would march." King Cole regarded Edward's now truly red face coolly. "Sir Edward Morgan III, I sentence you to death by fire on the charges of treason."

Before anyone could react, Edward whipped out a hunting knife seemingly from think air and plunged the blade into the king's breast. The dying man gurgled, red pouring from his mouth and flowing over Edward's hands still grasping the knife embedded in his enemy's chest.

"So cunning and clever you are," he half hissed, half cooed, his eyes cloudy with something the blurry vision of the king could not identify. "So clever, but not quite clever enough to catch me."

A/N: Sorry for the lame ending. This is me having fun during a literacy assessment test at school, where they wanted us to write a mystery story. Well, I don't know about the quality of the mystery, but at that point in the test I was kind of cheesed that they made us do such a pointless thing, and I assure you, pointless it was, so I just had a good time with this. Hope you found it mildly entertaining. ;)